Current Affairs December 28 2018

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NITI Aayog Released Second Delta Ranking Under Aspirational District Programme; Virudhunagar District From TamilNadu Ranked As Most Improved District among 111 Aspirational Districts
On December 26, 2018, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant released the Second Delta Ranking of the Aspirational Districts Programme.
i.The ranking shows the incremental progress achieved by 111 aspirational districts (out of 115) during June 1, 2018 to October 31, 2018, across six key development sectors.
ii.Three aspirational districts from West Bengal did not participate, while one district of Kerala could not take part because of floods.
iii.The 6 developmental sectors are: Health and Nutrition, Education, Agriculture and Water Resources, Financial Inclusion, Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure……………Click here to Read more

Governing council under MSME Secretary to ensure efficient delivery of export-related interventions: MSME Ministry
On December 25,2018,the Ministry of Micro,Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) has proposed to establish a governing council under the chairmanship of Secretary,MSME,Dr.Arun Kumar Panda.It will be co-chaired by Development Commissioner in MSME Ministry,Shri.Ram Mohan Mishra.
To ensure efficient delivery of all export-related interventions.
Key Points:
i. This council will be a part of the ministry’s action plan to boost shipments from micro, small and medium enterprises.
ii. According to the recommendations of the ministry,
♦ A strategic action plan titled ‘Unlocking the Potential of MSME Exports’ will be prepared.
♦ This will have a detailed analysis of various trade agreements,including FTAs to identify areas of concern for MSMEs.
♦ A study will be conducted of special economic zones and export promotion zones to reassess their role and objectives.
♦ A tech-enabled online portal shall be developed featuring country-wise list of global products and services in demand.
♦ A formal platform may also be created by the ministry to engage in all bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations it makes which will have an impact on the enterprises.
iii.National Resource Centre for MSME Exporters will be tasked with promotion of Indian MSMEs.It will engage with various international agencies including UN organisations.
iv.Additionally, a guide or handbook shall also be developed to help the export community to understand the processes involved in export business, access the potential markets etc.
Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises:
♦ Minister of State (I/C): Shri. Giriraj Singh.

12-day long third edition of ‘Dwijing Festival’ commenced on the banks of the Aye river in Assam
On December 27, 2018,the 12-day 3rd ‘Dwijing Festival’ celebrations commenced on the banks of the Aye river in Chirang district of Assam.It will continue till January 7, 2019.It will be organised by Assam Tourism and Bodoland Tourism.Background:
i. The festival started as Aye River Festival in 2016-17 to promote river tourism in the rural areas under the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC). It started under the name of ‘AYE RIVER WINTER FESTIVAL’.
ii. The name was officially changed to “Dwijing (river bank in Bodo language)” in 2017.
iii. The association of the Hagrama Bridge, the longest rural river bridge of the state, with the festival increased its popularity.
♦ Capital: Dispur.
♦ Chief Minister:  Sarbananda Sonowal.
♦ Governor: Jagdish Mukhi.
♦ National Parks: Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park (UNESCO Natural World Herigate Site), Orang National Park, Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.
♦ Airports: Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Dibrugarh Airport, Jorhat Airport, Tezpur Airport, Silchar Airport.

President gave his assent to 2 bills from Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh
On December 26, 2018, President Ram Nath Kovind approved state bills from Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh. They are:
1.The Tamil Nadu Vanniyakula Kshatriya Public Charitable Trusts and Endowments (Protection and Maintenance) Bill 2018 and
2.The Himachal Pradesh Early Childhood Care and Education Centers (Registration and Regulation) Bill 2017.
About the Tamil Nadu bill:
i. It aims to prevent misuse, misappropriation of properties and income by people.
ii. It will apply to all charitable trusts and endowments created and administered by persons or organisations of the Vanniyakula Kshatriya community.
♦ Many members of the community donated their properties for charitable purposes through trusts and endowments and such properties, in most cases, were neither utilised, nor maintained.
♦ Following representations from the community, the state government decided to constitute a separate board to save the properties and administer them without any hindrance.
About the Himachal Pradesh Bill:
i. It aims to bring the early childhood care and education centres in the state under government monitoring.
ii. This will enable equal access, quality and commercialisation to childcare centres that are controlled by trusts, societies, religious groups or international funding agencies.
♦ As per the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002, Article 45 of the Directive Principles of State Policy states that “the State shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of 6 years”.
♦ Under Article 200, the Governor can reserve a bill passed by the legislature for the consideration of the President.

Four day 12th Annual ISDSI Conference commenced in SPJIMR, Mumbai
On December 27, 2018, the four day long 12th Annual Indian Subcontinent Decision Sciences Institute (ISDSI) conference commenced in SPJIMR, Mumbai.i. The conference will continue till December 30, 2018.
ii. The theme of this international conference is “Data Driven Decision Making in the Digital Age”.
iii. The main objective of this conference is to provide a platform for academicians, researchers and practitioners to:
1.Disseminate research, providing insights into the challenges, opportunities, emerging strategies and analytical tools in the domain of decision making;
2.Present case studies on application of tools and techniques;
3.Explore cutting- edge ideas, results and share experiences.

Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism, Shri. K J Alphons Signed MOU under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme for development of a mobile Audio Guide App for five iconic sites
On 27th December 2018, Shri. K J Alphons, Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism, handed over a Memorandum of Understanding under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ project to M/s Resbird Technologies for development of a mobile Audio Guide App for five iconic sites.
Key Points:
i. Amer Fort (Rajasthan), Kaziranga (Assam), Colva Beach (Goa), Kumarakom (Kerala) and Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar) are the five iconic sites for which the mobile Audio Guide App is to be developed. 
ii. Besides this, seven shortlisted agencies under ‘Monument Mitras’ project were handed over the Letters of Intent, which will give them the opportunity to associate their CSR activities with a heritage site if their Vision Bid is selected.
iii. Till now, ten Memorandum of Understanding have been executed with various Monument Mitras for development, operation and maintenance of tourist amenities at heritage and tourist sites across India.
About ‘Adopt a Heritage’
The “Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan” project is a collaborative scheme between the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), and State/UTs Governments which aims to make our heritage and tourism more sustainable through development, operation and maintenance of world-class tourist infrastructure and amenities at ASI/ State heritage sites and other important tourist sites in India.
About Ministry of Tourism:
♦ Minister: Alphons Kannanthanam (MOS independent charge)
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi 

Central Railways introduces ‘Automated Train Examination System (ATES)’ technology to eliminate manual examination of trains
The mechanical branch of Central Railways’ Nagpur division has introduced a new state-of-the-art technology called Automated Train Examination System (ATES) for the enhancement of train safety.
Key Points:
i. The system, developed by Konkan Railway Corporation Limited, eliminates manual examination of trains and measures axle box temperature, wheel disc temperature and records the under-gear of rolling stock of running trains through infrared and other cameras.
ii. ATES also checks every train passing through the track on which it is installed and immediately warns about hot axle and brake binding cases.
iii. In the first phase, this system has been installed in Ajni where total two units have been installed one covering all down direction trains coming from Chennai and Mumbai to Nagpur and the other covering up direction freight trains.
iv. The ATES was inaugurated by General Manager Central Railways, Devendra Kumar Sharma at Betul station on December 18.
About Central Railways:
♦ Headquarters: Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai
♦ Establishment Year: 1951

26th National Children’s Science Congress inaugurated by CM Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar, Odisha
On 27th December 2018, National Children’s Science Congress (NCSC) was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Odisha, Shri Naveen Patnaik at Sikhya O Anusandhan (SOA) University,Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The theme for this year NCSC is “Science, Technology and Innovations for a clean, Green and Healthy Nation.” The event will conclude on 31st December 2018.Key Points
i. In 2017, NCSC was held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat from 27th December to 31st December.
ii. National Children’s science Congress (NCSC) provides a platform to the children to showcase their creativity and ability to innovate.
iii. The National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC), Government of India supported the NCSC 2018 in which Children in the age group of 10-17 years including school students including differently abled children will participate.
iv. Children from 10 member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and five Gulf countries will also participate in the event.

41st meeting of the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee held in New Delhi
On 27th December 2018, the 41st meeting of the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee under the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs to sanction more affordable houses for the benefit of urban poor under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) was held in New Delhi.
Key Points:
i. A total of 3,10,597 more affordable houses for the benefit of urban poor under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) has been approved by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs.
ii. The approval consists of:
1.Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC) vertical- 1,91,556
2.Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP)vertical- 1,18,941
iii. The State wise approval for the construction of new houses is as follows:

State Number of Houses sanctioned
Uttar Pradesh 1,08,135
Karnataka 1,05,502
Andhra Pradesh 57,433
Odisha 21,894
Gujarat 17,633

iv. The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Shri Durga Shankar Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
v. A total of 864 projects with a project cost of Rs 14,662 crore with central assistance of Rs 4,658 crore have been approved in the meeting.
vi. With this new approval the cumulative number of houses sanctioned under PMAY (U) now is 68,54,126.
About Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs:
♦ Union Minister: Narendra Singh Tomar
♦ Minister of State (Independent charge) : Hardeep Singh Puri 
♦ Headquarters: Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi


Israel’s parliament approved a law to permit exports of medical marijuana
On December 26, 2018, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, approved a law to permit exports of medical marijuana.
i. This made Israel the 3rd country after the Netherlands and Canada, to take its medical cannabis global.
♦ Capital: Jerusalem.
♦ Currency: Israeli new shekel.


Survey to capture retail payment habits in 6 cities launched by RBI
On December 26, 2018, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) launched a ‘Survey on Retail Payment Habits of Individuals (SRPHi)’ in 6 cities including four metropolitan cities.i .The survey will cover a sample of 6,000 individuals from various socio-economic backgrounds across six cities of: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Guwahati.
ii.The fieldwork for the survey was carried out by Sigma Research & Consulting Pvt Ltd.
iii.The survey would capture payment habits of individuals and this will provide some idea about awareness and usage habits of digital payment products.
Sigma Research & Consulting Pvt Ltd:
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi

Former RBI Chief, Bimal Jalan to head RBI expert panel for reviewing economic capital framework: Rakesh Mohan to be vice-chairman
On 26th December 2018, The Reserve Bank of India, in consultation with the government of India has set up a 6-member committee headed by Former RBI Chief Bimal Jalan to review the economic capital framework of the central bank. The committee will suggest how the central bank should handle its reserves and whether it can transfer its surplus to the government.
Key Points:
i. The six-member panel has former deputy RBI governor Rakesh Mohan as its vice chairman and comprises economic affairs secretary Subhash Chandra Garg, RBI central board members Bharat Doshi and Sudhir Mankad and deputy governor NS Viswanathan.
ii. The panel will decide whether RBI is holding provisions, reserves and buffers in surplus of the required levels. It would also propose a suitable profits distribution policy taking into account all the likely situations of the RBI.
iii. The committee will also suggest an adequate level of risk provisioning that the RBI needs to maintain. Surplus reserves that are created out of realized gains will also come under the jurisdiction of this committee.
iv. The panel will submit its report within a period of 90 days from the date of its first meeting.
About Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
♦ Governor: Shaktikanta Das
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai


CAGR of security-service SMEs to grow at 18-20% in the next 2 FYs: CRISIL Research
On December 27, 2018, according to a research from CRISIL, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of security-service small and medium enterprises(SMEs) would be at 18-20% over the next 2 financial years.i. Security-service SMEs consist of 60-65 per cent of market share and have shown the similar growth rate of 18-20% for the past 3 financial years.
ii. The growth would be determined by the following factors:
1.Infrastructure development,
3.The growing incidence of crime and terrorism, and
4.The low police to population ratio.
iii. In terms of infrastructure development, the CAGR is at 5% for the past 3 years (calendar years 2015 to 2018) and would be the same for the next 3 years.
iv. Also, more than three-fourths of the SMEs in the industry are present in the manned guarding segment.
v. Other segments, such as cash management services and electronic security services constitute 25-30% of the pie.
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai.

New Norms for FDI in e-commerce
On 26th December 2018, the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), under Ministry of Commerce & Industry had reviewed guidelines for Foreign Direct Investment in E- commerce companies to protect the interests of domestic players. It will be effective from 01 February, 2019.
Key Points:
i.The decision came in the backdrop of several complaints being flagged by domestic traders on heavy discounts being given by e-commerce players to consumers.
ii.The new policy prohibits ecommerce platforms from giving any preferential treatment to any supplier and prohibited e-commerce companies from entering into an agreement for exclusive sale of products.
The Guidelines for FDI in E-commerce are:
 The Government has reviewed and made changes in consolidated FDI policy circular 2017 in order to provide clarity to FDI policy on e-commerce sector.
i.100% FDI under automatic route is permitted in marketplace model of e-commerce only. FDI is not permitted to inventory based model of e-commerce.
ii. Support services may be provided to the sellers in respect of warehousing, logistics, order fulfillment, payments collections and call centres etc. by the E-commerce marketplace.
iii. E-commerce entity providing a marketplace cannot exercise ownership over the inventory.Inventory of a vendor will be deemed to be controlled by e-commerce marketplace entity if more than 25% of purchases of such vendor are from the marketplace entity or its group companies.
iv. An entity having equity participation by e-commerce marketplace entity or its group companies cannot sell its products on the platform run by such marketplace entity.
v. Goods/services made available for sale electronically on website in marketplace model should clearly provide contact details of the seller.
vi. The warrantee or guarantee of goods and services in marketplace model will be the responsibility of the seller.
vii. E-commerce company will not influence the sale price of the goods or services directly or indirectly.
viii. E-commerce company cannot mandate a seller to sell a product exclusively on its platform.
ix. Digital and electronic network will include network of computers, television channels and any other internet application.
x. e-commerce company marketplace entity will require a certificate along with a report of statutory auditor to RBI confirming the compliance of the guidelines by 30th September of every year for the preceding financial year.
About Ministry of Commerce & Industry:
♦ Minister: Suresh Prabhu
♦ Minister of State: C.R.Chaudhary
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi


Madhya Pradesh’s Divya Patidar Joshi crowned Mrs. India 2018 title in New Delhi
On December 26, 2018, Divya Patidar Joshi from Madhya Pradesh was crowned with the Mrs. India 2018 title at the Mrs. India My Identity Beauty Pageant 2018 finale held in New Delhi.i. She defeated 24 promising contestants and won all the rounds of Beauty with Brain contest along with Best Cat Walk title.
ii. With this win, in the year 2019, she would be representing India for Mrs. Universe title.

VP Naidu conferred ‘Champions of Change’ award to Manipur CM N Biren Singh
On December 26, 2018, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh was conferred the ‘Champions of Change’ award by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu in Delhi.He was recognised for his leadership role in transforming the governance in the north-eastern state.
i. At a programme to identify the progress made in 115 ‘aspirational’ districts, Manipur was chosen for its all-round development on various parameters in all its ‘aspirational’ districts.
ii. In the event, the Vice President gave away 47 such awards.
iii. Other such awardees are:
1.Union Minister of State for Food Processing Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti,
2.Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Sudarshan and
3.Member of Parliament Nishikant Dubey.
4.Chamba SP Monika Bhutunguru was conferred the award for her immense contribution, exemplary work and bringing a significant change in the district.
iv.The award selection jury was led by former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishna and former Supreme Court judge Sudha Mishra.
About Aspirational Districts:
♦ Launched: January 2018.
♦ The ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme aims to quickly and effectively transform these districts.
♦ Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure are this programme’s core areas of focus.
♦ 49 key performance indicators have been chosen to measure progress of the districts.
♦ NITI Aayog in partnership with the Government of Andhra Pradesh has created a dashboard for monitoring the real-time progress of the districts.


Air Marshal Rajeev Sachdeva takes over as Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Operations):
On 26th December 2018, the Defense Ministry appointed Air Marshal Rajeev Sachdeva who had served in three out of four wings of Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) headquarters as the Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Operations). Rajeev Sachdeva has earlier served in three out of the four wings of Headquarter Integrated Defence Staff (HQ IDS)Key Points:
i. Air Marshal Sachdeva was commissioned as an Indian Air Force pilot in December 1981 and has logged over 7200 hours of transport and instructional flying experience.
ii. Apart from being a Category ‘A’ flying instructor, he has also held some of the prestigious appointments in Air Force, Joint Services and National Technical Research Organization (NTRO). He has also been an Air Force examiner and has also commanded a frontline transport squadron, a transport base and the college of Defence Management.
iii. He was the Senior Air Staff Officer at Southern Air Command headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram prior to his present appointment.
About Integrated Defence Staff (Operations):
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ Motto: Victory through Jointness
♦ Chief: Lieutenant PS Rajeshwar

CA Kuttappa appointed India’s new chief men’s boxing coach
On December 10, 2018, 39-year-old Dronacharya awardee C A Kuttappa has been appointed as India’s chief boxing coach at the ongoing national camp.
i. He replaced veteran coach SR Singh.
ii. Kuttappa is just one of the two coaches from the reigning national champions, the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB), in the camp.
iii. As head coach of the Indian Boxing team, Kuttappa’s first major assignment would be the second edition of India Open, which is scheduled to be held in January 2019 in Guwahati, Assam and the Strandja Memorial in Bulgaria.
International Boxing Association (AIBA):
♦ Headquarters: Lausanne, Switzerland.


USTAAD: Railways develops AI-powered robot to check for faults in trains
The mechanical branch of Central Railway‘s Nagpur division has developed a new AI-powered robot named USTAAD (Undergear Surveillance through Artificial Intelligence Assisted Droid) which examines parts of the coach in real time with a HD camera and transmits them over WiFi.Key Points:
i. The new Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered robot will click photos and record videos of the train, under the gears and then transmits them over WiFi to engineers for maintenance and repair.
ii. Since USTAAD can watch and examine areas which cannot be seen and approached by humans usually, due to the narrow spaces between under-gear parts, it will reduce chances of human error while examining undergear equipment on Indian Railways trains.
iii. The special features of the robot include HD (high-definition) camera that can be rotated in any direction as per commands given by the engineer and can capture video as well as still photographs with zoom in or out facility.
iv. It is also equipped with LED flood light which enables to capture the videos in low light as well as in dark mode.
v. The robot is also capable of capturing sound of flat tyre, during placement of the rake on the Pit Line in order to keep a check on the train’s swift journey.
About Ministry of Railways:
♦ Union Minister: Piyush Goyal
♦ Minister of State:  Manoj Sinha and Rajen Gohain
♦ Headquarters:  Rail Bhavan, New Delhi

Achievements of Indian Scientists beyond rocket launches and nuclear capable missiles
The Year 2018 has been a great year for Indian scientists and technologists. Indian scientists have brought laurels for the country in a wide range of fields ranging from nanotechnology to weather which are not in limelight apart from space and defence.
Key Points:
i. A protective gel named as Poly-oxime Gel was developed by scientists from Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Bengaluru which will be very useful for the agriculture sector.
ii. Scientists from Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar have developed world’s Thinnest Material by making usage of Magnesium Diboride. It has its utility in next-generation materials and UV absorbing films.
iii. Space weather warning model was framed by scientists of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata and it helped in making predictions regarding sunspot cycle activities.
iv. The state of Sikkim was able to achieve a real-time landslide warning system with help of the scientists from Amrita University and Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority.


Bahuda Rookery: Another Olive Ridley Nesting Site in Odisha
The Forest Department of Odisha is all set to start a new Olive Ridley mass nesting site at Bahuda River mouth in Ganjam district of Odisha to lure Olive Ridley turtles to come over for mass nesting in 2019.Key Points:
i.A few hundred of endangered Olive Ridley turtles had nested at Bahuda River mouth coast in 2018.
ii. The new nesting point which is located around 20 km to south of Rushikulya rookery coast, stretches for around 3 km from Sunapur to Anantpur beach area.
iii. Gahirmatha marine sanctuary and Rushikulva rookery coast in Ganjam district of Odisha are main Olive Ridley Nesting site in Odisha.
iv. Odisha is home to about 50% of the world’s total population of Olive Ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) which are included in vulnerable category by the IUCN Red list and are protected under Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 in India.
v. Trading of the products manufactured from these turtles are also banned under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
About Odisha:
♦ Odisha Governor: Ganeshi Lal
♦ Odisha CM: Naveen Patnaik
♦ Odisha Capital: Bhubaneswar
♦ National Parks (NP) in Odisha: Bhitarkanika NP,Simlipal NP


Former KU VC and Padma Shri awardee Prof Hamidi Kashmiri passes away
On 26th December 2018, Former Kashmir University (KU) Vice Chancellor (VC) and Padma Shri awardee Professor Hamidi Kashmiri passed away at his residence in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir at the age of 86.i. He was the reciepient of Ghalib Award, Sahitya Akademi in 2005 and Padma Shri in 2010.
ii. He was a writer, educationalist and poet who had written 50 books.

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