Current Affairs December 29 2018

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

Cabinet Approvals on 28th December,2018
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved the following:
i. Cabinet approved hike in MSP for Copra by more than Rs.2000 per quintal for 2019 season
ii. Cabinet approved listing of 7 unlisted CPSEs on Stock Exchange
iii. Cabinet approved Indian Human Spaceflight Initiative: Gaganyaan Programme; first phase to cost Rs. 9023 crores
iv. Cabinet approved Amendment in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012
v. Cabinet approved the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 2018
vi. Cabinet approved setting up of the National Commission for Homeopathy Bill, 2018
vii. Cabinet approved setting up of the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCIM) Bill, 2018……………………….Click here to Read more

Cabinet Approvals with Foreign Countries on 28th December,2018
On December 28, 2018, the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved the following MOUs with the foreign countries.
i. Cabinet approved Submission of India’s Second Biennial Update Report (BUR) to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
ii. Cabinet apprised of two Bilateral MoUs between India and Cuba, and India and South Korea in the area of Biotechnology
iii. Cabinet approved Framework Agreement between India and Sao Tome &Principe for Cooperation in the Exploration and Uses of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes………………………….Click here to Read more

Nitin Gadkari lays Foundation Stone of 11 projects for Yamuna Rejuvenation
On 27th December 2018, Shri Nitin Gadkari, the current Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Road Transport & Highways and Shipping laid foundation stones for eleven projects for Yamuna Rejuvenation under the Namami Gange Programme in New Delhi.
Key Points:
i. Under the Namami Gange Programme which has been initiated by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), a total of eleven projects have been undertaken to conserve the River Yamuna in Delhi..
ii. These projects are being covered by the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) III which were launched by the Government of India with JICA assistance in Delhi and are located in three drainage zones which are Kondli, Rithala and Okhla.
iii. The executing agency for the projects is the Delhi Jal Board.
ivDr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Environment and Forest and Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi were also present at the occasion. Eight sewerage infrastructure projects, Waste Water Treatment Plants and Decentralized STPs comes under YAP-III.
About the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation
♦ Union Minister: Shri Nitin jairam Gadkari
♦ Minister of State:Satya Pal Singh,Arjun Ram Meghwal.

Government bans Khalistan Liberation Force under UAPA
On December 27th, 2018, The Government has banned the Khalistan Liberation Force under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act(UAPA), for its wholesome involvement in various killings, bombings and other allied terror activities, in the course of its aggressive call for the aimed secession of Punjab.It is 40th Organization which is banned under the UAPA. Ban klfKey Points:
i. The verdict has been given effect to owing to the efforts by several militant organizations for revival of militancy in the state of Punjab.
ii. The complete ban on Khalistan Liberation Force(KLF) has been brought into effect because of its proven contribution towards the increment in the number of events for extortion, kidnappings, bank robberies and assassination attempts of significant Government functionaries.
About Khalistan Liberation Force:
♦ Establishment: 1986
♦ Objective: Establish an independent Khalistan by separation from India through violent means

All vehicles to come fitted with high security number plates from Apr 1: Road ministry
On December 28, 2018, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari,notified about the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 to mandate fitting of high security registration plates (HSRP) for all vehicles from April 1,2019.
i. The official notification mandates that the high security registration plate including the third registration mark shall be supplied by the vehicle manufacturers along with the vehicles manufactured on or after April 1, 2019.
ii. The vehicle dealers can also provide the HSRP plates for old vehicles.The HSRP helps in keeping track of the vehicle, and makes it easier to trace a lost or stolen vehicle.
iii. An HSRP is a chromium-based hologram applied by hot stamping on the number plates both at the front and back besides laser-branding of a permanent identification number.

5-day 42nd Indian Social Science Congress inaugurated by Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla at KIIT Campus in Odisha 
On December 27, 2018, Governor of Manipur, Dr. Najma A. Heptulla inaugurated the 5-day long 42nd Indian Social Science Congress at the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) campus in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.It will conclude on 31st December,2018.5-day 42nd Indian Social Science CongressObjective:
To promote research in science and social sciences to reach the grassroot level.
Key Points:
i. The event was organised by: KIIT and Indian Social Science Academy (ISSA).
ii. The theme of the conference is “Human Future in Digital Era.”
iii. The previous conference, the 41st Indian Social Science Congress was held in Periyar University in Tamil Nadu, with the focal theme of “Indian University Education System: A Critical Appraisal”.
Background:
♦ Indian Social Science Congress is the annual meet of social scientists organised by Indian Social Science Academy (ISSA).
Manipur:
♦ Chief Minister: Shri. N Biren Singh.
♦ Governor: Dr. Najma A. Heptulla.
Odisha:
♦ Chief Minister: Shri. Naveen Patnaik.
♦ Governor: Prof. Ganeshi Lal.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Nepal caps expenditure of its citizens in India-1 Lakh per Month
On 25th December 2018,in order to address the country’s current account deficit, Nepal imposed a monthly limit on the amount of Indian currency its citizen can spend in India while paying for goods and services.
Key Points:
i. With the approval of new restrictions a Nepali citizen would be unable to spend more than Rs.1 lakh per month while paying for goods and services in India.
ii. The policy which came into effect from 25th December 2018 will also be applicable to use of prepaid, credit and debit cards of Nepali banks for purchasing done in Indian Markets. However,the latest measure would exempt payment in hospitals and pharmacies in India.
iii. The decision was taken to deal with the growing problem of current account deficit and the balance of payment crisis between India and Nepal.
iv. Nepal continues to deal with the after-effects of the demonetisation by India. Nepal is yet holding huge amount of Indian currency that has not been exchanged so far by Delhi, so the latest moves were also aimed at assuring the domestic market that Nepal would remain secure in case India repeated demonetisation in the future.
v .On 14th December 2018, Nepal government had formally banned the use of Indian currency notes of Rs 2,000, Rs 500 and Rs 200 denominations in Nepal.
About Nepal:
♦ Currency: Nepalese rupee
♦ Capital: Kathmandu
♦ Prime Minister: Khadga Prasad Oli
♦ President: Bidhya Devi Bhandari

BANKING & FINANCE

RBI relaxes withdrawal limit for depositors of City Co-operative Bank
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has relaxed the norms for the Mumbai-based the City Co-operative Bank, allowing its depositors to withdraw a sum not exceeding Rs 5,000 of the total balance in every savings bank or current account or any other deposit account, against Rs 1,000 earlier.RBI relaxes withdrawal limit for depositorsKey Points:
i. Earlier in April this year, the RBI had imposed several restrictions on the cooperative bank, including limiting the withdrawal by depositors to Rs 1,000 amid weakening of the financial position of the bank.
ii. The RBI had relaxed the said norm with the condition that- wherever any depositor is having liability to the bank in any manner, i.e. either as a borrower or surety, including loans against the bank deposits, the amount may be adjusted first to the relevant borrowal account/s.
iii. The central bank has said that the modification in the directive “should not per-se be construed” to imply that it is satisfied about an improvement in the financial position of the bank.
About Reserve Bank of India (RBI):
♦ Governor: Shaktikanta Das
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai

Government infuses Rs 2159 cr in United Bank of India
On 26th December 2018,the Union Government decided to infuse Rs 2,159 crore in the State-owned United Bank of India as a part of Rs 28,615 crore capital infusion to be done in seven public sector banks via recapitalisation bonds in near future.
Key Points:
i. According to sources, the recapitalization amount that the seven public sector banks might receive is as follows:

Name of BankRecapitalization Amount (Rs.)
Bank of India10,086 crore
Central Bank of India1,678 crore
United Bank of India2,159 crore
Oriental Bank of Commerce5,500 crore
Bank of Maharashtra4,498 crore
UCO bank3,056 crore
Syndicate Bank1,638 crore
ii .In 2018-19, the centre had announced an infusion worth Rs 65,000 crore in PSBs, out of which Rs 23,000 crore had been cleared already, while Rs 42,000 crore is still remaining.
iii. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earlier this month, said the government would put an additional Rs 41,000 crore in PSBs over and above what was announced earlier and on December 20, the government sought Parliament’s approval for infusion of an additional Rs 41,000 crore.
iv. The recapitalisation would enhance the lending capacity of PSBs and help them come out of the Reserve Bank of Indias Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework.
v. Eleven out of the total 21 PSBs are under the RBI’s PCA framework, which imposes lending restrictions on weak banks.
About Ministry of Finance:
♦ Minister: Arun Jaitley
♦ Minister of State: Shiv Pratap Shukla, Pon Radhakrishnan
♦ Finance Secretary: Ajay Narayan Jha

ICICI topped list of banks penalising staff for fraud in 2015-2017: RBI data
On December 27, 2018,according to data furnished by the Reserve Bank of India, between 2015 and 2017,private lender ICICI Bank penalised the highest number of employees for defrauding bank assets in the last three year out of 60 scheduled commercial banks operating in IndiaICICI Bank launches digital form for opening current accountsi .It is followed by State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank.
ii. In all, banks took action against a staggering 13,949 officials, of which 16 per cent, or 2,236, belonged to ICICI.
iii. However, the number of fraud cases has declined over the past 3 years.

SIDBI allowed to use an existing Rs 1000-crore corpus for lending to MFIs: RBI
On December 27, 2018, Reserve Bank of India(RBI) cleared a proposal to give existing Rs 1000-crore corpus to Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) for funding micro finance institutions (MFIs).
i. With this,soft loans to MFIs would be provided on a condition that end borrowers should get loans at 15-17% rate, lower than the market rate of 20-22%.
ii. For this SIDBI had tied up with entities such as Uttar Pradesh-based Cashpor Micro Credit and Karnataka-based Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP) and the next tie up would be with Odisha.
iii. Additionally, this would also enable SIDBI to fund the “missing middle segment” whose range varies from Rs 50000 to Rs 3 lakh, which can be increased to Rs 5 lakh, for the first time.
SIDBI:
♦ Headquarters: Lucknow, UP.
♦ Chairman & MD: Shri.Mohammad Mustafa.

HDFC Group pipped Tata Group as India’s largest business house worth Rs. 10.40 lakh crore
On December 28, 2018,according to Bloomberg data,Deepak Parekh-led HDFC group overtook Tata Group become the country’s largest conglomerate in terms of market capitalisation.
i. The total market capitalization (MACP) of the group’s five listed companies is currently valued at Rs 10.40 lakh crore,which is Rs 1,185 crore more than that of Tata Group.
ii. HDFC Bank,a part of the group,is only the third company in Indian corporate history to cross the Rs 5-lakh crore market capitalisation threshold, after TCS (Rs 7.16 trillion) and RIL (Rs 7.09 trillion).
iii. Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance group is third in market cap ranking at Rs 7.06 lakh crore.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Public Enterprises Survey 2017-18: Indian Oil, ONGC, NTPC most profitable PSUs in FY18
On December 27, 2018, according to a survey titled ‘The Public Enterprises Survey 2017-18’ tabled in the parliament, Indian Oil Corporation, ONGC and NTPC emerged as the top three most profitable PSUs in 2017-18.Indian OilThe survey mapped the performance of central public sector units.
It was prepared by the Department of Public Enterprises, Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises.
Highlights of the survey:
i. The top ten loss making PSUs claimed 84.71 per cent of the total losses made by all the 71 CPSEs.
ii. The top ten profit making CPSEs accounted for 61.83 per cent of the total profit earned by all the 184 profit making state-owned firms during the year.
iii. Indian Oil Corporation, ONGC and NTPC emerged as the top three most profitable PSUs in 2017-18 and contributed to 13.37 per cent, 12.49 per cent and 6.48 per cent, respectively to the total profit earned by CPSEs during the same period.
iv. The top 5 was closed off by, Coal India and Power Grid Corporation occupying the fourth and fifth spot in the list.
v. The three worst performing PSUs, including BSNL, Air India and MTNL, contributed 52.15 per cent of the total loss incurred by CPSEs in 2017-18.
vi. Power Finance Corporation entered into the list of the top ten profit making CPSEs.
vii. Among the other companies entering the loss-making PSU list were: Bharat Coking Coal Limited, India Infrastructure Finance Co and Eastern Coalfields.
viii. There were 339 Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE) in 2017-18, out of which 257 were in operation. Remaining 82 of the CPSEs were under construction.
ix. Overall net profit of 257 Operating CPSEs is Rs. 1,28,374 crore for FY 2017-18
Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises:
♦ Union Minister: Shri. Anant Geete.
♦ Minister of State: Shri. Babul Supriyo.

India pips China in FDI inflows for the first time in 20 years
According to data from Dealogic, a global Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) and capital markets data provider, India has been getting more foreign investment than its neighbour China for the first time in two decades.
Key Points:
i. In 2018, India whose financial market is supported by stable fundamentals, a bankruptcy code and fresh opportunities in sunrise sectors, saw more than $38 billion of inbound deals compared with China’s $32 billion.
ii. China, which has historically been the favourite for emerging market bets, is facing slowdown nowadays because of its trade standoff with the United States.
iii. India has had a busy Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) calendar in 2018 and it will continue to see good traction in inbound M&As besides, global investors are typically focusing on India despite short-term uncertainty over the political climate.
iv. The wealthy foreign investors are attracted to deploy funds in the country since the asset divestment is happening because of the new bankruptcy framework.
About China:
♦ Capital: Beijing
♦ Currency: Renminbi
♦ President:  Xi Jinping

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Modric beats Djokovic to win Balkan athlete of the year award
On 27th December 2018, Croatia’s captain and Spanish club Real Madrid’s midfielder Luka Modric was named the Balkan Athlete of the year beating Men’s tennis world number one player Novak Djokovic. The poll to name Balkan Athlete of the year was organized by the Bulgarian News Agency (BTA).He thus became  the second soccer player to win the prize after Bulgaria’s former European Footballer of the Year Hristo Stoichkov in 1994.Balkan athlete of the year awardKey Points
i. Serbian player Novak Djokovik got second position whereas women’s number one tennis Romania’s Simona Halep got third position in the Balkan’s poll.
ii. Luka Modric lead Croatia to the FIFA World cup final and bagged player of the tournament for the FIFA 2018 organized in Russia.
iii. Modrik had also won the prestigious men’s Ballon d’Or award for the first time in December 2018.
About Croatia
♦ Capital: Zagreb
♦ Currency: Kuna (HRK)

Barack Obama named most admired man for 11th year in a row
Former President of United States of America (USA), Barack Obama has been named as the most admired man by Americans for the 11th year in a row according to a gallup poll. Present President of USA, Donald trump ranked 2nd for the fourth consecutive year.
i. Former First Lady of USA Michelle Obama was also voted as the most admired women by American.
ii. Hillary Clinton missed the top of the list this year,ended her 17-year run as most admired woman.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Ex-President Rajoelina wins Madagascar Election by defeating Marc Ravalomanana
On December 27th, 2018, Andry Rajoelina, a former leader of Madagascar has won the country’s presidential vote and in the process defeated Marc Ravalomanana, who was another former President of the country.Madagascar ElectionKey Points:
i. Rajoelina won nearly 56% of the votes and had got 39% of the vote during the first round of the election, whereas, Mr. Ravalomanana had got 35%.
ii. The former president of the country, Henry Rajaonarimampianina was eliminated in the first round of the election as he obtained just 9% of the votes.
iii. Both Rajoelina and Ravalomanana are wealthy men and were barred from the 2013 presidential race and had promised to boost the economy of the country. Although, the elections had been beset by allegations of fraud.
About Madagascar:
♦ Capital: Antananarivo
♦ Prime Minister: Christian Ntsay

Justice Praveen Kumar appointed Acting Chief Justice of Andhra High Court
On December 28th, 2018, Honorable President Ram Nath Kovind appointed Justice Chagari Praveen Kumar as the fresh acting Chief Justice of Andhra High Court,that will come into existence on January 1, 2019.He would assume the charge on January 01, 2019.
Key Points:
i. Upon the requirement of creation of a new High Court for Andhra Pradesh in the state capital of Amravati, Mr. Praveen Kumar was hired for the new position.
ii. Under the provisions of Article 223 of the Constitution of India, President Ram Nath Kovind has appointed Justice Chagari Praveen Kumar, in order to discharge the designated duties of the office of Chief Justice of Andhra High Court.
About Andhra Pradesh:
♦ Capital: Amravati
♦ Chief Minister: Shri Chandrababu Naidu
♦ Governor: ESL Narsimhan Rao

Ambika Prasad Panda appointed CMD of SECL
On December 27th 2018,with respect to the order issued by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas,Ambika Prasad Panda has been given the opportunity of discharging the duties of Chairman and Managing Director of South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL).CMD of SECLKey Points:
i. Mr. Panda is holding the position of Director(Finance) in SECL, as of now.
ii. The appointment of CMD of SECL has been done for a duration of five years.
About South Eastern Coalfields Limited & Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas:
♦ Headquarters: Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh
♦ Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas: Shri Dharmendra Pradhan

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

USD 3 bn worth Russia’s S-400 missile air defence system successfully tested by China
On December 27, 2018, China successfully tested Russia’s S-400 missile air defence system.
i. It received the last shipments of the weaponry from Russia in July under a USD 3 billion contract signed in 2015.
ii. China was the first foreign buyer to seal a government-to-government deal with Russia in 2014 to procure the S-400 missile.
iii. It has a supersonic speed of 3 kilometre per second.

Russia successfully tested new hypersonic nuclear missile Avangard
On December 26, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin over saw the successful test of a new hypersonic missile dubbed “Avangard,” with speeds of more than 30,000 kilometres per hour in Moscow.Avangardi. The system would be ready for use from 2019.
ii.It has the ability to fly at 20 times the speed of sound and could manoeuvre up and down, meaning it could breach defence systems.
Background:
♦ The final test comes after US President Donald Trump announced plans to pull out of a key Cold War-era nuclear weapons pact, the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

SPORTS

Virat Kohli breaks Dravid’s 16 year old Test record with 82-run knock
On 27th December 2018, Indian Cricket team Captain, Virat Kohli surpassed former India’s Captain Rahul Dravid’s 16 years record of highest runs in overseas Tests after playing a knock of 82 runs on the second day of 3rd Test against Australia.
i. Rahul Dravid had scored 1137 runs in Overseas Tests in 2002 which was broken by Virat Kohli who had scored 1138 runs in 2018.

American adventurer O’Brady First Person to complete solo trek across Antarctica
On 26th December 2018, American adventurer Colin O’Brady became the first person to complete a solo journey across Antarctica, unaided and unsupported, after finishing a two-month expedition in frigid temperatures and winds of 30 mph.American adventurer O'Brady First Person to complete solo trek across Antarcticai. The 33 years old Colin O’Brady, took 54 days to complete the nearly 1,000 mile (1,600-kilometer) crossing of the frozen continent from north to south, with his voyage being tracked by GPS, and live updates of the trip were provided daily on his website colinobrady.com.
ii. On 3rd November 2018, O’Brady and an Englishman, Army Captain Louis Rudd, 49, set off individually from Union Glacier in a bid to be the first to complete a solo, unassisted crossing of Antarctica. Rudd is about a day or two behind O’Brady.