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Centre included Gangotri, Yamunotri in Uttarakhand, Amarkantak in MP and Parasnath in Jharkhand under PRASAD Scheme: Tourism Ministry
On December 4, 2018, the central government announced inclusion of Gangotri and Yamunotri in Uttrarakhand, Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh and Parasnath in Jharkhand under the scheme Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASAD).
i. With this, the number of pilgrimage sites under the scheme increased to 41 sites in 25 states.
About the scheme PRASAD:
i. It was launched by the Tourism Ministry in 2014-15.
ii. The scheme aimed at the following:
- Infrastructure development (road, rail and water transport),
- last mile connectivity,
- basic tourism facilities like Information/ Interpretation Centers, ATM/ money exchange, eco-friendly modes of transport among others.
iii. A total 24 projects in 15 states have been approved with estimated expenditure of Rs 727.16 crore and a total amount of Rs 331.15 crore has been released for these projects under the scheme since its inception till date.
For more information about PRASAD scheme: Click Here
♦ Minister of State (Independent Charge): MR. K J Alphons.
Government approves Rs 850 crore investment to upgrade DD, AIR: Report
On 05th December 2018, Finance ministry has approved Rs 850 crore investment to upgrade Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio (AIR).
i. The sanctioned amount will be invested over FY19 and FY20.
ii. Decision came after Centre has started a manpower audit of Prasar Bharati, acting on the recommendation of an expert committee in 2014 led by Sam Pitroda which recommended that Prasar Bharati ‘undertake a comprehensive manpower audit and human resources planning exercise to map workforce requirements for the future, in line with the public broadcaster’s mandate’.
Two-day Conference on EU and India Partnership for Cultural Heritage Conservation held in New Delhi
On December 4, 2018, a two-day “Conference on EU-India Partnership for Cultural Heritage Conservation” commenced at the National Museum Auditorium, Janpath, New Delhi.It concluded on December 5, 2018.
To enhance EU-India collaboration in the field of cultural heritage conservation.
i. The conference was inaugurated by: Minster of State (I/C) Shri. Hardeep Singh Puri.
ii. As part of this, the Delegation of the European Union together with the National Museum Institute, Government of India, will convene 20 Indian and 18 European experts.
iii. It also marked the pinnacle of the European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH), which will conclude on December 6-7, 2018.
Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar chaired the 223rd meeting of the Central Board of Trustees, EPFO held in New Delhi
On December 4, 2018, Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Minister of State (I/C) for Labour & Employment chaired the 223rd meeting of the Central Board of Trustees (CBT), Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation(EPFO) in New Delhi.The Central Government reconstituted the CBT, EPFO under section 5A of Employees’ Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provision Act, 1952.
The following important ratifications were done in the meeting:
i. The Board approved the constitution of the following committees and authorized Chairman CBT, EPFO to nominate members to the committees:-
- Finance, Investment and Audit Committee
- Pension & EDLI Implementation Committee
- Exempted Establishments Committee
ii. The Board ratified the proposal of appointment of M/s CRISIL Limited as Consultant to assist the EPFO in selection and review of Portfolio Managers.
iii.The tenure for CRISIL to act as a consultant has also been extended upto 31st March 2019 or till appointment of new Portfolio Managers whichever is earlier.
2nd meeting of the NITI Forum for the North East held in Guwahati, Assam
On December 4, 2018, the second meeting of the newly constituted ‘NITI Forum for North East’ commenced in Guwahati, Assam.
i. The meeting was co-chaired by:
- Vice Chairman NITI AAYOG, Dr Rajiv Kumar and
- Minister of State (IC) for DoNER, Dr Jitendra Singh.
ii. The meeting mainly focused on issues pertaining to five critical sectors – Tourism, Bamboo, Dairy, Fisheries and Tea.
About the Forum:
i. It was constituted in February 2018 with the main objective of identifying the challenges and producing solutions for the accelerated, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the North East Region of the country.
ii. The members consist of:
- Secretaries of various Ministries of the Government of India,
- Chief Secretaries of all the eight North-eastern states and
iii. The Secretary, North East Council (NEC) is the Member Secretary of the Forum.
iv. The Forum’s first meeting was held on 10th April 2018 at Agartala.
♦ Capital: Dispur.
♦ Chief Minister: Sarbananda Sonowal.
♦ Governor: Jagdish Mukhi.
♦ National Parks: Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park (UNESCO Natural World Herigate Site), Orang National Park, Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.
♦ Airports: Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Dibrugarh Airport, Jorhat Airport, Tezpur Airport, Silchar Airport.
‘PEETHA’: programme to create awareness and promote transparency launched by Odisha government
On December 4, 2018, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched a new programme for transparency and awareness on various government schemes, called- the Peoples Empowerment Enabling Transparency and Accountability or PEETHA.
To improve transparency in the distribution of individual and social benefits.
i. PEETHA is based on a 3-T (Technology, Transparency and Team work) model, and is a sub-scheme of the Odisha government’s flagship Ama Gaon Ama Bikas Yojana (AGAB).
ii. Under this initiative, camps will be organised at the gram panchayat level from the 15th to the 20th of each month, beginning December 2018.
iii. In each such camps, benefits like LED bulb, Old Age pension, Artist pension, Mission Shakti etc will be distributed to the beneficiaries there.
iv. Furthermore, block level officers will be appointed by the state government for supervising the implementation of the scheme.
v. Every month, the best panchayat in each Block will be given Rs. 5 lakh for organising PEETHA.
Based on recommendations of the people of the state, the state government has so far sanctioned rural projects worth more than Rs.1200 crore for over 5000 gram-panchayats under the AGAB.
♦ Chief Minister: Naveen Patnaik.
♦ Governor: Prof. Ganeshi Lal.
♦ Lakes : Chilika Lake, Kanjia Lake, Anshupa Lake, Balimela Reservoir.
♦ Dams: Rengali Dam, Kala dam, Pitamahal Dam, Kansbahal Dam, Tikhali Dam, Deras Dam, Salia Dam, Ghodahada Dam, Kuanria Dam.
♦ Festivals: Kalinga Mahotsav, Chandan Yatra, Durga Puja, Konark Dance Festival, Rath Yatra, Deepavali, Kumar Purnima
Three day 80th Session of Policy Commission of World Customs Organization organized by CBIC held in Mumbai
On December 5, 2018, the three day 80th session of Policy Commission of World Customs Organisation concluded in Mumbai. It started on December 3, 2018.
i. It was organized by Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).
ii. It was inaugurated by Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, and was attended by 102 delegates from 33 nations.
iii. The Indian delegation was headed by Chairman, CBIC, Shri S. Ramesh, along with Member (Customs), Shri P K Das and senior officers.
iv. Objective of the WCO meeting was to discuss on various matters related to customs.
v. Some of the important topics discussed during the meeting included:
- Trade facilitation, controlling illicit financial flow, performance measurement, challenges of small island economies, etc.
i. On the side-lines of the 80th Session of the Policy Commission Meeting of the World Customs Organisations (WCO), Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Republic of Peru signed an MOU on Co-operation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters.
ii. The Agreement was signed by Mr. S. Ramesh, Chairman, CBIC on behalf of the Government of India and Mr. Rafael Garcia, as the National Superintendent of Customs on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Peru.
World Customs Organisation (WCO):
♦ Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium.
♦ Members: 180 countries.
♦ Established: 1952.
♦ Secretary General: Mr. Kunio Mikuriya.
♦ From 1st July 2018, India has taken over as the Vice-Chair of the Asia Pacific region for two years.India is a member of the WCO since 1971.
UAE passport topped the Global Passport Power Rank 2018: Arton Capital
On December 4, 2018, Arton Capital launched the passport index named – Global Passport Power Rank 2018, in which United Arab Emirates (UAE) topped the charts,among 197 nations,as the nation having the most powerful passport.
i. The index, compiled by Arton Capital, ranks national passports based on the number of countries a holder can enter without a visa or by obtaining one on arrival.
i. UAE passport holder can fly to 113 countries without Visa and a total of 167 countries without prior-visa requirement.
ii. UAE is followed by Singapore & Germany in the 2nd place with 166 countries.
iii. The bottom 5 countries in the list consist of: Afghanistan at 93rd position, Iraq at 92nd , Pakistan at 91st, Syria at 90th and Somalia at 89th position.
iv. India stood at 66th position whereas the neighbours of India stood at the following ranks:
China at 58th, Bhutan 70th, Myanmar at 79, Bangladesh at 86, Nepal at 83rd position and Sri Lanka at 84th.
For more information: Click Here
♦ Capital: Abu Dhabi.
♦ Currency: UAE dirham.
BANKING & FINANCE
5th Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy released by Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
- On December 5, 2018, RBI released its 5th Bi-monthly monetary policy produced by the Monetary Policy Committee chaired by RBI Governor Dr. Urjit Patel.
- the Reserve Bank injected durable liquidity amounting to Rs.360 billion in October and Rs.500 billion in November through open market purchase operations, bringing total durable liquidity injection to Rs.1.36 trillion for 2018-19.
- In order to bring about consumer confidence in the digital financial transaction channel, RBI issued ‘Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies’ report………………Click here to Read more
Overall Outlook suggests the following:
|Reverse Repo rate||6.25%|
|Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) rate||6.75%|
|For 2018-19 H2||7.2-7.3%|
|For 2019-20 H1||7.5%|
|For 2018-19 H2||2.7-3.2%|
|For 2019-20 H1||3.8-4.2%|
CASHe partners with Mswipe to offer instant loans
On 3rd December 2018, digital lending company for young salaried millennials CASHe partnered with Mswipe,India’s leading mobile Point-of -Sale (POS) payment services provider,to launch the CASHe emi Mcards for its customers which will provide hassle-free loan experience at the point-of-sale.
i. The card will offer instant pre-approved credit of up to INR 10,000 with three equated monthly instalments (EMIs) repayment plan.
ii. Cardholders can make a minimum purchase of INR 2,500 per transaction up to the limit of INR 10,000 at any of the 3,50,000, Mswipe terminals available in 650 cities across the country.
iii. The customer can make multiple transactions in a day not exceeding INR 10,000. All transactions for the day will be converted into a single loan on which his/her EMI-based repayment plans will be set up by CASHe.
iv. Retailers accepting the CASHe emi cards can be found using the CASHe app, which also allows tracking of the EMI repayment plan.
v. There will be no transaction or processing fee on making the purchase for the card holders.
About CASHe and Mswipe
♦ CASHe CEO: Ketan Patel
♦ Mswipe CEO: Manish Patel
Paisabazaar.com launches India’s first chance of approval feature for lending products
India’s largest online marketplace for financial products, Paisabazaar.com has launched a first of its kind feature Chance of Approval, that will help loan applicants choose their most-suited lender on its platform in India.
i. ‘Chance of Approval’, is an advanced predictive algorithm that has been created by Paisabazaar.com using the last four years of lending data.
ii. Globally a few leading players, like Credit Karma in the US, have developed similar features to improve the acceptance rate on their platforms but this is the first such initiative in India.
iii. The ‘Chance of Approval’ feature will match a borrower’s profile, like income, credit score, age etc., with the various lending criteria of banks and NBFCs, to provide customers with the chances of getting their loan application approved – Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor – against each lender.
iv. It is also planning to extend this feature to its other lending products like Credit Card, Business Loan and Home Loan.
♦ CEO: Naveen Kukreja
eATM: Instant fund credit feature to get cash within 30 minutes launched by ICICI Securities
On December 3, 2018, ICICI Securities (ISec), a brokerage firm, launched the ‘eATM’ instant fund credit feature to enable real-time payments in bank accounts upon selling stocks in Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).
i. This feature is available to retail investors who can get payment against sell of stocks in BSE instantly compared to earlier waiting time of T+2 days.
ii. The payment is made directly to the bank accounts to within 30 minutes and the limit is Rs. 50,000 per client per day.
iii. This is being offered to all ICICIdirect customers at no additional cost and will be available to stocks sold on the BSE.
iv. It is open to all trades in cash segment on nearly 600 stocks traded in BSE.
♦ MD & CEO: Shilpa Kumar.
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
Credit to MSEs up 5 times to Rs 1.23 lakh crore, post-GST: SBI Report
On 04th December 2018, credit to micro and small enterprises (MSEs) has increased 5 times to Rs 1.23 lakh crore in the post-GST period, according to a SBI research report. The 15-month post-GST period increased 5 times to Rs.1.23 lakh crore, compared to Rs.25,700 crore during the corresponding pre-GST period.
i. According to International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates, the potential demand for India’s MSME finance is about $370 billion, against the current credit supply of $139 billion, resulting in a finance gap of $230 billion.
ii. The SBI report pegged the share of credit from NBFCs at 10 percent of the overall MSME pie.
iii. The Goods and Services Tax(GST) was rolled out in July 2017.
iv. Report has cut its FY19 GDP forecast for FY19 to 7.2 percent from 7.4 percent earlier.
About State Bank of India
♦ Headquarter: Mumbai
♦ Chairman: Rajnish Kumar
India records 2nd highest Fintech adoption rate
On 04th December 2018,According to EY FinTech Adoption Index, India has the second highest FinTech adoption rate among digitally active consumers at 52 percent, only second to China at 69 percent.
i. Usage is significantly high in large cities with a 66 percent adoption rate followed by 51 percent usage and adoption in small and medium cities.
ii. In India, fintech industry is being encouraged by the various government initiatives such as Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and the emergence of UPI which provide a good foundation to boost financial inclusion in India.
iii. Rural India lags at 33 percent. Money transfers and payments services leading the charge in India with adoption standing at 72 percent.
iv. Insurance is the next popular category with an adoption rate of 47 per cent, much higher than the global average of 24 per cent.
Number of patents granted by India shot up by 50% in 2017: UN
On 04th December 2018, according to the UN’s (United Nations) World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) The number of patents granted by India shot up by 50 per cent in 2017.The WIPO’s “World Intellectual Property Indicators 2018” report released in Geneva.
i. China’s patent authority led the world in the number of patents granted with 420,144 and was followed by the US with 318,829.
ii. India ranked 10th in the number of patents given last year, no Indian company or university figures in last year’s global list of the top 50 patent applicants.
iii. The patents granted by India increased from 8,248 in 2016 to 12,387 last year.Patents granted to foreigners accounted for 85% of the total increase.
iv. Japan’s Canon ranked at the top with 24,036 patent applications during the years 2013–2015; South Korea’s Samsung followed with 21,836 and China’s State Grid Corporation with 21,653.
About United Nations
♦ Headquarter: New York
♦ Secretary-General: Antonio Guterres
About World Intellectual Property Organization
♦ Headquarter: Geneva, Switzerland
♦ Director-General: Francis Gurry
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Eliud Kipchoge and Caterine Ibarguen named IAAF athletes of the year
On 4th December 2018, Kenya’s Marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge and Colombian jumper Caterine Ibarguen was awarded with Male and Female World athlete of the year for the first time at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Athletics Awards 2018 held at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.
i. Olympic Champion Kipchoge shattered the world marathon record by 78 seconds whereas Ibarguen was Diamond leage champion in both long jumps and triple jump.
ii. Eliud Kipchoge also won the London Marathon 2018.
iii. Sweden’s Vaulter Armand Duplantis and American Sydney Mclaughlin won the Men’s and Women’s Rising star awards respectively.
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)
♦ Headquarters: Monaco
♦ President: Sebastian Coe
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Axis Capital CEO Dharmesh Mehta stepped down; Salil Pitale and Chirag Negandhi appointed as joint MD and co-CEO
On December 4, 2018, MD & CEO of Axis Capital, Mr. Dharmesh Mehta stepped down.
i. The bank had also elevated Salil Pitale and Chirag Negandhi as Joint Managing Directors and Co-Chief Executive Officer.
ii. Both are currently Co-Head of Investment Banking at Axis Capital since 2016.
iii. Pitale has been with Axis Capital and Axis Bank since 1999, while, Negandhi has been associated with Axis Capital since 2005.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
India’s heaviest communication satellite GSAT-11 launched successfully from French Guiana
On 05th December 2018, Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) heaviest and most-advanced high throughput communication satellite GSAT-11 was successfully launched from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
i. The launch vehicle Ariane 5 VA-246 lifted off from Kourou Launch Base, French Guiana carrying India’s GSAT-11 and South Korea’s GEO-KOMPSAT-2A satellites.
ii. Ariane 5 is one of three launch vehicles operated by Arianespace along with Soyuz and Vega.
iii. The 5,854-kg GSAT-11 will provide high data rate connectivity to users of Indian mainland and islands through 32 user beams in Ku-band and 8 hub beams in Ka-band.
iv. Satellite is configured around ISRO’s I-6K Bus and has a designed lifetime of more than 15 years.
♦ Headquarter: Bengaluru
♦ Director: K Sivan
About French Guiana
♦ Capital: Cayenne
♦ Currency: Euro
♦ President: Rodolphe Alexandre
World’s 1st 3D-printed functional e-bike made in Germany by BigRep and NOWlab
On December 5, 2018, German firm BigRep and NOWlab produced the world’s first fully functioning e-motorbike NERA using a 3D printer.
i. The bike was conceptualised and developed in 12 weeks and includes 15 parts excluding the electrical components.
ii. It includes features like airless tires, embedded electronics, and forkless steering.
1st synthetic material that gets thicker on stretching found
On 4th December 2018, researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds, England, discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent “auxetic” stretching properties. The material becomes thicker at the molecular level as it is stretched.
i. The findings are published in a scientific journal named Nature Communications.
ii. This for the first time that synthetically such material is produced in lab that paved the way for commercially creating it. The process does not involve expensive, complex engineering processes such as 3D printing.
iii. Auxetics are great at energy absorption and resisting fracture and there may be many potential applications for materials with these properties including body armour, architecture and medical equipment.
Delhi Daredevils renamed as Delhi Capitals ahead of 2019 IPL season
On 4th December 2018, Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Delhi Daredevils were renamed as Delhi Capitals and the announcement was made in a function in the capital held by owners GMR Group and JSW Sports.
i. Co-owners Parth Jindal, representing JSW Sport, and Kiran Kumar Grandhi of GMR, unveiled its new identity including a new name and a logo.
ii. The logo has been inspired by the design of Parliament House and the idea of three tigers inscribed in the logo is derived from the Ashok Chakra.
iii. Earlier, Mohammed Kaif was named as the team’s assistant coach while Ricky Ponting continues to be the head coach of the team.
Gautam Gambhir announced retirement from all forms of cricket
On December 4, 2018, 37-year-old, former Indian opening batsman, Gautam Gambhir announced his retirement from all forms of Cricket.
i. Gambhir’s career began in 2003 with an ODI against Bangladesh and the Delhi-Andhra Ranji Trophy (scheduled on December 5, 2018) would mark the conclusion of his career in cricket.
ii. Gambhir played in 58 Tests between 2004 and 2016, scoring 4,154 runs at an average of 41.95, with the help of nine hundreds and 22 fifties
iii. He also played in 147 ODIs between 2003 and 2013, besides featuring in 37 T20 Internationals.
iv.The aggressive opener was India’s top-scorer in the finals of the 2007 World T20 in South Africa and the 2011 ODI World Cup.
BOOKS & AUTHORS
Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lamba, released a book titled ‘Blue Waters Ahoy!’- chronicling the Indian Navy’s history from 2001-2010.
On 4th December 2018, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Sunil Lamba released ‘Blue Waters Ahoy!’ a book chronicling the Indian Navy’s history from 2001-10 in New Delhi.
i. In the event,the Indian Navy was celebrating Navy Day, which is organized every year on 04th December to commemorate its offensive actions during the 1971 war.
ii. The book has been authored by Vice Admiral Anup Singh, who retired as the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Eastern Naval Command in 2011.
iii. The book is the sixth volume in Navy’s history; the first five had covered the period from 1945 to 2000.
World Soil Day: 5 December
World Soil Day is celebrated annually on 5th of December every year. It is celebrated at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the regional offices and through national and local events. World Soil Day 2018 aims to raise awareness and call people to Stop Soil Pollution.
i. The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), in 2002, adopted a resolution proposing the 5th of December as World Soil Day to celebrate the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to human well-being.
ii. Under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and within the framework of the “Global Soil Partnership“, FAO has supported the formal establishment of World Soil Day as a global awareness raising platform.
About Food and Agriculture Organization
♦ Headquarter: Rome, Italy
♦ Head: Jose Graziano da Silva
Annual International Volunteer Day celebrated on December 5
December 5 is annually seen as International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development. It is also called as International Volunteer Day.
i. This day celebrates the sacrifice and contributions of the volunteers and organizations and promotes their work among their communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United Nations agencies, government authorities and the private sector.
ii. The theme of the International Volunteer Day 2018 is: “Volunteers build Resilient Communities”.
iii. It is mandated by the UN General Assembly.
United Nations General Assembly (UNGA):
♦ Headquarters: New York City, USA.
♦ President: María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés.