Current Affairs: 31 December 2016

PM launches UPI based mobile payment app called BHIM 

  • Urging people to make digital payments a "habit" to make the country a cashless economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a mobile app for the Unified Payment Interface (UPI). 
  • The application, which will be common across all banks and financial institutions, is called BHIM (Bharat Interface for Mobile). 
  • The BHIM app will empower the poorest of the poor 
  • It is for the small merchant, farmers in far-flung areas, tribals. 
  • Adding that the BHIM app doesn't even require an Internet connection since it can also work on simple feature phones 
  • Aadhaar-based payments system would be added to the app in the next two weeks 
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Tax treaty with Singapore amended to bring parity with Cyprus, Mauritius 

  • India has amended its over two-decade old tax treaty with Singapore that will allow it to tax capital gains on investments from the South East Asian nation, a significant milestone in plugging round-tripping of funds after changes to treaties with Mauritius and Cyprus. 
  • Short-term capital gains in India face tax at the rate of 15% while there is an exemption for long-term gains. 
  • A statement from Singapore government said the updated DTAA preserves the existing tax exemption on capital gains for shares acquired before 1April 2017, while providing a transitional arrangement for shares acquired on or after 1 April 2017. 


Lionel Messi named World's Best Playmaker of 2016 by IFFHS

  • Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi was named the World's Best Playmaker for the second consecutive year by International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS). 
  • Messi topped the list with 172 points followed by Andres Iniesta (66 points) and Toni Kroos (45 points). Notably, this year's Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo does not feature in the list


BITS students develop first aid app with Red Cross Society

  • Six students from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science have developed a first-aid app in collaboration with the Indian Red Cross Society. 
  • The Android-based app contains instructions and information regarding medical emergencies. Other features include a one-tap call feature to connect with the National Emergency Helpline and using GPS on the phone to locate all the nearest hospitals.


World's highest bridge opens in China

  • The highest bridge in the world, set at a height of 1,854 feet, opened to traffic in China on Thursday. 
  • The 1,341-metre-long Beipanjiang Bridge, soars over a river and connects the Guizhou and Yunnan mountainous provinces. 
  • It has reportedly reduced travel time from four hours to one hour. It cost $144 million (over Rs. 977 crore) to build, Chinese media reported.


First transgender principal of an Indian college quits

  • The first transgender principal of an Indian college, Manabi Bandopadhyay, submitted her resignation, ending her 19 month-long tenure as the head of Krishnagar Women’s College in West Bengal.
  • Manabi cited indiscipline and lack of cooperation from students and colleagues as the reason behind the decision. “I was tired of...regular agitations...by students and teachers," she said.


Sindhu unveiled as official face of 2nd Int'l Kite Festival

  • Rio Olympics silver medal-winning shuttler PV Sindhu was unveiled as the official face of the 2nd International Kite Festival to be held from 12th to 17th January in Hyderabad. 
  • The festival is organized by Telangana Tourism and Incredible India, among others, to celebrate Sankranthi.
  • The state Tourism Minister Azmeera Chandulal was also present at the announcement ceremony.


7-year-old Kush creates history in Youth Chess Championship

  • Seven-year-old Kush Bhagat created history after winning three gold medals in the 1st Western Asia Youth Chess Championship in Al Ain Chess Club in UAE.
  • The 2nd class student from Mumbai became the only Indian to win in all three categories - rapid, blitz and standard - in the competition. 
  • Kush won against 158 participants from 20 different countries.


Sorin Grindeanu named Romania's new Prime Minister

  • Romania's President Klaus Iohannis on Friday named Sorin Grindeanu from the ruling Social Democrat party as the country's new prime minister.
  • Grindeanu now faces a confidence vote in parliament on his programme and cabinet nominees. Earlier, President Iohannis had turned down the party's first choice Sevil Shhaideh, an economist who would have become Romania's first female Muslim PM.


Institutionalisation Of Arbitration Mechanism: Justice Srikrishna To Head The Committee

  • The Union Government has constituted a High Level Committee in the Ministry of Law and Justice to be headed by former Supreme Court Justice, BN Shrikrishna. 
  • According a press note published at the Press Information Bureau website, this committee will review the institutionalization of Arbitration Mechanism in India.
  • Apart from Justice(retd) BN Shrikrishna as its Chairman, the committee will comprise of another former Supreme Court judge RV Raveendran, Justice S. Ravindra Bhat of the Delhi High Court, Senior Advocate K.K. Venugopal, PS Narasimha, Additional Solicitor General of India, Senior Advocate Indu Malhotra, Araghya Sengupta, Director, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, a representative of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), a representative of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs as its members.
  • The committee will look into various factors to accelerate arbitration mechanism and strengthen the arbitration ecosystem in the country. It will also examine specific issues and roadmap required to make “India a robust centre for international and domestic arbitration”


Amul's 'India 3.0' book launched

  • Covering topical grounds and popular incidents from the contemporary context, Indian dairy cooperative Amul launched the updated edition of 'Amul's India 3.0'.
  • The book was unveiled by social commentator Santosh Desai, Amul's Managing Director R.S. Sodhi, and journalists Indrajit Hazra, Rahul Da Cunha and Jai Arjun Singh. They shared many insights and observations shared about the iconic 'Amul Girl'


Central Board Of Direct Taxes Signs 2 Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements

  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes or CBDT has signed two more unilateral advance pricing agreements (APAs) with Indian taxpayers as it looks to reduce litigation by providing certainty in transfer pricing.
  • The two APAs signed on Thursday pertain to the information technology and automobile sectors. The international transactions covered in these agreements include software development services, IT enabled services, manufacturing and business support services
  • With this, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 117. This includes 7 bilateral APAs and 110 Unilateral APAs. 


State Bank of India ties up with Magicbricks.com 

  • State Bank of IndiaBSE 0.89 %, the country’s largest bank has tied up with online classifieds portal magicbricks.com, to conduct joint marketing activites and help rejuvenate the real estate sector. 
  • To kick start the MOU, SBI and Magicbricks are launching the “Seal the Deal” campaign. Under Seal The Deal, SBI and Magicbricks will be hosting a mega online property show for SBI Approved Projects. This will be the first housing carnival in the industry at this scale. 
  • Seal The Deal will showcase SBI Approved Projects on the Magicbricks platform. Builders are expected to provide great deals for the same which will in turn provide the much needed fillip to the real estate sector. 


Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu inaugurates six major Railway projects

  • Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu inaugurated six major Railway projects in Kerala including the dedication of the newly-built 9.6-km long Tiruvalla-Chengannur double line which would ease the heavy rail traffic congestion in the Ernakulam-Kottayam-Kayamkulam section.
  • Prabhu also inaugurated infrastructure facilities at Kozhikode, Palakkad, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram railways stations through video conferencing from Kozhikode.
  • A new platform was launched at Palakkad station, high-speed public WiFi service was made available at Thrissur station.
  • The minister also launched an escalator each in Thrissur and Thriruvananthapurtam stations besides laying foundation stone for the extension of Foot Overbridge at Kozhikode railway station.
  • Now the number of free wi-Fi enabled railway stations in the state has increasd to five.The service was launched earlier in Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Kozhikode stations. 
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