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Centre allows NGT to form one-member benches
On December 1, 2017, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests issued a notification to amend the National Green Tribunal (Practices and Procedure) Rules, 2011.
i. As per this notification, National Green tribunal (NGT) chairperson has been allowed to constitute a single-member bench in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
ii. However, term ‘exceptional circumstances’ has not been defined in the notification.
ii. As per the earlier rules, the bench should comprise two or more members with at least one judicial member and another expert member.
iv. Currently, regional benches in Kolkata and Chennai are both functioning with one member (judicial) each. The expert members in these benches have retired.
Quick Facts about National Green Tribunal (NGT):
♦ Established in – 2010
♦ Purpose – To dispose cases related to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Current Chairperson – Justice Swatanter Kumar
Centre offers Rs 2.5 lakh for every inter-caste marriage with a Dalit
Central Government has removed income limit for incentive under ‘Dr Ambedkar scheme for social Integration through inter caste marriage’.
About ‘Dr Ambedkar scheme for social Integration through inter caste marriage’:
i. This scheme was launched in 2013 with a target to provide monetary incentive to at least 500 inter-caste couples (where either the bride or the bridegroom is a Dalit) per year.
ii. As per rules of this scheme, such couples whose total annual income does not exceed Rs 5 lakh were eligible to get a one-time incentive of Rs 2.5 lakh from the Central Government.iii. The objective behind this scheme was to appreciate the socially bold step and to financially help the newly-wedded couple to settle down in the initial phase of their married life.
iv. Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has now issued a directive that the condition of “total income of the newly-wedded couple should not exceed Rs 5 lakh per annum” has been removed and thus there is no income limit to be eligible for incentive under this scheme.
Maharashtra government announces special policy for women entrepreneurs
On December 5, 2017, Maharashtra State Cabinet approved ‘Industrial Policy for Women Entrepreneur’ with an aim to encourage women entrepreneurs in the state. In the context of this policy, a woman or a group of women who have financed 100% for the project and hired minimum 50% women employees will be considered as women entrepreneurs.Overview of Maharashtra’s ‘Industrial Policy for Women Entrepreneur’:
i. Under this policy, a woman entrepreneur in Maharashtra would get financial assistance from state government in the range of Rs 15 lakh up to Rs 1 crore for capital investment in project at the subsidized rate of interest up to 5%.
ii. For projects headed by women entrepreneurs, electricity will be supplied at a subsidized rate of Rs 1-2 per unit instead of Rs 7-8 per unit charges for industries.
iii. Every mall, commercial complex or market yard will have specific shops/spaces reserved only for women businesspersons.
iv. Besides, across Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) areas in the state, some portion of land will be reserved for women industrialists.
v. With this, Maharashtra has become the first state in India to have such policy exclusively for women entrepreneurs.
Quick Facts about Maharashtra
♦ Capital – Mumbai
♦ Current Chief Minister – Devendra Fadnavis
♦ Current Governor – C Vidyasagar Rao
♦ Important National Park – Sanjay Gandhi National Park
India, Japan kick-start new forum for eco development of NE
On December 5, 2017, India and Japan held the first meeting under the newly established ‘India-Japan Act East Forum’ in New Delhi.i. ’India-Japan Act East Forum’ has been set up to identify specific projects for economic development of the North-Eastern region of India.
ii. The specific projects will be pertaining to infrastructure, connectivity, industrial linkages as well as people-to-people contacts in north-eastern region of India.
iii. Agreement to set up this forum was signed in September 2017, during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India.
iv. The first meeting of this forum, held on December 5, 2017 was co-chaired by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and Japanese Ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu.
Quick Facts about Japan:
♦ Capital – Tokyo
♦ Currency – Japanese yen
♦ Current Prime Minister – Shinzo Abe
♦ Important Rivers – Shinano, Tone, Ishikari
International Solar Alliance becomes a Legal Entity
International Solar Alliance (ISA), which was launched in November 2015, was slated to become treaty-based International Intergovernmental organization as soon as its framework agreement is ratified by 15 countries.
i. Guinea became the 15th country to ratify the Framework Agreement of ISA and on account of this ratification; ISA became a legal entity from December 6, 2017.
ii. Till date, 46 countries have signed and 19 countries have ratified the Framework Agreement of ISA………………………………………..Click here to Read more
Somalia signs four-year development strategy with United Nations
On December 5, 2017, Somali Government and United Nations (UN) signed the UN Strategic Framework for Somalia (UNSF), under which United Nations will support Somalia’s development in priority areas over the next four years.Salient Features of UN Strategic Framework for Somalia (UNSF):
i. Under this framework, 23 UN agencies and the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia will support Somali’s development in pre-identified priority areas enlisted in country’s National Development Plan and for achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals.
ii. The framework has incorporated inputs, feedback and aspirations of Somali civil society, government machinery and the general public.
iii. Deepening federalism and state-building, supporting institutions to improve peace, security, the rule of law and supporting conflict resolution and reconciliation are some of the priority areas identified in the framework.
iv. Besides, efforts under the framework will also focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment, youth engagement and empowerment and human rights.
Quick Facts about Somalia
♦ Capital – Mogadishu
♦ Currency – Somali shilling
♦ Current Prime Minister – Hassan Ali Khayre
♦ Important Rivers – Shebelle, Jubba, Dawa
3rd DRC-NITI Aayog Dialogue held in Beijing
On 5th December 2017, the 3rd edition of the Dialogue between the NITI Aayog and the Development Research Council (DRC) of China, the DRC- NITI Aayog Dialogue was held in Beijing, China.
3rd DRC- NITI Aayog Dialogue:
i. The meeting was co-chaired by Vice Chairman NITI Aayog, Dr. Rajiv Kumar, and Mr Li Wei, President (Minister), DRC.
ii. The Indian delegation consisted of senior officials from NITI Aayog and Ministries of New & Renewable Energy and Food Processing.
iii. The Chinese delegation comprised of researchers and officials from DRC and ministers from various departments.
iv. In-depth discussions were held on sharing of experiences and best practices in the areas of Electric mobility, clean energy, Higher education and Special Economic Zones (SEZs). The two sides agreed that the 4th NITI Aayog – DRC Dialogue will be held in India in 2018.
About Development Research Center (DRC) of China:
♦ Headquarters – Beijing
♦ Minister responsible – Li Wei
♦ Purpose – policy research, strategic review and consulting of issues related to the economic and social development on mainland China
BANKING & FINANCE
RBI Releases Fifth Bi-Monthly Policy, Repo Rate Unchanged at 6%
On December 6, 2017, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced Fifth Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy Statement for financial year 2017-18. This time too, the Policy Repo Rate has been kept unchanged………………………………….Click here to Read more
Post the Fifth Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy Statement announcement, the policy rates and reserve ratios are as follows:
|Policy Repo Rate||6.00%||Unchanged – since 2nd August 2017|
|Reverse Repo Rate||5.75%||Unchanged – since 2nd August 2017|
|Marginal Standing Facility Rate||6.25%||Unchanged – since 2nd August 2017|
|Bank Rate||6.25%||Unchanged – since 2nd August 2017|
|Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR)||4.00%||Unchanged – since 9th February 2013|
|Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR)||19.50%||With Effect from 14th October 2017|
Canara HSBC Life begins video service for real-time customer engagement
Canara HSBC Oriental Bank of Commerce Life Insurance Co Ltd has launched a video service that seeks to improve customer engagement.
About Canara HSBC OBC Life’ Video Service:
i. By using the videos service, customers can directly engage with the company for various service requests. For using this service, the customer just needs to go to company’s website and click on the video service icon.
ii. Customers can access this service through a smartphone, a desktop with camera or camera-enabled laptop.
iii. Earlier, Canara HSBC OBC Life had already tapped social-media sites – Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin – for customer services.
iv. This company has access to a network of over 10000 bank branches of Canara Bank, HSBC and Oriental Bank of Commerce, which are its principal shareholders.
Paytm unveils ‘Paytm Ka ATM’ partner outlet for banking operations
On December 5, 2017, Paytm unveiled ‘Paytm Ka ATM’ partner outlets where customers can open bank accounts, deposit cash and withdraw money.More Information About ‘Paytm Ka ATM’:
i. The ‘Paytm Ka ATM’ outlets have local banking correspondents who help customers in depositing and withdrawing money from their Paytm Payments Bank account.
ii. Paytm has laid out plans to invest Rs 3000 crore over the next three years to expand the ‘Paytm Ka ATM’ offline-distribution network. These outlets allow local stores to act as potential cash-in and cash-out points for Paytm Payments Bank.
iii. Paytm has already started with 3000 “Paytm Ka ATM” points in select cities including Delhi-NCR, Kanpur, Lucknow, Allahabad, Aligarh and Varanasi.
iv. The management of Paytm Payment Bank is planning to add 100000 “Paytm ka ATMs” across India.
About Paytm Payments Bank:
♦ Paytm Payments Bank is being termed as India’s only mobile first bank providing zero balance accounts.
♦ It also provides free personalised RuPay digital debit cards.
♦ Vijay Shekhar Sharma is the Non-executive Chairman of Paytm Payments Bank.
Axis Securities becomes first-ever broking arm of a bank to get commodity exchange membership
Axis Securities, a subsidiary of Axis Bank, has become the first-ever broking arm of a bank to take membership of a commodity exchange by registering itself with NCDEX (National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange).
Axis Securities – first broking arm of a bank to get commodity exchange membership:
i. In September 2017, Reserve Bank of India allowed banks wishing to undertake commodities derivatives clearing to set up a separate subsidiary for the purpose and adhere to the membership norms laid by Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
ii. Banks should also set up internal risk control measures and take board approvals to decide the extent to which they can fulfil pay-in obligations arising out of trades executed by clients and set prudential norms on risk exposure, among others.
iii. However, these broking arms are not allowed to trade on their own behalf (proprietary trading).
About NCDEX (National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange):
♦ Founded – 2003
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
♦ MD & CEO – Samir Shah
Godrej Aerospace gets new contract for BrahMos missile airframes
Godrej Aerospace, a unit of Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd., has won an order for an additional 100 units of airframes for the air launched version of BrahMos missile.
Godrej Aerospace gets new contract for BrahMos:
i. Godrej Aerospace handed over the 100th set of airframe assemblies to BrahMos Aerospace Pvt. Ltd. (BAPL) for use in its missile systems on 5th December 2017.
ii. BrahMos missile is a stealth universal supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from ships, submarines, aircraft and land based platforms. It can be used for precision strike to destroy targets on land and sea.
About Godrej Group:
♦ Founded – 1897
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
♦ Chairman – Adi Godrej
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Syrian boy wins Children’s Peace Prize for building refugee school in Lebanon
On December 4, 2017, Mohamad Al Jounde, a 16-year old Syrian teenager was awarded the 2017 International Children’s Peace Prize.i. Mohamad Al Jounde has been awarded for building a school and providing education to hundreds of Syrian refugee children who fled to Lebanon to escape the conflict.
ii. At the age of 12 years, Mohamad decided to set up a school in the Bekaa Valley refugee camp in Lebanon.
iii. The school currently has 200 students. Range of subjects from Maths to English and even photography are taught in this school.
iv. Moaham Al Jounde was presented 2017 International Children’s Peace Prize by Malala Yousafzai, the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
About International Children’s Peace Prize:
♦ Awarded to – a child who has made an important contribution to advocating children’s rights and improving the situation of vulnerable children
♦ First Awarded in – 2005
♦ Instituted by – KidsRights Foundation (based in Amsterdam, Netherlands)
National Awards for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities 2017
On 3rd December 2017, President Ram Nath Kovind presented the “National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan)-2017” at a function in New Delhi.
National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan)-2017:
i. The function was organized by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
ii. The National Awards were presented in 14 main categories. The awards consisted of certificate, and medal or shield along with Rs. 43.50 Lakhs in cash.
iii. Chhattisgarh bagged the ‘Best State in Promoting Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities’ award. Chhattisgarh Social Welfare Minister Ramshila Sahu received the award.
iv. ‘Award for the Best District in Providing Rehabilitation Service to differently abled’ was given to Madurai. Madurai Collector K.Veera Raghava Rao received the award.
About ADIP Scheme:
♦ ADIP – Assistance to Disabled persons for purchasing / fitting of aids / appliances
♦ Objective – to assist the needy disabled persons in procuring aids and appliances that can promote their wellness and enhance their economic potential
♦ Implemented through – NGOs, National Institutes and ALIMCO (a PSU)
Taj Mahal is the 2nd best UNESCO world heritage site: survey by TripAdvisor
The Taj Mahal, is the second best UNESCO world heritage site in the world, according to a new survey conducted TripAdvisor.Taj Mahal – 2nd best UNESCO world heritage site:
i. The survey lists the UNESCO Cultural and Natural heritage sites best rated by travellers around the globe. With over 8 million visitors per year, Taj Mahal is rated second after Cambodia’s Angkor Wat in the first position.
ii. Great Wall of China is also included in the list. Machu Pichu in Peru in South America has bagged the fourth spot.
iii. Iguazu National Park in Brazil, Italy’s Sassi of Matera, Auschwitz Birkenau and historic Krakow in Poland, the old city of Jerusalem in Israel and the historic areas of Istanbul in Turkey have also made to the list.
♦ Founded – 2000
♦ Headquarters – Massachusetts, U.S.
♦ Co-founder and CEO – Stephen Kaufer
Dangal wins Best Asian Film award at Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards
“Dangal” was chosen the Best Asian Film at the seventh Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards, in Sydney.
Dangal – Best Asian Film award at AACTA:
i. “Dangal” was directed by Nitesh Kumar. It is a sports drama based on the life of Haryana wrestler Mahavir Phogat and his daughters. The film starred Aamir Khan, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra.
ii. Besides “Dangal”, “Pink” and Marathi film “Kasav: Turtle” were among the nine films which were nominated for the AACTA Best Asian Film award.
About Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA):
♦ Formation – 2011
♦ Headquarters – South Melbourne, Australia
♦ Patron – George Miller
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
London Mayor names Deepak Parekh as first International Ambassador of UK
On 4th December 2017, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan announced Indian businessman, Deepak Parekh, as International Ambassador who will be tasked with promoting investment opportunities.
Deepak Parekh – first International Ambassador of UK:
i. Deepak Parekh is one of the first of a network of international ambassadors that would include high-level business and cultural figures based in London or overseas.
ii. The role of the new ambassadors will be to work closely with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and London & Partners to share information about London across the world, while providing market intelligence to London-based businesses.
iii. Deepak Parekh is the Chairman of HDFC Ltd. He is also a member of the City of London’s Advisory Council for India which guides the city’s engagement with India.
iv. Sadiq Khan was in India to promote London as a business and tourism destination and to strengthen the bonds between India and London.
About Greater London Authority (GLA):
♦ Established – 2000
♦ Type – Local authority of Greater London
♦ Chairman of the London Assembly – Tony Arbour
Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar to promote Government’s flagship agri-schemes
On 6th December 2017, a senior Agriculture Ministry official said that, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar will promote the government’s flagship agriculture schemes like soil health card and crop insurance.Akshay Kumar to promote Government’s flagship agri-schemes:
i. The Union Agriculture Ministry has involved Akshay Kumar for television advertisements to intensify the publicity of the agri-schemes.
ii. Already, a TV ad on soil health card scheme is prepared for release soon. Besides soil health card scheme, Akshay Kumar will promote Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana and others.
About Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojana (PMFBY):
♦ Purpose – Crop Insurance Scheme for assisting farmers in receiving monetary assistance in the event of crop damage due to natural calamities
♦ Announced – 2016
♦ Supervised by – Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare
Azar A.H.Khan appointed as the Ambassador of India to Turkmenistan
On 4th December 2017, Azar A.H.Khan was appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Turkmenistan.
Azar A.H.Khan – Ambassador of India to Turkmenistan:
i. Azar A.H.Khan is presently Consul General in the Consulate General of India, Istanbul. He has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Turkmenistan.
ii. He is expected to take up his assignment shortly.
♦ Formerly known as Turkmenia
♦ Possesses the world’s sixth largest reserves of natural gas resources
♦ Turkmenistan’s Galkynysh gas field has the second-largest volume of gas in the world
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
India successfully test fires surface-to-air Akash missile
On December 5, 2017, India successfully test-fired supersonic surface-to-air Akash missile, with an indigenous radio frequency seeker.
Information about Akash Missile:
i. In the test conducted at Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur, Odisha, Akash missile successfully hit its target. The target for this test was an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ‘Banshee’.
ii. Akash missile is the first surface-to-air missile which has been tested with an indigenous radio frequency seeker.
iii. Akash missile has a strike range of about 25 km and is being inducted into Indian Army as short range surface to air missile.
iv. It can carry a 55-kg fragmentation warhead that is triggered by proximity fuse. Akash missile has a capability to knock down aerial targets like fighter jets, air-to-surface missiles, cruise missiles as well as incoming ballistic missiles.
v. Akash missile has been developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Google launches ‘Files Go’ for smarter mobile-first approach
On 5th December 2017, Google announced the launch of ‘Files Go’ app that takes a mobile-first approach to freeing up space, finding files faster and easily sharing them with others, even when offline.Files Go:
i. Files Go is globally available on the Google Play Store for all phones running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and higher.
ii. ‘Files Go’ helps to free up space and will even deliver personalised suggestions as to which files or apps to delete. The app also checks into duplicate files, videos and memes using its mobile vision technology.
iii. It lets you transfer files to another smartphone directly without using data or even when you are offline. Google claims that all files transfers are encrypted and the transfer speeds are as fast as 125 Mbps.
♦ Founded – 1998
♦ Headquarters – California, U.S.
♦ CEO – Sundar Pichai
Afghanistan crowned ICC Intercontinental Cup champions
Afghanistan was crowned ICC Intercontinental Cup champions, defeating United Arab Emirates on the final day at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Afghanistan – ICC Intercontinental Cup champions:
i. After seven matches of the four-day competition, Afghanistan finished on top of the eight-team table with 121 points. Ireland settled for the second spot with 109 points.
ii. Afghanistan has captured the title for the second time, by defeating United Arab Emirates by 10 wickets on the final day claiming the title by 12 points.
About 2015–17 ICC (International Cricket Council) Intercontinental Cup:
♦ Administrator – International Cricket Council
♦ Cricket format – First-class cricket
♦ Participants – 8
♦ Matches played – 28
India clinches its first-ever South Asian Regional Badminton Team Championship
On 5th December 2017, India bagged its first-ever South Asian Regional Badminton Team Championship at the Tarun Ram Phookan Indoor Stadium, Guwahati, Assam.India wins South Asian Regional Badminton Team Championship:
i. Indian team won over Nepal by 3-0 and clinched its first-ever South Asian Regional Badminton Tournament.
ii. Ashmita won over Rashila Maharjan in the girls’ singles event by 21-9, 21-6. In the boys’ doubles event, the pair of Arintap Dasgupta and Krishna Prasad G. defeated Nepalese pair Dipesh Dhami and Nabin Shrestha.
iii. Nepal won the first game 21-19. India won the next two games 21-14, 21-11 to secure the championship.
Some of the stadiums of Assam:
♦ Nehru Stadium – Guwahati
♦ Barsapara Stadium – Guwahati
♦ Jorhat Stadium – Jorhat
♦ Satindra Mohan Dev Stadium – Silchar
Russia banned from 2018 Winter Olympics over state-sponsored doping
On 5th December 2017, Russia was banned from the 2018 Winter Games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over its state-orchestrated doping programme.
Russia banned from 2018 Winter Olympics:
i. A report by the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) and two subsequent IOC investigations have confirmed that Russian athletes took part in an elaborate drug cheating programme which peaked during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
ii. The IOC has also banned Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who was sports minister during the Sochi Games, for life.
iii. No Russian athlete with a previous doping violation will be allowed to compete and no official who had a leadership role at Sochi 2014 will be invited to Pyeongchang. However clean Russian athletes will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag.
About World Anti-doping Agency (WADA):
♦ Purpose – Anti-doping in sport
♦ Headquarters – Montreal, Canada
♦ President – Craig Reedie
62nd Mahaparinirvan Diwas – December 6
On 6th December 2017, the 62nd Mahaparinirvan Diwas was observed in India.
Mahaparinirvan Diwas:i. Dr. B R Ambedkar died on 6th December 1956, hence Dr. B R Ambedkar Mahaparinirvan Din or death anniversary is observed every year all over India on 6th December to pay him tribute and honour.
ii. President Ram Nath Kovind led the nation in paying homage to Bharat Ratna Baba Saheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on his 62nd Mahaparinirvan Diwas.
iii. Vice President M. Venkiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Sumitra Mahajan also offered tributes to the Father of the Indian Constitution, Dr. Ambedkar.
About Dr. B R Ambedkar:
♦ Profession – Jurist, economist, politician, social reformer
♦ Positions held – 1st Minister of Law and Justice, Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, Labour Member – Viceroy’s Executive Council