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Current Affairs December 15 2018

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Dam Safety Bill 2018 introduced in Lok Sabha by MoSPA&WR
On December 12, 2018, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources Arjun Ram Meghwal introduced the Dam Safety Bill 2018 in Lok Sabha.

Dam Safety Bill 2018It was introduced on behalf of the Road and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.
i. The bill will be applied to specified dams across all states.
About Dam Safety Bill 2018:
i. The Dam Safety Bill, 2018 was drafted by Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR,RD&GR).
ii. The bill aims to provide a robust legal and institutional framework for the safety of dams under Central and state governments.
iii. The purview of the bill includes the following:

  • The surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of specified dams for prevention of dam failure related disasters,
  • Constitution of a ‘National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS)’, chaired by Chairman of CWC, to evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations,
  • Establishment of ‘National Dam Safety Authority’ (NDSA) as a regulatory body to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country,
  • Constitution of ‘State Committee on Dam Safety’ by the State Governments for proper surveillance,
  • Mandates every state has to establish a State Dam Safety Organisation.
  • In cases where a dam is extended over two or more States or dams of one State falling under the territory of another State, the National Authority has to perform the role of State Dam Safety Organization.
  • Additionally, Emergency action plan has to be prepared by the owner of a dam within 5 years and for new dams it has to be prepared before filling.

Central Water Commission (CWC) maintains the National Register of Large Dams (NRLD) based on information received from the State Governments. As per NRLD, there are 5264 large dams completed and 437 large dams under construction in India. Number of dam failures reported in India is 36.
Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR,RD&GR):
♦ Union Minister:  Shri. Nitin Gadkari.
♦ Minister of State: Shri. Satya Pal Singh, Shri. Arjun Ram Meghwal.

Government forms seven-member panel under BBB to select MD for PSU insurance firms
On 13th December 2018, the government has constituted a seven-member panel to select managing directors of public sector insurance companies. The panel would be headed by Banks Board Bureau (BBB) chairman B P Sharma.
i. The other members of the panel are Financial Services Secretary, Department of Public Enterprises Secretary and Chairman of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India.
ii. Three insurance sector experts G N Bajpai, Mathew Varghese and T Bhargava have also been appointed on the selection panel.
iii. In 2014 the Modi government had constituted BBB to select managing directors and chairman for public sectors banks after the post of CMDs was bifurcated into two separate positions as non-executive chairman and managing director.

Operation Oliva: Coast Guard launches operation to safeguard turtles
The Indian Coast Guard has launched ‘Operation Oliva’ as part of its annual mission to ensure the safe mid-sea sojourn of breeding Olive Ridley sea turtles in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary area, Devi river mouth, and Rushikulya beach of Odisha.
Key Points:
i. The turtle conservation programme is executed in a joint coordination with the forest department of Odisha to keep watch and vigil on illegal fishing along the turtle concentration zone.
ii. As a part of the operation, a fleet of ships and a service aircraft has been pressed into service besides the coast guard has also organised interactive sessions with fishermen communities to sensitise them on the legal embargo on fishing during ridleys’ nesting season.
iii. The Coast Guard patrol in turtle congregation sites would remain in force till the marine turtles finish laying eggs on nesting beaches.

18th meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) held in New Delhi
On December 13, 2018, the 18th India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) was held in New Delhi.

India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) held in New Delhii. The meeting was co-chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Russian counterpart General Sergei Shoigu.
ii. It was a part of the bilateral Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between Russia and India on defence ties and joint manufacturing projects, including the Kamov-226 helicopters, naval frigates and projects related to land systems.
iii. The following took place in the meeting:

  • Discussions took place on various topics like defence equipment, industry and technological engagement as well as after-sales support and upgradation of military equipment of Russian origin.
  • inter-governmental arrangements for facilitating joint manufacturing of spares for Russian origin equipment in India, under the ‘Make in India’ initiative would be undertaken.

MOU signed in the meeting:

  • A revised Inter-Governmental Agreement on restructuring the existing IRIGC-MTC to the IRIGC on Military and Military Technical Cooperation was signed by the two Ministers.

iv. An additional institutional Working Group would also be set up under the expanded commission. It would be headed by
Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) and Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of General Staff of Armed Forces of Russian Federation.
A deal worth $5.43 billion was signed between India and Russia to buy Russian S-400 air defence missile system on October 2018. The two countries also signed a deal to build two frigates in Goa for the Indian Navy.
♦ Capital: Moscow.
♦ Currency: Russian ruble.
♦ President: Vladimir Putin

West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh top beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat: MoSH&FW
On December 13, 2018, Minister of state for health and family welfare Anupriya Patel announced that West Bengal, Bihar and Chhattisgarh emerged the largest beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat.

i. Till November 2018, the government had spent Rs 798.34 crore on the scheme, of which:

  • West Bengal was allotted a total of Rs 193.34 crore,
  • Bihar got an allocation of Rs 188.27 crore, and
  • Chhattisgarh Rs 114.43 crore.

About Ayushman Bharat:
♦ Launched: April 2018.
♦ Other names: PM Jan-Arogya Yojana, National Health Protection Scheme.
♦ Target: 10.74 crore poor families to get benefit of Rs. 5lakh per family per year.
♦ 1st Health centre launched at Bijapur, Chhattishgarh in April 14, 2018.
♦ CEO: Dr. Indu Bhushan.


Nepal government bans Indian currency notes above Rs 100
On December 14, 2018, the Nepal government banned Indian currency above Rs 100.
i. New Indian note of Rs 2,000, Rs 500 and Rs 200 denominations were banned as the Nepal government has not yet legalised them in the market.
ii. The announcement was made by Nepal’s Minister for Information and Communications Gokul Prasad Baskota.
iii.The move can affect the Indian tourist and Nepali people working in India, who carry the currency in Nepal for transaction.

Bilateral Annual Haj 2019 Agreement between India and Saudi Arabia Signed at Jeddah
 On 13th December 2018, a bilateral annual Haj agreement 2019 was signed between India and Saudi Arabia by Union Minister for Minority Affairs, Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, and Umrah Minister of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dr Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

India signs bilateral annual Haj agreement with Saudi ArabiaKey Points:
i. This year more than 2,100 women have already applied to go to Haj without ‘Mehram’ (male companion) after the Modi Government had lifted ban on women going to Haj without Mehram last year and they had also been exempted from the lottery system.
ii. The Haj Committee of India has received more than 2.47 lakh applications next year’s pilgrimage which includes about 47 per cent women.
iii. For the first time after the Independence, a record 1,75,025 Muslims from India performed Haj 2018 which include about 48 per cent women and that too without any subsidy.


OBOPAY Card: new generation pre-payment instrument for enterprise customers launched by OBOPAY, Federal Bank and MasterCard
On December 14, 2018, OBOPAY, the global financial technology company, announced the launch of a new generation pre-payment instrument called- OBOPAY Card-in partnership with Federal Bank and Mastercard.

new generation pre-payment instrument for enterprise customers launched by OBOPAY, Federal Bank and MasterCardAbout OBOPAY Card:
i. It is built as a one-stop solution that facilitates easy disbursements and payments by enterprises.
ii. The highlights of the card include:

  • The multi-wallet facility that allows dedicated payments and allocation of money for various purposes,
  • The ‘Split transaction’ feature which provides payment flexibility to users and multiple payment scenarios among many others.
  • Card to card money transfer, making online payments, withdrawing cash at ATMs.

iii. This card can be used for multiple payments such as, bank accounts for using salary, digital wallets for payments, food coupons for food coupons, insurance cards for insurance claim, etc.
iv. The account can be operated with zero minimum balance and the users will not be levied any service charge on usage.
v. It can be used at over three million Mastercard outlets in India.
Federal Bank:
♦ Headquarters: Aluva, Kerala.
♦ MD&CEO: Mr. Shyam Srinivasan.
♦ Tagline: Your Perfect Banking Partner.


Global debt hits all-time high of USD 184 trillion, more than 50% of debt borne by US, China and Japan: IMF
On December 14, 2018, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that global debt has reached an all-time high of USD 184 trillion compared to the earlier estimate of USD 182 trillion.
i. According to the statement, more than half of the global debt is being borne by 3 countries- the United States, China and Japan.
ii. The updated amount is the equivalent of 225 per cent of the world GDP in 2017.
iii. On average, the world’s debt now exceeds USD 86,000 per person — more than 2½ times the average income per-capita.China’s share in global debt has gone up from less than three per cent to over 15 per cent.
♦ Headquarters: Washington D.C.
♦ Members: 189 countries.
♦ MD& Chairman: Christine Lagarde.

India’s first private sector unit for manufacturing UAV was inaugurated by Telangana’s Home Minister in Hyderabad
On December 14, 2018, Indias first private sector unit for manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was inaugurated by Telangana’s Home Minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali at Adani Aerospace Park in Hyderabad, Telangana.
i. The 50,000 square feet facility has been built by the Adani Group and Israel-based Elbit Systems.
ii. It will develop Hermes 900 medium altitude long-endurance UAVs and Hermes 480 for the Indian and global markets.
iii. The Adani Aerospace Park is the first defence and aerospace complex of Adani Group, situated at Hardware Park on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

Amazon India signed MoU with FISME to empower MSME sector
On December 13, 2018, Amazon India partnered with the Federation of Indian Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises (FISME) to encourage Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises(MSMEs} to sell products online through e-commerce.

Amazon India signed MoU with FISMEi. will collaborate with FISME to conduct various events and workshops across the country to educate MSMEs about:

  • Online selling domestically,
  • B2C exports to enable them to sell across multiple international locations.
  • Areas such as logistics, cataloguing, imaging, taxation,
  • Brand building, documentation, listing methodology and services such as Fulfilment by Amazon & Sponsored Ads.

Other News:
i. Apart from this, has partnered with other government bodies and non-profit organisations to bring SMEs on board. These include:
National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD), UP and Telangana governments, etc.
ii. Amazon India is also organising a ‘Small Business Day’ on December 16 to showcase unique and hard-to-find products from MSMEs under its various programmes such as Kala Haat, Amazon Saheli, Amazon Select, and Amazon Launchpad.
Amazon India:
♦ Headquarters: Bengaluru.


Tata Steel bags Prime Minister’s Trophy for the ‘Best Performing Integrated Steel Plant’ for the year 2016-17
On 13th December 2018, Tata Steel Limited had been declared as the winner of the Prime Minister’s Trophy for the ‘Best Performing Integrated Steel Plant’ in the country for the performance year 2016-17 making it the fourth consecutive year for Tata Steel being honoured with this coveted award.
Key Points:
i. Along with the trophy a cash award of Rs. 2 crore was also given to the company.
ii. Having won the PM’s Trophy 11 times and receiving the Certificate for Excellence twice, Tata Steel has been recognized as the best integrated steel plant 13 times, since the inception of this award in 1992-93.
iii. The performance of the plants is judged by a Panel of Judges headed by Secretary (Steel) and with members from eminent technologists, management experts, trade union leaders, economists, consumers of iron & steel according to a scheme drawn up by an expert committee.
iv. The intention of the award is to spur steel plants to achieve international standards of efficiency, quality and economy in their operations.
v. The Prime Minister’s Trophy for excellence in performance of integrated steel plants entered its 26th year of evaluation during the performance year 2016-17.
About Tata Steel:
♦ Chairman: Natarajan Chandrasekaran
♦ CEO and Managing Director: T. V. Narendran
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
About Ministry of Steel:
♦ Union Minister: Chaudhary Birender Singh,
♦ Minister of State: Vishnu Deo Sai
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi

Jharkhand gets “Krishi Karman” award in rice category
 On 13th December 2018, the Union Ministry of Agriculture had selected Jharkhand for “Krishi Karman” award in the rice category.
Key Points:
i. The award which carries a cash prize worth Rs 2 crore and a citation will be given away in February 2019 by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
ii. As a gesture of appreciation to the farmers of the state for achieving the milestone, two progressive farmers, i.e. one male and one female, would also be given ‘Agriculture Minister’s Krishi Karman Award,”
iii. Each of the farmers would receive a cash award of Rs 2 lakh along with citation.
About Jharkhand:
♦ Chief Minister: Raghubar Das
♦ Governor: Draupadi Murmu
♦ Capital: Ranchi
♦ National Parks (NP) and Wildlife Sanctuaries (WLS): Betla NP, Dalma WLS, Gautam Buddha WLS, Hazaribagh WLS, KodermaWLS, Lawalong WLS, Mahauadanr WLS, Palamau WLS, Palkot WLS, Parasnath WLS, Topchanchi WLS, Udhwa Lake WLS, Singhbhum Elephant Reserve.

23rd International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) 2018 held in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
On December 13, 2018, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the closing ceremony of the 23rd International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) at Nisagandhi Auditorium in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) 2018i. Around 160 films from around the world were screened at the week-long festival that commenced on December 7, 2018.
ii. The winners of the IFFK 2018 awards are as follows:
Lifetime Achievement Award: Filmmaker Majid Majidi (Iran).
Suvarna Chakoram for Best Film: The Dark Room.
Rajata Chakoram for Best Director: Lijo Jose Pellissery for Ee.Maa.Yove
Special Jury Mention for Film:The Silence (Los Silencios) by Beatriz Seigner
Other awards: Click Here
iii. The 24th edition of the IFFK will be held from December 6 to 13, 2019 in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
♦ Capital: Thiruvananthapuram.
♦ Chief Minister: Pinarayi Vijayan.
♦ Governor: Palanisamy Sathasivam.
♦ National Parks: Periyar National Park, Silent Valley National Park, Pampadum Shola National Park, Mathikettan National Park, Eravikulam National Park, Anamudi Shola National Park.


ACC approved extension of tenure to IB director Rajiv Jain, RAW chief Anil Dhasmana and re-appointment of Shri Anil Srivastava as NITI Aayog’s Principal Advisor
On December 14, 2018, On December 14, 2018, Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) approved the following:
Extension of 6 months to chiefs of Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing:
i. The chief of Intelligence Bureau Rajiv Jain and chief of Research and Analysis Wing Anil K Dhasmana got extensions of six months each.
ii. The extension was approved due to the forthcoming general elections and the appointments to these posts should be made by the new government.
iii. Jain’s tenure was to end on December 30 while Dhasmana’s was to end on December 29.
About Rajiv Jain:
i. Jain, a 1980-batch IPS officer from Jharkhand, was appointed IB Director on December 30, 2016 for a period of two years.He is a recipient of the President’s Police Medal and had served various departments of the IB, including the sensitive Kashmir Desk.
About Anil K Dhasmana:
i. Dhasmana is a 1981-batch officer from the Madhya Pradesh cadre and had served the R&AW for 23 years.
Re-designation of Shri Anil Srivastava from Advisor to Principal Advisor in NITI Aayog
i. Shri Anil Srivastava was re-designated as Principal Advisor in NITI Aayog.
ii. He is a 1985 IAS from the Madhya Pradesh care who is currently an Advisor, NITI Aayog.

CID producer BP Singh to succeed Anupam Kher as FTII Chairman
 On 13th December 2018, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, appointed Brijendra Pal Singh, the director-producer of popular television series CID as the new president of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Society and Chairman of Governing Council.

BP Singh to succeed Anupam Kher as FTII ChairmanKey Points:
i. Mr B P Singh is currently the vice-chairman of the FTII governing council and was former chairperson of FTII academic council (2014-2017).
ii. He succeeds veteran actor Anupam Kher, who had stepped down as the chairman in October citing international commitments.
iii. The tenure of Singh will be for the remaining period of block of three years starting from March 3, 2017 as per the provisions of FTII rules.
Brijendra Pal Singh who had specialized in film cinematography is an FTII alumnus (1970-73 batch) and He had produced and directed popular TV serial CID which recently completed a record 21-year unbroken run telecast.
About Film and Television Institute of India:
♦ Director: Bhupendra Kainthola
♦ Location: Pune
About Ministry of Information and Broadcasting:
♦ Minister: Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Minister of State)
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi

T.C. Barupal appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Guinea
On December 14, 2018, T.C. Barupal was appointed the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Guinea.
i. He is presently Consul General of India, Zanzibar.
Republic of Guinea:
♦ Capital: Conakry.
♦ Currency: Guinean franc.


NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft find evidence of water on asteroid Bennu
On 12th December 2018,NASA’s (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft has found evidence of water on asteroid Bennu.Data obtained from the spacecraft’s two spectrometers OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES) and OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) reveal the presence of molecules that contain oxygen and hydrogen atoms bonded together, known as “hydroxyls.”
i. Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft launched in September 2016.It had reached Bennu asteroid in December 2018. Samples will returned to Earth in 2023.
ii. Bennu is near-Earth carbonaceous asteroid about the size of a small mountain in the Apollo group. It was discovered in September 1999 by the LINEAR Project.


Allan Border Medal to be rebranded as Australian Cricket Awards
On 13th December 2018, Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) announced to rebrand its Allan Border Medal to Australian Cricket Awards from 2019 onwards. This is due to the increase in recognition of women’s cricket and the popularity of the T20 format.
i. The event is held on an annual basis to celebrate the performances of Australian players across national and domestic cricket.
ii. The 2019 Australian Cricket Awards is slated to be held on February 11 at The Crown Palladium, Melbourne.

National Athletics Championship for Blind held in New Delhi
On 13th December 2018, the 21st Usha National Athletics Sports Championship for the Blind Concludes in New Delhi in the presence of champion boxer Vijender Singh.The Four Day Championship inaugurated on 10th December,2018.
i. The championship witnessed six new national records in javelin, long jump, discuss, 100m race and shotput and three new meet records in 100 meet race, javelin and shotput.
ii. Radhika Bharat Ram is chairperson of India Blind Sports Association


Nancy Wilson, Grammy winning jazz singer, dies at 81
On 14th December 2018, Nancy Wilson (81), three times Grammy award winner jazz singer who called herself a “song-stylist” has died after a long illness at her home in Pioneertown,California.

Nancy Wilson, Grammy winning jazz singer, dies at 81i. Nancy Wilson was best known for songs “Guess Who I Saw Today” and the 1964 hit “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am”.
ii. She made her debut with her 1961’s single, “Guess Who I Saw Today.”
iii. “How Glad I Am” brought her a Grammy in 1965,She won her second Grammy for best jazz vocal album in 2005 for the intimate “R.S.V.P (Rare Songs, Very Personal)” and in 2007 for “Turned to Blue,” a showcase for the relaxed, confident swing she mastered later in life. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded her a “Jazz Masters Fellowship” in 2004 for lifetime.

Oscar-nominated actress Sondra Locke died at 74
On 3rd November 2018, Sondra Locke, the Oscar-nominated Hollywood actress died at 74.

Oscar-nominated actress Sondra Locke diedi. She received the Oscar award on her first appearance in the industry in the 1968 film ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter’.

Thoppil Ajayan, National award winning director, passed away at 66
On December 13, 2018, National award winning Malayalam film director Thoppil Ajayan, passed away at 66.
i. His film “Perumthachan” (The Master Carpenter), fetched Ajayan the Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director and Kerala State Film Award for Best Debut Director in 1990.
ii. He had also won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Popular Film in 1990 and was nominated for the Golden Leopard award at the Locarno International Film Festival in 1992.
iii. He was the eldest son of legendary playwright and writer Thoppil Bhasi.


National Energy Conservation Day 2018-December 14
On 14th December 2018, National Energy Conservation Day 2018 was celebrated throughout the country under the aegis of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), under Ministry of Power.

National Energy Conservation Day 2018-December 14Key Points:
i. The objective to celebrate the National Energy Conservation Day is to drive mass awareness about the importance of energy efficiency and conservation.
ii. National Energy Conservation Day’ was celebrated for the first time on December 14, 1991 when the National Energy Conservation Awards were given away to industries for reducing energy consumption.
About Ministry of Power:
♦ Minister: R. K. Singh (MOS independent charge)
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi