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CENTRE HAND-PICKS 20 SMART CITIES FOR FIRST PHASE OF PLAN
1.A new chapter in India’s urban history has started with the Smart Cities Mission finally taking some material shape. Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday announced the list of 20 cities that have qualified to build smart infrastructure with Rs. 200 crore each from the Central government’s first phase of funding. The Ministry has given top rating to Bhubaneswar for its robust Smart City plan.
2.Urging the country’s mayors to “work hard” for the improvement of their municipalities, Mr. Naidu said the government would soon introduce the credit rating system for cities so as to attract foreign investors. “Every city should follow credit rating. Otherwise no one will come and invest from outside,” he said, after announcing the 20 names here.
3.Mr. Naidu said the government would grant every winning city a sum of Rs. 500 crore as “overall cache of start-up funds” and expects the State governments to provide an additional Rs. 500 crore.
4.According to mission guidelines, the total State and Central financial assistance for each smart city would be Rs. 1,000 crore.
SARBANANDA SONOWAL IS BJP’S CM NOMINEE FOR ASSAM
1.In a departure from its recently set practice, the BJP Thursday declared Union Minister and Assam BJP chief Sarbananda Sonowal as its chief ministerial candidate for the Assembly elections in Assam, where it has high hopes on its electoral performance among the five poll-bound states this year.
2.The BJP parliamentary board, which met on Thursday, the first time after Amit Shah was re-elected the party’s national president for a full three-year term, took the decision to project Sonowal as the party’s face in the state. This was a clear departure from its practice of not projecting a chief ministerial candidate ahead of polls.
INDIA GETS MORE VOTING RIGHTS IN IMF REFORMS
1.In long-pending reforms that came into effect on Wednesday, emerging and developing economies gained more influence in the governance architecture of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). India’s voting rights increase to 2.6 per cent from the current 2.3 per cent, and China’s, to six per cent from 3.8, as per the new division. Russia and Brazil are the other two countries that gain from the reforms.
2.More than six per cent of the quota shares will shift to emerging and developing countries from the U.S. and European countries.
3.The combined quotas — or the capital countries contribute — doubles to about $659 billion from about $329 billion.
NABARD PROJECTS ODISHA’S CREDIT POTENTIAL AT OVER RS.58,880 CRORE
1.The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) on Thursday projected overall credit potential of Odisha at Rs.58,882.39 crore for priority sectors during the year 2016-17 – a jump of 23.3 per cent over last year.
2.The bank had made a credit projection of Rs.47,756.44 crore during 2015-16.
3.“The aggregation of the district-wise potential linked credit plan (PLPs) for 2006-17 projects a credit flow of Rs.58,882.39 crore for the State indicating an increase of 23.3 per cent over the last year. Out of total credit potential for the State under total priority sector, Rs.32,207.90 crore has been assessed under agriculture,” announced NABARD Chief General Manager S. K. Kale, addressing the State Credit Seminar 2016-17.
4.“Credit potential under agriculture constitutes 54.7 per cent of total priority sector. Out of total credit of Rs. 32,207.90 crore estimated under agriculture, Rs.29,710.95 crore (92.2 per cent is under farm credit), which comprises of both crop loans and term loans for agriculture and allied activities,” he said.
SC RECALLS ORDER APPOINTING JUSTICE VIRENDRA SINGH AS U.P. LOKAYUKTA
1.Heeding the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court’s objections, the Supreme Court on Thursday recalled its order appointing Justice (retired) Virendra Singh as Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta.
2.A Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Prafulla C. Pant then appointed another former High Court judge, Sanjay Misra, as the State’s anti-corruption ombudsman.
3.The decision follows a prolonged litigation that saw the Bench, fed up with the “lack of consensus” among the State’s constitutional authorities — the Chief Minister, the Opposition leader and the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court — went ahead with a rare display of its extraordinary powers vested under Article 142 of the Constitution to appoint Justice Singh as Lokayukta from a list of five names presented to it by the State government on December 16.
CHHATTISGARH CREATES POST OF SPECIAL DIRECTOR GENERAL TO TACKLE NAXAL MENACE
1.Chhattisgarh has constituted a post of Special Director General of Police (Anti-Naxal Operations) to effectively combat Left Wing Extremism in the state and has given the charge to senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer DM Awasthi as part of a minor reshuffle in the top.
2.”The reshuffle order of the four officers came last evening from Mantralaya (Mahanadi Bhavan), Naya Raipur,” a government official said.
3.The state government has appointed 1986-batch IPS officer DM Awasthi as the Special Director General of Police (Anti-Naxal Operations).
4.A Director General (DG)-rank official, Mr Awasthi has also been assigned the charge of another crucial offshoot of the state police – the Special Intelligence Branch (SIB). Besides, he will continue to look after the affairs of Chhattisgarh Police Housing Corporation as its Managing Director.
ZIKA COULD INFECT 4 MN PEOPLE: WHO
1.The World Health Organization (WHO) expects the Zika virus, which is spreading through the Americas, to affect between three million and four million people, a disease expert said on Thursday.
2.The WHO’s director-general said the spread of the mosquito-borne disease had gone from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions.
3.Marcos Espinal, an infectious disease expert at the WHO’s Americas regional office, said: “We can expect 3 to 4 million cases of Zika virus disease”. He gave no time frame. There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is a close cousin of dengue and chikungunya and causes mild fever, rash and red eyes. An estimated 80 per cent of people infected have no symptoms, making it difficult for pregnant women to know whether they have been infected.
IMF REFORMS: CHINA, INDIA, BRAZIL, RUSSIA GET GREATER SAY
1.The IMF’s 2010 quota and governance reforms have finally become effective and will give emerging markets like BRICS more power and greater say at the lender of last resort.
2.“The conditions for implementing the International Monetary Fund’s 14th General Quota Review, which delivers historic and far-reaching changes to the governance and permanent capital of the Fund, have now been satisfied,” the IMF said in a statement.
3.China will have the third largest IMF quota and voting share after the United States and Japan, and India, Brazil and Russia will also be among the top 10 members of the IMF.
4.The reforms were approved by the IMF’s Board of Governors in 2010. US foot-dragging on reforms to the institution had blocked changes meant to give more voting power to BRICS and other emerging economies, frustrating countries around the world.
TRAIN TO TEHRAN WINDS ALONG SILK ROAD INTO WEST ASIA
1.China on Thursday demonstrated the integration of West Asia in its New Silk Road connectivity project by flagging a train from its trading hub of Yiwu to Tehran.
2.The container train will cover a journey of 10,399 km in its maiden journey to West Asia in14 days. It will exit China through Alataw Pass in western China’s Xinjiang province, and then pass through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan before heading for the Iranian capital. Yiwu is already connected by trains that head for Duisburg in Germany and Madrid.
3.Analysts say that flagging of the train to Tehran signals Iran’s participation in the China-initiated Belt and Road connectivity initiative
BOOK ON PARTITION WINS PRESTIGIOUS COLBY AWARD
1.A book on India’s Partition and its consequences has won a prestigious $5,000 prize in the U.S.
Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition by Nisid Hajari won the William E. Colby Award for 2016, a statement said.
2.Hajari’s first book covers the Partition and the violence that surrounded that event.
3.The prize, named after a former CIA Director, is awarded annually by Norwich University to a first-time author in recognition of a work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a major contribution to the understanding of military history, intelligence operation, or international affairs.
FILM ON SOLITARY WEAVER WINS GLOBAL PRIZE
1.When she was married at 18 and went to live in Killimangalam village, P. Prabhavathi had no clue that she would one day become the sole weaver to uphold the village’s tradition of weaving Kora grass mats.
2.Now aged 52, Prabhavathi is the subject of a documentary film Magic Weavers of Killimangalam, which has won a prize at the ‘Global Folklorist Challenge’. The competition was organised by Cricket Media, an education company, in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution in the U.S.
3.Produced by Vayali, a folklore collective based in Arangottukara, Thrissur, the film is directed by Bhagyanath and evolves through the eyes of school students Sruthika S.R. and Ashitha P.H., who try to understand the village’s legacy through the lone surviving weaver.