Daily Current Affairs - 23rd Dec 2019

377 infrastructure projects show cost overruns of Rs 3.94 lakh crore

  • As many as 377 infrastructure projects, each worth Rs 150 crore or more, have been hit by cost overruns of more than Rs 3.94 lakh crore owing to delays and other reasons, according to a report. The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation monitors infrastructure projects worth Rs 150 crore and above.
  • Of such 1,635 projects, 377 projects reported cost overruns and 565 projects time escalation.
  • Total original cost of implementation of the 1635 projects was Rs 19,47,462.67 crore and their anticipated completion cost is likely to be Rs 23,41,784.84 crore, which reflects overall cost overruns of Rs 3,94,322.17 crore (20.25 per cent of original cost)
  • According to the report, the expenditure incurred on these projects till September 2019 was Rs 9,96,613.94 crore, or 42.55 per cent of the anticipated cost of the projects.

Centre clears rumours on CAA, NRC

  • The Union Government has reiterated that no Indian citizens of any religion or any region will be adversely impacted by the Citizenship Amendment Act. It has asked people to not to get mislead by misinformation on the act.
  • It further stated that the Citizenship Amendment Act is about giving citizenship to persecuted minorities settled in India till 2014. It does not take away citizenship from anyone.
  • The Citizenship Amendment Act applies only to the minorities from three countries - Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
  • Centre has made it clear that no nationwide NRC has been announced. Whenever it is announced, rules and guidelines will be framed in such a way that no Indian citizens face any harassment whatsoever.

Ecuador declares emergency after fuel spill in Galapagos Islands

  • Ecuador has declared emergency to contain the environmental impact of a fuel spill in the Galapagos Islands, after a barge carrying 600 gallons of diesel fuel sank. The Islands are located 1,000 kilometers east of mainland Ecuador.
  • Latin American Galapagos archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to one of the most fragile ecosystems on the planet.

FATF seeks more information from Islamabad on action against madrassas run by terror outfits

  • Global watchdog for terror financing, FATF has sought more clarifications and data from Pakistan on actions taken against madrassas belonging to proscribed outfits. This follows after Pakistan submitted a report to FATF detailing steps taken by the government to curb terrorism and money laundering.
  • The Paris-based FATF, which kept Pakistan on the Grey List for an extended period till February 2020, had warned in October that Islamabad would be put on the Black List with Iran and North Korea, if it did not comply with the remaining 22 points in a list of 27 questions.

GST Council decides to consider changes in rates once a year; No hike in GST rates till revenue collection stabilizes

  • Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and convener of Group of Ministers on IGST Sushil Kumar Modi says the GST Council has decided to consider changes in rates once a year, and not in each and every meeting.
  • He said, there is no possibility of change in GST rates till revenue collection stabilises. Sushil Modi said any change in slabs and tax rates - hike or cut - in the near future is unlikely. He said no state or the Centre is ready to raise tax rates.

India beat West Indies by four wickets in 3rd ODI; clinch series 2-1

  • Virat Kohli starred with the bat as India defeated West Indies by four wickets in the third and final ODI of the three-match series at Barabati Stadium in Cuttack. With this win, India won the series 2-1. This is Men in Blue's tenth consecutive series win over the Windies.
  • Earlier, India won the toss and elected to field. After putting to bat, the visitors scored 315 for 5 wickets in the allotted fifty overs. India made 316 for the loss of 6 wickets in 48.4overs.
  • Skipper Virat Kohli who scored 85, declared Man of the Match. Rohit Sharma declared Man of the Series.

Maisnam Meiraba Luwang wins Bangladesh Junior International Badminton Series

  • India's shuttler Maisnam Meiraba Luwang has won the Men's singles Bangladesh Junior International Badminton Series 2019 in Dhaka. Top-seeded Meiraba beat Ken Yong Ong 21, 14, 21-18 in the final lasting 38 minutes today.
  • In women's singles, Indian shuttler Treesa Jolly lost to Thailand's third seed Krittaporn Jiantanet 21-12, 16-21, 21-16 in finals.

Railway unveils new signalling system

  • The Railways will roll out its new signalling system from April 2020 onwards that is expected to make train travel faster and safer. The implementation will begin with four sections of about 640 route kilometres with an estimated cost of around Rs.1,810 crore.
  • This is expected to be a pilot project for pan-India implementation of the nearly Rs.78,000 crore project to modernise the signalling system which was included in the works programme of 2018-19.
  • The modernisation of the signalling system will include implementation of technologies such as the automatic train protection (ATP) system that helps in adhering to permissible speed limits without driver intervention and 4G-based mobile train radio communication system (MTRC) which will can be used for emergency communications.

S Jaishankar co-chairs 19th Joint Commission meeting with Iran Foreign Minister

  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has co-chaired the 19th Joint Commission meeting with Foreign Minister of Iran in Tehran. He said, both the nation agreed on accelerating the Chabahar project. He said, India and Iran will work together closely on their shared interests.

Sudan opens probe into crimes committed in Darfur region under former President Omar al-Bashir

  • Sudan has opened an investigation into crimes committed in the Darfur region under former President Omar al-Bashir. Ten years ago the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The conflict between rebels and pro-government militias began in 2003. The UN says, three Lakh people died in the conflict.
  • After more than 30 years in power, Bashir was ousted earlier this year following mass protests.
  • On 14th December, Bashir was sentenced by a court in Khartoum to two years' detention in a correctional centre for corruption in the first of several cases against him.

Tata, Nilekani promoted Avanti Finance to soon raise $ 30-40 mn

  • Avanti Finance, the microloan focused NBFC promoted by Ratan Tata and Nandan Nilekani from their personal philanthropic funds, is looking to raise $ 30-40 million (up to about Rs 285 crore) in fresh equity from impact investors and domestic financial institutions to fuel growth.

Thousands protest in southern Iraq, demand independent PM

  • Thousands of protesters have blocked roads and public buildings in southern Iraq, demanding the appointment of an independent prime minister as the latest deadline for choosing a new leader looms.
  • Anti-government rallies have rocked Baghdad and the Shia-majority south since October 1, with demonstrators calling for a complete overhaul of a regime they deem corrupt and inefficient.
  • About 460 people have been killed and 25,000 injured since the protests began nearly three months ago.

UAE and Oman sign MoU to enhance trade & economic cooperation

  • The UAE federal export credit company, Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Export Credit Guarantee Agency of Oman (Credit Oman) to enhance trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
  • The signing took place during the 10th AMAN UNION General Assembly, held in Muscat.
  • AMAN UNION is a professional forum assembling Commercial & Non-commercial Risks Insurers & Reinsurers in Member Countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and of the Arab Investment & Export Credit Guarantee Corporation.

Vice President to give away 66th National Film Awards on December 23

  • Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu will give away the 66th National Film Awards at a function in New Delhi on December 23. Gujarati movie Hellaro will be awarded the best feature film.
  • Bollywood actors Ayushmann Khurrana and Vicky Kaushal have been selected for best actor award for their roles in Andhadhun and Uri. Keerthy Suresh will get the best actress award for her portrayal of yesteryear's star Savitri in Telugu film Mahanati.
  • Best Director award will be given to Aditya Dhar for his debut film Uri: The Surgical Strike. Badhaai Ho, about a family dealing with a late pregnancy, has been selected for best popular film providing wholesome entertainment.
  • Akshay Kumar-starrer Padman has been named the best film on social issues.
  • Marathi movie Paani has won the award for Best Film on Environment Conservation and Preservation. Kannada film Ondalla Eradalla will get Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration.
  • Uttarakhand will be awarded as the Most Film Friendly State.

Voting underway in Uzbekistan to elect new Parliament

  • In Uzbekistan, voters are heading to the polling stations in its first parliamentary election since a new leader ushered in an era of reform after years of isolation and authoritarian rule. The election is the first in the nation of 33 million since Mirziyoyev took power in late 2016 following the death of strongman Islam Karimov, who had run the former Soviet republic as a police state for 27 years.
  • The election will see a contest between five political parties. A total of 500 international observers, including 12 from India, will monitor the polls.