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Current Affairs Today December 20 2017

We are here for you to provide the important current affairs December 20 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

NITI Aayog proposes scheme for saving jobs from automation
NITI Aayog Vice Chairman, Rajiv Kumar has stated that Central Government should consider setting up a labour utilisation fund in order to handle the challenge of growing redundancy of low-skilled labour in India with increase of automation and advent of artificial intelligence.
Suggestions for Labour Utilisation Fund:
i. The fund should be used for improving skills of workforce and increase its cost competitiveness. This will encourage businesses to hire more such human resource.
ii. This should be done by imparting relevant training. Besides, the fund can also be utilised for paying provident fund contribution and for covering the health costs of low-skilled workforce.
iii. NITI Aayog has suggested that Government should focus on employment generation in labour-intensive sectors like construction, housing, exports, garments, tourism and education.
Quick Facts about NITI Aayog:
♦ Formed in – January 2015
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Ex-Officio Chairman – Prime Minister of India

Govt approves setting up of 42 Mega Food Parks
Central Government has sanctioned 42 Mega Food Parks (MFPs) to be set up across India under Mega Food Park Scheme.Mega Food parkSalient Features of Mega Food Park Scheme:
i. Objective of the Mega Food Park scheme, administered by Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries, is to provide a mechanism for linking agricultural production to the market by bringing together farmers, food processors and retailers.
ii. Besides, it also aims to reduce post-harvest losses of horticulture & non-horticulture produce and providing remunerative price to farmers for their produce.
iii .Under this scheme, Union Ministry of Food processing provides financial assistance in the form of grant-in-aid in the range of 35-50% (depending on area) for storage and transport infrastructure and 50-75% for value addition and processing infrastructure.
iv. Currently, 9 MFPs are functional. Out of 42 MFPs that have been sanctioned, 36 have been accorded Final Approval and another 2 have been accorded In-Principle Approval.

Lok Sabha passes the Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017
On December 19, 2017, Lok Sabha passed the Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which seeks to amend the Central Road Fund Act, 2000.
Salient Features of Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017:
i. Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017 seeks to amend Central Road Fund Act, 2000, which contains provision for distributing  cess levied and collected on high speed petrol and diesel for development of national highways, rural roads, railways, state roads and border area roads.
ii. It has been proposed in the amendment bill that two and a half per cent of the Central Road Fund should be allocated to accelerate the development and maintenance of national waterways. It has also proposed that allocation for national highways should be reduced by two and a half per cent.
iii .Owing to this move, Rs. 2300 crore will be available for development and maintenance of national waterways.
iv. Rationale cited behind this move is that National Waterways are cost effective and environment friendly mode of transport, whose development will help in decongesting the traffic on national highways.

Parliament gives nod to IIM Bill, 2017
On December 19, 2017, Rajya Sabha unanimously passed Indian Institutes of Management (IIM)Bill, 2017 which provides greater functional autonomy to Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and confers powers to grant degrees instead of post-graduate diplomas. Lok Sabha had passed this bill in July 2017.
Salient Features of IIM Bill, 2017:
i. Through this Bill, 20 IIMs have been given the status of institutions of national importance, thereby recognising its role as a pivotal player in developing highly skilled personnel.
ii. Earlier, fellowships of the IIMs were not regarded as doctoral degrees (PhDs). With the passage of this bill, students will be able to acquire PhDs from the IIMs.
iii. As per the provisions laid out in  IIM Bill, 2017, Central Government will not be involved in appointment of the chairpersons and directors to the Boards of IIMs.

Indian Railways plans to make all stations 100% LED lit by March 31, 2018
In a bid to cut power consumption, the Indian Railways has laid out plan to make all stations 100 per cent LED lit by March 31, 2018.LED by March 2018Overview of Railway’s Plan to make all stations 100% LED lit:
i. LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs are more energy efficient and have a longer lifespan as compared to traditional lamps.
ii. Till November 2017, about 3500 railway stations have already been made 100 per cent LED lit. About 20 lakh LED lights were installed in this process.
iii. This initiative is expected to reduce energy consumption by 10 per cent and will translate into annual savings of Rs 180 crore for Indian Railways.
iv. Zonal Railways have been directed to provide LED light fittings in staff’s residential quarters as well.
v. Till October 2017, nearly 20 lakh LED lights have been distributed among railway staff under government’s Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP) Scheme.

Southern Command Conducts “Hamesha Vijayee” Exercise in Rajasthan
Indian Army’s Southern Command is conducting an exercise called ‘Hamesha Vijayee’ in Jaisalmer-Barmer deserts of Rajasthan from 16th – 22nd December, 2017.
About ‘Hamesha Vijayee’ Exercise:
i. This exercise is being conducted with an objective to evaluate the capability and preparedness of Indian armed forces to carry out strikes deep into enemy territory in an integrated air-land battle.
ii. Under this exercise, Indian army troops, equipped with tanks and other armoured vehicles will conduct operational manoeuvres to validate their battle plans.
iii. The exercise also includes testing of robust sensor to shooter grids and a range of surveillance and air assets networked with land centres.
iv. Union Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman and Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat will witness the exercise on 21st and 22nd December, 2017.

Uttar Pradesh scraps free pilgrimage scheme for elderly Hindus
Uttar Pradesh State Government, under Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath has scrapped ‘Shravan Yatra’, a scheme under which elderly citizens could undertake pilgrimage free of cost.
Details about ‘Shrava Yatra’ Scheme:
i. Shravan Yatra was started in 2015 by the Samajwadi Party government under Akhilesh Yadav.
ii. The scheme was named after a mythological character named Shravan Kumar, who had carried his blind parents on his shoulders for a pilgrimage.
iii. Under this scheme, entire boarding and lodging expenses for the pilgrimage undertaken by senior citizens residing in the state was borne by the state government.
iv. Uttar Pradesh Minister for Religious Affairs Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary, stated that the scheme was being discontinued in public interest and there is no plan to revive it.
Quick Facts about Uttar Pradesh:
♦ Capital – Lucknow
♦ Current Chief Minister –  Yogi Adityanath
♦ Current Governor – Ram Naik
♦ Important National Park – Dudhwa National Park

India-U.S. Counter-Terrorism Designations Dialogue held in New Delhi
On 18th and 19th December 2017, the inaugural India-U.S. Counter-Terrorism Designations Dialogue was held in New Delhi.
India-U.S. Counter-Terrorism Designations Dialogue:
i. In the inaugural India-U.S. Counter-Terrorism Designations Dialogue increasing bilateral cooperation on terrorism-related designations was discussed.
ii. Information regarding procedures for pursuing designations against terrorist groups and individuals, through domestic and international mechanisms were exchanged.
iii .Best practices for effective implementation of the designations were also discussed. The second India-U.S. Designations Dialogue will be hosted by United States in 2018.
About Anti-Terrorism Squad (India):
♦ Role – Internal special forces, internal intelligence and hostage rescue
♦ Founded – 1990

Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC PM) holds its third meeting in New Delhi
On 20th December 2017, the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) held its 3rd meeting in New Delhi.EAC PM3rd meeting of EAC PM in New Delhi:
i. The 3rd meeting of EAC PM was held under the chairmanship of Dr Bibek Debroy, Chairman of EAC-PM & Member of NITI Aayog.
ii. Dr Ramesh Chand, Member of NITI Aayog made a presentation on “Strategic options for enhancing agricultural productivity, income and pro-employment growth in Agriculture and Allied Sectors”.
iii. Kishore Desai, OSD (Officer on Special Duty) in the EAC-PM has made a presentation on trade related issues.  Dr Rathin Roy and Dr Surjit Bhalla, Part Time Members of EAC PM made a presentation on update on Economy Track Monitor.
About NITI Aayog:
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Chairman – Narendra Modi
♦ Vice Chairman – Rajiv Kumar
♦ Director – Dinesh Arora

Centre focused on improving purchasing power of farming households: Arun Jaitley
On 16th December 2017, Arun Jaitley, Union Finance Minsiter, stated that the Central Government was committed to improve the purchasing power of farming community.
Centre committed to improve purchasing power of farming community:
i .Arun Jaitley said that, the Central Government had been assisting agricultural activities in India through low-cost credit, crop insurance, rural connectivity and sanitation programmes for rural India.
ii .Arun Jaitley made this statement while he was addressing an international forum on “Role of Rural and Agricultural Finance to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals”.
iii .The forum was organised by NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) and Asia Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA).
About NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development):
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
♦ Established – 1982
♦ Purpose – specialised bank for Agriculture and Rural Development in India

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

India, Sri Lanka completes 2nd phase of joint oceanographic survey
On 19th December 2017, the Indian and Sri Lankan navies completed the 2nd phase of the joint oceanographic survey conducted off the South Western Coast of Sri Lanka.oceanographic surveySecond phase of the joint oceanographic survey:
i. On 19th December 2017, sheet containing soundings from the survey was handed over to the Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy, Vice Admiral Sirimevan Ranasinghe by the Commanding Officer of INS Sutlej, Captain Tribhuvan Singh.
ii. The 2nd phase of the Joint Oceanographic Survey started on 26 October 2017. Indian Naval Ship (INS) Sutlej went to Sri Lanka for this survey.
iii .The joint oceanographic survey’s aim was to update all the navigational charts covering the south Sri Lankan waters with the latest hydrographic data.
iv. The 3rd phase of the joint oceanographic survey has been scheduled for 2018 from Great Basses to Sangamankanda in Sri Lanka.
About Sri Lankan Navy:
♦ Chief of Staff – Rear Admiral Neil Rosayro
♦ Naval Headquarters – SLNS Parakrama, Colombo

France passes law to ban all oil and gas production by 2040
On December 19, 2017, France’s parliament approved a law banning all exploration and production of oil and natural gas by 2040.
Salient Features of France’s law to ban all oil and gas production by 2040:
i. This law will be applicable not only within France but also in its overseas territories.
ii. Besides, French Government has also decided that no new exploration licenses will be granted and existing drilling permits will not be renewed.
iii. French authorities have claimed that this ban is aimed to reduce usage of fossil fuels and to fulfill its commitments under Paris climate agreement to curb global warming.
iv. However, this ban seems to be only symbolic as 99% of France’s oil and gas consumption is imported and only 1% is produced within the country.
Quick Facts about France:
♦ Capital – Paris
♦ Currency – Euro
♦ Current President – Emmanuel Macron
♦ Important River – Seine

BANKING & FINANCE

Government infused Rs. 52000 Crore Capital in PSBs under Indradhanush Plan
Central Government has so far infused capital of Rs. 51858 crore in public sector banks (PSBs) under the Indradhanush Plan.
Allocation under Indradhanush Plan:
i. Mission Indradhanush by Indian Government is an attempt to resolve issues faced by Public Sector banks and make them capable to compete with Private Sector banks.
ii .During the FY 2016-17, amount of Rs. 22915 was allocated to 13 PSBs. 75% of this amount was infused upfront while the remaining amount was infused on basis of banks’ individual performance.
iii. As per the broad plan, Government of India will infuse total Rs. 70000 crore in PSBs through budgetary allocation spread across financial years, 2015-16 to 2018-19.

India signs financing agreement with World Bank for US 125 Mn for STRIVE Project
On December 19, 2017, Indian Government signed a Financing Agreement for International Development Association, IDA (member of the World Bank Group) credit of USD 125 million for the Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement Operation (STRIVE) Project”.STRIVEMore Details about Financing Agreement for STRIVE Project:
i. On behalf of the Government of India, Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary of Department of Economic Affairs under Union Ministry of Finance signed the agreement, while Mr. Hisham Abdo, Acting Country Director of World Bank (India) signed the agreement on behalf of the World Bank.
ii. Objective of STRIVE project is to improve access to quality and market-driven vocational training.
iii .Improved Performance of Industrial Training Institutes, Improved Teaching and Learning, Increased Capacities of State Governments to Support Industrial Training Institutes and Apprenticeship Training and Improved and Broadened Apprenticeship Training are the result areas outlined in this project.
Quick Facts about World Bank:
♦ Formed in – 1945
♦ Headquarters – Washington D.C., US
♦ Current President – Jim Yong Kim

RBI places prompt corrective action (PCA) on Bank of India after bad loan spike
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has initiated prompt corrective action (PCA) against Bank of India owing to its high non-performing loans, negative return on assets for two consequent years and insufficient capital.
Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) against Bank of India:
i. Banks facing PCA are restricted from carrying out certain banking activities. These include, restrictions on opening branches, recruiting staff and giving increments to employees. In addition to these, Banks facing PCA can offer loans only to selected entities having high investment ratings.
ii. Bank of India is the ninth bank to face PCA in last ten months.
iii. Other eight banks include Oriental Bank of Commerce, Dena Bank, Central Bank of India, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, UCO Bank and Corporation Bank.
Quick Facts about Bank of India:
♦ Founded in – 1906
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai, India
♦ Current MD & CEO – Dinbandhu Mohapatra
♦ Tagline – ‘Relationship Beyond Banking’

Airtel deposits ‘interim penalty’ of Rs. 2.5 crore with UIDAI
Airtel has deposited an interim penalty of Rs 2.5 crore with UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) after action was taken against it for allegedly opening payments bank accounts of its mobile subscribers without their consent.
Airtel deposits interim penalty of Rs 2.5 crore:
i. Airtel has assured that it will return Rs 190 crore that had been moved into the unrequested payments bank accounts of 31 lakh mobile subscribers.
ii. It will also inform its customers that their subsidy-linked account has been switched back to the originally-chosen account.
About Airtel Payments Bank:
♦ Founded – 2016
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ MD & CEO – Shashi Arora

BUSINESS

Konkan Railway, IIT Bombay tie-up with George Fernandes Institute of Tunnel Technology in Goa
On 19th December 2017, the Konkan Railway and IIT Bombay signed a MoU to transform George Fernandes Institute of Tunnel Technology in Goa to a world-class centre of knowledge in tunnel and underground structure technologies.IIT BombayTie-up between Konkan Railway, IIT Bombay & George Fernandes Institute of Tunnel Technology:
i. Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) Chairman and MD Sanjay Gupta and Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) Director Prof. D V Khakhar signed the MoU at IIT Bombay.
ii. As per the MoU, IIT-B will provide technical support to the Konkan Railway to strengthen the George Fernandes Institute of Tunnel Technology (GFITT) at Madgaon in Goa.
About Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay:
♦ Established – 1958
♦ Director – Devang Vipin Khakhar
♦ Location – Mumbai

NASSCOM, China’s Dalian city to promote investment in IT sector
On 20th December 2017, National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) and Dalian Municipal People’s Government signed a joint investment agreement to create a platform called the Sino-Indian Digital Collaboration Plaza (SIDCOP) in Dalian.
NASSCOM & China’s Dalian sign MoU:
i. This agreement will enable Indian IT companies enter Dalian (cyber city of China). The Dalian Platform powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IOT) will operate in online and offline modes.
ii. The agreement provides tax concessions and benefits like access to banks, school admissions for children of workers in Indian firms etc. Gagan Sabharwal, Senior Director, NASSCOM signed the agreement on NASSCOM’s behalf.
About NASSCOM:
♦ Purpose – Trade association
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Chairman – Raman Roy
♦ President – Debjani Ghosh

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Zee Cine Awards 2018 – Akshay Kumar and Alia Bhatt bags Viewer’s Choice awards
Zee Cine Awards 2018, honouring excellence in Indian Film industry was held in Mumbai on December 19, 2017. The award ceremony was hosted by comedian Sunil Grover, and Director Rohit Shetty.
i. Best Actor (Male) award went to Varun Dhawan for movie ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’, while Sridevi was conferred Best Actor (Female) award for movie ‘Mom’.
ii. Rohi Shetty’s ‘Golmaal Again’ won the Best Film award…………………………………..Click here to Read more

Lionel Messi bags Marca’s award for best player in La Liga 2016-2017 season
Lionel Messi received the Pichichi award and the Alfredo Di Stefano award instituted by Marca Sports Journal.
Lionel MessiLionel Messi – Marca’s award:
i. Lionel Messi won the Pichichi trophy, awarded by Marca to the top goal scorer of La Liga 2016-2017 season. He scored 37 goals and provided nine assists in the 2016-17 La Liga season.
ii. He also won the Alfredo Di Stefano award for the best player in La Liga 2016-2017 season. This is the fifth Alfredo Di Stefano award in his career.
About Marca (newspaper):
♦ Publisher – Unidad Editorial
♦ Editor – Oscar Campillo
♦ Founded – 1938
♦ Language – Spanish

ACQUISITONS & MERGERS

Edelweiss acquires Religare’s securities business
On 20th December 2017, the Edelweiss Group announced its acquisition of Religare Enterprises Ltd’s securities business, including securities and commodities broking, and depository participant services.
Edelweiss acquires Religare’s securities business:
i.Edelweiss Wealth Management will take over distribution of more than 90 branches, around 1 million clients and the employees of Religare all over India, as per the deal.
ii.Financial details of the deal have not been revealed. Acquisition of Religare’s business will enhance expansion of Edelweiss Wealth Management’ geographical presence, distribution and client base.
About Edelweiss Group:
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
♦ Products – Credit, Life Insurance
♦ Chairman & CEO – Rashesh Shah

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Eastern Railway launches “R-MITRA” mobile app for security of passengers
Eastern Railway has launched a mobile application named “R-MITRA” (Railway Mobile Instant Tracking Response & Assistance) for security of passengers, especially women, in Kolkata and suburban areas of Eastern Railway Zone.R-mitraR-MITRA:
i. R-MITRA will provide security and timely security related assistance to passengers within the jurisdiction of Eastern Railway.
ii. Prevention and detection of crime against passengers over Railways is carried out by Government Railway Police (GRP). Railway Protection Force (RPF) supports the efforts of states to provide security over Railways.
About Railway Protection Force (RPF):
♦ Director General – Dharmendra Kumar
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Minister responsible – Rajnath Singh

SPORTS

Junior National Badminton Championships: Aakarshi Kashyap wins singles titles in U-17 and U-19 categories
On 18th December 2017, Aakarshi Kashyap won both Under-17 and Under-19 singles titles at the Junior National Badminton Championships in Guwahati.
Aakarshi Kashyap wins U-17 and U-19 singles titles:
i. In the Under-17 category, Aakarshi Kashyap defeated Malvika Bansod in the singles final and won the Under-17 girls’ singles title.
ii. In the Under-19 category, Aakarshi Kashyap defeated Vaidehi Choudhari in the singles final and won the U-19 girls’ singles title.
iii. Also, Mithula UK won two titles in the championship: Under-19 girls’ doubles title along with Rutuparna Panda and mixed doubles title with Krishna Prasad Garaga.
iv. Vishnuvardhan Goud also won two titles in the championship: Under-17 boys’ doubles title along with Navaneeth Bokka and Under-19 boys’ doubles title along with Sri Krishna Sai Kumar Podile.
About Badminton Association of India (BAI):
♦ Founded – 1934
♦ Headquarters – Lucknow
♦ President – Himanta Biswa Sarma

Kerala Kings become first T10 League champions
Kerala Kings became the first-ever T10 Cricket League champion at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.T10LeagueKerala Kings – first T10 League champions:
i. Kerala Kings won the final match of first T10 League against Punjabi Legends by 8 wickets. Kerala Kings won the toss and elected to bowl first. Kerala Kings finished the match while 12 balls were remaining.
ii. Kerala Kings’ Eoin Morgan was awarded Man of the Match and Spirit of the Match and Beyond Boundaries awards. Man of the Tournament was awarded to Luke Ronchi of Punjabi Legends.
About T10 league:
♦ Started by – Pakistan Cricket Board
♦ Format – Ten10
♦ Tournament format – Double round robin and knock-out

India thrash Nepal to win South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) U-15 Women’s Championship
On 19th December 2017, India defeated Nepal in the ongoing SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship at Dhaka, Bangladesh.
India at South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) U-15 Women’s Championship:
i. India defeated Nepal 10-0 in the SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship at Dhaka. Now India will compete with Bangladesh on 21stDecember 2017.
ii. Priyanka Devi and Sunita Munda scored Hattricks. Nepal missed its penalty opportunity as the teams went 5-0 into half time.
About 2017 SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship:
Host country – Bangladesh
Dates – 17–24 December 2017
Teams – 4

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Human Solidarity Day – December 20
On 20th December 2017, International Human Solidarity Day was observed all over the world.
International Human Solidarity Day:
i. The UN General Assembly declared 20th December as International Human Solidarity Day to promote solidarity and the spirit of sharing.
ii. To promote solidarity, World Solidarity Fund was established. This was created in a move to eradicate poverty.
iii. International Human Solidarity Day is celebrated to highlight unity in diversity, raise awareness on solidarity, respect commitments to international agreements, etc.
About European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF):
♦ Founded – 2002
♦ Objective – to provide assistance to European Union member states when large-scale disasters occur