Edusquad - Current Affairs | Latest Jobs | Goverment Jobs | Sarkari Naukri |

Edusquad is an education platform that provides high quality educational videos and study material for various exams like UPSC, PPSC, SSC etc.

Current Affairs: 29 December 2018


Ready for J&K poll anytime, says Rajnath
  • Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha that the government was prepared for election in Jammu and Kashmir anytime.
  • If the Election Commission decides to hold the election, the Home Ministry would offer requisite security for the conduct of free and fair poll, he assured the members. He was replying to a discussion on a statutory motion on the proclamation issued by the President in December, 2018, under Article 356 of the Constitution in relation to the State. 
  • Earlier, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor faulted Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik for recommending Governor’s rule instead of a floor test.
  • He said this was in contravention of the S.R. Bommai judgment, according to which the Governor was bound to call for a floor test — the NC, the PDP and the Congress had reportedly sought to form a government — and added that majority could not be decided by the Governor on the ideological compatibility of parties seeking to form the government. 
  • The Home Minister defended the Governor, saying there seemed to be no clear move on the part of any potential alliance to stake claim to form the government. He said that in June, the then Governor, N.N. Vohra, had written to the President that the BJP had no intention to form the government after withdrawing support to the PDP.
  • He had also written that the Jammu and Kashmir Congress president had told him the party did not have the requisite numbers to form the government on its own or with any other party.
Assault on boys punishable by death
  • The government approved amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, to bring punishments for sexual assaults on boys on a par with those against girls. These include the provision of death penalty when the child is under 12 years and when a penetrative sexual assault is committed by a relative.
  • The amendments approved by the Union Cabinet will now have to be passed by Parliament. An official of the Ministry of Women and Child Development said the government intended to introduce the amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha.
  • The move will ensure that the Bill, once introduced even if not passed, will not lapse when the term of the present government comes to an end and the Lok Sabha is dissolved.
  • Following the outrage over the gang rape of a minor girl at Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, the government had brought an ordinance in April and followed it up by passing a Bill in Parliament during the monsoon session to amend the Indian Penal Code. The changes included death penalty for gang rape of a girl under 12 years and 20 years in jail or death penalty for rape of a girl under 12 years.
Manned space mission to take off
  • The Union Cabinet approved the ambitious Gaganyaan programme, which will send three Indian astronauts to space for up to seven days by 2022 at a cost of ₹10,000 crore.
  • The project was first announced by Prime Minster Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech this year. As part of the programme, two unmanned flights and one manned flight will be undertaken.
  • The first human space flight demonstration is targeted to be completed within 40 months of the sanction date. Prior to this, two unmanned flights in full complement will be carried out to gain confidence, the government said.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed the launch vehicle GSLV MK-III, which has the necessary payload capability to launch a three-member crew module in low earth orbit.
  • The ISRO has also tested the crew escape system, an essential technology for human space flight. Elements of the life support system and the space suit have also been realised and tested, the government said.
Govt. acts to check onion price fall
  • The Centre doubled the incentive granted for the export of onions under the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) to 10% from 5% as a measure to help farmers, by stabilising the slumping price of the commodity.
  • “This will result in better price for onion in domestic markets,” the government said in a release.
  • “To contain the situation, it has been decided by the Government to encourage exports of onions so that the domestic prices stabilise,” the government said, acknowledging the recent fall in the price of the vegetable that has forced farmers to sell below cost. 
  • “Now, with the current increase, onions enjoy one of the highest incentives for agro-exports. This timely intervention would help the farmers who have recently harvested their produce and who have sowed/ recently transplanted their seeds, expecting better prices,” the government said explaining the decision’s rationale.
  • In a separate decision, the Centre also raised the minimum support price (MSP) on 23 Minor Forest Produce (MFP) items including tamarind and wild honey and introduced MSP for 17 new items.
  • The items whose MSP has been revised include forest produce covered under the scheme that was introduced in 2013-14.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) also approved increasing the MSP for fair average quality (FAQ) of “milling copra” to ₹9,521 per quintal for the 2019 season, from ₹7,511 per quintal in 2018, and the MSP of “ball copra” to ₹9,920 per quintal for 2019, from ₹7,750 per quintal in 2018.
PM’s chartered flights cost ₹429 crore
  • With just a few months left in his tenure, Prime Minister Narendra Modi clocked 48 foreign trips, 10 more than his predecessor Manmohan Singh’s trips from 2009 to 2014.
  • Mr. Modi raised a bill of ₹429.28 crore, ₹64 crore less than what Dr. Singh did during his second term for hiring chartered flights, says a reply by the External Affairs Ministry in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
  • The Ministry has also noted in its reply that bills for chartered flights for four tours totalling ₹19.32 crore have not been “settled due to paucity of funds” in this financial year. These are his tours to Sweden, the United Kingdom and Germany (in April), Russia (in May), Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore (May 28 to June 2) and China (June). 
  • The foreign tour expense figure for Prime Minister Narendra Modi could easily cross former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s since the Ministry has noted that three bills of his tours from May to November this year have not been received. These include tours to Nepal (May), Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa (July) and the Maldives (November).
  • By the reply, the PMO owes ₹375.29 crore in respect of aircraft maintenance. During Mr. Modi’s tenure, the bill for PM’s aircraft maintenance exceeds by ₹731.58 crore that of his predecessor. The previous PM Dr. Singh had recently said he was never a silent Prime Minister. In fact, he used to hold long briefings during his foreign tours with the contingent of Indian journalists accompanying him.
  • By the reply, Mr. Modi took only a small group of journalists. During his first year in office, he used to take reporters from news agencies such as the PTI, ANI and UNI.
  • From 2016, only photojournalists from these agencies were allowed. From 2017, PTI photojournalists were dropped.
₹4,500-cr. assistance for Bhutan
  • India will support Bhutan’s development needs by providing ₹4,500 crore, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday, while visiting Prime Minister of the Himalayan country Lotay Tshering indicated his government’s commitment to maintain warm ties with India.
  • Bhutan remains one of the key recipients of development assistance from India. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, India provided ₹4,500 crore for the 11th five year plan that lasted between 2013 and 2018. 
  • Mr. Modi said that to share the benefit of the South Asian Satellite, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is moving ahead with plans to set up a ground station in Bhutan that will help in telemedicine, disaster relief and climate trends.
  • He welcomed the democratic process in Thimphu that led to the election of the new Prime Minister, Dr. Tshering who assumed office on November 7. He expressed confidence that the Mangdechhu hydro power project would be completed soon.
  • He thanked his Indian counterpart for reaching out to him soon after the election victory and sought continued support in generation of hydro power. 
  • Dr. Tshering reiterated that hydroelectricity is the main source of revenue for his country and negotiations to fix the tariff rates on major projects continue. The statement is significant as it comes against the backdrop of reports of differences in the tariffs preferred by Delhi and Thimphu for the 720-MW Mangdechhu project, being set up with Indian collaboration.
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 Centre said in a statement.
  • 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. 
  • “There are two common boards, namely the board of assessment and rating to assess and grant permission to educational institutions of Indian systems of medicine, and board of ethics and registration of practitioners of Indian systems of medicine to maintain a National Register and ethical issues relating to practice under the National Commission for Indian Medicine,” said the statement.
  • To assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions, the Bill proposes an entrance and an exit exam that all graduates need to clear to get practising licenses.


CPEC has no military feature, it is an economic project: Pak.
  • Pakistan has said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a bilateral economic project and has no military dimensions.
  • Foreign OfficE spokesman Mohammad Faisal said this at the weekly media briefing here on Thursday when asked about a U.S. media report that alleged that China had hatched a secret plan to build fighter jets and other military hardware in Pakistan as part of the $60 billion project. 
  • The Islamabad datelined report in the New York Times said Pakistani Air Force and Chinese officials were putting the final touches to the secret proposal. China last week dismissed as untrue the report.
  • All-weather friends and close allies, China and Pakistan have been jointly building the J-17 Thunder, a single seater multi-role combat aircraft. Pakistan has been eyeing a number of new advanced Chinese jets, including the stealth fighter.

Health of banks set to improve: RBI
  • Indian banks, especially those in the public sector, that have been reeling under stressed assets for the last few years, may have something to cheer about in the new year.
  • This is because the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in its annual ‘Trends and Progress of Banking in 2017-18’ report, pointed out to the revival in credit growth in the first half of current financial year, and said, “overall improvement in the health of the banks is on the cards.”
  • In addition, the banking regulator also noted that the stressed assets of banks had begun to stabilise, albeit at elevated levels.
  • It added that the banks’ capital positions had been buffered and the provision coverage ratio had improved to 52.4% by end-September 2018.
  • These developments augur well for the banks and other financial intermediaries in the economy as they struggle to regain the momentum lost in the preceding six years, it said.
  • The report noted that the balance sheet expansion of commercial banks between 2012-13 and 2017-18 had been slow due to an increase in stressed assets but during the first half of the FY19 ‘growth returned to the balance sheet bolstered by recovery in loan books.’
  • RBI also pointed out that recapitalisation of public sector banks for 2018-19, which was enhanced to ₹1,06,000 crore from ₹65,000 crore, was aimed at meeting regulatory capital requirements.
  • At the same time, the central bank reiterated its stand that relaxing capital requirements was not in the best interests of the economy as current levels of provisions maintained by banks may not be enough to cover expected losses.
  • So far as bad loans are concerned, the RBI said while gross NPA ratio of public sector banks reached 14.6% in 2017-18, there was a significant decline in fresh slippages across bank groups during the first half of 2018-19.
  • Regarding banks under the prompt corrective action framework, the report said those lenders have shown improvement in the share of current and savings account deposits and increased recoveries from NPAs, while reducing riskiness of assets.
  • Observing that the presence of RBI officials in the boards of public sector banks leads to ‘serious conflict of interest,’ the central bank said there is a need to bring in legislative changes to do away with the requirement of nominating RBI officials as nominee directors on the boards of PSBs.
  • The central bank also said appropriate regulatory actions were taken against some private sector banks on account of certain lapses in their functioning and governance.
  • The RBI said a review of the compensation norms of whole-time directors in private sector banks is on the cards.
‘State-run bank NPAs decline by ₹23,860 cr.’
  • Various initiatives taken by the government have yielded results, with the bad loans of public sector banks declining by over ₹23,000 crore from a peak of ₹9.62 lakh crore in March 2018, said a senior finance ministry official.
  • At the same time, public sector banks (PSBs) have also made a record recovery of ₹60,726 crore in the first half of the current financial year, which is more than double the amount recovered in the corresponding period last year.
  • According to the latest Finance Ministry data, non-NPA accounts overdue by 31 to 90 days (Special Mention Accounts 1 & 2) of PSBs have declined by 61% over five successive quarters — from ₹2.25 lakh crore as of June 2017 to ₹0.87 lakh crore in September 2018.
  • “This has substantially pared down credit at risk,” he said. On various initiatives, he said that with the recognition of restructured standard assets as NPAs initiated with Asset Quality Review in 2015, and with discontinuation of restructuring schemes, the recognition exercise is almost over.

No comments:

Post a comment