Current Affairs, News & Facts of 17 Dec 2015

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  • Supreme Court appoints Justice Virendra Singh as UP Lokayukta 


    Supreme Court appoints Justice Virendra Singh as UP Lokayukta

    Supreme Court has appointed Justice (Retd) Virendra Singh as new Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh. This appointment is rare display of  Supreme Court's extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to enforce its own orders in order to do “complete justice”,  the Supreme Court for the first time in its history has appointed a Lokayukta after state machinery failed to appoint it. The bench that made this historical appointment was headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

    Background :

    The bench noted that despite its various orders since April 2014, the UP government had failed to appoint the new Lokayukta so it mandated deadline of December 16 to appoint the new Lokayukta, but the selection committee comprising the CM, Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court faild to reach a consensus hence Supreme Court used it's extraordinary constitutional power and appointed Justice Virendra Singh as UP Lokayukta .

    Justice (Retd) Virendra Singh :

    Justice (Retd) Virendra Singh hails from western Uttar Pradesh. He has served as Judge of Allahabad High Court from 2009 to 2011 and had retired in 2011.

    What is Article 142 of Constitution :

    • Under Article 142, Supreme Court  in exercise of its jurisdiction, may pass such decrees and may make such orders as is necessary for doing complete justice in any case or matters pending before it. 
    • The orders so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe.
  • ISRO Successfully Launches 6 Singaporean Satellites


    ISRO Successfully Launches 6 Singaporean Satellites

    Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully placed six commercial satellites of Singapore in to their dedicated orbits by this it has added Singapore to its client list for commercial satellite launches.

    The satellites were launched using Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C29)  from the first launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, 100km north of Chennai. It was PSLV 32nd flight, and the 31st consecutively successful one.

    So far in 2015, Isro has launched 14 satellites (three Indian and 11 foreign) from its rocket port in Sriharikota. Thirteen satellites were launched with PSLV rocket and one communication satellite - GSAT-6 - with geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV).

    This successful launch of 6 Singaporean Satellites coincides with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Singapore in year 2015.

    Key facts about the Singaporean Satellite launch :

    • The was done with  Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle's core alone (PSLV-CA) variant of  ISRO. The total lift-off mass was of 227.6 tonne that included 600 kg payload weight. All of these satellites were successfully launched into a 550 km circular orbit inclined at 150 to the equator.
    • Out of the six satellites, the 400 kg earth observation satellite called TeLEOS-1 is the main passenger for the PSLV rocket and hence the mission is called TeLEOS mission by Isro. TeLEOS-1 is Singapore's first commercial earth observation satellite designed and developed by ST Electronics.
    • The other five co-passenger satellites are VELOX-C1 (123 kg), VELOX-II (13 kg), Kent Ridge-1 (78 kg), Galassia (3.4 kg) and Athenoxat-1.

    Antrix Corporation, which is the commercial arm of ISRO has launched more than 55 foreign satellites of 20 countries into space till date. Some of it's clients includes US, UK, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and South Korea.

  • Supreme Court bans registration of new diesel SUVs, luxury cars in Delhi till 31 March


    Supreme Court bans registration of new diesel SUVs, luxury cars in Delhi till 31 March

    In a landmark ruling aimed at curbing the alarming pollution level in Delhi, Supreme Court has banned the registration of all diesel SUVs and luxury cars with engine capacity of 2000 cc or more in the entire National Capital Region till March 31 next year. People will not be allowed to bypass this injunction by getting their vehicles registered in Noida, Gurgaon or any other adjoining areas in the National Capital Region (NCR). 

    Over 23 percent of the cars on Delhi roads run on diesel which produces much more carcinogenic nitrogen oxide than petrol cars. More than 1,400 new cars are added every day to the 8.5 million vehicles on Delhi's roads. Diesel-driven vehicles account for over 90 per cent of SUVs in India, 34 per cent of small cars and 70 per cent of of large/ medium cars. 

    Order passed by the Supreme Court :

    • All the private cabs operating in the city should convert into Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) by March 1, 2016.
    • Commercial vehicles registered before 2005 will be banned from entering Delhi
    •  In a relief to the ordinary commuters, the court exempted small diesel cars from the ambit of its order.
    • The top court also ruled that all trucks not bound for Delhi will not be allowed to enter the capital through National Highways 1 and 8. 

    The trucks that are carrying goods for Delhi will have to shell out a steep environment compensation charge (ECC). The current green cess stands at Rs 700 for light duty vehicles and Rs 1,300 for three-axle vehicles in addition to toll tax. These may be hiked to Rs 1,400 and Rs 2,600, respectively.

  • Pakistan successfully tests nuclear-capable Shaheen-IA ballistic missile


    World bank approves $ 1.5 billion for swach bharat abhiyan

    Pakistan has  successfully tested its nuclear-capable Shaheen-IA ballistic missile with a range of 900 km. This was Pakistan’s second test of a nuclear-capable missile in December 2015. On December 11, Pakistan tested the Shaheen-III surface-to-surface ballistic missile with a range of 2,750 km.

    The test of the Shaheen-IA was aimed at re-validating several design and technical parameters of the weapon system .The impact point of the test was in the Arabian Sea and the launch was witnessed by officers from the Strategic Plans Division, strategic forces, scientists and engineers.

    Facts about Shaheen-IA (Hatf IV) ballistic missile  :

    Shaheen-IA ballistic missile (In English means Falcon) is a land-based supersonic and short-to-intermediate range surface-to-surface guided ballistic missile. It is an improved version of the Shaheen 1 with better accuracy and double the range of its predecessor. Both the Shaheen I and Shaheen IA are Pakistan's equivalent to the United States Pershing 1 and Pershing 1a missiles.

    The missille has been designed and developed by the joint venture of NESCOM and the National Defence Complex (NDC). It has been named after a species of Falcon found in the mountains of Pakistan.

    The Pakistani military initially did not publicly reveal the range of the missile which lead to media speculation of the true range of the missile but as per defense analyst this missile could be equipped with warheads designed to evade missile defense systems. This missile also incorporates DSI technology

    All three Shaheen missiles, Shaheen I, Shaheen 1A and Shaheen II are reportedly equipped with the latest PSAC (Post-Separation Altitude Correction) system. This is a unique feature which consists of small thrusters that can adjust the warhead trajectory for greater accuracy and evading anti-ballistic missile defence systems.

  • Saudi Arabia announces 34-country Islamic alliance to fight terrorism


    Saudi Arabia announces 34-country Islamic alliance to fight terrorism

    Saudi Arabia has announced the formation of a coalition of 34 predominately Muslim nations to combat terrorism. The alliance has been established in pursuance of the objectives and principles of the charter of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which calls for all member states to cooperate to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

    Facts about 34-country Islamic alliance :

    The joint operations centre of the alliance will be established in the Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia. The 34-country military alliance will includes nations with large and established armies such as Turkey, Pakistan and Egypt as well as war-torn countries such as Libya and Yemen

    The list of 34 members: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Palestinians, Qatar, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen

    The new alliance which has been established amid international pressure on gulf countries urging a greater regional involvement in the campaign against the militants. The new alliance will co-ordinate efforts against extremists in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.

  • World bank approves $ 1.5 billion for swach bharat abhiyan


    World bank approves $ 1.5 billion for swach bharat abhiyan

    The World Bank has approved a loan of  USD 1.5 billion to support the Central government's flagship cleanliness drive Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), which aims to ensure all citizens have access to improved sanitation - such as a toilet or latrine with a focus on changing behaviour - in ending the practice of open defecation by 2019.

    The World Bank will also provide a parallel USD 25 million technical assistance to build the capacity of select state governments in implementing community-led behavioural change programmes targeting social norms to help ensure widespread usage of toilets by rural households.

    Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) will play the overseeing and coordinating role for the programme and support the participating states.  Funds will also be used to develop the capacity of MDWS in programme management, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation.

    Key facts :

    As per World Bank statistics, of the 2.4 billion people who lack access to improved sanitation globally, more than 750 million live in India, with 80 per cent living in rural areas.  

    More than 500 million of the rural population in India continue to defecate in the open, suffering from preventable deaths, illness, stunting, harassment and economic loss.One in every ten deaths in India is linked to poor sanitation. And studies show that low-income households bear the maximum brunt of poor sanitation.

  • Saudi Arabia reopens its embassy in Iraq after 25 years


    Saudi Arabia reopens its embassy in Iraq after 25 years

    Saudi Arabia has reopened its embassy in Baghdad, 25 years after relations were broken over Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The staff of the Saudi embassy arrived in Baghdad. The staff consists of 35 people, led by the ambassador's deputy. The ambassador himself is due to arrive today and attend an official opening ceremony. A consulate is expected to open later in Arbil, capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

    Relation beween Saudi Arabia and Iraq 

    • Diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq were severed in 1990 but restored in 2004 after the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.
    • Relations remain strained between the Gulf kingdom, a Sunni powerhouse, and Shia-dominated Iraq, where Iran and armed groups loyal to it wield huge influence.
    • Iraqi officials have repeatedly accused Riyadh of abetting the Islamic State group, which took over large areas of the country last year

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