Current Affair January 2018
• The Ministry of Commerce & Industry has launched third version of the Government e-Marketplace (GeM 3.0) . The earlier version GeM 2.0 was launched as pilot project in August 2016.
• The Union Government has inked $250 Million Loan Agreement with Asian Development Bank (ADB) to Improve Rural Connectivity in 5 States viz. Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). The loan proceeds will be used to finance the construction of 6,254 kilometres all-weather rural roads in these 5 States under the PMGS).
• The Union Government has inked $100 million Loan Agreement with World Bank for Project to Boost Rural Economy of Tamil Nadu. The loan is from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and has a 5-year grace period and maturity of 19 years.
• President Ram Nath Kovind has called for simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies. He made this state while addressing the joint sitting of Parliament on the commencement of the Budget Session.
• Journalists and social activists celebrated 238th anniversary of India’s first newspaper the Hicky’s Bengal Gazette. 29 January is also celebrated Hicky’s Day to pay tributes to the fighter-journalist James Augustus Hicky who is considered as founder of journalism in India.
The Union Home Ministry will set up Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C), an apex coordination centre in New Delhi to deal with cybercrimes.
• Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman gave away Republic Day Parade 2018 best tableau award to Maharashtra and best marching contingent award to Punjab Regiment Contingent.
• The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has issued notification to provide quota to people with autism, mental illnesses, intellectual disability and victims of acid attacks in Central government jobs.
• Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) has launched Stree Swabhiman Initiative. Its aim is to create sustainable model for providing adolescent girls and women an access to affordable sanitary products by leveraging Common Service Centres (CSCs).
• India and Cambodia have signed four agreements to boost bilateral cooperation between both countries. The agreements were signed after comprehensive talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cambodian counterpart Samdech Hun Sen in New Delhi.
President Ram Nath Kovind has launched Pulse Polio Immunization (PPI) Programme for year 2018 by administering polio drops to children at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The event was organised on the eve of the National Immunisation Day (NID), observed on 28 January. More than 17 crore children of less than 5 years across the country will be given polio drops as part of Government’s drive to eradicate polio from the country.
• India and Lao PDR have signed civil aviation cooperation agreement for providing SkyRev360, a comprehensive e-data gathering, invoicing and collection system.
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on four-day official state visit to Palestine, Oman and UAE in February 2018.
• India has announced to host informal Ministerial meeting of World Trade Organisation (WTO) in March 2018 in New Delhi to muster support for issues and also help to multi-lateral process.
• The Union Finance Ministry has relaxed norms of Atal Pension Yojana (APY) to allow small finance banks and payment banks to offer APY distribution. The move is expected to help expand coverage of the scheme and strengthen existing channels of APY distribution.
• India-Japan Smart Grid Pilot Project was inaugurated Panipat, Haryana to solve the various complications faced by the power distribution sector. It was inaugurated by State Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in the presence of Japanese Minister Keniko Sen.
The Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has inked MoU with IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd for construction of the 14.150 km long, 2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir.
• The ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit was held in New Delhi to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of sectoral dialogue between two sides under the theme of “Shared Values, Common Destiny”.
• India and Vietnam have signed two Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) to enhance cooperation in field of information and broadcasting and space cooperation.
• The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has launched beneficiary module (i.e. Phase -1) of Rapid Reporting System (RRS), a web based on line monitoring for Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG).
• The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has launched Management Information System (MIS) portal for Anganwadi Services Training Programme.
• The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has awarded 325 air routes under the second phase of government’s flagship UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam naagrik) regional connectivity scheme. Around 40% or 129 of 325 air routes were awarded to newly created category of ‘priority areas’ that include Jammu and Kashmir, Northeastern and hill states, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Islands.
The Ministry of Science & Technology has announced four new schemes to promote young scientists and researchers in the country. They are Teacher Associateship for Research Excellence (TARE) Scheme, Overseas Visiting Doctoral Fellowship, Distinguished Investigator Award (DIA) and AWSAR (Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research).
• The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has announced to increase number of AMRIT pharmacy stores by four times by end of 2018 from the existing 111 outlets in bid to make low-cost medicines more accessible.
• The Election Commission of India (ECI) celebrated 8th National Voters’ Day across nation for enhanced participation of citizens in electoral process.
• Cultural extravaganza Bharat Parv will be held at the Red Fort in Delhi as part of the Republic Day celebrations. The prime objective of the event is to promote rich cultural diversity of country, generate a patriotic mood and to ensure wider participation of general public.
• The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) has made its first investment by partnering with DP World to create $3-billion investment platform for ports, terminals, transportation and logistics businesses in India.
India has signed $120 million loan agreement with multilateral lending agency World Bank to help increase access to improved water supply services in peri-urban areas in Uttarakhand. The agreement was signed between Government of India, Government of Uttarakhand and World Bank Board.
• The first International Dam Safety Conference-2018 was held in Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) from January 23-24, 2018.
• The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has launched the ‘Protocol for Star Rating of Garbage-Free Cities’ in Goa. It has been developed under Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban for rating cities on 7-star rating system based on multiple cleanliness indicators for solid waste management.
• The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has launched official anthem for “Bharat Ke Veer” sung and composed by singer Kailash Kher. Bharat Ke Veer is an initiative with corpus fund to help the families of paramilitary troopers killed in the line of duty. So far, it has raised Rs. 12.93 crore for kin of paramilitary personnel killed in the line of duty.
• The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched Website Accessibility Project to make 100 websites various State Governments/UTs accessible to persons with disabilities (Divyangjans) under Accessible India Campaign. It was launched by Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot on the occasion of ‘National Conference on Improving Accessibility’.
• The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has launched Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative to strengthen cybersecurity ecosystem in India in line Government’s vision for a ‘Digital India’. It was launched in association with National e-Governance Division (NeGD) and industry partners.
The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban affairs (MoHUA) launched the Liveability index to rate 116 Indian cities.
• The Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has launched National CSR Data Portal & Corporate Data Portal for bringing accountability and transparency for corporate India.
• Government has approved 2018 as National Year of Millets to boost production of the nutrient-rich millets and the sunrise agri industry involved in it. Earlier in November 2017, India had forwarded proposal to United Nations (UN) for declaring year 2018 as ‘International Year of Millets’.
• India was admitted as the 43rd member of the Australia Group, an informal bloc (group) of countries that keeps a tight control over exports of substances used in making of chemical weapons.
• The Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA) has crossed one crore mark in antenatal check-ups. It was launched in 2016 to ensure comprehensive and quality antenatal checkups to pregnant women across country. It has provided quality antenatal checkups to pregnant women on the 9th of every month.
• India’s first automatic Early Warning Dissemination System (EWDS) will be commissioned by March 2018 in Odisha. The project aims to establish fool-proof communication system to address existing gaps in disseminating disaster warning up to community level.
India announced setting up of $350 million Solar Development Fund for financing solar projects under the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The fund was announced by Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy R K Singh at first ever ISA outreach programmes ‘International Solar Alliance Forum’ held in Abu Dhabi’s World Future Energy Summit (WFES) 2018.
• The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided to set up Cyber Warrior Police Force (CWPF) and Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) to tackle internet-related crimes such as cyber threats, child pornography and online stalking. These divisions will be set up under MHA’s newly created Cyber & Information Security (CIS) Division.
• Drug price regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has fixed retail price for 30 drug formulations, including those used for treatment of diabetes, bacterial infections and high blood pressure. The prices were fixed/revised under Drugs (Prices Control) Order (DPCO), 2013.
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu inaugurated iCREATE facility at Deo Dholera Village in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. iCreate aims to develop an ecosystem in India to generate quality entrepreneurs.
• The Supreme Court held that every adult has right to marry anyone and nobody including parents, khap panchayats or similar associations can question their choice of spouse.
The Union Ministry of Minority Affairs has decided to end Haj subsidy from this year as a part of its policy to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement.
• The NITI Aayog has launched first course on Sustainable Urban planning using remote sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) at IIT Kanpur’s outreach centre in Noida.
• The third edition of the geo-political conference – Raisina Dialogue was held in New Delhi. It was inaugurated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
• The Indo-US joint military exercise ‘Vajra Prahar’ will be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Seattle in third week of January in line with the increasing military cooperation between both countries.
• Bangladesh, India and Nepal agreed on text of operating procedures for passenger vehicle movement (Passenger protocol) in sub-region under Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA).
• The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM), Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), in collaboration launched ‘IPrism’ for college and university students.
India and Sri Lanka signed four agreements for collaboration in Information and communication technology (ICT) sector between both countries.
• The 65th Meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) was held under Chairmanship of Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi.
• The International Workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (IWDRI) was held in New Delhi. It was inaugurated by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
• India and Israel have signed nine agreements to boost cooperation in the areas of space, cyber security and oil and gas between both countries.
• India has contributed $50,000 to United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s Office of Envoy on Youth to help with its mission of involving young people in the world body’s goals.
• India and United Kingdom (UK) have signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) dealing with return of Indians residing in Britain as illegal migrants and sharing of criminal records and intelligence.
7th edition of Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav (RSM) 2018 under the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme was held in Bengaluru, Karnataka from January 14-20, 2018. The event was organised by Union Ministry of Culture,
• The iconic Teen Murti Chowk in central New Delhi was renamed as Teen Murti-Haifa after Israeli City Haifa in solemn ceremony attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.
• According to wealth index released on basis of data from fourth round of National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-4) Delhi is richest state and Jain wealthiest community in the country.
• The Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has launched month long Saksham 2018 (Sanrakshan Kshamta Mahotsav).
• The Election Commission (EC) has constituted 14 member committee headed by Umesh Sinha to suggest changes to Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RP Act) in view of social media expansion.
• The Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bihar and Jharkhand for completion of balance works of North Koel reservoir project.
Government think-tank National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has announced to rank 115 backward (aspirational) districts by April 2018. It was announced at ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ conference.
• The 4th ASEAN-INDIA Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry was held at NASC Complex, New Delhi. It was attended by representatives from 10 ASEAN countries.
• The Union Ministry of Railways has launched Smart Freight Operation Optimisation & Real Time Information (SFOORTI) application to help plan traffic flows and optimize freight operations.
• The 22nd National Youth Festival (NYF) was held in New Delhi occasion of birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, the youth icon of India. It was organised by Union Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports in collaboration with Uttar Pradesh Government at Gautam Buddha University Greater Noida.
• The 4th International Dharma-Dhamma Conference on “State and Social Order in Dharma-Dhamma Traditions” was held at Rajgir in Nalanda district, Bihar. It was inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind.
• The National Youth Day is observed every year on 12 January to mark the birth anniversary of social reformer, philosopher, thinker and youth icon of India Swami Vivekananda.
The Union Cabinet has approved number of amendments to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Policy. The purpose of amendments is to simplify and liberalise FDI policy in India to provide ease of doing business in country. The liberalized policy will lead to larger FDI inflows contributing to growth of investment, employment and income.
• The Union Cabinet has decided to fix three-year term of chairperson and the members of the board of the National Trust, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
• India has missed December 2017 deadline announced for elimination of Kala Azar (black fever) in 2017-18 Budget by the Union Government. Elimination in this case is defined as reducing annual incidence of disease to less than 1 case per 10,000 people at the sub-district level.
• The sub-committee of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) looking into issues of girl’s education has recommended free and compulsory education for girls up to post-graduate level across the country.
• The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has introduced two-tier security feature viz. Virtual ID and Limited KYC to address privacy concerns.
• The Committee of Governors submitted its report ‘Rajyapal –VikasKeRajdoot: Catalytic Role of Governors as Agents for Change in Society’ to President Ram NathKovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The Union Cabinet approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Canada for cooperation in field of Science & Technology. The MoU was concluded by Department of Science and Technology (DST) with Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada.
• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given its approval to continuation of Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) till term of 14th Finance Commission i.e. 2020.
• The third meeting of Council of Trade Development and Promotion (CTDP) was held in New Delhi. It was chaired by Union Minister for Commerce & Industry Suresh Prabhu and was attended by CM of Goa, Deputy Chief Minister of Gujarat, ministers from 11 states, senior state government officials and industry bodies.
• The Supreme Court has ruled that playing national anthem before screening movies in cinema halls is optional and not mandatory. The ruling modifies apex court’s earlier November 2016 order that made the playing of national anthem in cinemas mandatory.
• The first-ever Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) Parliamentary Conference was held in the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra (PBK) in New Delhi on the occasion of Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas (PBD). It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The conference was way of reaching out to Indian community overseas by Central government.
• The Supreme Court has stayed Karnataka High Court order reducing size of pictorial warnings on packages of tobacco products to 40% of the package space from earlier 85%. The apex court took decision saying that health of citizen has primacy and emphasised on importance of public health and harmful effects of tobacco products.
The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated every year on January 9 to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India.
• The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is going to roll out National Programme for Control of Viral Hepatitis , a new scheme free treatment of Hepatitis C from the 2018-19 financial year.
• The Union Defence Ministry has sanctioned raising of Territorial Army (TA) battalion comprising ex-servicemen of Indian Army as part of its mission to clean the Ganga by 2020. It has been named as Composite Ecological Task Force (CETF) battalion of TA for National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), the nodal agency for cleaning Ganga.
• The Union Government has announced completion of first phase of BharatNet project after successfully laying optical fibre cables (OFC) in more than 1 lakh gram panchayats. As of December 2017, 2,54,895 km of OFC has were laid covering 1,09,926 GPs out of which 1,01,370 GPs have been made service ready.
• Saudi Arabia has approved India’s plan to revive the option of ferrying Haj pilgrims via sea route to Jeddah. In this regard, both countries have signed bilateral annual Haj 2018 agreement.
• The Union Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA) has proposed rolling out of e-Sansad in Parliament and e-Vidhan in State Legislatures to digitize and make their functioning paperless.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has announced to relax norms around levy of minimum alternate tax (MAT) for insolvent companies from financial year 2017-18.
• The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education of Indian has registered an increase from 24.5% in 2015-16 to 25.2% in 2016-17 according to latest All India Higher Education Survey (AIHES) released by HRD Ministry.
• The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority of India (PFRDA) has announced that Atal Pension Yojana (APY) run by it has reached a subscriber base of 80 lakh and is growing at good pace. Uttar Pradesh is the highest contributing state at 11.41 lakh APY subscribers, followed by Bihar (8.87 lakh) and Tamil Nadu (6.60 lakh).
• The 26th edition of annual World Book Fair was held in New Delhi. It was organised by National Book Trust (NBT), under Ministry of Human Resource Development in association with India Trade Promotion Organisation.
• Three Ministries viz. Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) and Ministry of Science & Technology have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for joint funding of Technology Mission for Indian Railways (TMIR).
• The Union Finance Ministry has launched 7.75% Savings (Taxable) Bonds, 2018 scheme to help citizens invest in a taxable instrument, without any monetary ceiling. It will enable resident citizens/Hindu Undivided Families (HUF) to invest in a taxable bond, without any monetary ceiling.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched India’s first digital Online Oncology Tutorial Series designed by Tata Memorial Centre (a grant-in-aid cancer centre under Department of Atomic Energy, GOI).
• The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has approved five Namami Gange projects worth Rs 295.01 crore in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved extension of mandatory packaging norms of foodgrains and sugar in jute material for Jute Year 2017-18 (i.e. July 2017 to June 2018).
• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved implementation of Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for capacity augmentation of navigation on 1,380-km Haldia-Varanasi stretch of National Waterway-1 (NW1) on Ganga River.
• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved construction, operation and maintenance of 2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel on Srinagar-Leh section connecting NH-1A in Jammu and Kashmir.
• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved implementation of Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for capacity augmentation of navigation on 1,380-km Haldia-Varanasi stretch of National Waterway-1 (NW1) on Ganga River.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved construction, operation and maintenance of 2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel on Srinagar-Leh section connecting NH-1A in Jammu and Kashmir
• The Union Cabinet has approved Agreement between India and Myanmar on Land Border Crossing. It is an enabling arrangement for movement of people across border of both counties.
• The Union Cabinet has approved signing and implementation of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) and ‘Transport for London’. Transport for London is a statutory body established under the Greater London Authority Act, 1999 (UK) to improve Public Transport in India.
• The Union Cabinet approved establishment of new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).
• The Union Government has announced details of electoral bonds for political funding that can be routed by donors to political parties. The electoral bonds scheme was announced in Union Budget 2017 with an aim for increasing transparency in political funding. It makes India first country in the world to have such unique bonds for electoral funding.
• The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on request of the Ministry of Shipping has exempted cruise tourists arriving with e-visa from the requirement of biometric enrolment for a period of three years i.e. till 2020. The purpose of the move is to promote cruise tourism in the country and make India attractive cruise tourist destination.
The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has launched online portal NARI (nari.nic.in) for the empowerment of women. It has been developed by the Ministry to provide easy access to information on government schemes and initiatives for women.
• The Department of Heavy Industries (DHI) of Union Government has given its approval to Karnataka government for purchase of electric vehicles (EVs) under FAME India subsidised scheme.
• The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched Allied and Health care Professional Database portal to make data repository robust to ensure better systems and frameworks for healthcare workforce in country. The database will help government to track the number of professionals and streams of allied and health care professions in the country.
• India and Pakistan have exchanged list of their nuclear installations and facilities with each other under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations. This is the 27th consecutive exchange of such list between two countries after first list was exchanged on 1 January 1992.
• State-owned gas utility GAIL India Ltd has commissioned India’s second largest rooftop solar power plant in Uttar Pradesh. It is 5.76 MWp (Mega Watt peak) solar plant installed at GAIL’s petrochemical complex at Pata in UP. The plant has over roofs of warehouses covers a total area of 65,000 square meters.
• The World Leprosy Day is observed internationally every year on last Sunday of January month to raise global awareness of Leprosy. This year it was observed on 28 January. Observance of the day focuses on target of zero cases of leprosy-related disabilities in children.
• The World Economic Forum (WEF) has launched new Global Centre for Cybersecurity in a bid to safeguard world from hackers and growing data breaches — especially from nation-states. The centre will be headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and will become operational from March 2018.
• The 10th edition of Global Forum for Food & Agriculture was held in Berlin, Germany from 18th -20th January 2018. The theme of this year’s event is “Shaping the future of livestock – sustainably, responsibly, efficiently”.
Nepal has started accessing internet from China after commercial operation of Nepal-China optical fibre link via Rasuwagadhi gateway across Himalayan Mountains became operational.
• China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is planning to issue its first US dollar-denominated bond with minimum worth of $1 billion by June 2018.
• The United States has placed Pakistan on ‘Special Watch List’ for “severe violations” of religious freedom. It is only country to be put under the newly-formed list.
• Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) became first countries of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to introduce Value Added Tax (VAT) for the first time to increase their revenue away from oil reserves. The other members of 6 member GCC– Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar — have also committed to introduce VAT, though some have delayed plans until at least 2019.
Business, Economy & Banking
• According to New World Wealth Report, India was ranked sixth in list of wealthiest countries with total wealth of US $8,230 billion in 2017.
• According to recent report published by World Steel Association (WSA), India has overtaken US to become the world’s third largest steel producer in 2017. India’s crude steel production has grown by 6.2% to 101.4 million tonnes (MT) in 2017 compared to 95.5 MT in the previous year.
• According to latest survey released by the international rights group Oxfam, richest 1% in India cornered 73% of the wealth generated in country in 2017. The survey shows worrying picture of rising income inequality.
• In its latest World Economic Outlook (January 2018 update) released by International Monetary Fund (IMF), India is projected to grow at 7.4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018 as against China’s 6.8%.
India was ranked 81st among 118 countries in 2017 Global index of talent competitiveness (GTI) list. India has improved its position from 92nd last year. The index measures ability of countries to compete for talent i.e. how countries grow, attract and retain talent. It is produced by global business school INSEAD in partnership with Adecco Group and Tata Communications.
• India was ranked at 62nd place among emerging economies on Inclusive Development Index (IDI-2018) released by World Economic Forum (WEF).
• The Union Government and state-run oil explorer ONGC clinched deal for acquisition of government’s 51.11% stake in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) for a consideration of Rs. 36,915 crore. The deal will be closed by end of January 2018. Earlier empowered panel headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley had approved price bid for acquisition. The all-cash deal will help government boost its non-debt capital receipts and meet disinvestment target (Rs 72,500 crore).
• According to Census on Foreign Liabilities and Assets of Indian Direct Investment Companies 2016-17 released by Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Mauritius was largest source of foreign investment (FDI) in India.
• The Department of Commerce has signed MoU with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for setting-up institutional mechanism for the development of Logistics sector in the country.
• The World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked India at 30th position among 100 countries on its Global Manufacturing Index (GMI).
The India International Exchange (India INX) has listed the Indian Railway Finance Corporation’s (IRFC’s) green bonds on its debt listing platform-Global Securities Market (GSM)
• The National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDEX) unveiled India’s first agricultural-commodity options in Guarseed designed as hedge for farmers to safeguard against price risks. It was launched by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi.
• Norwegian fertiliser giant Yara International has announced completion of its acquisition of Tata Chemicals’ 1.2 million tonnes per annum production capacity urea plant at Babrala in Uttar Pradesh.
• India’s factory output, measured by the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) rose to 8.4% in November 2017 from 2% in October 2017. It was due to robust performance by manufacturing and capital goods sectors.
• The 2018 Global Economics Prospect (GEP) released by the World Bank has projected India’s growth rate to 7.3% in 2018 and 7.5 for the next two years i.e. 2019 and 2020.
Gujarat has topped among 22 states in the Logistics Ease Across Different States (LEADS) index released by Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
• According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India’s foreign exchange (Forex) reserves have scaled to fresh record high of $409.366 billion as on December 29, 2017. The surge was due to massive spike in foreign currency assets, which is key component of the reserves.
• According to the data released by the Commerce and Industry Ministry, the eight core sectors expanded at fastest pace in more than year at 6.8% in November 2017.
Science & Technology
• Ministry of Earth Science (MoES) has inaugurated high performance computer system (HPC) or supercomputer Mihir (meaning sun) at National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), Noida.
• National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is interested in new India-made thermal spray coating technology used for gas turbine engine in spacecraft.
• Rotavac became first Indigenously developed vaccine from India to be pre-qualified by World Health Organisation (WHO). It means that vaccine can be sold internationally to several countries in South America and Africa.
• Chinese scientists for first time have successfully cloned two identical long-tailed macaques (monkeys), named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua using same technique that produced Dolly sheep two decades ago. This development makes them world’s first primates – the order of mammals that includes monkeys, apes and humans – to be cloned from non-embryonic cell.
SARAS PT1N, the new upgraded version of indigenous transport aircraft SARAS developed by National Aeronautics Laboratory (NAL) successfully made its maiden flight in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
• China has successfully launched two BeiDou-3 satellites to provide navigation and positioning services to countries along Belt and Road initiative (BRI) by the end of 2018.
• Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd is planning to create its own cyptocurrency, JioCoin. The Jiocoin project is being led by Mukesh Ambani’s elder son Akash Ambani.
• Scientists from Duke University in North Carolina, US for first time have developed working human skeletal muscle from stem cells in the laboratory.
• California-based Private spaceflight company SpaceX has launched secret Zuma Mission for US government. It was launched on board of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.
• India’s fastest and first multi-petaflops (PF) supercomputer named Pratyush was unveiled at Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM). The supercomputer has been named as ‘Pratyush’ meaning Sun.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will launch two missions — GOLD and ICON later this year. They will team up to explore the ionosphere, located 96 km above Earth’s surface.
• The World Health Organisation (WHO) has given its pre-qualification to Typbar Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TVC) developed by Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech for global use.
• NASA is going to launch Parker Solar Probe in 2018 to explore the sun’s outer atmosphere. It will be launched onboard of Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle. It will perform its scientific investigations in a hazardous region of intense heat and solar radiation.
• Scientists have discovered new species of frog named Mewa Singh’s night frog (Nyctibatrachus mewasinghi) in Kozhikode’s Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala in Western Ghats. It was discovered in small stream running along the Peruvannamuzhi dam. It is latest contribution to spurt in amphibian discoveries across India.
• Botanical Survey of India (BSI) scientists have discovered two new species of ginger named Hedychium chingmeianum and Caulokaempferia dinabandhuensis in easternmost districts of northeast India. Both the plants belong to the family of Zingiberaceae, to which the commonly found ginger (Zingiber officinale) belongs.
Awards & Honors
• NITI Aayog member Dr Vinod Paul became first Indian to be awarded prestigious IhsanDoğramacı Family Health Foundation Prize by World Health Organisation (WHO). It will be formally presented at World Health Assembly to be held in Geneva, Switzerland in May 2018.
• Legendary Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee (83) was awarded France’s highest civilian award, Legion d’Honneur. He was presented the medal by French Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler at a function in Kolkata, West Bengal.
• The Parliamentary Group has decided to confer Outstanding Parliamentarian Awards to five Members of Parliament.
• Legendary playback singer Asha Bhosle (84) was chosen for fifth edition of Yash Chopra Memorial Award for her outstanding contribution to the Hindi film industry. She will be presented with award in February 2018 by Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao. She was selected by jury members comprising Chopra’s wife Pamela Chopra, filmmakers Boney Kapoor, Madhur Bhandarkar, singer Alka Yagnik, actor Padmini Kohlapure, scriptwriter Honey Irani, Anu and Shashi Ranjan.
• The Ministry of Labour & Employment has announced Prime Minister’s Shram Awards for the year 2016 to be awarded to 50 workers including 3 women employed in Departmental Undertakings & Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) of Central/ State Governments and Private Sector Units employing 500 or more workers. In 2016, 34 workers are from PSUs and 16 workers are from Private Sectors.
President Ram Nath Kovind has announced names of recipients of year 2018 Padma awards viz. Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. He approved conferment of Padma Awards on 85 persons.
• President Ram Nath Kovind awarded India’s highest peacetime military decoration Ashok Chakra (31) posthumously to Indian Air Force (IAF) Garud commando Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala. He had laid down his life after gunning down two terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. He is the third Ashok Chakra for the IAF and its first for ground combat. Other two IAF officers are Rakesh Sharma (first and still only Indian citizen to go to space) and Flying Officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon posthumously decorated with the Param Vir Chakra in 1972.
• President Ram Nath Kovind has felicitated 112 exceptional women achievers at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi. These women achievers ‘FIRST LADIES’ are those who are first to set milestone of achievement in their respective fields. This ‘First Ladies’ is second leg of the ‘100 Women Achievers’ campaign of the Ministry.
• President Ram Nath Kovind presented Sangeet Natak Akademi’s Fellowships (Akademi Ratna) and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskar) for the year 2016 at function held at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.
• The 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards honored the best in film and American television of 2017. The ceremony was organized at Beverly Hills, California, United States (US). The Golden Globe Awards are the annual awards that honour the best in Motion Pictures and American Television for the previous year.
• Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has launched Pledge for Khelo India at Khelo India School Games Carnival in Delhi. The pledge resonates with vision of Khelo India programme and is aimed at inspiring youngsters to build mass participation and excellence in sports. It also is promise to participant and encourages sportsmanship spirit.
• Swiss tennis player Roger Federer (World No. 2) has retained his Men’s Singles title by winning 2018 Australian Open. In the summit clash played at Melbourne, he defeated Croatia’s Marin Cilic (World no. 6) in five sets 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. It was Federer’s sixth Australian Open Crown (earlier won in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2017) and overall 20th Grand Slam singles titles. With this, he joins elite group of Margaret Court, Serena Williams and Steffi Graf who have won 20 or more Grand Slam singles titles.
• Vidarbha cricket team won 2017 Ranji Trophy tournament. It is Vidarbha’s first Ranji Trophy title. In the final match held at Holkar stadium in Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Vidarbha thumped 9-wicket win over Delhi.