Current Affairs December 30 2018

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

President of India inaugurated the 12th Global Healthcare Summit in Mumbai; centenary of world’s oldest yoga institute also inaugurated in Mumbai
On December 28, 2018, the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, inaugurated the 12th Global Healthcare Summit in Mumbai.

President of India inaugurated the 12th Global Healthcare Summit in Mumbaii. It was organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin.
ii. In his address he announced that since the launch of Ayushman Bharat in September 2018, 6.5 lakh patients belonging to the deprived families have been hospitalized and over Rs. 850 crore has been spent for their medical treatments.
Other News:
i. The President also addressed The Yoga Institute, Mumbai, which had marked 100 years of its establishment.
ii.He also launched the Sadbhaav Utsav Programme.
About Ayushman Bharat:
♦ Launched: September 2018.
♦ Other names: PM Jan-Arogya Yojana, National Health Protection Scheme.
♦ Target: 10.74 crore poor families to get benefit of Rs. 5lakh per family per year.
♦ 1st Health centre launched at Bijapur, Chhattishgarh in April 14, 2018.
♦ CEO: Dr. Indu Bhushan.
Maharashtra:
♦ Capital: Mumbai.
♦ Chief Minister: Devendra Fadnavis.
♦ Governor:  C. Vidyasagar Rao.
♦ National Parks: Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve, Chandoli National Park, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Navegaon National Park.

Hooda panel recommends creation of specialised information warfare units, restructuring of military intelligence
A single-member Hooda panel, set up by the Defence Ministry and the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) has recommended creation of new specialised units for information warfare in areas where the counter-insurgency operations are being conducted.
Key Points:
i. The panel which was set up by the government based on the recommendation of Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra about five months ago was headed by former Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General (retired) DS Hooda who had overseen the surgical strikes conducted across the Line of Control (LoC) in 2016.
ii. He has recommended that the Army should set up the specialised information warfare units on an experimental basis and evolve them as per the output received from their operations besides restructuring of the cyber warfare operations.
iii. It has recommended that the Army and the Air Force should sort out their issues such as the ownership of attack helicopter and utilisation of air defence assets which are common for both the services.
iv. He has also suggested scaling down the size of regular Army by about 20 per cent and instead, having a reserve Army which can be called upon for war-fighting in case of conflicts.
v. The panel has also suggested that the Army Special Forces which are used for tactical operations against terrorists in both Jammu and Kashmir and the North-eastern states should be utilised in a better way.
About Indian Army:
♦ Chief of the Army Staff (COAS): General Bipin Rawat
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ Motto: “Service Before Self”

Railways enhanced combined reservation quota of lower berths for senior citizens and women passengers
On 27th December 2018, The Railways enhanced the combined reservation quota of lower berths for senior citizens, female passengers of age 45 or above and pregnant women passengers in mail, express, Rajdhani and Duronto trains.
Key Points
i. In Rajdhani, Duronto and other fully air-conditioned trains, the number of lower berth seats earmarked for Senior citizens, Women of age 45 or more and pregnant women passengers will be increased from 7 to 9.
ii. In Sleeper, AC–Three tier and AC-two tiers trains 12 lower berths seats are presently reserved for Senior citizens, Women of age 45 or more and pregnant women passengers.
iii. The seats in Sleeper, AC- three tiers and AC-two tiers train will be increased to 13 for the trains having single coach of the designated class. For the trains having more than one coach of designated class, the seats will be increased to 15.
Ministry of Railway
♦ Union Minister: Piyush Goyal
♦ Minister of State: Manoj Sinha and Rajen Gohain
♦ Headquarters: Rail Bhawan, New Delhi

India’s first lift bridge, worth Rs.250 crores, to reconnect Rameswaram with mainland India in 4 years: Railway Ministry
On December 26, 2018, Ministry of Railways announced their plan to build India’s first lift bridge to reconnect Rameswaram in Arabian Sea with mainland India in the next 4 years.

India's first lift bridge, worth Rs.250 crores, to reconnect Rameswaram with mainland India in 4 years: Railway Ministryi. The bridge,over two-kilometre-long, which is likely to cost Rs. 250 crore, will have a 63-metre stretch.
ii. This will replace the existing 104-year-old Pamban bridge which has a total length of 2,058 m.
iii. It will be three-metre higher than the existing bridge with navigational air clearance of 22 metre above sea level.

ALIMCO’s 6th Auxiliary Production unit and Limb Fitting Center inaugurated in Ballabhgarh, Faridabad
On December 29, 2018, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar, attented the inaugural function of ALIMCO’s 6th Auxiliary Production Unit and State-of-the-Art Limb Fitting Center as the Chief Guest in Village Nawada, Tigaon, Ballabhgarh, Faridabad.
i. The foundation stone for establishment of State-of-the-Art Rehabilitation Center was laid on June 16, 2018.
ii. For the establishment, Chief Minister Haryana approved appox. 5 Acre land at Village NawadaTigaon, Block Ballabhgarh, District Faridabad (Haryana) to ALIMCO at the lease rate of Rs. 1/- per Acre per year.
iii. This facility is equipped with high-end machines for providing best and quality service to the Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjans).
iv. Contemporary Assistive Aids and Devices like Motorized Tricycle, Wheelchairs, Walking Stick and Crutches etc. will be manufactured in ALIMCO’s Auxillary Production Unit of Nawada, Faridabad.
v. At Present, it has Auxiliary Production Centres (AAPCs) situated at Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Jabalpur (MP), Bengaluru (Karnataka), Chanalon (Punjab) and a new production unit in Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh).
Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO):
♦ Under Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Govt. of India.
♦ Headquarters: Kanpur.
♦ Chairman and MD: Shri. D.R. Sarin.

Center has given an extension of 6 months to complete the ongoing exercise for updating the NRC in Assam
On 28th December, 2018, the Center has given an extension of six months to complete the ongoing exercise for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam by 30th June, 2019 as the enumeration of citizens in the NRC cannot be completed within the earlier specified date of 31st December, 2018.
Key Points:
i. The Registrar General of India, Mr. Sailesh issued a notification that stated the Central Government considers the extension necessary in lieu of public interest to complete the update of National Register of Citizens.
ii. The first notification regarding the same was issued by the Government on 6th December, 2013 and had set a deadline of 3 years to complete the entire process but since then five extensions have been given but the exercise had not been completed.
iii. The draft NRC was published on 30th July, 2018 and excluded 40 lac people from the list which stirred a huge controversy. It included 2.9 crore people out of the total 3,29 crore applications.
About Assam:
♦ Capital: Dispur
♦ Chief Minister: Sarbananda Sonowal
♦ Governor: Jagdish Mukhi

Eight day 11th Bengaluru International Film Festival to commence in February 2019
On December 29, 2018, it was announced that the 8-day 11th Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFES) will start in February 7, 2019. It will conclude in February 14, 2019.

11th Bengaluru International Film Festival to commence in February 2019i. The theme of the Festival would be ‘Nature’s Fury.’
ii. It will be organized by:  the Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy and Department of Information and Public Relations of Government of Karnataka.
iii. The festival is always held on first Thursday of February every year.

Rosogolla fest kicks off in Kolkata with the launch of postal stamp of the inventor
On 28th December 2018, a postal stamp dedicated to the inventor of Rosogolla, West Bengal’s spongy and syrupy round-shaped sweet, Mr. Nabin Chandra Das was launched at the three-day Rosogolla fest known as “Bagbazar-O-Rasogolla” in Kolkata, West Bengal. The Rosogolla fest will conclude on 30th December 2018.
Key Points
i.The Rosogolla fest “Bagbazar –O-Rosogolla” was organized at Bagbazar Gourimata Udyan marking the 150th year of its invention.
ii. West Bengal won the Geographical Indication (GI) for ‘Banglar Rosogolla’ on 14th November 2017.
iii. A statue of Inventor, Mr Nabin Chandra Das was also unveiled on the inauguration day of Rosogolla fest.
West Bengal
♦ Chief Minister: Mamta Banerjee
♦ Governor:  Keshari Nath Tripathi
♦ National Parks (NP): Jaldapara NP, Buxa NP, Neora Valley NP, Gorumara NP, Singalila NP

Chariot festival celebrated in Madurai Meenakshi temple in Tamil Nadu
On December 29, 2018, Chariot festival was celebrated in Madurai Meenakshi temple in Tamil Nadu.
i. The Chapparam (Chariot) festival symbolizes the importance of preserving all kinds of food and fodder.
ii. A specialty of the festival is that the chariot of Goddess Meenakshi is pulled by lady devotees alone.

Delhi Police became the first police force in country to digitise all malkhanas
On December 28, 2018, Delhi Police becomes first police force in country to digitise all malkhanas across every police station in the state under the e-malkhana project.

Police became the first police force in country to digitise all malkhanasi. Accordingly, around 3,11,600 case properties have been encrypted in digital form.
ii. Also, the e-malkhana project of the remaining 10 districts at Chinamaya Mission was also inaugurated by the Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik.
iii. The efforts of the personnel involved in the project was commended and certificate of merit to 14 personnel — one from each district, was presented.
iv. A booklet on e-malkhana functioning was also released and a short film on how the project was executed was shown.
v. Malkhanas are rooms for keeping seized arms and ammunition.

NHRC launches toll free helpline 14433 facility to file complaint through CSC:
On 28th December, 2018, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) launched a toll-free number 14433 and a facility to file complaints through Common Service Center (CSC).
Key Points:
i. The toll-free number is 14433 and has been unveiled by Justice (retd.) H.L.Dattu, Chairperson of NHRC at the headquarters of the body, Manav Adhikar Bhawan.
ii. People can now send their complaints related to human rights violation through both the toll free number and CSCs, although the toll-free number will only be available during office hours.
iii. A collaboration between NHRC and CSC has been formed and the service has been provided to 750 CSCs with at least one in each district. Secretary General of NHRC, Mr. Ambuj Sharma also mentioned that the service will be expanded to all CSCs in a phased manner.
About NHRC:
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ Date of Establishment: 12th October, 1993

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

UNGA adopts Russian Resolution on International Information Security
On 28th December, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted two Russian Resolutions on International Information Security (IIS) and has been backed by India regarding the same. This has been done for achieving democratic, inclusive and transparent UN negotiations process on security in the use of information and communication technologies.
Key Points:
i. The two resolutions are: “Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” and “Countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes” and has thus, a new chapter has been opened by UN on IIS.
ii. These documents are the world’s first code of conduct in the digital paradigm and hence creates the foundation for peaceful interaction and to prevent war, confrontation and other aggressive actions.
iii. The resolution has been supported by several countries and has been co-authored by 30 countries and it’s key aim is to launch a broad transparent political discussion on combating information crime.
About United Nations General Assembly:
♦ Headquarters: New York, United States
♦ President: Maria Fernanda Espinosa

BANKING & FINANCE

ESAF small finance bank gets RBI nod to operate as scheduled bank
The Thrissur, Kerala-based ESAF Small Finance Bank has received the Reserve Bank approval to operate as scheduled bank making it the fifth scheduled bank that operates from Kerala after Federal Bank, South Indian Bank, Catholic Syrian Bank, and Dhanlaxmi Bank.

ESAF small finance bankKey Points:
i. The ESAF Small Finance Bank Ltd has received the RBI’s approval for inclusion in the second schedule of the RBI Act, 1934 paving its way to operate as scheduled bank.
ii. In 2016, RBI gave approval to ESAF MFI along with 9 other applicants to start banking operations as a small finance bank and within two years of its commencement of operations, it has received the scheduled bank tag.
iii. On the operation front, the ESAF Small Finance Bank has a network of 432 outlets across 13 states with 2.6 million customers and a loan book of Rs 4,660 crore and deposits if over Rs 3,300 crore.
iv. Its capital- to-risk-weighted-asset (CRAR) ratio stands at 27.39 per cent.
About ESAF Small Finance Bank:
♦ Managing Director & Chief Executive: K Paul Thomas
♦ Headquarters: Thrissur, Kerala

RBI extends liquidity sops for banks to March 31
On 28th December 2018, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has extended the relaxation offered to banks for offering liquidity support to non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) until March 31st 2019, the facility which was initially available up to 31stDecember 2018.

RBI extends liquidity sops for banks to March 31Key Points:
i. In order to facilitate banks to lend to NBFCs and Housing Finance Corporations (HFCs), it has allowed banks to use government securities equivalent to their outstanding credit for non-bank lenders, NBFC and HFC, in addition to the outstanding credit they had for October 19, to comply with the requirements of the liquidity coverage index (LCR).
ii. The highly liquid assets that banks and financial institutions hold to meet their short-term obligations is known as LCR.
iii. Besides this the facility of single borrower limit for NBFC (not financing infrastructure), which was increased from 10% to 15% of the capital funds until December 31, 2018 has been extended until March 31, 2019.
Background:
After the NBFC sector faced a short-term fund crisis in September, the RBI allowed the banks to reckon government securities as liquid assets within the mandatory statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) needs up to 0.5% of the bank’s deposits for incremental lending to NBFCs and HFCs after October 19 under the Facility to Avail Liquidity for Liquidity Coverage Ratio (FALLCR).
About Reserve Bank of India (RBI):
♦ Governor: Shaktikanta Das
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai

Gross NPAs jump to 11.2% or Rs 10.39 tln in FY18: RBI Report
On 28th December 2018, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released the ‘Trends & Progress of Banking in 2017-18’ report which stated that, system-wide Gross Non-Performing Assets (GNPA) of banks rose to 11.2 % or at Rs 10.39 trillion in FY18 from 9.3 % a year ago.
Key Points:
i. The share of public sector banks stood at Rs 8.95 trillion or at 14.6 percent due to restructured advances slipping into NPAs and better NPA recognition whereas Private sector banks’ GNPA ratio stood at a much lower level of 4.7 percent.
ii. The report stated that the resolute efforts on the part of private sector banks to clean up their balance sheets through higher write-offs and better recoveries also contributed to their lower GNPA ratios.
iii. In terms of the net NPA ratio, state-run banks saw significant deterioration at 8 percent in FY18 from 6.9 percent year-ago.
iv. On the other hand the Asset quality of foreign banks improved marginally to 3.8 percent in FY18 from 4 percent in FY17.
v. In FY18, the share of doubtful advances in total gross NPAs increased sizeably to Rs 5.11 trillion or 6.7 per cent of the system, driven up by state-run banks whose ratio stood at 9 percent.
vi. Besides this a high-value fraud involving Rs 50 crore and above constituted about 80 percent of all the frauds during 2017-18 and almost 93 percent of frauds worth Rs 10 lakh or more occurred in state lenders while private banks accounted for only 6 percent.
About Reserve Bank of India (RBI):
♦ Governor: Shaktikanta Das
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai

PSBs approved loans worth over Rs 37,400 cr for MSME sector under ’59 minutes’ loan scheme
On December 29, 2018, Public sector banks have approved more than 1.12 lakh loan applications of MSMEs worth of 37,412 crore rupees under the government’s ’59 minutes’ loan scheme.
i. As per reports given out by the Union Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla, as on 25th of December, out of over 1.31 lakh applications, the state-owned banks have accorded in-principal approval to 1.12 lakh applicants.
ii. Also sanctions have been made in respect of 40,669 cases totalling over 14 thousand crore rupees.
About 59 minutes loan scheme:

  • According to the scheme, GST-registered Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) can take loan up to one crore in just 59 minutes through ‘psbloansin59minutes.com‘ portal.
  • It is a part of PM Modi’s 12-point action plan for MSMEs.
  • The automated, contact-less business loan approvals are provided for loans worth Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1 crore.
  • The rate of interest starts from 8% and these loans are connected to Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme.
  • The website reduces the turnaround time from 20-25 days to 59 minutes.
  • After approval, the loan will be disbursed in about a week.
  • For more information: https://www.psbloansin59minutes.com/home

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

AAAR okays GST on inter-state office services
The Karnataka Appellate Authority for Advance Rulings (AAAR) has upheld the levy of goods and services tax on services rendered by one office branch to other branches of the same company located in different states.
Key Points:
i. In its ruling which will affect the companies with a presence in multiple states, the AAAR said that in-house service functions such as human resources and payrolls, if carried out from a centre in one state for offices in other states, will attract GST for which it will have to issue an invoice.
ii. The decision will add the transaction costs and compliance burden for the companies with offices in many states, even though the tax paid can be adjusted against their final GST liability.
iii. The companies that deal in goods or services that are exempt from GST such as healthcare and education, and petroleum and liquor companies, which are out of the ambit of the tax will not have the option of adjusting the tax paid on in-house transfers.
iv. The Authority for Advance Rulings held that the employer-employee relationship in the corporate office exists only there and not with other office units even if they are part of the same legal entity, as far as the GST law is concerned.
About Karnataka:
♦ Chief Minister: H.D.Kumarasawamy
♦ Governor: Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala
♦ Capital: Bengaluru

Center Doubles Export Incentives for Onion Farmers to 10%
On 28th December, 2018, the Government of India doubled export incentives for onion farmers to 10% in lieu of the sharp decline in the onion prices in the recent weeks due to the supply of new crop from major onion producing centers in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
Key Points:
i. This move will result in better price for onion in the domestic markets and this will also help the farmers who have harvested their produce recently and who have sown their crops expecting better prices. 
ii. The existing export incentive was 5% and it is granted under the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS). Also, the export incentive for onions before July, 2018 was zero.
About Ministry of Agriculture and Framer’s Welfare:
♦ Union Minister: Shri Radha Mohan Singh
♦ Ministers of State: Shri Purushottam Rupala, Smt. Krishna Raj and Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat

Pakistan Cabinet Approves Issuance of “Panda Bonds” in Chinese Currency
On 28th December, 2018, Pakistan Cabinet approved the issuance of Pakistan’s one-of-its-kind Panda Bonds after a meeting presided by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Pakistan Cabinet Approves Issuance of Panda Bonds in Chinese CurrencyKey Points:
i. The approval for issuance of bonds in the capital markets of China was given effect to the delay issuance of US dollar dominated Euro bonds worth 3 billion dollars.
ii. Finance Minister, Asad Umar told the interest rate may range above 5.5% but the final price would be determined only at the time of launching the bond. The size, tenure and pricing would be determined on the basis of market response.
iii. The bonds will help the government diversify the investor base of capital market issuance and provide a source of raising Renminbi, the Chinese Currency.
About Pakistan:
♦ Capital: Islamabad
♦ Currency: Pakistani Rupee
♦ President: Arif Alvi

India’s Fiscal Deficit Hits Around 115% of FY19 Target for the Apr-Nov period; main reason being deficit in Tax receipts
On December 27, 2018,India’s Fiscal deficit for April-November stood at Rs 7.17 lakh crore which is 114.8 per cent of earlier full-year estimates of fiscal deficit that was predicted to be Rs 6.24 lakh crore, or 3.3 per cent of the GDP, for FY19.
i. It is slightly more than the 112 per cent recorded in the same period last fiscal i.e., FY18.
ii. Total expenditure up to November was Rs.16,13,208 crore which is 66.1 per cent of the budget estimate of Rs 24.42 lakh crore.
iii. This shows that the main reason for the deficit was in the difference in tax receipts that stood at Rs 8.9 lakh crore which is 49.32% of corresponding BE 18-19 of Total Receipts.
iv. Following shows the breakdown for better understanding:
The total tax receipts comprised of:

  • Tax revenues: Rs. 7,31,669 crore,
  • Non-Tax Revenue: Rs. 1,38,637 crore and
  • Non-Debt Capital Receipts: Rs. 26,277 crore.

Rs. 4,31,963 crore has been transferred to the State Governments as State Tax.
Finance Ministry:
♦ Union Minister: Shri Arun Jaitley.
♦ Minister of State: Shri Shiv Pratap Shukla, Shri P. Radhakrishnan

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

7 minute “Finding Beauty in Garbage”: Best Short documentary film in Asia South East International Short Film Festival at Phnom Penh, Cambodia; directed by IRS officer in Dibrugarh, Assam
On December 28, 2018, the minutes long “Finding Beauty in Garbage”, film received the Best Short documentary film award in Asia South East International Short Film Festival at Phnom Penh in Cambodia.
i. It has also been selected for special screening for 2018 Short and Sweet Film festival Utah, USA, Ooty Film Festival and Bengal International Film festival.
ii. The film was produced, directed and scripted by Satyamam Dutta who is an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) Officer.
Cambodia:
♦ Capital: Phnom Penh.
♦ Currency: Cambodian riel.

Telangana’s MNJ Institute of Oncology and Regional Cancer Centre entered Guinness Book of World Records; also received ‘High Range Book of World Records’ recognition
On December 28, 2018, Telangana’MNJ Institute of Oncology and Regional Cancer Centre entered Guinness Book of World Records ‘for organising the largest men’s Health Awareness programme on prostate cancer on a single day.’

Telangana's MNJ Institute of Oncology and Regional Cancer Centre entered Guinness Book of World Records; also received 'High Range Book of World Records' recognitioni. The programme was organised on October 26, 2018 and 487 participants took part in it.
ii. This is the first Guinness World Records achievement for the state government in the field of medicine.
iii. The hospital also received recognition from ‘High Range Book of World Records’.
iv. Thus these made MNJ Institute the first and only government hospital in the state of Telangana to get 2 world records.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Shahbaz Ahmed resigned
On December 29, 2018, Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Shahbaz Ahmed resigned over mistreatment of the national sport in the country.
i.He had earlier been the captain and has been serving as the secretary for 3 years.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Greenhouse Gas Emissions up 22% between 2010 and 2014
On 28th December 2018, an Official data released by Government of India that has to be submitted to the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention of Climate change in every 2 years says that India’s total Greenhouse emissions grew by more than 22 per cent between 2010 and 2014.
i. The greenhouse gas emissions reached a level of 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2014 and has created a net carbon sink of at least 300 million tonnes.
ii. Carbon dioxide absorption through forests and croplands has also gone up. The energy sector including electricity generation, transport and other fuel combustion activities are the main reason for the above mentioned effect.

Sixth National Report submitted by India to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD)
On December 29, 2018, the Union Environment Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan on behalf of the Indian government submitted India’s 6th National Report (NR6) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the inaugural session of the 13th National Meeting of the State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs) in New Delhi.
i. The meeting was organized by the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
ii. He also released the document ‘Progress on India’s National Biodiversity Targets: A Preview’.
About the Report:
i. India is among the first five countries in the world, the first in Asia and the first among the bio-diversity rich megadiverse countries to have submitted NR6 to the CBD Secretariat.
ii. The NR6 provides an update of progress in achievement of 12 National Biodiversity Targets (NBT) developed under the Convention process in line with the 20 global Aichi biodiversity targets.
iii. According to the report, India has exceeded/overachieved two NBTs, it is on track to achieve eight NBTs and in respect of the remaining two NBTs also within the stipulated time of 2020.
iv. Following cites the highlights of India’s pace with the achievements:

  • 20 percent of its total geographical area under biodiversity conservation.
  • India has exceeded the terrestrial component of 17 percent of Aichi target 11, and 20 percent of corresponding NBT relating to areas under biodiversity management.
  • India has been investing a huge amount on biodiversity to the tune of Rs 70,000 crores per annum as against the estimated annual requirement of nearly Rs 1,09,000 crores
  • India has nearly two third of the population of wild tigers in the world.
  • The population of lion has risen from 177 in 1968 to over 520 in 2015, and elephants from 12,000 in 1970s to 30,000 in 2015.
  • One-horned Indian Rhino which was on the brink of extinction during the early 20th century, now number 2400.
  • in India only 0.08% of the species recorded are in the category of ‘Endangered Species’.

For a detailed read, refer: Click Here
Background:
♦ Parties are required under Article 26 of the Convention on Biological Diversity to submit national reports to the Conference of the Parties on measures taken towards the implementation of the Convention and their effectiveness in meeting the objectives of the Convention. The sixth national reports are to be submitted by 31 December 2018.
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD):
♦ Headquarters: Montreal, Canada.
♦ Number of Parties: 196 countries.

OBITUARY

Former Nigerian President Shehu Shagari died at 93
On December 29, 2018, Former Nigerian President Shehu Shagari passed away at 93.He was the 2nd President of Nigeria.

2nd Nigerian President Shehu Shagari died at 93i. He was in power as the President from 1979 to 1983.

Oscar-and Grammy-winning lyricist Norman Gimbel died at 91
On December 29, 2018, Oscar-and Grammy-winning lyricist Norman Gimbel died at 91.

i. He was best known for writing the lyrics of “Killing Me Softly With His Song” and “The Girl From Ipanema”.
ii. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Uzbekistan promotes 2019 as year of investment in backdrop of wider business with India
On 28th December 2018, the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev announced 2019 as the ‘Year of Active Investment and Social Development’ in the backdrop of proposed investments from India to boost economy of the Central Asian country, in his annual address to the Parliament.
Key Points:
i. The President stated that concrete measures will be taken on creating an open economy, radically improving the business environment and investment climate and reducing the state presence in the economy.
ii. 
He stressed that investment was the driver of economy, new technologies, advanced experience and highly qualified specialists come with investments into all sectors and regions.
iii. Uzbekistan has invited India for making large scale investments across sectors in Uzbekistan taking advantage of economic reforms and SEZs.
iv. The president informed that in 2018, Uzbekistan implemented 76 thousand projects worth 21 trillion Uzbek soums (UZS) and 1 billion USD.
About Uzbekistan:
♦ Currency: Uzbekistani som
♦ Capital: Tashkent
♦ President: Shavkat Mirziyoyev