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Overview of Prime Minister of Italy Mr. Giuseppe Conte’s 1-day visit to India
i. The highlight of the visit was the Italian prime minister’s participation at the 24th edition of the India-Italy Technology Summit was held in New Delhi.
ii. Following are the important discussions that took place
- India-Italy to re-iterate Political cooperation
- India, Italy to fast-track trade, two-way investments
- India, Italy to set up institutional framework to enhance economic Cooperation
- India-Italy to build Centres of Excellence around cultural heritage, research
- India-Italy to enhance Technology Partnership
- India-Italy to strengthen Global Partnership
- India, Italy resolve to expand defence, trade ties………………………Click here to Read more
Indian Railways announced elimination of all 3479 Unmanned Level Crossings (UMLCs) on Broad Gauge
On November 2, 2018, Indian Railways announced elimination of all Unmanned Level Crossings (UMLCs) on Broad Gauge.
i. There were 3479 Unmanned Level Crossings on Broad Gauge routes of which, 3402 UMLCs have been eliminated in last 7 months.
ii. 77 UMLCs have also been planned to be eliminated by December 2018.
iii. All Unmanned level crossings on routes having speed more than 130KMPH and on Sub-urban routes have been eliminated.
iv. 12 Zonal Railways have been freed from UMLC on Broad Gauge route.
v. Accordingly, accidents at UMLCs have reduced from 65 in 2009-10 to 3 in 2018-19.
Ministry of Railways:
♦ Union Minister: Shri. Piyush Goyal.
♦ Minister of State: Shri. Manoj Sinha, Shri. Rajen Gohain.
♦ Chairman of Railway Board: Ashwani Lohani.
78th Annual Conference of the Indian Society of Agricultural Economics held in Delhi
On November 3, 2018, the 3-day 78th annual conference of the Indian Society of Agricultural Economics was held in New Delhi.
i. It was organized by:
- The Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi;
- International Food Policy Research Institute, Delhi; and
- Tata-Cornell Institute,Ithaca, USA.
ii. 3 broad based subjects were discussed. They were:
- 7 Year plan for agriculture-output and bio-waste management,
- Post-harvesting requirements for reducing the gap between what customers pay and farmers receive.
- Social and Community organizations for agricultural development and coping with limited non-renewable resources.
iii. It had 2 special sessions on:
- Doubling Farmers Income and
- Emerging trends in Agriculture.
The Institute of Economic Growth:
♦ Chairman: Mr. Tarun Das.
♦ Director: Prof. Manoj Panda.
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi.
OMCs and CSC SPV signed MOU for collaboration in LPG Services
On November 3, 2018, Oil Marketing Companies (IOCL, HPCL & BPCL) and CSC e-Governance Services India Limited signed an MOU for collaboration in LPG services.
This will be done under Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana (PMUY).
i. The MOU was signed in presence of:
- Minister of Law & Justice and Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad,and
- Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship. Shri Dharmendra Pradhan,
ii. The MOU consists of the following:
- Booking new LPG connection (Ujjwala & General category)
- Booking of LPG refills (14.2 Kg cylinders)
- Supply & distribution of LPG cylinders (storage up to 100 Kgs,) through CSCs.
iii. Common Services Centre will help the beneficiaries in the following ways:
- To provide the beneficiaries the above OMCs service near to their home, accessing through Digital Seva Portal.
- It will help beneficiary to a new gas connection request, refilling request and delivery of Gas Cylinder and scan/upload her KYC documents for verification of his/her identity for new booking connection.
i. Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas announced appointment of 1 Ujjawala Didi for every 5 villages whose prime responsibility is to support and give service to Ujjawala Beneficiaries.
ii. CSCs will conduct session in 100 LPG Panchayats where one hour training and demo will be given to Ujjawala beneficiaries on safety mode of using gas cylinders and on Refill option.
iii. Village Level Entrepreneurs will be given incentives for delivery of services.
iv. CSCs will work at the grass root level and provide Ujjawala connections and this is expected to rise to involve over 1 lakh CSCs in upcoming 2-3 months.
Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana (PMUY):
♦ Launched: May 1st, 2016 in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh.
♦ Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims to safeguard the health of women & children by providing them with a clean cooking fuel – LPG, so that they don’t have to compromise their health in smoky kitchens or wander in unsafe areas collecting firewood.
♦ Under this scheme, 5 Cr LPG connections will be provided to BPL families with a support of Rs.1600 per connection in 3 years.
♦ The connections will be issued in the name of women of the households to empower women.
♦ Rs. 8000 Cr. has been allocated towards the implementation of the scheme.
♦ Identification of the BPL families will be done through Socio Economic Caste Census Data.
♦ Achievement: Under Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana (PMUY), release of 5.75 Crore Ujjawala connections has been successful in just two and half years.
Overview of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s 4-day visit to Qatar, Kuwait
On October 28, 2018, External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj reached Doha, the capital of Qatar to start her 2 day visit.
- She visited the state of Qatar at the invitation of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
- A booklet titled ‘Welcome to Qatar’, prepared by the Embassy for Indians coming to Qatar for employment, was released by EAM at the event.
On October 30, 2018, External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj reached Kuwait, the ‘Land of the Pearls’ to start her 2-day visit to the country.
- She visited the state of Kuwait at the invitation of Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H.E. Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
- She also paid floral tributes to the statue of Gandhiji at the Indian Embassy in Kuwait…………………….Click here to Read more
18th Indian Ocean Rim Association Council of Ministers Meeting held in Durban, South Africa
On November 2, 2018, the 18th Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers Meeting was held in Durban, South Africa.
i. The Theme of the IORA meeting was: “IORA: Uniting the Peoples of Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Middle East through enhanced cooperation for Peace, Stability And Sustainable Development”.
ii. South Africa is the current chairman of the IORA organization.
iii. The Meeting was chaired by Honourable Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Foreign Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, and Chair of the Association.
iv. Declaration on Guidelines for Enhancing Interaction with Dialogue Partners in IORA was adopted.
v. The eThekwini Communique was produced as the final outcome document of the 18th COM.
vi. Launch of a special initiative entitled the “IORA Nelson Mandela ‘Be the Legacy’ internship programme” was done to empower the youth and pay tribute to Nelson Mandela.
vii. Maldives was admitted as the 22ndmember of the Association while Turkey and the Republic of Korea were admitted as the 8th and 9th Dialogue Partners in IORA. This made membership of IORA increase to 22 and the number of Dialogue Partners was increased to 9.
i. The following MOUs were signed:
- Signing of the IORA Charter by the Sultanate of Oman,
- Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by Mozambique,
- MOU on Search and Rescue by Mozambique and Somalia.
i. India was represented by: Gen.(Dr.) VK Singh (Retd.), Minister of State for External Affairs.
ii. In his address, he mentioned the following:
- Formation of Working Groups on maritime safety and security, Blue Economy and Women Economic Empowerment,
- India’s support to IORA activities, from renewable energy and the blue economy to maritime safety and security,
- India’s completion of twelve of the 13 announced initiatives, of the recent 2nd IORA Renewable Energy Ministerial Meeting,
- The flagship project of the establishment of an “IORA Centre of Excellence- the Digital Knowledge Hub” to act as a data center and collect knowledge, resources, expertise by and for the IORA Member States.
Other Important News:
i. South Africa will hand over Chairmanship of IORA to UAE in 2019 and Bangladesh will assume the Vice-Chairmanship of IORA.
ii. This took place during the on-going celebrations of the 150th year of the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the 100th birth anniversary of Nelson Mandela and the birth centenary of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the United Arab Emirates.
♦ Full Form: Indian Ocean Rim Association.
♦ Headquarters: Mauritius.
♦ Established: 7 March 1997.
♦ Secretary-General: Dr. Nomvuyo N. Nokwe.
Singapore is Asia’s most sustainable city: Arcadis
Singapore has maintained its rank as number one Asian city in the Sustainability Index by engineering firm Arcadis.
i. The Sustainability Index assessed cities based on 3 pillars: profit pillar, people pillar and planet pillar.
ii. Singapore secured fourth place in global rankings. As per the study, Singapore ranked first for the profit pillar that assesses the business environment and economic performance of cities.
iii. Singapore ranked 31st out of 100 cities, for the people pillar that tests social mobility and quality of opportunity and life.
iv. Singapore secured 41st spot for the planet pillar that assesses the management of energy use, pollution and emissions.
v. As per the study, Singapore is one of the world’s most active Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) testing environments.
♦ Capital – Singapore
♦ Currency – Singapore dollar
♦ Official languages – English, Malay, Mandarin, Tamil
♦ President – Halimah Yacob
♦ Prime Minister – Lee Hsien Loong
India ranked 12th globally in web-borne threats: Kaspersky Lab
India has ranked 12th in the world in terms of web-borne threats, according to a recent report by global cybersecurity company, Kaspersky Lab.
i. In the 3rd quarter (July- September), 32.8 % of users were attacked by web-borne threats in India.
ii. Kaspersky Lab products detected 48,093,743 Internet-borne malware incidents on computers of KSN participants in India.
iii. Regarding vulnerabilities in browsers and their plugins (drive-by download), infection happened when visiting an infected website, without any intervention from user and without their knowledge.
iv. This is the most used method by cybercriminals for these kind of attacks.
v. During July-September 2018, Kaspersky Lab products detected 68,405,291 local malware incidents on computers of KSN participants in India.
vi. Overall, 56.1 % of users in India were attacked by local threats during this period, placing India at 53rd sport globally.
About Kaspersky Lab:
♦ CEO – Eugene Kaspersky
♦ Headquarters – Moscow, Russia
Changsha Declaration for agricultural and rural development
On 3rd November 2018, over 20 countries committed to the Changsha Declaration at the end of a forum on international development cooperation in Changsha, China.
i. 26 countries and 11 international organisations including Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organisation (WHO) signed the Changsha Declaration.
ii. The Changsha Declaration focuses on agricultural and rural development. It aims to eliminate poverty and hunger.
iii. It aims to enhance the efforts towards South-South Cooperation, an initiative for eliminating hunger and malnutrition through mutual sharing and exchange of good practices, resources, and know-how between countries of the global south.
iv. At the forum, Director-General for FAO Jose Graziano da Silva announced plans to set up an International Centre of Excellence for Agriculture Innovation and Rural Development in Beijing, China.
v. The centre will offer training in agriculture innovation and promote investment in rural areas to reach the first 2030 Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger.
About Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO):
♦ Director-General – Jose Graziano da Silva
♦ Headquarters – Rome, Italy
BANKING & FINANCE
Banks allowed to invest in NBFC bonds to support raising money: RBI
On November 4, 2018, RBI allowed banks to support bonds sold by non-banking finance/housing companies.
i. According to the permit, it allowed banks to provide partial credit enhancement (PCE) to bonds issued by the systemically important non-deposittaking non-banking financial companies (NBFC-ND-SIs) registered with the Reserve Bank of India and Housing Finance Companies (HFCs)registered with National Housing Bank.
ii. This shall be done by maintaining the exposure limit of the bank within the aggregate PCE exposure limit of 20 percent.
iii. Additionally, the exposure of a bank should be restricted to 1 percent of its capital funds or net worth for a single borrower.
iv. This move will help for affordable housing finance and lower rated retail NBFCs by easing fund-raising by the NBFCs from the debt market. This will also remove the fear of defaults.
v. The bonds by the NBFCs shall have maturities not less than 3 years.
vi. The bank-backed-proceeds from the bonds should only be utilized for refinancing the existing debt of NBFCs or HFCs.
Commercial paper worth Rs 1 lakh crore will mature in November 2018 as shown by an estimate by a mutual fund house.
♦ Founded: 1st April 1935.
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai.
♦ 24th Governor: Dr. Urjit Patel.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Dinkar Asthana appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Lao People’s Democratic Republic
On 1st November 2018, Dinkar Asthana was appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
i. Dinkar Asthana is an Indian Foreign Service Officer (IFS) of the 1990 batch. Currently, he is Additional Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs.
ii. He has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Lao People’s Democratic Republic. He replaces Mr. Ravi Shankar Aisola. He will take up this assignment soon.
About Lao People’s Democratic Republic or Laos:
♦ Capital – Vientiane
♦ Currency – Kip
♦ Official language – Lao
♦ President – Bounnhang Vorachith
♦ Prime Minister – Thongloun Sisoulith
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Offshore patrol vessel ICGS Varaha launched from a corporate shipyard near Chennai
Indian Coast Guard has launched a new offshore patrol vessel named ICGS Varaha from a corporate shipyard near Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
i. ICGS Varaha has been designed and built indigenously. This is the 3rd vessel in a series of 7 similar ships to be handed over to the Coast Guard.
ii. All the vessels would be delivered by March 2021. ICGS Varaha will be soon equipped with advanced navigation and communication equipment, sensors and machineries.
iii. The weapons will include a 30 mm gun with Fire Control Systems. It will be able to carry a twin-engine helicopter and 4 high-speed boats for Search and Rescue and Maritime Patrol.
iv. It also has pollution response equipment to hold the oil spill at sea.
About Indian Coast Guard:
♦ Director General – Rajendra Singh
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
Simone Biles sets record by picking up 13th world championship gold medal
On 2nd november 2018, Simone Biles became the first ever gymnast to win 13 world championship gold medals, by winning her 13th gold medal at the world gymnastics championships in Doha, Qatar.
i. Simone Biles has surpassed the previous all-time record of 12 world championship gold medals by Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo, made in 1996.
ii. She won her 13th career gold medal in the individual vault competition. She won a total of the 3 gold medals and 1 silver medal, in the championship at Doha.
iii. She won gold in the team and all-around events. She won silver medal in the uneven bars event.
iv. She is 21 years old and hails from America. She has become the first American gymnast to win a world championship medal on all four events. Now she has 18 world championship medals overall.
Ambati Rayudu retires from first-class cricket
Ambati Rayudu has retired from the long-form of cricket, including the Ranji Trophy, to focus on limited-overs cricket.
i. Ambati Rayudu is 33 years old. He will continue to play international and domestic matches of the shorter version.
ii. He has played first class cricket for 17 years. He made his debut when he was 16 years old. He has scored 6,151 runs in 97 matches and has scored 16 hundreds.
iii. He played his first ODI (One Day International) match in 2013.