Weekly Current Affairs December 2017 4th Week

1. India ranks 109th in mobile internet speed and 76th in fixed broadband

India has ranked 109th in mobile internet speeds and 76th in fixed broadband speeds in Ookla’s November Speedtest Global Index, where the country’s average mobile speed was 8.8 Mbps and broadband speed was 18.82 Mbps.

  • Norway ranked first in the world for mobile internet, with an average download speed of 62.66 Mbps, as of November.
  • Singapore led in the fixed broadband category, with a 153.85 Mbps average download speed.

2. India declares $25 million assistance for Rakhine State

India has announced a development assistance of $25 million for Myanmar’s Rakhine State, from where thousands of Rohingya Muslims recently fled following incidents of violence against the community.

  • This came a day after Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar visited Myanmar and met Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
  • An estimated 6,00,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State since late August after large-scale violence there.

3. India to set up IT centre in Egypt’s Al Azhar University

India will be establishing a Centre of Excellence in Information Technology (CEIT) at Al Azhar University, Egypt’s highest religious authority and one of the world’s most eminent seats of Sunni Muslim learning.

  • All the equipment and course material has reached Egypt and premises are being prepared for CIET, which will provide high-tech education and skills to the country’s youth, India’s Ambassador to Egypt, Sanjay Bhattacharyya, said.

4. Guatemala to move its embassy to Jerusalem

The president of Guatemala says the Central American country will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

  • Guatemala was one of nine nations that voted earlier this week with the United States when the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a non-binding resolution denouncing President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

5. India’s Humanitarian Assistance to Republic of Yemen

The Government of India is providing medical assistance worth about US$ one million to Republic of Yemen in response to a request from the Yemeni government.

  • As a part of its commitment to provide humanitarian assistance to Yemen, India has been a member of the ‘Friends of Yemen’ Group.
  • India has earlier extended medical assistance to Yemen in April 2015. Additionally, India provided food assistance in the form of rice and wheat, each worth of US$ 2 million in August 2012 and March 2013 respectively.

Points to Remember

  • Yemen is an Arab country in Western Asia at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.
  • Sana’a is the capital of Yemen. Rial is the currency of Yemen.
  • Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi is the president of Yemen while Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr is the Prime Minister.

6. Nepal bans solo climbing on Mount Everest

Nepal has banned solo climbers from scaling its mountains, including Mount Everest, in an attempt to reduce accidents and make mountaineering safer.

  • The new safety regulations also prohibit double amputee and blind climbers from attempting to reach the summit of the world’s highest peak.
  • Nearly 300 people have died on Mount Everest since the first ascent to the peak was made in 1953.

7. National Mathematics Day: 22 December

In India, the day ‘December 22 has been declared as the National Mathematics Day.

  • The Declaration was made by Dr Manmohan Singh, Former Prime Minister of India, to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan in 2012.
  • Dr Manmohan Singh also announced that the year 2012 would be celebrated as the National Mathematics Year.

8. MEA launches SAMEEP to take Indian foreign policy to students

The Ministry of External Affairs has launched a new programme, SAMEEP, aims to take Indian foreign policy and its global engagements to students across the country.

  • The ministry of external affairs has asked all its officers on leave to travel to their hometowns and particularly their alma mater.
  • The idea is not only to get the ordinary student to take an interest in India’s place in the world and its global ambitions, but also to look at diplomacy as a career option.

9. Bengaluru to host 7th international coffee fest

The seventh edition of the India International Coffee Festival (IICF) will be held in Bengaluru from January 16-19.

  • The four-day IICF 2018, being organised by the India Coffee Trust and State-run Coffee Board to promote the Indian coffees globally, is expected to attract over 100 companies, 600 delegates and some 10,000 visitors, organisers said.
  • IICF 2018 would be a precursor to the International Coffee Organisation’s World Coffee Conference being hosted by India in Bengaluru in 2020.

10. Indian Navy Conducts Exercise Naseem-Al-Bahr with Oman Navy

Indian Naval Ships Trikand and Teg are deployed to Oman for bilateral exercise ‘Naseem Al Bahr’ or ‘Sea Breeze’.

  • This exercise is the 11th edition and has been a biennial feature since 1993.
  • The Indian ships entered Muscat on 16 December 2017 for the harbour phase.

11. Ganga Gram Project launched to make 4,470 Ganga Villages Swachh

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) has launched ‘Ganga Gram’ – a project for sanitation based integrated development of all 4470 villages along the River Ganga, at a multi-stakeholder sammelan held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.

  • The Ganga Gram Swachhta Sammelan was attended by more than 1400 delegates including 500 village sarpanches from all five Ganga States (Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal).
  • Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation is the nodal agency for implementation of the Ganga Gram Project.
  • For the Ganga Gram Project the Ministry works in close coordination with NMCG, various Ministries, State Government and Districts.

12. Good Governance Day: 25 December

Good Governance Day is observed in India annually on 25 December, the birth anniversary of former-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

  • Good Governance Day was established in 2014 to honor Prime Minister Vajpayee by fostering awareness among the Indian people of accountability in government.
  • In keeping with this principle, the Government of India has decreed Good Governance Day to be a working day for the government.

13. Bengaluru becomes first city to get its own logo

Brand Bengaluru got its own logo and the tagline ‘Bengaluru – Be U’ (be you) is expected to build the city’s image on the global stage.

  • The city is the first Indian city to gets its own identity badge.
  • Selected from 1,350 entries, the logo aims to signify Bengaluru’s cosmopolitan culture, a sense of belonging, 480-year history and futuristic outlook.

14. Odisha recognised as ‘Champion State’ for exports

The Centre has recognised Odisha as a ‘Champion State’ for recording the highest growth in exports during 2016-17, official sources said.

  • This was announced during a review meeting of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on the export performance of states and formulation of strategy attended by L N Gupta, MSME Additional Chief Secretary, Odisha.
  • The exports from the state have increased from Rs 19,082 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 40,872 crore in 2016-17

15. India’s first AC local train flagged off in Mumbai

India’s first air-conditioned local ran its maiden journey from Borivali station to Churchgate in the southern part of Mumbai.

  • The 12-coach EMU’s inaugural run comes after 65 trial runs over two years at Kurla and Virar car-sheds.
  • The local was brought to Mumbai from the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, on April 4, 2016.
  • The services will replace 12 existing non-air conditioned services.

16. Centre releases Rs 167 crore to 9 states for border development

The Home Ministry has released Rs 167 crore to nine states with international border for the development of infrastructure in forward areas.

  • The states which will benefit include Rajasthan and Punjab, both having international border with Pakistan, and West Bengal and Assam having boundary with Bangladesh.

17. Uttar Pradesh introduces power scheme to mark Vajpayee’s birthday

Uttar Pradesh has launched a free household power connection scheme for the poor in the state to mark former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birth anniversary.

  • The government has a target of covering 16 million by 2018-end under the scheme ‘Prakash hai to vikas hai’.
  • The government has also introduced Kisan Uday Yojana, a novel scheme for farmers, under which existing 5 HP/7.5 HP submersible and coupling sets will be replaced free of cost.

18. UP govt signs MoU with South Korea

The Uttar Pradesh government signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korea to enhance cooperation in the field of tourism, skill development, culture and farming.

  • MoU was signed for giving a new dimension to cooperation in the field of tourism, skill development, culture and farming, which will provide more employment opportunities and development.

19. ‘Heritage Cabinet’ to be set up in Odisha

The Odisha government has decided to set up a unique ‘Heritage Cabinet’ and an Odia Language Commission as part of its move to preserve the relics and monuments in the state and enrich its rich culture and language.

  • Heritage Cabinet’ would be headed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. It would aim to protect ancient monuments, temples and archaeological sites in Odisha, and take steps to preserve the state’s culture, language and literature.

20. Radha Mohan Singh launches Livestock Disease Forewarning –Mobile Application

Union Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh has launched Livestock Disease Forewarning –Mobile Application (LDF-Mobile App) in New Delhi.

  • It is developed by ICAR-National Institute of Veterinary Epidemiology and Disease Informatics (ICAR-NIVEDI), Bengaluru.
  • At the launch, Union Agriculture Minister informed that dreaded Rinderpest disease has been eradicated from India and stressed that similar efforts are needed to control and eradicate diseases like FMD, PPR, Brucellosis, CSF, BT, HS etc., which cause huge economic loss annually to the livestock rearers and livestock industry as a whole.

21. All Trains To Have Bio-Toilets By March 2019

The government said it plans to complete the work of installing bio-toilets in all passenger trains by March 2019.

  • The Minister said retro-fitment of bio-toilets in existing in-service coaches is also being done to a limited extent in coaching depots.

22. Indian Science Congress to be held in March in Imphal

The 2018 edition of the historic Indian Science Congress will be held at Manipur University, Imphal, in March.

  • The event was scheduled at the Osmania University (OU), Hyderabad, in the first week of January but had to be moved out due to security problems.
  • This was the first time the 106-year-old ISC had to be postponed at the last minute.

23. Environment Ministry Launches Regional Project to Tackle Stubble Burning

In another significant step to combat climate change, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has approved a regional project on ‘Climate Resilience Building among Farmers through Crop Residue Management’ under the National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC).

  • The first phase of the project has been approved at a cost of approximately Rs. 100 Crore for the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
  • The project will leverage approximately three times the approved amount with contribution from the States as well as farmers.

24. Rs 33,700 crore allocated under Swachh Bharat Mission since 2014

Union government has allocated over Rs 33 , 700 crore under the ‘ Swachh Bharat Mission ‘ since its launch in 2014 , the Lok Sabha was informed.

  • In a written reply, Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister Uma Bharti said Rs 2,850 crore, Rs 6,525 crore, Rs 10,513 crore and Rs 13,948.27 crore were allocated respectively during 2013-14, 14-15, 15-16 and 16-17.

25. India successfully test-fires supersonic interceptor missile

India has successfully test-fired its indigenously developed Advanced Air Defence (AAD) supersonic interceptor missile, capable of destroying any incoming ballistic missile in low altitude, from a test range in Odisha.

  • This was the third supersonic interceptor test carried out this year in which an incoming ballistic missile target was successfully intercepted, within 30 km altitude of the earth’s atmosphere by an interceptor.
  • The earlier two tests were conducted on March 1 and February 11, 2017, as part of efforts to have a full-fledged multi-layer Ballistic Missile Defence system.

26. National Children’s Science Congress held in Gujarat

25th National Children’s Science Congress 2017 is being held between 27th to 31st December, 2017 at Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

  • The theme for this year’s  Nationa Science Congress is “Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development”.
  • The special focus area is on accessibility for persons with disabilities.

27. President inaugurates 100th Indian Economic Association conference

President Ramnath Kovind inaugurated the 100th Annual Conference of the Indian Economic Association at Acharya Nagarjuna University in Guntur of Andhra Pradesh.

  • The event will be held for four days.
  • Addressing the function, President said that without growth, there can be no development, and while growth is necessary, it is not sufficient to tackle inequalities in our society.

Points to Remember

  • Indian Economic Association is a registered body of Indian economic professionals, established way back in 1917.
  • Its objective is to provide a forum for debate and discussion of policy-oriented issues.
  • The Association currently has 5000 plus members, both individual and institutional.

28. 24-hour power for all by March 2019, says Modi government

By March 2019, all homes in the country will be provided uninterrupted 24-hour power supply throughout the year, Power Minister R K Singh said.

  • Singh said by December 2018, 1,694 villages, which are yet to be electrified, will have electricity connection and works in this regard has been going on.
  • All homes will get 24-hour power by March 2019, he said during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha.

29. 5,45,090 Houses Sanctioned for Urban Poor Under PMAY(Urban)

Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has approved the construction of 5,45,090 more affordable houses for the benefit of urban poor under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) with an investment of Rs. 31,003 cr with central assistance of Rs. 8,107 cr.

  • The approval was given in the 29th meeting of the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee in its meeting.
  • With the above proposed houses, cumulative houses under PMAY(U) would become 36,00,819 after final approval from CSMC.

30. 65.75 MW Power Generated from the Municipal Solid Waste

Minister of State (IC) for Power and New & Renewable Energy, Shri Raj Kumar Singh, in a written reply to a question on total power generated in the country from the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), in Lok Sabha informed that the present installed capacity of power generation from the MSW is 65.75 MW which is about 0.02% of total power generation capacity in the country.

  • Shri Singh informed that under Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, 48 MSW based plants with cumulative installed capacity of 412.5 MW are under various stages construction.
  • The Minister also stated that the Ministry has set a target of installing 10 GW power capacity from biomass by 2022.
  • So far about 8.2 GW biomass power projects have already been set up in the country.

31. ‘World sweet festival’ in Telangana next month

Telangana will be hosting an international sweets festival next month.

  • The World Sweet Festival, featuring over hundreds of sweet items, will be held from January 13 to 15.
  • Sweets from foreign countries will also be presented alongside the Indian delicacies.

32. Puducherry to host international sailing event in Jan

Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said a series of boat races will be held here from January 25 to 28, 2018, which will witness the participation of sailors from various countries.

  • The event titled ‘Sailing the East Coast’ regatta will be conducted as part of the ‘Bon Jour India’ celebrations organised by the French government in Puducherry, he said.
  • It would be organised with the support of the French Embassy, the Institute of France in Pondicherry and the Puducherry government.

33. 78th session of Indian History Congress begins

The three-day long 78th session of the Indian History Congress began in Kolkata at the Jadavpur University campus.

  • The Indian History Congress will have six sections this time – Ancient India, Medieval India, Modern India, Countries Other than India, Archaeology and Contemporary India.
  • West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will address a session of the Indian History Congress.

34. FM Chairs 18th Meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council

The eighteenth Meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was held in New Delhi under the Chairmanship of the Union Minister of Finance, Shri Arun Jaitley as pre-Budget 2018-19 consultations with the financial sector regulators.

  • The Regulators presented their proposals for the Union Budget 2018-19 concerning development of their respective sectors.
  • The Council deliberated over these proposals.
  • Concerned Ministries/Departments were advised by the Council to examine respective proposals in detail for appropriate further decision.

35. ISRO to launch 31 satellites in a single mission onboard PSLV

ISRO has announced that it would launch 31 satellites, including India’s Cartosat-2 series earth observation space craft, in a single mission onboard its Polar rocket on January 10.

  • The mission will be the first Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) mission after the unsuccessful launch of navigation satellite IRNSS-1H in August.
  • The mission’s main payload would be India’s Cartosat-2 series earth observation satellite.

36. IAF bids farewell to MiG-27 ML Bahadur

The last MiG-27 ML aircraft roared over Hasimara Air Force base in Bengal for the last time as the IAF bade farewell to this legacy fleet in a function.

  • The MiG-27 ML, codenamed ‘Bahadur’ in India, has had an impeccable track record in its more than three decades of glorious service to the nation.

37. NITI Aayog slowest in disposing public grievances: Report

Government think-tank NITI Aayog is slowest among 52 central ministries and departments, when it comes to addressing public grievances, reveals a government report.

  • According to the Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System report, NITI Aayog disposed only 54 per cent of total 5,883 grievances received between January 1, 2014 and December 28, 2017.
  • With 99 per cent grievances addressed, the External Affairs Ministry turns out to be the swiftest, as out of total 49,558 grievances only one is pending since more than a year.
  • Among others, the Finance Ministry received highest number of grievances — total 5,42,370, of which 97 per cent had been addressed.

38. National Youth Festival in Jaipur

More than 5,000 youths from different parts of the country will attend the 22nd National Youth Festival, scheduled to be held in Jaipur from January 12 to 16.

  • The prime minister has been invited to address the gathering.
  • Soldiers, youth achievers of different fields and other eminent people have also been invited to the festival.

39. NTPC Group’s capacity set to cross 51 GW mark

State-run power giant NTPC Group’s capacity will cross the 51,000-MW mark on 31 December with the beginning of commercial operations of Unit-2 of the Kudgi Super Thermal Project.

  • Unit-2 of 800 MW of Kudgi Super Thermal Project, Stage-I (3 X 800 MW) will be declared on commercial operation from midnight on December 31, 2017.
  • With this, the commercial capacity of Kudgi Super Thermal Power Project, NTPC and NTPC Group would reach 1,600 MW, 44,492 MW and 51,383 MW, respectively.

40. Haryana becomes first state to offer protected price for vegetables

Haryana is all set to become the first state in the country to fix a protected price for vegetable crops.

  • The farmers will be ensured of protected price for their vegetables under the ‘Bhavantar Bharpai Yojna’ or the price deficit compensation scheme.
  • Agriculture Minister Om Prakash Dhankar said the primary objective of this scheme is to ensure that the farmers must not face the distress sale of their produce.

41. Centre sanctions Rs 1,250 cr for Assam inland transport

The central government has sanctioned Rs. 1,250 crore for the development of transport sector in Assam, Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari said.

  • With this financial outlay, the government also aimed at developing the inland water transport, he said.
  • Of this outlay, an amount of Rs 32 crore will be utilized for constructing 56 terminals and Rs. 60 crore will be spent on Ro-Ro service.

42. Assam CM launches skill development training centres

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has ceremonially launched skill development training centres across the state.

  • The chief minister launched the centres in a programme organized by Department of Skill, Employment and Entrepreneurship at Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra in Guwahati.
  • The Chief Minister further informed that the state government has already signed MoU with the Government of Singapore under which a skill development centre having international standard would be set up at Mangaldoi.
  • Ten thousand youth of the state would undergo training in that centre, he mentioned.

43. Odisha police to go digital from January 1, 2018

The Odisha police is all set to go digital from January 1, 2018 with computerisation of police station work under the Criminal Tracking and Networking System (CCTNS).

  • The project is being implemented under the national e-governance initiative at a cost of Rs 61 crore.
  • Odisha Director General of Police (DGP) R P Sharma, after reviewing the status of the CCTNS project, said out of 612 police stations across the state, 589 police stations have been equipped with the necessary hardware and software for successful implementation of the project.

44. UK tops Forbes’ List of Best Countries for Business in 2018

The United Kingdom has topped Forbes’ rankings of best countries in the world for business in 2018 for the first time, up from fifth last year.

  • The list ranks 153 countries on 15 factors including property rights, innovation, taxes and red tape.
  • The UK is followed by New Zealand and the Netherlands, while India was ranked 62nd on the list.
  • Chad ranks last for the third straight year.

45. Yes Bank sets up MTN programme to raise $1 bn

Private sector lender Yes Bank has established a Medium Term Note (MTN) programme to raise USD 1 billion (over 6,400 crore) by issuing debt securities on private placement basis.

  • On November 29, the Capital Raising Committee of the board of the bank had approved its proposal to set up the MTN programme.
  • As per the approval from its board of directors and shareholders, the bank has permission to raise funds up to Rs. 20,000 crore in one or more tranches on private placement basis from time to time.

46. Public sector banks’ NPA hits Rs 7.34 lakh crore

Bad loans of Public sector banks (PSBs) stood at Rs 7.34 lakh crore by the end of second quarter this fiscal, a bulk of which came from corporate defaulters, according to Reserve Bank data.

  • However, on the other hand private sector banks’ non- performing assets (NPAs) were considerably low at Rs 1.03 lakh crore by September 30.
  • The government said leading corporate houses and companies accounted for approximately 77 per cent of the total gross NPAs from domestic operations for the banks.
  • Among the major public sector banks, State Bank of India (SBI) had the highest amount of NPAs at over Rs 1.86 lakh crore.

47. Loan Agreement with World Bank to Support Farmers in Tamil Nadu

The Government of India, the Government of Tamil Nadu and the World Bank have signed a $318 million loan agreement for the Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernization Project to promote climate resilient agriculture technologies, improve water management practices, and increase market opportunities for small and marginal farmers.

  • About 500,000 farmers, of which a majority are small and marginal, are expected to benefit from improved and modernized tank irrigation systems.
  • The project will rehabilitate and modernize about 4,800 irrigation tanks and 477 check dams, spread across 66 sub-basins, in delivering bulk water to irrigation systems.

48. India to become fifth largest economy in 2018: Report

India is set to overtake the United Kingdom and France to become the world’s fifth largest economy next year, a report said.

  • Currently, ranked seventh, India will move up to fifth place in 2018 and vault to third spot by 2032, the Centre for Economics and Business Research, a London-based consultancy, said in its annual rankings.
  • The United States, the world’s largest economy, will be overtaken by China in 2030, the report forecast.

49. Govt cuts small savings interest rate by 0.2 percentage points

The government cut the interest rate on small savings schemes, including public provident fund (PPF), national savings certificate (NSC) and Kisan Vikas Patra, by 0.2 percentage points for the January-March quarter, a move that will prompt banks to lower deposit rates.

  • Interest rates in the five-year Senior Citizens Savings Scheme, however, has been retained at 8.3%. The interest rate on the senior citizens’ scheme is paid quarterly.
  • As per the finance ministry notification, PPF and NSC will fetch a lower annual rate of 7.6% while KVP will yield 7.3% and mature in 11 months.
  • The girl child savings scheme Sukanya Samriddhi Account will offer 8.1 from existing 8.3% annually.
  • Term deposits of 1-5 years will fetch a lower interest rate of 6.6-7.4%, to be paid quarterly, while the five-year recurring deposit is pegged at 6.9%.

50. India is the top remittance receiving country in the world

Indians working abroad sent home $68 billion in 2015, making India the top remittance receiving country surpassing China.

  • Other top receiving countries for remittances from Asia include Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Vietnam.
  • India topped the list with $68 bn of remittance inflows, followed closely by China ($63.93 bn).
  • Philippines is the third highest remittance receiving country in the world.

51. India to replace China as world’s biggest LPG importer

India is set to surpass China as the biggest importer of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) this month.

  • Shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon shows LPG shipments to India will reach 2.4 million tonnes in December, pushing it ahead of top importer China, on 2.3 million tonnes, for the first time.

52. India’s first bitcoin trading app launched

Crypto currency dealer Pluto Exchange has announced the launch of India’s first mobile application for transacting in virtual currencies.

  • Pluto Exchange founder and Chief Executive Bharat Verma said his company is all set to launch the country’s first app-based wallet that enables bitcoin transactions using a mobile number.
  • By using a four-digit personal identification number (PIN), users can now buy, sell, store and spend bitcoins via a mobile number, Verma added.

53. IBBI grants recognition to two registered valuers organistaions

In pursuance to the Companies (Registered Valuers and Valuation) Rules, 2017, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has recognised two registered valuers organisations.

  • The Institution of Estate Managers and Appraisers will handle one asset class of “land and building” while the IOV Registered Valuers Foundation will handle three asset classes of “land and building”, “plant and machinery” and “securities or financial assets”.
  • These registered valuers organisations will conduct educational courses in valuation, grant membership and certificate of practice to individuals, conduct training for its members and lay down and enforce the Code of Conduct for the registered valuers, who are its members.

54. Bank of Baroda to buy out JV partner’s stake in mutual fund

Bank of Baroda has said it will purchase its joint venture partner UniCredit’s entire 51 per cent stake in Baroda Pioneer Asset Management Company (AMC) and Baroda Pioneer Trustee Company Private Ltd (Trustee).

  • BoB has executed a share purchase agreement (SPA) with UniCredit SpA, the AMC and the Trustee.
  • Pursuant to the SPA, the bank will become the sole shareholder of the AMC and the Trustee company and the sole sponsor of the Baroda Pioneer Mutual Fund. The transaction is subject to requisite regulatory approvals.
  • The JV was formed in 2008.

55. S&P puts Indian banks in ‘Group 5’

Rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has put banking sector of India in group ‘5’ under Banking Industry Country Risk Assessment (BICRA).

  • The other countries in group ‘5’ are Spain, Ireland, Italy, Panama, Bermuda, Poland, Peru, Qatar, South Africa and the UAE.
  • The medium-term outlook for India’s growth remains healthy due to good demographics, public and foreign direct investments, private consumption, and reforms such as the removal of barriers to domestic trade through GST,” it said.

56. Centre pumps Rs. 7,577 cr into 6 public sector banks

Coming to the rescue of ailing banks, the Centre has pumped in capital of ₹7,577 crore in various weak public sector banks.

  • The government has released Rs. 2,257 crore to Bank of India, which was recently placed under prompt corrective action by the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The other big beneficiary of the latest capital infusion round is IDBI Bank, which has received Rs.2,729 crore, sources said.
  • While Central Bank of India has got capital support of Rs.323 crore, Dena Bank has got capital support of Rs.243 crore from the government.
  • UCO Bank, another weak public sector bank, has got capital support of Rs.1,375 crore.
  • Bank of Maharashtra has received capital support of Rs.650 crore.

57. India ranks 5th in list of countries with highest NPA levels

India has the highest level of non-performing assets (NPA) among BRICS countries and is ranked fifth on a list of countries with the highest levels of NPAs, a report by CARE Ratings revealed.

  • The only countries ranked higher than India on the list are Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland.
  • All these countries, along with Spain, are commonly referred to as PIIGS, and have been victims of sovereign debt crises in recent years.
  • At 9.85 percent, India’s NPA ratio is over 400 basis points higher.

58. Federal Bank partners LuLu Exchange for cross-border remittances

Kerala based Federal Bank has announced a partnership with Abu Dhabi-based LuLu Exchange to leverage blockchain technology for cross-border remittances.

  • The two financial companies have launched and successfully tested the service using blockchain technology, which is fast revolutionising the financial and commercial world.
  • The companies worked with Digiledge, a Bengaluru based fintech start-up on this innovation.

59. Allahabad Bank ties up with NeSL

Allahabad Bank entered into an agreement with state-run National e-Governance Services Limited (NeSL) for utilizing the latter’s Information Utility Services envisaged under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

  • MD and CEO of Allahabad Bank Usha Ananthasubramanian stressed on the need for Information Utility Services in the present context when most banks are reeling under NPA pressure.


60. BJP retains Vijay Rupani as Gujarat CM

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani will be retained for a second term.

  • Nitin Patel will remain his deputy chief minister.
  • Rupani won the Gujarat Assembly election from Rajkot West.
  • His party, the BJP, now has 100 seats in the Assembly, thanks to support from independent MLA and former Congress leader Ratansinh Rathod.

61. Lt Gen B S Sahrawat takes over as DG, NCC

Lieutenant General B S Sahrawat took over the reins of National Cadet Corps as its Director General.

  • The General Officer is a third generation army officer.
  • He is alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla and Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
  • He was commissioned in December 1980 in 13th Battalion (Rezang La), the Kumaon Regiment.

62. M. Subbarayudu appointed Ambassador of India to Peru

Shri M. Subbarayudu, (IFS: 1994) has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Peru.

  • He is expected to take up his assignment shortly. He is presently Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs.

63. Amnesty International appoints Kumi Naidoo as next Secretary General

Amnesty International has appointed Kumi Naidoo as the next Secretary General of the global human rights movement.

  • From August 2018 Kumi will succeed Salil Shetty, who served two terms as Secretary General from 2010.
  • The Secretary General is the leader and main spokesperson for Amnesty International and the Chief Executive of its International Secretariat.

Points to Remember

  • Amnesty International (commonly known as Amnesty or AI) is a London-based non-governmental organization focused on human rights.
  • Amnesty International was founded in London in 1961.

64. Jairam Thakur Will Be Chief Minister In Himachal Pradesh

Five-time legislator Jairam Thakur will be the new Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, BJP lawmakers decided after a meeting to pick their chief, attended by the party’s Central observers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar.

  • He will take oath on December 27, the BJP has announced.
  • The 52-year-old, who represents Seraj, a constituency near Mandi, had earlier been the party’s state unit chief and a minister in a government headed by Mr Dhumal.

65. Ranveer Singh is Premier League’s ambassador in India

To promote football in India, the Premier League has forged a partnership with Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh.

  • The league recently hosted an international fan park in Bengaluru, which saw more than 20,000 Indian fans engage with clubs and activities.

66. UN appoints Henrietta Fore as UNICEF head

UN chief Antonio Guterres has appointed former senior US government official Henrietta H Fore as the new executive director of UNICEF.

  • Fore, 69, has worked to champion economic development, education and health, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief for the most vulnerable in the international and developing world.
  • Fore will become the seventh Executive Director on January 1, 2018. The Trump administration has welcomed the UN’s decision.

Points to Remember

  • The United Nations Childrens’ Fund (UNICEF) is a United Nations (UN) program headquartered in New York City that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.It was established on 11 December 1946.

67. Belgium appoints world’s first female ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Belgium has become the first country to appoint a female ambassador to Saudi Arabia in spite of the Gulf nation’s shocking women’s rights record.

  • Dominique Mineur will move to Riyhad to head up the embassy from next year in a ‘clear signal’ to Saudi officials.
  • Mineur is currently based in the United Arab Emirates.

68. George Weah elected Liberian president

Former football star George Weah has been elected as Liberia’s president.

  • With nearly all ballots counted, Mr Weah is well ahead of opponent Joseph Boakai with more than 60% of the vote.
  • He will succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female president, in Liberia’s first democratic handover in decades.
  • He is the only African footballer to have won both Fifa World Player of the Year and the prestigious Ballon D’Or.

69. President appoints Vinay Sahasrabuddhe as ICCR President

President Ram Nath Kovind appointed BJP leader Vinay Sahasrabuddhe as the President of Indian Council of Cultural Relations.

  • Sahasrabuddhe, the BJP’s national Vice President, is also a Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra.

Points to Remember

  • ICCR was founded in 1950 by India’s first Education Minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who also served as its first President.
  • Former Presidents Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma and K.R. Narayanan, former Prime Ministers P.V. Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee have also held the post.


70. Kolkata Police wins NASSCOM-DSCI excellence award

The cyber section of Kolkata Police has been awarded with this year’s prestigious NASSCOM-DSCI excellence award.

  • The section was awarded during an All India Security Seminar recently held in Gurgaon where cyber units from different state police forces all across the country had participated.

71. Patanjali ranked India’s most trusted FMCG Brand

Patanjali has been ranked as India’s most trusted Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) Brand by the Brand Trust Report India Study 2017.

  • 11,000 brands across 16 cities were covered by The Brand Trust Report India Study 2017.
  • The Patanjali Ayurved Limited was established in 2006 by Ramdev, along with Acharya Balkrishna.

72. IIT professor bags prestigious award

Pranita P Sarangi, a professor of Biotechnology at IIT, Roorkee, has bagged this year’s Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award.

  • Sarangi was chosen for the award by the department of biotechnology, ministry of science and technology, government of India, for her scientific achievements and proposed work in the field of cancer immunology.
  • The IYBA award covers a research grant up to Rs 50 lakh and a cash award prize of Rs 1 lakh per year during the project period.

73. Sudarshan Pattnaik creates world’s biggest sand Santa face

Globally acclaimed sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik claimed to have created the “world’s biggest” sand Santa face with message “World Peace” on the Puri beach of Odisha on Christmas eve.

  • Pattnaik claimed he has created the 25 feet high and 50 ft wide sand Santa face with an aim to give the creation a place in the Limca book of World record.
  • A sand sculpture of Jesus Christ has also been created in front of the Santa face on the beach.

74. Anushka Sharma Named PETA’s Person Of The Year

Actor Anushka Sharma has been named PETA’s Person of the Year by animal rights organisation People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

  • Anushka is a vegetarian, has nabbed the title for helping to protect dogs from fireworks to advocating for horses who are forced to pull carriages in Mumbai.

75. Ronaldo wins Globe Soccer Best Player award

Real Madrid forward, Cristiano Ronaldo, has won the Best Player of the Year accolade at the Globe Soccer Awards.

  • Ronaldo retained the award, making it four wins overall, after helping his club defend the Champions League and win the Liga title.
  • The Portugal captain also won his fifth Ballon d’Or, the UEFA Best Player in Europe and FIFA’s The Best Award this year.
  • Real were named Club of the Year, with boss Zinedine Zidane collecting the Coach of the Year award.

76. Chola MS honoured with Golden Peacock Award for risk management

Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company Limited has been awarded the prestigious “Golden Peacock Award for Risk Management” for the year 2017.

  • The Golden Peacock Awards were instituted in 1991 by the Institute of Directors (IOD).
  • Chola MS has been awarded the Winner under the Sector – “Insurance (General)”.
  • The other winners in this category include State Bank of India, ONGC Videsh and L&T Finance Holdings.

77. Birmingham officially named as 2022 Commonwealth Games host city

Birmingham has been selected to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022, the biggest sporting event to be awarded to an English city since the London Olympics in 2012.

  • Birmingham began the bidding process in September 2016 with its sights set on hosting the 2026 edition but Durban, South Africa, which was originally chosen to host in 2022, was stripped of the event in March this year after failing to meet a series of financial deadlines.

78. Shooting excluded from 2022 Commonwealth Games

Birmingham Games officials did not pick shooting, which features in the list of optional sports, for the final programme.

  • Instead the organisers chose judo, table tennis, wrestling, gymnastics, diving, cycling and 3v3 basketball as the seven optional sports apart from the 10 mandatory ones.
  • The final list of sports for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games is set to be finalised by end of the year.
  • Meanwhile, there are chances that cricket could feature at the 2022 edition, albeit in a mixed-gender Twenty20 (T20) format.

79. Bangladesh girls clinch SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship

Bangladesh won the title of the inaugural edition of SAFF Under-15 Women’s Football Championship with a solitary goal victory against India.

  • Winger Shamsunnahar’s 41st minute strike proved decisive in the final at the Birshreshtha Mostafa Kamal Stadium.
  • The hosts beat the same opposition 3-0 in a league stage match.

80. Saudi Arabia hosts world chess games

Saudi Arabia has hosted a world chess tournament for the first time on 26 December.

  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman has pushed for greater social freedom, including lifting a ban on women driving that goes into effect next year, allowing concerts and movies, and easing rules on gender segregation.
  • The tournament, called the King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships, runs until 30 December.

81. Viswanathan Anand wins World Rapid Chess Championship

Viswanathan Anand lifted the World rapid chess championship in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

  • The genial genius from Chennai, who defeated Magnus Carlsen of Norway earlier in the tournament, went on to finish on top with 10.5 points at the end of the 15th and final round.
  • In the final, Anand beat Russia’s Vladimir Fedoseev to reclaim the title he had won in 2003.
  • The women’s title was won by China’s Ju Wenjun.

82. Ex-UP governor BL Joshi passes away at AIIMS

Former UP governor Banwari Lal Joshi passed away at AIIMS due to septic shock following an infection of the valves. He was 82.

  • He served as governor of UP from 2009 to 2014 and lieutenant governor of Delhi from 2004-07.
  • Joshi also served as governor of Meghalaya and Uttarakhand.

83. Bengali film actor Partha Mukhopadhyay passes away

Veteran actor Partha Mukhopadhyay, who had acted in many Bengali classics, died of cardiac arrest at a hospital. He was 70.

  • Mukhopadhyay had portrayed a number of roles in classics like Atithi, Balika Badhu, Amar Prithivi, Baghbandir Khela, Agniswar and had made his mark as a character actor in 1970s and 1980s.

84. Eye surgeon Dr Daljit Singh passes away in Amritsar

Noted eye surgeon Dr Daljit Singh who introduced the lens implants in the country and invented plasma scalpel for glaucoma and cataract surgery, passed away in Amritsar.

  • 82-year-old Padma Shri awardee ophthalmologist was suffering from a chronic disease and was bedridden for a month.
  • Dr Singh had also contested the Lok Sabha election from Amritsar on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket against Capt Amarinder Singh of Congress and Arun Jaitley of BJP.

85. U’khand CM launches his biography

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has launched a biography based on chronicles of his early struggle and lesser known aspects of his life.

  • Titled ‘Trivendra Ek Zindaginama – Khairasain ka Sooraj’, the book is written by a doctor named Nandan Singh Bisht.

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