1. Libya announces new unity government under UN
(i) In order to unite the country’s opposing factions, Libya’s Presidential Council recently announced a new government of national accord under a United Nations-backed plan. However, of the nine members, only seven signed the document, naming a total of 32 ministers, including a female.
(ii) The 32 names will be sent to the internationally-recognised Parliament in Tobruk for approval. Libya has been in chaos since Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown. The country has two rival parliaments, backed by different armed groups, and the UN has advised both to approve the unity government.
(iii) On December 17, 2015, the UN-sponsored Sukhairat declaration ended the political and military infighting in Libya. A nine-member Presidency Council of Ministers was tasked with selecting the national unity government within 30 days of signing the agreement.
2. China and Saudi Arabia forge strategic partnership
(i) China and Saudi Arabia have agreed to forge a comprehensive strategic partnership to improve cooperation in various fields including construction of railways and power stations, investment in finance and aerospace, and peaceful use of nuclear energy.
(ii) The agreement followed after Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh. Xi Jinping said the aim is to deepen mutual strategic trust and enhance cooperation, as well as facilitate shared interests in international and regional affairs.
(iii) Further, the two countries have agreed to deepen cooperation to jointly promote the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21 century Maritime Silk Road.”
3. India, UK to strengthen economic cooperation in infrastructure and financial services
(i) India and UK have agreed to bolster economic cooperation in infrastructure and financial services in order to tackle the issue of cross-border tax evasion and avoidance besides opening up the Indian legal sector to foreign lawyers.
(ii) The decision was taken during Indian Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s visit to the UK for the 8th India-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue.
(iii) Jaitley said, “From the Indian point of view, we were extremely interested in having the British investors look at infrastructure investments in India…The possibility of their investing, either directly in projects or through the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) that we have created, were both discussed.”
4. Oxfam Report – the richest 62 people as wealthy as half of the world’s poor population
(i) As per Oxfam’s recently released report ‘An economy for the 1%’, the richest 1% of the world’s population has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined. Oxfam also calculated that the richest 62 people in the world have as much wealth as the poor half of the global population.
(ii) The research was based on data made available by Credit Suisse and it found that the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population-3.6 billion- fell by 41% (or a trillion US dollars) between 2010 and 2015 despite a rise in global population of 400 million.
(iii) The report, released ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland, highlights the increasing gap between the rich and the poor.
(iv) In 2010, 388 people owned the same wealth as the world’s poorest half In 2011, the number reduced to 177 and continued to fall each year to 80 in 2014 and 62 in 2015.
5.Tata Steel to lay off 1,050 employees in UK to cut cost
(i) Tata Steel, one of Britain’s biggest steelmakers, decided to lay off 1, 050 employees to cut cost amid falling steel prices in Europe driven by cheap imports, chiefly from China.
(ii) The plan is to cut 750 jobs at its Port Talbot-based strip products business, 200 jobs in support functions and 100 jobs at steel mills in Trostre, Corby and Hartlepool.
(iii) British steelmakers pay hefty energy bills and green taxes in the world and thus struggle to compete with cheaply imported steel from China.
(iv) In December 2015, Tata Steel, a unit of India’s Tata conglomerate, was in talks with an investment firm Greybull Capital to sell its straining Britain-based unit.
6. Anil Ambani becomes chairman of Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Co Ltd.
(i) Anil Ambani took charge as the Chairman of Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Co Ltd. (PDOC) after Reliance Infrastructure Ltd (RInfra) took control of the company. It will be renamed as Reliance Defence and Engineering Ltd.
(ii) Vice-Admiral (Retd) HS Malhi, former chairman and MD of Mazagon Dock, who also put in 36 years of service in the Indian Navy, has been appointed as the company’s whole-time director and CEO. PDOC has also appointed defence professionals, including Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Fali Homi Major and Lt Gen (Retd) Syed Ata Hasnain as independent directors.
7. Senior journalist Aroon Tikekar passes away
(i) Recently, senior journalist and scholar Aroon Tikekar passed away in Mumbai, aged 72. Tikekar
authored over 20 books, including the famous The cloister’s pale: A Biography of the University
(ii) He joined the Times of India as chief of its archive and reference section, where he was tasked
with penning the history of the 150-year-old newspaper.
(iii) He later worked with the group’s Marathi
daily Maharashtra Times.
Tikekar reached the peak of his career when he served as the Editor of Loksatta, Marathi
newspaper of The Indian Express group, from 1991 to 2002. Under him, the readership of the
newspaper widened and its intellectual fervour was enhanced as a scholarly articles were
8. Jehan Daruwala achieves his maiden Formula Car victory
(i) Indian racer Jehan Daruvala achieved his maiden Formula Car victory recently.
(ii) The Sahara Force Indian Academy racer bagged the Lady Wigram Trophy in New Zealand, which is considered to be one of the most prestigious events in the country.
(iii) This victory is a commendable feat since stalwarts like Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss, Jim Clark and Bruce McLaren were all former winners of the Lady Wigram Trophy.
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