Current Affairs sections updated with December 2014 events

The Current Affairs sections:

Notes on Current Affairs
Current GK
Appointments Etc
Sports News

have been updated with December 2014 news.

These sections are useful for those preparing for Civil Services Exam, UPSC Exams, SSC Exams, Assistant Grade Exam, LIC and other Insurance Recruitment exams, Defence Services exams like NDA & CDS, Bank PO, RBI, Clerks’ Recruitment Exams, MBA, Hotel Management, CLAT, CSAT etc

New NASA app gives preview of deep space missions

NASA has developed a new interactive 3D app that can allow avid space explorers reach the launch pad of space missions – virtually.

Smartphone and tablet users can experience the excitement of standing on the launch pad beneath NASA’s massive new rocket, the Space Launch System or SLS, with the app that previews the starting point for the journey to Mars.

The app works by pointing the device up to see to the top of the rocket, or holding level to see the details of the solid rocket boosters and engines, NASA said.

No matter where the user is, opening the scene viewer portion of the app shows what the device’s camera would see if it were at the launch pad with the huge SLS rocket setting up for liftoff.

These views won’t exist in real-life until NASA sends SLS carrying an Orion spacecraft to a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon as the agency pioneers deep into space, but gives users a taste of what the powerful launches will entail.

Called NASA 3DV, for 3-D view, the inventive app shows viewers 3-D models of the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System, the fixtures of NASA’s push to send astronauts on deep space exploration missions to an asteroid and eventually Mars.

The app also shows virtual models of the crawler transporter that carried the Saturn V moon rockets and space shuttle to the launch pad and is on tap to take the SLS and Orion on the same trip.

Govt can save over Rs 30,000 crore food subsidy with FCI rejig

Government’s food subsidy bill can come down by over ₹30,000 crore a year by reducing coverage of beneficiaries to 40 per cent under the food law and outsourcing major work of FCI to State governments and private players, according to an eight-member panel headed by Mr Shanta Kumar. Prime Minister Modi has termed the recommendations as “pro-farmer and “pro-poor” and said that their “implementation would have miraculous results”.

Among the key recommendations, the panel has suggested direct cash transfer of ₹3,000 per person a year as food subsidy and ₹7,000 per hectare as farm input subsidy besides revisit of minimum support price (MSP) policy with more focus on pulses and oilseeds.

The key role of Food Corporation of India (FCI) is to buy foodgrains to ensure MSP to farmers, and distribute it to the poor under the public distribution system (PDS).

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Via Business Standard

WHO Global status report on non-communicable diseases 2014

This global status report on prevention and control of NCDs (2014), is framed around the nine voluntary global targets. The report provides data on the current situation, identifying bottlenecks as well as opportunities and priority actions for attaining the targets. The 2010 baseline estimates on NCD mortality and risk factors are provided so that countries can report on progress, starting in 2015.

In addition, the report also provides the latest available estimates on NCD mortality (2012) and risk factors, 2010-2012.

All ministries of health need to set national NCD targets and lead the development and implementation of policies and interventions to attain them. There is no single pathway to attain NCD targets that fits all countries, as they are at different points in their progress in the prevention and control of NCDs and at different levels of socioeconomic development. However all countries can benefit from the comprehensive response to attaining the voluntary global targets presented in this report.

CLICK Here to Download the Report.

IMF cuts global growth outlook, calls for accommodative policy

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its forecast for global economic growth in 2015, and called for governments and central banks to pursue accommodative monetary policies and structural reforms to support growth.

Global growth is projected at 3.5 percent for 2015 and 3.7 percent for 2016, the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook report, lowering its forecast by 0.3 percentage points for both years.

New factors supporting growth, lower oil prices, but also depreciation of euro and yen, are more than offset by persistent negative forces, including the lingering legacies of the crisis and lower potential growth in many countries,” Olivier Blanchard, the IMF’s chief economist, said in a statement.

The IMF advised advanced economies to maintain accommodative monetary policies to avoid increasing real interest rates as cheaper oil heightens the risk of deflation.

If policy rates could not be reduced further, the IMF recommended pursuing an accommodative policy “through other means”.

The United States was the lone bright spot in an otherwise gloomy report for major economies, with its projected growth raised to 3.6 percent from 3.1 percent for 2015.

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Via Reuters.

IAF gets first light combat aircraft

Thirty-two years after the project was sanctioned, the first indigenously-built Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was handed over by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to the IAF on 17 January, a red letter day for the Indian defence and aerospace sector.

The handover signals the start of a process of induction of the fighters being built at home under a project which has already cost the exchequer nearly ₹8,000 crore.  The entire project by the DRDO and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is estimated to cost over ₹30,000 crore.

The aircraft that has been handed over has got Initial Operational Clearance-II, which signifies that Tejas is airworthy in different conditions. The Final Operational Clearance (FOC) is expected by the year-end.  This version of the aircraft lacks the latest electronic warfare suite, which was integrated into one of the LCAs two weeks ago, mid-air refuelling and long-range missiles capabilities, among other things that the FOC-configuration aircraft will have.

The IOC-I was granted to the aircraft, being built by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), in January 2011. The second IOC was granted after the aircraft successfully completed its maiden flight on 30 September 2014.

20 aircraft will be built by 2017-18, to make the first squadron of the aircraft.

The LCA programme was initiated in 1983 to replace the ageing MiG-21s in IAF’s combat fleet but has missed several deadlines due to various reasons.  HAL’s LCA Project Group has has been upgraded to a full-fledged division to look after production in a systematic way with more investments.

HAL has carried out thousands of sorties of the LCA and outstation flight trials at Leh, Jamnagar, Jaisalmer, Uttaralai Gwalior, Pathankot and Goa for cold weather, armament and weapon deliveries, MultiMode Radar (MMR), Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), hot weather and missile firing flight trials.

Tejas successfully demonstrated weapon delivery capability during trials at Jamnagar and Jaisalmer.

India builds solar plants atop canals to save land, water

As India moves to ramp up investment in solar power, it is exploring innovative places to install solar plants, including across the top of canals.  Last weekend, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon inaugurated a new “canal-top” solar energy plant in Vadodara district in India’s western state of Gujarat.

“I saw more than glittering panels – I saw the future of India and the future of our world,” said Ban. “I saw India’s bright creativity, ingenuity and cutting-edge technology.”

Experts identify two major advantages in building solar plants atop canals: efficient and cheap land use, and reduced water evaporation from the channels underneath.  Earlier this month, India showed it is serious about expanding energy production from renewable sources. Prime Minister Narendra Modi upped the country’s investment target for solar alone to $100 billion, saying India would scale up solar power to over 10 percent of its total energy mix by 2022.

As part of that effort, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy plans to create 100 megawatts (MW) of capacity from grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants built on top of canals and on their banks by the end of the government’s latest Five Year Plan in 2017.

The ministry will subsidise 30 percent of estimated expenditure of $154 million to construct facilities to meet the canal-top goal.

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Via Reuters