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Important Current Affairs 15th January 2019

National News

PM Modi greets soldiers, ex-servicemen and their families on occasion of Army Day
•    Prime Minister Narendra Modi has greeted the soldiers, ex-servicemen and their families on the occasion of Army Day.
•    Mr Modi said, he bows to their indomitable courage and bravery.


2-day Global Aviation Summit 2019 to take off in Mumbai today 
•    A two-day Global Aviation Summit 2019 will take off in Mumbai today. 
•    This will be the first-of-its-kind event in the world with participation from more than 86 countries.
•    India is among the fastest growing aviation sector. 
•    Vision 2040 for aviation sector and the Air Cargo Policy will also be unveiled during the summit.
•    The Global Aviation Summit with a theme “Flying for all - especially the next 6 Billion”, being organised by Ministry of Civil Aviation in association with FICCI.


World's largest religious and cultural human congregation - Kumbh Mela begins in UP 
•    The world's largest religious and cultural human congregation -Kumbh 2019 began at Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh early this morning. 
•    The Mela commenced with the holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati. 
•    According to the Mela's administration, 75 lakh to one crore devotees have taken the Royal bath since early morning.


SC issues notice to Centre against order allowing agencies to monitor computers 
•    The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Centre on a plea challenging the government's notification authorising 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt any computer system.
•    A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices Ashok Bhushan and S K Kaul yesterday sought the Centre's response within six weeks and said it would hear arguments on the interim stay after the parties are served the notices.


Sports

Shakil Ahmed sets world record in indoor rowing
•    Asian Cup gold medallist Shakil Ahmed has added one more feather to his cap when he set up a world record in indoor rowing by completing one lakh metres in above-40 years category in Kolkata. 
•    Shakil began his record-setting indoor rowing feat in Salt Lake stadium complex at 8 a.m. yesterday and achieved the milestone of covering one lakh metres of simulated distance in 10 hours.


Stephen Constantine steps down as coach of Indian football team 
•    Stephen Constantine has decided to step down as the head coach of the Indian football team following team's exit from 2019 AFC Asian Cup. 
•    India went down fighting against Bahrain in their last Group A match on Monday.
•    The 56-year-old Constantine, who had earlier coached India from 2002 to 2005, was handed over reins of the team again in 2015. He guided India to the Asian Cup after a gap of eight years.


Economy and Banking

Reserve Bank of India slaps Rs 1 crore penalty on Bajaj Finance 
•    The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed a penalty of Rs 1 crore on Bajaj Finance Ltd, a non-banking financial company (NBFC), for violating "fair practices code".
•    This action is based on deficiencies in regulatory compliance and is not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the NBFC with its customers
•    Bajaj Finance is into businesses such as consumer finance, SME finance and commercial lending.
 

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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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India 112th in World Economic Freedom Index

India has been ranked 112th out of 159 countries in the 2016 World Economic Freedom Index (WEFI). 
•    The index was release as part of the 2016 annual report of the Economic Freedom. 
•    The report measures the economic freedom by analyzing the policies and institutions of all 159 countries and territories and was based on data from the year 2014. 
•    The economic freedom index of a country is directly proportional to the freedom and opportunities available to its citizens. 
•    Top 10 Countries in 2016 WEFI: Hong Kong (1st), Singapore (2nd), New Zealand (3rd), Switzerland (4th), Canada (5th), Georgia (6th), Ireland (7th), Mauritius (8th), UAE (9th) and Australia (10th). 
•    10 lowest-ranked countries: Iran (150th), Algeria (151st), Chad (152nd), Guinea (153rd), Angola (154th), Central African Republic (155th), Argentina (156th), Congo (157th), Libya (158th) and Venezuela (159th).

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PMO approves closure of sick Govt. companies

NITI Aayog’s proposal for shutting down 17 sick or loss-making government companies has received the go-ahead from Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). 
•    A second set of proposals from the Aayog for strategic sales aimed at reducing government ownership to below 51 per cent in about 22 public sector companies has also got the green signal from the PMO.
•    This second list includes the Miniratna helicopter services operator Pawan Hans Limited, Scooters India Limited, Cement Corporation of India Limited and three plants of the Maharatna Steel Authority of India (SAIL) located at Salem, Durgapur and Bhadravati. 
•    The Finance Ministry is approaching the Cabinet for its approval separately for each of the strategic sales the PMO has approved. 
•    The list of loss-making companies to be closed includes Indian Oil-CREDA Biofuels Ltd and CREDA HPCL Biofuel Ltd, both Jatropha oil-focussed subsidiaries of state-owned petroleum giants.

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Model Guidelines Released to Curb Ponzi Schemes

The Union Government on 12 September 2016 issued model guidelines for states to regulate direct selling and multi-level marketing businesses while prohibiting pyramid structures as well as money circulation schemes. The guidelines were issued to protect consumers from Ponzi frauds.
The Direct Selling Guidelines 2016 framework was released by the Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.
•    Direct selling means marketing, distribution and sale of goods or providing of services as a part of network of direct selling other than under a pyramid scheme.
•    To conduct direct selling business, the guidelines have prescribed many conditions that need to be complied within 90 days.
•    The guidelines also mandate direct sellers to constitute a grievance redressal committee to protect consumers’ right.
•    They also prohibit direct selling entities from using misleading and deceptive or unfair recruitment practices.
•    The contract should provide direct sellers a reasonable cooling-off period in which they can cancel it and receive a refund for goods and services purchased.
•    The new guidelines mandate a seller to provide information about the name of the purchaser and seller, delivery date of goods, procedure of its return and its warranty.

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Establishment of Higher Education Financing Agency Approved

The Union Cabinet on 12 September 2016 approved the creation of the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA).
•    The HEFA will be established to give a major push for creation of high quality infrastructure in premier educational institutions.
•    It will also mobilise CSR funds from PSUs/Corporates, which will in turn be released for promoting research and innovation in these institutions on grant basis.
•    The HEFA will finance the civil and lab infrastructure projects through a 10-year loan.
•    All the Centrally Funded Higher Educational Institutions will be eligible for joining as members of the HEFA.
•    For joining as members, the Institution should agree to escrow a specific amount from their internal accruals to HEFA for a period of 10 years. 
•    This secured future flows will be securitised by the HEFA for mobilising the funds from the market.
•    Each member institution will be eligible for a credit limit as decided by HEFA based on the amount agreed to be escrowed from the internal accruals.


 

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Union Cabinet approves formation of GST Council

The Union Cabinet on 12 September 2016 approved the process, formation and functioning of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council.
The GST Council and its Secretariat will be set up as per the following details:
•    Creation of the GST Council as per Article 279A of the amended Constitution
•    Creation of the GST Council Secretariat, with its office at New Delhi
•    Appointment of the Secretary (Revenue) as the Ex-officio Secretary to the GST Council
•    On 8 September 2016, President Pranab Mukherjee had given his assent to the 122nd Constitutional Amendment Bill. The Bill will pave the way for rollout of GST.
•    The new tax regime will do away with the indirect taxes. It will usher in one tax for the entire country.
•    Over 18 States have ratified the bill.
•    The GST is a single indirect tax, which will subsume most of the central and state taxes such as VAT, excise duty, service tax and central sales tax.

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India's August Retail Inflation slowing after good rainfall

India's consumer inflation is expected to have eased to a four-month low in August, helped by smaller rises in food price.
•    Consumer prices, which the Reserve Bank of India tracks as it sets interest rate policy, likely rose 5.5 percent in August, according to a Reuter’s poll of economists, compared with an increase of 6.07 percent in July.
•    Data on the consumer price index and industrial output will be released at 1200 GMT Monday.
•    Economists predict annual growth in industrial output decelerated to 1.7 percent in July from June's eight-month high of 2.1 percent.
•    Even if retail inflation eases as much as anticipated, it will still be above the RBI's March 2017 target of 5 percent, despite low global crude prices.
•    In Asia, China's annual consumer inflation slowed to 1.3 percent in August, while Indonesia's pace slowed to a near seven-year low of 2.8 percent


 

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