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Government sanctioned 254 projects worth over 24 thousand crore rupees under National Mission for Clean Ganga in India Water Summit 2018
On December 5, 2018, speaking in the India Water Impact Summit 2018, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation MinisterNitin Gadkari announced sanction of 254 projects worth over 24 thousand crore rupees under National Mission for Clean Ganga.
i. Out of that, the government has earmarked 20 thousand crores for five years towards the clean Ganga programme.
ii. And additional 3 thousand crore rupees next year under the programme has been sanctioned.
iii. Under this, the Ministry announced taking up construction of 197 ghats in five states, including Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
iv. Over the span of 4 years, around five thousand crore rupees have been spent under NMCG.
Centre Empowers Lt Governors, Administrators to Set Up Special Courts
On 06th December 2018, Lieutenant governors (LGs) and administrators of Union territories have been empowered by the central government to designate civil courts as special courts to adjudicate contracts relating to infrastructure projects.
i. This comes under Section 20B of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 (47 of 1963).
ii. According to this the state government, in consultation with the chief justice of the high court, can designate one or more civil courts as special courts within the local limits of the area to exercise jurisdiction and to try a suit under this Act in respect of contracts relating to infrastructure projects.
Rs 50 crore Science and Technology Innovation fund, first in the country, approved by Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani
On December 5, 2018, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani approved 50-crore rupees to Science & Technology Innovation (STI) Fund for assistance in research and development.
Gujarat thus became the first state in the country to create such a fund for high-end technology and innovation.
i. The assistance will be for a maximum period of three years.
ii. Assistance up to Rs. 50-lakh will be provided to UGC and AICTE recognized central and state universities and colleges.
iii. Similar assistance have been provided under the Biotechnology Policy and IT Policy which will be implemented by Gujarat Council of Science & Technology (GUJCOST) as identified by Gujarat Government’s Science & Technology Department.
India tops in road deaths; globally fatalities increase by 1 lakh in 3 years: WHO report
On 07th December 2018, according to the Global Status Report on Road Safety, India tops in road deaths with 1.51 lakh road deaths in 2016 and globally the toll of road deaths increased from 1.25 million to 1.35 in a span of three years.
i. The spike in road deaths globally has come as a shocker considering that the countries had pledged to halve their road deaths by 2020.
ii. The United Nations had declared the 2010-2020 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety.
iii. According to the report,at this rate, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target 3.6 to halve road traffic deaths by 2020 will not be met.
Two day 175th Meeting of the OPEC Conference & one day 5th OPEC and Non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting held in Vienna, Austria
On December 7, 2018, two day 175th Meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Companies (OPEC) Conference & one day 5th OPEC and Non OPEC Ministerial Meeting concluded in Vienna, Austria.
About the 175th meeting of the OPEC conference:
i. The 175th meeting of the OPEC conference commenced on December 6, 2018, in Vienna, Austria.
ii. It was conducted under the chairmanship of OPEC President, HE Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, the UAE minister of Energy and Industry and Head of its delegation.
iii .In this conference the following happened:
- Qatar withdrew its OPEC membership with effect from January 1, 2019,
- HE Manuel Salvador Quevedo Fernandez, People’s Minister of Petroleum of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, was elected as the President of the conference for 1 year with effect from January 1, 2019,
- HE Mustapha Guitouni,Algeria’s minister of Energy, was elected as the Alternate President for the same period.
- Mr. Agustin Mba Okomo,Equatorial Governor of OPEC was appointed as the Chairman of Board of Governors for the year 2019,
- Mr. Etienne Lepoukou, Gabon’s Governor of OPEC was appointed as Alternate Chairman for the same period.
iv. The next Ordinary meeting will convene in Vienna, Austria in April 2019.
About the 5th OPEC and Non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting:
i. The 5th OPEC and Non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting commenced in December 7, 2018, in Vienna, Austria.
ii. It was conducted under the co-chairmanship of:
- OPEC President, HE Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, the UAE minister of Energy and Industry and
- HE Alexander Novak, Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation.
iii. The following happened in the meeting:
- The OPEC and Non-OPEC countries re-affirmed their commitment on the ‘Declartion of Cooperation’ (DOC) for a stable market,
- Adjusted the overall production of oil by 1.2mb/d, effective from January 2019 for 6 months, to restore the imbalance between the global oil supply and the demand in January 2019,
iii. The next OPEC and Non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting will convene in Vienna, Austria in April, 2019.
♦ Headquarters: Vienna, Austria.
♦ Secretary-General: HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo.
♦ Member Countries: 15 (earlier), After withdrawal of Qatar it is 14 now.
♦ Founded in Baghdad, Iraq in 1960.
Luxembourg became the first country to make public transport free
On December 7, 2018, Luxembourg became the first country to abolish all fares on public transport by 2019.
i. The move of free public transport was done to enhance the traffic congestion scenario in Luxembourg City, which is one of the worst traffic congestion-hit cities in the world.
Dubai Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launches world’s largest Arabic audio library in Dubai
On 6th December 2018, Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, launched the Dubai Audio Library, the largest Arabic audio library in the world.
i. The library, targets seven million visually impaired people in the Arab world, and is an initiative undertaken by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) of Dubai in collaboration with the website Bookshare.org.
ii. The first book uploaded to the Dubai Audio Library, Zayed Diwan, is a collection of 87 poems written by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.
iii. The library will provide 300,000 books in Arabic and more than 10,000 volunteers will convert Arabic books into digital format and edit them before uploading them to the website.
Conference on ‘Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code – A New Paradigm for Stressed Assets’ held in New York, USA
On 5th December 2018, a conference on the theme ‘Insolvency and
Bankruptcy Code of India – New Paradigm for Stressed Assets’ was held at the Indian Consulate in New York.
i. The conference was organised by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) jointly with the Consulate General of India, New York, USA.
ii. The Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Mr. Arun Jaitley addressed the conference via Video Conferencing.
iii. Dr. M. S. Sahoo, Chairperson, IBBI also addressed at the function.
iv. The Conference was followed by a roundtable with prospective stakeholders of the Indian insolvency regime which witnessed participation of many international fund houses and law firms.
UN launches new framework to combat international terrorism
On 6th December 2018 United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched a new framework named as UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact.
i. The objective of new framework is to combat the scourge of international terrorism and coordinate efforts across the peace and security, humanitarian, human rights and sustainable development sectors.
ii. It is an agreement between the UN chief, 36 organizational entities, INTERPOL and the World Customs Organisation.
iii. The UN Office of Counter-Terrorism will act as the Coordination Committee and will oversee the implementation of the Compact.
BANKING & FINANCE
Exim Bank extended USD 500 mn loan to Tanzania for water supply projects
On December 7, 2018, Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) announced extension of credit facility of USD 500 million to Tanzania for water supply projects in the country.
i. This is according to a MOU signed on May 10, 2018, between the EXIM Bank and Government of Tanzania.
ii. According to the RBI’s statement, of the total credit by Exim Bank:
- goods and services of value of at least 75 per cent of the contract price shall be supplied by the seller from India and
- remaining 25 per cent of goods and services may be procured by the seller for the purpose of the eligible contract from outside India.
iii. Also, the agreement under the line of credit is effective from September 18, 2018.
♦ Capital: Dodoma.
♦ Currency: Tanzanian shilling.
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai.
♦ MD & CEO: Mr. David Rasquinha.
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
India to retain top position in remittances with $80 billion:World Bank
On 08th December 2018,India retain its position as the world’s top recipient of remittances this year with its diaspora sending $80 billion back home.India is followed by China ($67 billion), Mexico and the Philippines ($34 billion each) and Egypt ($26 billion).
i. The Bank estimates that officially recorded remittances to developing countries will increase by 10.8% to reach $528 billion in 2018, against a 7.8% growth in 2017.
ii. Global remittances, which include flows to high-income countries, are projected to grow by 10.3 per cent to $689 billion.
iii. Bangladesh and Pakistan both experienced strong upticks of 17.9 percent and 6.2 percent in 2018, respectively.
iv. For 2019, it is projected that remittances growth for the region will grow to 3.7 percent to $715 billion.
v. Reducing remittance flows to three per cent by 2030 is a global target under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10.7.
About World Bank
♦ Headquarter: Washington DC, United States
♦ President: Jim Yong Kim
Current account deficit widens to 2.9% of GDP in Q2:RBI
On 7th December 2018, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said that India’s current account deficit (CAD) widened to 2.9% of the GDP in the July-September quarter of the current fiscal, against 1.1% in the year-ago period, mainly due to a large trade deficit.
i. The deficit for the second quarter was $19.1 billion compared with $6.9 billion in the year-earlier period.
ii. The central bank said that the widening of CAD on a year-on-year basis was primarily on account of a higher trade deficit at $50 billion compared with $32.5 billion a year ago.
iii. Country’s balance of payments was in deficit of $1.9 billion in the July-September quarter as compared with a surplus of $9.5 billion in the year ago period.
Australia became world’s biggest LNG exporter for 1st time, surpassing Qatar: Australian Bureau of Statistics
On December 7, 2018, Australia surpassed Qatar to become the world’s leading exporter of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) for the first time.
i. This was announced according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics which stated that Australia had exported 6.55 million tonnes of LNG in November 2018 compared to Qatar’s 6.27 million tonnes.
ii. LNG is Australia’s third-largest export commodity behind coal and iron ore.
♦ Capital: Canberra.
♦ Currency: Australian dollar.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Four Indians among world’s 100 most powerful women, list topped by Germen Chancellor Angela Merkel: Forbes
On December 6, 2018, Forbes released The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women of 2018.
i. Four Indians who were featured in the list were:
- IT stalwart Roshni Nadar Malhotra ranking 51st in the list,
- Biotechnology pioneer Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw ranking 60th,
- Media mogul Shobhana Bhartia at 88th position and
- Actor Priyanka Chopra at 94th spot.
ii. The list is topped by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
iii. It is the eighth consecutive year and 13 times in total in the 15 years of the annual list she has topped.
iv. She is followed by UK Prime Minister Theresa May, for the second year in a row.
v. Others among the top 5 are:
International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde (No 3),
General Motors CEO Mary Barra (No 4), and
Fidelity Investments CEO Abigail Johnson (No 5).
About the List:
i. Members of the 2018 Most Powerful Women list represented women in six categories:
business (27 honorees), technology (18), finance (12), media & entertainment (16), politics & policy (22), and philanthropy (5).
ii. In total, the Power Women control or influence nearly USD 2 trillion in revenues and oversee 5 million employees.
iii. The 2018 list spanned more than six generations of influential women, with Taylor Swift, the youngest honoree at 28 (securing 68th position) and Queen Elizabeth II the oldest at 92 securing 23rd position.
iv. Across the globe, North America represented 50 women on the list, Asia Pacific 22, Europe (inclusive of Russia and Turkey) 17, the United Kingdom 7, the Middle East 3, one in Africa.
For More information: Click Here
♦ Headquarters: New Jersey City, USA.
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy conferred Skoch Award for National Significance for installation of 73 GW of renewable energy
On December 7, 2019, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India was conferred the Skoch Award for National Significance at 54th SKOCH Summit on the State of Power, Oil and Gas and was organized by SKOCH Group in New Delhi.
i. The award was received by Secretary, Ministry of New Renewable Energy Shri Anand Kumar.
ii. It was selected as the winner for its critical role in installing about 73 GW renewable energy capacity in the country.
iii. This provided one billion units of electricity in the country with 21 per cent of total installed capacity in the span of a year.
About the Skoch Awards:
i. It is given by Skoch Group and aims to reward the human excellence in socio-economic changes.
ii. It was instituted in 2003.
India ranks 4 in the world in wind energy capacity and 5th in solar & total renewable energy capacity installed in the world.
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE):
♦ Minister of State (I/C): Shri. Raj Kumar Singh.
♦ Secretary: Shri. Anand Kumar.
Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai won 2018 Gleitsman Award by Harvard University
On 6th December 2018, Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai was honored by Harvard University in the United States for her work promoting girls’ education.
i. The 21-year-old Malala, received the 2018 Gleitsman Award from Harvard’s Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
ii. The award provides $125,000 for activism that has improved quality of life around the world.
iii. Now 21, Yousafzai became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 when she was recognised for her global work supporting schooling for all children. Currently she is a student at Oxford University in England.
Sunil Mittal, the First Indian received honorary doctorate from ESCP biz school
On 08th December 2018, Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal has received ESCP Europe’s highest honour ‘Doctor Honoris Causa’ for his innovative entrepreneurship and contribution towards philanthropy in the field of education.
i. With this, Mittal has become the first Indian to be honoured with this recognition in ESCP Europe’s near 200 years history.
ii. Established in 1819, ESCP Europe is the world’s first business school, founded by a group of economic scholars and businessmen.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
ACC led by Pm Modi appointed Krishnamurthy Subramanian as new Chief Economic Advisor
On December 7, 2018, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), chaired by PM Narendra Modi, appointed Krishnamurthy Subramanian as Chief Economic Advisor for a period of 3 years.
i. He is currently serving as Associate Professor of Finance (with tenure) and Executive Director for the Centre for Analytical Finance at the Indian School of Business, a top business school in India.
ii. He would replace Arvind Subramanian who resigned from the post on 20 June 2018.
iii. His appointment comes barely 50 days before the Economic Survey released by GOI.
iv. He has done his MBA and PhD in Financial Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business under the advice of Professor and ex-RBI governor Raghuram Rajan.
Axis Bank inducts Amitabh Chaudhry on its board
On 08th December 2018, Axis Bank inducted Amitabh Chaudhry as additional director on its board. He will replace incumbent Shikha Sharma whose fourth term has been curtailed by the RBI by nearly two-and-half years.
i. The board also gave its nod for the reappointment of Samir Barua, Som Mittal and Rohit Bhagat as independent directors.
ii. Amitabh Chaudhry, the former MD and CEO of HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company, was in September named the MD and CEO of Axis Bank for a period of three years, with effect from January 1, 2019.
About Axis Bank
♦ Headquarter: Mumbai
♦ Chairman: Sanjiv Mishra
SoftBank Vision Fund gets Facebook’s Kirthiga Reddy as first venture partner
On 08th December 2018, Kirthiga Reddy, the former managing director of Facebook India, has joined SoftBank as its first venture partner at its $100 billion Vision Fund. She the first women coming on board in a company where the rest are all men.
Reddy was Facebook’s first employee in India and served as the managing director for India and South Asia market until 2016, following which she relocated to the company’s US headquarters, serving as Managing Global Client Partner and Emerging Markets Lead.
Ashwin makes Marsh break 130-year-old Australian record
On 7th December 2018 Australian batsman Shaun Marsh broke an unwanted 130-year-old record in Australian cricket when he ended up gifting his wicket for just 2 runs to Ravichandran Ashwin on Day 2 of the first Test between Indian and Australia in Adelaide.
i. This was Marsh’s sixth successive single digit score and he became the first Australian among the top five Test batsman since 1888 who has made six single-figure scores in a row.
ii. The extent of his poor form can be understood from the fact that Marsh hasn’t been able to cross 40 runs in his last 13 innings. In fact, only five time out of those innings he has managed a score in double-digits.
BOOKS & AUTHORS
Vice President Releases the book on selected speeches of the President Titled “The Republican Ethic” in English and “Loktantra ke Swar” in New Delhi
On 8th December 2018, Vice President of India Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu released two books on the compilation of selected speeches made by the President, Shri Ram Nath Kovind in the first year of assuming the office.
i. The books are titled as, “The Republican Ethic” in English and “Loktantra ke Swar” in Hindi.
ii. The occasion was also graced by Union Minister of External Affairs, Smt. Sushma Swaraj and the Minister of Information Broadcasting (IC), Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore along with other senior dignitaries.
iii. ‘The Republican Ethic’ is a collection of 95 select speeches in English categorized into eight subgroups — Addressing the Nation, diversity of India, window to the world, educating India, equipping India, dharma of public service, honoring our sentinels, spirit of the Law & acknowledging excellence.
iv. The book “Loktantra ke Swar” – is a collection of 109 speeches in Hindi which talks about different layers and levels of multifaceted largest democracy in the world – India and the building blocks of the book are equality, egalitarianism & education.
v. The event was organized by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
About Ministry of Information & Broadcasting:
♦ Minister of State (I/C): Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Retd.)
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO) Council approved India’s proposal to observe an International Year of Millets in 2023
On December 7, 2018, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Shri Radha Mohan Singh announced Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Council’s approval to India’s proposal to observe an International Year of Millets in 2023.
i. This was approved in the 160th session of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Council, being held in Rome.
ii. Millets consists of Jowar, Bajra, Ragi and minor millets together termed as nutri-cereals.
iii. Earlier, India had observed 2018 as the National Year of Millets, which promoted cultivation and consumption of these nutri-cereals.
iv. This decision will thus enhance global awareness to bring back these nutri-cereals to the plate, for food and nutrition security.
Additionally, the FAO Council also approved India’s membership to the Executive Board of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) for2020 and 2021.
♦ Headquarters: Rome, Italy.
Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare:
♦ Union Minister: Shri. Radha Mohan Singh.
♦ Minister of State: Shri, Purushottam Rupala, Smt. Krishna Raj, Shri. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.
Indian Navy celebrates Submarine Day on 8th December
On 08th December 2018,the Indian Navy celebrates Submarine Day.The day commemorates the induction of the first submarine, the erstwhile INS Kalvari, into the Navy on this day in 1967.
i. The Foxtrot class submarine was decommissioned on the 31st May, 1996, after 29 years of service.
ii. Addressing the annual Navy Day press conference on the 03rd December 2018, Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba had spoken of the launch of INS Arihant nuclear submarine. He called it the third and most reliable part of India’s nuclear triad.