1. Maharashtra becomes first state to allow MLAs raise online question
i. The Maharashtra legislature has become the first in the country to launch an online mechanism for its members to send questions and move different motions in the House. In this regard state government has launched a website mls.org.in as part of Digital MLAs initiative in the winter session of state legislature in Nagpur.
ii. This system has been launched in an effort of state government to move towards complete digitization of the legislative process that aims at bringing the paper work to minimum. All MLAs and MLCs have been given unique user names and passwords to access to website so that they can send their questions and requests online.
iii. Facilitates them to move different motions like calling attention and half-an-hour discussion questions for legislature sessions. The system has been designed by the Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited (MKCL).
2. Indo-Russia bilateral naval exercise Indra Navy-15 began in Visakhapatanam
i. Indo-Russia bilateral maritime exercise Indra Navy 2015 commenced on 7 December 2015 in Vishakhapatanam. The exercise epitomises the strategic relationship between the two nations. The 8th edition of Indra Navy will be conducted in the Bay of Bengal till 12 December 2015.
ii. The primary aim of Indra Navy 2015 is to increase interoperability between the two navies and develop common understanding of procedures for maritime security operations. The scope of the exercise includes wide-ranging professional interactions during the Harbour phase and a diverse canvas of operational activities at sea across a spectrum of maritime operations.
iii. The Indian Navy will be represented by INS Sahyadri an indigenous frigate, INS Ranvijay, a guided missile destroyer and INS Shakti a Fleet Support Ship. The Russian Federation Navy (RFN) will be represented by Vadm Ryabukhin Andrey, Deputy Commander of the Pacific Fleet.
iv. The exercise will be progressed in two phases: the Harbour Phase (from 7-9 December 2015) at Visakhapatnam and the Sea Phase (from 10-12 December 2015) off Visakhapatnam. The Harbour Phase will encompass table-top exercises and planning conferences ashore, prior progressing to sea. The Sea Phase will include various facets of fleet operations.
3. SC directed State and UT Governments to consider acid-attack victims under Disabled Quota
i. The Supreme Court on 7 December 2015 directed State and Union Territory (UT) Governments to consider acid-attack victims under the disabled quota. The decision was made to make sure that the acid-attack survivors can be able to get reservations in government jobs as well as education benefits as disabled person.
ii. A bench of Justice MY Eqbal and Justice C Nagappan its order asked the states and Union territories to consider the plight of such victims and take appropriate steps with regard to inclusion of their names under the disability list.
iii. It directed Government to compensate, rehabilitate and provide free treatment to the survivors of acid attacks in pursuance of guidelines issued by it earlier. The court also said that its decision should be sent to chief secretaries of all states and UTs who would have to ensure that the order reaches to district magistrates.
iv. The order was pronounced while hearing a petition filed by Bihar-based NGO Parivartan Kendra that in its plea said that the state (Bihar) had not adequately compensated the victim for an incident that occurred over two years ago. The PIL said the victim had been paid only around 1.5 lakh rupees so far.
v. The court asked Bihar government to pay a compensation of 10 lakh rupees to an acid-attack victim, besides providing her free treatment including reconstruction surgery. It also asked the state to pay 3 lakh rupees to the victim's sister who has been providing her all help.
4. India launched I-LTEO programme to monitor 8 different biomes
i. India on 7 December 2015 launched the Indian Long Term Ecological Observatories (I-LTEO) programme to scientifically monitor eight different biomes (natural landscapes) across the country. The initiative was launched on the sidelines of the Conference of Parties-21 (COP-21) of UNFCCC in Paris.
ii. The programme aims to identify and monitor targeted socio-ecological challenges and help build capacity within India. The studies under the programme will indicate the need for imminent adaptation measures.
iii. Under this programme, students and young scientists will also be trained through sustained long-term support for research in the area of climate change. The initiative will also help the country to have its own scientific data-base in this key area without depending on studies done abroad.
iv. The new initiative will cover all the major biomass of the country from Western Himalayas to Western Ghats, Eastern Himalayas to Andaman & Nicobar Islands, central India to the Sunderbans and from Jammu & Kashmir to Rajasthan and Gujarat. Moreover, long term scientific monitoring of the natural landscapes, water resources, grasslands, mammals, birds, fishes and insects will also be carried out.
v. The focus would be to pick up signals and patterns of how changes in climate are affecting natural and closely associated human systems of agriculture and pastoralism. It will also enable its scientists to join international initiatives on the subject and provide empirical data on actual impacts on various eco-systems.
5. Beijing issued first-ever Red Alert on Air Pollution
i. Authorities in Chinese capital Beijing on 7 December 2015 issued its first-ever red alert on air pollution ordering schools to close due to hazardous air quality. Red alert is the highest possible state of caution.
ii. The order was issued after acrid smog enveloped the capital for the second time in December 2015. The order will last from 7am (local time) on 8 December 2015 morning until midday on 10 December 2015, when the weather is expected to change and blow away the smog.
iii. The red alert was announced for the first time since an emergency air-pollution response system (four-tier system) was introduced in 2013. Beijing got severe new law to control hazardous Smog and Air Pollution
iv. Half of private cars in the city will be ordered off the road during the period with an odd-even number plate system in force. Government agencies will have to keep 30 percent of their automobiles off the streets.
v. The other extra measures to be enforced include halting outdoor construction, banning fireworks and outdoor barbecues. Schools and nurseries will be required to close.
6. SmartCity Kochi to open next month
i. The much-delayed first phase of SmartCity Kochi, a joint venture of SmartCity Dubai and the Kerala Government, is ready for opening and will most likely take place in January.
ii. The exact date of the opening will depend on the convenience of Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates, who is also the Emir of Dubai. Built-up area of around 6.5 lakh square feet will be open for commercial utilisation once the first phase is opened and nearly three-fourths of the space has already been taken by major companies in the IT and ITES sector.
iii. Along with the opening of the first phase, the work on the second phase, which aims to build a much larger space than the first, will also begin. On Monday, State Chief Secretary Jiji Thomson reviewed the progress of the project as well as that of ancillary infrastructure development.
iv. SmartCity, a much-hyped development project in Kochi, has been delayed for several years mainly because of the financial meltdown in Dubai around the turn of the decade and bureaucratic bottlenecks.
7. ‘Biz Bridge’ meet in Kolkata
i. Loan applications worth Rs. 50 crore were received from micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), both existing and prospective, from the eastern region, particularly West Bengal, at the end of the four-day ‘Biz Bridge 2015’ organised here in the city.
ii. Organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, Biz Bridge 2015 had about 100 exhibitors coming from across the country and drew over 10,000 high-end visitors.
iii. According to a release from CII, the apex chamber will take forward the loan applications through its Finance Facilitation Centre (FFC) for further action with all its 13 partner banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs).
iv. The CII-Finance Facilitation Centre had also put up a special stall drawing a large number of entrepreneurs, said Saugat Mukherjee, Regional Director, CII Eastern Region.
v. Countrywide, loans applications that have been made and processed through CII-FFC are worth Rs. 475 crore so far, the industry body claimed.
8. Atomic Energy (Amendment) Bill, 2015 introduced in Lok Sabha
i. Union Government on 7 December 2015 introduced Atomic Energy (Amendment) Bill, 2015 in the Lok Sabha to facilitate and fast track setting up of new nuclear projects in the country. The Bill seeks to amend the Atomic Energy Act, 1962.
ii. The Atomic Energy Act, 1962 empowers the Union government to produce, develop, control, and use atomic energy.
iii. It expands the definition of paid-up share capital in parent Act to include joint ventures (JV) of public sector undertakings (PSUs). The whole of the paid up share capital would be held by one or more PSUs and empowers the Union government to constitute its Board of Directors for such JV.
iv. It proposes to make a consequential amendment in Section 14 of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 to enable the Central Government to issue licence to such joint-venture companies to set up nuclear power plants, take measures for safe operation and ensure safe disposal of nuclear material.
v. It states that any license, granted for matters such as (i) producing atomic energy and (ii) acquiring and using substances or minerals from which atomic energy can be obtained etc., will be cancelled if a licensee ceases to be a government company.
9. GRSE launches fifth ship of Indian Navy's LCU MK IV project
i. The fifth ship of Indian Navy's LCU MK IV project, was launched on Monday at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE) in Kolkata. LCU L-55 is the fifth vessel in the series of eight Landing Craft Utility Ships being designed and built by GRSE for the Indian Navy.
ii. The chief guest, Vice Admiral AV Subhedar, AVSM, VSM, Chief of Material, Chairman & Managing Director GRSE were present on the occasion.
iii. Vice Admiral AV Subhedar asserted that the Indian Navy has been supporting the drive for indigenous construction of warships leading to advancement of our shipbuilding industry and acknowledged the role of GRSE as a reliable partner in pursuing the national goal of 'Make in India'.
iv. He further stated that Indian Navy is eagerly looking forward towards induction of LCU-MKIV class of ships, which would be based at Port Blair. The ship can be deployed for multirole activities like beaching operations, humanitarian and disaster relief operations and evacuation from distant islands.
v. The first ship of the class 'LCU-L51' was launched on March 12, 2014 and is presently undergoing trials at GRSE. The vessel is likely to be delivered shortly to Indian Navy.
10. Tech Mahindra bags 'Forbes Top 100 Middle East - Global Meets Local 2015' Award
i. Tech Mahindra, a specialist in digital transformation, consulting and business re-engineering, has been awarded the prestigious 'Forbes Top 100 Middle East - Global Meets Local 2015' Award. ii. The award was presented at a special event hosted by Forbes Middle East in Dubai, celebrating the top management executives that are heading up regional offices in the Middle East for the world's most powerful companies.
iii. The winners are judged on criteria's of Global strength, experience in region, Geographical reach, Employment impact & Position in the Middle East region.
iv. Tech Mahindra has been in Middle East for over 12 years with operaticns across UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Turkey. The key focus verticals in the region are Energy & Utility, Telecom, Banking, Retail, Travel & Transport, Public Sector, Healthcare and Sports.