1. Indian Army successfully test-fired BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in Rajasthan
i. Indian Army on 7 November 2015 successfully test-fired the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile at the Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan. It was launched from an Autonomous Mobile Launcher (AML). For BrahMos, it was the 50th test-flight. The previous test-firing was from INS Kochi off the west coast on 1 November 2015.
ii. It is the first supersonic cruise missile known to be in service and is capable of carrying a conventional and nuclear warhead of 300 kilogram. It is a two-stage missile having Solid propellant in the first stage and Ramjet liquid propellant in the second stage.
iii. It can be launched from land, Sea, Sub-seas and air. It operates on Fire and Forget Principle by adopting varieties of flights on its way to the target.
iv. The missile has been developed by the BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited. It is a joint venture between Russian Federation's NPO Mashinostroeyenia and India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the missile derives its name from the names of two rivers, namely the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.
2. Union Government decided to impose 0.5% Swachh Bharat Cess on all services
i. Union Ministry of Finance on 6 November 2015 decided to impose 0.5 percent Swachh Bharat Cess (SBC) on all taxable services. It will be levied in addition to the 14 percent service tax that is in force now. The SBC will come into force on 15 November 2015. Its proceeds will be exclusively used to support Swachh Bharat initiative.
ii. The decision to impose SBC is in tune with the announcement made by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget 2015-16 budget speech advocating for 2 percent additional cess to fund Swachh Bharat.
iii. As per an estimate, the SBC is expected to fetch additional 4000 crore rupees per annum in tax revenues to the government.
iv. The Union Government under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is planning to spend around 134000 crore rupees by 2019 to construct 11 crore 11 lakh toilets in the country.
3. Rajasthan government launched the Agro-Processing and Agri-Marketing Promotion Policy 2015
i. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on 5 November 2015 launched the Rajasthan Agro-Processing and Agri-Marketing Promotion Policy 2015. The policy seeks to promote agro-processing and to reduce post harvest losses at the farm gate.
ii. The Agriculture Department of Rajasthan Government will be the nodal department for the policy and Rajasthan State Agricultural marketing Board will act as nodal agency for the policy.
iii. The policy aims to promote agro-processing and to reduce post harvest losses at the farm gate thus ensuring maximum prices of farmer’s agri produce. The state government also signed 112 MoUs with private companies in different sectors during the launch of policy.
iv. Rajasthan Agro-Processing and Agri-Marketing has been included as the thrust sector under Rajasthan Investment Promotion Scheme, 2014 to provide higher incentives than normal provisions.
v. In addition, additional incentives provisions of subsidy for product patent, product registration, quality certification, sending samples abroad, project report preparation, transport of on fruits and vegetables and spices abroad also have been made.
4. 'India in Shanghai’ Cultural Week inaugurated at Shanghai
i. An Indian culture week called ‘India in Shanghai’ was on 5 November 2015 inaugurated at China Shanghai International Arts Festival (SIAF) at the Shanghai Grand Theatre. The SIAF annual festival began on 16 October 2015 and will continue till 16 November 2015.
ii. The culture week was inaugurated by Indian Ambassador Ashok K Kantha along with Zhong Yanqun, Vice Chair of The Standing Committee of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress.
iii. This is the first time in the 17-year history of the China Shanghai International Arts Festival that India was designated as the guest country during the festival.
iv. The events at the India Culture Week will showcase the best of contemporary Indian arts. The India Culture Week aims to provide Chinese friends a glimpse of the multi-faceted cultural traditions of India as well as enable a better understanding of India among Chinese people. The cultural performances are also expected to lead to a greater collaboration between Indian & Chinese performing Arts and corresponding institutions.
v. As 2015 is named as ‘Visit India Year in China’, it is expected that this Festival will encourage more Chinese tourists to travel to India and see for themselves the rich and diverse cultural heritage of India.
5. RBI issued Uniform Guidelines on Internet Banking for Cooperative Banks
i. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 5 November 2015 issued revised and uniform guidelines on Internet Banking for all licensed cooperative banks including Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs), Cooperative Banks (StCBs) and Districts Co-operative Banks (DCBs). These guidelines relate to Internet Banking (View Only) facility and Internet Banking with Transaction facility.
ii. In case, any service offered under ‘view only’ facility requires two-factor authentication or One Time Password (OTP), banks may adopt the security features related to internet banking as prescribed by RBI, as appropriate to such services.
iii. The cooperative banks offering this facility to their customers should ensure that the facility is strictly for non-transactional services such as balance enquiry and balance viewing among others.
iv. The cooperative banks have to report commencement of the service to the concerned Regional Office of RBI (and also NABARD in case of StCBs/DCCBs) within one month of operationalisation of this facility.
6. 21st INCOFYRA to be organised in Bengaluru in 2016
i. The 21st International Conference on Frontiers in Yoga Research and its Applications (INCOFYRA) will be held from 3 to 7 January 2016 at Prashanti Kutiram, Bengaluru. The summit will be organized by the Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Sansthana. The 21st INCOFYRA will bring together the traditional and modern medical systems.
ii. The theme of the conference is Yoga in Integrated Healthcare Systems.
iii. The conference targets to promulgate the research findings in the field of integrative medicine and give directions to future research on Dialectology, Oncology, Cardiology, Mental Health, and so on. The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi will inaugurate the conference.
iv. The 21st INCOFYRA will offer a platform for national and international experts and practitioners in traditional systems of medicine to show findings of evidence–based research regarding impact of Yoga on non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
7. From today, trucks passing through Delhi to pay ‘green tax’
i. After a six-day delay in the implementation of the Environment Compensation Charge or ‘environment cess’ on trucks entering Delhi, the concessionaire — SYMR Consortium LLP — has begun to collect the tax at its toll booths.
ii. From Saturday, apart from the toll tax, an environment tax to the tune of Rs 700 on light-duty vehicles and Rs 1,300 for three-axle vehicles and above, would be charged at all entry points to the national capital. However, trucks “destined to Delhi” will not have to pay the environment cess; only trucks passing through the capital would have to pay it.
iii. The new tax, implemented on the directions of the Supreme Court, would lead to at least a 30 per cent drop in the number of trucks entering Delhi, according to the concessionaire.
iv. The delay in the collection of environment cess was due to the concessionaire’s queries concerning the implementation of the tax. On Wednesday, the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) had held a meeting with officials at the state and municipal corporations, and prepared an 11-point reply to the reservations expressed by the concessionaire.
v. The consortium will collect this tax on behalf of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), which would be deposited in the account of the Delhi government through the transport department every Friday. The toll collected by the concessionaire goes to the coffers of the SDMC.
8. WHO officially declares Sierra Leone Ebola-free
i. Sierra Leone has been declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organisation, prompting nationwide celebrations tinged with sadness over the loss of 4,000 victims to the disease. The capital Freetown was transformed into a giant carnival on Friday night as ecstatic crowds took to the streets in an emotional outpouring.
ii. The relief that the 17-month nightmare was virtually over was reflected in candle-lit prayers and spontaneous parties.
iii. In a low-key ceremony in the capital on Saturday morning, the WHO country director, Anders Nordström, confirmed 42 days had passed without any new cases, thereby satisfying criteria that transmission of the virus has ended.
iv. Sierra Leone will now enter a 90-day period of heightened surveillance to make sure the virus does not return. The National Ebola Response Centre will remain operational until the end of the year and swabbing of all dead bodies for Ebola will be mandatory until June 2016.
v. But while the atmosphere overnight was jubilant, there was also nervousness over the continuing outbreak in neighbouring Guinea, where four new cases were recorded over the past fortnight. In a grim reminder of how Ebola cuts through families, all four are children of a mother who contracted the disease from a relative and died.
9. Presidents of China and Taiwan Shake Hands in First Ever Meeting
i. President Xi Jinping of China met with Ma Ying-jeou, the president of Taiwan, on Saturday in the first ever encounter between the leaders of the neighbors and longtime rivals, an act both sides described as a breakthrough gesture meant to promote peace and mutual prosperity.
ii. The two began their brief talks with a handshake that went on for more than a minute, with both men smiling broadly and turning side to side so the hundreds of reporters in the meeting room at the Shangri-La Hotel in the city-state of Singapore could document the moment.
iii. The meeting is a high point in the two leaders’ efforts to bridge the divisions of civil war and decades of animosity.
iv. When the two men sat down to start their talks, Mr. Xi spoke first and said their encounter was a historic step that opened a new chapter in relations between the two sides. Mr. Xi said that the people of China and Taiwan were compatriots, “one family with blood that is thicker than water.”
v. It was the first meeting of the leader of the Republic of China, more commonly called Taiwan, and the leader of the People’s Republic of China. The two governments have been rivals since 1949, when Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the Chinese Nationalists, fled to Taiwan after losing a civil war to Mao’s Communists, who established the People’s Republic of China that year. Those two leaders last met in 1945.
10. Heena Sindhu won gold in 13th Asian Shooting Championship
i. India’s Heena Sindhu on 6 November 2015 won the gold medal in the 10m air pistol women’s event at the 13th Asian Shooting Championship. The championship was started on 1 November 2015 and will be held for 12 days in Kuwait City.
ii. Incidentally, Heena was also the winner of the gold medal in the 10m air pistol event in 8th Asian Air Gun Championship. It was held in New Delhi in September 2015.
iii. Other medals included Nivetha who won gold in the 10m air pistol junior women’s event. In the 25m pistol men’s junior event, Shivam Shukla won gold.