[Current Affairs] January 2015

1. IRDA renamed to Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) was renamed as Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India .

2. Koppillil Radhakrishnan retired as ISRO chief

Koppillil Radhakrishnan retired as the Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) , Department of Space and Chairman, Space Commission on 31 December 2014. He was appointed as the Chairman of the organization in October 2009 as successor of G. Madhavan Nair.
Radhakrishnan spearheaded ISRO through several milestones like low-cost (74 million US dollars) Mangalayaan, the Indian mission to the red planet, Mars. Some major feats include

• The PSLV-C11 that lofted Chandrayaan-1, India's unmanned mission to the Moon
• GSLV-MK-III that carried a human crew module to the space

3. A.K. Mittal appointed as Chairman of Railway Board

A.K. Mittal was appointed as the Chairman of Railway Board on 31 December 2014. He succeeded Arunendra Kumar who superannuated from Railway Services on 31 December 2014.

4. M Sathiyavathy appointed as Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)

With this appointment, Sathiyavathy, a 1982 batch Union Territories cadre IAS officer became the first women DGCA. She succeeded Prabhat Kumar, a 1985-batch IAS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre. Her first challenge is to take Indian aviation safety ranking back to its lost top position in category-I. Due to poor regulatory oversight, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in January 2014 downgraded DGCA’s safety ranking to Category-II on par with countries like Bangladesh, Barbados, Ghana and Nicaragua.

5 .Beji Caid Essebsi sworn in as President of Tunisia

He became the first freely elected leader of Tunisia since it gained independence from France in 1956.

6. Union Government launched integrated women safety mobile app called Himmat

Himmat is a mobile application of Delhi Police that will allow women to send a distress call to Police Control Room and their relatives in case of any emergency.

7. Union Government formed NITI Aayog to replace Planning Commission

Union Government on 1 January 2015 set up the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog. NITI Aayog that replaced the 65 year old Planning Commission will be headed by Prime Minister. It will have a governing council comprising Chief Ministers of all the states and Lt. Governors of Union Territories.

8. Difference between the NITI Aayog and Planning Commission

Under the Planning Commission centre-to-state one-way flow of policy existed, whereas, the NITI Aayog has planned a genuine and continuing partnership of states. Now, state governments can play an active role in achieving national objectives, as they have been empowered to provide with strategic and technical advice across the spectrum of policymaking. In case of Delhi and Puducherry, the elected chief ministers will not be members of the new NITI Aayog. The Article 239 of the Constitution of India defines both Delhi and Puducherry as Union Territories and therefore, their administrators, lieutenant governors will be members of the panel.

On the Independence Day, he announced that the government will replace the Planning Commission which was established on 15 March 1950 through a Cabinet Resolution.

9. Maharashtra government launched online RTI application filing facility

Maharashtra government on 1 January 2015 launched online Right to Information (RTI) application filing facility. The e-filing facility will be available from 1 January 2015 on a trial basis.

10.Indians awarded with Queen’s New Year Honours 2015

Queen’s New Year Honours for the year 2015 were given on 1 January 2015 which included several persons of Indian-Origin from various field.
Knighthood - Nilesh Jayantilal Samani (an Indian-origin professor at the University of Leicester) - his contribution to Cardiovascular Sciences changed scientific thinking and impacted on clinical practice in the field
Medallist of the British Empire- Fauja Singh (world’s oldest Marathon runner at age 103) – for athletic achievements and charity.
New Year Honours is a part of the British honours system and is given annually on New Year's Day, i.e. 1 January. These awards are presented by or in the name of the reigning monarch, at present by Queen Elizabeth II. The honours are being given since 1890.

11.RBI relaxed KYC rules for Non-Banking Financial Companies

Know-Your-Customers (KYC) rules for Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) were relaxed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 2 January 2015.
As per RBI notification, the KYC exercise will be required to be done in three ways and they are
• For high-risk individuals and entities – in at least every 2 years
• For medium risk individuals and entities - in at least every 8 years
• For low risk individuals and entities – in at least every 10 years
These time limits will be adjusted by taking into account whether and when client due diligence measures have previously been undertaken and the adequacy of data were obtained. However, physical presence of clients may not be insisted at such periodic updations.
Previous norms said that the NBFC’s should undertake KYC once in every 5 years for low risk category customers and once in two years for both high and medium risk categories.

12.Jaffna-Kankasanthurai rail track restored by IRCON in North Sri Lanka inaugurated

The restoration work of the commercial rail service covering a distance of 18 kilometers has been completed by Indian Railway’s construction company (IRCON).
13. Former ISRO Chairman V R Gowarikar died in Pune

Senior Scientist and former Chairman of ISRO Vasant Ranchhod Gowarikar died after a brief illness in Pune, India on 2 January 2015. He was 82.
Chiefly known as the Father of the Indian Monsoon Model, Gowarikar was the first scientist to develop first indigenous weather forecasting model that predicted monsoon correctly. Between 1991 and 1993, he served as Scientific Advisor to late Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao.

He was Protégé of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, and was a part of the band of scientists who initiated India’s satellite research programme. His collaboration with Dr. F.H. Garner helped in creation of the Garner-Gowarikar theory, a novel analysis of heat and mass transfer between solids and fluid. 

14. Union Government accepted Bezbaruah panel report on safety of North East people
The Bezbaruah committee of five members was set up under chairmanship of M P Bezbaruah in February 2014 to look into the concerns of the people of the North East living in other parts of the country. The committee was constituted after the killing of Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Tania in a Delhi market. The report was submitted to the Home Ministry in July 2014. 

15. Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara became fastest to score 12000 Test runs

He reached the milestone in his 224th innings played during the Sri Lanka’s second Test match against New Zealand played in Wellington.
Players in 12000 runs Club include
• Sachin Tendulkar: 15291 Runs at an average of 53.78 in 247 innings
• Ricky Ponting: 13378 Runs at an average of 51.85 in 247 innings
• Jacques Kallis: 13289 Runs at an average of 55.37
• Rahul Dravid: 13288 Runs at an average of 52.31
• Kumar Sangakkara: 12028 Runs (playing) at an average of 58.00 in 224th innings (include 37 centuries in 130 tests)

16. ICICI Bank launched Digital Village Project in Akodara Village of Gujarat

The Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) Bank on 2 January 2015 launched Digital Village Project in Akodara Village in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat. The project aimed to provide services ranging from cashless banking to digitised school teaching. The digital village has three themes i.e. cashless, comprehensive and connected. The project embarked the 60 year celebration of the ICICI group's existence since the erstwhile ICICI Ltd was set up in 1955.

Earlier, the village named Akodara in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat gained fame when the then CM of Gujarat Narendra Modi started Gujarat's first animal hostel in 2011. The animal hostel is a concept conceived by Modi. Animal Hostel is a place where the cattle of the village are kept and maintained together and have all necessary infrastructure facilities to take care of them.
The Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) was originally set up as an Indian financial institution at the initiative of the World Bank, the Government of India and representatives of Indian industry to provide project financing to Indian businesses. It later got merged with ICICI Bank, which was set up in 1994.

17. Kiran Bhai Vadodaria elected as INS president

Kiran Bhai Vadodaria on 2 January 2015 was elected as President of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) for 2014-15. He is the Chairman and Managing Director of Gujarati newspaper Sambhaav Metro. He succeeded Ravindra Kumar of The Statesman. 

The INS was founded in 1939. Its headquarter is located in New Delhi. It acts as the central organization of the Press of India. It is an independent body authenticating circulation figures of newspapers and periodicals in India. It is an organization which plays a major role in protecting and promoting the freedom of press in India.

18. Union Sports Ministry recognised Boxing India as national federation for representing Boxing 

Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports on 2 January 2015 recognised Boxing India (BI) as the governing body for representing boxing in India.
In this regard, the Ministry allowed Boxing India to use the name under the Emblems & Names (Prevention of Improper use) Act, 1950 for all its future correspondence. BI already has been recognised as national federation by International Boxing Association (AIBA) to represent boxing in India and registered it as permanent member. The President of Boxing India is Sandeep Jajodia and it has been constituted with the support of 32 state boxing associations. 

19. New Jersey to host International Hindi Conference in April 2015

The International Hindi Conference will be hosted by New Jersey in April 2015. The theme of the International Hindi Conference 2015 is Expanding World of Hindi: Possibilities and Challenges.

20. PM launched National Programme for LED-based Home and Street Lighting

Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi on 5 January 2015 launched a National Programme for LED-based Home and Street Lighting in New Delhi to reduce energy consumption.

Other Launches

• A scheme for Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulb distribution under the Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP) was also launched.
• The Prime Minister also launched a web-based system to enable consumers in Delhi to register requests for procuring LED bulbs under Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP). Consumers can register either through the programme website (www.eeslindia.org/Delhi-Launch) or by sending an SMS to a designated number. 

Highlights of the programme

• LED bulbs will be distributed in a phased manner from March 2015 onwards.
• The entire project of installing LED bulbs for domestic and street-lighting in 100 cities is targeted for completion by March 2016.
• In Delhi, LED bulbs will be provided to all domestic consumers at an initial payment of 10 rupees each and the balance amount of 120 rupees each will be recovered from their electricity bill.
• Therefore, the cost for an LED bulb to domestic consumer will be 130 rupees through this programme due to bulk procurement, compared to the current open market retail price in the range of 350-600 rupees for LED bulbs.
• The estimated annual savings for households in Delhi per LED bulb will be 162 rupees. The LED bulbs will have a warranty of 3 years.
• It will result in annual saving of energy by about 24 crore units every year.

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