Current Affair July 2018

National

Union Ministry of Earth Sciences has unveiled blueprint of Deep Ocean Mission (DOM). The mission proposes to explore deep-ocean by emulating success of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in designing and launching satellites. For this mission, Centre has drawn up a five-year, Rs. 8,000 crore plan to explore deep recesses of the ocean. The focus under it will be on technologies for deep-sea mining, underwater vehicles, underwater robotics and ocean climate change advisory services, among other aspects.

Union Government has constituted High Level Empowered Committee headed by Cabinet Secretary to address issues of Stressed Thermal Power Projects. The committee has representatives from Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Power, Ministry of Coal and lenders having major exposure to the power sector.

Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme to control viral hepatitis C on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day (July 28). The programme aims to combat viral hepatitis and reduce mortality and morbidity associated with it.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has designated India as nodal centre for developing customized model to issue advance warning of floods to Asian countries, including Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand. The model will be called as Flash Flood Guidance System. Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) under Ministry of Earth Sciences will work to customize this weather model.

Indian Railways had organised a programme on Ethics in Public Governance and launched Mission Satyanishtha at a day-long event held at National Rail Museum, New Delhi. It was first of its kind event organised by any government organization in the country.

Union Food Ministry has notified decision to allow sugar mills to manufacture ethanol directly from sugarcane juice or an intermediate product called B-molasses. In this regard, Sugarcane Control Order, 1966 has been amended. The move would help mills divert cane juice for ethanol manufacturing during surplus years.

The 2nd Young Superintendent of Police Conference was held in New Delhi on July 26, 2018. The 2-day conference was inaugurated by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The conference was organized by Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D).

West Bengal state assembly dominated by Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress Government has unanimously passed resolution to change state’s name to ‘Bangla’ in all three languages – Bengali, Hindi and English. The name change will only become official when resolution gets approval from Union Home Ministry and Parliament passes Bill.

Union Government has announced that Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme will be open to all potential researchers from 2019 and not limited to candidates from IISc, IITs, NITs, IIEST and IISERs. The decision was made after Government failed to find adequate number of candidates for PMRF this year. Only 135 fellowships were finally offered against 1,000 positions.

The sub-committee of Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) has recommended prohibition of 343 fixed drug combinations (FDCs) after reviewing 349 and called for regulation and restriction of remaining six. FDC means combination of two or more drugs in fixed dosage ratio.

Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has amended Petroleum and Natural Gas Rules 1959 to include shale in definition of petroleum. This change will allow private companies to explore and produce the resource in the blocks they already operate.

Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) had organized 2nd meeting of National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges under POSHAN Abhiyaan in New Dehli. It was chaired by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar.

India and Rwanda have signed eight agreements in the fields of defence, trade, agriculture, leather and allied products and dairy. The agreements were signed following delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. PM Modi became first Indian Prime Minister to visit Rwanda.

India and Uganda signed four MoUs in the areas of defence cooperation, visa exemption for official and diplomatic passport holders, cultural exchange programme and material testing laboratory. The agreements were inked following delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala.

Union Government has created Group of Ministers (GoM) and high-level committee to deliberate and make recommendations for a separate penal provision on incidents of mob violence. The GoM will be headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, whereas committee will be headed by Uion Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba.

NITI Aayog has signed Statement of Intent (SoI) with Lupin Foundation to collaborate in Aspirational Districts Programme to create templates for concerted development policy. Under this collaboration, both parties will partner to improve indicators in education, health and nutrition, financial inclusion and skill development, agriculture and water resources and basic infrastructure in Aspirational Districts.

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is flagship programme of Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) that aims to enrich Rural India. The second edition (Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0) was launched in April, 2018. Currently 748 institutions are participating under the scheme. In phase II, 605 institutions were selected. Out of these 313 are technical Institutions and 292 are Non-Technical Institutions. 143 institutions had taken part in phase-1.

The first meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Committee on Border Haats was held in Agartala, Tripura. The Joint Committee also visited Border Haat at Kamlasagar in Sipahijala District, Tripura and Tarapur in Brahmanbaria, Bangladesh.

The Union Government has reduced minimum yearly deposit required under popular girl child savings scheme, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana to Rs 250 from Rs 1,000 earlier. This has been lowered to enable more people to enjoy benefits of this scheme. In this regard, Government has amended Sukanya Samriddhi Account Rules, 2016.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched India-assisted emergency ambulance service through video conferencing from New Delhi. The inaugural function of emergency ambulance service was held in Jaffna, Northern Province, of Sri Lankan. The project is another milestone in wide-ranging development partnership between India and Sri Lanka.

Indian Railways inaugurated Regional Rail Training Institute (RRTI) at Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh in a bid to strengthen expertise and capabilities of the employees of North-Eastern Railways. Besides, newly constructed 400 metre washing pit at Ghazipur City station was also inaugurated at a cost of Rs 19.62 crore.

Ministry of Home Affairs sponsored Student Police Cadet (SPC) Programme was launched nationally in Gurugram, Haryana. It was launched by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in the presence of Union Human Resources Minister Prakash Javadekar. The programme aims to build bridge between Police and larger community through school students by inculcating values and ethics in them through classes in school and outside.

National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has launched Centre for Climate Change in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. It is first of its kind centre in South East Asia. It aims at accelerating concerted climate action by various stakeholders in government, private, financial and non -government sectors.

Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government has won No Confidence motion moved in Lok Sabha. This was first no-trust motion against Narendra Modi government after it came to power in May 2014 and less than year before the next general elections.

Five central oil PSUs – IOCL, ONGC, GAIL, OIL, and NRL have signed agreement for executing 1500 Km North-East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid. It is a major initiative to connect all North-East States to National Gas Grid. It will be implemented under Centre’s ambitious Urja Ganga Gas Pipeline Project.

The 10th edition of Delhi Dialogue (DD X) was held in New Delhi and was hosted by Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The theme for this edition was “Strengthening India-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation”. This was the first major event organised after ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit, which was held in New Delhi in January 2018.

India and United States (US) at the Homeland Security Dialogue have resolved to enhance bilateral cooperation in areas, including counter-terrorism, immigration and aviation security. For this dialogue, Indian delegation was led by Additional Secretary in Home Ministry Rajni Sekhri Sibal, while US side was led by James McCament, Deputy Under Secretary, Department of Homeland Security.

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved implementation of Centrally Sponsored-Scheme for completion of 83 minor irrigation projects and 8 major or medium irrigation projects in Maharashtra’s drought prone areas of Vidharbha, Marathawada regions.

Union Cabinet has approved to grant Special Remission to Prisoners as part of commemoration of 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi to be observed in 2019. This decision is considered as befitting commemoration and homage to father of nation and humanitarian values Mahatma Gandhi stood for.

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane for sugar season 2018-19 keeping in view the interest of sugarcane farmers. It was approved based on the recommendation of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). CCEA has hiked Rs. 20 per quintal in the FRP of sugarcane at Rs. 275 per quintal for basic recovery rate of 10%. It is higher by 77.42% over production cost and ensures that farmers gets return of more than 50 % over their production cost.

Union Cabinet approves proposal of Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) to make district magistrates (DMs), instead of courts, the final authority for approving adoptions. In this regard, Ministry of WCD will introduce bill to amend Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 to make district magistrates and collectors competent officers for approving adoptions, instead of courts.

The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) amongst BRICS Nations (viz. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) on Regional Aviation Partnership Cooperation. The objective of MoU is to benefit BRICS countries from establishing of institutional framework to cooperate in field of civil aviation.

Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has issued draft amendments to Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, making Vehicle Tracking System device and FASTags mandatory for all commercial vehicles obtaining national permit.

All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) and IIT (Indian Institute of Technology)-Delhi have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance research in the field of Ayurveda. The MoU was signed on sidelines of two-day conference on ‘Raising towards Excellence’ held at New Delhi.

Western Railway renamed Elphinstone Road suburban railway station in Mumbai, Maharashtra to Prabhadevi Station. The station code of Prabhadevi station will be PBHD. The station was initially named after Lord Elphinstone, who was Governor of Bombay Presidency from 1853 to 1860. It has now been renamed in honour of local deity Prabhadevi.

Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is going to create National Database of Arms Licenses system from April 2019. It will include names of all arms licence holders, new or old and they will be issued a unique identification number (UIN). The move is aimed at keeping tab on authorised private gun holders, many of whom are often found involved in crimes and celebratory firing leading to loss of lives. It will also eliminate possibilities of issuing arms licence to persons whose antecedents are not bona

ISRO has successfully conducted ground test of its high thrust version of Vikas Engine at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) in Mahendragiri, Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu for duration of 195 seconds. The tests meet all its propulsion parameters and were found satisfactory and closely matched the predictions.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has drafted fee regulations to put in place uniform fee framework to check frequent and arbitrary increases in school fees by unaided private schools. NCPCR is country’s apex child rights body. It will recommend these draft regulations to Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD).

United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres has established first-of-its-kind panel on digital cooperation aimed at addressing concerns of cybersecurity threats and rise in hate speech. The high-level panel on digital cooperation will be co-chaired by US philanthropist Melinda Gates and China-based Alibaba founder Jack Ma.

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has issued order allowing photography within premises of protected monuments and sites. The order was issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi questioned ASI’s rules prohibiting visitors from taking photographs at certain monuments while inaugurating ASI’s new headquarters Dharohar Bhawan in Delhi’s Tilak Marg area.

Union Government has invited United States President Donald Trump to be the chief guest at 2019 Republic Day celebrations. The invite was reportedly followed up with multiple rounds of diplomatic talks. If President Trump accepts the invitation, he will be second serving US President after Barack Obama to be invited as chief guest of Republic Day Parade. It will indicate importance of the Indo-U.S. relationship.

The Union Government constituted a high-level task force under Chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha to identify various items and policy interventions to reduce dependence on imports. It will suggest ways to cut import of those items which can be manufactured or explored in the country. The task force includes secretaries from Departments of Commerce, Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Revenue, Skill Development, Defence Production, Petroleum, Steel, Electronics and Telecommunications.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated ‘Dharohar Bhawan’ – the new headquarters building of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at 24, Tilak Marg in New Delhi.

Union Finance Ministry has hiked threshold monetary limit for tax departments to file appeals all three levels of appeal — Appellate Tribunals, High Courts, and Supreme Court. The move is aimed at significantly decreasing taxpayer greivances and litigation burden of tax departments in courts and tribunals across the country.

Indian Railways has launched its first consolidated Bridge Management System (IR-BMS), a web-enabled IT application to store data on its 1.5 lakh bridges. It was launched by Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal days after bridge in Mumbai collapsed on a railway track.

India was formally inducted as 69th shareholder of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). This comes after entire membership process completed recently and after EBRD’s board of governors, which represents all existing shareholders voted unanimously in favour of India’s application in March 2018. India had applied for EBRD membership in December 2017.

Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has launched fortnightly video contest “Jal Bachao, Video Banao, Puruskar Pao”. The contest aims to engage with people of the country on the important issues of water conservation and water management. For running this contest, Ministry has joined hands with MyGov portal (www.mygov.in). The contest will last till 4th November 2018 and three winners will be chosen every fortnight.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) latest ‘Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/ GM Crops in 2017’ report, India with 11.4 million hectares (mh) has world’s fifth largest area cultivated under genetically modified (GM) crops in 2017. India’s entire GM crop area is under single crop BT Cotton incorporating genes from Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt soil bacterium coding for resistance against heliothis bollworm insect pests.

Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoUHA) has launched Technology Challenge: Identifying solutions for cleaning of Sewerage Systems and Septic Tanks to promote suitable techniques for cleaning sewers and septic tanks it to eliminate need for human entry in them.

India and United Kingdom has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the sphere of Law & Justice and establishing Joint Consultative Committee. The MoU was signed by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and UK’s Secretary of State for Justice David Gauke in London.

India’s upper house of parliament Rajya Sabha and Senate of Rwanda has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for promoting inter-parliamentary dialogue capacity building and cooperation. It was signed between Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu and visiting President of Senate of Rwanda, Bernard Makuza in New Delhi.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has launched national campaign ‘The Eat Right Movement’ to improve public health and combat lifestyle diseases. FSSAI also launched Eat Right tool kit and Safe and Nutritious Food at Workplace campaign.

The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has granted Institution of Eminence (IoE) status to six educational institutions. It includes 3 Institutions from Public Sector and 3 from Private Sector. They were selected by Empowered Expert Committee headed by former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N Gopalaswami.

The first India Tourism Mart (IMT) will be held in New Delhi from 16 September 2018 to create a global tourism mart for India on lines of major international travel marts. It will be organized by Ministry of Tourism in partnership with Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH). India Convention Promotion Board (ICPB) will coordinate the whole event.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved Lining Project of Son canal in Shahabad-Bhojpur region of Bihar. The estimated cost of this project is US $503 million (Rs 3272.49 crore) out of which US $352 million is being provided by ADB. This project on completion will bring immense benefits to agriculture sector of Shahabad – Bhojpur region of Bihar. Ministry of Power has requested ADB and Ministry of Finance to expedite and tender for first phase of lining of the main canal and branches by October 2018.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved Lining Project of Son canal in Shahabad-Bhojpur region of Bihar. The estimated cost of this project is US $503 million (Rs 3272.49 crore) out of which US $352 million is being provided by ADB. This project on completion will bring immense benefits to agriculture sector of Shahabad – Bhojpur region of Bihar. Ministry of Power has requested ADB and Ministry of Finance to expedite and tender for first phase of lining of the main canal and branches by October 2018.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has launched Saathi, a mobile help centre to reach out to people undertaking annual pilgrimage to 3,880-metre high holy cave shrine of Amarnath. It will provide help and information to yatris staying in camps outside the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu. This will be in addition to security provided by CRPF to the yatra routes.

The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has announced that over 51 lakh houses have been approved under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) in the three years of its implementation. Out of 51 lakh sanctioned houses, over 28 lakhs houses are already in various stages of construction. Over 8 lakh houses have already been completed.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) is going to launch Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge as part of technology sub-mission of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U). The challenge aims to accelerate PMAY-U’s target of providing ‘housing for all’ as the scheme is moving at pace far slower than its rural counterpart.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will be upgrading National Information Security Policy and Guidelines (NISPG) to secure government data and control access to it inorder to prevent sensitive information making its way to internet. The upgraded and updated policy will cover issues pertaining to the Official Secrets Act.

The 67th plenary meeting of North Eastern Council (NEC) was recently held in Shillong, Meghalaya. It was chaired by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The meeting was attended by Union Minister of Development of NER and Governors and Chief Ministers of the north-eastern States.

Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has announced that two of India’s most popular competitive exams, Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) (Main) and National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET), will now be held twice a year and over multiple days. Both exams will be conducted by newly formed National Testing Agency (NTA). It will also conduct National Eligibility Test (NET).

The Supreme Court in latest ruling once again has upheld Chief Justice of India (CJI) as ‘Master of Roster’. According to ruling given by SC bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, CJI is an individual judge and not the powerful collective of five senior-most judges of Supreme Court called the ‘Collegium’. CJI has exclusive authority to allocate cases to fellow judges and is spokesperson of the court.

State-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) is going to set up state-of-the-art Civil Aviation Research Organization (CARO) at Hyderabad’s Begumpet Airport. Foundation stone of the centre was laid by Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu. For this project, AAI has earmarked Rs 1,200 crore which will be spent over 12 years for research and development (R&D).

The Law Commission of India (LCI) in its report “Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including Cricket in India”, has recommended that gambling and betting on sports be allowed as regulated activities. It recommended number of changes in law for regulating betting for making it taxable under direct and indirect tax regimes and used as source for attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). The commission is led by former Supreme Court Justice BS Chauhan.

The Union Ministry of Coal has launched Coal Mine Surveillance & Management System (CMSMS) and Mobile Application ‘Khan Prahari’. The CMSMS and the mobile app have been developed by CMPDI, Ranchi a Subsidiary of CIL and Bhaskarcharya Institute of Space Application and Geo-informatics (BISAG).

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has developed mobile app ‘GST Verify’ to protect interest of consumers. It is android app to verify if the person collecting GST from consumer is eligible to collect it or not.

Union Cabinet has approved creation of one post each of Vice-Chairperson and Member in the National Commission for Safai Karmacharis (NCSK). The decision aims at optimizing functioning of NCSK and fulfilling desired objectives of welfare and development of target group. At present, it has sanctioned strength of four members and a chairperson. With this posts, sanctioned strength of NCSK will be one Chairperson, one Vice-Chairperson and five members.

The Union Cabinet has approved India’s accession to WIPO Copyright Treaty, 1996 and WIPO Performers and Phonograms Treaty, 1996 which extends coverage of copyright to the internet and digital environment. The proposal was submitted by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The Union Cabinet has approved continuance of 8 existing schemes of Ministry of Home Affairs for relief and rehabilitation of migrants and repatriates upto March 2020 under Umbrella scheme Relief and Rehabilitation of Migrants and Repatriates. The schemes will provide relief and rehabilitation assistance to refugees, displaced persons, civilian victims of terrorist, communal, Left Wing Extremism (LWE) violence and cross border firing and mine and IED blasts on Indian territory and riot victims of various incidents etc.

The Election Commission of India has launched Cvigil mobile application for citizens to report any violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) during elections. The app aims at empowering people across the country to share evidence of malpractice by political parties, their candidates and activists directly with ECI. At present its beta version has been released and will be made available for use during forthcoming Assembly elections Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Rajasthan.

The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) launched its in-house developed, single-umbrella e-marketing system named Khadi Institution Management and Information System (KIMIS) in New Delhi. The system can be accessed from anywhere in the country for sale and purchase of Khadi and Village Industries products.

Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) in Assam became first oil public sector undertaking (PSU) in India to adopt an online legal compliance system by introducing 'Legatrix'. This initiative aims to induce greater transparency NRL’s operations and augment its contribution towards Digital India Mission of the Government.

Supreme Court has extended deadline for publication of final draft of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) from earlier June 30, 2018 to July 31, 2018. This extension comes after Central Government and the state coordinator of NRC agreed to publish it within the new time limit.

The National Doctors’ Day is observed every year on 1 July across India to express gratitude and acknowledge the dedication and commitment of the doctors’ towards our society. The observance of the day honours legendary physician and West Bengal’s second Chief Minister, Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy whose birth and death anniversary coincides on the same day. Indian Medical Association (IMA’s) theme for 2018 National Doctors’ Day is ‘Zero tolerance to violence against doctors and clinical establishment’.

The ninth and final meeting of Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on India-Nepal relations concluded in Kathmandu, capital city of Nepal. During this two day meeting, representatives from India and Nepal deliberated up on various bilateral issues including 1950 Peace and Friendship treaty, trade, transit and border.

India and Pakistan have exchanged lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen lodged in each other’s jails. The list was shared as per the provision of bilateral agreement on consular access signed between both countries in May 2008. Under it, lists of prisoners have to be exchanged twice every year – on January 1 and July 1.

The Income Tax Department has launched instant Aadhaar-based e-PAN allotment service for individuals seeking PAN (Permanent Account Number) service for the first time. This facility is free of cost and is available for a limited period on first-come, first-served basis for valid Aadhaar holders. It was introduced because of increasing number of people applying for PAN.

The 9th Heads of Mission Conference was held in New Delhi from June 30-July 2, 2018. It was inaugurated by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The conference comes at the time when India is monitoring several important global developments including sanctions imposed by United States on Russia and Iran, and China’s new assertiveness in Indo-Pacific region.

International

The World Hepatitis Day is being observed every year on July 28 around the globe to spread awareness about viral hepatitis. Observance of the day seeks to encourage diagnosis, prevention and treatment of Hepatitis. It also seeks to provide single global platform to raise awareness about hepatitis and influence real change in disease prevention, testing and treatment. The theme for World Hepatitis Day 2018 is "Test. Treat. Hepatitis".

Myanmar has joined India-initiated International Solar Alliance (ISA), making it 68th signatory to Framework Agreement of ISA. The ISA Framework Agreement was handed over by Myanmar Minister for International Cooperation, Kyaw Tin to India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on sidelines of Delhi Dialogue.

Myanmar has joined India-initiated International Solar Alliance (ISA), making it 68th signatory to Framework Agreement of ISA. The ISA Framework Agreement was handed over by Myanmar Minister for International Cooperation, Kyaw Tin to India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on sidelines of Delhi Dialogue.

India is going to host inaugural 2+2 Dialogue with United States in September 2018 in New Delhi. In the inaugural meeting, Minister of External Affairs (MEA) Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will host US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and US Secretary of Defence James Mattis.

The fourth edition of Bay of Bengal Initiatives for Multi-Sectoral, Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) will be held in Kathmandu, capital city of from 30 to 31 August, 2018. Nepal is the current chair of BIMSTEC. The main focus of summit will be to increase connectivity between BIMSTEC nations including roads, airways and transmission lines. It will also give top priority connectivity and poverty alleviation.

European Union (EU) and Japan have signed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). It was signed at EU-Japan summit in Tokyo by EU Presidents Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It is biggest ever trade deal negotiated by the EU and creates free trade zone covering nearly third of the world’s GDP.

India became Vice-Chair or regional head of Asia Pacific Region of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) for two years from July 2018 to June 2020. By becoming Vice Chair, India will be able to take up leadership role at the WCO.

United Nations for first time has finalized Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration to better manage international migration, address its challenges, strengthen migrant rights and contribute to sustainable development. This is for first time UN Member countries came together to negotiate agreement covering all dimensions of international migration.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has adopted Resolution 2428 (2018) to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, almost five years after ruinous civil war was started in infant country. The resolution was drafted by United States and won minimum nine votes needed in favor to none against with 6 abstentions.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has adopted Resolution 2427 aimed at providing legal framework for mainstreaming protection, rights, well-being and empowerment of children throughout the conflict cycle. The resolution has won unanimous approval of the 15 members of the council.

The sixth edition of biennial World Cities Summit was held in Singapore from July 8 to 12, 2018. Its theme was “Liveable & Sustainable Cities: Embracing the Future through Innovation and Collaboration“. The summit was held together with Singapore International Water Week and CleanEnviro Summit Singapore.

The International Day of Cooperatives (IDC) was observed on July 7 (first Saturday of July) across the world to promote co-operative model as it contains core aspects of sustainable development and is based on ethical values and principles. The 2018 theme of the Day was ‘Sustainable societies through cooperation’, aimed at creating sustainable societies through cooperation. Co-operatives around world celebrate this day in various fashions and each year the organising institutions agree on a theme for the celebrations.

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has approved US $6.69 billion dollar budget for 13 peacekeeping operations for year 2018-19. This is second year in row in which committee has made significant cuts to overall peacekeeping budget.

The 5th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) intersessional ministerial meeting was held in Tokyo, Japan. It was first RCEP ministerial gathering to be held outside ASEAN countries. It was co-chaired by Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing and his Japanese counterpart Hiroshige Seko.

India has agreed to provide tariff concessions on 3,142 products to Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) members, from July 1, 2018. The tariff concessions are implementation of results of fourth round of negotiations under APTA, which were formally concluded and signed by the ministers of member countries during meeting of APTA Ministerial Council in January, 2017.

The International Day of Parliamentarism is observed every year on June 30 across the globe with an aim to recognise role of parliaments in national plans and strategies and in ensuring greater transparency and accountability at national and global levels. The year 2018 marks first celebration of International Day of Parliamentarism. The day celebrates parliaments, as the cornerstone of democracy and as institutions designed to improve the lives of the people they represent. It is also provides opportunity for parliaments to take stock, identify challenges, and ways to address them effectively.

Business, Economy & Banking

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of country’s first Mobile Open Exchange (MOX) zone in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. UP government had signed MoU with World Trade Centre, Noida at UP Investors Summit to develop Tech Zone which will act as catalyst for growth of mobile and allied sectors in the state.

India has fallen out of top 10 destinations for Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in terms of its attractiveness according to 2018 Kearney FDI Confidence Index, in which it was ranked 11th, down from 8th in 2017 and 9th in 2016. The index was released by report published by global consultancy firm A T Kearney.

Invest India and Business France have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote investment facilitation and cooperation between startups of India and France. The MoU will facilitate direct foreign investment by providing practical investment information to enterprises. It will also support companies pursuing those opportunities which contribute positively to economic growth of two countries.

India was ranked 6th in the global optimism index with business optimism tepid in second quarter (Q2) of 2018. The index was released as part of Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR), a quarterly global business survey. The report was based on results of quarterly global business survey of 2,500 businesses in 32 economies.

Banks and Financial Institutions (FIs) have signed Inter-Creditor Agreement (ICA) aimed at faster resolution of stressed assets of Rs. 50 crore or more which are under consortium lending. It has been signed by 22 public sector banks, 19 private sector banks and 32 foreign banks and 12 major financial intermediaries like LIC, HUDCO etc.

According to Asian Development Bank (ADB), India will continue to be fastest growing major economy, ahead of China, with growth rate of 7.3% in 2018-19 and 7.6% in 2019-20. The growth projections were supplement to ADB’s Asian Development Outlook (ADO).

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will shortly issue new Rs. 100 denomination banknotes in lavender colour in Mahatma Gandhi (New) Series. This comes on back of new designs introduced for Rs 200, Rs 500 and Rs 10 notes, in the last couple of years. The old Rs 100 notes in the earlier series will also continue to be legal tender along with new notes.

Union Finance Ministry is planning to infuse additional capital close to Rs 11,336 crore in 5 more public sector banks (PSBs) by September 2018-end. These five state-owned banks are Punjab National Bank (PNB), Corporation Bank, Andhra Bank, Allahabad Bank and Indian Overseas Bank (IOB).

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its latest World Economic Outlook (WEO) update has projected growth rate of 7.3% in 2018 and 7.5% in 2019 for India as against 6.7% in 2017. This makes India, fastest growing country among major economies in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Fertiliser major IFFCO has launched e-commerce platform IFFCO iMandi (an mobile application and web portal) to address all needs of the farming community associated with it. For this initiative, IFFCO has partnered with Singapore-based technology firm iMandi. Through this e-commerce platform, IFFCO is targeting to reach GMV (gross merchandise value) of $5 billion in the next two years by catering needs of 5.5 crore farmers already associated with it.

According to the data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), factory output measured in terms of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) has slipped to seven-month low of 3.2% in May 2018. It was mainly due to sluggish performance of manufacturing and power sectors coupled with poor offtake of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG).

According to updated World Bank figures on GDP of countries for 2017, India has become world’s sixth-biggest economy surpassing France to seventh place. India’s gross domestic product (GDP) amounted to $2.597 trillion at the end of 2017, as against $2.582 trillion for France.

In recently released Global Innovation Index (GII) 2018, India was ranked 57th among 130 countries. It was 11th edition of GII and was jointly released by Cornell University, INSEAD and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). This year, India has moved up 3 places as compared to 60th rank in GII 2017 and emerged as top-ranked economy in Central and South Asia.

The India-Korea Technology Exchange Centre was inaugurated at National Small Industries Corporation premises in New Delhi. It was inaugurated by Minister of State (I/C) MSME Giriraj Singh and Minister of SMEs and Start-ups of South Korea, Hong Jong- hak.

South Korean technology giant Samsung inaugurated the world’s largest mobile manufacturing unit in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. It was jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Fertiliser cooperative major IFFCO (Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited) has entered into strategic partnership with two leading South Korean firms to explore business opportunities in agri-machinery and farm credit sectors. These two firms are LS Mtron Ltd, a South Korean agriculture equipment manufacturer and NH Capital co. Ltd., South Korea’s leading financial services provider.

China has announced that it has clinched deal with India on reduction of tariffs (import duties) on Indian medicines including anti-cancer drugs. However, it is not yet clear whether it has agreed to grant licences to Indian companies to sell cancer drugs in its huge market.

Indian IT industry apex body NASSCOM (National Association of Software & Services Companies) has opened Centre of Excellence for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (CoE-DSAI) in Bengaluru, Karnataka. The centre was set up in collaboration with Karnataka Government with an aim to nurture innovation in emerging disruptive technologies such as AI and to leverage the power of data science.

Union Cabinet has approved extension of scheme of recapitalization of Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) for next three years (upto 2019-20). This will enable RRBs to maintain minimum prescribed Capital to Risk Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) of 9%. It will ensure strong capital structure and minimum required level of CRAR. This will facilitate financial stability of RRBs and enable them to play greater role in financial inclusion and meeting credit requirements of rural areas.

NITI Aayog is going to organise ‘MOVE: Global Mobility Summit’ on September 7-8, 2018 collaboration with various ministries and industry partners. The summit will be held in New Delhi and will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It will help to drive India’s goals for vehicle electrification, renewable energy integration and job growth, thus, speeding up India’s transition to a clean energy economy.

Payments Council of India (PCI) has appointed Vishwas Patel, Director at Infibeam Avenues as its new Chairman. He will take over from Naveen Surya, who has been elevated to post of Chairman Emeritus. He has been associated with PCI since its inception in 2013 and was serving as PCI’s co-Chairman. PCI also has appointed Loney Antony, Managing Director, Hitachi Payment Services, as its new co-Chairman.

According to Index of Eight Core Industries released by Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the growth of eight core infrastructure industries has dropped to 10-month low of 3.6% in May 2018 due to decline in production of crude oil and natural gas. This is the lowest growth rate since July 2017 when eight core infrastructure industries had expanded by 2.9%. The growth rate recorded in April 2018 stood higher at 4.6%. In April and May 2018, the eight industries recorded 4.1% growth compared to 3.3% in same period in 2017.

According to Nikkei Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), compiled by IHS Markit, India’s manufacturing growth jumps to six-month high in June 2018. Manufacturing PMI rose to 53.1 in June 2018 from 51.2 in May 2018, the highest since December 2017. This is the 11th consecutive month that the manufacturing PMI remained above the 50-point mark. The reading above 50 on index denotes expansion and less than that indicates contraction in activities.

The Union Government has constituted 13-member Committee for Sub-National Accounts to upgrade the norms for computation of economic data at states and districts level in backdrop of plans to revise the base year for National Accounts or Gross Domestic Production (GDP) calculation. It will be headed by Ravindra H Dholakia, a retired professor of IIM Ahmedabad.

The Banks Board Bureau (BBB) has recommended 15 executive directors to be elevated as managing directors (MD) at various public sector banks (PSBs). It was headed by former Department of Personnel and Training Secretary B P Sharma. These recommendations were based on interactions held by BBB and are subject to various clearances. The Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister will take the final decision in this regard.

Government Schemes

Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme to control viral hepatitis C on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day (July 28). The programme aims to combat viral hepatitis and reduce mortality and morbidity associated with it.

Union Government has announced that Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme will be open to all potential researchers from 2019 and not limited to candidates from IISc, IITs, NITs, IIEST and IISERs. The decision was made after Government failed to find adequate number of candidates for PMRF this year. Only 135 fellowships were finally offered against 1,000 positions.

NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission and MyGov has jointly launched ‘#InnovateIndia Platform’ (https://innovate.mygov.in/innovateindia/). It is citizen centric platform that aims to serve as common point for all innovation happening across the nation.

Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) had organized 2nd meeting of National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges under POSHAN Abhiyaan in New Dehli. It was chaired by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar.

Ministry of Culture has announced that it has received Rs. 904.80 Lakhs for conservation and maintenance work of historical monuments as contributions part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) under National Culture Fund (NCF). It also has revenue collected through various sources like ticketing, Parking, photography, filming, and from holding cultural events from selected centrally protected monument which has been deposited in Consolidated Fund of India.

NITI Aayog has signed Statement of Intent (SoI) with Lupin Foundation to collaborate in Aspirational Districts Programme to create templates for concerted development policy. Under this collaboration, both parties will partner to improve indicators in education, health and nutrition, financial inclusion and skill development, agriculture and water resources and basic infrastructure in Aspirational Districts.

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is flagship programme of Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) that aims to enrich Rural India. The second edition (Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0) was launched in April, 2018. Currently 748 institutions are participating under the scheme. In phase II, 605 institutions were selected. Out of these 313 are technical Institutions and 292 are Non-Technical Institutions. 143 institutions had taken part in phase-1.

The Union Government has reduced minimum yearly deposit required under popular girl child savings scheme, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana to Rs 250 from Rs 1,000 earlier. This has been lowered to enable more people to enjoy benefits of this scheme. In this regard, Government has amended Sukanya Samriddhi Account Rules, 2016.

Sports Authority of India (SAI) under Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs has cleared 734 athletes for the scholarship under the Khelo India Talent Development Scheme. They were selected High Powered Committee of SAI. Through this programme, the athletes will get training at government-accredited residential academies. They will be provided with annual stipend of Rs. 1,20,000 on quarterly basis to meet their out of pocket expenses, treatment of injuries and other expenses.

Ministry of Home Affairs sponsored Student Police Cadet (SPC) Programme was launched nationally in Gurugram, Haryana. It was launched by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in the presence of Union Human Resources Minister Prakash Javadekar. The programme aims to build bridge between Police and larger community through school students by inculcating values and ethics in them through classes in school and outside.

Haryana Government has launched ‘Paudhagiri campaign’, an unique program to increase green cover in the state. It was launched by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar by planting ‘maulsari’ sapling in Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex premises of Gurugram. The campaign aims increase green cover in the state, help in stabilising environment and improve overall climatic conditions, thus help in checking global warming.

Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) has launched Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2018 (SSG 2018) in New Delhi, a rural cleanliness survey to rank all states and districts on basis of qualitative and quantitative evaluation.

The Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) of Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs has included entire Men’s Hockey team of India under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS). This is first instance that entire team has been made beneficiary of the scheme as earlier only individual athletes from different sports were included as beneficiaries of the scheme.

The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has announced that over 51 lakh houses have been approved under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) in the three years of its implementation. Out of 51 lakh sanctioned houses, over 28 lakhs houses are already in various stages of construction. Over 8 lakh houses have already been completed.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) is going to launch Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge as part of technology sub-mission of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U). The challenge aims to accelerate PMAY-U’s target of providing ‘housing for all’ as the scheme is moving at pace far slower than its rural counterpart.

Union Cabinet has approved extension of scheme of recapitalization of Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) for next three years (upto 2019-20). This will enable RRBs to maintain minimum prescribed Capital to Risk Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) of 9%. It will ensure strong capital structure and minimum required level of CRAR. This will facilitate financial stability of RRBs and enable them to play greater role in financial inclusion and meeting credit requirements of rural areas.

The Union Cabinet has approved continuance of 8 existing schemes of Ministry of Home Affairs for relief and rehabilitation of migrants and repatriates upto March 2020 under Umbrella scheme Relief and Rehabilitation of Migrants and Repatriates. The schemes will provide relief and rehabilitation assistance to refugees, displaced persons, civilian victims of terrorist, communal, Left Wing Extremism (LWE) violence and cross border firing and mine and IED blasts on Indian territory and riot victims of various incidents etc.

Awards & Honors

Two Indians Bharat Vatwani and Sonam Wangchuk are among six who have been declared winners of 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Award, often referred to as Asian version of the Nobel Prize. Others are are Youk Chhang (Cambodia), Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz (East Timor), Howard Dee (Philippines) and Vo Thi Hoang Yen (Vietnam). The winners will each receive certificate, medallion bearing image of late Filipino leader Ramon Magsaysay and cash prize. They will be conferred with award during formal presentation ceremony at Cultural Centre in Philippines in August 2018.

Renowned Carnatic vocalist Aruna Sairam has been selected for 2018 Sangita Kalanidhi award of Music Academy for her contribution to Carnatic music. Under this recognition, she will preside over 92nd annual conference to be held between December 15, 2018 and January 1, 2019. The award will be conferred to her on January 1, 2019 the day of Sadas of the conference.

Madhya Pradesh Government has conferred prestigious National Kalidas Samman on noted artist Anjolie Ela Menon (78) for her contribution to visual arts. The award was conferred in recognition of her insightful and sensitive portrayal of the identity and spirit of women through her meaningful paintings in a variety of media.

Sports

Sports Authority of India (SAI) under Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs has cleared 734 athletes for the scholarship under the Khelo India Talent Development Scheme. They were selected High Powered Committee of SAI. Through this programme, the athletes will get training at government-accredited residential academies. They will be provided with annual stipend of Rs. 1,20,000 on quarterly basis to meet their out of pocket expenses, treatment of injuries and other expenses.

France has won 2018 FIFA World Cup Football by defeating Croatia by 4-2 goals in the final match held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia . It was France’s second World Cup crown after it had own it in 1998 (by defeating Brazil) on home soil. With this, victory France joins Uruguay and Argentina in winning World Cup for a second time. It was Croatia’s first World Cup final appearance and smallest country ever to reach final in the modern era.

The 2018 Wimbledon Championships was a tennis tournament held from2 July to 15 July 2018. It was the 132nd edition of the championships and 51st edition in the Open Era. The tournament was held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom.

The Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) of Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs has included entire Men’s Hockey team of India under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS). This is first instance that entire team has been made beneficiary of the scheme as earlier only individual athletes from different sports were included as beneficiaries of the scheme.

The Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) of Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs has included entire Men’s Hockey team of India under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS). This is first instance that entire team has been made beneficiary of the scheme as earlier only individual athletes from different sports were included as beneficiaries of the scheme.

Satyarup Siddhanta has become second Indian mountaineer after Malli Mastan Babu to climb Mt Ojos del Salado (6893 m), the highest volcano in the world on Argentina-Chile border. He is certified mountaineer from Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling. He has skied last degree to South Pole by covering distance of 111 km. In December 2017 he summited Vinson Massif, becoming only fifth Indian civilian to complete the seven summits (Messner’s List).

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Comments ( 1 )

  1. Tamjid islam
    3 years ago
    Very decent