Daily GK Update 29th January 2016, Important Current Affairs

1. Union Government announced 1st batch of 20 smart cities from 11 States and Delhi

i. Union Ministry of Urban Development on 28 January 2016 announced the 1st batch of 20 smart cities from 11 States and Union Territory of Delhi under the Smart Cities Mission. The 20 cities were selected through the Smart City Challenge competition that saw the participation of 1.52 crore citizens from 97 cities and towns.
ii. 23 States and Union Territories who could not make to the list of winners will be given an opportunity to participate in a fast track competition. Among the 20 cities and towns, 3 cities are from Madhya Pradesh, two each from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan and one each from the remaining five made it to the winning list.
iii. The 20 winning cities and towns have proposed a total investment of 50802 crore rupees over five years with all the cities proposing Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) as a major vehicle of resource mobilization. A total area of 26735 acres has been identified by these cities for making them smart through necessary interventions.
iv. These 20 cities account for a total population of 3.54 crore and 5 have  population below 5 lakhs each, 4 in the range of 5-10 lakhs, 6 in between 10-25 lakhs, 4 between 25 and 50 lakhs and only Ahmedabad has above 50 lakhs.

2. Commemorative Coin of 150 rupees & Circulation Coin of 10 rupees on Lala Lajpat Rai released

i. Ministry of Culture on 28 January 2016 released a commemorative coin of 150 rupees and a circulation coin of 10 rupees on Lala Lajpat Rai. The Commemorative Coin of 150 rupees is made of Quaternary alloy with diameter of 44 mm and weight of 35 grams.
ii. The Circulation coin of 10 rupees is made of bi-metallic material with diameter of 27 mm and weight of 7.71 grams. The coin was released by Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of state (Independent charge) Minister of Tourism & Culture at New Delhi on the occasion of 150th birth anniversary of Lala Lajpat Rai. Ministry of culture has been celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Rai from 28 January 2015 to 28 January 2016.
iii. During the year long celebrations a number of programmes were held in his memory in different parts of the country. Union Government released funds to Rastra Gaurava Samrakshna Parishath, Bengaluru (an NGO) for conducting 501 lectures in schools & colleges.
iv. The Servants of the People Society, founded by Lalaji brought out Hindi translation of 15 volumes of Collected Works of Lala Lajpat Rai. Punjab National Bank (PNB), founded by Lalaji undertook a variety of activities throughout the country, with special focus on Punjab.
v. Besides, the Punjab government sanctioned an amount of 5 crore rupees for construction of an Auditorium and 3 crore rupees for installation of Astroturf Flooring in Hockey Stadium at Lalaji’s Birth Place.

3. $80-m ADB loan to improve infra in Agartala, Aizawl

i. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has signed a $80-million loan agreement with the Centre to help continue improving infrastructure in the two North-Eastern cities of Agartala and Aizawl. The loan is the third tranche of $200-million financing facility under the North Eastern Region Capital Cities Development Investment Program.
ii. This will be used for investments in water supply, solid waste management and sanitation in the two cities. The loan will also support urban reforms, benefiting nearly a million people.
iii. Previous program tranches have provided assistance to five other cities in the Northeast-Shillong (Meghalaya), Aizawl (Mizoram), Kohima (Nagaland), Gangtok (Sikkim) and Agartala (Tripura), an official release said.
iv. The loan agreement was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of Government of India and Ms Teresa Kho, Country Director, ADB’s India Resident Mission on behalf of Asian Development Bank (ADB).

4. Kerala to host global skill summit

i. Kerala will host a three-day ‘Nypunyam International Skill Summit and Skill Fiesta 2016’ next month with a view to bridging the gap between the job market requirement and the skill level of available workforce.
ii. The event will unfold on February 5, according to Tom Jose, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Labour and Skills, Kerala. The focus will be on improving the skill levels and bringing them up to world standards in tune with the Prime Minister’s initiative for skilling 500 million young people by 2020. The skill summit will gather an array of top industry leaders, key government officials, policy makers and analysts functioning in the sector.
iii. The Nypunyam summit will be jointly organised by Directorate of Employment and Training and Kerala Academy for Skills Excellence, Jose pointed out.
iv. At least 70 contestants will take part in the skill fiesta representing trades as varied as welding, plumbing, catering, restaurant service, mobile robotics, fashion technology, fitter, electrical, automobile technology, bakery and confectionery, carpentry, computer-aided design (Civil) and electronics.

5. Iran, Airbus signed deal to buy 118 Airbus planes

i. Iran and Airbus on 28 January 2016 signed two agreements covering new aircraft orders and a comprehensive civil aviation co-operation package. The agreement includes purchase of 118 new Airbus aircrafts.
ii. The agreement for 118 new aircraft includes 21 A320ceo family, 24 A320neo family, 27 A330ceo family, 18 A330neo (-900), 16 A350-1000 and 12 A380. The agreements were signed at the Elysee Palace, Paris, during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s official visit to France with French President Francois Hollande.
iii. Iran Air and Airbus signed an agreement for the acquisition of the full range of new Airbus airliners (73 wide-bodied and 45 single aisles). This includes pilot and maintenance training and support services to help the entry into service and efficient operations of these new aircraft.
iv. A comprehensive co-operation agreement to modernize the civil aviation sector of Iran was inked. The agreement was signed to support the development of Air Navigation Services (ATM), airport and aircraft operations, regulatory harmonization, technical and academic training, maintenance, repair and industrial cooperation.
v. The deal to buy 118 Airbus planes is one of the biggest deals signed since western sanctions against Tehran were lifted. The sanctions were over Iran's nuclear programme.

6. Gurdeep Singh appointed as CMD of NTPC

i. Gurdeep Singh on 28 January 2016 was appointed as the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of NTPC Ltd. Singh will be the first person to be appointed to the top job at a Maharatna company through a search committee route.
ii. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the appointment of Singh for a period of five years from the date of assumption of charge of the post.
iii. The post of chairman and managing director at NTPC fell vacant after Arup Roy Choudhury completed his five year term on 31 August 2015.
iv. Gurdeep Singh is currently serving as the managing director of Gujarat State Electricity Company Limited (GESC). He started his career in NTPC in 1987.
v. He was earlier associated with Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation, Powergen and IDFC Projects in different capacities. During his tenure at GESC, Singh spearheaded several key reforms in Gujarat, the major being innovative solar power programmes such as the solar power plant over the Sardar Sarovar canal.

7. Nisid Hajari won 2016 William E. Colby Award for Best Military Book

i. Nisid Hajari on 28 January 2016 won the 2016 William E. Colby Award for his book, Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition.
ii. Hajari will be presented with the award and honorarium at Norwich University, the USA in April 2016.
iii. The Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition covers the 1947 partition of India and the violence that surrounded that event. Hajari oversees Asia coverage for Bloomberg View, the editorial page of Bloomberg News.
iv. Prior to working at Bloomberg, he spent 10 years as a top editor at Newsweek International and Newsweek magazine in New York, during which the magazine won over 50 awards for its international coverage.
v. From 1997 to 2001, he helped to create TIME’s first Asian edition in Hong Kong, winning two General Excellence Awards from the Society of Publishers in Asia. He helped edit the best-selling essay collection, Reimagining India: Unlocking the Potential of Asia’s Next Superpower. He has appeared as a commentator on foreign affairs for CNN, BBC, and National Public Radio. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

8. India successfully test fired Akash missile at Chandipur

i. India on 28 January 2016 test fired its indigenously-built surface-to-air Akash missile from complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR).at Chandipuri in Odisha. It was as part of a user trial mission. Three rounds of test were carried out by Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel aiming at para-barrel targets.
ii. The Akash (sky) is a mid-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. It is developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India under the integrated guided-missile development programme (IGMDP).
iii. IGMDP is also involved the development of the Nag, Agni and Trishul missiles and Prithvi ballistic missile. The first missile was delivered to the IAF in March 2012. The missile was formally inducted into the IAF in July 2015.
iv. The missile can fly at supersonic speeds ranging from Mach 2.8 to 3.5 and can engage aerial targets up to a range of approximately 25 kilometers.

9. Justice Sanjay Mishra appointed as Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh

i. Justice Sanjay Mishra was on 28 January 2016 appointed as Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh. His appointment was approved by the Supreme Court. The apex court bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Prafulla C Pant recalled the earlier order dated 16 December 2015 appointing Justice Virendra Singh for the post following the objections raised against Singh's appointment.
ii. The Supreme Court in December 2015 passed order appointing Justice Virendra Singh as Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh. It was the first time that apex court exercised its powers to appoint a Lokayutka, after repeated orders to the constitutional authorities of state that it must appoint a new person in the position.
iii. The apex court utilised its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to enforce its own orders to do complete justice.
iv. However, Singh's appointment aroused objections as Chief Justice had received serious complaints against Justice Singh during his tenure as Chairman of Consumer Redressal Forum in November 2012.

10. Navneet Kaur, Santosh Kadale won gold in Senior National Rowing Championship

i. Punjab’s Navneet Kaur on 28 January 2016 won two gold medals in the 34th Senior National Rowing Championship at Hussainsagar Lake, Hyderabad. It was her maiden gold at the country’s highest level in the senior category.
ii. Kaur took 8:26.83 seconds to take the first place in the 2000mts Open Single Scull. Later, Navneet and Harpreet Kaur won the women’s doubles sculls timing 7:42.94 seconds.
iii. In the men single scull, Nasik’s Santosh Kadale won his maiden national gold.
iv. Host Telangana men team had to be contended with a silver in the Open Men’s Coxless while K Tejeshwar Reddy bagged a bronze medal for Andhra Pradesh in single scull.

11. Sania Mirza, Martina Hingis won 2016 Australian Open women's doubles tennis title

i. Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis on 29 January 2016 won the 2016 Australian Open title of tennis in the women’s doubles category.
ii. To win the title, the top seeded Indo-Swiss pair defeated seventh seeded Czech duo Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 7-6, 6-3 at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. With the win over the Czech duo, they extended their unbeaten run to 36.
iii. For Sania-Hingis pair, it was their maiden Australian Open title and the third successive Grand Slam doubles title after their victories in the 2015 Wimbledon and US Open.
iv. In the 2016 season, it was their second title. Earlier, they won the 2016 WTA Apia International Sydney title on 15 January 2016. In a semi final of the tournament, the duo created a world record by winning their 29th women’s doubles match in a row.


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