National anthem must be played before screening of films: Supreme Court

  • The Supreme Court ordered all cinema halls across the country to play the national anthem before the screening of films and that all present must “stand up in respect” till the anthem ended.
  • It said the practice would “instill a feeling within one a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism.”
  • Cinema halls should also display the national flag on screen when the anthem is played.
  • A Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy said it is time people expressed their “love for the motherland.”
  • The Bench said it is the duty of every person to show respect when the national anthem is played or recited or sung under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act of 1951.
  • The Bench said the protocol of showing respect and honour to the anthem and flag is rooted in “our national identity, integrity and constitutional patriotism.”

RBI limits cash withdrawal from Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana accounts

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) reduced the cash withdrawal limit from the  Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) accounts to Rs 10000 a month only with an aim to protect farmers and rural Jan Dhan account holders from money launderers.
  • Any Jan Dhan account holder who isn’t complaint with the “know your customer” norms will be allowed to withdraw ₹ 5,000 per month from the amount deposited through the old notes after November 9 “within the overall ceiling of ₹ 10,000”.
  • This comes after the government revealed the total deposits in the Jan Dhan accounts suddenly increased to Rs 64,252.15 crore between November 10 and 16 – after the government announced the scrapping of high-value banknotes.

Govt approves strategic disinvestment of Salem Steel Plant

  • The government has in-principle approved strategic disinvestment of the loss-making subsidiary of India’s largest steelmaker SAIL, Salem Steel Plant (SSP).
  • SSP, a special steel unit of state-run SAIL, pioneered the supply of wider width stainless steel sheets and coils in the country.
  • The government has accorded in-principle approval of strategic disinvestment of SSP in Salem district of Tamil Nadu.

India’s trade deficit with China rises to $53 billion in FY16

  • India’s trade deficit with China increased to $52.69 billion in 2015-16 from $48.48 billion in the previous financial year.
  • Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed the Lok Sabha that the deficit is at $25.22 billion during the April-September period of 2016-17.
  • India is negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement keeping in view “its offensive export interests” as well as sensitivities with respect to all participating countries including China.

Utkarsh Micro Finance gets final nod to set up Small Finance Bank

  • Utkarsh Micro Finance has received final license from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to start operations as Small Finance Bank (SFB).
  • In October 2015, Utkarsh Micro Finance had got the “in-principle” approval to set up SFB as per the guidelines issued by the RBI.
  • Incorporated in 2009, Utkarsh Micro Finance is among the top 10 micro finance company in the country with operations in 10 states.
  • The new SFB will be named as ‘Utkarsh Small Finance Bank Ltd-‘ and is likely to start banking operations in early 2017.

Asia’s first cycle highway inaugurated in Uttar Pradesh

  • Asia’s first and longest cycle highway was inaugurated in Uttar Pradesh.
  • It is also India’s first cycle highway.
  • The 207-km-long cycle highway runs between Etawah and Agra.
  • It was inaugurated by state Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
  • The cycle highway has been constructed by the UP public works department.
  • It runs parallel to the main highway.
  • It is about 7-feet-wide and is separated by a divider from main highway which ensures the safety of cyclists.
  • The track begins from the lion safari in Etawah. Along its path it dots 92 villages across the two districts.
  • It criss-crosses the natural beauty of the Chambal and Yamuna rivers.
  • On its way it has tourist destinations like Naugava ka Quila, Raja Bhoj ki Haveli, and Bateshwarnath Temple.

Gross NPAs of PSBs touch over 6 lakh crores in July-September 2016

  • The Union Government has announced that the gross non-performing assets (NPAs) of the Public sector banks (PSBs) have touched around 66 lakh 40 thousand in the three months period from July to September 2016.
  • As on September 30, 2016 gross NPAs of the PSBs in the country rose to  Rs. 6,30,323 crore as against Rs. 5,50,346 crore by end of June 2016.
  • It shows increase of Rs. 79,977 crore NPAs on quarter on quarter basis during this period.

Union Govt to introduce Direct Transfer of Fertilizer Subsidy

  • The Union Govt has decided to introduce Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system for fertilizer subsidy payments.
  • Under the proposed system, 100% subsidy on various fertilizer grades will be released to the manufacturers and importers on basis of actual sales made by the retailer to the beneficiaries.
  • Initially, the modified subsidy procedure under DBT system will be introduced on pilot basis in 16 select districts.
  • In the second phase, the new payment system will be rolled out in all states only after its due stabilization in first phase.
  • The proposed DBT will address the issues relating to diversion and smuggling of urea.

Sex Ratio at Birth at decline in India: CRS data

  • According to new  data from Civil  Registration System ( CRS) released by the Office of the Registrar General of India, Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) continues to worsen in India.
  • The SRB has declined to 887 in 2014 from 898 in 2013.
  • The  ratio  has  been  declining  since  2011  when  the  figure  was 909.
  • Thus, Sex ratio at birth is still on the decline.
  • The SRB based on CRS figures indicate the gap between registered male and female births, calculated as the number of females per thousand males.
  • Highest SRB has been reported in Lakshadweep (1043), followed by Andaman and Nicobar Islands (1031) and Arunachal Pradesh (993).
  • Lowest SRB has been reported in Manipur (684), Rajasthan (799) and Tamil Nadu (834).

Goa all set to become first cashless state from December 31

  • Goa will become the first state to go cashless, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced at a rally in Sankhali in the state.
  • Cashless society will be achieved in Goa first.
  • Cash transactions will not be banned but the government will push hard for the adoption of digital modes of payment across the state, from large transactions to ones involving small vendors.

Keralas Padmanabhaswamy temple relaxes dress code for women

  • In a historic first, Kerala’s Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple decided to ease the dress norms for women devotees, allowing them to wear salwar kameez and churidar while offering their prayers at the shrine.
  • This decision was taken after a woman advocate; Riya Raje issued a petition at the Kerala High Court demanding for women to be allowed to wear salwar kameez inside the temple premises, calling the existing rule discriminatory.
  • Responding to her petition, the High Court had given the temple’s Executive officer, K N Sateesh 30 days to decide on the matter.

Bangladesh to honour 1668 martyrs of the Indian Army

  • Bangladesh will honour the families of 1668 martyrs of the Indian Army who fought in the 1971 India-Pakistan war, which resulted in the liberation of East Pakistan (Bangladesh), on the event’s 45th anniversary.
  • According to the Liberation War Affairs Minister A K M Mozammel Huq, families of all the martyred soldiers will receive Rs 5 lakh as a mark of respect.
  • The amount would be handed over by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina during her visit to Delhi between 18- 20 December 2016.

Trump nominated Seema Verma to head Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

  • Donald Trump, the new President-elect of the United States, nominated Seema Verma to the post of Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • She is the second Indian-American to be placed in one of the top administration positions, only after Nikki Haley, who created history by becoming the first-ever Indian-American to be appointed to a cabinet-level position under any US president.
  • Seema Verma will be expected to work along with the newly elected Health and Human Services Secretary- Tom Price.

M M Kutty appointed Chief Secretary of Delhi

  • Senior IAS officer M. M. Kutty was appointed the Chief Secretary of Delhi.
  • He replaced K. K. Sharma, who was transferred to the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development as Officer on Special Duty (OSD).

Worst coral die-off recorded at Australia’s Great Barrief Reef

  • Scientists have recorded worst mass coral bleaching event on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
  • It has killed more corals than ever before, sounding the alarm over the delicate ecosystem.
  • It is estimated nearly two-thirds of 2,300-kilometre long reef or 700 km stretch of coral in the Great Barrier Reef’s northern part have died in the past nine months.
  • This is the worst die-off ever recorded in Great Barrier Reef and also the largest ever recorded anywhere.
  • However, the central and southern sections of the reef are fared far better, with only 6% and 1% of the coral dead, respectively.
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