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Current Affairs Today December 19 2017

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We are here for you to provide the important current affairs December 19 2017 which have unique updates of all daily events from all newspapers such as The Hindu, The Economic Times, PIB, Times of India, India Today, Indian Express, Business Standard, all Government official websites. Our complete current affairs helps you to get more marks in Banking, insurance, UPSC, SSC, CLAT, Railway and all other competitive Exams.

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

BJP retains power in Gujarat for the sixth time and also wins in Himachal Pradesh
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won Gujarat legislative assembly elections for the sixth straight time despite a strong challenge from Rahul Gandhi-led Congress.
i. In 182-member Gujarat assembly, BJP won 99 seats. This marks a loss of 16 seats as compared to 2012 elections.Congress won 77 seats in this election, gaining 16 seats as compared to 2012 elections.
ii. BJP also won state assembly election in Himachal Pradesh. In the 68–member Himachal Pradesh State Assembly, BJP won on 44 seats.The incumbent Congress Government only won 21 seats in this election…………………………………….Click here to Read more

Parliament passes amendment to Companies Act 2017
On December 19, 2017, Rajya Sabha passed the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2017 by a voice vote. This bill has already been passed by the Lok Sabha.
Salient Features of Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2017:
i. This bill seeks to introduce major amendments in the Companies Act, 2013.
iiUnion Minister of State for Corporate Affairs, P P Chaudhary has mentioned that the provisions included in this amendment bill would help ensure timely filing of returns by the companies.
iii. Besides, it will also include adequate safeguards in Companies Act to protect the interests of shareholders.
iv. The amendment bill also reinforces the provision under which, companies are directed to spend 2 per cent of their income on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

Assam signs MoU with Isha Foundation to rejuvenate its rivers
On December 16, 2017, Assam State Government and Isha Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for rejuvenation and conservation of rivers.Assam Isha FoundationDetails about Assam Government – Isha Foundation MoU:
i. Isha Foundation is led by spiritual leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. He has initiated nationwide ‘Rally for Rivers’ campaign for revitalising India’s rivers.
ii. Assam is the sixth state to sign the MoU with Isha Foundation for rejuvenation and conservation of rivers.
iii. Earlier, Assam State Government had organised ‘Namami Brahmaputra’ and ‘Namami Barak’ festivals to revitalise these rivers and explore the scope for utilising them as water navigation routes.
Quick Facts about Assam:
♦ Capital – Dispur
♦ Current Chief Minister – Sarbananda Sonowal
♦ Current Governor – Jagdish Mukhi
♦ Important National Park – Kaziranga National Park

Drug controller allows Indian firm to conduct phase 1 trials for Zika vaccine
On December 18, 2017, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Ashwini Kumar Choubey informed Lok Sabha that Drugs Controller General of India has granted permission to an Indian firm to conduct Phase-I clinical trials for a Zika vaccine.
Information about Zika Virus and trials for Zika Vaccine:
i. Permission to conduct Phase-I clinical trials for a Zika vaccine was based on evaluation of application submitted by the Indian firm and consequential consultation with the Experts Committee.
ii. In the application, the Indian firm had presented non-clinical (animal) toxicity data, claiming 100 per cent efficacy in animals.
iii. Zika virus infection is primarily spread by the Aedes egypti mosquito. Infections in pregnant women can cause birth defects (microcephaly) in newborns.
iv. From February 1, 2016 to November 18, 2016, Zika virus infection was declared as Public Health Emergency of International Concern by World Health Organisation (WHO) following an outbreak in Brazil and other Latin American countries.
v. Currently, there are 27 laboratories in India that can test Zika virus.

Kiren Rijiju inaugurates training of trainers programme for Sendai Framework
On December 18, 2017, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, inaugurated the first national-level training of trainers programme for Sendai Framework in New Delhi.
Highlights of training of trainers programme for Sendai Framework:
i. Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), 2015-2030, adopted in March 2015 is an agreement among United Nations Member countries to prevent new and reduce existing disaster risks.
ii. The three-day training programme has been organised to familiarise various Central Government Ministries and Departments on utilisation of Sendai Monitor for developing act ion plans for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
iii. It has been organised by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction-Global Education and Training Institute (UNISDR-GETI).
iv. A similar training programme for State Government officials will also be held in near future.

Centre gives ‘green’ nod for Kaleshwaram project in Telangana
Telangana State Government’s Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme (KLIS) has got environment clearance from Union Ministry of Environment and Forest. However, the clearance came along with certain conditions.
Kaleshwaram projectConditions to be followed while executing KLIS:
i. The executing authorities will have to report micro-climatic change conditions in the project area during construction/post-construction period at regular intervals.
ii. For preparing plans for greenbelt development and reservoir rim treatment, the executing authorities will have to consult state forest department.
iii. Besides, there are other conditions related to disposal of solid waste, compensation for land acquisition and rehabilitation and resettlement.
iv. KLIS is aimed at the development of drought prone, upland and backward areas of Telangana States. The project will provide irrigation facilities on 45000 acres land in Karimnagar district.
v .The environmental clearance for this project was given after conducting public hearings in 15 districts in Telangana and one in Maharashtra.

Losar Festival celebrated in Ladakh
On 19th December 2017, Losar Festival began in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.
Losar Festival:
i. The Losar festival is celebrated to mark the New Year. Celebrations are carried out for 3 to 9 days in different parts of Ladakh.
ii. It is celebrated by making symbolic meals and offerings. House decorations are done with good luck signs.
iii. Prayer flags are hoisted in religious places as a sign of welcoming the New Year. It has become one of the major events for tourists in winter.
Some lakes in Jammu & Kashmir:
♦ Manasbal Lake, Dal Lake, Nageen Lake and Wular Lake

Punjab bans nylon, plastic kite string
On 18th December 2017, the Punjab government announced a complete ban on the manufacturing, sale, production, supply and use of kite string made of nylon, plastic or any other synthetic material.
Nylon, plastic kite string banned in Punjab:
i. The ban also includes any other kite flying thread that is sharp or made of glass, metal or any other material.
ii. Permission is given only for a cotton thread free from any sharp, metallic, glass component, adhesive and thread strengthening material to be used as kite string.
Some festivals of Punjab:
♦ Mela Chiragan – death anniversary of Punjabi Sufi poet and saint Shah Hussain
♦ Rath Yatra Nabha – associated with the god Jagannath
♦ Hola Mohalla – fair held at Anandpur Sahib on the day following Holi

India to host meeting of WTO member countries in February 2018
On 19th December 2017, Suresh Prabhu, Commerce and Industry Minister, announced that India will host a mini-ministerial meeting of 40 WTO (World Trade Organisation) members in February 2018.WTO MeetingMini-ministerial meeting of 40 WTO members in February 2018:
i .The aim of this mini-ministerial meeting is that the WTO should also focus on relevant issues of today’s world. In the meeting support for food security and other issues will be discussed.
ii .India has been bringing up agricultural issues at the WTO. It also opposes the practice of bringing issues to WTO which are not directly linked to trade.
iii .The 11th WTO meet collapsed recently in Buenos Aires. It ended without any ministerial declaration or outcome.
About World Trade Organisation:
♦ Purpose – Regulate international trade
♦ Headquarters – Geneva, Switzerland
♦ Director-General – Roberto Azevedo

Andhra Pradesh, UNESCO to set up gaming hub, special school
Andhra Pradesh Government along with the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) is planning to set up a gaming for e-learning hub.
Gaming for e-learning hub:
i .Anantha Kumar Duraiappah, Director of UNESCO MGIEP said that this hub will be the first of the its kind in India and Asia-Pacific region.
ii. He said that the hub will also be a centre of excellence for children with learning differences. He added that the blueprint of the hub is being developed.
iii. He said that the hub will have links with the universities and institutes like IITs and IIMs. The hub will advise universities on future courses that they have to design.
About UNESCO MGIEP:
♦ UNESCO’s specialist institute on education for peace and sustainable development to promote global citizenship
♦ Director – Dr. Anantha Duraiappah
♦ Launched – 2012

BANKING & FINANCE

Yes Bank, EIB to co-finance $400 mn for clean power projects
YES Bank and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have released a joint statement announcing a co-finance programme of $400-million for renewable power generation in India.
Yes Bank-EIB co-financing for clean power projects:
i .Under this programme, both the entities will co-finance a range of renewable energy projects being built and operated by leading Indian companies and private sector developers.
ii. Yes bank will fund $200 million while another $200 million will be supported by EIB.
iii. Several solar projects in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka have been identified, which shall be supported under Yes Bank – EIB co-finance programme.
iv. YES Bank MD and Chief Executive, Rana Kapoor stated that this programme is in line with Yes Bank’s commitment to finance 5000 megawatt of renewable energy. This commitment was made at the first Re-Invest Summit in 2015.
Quick Facts about Yes Bank:
♦ Founded in – 2004
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Current MD & CEO – Rana Kapoor
♦ Tagline – ‘Experience our Expertise’

AU Small Finance Bank joins hands with Sahaj e-Village for Banking service
AU Small Finance Bank has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Sahaj e-Village for providing its banking service in remote areas of India.SahajInformation about AU Small Finance Bank – Saha e-village MoU:
i. Sahaj e-Village Limited is an entity of SREI Infrastructure Finance Limited (SIFL). It has been working towards bridging the digital divide between urban and rural India under the flagship of National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) of Central Government.
ii. As per the MoU, Saha e-Village will offer AU Small Finance Bank’s services through Business Correspondent Agent (BC) model.
iii. Agents of Sahaj e-Village will gather information, counsel and provide customized products and services to customers in interior locations where AU Small Finance Bank does not have its presence.
Quick Facts about AU Small Finance Bank:
♦ Headquarters – Jaipur
♦ Current MD and CEO – Sanjay Agarwal

BUSINESS

Andhra Pradesh government signs agreements with Alphabet X for Fibergrid project
Andhra Pradesh state government has signed an agreement with Alphabet Inc’s X to bring high speed internet to about 12 million households in the state by March 2019.
Details about Andhra Pradesh State Government’s agreement with Alphabet X:
i. The agreement has been signed between Andhra Pradesh State Fibernet Limited (APSFL) and Alphabet Inc’s X to provide free space optical communication (FSOC) technology to improve digital infrastructure in Andhra Pradesh.
ii. Andhra Pradesh’s Information Technology (IT) Minister Nara Lokesh signed this agreement during his visit to Mountain View, California headquarters of Alphabet.
iii. Fibergrid harnesses the power of information resource and enables qualitative IT, communication (data, voice and video) in cost-effective manner.
iv. Currently, less than 20% of the 53 million people in Andhra Pradesh have access to broadband connectivity.
Quick Facts about Alphabet Inc’s X:
♦ Formerly called – Google X
♦ Founded in – 2010
♦ Headquarters – California, Unite States

Skill Development Ministry and Maruti Suzuki sign MoU to impart skill training
On December 18, 2017, Directorate General of Training (DGT) under Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and automobile manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki India Limited signed a Memorandum of Understanding under Skill India Mission.Maruti SuzukiDetails about Skill Development Ministry – Maruti Suzuki MoU:
i. Under this MoU, Maruti Suzuki will develop specific training modules relevant to the automobile industry, in consultation with DGT.
ii. Maruti Suzuki shall also conduct courses across India at Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), regional training centers and premises of its vendors and dealers.
iii. The courses shall be related to Automotive Service & Repair, Automotive Paint Repair and Automotive Body Repair.
iv. On successful completion of these courses, the trainees will be eligible for employment in Maruti Suzuki or its business partners post screening and fulfilment of selection criteria.
Quick Facts about Maruti Suzuki:
♦ Founded in – 1981
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Current Chairman – R. C. Bhargava

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Shree Saini crowned ‘Miss India USA 2017’
On 17th December 2017, Shree Saini was crowned ‘Miss India USA 2017’ at the pageant held at Royal Alberts Palace in Edison, New Jersey.
Shree Saini – Miss India USA 2017:
i. Shree Saini is a resident of Washington state. She is 21 years old. She is a student at the University of Washington and an anti-bullying activist.
ii. First runner up for this title was Prachi Singh from Connecticut. Second runner-up was Fareena from North Carolina.
iii. Kavita Malhotra Pattani, a cancer surgeon from Florida was named Mrs India USA 2017Swapna Mannam from New Jersey was declared Miss Teen India USA 2017.
iv. This pageant was started by New York-based Indian Americans Dharmatma Saran and Neelam Saran 36 years ago.Shree SainiSome of the Indian American Nobel Prize recipients:
♦ Har Gobind Khorana – Nobel Prize in Medicine, 1968
♦ Subramanyan Chandrasekhar – Nobel Prize for Physics, 1983

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar retires
On 19th December 2017, Justice Swatanter Kumar, chief of National Green Tribunal (NGT) retired from the post.
Retirement of Justice Swatanter Kumar:
i. Justice Swatanter Kumar was appointed the NGT chairperson on December 20, 2012. New NGT chief has not yet been appointed.
ii. In his term as NGT chief he has passed several critical judgments like directions for Ganga rejuvenation, the ban on 10-year-old diesel and 15-year-old petrol cars etc.
About National Green Tribunal (NGT):
♦ Established – 2010
♦ Principal bench – New Delhi
♦ Zonal benches – Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai
♦ Circuit benches – Shimla, Shillong, Jodhpur and Kochi

Apple appoints Michel Coulomb to lead India operations
Apple has appointed Michel Coulomb as the head of sales for its operations in India.Michel ColombMichel Coulomb – Head of sales for Apple’s India operations:
i. Michel Coulomb replaces Sanjay Kaul as Apple’s head of sales for India. Sanjay Kaul had resigned from the position.
ii. Michel Coulomb has held various positions in Apple since 2003. His recent designation was Managing Director (South Asia).
iii. He is a French national. He has also headed Apple’s operations in Middle East, Tukey and Africa.
About Apple Inc.:
♦ Headquarters – California, U.S.
♦ Chairman – Arthur D. Levinson
♦ CEO – Tim Cook

AQUISITIONS & MERGERS

Bharti Airtel signs agreement to buy Millicom’s operations in Rwanda
Telecom operator, Bharti Airtel has entered into an agreement with international telecom company, Millicom International Cellular for acquiring 100% stake in its subsidiary Tigo Rwanda Limited
i .Stake in Tigo Rwanda Limited is to be acquired by Airtel Rwanda Ltd.
ii. Approximate valuation of this transaction will be Tigo’s 6x earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) multiple, payable over two years.
iii. Owing to this acquisition, Airtel Rwanda Ltd. will become No.2 telecom operator in Rwanda’s telecom market.
iv .In recent years, Airtel has been strengthening its hold on African telecom market by resorting to in-country acquisitions. Earlier it acquired assets in Uganda, Congo, Kenya and Ghana.
Quick Facts about Bharti Airtel:
♦ Founded in – 1995
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Current Chairman – Sunil Mittal

Ola acquires Foodpanda India
Ola has acquired online food delivery firm Foodpanda India from Delivery Hero AG in an all-stock deal.Ola Food pondaOla acquires Foodpanda:
i. As per the deal, Foodpanda’s India business will be transferred to Ola in exchange for Ola’s stock. Details of the transaction were not revealed. Ola would invest $200 million in Foodpanda India’s operations.
ii. Saurabh Kochhar, who was the CEO of Foodpanda India left recently. Pranay Jivrajka, a founding partner at Ola has been named the interim CEO of Foodpanda India.
About Ola Cabs:
♦ Founded – 2010
♦ CEO – Bhavish Aggarwal
♦ Headquarters – Bangalore, Karnataka

ENVIRONMENT

ZSI for first time compiles list of 157 alien invasive animal species
For the first time, Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has compiled a list of 157 alien invasive animal species which pose a threat to biodiversity and human well-being.
ZSI List of Invasive Animal Species:
i. Alien species become ‘invasive’ when they deliberately or accidentally venture outside their natural areas. In the new areas, such species out-compete the native species and eventually upset the ecological balance.
ii. Announcement about the compilation was made on the sidelines of the National Conference on the Status of Invasive Alien Species in India. This conference was organised by the ZSI and the Botanical Survey of India (BSI)
iii. Out of the 157 alien invasive species identified, 99 are found in marine ecosystem while 58 are found on land and in freshwater habitats.
Quick Facts about Zoological Survey of India (ZSI):
♦ Formed in – 1916
♦ Headquarters – Kolkata
♦ Parent Organisation – Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change

SPORTS

Russian bobsledder Alexey Voevoda banned for life from Olympics
On 18th December 2017, International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced a life ban for Russia’s Alexey Voevoda from the Olympics for anti-doping violations in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Life ban for Alexey Voevoda from Olympics:
i. Alexey Voevoda had won 2 gold medals in the two-man and four-man bobsled events at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
ii. These titles were cancelled recently after IOC disciplinary commission disqualified Alexey Voevoda’s teammate Alexander Zubkov, as he was found guilty of anti-doping violations.
iii. Russia has been banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang for manipulation of the anti-doping system. Only Russian athletes with a clean history of non-doping are allowed to participate.
About Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS):
♦ Established – 1984
♦ Location – Lausanne, Switzerland
♦ Authorized by – International Olympic Committee

Indian junior boxers win 6 gold medals at the 5th International Sven Lange Memorial Tournament in Germany
Indian junior boxers won 6 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze medal and finished as overall champions at the fifth International Sven Lange Memorial Tournament, Schwerin, Germany.Junior boxing championshipIndian junior boxers at International Sven Lange Memorial Tournament:
i. Gold medallists:

Weight Winners
52kg Bhavesh Kattamani
63kg Vijeydeep
60kg Akshay
70kg Ish Pannu
80kg Lakshay Chahar
75kg Vinit


ii. Silver Medallists: Anil (48kg), Swapnil Shinde (50kg), Aman (54kg) and Satender.
iii. Bronze Medallist: Aakash (66kg).
iv. The Indian team won the ‘Best Team’ of the tournament award. Also, Bhavesh Kattamani (52kg) who won a gold medal, was awarded the ‘best boxer trophy’.
About Women’s International Boxing Association:
♦ Founder – Ryan Wissow, Luis Bello-Diaz
♦ Purpose – Boxing sanctioning organization
♦ Headquarters – Cooper City, Florida

IMPORTANT DAYS

56th Goa Liberation Day – 19th December
On 19th December 2017, 56th Goa Liberation Day was celebrated in Goa.
56th Goa Liberation Day:
i. Goa Liberation Day marks the day on which Goa was released from Portuguese dominance with assistance from the Indian Navy in 1961.
ii. On this day a torch light procession is carried out from three different locations of Goa. They finally meet at the Azad Maidan. They pay tribute to martyrs at the Azad Maidan.
About Portuguese Colonial rule in India:
♦ Started – 1510
♦ Ended – 1961
♦ Portuguese colonies – Goa, Daman, Diu, Dadra, Nagar Haveli and Anjediva Island