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Government sets up export promotion cell for MSMEs
On 31st December 2018, Giriraj Singh, Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) informed the parliament that the MSME ministry has established an Export Promotion Cell with an aim to create a sustainable ecosystem for entire MSME development.
Benefits of Export Promotion Cell to the MSMEs:
i. Evaluation of readiness of MSMEs to export their products and services.
ii. Recognition of areas where improvements are required in order to be able to export effectively and efficiently.
iii. Integration of MSME into global value chain.
i. Citing the data available from the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCIS), the minister stated that the current value of export from MSME related products is USD 147,390.08 million and share of MSME related products in the country’s exports was 48.56% during 2017-18.
ii. The Ministry also proposed to formulate a governing council chaired by Secretary MSME and comprising of senior officials and members from MSME, Export Development Authorities, Commodity Boards, and other bodies to ensure efficient and effective delivery of all MSME export related interventions.
iii. Besides this an action plan is also proposed to be put in place to achieve target of USD 100 billion of exports from India by 2020.
About Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises:
♦ Minister: Giriraj Singh (MOS independent charge)
♦ Headquarters: Udyog Bhawan, New Delhi
Phase II of Capacity Building Programme for Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) of Panchayati Raj Institutions initiated across 18 states: MOSW&CD
On December 28, 2018, Minister of State for Women and Child Development Ministry, Dr Virendra Kumar announced that Capacity Building Programme for Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) of Panchayati Raj Institutions was initiated by the government of India.
To work as a forum to empower EWRs by developing leadership capacities through training.
i. Under this, State Institute of Rural Developments (SIRDs) and State Resource Centres (SRCs) will collaborate with Ministry of Women and Child Development in conducting training programmes across the States.
ii. Also, Departments of Panchayati Raj, Agriculture, Women & Child Development, Rural Development, etc. will be a part of the collaboration in the district level.
iii. In Phase-I of the programme (2017-18), a total 18,578 EWRs in 14 States were trained. In Phase-II, 18 States have been included for capacity building programmes for 15,030 EWRs.
Panel suggests not to allow new Engineering colleges from 2020
A government appointed panel headed by IIT- Hyderabad chairman B V R Mohan Reddy has suggested to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to stop setting up new engineering colleges from 2020 and review the creation of new capacity every two years after that.
i. In a 41-page report, the panel has also suggested that no additional seats should be approved in traditional engineering areas such as mechanical, electrical, civil and electronics.
ii. It has also recommended that institutes should be encouraged to convert current capacity in traditional disciplines to emerging new technologies as the current capacity utilisation in traditional disciplines is just 40% as opposed to 60% seat occupancy in branches such as computer science and engineering, aerospace engineering and mechatronics.
iii. Recommendations by the panel also include introduction of undergraduate engineering programmes exclusively for artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics, quantum computing, data sciences, cybersecurity and 3D printing and design.
iv. The committee however is in the favour of allowing concessions for applications of setting up new engineering colleges that are already in the pipeline.
v. The committee has suggested that the AICTE should only give approvals based on the capacity utilisation of concerned institute.
About All India Council for Technical Education( AICTE):
♦ Chairman: Anil Sahasrabudhe
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ Parent Agency: Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development
AP gets separate HC from January 1
On 1st January 2019, Andhra Pradesh got a separate high court which will temporarily function from the Chief Minister’s camp office in Amravati, the new capital of the state till a permanent building for the High Court is being set up at the ‘Justice City’in Amaravati.
i. Since the bifurcation of the state on June 2, 2014, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have had a common high court at Hyderabad. With the creation of the new high court, the country now has 25 high courts.
ii. The present high court building in Hyderabad would be housing the High Court of Telangana and the ten judges, who were part of the common high court, will now be the judges of the Telangana High Court.
iii. The bifurcation of the courts into the High Court of Telangana and High Court of Andhra Pradesh came after the Supreme Court on 29th October passed an order for the burification and said that it expects a notification by January 01, 2019.
iv. Justice C Praveen Kumar, the senior-most judge among the judges allotted to Andhra Pradesh, was appointed as acting Chief Justice of AP High Court, that will have 15 other judges with effect from January 1 , 2019.
v. Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan took over as the first Chief Justice of the Telangana High Court with effect from January 1 , 2019.
About Andhra Pradesh:
♦ Chief Minister: N. Chandrababu Naidu
♦ Governor: E. S. L. Narasimhan
♦ Capital: Amaravati
♦ Chief Minister: K. Chandrashekar Rao
♦ Governor: E. S. L. Narasimhan
♦ Capital: Hyderabad
U.S., Israel quit UNESCO citing bias
0n 31st December 2018, The United states of America (USA) and Israel officially quit the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) amid concerns that the organization fosters anti-Israel bias.
i. UNESCO was established in 1945 after the end of world war II to foster peace and it is best known for its World Heritage programs which designates cultural sites and aims to preserve traditions.
ii. Both the countries filed the notice to withdraw from the organization in 2017.
iii. The United states, one of the founding member of UNESCO has demanded “Fundamental Reform” in the organization.
iv. USA and Israel stopped paying dues to UNESCO after Palestine which is disputes part of Israel was voted in as a member state of UNESCO in 2011.The total due that is not paid by USA and Israel is over $600 mn.So this move will not affect UNESCO because it has been already dealing with funding slash ever since 2011.
The United States of America (USA)
♦ Capital: Washington, D.C.
♦ Currency: Unites States dollar (USD)
♦ President: Donald Trump
♦ Capital: Jerusalem
♦ Currency: Israeli new shekel
♦ Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
♦ Headquarters: Paris, France
♦ Director-General: Audrey Azoulay
BANKING & FINANCE
18th edition of India’s Fiscal Stability Report was released by RBI
On December 31, 2018, the central bank of India, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released 18th Fiscal Stability Report of India.
i. This report has been prepared by the Sub-Committee of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) on the risks to financial stability, the strength of the financial system and the development and regulation of the financial sector.
ii. This is the first such report that has been published after Mr. Shaktikanta Das became governor in December following Urjit Patel’s departure.
iii. The following states the findings of the report:
- India’s financial system remains stable,
- banking sector shows signs of improvement, with the gross non-performing assets (GNPA) ratio of Scheduled Commercial Banks declining from 11.5 per cent in March 2018 to 10.8 per cent in September 2018.
- GNPA ratio may decline from 10.8 per cent in September 2018 to 10.3 per cent in March 2019.
- Credit growth of scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) has improved between March 2018 and September 2018, driven largely by private sector banks (PVBs).
- Thus, the asset quality of the banks, as shown by the banking stability indicator (BSI), has improved.
- Analysis for the period September 2017 – September 2018 revealed a shrinking inter-bank market and increasing bank linkages with asset management companies-mutual funds (AMC-MFs).
- The rising linkage with asset management companies-mutual funds (AMC-MFs) are for raising funds and with NBFCs/Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) are for lending purposes.
- On the Macro level, the global growth outlook for 2018 and 2019 remains steady although emerging economies engendered by tightening of financial conditions in Advanced Economies.
- These are also being affected by the protectionist trade policies and global geopolitical tension which are on the rise.
- On the domestic front, growth of gross domestic product (GDP) showed slight moderation in Q2:2018-19 while inflation remains contained.
For a detailed read, refer the link given: Click Here
♦ Founded: 1st April 1935.
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai.
♦ Governor: Mr. Shaktikanta Das.
Paytm Payments Bank to add new customers after 6 months: RBI
On January 1, 2019, Reserve Bank of India granted permission to Paytm Payments Bank to add new customers after it initially barred Paytm from opening bank accounts in June 2018.
i. This was due to non-compliance of the KYC norms and because Paytm Payments Bank had failed to maintain Rs 100 crore net worth limit.
ii. Post the audit, Paytm Payments Bank had removed Renu Satti from the chief executive’s role and replaced her with veteran banker and ex-NPCI senior executive Satish Gupta.
Govt infuses nearly Rs 11,000 cr capital in public sector banks
On 31st December 2018, The government has infused 10,882 crore rupees in four public sector banks, including UCO Bank and Syndicate Bank.State-run lender UCO bank, formerly United Commercial Bank, announced that Government of India has infused Rs 3074 crore of capital into it by the way of preferential allotment.
i. The UCO Bank has posted a net loss of Rs. 1136.44 Crore in the second quarter of FY19 against a net loss of Rs. 622.56 crore for the same period of previous fiscal.
ii. Gross NPA (Non-performing assets) of UCO bank fell marginally from Rs. 29786.41 crore to Rs. 29581.49 crore during the September Quarter of FY19.
iii. Government of India holds 90.8 per cent stake in UCO bank as on 30th September 2018.
iv. Bank of Maharashtra got 4,498 crore rupees, Syndicate Bank 1,632 crore and the Central Bank of India 1,678 crore.
v.The government has already announced infusion of 10,086 crore rupees in Bank of India, 5,500 crore in Oriental Bank of Commerce and 2,159 in United Bank of India.
About UCO Bank
♦ Headquarters: Kolkata, West Bengal
♦ MD & CEO: Shri Atul Kumar Goel
♦ Tagline: Honors Your Trust
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
France introduced GAFA tax on global internet,technology firms
From 1st January 2019, France introduced a new “GAFA tax” named after the large internet and technology companies Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon to ensure the global giants pay a fair share of taxes on their massive businesses in Europe.
i. According to France’s finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, the new tax would raise 500 million euros (570 million dollars) in 2019.
ii. The unilateral move from France came after the deal for EU wide tax which required the support of all 28 EU states, crumbled earlier this month, with opposition from countries including Ireland, home to the European headquarters of Google and Apple.
iii. While other EU member states such as Britain, Spain and Italy are working on national versions of a digital tax, Asian countries such as Singapore and India are also planning their own schemes.
♦ President: Emmanuel Macron
♦ Capital: Paris
♦ Currency: Euro, CFP Franc
Minimum Support Price for 17 new items of Minor Forest Produce introduced on recommendations of Pricing Cell, TRIFED: Ministry of Tribal Affairs
On December 27, 2018, the Government introduced the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for 17 items of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) items after revising 23 items.
i. These changes have been done under the recommendations of the MFP Pricing Cell constituted by the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd. (TRIFED).
ii. Among the items revised,10 MFP items have been under the scheme from 2013-14 and 13 new items were included w.e.f. 31.10.2016.
iii. Further, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs decided to announce the inclusion of seventeen (17) more MFP items in the scheme along with their MSP.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Santosh Gangwar, MoSL&E, rewarded Rs. One Lakh to Mr. Siddrameshwar Siddharam Humanabade, Food Delivery Boy
On January 1, 2019, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar, awarded Mr. Siddrameshwar Siddharam Humanabade, Food Delivery Boy, with Rs. Rs. 1,00,000/- (Rupees One Lakh).
i. He was awarded for his heroic effort to save 10 people from the fire at the ESIC hospital at Andheri, Mumbai on 17.12.2018.
Dr. Rajan Deshpande received the 12th Shankar Vaidya Shree Award instituted by Dr. P.S. Shankar Pratishtan
On January 1, 2019, a Dharwad-based paediatrician, Dr. Rajan Deshpande, received the Shankar Vaidya Shree Award at the 19th anniversary of the Dr. P.S. Shankar Pratishtan in Kalaburagi, Karnataka.
i. He was honoured for his exemplary work in children’s healthcare for 40 years.
ii. He is the 12th recipient of this award after its inception in 2000.
iii. In this award, he got a cash prize of Rs. 10,000, a medal and a citation.
About Dr. P.S. Shankar Pratishtan:
♦ Headquarters: Kalaburagi, Karnataka.
♦ President: Smt. Ambika Shankar.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Justice T B N Radhakrishnan sworn in as Chief Justice of Telangana HC; Justice Praveen Kumar as the acting Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court
On January 1, 2019, Justice Thottathil Bhaskaran Nair Radhakrishnan was sworn in as the Chief Justice of the Telangana High Court.
i. His oath was administered by Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan.
ii. After that the CJ of Telengana HC administered the oath of office to 12 justices of Telangana High Court.
iii. He had been serving as the Chief Justice of the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for both the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Governor Narasimhan also administered oath to Justice Praveen Kumar as the acting Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court in Vajaywada.
♦ As per the Supreme Court’s directions, the existing high court in Hyderabad was bifurcated as per demands of the advocates and legal fraternity for a separate high court for Telangana.
♦ The High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad had been serving as common high court of the two states since June 2014 when Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated to carve out Telangana.
♦ High Court of Andhra Pradesh was established by December 31, 2018, in state capital of Amaravati.
♦ 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
VK Yadav appointed new chairman of Railway Board after Ashwani Lohani
On January 1, 2019, VK Yadav took charge of the chairmanship of Railway Board.
i. He succeeded Ashwani Lohani.
ii. Prior to this appointment,he was the General Manager of South-Central Railway (SCR).
iii. He is an electrical engineer and belongs to the 1980 batch of the Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers.
iv. He has also served as additional divisional railway manager of Delhi division, divisional railway manager of Lucknow and chief electrical engineer of planning/ traction distribution in Northern Railway.
Ministry of Railways:
♦ Union Minister: Shri. Piyush Goyal.
♦ Minister of State: Shri. Manoj Sinha, Shri. Rajen Gohain.
Axis Bank MD & CEO Shikha Sharma retires, Amitabh Chaudhry takes charge
On 31st December 2018, private sector lender Axis Bank Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shikha Sharma retired from the services of the bank and Amitabh Chaudhry will be the new MD and CEO of the Axis bank from 1st January 2019.
i. In April 2018, Shikha Sharma requested the bank board to reduce her new term which was started from June 2018 to 7 months from a three-year tenure without citing any reasons.
ii. 54 years old, an Indian Institute of Management -Ahmedabad alumnus, Amitabh Chaudhry who is the former MD and CEO of HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company was appointed the MD & CEO of Axis Bank for the period of 3 years.
About Axis Bank
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ MD & CEO: Amitabh Chaudhry
♦ Tagline: Badhti Ka naam Zindagi
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
AI tool found to hide data in image to ‘cheat’ on next task
As per the Research of Stanford and Google, A Machine learning Agent, CycleGAN which works on Artificial Intelligence tasked with transforming Aerial images into map was hiding information in order to cheat later.
i. CycleGAN, a neutral network that learns to transform images was working well till it was found that the agent didn’t really learn to make the map out of image but it learned to subtly encode the features from one into the noise patterns of the other.
ii. This is not a case of machine getting smarter but it is a case in which when a machine is not smart enough to do the difficult job then it learns a way to cheat the humans.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft Historic Flyby of Ultima Thule
On 1st January 2019, the American space agency NASA‘s New Horizons spacecraft performed the farthest flyby in history as it approached the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule.
i. At 6.5 billion km(appr) from Earth, the encounter is the most distant ever exploration of a Solar System body. The cosmic rendezvous occurred so far from Earth that it took more than 6 hours for a signal from New Horizons to reach Earth.
ii. Ultima is an object in the Kuiper belt which is a band of frozen material that orbits the Sun more than 2 billion km (1.25bn miles) further out than the Neptune; and 1.5 billion km beyond even the dwarf planet Pluto, which New Horizons visited in 2015.
iii. NASA launched the $700 million nuclear-powered New Horizons spacecraft in January 2006 on a mission originally aimed at Pluto which was very successful as the spacecraft sent the first-ever detailed photos of the dwarf planet.
About National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA):
♦ Headquarters: Washington, D.C., United States
♦ Administrator: Jim Bridenstine
Veteran actor-writer Kader Khan passed away at 81
On January 1, 2019, Veteran actor-writer Kader Khan passed away at 81 in Canada.
i. Making his acting debut in 1973 with Rajesh Khanna’s “Daag”, he has featured in over 300 films. He wrote dialogues for over 250 movies and was also a screenwriter.
ii.In 2013,he won Sahitya Shiromani Award for his work and contributions to Hindi Film industry and Cinema.Khan was recognized twice by the AFMI (American Federation of Muslims from India) for his achievements and service to the Muslim community in India.
iii.He Won Film Fare Awards for the Film Meri Awaaz Suno(1982 for Best Dialogue),Baap Numbri Beta Dus Numbri(1991 for Best Comedian),Angaar(1993 for Best Dialogue).
Defence Research and Development Organisation, DRDO day
On 1st January 2018, the Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) celebrated its establishment day, the DRDO day, throughout its laboratories and facilities in the country.
i. The DRDO has made the country self-reliant in areas of missiles, radars, sonars and torpedoes and many other systems.
ii. The Organisation has been working over the years to develop state of the art weapon system for the country’s armed forces.
iii. On the occasion the DRDO Chairman Dr G Satheesh Reddy announced that the indigenously developed fighter aircraft Light Combat Aircraft Tejas and Airborne Early Warning and Control System are now on final induction after going through all the test.
About Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO):
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ Chairman: Dr G Satheesh Reddy
♦ Parent Agency: Ministry of Defence
♦ Motto: “Strength’s Origin is in Science”