1. India, UK sign MoU in the field of public administration and governance reforms

       1.  The
Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for the MoU signed  in
November, 2015 between India, and the UK for cooperation in public                 administration and governance reforms.

      2. The
two countries will cooperate in areas like sharing good governance     practices
in public administration, user-led service design, reducing bureaucracy in
service delivery, government process re-engineering, building staff
capability, public grievance redress mechanism,

      3.  Few
other areas of cooperation include, local government reforms, reforms           towards bolstering social security, promotion of ethics in government,           collaboration between government and industry on staff management,
mechanism for public engagement, crisis and disaster management and
digital transformation of government.

Cabinet approves setting up of 5,000 MW of grid-connected solar PV
power projects

  1. The
    Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for setting
    up over 5,000 MW of grid-connected solar PV power projects on
    build-own-and-operate basis.
  2. This
    would enable creation of additional 5000 MW capacity of grid-connected
    solar PV power generation projects in four trenches, each of 1,250 MW
    capacity during four financial years, namely 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and
  3. Total
    investments expected under this scheme is about Rs.30,000 crore. It will
    help create employment for nearly 30,000 people and will also help reduce
    carbon dioxide emissions every year.
  4. The
    tenders for the projects will be based on specific demands of states/UTs.
    The Installation will generate around 8,300 million units per year,
    which will satisfy power needs of around 2.5 million households.
  5. The
    Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) was launched in January
    2010 with a target to setup 20,000 MW grid connected solar power projects
    by 2022. The target has been raised to 1,00,000 MW.

UNWTO releases World Tourism Barometer

  1. The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has released the World
    Tourism Barometer, which reviews trends in tourism at the regional and
    global level.
  2. It is aimed at tracking the short-term evolution of tourism.
  3. As per the publication, international tourist arrivals grew by 4.4%
    in 2015 to reach a total of 1184 million. In numbers, around 50 million
    more travelers were recorded in 2015 vis-a-vis 2014.
  4. 2015 marks the 6th consecutive year of above-average growth, with
    international arrivals increasing by 4% or more annually since the
    post-crisis year of 2010.
  5. These trends were influenced by exchange rates, oil prices and
    natural and man-made crises across the world.
  6. China continued to lead global outbound
    travel, increasing cash inflow into Japan and Thailand as well as the US
    and other European destinations.

India among
top 5 most promising markets globally

  1. As per PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) annual
    global CEO survey, India has emerged as the fifth most promising market
    for businesses globally as it offers one of the best opportunities for
    domestic as well as global firms.
  2. The US takes the first place in this regard,
    followed by China, Germany and the UK.
  3. A total of 1,409 CEOs from 83 countries participated in the survey,
    which points out that though Indian CEOs have become less confident about
    their companies’ growth, their confidence level continues to be higher
    than the global average.
  4. Only
    27% of the respondents believe growth would pick up over the next one year
    as against 37% in 2015. However, 39% of Indian CEOs expect an improvement
    in global growth.
  5. PwC
    India CEO, Deepak Kapoor said, “Recent policy reforms and a consequent
    pick up in investment and the government’s aim to boost infrastructure are
    also playing a role in boosting CEO confidence”.

Renowned danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai passes away

  1. Noted
    danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai passed away in Ahmedabad, aged 97.
  2. She was educated at Shantiniketan under
    Rabindranath Tagore and was formally trained in Bharatanatyam, Kathakali
    and Mohiniyattam.
  3. Besides being a classical dancer, she was a poet, writer and
    environmentalist and played a crucial role Ahmedabad’s social and art
  4. A recipient of Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan, she was married to
    physicist and educationist Dr Vikram Sarabhai and is survived by danseuse
    and activist daughter Mallika Sarabhai and environmentalist son Kartikey

was Earth’s warmest year since 1880

  1. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the
    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have reported that
    2015 was Earth’s warmest year since 1880.
  2. According to the report, “During 2015, the average temperature
    across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.62 Fahrenheit (0.90 Celsius)
    above the 20th century average”. Compared to 2014, the year 2015, was 0.29
    Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius) warmer, the “largest margin by which the
    annual global temperature record has been broken.”
  3. NASA stated that the temperature changes are largely caused by
    increased carbon dioxide and other man-made emissions.
  4. Hot temperatures were observed almost everywhere in the world and
    in large parts of the northeastern and equatorial Pacific the effect was boosted
    by the El Nino weather phenomenon.
  5. Resultantly, melting ice sheets and warming oceans will lead to
    rising seas in the coming years, storms may become more severe as the
    globe heats up and cold snaps may become rarer.

Amitabh Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra to endorse Incredible India

  1. Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan and Priyanka Chopra have been
    declared the new brand ambassadors for the Incredible India campaign,
    replacing Aamir Khan.
  2. The duo will be part of the campaign without charging any fee and
    have been appointed for a three-year time period.
  3. The appointment was finalised after the Centre decided to terminate
    the contract of actor Aamir Khan due to his remarks on perceived
    intolerance in India.

SoftBank invests additional Rs 100 crore in Housing.com

  1. Japan-based SoftBank has invested an additional Rs.100 crore in
    realty portal Housing.com.
  2. As per Housing.com’s statement the infusion
    will well-capitalise the company in order to give impetus to its growth
  3. Established in 2012, Housing.com had raised so far over $100
    million in capital from leading investors, including SoftBank, Nexus
    Ventures, Falcon Edge and Helion Ventures.
  4. SoftBank has hitherto invested around $70 million in the realty
    portal and holds 30% stake in the same.

Pearson to cut 4,000 jobs due to weak earnings

  1. British education publisher Pearson plans to
    reduce 10% of its workforce or 4,000 employees, hold its dividends after
    weak earnings forecast for 2015 and 2016.
  2. It plans to spend 320 million pounds ($453 million) this year in
  3. The publisher now will now focus on fewer and bigger opportunities
    in order to rebuild the company. It also aims at savings across the board
    in technology, HR, finance and across its property portfolio.

10.  ISRO signs MoU with Kuwait on cooperation in
space exploration

Recently, the Indian Space Research
Organisation (ISRO) signed a MoU with the Kuwait Institute of Scientific
Research (KISR) on cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for
peaceful intents.

MoU will enable KISR to use data from Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites
for research purposes, besides facilitating building and launching of remote
sensing and communication satellites on commercial terms.

MoU will promote research in the field of remote sensing of the earth,
satellite communication, satellite navigation, space science, etc. The overall
aim is to enhance joint activity in the application of space technology for the
welfare of mankind.

11. Maharashtra first state to grant 180
days maternity leave in surrogacy cases

Maharashtra government became the first to issue a resolution, which states
that women employees in government jobs can get up to 180 days’ maternity leave
while having a baby through surrogacy.

will have to submit certificates provided by the authorities as per the
surrogacy guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

leaves will be valid from the date of the baby’s birth and will be granted only
once in the employee’s tenure. Women employed in public educational
institutions and universities will also benefit from this decision.

World Economic Forum’s annual meeting commences in Davos

The World Economic Forum’s 2016 annual
meeting commenced in Davos, Switzerland. The official theme of the meeting is “mastering
the fourth industrial revolution”, which in other words means “fusion of
technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and
biological spheres”.

 Several issues will be addressed in the
meeting including terrorism and migrant crisis, stock market chaos, climate
change, European debt crisis, wealth inequality, medicinal advancements and
cybercrime and civil liberties.

While top executives Satya Nadella
of Microsoft and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook will discuss the positive effects
of the new industrial revolution on industry and society, the conference will
also witness debates on threat to white collar jobs, how intelligent automation
may lead to a world without work, etc.

13.  Barcelona joins Real Madrid and Manchester
United in 500 million euros club

1. Spanish football club Real Madrid topped
the Deloitte Football Money League list for the 11th consecutive year
with revenue amounting to €577 million.

2. Barcelona rose up from the fourth
to the second spot with revenues to the tune of €560.8 million due to its
success in La Liga, Spanish Cup and Champions League. England-based Manchester
United was placed in the third place with €519.5 million, followed by Paris
Saint-Germain (€480.8 million) and Bayern Munich (€474 million).

3. For the first time, the top three
clubs in the Football Money League have crossed the €500 million revenue mark.

14.  India ranked
89th in GTC index

Recently, India was ranked 89th
on the Global Talent Competitiveness Index released by INSEAD business school
in association with Adecco Group and Singapore’s Human Capital Leadership
Institute. Switzerland has topped the list followed by Singapore, Luxembourg,
the US and Denmark.

The index measures a nation’s
competitiveness based on the quality of talent it can produce, attract and

India has slipped 11 places as
compared to 2015. Its ranking is the worst among BRICS nations while China is
much ahead with a rank of 48.

Skill shortage in vocational talent
is a major problem in South Africa, India and China. It is also difficult for
countries like China and India to attract talent from abroad, particularly as
large number of high-skilled people emigrated in the past.

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