Daily Current Affairs - 18th Dec 2018

Cabinet approves construction of new 4- lane bridge across river Ganga at Patna in Bihar

  • The Union Cabinet has approved a new bridge across the Ganga river at Patna in Bihar. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the project for construction of 5.634 km long new 4 lane bridge parallel to the existing MG Setu on NH-19.
  • The project is likely to be completed by January 2023.
  • The Union Cabinet also approved establishment of two new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)-- one at Madurai in Tamil Nadu and another at Bibinagar in Telangana. These institutes will be set up under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana.

Centre suggests President’s rule in J&K

  • The Union Cabinet has cleared the proposal to impose President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir from December 19 after the expiry of six months of Governor’s rule. The decision has been taken after Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik sent a report to the central government recommending imposition of President’s rule in the State.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind will issue a proclamation declaring that the powers of the Legislature of the State shall be exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament.
  • J & K plunged into a political crisis in June this year after the Mehbooba Mufti-led coalition government was reduced to minority following withdrawal of support by the 25-member BJP in the State.

Cottrell and Hope star for Windies

  • Left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell’s career-best four for 28 and Shai Hope’s sizzling half-century helped West Indies crush Bangladesh by eight wickets in their T20I series opener. West Indies raced to 130 for two in just 10.5 overs after West Indies pacers bowled out Bangladesh for 129.

EAM Sushma, Danish counterpart co-chair Joint Commission Meeting

  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Affairs Minister of Denmark have co-chaired the 2nd session of Joint Commission Meeting in New Delhi. Both the leaders took stock of the ties and identified cooperation in renewable energy, agriculture, food processing, shipping, Smart Cities, digitization and culture.
  • Denmark
  • President: Lars Lokke Rasmussen
  • Capital: Copenhagen
  • Currency: Danish krone

Germany to compensate hundreds who fled Nazis as children

  • Germany has agreed to one-time payments for survivors, primarily Jews, who were evacuated from Nazi Germany as children, many of whom never saw their parents again. German government has agreed to payments of 2,800 US Dollars to those still alive from among the 10,000 people who fled on the Kinder transport.
  • About 1,000 survivors are thought to be alive today, with about half living in Britain, and the payment is seen as a symbolic recognition of their suffering.
  • In all, about 10,000 children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland were taken to Britain, about 7,500 of whom were Jewish.
  • Germany
  • President: Frank-Walter Steinmeier
  • Chancellor: Angela Merkel
  • Capital: Berlin
  • Currency: Euro

Hitachi to buy 80% stake in ABB’s power grid unit for $11 bn

  • Japanese conglomerate Hitachi has agreed to buy 80.1% stake in Swiss engineering group ABB’s power grid business at an enterprise valuation of $11 billion. As per the terms of the deal, ABB would initially retain 19.9% stake in the power grid division.
  • The joint venture would be headquartered in Switzerland with Hitachi retaining the management team to ensure business continuity.
  • The deal, which is expected to close by the first half of 2020, will bolster Hitachi’s ambitions to join the ranks of global industrial groups such as General Electric and Siemens.
  • CEO, ABB: Ulrich Spiesshofer

IAF plane takes to the air on blended bio-fuel

  • For the first time, an An-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) flew with blended bio-jet fuel produced from Jatropha oil, unlocking the possibility of gradually expanding it to the entire service at some point. This has the dual benefit of reducing the carbon footprint as well as usage of fossil fuels.
  • India had thus joined a league of select nations to have developed, tested and certified a single step Hydro-processed Renewable Jet (HRJ) process to convert non-edible oil into biofuel for use on military aircraft.
  • This bio-jet fuel technology was developed by the Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP) under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in 2009 and tested between 2011 and 2013.
  • Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa

India decides to extend 1.4 billion dollar aid to Maldives

  • India has decided to extend 1.4 billion dollars financial assistance to the Maldives as budget support, currency swap and line of credit for the social and economic development of Maldives. The two sides also agreed to strengthen maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean region through coordinated patrol and aerial surveillance.
  • Both nations also inked four pacts, including one on visa facilitation.
  • Both the leaders reviewed efforts to promote bilateral trade and investment ties between the two countries.
  • Maldives:
  • President: Ibrahim Mohamed Solih
  • Capital: Male
  • Currency: Maldivian rufiyaa

Joshna Bags Record-equalling 16th National Title, Mahesh Wins Maiden Crown

  • Squash star Joshna Chinappa equalled Bhuvneshwari Kumari's record of 16 national titles while Mahesh Mangaonkar won his maiden crown of the premier domestic event at the HCL campus in Noida.
  • Joshna edged out Urwashi Joshi 9-11, 11-1, 11-6, 11-5 while Mahesh pipped Vikram Malhotra 11-4, 13-15, 11-2, 5-11, 15-13.

LPG scheme to cover poor people

  • The Union Cabinet recently approved the expansion of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, which aims to provide deposit-free LPG connections to all poor households. So far, the scheme targeted the poor and underprivileged so listed in the Socio-Economic and Caste Census, 2011.
  • Following the Cabinet decision, poor people will be able to opt for the scheme even if they so far were not eligible, after furnishing the required identification documents and an affidavit saying that they do not have an existing LPG connection.
  • Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan

Madras HC refuses to vacate stay on online drug sales

  • The Madras High Court banned the online sale of medicines till the Union Health Ministry and the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation notified the proposed Drugs and Cosmetics Amendment Rules, 2018 in the gazette at the earliest by January 31.
  • The judge directed online pharmacy traders to obtain licenses as per the prescribed rules that are going to be notified within a duration of two months.
  • The judge passed the order on a petition moved by the Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Organisation, which sought banning online sale of medicines.

Merriam-Webster picks "justice" as its 2018 word of the year

  • Merriam-Webster has chosen "justice" as its 2018 word of the year, driven by the churning news cycle over months and months. The word follows "toxic," picked by Oxford Dictionaries, and "misinformation," plucked by Dictonary.com.
  • "Justice" consistently bubbled into the top 20 or 30 lookups on the company's website.

New triple talaq Bill introduced

  • A fresh Bill to make the practice of triple talaq among Muslims a penal offence was introduced in the Lok Sabha to replace an ordinance issued in September. As the Bill faced resistance in the Rajya Sabha, the government promulgated the ordinance.
  • The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 will supercede an earlier Bill passed in the Lok Sabha.
  • Under the proposed law, giving instant triple talaq will be illegal and void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband.

Pharma exports cross $11 bn, may beat FY18 high of $17 bn

  • Pharmaceutical exports have raced past the $11-billion mark in the first 7 months of this fiscal. Exports stood at $17.27 billion in FY18. Pharma exports in April-October period were about $1.1 billion higher compared to the year earlier period.
  • The $17.27 billion achieved in 2017-18 remains the highest and came despite an 8% contraction in the U.S. In FY17, exports were $16.78 billion.
  • About a third of India’s pharma exports are to the U.S.. Europe, with about 15% and Africa at 17% are the other major export markets.

Philippines' Catriona Elisa Gray Crowned Miss Universe 2018

  • Catriona Elisa Gray from Philippines has been crowned Miss Universe 2018 at a gala ceremony, where representatives from South Africa and Venezuela secured the first runner-up and second runner-up spots. India's Nehal Chudasama failed to make it to the Top 20. Catriona pipped 93 other contestants to win the title.
  • Philippines
  • President: Rodrigo Roa Duterte
  • Capital: Manila
  • Currency: Philippine peso

Sandip Somany takes over as new FICCI President

  • Sanitary ware firm HSIL's CMD Sandip Somany has been elected as the new President of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director of the Apollo Hospitals Group, has now been elevated as the Senior Vice President of Ficci.
  • Uday Shankar, Chairman and CEO of Star India, has joined the chamber as the Vice President.
  • Somany will be working closely with the government and business leaders towards spearheading the country's economic growth.

SEBI eyes Nasdaq model for platform

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is trying to create a platform like Nasdaq for technology start-up firms in India by tweaking the norms for the Institutional Trading Platform (ITP). ITP boasts of a framework largely based on the feedback received from industry participants, including early stage companies and investors in the start-up community.
  • Innovators Growth Platform (IGP), will also act as the main board for such firms thereby creating a separate and dedicated platform for sectors like technology, intellectual property, data analytics, biotech or nanotech. This is on the lines of the Nasdaq in the U.S., which boasts of technology and new-age firms such as Google, Netflix, Alibaba, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. The
  • Last week, the SEBI board approved a host of amendments, including lowering the number of investors in a public issue and the minimum application size while removing the 25% cap on holding.

Start-up Byju’s raises $540 mn

  • Education technology start-up Byju’s said it had raised $540 million in a funding round led by South African conglomerate Naspers with a significant portion being contributed by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).
  • The transaction has taken the valuation of the Bengaluru-based firm to $3.8 billion, making it one of the most valuable educational technology companies in the world.
  • The global online education market is projected to reach a total market size of $286.62 billion by 2023, increasing from $159.52 billion in 2017, according to the report ‘Global Online Education Market.
  • Founder and CEO, Byju’s: Byju Raveendran

Transgender Bill passed in Lok Sabha amid uproar

  • Lok Sabha has passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill. This bill prohibits discrimination against a transgender person in areas such as education, employment and healthcare. It also directs the central and state governments to provide welfare schemes for them.
  • The bill is aimed at bringing the community into the mainstream of the society.
  • Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot