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Current Affairs December 22 2018

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Overview of President of Maldives Ibrahim Solih’s maiden 3-day state visit to India
On December 18, 2018, the President of the Republic of Maldives, H.E. Mr Ibrahim Mohamed Solih concluded his maiden 3-day state visit to India.

  • Prime Minister announced financial assistance up to US$ 1.4 billion in the form of budgetary support, currency swap and concessional lines of credit to fulfil the socio-economic development programmes of the Maldives
  • Maldives to re-join the Commonwealth and became the newest member of the Indian Ocean Rim Association.
  • After successful completion of the delegation level talks between the PM of India and President of Maldives, MOUs were signed
  • Maldives President Solih paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi in Raj Ghat, the memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi…………………………….Click here to Read more

SDG India Index: Baseline Report 2018 released by NITI Aayog
On December 21, 2018, the Sustainable Development Goal, SDG India Index: Baseline Report 2018 was released by the NITI Aayog in New Delhi.

  • It aligned with the Prime Minister’s vision of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, which embodies the five Ps of the global SDG movement – people, planet, prosperity, partnership and peace.
  • Among the states: Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are at the top of the list and running as ‘Front Runners’ with the scores of 69 each for Kerala and Himachal Pradesh and 66 for Tamil Nadu.
  • Among the Union Territories: Chandigarh and Puducherry ranked the highest with 68 and 65 scores respectively earning the category of ‘Front Runner’
  • The ranking took India’s average score at 57……………………………….Click here to  Read more

Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2018: Bill to amend Companies Act 2013 introduced by govt
On December 20, 2018, the government introduced the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2018 to amend the Companies Act, 2013 to further improve the ease of doing business, ease burden of the special courts and modify punishments.
i. The bill would replace the Companies (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, that was promulgated on November 2, 2018 and would amend provisions in the Companies Act, 2013.
ii.  According to the bill, following amendments are going to take place:

  • A total of 16 types of corporate offences have been shifted from special courts to in-house adjudication, increasing the scope of in-house assessment from 18 to 34 Sections of the Act.
  • Amending section 441 to enhance the jurisdiction of Regional Director for compound offences,
  • Amending clause (41) of section 2 to empower the central government to allow certain companies to have a different financial year instead of being determined by the National Company Law Tribunal.
  • Amending section 12 of Act to empower Registrar to remove names of companies from register of companies if the companies are not operational according to the provisions of the Act.

iii. These amendments were based on the recommendations of a government-appointed committee to review offences under the Companies Act, 2013 in order to promote Ease of Doing Business along with better corporate compliance.
Finance Ministry:
♦ Union Minister: Shri Arun Jaitley.
♦ Minister of State: Shri Shiv Pratap Shukla, Shri P. Radhakrishnan

Asiatic Lion Conservation Project’ launched by Government
On 20th December 2018, The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, launched the ‘Asiatic Lion Conservation Project’ with an aim to protect and conserve the world’s last ranging free population of Asiatic Lion.
Key Points:
i. The total budget of the project for the next three years is about Rs 97.84 crore.
ii. It will help the conservation of Asiatic Lions with the help of state of the art techniques/instruments, regular scientific research studies, disease management, and modern surveillance/patrolling techniques.
iii. The project will be funded through, the Development of Wildlife Habitat, a centrally sponsored scheme (CSS-DWH), with the contributing ratio of 60:40 for central and state share.
iv. The 2015 census showed a population of 523 Asiatic Lions in the Gir Protected Area Network of 1648.79 sq. km in Gujarat.
v.  The Asiatic Lions are already included in the list of 21 critically endangered species for recovery programme and financial assistance under the species recovery component of CSS-DWH.
About Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change:
♦ Minister: Harsh Vardhan
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi

MHA authorizes 10 central agencies to access any computer resource
On 20th December 2018, The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued an order which authorizes ten security and intelligence agencies of the country to access any computer in the country for the purpose of monitoring, decrypting and interception.
Key Points
i. Ten Intelligence agencies which have given authorization to access any computer resource are Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, Cabinet Secretariat (R&AW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (For J&K, North-East and Assam) and Commissioner of Police, Delhi.
ii.  The Authorization are given under sub section (1) of section 69 of the Information Act, 2000.
iii. The order mandates the service provider or any person in charge of the computer resource to extend technical assistance to the agencies.
iv. The Non Compliance may result in seven year of imprisonment and fine.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)
♦ Union Minister: Rajnath Singh
♦ Minister of State: Kiren Rijiju and Hansraj Ahir

Exchange of Notes and Loans Agreements for Development assistance Loan to India were signed between India and Japan’s Official in New Delhi
On 21st December 2018, India and Japan Exchanged notes on Japanese Official Development assistance loan of Yen 105.497 billion (approximately Rs 6668.46 crore) for three projects which are as follows:

Exchange of Notes and Loans Agreements for Development assistance Loan to India were signed between India and Japan’s Official in New Delhii. Chennai Metro Project (Phase 2) for JPY 75.519 billion.
ii. Program for Japan-India Cooperative Actions towards sustainable Development goals in India for JPY 15 Billion.
iii. Project for Dairy Development for JPY 14.978 billion.
Key Points 
i. The Notes were exchanged between Dr. C.S. Mohapatra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Mr. Kenji Hiramatsu, Ambassador of Japan to India in New Delhi.
ii. The Chennai Metro Project aims to build Mass Rapid Transit System in order to meet the growing traffic demands.
ii. Program for The Japan India Cooperative Action towards sustainable development goals(SDG) in India aims to contribute to promotion of SDGs in India and it will support India in achieving SDGs by 2030.
About Japan
♦ Capital: Tokyo
♦ Currency: Yen
♦ Prime Minister: Shinzo Abe

15th Global SME Business Summit in New Delhi
On 19th December 2018, 15th edition of a two day Global SME Business Summit was organised by the Ministry of MSME and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with Government e-marketplace in New Delhi.The Summit Concluded on 20th December,2018.

15th Global SME Business Summit in New DelhiKey Points:
i. The agenda of the summit is to bring together renowned speakers with unbounded experience and expertise, a global audience, and various national and international SME stakeholders to integrate Indian MSMEs into the Global Value Chains (GVCs).
ii. The theme of the event was ‘Building Partnerships through Global Value Chains.’
iii. The event will comprise plenary sessions on various topics and will also feature workshops on international trade, international trade through e-commerce, and domestic trade hubs.
iv. Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu and Giriraj Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) along with other dignitaries, CEOs and academicians from India and across the word addressed the summit.
MSME ministry to set up 20 technology centres: Giriraj Singh
Giriraj Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) announced that government will set up 20 additional technology centres to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
i. MSMEs will get the access to advanced manufacturing technologies, skilled manpower and technical and business advisory support through these centres.
ii. Currently, 10 such centres are operational in different states of the country.

Haryana CM inaugurates World Herbal Forest Project in Morni Hill
On 20th December 2018, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar inaugurated the World Herbal Forest Project, a collaboration of Patanjali and Haryana Government, at Morni Hill, near Chandigarh.

Haryana CM inaugurates Patanjali's World Herbal Forest Project in Morni HillKey Points:
i. The project covers over 52,000 acres of land in Morni Hills and is aimed at developing a forest of medicinal plants which will provide a huge boost to the Ayurvedic industry across the country.
ii. Yoga guru Ramdev and Patanjali CEO Acharya Balkrishna were also present during the inaugural function.
iii. About 25 different varieties of plants found in the country will be housed in this forest. 50,000 plants each of 20 medicinal varieties are being sown in the first phase of the project.


UN General Assembly adopts global framework on International migration
On 10th December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, the first-ever negotiated global framework on a common approach to international migration in all its dimensions, in Marrakesh, Morocco.

UN General Assembly adopts global framework on International migrationKey Points:
i. The compact was adopted by the General Assembly with 152 votes in favour, 12 abstentions, and five votes against, namely by the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Poland, and the United States of America.
ii. The compact is aimed to address issues that concern the world’s 258 million people on the move and countries of origin, transit and destination.
iii. The Compact is the outcome of a long negotiation process and provides a strong platform for cooperation on migration, drawing on best practice and international law though it is non-legally binding.
iv. The compact was signed about a week before the UN celebrated International Migrants Day on 18th December 2018 with the theme Migration with Dignity.
About United Nations:
♦ Secretary General: António Guterres
♦ Headquarters: New York, United States


US Federal Reserve raised lending rates to 2.5 per cent
The US Federal Reserve has raised the interest rate from 2.25 per cent to 2.5 per cent which will result in increase in the borrowing costs for the individuals and businesses. This is the fourth hike in interest rate in 2018.
The Federal Reserve continued raising interest rates gradually as US economy is showing strength and unemployment rates has been gone down to 3.7 per cent.


Efficiency gap in India’s power sector costs 4% of GDP: World Bank Report
According to a newly released report by Fan Zhang, Senior Economist, South Asia Region, World Bank.- “In the Dark: How Much Do Power Sector Distortions Cost South Asia,” India’s power sector has an “efficiency” gap that costs the Indian economy 4.13% of GDP a year, equivalent to $86 billion in fiscal year 2016.
Key Points:
i. The fiscal cost, consisting of subsidies to distribution utilities was $ 8.8 billion (or 0.42 per cent of GDP) in financial year 2015-2016.
ii. In India, about 178 million people still lacked access to power in 2017.
iii. Connecting all of India’s population to reliable electricity would increase the income of rural households by $9.4 billion a year, while eliminating power shortages would prevent an estimated $22.7 billion a year in business losses.
iv. Though India has world’s fourth-largest coal reserves, it fell 14% short of meeting coal demand in fiscal year 2016.
Recommendations according to the report:
i. Restoration of market pricing and improving efficiency in the power sector to complement traditional investments thus increasing power supply and expanding access to reliable electricity.
ii. Avoiding a narrow focus on liberalizing the price of energy, because in the absence of other reforms, inefficiencies in the system would lead to an excessively high cost of electricity, causing distress for the poor and vulnerable.
iii. Focusing on prioritizing efficient coal allocation and delivery, promoting competition in coal and electricity supply, rationalizing energy prices to reflect cost of supply.
iv. Using incentives to promote more efficient power generation and delivery, and targeting social assistance to help people cope with higher energy prices.
About World Bank:
♦ President: Jim Yong Kim
♦ CEO: Kristalina Georgieva
♦ Headquarters: Washington, D.C., United States


40 Workers Selected for Prime Minister Shram Awards for the Year 2017
On 20th December 2018, 40 workers employed in the Departmental Undertakings & Public Sector Undertakings of the Central and State Governments and Private Sector Units employing 500 or more workers,  were selected by the Government of India for the Prime Minister’s Shram Awards 2017.
Key Points:
i. The Prime Minister’s Shram Awards are given in recognition of the workers’ distinguished performances, innovative abilities, outstanding contribution in the field of productivity and exhibition of exceptional courage and presence of mind.
ii. The awards are given every year in 4 categories namely- Shram Ratna Award, Shram Bhushan Award,  Shram Vir/Shram Veerangana and Shram Shree/Shram Devi Awards.
iii. This year none of the workers were conferred the prestigious Shram Ratna Award.
iv. Three workers including one female were chosen for this year’s Shram Bhushan Awards which carries a cash award of Rs. 1,00,000/- and a ‘Sanad’.
v. Twelve awardees were selected for Shram Vir/Shram Veerangana Awards carrying a cash award of Rs. 60,000/- and a ‘Sanad’.
vi. Total number of Shram Shree/Shram Devi Awardees was twenty five including two female. The award carries a cash award of Rs. 40,000/- and a ‘Sanad’.

C.R.I Pumps wins the Prestigious National Energy Conservation (NEC) Award 2018 from the Government of India for the 4th time
 On 14th December 2018, C.R.I. pumps, one of the Leading Manufacturer of energy efficient pumps won the National Energy Conservation Award 2018 in the pumps category for the fourth time.

C.R.I Pumps wins the Prestigious National Energy Conservation (NEC) Award 2018i. C.R.I. Group joint Managing Director, Mr. G. Selvaraj receives the award.
ii. C.R.I. is the highest contributor in the country for the projects of EESL (Energy Efficiency Services Limited) to replace the old inefficient pumps with new 5 star rated smart pumps.


LinkedIn hires former Google India exec Mahesh Narayanan as Country Manager
On 20th December 2018, LinkedIn which is the Microsoft owned professional networking platform hires Mahesh Narayanan as the Country Manager for India. Mahesh Narayanan will join LinkedIn from January 7, 2019.

LinkedIn hires former Google India exec Mahesh Narayanan as Country Manageri. Before Joining LinkedIn, Mahesh Narayanan had served music and audio streaming service Saavn and led Google India’s mobile advertising business from 2010 to 2013.
ii. Mr. Narayanan will report to LinkedIn’s Managing Director for the Asia Pacific (APAC) Mr. Olivier Legrand.

IOA Secretary General Mehta becomes president of South Asian fencing body
Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Secretary General, Rajeev Mehta has been elected the President of South Asian Fencing Body for a period of four years after the meeting of South Asian Fencing Federation (SAFF) at Hyderabad.
Key Points
i. Rajeev Mehta is also the President of Fencing Association of India (FAI).
ii. The Game of fencing has been included in the list of events for the South Asian games to be held in August next year in Nepal.
iii. The First South Asian Fencing Championship 2019 will be held in Chhattisgarh.
Indian Olympic Federation (IOA)
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ Foundation year: 1927
♦ President: Narinder Dhruv Batra


iGOT and RTI Portal on Judgments launched by MOS(PP) Dr. Jitendra Singh in New Delhi
On December 20, 2018, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh launched the iGOT (Integrated Government Online Training Programme) in New Delhi.
These initiatives were launched on the eve of Good Governance Day.

iGOT and RTI Portal on Judgments launched by MOS(PP) Dr. Jitendra Singh in New DelhiAbout iGOT:
i. It was developed by Department of Personnel and Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions.
ii. This initiative aims at “Competent Civil Services for Good Governance”.
iii. This online programme is a part of overall ‘Digital India’ flagship programme of the Government.
iv.  This would enhance the training mechanism with online module-based training coupled with certification.
v. Additionally, a Hybrid Course on Administrative Laws developed by DoPT and National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru was also launched.
Other News:
i. He also launched RTI Portal on Judgments/Orders of Supreme Court, High Courts and CIC.
ii. It has been developed by Institute of Secretariat Training and Management (ISTM), New Delhi.
iii. This will provide a learning environment where a repository on the landmark cases on the RTI will be available at one place.
iv. It will also have the gist of the replies given by Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs), First Appellate Authorities as well as the Supreme Court.
Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG):
♦ Minister of State (I/C): Dr. Jitendra Singh.
♦ Secretary: Shri K.V. Eapen.

CDSCO issues safety guidelines for distribution of acne drug Isotretinoin
On December 20, 2018, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) re-issued safety guidelines regarding the use of the oral drug,Isotretinoin.
i. This drug that is used to treat severe nodular acne in women may cause severe birth defects which is why CDSCO warned all the State and Union Territories ’ drugs controllers.
ii. According to the guidelines,

  • all packs of Isotretinoin should carry a warning that the medicine can cause severe birth defects,
  • the medicine should not be taken by a woman who is pregnant or likely to get pregnant.

iii. Additionally, Drug Controller General Dr. S. Eswara Reddy directed all the drug controllers of the state and UTs to monitor the distribution of the drug.
iv.  The directions were based on recommendations of the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) for Dermatology and Allergy, CDSCO


Winter Solstice 2018 and Summer Solstice 2018 Occurred on December 21
On 21st December 2018, Winter Solstice which is the shortest day of the year was observed in the Northern Hemisphere whereas the Summer Solstice which is the Longest Day of the year was observed in the Southern Hemisphere.
Key Points
i.  The Summer and Winter Solstices are caused as a result of the tilt of the Earth and its elliptical path around the sun.
ii. The Roles are reversed on 21st June when the Northern Hemisphere observes Summer Solstice and Southern Hemisphere observes winter solstice.
iii. On this day, celebrations and festivals are held in different countries on the occasion of solstice.