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31st Meeting of the GST Council under the chairmanship of FM Arun Jaitley was held in New Delhi
On December 22, 2018, 31st Meeting of the GST Council under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Shri. Arun Jaitley was held in Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi.
- 6 items have been removed from the 28 per cent tax bracket under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime,
- Rates have been reduced for 22 items under the 28 per cent slab, 28% slab rate will only be applicable to 34 items. The new rates would be effective from 1st January 2019.
- It also gave in-principle approval of creation of a Centralised Appellate Authority for Advance Ruling (AAAR) to deal with cases of conflicting decisions by two or more State Appellate Advance Ruling Authorities on the same issue……………………Click here to Read More
Logistics Development Committee constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Bibek Debroy, Chairman EAC-PM
On December 21, 2018, the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) constituted a Logistics Development Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. Bibek Debroy, Chairman EAC-PM.
i. Other members of the committee included Secretaries and heads of the concerned departments/ministries such as Revenue, Commerce, Logistics, DIPP, Civil Aviation, Shipping, Road Transport & Highways, Railways, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) etc.
ii. The committee would be working on challenges in logistics development and associated commerce and suggest policy reforms for ease of doing trade in India.
NBCFDC Signs MoU with BSE institute Ltd. TO Facilitate Skill Development Training to its Target Group
On 21st December 2018, National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC), an autonomous corporation under Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with BSE Institute Ltd. for facilitating Skill Development Training to the target group of NBCFDC.
i. The BSE Institute Ltd, which is a 100% subsidiary of Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE Limited), works as a promoter of Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) Sector Skill Council of India constituted under the aegis of Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) which is a nodal body for industry interface and MSDE.
ii. The MoU was signed between Sh. K. Narayan, MD of NBCFDC and Sh. Ambarsh Dutta, MD & CEO of BSE Institute Ltd in the presence of Shri Vijay Sampla, Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment.
iii. The training for the said target group will be commenced in current financial year at select locations and expanded on a pan India in the coming years.
iv. NBCFDC facilitate skill development training to Other Backward Classes (OBC), Economically Backward Classes (EBCs), Denotified Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (DNTs) and senior citizens under its “Skill Development Training Programme (SDTP)” so that eligible members may engage in developmental activities by way of self/wage employment.
About Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship:
♦ Minister: Dharmendra Pradhan
♦ Minister of State: Anantkumar Hegde
About Ministry of State for Social Justice & Empowerment:
♦ Minister: Thawar Chand Gehlot
♦ Ministers of State: Vijay Sampla, Krishan Pal Gurjar, Ramdas Athawale
Railways launches new EMU train with 130 kmph speed
On 19th December 2018, a Train-18 like new generation Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit (MEMU) with underslung equipment and some features from the Train 18 was launched by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai.
i. The coaches of the new MEMU are longer at 23.1m against 21.3m in the older MEMU and the train is capable of running at around 130 kilometres an hour.
ii. The new train is equipped with a CCTV surveillance system both inside the coaches and outside the driver’s cab, a Talk Back system to enable passengers to talk to the driver in case of emergency and a GPS based passenger information and announcement system.
1st meeting of India China High-Level Mechanism co-chaired by EAM Sushma Swaraj & Chinese State Councilor & FM Wang Yi
On December 21, 2018, 1st meeting of India China High-Level Mechanism on Cultural & People-to-people exchanges was held in New Delhi.
i. It was co-chaired by EAM Sushma Swaraj & Chinese State Councilor & FM Wang Yi.
ii. The meeting acknowledging the Wuhan Summit identified 10 areas or pillars for boosting people-to-people cooperation.
iii. The 2 sides discussed on cooperation in tourism, art, films, media, culture, yoga, sports, academic and youth exchanges.
3rd India- China High Level Media Forum held in New Delhi
On December 20-21, 2018, as a part of the high-level talks, the 3rd India- China High Level Media Forum held in New Delhi.
i. It was hosted by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA).
ii. The media forum was jointly inaugurated by visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian External Affairs MinisterSushma Swaraj.
iii. The forum focused on three key themes:
- enhancing media understanding,
- promoting a closer development partnership, and
- proposing a roadmap for future media cooperation.
iii. This forum played a significant role in boosting media cooperation between the two countries.
These meetings were held as a part of the 4-day visit of the Chinese State Councilor & FM Wang Yi to India.
♦ Capital: Beijing.
♦ Currency: Renminbi.
A UNESCO Category 2, International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography, inaugurated at INCOIS, Hyderabad
On December 22, 2018, Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences, Environment and Forests & Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan inaugurated the newly constructed International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography (ITCOocean) Complex in the INCOIS campus at Hyderabad, Telangana.
i. He dedicated the ITCOocean to the Former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and named the academic building as Atal Bhavan and the Guest House as Atal Atithi Griha.
ii. This UNESCO category 2 centre was established by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Govt. of India earlier in 2013 but it upgraded to assist UNESCO and its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).
iii. It will help in providing capacity building and training activities in operational oceanography.
iv. It will thus benefit the South Asian and African states bordering the Indian Ocean and the small island nations in the Pacific from INCOIS’ ocean science and management practices.
The General Conference of UNESCO approved the offer of Government of India to establish ITCOocean as a UNESCO Category 2 Centre in November 2017.
♦ Capital: Hyderabad.
♦ Chief Minister: K.Chandrashekhar Rao.
♦ Governor: E.S.L. Narasimhan.
♦ National Parks: Kasu Brahmananda Reddy National Park, Mahaveera Harina National Park, Mrugavani National Park
Three day Annual conference of DGPs, IGPs held in Gujarat
On 20th December 2018, Three day annual conference of Directors General of Police (DGPs) and Inspectors General of Police (IGPs) commences at a tent-city set up near the Statue of Unity at Kevadiya in Narmada District of Gujarat. The three day annual conference concluded on 22nd December 2018.
i. The top police officers of the country will meet for multiple sessions of discussions on issues concerning the country including militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, cross border terrorism, attempts to radicalize youth, Naxal menace and the situation in the Northeast.
ii. Issues including communal tension, circulation of communally sensitive news and pornographic materials through social media are also expected to be discussed at the three day meeting.
iii. The Annual Conference was held in the presence of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
PM Modi addressed the Conference of DGPs, IGPs in Gujarat
On 21st December 2018, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi interacted with the Directors General and Inspectors General of Police and said that the conference will strengthen the country’s security apparatus.
PM Modi release commemorative stamp on National Police Memorial, launch a portal of cyber coordination center
On 22nd December 2018 which is the last day of three days annual conference of DGPs and IGPs, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi released a commemorative stamp on the National Police Memorial and launched a portal of cyber coordination center.
i. The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi presented the President’s police medals for the distinguished services to IB officers.
ii. Narendra Modi also addressed the National Convention of BJP’s Mahila Morcha at Trimandir, a temple complex in Adalaj.
iii. Union Minister Smriti Irani participated in the first session of the convention on the last day of three day annual conference.
♦ Chief Minister: Vijay Rupani
♦ Governor: Om Prakash Kohli
♦ Capital: Gandhinagar
♦ National Parks (NP): Gir Forest NP, Blackbuck NP, Vansda NP, Marine NP
Jharkhand announces Rs 2,250-crore scheme to help farmers: Mukhya Mantri Krishi Yojana
On 21st December 2018, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das announced a Rs 2250 crore scheme named as “ Mukhya Mantri Krishi Yojana” which will help around 22.76 lakh medium and marginal farmers to double their income by 2022. The Central Government has set a goal to double the income of all the farmers by 2022.
i. The Scheme will start from 2019-20 financial year. It will help farmers to procure seeds, fertilisers and other requirements for agricultural purposes.
ii. Under the scheme, the state government will give Rs 5000 per acre up to maximum of 5 acre to 22.76 lakh medium and marginal farmers.
iii. Those farmers who have less than 1 acre land will also get Rs. 5000.
♦ Governor: Draupadi Murmu
♦ Chief Minister: Raghubar Das
♦ Capital: Ranchi
♦ National Parks: Betla National Park
Odisha government announces Rs 10,000 crore KALIA scheme for farmers development
On 21st December 2018, the Odisha Cabinet headed by CM Naveen Patnaik announced the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme to empower small, marginal & landless farmers as well as landless labourers.
i. The Rs 10,000 crore scheme, which would be executed through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode, covers 92% (over 30 lakh) of cultivators, loanee and non-loanee, share-croppers & landless labourers.
ii. According to the scheme an amount of Rs 10,000 per family at the rate of Rs 5,000 each for Kharif and Rabi seasons shall be provided as financial assistance for taking up cultivation.
iii. This assistance is for five crop seasons spanning three years from 2018-19 to 2021-22 and is also not linked to the extent of land owned thereby benefiting share croppers and actual cultivators most of whom own very small extent of land.
iv. The KALIA scheme also has a component for about ten lakh landless households in the form of livelihood support by providing each household a unit cost of Rs 12,500 to take up activities like goat rearing units, mini layer units, duckery units, fishery kits for fishermen and women, mushroom cultivation and bee keeping.
v. Beside this an annual financial assistance of Rs 10,000 per household will be provided to take care of sustenance of farmers not able to take up cultivation due to old age, disability, disease or other reasons.
vi. Life insurance cover of Rs 2 lakh and additional personal accident cover of Rs 2 lakh will also be provided to both cultivators and landless agriculture labourers covering about 74 lakh households.
♦ Chief Minister: Naveen Patnaik
♦ Governor: Ganeshi Lal
“Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” field level awareness campaign for Maharashtra, Goa and Dadra & Nagar Haveli launched
From First Week of January 2019, the three state level campaign on “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” will be organized in Maharashtra, Goa and Dadra & Nagar Haveli to spread awareness among people to save and educate girls.
i. The Campaign will be organized by the Pune office of Regional Outreach Bureau, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India in coordination with Women and child development departments of respective state and Union Territory (UT).
ii. The campaign was launched by Ms. Gauri Gadgil who is a ‘divyang’ child and an international swimmer by placing her fingers on traditional instrument ‘Dholak’.
iii. An orientation cum workshop on the flagship project was organized for Private Registered Cultural Troupes (PRTs) on 20th December in Pune.
♦ Governor: C. Vidyasagar Rao
♦ Chief Minister: Devendra Fadnavis
♦ Capital: Panaji
♦ Chief Minister: Manohar Parrikar
♦ Governor: Mridula Sinha
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
India’s stock market overtakes Germany to become 7th largest in the world
On 22nd December 2018, India achieved another milestone when Indian Stock market overtakes Germany for the first time in seven years to become the world’s seventh largest stock market.
i. This move reflects India’s positive returns this year as companies dependency on domestic demand enabled them to avoid meltdown in other emerging markets spurred due to U.S. – China trade war.
ii. South Asian Giant, India is projected to grow at 7.5 percent in 2018 and 7.3 percent in 2019 whereas Germany managed to achieve a growth rate of only 1.6 percent in 2018.
iii. After the exit of United Kingdom from European Union, now European Union has only one country in top seven economies of the world – France.
♦ Capital: Berlin
♦ Currency: Euro
♦ President: Frank-Walter Steinmeier
India’s Forex Reserves declined by USD 613.9 million to USD 393.12 billion
According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, the country’s foreign exchange reserves declined by USD 613.9 million to USD 393.12 billion in the week that ended by December 14, on account of a fall in foreign currency assets.
i. The reserves had increased by USD 16.6 million to USD 393.734 billion in the previous week while in the reporting week, foreign currency assets, a major component of the overall reserves, dropped by USD 631.6 million to USD 367.865 billion.
ii. The foreign currency asset is expressed in US dollars and includes the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
iii. In the week to April 13, 2018, the reserves had touched a record high of USD 426.028 billion and it has been degrading since then and is now down by over USD 31 billion.
iv. As per the data, the gold reserves rose by USD 37.2 million to USD 21.187 billion in the reporting week.
About Reserve Bank of India:
♦ Governor: Shaktikanta Das
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
China launched first satellite to provide space-based broadband as part of Hongyun project
On December 22, 2018, China launched its first communication satellite, from a Long March 11 carrier rocket, to provide broadband internet services worldwide to rival Google and other firms.
i. It is the first in the Hongyun project planned by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC).
About the satellite:
i. It weighs 247 kilogrammes and works in a sun-synchronous orbit about 1,100 kilometres above earth.
ii. Powered by solar arrays, the satellite would verify basic designs of Hongyun satellite and demonstrating low-orbit broadband communications technologies with a life span of more than 1 year.
The Hongyun project, started in September 2016, aims to build a space-based communications network to provide broadband internet connectivity to users around the world, especially those in the underserved regions.
♦ Capital: Beijing.
♦ Currency: Renminbi
InSight lander places its first instrument (SEIS) on Mars
On 19th December 2018, the US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that its InSight lander has deployed its first instrument Seismometer (SEIS) onto the surface of Mars, completing a major mission milestone that will allow scientists to peer into the Martian interior by studying ground motion also known as marsquakes.
i. The Insight will deploy two more instruments namely Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment (RISE) and Heat Probe (HP3) to study Mars’ deep interiors.
ii. The seismometer is the highest-priority instrument on Insight because by analysing how seismic waves pass through the layers of the planet, scientists can deduce the depth and composition of these layers.
Belgium to end the year as No. 1 in FIFA global ranking
On 20th December 2018, Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) released the Global football ranking topped by Belgium who have 1727 points as per FIFA calculations. So Belgium is going to end the year as No. 1 ahead of World Champion France.
i. France ranked 2nd with 1726 points and Brazil ranked third with 1676 points.
ii. India ranked at 97th Position in the latest FIFA ranking released on 20th December 2018.
ICC orders PCB to pay 60% of compensation claim to BCCI
On 19th December 2018, International Cricket Council (ICC) Dispute Resolution Panel ordered Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to pay 60% of the cost demanded by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) after the world body’s rejection of PCB’s claim of compensation which blamed India for the lack of bilateral series between the two nations.
i. The ICC’s Panel ordered PCB to pay the BCCI 60% of the claimed cost and 60% of the administrative costs and expenses of the ICC Panel.
ii. BCCI has to pay 40% of the administrative costs and expenses of the ICC Panel
Noted Tamil writer Prabhanjan dies in Puducherry
On 21st December 2018, Noted Tamil writer and Sahitya Akademi award winner Prabhanjan died due to Cancer at the age of 83 in Puducherry.
Prabhanjan started his career as a Tamil Teacher and got Sahitya Akademi Award for his historic novel “Vaanam Vasapadum” in 1995.
BOOKS & AUTHORS
The book “A Rural Manifesto – Realising India’s Future through her Villages” authored by BJP MP Varun Gandhi released in Bengaluru
On December 19, 2018, the book “A Rural Manifesto – Realising India’s Future through her Villages” authored by BJP MP Varun Gandhi was released in Bengaluru.
i. The book focuses on challenges faced by farmers, labourers, student and teachers in villages across the country.
National Mathematics Day – December 22
On 22nd December 2018, India celebrated National Mathematics day honouring the 131st birth anniversary of Great Indian Mathematician Srinivasan Ramanujan. India celebrate 22nd December as National Mathematics day every year.
i. Ramanujan was born in 1887 and compiled nearly 3900 results mostly identities and equations.
ii. The Number 1729 is known as Hardy-Ramanujan Number.