1. India to build satellite tracking station in Vietnam
(i) India will set up a satellite tracking and imaging centre in southern Vietnam, which will help Vietnam access pictures from Indian Earth observation satellites that cover China and the South China Sea.
(ii) Though the satellite has been termed as a civilian facility, experts assert that earth observation satellites have agricultural, scientific and environmental applications and could also be used for military purposes.
(iii) Vietnam continues to have territorial disputes with China and though this move is likely to irk China, it will deepen ties between India and Vietnam.
2. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa elected as the President of Portugal
(i) Popular TV Pundit Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was elected as the new President of Portugal after the recently concluded elections.
(ii) Mr Rebelo, of the opposition Social Democrats (PSD), a centre right opposition party won 52% of the 99% of the votes, which gave him a clear victory in the first round without any need for a runoff ballot.
(iii) His rival, Antnio Sampaio de Nvoa, left of centre candidate polled 22.8% of the total votes.
3. Beijing earmarks $2.57 billion to improve air quality
(i) Beijing has earmarked $2.57 billion for 2016 to improve its air quality .
(ii) The funds will be used in the city to cut the use of coal and to eliminate old vehicles in the capital. Beijing, had implemented an odd-even plate number restrictions during severe smog and also for several international events such as the 2008 Olympics and the APEC Summit in 2014 with the view to cut down emissions.
(iii) The city which has over 21 million population, and has aimed at a year on year drop of 5 per cent in its average PM 2.5 reading in 2016. The government further wishes to remove 200,000 high emissions vehicles from the roads and promote the use of clean energy in 400 villages.
4. Cabinet recommends imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh
(i) The Union Cabinet has recommended imposition of President’s rule in Congress-ruled Arunachal Pradesh after an emergency meeting.
(ii) The recommendation is awaiting President Pranab Mukherjee’s nod. Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju maintained that, the constitutional crisis in the state is the work of Congress party.
iii) The six-month mandatory period to conduct an assembly session lapsed on January 21 and hence President’s rule has been recommended. The Congress described the move as “trampling of democracy” and an act of “political intolerance” and said it would challenge the decision in Supreme Court.
5. Govt. to pay 2.5% commission to banks under Gold Monetisation Scheme
(i) Recently, the Finance Ministry said that the government will pay 2.5% commission for mobilising gold under the gold monetisation scheme and depositors will be allowed premature withdrawal of the deposited metal.
(ii) Under the modified rules, the government will pay the participating banks fees for their services, including gold purity testing charges, refining, storage and transportation charges, among others, on medium and long-term gold deposits.
(iii) The government expects that this modification will make the scheme more appealing for prospective depositors. India annually imports about 1,000 tonnes of gold and it is the second-highest component of India’s import bill after crude oil. Further, an estimated 20,000 tonnes of gold is lying idle in Indian households and temples.
6. Mahindra Defence, Airbus helicopters to form a joint venture for military helicopters
(i) Mahindra Defence and Airbus helicopters has inked a pact to form a joint venture to produce military helicopters in India. The MoU came about after the agreement between parties was signed in July 2015.
(ii) The statement of intent was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande. As per reports, both companies have begun work on steps to produce helicopter parts locally and are defining additional work packages to be industrialised in India.
(iii) In a statement, Mahindra and Mahindra Group President for Aerospace and Defence S P Shukla said, “We have made significant progress in setting up the joint venture and together the companies are creating a world-class advanced helicopter production facility in India.”
7. ONGC gets approval for Krishna-Godavari Basin Project
(i) State-owned ONGC has received environmental approval for drilling 45 development wells and other related infrastructure involving a cost of Rs.53,000 crore in the Krishna-Godavari River Basin in Andhra Pradesh.
(ii) It is estimated that the basin project and subsequent development of fields would lead to a production of 51.33 billion cubic meters of gas over a period of 16 years and 26.71 million cubic meters of oil in 12 years.
8. Green panel clears RGPL’s 1428 cr ethane pipeline project
(i) Recently, expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the Union Environment Ministry gave environment approval to Reliance Gas Pipeline Ltd (RGPL) for its 486 km-long pipeline for transportation of liquid ethane between Gujarat and Maharashtra.
(ii) RGPL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd and the pipeline network has been named ‘Dahej Nagothane Ethane Pipeline (DNEPL). It will be built in order to transport liquid ethane to the tune of 1.25 million metric tonnes per annum (MMPA).
(iii) The estimated cost of the project is Rs.1,428 crore and the pipeline will begin from Dhej in Gujarat till Nagothane in Maharashtra.
9. Senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta appointed as EPW editor
(i) Senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta has been appointed as the editor of the Economic & Political Weekly with effect from April 1, 2016.
(ii) Based in Mumbai, the magazine is known for well-researched, academic articles on myriad socio-political topics and social sciences.
(iii) While the journal was launched in 1949, Thakurta is only its fifth editor-in-chief. Previously, Dr. Rammanohar Reddy had been the editor of EPW for 11 years and will be due for retirement in April this year.
(iv) However, he has resigned early due to his differences with the Board of Trustees on issues pertaining to editorial autonomy.
10. Eastern Kire bags Hindu Prize 2015 for her book When the River Sleeps
(i) The Hindu Prize 2015 was presented to Eastern Kire for her novel When the River Sleeps.
(ii) The judges called Kire’s work a “tender philosophical novel that speaks to the present moment in India”.
(iii) Kirk’s book is the voice of Nagaland and the its victory, it is hoped, will bring more recognition to north-east writers, especially Naga literature.
11. National Voters’ Day observed on January 25
(i) January 25 is annually observed as National Voters’ Day across India.
(ii) This is the 6th National Voters’ Day celebrated by the Election Commission and the theme this year was ‘Inclusive and Qualitative Electoral Participation.’
(iii) The day was observed in around 65,616 polling stations across India. Speaking on the occasion, President Mukherjee stressed on the need to check money and muscle power in elections. He said that introduction of Electronic Voting Machines has resulted in remarkable change in India’s voting system.
(iv) Chief Election Commissioner Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi also released a book titled Belief in the Ballot and presented the first copy to President Mukherjee. January 25th also marks the foundation day of the Election Commission of India.
12. Sindhu cliches gold at Malaysia Masters Grand Prix
(i) India’s P V Sindhu recently clinched her second Malaysia Masters Grand Prix title defeating Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour 21-15 21-9 in the final match, which was held in Penang.
(ii) Sindhu is considered to be one of India’s most prominent women shuttlers. This is her second Malaysian title, the first one being in 2013.
(iii) She also made a hat-trick at the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold in November 2015.
13. India wins blind T20 Asia Cup
(i) India won its first blind T20 Asia Cup which was held at Kochi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, defeating Pakistan by 44 runs.
(ii) On batting first, India scored 208 for 5 in 20 overs. However, Pakistan scored only 164 runs in in 18.2 overs.
(iii) Throughout the event, Pakistan was unbeaten with six points and India was standing second with four points, and Sri Lanka ranked third. However, at the championship finals, the Indian team claimed the T20 Asia Cup.
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