Current Affair December 2018
1. The oil marketing companies have launched Ujjwala Sanitary Napkin Initiative, as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Odisha.
2. The government will soon be appointing a committee to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the Doubling Farmers Income (DFI) committee. This committee will oversee the implementations of various recommendations and have specific terms of reference.
3. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the International Rice Research Institute South Asia Regional Centre (IRRI SARC) in Varanasi. It is the sixth campus of IRRI SARC. The institute will complement the government’s effort to double farmer’s income by 2022.
4. The proposal from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh for the implementation of Mahila Police Volunteer Scheme has been approved by the union government.
5. Data suggests that Every second, one woman in India gets tricked to be a victim of cyber crimes. The online platform has now become an avenue where a woman’s dignity, privacy and security is increasingly being challenged every moment. Hence to address the cybercrimes against women.
6. The Indian Government has strongly rebutted the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) travel advisory for Indian travel. The Zika alert will adversely affect tourism.
7. Indian Railways is building the country’s first vertical-lift bridge to connect Rameswaram to mainland India. The bridge will allow ships and steamers to pass through without any hindrance.
8. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the National Children’s Science Congress to be held between 27-31 December at SOA (Deemed to be university) in Bhubaneswar, Odhisa. This is the 26th edition of the National Science Congress.
9. The government has banned Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for its involvement in several killings, bombings and other terror activities during its violent campaign for the secession of Punjab. KLF will be the 40th organisation to be proscribed under the UAPA law.
10. Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari lays foundation stone for eleven projects for Yamuna Rejuvenation under Namami Gange Programme in New Delhi.
11. The government think tank, Niti Ayog has released the second Delta Ranking of the Aspirational Districts Programme. The second delta ranking measures the incremental progress made by 111 Aspirational Districts between June 1, 2018, and October 31, 2018, across six developmental areas of health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion, skill development, and basic infrastructure.
12. Union Health Minister JP Nadda has announced that India’s largest cancer hospital, the National Cancer Institute will be inaugurated in Haryana’s Jhajjar district in January.
13. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has made it clear that schools cannot make Aadhaar a pre-condition to admit the students. UIDAI has categorically made it clear that asking for Aadhaar card for admissions is not as per the provisions of law and doing so will be against the recent order of the Supreme Court.
15. A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma challenging the government’s notification authorising 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt any computer system.
16. The ministry of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has released draft Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines [Amendment] Rules), 2018.
17. Sadaiv Atal, the Samadhi of Atal Bihari Vajpayee was dedicated to the Nation on the birth Anniversary of the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. To emphasise on the unity in diversity, stones from various parts of the country have been used in the construction of Samadhi near Rajghat in New Delhi. The Samadhi has a central platform comprising of nine square blocks, capped with a Diya in the centre. The number nine represents the navarasas, navaratras and navagrahas. The placement of the nine square blocks is in a circular lotus shaped pattern.
18. India which is the largest producer and consumer of milk has extended the ban on import of milk products from China for 4 months. The ban would continue till 23rd April 2019 as per the notification issued by the Ministry of Commerce.
19. PM Modi inaugurated the Bogibeel Bridge on the birth anniversary of the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee i.e. December 25 which is observed as “Good Governance Day”. This 4.9 km-long bridge is the nation’s only fully welded bridge and for the first time European codes and welding standards were adhered to and it has a life of about 120 years.
20. The Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs Food and Public Distribution celebrated the National Consumer Day 2018 on 24th December at the Kothari Auditorium, DRDO Bhawan, New Delhi. The theme of the 2018 National Consumers Day was “Timely Disposal of Consumer Complaints”.
21. Sangeeta Verma, a former Indian Economic Services (IES) officer has joined the Competition Commission of India (CCI) as a member. The order of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs states that the central government has appointed Sangeeta Verma as the member of CCI for a period of 5 years from the date of assumption of charge of the post, or until further orders, whichever is earlier.
22. PM Modi on 24th December 2018, a day before Vajpayee’s 94th birth anniversary released a commemorative coin worth Rs 100 in honour of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
23. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated projects worth around Rs 15,000 crore in Odisha on 24th Dec 2018 as part of his Mission Purbodaya – a prosperous East for building a new India. The projects are related to health, road and highways, higher education and culture.
24. The government think tank Niti Ayog has unveiled the Strategy for New India @ 75 which define clear objectives for 2022-23. The strategy document with 41 chapters has been disaggregated under four sections, which are: Drivers, Infrastructure, Inclusion and Governance. The document makes the recommendations related to the health sector under the Drivers section.
25. The think tank through slew of initiatives is aiding the government in building an inclusive and sustainable India. The major initiatives of Niti Aayog in 2018 are detailed below.
i. NITI Aayog has finalized indices to measure incremental annual outcomes in critical social sectors like health, education, water and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
ii. Niti Aayog has developed the District Hospital Index to measure and monitor the performance of hospitals with a focus on outputs and outcomes.
iii. Niti Aayog has developed the ‘Healthy States, Progressive India’ Report also known as the ‘Health Index’.
iv. Niti Aayog has announced the Composite Water Management Index to assess and improve the performance of States/ Union Territories in efficient management of water resources.
v. Niti Aayog is in the process of formulating ‘School Education Quality Index (SEQI)’, ‘SDG India Index’ and the ‘Digital Transformation Index’ (DTI) to measure states’ progress in respective sectors.
26. Google has selected 87 news organisations from 23 countries for funding under its Global News Initiative (GNI). Of these 87 organisations selected, 10 are from India. The funding aims at helping the organisations in building video capabilities and experiment with new formats for video journalism.
27. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has placed the draft Child Protection Policy on its website and invited comments from stakeholders. Child protection was a grey area in policy making and it was only a part of the broader National Child Policy, 2013. This would be a first ever policy attempt in the arena of child protection.
28. The 10 agencies authorised by the central government are the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, CBI, National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Research and Analysis Wing, Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in Jammu & Kashmir, the North-East and Assam) and the Delhi Police.
29. The NITI Aayog has released a first-of-its-kind Sustainable Development Goals index released on 21st December 2018. According to the SDG Index, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu have been ranked on top 3 positions and are on track to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
30. The state of Jammu and Kashmir has come under President’s rule from 20th December 2018 as Governor’s rule in the state completed its six months. It implies that now all the policy decisions related to Jammu and Kashmir will be taken by the Union Cabinet.
31. Recently Vice President Venkaiah Naidu met Zambian Parliamentary delegation in New Delhi. He welcomed Zambia as a member of the International Solar Alliance and hoped for early ratification of the ISA Framework Agreement.
32. India observed Minorities Rights Day on 18th December 2018. Every year on 18 December, this day is observed to promote the rights of Minority communities in India. Also, the awareness creation about the Minority Rights is the objective of celebrating this day as Minorities Rights Day.
33. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given its approval for the revamped Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) scheme. Under this, Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) will be set up in every block where Scheduled Tribes population is more than 50% and has at least 20,000 tribal persons.
34. India’s largest Cancer Institute, National Cancer Institute (NCI), has opened on 18th December 2018 in Jhajjar, Haryana for public services. The National Cancer Institute will be formally inaugurated in January 2019.
35. The Kaiga Atomic Power Station of Karnataka has created a new world record, with one of its units functioning continuously without any interruption for more than 940 days. The previous world record was held by Unit 2 of Heysham of the United Kingdom. It operated without any interruption for 940 days.
36. The Union government has decided to give USD 1.4 billion to the island nation of Maldives. This decision came after Maldivian president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih met Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his 3-days visit to India.
37. The central Government has decided to extend the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) to all poor households in the country. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) is the government’s flagship programme to provide free cooking gas (LPG) connections. The PMUY scheme targets to reach out to provide free LPG connections to 80 million families by 2020.
38. The Supreme Court has passed an interim order allowing the Punjab and Haryana DGPs to continue in office till January 31. The Supreme Court was hearing the petition filed by the two states seeking modification of the SC order which had made it mandatory for states and UTs to take the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) assistance in short listing the names of senior IPS officers for selection of DGP.
39. Bhupesh Baghel, who is also the president of Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee, will be the new chief minister of Chhattisgarh state. Bhupesh Baghel has been named as the leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) by the newly elected legislators in Raipur on 16th December 2018.
40. On 15 December 2018, Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal has dedicated India’s first railway university to the Nation in Vadodara. The Railway University will be first of its kind institution in the nation and the third in the world after Russia and China.
41. Cyclonic Storm Phethai is the sixth named cyclone of 2018 North Indian Ocean Cyclone season. The previous five named cyclones are Sagar, Mekunu, Luban, Titli and Gaza.
42. The Delhi High Court has ordered a ban on the sale of online medicines by E-pharmacies across the country. A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao has also ordered central and delhi governments to implement the order.
43. Indian Navy inducted its first Submarine Rescue System with Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSRV) along with associated equipment at western naval dockyard in Mumbai, Maharashtra (west coast of India). It is first of the two non-tethered DSRVs ordered by Indian Navy. With this, India joined select list of international navies (US, Russia, Japan, South Korea, China, Singapore UK, Sweden and Australia). Its induction will enhance Indian Navy’s operational capabilities for search, locate and provide assistance to downed or disaster-struck or distressed submarines at high sea.
44. According to data released by Central Statistics Office (CSO), factory output measured in terms of Index of Industrial Production (IIP) grew 8.1% in October 2018 as against 4.5% in September 2018. The growth was aided by favourable base effect and robust output in all key sectors—manufacturing, electricity and mining. IIP is the closest approximation for measuring economic activity in the country’s business landscape.
45. The report ‘India’s Sterling Assets: Britain Meets India’ by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has noted that UK is the largest foreign western investor in India.
46. Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has launched Twitter account @CyberDost to spread awareness about cybercrimes and normal precautions to be taken. It is aimed at enhancing people’s basic knowledge about cybercrimes and precautions to be taken for prevention.
47. Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Rajiv Mehrishi was elected as Vice-Chair of United Nations (UN) Panel of Auditors at its annual meeting held in New York. In this meeting CAG of UK was also appointed as Chair of Panel for another term (2019). The meeting discussed various issues concerning audit of United Nations and the agencies under the United Nations System. The next meeting will be held in in Bonn, Germany in November-December 2019.
48. European Union (EU) has established India’s first Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence (CoE) at Department of European Studies (DES) at Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) in New Delhi. It comes with grant of €1,00,000 to pursue India-EU interdisciplinary studies in culture, literature, education and society.
49. Union Government has inked $31 million loan agreement with Asian Development Bank (ADB) for Tamil Nadu Government’s Infrastructure Development Investment Program for Tourism (IDIPT). It is fourth loan tranche for this program aimed at building-up tourism industry and boost visitor arrivals in Tamil Nadu.
50. Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was adopted by 164 nations including India at Intergovermental Conference to adopt this compact held under auspices of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at Marrakesh, Morocco. It is first intergovernmental agreement to cover wide-ranging dimensions of international migration in holistic and comprehensive manner and agreed upon by all the UN member states minus United States.
51. Union Cabinet has decided to raise contribution of Central Government to National Pension System (NPS) corpus of its employees from 10% to 14%. This will increase in eventual accumulated corpus of all central government employees covered by NPS. There are 18 lakh central government employees at present. The revenue impact from higher government contribution to employees’ corpus is expected to be around Rs.2,840 crore for 2019-20 and will be in nature of a recurring expenditure.
52. The tenth edition of INDRA NAVY maritime exercise between India and Russia will be conducted off Visakhapatnam coast, Andhra Pradesh from December 9-16, 2018. The aim of this exercise is to increase interoperability amongst the two navies, develop common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations.
53. According to World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief, India will retain its position as world’s top recipient of remittances in 2018, receiving a total remittance of $80 billion from its diaspora. India is followed by China ($67 billion), Mexico and hilippines ($34 billion each) and Egypt ($26 billion).
54. Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has notified four medical devices including blood pressure monitors, nebulisers, digital thermometers and glucometers as drugs under Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. The decision will enable the government to ensure their quality and performance. Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) will regulate import, manufacture and sale of these devices from January 2020.
55. Kerala has become first state in the country to have four international airports with the inauguration of Kannur airport. The first commercial flight from this airport Air India Express flight IX 715 with 180 passengers on board to Abu Dhabi was flagged off recently. The other three international airports are Trivandrum International Airport, Cochin International Airport and Calicut International Airport.
56. Shi Yomi formally became 23rd district of Arunachal Pradesh after it was inaugurated by Chief Minister Pema Khandu in presence of Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju. It was created by bifurcating West Siang district with its headquarters at Tato. It will have four administrative units namely Mechuka, Tato, Pidi and Manigong. Two more districts Pakke-Kesang and Lepa Rada will be formally inaugurated in the state within taking the total to 25.
57. International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD) is observed every year across world on December 9 to raise public awareness of corruption and what people can do to fight it. Observance of this day aims to promote and strengthen measures to prevent and combat corruption more efficiently and effectively. It also highlights role of United Nations Convention against Corruption in combating and preventing it.
58. Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved Agriculture Export Policy, 2018 with aim to double farmer’s income by 2022. Cabinet has also approved proposal for establishment of Monitoring Framework at Centre with Ministry of Commerce as nodal Department to oversee implementation of Agriculture Export Policy. It will also have representation from various ministries and departments and agencies and representatives of concerned State Governments
59. Union Cabinet has approved launching of National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS). It will be implemented by Department of Science & Technology under Ministry of Science and Technology for period of five years. The objective of Mission is to addresses ever increasing technological requirements of the society. It also takes into account international trends and road maps of leading countries for next generation technologies.
60. Union Cabinet has approved implementation of Shahpurkandi Dam Project on river Ravi in Punjab. It also has approved central assistance of Rs. 485.38 crore (for irrigation component) over five years period from 2019 to 2023. The project will be implemented by Punjab Government with central assistance. It will be completed by June 2022.
61. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given its in principle approval for strategic sale of Central Government’s existing 52.63% of total paid up equity shareholding in Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) to Power Finance Corporation (PFC) along with transfer of management control. Both REC and PFC are Central Public Sector Enterprises under the Ministry of Power.
62. Maharashtra Government has launched World Bank assisted State of Maharashtra’s Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (SMART) Project to transform rural Maharashtra. This project aims to revamp agricultural value chains, with special focus on marginal farmers across 1,000 villages. This initiative is in line with Union Government’s step towards doubling farmers’ income by 2022. The launch of project which was followed by signing of 50 memorandum of understandings (MoUs) between big corporates and farmers producer groups.
63. The India Water Impact Summit-2018 was held in New Delhi. It was jointly organized by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies (cGanga).
64. Supreme Court has approved Witness Protection Scheme 2018 and directed Union and State Governments to enforce the same. This scheme was framed by Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in response to PIL seeking protection for witnesses.
65. India’s national academy of letters Sahitya Academy has announced names of 24 poets and authors who will be conferred the prestigious 2018 Sahitya Akademi Award in 24 different Indian languages. The award has recognised premier works in 24 Indian languages that includes seven books of poetry, six novels, six short stories, three of literary criticism and two of essays.
66. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its fifth bimonthly monetary policy review for financial year 2018-19 has decided to maintain status quo in policy rates by keeping repo rate unchanged at 6.5%. The reverse repo rate has also been maintained at 6.25%. This decision was taken by RBI’s six member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) headed by RBI Governor Urjit Patel.
67. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced to introduce ‘Ombudsman Scheme for Digital Transactions’ to provide cost-free mechanism to redress grievances of customers related to digital transactions. The scheme will be notified by end of January 2019. It will cover services provided by entities falling under RBI’s regulatory jurisdiction. The scheme is being implemented taking into consideration rise in digital mode for financial transactions which is gaining traction in the country. There is emerging need for dedicated, cost-free and expeditious grievance redressal mechanism for strengthening consumer confidence in this channel.
68. Secretary General, WCO, other top officials and customs heads from more than 30 countries had participated in this conference for discussion on various matters related to customs. Key discussion were on issues related trade facilitation, controlling illicit financial flow, performance measurement, challenges of small island economies. Hosting of Policy Commission session will give global presence and leadership role to India in area of customs procedures. It will also give a boost to India’s thrust in facilitating trade.
69. World Soil Day is celebrated every year on 5th of December by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations. Observance of this day aims to communicate messages on importance of soil quality for food security, healthy ecosystems and human well-being. It also advocates for sustainable management of soil resources. The Theme for year 2018 is ‘Be the Solution to Soil Pollution’. It aims to raise awareness and call people to stop soil pollution.
70. NASA’s first-ever OSIRIS-REx mission designed to visit asteroid and return sample of its dust back to Earth reached its destination, Bennu, two years after its launch. It will use its suite of five science instruments to study asteroid for the next year and a half.
71. Elon Musk-led SpaceX has successfully launched 64 small satellites into low Earth orbit onboard of its reusable and preflown Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This has set new record in United States of launching satellites in single go. It was third voyage of Falcon 9 rocket, marking another milestone in SpaceX’s cost-cutting reusable rocket technology.
72. According to World Intellectual Property Indicators 2018 report released by United Nation’s World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), number of patents granted by India shot up by 50% in 2017. The patents granted by India increased from 8,248 in 2016 to 12,387 in 2017, thus keeping up trend of steep increases.
73. Scientists have discovered cache over 100 new exoplanets using data from NASA’s Kepler Space telescope (KST) as well as ground-based observatories. Exoplanet also called as extrasolar planet, is planet that orbits star other than Sun. The discovery of 100 new exoplanets is expected to play large role in developing research field of exoplanets and life in universe.
74. Union Government has included Gangotri and Yamunotri in Uttrarakhand, Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh and Parasnath in Jharkhand under Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) to develop pilgrimage and heritage destinations in the country. With the new additions, the number of sites under PRASAD has now reached to 41 in 25 states.
75. Indian Navy will conduct its flagship large-scale coastal defence exercise Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise (TROPEX) from January to March 2019 to test robustness of entire coastal security apparatus. As part of TROPEX, Indian Navy will conduct large-scale coastal defence exercise ‘Exercise Sea Vigil’. This exercise will involve all stake holders across mainland and island territories. It will see participation of all operational ships, submarines and aircraft as well as units of Indian coast guards (ICG), Indian Army and Indian Air Force (IAF).
76. Qatar has announced its withdrawal from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) from January 2019 and focus more on the production of natural gas. It makes Qatar first Gulf country to leave OPEC bloc of oil-producing countries led by Saudi Arabia.
77. University Grants Commission (UGC) has directed all universities across country to observe December 7 as Armed Forces Flag Day to commemorate supreme sacrifices made by country’s soldiers during conflicts. It also directed universities to organise functions or hold talks in the colleges or institutes to generate awareness on the issue among the students.
78. The first bilateral air exercise SHINYUU Maitri-18 between Japanese Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) and Indian Air Force (IAF) began at Air Force Station Agra. The theme of this exercise is joint Mobility/Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief (HADR) on Transport aircraft.
79. Union Government (Ministry of Finance) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) has signed $85 million loan agreement for Odisha Skill Development Project. It aims to improve the skill development eco-system in Odisha and establish World Skill Center (WSC), an advanced skill training center in state capital Bhubaneswar.
80. Indian Navy Day is observed annually on 4 December to celebrate magnificence, achievements and role of naval force of the country. This year it was 47th Navy Day.
81. The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed every year on December 3 to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development.
82. India’s first indigenously designed locomotive-less (engine less) train known as Train 18, breached the 180 kmph speed limit during test run in Kota-Sawai Madhopur section. When this train is made operational, it will become the country’s fastest train. It is touted as next generation Shatabdi Express and will connect metros with other important cities.
83. India will host G20 Summit In 2022, when it celebrates its 75th year of Independence. It was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during ongoing G20 meet of international grouping in Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina. This comes after Italy accepted India’s formal request to host this summit in 2021 as earlier it was going to host it in 2022. During the Buenos Aires G20 meet, India presented a nine-point agenda to the G20 countries calling for strong and active cooperation among them to comprehensively deal with fugitive economic offenders.
84. The 24th meeting of Conference of Parties (COP-24) to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) began at Katowice, Poland. COP-24 is expected to finalise guidelines for implementation of Paris Agreement adopted in 2016. Delegates from nearly 200 nations are participation in COP24. Indian delegation to this conference is led by Environment Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan.
85. Union Government has constituted six-member committee to look at selling as many as 149 small and marginal oil and gas fields of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL) to private and foreign companies to boost domestic output.
86. Sunil Arora assumed charge as 23rd Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India. He succeeded OP Rawat who retired on 1 December 2018. He will have nearly two-and-a-half-year tenure as CEC and General Election 2019 to 17th Lok Sabha will be conducted under his stewardship. Prior to assuming this, charge he was serving as Election Commissioner in Election Commission of India (ECI) from September 2017.
87. Air Forces of India and US began their 12-day joint exercise “Ex Cope India-2018” in West Bengal. It is fourth edition in series of bilateral joint exercise held by Air Forces of two nations conducted in India. This year for first time exercise will be held at two Air Force bases in West Bengal’s Kalaikunda and Panagarh.
88. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will be chief guest at India’s 70th Republic Day celebrations on 26 January 2019. Mr Ramaphosa was invited to be chief guest by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when two leaders met on sidelines of G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The announcement comes month after US President Donald Trump declined India’s invitation to be chief guest. The reason citied was “scheduling constraints” of President.
89. The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery is observed on December 2 every year with an objective to raise awareness about slavery and its impact on the society. This day marks adaptation of resolution ‘Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Prostitution of Others’ by United Nations (UN) General Assembly on 2 December 1949.The focus of this day is on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, worst forms of child labour and forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
90. Ace Indian shooter Abhinav Bindra (36) and still India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist was awarded coveted International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Blue Cross. With this Bindra is the first Indian to be awarded the Blue Cross. The award is conferred for outstanding contribution to sport of shooting and honours distinguished members of the international shooting fraternity. Blue Cross is highest recognition conferred by parent body of international shooting ISSF.
91. India will Chair Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) from 1st January 2019. It was was handed Chairmanship by the European Union during KPCS Plenary 2018, which was held in Brussels, Belgium. India as KPCS Chair will be committed to
92. According to index of eight core industries released by Ministry of Commerce and Industry, growth rate of eight infrastructure sectors slowed down to 4.8 per cent in October 2018. This was mainly due to contraction in production of crude oil, natural gas and fertilizer. It had recorded growth rate of 5% in October 2017. During April-October 2018-19, eight sectors recorded a growth rate of 5.4% against 3.5 per cent in the same period last year.
93. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) launched media campaign “Heart Attack Rewind”, calling for elimination of industrially produced trans-fat in the food supply. It will support FSSAI’s global target of eliminating trans-fat in India by 2022, a year ahead of global target by World Health Organization (WHO). It is in line with FSSAOI’s objective to get Freedom from ‘Trans Fat:
94. Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) under Ministry of Commerce and Industry has put imports of gold dore in restricted category. This means, now, importer needs a license to import this commodity.
95. The first India-ASEAN InnoTech Summit was held in New Delhi. It was organized by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) in association with Department of Science & Technology (DST) and Ministry of External Affairs.
96. Bangladeshi disabilities’ advocate Vashkar Bhattacharjee and Chinese private sector ICT enterprise, Tencent (China) were awarded UNESCO/Emir Jaber al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah Prize for Digital Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.
1. China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) has started offering global service. It is touted as a rival to America’s Global Positioning System (GPS). Pakistan has become the first foreign nation to use the BeiDou system ending its reliance on GPS.
2. Prime Minister of Bhutan Lotay Tshering arrived in India on 27th December for a three-day visit. The Visit is significant because it is taking place during the Golden Jubilee year of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries.
3. Italy’s Mount Etna volcano erupted on 24th December 2018 resulting in more than 130 earthquakes of up to 4.3 in magnitude. The volcanic lava and ash spewed from a new fracture near its south-eastern crater for the first time in a decade and was visible for miles.
4. India Ports Global Limited Company has opened its office and took over operations at the Shaheed Behesti port at Chabahar. It happened during the occasion of the first meeting of the follow-up committee for implementation of the trilateral Chabahar agreement between India, Afghanistan and Iran.
5. President Donald Trump has announced that Defence Secretary James Mattis will depart the Pentagon by January 1. James Mattis’s Deputy, Patrick Shanahan is appointed as the Acting Defence Secretary.
6. The government of Burundi has declared Gitega as the country’s new political capital on 22nd December 2018. Bujumbura, the previous capital of Burundi, will serve as the economic capital of the country. President Nkurunziza had made this promise of shifting the capital in 2007 which has been implemented now.
7. The United States Defence Secretary James Mattis has resigned from his post on 21st December 2018. His resignation came after his disagreement with the US President Donald Trump over the withdrawal of US troops from Syria. James Mattis, however, will be occupying the position till February 28 so as to allow sufficient time for his successor to be nominated.
8. The US Federal Reserve has raised the key interest rates to a range of 2.25 per cent to 2.5 per cent. This is the 4th raise in the Federal Reserve’s rates this year and has reached the highest point since 2008. The main implication of the raising of the interest rates would be an increase in the borrowing costs for individuals and businesses.
9. Russia has confirmed that the United States of America has decided to cancel the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed between Russian and the USA in 1987. The USA had already announced the withdrawal decision from the INF treaty in October 2018.
10. India has come at 108th position in the recently released Gender Gap Index 2018 by World Economic Forum. India was ranked at the same position in 2017 rankings as well.
11. The International Migrants Day 2018 observed on 18th December 2018 across the world. In accordance with the Resolution 55/93 of the United Nations General Assembly(UNGA), the International Migrants Day is observed every year on 18 December. The Resolution 55/93 was adopted by UN on 4th December 2000.
12. Merriam-Webster has declared ‘Justice’ as the 2018 Word Of The Year. As per Merriam-Webster says, the word ‘Justice’ is used in many phrases like racial justice, social justice and obstruction of justice.
13. Both India and Vietnam attach great importance to defence cooperation. India is one of only three countries with whom Vietnam has a comprehensive strategic partnership. Defence ties between India and Vietnam are guided by the “Common Vision on Defense Ties 2015-20”.
14. Central Indonesia’s Mount Soputan volcano erupted on 16th December 2018, sending ash about 7.5 km high in the sky. Mount Soputan erupted twice on the same day, forcing local residents to move to safer places. Mount Soputan volcano is one of the most active volcanoes of Indonesia. it is located on the Sulawesi island in Indonesia.
15. On 16th December 2018, Ranil Wickremesinghe has once again become the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka after the end of the weeks-long political crisis in the island nation.
16. The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) is an alliance of more than 1000 organizations across 192 countries from the communities working in the arena of sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health, as well as health influencing sectors. This Partnership provides a platform for organizations to align their objectives, strategies and resources, and agree on interventions to improve maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health.
17. The Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently met Russian Defence Minister General Sergei Shoigu at the 18th meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) that was held in New Delhi.
18. On 15th December 2018, Australia recognized West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. With this, Australia has become one of the few countries that officially recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and as the seat of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament). This move is supposed to irk Indonesia and other countries.
19. Government of India and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a loan agreement of $60 million for financing project for renovation, protection and community-based flood risk management activities along the Brahmaputra river in Assam. The objective of the program is to enhance the reliability and effectiveness of flood and river bank erosion risk management systems in Assam. Duration of the loan is 20 years with the grace period of five years. Interest rates are determined by ADB based on London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and commitment charge of 0.15% per year.
20. Fourth edition of Partners’ Forum will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 12th December in New Delhi. The two day international conference will be hosted by government of India in association with Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and child Health (PMNCH). Total 1500 participants from across 8 countries will participate to talk about the improvement in the health and well being of women, children and adolescents.
21. The International Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10 to commemorate adaptation of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On this day in 1948, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)— then headquartered in Paris — ratified Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Of the 58 member states, 48 voted in favour of the resolution, while eight abstained and two failed to vote. Observance of the day seeks to encourage, support and amplify measures to be taken by everyone to defend human rights. The theme for this year is ‘Stand Up For Human Rights’.
22. India has the highest number of ‘stunted’ children in the world and nearly a third of all stunted children worldwide are to be found in India as per the recently released WHO’s Global Nutrition Report, 2018.
23. To deal with the rising problem of Terrorism, United Nation chief along with 39 organizational entities, Interpol and World custom organization signed a framework to deal with terrorism and promote peace and sustainable growth. The agreement is non-binding in nature. The UN Global counter terrorism coordination compact is also termed as Global compact. The Global compact coordination committee will be chaired by Under-Secretary-General for counter terrorism. And the first meeting took place on 6th December 2018 in New York. United Nations office of counter terrorism will serve as Secretariat of Global Compact.
Business, Economy & Banking
1. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has set up an expert committee, headed by its former governor Bimal Jalan, to suggest how the central bank should handle its reserves and whether it can transfer its surplus to the government. The committee will submit its report within 90 days of its first meeting.
2. The new norms for the foreign direct investment (FDI) in e-commerce, bars e-commerce firms from selling products of entities in which they have an equity stake.
3. The Public Enterprises Survey 2017-18 was tabled in the Parliament. The Survey mapped the performance of the various central public sector units. The survey was undertaken by the Department of Public Enterprises, Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises.
4. India’s fiscal deficit in the first eight months of FY2018-19 rose to Rs 7.17 lakh crore, hitting around 115% of the budgeted target for the current financial year, breaching the target of Rs 6.24 lakh crore set by the government for the financial year 2018-19.
5. Coal India for the first time, has started using an indigenously-made, 205-tonne electric dumper, a critical piece of equipment in mining. This indigenously-made dumper has been developed by state-owned BEML. Coal India has put this electric dumper on a trial in Northern Coalfields’ Amlohri coal mine. This indigenously-made dumper is the biggest one deployed by Northern Coalfields limited.
6. A research from CRISL states that security services, where small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have 60-65 per cent market share, have logged a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18-20 per cent over the past three fiscal years and it expects them to grow at a similar pace over the next two fiscal years.
7. National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA) assessment has revealed consumer goods maker Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) allegedly profiteering to the extent of Rs 383 crore after the large-scale goods and services tax (GST) rate cut last November.
8. According to an order issued by the Personnel Ministry on 24th December 2018, P.V Bharathi has been appointed as managing director and chief executive officer of the Corporation Bank. P.V. Bharathi is currently working as the Executive Director in the Canara Bank. She will take charge on or after 1st February 2019, and remain in the post till March 31, 2020.
9. It is expected the contours for the amalgamation of Bank of Baroda (BoB), Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank would be finalised soon and it would be placed before the parliament for approval in the ongoing winter session. The decision of amalgamation was taken by the Alternative Mechanism’ (AM) headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, which included Railways Minister Piyush Goyal and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The government has already set aside the funds to facilitate the amalgamation.
10. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has shortlisted six major IT firms to set up a wide-based digital Public Credit Registry (PCR) for capturing details of all borrowers and wilful defaulters. The RBI will now seek request for proposal from the six vendors.
11. The tax rates on 23 goods and services has been reduced by the GST Council on 22nd December 2018. These goods include movie tickets, TV and monitor screens, power banks and others. After this reduction, only 28 goods are left in the highest tax bracket of 28 percent and includes cement, sin goods (tobacco, alcohol), auto parts and luxury goods such as Air Conditioner and dishwasher. The new GST rates will be applicable from 1st of January 2019.
12. India’s foreign exchange reserves declined in this week by USD 613.9 million reaching USD 393.12 billion. This decline has been attributed to the fall in foreign currency assets as per the Reserve Bank of India. The Forex reserves had increased by USD 16.6 million to reach USD 393.734 billion in the previous week.
13. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry released the first ever States’ Startup Ranking 2018 on 20th December 2018 in New Delhi. As per Startup Ranking 2018, the state of Gujarat is the best-performing state in the country for the Startups; Total 27 States and 3 UTs took part in this exercise.
14. The World Bank recently released a report titled ‘In the Dark: How Much Do Power Sector Distortions Cost South Asia’. As per the report, Efficiency gap in India’s power sector costs the Indian economy 4% every year, which equivalents to $86 billion in 2016FY.
15. The government think tank Niti Aayog has unveiled the Strategy for New India @ 75. This comprehensive national strategy defines clear objectives for 2022-23. The strategy provides for a detailed exposition across forty-one crucial areas. Together with the progress already made, the strategy identifies binding constraints, and suggests the way forward for achieving the clearly stated objectives. The strategy was prepared through wide consultations with all three groups of stakeholders, viz., business persons, academics including scientists, and government officials.
16. The IDFC Bank has merged completely with the non-banking financial company Capital First on 18th December 2018 into a new entity to be called as IDFC First Bank. The merger between IDFC Bank and Capital First was announced on 13th January 2018. The new bank i.e. IDFC First bank will have a loan asset book of Rs 1.03 lakh crore.
17. The Union Government has notified Flight and Maritime Connectivity Rules, 2018, thereby allowing phone calls and internet on flights and ship voyage within India’s territory. The Indian and foreign airlines and shipping companies that are operating in India can provide in-flight and maritime voice and data services by partnering with an Indian telecom company having a valid licence. The rules regarding this will be called as the Flight and Maritime Connectivity Rules, 2018.
18. India Post has started internet facility of the customers of Post office savings bank account. The facility was launched by Union Minister for Communication (independent charge) Manoj Sinha at National Media Centre, New Delhi. Revamped version of Indian Post website and e-commerce portal for rural artisans were also launched at event.
19. The government will set up a National Medical Devices Promotion Council (NMDPC) under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in the Ministry of Commerce & Industry to promote the medical devices sector. This announcement has been made by Union Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu on December 14, 2018.
20. Asian Development Bank (ADB) in its Outlook Supplement has retained India’s growth forecast at 7.3% for current fiscal (2018-19) and 7.6% in following financial year (2019-20). It held that India is maintaining growth momentum on rebounding exports and higher industrial and agricultural output.
21. India’s former economic affairs secretary and current member of the Finance Commission Shaktikanta Das is to be appointed as next RBI Governor. He will be the 25
1. The central Government has decided to extend the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) to all poor households in the country. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) is the government’s flagship programme to provide free cooking gas (LPG) connections. The PMUY scheme targets to reach out to provide free LPG connections to 80 million families by 2020.
2. Union Cabinet has decided to raise contribution of Central Government to National Pension System (NPS) corpus of its employees from 10% to 14%. This will increase in eventual accumulated corpus of all central government employees covered by NPS. There are 18 lakh central government employees at present. The revenue impact from higher government contribution to employees’ corpus is expected to be around Rs.2,840 crore for 2019-20 and will be in nature of a recurring expenditure.
3. Supreme Court has approved Witness Protection Scheme 2018 and directed Union and State Governments to enforce the same. This scheme was framed by Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in response to PIL seeking protection for witnesses.
4. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced to introduce ‘Ombudsman Scheme for Digital Transactions’ to provide cost-free mechanism to redress grievances of customers related to digital transactions. The scheme will be notified by end of January 2019. It will cover services provided by entities falling under RBI’s regulatory jurisdiction. The scheme is being implemented taking into consideration rise in digital mode for financial transactions which is gaining traction in the country. There is emerging need for dedicated, cost-free and expeditious grievance redressal mechanism for strengthening consumer confidence in this channel.
5. Union Government has included Gangotri and Yamunotri in Uttrarakhand, Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh and Parasnath in Jharkhand under Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) to develop pilgrimage and heritage destinations in the country. With the new additions, the number of sites under PRASAD has now reached to 41 in 25 states.
Awards & Honors
1. The central government has launched Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskaar annual awards to recognise the excellent work done by individuals and institutions in the country in the field of disaster management.
2. The Madhya Pradesh Government has conferred the annual Tansen Samman upon eminent Sitar Player Manju Mehta for her contribution in the field of Hindustani Classical Music. The award was presented by Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on inaugural function of Tansen Music Festival in Gwalior.
3. Mohammed Rafi Award instituted by the NGO Spandan Arts was bestowed upon late music composer Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar and playback singer Usha Timothy.
4. PM Narendra Modi has announced the setting up of Sardar Patel Award for National Integration while addressing the conference of DGPs/IGPs in Gujarat’s Kevadia.
5. The Union Government has announced to confer the Prime Minister’s Shram Awards 2017 to 40 workers across country. These awardees have been selected among the workers of Departmental Undertakings & Central and State Government PSUs and Private Sector companies having 500 or more workers.
6. 15 women entrepreneurs were given awards at the recently concluded Women Transforming India Awards 2018 in New Delhi. The Women Transforming India Awards are organised by NITI Aayog. It was the 3rd edition of these awards.
7. Third edition of Women Transforming India Awards to be organized by Government think- tank NITI Aayog on 16th December. On this occasion NITI Aayog will also launch the upgraded portal of Women Entrepreneurship Platform. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu will present the awards to the women. The theme for this year awards is – ‘Women and Entrepreneurship’ and 15 winners have been selected.
8. Renowned English fiction writer Amitav Ghosh has been selected for Jnanpith award, 2018. This has been announced by Jnanpith Selection Board on 14 December 2018.
9. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan presented awards during the 23rd International Film Festival of Kerala held at Nishagandhi Auditorium, Kanakakunnu, Kerala. The event organized successfully after the state witnessed one of the biggest natural calamities.
10. Uttar Pradesh based startup HelpUsGreen has been honored by UN for its works to clean River Ganga by recycling tonnes of floral waste. UN presented the award to the 14 other countries along with India at the Nations Climate Action award ceremony during the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice.
1. Belgium Football team came at number one position in the end-of-the-year FIFA global rankings. Belgium managed to stay at the top with one point more than the current World Champions France. Belgium has 1727 points in the rankings whereas France which came at second rank has 1726 points. France had beaten Belgium in the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup 2018 to reach the finals.
2. Joshna Chinappa won the National Squash Women’s Singles title after she defeated Urwashi Joshi in the final match of the competition by 9-11, 11-1, 11-6, 11-5. It was her 16th National title and with this win, she has equalled the record of Bhuvaneshwari Kumari of winning 16 titles.
3. PV Sindhu, the 2016 Rio Olympic silver medallist, created history on 16th December 2018 as she became the first Indian to win the BWF World Tour Finals. She defeated Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara, the 2017 world champion, by 21-19 21-17 in the final match that lasted for an hour and two minutes. Earlier, Sindhu defeated Ratchanok by 21-16, 25-23 in the semi-finals to enter the finals of the season-ending BWF World Tour tournament.
4. Belgium Hockey team won their first ever Word cup title on 16th December 2018 after they defeated The Netherlands in sudden death. Belgium, which also won a silver medal in Rio Olympics 2016, made history by beating the opponents by 3-2 in the penalty shoot-out after finals ended without any goal.
5. The second edition of Khelo India School Games rechristened as Khelo India Youth Games will be held from January 9-20, 2019 in Pune, Maharashtra. It will take place at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune. The first edition of this games under Khelo India Programme was held in New Delhi in February 2018.
6. Croatia’s midfielder Luca Modrich (33) has won prestigious honor of football, Ballon d’Or. He was rewarded for his key role in Croatia’s historic run to FIFA World Cup final (defeated by France) and his club Real Madrid’s third straight Champions League trophy. With this, he ended the tenure of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for almost decade. Messi and Ronaldo have won this award since 2008. Cristiano Ronaldo remained second in run of ballon d’or race this year. France’s young footballer Celine Mbapepe was placed fourth followed by Lionel Messi of Argentina at the fifth place, Mohamed Saleh of Egypt and Liverpool at sixth place, Rafael Varan at seventh place.
7. Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir has announced his retirement from all formats of cricket. In his cricketing career, Gautam Gambhir has played total 58 Test matches, 147 ODIs and 37 T20 matches for India. He had played his last international one-day match against England in Rajkot in 2016. He will play his last match for Delhi in Ranji Trophy against Andhra Pradesh on 6 December, 2019.