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PM inaugurated 12 projects worth over Rs. 1500 crore on his a day visit to Imphal, Manipur
On January 4, 2019, On the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi’s one day visit to Imphal, Manipur, he inaugurated 12 projects worth over Rs. 1500 crore.
i. Addressing a public gathering, he inaugurated 12 projects consisting of eight key development projects related to water supply and tourism and four schemes in Manipur. These include:
- An Integrated Check Post at Moreh, Imphal, at a cost of over Rs. 125 crore, that will facilitate custom clearance, foreign currency exchange, immigration clearance etc,
- The Dolaithabi Barrage Project which completed at a total cost of Rs. 500 crore,
- the FCI Food Storage Godown at Sawombung that had begun in December 2016,
- He dedicated to the nation the 400 kV Double Circuit Silchar-Imphal Line that was made at a cost of Rs. 700 crore.
- A buffer water reservoir at Ukhrul was mentioned which would be helping the citizens till 2035,
- He inaugurated improved and upgraded water supply for Churachandpur zone which will help the citizens till 2031,
- Eco-tourism complex at Thangapat in Kangpokpi district,
- Integrated tourist destination in Noney district and
- The water supply scheme at JNV, Lambui and its surrounding villages
- Infrastructure development of Dhanamanjuri University in Imphal West district,
- Flood lighting of hockey stadium and the main stadium at the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex in Imphal East district and
- AstroTurf laying in Langjing Achouba of Imphal West district.
ii. He acknowledged the better road rail and air connectivity that is being provided to the North East, with the overall vision of “Transformation through Transportation.”
iii. He also acknowledged Manipur’s contribution in Swachh Bharat, sanitation, and development of the aspirational district of Chandel.
iv. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also addressed Vijay Samkalp Samavesh at Silchar in Southern Assam. This was his first visit to Barak Valley as Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister has travelled to the North-East 30 times in the last 4.5 years.
♦ Chief Minister: Shri. N Biren Singh.
♦ Governor: Dr. Najma A. Heptulla.
♦ National Parks: Keibul Lamjao National Park, Sirohi National Park.
♦ Wildlife Sanctuary: Jiri-Makru Wildlife Sanctuary, Bunning Wildlife Sanctuary, Yangoupokpi-Lokchao Wildlife Sanctuary.
Govt launches Green-Ag, GEF-assisted project, in partnership with FAO
The Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Shri Parshottam Rupala informed that the Government had launched a Global Environment Facility (GEF) assisted project namely, “Green – Ag: Transforming Indian Agriculture for global environment benefits and the conservation of critical biodiversity and forest landscapes” in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) during September, 2018.
i. The project was launched in high-conservation-value landscapes of five States namely (i) Madhya Pradesh: Chambal Landscape, (ii) Mizoram: Dampa Landscape, (iii) Odisha: Similipal Landscape, (iv)Rajasthan: Desert National Park Landscape and v) Uttarakhand: Corbett-Rajaji Landscape.
ii. The project aim is to mainstream biodiversity, climate change and sustainable land management objectives and practices into Indian agriculture.
iii. Besides this it is also supposed to catalyse transformative change of India’s agricultural sector to support achievement of national and global environmental benefits and conservation of critical biodiversity and forest landscapes.
iv. The project will be funded through 33.5 million dollar grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) implemented by the government of India and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
About Global Environment Facility (GEF):
♦ Established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems, the GEF unites 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.
♦ CEO and Chairperson GEF: Naoko Ishii
♦ Head office: Washington, United States of America
About Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare:
♦ Union Minister: Shri Radha Mohan Singh
♦ Minister of State: Shri Parshottam Rupala, Smt. Krishna Raj, Shri. Gajendra S.S
Parliament passes NCTE amendment Bill
On 3rd January 2019, the Parliament following the approval from the Rajya-Sabha passed a National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill(NCTE), 2018 to provide retrospective recognition to central and state government funded institutions offering B.Ed and related courses that are not recognized under the NCTE Act.
i. The NCTE (Amendment) Bill which will be a one-time measure would help over 17,000 students who have obtained B.Ed degrees from those institutions which do not have NCTE approval for the course under the 1993 law.
ii. 23 state and central universities and colleges offering B.Ed courses were found not recognised by the Council.
iii. The government would ensure that the quality of institutes offering B.Ed courses is maintained and proposes to start integrated course in B.ED as in Law and other courses from 2020.
iv. Lok Sabha has already passed this bill on July 23, 2018.
About National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) Act, 1993:
The NCTE Act, 1993 came into force on 1 July 1995 and is applicable throughout the country, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The NCTE plans and co-ordinates the development of the teacher education system throughout the country and ensure maintenance of norms and standards in the teacher education system.
About Ministry of Human Resource Development:
♦ Minister: Prakash Javadekar
♦ Minister of State: Dr. Satya Pal Singh, Shri Upendra Kushwaha
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
Parliament passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill
On 3rd January 2019, the Parliament passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2018 that seeks to do away with the no-detention policy in schools.
i. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, was moved in the Rajya-Sabha by Union minister for Human Resources Development Prakash Javadekar and was passed by a voice vote. It is already passed by the Lower House (Lok-Sabha) on July 18 2018.
ii. Under current provisions of the Section 16 of the Act, no student can be detained up to class 8th but as per the amendment, it would be left to the States to decide whether to continue the no-detention policy. 25 states have favoured abolishing the no-detention policy.
iii. The bill provides for regular examination in classes V and VIII.
iv. The MHRD Minister assured that no child will be excluded from school in case he or she fails and such children will be provided two-month remedial teaching to perform better in another examination to be conducted by their schools. If the students still do not pass the exam, the state government may decide to detain them.
About Right to Education (RTE) Act:
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act) provides for free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years.
About Ministry of Human Resource Development:
♦ Minister: Prakash Javadekar
♦ Minister of State: Dr. Satya Pal Singh, Shri Upendra Kushwaha
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
Parliamentary Panel Report on Western Ghats
On 31st December, 2018 the Parliamentary panel, which keeps track of assurances given by ministers, presented its latest report on Western Ghats on the floor of the Rajya Sabha.
Area of interest of the Panel:
The panel examined issues regarding the categorisation of the Western Ghats as Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) as per the recommendations of two committees led by Madhav Gadgil and K. Kasturirangan.
Key Findings of the Panel:
i. The ecologically sensitive areas (ESA) which is stretched in about 56,000 square kilometres of the Western Ghats could not be earmarked as ‘no-go’ zones due to State governments’ ‘insensitivity’ though three draft notifications had been issued over four years for earmarking ESA.
ii. The recent monsoon floods in Kerala and parts of Karnataka should serve as alarm bells for the administrations in the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, which have failed to mark ESA in the Western Ghats.
iii. The polluting activities and large-scale deforestation, mining, and construction are continuing unabated in the ESA, hurting the ecology of the Western Ghats.
iv. Insensitivity towards ecology of Western Ghats was making the six States of Western Ghats vulnerable to floods and landslides
v. The implementation of the recommendations of the Kasturirangan report is only possible with active support of local population and also requires consultation with the State government at micro level to achieve the objectives of saving the Western Ghats.
vi. The committee recommended that the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change should constitute a Committee to address the issues and grievances of local people.
About Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change:
♦ Minister: Dr. Harsh Vardhan
♦ Minister of State: Dr. Mahesh Sharma
6 monuments declared of national importance in 2018 by ASI: Ministry of Culture
On December 31, 2018, the Ministry of Culture announced that Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) declared 6 monuments as ‘protected and of national importance’ under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, in 2018.
i. These sites are:
- 125-year-old Old High Court Building in Nagpur, Maharashtra,
- 2 Mughal era monuments in Agra- Haveli of Agha Khan and Hathi Khana,
- The Neemrana Baori in Alwar district of Rajasthan,
- The Group of Temples in Ranipur Jharail in Bolangir district of Odisha,
- The Vishnu Temple in Kotali, Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand.
ii. After this the total number of centrally protected sites or monuments under ASI are 3693.
iii. Among that, Uttar Pradesh has 745 sites, Karnataka has 506 and Tamil Nadu has 413 sites, marking them as the states having the highest number of ASI-maintained sites.
iv. In 2016, 2017, no new monuments were included in the list, the last of the included monument/site was done in 2015 which was- Vishnu Temple in Kerala’s Wayanad district.
Under the Act, any monument or site that was erected and has been in existence for 100 years is dubbed as Ancient.
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi.
♦ Founded: 1861.
♦ Under Ministry of Culture.
♦ Director General: Smt. Usha Sharma.
Andhra tops ACI’s Ease of Doing Business index
In the latest ranking of Singapore’s Asia Competitiveness Institute’s (ACI), Ease of Doing Business (EDB) index 2018, Andhra Pradesh emerged on top of the 21 states of India that were considered for the ranking,While Maharashtra and Delhi came in second and third place, respectively.
i. Andhra Pradesh rose from the 5th rank in 2016 to the top spot in 2018.
ii. The ACI’s EDB index is based upon three parameters called ABC -Attractiveness to Investors, Business Friendliness and Competitiveness Policies.The index captured the business environment at the sub-national level on the basis of 72 hard and soft indicators.
iii. The Ease of Doing Business (EDB) list is compiled by a team of researchers led by Tan Khee Giap, who is the co-director of Asia competitiveness institute (ACI), and associate professor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.
iv. Suggestions regarding areas where improvement was needed in the state of Andhra Pradesh include bridging numerous institutional and infrastructural gaps in order to sustain its position in the future and improvement in sub environments such as facilitating business operations, infrastructure resilience and market potential.
About Andhra Pradesh:
♦ Chief Minister: N. Chandrababu Naidu
♦ Governor: E. S. L. Narasimhan
♦ Capital: Amaravati
♦ Capital: Singapore city
♦ Currency: Singapore dollar
♦ President: Halimah Yacob
♦ Prime Minister: Lee Hsien Loong
11 projects to revive mythical Saraswati river approved by Haryana government
On January 2, 2019, 11 projects were approved to revive the mythical Saraswati River at the meeting of Haryana Saraswati Heritage Development Board (HSHDB) headed by Haryana Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
i.The approved projects include:
- The construction of Somb Saraswati barrage,
- Developing storage capacity of Saraswati reservoir to 1475-hectare metersat village Rampur Herian, Rampur Kambian and Chillaur in Haryana
- Adi Badri dam on Somb river, a tributary of the Yamuna that originates in the Shivalik Hills, in district Yamunanagar,
- Grant-in-aid of Rs 50 lakh annually for carrying out research activities at the Centre of Excellence at Kurukshetra University.
- Construction of waste water treatment plants for recycling of all waste water falling into Saraswati river,
- Construction of RCC divide wall at Saraswati Tirath at Saraswati Nagar.
- Construction of Saraswati Ghat at village Bhaini and Mangna in district Kurukshetra,
- Construction of bridges on river Saraswati at village Ishargarh and Beer Pipli near Pratapgarh in district Kurukshetra,
- Linking of Saraswati river heritage research institute with centre of excellence for research on Saraswati river established at Kurukshetra University.
ii. The construction of Somb Saraswati barrage and Saraswati reservoir would enable the storage of 1,000 hectare metres of water.
iii. The board also approved construction of bridges at different locations and a Saraswati ghat and interlinking of the Markanda River with that of Saraswati, through the Kainthla supply channel.
iv. He also launched a mobile App developed by the Haryana Saraswati Heritage Development Board.
v. He also approved the logo of the Saraswati Heritage Development Board.
♦ Chief Minister: Shri. Manohar Lal.
♦ Governor: Shri. Satyadeo Narain Arya.
BANKING & FINANCE
Cyber frauds in Indian banking sector hiked over 50% in FY18; it is one-third of the overall amount of frauds in India: RBI
On December 28, 2018, according to the Reserve Bank of India’s Report on Trend and Progress of Banking in India 2017-18, India witnessed a jump of 159 per cent to almost Rs.110 crore, from Rs.42.3 crore in 2017-18.
i. The volume of cyber fraud at banks has doubled in a year.
ii. A total of 2,059 cases of cyber fraud were reported in 2017-18 amounting to Rs 109.6 crore.
iii. A total of 5,917 bank frauds were reported in 2017-18 and nearly one-third of these were cyber frauds.
iv. As a measure, the RBI plans to set up a compliance and tracking system portal to tackle the proliferation of cyber fraud and seeks to establish a better redressal mechanism for consumers.
v. This would address cybersecurity complaints from all regulated entities including Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs) and mobile banking interfaces.
vi. The process of redressal mechanism will be directed under the Internal Ombudsman Scheme of 2018.
i. Deposit frauds declined 49 per cent to ₹457 crore (₹903 crore).
ii. Foreign exchange transaction frauds were down 35 per cent to ₹1,426 crore (₹2,201 crore).
iii. In 2017-18, frauds related to off-balance sheet operations, foreign exchange transactions, deposit accounts, and cyber activity took centre stage.
iv. Overall a whopping 72 per cent year-on-year jump was witnessed in frauds in FY18,
Internal Ombudsman Scheme of 2018:
♦ In May 2015, RBI advised all public-sector and select private and foreign banks to appoint Internal Ombudsman (IO) as an independent authority to review complaints that were partially or wholly rejected by the respective banks.
♦ RBI made it mandatory for lenders with more than 10 branches to have an independent authority.
♦ The IO got its statutory powers under Section 35 A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 in the form of ‘Internal Ombudsman Scheme, 2018’.
♦ The Scheme covers, inter-alia, appointment / tenure, roles and responsibilities, procedural guidelines and oversight mechanism for the IO.
ICICI Bank, Small Business FinCredit joined hands to provide loans worth Rs. 1 crore to MSMEs for 15-year tenure
On January 4, 2019, ICICI Bank, in a first-of-its-kind programme, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Small Business FinCredit India Pvt. Ltd. (SBFC), a systemically important Non-Banking Finance Company for entrepreneurs, to jointly provide credit worth up to Rs 1 crore to MSMEs for a tenure of 15 years.
i. This MOU was signed under RBI’s circular dated September 21, 2018, that permits banks to engage with a non-banking financial company (NBFC) to co-originate loans for the creation of priority sector assets.
ii. Under this arrangement, ICICI Bank will co-originate loan against property with SBFC at a mutually agreed ratio.
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai.
♦ MD& CEO: Mr. Sandeep Bakshi.
♦ Chairman: Mr. Girish Chandra Chaturvedi.
♦ Tagline: Hum Hain Na!
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
SEBI allows custodial services in commodity market, paves way for MF entry
On 1st January 2019, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the market regulator has allowed custodial services in the commodity derivatives market enabling participation of institutional investors, including mutual funds, in the segment.
i. The new framework will allow the existing custodians to add commodities as an asset class and provide physical delivery of both the securities and commodities.
ii. Currently, the regulation on custodian of securities allows safekeeping of securities, gold or gold related instruments, title deeds of real estate and services incidental but doesn’t allows protection of goods, which are underlying assets of commodity derivatives.
iii. Under the new rules, the responsibility of custodians will not be limited to holding of securities but would also include holding of goods.
iv. The new regulations will enable participation of institutional investors such as mutual funds and portfolio managers in commodity derivatives market.
About Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI):
♦ Chairman: Ajay Tyagi
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Founded: 12 April 1992 through the SEBI Act, 1992
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
India’s Arunima Sinha becomes first female amputee to climb the highest peak of Antarctica – Mt Vinson
30 years old former National level Volleyball player turned mountaineer, Arunima Sinha became the world’s first female amputee to climb Mount Vinson, the highest peak of Antarctica.
i. The Padma Shree Awardee, Arunima Sinha became the first woman amputee to climb Mount Everest in 2013.
ii. She is from Uttar Pradesh and had lost one of her legs in a horrific incident in which she was thrown off the Padmawati Express train in 2011.
iii. Arunima Sinha’s aim is to summit seven peaks across seven continents. She had already scaled five peaks which are Mt Everest, Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Ebrus. Mt Kosciuszko and Mt Aconcagua.
Prof.Manoj Das, an eminent English and Odia Litterateur, received the Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja National Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature
On 3rd January 2019, Manoj Das, an eminent English and Odia Litterateur received the “Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja National Award for Lifetime Achievement” in literature during 53rd Foundation day ceremony organized by the Berhampur University, Odisha.
i. Noted Folk dance Guru Nabaghana Parida was awarded with Dakshin Odisha Loksanakruti Samman during the ceremony.
ii. Manoj Sinha has been already honoured with Sahitya Akademi Award, Orissa Sahitya Akademi award, Sarala Award, Sahitya Bharati Award and Padma Shri.
♦ Governor: Ganeshi Lal
♦ Chief Minister: Naveen Patnaik
♦ Capital: Bhubaneswar
♦ National Park: Similipal National Park, Bhitarkanika National Park
15-year old Wahengbam Lamnganba Singh from Manipur, selected by Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) for receiving National Bravery Award
On January 3, 2019, 15-year-old class IXth student, Wahengbam Lamnganba Singh, of Kumbi area in Manipur, has been selected by the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) for receiving National Bravery Award.
He will be honoured because he had saved his two and half year’s old cousin from drowning in a pond, on May 16, 2018.
i. He would receive the award from Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi.
ii. The National Bravery Awards are given under the aegis of the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) on every Republic Day.
iii. These awards are broadly classified into five categories, including the Bharat Award, Sanjay Chopra Award, Geeta Chopra Award, Bapu Gaidhani Award and the General National Bravery Awards.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Justice Asif Khosa appointed new Chief Justice of Pakistan succeeding the outgoing Justice Saqib Nisar
On January 2, 2019, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, the senior most judge of the Supreme Court, was appointed as the new Chief Justice of Pakistan.
i. He will succeed incumbent Chief Justice Saqib Nisar who will be retiring from service on January 17, 2019.
ii. Justice Khosa, 64, has been a senior Justice of the Supreme Court since December 2016.
iii. He has also served as an advocate in the Lahore High Court and Supreme Court.
♦ Capital: Islamabad.
♦ Currency: Pakistani rupee.
PayU India CEO Amrish Rau joined parent company Naspers as head of financial technology
On January 4, 2019, PayU India’s CEO Amrish Rau joined as the head of financial technology partnerships and investments for Naspers’ fintech business. Nasper is South African parent of PayU.
i. Rau will continue to report to Laurent le Moal the chief executive of PayU, which is headquartered in the Netherlands.
ii. He joined PayU after Citrus Pay was acquired by PayU in 2016 for $130 million in cash.
♦ Headquarters: Netherlands.
♦ Headquarters: Gurgaon, Haryana.
Rishabh Pant 1st ever Indian wicketkeeper to slam Test ton in Australia
On 4th January 2019, India’s wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant became the first Indian wicketkeeper batsman to score a century in Test against Australia on Australian soil after hitting 159 runs on the 2nd day of 4th Test Match at Sydney, Australia.
i. Rishabh pant broke Farokh Engineer’s record of highest Test runs against Australia on Australian soil. Farokh Engineer scored 89 runs in 1967.
ii. Rishabh Pant also became the only Indian wicket keeper who has two test centuries outside Asia.
Pujara faces 1258 balls in Australia series, breaks Dravid’s record
30 years old Indian Batsman, Cheteshwar Pujara has faced 1258 balls in the ongoing test series so far against Australia to become the batsman who had faced highest deliveries in a test series in Australia beating India’s Former Captain, Rahul Dravid’s record of 1203 balls.
He achieved the feat by scoring 193 runs of 373 deliveries on the 2nd day of 4th Test Match against Australia in Sydney.
World Braille Day celebrated on January 4
On 4th January 2019, United Nations observed the first official World Braille Day remembering the birth anniversary of Louis Braille who was the inventor of Braille for the people with visual disabilities.
i. World Braille day is observed annually on 4th January to raise awareness on the importance of Braille for approximately 1.3 billion people living with some form of distance or near vision impairment.
ii. Louis Braille was born on 4th January 1809 in France and he lost his vision at the age of 3.
iii. On the occasion of World Braille Day, half part of evening bulletin of All India Radio – Ahmedabad was read by a Visually challenged primary school teacher, Mr. Krishnabhai Thakar.
About United Nations
♦ Headquarters: New York, USA
♦ Secretary General: Antonio Guterres