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Overview of PM Narendra Modi’s 1-day visit to Maharashtra
On December 18, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a 1-day state visit to Maharashtra.
i. He addressed the ‘Republic’ Summit, organized by Republic TV, in Mumbai.
ii. In the Republic Summit he indicated that the 28% slab of GST would soon, be restricted to a few select items, such as luxury goods to ensure 99% of all items,used by the common man, would be kept at a GST slab of 18% or less.
iii. Prime Minister also released a book, titled “Timeless Laxman”, based on the famous cartoonist, RK Laxman. The book was penned by the cartoonist’s daughter-in-law, Smt. Usha Srinivas Laxman.
iv. While in Mumbai, PM also met a delegation representing the film and entertainment industry. The delegation consisted of: Shri Akshay Kumar, Shri Ajay Devgan, Shri Rakesh Roshan, Shri Prasoon Joshi, Shri Karan Johar and Shri Siddhartha Roy Kapur.
v. They pitched for lower, and uniform rates of GST, for the entertainment industry in India.
vi. In Kalyan, the Prime Minister laid the Foundation Stone of 2 important metro corridors worth Rs. 33,000 crores.
The 2 corridors are: the Thane-Bhiwandi-Kalyan Metro; and the Dahisar-Mira-Bhayander Metro.
vii. Here, he also launched the 90,000 units’ EWS and LIG Housing scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
viii. In the second half of his visit the PM reached Pune where he laid the Foundation Stone of Pune Metro Phase-3.
♦ Capital: Mumbai.
♦ Chief Minister: Devendra Fadnavis.
♦ Governor: C. Vidyasagar Rao.
♦ National Parks: Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve, Chandoli National Park, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Navegaon National Park
MoRD Signs MoU with Maruti Suzuki India Ltd for Training Rural Youth for Skill Development Under Deendayal upadhyaya grameen kaushalya yojana (Ddu-Gky)
On 19th December 2018, Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) signed a MoU with Maruti Suzuki India Ltd for training rural youth for skill development under Deendayal upadhyaya grameen kaushalya yojana (Ddu-Gky).
i. The MoU was signed in the presence of Minister of Rural Development Shri. Narendra Singh Tomar.
ii. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU–GKY) is the flagship placement linked skill-training programme under the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD).
iii. The partnership between the government and the Maruti Suzuki India Ltd will provide training to atleast 5000 candidates in two years with assured placement to the rural youth of our country.
iv. The agreement for the training of youths was done under “Champion Employers” policy in which the industry leaders who have the potential to provide training and captive employment to the candidates are aligned to the objectives of DDU-GKY.
About Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD):
♦ Union Minister: Narendra Singh Tomar
♦ Minister of State:Ram Kripal Yadav
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
New child protection policy drafted by Women and Child Development ministry
On December 18, 2018, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) released the drafts of new child protection policy.
i. This would be the first policy dedicated to the protection of children which was earlier under National Child Policy 2013.
ii. The policy will be applied to all institutions and organizations (including corporate and media houses) government and private sector.
iii. Under this, any abuse on a child can be reported to the helpline number 1098, police or child welfare committee.
iv. Unlike the earlier National Child Policy 2013, it does not speak about children who may need additional special protection measures: including those affected by migration, communal or sectarian violence, children forced into begging or in conflict with the law, and those infected with HIV/AIDS.
v. It further categorised into 11 forms of offences, under various laws, as punishable acts.
For more information: Click Here
Ministry of Women and Child Development:
♦ Union Minister: Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi.
♦ Minister of State: Dr. Virendra Kumar.
Govt forms new council National Medical Devices Promotion Council (NMDPC) to tackle patient safety and pricing on Medical Devices
On 7th December 2018, the central government set up a new National Medical Devices Promotion Council (NMDPC) to plug loopholes in India’s regulatory framework for medical devices to ensure safety of patients, pricing and restrictions on import of pre-owned equipment.
i. The council will operate under Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and will have 14 members, including representatives from the Health Ministry and NITI Aayog.
ii. The NMDPC has also appointed the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) as a member of the Council.
iii. The council is aimed to boost and strengthen the Indian medical devices sector, lead India to an export driven market inorder to feature among the top 5 medical devices manufacturing hubs worldwide.
iv. Currently India imports 70-90% of its medical devices with an import bill of over Rs. 31,000 crore.
v. The move to form the council was announced by Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce and Industry during the WHO Global Forum on Medical Devices at Visakhapatnam.
About Ministry of Commerce and Industry:
♦ Union Minister: Suresh Prabhu
♦ Minister of State:C.R.Chaudhary
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
High Level Meeting Between Indian and Indonesia Coast Guard in New Delhi
On December 17, 2018, a high-level meeting between Indian and Indonesia Coast Guard concluded in Coast Guard Headquarters,New Delhi.It was a part of a 4-day conference that commenced from December 16, 2018.
i. The Indian delegation was led by Director General Indian Coast Guard (DG ICG) Shri G Rajendra Singh.
ii. The 7-member Indonesian delegation of the Indonesia Coast Guard (BAKAMLA) was led by Chief of BAKAMLA Vice Admiral ATaufiqoerrochman.
iii. Mutual cooperation between the two agencies in the multilateral forum of Asian Coast Guards, ‘HACGAM’, was signed.
iv. During the 6th India-Indonesia Joint Defence Cooperation Committee (JDCC) meeting, held in New Delhi on August 09, 2018 both sides had agreed that Chief of BAKAMLA will visit India for a High Level Meeting (HLM).
Three-day Conference on Soft Power held in New Delhi inaugurated by Vice President
On December 17, 2018, the Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated a three-day conference on Soft Power in New Delhi.
i. The Center for Soft Power is the first center in India that is dedicated to the study of Indian soft power.
ii. It was established in collaboration with India Foundation.
Shri Manoj Sinha released a commemorative Postage stamp on Rajkumar Shukla in New Delhi
On 18th December 2018, Shri Manoj Sinha who is Union Minister of state (Independent charge) for communication and Minister of state for Railways released a postage stamp on Rajkumar Shukla in New Delhi.
India’s largest cancer hospital ‘National Cancer Institute (NCI)’ opened in Jhajjar, Haryana
On 18th December 2018, National Cancer Institute (NCI) which is the largest cancer hospital of India built at a cost of Rs 2035 crore opened for public in Jhajjar, Haryana but the formal inauguration will be held in January 2019.
i. NCI is a project under All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), New Delhi and it will be headed by Dr GK Rath who is the Chief of Institute of Rotary Cancer Hospital in AIIMS.
ii. The NCI will be the nodal institution for all the activities related to cancer in the country and it will have linkage with other cancer institutes of the country.
Odisha CM announces Rs 10 crore for building Odiya Cultural Centre in Surat
On 18th December 2018, Shri Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha announced financial aid of Rs 10 Crore for the establishment of Odiya Cultural Centre in Surat, Gujarat.
i. The announcement by Naveen Patnaik came at the Odisha Mohotsav organized by Odiya Pravasi Samaj residing in Surat.
ii. The CM said that he had requested Gujarat Government for the land allocation and Central Government for a direct flight between Bhubaneswar and Surat.
UN members adopt Global Compact on Refugees
On 17th December 2018, the U.N. General Assembly agreed upon a framework affirming international solidarity and cooperation for refugee protection and host community development while adopting the Global Compact on Refugees.
i. The Global Compact on refugees received 181 votes in favour in the 193-member assembly. The United States and Hungary were the only Countries that voted against the agreement, while the Dominican Republic, Eritrea and Libya abstained.
ii. The compact which aims to ease the burden on developing nations, which host 90 percent of some 25 million refugees, will provide more investment to further strengthening infrastructure and the provisions of services for refugees and host communities.
Three-day 7th round of India – South Korea CEPA negotiations held in South Korea
On December 13, 2018, the three day 7th round of India – South Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations concluded in Seoul,South Korea. It was held between 11-13 December, 2018.
i. Delegation from Indian sugar industry was representing India in the CEPA negotiations.
ii. The meetings were arranged by the Indian Embassy in Seoul.
Korea and India signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in Seoul on 7 August 2009 and was operationalized with effect from 1 January 2010.
The CEPA is Korea’s first free trade agreement with a member of the BRICS nations. The trade deal, which came after negotiations of more than three years and twelve rounds, commits the two countries to lowering or eliminating import tariffs on a wide range of goods over the next 8 years, and helps expand opportunities for investments and trade in goods as well as services.
♦ Capital: Seoul.
♦ Currency: South Korean won.
♦ Indian Ambassador to South Korea: Ms. Sripriya Ranganathan.
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
India, South Korea to raise bilateral trade to 50 billion dollars by 2030: MEA Sushma Swaraj at 9th India-Korea Joint Commission Meeting in New Delhi
On December 19, 2018,Foreign Affairs Minister of South Korea Ms. Kang Kyung-wha and Indian Foreign Minister Mrs Sushma Swaraj agreed to raise the quantum of the bilateral trade to 50 billion dollars by the year 2030.
ii. The Indian side also extended an invitation to South Korea to join the International Solar Alliance as South Korea as an indispensable partner in India’s ‘Act East’ policy.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Pakistan activist Asma Jahangir honoured with UN Human rights award for 2018
On 10th December 2018,United Nations Human Rights Prize for 2018,was posthumously awarded to Pakistan’s iconic human rights activist and lawyer Asma Jahangir,the award was received by her daughter, Munizae, at an impressive ceremony in the General Assembly hall of United Nations in NewYork.
i. The award and a plaque were handed over to Munizae Jahangir, a journalist and human rights activist herself, by the President of the General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa.
ii. Jahangir was an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s powerful military establishment and she fought against religious extremism and for the rights of oppressed minorities in Pakistan.
iii. Asma Jahangir was one of the four winners of the award which was announced by the United Nations in October and is given once in every five years since 1968.
iv. The three others who received the awards were: Ms. Rebeca Gyumi (Tanzania), Ms. Joenia Wapichana (Brazil) and Front Line Defenders (Irish organization).
v. The award was given at the event organised to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, marked annually on December 10.
About United Nations:
♦ Secretary General: António Guterres
♦ Headquarters: New York, United States
About United Nations Human Rights Council:
♦ High Commissioner: Michelle Bachelet
♦ Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Pranab Kumar Das is appointed as new CBIC chairman
On 17th December 2018, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had approved the appointment of Pranab Kumar Das as the new Chairman of Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) from January 1, 2019.
i. Das, who is currently a Special Secretary and Member (Customs) at CBIC, will succeed S. Ramesh, who superannuates on December 31.
ii. Pranab Kumar Das is a 1983 batch IRS Officer of Customs & Central Excise Cadre and was appointed as Member in the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) in 2017.
iii. The CBIC is headed by the Chairman and consists of six members, who overlook various areas such as customs, central excise, service tax, Goods and Services Tax (GST), administration and budget, among other.
About Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC):
♦ Incumbent Chairperson: S. Ramesh
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
Arti Chhabra Srivastava has been appointed as the first full time CVO in SEBI
On December 17, 2018, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) cleared the name of Arti Chhabra Srivastava as the first full-time Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of SEBI for an initial period of 3 years.
i. She is a 1990-batch Indian Ordinance Factory Services officer, and her appointment was approved by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
ii. CVOs are considered an extended hand of the CVC, which is tasked with detecting graft by officials holding public office.
iii. Functions of the CVO include:
- Mainly keeping tabs on its officials and detect and punish corruption and other malpractices,
- To examine existing rules and procedures of the organisation to eliminate or minimise scope for corruption and malpractices,
- To ensure observance of rules by SEBI officials relating to annual property returns, gifts accepted, benami transactions and regarding their relatives employed in private firms or businesses.
♦ Chairman: Ajay Tyagi.
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
Interim CBI Chief M Nageswara Rao Promoted As Additional Director
On 18th December 2018, M Nageswara Rao, the interim chief of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was promoted to the rank of an Additional Director with immediate effect by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
i. Rao is a 1986-batch Indian Police Services officer from the Odisha cadre.
ii. Rao was appointed as the interim director of CBI after the government stepped in between CBI director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana amid an ongoing feud between the two and sent both of them on leave.
iii. Earlier while hearing the petition regarding the feud between Verma and Asthana, the Supreme Court allowed M Nageswara Rao to act as interim chief of the CBI but asked him not to formulate any key policy decisions until it hears the petition.
About Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI):
♦ Agency executive: Mannem Nageswara Rao, Director (Interim)
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
Ashok Kumar appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Djibouti
On December 19, 2018, Ashok Kumar was appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Djibouti.
i. He is presently Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs.
Mohinder Pratap Singh appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Mongolia
On December 19, 2018, Mohinder Pratap Singh was appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Mongolia.
i. He is presently Director at Headquarters of the Ministry of External Affairs.
Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel resigns over migration spat
On 18th December 2018, Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel resigned amid pressure on his government because of his support for the UN global pact on migration.
Due to the migration spat, Belgium Prime Minister lost the backing of coalition partner nationalist New Flemish Alliance and opposition parties refused to support his minority government during the debate in the parliament.
ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS
Capital First merges with IDFC Bank to create IDFC First Bank
On 18th December 2018, the Infrastructure Development Finance Company Bank (IDFC Bank) and non-banking financial company Capital First completed their merger process, creating a combined loan asset book of Rs 1.03 lakh crore for the merged entity IDFC First Bank, which will be headquartered in Mumbai.
i. V Vaidyanathan will be the managing director and chief executive officer of the merged entity while Rajiv Lall will be the part-time non-executive chairman, subject to Reserve Bank of India approval.
ii. The merge entity will serve 7.2 million customers through its 203 bank branches, 129 ATMs, 454 rural business correspondent centres across the country’s urban and rural geographies.
iii. The merger was announced on January 13, 2018.
iv. According to the merger agreement, shareholders will receive 139 shares of IDFC Bank for each 10 shares held of Warburg Pincus-backed Capital First.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
ISRO launches the GSAT – 7A satellite from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh
On 19th December 2018, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F11) launched 2250 kg military communication satellite GSAT-7A from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC),Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. GSAT-7A is the 39th Indian Communication satellite.
i. GSAT-7A is the first satellite built primarily for Indian Air Force to qualitatively unify its assets and improve combined, common intelligence during operation.
ii. The Satellite will improve the way Indian Air Force (IAF) interlinks, operates and communicates with its aircrafts during flight with the help of command centres on ground.
iii. The satellite will use “Ku band” for superior real time aircraft to aircraft communications.
iv. Space Vehicle, GSLV-F11 is used to launch the satellite to an eventful geostationary orbit about 36000 km from the Earth.GSLV-F11 was the seventh flight carrying indigenously developed cryogenic upper stage.This was the 13th flight of GSLV-MkII.
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)
♦ Headquarters: Bangalore, Karnataka
♦ Chairperson: K. Sivan
♦ Parent Organization: Department of Space, Government of India
Indian Air Force
♦ Chief of the Air Staff: Air Chief Marshall B S Dhanoa
♦ Air Force Day: 8th October
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
88% graphene yield from discarded dry Cell Batteries: Researchers
On December 19, 2018, researchers at Nagpur-based Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology have developed a new technique to produce high value graphene from discarded dry cells batteries.
i. They have achieved 88% yield of graphene from a single graphite rod.
ii. The research results have been published Journal of Hazardous Materials and Bulletin of Material Science.
Shiksha Setu-Haryana launches app to ensure better connectivity with students
On 18th December 2018, Haryana government launched a mobile App ‘Shiksha Setu’ to provide students information on attendance, fee, online admission and scholarships of the government colleges of the state.
ii. The App will bring transparency in the department and college administration while ensuring better connectivity between students, parents, teachers and officials.
BOOKS & AUTHORS
The book ‘Changing India’ written by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was released
On December 19, 2018, the book ‘Changing India’ written by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was released.
ii. The sets are as follows:
- The first volume is titled ‘India’s Export Trends and the Prospects for Self-Sustained Growth’,
- The second volume ‘Thoughts on Trade and Development’.
- The third volume is dedicated to ‘The International Economic Order and the Quest for Equity in Development’.
- The fourth volume focuses on ‘Economic Reforms: 1991 and Beyond’, talking about India’s economic liberalisation, and
- And the fifth volume, which is in two parts, deals with the prime ministerial years from 2004-2014.
- This final part of the book is titled ‘The Prime Minister Speaks’.
iii. Dr. Singh held various roles in his career. These include being:
- RBI Governor in 1982-85,
- Planning Commission Chief in 1985-87,
- Finance Minister in 1991-96,
- Prime Minister in 2004-2014.
Goa celebrated 57th Liberation Day
On December 19, 2018, 57th Goa Liberation Day was celebrated.
i. Goa Liberation Day programme was held in Panaji in North Goa.
ii. Goa legislative assembly speaker Pramod Sawant also presented Goa Chief Minister’s Fire Service Medals for meritorious service as part of Liberation Day celebrations in Panaji.
iii. Goa was liberated on 19th December1961, from around 450 years of Portuguese rule.
i. In 1963, the Parliament passed the 12th Amendment Act to the Constitution of India, formally integrating the captured territories into the Indian Union. Goa, Daman and Diu became a Union Territory.
ii. Dadra and Nagar Haveli, which was previously a part of the Estado da India, but independent between 1954 and 1961, became a separate Union Territory.
iii. In 1987 Goa was separated from Daman and Diu and made a full-fledged state.
♦ Chief Minister: Manohar Parrikar.
♦ Governor: Smt. Mridula Sinha.
♦ National Parks: Mollem National Park.
♦ Wildlife Sanctuary: Cotigao Wildlife sanctuary, Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary.
♦ Bird Sanctuary: Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.