Daily GK Update 17th December 2015 Important Current Affairs

1. ISRO successfully launches 6 Singapore Satellites onboard PSLV-C29
i. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully placed six commercial satellites from Singapore in their dedicated orbits. These satellites were launched using Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C29) from the first launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. 
ii. This successful launch coincides with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Singapore in year 2015. Key facts The PSLV-C29 was launched in the core-alone version. The total lift-off mass was of 227.6 tonne that included 600 kg payload weight.
iii.  It was overall PSLV’s 32nd space flight and the 31st consecutively successful one. The major payload was TeLEOS-One remote sensing satellite weighing 400 kg. It would be used for urban planning and disaster monitoring of Singapore. 
iv. The other five satellites included two micro satellites and one nano satellite. These satellites are VELOX-CI (123 kg), VELOX-II (13 kg) 6U-Cubesat technology demonstrator, Athenoxat-1, Kent Ridge-1 (78 kg) and Galassia (3.4 kg) 2U-Cubesat. 
v. All of these satellites were successfully launched into a 550 km circular orbit inclined at 150 to the equator. So far Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of ISRO has successfully launched more than 55 foreign satellites of 20 countries into space. Some of its customer countries are US, UK, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and South Korea.

2.  Union Cabinet gives nod to MoU with BRICS countries for energy conservation
i. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa) countries for energy conservation.
ii.  The MoU provides for Joint scientific and technological research strengthening energy efficiency cooperation among the member countries based on the principles of equality and mutual benefit. Capacity building and technology transfer in the field of Energy Savings and Energy Efficiency along with sharing policies and best practices.
iii.  Counterparts for strengthening and further developing of energy saving and energy efficiency cooperation. Under the present MoU, the BRICS countries will intend to examine the practicability of development of the comprehensive programme of cooperation in energy saving.
iv.  It will also include promotion of energy efficiency including specific common projects, applicable methods and instruments of energy saving promotion and energy efficiency increase in their economies.

3. Union Government gives in principle approval to Google’s Loon project
i. Union Government has given in principle approval to work on Loon project of internet search engine giant Google for providing Internet connectivity by using large balloons. 
ii. The announcement was made by Google CEO Sunder Pichai in New Delhi after meeting Union Communication and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. 
iii. The project will be started on a pilot basis and state run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will be partner with the project in order to expand Internet connectivity in the country.

4. French President Francois Hollande to be Chief Guest at Republic Day in India

i. President of France Francois Hollande will the Chief Guest at 67th India’s Republic Day (26 January 2016) celebrations. Hollande on 16 December 2015 accepted the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office.
ii. Hollande’s India visit will help in strengthening the strategic partnership between India and France. This is his second visit to India, earlier he visited the nation in February 2013.
iii. Apart from this, Hollande will be the fifth French leader to be a chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations, maximum number from any country so far. Earlier leaders from that country were Jacques Chirac in 1976 and 1998.  Valery Giscard d’Estaing was the chief guest in 1980 and Nicholas Sarkozy was the chief guest of the event in 2008.
iv. Bhutan's head has presided four times so far in 1954, 1984, 2005 and 2013.

5. Federal Reserve of US increased interest rate by 0.25% for the first time since 2006
i. The Federal Reserve System, the central banking system of the USA, on 16 December 2015 increased interest rate by 0.25 percent. A decision in this regard was approved by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System chaired by Janet L Yellen.
ii. With this, the interest rates in the US are now in the range of 0.25 – 0.50 percent as compared to zero to 0.25 percent rage earlier. This is the first rate increase since 2006.
iii. In December 2008, three months after the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc, the interested was kept in the near zero range to stimulate the economy and consequently, tide over the financial crisis.

6. World Bank to lend $1.5 b for Swachh Bharat rural projects
i. The World Bank has approved a $1.5-billion loan for the Swachh Bharat Mission’s support operation project in rural India to help the government’s efforts to ensure access to sanitation.
ii. The loan will support the project over a five-year period using a new performance-based programme that links funds directly to results, a World Bank release said.
iii. The programme entails ensuring usage of toilets along with their construction, for which States and their implementing agencies will be given incentives.
iv. The performance of States will be measured against their ability to reduce open defecation and improving solid and liquid waste management, said the Bank. Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director for India, said: “Incentivising good performance by States and the focus on behavioural changes are two important components of this project.”


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