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1. Gujarati litterateur Raghuveer Chaudhary selected for 2015 Jnanpith Award
1. Eminent Gujarati litterateur Raghuveer Chaudhary has been selected for the 51st Jnanpith award. Mr. Chaudhary is the fourth Gujarati litterateur to bag this prestigious award after Uma Shankar Joshi (1967), Pannalal Patel (1985) and Rajendra Shah (2001).
2. Govt launches national biotechnology programme
1. In a significant decision, the government today launched a national programme which aims to turn India into a biotechnology hub and the sector into a US$ 100 billion industry with focus in areas of healthcare, food and nutrition, clean energy and education.
2. The National Biotechnology Development Strategy 2015-2020 programme which was launched by the Department of Biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology is aimed at ensuring strategic and focused investment in building human capital by setting up a Life Science and Biotechnology Education Council which will spearhead the initiative.
3. Under the programme, which was unveiled by Minister of Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan, research will be intensified in the field of vaccines, humane genome, infectious and chronic diseases, crop science, animal agriculture and aqua culture, food and nutrition, environmental management and technologies for clean energy.
4. The mission is also backed with significant investments to boost creation of new biotech products, creating a strong infrastructure for research and development, commercialization, and empowering human resources scientifically and technologically.
5. A major component of the programme will be training of work force and this includes dual degree programmes which will cover both the aspect of core science and business applicability. It will also focus on enhancing research opportunities in basic, disciplinary and inter-disciplinary sciences, foster global and national alliances.
3. Giorgi Kvirikashvili elected as Prime Minister of Georgia
1. Giorgi Kvirikashvili was elected as the Prime Minister of Georgia. He will succeed Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, who resigned from the post on 23 December 2015. His appointment will now be ratified by the Georgia's President Giorgi Margvelashvili.
2. Kvirikashvili fetched 86 votes of the parliament of Georgia out of 114 deputies. However, 28 deputies voted against him. The parliamentary vote also ratified Kvirikashvili's choice of cabinet.
Once his appointment is ratified, he will head the campaign headquarters of the party Georgian Dream- Democratic Georgia and the electoral list of the coalition Georgian Dream.
4. CCI okays Union Bank’s 49% stake buy in Union KBC AMC
1. The Competition Commission has approved the state-run Union Bank of India’s proposed acquisition of 49 per cent stake in Union KBC Asset Management Company (AMC).
2. The fair trade regulator, which keeps a tab on unfair business practices across sectors, has approved the acquisition as the deal may not have an adverse impact on competition in the country.
3. Following the transaction, KBC Asset Management of Belgium has exited the Indian asset management business by selling its 49 per cent stake in mutual fund joint venture Union KBC AMC to Union Bank of India.
4. Prior to stake sale, Union Bank of India held 51 per cent stake in the joint venture and the remaining 49 per cent was with KBC Asset Management NV.
5. Several foreign fund houses have exited from India in past few years. Pramerica AMC bought out assets of Deutsche AMC.
Other foreign players such as ING Investments, Morgan Stanley Mutual Fund, Fidelity Mutual Fund and Daiwa Mutual Fund had also exited the Indian markets.
5. Jetha Bharwad elected as first Vice-Chairman of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation
1. Senior BJP MLA, Jetha Bharwad was unanimously elected as the first Vice-Chairman of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) that sells its dairy products under brand name Amul.
2. Bharwad is an MLA from Sehra constituency of Panchmahal district. He is also the chairman of Panchmahal District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd.
6. Russia tied up with HAL to manufacture Kamov 226T helicopters
1. Russia's Rostech State Corporation tied up with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to manufacture at least 200 Kamov 226T light helicopters. The Kamov will replace the ageing fleet of Cheetah and Chetak.
2. The deal is estimated to be worth 1 billion US dollars and is the first Russian-Indian high-tech project implemented by the Indian government within the framework of the Make in India initiative.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Moscow in December 2015, an agreement was signed between the two countries on cooperation in the field of helicopter manufacturing.
3. As per the terms of deal, Rostech will organise in India the production of Russian Ka-226T and its modifications. The agreement also provides for maintenance, operation and repair of helicopters.
7. Iconic Marathi poet Mangesh Keshav Padgaonkar passed away
1. Iconic Marathi poet and Padma Bhushan recipient Mangesh Keshav Padgaonkar passed away on 30 December 2015 after a brief illness. He was 86.
2. Padgaonkar was part of many poetry recitation programmes that were held in Maharashtra in 1960s and 1970s. He has also penned lyrics for many Marathi films.
8. Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik's Santa Claus sculpture featured in Limca Book of Records
1. Well-known sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s Santa Claus sculpture on 29 December 2015 found a place in Limca Book of World Records.
2. Pattnaik claimed that he had created a 45 feet high sand Santa Claus at Puri beach on 24 December 2015, which was recognised as the largest sand Santa Claus as of today by the Limca Book of World Records.
3. Pattnaik was assisted by 20 of his students from the Sudarsan Sand Art Institute of Puri to build the giant structure. It took him 22 hours to build the structure which will be on display till 1 January 2016.The artist had also created sculptures of Jesus and Mother Mary near Santa Claus.
9. WHO declares Guinea Ebola free
1. World Health Organization (WHO), a UN health agency has declared Guinea Ebola-free after no new cases were reported. Now the country enters into 90-day period of heightened surveillance of WHO. In Guinea, the deadly disease had killed more than 2,500 people and had completely shattered country’s economy and country’s health and education sectors.
10. Navy successfully test fires surface-to-air missile Barak-8
1. Making a quantum jump in its air defence capability, the Indian Navy today successfully test-fired the Barak-8 Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile (LR-SAM) from INS Kolkata.
2. The Barak-8 missile has been developed in joint collaboration by India and Israel. While two tests have been successfully conducted onboard Israeli ships, this is the first time that the test has been held onboard an Indian one.
3. The Barak-8 has been designed to defend against a variety of short-to-long-range airborne threats, including fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, drones and projectiles.
It incorporates a modern phased array multi-mission radar, two-way data link, and a flexible command and control system that enables it to simultaneously engage multiple targets day and night and in all-weather conditions.
11. Madhu S Nair assumes charge as CMD of Cochin Shipyard
1. Madhu S. Nair has assumed charge as Chairman and Managing Director of Cochin Shipyard .
He took over the charge from Commodore K Subramaniam, who had been with CSL the last eight years (5 years as Director (operations) and 3 years as CMD).
2. CSL is the best performing shipyard in the country among both the public and private sector. The company had been achieving a consistently good performance in the last several years. The turnover in 2014-15 was ₹1,860 crore as compared to ₹1,653 crore in 2013-14. PAT has gone up to ₹235 crore in 2014-15 against ₹194 crore in 2013-14.