Current Affairs, News & Facts of 14 Dec 2015

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  • Centuries-old Losar festival begins in Ladakh 


    Centuries-old Losar festival begins in Ladakh

    Losar festival which marks the beginning of New Year in the Himalayan territory has begun in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir . 15 days, long Losar festival began with illumination of religious and residential places and by visiting monasteries for prayer. 

    Key facts about Losar festival :

    • Losar is a centuries-old community-based socio-religious festival that strengthen the existing community bond between the communities and adds joy to the lives of inhabitants of the landlocked Himalayan territory of Ladakh.
    • Losar is celebrated for 15 days, with the main celebrations on the first three days. It begins with prayers to the god and goddess common to a group of families, known as Faspun. They exchange wishes and greetings for the New Year. The community remembers their family ancestors by offering delicious food and lighting the traditional lamp in front of the graveyard.
    • Lama Jogis who are considered as the  pilgrims of Kailash Mansarovar and well-wishers of New Year visits each house of the village, wishing prosperity. Children and youngsters also join the grand celebrations by covering their faces and dressing up in animal skin jackets. They wish prosperous New Year by visiting houses.
  • Mumbai CP Ahmad Javed appointed as Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia


    Mumbai CP Ahmad Javed appointed as Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

    Mumbai Police commissioner Ahmad Javed has been appointed Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, which has a 2.8 million-strong Indian community. He is expected to take up his assignment shortly as Javed is scheduled to retire on January 31, 2016.

    Ahmad Javed is the IPS officer of 1980 batch from Maharashtra Cadre. He had recently replaced Rakesh Maria as the Mumbai Police commissioner during the sensational Sheena Bora murder case. 

    Relationship between India and Saudi Arabia

    Relations between India and Saudi Arabia witnessed some strain after a Saudi diplomat was charged with confinement and rape of two Nepalese women in September. The diplomat later left India. From trading point of view, Saudi Arabia is a crucial country for India. The import of crude oil by India forms a major component of bilateral trade with the Gulf nation which is India’s largest supplier of crude oil. The Indian community in Saudi Arabia is the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom.

    Note :- Ahmad Javed will be the fourth IPS officer to be appointed as India’s envoy to Saudi Arabia in an assignment which is traditionally a domain of the Indian Foreign Service. IPS officer Julio Ribeiro, who was Mumbai Police commissioner from 1982 to 1985, also served as Indian Ambassador to Romania.

  • Farmer’s leader and Agro-economist Sharad Joshi passes away in Pune


    Farmer’s leader and Agro-economist Sharad Joshi passes away in Pune

    Renowned economist, agriculturist, prolific journalist, and noted farmers’ leader Sharad Joshi passed away on 12 December 2015 in Pune, Maharashtra. Joshi had been suffering from cancer for the past few years. He was 80.

    Joshi was the founder of Shetakari Sanghtana (farmers’ Organisation) an NGO dedicated to the cause of farmers in Maharashtra. As the news of his demise spread across the state, thousands of his grief-stricken supporters, mainly farmers came to attend his funeral. He was also the founder of Swatantra Bharat party.

    From bureaucrat to a farmer 

    • Born on 3 September 1935 in Satara, Sharad Joshi obtained his formal education in Mumbai after which he worked in the Savitribai Phule Pune University as a lecturer in economics.
    • Joshi subsequently joined the Indian Postal Services and later moved to Berne, Switerzland, to work with Chief Informatics Service International Bureau, a UN organisation.
    • After 10 years, he left the job and returned to India to work on agrarian issues and formed the Shetkari Sanghatana in the late 1970s. In order to learn first-hand the issues facing the farmers, Joshi purchased 27 acres of land in Ambethan village near Chakan in Pune district to practise rain-fed agriculture 
    • Shetkari Sanghatana, in its heyday, was known for the innovative methods of agitation to draw attention to the problems of the farmers. He also founded an organisation of rural women, Shetkari Mahila Aghadi (SMA), which was known for  its work for women's property rights.
  • India, Japan sign MoUs on civil nuclear energy, high speed rail


    India, Japan sign MoUs on civil nuclear energy, high speed rail

    India and Japan have signed an MoU on cooperation and assistance in  the Mumbai – Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project (referred by many as Bullet Train project).  

    The two countries have also entered into two comprehensive technological cooperation agreements for modernization and upgradation of Indian Railways.The MoU was signed in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in New Delhi. 

    Key facts of the MoU :

    • Japan has offered an assistance of over Rs.79,000 crore for the project. The loan is for a period of 50 years with a moratorium of 15 years, at an interest rate of 0.1 per cent. 
    • The project is a 508 Kilometer railway line costing a total of Rs. 97,636 crore, to be implemented in a period of seven years. It has been agreed that Shinkansen Technology will be adopted for the project.
    • The cooperation of Japan will be fixed on transfer of technology and “Make in India”. Japan will assist India in training of personnel for High Speed Rail Project 

    Significance of Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project :

    The bullet train network will link the India's financial hub Mumbai with Ahmedabad, the capital of Modi's home state, Gujarat. Bullet train between the two cities will cut travel time on the 505 kilometre route from eight hours to around three. The approx. cost of the project is estimated to be around Rs 98,000 crore.

    Civil Nuclear Agreement :

    India and Japan also signed a pact on civilian nuclear cooperation after five years of negotiations. Under the pact both sides have confirmed cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The final deal will be signed after certain technical and legal issues are thrashed out.

  • Myanmar launches first Unesco biosphere reserve


    Myanmar launches first Unesco biosphere reserve

    Myanmar has launched the country’s first Unesco Biosphere Reserve Inle Lake in Shan state, opening a new chapter in its commitment to bio-diversity and eco-system conservation.

    The 489,721 hectares’ Inle Lake was designated as Myanmar’s first biosphere reserve under Unesco’s Man and the Bioshpere programme in Paris in June this year. It was one of 20 places added at at the Unesco's 27th Man and the Biosphere (MAB) International Coordinating Council (ICC) meeting. 

    The UNESCO has worked closely with Myanmar concerned to provide technical assistance for the nomination process of the Inle Lake in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

    Key facts about Inle Lake:

    • Inle Lake is a freshwater lake located in the District of Shan State, part of Shan Hills in Myanmar (Burma). It is the second largest lake in Myanmar with an estimated surface area of 44.9 square miles (116 km2), and one of the highest at an elevation of 2,900 feet (880 m)
    • The wetland ecosystem of this freshwater lake is home to 267 species of birds, out of which 82 are wetland birds, 43 species of freshwater fishes, otters and turtles. Diverse flora and fauna species are recorded.
    • It holds over twenty species of snails and nine species of fish are found nowhere else in the world. Some of these, like the silver-blue scaleless Sawbwa barb, the crossbanded dwarf danio, and the Lake Inle danio, are of minor commercial importance for the aquarium trade.
    • The lake gets funding from the government of Norway under the framework of the Inle Lake Conservation and Rehabilitation project.
  • Government of India Signs MoU for establishing IIITs at Ranchi, Nagpur & Pune


    Government of India Signs MoU for establishing IIITs at Ranchi, Nagpur & Pune

    The Central Government has  signed Memorandum of Understanding and documentation for establishing three Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIITs) at Ranchi, Nagpur and Pune. 

    These IIITs are operated on a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode with participation of State Government and Industry, apart from the Central Government. The IIITs are expected to bring out high quality IT manpower required for building up IT industry in the country. 

    The agreement in this regard has been signed between Department of Higher Education(DoHE) from the Central Government side and private agencies including Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Tata Motors, ADCC Infocad and Hubtown.

    Three new IITs :


    IIIT-Ranchi will operate from the Old Judicial Academy in the Administrative Training Institute, Ranchi admitting 120 students for the year 2016-17 through JEE 2016 examination. The partners for IIIT-Ranchi - the TCS and Tata Motors have committed participation in developing curriculum which is required by the industry. The institution will be mentored by NIT-Jamshedpur. 


    IIIT-Nagpur will be set up in the BMIT Campus (temporary campus) with the participation of M/s ADCC Infocad and TCS. Government of Maharashtra has identified 88 acres of land for setting up a permanent campus. The BNIT will be the mentor institution. It has proposed to admit 120 students in the CSE and ECE branches in 2016 through JEE-2016 examination. 


    IIIT-Pune will be set up in the Siddhant Engineering College (temporary campus) and the permanent campus will be constructed at Chakan for which the State Government has identified 100 acres of land. The industry partners are M/s Hubtown Mumbai and M/S Roltas have agreed to develop the curriculum suitable to the industry. The Institute will start functioning under the mentorship of COE Pune and 120 students will be admitted in 2016 through JEE-2016.

    Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) are a group of institutes of higher education mainly focused on information technology. They are established, managed and funded by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD).


  • Indian-origin writer J M Sali honoured with 2015 South East Asia literary award


    Indian-origin writer J M Sali honoured with 2015 South East Asia literary award

    A 76-year-old Indian-origin writer Jamaludeen Mohamed Sali, whose 57 books are read in universities has been declared as the winner of this year's prestigious South East Asia Write Awar. The award was conferred upon him at the annual ASEAN regional award for literary excellence in Bangkok, Thailand. Mohamed Sali has been writing for over 50 years and has several literary awards to his credit, including Singapore's prestigious Cultural Medallion.

    Key facts about J M Sali :

    • Jamaludeen Mohamed Sali (famously known as J M Sali) was born in Madras in 1939, his father was betel leaf seller and his mother was housewife.
    • Sali was invited to Singapore at the age of 25 to be an assistant editor at the Tamil Murasu newspaper by its founder, the late G Sarangapani. He went on to work for local broadcasting station and produced books on famous people including martial art icon Bruce Lee and legendary boxer Muhammad Ali
    • J M Sali has written 57 books, 80 plays and more than 400 short stories including Vellai Kodugal (White Lines) Alaigal Pesuginrana (the Sound Of The Waves) that are now studied by Tamil Literature students in Singapore and Indian universities.

    About South East Asia literary award :

    • Southeast Asian Writers Award started back in 1979, it is presented annually to poets and writers in Southeast Asia. The awards are given to a writer from a country that is part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
    • The award is given for  a specific work by an author, or it could be awarded for lifetime achievement.  The types of works that are honored vary, and have included poetry, short stories, novels, plays, folklore, and scholarly and religious works.
  • Gambia declares itself an ‘Islamic republic’


    Gambia declares itself an ‘Islamic republic’

    Republic of the Gambia a West African country has been declared as the Islamic republic by it's President Yahya Jammeh. The decision was taken as Islam is the religion of the majority of its citizens and to break the impac of nation’s colonial past. About 90 percent of Gambia's 1.8 million people are Muslim. The country gained independence from Britain in 1965. Although President announced that the rights of Gambia’s Christian community will be respected and there will be no mandates on dress.

    Facts to know about Gambia :

    The Republic of the Gambia  is a country in West Africa mostly surrounded by Senegal with a short strip of its coastline bordered with the Atlantic Ocean at its western end. It is the smallest country on mainland Africa. 

    Capital: Banjul is the capital of Gambia

    Economy : The Gambia's economy is dominated by farming, fishing, and especially tourism. About a third of the population lives below the international poverty line of USD 1.25 a day.

    On 18 February 1965, the Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom. Since gaining independence, the Gambia has had two leaders – Dawda Jawara, who ruled from 1970 until 1994. In 1994 Yahya Jammeh seized power in a coup as a young army officer.

    Gambia is a popular beach destination for British tourists although Mr. Jammeh’s government has been frequently criticised by Britain and other Western powers for human rights abuses. Mr. Jammeh has ruled Gambia since seizing power in 1994.



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