Indian Railways to modernize its Signalling system
Indian Railways has decided to modernize its Signalling system on its entire network by implementing Modern Train Control system.
Ministry of Railways stated that, this is one of the most ambitious modernization projects which envisages up-gradation of a signaling system for improving safety, Line Capacity and to run trains at a higher speed.
The Ministry stated, four works of the total 640-kilometre route at a cost of 1810 crore rupees have been sanctioned as pilot projects in Supplementary Works Programmes 2018-19 for extensive trials of Modern Train Control System.
The work of Modernization of Signalling system has been included in Works Programme 2018-19 at a cost of around 78 thousand crore rupees.
The work includes revision of Automatic Train Protection System, Electronic Interlocking System and Remote Diagnostic and Predictive Maintenance System.
In connection with works of raising the speed up to 160 kmph to reduce travel time from existing 18 hours to 12 hours, Modern Train Control system shall be implemented on Delhi – Mumbai and Delhi – Howrah High-Density routes.
Urban India declared Open defecation free
India Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban has achieved its target of creating Urban India Open Defecation Free.
Urban areas of 35 states and Union Territories have become ODF. In all, 4,320 cities out of 4,372 have declared themselves ODF, of which 4,167 cities have been certified through third-party verification.
This has been achieved by the construction of nearly 81 lakh individual household toilets against Mission target of 59 lakhs and 5.89 lakh seats of public toilets against Mission target of 5.08 lakh seats.
Govt notifies rules for fixation of microdots identifiers on vehicles
The government has notified rules for fixation of microdots identifiers on motor vehicles and their parts.
Road Transport and Highways Ministry stated , microdots will enhance the security of vehicles. The notification was issued after consideration of suggestions and objections on the draft notification issued in July this year.
The invisible microdots will now come affixed on vehicles and their parts to prevent theft as well as to check fake spare parts.
Microdot technology involves spraying the body and parts of the vehicle or any other machine with microscopic dots, which give a unique identification.
Harshest winter phase ‘Chillai-Kalan’ begins in Kashmir
Chillai-Kalan, a 40-day long period of extreme cold in Kashmir, began on December 21 and will continue till January 31 followed by Chillai-Khurd and Chillai-Bachha.
A 20-day long Chillai-Khurd (small cold) starts from January 31 to February 19 and a 10-day long Chillai-Bachha (baby cold) occurs between February 20 and March 2.
As per India Meteorological Department, the period mostly remains wet as the upper part of the Valley received heavy snowfall and the maximum temperature drops considerably.
During this period, water bodies like lakes, river and stream get frozen with a thick layer of sheets.
The maximum and minimum temperature at isolated places over Jammu and Kashmir was recorded between -1.6°C and -3.0°C below normal.
In Srinagar minimum temperature 0 degree Celsius, Pahalgam -7. In Gulmarg, the temperature was below – 9 Degree Celsius.
Arunachal to mark schools as ‘hard’ and ‘soft’
Arunachal Pradesh will soon have schools marked ‘hard’, ‘soft’ and ‘medium’. Geography, lack of infrastructure and reluctance of teachers to work beyond their comfort zones are the reasons for this categorisation.
Teacher absenteeism has been a major issue across 3,513 government schools, including 211 community schools, in the State.
The student-teacher ratio has consequently been skewed in favour of urban centres with better connectivity.
Under the new policy, all government schools will be divided into three categories — hard, medium and soft — based on topography, accessibility and degrees of difficulty in staying at the place of posting.
All new recruits will be given a hard posting for a mandatory three years, inclusive of their probation period. The next five years will be in schools with levels of medium difficulty, followed by posting in soft schools.
Banking & Finance
Number of active GST taxpayers crosses 1 crore
A range of measures to go after tax defaulters and simplifying the GST filing process was discussed by the Group of Ministers headed by Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi in Bengaluru.
Briefing media persons in Bengaluru, Sushil Modi informed that the number of active GST taxpayers has gone up to one crore twenty-one lakh of which 79 lakh are new registrations, since the launch of GST.
However, only 15 per cent of the new taxpayers have paid taxes. Hence Mr. Modi stated that states have started physical verification of the new taxpayers by visiting their premises. He informed that a new return system will be launched from April 1st next year which will be user-friendly and simpler with a very few fields to fill.
Ahmedabad Gets Provisional Clearance to Host FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2020 Games
Ahmedabad has been cleared as a provisional venue for FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2020 by the Local Organising Committee (LOC) . The World Cup is set to take place in the country next year from November 2-21.
Ahmedabad received the privisional clearance after the FIFA delegation visited the country last month and checked the facilities in Kolkata, Guwahati, Bhubaneswar, Ahmedabad and Navi Mumbai. The FIFA delegation had also expressed their satisfaction at the progress in the city upon inspection on November 30.
FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2020 will be held next year between November 2 and November 21.
Appointment & Resignation
Sangita Reddy takes over as FICCI President
Sangita Reddy, joint managing director, Apollo Hospitals Group has taken over as the President of industry chamber FICCI for 2019-20.
She succeeds Sandip Somany, vice chairman and managing director, HSIL.
The Walt Disney Company APAC President and Star & Disney India Chairman Uday Shankar has been elevated as Senior Vice President of Ficci, and Sanjiv Mehta, chairman and managing director, HUL has joined FICCI leadership as Vice President
Govt extends tenure of NABARD chief Harsh Kumar Bhanwala by six months
The tenure of NABARD chairman Harsh Kumar Bhanwala was extended by six months.
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved a six-month extension to the tenure of Bhanwala, with effect from December 18, 2019.
Bhanwala was in December 2013 appointed as the chairman of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
Senior diplomat Harsh Vardhan Shringla appointed new foreign secretary
The Narendra Modi government approved the appointment of Indian ambassador to the United States Harsh Vardhan Shringla as the next foreign secretary. He has replaced Vijay Gokhale. The Appointments Committee of the cabinet officially announced Shringla’s appointment , making him the 33rd foreign secretary of the country.
An order issued by the government on that Harsh Vardhan Shringla will take over next month after the completion of Vijay Gokhale’s two-year term on January 28, 2020.
Harsh Vardhan Shringla has also served at UNESCO in France, UN in New York besides Vietnam, Israel and South Africa.
He served in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) as Joint Secretary for Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Maldives and therefore understands the neighbourhood well.
Award & Honors
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu honours winners at 66th National Film Awards
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu honoured the winners of the 66th National Film Awards at a ceremony held in New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhavan.
Traditionally, the winners are conferred the honour by the President of India.
However, this time the President will be hosting a high tea for the winners. Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar also attended the ceremony.
The66th National Film awards were announced by Rahul Rawail, head of the Jury for feature films
The winners in the Feature Film and Non-Feature Film categories were announced in August this year.
Actor Sharad Ponkshe gets Janakavi P Sawlaram Memorial Award
Noted Marathi actor Sharad Ponkshe has got the Janakavi P Sawlaram Memorial Award for his contribution in the field of cinema and theatre.
Thane Mayor Naresh Mhaske presented the award to Ponkshe.
The award is jointly given by the Thane Municipal Corporation and the Janakavi P Savlaram Kala Samiti.
Ponkshe is known for his role in the play ‘Mi Nathuram Godse Boltoy’, based on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, and his work in Marathi films like “Sandook” and “Well Done Bhaiya”.
Besides, popular Marathi actor Usha Naik got the Ganga-Jamuna Award on the occasion.
Science, Space & Technology
President Kovind releases mobile app of Red Cross Society of India in Hyderabad
President Ram Nath Kovind released the mobile app of the Red Cross Society of India in Hyderabad. The President is in Hyderabad on his Southern Sojourn.
He inaugurated the mobile app formally at a dinner hosted by Telangana governor Tamilisai Sounderarajan at Rajbhavan in his honour.
Developed by the Telangana Centre for Good Governance in less than three months, the mobile app is accessible in all languages. So far, 13 lakh members including junior red cross members downloaded the app. The developers informed that the access to blood bank and Red Cross membership will become easy with the launching of the mobile app.
Chief Minister K Chandra Sekhar Rao, Himachal Pradesh Governor Bandaru Dattatreya, Minister of state for Home Kishan Reddy attended the event.
A number of Ministers, Members of Parliament besides leaders of various parties, senior officials and eminent from different walks of life attended the programme.
National Consumer Rights Day
National Consumers Right Dayis observed on 24 December to raise awareness about the rights of consumers and responsibilities.
This is theday when the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 had received the assent of the President.
Thetheme for World Consumer Rights Day 2019 will be ‘Trusted Smart Products’.