16-17 December 2016 Current Affairs

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17 Dec, 2016

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1) The first Humsafar Express, the new series of express trains for inter-city overnight journeys designed specifically for middle-class passengers, was launched by Indian Railways on 16 December 2016. This first Humsafar train is between which two destinations? – Gorakhpur and Anand Vihar (Ghaziabad)

Explanation: The Indian Railways launched the AC III tier Humsafar Express on 16 December 2016 as promised by the railway minister Suresh Prabhu in the railway budget this year. Humsafar Express, made up entirely of AC III coaches, targets middle class passenger group for inter-city overnight journeys.

The first Humsafar Express, with 16 AC III tier coaches and two power cars, runs between Gorakhpur and Anand Vihar in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh. It was flagged off by Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu through video conferencing.

The train features numerous features meant to provide luxury to middle-class passengers such as CCTV, Global Positioning System (GPS)-based passenger information system, mobile and laptop charging points, integrated braille display for the visually impaired, smoke detection and suppression system and a high quality exterior and interior design among others.

The first group of Humsafar coaches, including power cars, has been manufactured at Modern Coach Factory in Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh.

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2) From 15 December 2016 which seven airports of India became ‘tag-free’ for hand baggage as part of the trials to scrap security stamping procedure? – New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad

Explanation: The procedure of putting tags on passengers’ hand baggage and then stamping these tags was done away at seven airports – four metro cities (New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata), Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad from 15 December 2016.

The move follows a decision by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which handles the security at airports, to do away with stamping of cabin baggage tags.

India has the system of stamping boarding pass and hand baggage since 1992 and this system is unique to the country only.

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3) The Supreme Court on 15 December 2016 ordered closure of all liquor shops along national and state highways in the country. This order will come into effect from which date? – 1 April 2017

Explanation: A bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur on 15 December 2016 directed the Central and state governments to “cease and desist” from issuing liquor licenses situated on national and state highways. It said that no new license for a liquor-vend along highways shall be granted henceforth.

Further, the court added that no liquor shops should even be visible from highways and no such shop should be allowed at least within a radius of 500 metres. The court highlighted the significance of road safety and menace of drunken driving while issuing the order.

The bench set a deadline of 1 April 2017 for expiry of all existing licences and directed the authorities to ensure strict compliance with its order.

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4) On 14 December 2016 which country was removed from India’s tax blacklist after the Indian Government agreed to changes in the double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) with this country? – Cyprus

Explanation: The Indian government on 14 December 2016 rescinded a notification blacklisting the Mediterranean island nation Cyprus, providing relief to investors who route their investments through it.

This means that investors can hope for some relief from the Indian tax department for investments routed through Cyprus in the intervening three-year period that attracted some of the stringent provisions like increased withholding tax requirements.

It is worth mentioning that on 1 November 2013 Cyprus was listed as a “notified jurisdiction” for not providing financial information sought by the Indian government.

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5) Who was appointed as the new Chairman of state-owned behemoth Life Insurance Corp. of India (LIC) during December 2016? – V.K. Sharma

Explanation: The Union Govt. on 14 December 2016 appointed V.K. Sharma as the new Chairman of Life Insurance of Corporation (LIC) of India. He has been appointed for a period of 5 years. Sharma had been serving as LIC’s managing director since November 2013.

He replaced S.K. Roy who retired from the post in September 2016.

Having joined LIC as a direct recruit officer in 1981, Sharma has served as the chief executive of its mortgage subsidiary LIC Housing Finance Ltd and zonal manager in charge of the south zone.

LIC is the largest financial institution in the country with over Rs. 22 trillion in assets, which is over 15% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) of Rs.134 trillion.

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6) What is the name of the enhanced version of Pakistan’s indigenously-designed cruise missile capable of hitting targets at 700 km that was successfully test-fired by Pakistan Army on 14 December 2016? – ‘Babur’

Explanation: The missile called ‘Babur’ named after Mughal invader and founder of the dynasty of same name, the missile is part of Babur Weapon System version- 2 and is an enhanced version of the earlier missile.

It is a low flying, terrain hugging missile, which carries certain stealth features and is capable of carrying various types of warheads.

‘Babur’ is equipped with state-of-the-art navigational technologies of Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and all time Digital Scene Matching & Area Co-relation (DSMAC), which enables it to engage various types of targets with pinpoint accuracy even in the absence of GPS navigation.

It is capable of hitting hit targets at 700 km with all kinds of warheads, bringing many Indian cities within its range.

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7) Which Indian woman cricketer was the only one from the country to be named in the ICC’s Women’s Team of the Year 2016, which was announced during December 2016? – Smriti Mandhana

Explanation: Indian batswoman Smriti Mandhana created history as she was named in the Women’s Team of the Year 2016, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced on 14 December 2016. It was the first time ever that ICC announced a team of year for women.

The team was selected on the basis of player’s performance between 14 September 2015 and 20 September 2016, which included the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 and the ICC Women’s Championship. West Indies’ Stafanie Taylor was chosen as captain of this team.

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