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Current Affairs January 23 2019

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Government constitutes NITI Aayog-led Committee to monitor pricing of drugs
On 21st January 2019, the government has formed a standing committee under NITI Aayog to monitoring the prices of specific drugs and health products which could put an end card to the price fixing power of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), a drug pricing regulator.
Key Points:
i. Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers has issued a notification states that Standing Committee on Affordable Medicines and Health Products (SCAMHP) will be headed by a NITI Aayog member (Health) and it will act as recommending body to National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) about price control of drugs .
ii.The previous mechanism was the health ministry prepares the list of drugs eligible for price regulation. The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP)then incorporates NLEM into Schedule 1 of the Drugs Prices Control Order (DPCO). Following this, NPPA fixes the prices of drugs in this schedule.
iii. The committee will also include the chief economic adviser, besides secretary, department of health research, director-general of health services, vice-chairperson, National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) and joint secretary, department of industrial policy and promotion.
About Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers:
♦ Minister: D.V. Sadananda Gowda
♦ Minister of State: Rao Inderjit Singh
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi

Commerce Ministry invites suggestions on Baba Kalyani Group report on SEZ Policy
On 18th January 2019, Shri Baba Kalyani, Chairman & MD, M/s. Bharat Forge Ltd  led a committee which constituted by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to study the existing Special Economical Zone(SEZ) policy of India submitted its report to Union Minister for Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu in New Delhi.
Key Points:
i. The reports of the committee were made public on 22nd January and government is seeking suggestions or comments on the recommendations of the committee till 30th January 2019.
i. Objectives of the Baba Kalyani led committee was constituted in June 2018 to evaluate the SEZ policy and make it World Trade Organization (WTO) compatible, suggest measures to maximize utilization of vacant land in SEZs.
ii. The report says that if India is going to become a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025 then the current environment of manufacturing competitiveness and services has to undergo a basic paradigm shift.
iii. It says that Government has to set a target of creating 100 million jobs and achieving 25% of GDP from the manufacturing sector by 2022 as part of its flagship ‘ Make in India’ programme.

Nitin Gadkari inaugurated first inter-state bridge over Ravi River in J&K
On January 22, 2019,Nitin Gadkari inaugurated first inter-state 1210-meter span-bridge over Ravi River in Keerian Gandial in Kathua district,jammu and kashmir.

Nitin Gadkari to inaugurate first inter-state bridge in J&KThings to be Noted:
i.It was built at a cost of Rs 158.84 crore in a span of three and a half years linking areas of Katthua district with Punjab.
ii.The bridge also called as Keediyan-Gandiyal bridge will benefit over 2,20,000 people living on the two sides – Kathua in Jammu, and Pathankot in Punjab. It will reduce the distance between the two cities from 45 kms to 8.6 kms.
Important facts about Jammu and Kashmir:
♦ Capital:Srinagar (Summer), Jammu (Winter)
♦ Districts 22
♦ Chief Minister:Vacant(presidential rule)
♦ Governor:Satya Pal Malik

Three day 4th India Steel 2019 Exhibition and Conference inaugurated in Mumbai
On 22nd January 2019,Three day 4th International Exhibition & Conference on Steel Industry, India Steel 2019 Exhibition and Conference was organised by Ministry of Steel in association with Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) at NSE Complex Goregaon, Mumbai.It will conclude on 24th January 2019.

India Steel 2019 Exhibition and ConferenceKey Points:
i. The theme of the event is “Balancing Steel Demand & Supply Dynamics: Building a New India”.
ii. The three-day event provided an opportunity for all the stakeholders to deliberate and identify ways to contribute towards building a robust roadmap for the further growth of the steel sector.
iii. The biennial event will see over 250 exhibiting companies from 15 countries, over 200 International buyers and more than 10 thousand business visitors both from India and abroad.
iv. Reverse Buyer Seller Meet (RBSM) is also planned during India Steel Expo 2019 where more than 300 Foreign Buyers from Africa, CIS, Middle East, Developing Asia including SAARC and other important regions will be invited and hosted by the FICCI.
v. The India Steel-2019 is part of series of initiatives to develop a globally competitive steel industry in line with National Steel Policy (NSP)-2107 which envisages production of 300 million tonnes of steels by 2030-31.
vi. India has become the second largest producer of crude steel during 2018. Besides the country is also the largest producer of sponge iron in the world and the 3rd largest steel consumer in the world after China and USA.
About Ministry of Steel:
♦ Minister: Chaudhary Birender Singh
♦ Minister of State: Vishnu Deo Sai
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
About Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI):
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ President: Sandip Somany
♦ Secretary General: Dilip Chenoy 

Assam Govt to give 10% quota to economically weaker sections in general category
On 21st January 2019, Assam Cabinet headed by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has approved 10 per cent quota for the economically weaker sections of the general category in government employment and government education institutes.
Key Points:
i. The cabinet also approved the guidelines for disbursement of Rs.5,000 each to five lakh farmers of the state under the Mukhya Mantri Krishi Sa Sajuli Yozana for purchase of farm tools and implements.
ii. In another decision the Cabinet approved a loan amount of Rs.95 crore under Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) from NABARD, in-order to construct and strengthen embankments, dykes and other infrastructure across the state.
iii. Furthermore the cabinet also approved incentives for government doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers under Ayushman Bharat & Atal Amrit Abhiyan.
iv. The Assam Cabinet decided that, 20 per cent of the total amount for government hospitals implementing these schemes has been earmarked for the purpose of incentivizing Government Health workforce.
About Assam:
♦ Chief Minister: Sarbananda Sonowal
♦ Governor: Jagdish Mukhi
♦ Capital: Dispur
♦ National Parks (NP): Dibru-Saikhowa NP, Kaziranga NP, Manas NP, Nameri NP, Rajiv Gandhi Orang NP

Arunachal govt declares Pakke Paga Hornbill Festival as ‘state festival’
On 20th January 2019, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Pema Khandu declared Pakke Paga Hornbill Festival (PPHF) as the “State Festival” during a valedictory ceremony of the fourth edition of the festival at Seijosa in East Kameng district, Arunachal Pradesh.
Key Points
i. Pakke Paga Hornbill Festival (PPHF) is only conservation festival of Arunachal Pradesh.
ii. Pema Khandu announced that Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department will fund the festival from next year and permanent infrastructure will be constructed for the festival ground.
iii. In the PPHF festival is celebrated for the first time in 2015 to recognize the role played by the resident Nyishi tribe in conserving hornbills in the Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR).
iv. The festival also provides an alternate source of income to the native people of the region who mainly relies on hunting and logging.
About Arunachal Pradesh
♦ Capital: Itanagar
♦ Governor: B.D. Mishra
♦ Chief Minister: Pema Khandu

Three day Flamingo festival was celebrated in Pulicat Lake,Andhra Pradesh
Three day Flamingo Festival,held in Pulicat Lake and Nellapattu in Sullurpet mandal, Andhra Pradesh.

Flamingo festival in Andhra Pradeshi. Flamingo Festival is a 12-year-long tradition of the region. The highlight of this fest is the sight of colourful migratory birds from Siberia that visit the region for nesting and breeding.
ii. The three-day-long event was inaugurated by Agriculture Minister Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy and Municipal Administration Minister P Narayana

Delhi HC approved to release Movie ’72 Hours – Martyr Who Never Died’
On 20th January 2019, The Delhi High Court gave it nod to release the movie ’72 Hours – Martyr Who Never died’,which is based on the life of the 1962 Sino-Indian
war hero Rifleman Jaswant Sing Rawat who was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for gallantry during 1962 war.
Key Points
i. Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat was a Sino-Indian war hero who was serving as an Indian army soldier in Garhwal Rifles.
ii. He was serving the 4th battalion during the battle of Nuranang of the Nort- East Frontier Agency in the war of 1962, and now it’s in Arunachal Pradesh.
iii. He was honored by building a memorial by the Chinese people’s Liberation army and it was named as Jaswant Garh.

Andra pradesh government decided to give quota to the kapus community
On January 22, 2019, Andhra Pradesh government decided to give only five per cent reservation to the economically weaker sections (EWS) under the Centre’s 10 per cent quota, setting aside the rest to the upper caste Kapus in its capital city Amaravati.
Important fact:
i.The cabinet also approved the decision of doubling welfare pensions given under the NTR Bharosa Scheme. Pensions of Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500 will now be doubled to Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000 respectively.
ii. The cabinet also decided to provide exemption of life tax for autos and quarterly tax for tractors and motor vehicle tax arrears.
iii. To provide reservation to this community ,Naidu formed a committee under Justice Manjunath in 2016,but didn’t get approval from Modi government.
iv.The cabinet has decided to provide aid for 1,26,097 houses built without approval since June 2014. Beneficiaries will be given Rs 60,000 each, including Rs 15,000 for building a toilet at their home. This will cost Rs 756 crores to the exchequer.
v.The cabinet further approved the proposal of providing Rs 10,000 to houses constructed during 1996-2004 in urban areas. Andhra Pradesh Housing Board (APHB) will be given Rs 20 crores for 20,000 units as one time grant.
vi.Medical insurance scheme for handloom labour will be reintroduced with Rs 10 crores budget. Each family will be provided insurance worth Rs 20,000. Insurance companies will be called through e-tenders.
vii.The cabinet decided to allot Rs 50 crores for construction of Samata Sphoorti Vanam.
About Andra Pradesh:
♦ Chief minister: N. Chandrababu Naidu
♦ Governor: E. S. L. Narasimhan
♦ Districts: 13
♦ Capital:Amaravati
♦ Andhra Pradesh got its separate high court in the year 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

India signed 11 MoUs worth $9.5 million with Afghanistan
India has signed 11 Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with Afghanistan for 26 projects worth 9.5 million dollars in the field of infrastructure, public services such as health clinics and governance-related projects.
Key Points:
i. The MoUs signed will involve the construction of classrooms, orphanages, health clinics, canal protection walls and enhancing economic opportunities for women.
ii. The projects will be developed in seven provinces of Afghanistan- Balkh, Ghor, Herat, Kabul, Bamyan, Badghis and Kapisa.
iii. It will help local communities in education, employment and livelihood generation and capacity building.
iv. These projects which are part of 577 community-based Small Development Projects (SDP) are being funded by India from 2005-2021 and worth $120 million.
v. Since 2001, India has undertaken projects worth over $2 billion in Afghanistan.
About Afghanistan:
♦ Capital: Kabul
♦ Currency: Afghan Afghani
♦ President: Ashraf Ghani

India among the most trusted nations globally:2019 Edelman Trust Barometer report
On 21st January 2019, the Edelman which is an independent global communications firm released its 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer report which placed India at the second place in the informed public category and third place in the general population category in the Trust Index.
Key Points:
i. The report ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meet noted that the Global Trust Index witnessed a marginal increase of 3 points to 52.
ii. China topped the Trust Index among both the informed public and the general population segments with scores of 79 and 88 respectively.
iii. The Index calculated the average per cent of trust in NGOs, business, government and media on the basis of an online survey in 27 markets covering over 33,000 respondents from October to November last year.
iv.  The companies headquartered in Switzerland (70 per cent), Germany (70 per cent), Canada (70 per cent) and Japan (69 percent) were found to be the most trusted.
v. Whereas the companies headquartered in India (40 per cent), Mexico (36 per cent) and Brazil (40 per cent) were found to be the least trusted, followed by companies in China and South Korea.

Facebook to Set Up Institute for AI Ethics with Initial Investment of $7.5 Million
On 20th January 2019, Social media giant Facebook announced that it will create an independent Institute for Ethics in Artificial intelligence (AI) with an initial investment of $7.5 million over a period of five years.
Key Points
i. Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany will collaborate with this project which aims to explore fundamental issues affecting the use and impact of AI.
ii. Initial funding will be provided by Facebook but the the institute will look for other funding opportunities for additional partners and agencies in the coming years.
iii. The Institute will address issues that affecting the use and impact of AI such as Safety, Privacy, Fairness and transparency.
About Facebook
♦ Headquarters: California, US
♦ Co-founder, Chairman and CEO: Mark Zuckerberg
♦ Facebook India Head: Ajith Mohan

BANKING & FINANCE

IBBI organised Insolvency and Bankruptcy Awareness Programme at Vadodara, Gujarat
On January 19, 2019,The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India(IBBI) organised an Insolvency and Bankruptcy Awareness Programme at Vadodara, Gujarat.It is organised in collaboration with three Insolvency Professional Agencies, namely, the Indian Institute of Insolvency Professionals of ICAI (lead partner), the ICSI Institute of Insolvency Professionals, and the Insolvency Professional Agency of Institute of Cost Accountants of India.
Important point about Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India(IBBI):
♦ Chairperson:M S Sahoo
♦ Headquaters:New Delhi

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

India up one place on global talent competitiveness ranking at 80th: INSEAD 
On 21st January 2019, INSEAD business school in partnership with Tata Communications and Adecco Group released the 6th edition of Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI) 2019 which stated that India has moved up one position to rank 80th on the Global Talent Competitive Index 2019 ranking.

 Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI) 2019 Key Points:
i. The report, suggested that India’s biggest challenge is to improve its ability to attract and retain talent and there is a need to address its poor level of Internal Openness in particular with respect to weak gender equality and low tolerances towards minorities and immigrants and its disappointing showing in lifestyle indicators.
ii. The top 5 countries in the index included Switzerland followed by Singapore, the US, Norway and Denmark.
iii. At 45th position in overall ranking, China emerged as the best performer among the BRICS countries.
iv.  The survey measures how countries and cities grow, attract and retain talent, ranking 125 countries and 114 cities across all groups of income and levels of development.
v. The top-ranked city this year is Washington, DC, followed by Copenhagen, Oslo, Vienna and Zurich.
vi. The ranking was released on the first day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
About Switzerland:
♦ Capital: Bern
♦ Currency: Swiss Franc
♦ President: Ueli Maurer

Omega Healthcare inks MoU with IIIT-Bangalore
On January 21, 2019,Omega Healthcare Management Services signed a pact with IIIT-Bangalore for advanced use of latest technology in providing healthcare solutions.
i. This  MoU was signed  to build industry-grade AI engines that can be embedded as part of Omega’s business solutions to solve healthcare business challenges
ii. The pact also enhanced research programmes in artificial intelligence (AI) and Data Science, aimed to focus on specific business-related processes.

States’ fiscal deficit to breach target, may go up to 3.2% in FY20: India Ratings
According to a report released by India Rating, India’s fiscal deficit may go up to 3.2 per cent in Financial Year 2020 due to populist schemes like farm loan waivers and other financial support schemes which may be announced before the forthcoming general elections.
Key Points
i. Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are most susceptible to see an increase in debt in Financial Year 2020.
ii. States’ revenue account may clock an aggregate deficit of 0.5 per cent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in FY20 due to higher growth in revenue spending than revenue receipt.
iii. Earlier a fiscal deficit of 2.8 per cent was forecasted by India Ratings in FY19 mid-year forecast.
iv. The Announcement of Farm loan waivers by Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Assam & Rajasthan and Financial assistance schemes for marginal farmer by Odisha, Jharkhand and Telangana contributed significantly to the increased fiscal deficit forecast.

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Vice President of India M. Venkaiah Naidu Presents Chhatra Viswakarma and Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) Awards
On 21st January 2019, the Vice president of India Shri M Venkaiah Naidu presented the 2nd Chhatra Viswakarma Award to Students and their mentors and Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana Yojana (SAGY) awards to institution at an event organized by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) at New Delhi.
The theme of 2nd Chhatra Viswakarma Award was ‘Empowerment of villages through technologies’ whereas the theme of Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana was “Developed Village – Developed Nations”.
Key Points
i. The Chhatra Viswakarma Award were given to encourage the young students to come up with novel ideas in order to improve the life of people in villages.
ii. The list of first prize winners under 2nd Chhatra Viswakarma Award is as follows:

Category Winner
Educational skill initiative and startups Gokaraju Rangaraju Institute of Engineering and Technology, Telangana
Any other rural appropriate technologies Army Institute of Technology,
Maharashtra
Rural Craft and Livelihood, Rural infrastructure, tourism Shri Venkateshwara College of Engineering, Andhra Pradesh
Agriculture and food Sri Krishna College of Technology, Tamil Nadu
Water and irrigation Aditya Engineering College, Andhra Pradesh
Sanitation & Solid Liquid Waste Management Kalasalingam Academy of Research and Education, Tamil Nadu


iii. Under Sansad Adarsh GramYojana, College of Technology and Engineering Udaipur, Rajasthan got the first prize.
Iv. Sethi Sahib Memorial Polytechnic College, Tirur, Kerala got the 2nd prize and Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology,Thanjavur,Tamil Nadu got the third prize.

Kohli first player to win all three top ICC awards in single year-ICC Awards 2018
On 22nd January 2019, 30-year-old Indian Cricket Team Captain, Virat Kohli became the first player to bag all top three ICC Awards in a single year. He won the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for ICC Cricketer of the Year, the ICC Men’s Test Player of the Year and the ICC Men’s ODI Player of the year for his performance in 2018.

Virat Kohli became the first player to bag all top three ICC Awards in a single year

i. He scored 1322 runs in Tests, 1202 runs in 14 ODIs and 211 runs in T20Is in calendar year 2018. He scored a total of 2735 runs with 11 centuries in 2018.
ii. South African Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada was runner up for ICC Cricketer of the Year in 2018.
iii. Virat Kohli finished 2018 as the Number one batsman in Tests and ODIs.
iv. Virat Kohli became second cricket after Australian Fast bowler Mitchel Johnson to bag ICC Cricketer of the year award for the second time. Virat Kohli was honoured with ICC Cricketer of the year in 2017 also.
Rishabh Pant named ICC Emerging Player of the Year
On 22nd January 2019, 21-year Old Wicketkeeper batsman, Rishabh Pant was named the “International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Emerging Player of the year” for his brilliant performance in Test Cricket in 2018.
Key Points
i. Rishabh Pant scored 537 runs including a century and two fifties in Tests in 2018. He also claimed 40 catches and two stumpings in 2018.
ii. Rishabh Pant became the first Indian Wicket-keeper to score a century in Australia after his unbeaten 159 runs knock in fourth Test Match against Australia.
Winners of ICC Award 2018:
♦ Kane Williamson(New Zealand) was awarded with Spirit of Cricket Award.
♦ Aaron Finch(Australia) was awarded with Men’s T20I Performance of the Year.
♦ Calum Macleod(Scotland) awarded with Associate Cricketer of the Year.

TN bull taming event enters world record
On January 20, 2019,Jallikattu’ as a symbol of the valour and courage of the Tamil people.A grand “jallikattu” (bull-taming) event held in Pudukottai and this event entered the world record for the maximum number of bulls released into the sport arena .

TN bull taming event enters world recordThis event had the participation of 1,354 bulls and 424 tamers.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Maharashtra armed with triple-drug therapy to fight elephantiasis
On January 21, 2019,Maharashtra in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended triple-drug therapy for lymphatic filariasis to speed up elimination of the disease in Nagpur.
Key points:
i. Actor Swapnil Joshi is assigned as brand ambassador for this project.
ii. This disease is transmitted through mosquitoes. The infection is usually acquired in childhood, causing hidden damage to the lymphatic system.
Important facts about Maharashtra
♦ Capital:Mumbai
♦ Governor:C. Vidyasagar Rao
♦ Chief Minister:Devendra Fadnavis
♦ Number of districts: 36

ENVIRONMENT

Small Woodbrown butterfly rediscovered in Sikkim after 120 years
On January 16, 2019,butterfly researchers of Sikkim rediscovered the Small Woodbrown butterfly species from Bakhim in Khanchendzonga National Park after a span of 120 long years.The Small Woodbrown butterfly was first discovered in Sikkim in 1887 by a scientist named de Nicéville.

Small Woodbrown butterfly rediscovered in Sikkim after 120 yearsi. The Small Woodbrown butterfly, scientifically known as Lethe nicetella is named after its brown-coloured wings patched with white round spots.
ii. It is amongst the smallest members of the genus Lethe, with wings that are up to 50 millimeters long.

Two new species of moss rose discovered in south India
on January 16, 2019,The southern penninsular region of India is a biodiversity hotspot,The two new species were discovered from Badami hills in Bagalkot district of Karnataka by botanists from the Shivaji University in Kolhapur, Maharashtra.
The species have been named Portulaca badamica and Portulaca lakshminarasimhaniana.

SPORTS

ICC announces men’s Test and ODI Teams of the Year
On 22nd January 2019, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced the Men’s Test and ODI teams of the year with Virat Kohli as the Captain of both teams following his brilliant performance in 2018 as a Batsman as well as a Captain.
Key Points
i. The Test team of the year is as follows: Virat Kohli (India), Rishabh Pant (India), Jasprit Bumrah (India), Kane Williamson (New Zealand), Henry Nicholls (New Zealand), Tom Latham (New Zealand), Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka), Jason Holder ( West Indies), Kagiso Rabada (South Africa), Nathon Lyon (Australia) and Mohammad Abbas (Pakistan).
ii. The ODI Team of the year is as follows: Virat Kohli (India), Rohit Sharma (India), Kuldeep Yadav (India), Jasprit Bumrah (India), Joe Root (England), Jonny Bairstow (England), Jos Buttler (England), Ben Stokes (England), Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh), Ross Taylor (New Zealand) and Rashid Khan (Afghanistan).
iii. Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah are included in both ODI and well as Test team of the year.

OBITUARY

Former India hockey player Raghbir Bhola passes away in NewDelhi
On January 22, 2019, Former India hockey player Raghbir Singh Bhola,has passed away at the age of 92 in Newdelhi.
He represented India in the 1956 Melbourne and 1960 Rome Olympics, winning a gold and silver medal.In 2000, he was honoured with the Arjuna Award for his achievements in hockey.

BOOKS & AUTHORS

Vice President of India launched the book ‘Universal Brotherhood Through Yoga”
On January 21, 2019,Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu launched the book ‘Universal Brotherhood Through Yoga’ in New Delhi.

TN bull taming event enters world recordThe book is compiled by Bharatiya Sanskrit Pitham