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Current Affairs December 16 2018

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Current Affairs December 16 2018


Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) approved registration of record 15 new breeds of livestock and poultry in 2018
On December 12, 2018, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Shri Radha Mohan Singh announced that Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) approved registration of record 15 new breeds of livestock and poultry in 2018.
i. This took the total registered breeds of livestock and poultry to 40 from 2014-18.
ii. The 15 newly registered breeds include:

  • 2 cattle breeds – Ladakhi (J&K) and Konkan Kapila (Maharashtra & Goa);
  • 3 buffalo breeds – Luit (Assam & Manipur), Bargur (Tamil Nadu), Chhattisgarhi (Chhattisgarh);
  • 1 sheep breed – Panchali (Gujarat);
  • 6 goat breeds – Kahmi (Gujarat), Rohilkhandi (UP), Assam Hill (Assam & Meghalaya), Bidri (Karnataka), Nandidurga (Karnataka), Bhakarwali (J&K);
  • 1 pig breed – Ghurrah (UP);
  • 1 donkey breed – Halari (Gujarat) and
  • 1 chicken breed – Uttara (Uttarakhand).

In Rashtriya Gokul Mission, more than Rs 2000 crore has been allocated for the improvement and conservation of our indigenous breeds.
Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare:
♦ Union Minister: Shri. Radha Mohan Singh.
♦ Minister of State: Shri Purushottam Rupala, Smt. Krishna Raj and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.

Ground Water Extraction: Government notified revised guidelines; to levy Water Conservation Fee on water extraction from June 2019
On December 13, 2018, the Central Ground Water Authority notified revised guidelines for ground water extraction and levied fee for extraction. It will be effective from June 1, 2019.
i. The introduction of the concept of Water Conservation Fee (WCF) was done in the guidelines where a fee will be levied on water extraction, to discourage misuse of water by industries.
ii. This would also compel industries to adopt measures relating to water use efficiency.
iii. Other features of the revised guidelines include:

  • Encouraging use of recycled and treated sewage water by industries,
  • Provision of action against polluting industries,
  • Mandatory requirement of digital flow meters,
  • Mandatory water audit by industries extracting ground water 500 cubic metre per day or more in safe and semi-critical,
  • 200 cubic metre per day or more in critical and over-exploited assessment units,
  • Mandatory rooftop rain water harvesting except for specified industries,
  • Prevention of ground water contamination in premises of polluting industries/ projects.

iv. Additionally, agricultural users, users employing non-energised means to extract water, individual households and armed forces establishments during operational deployments have been exempted from the requirement of no-objection certificate (NOC).
Central Ground Water Authority:
♦ Headquarters: Faridabad.
♦ Under Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
♦ Chairman: Shri. K. C. Naik.

Three day 4th WHO Global Forum on Medical Devices held in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
On December 15, 2018, the three day 4th WHO Global Forum on Medical Devices “Increasing access to medical devices” concluded Andhra Pradesh Medtech Zone in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.

WHO Global Forum on Medical Devices held in Visakhapatnami. It was the first time the WHO Global Forum on Medical devices was being held in India.
ii. This Forum was meant to face the challenges present in the selection, regulation and use of medical devices.
iii. Objectives of the Forum

  • To define methods of increasing and measuring access to essential and priority medical devices under Universal Health Coverage in compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals
  • To share country evidence of best practices in regulating, assessment and management of medical devices
  • To demonstrate development and use of innovative appropriate affordable technologies to respond to global health priorities
  • To share WHO tools and guidelines on medical devices for better implementation

iv. Earlier, the 1st Global Forum was held in Bangkok in 2010, the 2nd in Geneva in 2013, and the 3rd also in Geneva in 2017.
CM of Andhra Pradesh addressed the Forum:
i. At the inaugural session of the fourth WHO Global Forum on Medical Devices, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N. Chandrababu Naidu,dedicated the AP Medtech Zone to the nation.
ii. This further enabled Visakhapatnam to emerge as the major hub for manufacture of medical devices in the country, for domestic as well as international demands.
iii. It would have 18 high-end industrial labs in the park and the product roll out of the park would be operational from 2019.
Commerce Minister’s announcement:
Speaking at the 4th WHO Forum, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, announced setting up of a National Medical Devices Promotion Council under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in the Ministry of Commerce & Industry. 
i. The Council will be headed by Secretary, DIPP, Shri. Ramesh Abhishek. It will also have representatives of healthcare industry and quality control institutions.
ii. Furthermore, Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone, Visakhapatnam, will provide technical support to the Council.
iii. The establishment of the council will boost the domestic manufacturing sector and would aid in exports as well.
iv. The objectives of the council are as follows:

  • To conduct periodic seminars, workshops and all related networking activities,
  • To provide technical assistance to the agencies and departments concerned to simplify the approval processes involved in medical device industry promotion & development.
  • To encourage emerging interventions and support certifications for manufacturers,
  • To provide documentation of international norms and standards for medical devices,
  • To work on a robust  and dynamic Preferential Market Access (PMA) policy, to identify strengths of the Indian manufacturers,
  • Undertake validation of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs),
  • Make recommendations to government based on industry feedback and global practices.

♦ Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.
♦ Director-General: Tedros Adhanom.
Andhra Pradesh:
♦ Chief Minister: N Chandrababu Naidu.
♦ Governor: E.S.L Narasimhan.
♦ Capital: Amravati.
♦ National Parks: Sri Venkateswara National Park, Papikonda National Park

NRTI: India’s first and World’s third railway university at Vadodara, dedicated by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal & Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani
On December 15, 2018, Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani dedicated the nation’s first National Rail and Transportation Institute (NRTI) in Vadodara, Gujarat.

NRTI India's first and World's third railway university at Vadodara, dedicated by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal & Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupanii. It is India’s first and world’s 3rd railway university after Russia and China.
ii. The Vice-Chancellor of the university is Ashwani Lohani who is the Chairman of the Railway Board of India.
iii. The Minstry of Railways had sanctioned Rs. 421 crore for the upcoming years for the operation of the project.
iv. It has been built on 110 acres of land at Pipaliya village in Waghodiya Taluka, District Vadodara.
v. The railway university began its operations on September 5 this year to mark Teacher’s Day.
vi. The building’s construction of the university has been designed on the lines of Pratap Vilas Palace of the erstwhile Gaekwad state.
♦ Capital: Gandhinagar.
♦ Chief Minister: Vijay Rupani.
♦ Governor: Om Prakash Kohli.
♦ Ahmedabad: India’s First world heritage city, Manchester of India, Boston of India.
♦ Baroda(Vadodara): Banyan City, Power Hub of India, Cultural capital of Gujarat.

ECO Niwas Samhita 2018-an Energy Conservation Building Code for Residential Buildings launched
On 14th December 2018, Ministry of Power launched the ECO Niwas Samhita 2018, an Energy Conservation Building Code for Residential Buildings (ECBC-R) on the occasion of National Energy Conservation Day 2018 in New Delhi.

ECO Niwas Samhita 2018Key Points:
i. The codes were launched in the presence of Chief Guest Smt. Sumitra Mahajan, Hon’ble Speaker, Lok Sabha and Shri R.K. Singh, Minister of State (IC) for Power and New &Renewable Energy.
ii. The code aims to benefit the occupants and the environment by promoting energy efficiency in design and construction of homes, apartments and townships.
iii. The Code is also expected to assist large number of architects and builders who are involved in design and construction of new residential complexes in different parts of the country.
iv. The Code will potentially save energy to the tune of 125 Billion Units of electricity per year by 2030, which is equivalent to about 100 million ton of (Carbon dioxide) Co2 emission.
v. It is estimated that energy demand in the building sector will rise from around 350 billion units in 2018 to approximately 1000 billion units by year 2030.
About Ministry of Power:
♦ Minister: Shri R.K. Singh
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi

Jammu and Kashmir becomes first state to have law banning sexual exploitation of women
On 14th December 2018, Jammu and Kashmir became the first state in the country to enact a law banning sexual exploitation of women “by those in positions of authority, having a fiduciary relationship or a public servant”.
Key Points:
i. The decision in this regard was taken by Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Council (SAC) headed by Governor Satya Pal Malik by approving the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018, and the Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
ii. The Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 seeks to amend the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC)-a criminal code, whereby specific offence under section 354 E is being inserted to provide for the offence of ‘Sextortion‘.
iii. ‘Sextortion’ is a physical or non-physical form to extort sexual favours. People entrusted with power use ‘sextortion’ in a form of ‘corruption’.
iv. Prevention of Corruption Act was amended to cover the definition of misconduct and to provide that demand for sexual favours would also constitute misconduct within the meaning of Section 5 of the act.
v. Anyone found guilty of sextortion (“non-bailable” and “not compoundable” offence) will be punished with monetary fine and a minimum jail sentence of three years, which may extend to five years.
vi. The amendments are the outcome of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Chief Justice Geeta Mittal and Justice Alok Aradhe order, which directed the state to examine the concept of ‘Sextortion’ in the context of applicable laws.
About Jammu & Kashmir:
♦ Governor: Satya Pal Malik
♦ Capitals: Jammu (winter), Srinagar (summer)

4th edition of Kochi-Muziris biennale held in Kochi
On 12th December 2018, 4th Edition of India’s largest contemporary art exhibition Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) featuring a dynamic range of multi-media artworks held in Kochi with a theme “Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life”.
i. The Biennale was curated by Anita Dube and it was the first Biennale in the world where half of the participating artists are women.
ii. 94 artists participated at the 10 venues of the city in the 108 day long event.


Overview of President Ram Nath Kovind’s 5-day visit to Myanmar
On December 10, 2018, President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind embarked on a 5-day maiden visit to Myanmar.

  • Presidents of India and Myanmar, 2 MOUs were signed in the areas of judicial and educational cooperation.
  • President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind paid his visit to the Advanced Centre for Agricultural Research and Education (ACARE) at the Yezin Agricultural University in Nay Pyi Taw.  It was established under the Bilateral Friendship Project and is funded by Government of India.
  • On December 13, 2018, he also inaugurated the 5th Enterprise India Show, which witnessed the participation of Indian industries to network, partner and explore business opportunities in Myanmar……………………...Click here to Read more


India Post introduced internet banking services for savings account holders: MoS(I/C) DoT
On December 14, 2018, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for communications, Manoj Sinha launched India Post’s Internet banking facility for post office savings bank (POSB) customers, at the National Media Centre in New Delhi.
i. Under this new facility, customers will be able to:

  • Transfer funds from one post office savings bank account to another POSB account,
  • make online deposits from savings bank account to recurring deposit (RD) account and public provident fund (PPF) account of post office.
  • ii. A POSB customer can access the internet banking facility at

iii. Additionally, the revamped India Post website and e-commerce portal for rural entrepreneurs were launched as well.
iv. Also, the event witnessed Disbursement of scholarship under Deen Dayal SPARSH Yojana & Conferment of Meghdoot award by the minister.

IRDAI allowed single compulsory personal accident cover for multiple vehicles effective from January 1, 2019
On December 13, 2018, as per notification of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), customers would be covered under standalone compulsory personal accident (CPA) from January 1, 2019.
i. IRDAI introduced standalone PA cover where a single PA cover can be taken for multiple vehicles.
ii. Additionally, if an owner-driver has a 24 hour personal accident cover against Death and Permanent Disability (Total and Partial) for CSI of at least Rs 15 lakh, no separate CPA is necessary.
In September 2018, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) had raised the minimum insurance cover for owner-driver to Rs 15 lakh from Rs. 1 lakh for an annual premium of Rs 750.
♦ Headquarters: Hyderabad, Telangana.
♦ Chairman: Dr. Subhash C. Khuntia.


Four Indian PSUs feature in world’s top 100 arms producers: SIPRI Report
According to the latest rankings released by a Stockholm-based think tank, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), four Indian Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), have been featured on the world’s top 100 arms producers in 2017.
Key Points:
i. The four PSU featuring in world’s top 100 arms producer are:

  • Indian Ordnance Factories
  • Hindustan Aeronautics
  • Bharat Electronics
  • Bharat Dynamics

ii. Arms sales of the four Indian companies, all state-owned, totalled $7.52 billion in 2017, up 6.1% from the previous year.
iii. The total arms sales of all the 100 arms-producers (excluding Chinese arms-producers) in the list come up to an estimated $ 398.2 billion, which is a 2.2 per cent increase from the sales of the previous year.
iv. India currently ranks 10th in the list of countries by arms sales and stands at less than 2% in total global arms sales.
About Ministry of Defence:
♦ Minister: Nirmala Sitharaman (Minister), Subhash Bhamre (Minister of State)
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi

Govt adds Korean Won, Turkish Lira in list of currencies for exchange rates
On 12th December 2018, the Central Board of Indirect taxes and Customs (CBIC) which works under Ministry of Finance notified the Korean Won and Turkish Lira in the List of Currencies for Exchange Rate in order to decrease the transaction cost and enhance the ease of doing business, thereby, benefiting the Indian, Korean and Turkish businesses.
Key Points:
i. The CBIC which so far notified exchange rates for 20 currencies for the purpose of valuation of imported and exported goodswill include two more currencies Won and Lira in the list.
ii. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) notifies the Rate of Exchange under Section 14 of the Customs Act, 1962.
iii. The initiative is expected to help exporters claim the benefits of Merchandise Export Incentive Scheme easily, as the rates of TRY (Lira) and Won will be readily available on the realisation date of remittances.
iv. Bilateral trade between India-South Korea stood at $16.36 billion while that between India and Turkey stood at $7.2 billion during 2017-18.
About Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs:
♦ Chairperson: S. Ramesh
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi

EU parliament approves ‘world’s largest’ free trade deal with Japan
On 12th December 2018, the European Parliament approved a free trade agreement between Japan and the EU, covering 635 million people and almost one-third of the world’s economy.

EU parliament approves ‘world’s largest’ free trade deal with JapanKey Points:
i. The world’s largest free trade agreement, the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement will remove duties on almost all agricultural and industrial products as well as open up the service sector and procurement.
ii. It also moves to eliminate non-tariff barriers to trade.
iii. The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement which has been under discussion since 2013 will come into effect from 1stFebruary 2019.
iv. This agreement is projected to increase exports between the two economies by 34 percent for the EU and 29 percent for Japan, liberalising up to 99 percent of bilateral trade.
v. The elimination of tariffs will save consumers and importers €1 billion per year in the EU and will support a substantial increase of jobs, maximizing benefits for both companies and citizens.
About European Union:
♦ Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium
♦ President of the European Council: Donald Tusk
♦ President of the European Commission: Jean-Claude Juncker
♦ President of the European Parliament: Antonio Tajani
About Japan:
♦ Capital: Tokyo
♦ Currency: Japanese yen
♦ Prime Minister: Shinzō Abe

SEBI eases norms around cyber security operations for small market intermediaries
On 14th December 2018, Indian Market Regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) relaxed norms pertaining to setting up cyber security operation Centre for small market intermediaries citing that they lack knowledge in cyber security.
Key Points
i. Cost factor involved in setting up own security operation centre along with lack of knowledge in cyber security were the main reasons SEBI cited for easing the norms.
ii. Under new framework, Small intermediaries can utilize services of market Security Operations Center (SCO) which will be set up by the Market Infrastructure Institutions (MIS).
iii. Membership of Intermediaries in Security Operations Centre (SCO) is not mandatory.
Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Chairman: Ajay Tyagi


Renowned English writer Amitav Ghosh selected for Jnanpith Award, 2018
On 14th December 2018, Jnanpith Selection Board chaired by eminent novelist, scholar and Jnanpith laureate Pratibha Ray selected Renowned English writer Amitav Ghosh for the prestigious Jnanpith Award 2018.

Amitav Ghosh selected for Jnanpith Award, 2018Key Points
i. Amitav Ghosh is one of the most prominent contemporary Writer who is famous connecting past with present in relevant ways in his novels.
ii. Shadow Lines, The Glass Palace, The Hunger Tide, River of smoke, Flood of Fire are some of the greatest novels of Amitav Ghosh.
iii. Amitav Ghosh is also recipient of the Padma Shri and Sahitya Akademi Awards.
Jnanpith Awards
Jnanpith Awards is annually presented by the Bhartiya Jnanpith to the Indian literateurs who write in one of the 22 Indian Languages listed in Schedule Eight of the Indian Constitution. The Reward Amount offered to the writer is Rs. 11 Lakh.


MNF Chief Zoramthanga takes oath as Mizoram CM for Third Time
On 15th December 2018, the President of Mizo National Front (MNF)Mr. Zoramthanga sworn in as the Chief Minister of Mizoram for the third time at Raj Bhavan in Aizawl.
Zoramthanga takes oath as Mizoram CM for Third TimeKey Points
i. MNF dethroned Congress by winning 26 seats in the 40 member legislative assembly. Congress bagged 5 seats whereas BJP won just 1 seat.
ii. Mr Tawnluia sworn in as the Deputy Chief Minister of Mizoram.
About Mizoram
♦ Governor: Kummanam Rajasekharan
♦ Chief Minister: Zoramthanga
♦ Capital: Aizawl
♦ National Park (NP): Murlen NP, Phawngpui NP


Cyclone Phethai Winds towards Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and coastal area of India
As per India Meteorological Department (IMD), Coastal Andhra Pradesh and North Tamil Nadu are expected to receive heavy rainfall on 16th and 17th December due to a severe cyclone Phethai which is heading towards coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Key Points
i. The Deep depression over southeast Bay of Bengal is moving northwestward and it could intensify and turn into a cyclonic storm.
ii. Earlier Cyclone Gaza caused massive destruction in Tamil Nadu coastal areas. This is the forth cyclone to hit the eastern coast this season.
India Meteorological Department (IMD)
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ Parent Organization: Ministry of Earth Sciences
♦ Director General of Meteorology: K.J. Ramesh


Pakistan to host 2020 Asia Cup; final venue unclear
On 13th December 2018, The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) awarded the hosting rights of the 2020 Asia cup to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in a meeting held in Bangladesh Capital Dhaka.
The Decision was taken by ACC President Nazmul Hassan Papon but the final venue of the event is still unclear over whether it will be played in UAE or Pakistan


International Tea day celebrated on 15th December and ITA inks pact with Chinese tea body to boost shipments
On 15th December 2018, International Tea Day aimed to draw global attention of governments and citizens to the impact of global tea trade on workers and growers was observed in Tea Producing countries.
Indian Tea Association (ITA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China Tea Marketing Association (CTMA) in a meeting held in Kolkata between Vivek Goenka, Chairman ITA and Wang Qing, President CTMA.
i. ITA Expects to double the export to China in next one year.
ii. The MoU aims to collaborate towards ensuring sustainability of the industry globally and promoting black and green tea in International Markets