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Important Current Affairs 3rd January 2019

National

 Cabinet gives ex post facto approval to India's Approach for COP 24, Katowice, Poland
•    The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval to the negotiating stand of India at the 24th Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Katowice, Poland from 2-15 December 2018.
•    The Indian delegation was led by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
•    The key focus of meeting was to finalize guidelines for implementation of Paris Agreement in post 2020 period. India's approach was guided by principles and provisions of UNFCCC and Paris Agreement particularly the principles of Equity and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capability (CBPR-RC).


PM to inaugurate Indian Science Congress at Jalandhar
•    Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Indian Science Congress at Jalandhar on January 3, an annual congregation that witnesses deliberations by top scientific minds of the country.
•    The theme for ISC-2019 is ‘Future India-Science and Technology’ and it will be hosted by the Lovely Professional University (PLU), Jalandhar from January 3-7


Cabinet approves restructuring of National Health Agency as the National Health Authority 
•    Union Cabinet has approved the restructuring of National Health Agency as the National Health Authority for better implementation of Pradhan Mantri - Jan Arogya Yojana.
•    National Health Authority will be chaired by Union Health Minister to enable the decision making at a faster pace, required for smooth implementation of the scheme.
•    National Health Authority will have full accountability, authority and mandate to implement the Pradhan Mantri - Jan Arogya Yojana through an efficient, effective and transparent decision-making process.


Assam CM welcomes Cabinet decisions on Assam Accord
•    Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal has welcomed the Union Cabinet's decision to implement the Assam Accord signed in 1985.
•    The Union Cabinet yesterday approved the setting up a high-level committee for implementation of clause 6 of the Assam Accord and measures envisaged in the Memorandum of Settlement, 2003 and other issues related to the Bodo community.


Cabinet approves amendment to Trade Unions Act, 1926
•    The Cabinet has approved amendment to the Trade Unions Act, 1926 to make provisions regarding recognition of trade unions.
•    The approval will facilitate recognition of Trade Unions at Central and State level.
•    The proposed bill will ensure that the nomination of workers’ representatives in tripartite bodies by the government will become more transparent.

Economy and Banking

Cabinet approves first-ever three way merger in Indian Banking 
•    The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the scheme of amalgamation for amalgamating Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank, with Bank of Baroda as the transferee bank and Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank as transferor banks.
•    The amalgamation will be the first-ever three-way consolidation of banks in India, with the amalgamated bank being India's second largest Public Sector Bank.
•    The amalgamation will help create a strong globally competitive bank with economies of scale and enable realisation of wide-ranging synergies.
 

Obituary

Ramakant Achrekar dies in Mumbai 
•    Ramakant Achrekar, childhood coach of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, died on Wednesday. 
•    Achrekar, 87, who is known to shape Tendulkar's career, took his last breath at his Shivaji Park residence in Dadar, Mumbai.
•    Besides Tendulkar, he also coached some prominent players in Vinod Kambli, Pravin Amre, Sameer Dighe and Balwinder Singh Sandhu.
 

Space Science

China's lunar rover Chang'e 4 makes historic landing on dark side of Moon 
•    Chinese space probe successfully touched down on the far side of the moon on Thursday, a historic first landing on a mission seen as an important step for China's space programme.
•    Chinese state television said the Chang'e-4 lunar probe, launched in December, made the "soft landing" at 0226 GMT and transmitted the first-ever "close range" image of the dark side of the moon.
•    Previous spacecraft have seen the far side of the moon but none has landed on it.
 

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Important Current Affairs 2nd January 2019

National

8th Global Kokan festival foresees vision 2025 for Kokan Development 
•    To facilitate the development of the region, Kokan Bhumi Pratisthan will be organaising the 8th Global Kokan Festival which will be held at Mumbai Exhibition Center in Mumbai.
•    This mega event will be inaugurated by Chief Guests Suresh Prabhu (Union Minister of Commerce, Industry and Civil Aviation), Anant Geete (Union Cabinet Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Sector Enterprises) and Vinod Tawde (Minister Of Higher & Technical Education and Cultural Affairs).
•    Global Kokan festival is hosted by Jaykumar Rawal (Minister of Tourism) and Subash Desai (Minister for Industries and Mining), Deepak Kesarkar (Minister of State for Home (Rural), Finance and Planning), and Ravindra Chavan (Minister of State - Ports, Medical Education, Information and Technology, Food and Civil supplies, Consumer protection).
•    The inaugural day will see the announcement of launch of "Vision 2025" for Kokan region, a special white paper documenting the issues faced by people of Kokan region. The detailed report will be launched after 3 months with full study of the region in term of infrastructure, Business, tourism, etc.


1st January - DRDO day 
•    The DRDO was established in 1958 with just 10 laboratories to enhance the research work in defence sector.
•    DRDO Chairman Dr G Satheesh Reddy said that the country is self-reliant in areas of missiles, radars, sonars and torpedoes and many other systems.
•    Mr Reddy said, the Organisation has been working over the years to develop state of the art weapon system for the country's armed forces.


PM Modi renames Ross, Neil & Havelock Islands in Andaman and Nicobar 
•    Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the renaming of three islands of Andaman and Nicobar on the occasion of 75th anniversary of Tricolour hoisting by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in Port Blair.
•    Ross Island has been renamed as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep, the Neil Island would now be known as Shaheed Dweep and the Havelock Island as Swaraj Dweep.
•    Mr Modi also released a commemorative stamp, its first-day cover and a 75 rupees coin on this special day. He also announced setting up of a deemed university after Netaji Bose.

Economy and Banking

RBI offers relief to MSMEs; allows restructuring of debt up to Rs 25 crore 
•    Reserve Bank has allowed a one-time restructuring of existing debt of up to 25 crore rupees for the companies which have defaulted on payment but the loans given to them have continued to be classified as standard assets. 
•    The decision will help the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) which are facing cash crunch in the wake of demonetisation and GST implementation.
•    To be eligible for the scheme, the aggregate exposure, including non-fund based facilities of banks and NBFCs, to a borrower should not exceed 25 crore rupees as on January 1, 2019, and the restructuring has to be implemented by 31st of March 2020.


RBI Financial Stability Report 
Indian banking sector has begun to show improvement in asset quality of scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) during July-September quarter this year.
•    This positive sentiment was attributed to a host of factors including credit growth of banks coupled with improvement in the asset quality of the banks.
•    The FSR reflects the collective assessment of the Sub-Committee of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) on risks to financial stability, as also the resilience of the financial system.
•    According to the report, credit growth of scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) has improved between March 2018 and September 2018, driven largely by private sector banks.
•    The report also projected that GNPA ratio may decline to 10.3 per cent in March 2019, from 10.8 per cent in September 2018


Moody's downgrades Yes Bank ratings 
•    Moody's Investors Service on Tuesday downgraded Yes Bank's ratings to non-investment grade and changed outlook to negative from stable on the back of various resignations from the Board.
•    The resignations, when seen in conjunction with RBI's September directive to restrict the term of the bank's MD & CEO Rana Kapoor, till January 31, 2019, have raised concerns over corporate governance
•    Moody's has downgraded foreign currency issuer rating to 'Ba1' from 'Baa3', and also the bank's baseline credit assessment (BCA) and adjusted BCA to 'ba2' from 'ba1'. The rating implies that these instruments are non-investment grade, speculative.
•    Headquartered in Mumbai, Yes Bank had total assets of Rs 3.7 lakh crore at September 30, 2018.
•    On November 14, Yes Bank non-executive chairman Ashok Chawla resigned as his name figured in a CBI chargesheet filed in the Aircel-Maxis case. Another independent director Vasant Gujarathi too tendered his resignation on the same day.

Appointments

LIC MD to officiate as chairman 
•    Life Insurance Corporation of India MD Hemant Bhargava has been given the additional charge of the chairman after V.K. Sharma retired
•    Mr. Bhargava took charge as MD in February 2017.

Sports

ICC Test ranking: Virat Kohli, Kagiso Rabada tops 2018 
•    It turned out to be a glorious 2018 for India captain Virat Kohli and South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada as both maintained their respective pole positions in the year-end ICC Test Player Rankings.
•    Kohli, who attained a career-high 937 points during the year, which is the highest ever by an India batsman, scored 1322 runs in all. He overtook Steven Smith in August and has now held the top position for 135 days.
•    Rabada, who split the top ranking with England’s seasoned fast bowler James Anderson during the year, is just six points ahead of his adversary.
 

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Important Current Affairs 1st January 2019

National

ISRO launches Samwad with students to engage them on space science activities 
•    Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched Samwad with Students as part of its outreach programme. The Indian Space agency will engage youngsters across the country in activities concerning space science under this programme.
•    During the inauguration in Bengaluru yesterday, 40 students and 10 teachers from select schools interacted with ISRO Chairman Dr. K Sivan about the Indian Space Programme and their benefits to the common man.
•    The Chairman asked students to study science and mathematics with absolute seriousness which would enable them to take up challenging careers.
 

International

Pakistan, India exchange list of nuclear installations 
•    India and Pakistan on Tuesday exchanged the list of nuclear installations and facilities covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations between them.
•    In a statement, the External Affairs Ministry said, the list was exchanged through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad
•    Under the 1988 agreement, the two countries inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities on the first of January every year.


US, Israel quit UNESCO citing bias 
•    The United States and Israel officially quit the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with the close of 2018. The countries had announced their decisions in 2017 of withdrawing from the agency, accusing it of bias against Israel.
•    America has demanded fundamental reform in UNESCO, which was co-founded by it after World War II to foster peace. Israel joined the agency in 1949. It is best known for its World Heritage program, which designates cultural sites and aims to preserve traditions
•    The withdrawals will not greatly impact UNESCO financially since it has been dealing with a funding slash ever since 2011 when both Israel and the US stopped paying dues after Palestine was voted in as a member state.


Qatar will cease to be a member of OPEC
•    Qatar will cease to be a member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries today. The country had sent an official notification to the OPEC expressing its wish to pull out and to focus on its liquefied natural gas production in December.
•    The decision came amid the ongoing diplomatic and economic blockade imposed on the country by its Persian Gulf neighbours and several Arab states.
•    These countries accuse Doha of supporting terrorism and interfering in their internal affairs. Qatar has strongly refuted these allegations.


Bangladesh: Awami League registers landslide victory in Parliamentary elections 
•    Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League has registered a landslide victory in Parliamentary elections.
•    The ruling Awami League-led grand alliance bagged 266 seats and its ally Jatiya Party secured 21. The opposition National Unity Front (UNF) with BNP being its key partner got only seven seats. Independent candidates won in two seats. The election was postponed in one seat due to the death of a candidate.


Afghanistan presidential election delayed until July 20
•    Afghanistan's presidential election will be delayed until July 20 next year, three months later than the ballot had been scheduled to be held.
•    The announcement by the Independent Election Commission comes after weeks of speculation that the vote would be postponed to create space for US-led efforts to end the 17-year war with the Taliban.
•    The presidential ballot was originally scheduled for April 20.
 

Economy and Banking

Govt infuses nearly Rs 11,000 cr capital in public sector banks
•    The government has infused 10,882 crore rupees in four public sector banks, including UCO Bank and Syndicate Bank. It is part of 28,615 crore rupees capital infusion to be done in seven public sector lenders.
•    UCO Bank has received 3,074 crore rupees in the equity by way of preferential allotment yesterday. Besides, Bank of Maharashtra got 4,498 crore rupees, Syndicate Bank 1,632 crore and the Central Bank of India 1,678 crore.
•    The government has already announced infusion of 10,086 crore rupees in Bank of India, 5,500 crore in Oriental Bank of Commerce and 2,159 in United Bank of India.
 

Obituary

Veteran Actor Kader Khan Dies At 81 
•    Veteran actor Kader Khan died in a hospital in Canada on Monday. He was 81.
•    Born in Kabul, Afghanistan on October 22, Kader Khan was best known for his work as an actor and a writer in numerous films. 
•    He has worked with directors like Manmohan Desai and Prakash Mehra. 
•    He has featured in over 300 films.
 

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Important Current Affairs 31st December 2018

National

Government to appoint Committee to monitor DFI implementation 
The government will soon be appointing a committee to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the Doubling Farmers’ Income (DFI) committee. This committee will oversee the implementations of various recommendations and have specific terms of reference.
Together with supervising and monitoring, it will even handhold those involved in implementing the recommendations.
Committee on Doubling Farmers Income (DFI)
The government had appointed an expert committee headed by Ashok Dalwai in 2016 to look into the entire agriculture ecosystem in the country to suggest ways and means to reform it so that farmers’ income can be doubled by 2022.


Delhi Police becomes first police force in India to digitise all malkhanas
With the launch of ‘E-Malkhana’ in the remaining 10 districts at Chinamaya Mission, the Delhi Police has become first in country to have digitalised malkhana in Police Stations of its all districts. Malkhanas are rooms for keeping seized arms and ammunition. According to the release, around 3,11,600 case properties have been encrypted in digital form across all the police stations in the state.

PM releases commemorative stamp on Maharaja Suheldev 
PM Narendra Modi released a commemorative stamp on Maharaja Suheldev. He described Maharaja Suheldev as a brave warrior and a hero who inspires the people and said that the Union Government is determined to preserve the legacy of all those who contributed to the cause of India’s defence and security, and to its social life.
Legacy of Maharaja Suheldev
Maharaja Suheldev is a semi-legendary king whose references are found somewhere between the boundary of fiction and history.


Khushi Scheme of Odisha 
Khushi scheme of Odisha aims to provide good menstrual hygiene care to women of the state. The initiative aims to promote health and hygiene among school going adolescent girls leading to higher retention in school and greater empowerment of women.
About the Initiative
Under the scheme, the government will provide free sanitary napkins to 17 lakh girls studying in Classes 6 to 12 in government and government-aided schools. The scheme is being implemented by the health and family welfare department of the state at a cost of Rs 70 crore per year.


Ujjwala Sanitary Napkin initiative 
The oil marketing companies have launched Ujjwala Sanitary Napkin Initiative, as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Odisha.
According to the data from the National Family Health Survey-4, overall use of sanitary napkins in Odisha is 33.5 per cent and only 42.8 per cent of rural women between the age of 15 and 24 years use proper hygienic methods of protection during menstruation. The oil companies came up with this initiative keeping this scenario in mind.


PM launches comprehensive pension management software SAMPANN 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 29th December launched a comprehensive pension management software SAMPANN to facilitate pensioners of the telecom department. SAMPANN, an acronym for System for Accounting and Management of Pension, will help in the timely disbursement of pensions, he said at a public meeting in Varanasi. PM Modi said the Centre is using technology to improve ease of living and greater ease of access to citizen-centric services.
 

Obituary

Noted filmmaker Mrinal Sen passes away
Legendary filmmaker Mrinal Sen passed away at the age of 95 in Kolkata this morning. A Padma Bhushan and Dada Saheb Phalke awardee, Sen paved the way for parallel cinema in the country with films like Ek Din Achanak, Padatik, Mrigaya, Akaler Sandhane, Chorus, Kharij, Khandahar, Bhuwan Shome, Akash Kusum and Calcutta 71.
 

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Important Current Affairs 30th December 2018

National

One District, One Product scheme of Uttar Pradesh
The government of Uttar Pradesh has initiated One District, One Product scheme to encourage indigenous and specialized products and crafts of the state.
Aim
•    The scheme aims to capitalize the rich heritage of the Uttar Pradesh by reviving them through modernization and publicisation to enhance the reach of these products.
Uttar Pradesh is a vast state with vast diversity in all facets of life. The diversity of products and crafts in UP is breathtaking. 


Proposals for implementation of Mahila Police Volunteer Scheme approved
•    The proposal from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh for the implementation of Mahila Police Volunteer Scheme has been approved by the union government.
•    Haryana was the first state to adopt the initiative of Mahila Police Volunteer at Karnal and Mahindergarh District on a pilot basis under the Nirbhaya Fund during the financial year 2016-2017.


Bimal Jalan Panel on Economic Capital Framework
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has set up an expert committee, headed by its former governor Bimal Jalan, to suggest how the central bank should handle its reserves and whether it can transfer its surplus to the government. The committee will submit its report within 90 days of its first meeting.

National Commission for Homeopathy Bill, 2018 
The Union Cabinet has approved the National Commission for Homeopathy bill, 2018. The National Commission for Homeopathy seeks to replace the existing regulator Central Council of Homoeopathy.
Features of the Bill
The salient features of the draft National Commission for Homeopathy bill are:
•    Constitution of a national commission with three autonomous boards.
•    The Homoeopathy Education Board to be vested with the responsibility of overseeing the Homeopathy education in the country.
•    The board of assessment and rating to assess and grant recognition to educational institutions of Homoeopathy.
 

International

PM Inaugurates International Rice Research Institute’s South Asia Regional Centre 
•    Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the International Rice Research Institute South Asia Regional Centre (IRRI SARC) in Varanasi.
•    It is the sixth campus of IRRI SARC. The institute will complement the government’s effort to double farmer’s income by 2022.
Components of the IRRI SARC are:
•    The education and training arm of IRRI SARC will educate scientists and agriculture leaders about the latest technologies and innovations for sustainable farming.
•    The IRRI SARC will house laboratories for digital crop monitoring and assessment.
•    IRRI SARC will house demonstration fields for testing various varieties of rice.
 

Space

Union Cabinet approves budget for Gaganyaan project 
The Union Cabinet has approved a budget of Rs 10,000 crore for India’s Gaganyaan project. The allocation of the budget comes after the announcement of Prime Minister that, an Indian would travel to space in an Indian spacecraft by 2022 in his 2018 Independence Day speech.
About
•    India will launch two unmanned missions before the final mission. The first unmanned test-flight will be launched in December 2020.
•    The second unmanned test will be conducted in July 2021 and the human space flight will be launched in December 2021.
•    The module carrying three Indians will be attached to a service module. These two modules will comprise the orbital module that will be integrated with an advanced GSLV Mk III rocket.
 

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Important Current Affairs 29th December 2018

National

Centre gives nod to draft Bill on Indian medicine 
•    The Union Cabinet has approved the draft National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2018. The NCIM will promote “availability of affordable healthcare services in all parts of the country”.
•    The draft Bill will enable the constitution of a National Commission with four autonomous boards for the purpose of conducting overall education in Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Sowarigpa.
•    To assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions, the Bill proposes a common entrance and an exit exam.


Cabinet approves Indian Human Spaceflight programme 
•    Union Cabinet has approved the Gaganyaan Programme with a demonstration of Indian Human Spaceflight capability to low earth orbit for a mission duration ranging from one orbital period to a maximum of seven days
•    A human-rated GSLV Mk-lll will be used to carry the orbital module which will have necessary provisions for sustaining a 3-member crew for the duration of the mission.
•    The total fund requirement for the Gaganyaan Programme is within 10,000 crore rupees and includes the cost of technology development, flight hardware realization and essential infrastructure elements.
•    Two unmanned flights and one manned flight will be undertaken as part of Gaganyaan Programme.


Centre brings booklet on cyber safety for school children
•    Home Ministry has brought out a booklet on cyber safety for school children to inform them about different aspects of cyber safety.
•    The booklet, titled 'A Handbook for Students on cyber Safety', also deals with the problems of cyber bullying, cyber grooming and email fraud. 
•    It advises teenagers against accepting friend requests from unknown people on social media.
•    The booklet explains various kinds of cyber-crimes like identity theft, job fraud, email spoofing and how children can overcome them.
 

International

Bhutan PM Dr. Lotay Tshering calls on President Kovind
•    Prime Minister of Bhutan Dr. Lotay Tshering today called on President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
•    During the meeting, Mr Kovind reiterated India's commitment to partner in the socio-economic development of Bhutan and to support its 12th Five Year Plan, based on Bhutan priorities.
•    The President said that India welcomed the successful conduct of the third general elections in Bhutan and congratulated the Prime Minister of Bhutan on DNT's victory in the elections.


India to provide Bhutan Rs 400 Cr transitional trade support
•    India will give a transitional Trade Support Facility of 400 crore rupees to Bhutan over a period of five years to strengthen bilateral trade and economic linkages.
•    In a joint statement in New Delhi on Friday after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bhutan Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen co-operation in all areas of mutual interest.
•    Mr Modi and Dr. Tshering also discussed Bhutan’s priorities in the health sector. 
•    Prime Minister Modi stated that in line with Government of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, India is firmly committed to partner Bhutan in its quest for development and economic prosperity.
•    They reiterated their commitment to jointly develop 10,000 MWs of hydropower generating capacity in Bhutan and in this regard discussed the Sankosh Hydropower Project.


India sends 3 observers for paliamentry elections in Bangladesh 
•    India has sent three observers for parliamentary elections in Bangladesh. Chief Election Commission of Bangladesh had sent an invitation to New Delhi in this regard.
•    Bangladesh will go to polls on Sunday to elect a new parliament
•    This will be the eleventh general election in Bangladesh. Over ten crore nationals are eligible to cast their votes to elect 299-member Parliament. More than 1,800 candidates are in the fray.
 

Appointments

CA Kuttappa takes over as India's chief boxing coach 
•    Dronacharya awardee C A Kuttappa has taken over as India's chief boxing coach at the ongoing national camp.
•    Star pugilist Vikas Krishan (75kg) was left out from the post following his professional plunge.
•    The 39-year-old Kuttappa is credited with shaping some of the country's most successful boxers such as Vijender Singh, M Suranjoy Singh and Shiva Thapa, among others.
 

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Important Current Affairs 28th December 2018

National News

Lok Sabha passes Triple Talaq 
•    The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, after a heated debate.
•    The Bill to make the practice of triple talaq among Muslims a penal offence was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 17 to replace an ordinance issued in September.
•    Under the proposed law, giving instant triple talaq will be illegal and void, and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband. The fresh bill is proposed to supersede an earlier bill passed in the Lok Sabha and pending in the Rajya Sabha


Centre extends deadline to update NRC
•    The Centre has given an extension of six months to complete the ongoing exercise for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam by June 30.
•    In a notification, the Registrar General of India Sailesh said the decision was taken as the exercise to enumerate citizens in the NRC, a list of Assam’s residents, could not be completed within the specified date of December 31, 2018.
•    On December 6, 2013, the government issued the first notification setting a deadline of three years for completion of the entire NRC process. Since then, five extensions have been given by the government. 
•    The draft NRC was published on July 30 and included the names of 2.9 crore people of the total 3.29 crore applicants.


Nitin Gadkari lays foundation stone of 11 projects for Yamuna rejuvenation
•    Union Minister Nitin Gadkari laid the foundation stone of 11 projects for Yamuna Rejuvenation under Namami Gange Programme in New Delhi.
•    Most of the projects are for the sewerage infrastructure and are at various stages of implementation.
•    These projects under Yamuna Action Plan III are located in three drainage zones namely Kondli, Rithala and Okhla in Delhi.


Niti Aayog releases second Delta Ranking of Aspirational districts
•    Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant today released the Second Delta Ranking of the Aspirational Districts Programme. The ranking details the incremental progress achieved by the districts during June to October this year across six key development sectors.
•    Virudhunagar district in Tamil Nadu has shown the most improvement overall, followed by Nuapada district in Odisha, Siddarthnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar's Aurangabad and Koraput in Odisha. These districts have championed the development narrative in fundamental parameters of social progress.
•    Nagaland's Kiphire district, Jharkhand's Giridih, Chatra in Jharkhand, Hailakandi in Assam, and Pakur in Jharkhand have shown least improvement.
•    The districts have been ranked in a transparent basis on parameters across various performance indicators like Health and Nutrition, Education, Skill Development and Basic Infrastructure among others.
•    The rankings are based on the data that is publicly available through the Champions of Change Dashboard, which includes data entered on a real-time basis at the district level. 
•    The Aspirational District Programme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January this year with the aim to rapidly transform the districts that have shown relatively lesser progress in key social areas.

Economy and Banking

Bimal Jalan to head six-member panel on RBI’s economic capital framework
•    The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in consultation with the government, has set up a six-member committee to review the economic capital framework of the central bank.
•    Former RBI Governor Bimal Jalan will be the committee’s chairman and former Deputy Governor Rakesh Mohan deputy chairman.
•    The other members are Economic Affairs Secretary Subash Chandra Garg, RBI Deputy Governor N.S. Vishwanathan and two board members of the RBI — Bharat Doshi and Sudhir Mankad.
•    Dr. Jalan was the Governor of the RBI between November 1997 and September 2003.
•    The committee would submit its report within 90 days from the date of its first meeting, the RBI said in a statement on Wednesday.
•    The terms of reference of the committee would be to review status, need and justification of various provisions, reserves and buffers presently provided for by the RBI, keeping in mind ‘public policy mandate of the RBI, including financial stability considerations.’
•    The committee will also review best practices followed by the central banks globally in making assessment and provisions for risks, to which central bank balance sheets are subjected.

RBI launches survey to capture retail payment habits in 6 cities 
•    The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will capture payment habits of individuals in six cities, including four metropolitan towns. For the purpose, the central bank has launched a 'Survey on Retail Payment Habits of Individuals (SRPHi)'.
•    the survey will cover a sample of 6,000 individuals from various socio-economic backgrounds across six cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Guwahati. 
•    The survey seeks qualitative responses from individuals on their payment habits. The findings may provide some idea about awareness and usage habits of digital payment products.
•    The central bank further said that Sigma Research & Consulting Pvt Ltd has been engaged to conduct the fieldwork of the survey on behalf of the RBI.

International News

UAE resumes Damascus embassy in Syria after 6 years of suspension 
•    United Arab Emirates has resumed its diplomatic service at Damascus in Syria after six years of suspension signaling a thaw in the relations between the two countries, as also with the Arab world.
•    The Charge d'Affaires of the UAE Embassy began discharging his duty yesterday.
•    This move will also prevent the dangers of regional interference in Syrian affairs.
•    UAE had closed its Embassy in the early years of the Syrian conflict.

Sports


Former Australia captain Ponting inducted into ICC Hall of Fame
•    Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting was formally inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame
•    To mark the occasion, Ponting received his commemorative cap from compatriot ICC Cricket Hall of Famer, Glenn McGrath, during the tea break on the opening day of the third Test against India at the MCG.
•    Ponting was named in the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame along with former India captain Rahul Dravid and England woman wicketkeeper-batter Claire Taylor during the ICC Annual Conference in Dublin in July.

Persons


Colin O’Brady - first person to complete a solo trek across Antarctica
•    An American adventurer has become the first person to complete a solo trek across Antarctica without assistance of any kind.
•    Colin O’Brady, 33, took 54 days to complete the nearly 1,600 km journey, crossing the frozen continent from coast to coast.
•    Mr. O’Brady and an Englishman, Louis Rudd, 49, set off individually on November 3 from Union Glacier in a bid to be the first to complete a solo, unassisted crossing of Antarctica.
•    His voyage was tracked by GPS, and live updates of the trip were provided daily on his website colinobrady.com
•    In 1996-97, a Norwegian polar explorer, Borge Ousland, made the first solo crossing of Antarctica but he was wind-aided by kites on his voyage.

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Important Current Affairs 27th December 2018

National

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to have separate HCs
•    Following a Supreme Court order to the Centre to notify the bifurcation of the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana High Courts by January 1, President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday ordered the separation of the “common” Hyderabad High Court into the two separate High Courts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
•    Both will function separately from January 1, 2019.
•    The principal seat of the Andhra Pradesh High Court is Amaravati, the capital of the State. The High Court in Hyderabad will function separately as the High Court of the State of Telangana.
•    Sixteen HC judges, including Justice Ramesh Ranganathan, who is now the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court, shall become judges of the Andhra Pradesh High Court from January 1.
•    The new Telangana High Court will have a strength of 10 judges.
•    The Presidential notification quoted Article 214 of the Constitution which provides that there shall be a High Court for each State.


Boogibeel Bridge – India’s Longest Rail-Road Bridge
•    Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated India's longest rail-road bridge in Assam as part of efforts to boost defence along the border with China.
•    The bridge, near the city of Dibrugarh, will enable the military to speed up the dispatch of forces to neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh, which borders China.
•    With the opening of the bridge, the rail journey from Dibrugarh to the Arunachal Pradesh capital Itanagar has been cut by 750 km. The bridge has been designed to bear the weight of India's heaviest 60 tonne battle tanks and so that fighter jets can land on it. 
•    Construction of the Bogibeel bridge was agreed by the government as part of a 1985 agreement to end years of deadly agitation by Assamese nationalist groups.
•    India opened its longest bridge, the 9.1 kilometre Dhola-Sadiya bridge, in 2017 to connect Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, also to boost tactical defences.
•    The 4.9 kilometre long Bogibeel bridge over the Brahmaputra river has taken nearly two decades and $800 million or Rs. 5,600 crore to complete.


Aadhaar Not Mandatory for School Admissions : UIDAI
•    Aadhaar issuing body UIDAI has asserted that schools cannot make the 12-digit biometric identifier a pre-condition for student admission and warned that doing so will be against the recent order of the Supreme Court.
•    In the verdict which upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, SC had emphasised that Aadhaar would not be mandatory for school admissions, for examinations conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Examination, National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for medical entrance and the University Grants Commission.


Coast Guard Deploys Faster Vessels in Sir Creek 
•    The hovercraft operate at high speeds between 30-40 knots (around 50-60 kilometres) per hour and can be highly useful in hot pursuit of any suspicious boat or individuals in the waters around there. 
•    Since the hovercraft can operate on both sea and shores, it would be easy for the troops deployed there to catch any rogue elements there
•    The Coast Guard chief also interacted closely with the fishermen community based around the new facility and sought to integrate them with the Coast Guard to enhance its eyes and ears in the sea for keeping an eye on any suspicious activity.
•    Traditionally, the Sir Creek area in the Kutch district of Gujarat has been used by the infiltrators from Pakistan to enter the Indian Territory. 
•    The Creek has been a contentious issue between India and Pakistan and the 1965 war with Pakistan also saw action here.


Draft IT Rules out for Public Feedback 
•    The Union Ministry for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) announced Monday that it will hold public consultations on the draft Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2018, which are meant to replace the rules notified in 2011.
•    The Ministry said in a statement that the “consultation process is underway”, which started with inter-ministerial consultations, followed by discussions with major social media platforms like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo and WhatsApp, and associations representing intermediaries. 
•    It said the government “intends to consult all stakeholders” and that MeitY “has commenced public consultation” for which submissions must be sent by January 15, 2019.
•    Social media platforms are required to end the complete encryption system and remove any “unlawful content” for the sake of the country’s security.
•    The draft rules define intermediary as any platform that has more than 50 lakh users in India or is in the list of intermediary as notified by the government. Social media platforms such as Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram and others fall under the definition of intermediary.
•    Whenever the government issues an order, within “72 hours of communication”, information or assistance concerning “security or cybersecurity” must be provided.
 

International

Mount Etna Volcano Triggers 4.8-Magnitude Quake in Sicily
•    Italy’s Mount Etna volcano erupted on 24th December 2018 resulting in more than 130 earthquakes of up to 4.3 in magnitude. 
•    The volcanic lava and ash spewed from a new fracture near its south-eastern crater for the first time in a decade and was visible for miles.
•    Mount Etna is Europe’s highest and most active volcano outside the Caucasus. Mount Etna is an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, Italy. The last major eruption was in 1992.


Tsunami Triggered by Mount Krakatau Volcano
•    Indonesia on Thursday raised the alert level for the erupting Anak Krakatau volcano to the second-highest, and ordered all flights to steer clear, days after it triggered a tsunami that killed at least 430 people.
•    A crater collapse on the volcanic island at high tide on Saturday sent waves up to 5 metres (16 feet) high smashing into the coast on the Sunda Strait, between the islands of Java and Bali.
•    The volcano has been rumbling on and off since July but has been particularly active since Sunday, spewing lava and rocks, and sending huge clouds of ash up to 3,000 metres into heavily overcast skies.
 

Awards

Rafi Award Conferred to Late Music Composer Laxmikant and Singer Usha Timothy
•    The Mohammed Rafi Award, instituted by an NGO headed by Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar, was Monday bestowed upon late music composer Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar and playback singer Usha Timothy.
•    Kudalkar, of the Laxmikant-Pyarelal duo, was given the Mohammed Rafi Lifetime Achievement Award consisting of Rs 1 lakh and a trophy. The award was received by his daughter.
•    Timothy was honoured with the Mohammed Rafi Award and Rs 51,000 at a programme held in suburban Bandra Monday evening.
•    The awards, instituted by the NGO Spandan Arts, were handed over by Shelar.
 

Economy and Polity

Centre Tightens Norms for e-Commerce Companies for Sale of Products
•    Tightening norms for e-commerce firms having foreign investment, the government on Wednesday barred online marketplaces like Flipkart and Amazon from selling products of companies where they hold stakes and banned exclusive marketing arrangements that could influence product price.
•    The revised norms are aimed at protecting the interest of domestic players, who have to face tough competition from e-retailers having deep pockets from foreign investors.
•    The policy would be effective from February 2019.
•    The policy says a vendor will not be permitted to sell more than 25% of its products on an online platform of a single e-marketplace firm.

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Important Current Affairs 26th December 2018

National

Maharashtra govt approved Rs 4,089 crore for Tembhu irrigation scheme
The scheme is about constructing barrages on the river Krishna near Tembhu village and lifting 22 billion cubic feet water to irrigate 80,000 hectare areas in seven talukas - Karad, Kadegaon, Tasgaon, Khanapur, Atpadi, Kavathe-Mahankal and Sangola - spread across Satara, Sangli and Solapur districts. 
The project was conceptualised way back in 1996 at a cost of Rs 1,416 crore.


Indian Coast Guards has deployed two new hovercrafts
Indian Coast Guards has deployed two new hovercrafts to enhance its surveillance capabilities and to protect against any filtration bids from the Pakistan Side. The two hovercrafts would operate from the Jakhau facility in Gujrat.
The two new hovercrafts together with three interceptor vessels will be responsible for the round the clock surveillance in the contentious area around Sir Creek.


Manipur Assembly passed anti-mob violence bill
Manipur Assembly led by CM N Biren Singh passed the 'Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Bill' to reduce the number of mob lynchings in the state. The bill recommends life imprisonment for those involved in mob violence if it results in the death of a victim. The assembly also passed the Manipur Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018 unanimously.


PM Modi inaugurates Bogibeel Bridge 
PM Modi inaugurated the Bogibeel Bridge on the birth anniversary of the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee i.e. December 25 which is observed as “Good Governance Day”. This 4.9 km-long bridge is the nation’s only fully welded bridge and for the first time European codes and welding standards were adhered to and it has a life of about 120 years.


National Consumers Day 
The Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs Food and Public Distribution celebrated the National Consumer Day 2018 on 24th December at the Kothari Auditorium, DRDO Bhawan, New Delhi. The theme of the 2018 National Consumers Day was “Timely Disposal of Consumer Complaints”.

The National Consumers Day is celebrated on the 24th December because it was on the 24th December 1986 the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 had received the assent of the president.


P. V. Bharathi appointed as MD and CEO of Corporation Bank
According to an order issued by the Personnel Ministry on 24th December 2018, P.V Bharathi has been appointed as managing director and chief executive officer of the Corporation Bank. P.V. Bharathi is currently working as the Executive Director in the Canara Bank. She will take charge on or after 1st February 2019, and remain in the post till March 31, 2020.


55th anniversary of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)
The 55th anniversary of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) was held in New Delhi. Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, was the chief guest and he witnessed the raising day parade along with delegates from Nepal and Bhutan on the occasion.
In his address Kiren Rijiju said, in addition to border guarding duty, SSB is also playing important role in activities such as civic action, perception management and skill development programmes and he also spoke on the contribution of the SSB in disaster management operations with 2 battalions serving in National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
 

International

US and Turkey agreed on avoidance of power vacuum in Syria
US president Donald Trump and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed to prevent a power vacuum in Syria after the pullout of American forces. According to an official statement by Turkish Presidency, the both of the leaders in a conversation yesterday, agreed to ensure coordination between countries’ military and other officials to avoid a power vacuum which could result into abuse of the withdrawal and transition phase in Syria.

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Important Current Affairs 25th December 2018

National News

‘Bharat Ratna Atal Bihar Vajpayee International Schools’ 
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has launched the ‘Bharat Ratna Atal Bihar Vajpayee International Schools’ for students in rural areas on the occasion of 94th birth anniversary of the late prime minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee. Initially, 13 Zilla Parishad (ZP) schools would be part of the international board and it would be expanded in the coming years.


Bharat Ratna Atal Bihar Vajpayee International Schools
The schools are affiliated to the Maharashtra International Education Board (MIEB), set up by the state government with an aim to achieve higher education standards.


Haryana: Child Care Institutes being run in the state renamed as ‘Jagannath Ashrams’
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on 25th December 2018 has announced the renaming of Child Care Institutes being run in the state as Jagannath Ashrams. The announcement was made by the chief minister at the during a dance competition organised by women wing of All India Vaish Federation.

Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines [Amendment] Rules), 2018
Ministry of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has released draft Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines [Amendment] Rules), 2018.


About
•    The social media platforms are also required to trace out the originator of information on its platform as may be required by the government agencies if the authorised functionaries demand so.
•    Social media platforms are required to end the complete encryption system and remove any “unlawful content” for the sake of the country’s security.


Sadaiv Atal dedicated to the Nation
Sadaiv Atal, the Samadhi of Atal Bihari Vajpayee was dedicated to the Nation on the birth Anniversary of the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

To emphasise on the unity in diversity, stones from various parts of the country have been used in the construction of Samadhi near Rajghat in New Delhi.  The Samadhi has a central platform comprising of nine square blocks, capped with a Diya in the centre. The number nine represents the navarasas, navaratras and navagrahas. The placement of the nine square blocks is in a circular lotus shaped pattern.


B V P Rao elected as president of Archery Association of India
B V P Rao was elected as the President of Archery Association of India(AAI),the election was held under the Supervision of former Chief Election Commissioner S. Y. Quraishi. Maha Singh was elected as secretary of Archery Association of India,D K Vidyarthi was elected as the treasurer. Sunil Sharma was elected senior vice-president and Rajendra Singh Tomar and Purnima Mahato will be the vice presidents.

Seven day 37th Senior National Rowing Championship held in Pune
The seven days 37th Senior National Rowing Championship concluded at Army Rowing Node, College of Military Engineering in Pune. The competition consisted of categories of: 2000 meters and 500 meters. It was inaugurated by Lt General Michael Mathews. The Army Team emerged as the champions in 2018 and was followed by the Services team that came in second.

Delhi records 2nd Highest Pollution Level in 2018
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data showed the overall air quality index (AQI) at ‘severe’ level of 450, the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) showed a higher level at 471. This is the second highest pollution level this year. The highest was recorded on November 8, a day after Diwali, when the AQI touched 571. An AQI between 100 to 200 comes under the 'moderate' category, 201 and 300 is considered 'poor', 301 and 400 'very poor', while that between 401 and 500 is 'severe'.
 

Awards

Mohammed Rafi Awards conferred
Mohammed Rafi Award instituted by the NGO Spandan Arts was bestowed upon late music composer Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar and playback singer Usha Timothy.
The Mohammed Rafi Lifetime Achievement Award consisting of Rs 1 lakh and a trophy was conferred to Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar. The Mohammed Rafi consisting of Rs 51,000 and a trophy was conferred to Usha Timothy.
 

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