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Assam gets Rs 1250 crore central fund for inland water transport
Central Government has sanctioned Rs 1250 crore for overall development of inland water transport of Assam.
i. Announcement in this regard was made by Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari at a meeting of the Brahmaputra Board and Water Resources Department at Kaziranga.
ii. Out of the total amount, Rs. 32 crore will be utilised for constructing 56 terminals and Rs 60 crore for Ro-Ro service.
iii. Roll-on/roll-off (RORO or ro-ro) ferry services are designed to carry people and wheeled cargo, such as cars, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, trailers and railroad cars, that are driven on and off the ship on their own wheels or by using a platform.
Quick Facts about Assam:
♦ Capital – Dispur
♦ Current Governor – Jagdish Mukhi
♦ Current Chief Minister – Sarbananda Sonowal
♦ Important National Park – Manas National Park
Haryana govt launches ‘Bhavantar Bharpayee Yojana’ for vegetable growers
On December 30, 2017, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar launched Bhavantar Bharpayee Yojana from Karnal district.Salient Features of Haryana Government’s Bhavantar Bharpayee Yojana:
i. Under this scheme, farmers will be compensated by state government, whenever the market prices of the stipulated produce go below the mentioned prices.
ii. Haryana State Government will constitute a separate fund for this purpose.
iii. This scheme for compensation will also apply for tomato, onion, potato and cauliflower.
iv. In order to avail compensation under this scheme, farmers would have to get themselves registered on Bhavantar Bharpayee website or in the office of Haryana State Agricultural Marketing Board.
Quick Facts about Haryana:
♦ Capital – Chandigarh
♦ Current Governor – Kaptan Singh Solanki
♦ Current Chief Minister – Manohar Lal Khattar
♦ Important National Park – Kalesar National Park
Odisha police to go digital from January 2018
Odisha police will go digital from January 1, 2018, as routine work in police stations across the state will be computerised under the Criminal Tracking and Networking System (CCTNS).
i. CCTNS project is being implemented under the national e-governance initiative at a cost of Rs. 61 crore.
ii. 589 out of 612 police stations across Odisha have been equipped with the necessary hardware and software for the implementation of CCTNS.
iii. All routine police station work including registering cases, maintaining of registers, station diaries, case diaries and charge sheets will be done online from January 2018.
iv. Whenever required, investigating officers will also be able to access the data through laptops, tabs and smart phones.
Quick Facts about Odisha
♦ Capital – Bhubaneswar
♦ Current Governor – S.C. Jamir
♦ Current Chief Minister – Naveen Patnaik
♦ Important National Park – Bhitarkanika National Park
Jewar airport construction to start in December 2018
Construction work on Jewar Airport in Greater Noida will commence in December 2018, earlier than Uttar Pradesh government’s scheduled plan.
More Details about Jewar airport construction:
i. On December 30, 2017, Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) selected professional services firm EY (formerly Ernst & Young) to prepare a techno-economic feasibility report(TEFR) for undertaking construction work on Jewar Airport.
ii. Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) has asked EY to submit TEFR report by April 2018. Based on the report, bids will be invited in July 2018 and foundation stone for the project will be laid in December 2018.
iii. On completion, Jewar airport will be India’s biggest airport in terms of area. Under the first phase of the project, construction will be undertaken on 4000 acres of land.
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar lays foundation stones for more than 100 projects
On December 30, 2017, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar laid foundation stones for more than 100 projects worth Rs 700 crore in Nalanda district.i. These projects were launched during the second phase of Nitish Kumar’s state-wide “Vikas Samiksha Yatra” which began on December 28, 2017.
ii. During his visit to Chamera village, Mr. Kumar dedicated to the public 132 projects worth Rs 97.63 crore and laid foundation stones for 114 projects worth Rs 698.65 crore.
iii. While addressing public meetings, Mr. Kumar highlighted Bihar State Government’s social reform measures like ban on alcohol and campaigns against dowry and child marriage.
Quick Facts about Bihar:
♦ Capital – Patna
♦ Current Governor – Satya Pal Malik
♦ Current Chief Minister – Nitish Kumar
♦ Important National Park – Valmiki National Park
China shuts down its Legal Ivory Trade
On 31st December 2017, China shut down its legal government-sanctioned ivory trade.China shuts down legal ivory trade:
i. In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping and then U.S. President Barack Obama took a joint pledge to put an end to ivory trade. As per this decision, China has closed all its licensed ivory carving factories and retailers.
ii. China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA) is responsible for implementing the ivory trade ban. SFA along with associations like Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Wildaid, etc. will circulate posters, videos, and articles to educate people on the ban.
About Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):
♦ Location – New York City
♦ Slogan – The Earth’s Best Defense
♦ Founded – 1970
BANKING & FINANCE
Allahabad Bank ties up with NeSL
On December 30, 2017, Allahabad Bank entered into an agreement with National e-Governance Services Limited (NeSL) for utilizing its Information Utility Services envisaged under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
More Details about Allahabad Bank-NeSL tie-up:
i. State-owned NeSL is the first Information Utility entity registered by Insolvency and bankruptcy Board of India under IBBI (IU) Regulations, 2017.
ii. Information utility is an information network which procures and stores financial data like borrowings, default and security interests of various entities.
ii. Information stored by Information Utility Services can be accessed by concerned parties during insolvency resolution process under National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
iv. Having access to high-quality authenticated financial information helps stakeholders to counter frivolous litigations made by defaulters to delay the process.
Quick Facts about Allahabad Bank:
♦ Founded in – 1865
♦ Headquarters – Kolkata, West Bengal
♦ Current MD & CEO – Anantha Subramanian
♦ Tagline – ‘A Tradition of Trust’
Rs 14500cr generated through BHARAT 22 ETF
On December 29, 2017, Minister of State for Finance, P Radhakrishnan, informed Lok Sabha that Central Government has raised an amount of Rs 14500 crore through its BHARAT 22 Exchange Traded Fund (ETF).Details about BHARAT 22 Exchange Traded Fund (ETF):
i. An exchange-traded fund (ETF) is an investment fund traded on stock exchanges, just like stocks. An ETF holds assets such as stocks, commodities, or bonds and tracks an index, such as a stock index or bond index. ETFs may be attractive as investments because of their low costs, tax efficiency, and stock-like features.
ii. Bharat 22 ETF was launched in November 2017. It is a unique blend of shares of key Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), Public Sector Banks (PSBs) and Government owned shares in blue chip private companies like Larsen & Tubro (L&T), Axis Bank and ITC held under the Specified Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India (SUUTI).
iii. It comprises 22 companies that represent 6 important sectors of the economy – Finance, Industry, Energy, Utilities, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and Basic Materials.
iv. Owing to positive response from Institutional Investors and to accommodate huge demand from retail investors and retirement funds, Government had increased the issue size of New Fund Offer (NFO) of Bharat 22 Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) to Rs 14500 crore from Rs. 8000 crore earlier.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Finance Ministry clears decks for a fourth whole-time member at SEBI
Union Finance Ministry has accepted Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI’s) request to have four whole time members.
Need for four whole time members in SEBI:
i. As per the SEBI Act, the board of SEBI comprises a chairman, one member each from the Reserve Bank of India, Union Finance Ministry and corporate affairs Ministry and five other members of whom at least three should be the whole-time members.
ii. Demand for fourth whole-time member was made to handle the increased workload post merger of Forward Markets Commission (FMC) with SEBI in 2015.
iii. Having one more whole time member will not only help to tackle the increased workload but will also broaden SEBI’s top leadership pool.
iv. Currently, SEBI has two whole time members, Madhabi Puri Buch and G Mahalingam, while Sanjeev Kaushik was appointed as the third whole-time member in November 2017. However, he is yet to join duty.
Quick Facts about SEBI:
♦ Formed in – 1988
♦ Given Statutory Powers in – 1992
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Current Chairman – Ajay Tyagi
Vineet Chowdhary appointed chief secretary to Himachal government
On 31st December 2017, Vineet Chowdhary was appointed as chief secretary to the Himachal government.
Vineet Chowdhary – chief secretary to Himachal government:
i. Vineet Chowdhary is a 1982 batch IAS officer of the Himachal Pradesh cadre. He replaces Vidya Charan Pharka.
ii. Vidya Charan Pharka was appointed as chief secretary on June 1, 2016, superseding six senior IAS officers including Vineet Chowdhary.
iii. Vineet Chowdhary had filed a case in the Central Administrative Tribunal. Now, Vidya Charan Pharka has been appointed as principal advisor to the government.
Some dance forms of Indian states:
♦ Bardo Chham – Arunachal Pradesh
♦ Bagurumba – Assam
♦ Raut Nacha – Chhattisgarh
N C Goel appointed new Chief Secretary of Rajasthan
On 30th December 2017, N C Goel was made the new Chief Secretary of Rajasthan.N C Goel – Chief Secretary of Rajasthan:
i.N C Goel is an IAS officer of the 1982 batch. Previously, he was Additional Chief Secretary of Forest and Environment, Tourism, Art and Culture Department, Mines and Petroleum departments.
ii.N C Goel is a native of Haryana. He was the CMD of Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation Ltd, Rajasthan. He was also District Collector and Magistrate of Alwar and Jaisalmer. He replaces Ashok Jain.
Some National parks of Rajasthan:
♦ Darrah National Park
♦ Desert National Park
♦ Ranthambore National Park
Dr M Malakondaiah is new Andhra Pradesh police chief (Director General of Police)
On 30th December 2017, M Malakondaiah was appointed Director General of Police (Head of Police Force) in Andhra Pradesh.
Dr M Malakondaiah – DGP of Andhra Pradesh:
i.Dr M Malakondaiah is an IPS officer of the 1985 batch. At present he is the Managing Director of Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation.
ii.He replaces Nanduri Sambasiva Rao. Malakondaiah will retire on June 30, 2018 from service.
Some of the wildlife sanctuaries of Andhra Pradesh:
♦ Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary
Om Prakash Singh is appointed as DGP of Uttar Pradesh
Om Prakash Singh has been appointed the new Director General of Police (DGP) of Uttar Pradesh.
Om Prakash Singh – DGP of Uttar Pradesh:
i.Om Prakash Singh replaces Sulkhan Singh as Director General of Police of Uttar Pradesh. Om Prakash Singh joined as Indian Police Service (IPS) officer in 1983.
ii.Sulkhan Singh is a 1980 batch IPS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre. His term ended on 31st December 2017.
Some stadiums in Uttar Pradesh:
♦ Bhamashah Stadium – Meerut
♦ Dori Lal Agarawal Sports Stadium – Bareilly
♦ Dr Sampurnanda Stadium – Varanasi
ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS
Bank of Baroda acquires 51 per cent foreign stake in MF arm
Bank of Baroda has entered into an agreement with Italian bank UniCredit S.p.A. to acquire its 51 per cent stake in Baroda Pioneer Asset Management Company.i. Owing to this agreement, Bank of Baroda’s stake in Baroda Pioneer Asset Management Company has increased to 100 per cent and Pioneer Investments (owned by UniCredit) has thus exited the venture.
ii. This deal was mandated as Pioneer Investment itself has been acquired by French asset manager Amundi which already has a 37% stake in SBI Mutual Fund.
iii .It is to be noted that as per Securities and Exchange Board of India guidelines (SEBI) guidelines, an entity cannot hold stakes in two fund houses.
iv. As of November 2017, Baroda Pioneer Asset Management Company’s average assets under management (AUM) stood at about Rs 11000 crore.
Quick Facts about Bank of Baroda:
♦ Founded in – 1908
♦ Headquarters – Vadodara, Gujarat
♦ Current MD & CEO – P. S. Jayakumar
♦ Tagline – ‘India’s International Bank’
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Indian Startup reveals the First Robocop in Hyderabad
On December 29, 2017, H-BOTS, a Hyderabad-based artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning start-up unveiled a prototype of a smart policing robot.
More information about Smart Policing Robot:
i .The life size prototype is five-foot-seven-inch tall, weighs 43 kg and is made of nylon plastic, which is ten times stronger than regular plastic.
ii. It can take complaints, monitor temperature, identify suspects, can record audio and video clips and can assist people at malls, streets, airports and railway stations.
iii. It has a multi-touch screen. It can recognise voice and can interact in English. The makers have stated that in the near future, it will also recognise Telugu and Hindi.
iv. After some more fine-tuning, H-BOTS is planning to produce 700 such units a year by 2020.
IAF bids farewell to MiG-27 ML Bahadur
On December 28, 2017, Indian Air Force (IAF) bade farewell to MiG-27 ML, Bahadur fleet at Hasimara Air Force base in Bengal. About MiG-27 ML, Bahadur:
i. Russian origin MiG-27 ML, codenamed ‘Bahadur’ in India, was inducted into the IAF fleet in the late 1980s.
ii. MiG-27 ML was a dedicated ground attack aircraft capable of delivering a variety of loads (bombs, rockets and guided munitions) in different modes of attack with immense precision.
iii. MiG-27 ML fleet played an instrumental role in Kargil and participated in numerous international exercises held in India.
iv. 22 Squadron, known as ‘Swifts’ was the last squadron of the IAF flying the MiG-27 MLs.
New endemic ants discovered from the Andamans
Two new ant species Tetramorium krishnani and Tetramorium jarawa have been discovered by scientists in the islands of Andaman.
New ant species in Andaman:
i. The Tetramorium krishnani and Tetramorium jarawa ant species were discovered by scientists of the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru and the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Japan.
ii. These ant species have been named after late scientist K.S. Krishnan of NCBS, and the Jarawas – indigenous people of Andaman.
iii. This research has been published in PeerJ. These new ant species live in leaf litter of the Havelock Island. These species are endemic to Andaman.
About National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS):
♦ Type – research centre specialising in biological research
♦ Director – Satyajit Mayor
♦ Location – Bangalore, Karnataka
Viswanathan Anand wins bronze at World Blitz Chess Championship
Viswanathan Anand has won bronze medal in the World Blitz Chess Championship in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.World Blitz Chess Championship:
i. Magnus Carlsen, world champion, won the tournament and bagged the gold medal. Russia’s Sergey Karjakin secured the second spot and won the silver medal.
ii. Vishwanathan Anand had won gold, two days back, in the World Rapid Chess Championship.
About All India Chess Federation (AICF):
♦ Headquarters – Chennai
♦ President – P.R.Venketrama Raja
♦ Secretary – Bharat Singh Chauhan
Renowned educationist M V Pylee passes away at 98
On 30th December 2017, eminent educationist M V Pylee died due to age-related problems at a private hospital, in Kochi, Kerala.
Death of M V Pylee:
i. M V Pylee was 98 years old. He was the third Vice Chancellor of the Cochin University of Science and Technology. He was considered a fore runner in management education in India.
ii. He also worked as a visiting professor at several foreign universities. He had received Padma Bhushan award in 2006.
About Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT):
♦ Established – 1971
♦ Chancellor – P. Sathasivam