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 4  December 2014 National: Moti Darwaza door caves in The once impregnable Golconda Fort suffered damage when one side ...

GK & Current Affair Updates: December 4- 2014

 4  December 2014

Moti Darwaza door caves in
The once impregnable Golconda Fort suffered damage when one side of its huge door fell due to ‘rust and decay’. The left door of the historic Moti Darwaza got uprooted and rested precariously on the other door, giving anxious moments to passers-by. Luckily, nobody got injured, but the movement of traffic was thrown out of gear for nearly two hours as the massive wooden door leaned forward dangerously.

IISc, IIT-B make it to top 40 in varsity rankings
The Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore) is India’s top ranked university but stands at 25th in a ranking of universities from BRICS and other emerging economies according to new data. The Times Higher Education BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings 2015 covering 18 countries showed that India now has four universities in the top 40 – IISc, IIT Bombay, IIT Roorkee and Panjab University, Chandigarh – and seven more in the top 100. China tops the list with 27 universities in the top 100. China’s Peking University and Tsinghua University occupy the first and second positions. Taiwan is the next best represented country in the list.

New CBI chief takes charge
Anil Kumar Sinha took charge as Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation at the agency headquarters. Described as a soft-spoken officer by his junior colleagues, Mr. Sinha is said to have a “very simple” lifestyle. Mr. Sinha, who belongs to Bihar and was inducted as an IPS officer into his home cadre in 1979, is recipient of Police Medal for Meritorious Services in the year 2000 and President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Services in 2006.

Special SC Bench to hear, monitor social issues
The Supreme Court set up a special Bench, called the Social Justice Bench, comprising two judges devoted to the delivery of speedy justice in a range of social issues related to the downtrodden and socially marginalised groups. A brainchild of Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu, the Social Justice Bench will be headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur and also have Justice U.U. Lalit. The Bench would start functioning from December 12. The Bench will sit every Friday at 2 p.m. The special Bench will handle issues related to the release of food grains lying in stock for use in drought-affected areas, framing of a fresh scheme for their public distribution, taking of steps to prevent the untimely death of women and children for want of nutritious food, hygienic mid-day meals in schools, clean drinking water, provision of “safety and secured living conditions for women forced into prostitution.”

India’s rank improves marginally
India has marginally improved its ranking on the global Corruption Perception Index this year, on the back of prosecutions of high-level officials and hope that the new leadership will reduce corruption, Transparency International said. India’s two-point improvement (on a total possible score of 100) did not count as a “significant change” unlike that in countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Afghanistan. With a score of 36, India now ranks 85 among 175 countries, with countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burkina Faso for company. Denmark ranks first, as it did in 2013, while Somalia and North Korea share the bottom spot. India ranks better than all its South Asian neighbours, except Bhutan.

Protest rallies mark Bhopal disaster anniversary
Inter-faith prayer meetings and protest rallies marked the observance of the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster that killed thousands. The incident, which occurred on the intervening night of December 2 and 3, 1984, features among the world’s worst industrial disasters.


2014 could be hottest year on record
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says 2014 is on track to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, on record, according to its preliminary estimates released during the climate talks at Lima (Peru). This was largely due to record high global sea surface temperatures, which will very likely remain above normal until the year-end. High sea temperatures, together with other factors, contributed to exceptionally heavy rainfall and floods in many countries and extreme drought in others.

Business and Economy:

Easy exit norms for foreign investors in construction sector
To help attract foreign funds in construction of townships, hospitals and hotels, the government relaxed the FDI policy for this sector by easing exit norms and reducing built-up area and capital needs. The revised norms relating to construction development sector has been notified by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). India allows 100 per cent FDI in the sector through the automatic route. The new policy has done away with the three-year lock-in period for repatriation of investment. The investor will be permitted to exit on completion of the project or after development of trunk infrastructure, that is, roads, water supply, street lighting, drainage and sewerage. Under the new policy, the minimum floor area requirement has been reduced to 20,000 square metres from 50,000 square metres earlier. It also brought down the minimum capital requirement to $5 million from $10 million.

RBI doubles pre-paid card limit to Rs.1 lakh
Relaxing norms for Pre-paid Payment Instruments (PPIs), the Reserve Bank of India doubled the card limit to Rs.1 lakh. The balance in the PPIs should not exceed Rs.1 lakh at any point of time. The move would help in achieving the objective of limiting cash transactions in the system. Besides, the maximum validity of gift cards has been enhanced from one year to three years adding that other provisions of PPI guidelines with respect to gift cards will continue to be applicable. The RBI also allowed issue of multiple PPIs by banks from fully-KYC compliant bank accounts for dependent or family members. Only one card can be issued to one beneficiary.

Google launches new application for SMBs
In a move to create easier online presence for the small and medium businesses (SMBs), Google has launched a new application, Google My Business. The new product is designed to work across desktop and mobile devices, and will enable SMBs to create and update their business info on various Google products such as search, maps and Google plus from one place for free. The users can use the service in Hindi and English.

RBI issues new norms for MSME trading platform
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued guidelines for setting up and operating the trade receivables discounting system in the country, called TReDS, with a minimum paid-up equity capital of Rs.25 crore. It will not be allowed to assume any credit risk. The central bank will accept applications to set up TReDS, till the close of business on February 13, 2015. The scheme for setting up and operating the institutional mechanism for facilitating the financing of trade receivables of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from corporate and other buyers, including government departments and public sector undertakings, through multiple financiers will be known as TReDS. The central bank said that MSMEs, despite the important role played by them in the economic fabric of the country, faced constraints in obtaining adequate finance, particularly in terms of their ability to convert their trade receivables into liquid funds. The RBI expects this issue would be resolved through an institutional mechanism to fund trade receivables.

Panel to hear industry’s tax issues
The Finance Ministry set up a high-level committee to interact with trade and industry on tax related issues on a regular basis and ascertain areas where clarity in tax laws is required. The high-level committee will be headed by former Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) in the Ministry of Finance Ashok Lahiri. Other two members of the committee are Settlement Commission’s (Income Tax and Wealth Tax) retired member Sidhartha Pradhan and Customs and Central Excise retired DG (Audit) Gautam Ray. The committee will give recommendations to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) for issuance of appropriate clarifications by way of circulars, instructions on tax issues.

Science and Tech

Indian systems for world’s largest telescope
Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan signed a multilateral agreement admitting India’s participation in the development of the Thirty-Metre Telescope (TMT) in Hawaii. The Cabinet rapidly cleared the project and India has agreed to spend Rs.1299.8 crore on it over the next decade. Besides learning about the universe, India will gain the technology to manufacture fine aspherical mirror segments from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). This technology will form the basis of the next generation of spy satellites. TMT will contain 492 hexagonal mirror segments of 82 different kinds. These will behave like a single mirror with an aperture of 30-metre diameter. This large collecting area of 650 square metres is thrice as sensitive as the Hubble Space Telescope. India’s role will primarily be to create the control systems and software that keep the mirrors aligned and collect the data.

GSAT-16 to be launched from French Guiana

GSAT-16, the communications satellite being put in orbit for ISRO from French Guiana has to significantly improve the national space capacity with 48 transponders. The addition is important as GSAT-16 comes 11 months after the last Indian communication satellite GSAT-14 was flown in January 2014. This is also the highest number of transponders packed into an Indian spacecraft so far.