December 21, 2019

National

  1. President of India chairs the second meeting of the National Committee for Commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi
  • The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind chaired the second meeting of the National Committee for Commemoration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, at Rashtrapati Bhavan .
  • Participants of the meeting included members of the National Committee including the Vice President, Shri Venkaiah Naidu; Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi; members of the Union Cabinet; Chief Ministers of various states; noted Gandhians among others.
  • Prime Minister of Portugal HE Mr. Antonio Costa, the only foreign Prime Minister to be a member of the Committee, also participated in the meeting.
  • The Committee was constituted for commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation at the national and international level to propagate Mahatma’s message. The Commemoration has been undertaken taken for two years ie. from October 2, 2018 to October 2, 2020.In his introductory remarks, the Union Home Minister, Shri Amit Shah gave an outline of the key activities taken up within the country as well as abroad as part of commemoration of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • He stated that the programmes which have been taken up have highlighted the ideals, philosophy and life of Mahatma Gandhi.He further added that it is being celebrated not merely as a government programme but has taken the shape of a Jan-Andolan involving people across the country and the globe. The Home Minister invited further valuable suggestions which will become the guiding light of the programme in the future.
  1. Mission on urban renewal extended by 2 yrs to 2022
  • The Centre has decided to extend the mission period of its flagship initiative Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) by two more years.
  • Launched on June 25, 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, AMRUT completes its mission period in March 2020.
  • The government’s flagship initiative promises 139 lakh water connections by March 2020, 145 lakh sewer connections, storm water drainage projects, parks and green spaces and LED streetlights with a total outlay of Rs 77,640 crore (including central assistance of Rs 35,990).
  • The ministry of housing and urban affairs has now decided to extend the mission by two more years till March 2022.
  1. Harsh Vardhan dedicates the CGHS Wellness Centre, Vikaspuri, New Delhi to the CGHS beneficiaries
  • CGHS services shall be now be extended to 100 cities”. This was stated by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare as he inaugurated the new CGHS Wellness Centre at Vikaspuri, New Delhi, in the presence of Shri Parvesh Saheb Singh Verma, Member of Parliament, West Delhi.
  • The Union Health Minister added that at present the scheme is operational across 72 Cities through 329 Allopathic Wellness Centres and 86 AYUSH Centres. It serves 12.09 lakh primary cardholders and 35.72 lakh  beneficiaries, out of which around 17 lakh beneficiaries belong to Delhi,NCR. There are more than 2.5 lakh beneficiaries aged 75 years and above. About 58% of CGHS beneficiaries avail of CGHS facilities at least once in a year.
  • Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that after 2014, the number of CGHS Wellness centres have expanded to 72 cities from the earlier figure of 30, which shows the exemplary commitment of the government to the health and wellness of the employees. Soon CGHS shall be extended to other cities like Itanagar, Kannur, and Kozhikode, he stated.
  • He added that recently the Ministry has elicited the feedback and suggestions from the various stakeholders, beneficiaries and others to improve the delivery of health services through CGHS centres. As an innovative feature, for beneficiaries above 80 years of age, doctors from CGHS wellness centres call at least once in a month to enquire about their wellbeing / make a home visit if residing within 5 km.
  1. Centre allots Rs 66,000 cr Kerala semi-high speed rail project
  • Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan claimed that the Centre had given in-principle approval to the ₹66,000 crore Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod semi-high speed rail (SHSR) corridor project.
  • The order was issued by the Ministry of Railways and conveyed to Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose, Vijayan .
  • It’s joint venture of the Kerala government and the Ministry of Railways. SHSR, named Silver Line, is envisaged to cut travel time between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod from 12 hours to 4 hours.
  • Trains on the track, which passes through 11 of the 14 districts, will run at 200 km per hour.
  1. Parliament passes bill to merge UTs Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli
  • The Parliament passed a bill which seeks to merge two Union Territories — Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli — into one unit.
  • The Rajya Sabha passed the Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (Merger of Union Territories) Bill, 2019 through voice vote.
  • Lok Sabha had passed this bill on November 27.
  • The merged Union Territory will be named Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
  • Responding to the bill, Minister of State for Home G. Kishen Reddy stated the measure will help in strengthening administrative efficiency services, fast track development of the two union territories and help in cutting down the administrative costs.
  • The country currently has nine Union Territories after the creation of the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
  • However, with the merger of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar
  • Haveli, the number of UTs will come down to eight.

State

  1. Concept of 3 capitals to be considered in Andhra Pradesh
  • Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy indicated that the state could have three capitals like South Africa.
  • The government has to discuss in the direction of developing all the regions and the“concept of multiple capitals too could be considered”.
  • Coastal city Visakhapatnam, which has the infrastructure, could be considered for being the executive capital and Kurnool can be considered as the judicial capital.
  • Amaravati can be retained as Legislative capital.

International

  1. Cuba to name first prime minister in 40 years
  • Cuba is to resurrect the position of prime minister in a parliamentary session , with President Miguel Diaz-Canel nominating a candidate to the post which has remained dormant for more than 40 years.
  • The last time Cuba had a prime minister, it was revolutionary hero Fidel Castro. However, the position was abolished in 1976 when Castro transitioned to the presidency, taking over from Osvaldo Dorticos after the country’s constitution was restructured.
  1. Afghanistan first country to recognize Indian Pharmacopoeia
  • The Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP) has been recognised formally by the National Department of Regulation of Medicines and Health Products of the Ministry of Public Health of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
  • It will also be used based on the requirement as reputable pharmacopoeia in the laboratory of medicines and health products quality.
  • With this, a new beginning has been made and Afghanistan has become the first country to recognize IP pursuant to the efforts of Department of Commerce and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Banking & Finance

  1. RBI plans local version of ‘Operation Twist’ to lower long-term yields
  • The Reserve Bank of India will conduct a simultaneous sale and purchase of bonds, in a move seen by market participants as an attempt to bring longer-term yields lower.
  • It is the first time the RBI has conducted a special open market operation (OMO) of this kind, similar to the ‘Operation Twist’ carried out in the United States near the start of the decade.
  • Bond yields have been rising since the RBI unexpectedly left its key repo rate unchanged earlier this month, even as it slashed its forecast for economic growth to its lowest in over a decade.
  • The RBI stated it will buy 100 billion rupees’ ($1.4 billion) worth of the current benchmark 10-year bond while selling four bonds maturing in 2020 for an equivalent amount
  • The central bank stated that it had decided to conduct the special OMO after reviewing the liquidity and market situation and assessing financial conditions. Most market participants expect the government to announce measures to tackle the growth slowdown in the federal budget in February while there are serious concerns of fiscal slippage this year.
  • The government may thus be forced to borrow more from the market to fund its fiscal deficit which could push bond yields up more.
  1. Govt plans host of measures to control population growth
  • The government is set to adopt a host of measures to control population growth, including offering family planning support and investing in the behavioural change of people and making family planning a national priority
  • Federal policy think tank NITI Aayog will consult subject specialists and officials to find ways of strengthening the country’s population policy and family planning programmes
  • Policy makers have felt the need for fresh population stabilization measures, as unchecked growth could go against the efforts to bring millions of people out of poverty and undo the benefits of higher welfare spending for the poor.
  • The key recommendations are likely to include helping women make informed choices about delaying pregnancy and ensuring there was a sufficient gap between childbirths, stepping up access to contraceptive choices, addressing sociocultural barriers towards contraception, increasing public spending on family planning, investing in behaviour-change communication strategies, and treating population stabilization and family planning as a national priority.

Sports

  1. FIFA rankings: India static at 108
  • The Indian men’s football team remained static at 108th spot in the year-ending FIFA rankings .
  • India, however, lost 11 places throughout the year. With 1187 total points, India is placed at 19th spot among Asian countries headed by Japan 28th.

Appointment & Resignation

  1. TAFE Chairman Mallika Srinivasan appointed to US India Business Council board
  • Mallika Srinivasan, Chairman – Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited(TAFE), is appointed to global board of the US Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC).
  • This appointment takes immediate effect as she joins a prestigious list of CEOs and executives on USIBC’s 35-member board.
  1. NCLAT restores Cyrus Mistry as chairman of Tata Sons
  • The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) restored former Tata group Chairman Cyrus Mistry as executive chairman of Tata Group.
  • The tribunal has also held the appointment of Natarajan Chandrasekaran as executive chairman illegal.
  • The Mistry family is the single largest shareholder in Tata Sons, with an 18.4 per cent stake.

Science, Space & Technology

  1. International Astronomical Union names new star ‘Sharjah’
  • The International Astronomical Union (IAU) announced the names of the newly discovered stars and planets, where the name “Sharjah” was chosen for a star with “Barjeel” being the name of one of its planets.
  • The announcement was made during a press conference of the IAU in the French capital, Paris, celebrating the centennial of the union.
  • During the announcement, the organisers lauded the efforts and contributions of the Emirate of Sharjah to the global scientific community.

Important Days

  1. International Human Solidarity Day
  • International Human Solidarity Day is observed on 20 December annually to highlight the importance of unity in diversity.
  • This day also reminds people to work together in fighting against poverty, hunger, and disease.
  • Aday to encourage debate on the ways to promote solidarity for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals including poverty eradication, a day of action to encourage new initiatives for poverty eradication.
February 7, 2020

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