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Government approves Rs 5369 crore waterway project on National Waterway-1
On January 3, 2017, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its approval for implementation of the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) at a cost of Rs 5369 crore
i. This project is geared towards capacity augmentation of navigation on the Haldia-Varanasi stretch of National Waterway-1 (NW-1).
ii. The project is spread across four states viz. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal. It will directly benefit industries located in Varanasi, Ballia, Ghazipur, Buxar, Vaishali, Chhapra, Patna, Begusarai, Khagaria, Munger, Bhagalpur, Sahibganj, Musrhidabad, Pakur, Hoogly and Kolkata…………………………………Click here to Read more
Hyderabad becomes second major city to be declared open defecation free
On January 2, 2018, Greater Hyderabad was declared an open defecation free (ODF) city by the Centre and thereby became second major city (after Mumbai) with over 1 crore population to attain this status.
Hyderabad attains ODF status:
i. Swachh Bharat Mission Directorate of the Ministry of Urban Development grants ODF certificate to a city only if, at any point in the day, not a single person is found defecating in the open.
ii. ODF certificates are granted to the cities based on recommendations by a third party — Quality Council of India, which in turn gives recommendations based on an inspection.
iii. Besides Greater Hyderabad, six other Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) — Warangal Municipal Corporation (GWMC), Jangoan, Miryalguda, Bellampally, Sadashivpet and Mancherial have also been awarded ODF status.
iv. It is to be noted that ODF status fetches additional 110 marks for the city in the Swachh Survekshan 2018.
World’s largest cleanliness survey Swachh Survekshan launched
On January 4, 2018, Indian government commenced Swachh Survekshan – 2018. It is being dubbed as the world’s largest cleanliness survey.About Swachh Survekshan 2018:
i. Under Swachh Survekshan 2018, all 4041 cities and towns in India will be rated and ranked on various parameters of sanitation and cleanliness. This will be the first such pan-India exercise.
ii. Previous two editions of Swachh Survekshan did not cover all cities and towns. Under Swachh Survekshan-2016 (the first survey) 73 cities with over 10 lakh population and all the state capitals were ranked, while in the 2017 survey, 434 cities with over 1 lakh population and all the state capitals were ranked.
iii. Under Swachh Survekshan 2018, cities will be assessed on various parameters including open defecation free status, mechanism for collection of garbage, facilities for transportation of garbage, processing of garbage using scientific methods and efforts made to encourage public participation in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaign.
iv .The survey is being carried out by Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs. It will conclude in March 2018.
Government to introduce smart solutions in 7 cantonments
Minister of State for Defence, Subhash Bhamre has informed Lok Sabha that Central Government has identified Delhi and six other cantonments for introducing ‘smart solutions’ and upgrading civic amenities.
Details about Smart solutions in 7 cantonments:
i. Besides Delhi, six other cantonments that have been indentified are Ambala (Punjab), Deolali (Maharashtra), Ferozepur (Punjab), Meerut (Uttar Pradesh), Pune (Maharashtra) and Secunderabad (Telangana).
ii. Under this developmental initiative, online services will be introduced in the cantonments and various amenities and facilities will be monitored through use of information technology.
iii. In 2017, Indian Army had finalised a plan to develop various cantonments in line with the Central Government’s smart city initiative. Extensive deliberations in this regard were held during Indian Army commanders’ conference in 2017.
Govt exempts cruise tourists with e-visa from biometric enrolment till 2020
In a bid to promote cruise tourism in India, Central Government has announced that cruise tourists with e-visas will be exempted from the requirement of biometric enrolment till December 31, 2020.
i. On account of this exemption, immigration clearance of cruise passengers will become faster and passengers will have more time to spend on shore. This is one of the key factors which cruise lines evaluate before deciding whether or not to include a destination in their itinerary.
ii. This move holds significance, as during 2017-18 and 2019-20, many mega cruise ships with 2000-4000 passengers are expected to arrive on Indian shores.
iii. Currently, E-visa has been in place at five major ports of India viz. Mumbai, Mormugao, Cochin, Chennai and New Mangalore.
iv. As per the current rules, biometrics of passengers are required at port of first arrival for immigration clearance. The exemption for E-visa holders will generate a positive experience for passengers as till now the immigration procedure at the cruise terminals at Indian ports was taking more time than the internationally accepted norm clearance within 90 minutes.
FM Arun Jaitley chaired panel to look into old port projects
On January 3, 2018, Central Government formed a ministerial committee headed by Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley to take a decision on old, pre-existing projects in ports, which have become unviable.More Information about Committee to look into old port projects:
i. Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar are also a part of this committee.
ii. Currently, there are 10 such old projects, under Union Shipping Ministry, that have halted in non-profitability as operating under the decade old contract conditions have kept them in a state of unviability for years.
iii. Combined estimated value of these projects is Rs 20000 crore.
Open defecation in Maharashtra to invite spot fine of Rs 500
Maharashtra government has imposed a spot fine of Rs 500 for open defecation. Also spot fine is levied for littering, spitting and urinating in public places.
Fine for open defecation in Maharashtra:
i. The urban development department issued a Government Resolution (GR) that has bestowed the municipal corporations and councils with power to issue spot fines on people and institutions as per the Solid Waste Management Act, 2016.
ii. Spot fines for A, B, C and D category of civic bodies are the same. The spot fine rates are as follows:
1.Throwing garbage, dirt or waste material on roads and highways – Rs 150 to Rs 180
2.Spitting in public places – Rs 100 to Rs 150
3.Urinating in public place – Rs 100 to Rs 200
4.Defecating in the open – Rs 500
Some of the dams in Maharashtra:
♦ Tulshi Dam – Tulshi River
♦ Vihar Dam – Vihar River
♦ Ekrukh Dam – Adela river
Goa to host third edition of Science Film Festival
Third edition of the Science Film Festival of India will be held between 16th – 19th January, 2018 in Goa. This festival has been titled SCI-FFI Goa.About 3rd Science Film Festival of India:
i. This festival is being jointly organised by the Goa-based Vidnyan Parishad, Entertainment Society of Goa, Goa’s Department of Science and Technology and the Goa College of Art.
ii. A Science Film Making Competition will be the highlight of this festival. The competition will include films of duration of five minutes and those above five minutes.
iii. Winners will be selected for various categories viz. best film, Direction/Research Presentation, Design, Cinematography and Design.
iv. The winners will be awarded cash prizes from the total prize pool of Rs. 1 lakh.
Telangana government constitutes minorities commission under Mohammed Qamaruddin
On 2nd January 2018, Telangana government formed Minorities Commission with Mohammed Qamaruddin as its Chairman.
Mohammed Qamaruddin – Chairman of Telangana Minorities Commission:
i. Rajarapu Pratap was made vice chairman of Telangana Minorities Commission.
ii. The members of this commission are Mohammed Arshad Ali Khan, Vidya Sravanti, Gusty Noria, Bommala Kattaiah and Surender Singh.
Some museums in Telangana:
♦ Alampur Museum – Alampur
♦ Birla Science Museum – Hyderabad
♦ City Museum – Hyderabad
3 Union ministries join hands to propel Technology Mission for Railways
Ministries of railways, human resource development (HRD), and science and technology have tied up to accomplish the Technology Mission for Indian Railways.
3 Union ministries join hands for Technology Mission for Indian Railways:
i. A MoU on Technology Mission for Indian Railways (TMIR) was signed on 4th January 2018 by the ministries of railways, human resource development (HRD), and science and technology.
ii. The funding contribution in the Technology Mission is 30 % by the railways ministry, 25 % by the HRD ministry and 25 % by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
iii. This Technology Mission will conduct research and development projects in the fields of heavy haul, safety, energy, environment and urban railways.
iv. The projects will be implemented by Mission Implementation and Coordination Committee. The committee will comprise of members from the three ministries, academic institutions and industry.
About Department of Science and Technology (DST):
♦ Head – Dr. Harsh Vardhan
♦ Secretary – Ashutosh Sharma
♦ Functions under – Ministry of Science and Technology
India excludes Pakistan from a SAARC initiative
India has excluded Pakistan from the list of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries with which it will be connecting its state-of-the-art National Knowledge Network (NKN).About National Knowledge Network (NKN) and connectivity with SAARC Members:
i. NKN is a multi-gigabit pan-India network aimed at providing a unified high speed network backbone for educational institutions in India. Researchers from different educational networks can collaborate with each other through NKN.
ii. Indian government has started the process of appointing a telecom company that will connect and extend the NKN to research and education networks in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Pakistan is the only SAARC member country that will not be connected with NKN.
iii. NKN will be connected from these countries either to Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata, depending on the proximity. Connection from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives to India would be through a submarine cable.
Quick Facts about SAARC:
♦ Established in – 1985
♦ Headquarters – Kathmandu, Nepal
♦ Current Secretary-General – Amjad Hussain (Pakistan)
BANKING & FINANCE
RBI puts Allahabad Bank under prompt corrective action
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has initiated prompt corrective action (PCA) against Allahabad Bank owing to its high net non-performing assets (NPA) and a negative Return On Assets (ROA) for two years in a row.
Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) against Allahabad Bank:
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. Allahabad Bank is the 11th bank to face PCA in last eleven months.
iii. Other ten banks include Oriental Bank of Commerce, Dena Bank, Central Bank of India, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, UCO Bank, Corporation Bank, Bank of India and United Bank of India.
Quick Facts about Allahabad Bank:
♦ Founded in – 1865
♦ Headquarters – Kolkata, West Bengal
♦ Current CEO and MD – Usha Ananthasubramanian
♦ Tagline – ‘A Tradition of Trust’
Indiabulls Housing Finance issues India’s 1st Social Affordable Housing Bond
Private housing finance company, Indiabulls Housing Finance has raised Rs 1000 crore by selling the India’s first “Social Bonds”.i. Social Bonds are debt instrument, issued to raise funds which is to be deployed in financing/re-financing eligible social projects such as affordable housing, water supply, sanitation, transport etc.
ii. Private sector bank, Yes Bank was the sole investor in these bonds. These bonds have a five-year maturity and will be listed on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) for secondary market trading.
iii. Indiabulls Housing Finance will use the money raised through these bonds for financing the affordable housing sector. It will lend money to individuals and developers under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
iv. These bonds will conform to the Social Bond Principles 2017 issued by the International Capital Market Association. Besides, professional service company, KPMG will provide assurance services relating to the usage of the funds for the specified purpose.
Quick Facts about Indiabulls Housing Finance:
♦ Founded in – 2005
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
MP Govt to impose 50 paise cess on petrol and diesel to fund road infrastructure
On January 3, 2017, Madhya Pradesh government decided to impose 50 paisa cess on per litre of petrol and diesel.
MP Govt’s decision to impose cess on petrol and diesel:
i. Decision in this regard was taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
ii. Funds raised through this cess will be used for developing and strengthening road infrastructure across Madhya Pradesh and for laying the metro railroad in Bhopal and Indore.
iii. Madhya Pradesh State Government will first bring an ordinance to impose this cess and will Later introduce a bill in the assembly.
iv. Although the date from which the cess will be imposed has not been declared, Government sources have confirmed that it will be only for a stipulated period.
v. Currently 22 per cent and 28 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) is being charged on per litre of diesel and petrol respectively.
Quick Facts about Madhya Pradesh:
♦ Capital – Bhopal
♦ Current Governor – Om Prakash Kohli
♦ Current Chief Minister – Shivraj Singh Chouhan
♦ Important National Park – Bandhavgarh National Park
Bharat Biotech’s typhoid vaccine gets WHO pre-qualification
Indian biotechnology company, Bharat Biotech, has received Pre-Qualification tag from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Typbar TCV or Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine.About Bharat Biotech’s typhoid vaccine:
i. Bharat Biotech has spent Rs. 150 crore to develop this vaccine over a period of 12 years.
ii. On attaining the Pre-Qualification tag from WHO, Bharat Biotech will now have access (procurement and supply) to global public vaccination programmes.
iii. WHO has recommended usage of typhoid conjugate vaccines on infants between 6 and 23 months of age and for children between 2 and 15 years of age.
iv. As per International Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimates, about 12 million cases of typhoid fever were reported in 2016, resulting in 1.30 lakh deaths globally.
Quick Facts about Bharat Biotech:
♦ Founded in – 1996
♦ Headquarters – Hyderabad, Telangana
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Kookhyun Shim appointed as MD, CEO of Kia Motors India
On 3rd January 2018, Kookhyun Shim was appointed as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Kia Motors India.
Kookhyun Shim – MD & CEO of Kia Motors India:
i. Kia Motors India (KMI) is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor India Ltd. Kookhyun Shim is 58 years old.
ii. He will be responsible for the expansion of Kia Motors in India. Previously, he was head of Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia Plant Coordination Group. Earlier, he served as head coordinator in Slovakia for Kia’s production.
About Hyundai Motor India Ltd:
♦ Headquarters – Chennai, Tamil Nadu
♦ Key people – Mr. Y. K. Koo
Tata Motors appoints Hanne Birgitte Sorensen as independent director
Tata Motors has appointed Hanne Birgitte Sorensen as an additional and independent director for a period of five years, effective from 3 January 2018.Hanne Sorensen – Additional & Independent Director of Tata Motors:
i. Hanne Birgitte Sorensen is former CEO of Damco, a supply chain firm. She is currently a member of board of Ferrovial SA and Lafarge Holcim Ltd.
ii. Hanne Birgitte Sorensen is a Danish national. Earlier she was also the CEO of Maersk Tankers, Copenhagen.
About Tata Motors:
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
♦ Chairman – N Chandrasekaran
♦ CEO – Guenter Butschek
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Government launches MyGov platform, seeks suggestions to make living easier for common man
Government has launched MyGov platform to get suggestions from citizens of India from all walks of life.
i. The main aim of this platform is to improve citizen-government interface. Officials stated that to implement this, several rules and regulations have to be reformed.
ii .In certain cases, irrelevant rules or rules which are not citizen friendly will be waived. Already hundreds of comments have been registered on the platform, asking for changes in various fields.
Recent online portals launched by government:
♦ e-RaKAM portal – for selling agri products
♦ SHe-box – for sexual harassment complaints
♦ PENCIL – for Child Labour Elimination
Pakistan successfully tests Harba Missile in Arabian Sea
On January 3, 2018, Pakistan Navy successfully conducted a test fire of a naval cruise missile named ‘Harba’.About Pakistan’s ‘Harba’ Missile:
i. The test was conducted from Pakistan’s newly commissioned Fast Attack Craft, PNS Himmat, off Karachi in the North Arabian Sea.
ii. ’Harba’ is Pakistan’s indigenously built surface-to-surface anti-ship missile that can also hit any target on land.
iii. Pakistan Navy’s newly commissioned Fast Attack Craft, PNS Himmat is around 63 meters long and is equipped with state-of-the-art sensors and weapons.
Quick Facts about Pakistan:
♦ Capital – Islamabad
♦ Currency – Pakistani rupee
♦ Current Prime Minister – Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
♦ Important Rivers – Indus, Jhelum, Chenab
New endangered plant species discovered in China
A new endangered flowering plant species named ‘Primula Zhui’ has been discovered by scientists in Yunnan Province of China.Primula Zhui:
i. Primula Zhui is known in Chinese as Zhu Hua Baochun. It has been named after Zhu Hua, a Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) researcher.
ii. This belongs to the Primulaceae family, also known as primrose family. This has been declared as a critically endangered species as per the classification by the World Conservation Union.
About International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN):
♦ Location – Gland VD, Switzerland
♦ Director General – Inger Andersen
♦ President – Zhang Xinsheng
Meghalaya signs host city contract for 39th National Games in 2022
Meghalaya has signed the Host City Contract with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to host the 39th National Games in 2022.
Meghalaya to host the 39th National Games in 2022:
i. IOA, Meghalaya State Olympic Association and Meghalaya state government have signed the tripartite contract.
ii. Meghalaya sports director Matsiewdor W Nongbri announced that the masterplan of the 39th National Games will be submitted by January 2019.
iii. A working group under Sports Minister Zenith Sangma has been commissioned. Also, a Land Bank Committee and Team Preparation Committee have been formed.
iv. Rs 4.5 crore cheque was submitted to IOA as bid money for the National Games. Around 14,450 athletes and officials are expected to participate in the games.
About Indian Olympic Association (IOA):
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ President – Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra
♦ Secretary General – Mr. Rajeev Mehta
Colin Munro becomes first to score three T20 centuries
On 3rd January 2018, Colin Munro became the first batsman to score three hundreds in T20 internationals.Colin Munro – first to score three T20 centuries:
i. Colin Munro of New Zealand achieved this mark by scoring 104 off 53 balls including 3 fours and 10 sixes in the final T20 match against West Indies at Mount Maunganui, New Zealand.
ii. Collin Munro is a left handed batsman. New Zealand won over West Indies by 119 runs in the match.
About Colin Munro:
♦ Batting – Left-handed
♦ Bowling – Right-arm medium
♦ Role – Top-order Batsman
Former Maharashtra Minister Madhukarrao Kimmatkar passed away
On 3rd January 2018, Madhukarrao Kimmatkar, former Maharashtra Minister passed away due to brief illness in Nagpur.
Death of Madhukarrao Kimmatkar:
i. Madhukarrao Kimmatkar was 86 years old. He is survived by his wife, son and four daughters.
ii. He was affected by a pneumonia attack. He died at a private hospital in Nagpur. He had worked as the minister of state of Finance, Labour and Law and Judiciary.
Some wildlife sanctuaries in Maharashtra:
♦ Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary – Pune District
♦ Bor Wildlife Sanctuary – Wardha District
♦ Gautala Autramghat Sanctuary – Aurangabad District and Jalgaon District
Carnatic vocalist Radha Vishwanathan, daughter of M S Subbulakshmi passes away
On 3rd January 2018, Radha Viswanathan, carnatic singer, passed away at Fortis hospital in Chennai.Death of Radha Vishwanathan:
i. Radha Viswanathan is the daughter of famous classical singer M S Subbulakshmi. Radha Viswanathan was 83 years old.
ii. She was admitted to the hospital following breathing related complications. She had performed in concerts along with her mother M S Subbulakshmi.
About M S Subbulakshmi:
♦ Born – 16 September 1916
♦ Genre – Indian classical music
♦ Occupation – Classical vocalist
World Braille Day – January 4
On 4th January 2018, World Braille Day was observed all over the world.
World Braille Day:
i.World Braille Day is celebrated on 4th January every year to mark the birthday of Louis Braille, inventor of Braille system.
ii.Non-governmental organizations utilise this day to spread awareness on the challenges faced by visually impaired persons and to help create opportunities to support them.
iii.Braille system uses bumps and indentation on a surface to represent letters that can be felt by touch.
About Louis Braille:
♦ Born – 4 January 1809
♦ Occupation – educator
♦ Nationality – France