Current Affairs December 12 2018

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Current Affairs December 12 2018

 INDIAN AFFAIRS

Govt contribution to NPS raised to 14 pc, withdrawal made tax free: Finance Minister
On December 10, 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the rise in contribution of the government in National Pension Scheme (NPS) to14 per cent from existing 10 per cent, burdening the government by Rs 2,840 crore for 2019-20.
i. The change in contribution was recommended by Committee of Secretaries (CoS), thus resulting in a total corpus of 24% from the previous 20%.
ii. Out of the 24%, 14 per cent would be contributed by the government and the remaining 10 per cent by the employees.
iii. Furthermore, he also made entire withdrawal amount tax free at the time of retirement by enhancing the tax exemption limit for lump sum withdrawal on exit to 60%.
iv. At present, 40 per cent of the total accumulated corpus utilised for purchase of annuity is already tax exempted, and of 60 per cent of the accumulated corpus withdrawn by the NPS subscriber at the time of retirement, 40 per cent is tax exempt and balance 20 per cent is taxable.
v. This would benefit 18 lakh employees.
Other News:
i. Apart from this, 3-4 investment options have been made available due to these changes. They are:
Investment up to 25 per cent of the corpus in equity,
Investment up to 50 per cent of fund could be invested in equity and
Investing 100 per cent in government securities.
ii. Contribution by the government employees under Tier-II of NPS will now be covered under Section 80 C for deduction up to Rs 1.50 lakh.
Finance Ministry:
♦ Union Minister: Shri Arun Jaitley.
♦ Minister of State: Shri Shiv Pratap Shukla, Shri P. Radhakrishnan

2-day Regional Conference on ‘Good Governance- Focus on Aspirational Districts’ was held in Thiruvananthapuram
On December 11, 2018, a 2-day Regional Conference on ‘Good Governance – Focus on Aspirational Districts’ concluded at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
It started on December 10, 2018 and was inaugurated by the Governor of Kerala Shri Justice (Retd.) P. Sathasivam.
i. It was organized by:

  • The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India and
  • Government of Kerala.

ii. This conference was aimed at providing a common platform for formulation and implementation of best practices in citizen centric governance.
iii. It consisted of the following:

  • Session on Effective Governance and Transformation of Aspirational Districts,
  • Session on Good Governance Initiatives.

iv. Delegates from 9 states and 5 U.T.s from Western and Southern India participated in the Conference.
Kerala:
♦ Capital: Thiruvananthapuram.
♦ Chief Minister: Pinarayi Vijayan.
♦ Governor: Palanisamy Sathasivam.
♦ National Parks: Periyar National Park, Silent Valley National Park, Pampadum Shola National Park, Mathikettan National Park, Eravikulam National Park, Anamudi Shola National Park.

1st International Conference on Sustainable Water Management held in Mohali, Punjab
On December 10, 2018, the 2- day first International Conference, on the theme- ‘Sustainable Water Management’, commenced at Indian School of Business (ISB), Mohali in Punjab. It concluded on December 11, 2018.

1st International Conference on Sustainable Water Management held in Mohali, Punjabi. It was organized under National Hydrology Project, Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation by Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).
ii. In the conference,

  • Governor of Himachal Pradesh, Acharya Devvrat was the Chief Guest and
  • Shri U.P. Singh,Secretary, Government of India, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation was the Guest of Honour.

iii. The objective of the conference was

  • to foster the participation of stakeholders, governments among others and
  • to promote sustainable policies for water management at local, regional, national and international levels.

iv. A CD of documentary entitled ‘Bhakra Beas Nation’s Pride’ on BBMB was also released on the occasion.
v. Countries like Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Spain, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Canada, Germany, Sri Lanka etc. took part in the two-day conference.
For more information: Click Here
About National Hydrology Project:
♦ Approved in April 2016, the National Hydrology Project aims to set up a system for timely and reliable water resources data acquisition, storage, Design of hydropower units and linking with Smart cities, collation and management.
♦ Total cost of the project was Rs.3,640 crore. Out of the total outlay, fifty per cent of the amount that is Rs.1839.8837 crore, was a World Bank loan (given in 2017 of USD 175 million).
♦ It also provided for establishment of National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC) as an independent organization under the control of Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR, RD&GR).

‘Operation Minimum wage’,to check violations of Minimum Wage Act 2017, launched by Delhi government
On December 10, 2018, the Delhi government launched a 10-day special inspection drive named- “Operation Minimum Wage”, to check implementation of minimum wage rules set by the Union Territory government.
i. The operation will continue till December 21, 2018.
ii. The violation would be checked as per the Minimum Wages Act, 2017 and as per the act, the labourers can lodge a complaint by calling 155214.
iii. As per the Act, the punishment for not paying minimum wages can be Rs. 50,000 fine or a jail term for three years or both.
Background:
The government has fixed wages of various categories on the basis of skills. The minimum wage for the unskilled labourers is Rs 14,000 per month while that for semi-skilled is Rs 15,400 per month and for the skilled, it is Rs 16,962 per month.

Lepa Rada becomes 24th district of Arunachal Pradesh
On 11th December 2018, Arunachal Pradesh gets its 24th district – Lepa Rada,a day after Shi Yomi became a new district.
i. Lepa Rada is carved out of the Lower Siang district, comprising four administrative circles – Tirbin, Dari, Sago and Basar.
ii. Basar will be the headquarters of Lepa Rada.
iii. The state assembly on 29th August 2018 had passed a bill for creation of three new districts – Pakke-Kesang, Lepa Rada and Shi Yomi – in the state.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

7th Sino-India joint exercise Hand-in-Hand 2018 between Armies of India and China commenced at Chengdu, China
On December 10, 2018, the 14-day 7th Sino-India joint exercise Hand-in-Hand 2018, commenced at Chengdu, China between the Armies of India and China. It will conclude on December 23, 2018.

7th Sino-India joint exercise Hand-in-Hand 2018 commenced at Chengdu, China (2)i. The Indian contingent consists of 11 SHIKKLI led by Col.Puneet Pratap Singh Tomar, Commanding Officer,11 SIKHLI.
ii. The Chinese contingent consists of a regiment from Tibetan Military District of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) led by Col Zhou Jun. Major General Kuang Dewang, senior representative of joint training from PLA.
iii. The aim of the exercise is to build and promote close relations between armies of both the countries.
iv. The exercise will involve tactical level operations in an international counter insurgency/ counter terrorism environment under UN mandate.
Background:
♦ The exercises will be held after a gap of one year as both the sides were locked in a 73-day standoff in Doklam.
♦ On November 23-24 both the countries met at the 21st India-China border talks held at Dujiangyan near Chengdu in southwestern Sichuan province.
♦ Also on November 13, 2018, the 9th Defence dialogue was held between Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra and Lt Gen Shao Yuanming, Deputy Chief of Joint Staff Department of Central Military Commission in Beijing, China.
♦ Furthermore, in April 2018, PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to work on mutual strained relation of India and China in the informal summit in Wuhan, China.
China:
♦ Capital: Beijing.
♦ Currency: Renminbi.

Israel becomes a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
On 10th December 2018, Israel became a full member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body set up to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other threats to the international financial system.
Key Points:
i. Earlier Israel became an observer to the FATF in February 2016 and In 2000 the Israel was blacklisted by the organization and was removed from the list in 2002, but now has become the group’s 38th member.
ii. A FATF compliance report on Israel ranked the country as one of three leading Country, alongside the US and the UK, for the effectiveness of its anti-money laundering apparatus, its battle against terror financing, the work of its Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority, and its policy of seizing the financial proceeds of crime.
iii. The FATF membership will tag Israel as an attractive country for international investment and improve the status of the Israeli financial sector and its ability to operate in the global economy.
About Financial Action Task Force (FATF):
♦ Headquarters: Paris, France
♦ President: Marshall Billingslea
About Israel:
♦ Capital: Jerusalem
♦ Currency:  Israeli new shekel
♦ Prime minister: Benjamin Netanyahu

BANKING & FINANCE

Tranche 4 loan agreement worth $31 mn to develop Tourism infrastructure in Tamil Nadu under IDIPT signed between India and ADB
On December 11, 2018, Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a loan agreement of 31 million dollars in New Delhi to develop Tourism and boost Jobs in Tamil Nadu.
i. It was signed by:
Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Sameer Kumar Khare and
Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director for ADB in India.
ii. This was a tranche 4 loan for Infrastructure Development Investment Program for Tourism (IDIPT) for Tamil Nadu.
iii. The total cost of the project is $44.04 million, of which the Government will provide $13.04 million. The estimated completion date of the project is June 2020.
iv. The agreement focuses on:

  • Improvement of Tourism infrastructure in Tamil Nadu and
  • Preserving Cultural and Natural heritage of the state.

v. It will also support the conservation and restoration of eight heritage monuments, one museum, three temples, and a pond
About IDIPT:
Approved in September 2010, the $250 million IDIPT aims to build opportunities for local communities and boost local economy by enhancing tourism.
Besides Tamil Nadu, 3 other states Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand– fall under this programme.
ADB:
♦ Headquarters: Manila, Philippines.
♦ President: Takehiko Nakao.
♦ Established in 1966.
♦ Members: 67 (48 regional members).

Jana Small Finance Bank Launches Jana Bankable Debit Card
On 11th December 2018 Jana Small Finance Bank in association with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has launched Jana Bankable Debit Card.

Jana Small Finance Bank Launches Jana Bankable Debit CardKey Points:
i. This card is designed for cricket fans who like deals and offers on online shopping, gym membership, health & wellness products, food delivery, music and travel on top brands like Snap Fitness, Snapdeal, Gaana.com, IXIGO, Myntra, Crocs, Puma and GrowFit.
ii. The card comes with images of the top Indian cricketers – Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya.
iii. The Jana Small Finance Bank is the official sponsor of BCCI for all the cricket matches that are played in India.
iv. To grab the business, the bank is also offering interest rate of 8.5% and 9.1% for senior citizens on fixed deposit on tenor of 181 days to 5 years besides, offering 9% interest rate on Fixed Deposit with no premature withdrawal on a tenor of more than one year and up to 3 years.
About Jana Small Finance Bank:
♦ MD & CEO: Ajay Kanwal
♦ Headquarters: Bengaluru
♦ Tagline of the Bank: Likho Apni Kahaani

RBI slapped Rs 1 crore fine on Indian Bank for violating cyber security norms
On December 11, 2018, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) imposed a fine amounting to Rs. 1 crore on Indian Bank for violating cyber security norms.
i. The Indian Bank had contravened the Circular on Cyber Security Framework in banks due to which it had to face the penalty.
ii. It is with regard to RBI’s directions on Frauds- Classification and Reporting by Commercial Banks.
iii. The penalty was imposed under the provision of Banking Regulations Act 1949.
Indian Bank:
♦ Headquarters: Chennai.
♦ Tagline: Your Own Bank.
♦ MD & CEO: Ms. Padmaja Chunduru.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy 2018 released by World Bank
On 10th December 2018, the World Bank released a report named Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (RISE) 2018.The report was released on the sidelines of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24).
i. The number of countries with strong policy frameworks for sustainable energy more than tripled — from 17 to 59 — in the eight years till 2017.
ii. RISE 2018 charts global progress on sustainable energy policies and shows that policies matter – they are a leading indicator and building block of the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
iii. RISE 2018 rates 133 countries from 2010-17 on electricity access, renewable energy, energy efficiency and access to clean cooking to provide useful data to policymakers and help the private sector make informed decisions about investing in energy projects.Click here for more Information.
About World Bank
♦ Headquarter: Washington DC, USA
♦ President: Jim Yong Kim

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Sascha Bajin, Naomi Osaka’s coach became first ever WTA Coach of the Year
On December 11, 2018, Sascha Bajin, coach of the world number five Naomi Osaka, became the first-ever recipient of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Coach of the Year Award.

Coach of the year 2018i. Under his guidance, Osaka won her career first WTA title at the Paribas Open (Indian Wells) and claimed her maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open after defeating American tennis ace Serena Williams.
ii. He also served as a Gold Member of the newly implemented WTA Coach Program.
Other News:
i. On other WTA awards:
Petra Kvitora won her 6th consecutive sportsmanship award (7th overall) and
Bethani Mattek-Sands won the Peachy Kellmeyer player service award.
ii. The tournament awards are broken down into four categories reflecting the different levels of WTA tournaments, with the winners as follows:

  • WTA Premier Mandatory: BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells)
  • WTA Premier 5: Internazionali BNL d’Italia (Rome)
  • WTA Premier: St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy
  • WTA International: Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open.

Golden State Warriors Named Sports Illustrated’s 2018 Sportsperson of the Year
On 10th December 2018, NBA champion Golden State Warriors have been named the 2018 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year. The team will be honored at the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Awards Show in Los Angeles on December 11 2018.

Golden State Warriors Named Sports Illustrated's 2018 Sportsperson of the YearGolden State is the fourth team ever to receive the prestigious honour joining the U.S. Men’s Olympic Hockey Team (1980), the U.S. Women’s Soccer team (1999) and the Boston Red Sox (2004).
Winners of 2018 Sports Illustrated Award:

  •  John Cena:Muhammad Ali Legacy Award;
  • Rachael Denhollander:Inspiration of the Year;
  • Aaron Donald:Performer of the Year;
  • Alvin Kamara:Breakout of the Year; and
  • Leah Hayes:SportsKid of the Year.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

SWIFT India appointed former SBI chief Arundhati Bhattacharya as board chairman
On December 10, 2018, Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) India appointed former SBI chief Arundhati Bhattacharya as the new Chairman of its board.
i. She will succeed former banker M. V. Nair who will step down after the completion of his 5-year tenure.
ii. Earlier in October 2018, Arundhati Bhattacharya was designated as an independent additional director on the board of Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries Ltd.
iii. She also had been elected as an advisor in the private equity firm ChrysCapital Advisors.
About SWIFT India:
♦ SWIFT India is a joint venture of top Indian public and private sector banks and SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication).
♦ CEO: Kiran Shetty.

Economist Surjit Bhalla resigned from PM Economic Advisory Council
On December 11, 2018, Indian economist Surjit Bhalla announced his resignation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC).

Economist Surjit Bhalla resigned from PM Economic Advisory Councili. His resignation is effective from December 1, 2018.
ii. After the resignation, he joined the CNN IBN group.
iii. Also he released a book called Citizen Raj: Indian Elections 1952-2019, focusing on Indian elections since 1952.
About PMEAC:
♦ The PMEAC was set up in September 2017 by Modi as a five-member panel. It is currently headed by senior economist and NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy.
♦ The council identified ten areas for reviving growth and employment such as jobs, monetary policy, public spending and agriculture.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Shri Radha Mohan Singh launched a portal ENSURE- National Livestock Mission-EDEG developed by NABARD
On 11th December 2018, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Shri Radha Mohan Singh launched a portal ENSURE- National Livestock Mission-EDEG developed by NABARD and operated under the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries.
Key Points:
i. Under the National Livestock Mission’s component called Entrepreneurship Development and Employment Generation (EDEG), subsidy payment for activities related to poultry, small ruminants, pigs, etc. goes directly to the beneficiary’s account through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).
ii. The NABARD has developed an online portal “ENSURE” (https://ensure.nabard.org), in order to make the process of DBT better, simpler and transparent, so that the information related to beneficiary and processing of application can be made readily available.
iii. Under the new process, controlling officer/branch manager of the bank, after scrutinizing & sanctioning of proposal, uploads the subsidy claims in the portal.
iv. The subsidy will be approved within 30 days from the date of sanction of loan thus the flow of information/funds will also be quicker and more accountable.
v. The burden of extra interest due to delay in the disbursal of the subsidy would now be reduced after the launch of the portal.
National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD):
♦ Chairman: Harsh Kumar Bhanwala
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare:
♦ Agriculture Minister: Shri Radha Mohan Singh
♦ Minister of State: Shri Purushottam.R, Smt. Krishna Raj, Shri Gajendra S.S

Voyager 2 probe has officially reached interstellar space: NASA
On 10th December 2018, NASA’s Voyager 2 probe became the second human-made object in history to reach the edge of our solar system i.e., the Interstellar space- the space between the stars.  Voyager 2 probe now has exited the heliosphere – the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun.
i. Its twin, Voyager 1, crossed this boundary in 2012, but Voyager 2 launched 41 years ago in 1977, carries a working instrument that will provide first-of-its-kind observations of the nature of this gateway into interstellar space.
ii. Voyager 2 now is slightly more than 18 billion kilometres away from the Earth.
iii. Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have visited all four gas giant planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and discovered 16 moons, as well as phenomena like Neptune’s mysterious transient Great Dark Spot, the cracks in Europa’s ice shell, and ring features at every planet.

ENVIRONMENT

Nishidhi stone inscription from the 12th century was found at Nandi Basaveshwara temple, Karnataka
 Nishidhi stone inscription from the 12th century was found at Nandi Basaveshwara temple in Harakere village in Shivamogga district, Karnataka.
i. The Nishidhi stone inscriptions are issued to commemorate Jain ascetics who perform Sallekhana vratha and inscription found here proves that there was a strong influence of Jainism in the region.
ii. R. Shejeshwara, Assistant Director, Department of Archeology, Heritage and Museums, and Jagadeesh, historian, discovered the inscription during a field work undertaken in Harakere.
iii. The inscription is of 60 cm long and 15 cm wide and is chiselled from a schist rock slab.

OBITUARY

Senior Kerala Congress Leader CN Balakrishnan passed away at 87
On December 11, 2018, Senior Congress leader and former Kerala minister CN Balakrishnan passed away at 87 in Kochi, Kerala.

Senior Kerala Congress Leader CN Balakrishnan passed away at 87i. He was the Thrissur district Congress committee president for 17 years and the state unit treasurer.
ii. In 2011, he became the state Cooperation Minister in the Oommen Chandy cabinet.

BOOKS & AUTHORS

Book written by Arvind Subramanian “Of Counsel:The Challenges of the Modi Jaitley Economy” was launched in Mumbai
On 9th December 2018, the book, ‘Of Counsel: The Challenges of the Modi-Jaitley Economy’ written by former chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian was launched in Mumbai

Of Counsel The Challenges of the Modi Jaitley EconomyKey Points:
i. In the book Mr.Subramanian has provided with an inside account of his rollercoaster journey as the CEA from 2014 to 2018, succeeding Raghuram Rajan as captain of the ship.
ii. He also opened up about his tenure, which saw the controversial demonetisation of high-value currency notes and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). He has criticized demonetization as a massive, draconian, monetary shock that accelerated the economic slide.
iii. He also addressed the over-leveraging of public-sector banks, the fraught links between the state and private sector (‘stigmatized capitalism’), the changing relationship between the state and the individual, and the ever-pervasive, life-threatening issues surrounding climate change in the book.

IMPORTANT DAYS

UNICEF Day 2018 – 11 December 2018
On 11th December 2018, UNICEF (United Nations International Children Emergency Fund) Headquartered in New York celebrated its 71st foundation day.
On 11 December 1946, UNICEF was created by United Nations General Assembly to provide long-standing charitable and developmental support to children and mothers in evolving countries.

International Mountain Day observed on December 11
December 11 is observed as International Mountain Day.

International Mountain Day observed on December 11i. Theme for the 2018 edition of the International Mountain Day is: “#MountainsMatter”.
ii. It is celebrated by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to spread awareness about the contribution of mountains in the biodiversity as it consists of approximately a quarter of the terrestrial biological diversity.
iii. Also to commemorate the day, there will be an IMD side event on “Mountain adaptation: Vulnerable peaks and people” at UNFCCC COP24 in Katowice, Poland.
Background:
Mountains are early indicators of climate change and as the climate changes the liveability and development gets hampered due to many challenges thus faced by the mountain community.
FAO:
♦ Headquarters: Rome, Italy.