1. Uttarakhand has been adjudged the best state at the 38th India International Trade Fair (IITF) in New Delhi, which showcased reconstruction work done at Kedarnath in recent months besides steps taken by the state government to boost tourism and promote local products like organic honey. Beside this, Himachal Pradesh pavilion has been awarded silver medal for excellent display in the 2018 IITF. This is for the first time that state pavilion has received an award for showcasing traditional products like Kullu and Kinnauri shawls, Chamba Rumaal, Kangra and Thanka paintings and wooden and metal craft manufactured by the rural entrepreneurs in the trade fair to promote rural enterprise. Besides, processed fruits prepared by the senior citizens of Nerwa in Shimla district and apple chips of Shimla's startup M/s Draplaz were also exhibited.
2. On November 28, IT czar and philanthropist Azim Premji was bestowed with the highest French civilian distinction Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour). Premji, who is the chairman of Bengaluru-headquartered IT major Wipro, received the distinction from the Ambassador of France to India Alexandre Ziegler. The award was bestowed on Azim Premji for his outstanding contribution to developing the information technology industry in India, his economic outreach in France, and his laudable contribution to society as a philanthropist through the Azim Premji Foundation and Azim Premji University. The Legion d'Honneur (Legion of Honour), instituted in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, is the highest civilian award given by the French Republic for outstanding service to France, regardless of the nationality of the recipients.
3. The bilateral naval exercise 'Konkan 18' has started between the navies of India and the UK at the Goa coast from November 28. The exercise will provide a platform for the two navies to periodically exercise at sea and in harbour, so as to build interoperability and share best practices. The harbour phase is scheduled from November 28 to 30, followed by the sea phase from December 2 to 6. The thrust of the 2018 exercise would be on anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, visit board search and seizure (VBSS) and seamanship evolutions. The aim of the exercise is to derive mutual benefit from each others' experiences and is indicative of the continuing cooperation between the two countries. The United Kingdom's Royal Navy will be represented by HMS Dragon, a Type 45 Class Destroyer equipped with an integral wildcat helicopter, while the Indian Navy will field INS Kolkata, the first ship of latest Kolkata class destroyers, and a submarine.
4. The air force units of India and the United States are scheduled to participate in a 12- day joint exercise 'Cope India 2019' at two air force stations in West Bengal. The bilateral flying training programme will be held from December 3 to 14 of this year at two important airbases in West Bengal - Air Force Station Kalaikunda and Air Force Station Arjan Singh at Panagarh. Exercise CI19 is a long-standing bilateral US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)-sponsored Field Training Exercise (FTX), conducted with the IAF, focused on enhancing US-Indian mutual cooperation and building on existing capabilities, aircrew tactics and force employment. The exercise will showcase US and India's efforts and commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region. COPE INDIA began in 2004 as a fighter training exercise held at Air Force Station Gwalior. The exercise was last held in 2010.
5. Salome Zurabishvili, a French-born Georgian politician, has elected the first woman president in the history of Georgia. She will be inaugurated as President of Georgia on 16 December 2018. The President of Georgia is head of state and a guarantor of national independence and unity of the country. He/she is elected on the basis of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot, for a period of five years. The President ensures the functioning of state bodies in accordance with the Constitution.
6. The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is observed by the United Nations every year on November 29 as an opportunity for the international community to refocus its attention on the fact that the question of Palestine remains unresolved and that the Palestinian people have yet to attain their inalienable rights as defined by the General Assembly. The date of 29 November was chosen because of its meaning and significance to the Palestinian people. On that day in 1947, the General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II), which came to be known as the Partition Resolution. That resolution provided for the establishment in Palestine of a "Jewish State" and an "Arab State", with Jerusalem as a corpus separatum under a special international regime. Of the two States to be created under this resolution, only one, Israel, has so far come into being.
7. The South Asia Regional Youth Peace Conference has been organised by Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti (GSDS) in partnership with UNESCO- MGIEP and STEP (Standing Together to Enable Peace) from November 28-30, 2018. The 3-day conference is being organized to mark the beginning of celebration of 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The conference was inaugurated by ShriKrishna G Kulkarni, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, at Gandhi Darshan in New Delhi. About 100 youth leaders from South Asian countries and different parts of India have come together to discuss different dimensions of 'peace'. The conference focused on building a network for young leaders from South Asian countries working on various social issues, to identify avenues for partnership and collaboration, support and show solidarity towards each other's initiatives, nurture relationships and promote global citizenship to work towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
8. Anil Manibhai Naik has been appointed as the new chairman of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). Currently Naik is the Group Chairman of India's biggest engineering and construction conglomerate – Larsen & Toubro Limited (L&T). NSDC is a unique public-private-partnership, working under the aegis of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship. NSDC aims to promote skill development by catalyzing creation of large, quality and for-profit vocational institutions. The organisation provides funding to build scalable and profitable vocational training initiatives. It also develops appropriate models to enhance, support and coordinate private sector initiatives. NSDC supports short-term skill training through a wide network of training providers and district nodal skill centres called Pradhan MantriKaushal Kendra (PMKK).
9. Slovenia has become the first NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) nation to appoint a female Chief of Armed Forces after Major General Alenka Ermenc took the post of Head of its Army. The country has approximately 7.500 soldiers, including active and reserve forces. Slovenia, which originally was part of Yugoslavia, joined NATO and the European Union in 2004. NATO is an international alliance that consists of 29 member states and 28 EU nations.
10. Iravatham Mahadevan (88), the renowned epigraphist and Padma Shri recipient, has passed away in Chennai, Tamil Nadu on November 26, 2018. A former civil servant, he also helmed the well-known Tamil daily 'Dinamani' as its Editor in the late 1980s. He was known for his successful decipherment of Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions and for his expertise on the epigraphy of the Indus Valley Civilization. He was conferred the Campbell Medal by the Asiatic Society of Mumbai, formerly the Royal Asiatic Society, in November 2014.
11. India's Olympic and world champion shooter Abhinav Bindra has been bestowed with the prestigious ISSF's highest shooting honour 'Blue Cross'at the General Assembly in Munich for his outstanding services as the chairman of the International Shooting Sport Federation's Athletes Committee. The Blue Cross is the highest laurel for shooters given by the ISSF. In 2008, by winning the gold in the 10 metre Air Rifle event at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, he created history by becoming the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games. He is the first and only Indian to have held both the World and Olympic titles at the same time, a feat he accomplished by capturing the Gold Medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, after having won the gold at the 2006 ISSF World Shooting Championships. Bindra also won the Gold Medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
12. The World AIDS Day (WAD) is observed every year on 1st of December to raise awareness of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. The day provides an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. The 2018 theme is 'Know your status'. It is estimated that around the world, 37 million people are living with HIV, the highest number ever, yet a quarter do not know that they have the virus. Hence, Knowing your HIV status enables people to make informed decisions about HIV prevention options, including services to prevent children from becoming infected with HIV, male and female condoms, harm reduction services for people who inject drugs, voluntary medical male circumcision and pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis.
13. The European Union has recently announced a long-term vision on combating climate change that aims to transform the bloc into the first carbon neutral major economy by 2050 - A Clean Planet for All . Under the plan, emissions of greenhouse gases after that date would have to be offset by planting trees or by burying the gases underground. Its plan will include steps such as investing in realistic technological solutions ( such as solar and wind energy ) to help lower carbon emissions. Thus, scientists said that netzero emissions by 2050 are needed to have a fighting chance of keeping global temperatures under 1.5C this century. The Climate neutrality means your emissions are balanced by methods of removing warming gases from the atmosphere. So the warming emissions that are created by cars and power plants should be counteracted by the greenhouse gases removed from the air by the planting of new forests or through carbon capture technologies which would see the CO2 buried underground.
14. India will chair the Kimberley Process (KP), a global initiative to remove conflict diamonds from the global supply chain, from 1st January 2019. KP is a joint initiative of different countries, industry and civil societies to control flow of conflict diamonds, which are used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments in the world. India is the founding member of Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) and is actively involved in KP activities to ensure that almost 99% of the diamond trade in the world is conflict free.
15. On November 30, the 2nd International Ambedkar Conclave (IAC-2018) has inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind in New Delhi as part of the commemoration of Constitution Day. The Conclave is being organised by the Forum of SC and ST Legislators and Parliamentarians and the Dr Ambedkar Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, widely known as the 'Father of Indian Constitution' was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement and campaigned against social discrimination towards the untouchables, while also supporting the rights of women and labour.
16. India's first owl festival was held at Pingori village in Purandar taluka of Pune from November 29. The two-day festival, organised by Ela Foundation (an NGO working towards nature education and conservation), will give information on owl conservation and feature art forms like pictures, paintings, lanterns, lamp shades, posters, origami, stitched articles, poems and stories on owls. It is a first-of-its-kind festival, which was organised with the intention of creating awareness about owl as a bird and debunking numerous superstitions associated with it. According to a report published by Traffic India and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2010, owls were found to be consumed and traded for a wide variety of purposes, including black magic, street performances, taxidermy, private aviaries/zoos, food and in folk medicines. Despite being protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, the report has found owls to be highly prized and in demand for black magic purposes.
17. Vashkar Bhattacharjee, a Bangladeshi disabilities rights advocate, has been chosen for the UNESCO / Emir Jaber al-Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah Prize for Digital Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. Bhattacharjee has successfully developed a pioneering dictionaries in Bangladesh for people with visual, print and learning disabilities, and a special programme to help the disabled set up their own businesses through e-micro credit support. Beside him, Chinese ICT company Tencent also won the award for its outstanding contribution to the empowering and improving the quality of life of people with disabilities by using inclusive digital technologies to provide greatly enhanced access to information. The award will be handed out in a ceremony at the Unesco headquarters in Paris on December 3.
18. On December 1, President Ram Nath kovind inaugurated the 13th edition of International CII Agro Tech 2018 with theme 'Technology in Agriculture: Increasing Farmer's Income'. The 4-day International Agro Technology and Business Fair is being organised by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). In the fair, the partner country is Great Britain while focus countries are Canada and China. Here, Punjab and Haryana are the the host states for international agricultural expo. A total of 195 exhibitors, including 37 foreign exhibitors from eight countries, will participate in the expo. The event will not only provides deep insight into the India's food & agriculture market but also acknowledges a meaningful business interaction with & to the overseas participants.
19. The book "Architecture of Justice: A Pictorial Walk-through of the Supreme Courts and High Courts of India" has been authored by father-son duo Vinay Thakur and Amogh Thakur. The 223-page coffee-table tome was recently released by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi at the Indian International Centre. The book, a sequel to Vinay's earlier book 'The Courts of India Past to Present' (2016), is not about photographs alone, and is replete with interesting trivia and anecdotes about the monumental buildings. It takes a stroll through corridors of justice.
20. The Nagaland government has recently signed pact with Estonian academy to enlighten the state people on the e-governance models prevailing in the world. The main objective of the 5-year agreement with the e-Governance Academy of Estonia is to work together to develop and expand scientific collaboration on setting up e-Governance Academy in Nagaland. The agreement was signed during the current edition of the e-Naga Summit, held with a vision to embark on a process to instill the spirit of innovation and use of technology for impacting positive change in the society.
21. The 24th Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) has started in Katowice, Poland from 3-14 December 2018. The conference is expected to finalize the rules for implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change under the Paris Agreement work programme (PAWP). It will also include a number of high-level events, mandated events, action events and roundtables. About 20 thousand people from 190 countries will take part in the event, including politicians, representatives of non-governmental organizations, scientific community and business sector.
22. Australia has become the first country in the world to recognise so-called orphanage trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery. Hence, it has criminalized the act of falsely inducing children into orphanages as a form of slavery, in what is believed to be the first move of its kind in the world. Under the new law, orphanage trafficking will be treated as a slavery and trafficking offense. The legislation forms part of a wider drive to stop Australians taking part in "voluntourism" schemes which harm rather than help the children. It is estimated 80% of children in orphanages around the world have at least one living parent but are in orphanages in a bid to attract international volunteers. This is what's called "Orphanage trafficking" where children are actively recruited into orphanages for the purpose of exploitation and profit made from orphanage tourism, where people pay or donate to volunteer and visit orphanages.
23. The United States has signed trade pact with Canada and Mexico to replace the 24-yearold North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They signed an authorization for the deal on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) summit 2018. The new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) has 34 chapters & is meant to govern more than $1tn worth of trade between the three countries. The pact has been tweaked to include changes for automakers, labor and environmental standards, intellectual property protections, and some digital trade provisions. It will give the US greater access to Canada's dairy market and allows extra imports of Canadian cars. Now, the deal requires ratification by all three countries' legislatures before taking effect.
24. Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel peace laureate & Myanmar leader, will be stripped of Freedom of Paris award over her failure to speak out against a crackdown on Myanmar's Rohingya minority. The move, which follows similar decisions by Glasgow, Edinburgh and Oxford, would make Myanmar's de facto leader the first person to lose the freedom of the French capital, a purely symbolic award. The move will be finalised by the city council at a meeting in mid-December 2018. Apart from this, Suu Kyi has already been stripped of her honorary Canadian citizenship and her Amnesty International's "Ambassador of Conscience Award". In 2017, nearly 5,00,000 people belonging to Myanmar's Rohingya minority have been displaced after violence allegedly instigated by the country's military, causing a major humanitarian crisis.
25. Raninder Singh, son of current Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh, has become the first Indian to be elected to be elected one of the four vice-presidents of the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) after securing 161 votes for the post in Munich. An international level trap shooter, Singh also heads the president of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) since December 2009. Recently, India's Olympic and world champion shooter Abhinav Bindra has been bestowed with the prestigious ISSF's highest shooting honour 'Blue Cross'at the General Assembly in Munich for his outstanding services as the chairman of the International Shooting Sport Federation's Athletes Committee. The Blue Cross is the highest laurel for shooters given by the ISSF.
26. India will host the G20 summit in 2022, when the country celebrates its 75th year of Independence. The announcement was made at the closing ceremony of the 2018 G-20 held in Argentina's captial Buenos Aires.The G-20 is a grouping of the world's 20 major economies. Its comprise Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the U.S. Collectively, the G-20 economies account for nearly 90% of the gross world product, 80% of world trade, two-thirds of the world population, and approximately half of the world land area. Spain is a permanent guest invitee. Earlier, Italy was to host the international forum in 2022.
27. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will be Chief Guest at the Republic Day of India 2019, which also marks the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The celebrations are held every year at Rajpath before the President of India. The Republic Day honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect on 26th January 1950 with a democratic government system. & replaced the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India. The day was chosen as the Republic day because it was on this day in 1930 when Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress (INC) as opposed to the Dominion status offered by British Regime.
28. In Argentina, the 2nd Russia-India-China (RIC) Trilateral Summit was held in Buenos Aires after a gap of 12 years, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit to discuss cooperation in various areas. The three leaders - Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin - agreed to have regular consultations to jointly promote international and regional peace and stability, to strengthen cooperation through BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) and the East Asia Summit (EAS) mechanisms, to address global challenges such as terrorism and climate change, and to encourage peaceful resolution of all differences.
29. The UK's Cambridge Dictionary has recently declared "Nomophobia", the word that describes the stress and anxiety caused by being separated from your mobile, as People's Word of the year 2018. The word is defined as the fear or worry at the idea of being without your mobile phone or unable to use it. Based on the results of a popular vote, Nomophobia was chose over the other shortlisted words - 'gender gap', 'ecocide' and 'no-platforming'.
30. In February 2019, India's first international indigenous film festival will take place in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The fest is an initiative of activist film collective Video Republic that has been campaigning for indigenous communities in the State. The three-stop event will kick off on February 19 and 20, moving on to Puri from February 21 to 23 to eventually culminate in an interaction with the adivasi communities at Niyamgiri. It will showcase films made by indigenous people or made by non-indigenous filmmakers in collaboration with the indigenous communities. The aim of the fest is to build a platform for indigenous communities from the world over to share, have a dialogue, collaborate and to use cinema as a mode of united assertion, resistance and activism against exploitative forces.
31. The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed every year on December 3 to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. The annual observance of the Day was proclaimed in 1992, by a United Nations General Assembly resolution. The 2018 theme 'Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality' focuses on empowering persons with disabilities for an inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This year, the United Nations has launched the first-ever flagship report on disability and development "UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development 2018 - Realizing the SDGs by, for and with persons with disabilities". The Report provides an evidence base for disability-inclusive policy-making, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of an inclusive, accessible and sustainable global development agenda.
32. On December 2, India's first locomotive-less train, known as Train 18, has breached the 180 kmph speed limit during a test run at Kota-Sawai Madhopur section in Rajasthan. When this indigenously designed train is made operational, it will become the country's fastest train. Train 18 is capable of touching 200 kmph provided the rest of Indian Railways' system, such as tracks and signals, permit. With 16 coaches, the train will have the same passenger carrying capacity as that of the Shatabdi Express. It has aerodynamically designed driver cabins at both ends for quicker turn-around at destinations. The train also sports an advanced regenerative braking system which saves power. The fully air-conditioned train offers better passenger comfort and safety, as all equipment are fixed under the carriage so that more space is available on board.
33. Qatar has decided to withdraw its membership from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) with effect from 1st January 2019. The decision to withdraw from OPEC came after Qatar reviewed ways to enhance its role internationally and plan its long-term strategy. It has plans to increase its annual exports of Liquified Natural Gas (LPG) from 77 million tons of gas per year to 110 million tons. Qatar is the world's largest exporter of LPG. It also wants to raise its oil production from 4.8 million barrels of oil equivalent a day to 6.5 million barrels. Currently, the Vienna-based OPEC comprises 15 oil-producing and exporting countries. These are as follows: Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, the Republic of the Congo, Saudi Arabia (the de facto leader), United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.
34. Imran Hussain, the Delhi Environment minister, has been awarded the 'Hero to Animals' award by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India for banning the Chinese manjha (or glass-coated kite strings) in the national capital in 2017. He received a award for saving the lives of humans and animals by banning all forms of manja throughout the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The policy of PETA is to ensure animals do not suffer in laboratories, food industries, leather trade, recreational businesses like circus, roadshows. It is also actively involved in policy formulation and legislative work with governments in order to improve the quality of life of animals.
35. The Bilaspur Police in Chhattisgarh now holds the Guinness World Records for its 'Rakhi with Khakhi' as part of which girls and women tied rakhis to 50,033 police officials rakhis over a span of ten hours and then uploaded selfies with hashtags #rakhiwithkhaki and #HappyRakshaBandhan. The initiative was the brainchild of Bilaspur Superintendent of Police Sheikh Arif Husen & was held on 25th August 2018, a day before Raksha Bandhan. The Guinness World Records certificate was awarded to Bilaspur police at a function held at the Lakhiram Memorial Auditorium on 1st December 2018. The aim of the initiative is to reach out to women and girls and to assure them of security.
36. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a $85 million loan to improve skill development eco-system in Odisha and establish an advanced skill training centre at Bhubaneswar. The project will help over 1.5 lakh people learn skills in priority sectors, including manufacturing, construction and services for formal employment. The World Skill Centre (WSC) at Bhubaneswar will deliver 8 training courses for 13,000 full-time students, provide training for 5,000 teachers, and train 1,000 assessors. It will improve the overall eco-system of skill development in Odisha by providing integrated services through an entrepreneurship incubation centre, a career counseling and placement centre, a curriculum design and development centre, and education technology deployment centre.
37. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, popularly known by his initials AMLO, has been sworn-in as the new President of Mexico on December 1, 2018. He won the historic landslide victory at July 1 presidential election 2018 with over 50% of the popular vote. He started his six-year term with a promise to end the corruption, poverty and extreme violence that have plagued the country for more than a decade. This was the first time since the 1988 election that a presidential candidate was elected with an absolute majority (50%+1) of the votes cast. The President of Mexico is the head of state and government of Mexico. Under the Constitution, the president is also the Supreme Commander of the Mexican armed forces.
38. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has launched a new mass media campaign "Heart Attack Rewind" to eliminate industrially produced trans fat in the food supply by 2022 before WHO deadline. The campaign is the 30 second Public Service Announcement (PSA), which will warn citizens about the health hazards of consuming trans fats and offer strategies to avoid them through healthier alternatives. Edible oil industries took a pledge to reduce the levels of salt, sugar, saturated fat and trans fat content by 2% by 2022. As per records, trans fat intake leads to more than five lakh deaths from cardiovascular diseases every year, globally. Trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to solidify them and increase the shelf life of food. Trans fat is largely present in vanaspati, margarine, and bakery shortenings, and can be found in baked and fried foods.
39. On December 2, the Asia Pacific Summit-2018 was held in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. The theme of two day Summit is "Addressing the Critical Challenges of Our Time: Interdependence, Mutual Prosperity, and Universal Values". It was organised by the controversial South Korea-based Universal Peace Federation and supported by the Government of Nepal. Around 1500 participants from 45 countries including India attended the summit. They discussed various global issues including peace, development, good governance and role of parliamentarians, climate change and role of media.
40. The Indian Navy will conduct its flagship Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise (TROPEX), from January end till early March 2019. This will provide an opportunity to test the combat capability of the Indian Coast Guards (ICG), Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF), Indian Navy, and strengthened inter-operability and joint operations in complex conflict situation. As part of TROPEX, the Indian Navy would also conduct a large-scale coastal defence exercise 'Exercise Sea Vigil' which will involve all stakeholders across mainland and island territories. The aim of such an exercise is to test the robustness of our entire coastal security apparatus through his massive exercise. The yearly exercise takes place on the Western Seaboard which will have participation of over 45 ships from both the Western and Eastern Naval Commands of the Indian Navy, including the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, submarines including the nuclear powered Chakra, naval aircraft MiG-29K, helicopters as well as ships from the ICG.
41. On 3rd December 2018, the 80th Session of the Policy Commission of the World Customs Organization (WCO) was held in Mumbai, Maharashtra . The Session is being organized by the WCO and hosted by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), India. The Indian delegation was headed by CBIC Chairman, S Ramesh. The custom heads of more than 30 countries participated in the 3-day long discussion on various matters related to customs. Some of the important topics discussed during the meeting include trade facilitation, controlling illicit financial flow, performance measurement, challenges of small island economies, etc. The WCO is the only global organization which defines global standards and procedures for customs clearances at the border and their implementation. It is headquartered at Brussels, Belgium.
42. Atlawim Debebe of Ethiopia has won the 2018 Pune International Marathon with the timing of 2 hours 17 minutes 17 seconds. Teshome Getachew claimed second and Bekele Asefa third position. Both of them are also from Ethiopia.In women's Full Marathon Pascalia Chepkogei from Kenya stood first with the timing of 2 hour 50 minutes 27 seconds. Among Indian runners this year also Karan Singh of Bombay Engineering Group stood first in Men's category. In women's Full marathon Urvi Tambe stood first amongst Indian participants. Along with 100 foreign runners, more than 15 thousand people participated in this oldest International Marathon this year. This is 33rd year of Pune International Marathon.
43. The first-ever bilateral air exercise "EX SHINYUU Maitri-2018 " has started between Japanese Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) and Indian Air Force at A F Station Agra in Uttar Pradesh from 03-07 Dec 18. The IAF is participating with An-32 and C-17 aircraft with aircrew & observers. The theme of the exercise is joint Mobility/Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief (HADR) on Transport aircraft. The focus of the exercise is set for the IAF and JASDF crews to undertake Joint Mobility/ HADR operations. Display of heavy loading/ off loading are also planned to be practiced during this exercise.
44. In Uttar Pradesh, the International conference on bears has started in Agra from December 3, 2018. The four-day conference is aimed at sharing knowledge on principles of the welfare of bears and other wild animals in zoos, sanctuaries and rescue centres. The conference has been Hosted by Wildlife SOS in collaboration with Bear Care Group from the US and Canada. It is focused on bear care, wildlife conservation and human wildlife conflict mitigation. More than 80 delegates from 11 countries viz. US, Canada, Australia, the UK, France, Germany, Demark, the Netherlands, Vietnam etc., participated in the conference.
45. Luka Modric, Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder, has been honoured with the perstigiuos 2018 Men's Ballon d'Or award. With this, he ended Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's decade-long dominance in the men's awards. Modric won his third successive Champions League title in May 2018 and also captained Croatia to its first FIFA World Cup final in Russia. He was named player of the tournament despite his side losing 4-2 to France. For the first time in the history of the Ballon d'Or prize, the female player category was awarded in 2018. Hence, Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg has become the first-ever recipient of the women's Ballon d'Or. The Ballon d'Or is an annual football award presented by French magazine France Football.
46. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has recently announced a new initiative 'PEETHA' to create awareness about various government schemes and improve transparency. It also aims at improving transparency in the distribution of individual and social benefits. The acronym 'PEETHA' stands for Peoples Empowerment Enabling Transparency and Accountability. The PEETHA is a sub-scheme of the state government's flagship Ama Gaon Ama Bikas yojana. As part of the initiative, camps will be organised at gram panchayat level from 15th to 20th of each month, beginning from December 2018. Every month the best panchayat in each Block will be given Rs 5 lakh for organising PEETHA. Upon completion of the camps, the best panchayats in each district will be awarded at the district Level. Similarly, panchayats, blocks and best districts will be awarded with special funds at the state level.
47. Ajay Narayan Jha, a 1982-batch IAS officer of Manipur Tripura cadre, has been appointed the new Finance Secretary of India. He succeeded Hasmukh Adhia. The Finance Secretary is the Permanent Secretary-level civil servant, who plays a leadership role in the bureaucracy of the Finance Ministry.
48. On December 1, Nagaland became the first state in the northeastern region and 2nd in the country after Himachal Pradesh to adopt a Pan-India single emergency number '112' under ERSS ( Emergency Response Support System) project. It was launched by the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at Kohima, which coincided with the Formation Day of Nagaland and the inaugural day of Hornbill Festival 2018. Now, the residents can dial 112 or use Panic Button on their phones or 112 India mobile App to connect to a single number based 112 emergency services which will connect to Police, Fire, Health and other helplines through an Emergency Response Centre in the State. As a special feature, to ensure safety of women, a unique 'SHOUT' feature has been introduced in 112 India mobile App. This allows victims to seek immediate assistance from registered volunteers in the vicinity apart from contacting Emergency Response Centre. The SHOUT feature is exclusively available to women.
49. Pawan Singh has become the first Indian to be elected one of seven member's of the Judges Committee of the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF). He also holds the post of the Joint Secretary General of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) and was a former coach of the Indian shooting team.Recently, Raninder Singh, President of NRAI had become the first Indian to be elected Vice President of ISSF. While, India's Olympic and world champion shooter Abhinav Bindra has been bestowed with the prestigious ISSF's highest shooting honour 'Blue Cross'at the General Assembly in Munich for his outstanding services as the chairman of the International Shooting Sport Federation's Athletes Committee. The Blue Cross is the highest laurel for shooters given by the ISSF.
50. Ullas Narayan has created history by winning India's first ever International medal in Ultra Running. He finished third at the 2018 International Association of Ultra Running (IAU) 24 Hour Asia & Oceania Championship in Taipei. A group bronze medal was also won by the Indian team which had Narayan (250 km), Sunil Sharma (202 km) and LL Meena (192 km). Ultra races involve running over extremely long distances which are far longer than the traditional races. These races take place over two modalities – either over a set distance like 50 km, 100 km and longer events or a set time (like 6 hr, 24 hr, and multi-day events).
51. The Glasgow-based British artist Charlotte Prodger has won the prestigious £25,000 Turner Prize 2018 for her film work examining landscapes and gender identity. She has been hailed for her work 'Bridgit', which was shot using her phone, and for the multiformat film 'Stoneymollan Trail', exhibited at Bergen Kunsthall. Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie presented the award at a ceremony held at Tate Britain in London. The Turner Prize award, named after the 19th-century English painter J. M. W. Turner since 1984, is £40,000 with £25,000 going to the winner and £5,000 each for the other shortlisted artists. Beside Prodger , the other 2018 shortlisted artists were Forensic Architecture, Naeem Mohaiemen, and Luke Willis Thompson.
52. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has recently inaugurated a new Project namely- "Development of Tribal Circuit : Peren-Kohima-Wokha Project" at Kisama Heritage Village in Nagaland. under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme. This is the first project to be implemented in the state under Swadesh Darshan Scheme of Union Ministry of Tourism. The project was sanctioned by the Ministry of Tourism in November 2015 for Rs. 97.36 Crores. Under the project the Ministry has developed facilities like Tribal Tourist Village, Eco Log Huts, Open Air Theatre, Tribal Rejuvenation Centre, Cafeteria, Helipad, Tourist Interpretation Centre, Wayside Amenities, Last Mile Connectivity, Public Conveniences, Multipurpose Hall, Nature Trails, Trekking Routes etc. In addition to the above project, the Ministry has sanctioned another project in Nagaland "Development of Tribal circuit: Mokokchung–Tuensang-Mon" for Rs.99.67 crore. The implementation of the project is in progress.
53. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the India's longest rail-road bridge - Bogibeel Bridge on December 25, which is also marked as the Good Governance Day (GGD). The 4.94 km long bridge connects the north and south banks of the Brahmaputra & falls in the eastern part of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The bridge, which has been constructed by the Indian Railways, is 32m above the water level of the river and will provide connectivity to the northeast. Bogibeel is part of infrastructure projects planned by India to improve logistics along the border in Arunachal Pradesh. This includes the construction of a trans-Arunachal highway on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, and new road and rail links over the mighty river and its major tributaries such as the Dibang, Lohit, Subansiri and Kameng. India and China share a nearly 4,000 km border.
54. On December 5, India Water Impact Summit (IWIS-2018) has been inaugurated by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi. The discussions this year will be on the rejuvenation of the Ganga River Basin. Here, the spotlight will be on 5 states viz. Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi and Bihar, to showcase the efforts and works going on within the respective states. The 2018 Summit also introduced the inaugural Ganga Financing Forum (GFF) that will bring a number of institutions to a common knowledge, information and partnership platform. The 3-days summit is jointly organized by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and the Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies (cGanga). The Summit is an annual event where stakeholders will discuss and develop model solutions for some of the biggest water-related problems in the country. Nearly 200 domestic and international participants from nearly 15 countries are participating in the summit.
55. Ministry of Railways' National Rail Museum (NRM) has signed pact with Madame Tussauds Wax Museum (MTWM) to foster tourism in Delhi NCR. It is first time ever public-private museum collaboration that shall attract more tourists to both NRM and MTWM. As a part of the collaboration, a special discount of 35% on ticket prices will be offered to NRM visitors when they visit Madame Tussauds Museum. Similarly, MTWM visitors will be getting an attractive discount of 30% on combo packages of NRM. In addition, there will be a special provision for school groups. School children will be able to enjoy both museums at a 45% discount. This will help in promoting railway heritage and also enable children to learn about national heroes, thereby making the student excursion more inclusive, holistic and interesting. MTWM is the 23rd Wax museum of Madame Tussauds in Connaught Place (CP), New Delhi. This is the first wax museum in India of this renowned brand.
56. On December 4, ISRO's heaviest and most advanced high throughput communication satellite 'GSAT-11' was successfully launched by an European Ariane-5 vehicle (Flight VA246) rocket from Guiana Space Centre at Kourou in French Guiana. Initially, the satellite is placed in the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) and will be raised to the Geostationary Orbit (36,000 km above the equator) through phase-wise orbit-raising manoeuvres in the days ahead, using its on-board propulsion systems. GSAT-11 will be positioned at 74-degree east longitude in the geostationary orbit.The mission of the 5,854-kg giant 'bird' is to provide high data rate connectivity to users of Indian mainland and islands through 32 user beams in Ku-band and 8 hub beams in Ka-band. It will boost the broadband connectivity to rural and inaccessible Gram Panchayats under BharatNet Project which is part of the Digital India initiative. The satellite is capable of providing high bandwidth connectivity with speeds of up to 16 gigabytes per second. GSAT-11' s co-passenger is South Korea's GEO-KOMPSAT-2A, a meteorology satellite.
57. Asian Games gold medalist Swapna Barman has become the brand ambassador for State Bank of India (SBI)'s unified integrated app 'YONO (You Only Need One)'. Through YONO, users are capable to access a variety of financial and other services such as taxi bookings, online shopping, or medical bill payments. It is the first digital banking platform that offers customised products and offers from over 60 e-commerce players. This is also the first to offer online purchase and view of insurance policies without redirecting customers to the respective service providers. It can be accessed through mobile phones and on the web. Hails from West Bengal, Barman clinched gold in the women's heptathlon with 6026 points at the 18th Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta. With this, she created history by becoming the first Indian heptathlete to win an Asian Games gold.
58. The book titled 'Blue Waters Ahoy!' has been authored by Vice Admiral Anup Singh, who retired as the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Eastern Naval Command in 2011. The book, which chronicles the Indian Navy's History from 2001-10, has recently released by Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff. This is, in fact, the 6th volume of the Navy's history; the first five having covered the period from 1945 to 2000. This unique undertaking by the Indian Navy can be traced back to 1968, when the Service established a History Cell. The idea was collation and subsequent analysis of historical data relevant to the evolution of the Navy. Generally, each such volume has covered the period of a decade, and it has been a tradition to release it on the occasion of Navy Day (4th December).
59. Noted agriculturalist Nel Jayaraman (54), who pioneered the protection and propagation of indigenous paddy varieties in Tamil Nadu, passed away in Chennai on December 6, 2018. Hailing from Thiruthuraipoondi, in the heart of Tamil Nadu's delta rice bowl, Jayaraman has been credited with documenting and protecting more than 170 paddy varieties.His diligent work in the field of protecting the gene prototypes of indigenous paddy varieties won him the National Award in 2015 and a state award in 2011.
60. Odisha's Kandhamal Haldi (turmeric variety), famous for its healing properties, will soon gets Geographical Indications (GI) tag. Its registration was applied by Kandhamal Apex Spices Association for Marketing (KASAM) and was accepted under sub-section (1) of Section 13 of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. A GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.The golden yellow spice is named after the district where it is produced, has been cultivated since time immemorial and is known for its medicinal value. It is the main cash crop of tribal people in Kandhamal. More than 60,000 families (nearly 50% of Kandhamal population) are engaged in growing the variety. Apart from domestic use, turmeric is also used for cosmetic and medicinal purposes.
61. The Indian Coast Guard has conducted the Regional Level Marine Oil Pollution Response Exercise titled 'Clean Sea - 2018' at sea off Port Blair on December 6. Coast Guard ships Viswasth, Vijith, Rajveer, Rajshri, 4 interceptor boats and its air assets Dornier and Chetak helicopters participated in the exercise.The preparedness of all agencies during the exercise was conducted under observation of Inspector General Maneesh V Pathak, Commander Coast Guard Region (Andaman and Nicobar Islands) and was overseen by Chief Secretary of Andaman and Nicobar Administration Shri Chetan B Sanghi, who embarked onboard Coast Guard Ship Vijith.
62. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has launched National Challenge for Youths 'Ideate for India - creative solutions using technology' at New Delhi on December 6. The aim of this National Challenge is to give school students across the country a platform and opportunity to become solution creators for the problems they see around them and their communities. It is open to students of classes 6 - 12 all across the country - all 29 States and 7 Union Territories and aims to reach out to at least 1 million youth over the next 3 months. "Ideate for India" will help inculcate innovation skills in youth and equip all students to utilise technology for the betterment of their communities and the society at large. Simultaneously, this will prepare them to contribute towards the realization of Digital India goals. The challenge has been designed and launched by the National e-governance Division in collaboration with Intel India, with support from the Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSE&L) of Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD).
63. Kenyan distance runner Eliud Kipchoge, and Colombian long & triple jumper Caterine Ibarguen have been named male and female world athletes of the year at the IAAF Athletics Awards 2018. The pair were honoured by the IAAF at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.
64. Preeti Saran, a former senior Indian diplomat, has been elected unopposed to an Asia Pacific seat on the UN's Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) for a four-year term beginning on the 1st of January 2019. Members of the CESCR serve in their personal capacities as experts and do not represent their countries even though they may have been nominated by their own nation. All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially within two years of accepting the Covenant and thereafter every five years. The committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of concluding observations. The panel meets in Geneva and holds two sessions per year. The other Asian member is Shiqiu Chen of China, whose term ends in 2022.
65. In a bid to transform rural Maharashtra, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has launched a unique initiative called "SMART", which stands for State of Maharashtra's Agribusiness and Rural Transformation. This World Bank assisted project aims to revamp agricultural value chains, with special focus on marginal farmers across 1,000 villages. The initiative will support post-harvest value chain and bring efficiency to benefit economy at large. Stimulating small and medium enterprises within the value chain, the project seeks to establish partnership between the various stakeholders in the agri-business segments including farmer organisations, start-ups, SMEs and large corporates along with women's self-help groups. The project will entail an investment of $300 million of which World Bank would contribute $210 million. Almost 50 MoUs, involving top corporate houses like Amazon and Tata were signed on the occasion.
66. According to the study by the Global Carbon Project, India is the fourth highest emitter of CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the world, accounting for 7% of global emissions in 2017. India's emissions look set to continue their strong growth by an average of 6.3% in 2018, with growth across all fuels -- coal (7.1%), oil (2.9%) and gas (6%). The world's top 10 Co2 emitters were China, the US, the EU, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, Iran, Saudi Arabia and South Korea. The study said that while China and India still rely heavily on coal, the US and the EU are slowly decarbonising. It further said that India can continue to deploy solar farms, leveraging its leadership of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to displace coal and clean up its smog-choked cities. The study was recently released on the occasion of the 2018 UN Climate Summit (COP24) in Katowice, Poland. It warned that global emissions of Co2 from fossil fuels and industry are projected to rise for the second consecutive year in 2018 by more than two percent to a new record mainly due to sustained growth in oil and gas use.
67. The World Soil Day (WSD) is observed every year on December 5 to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and advocating for the sustainable management of soil resources. The 2018 theme is 'Be the Solution to Soil Pollution'. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Soil holds 3 times as much carbon as the atmosphere and can help meet the challenges of a changing climate. It further stated that 815 million people are food insecure and 2 billion people are nutritionally insecure, but it can be mitigated through soil. 95% of food comes from soil and 33% of the global soils are already degraded. In wake of this cause, the Government of India (GoI) has launched nationwide Soil Health Card Scheme (SHCS) to take care of Soil Health for the first time in a uniform manner to evaluate the soil fertility across the country. Soil health card provides information to the farmers on fertility status of their soil and enables them to apply soil health card based recommended dosages of fertilizers including micro-nutrients, bio-fertilizers, manures as well as soil ameliorants. It is helpful in checking the declining fertility of agriculture land and improve the fertility of soils to increase productivity besides enhancing farmers income.
68. Dr Krishnamurthy Subramanian has been appointed the new Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) for a period of three years. The post of CEA had been lying vacant since Arvind Subramanaian left the finance ministry after a four-year stint. Dr Krishnamurthy is currently working as an Associate Professor and the executive director at the Indian School of Business (IBS), Hyderabad. The CEA is the ex-officio cadre controlling authority of the Indian Economic Service (IES) & is under the direct charge of the Minister of Finance.
69. Maulana Asrar-ul-Haque Qasmi (76), noted Islamic scholar and Congress Lok Sabha MP from Bihar's Kishanganj constituency, has passed away on December 7, 2018. Qasmi won the Kishanganj seat in 2009 general elections by contesting on an Indian National Congress ticket after five consecutive failures. He retained his constituency in the 2014 general elections by defeating BJP's Dilip Kumar Jaiswal. He was a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and also a founder member of the All India Milli Council.
70. Mushtaq Ahmad Tantray, a prominent Kashmiri short-story writer and eminent broadcaster, bagged 2018 Sahitya Academy Award for his collection of short stories "AAKH''. Mr Tantray is presently posted as Head of the Regional News Unit at Radio Kashmir Srinagar. "AAKH", a collection of eighteen short stories, published in 2012 had earlier bagged the best book award in Kashmiri at the state level from State Academy of Art, Culture and Languages for the year 2014.
71. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has approved India's proposal to observe 2023 as the International Year of Millets. This decision was taken at the 160th session of FAO Council, currently underway in Rome. The move will enhance global awareness to bring back these nutri-cereals to the plate. In addition, the FAO Council has also approved India's membership to the Executive Board of the United Nations World Food Program for 2020 and 2021. Millets consists of Jowar, Bajra, Ragi and minor millets together termed as nutri-cereals.
72. On December 8, the Japanese government enacted a new law to bring more blue-collar foreign workers into the country, in a controversial move to address chronic labour shortages. Under the new law, Japan plans to bring in 345,000 foreign workers in construction, food services, nursing and other sectors for 5 years. The law will take effect in April 2019 and create two new visa categories. The first status allows foreign nationals with skills in sectors facing severe shortages to obtain five-year visas, which will not allow them to bring their families. The second status allows foreign workers in those fields who hold stronger qualifications and pass a more difficult Japanese language test will be able to obtain a visa that can be extended indefinitely, eventually leading to residency, and will be able to bring over family.
73. Luxembourg is set to become the first country in the world to make all its public transport free by 2019. The move is aimed at addressing environmental issues and the problem of traffic congestion. Apart from providing free public transport, Luxembourg also intends to legalise cannabis and introduce two new public holidays. Earlier, Luxembourg introduced free transport for all people under the age of 20.
74. The International Volunteer Day (IVD) is observed every year by The United Nations (UN) on December 5 to recognize the volunteers worldwide and their efforts in making peace and sustainable development a reality. It offers an opportunity for volunteer involving organizations and individual volunteers to promote volunteerism, encourage governments to support volunteer efforts and recognize volunteer contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local, national and international levels. The 2018 theme "Volunteers build Resilient Communities" focuses on how volunteers can build resilient communities. The IVD 2018 celebrates volunteer efforts that strengthen local ownership and the resilience of the community in the face of natural disasters, economic stresses and political shocks.
75. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), the nodal Ministry of the Government of India (GoI), has been conferred the Skoch Award for National Significance at an event held recently in New Delhi. The award was received by Secretary of MNRE, Anand Kumar. The award has been conferred on the Ministry considering its purpose and critical role played in installing about 73 GW renewable energy capacity in the country. With 21% of total installed capacity, within the year renewable energy grossed a magic figure of providing one billion units of electricity in the country. Today, India ranked 4th in the world in wind energy capacity and 5th in solar & total renewable energy capacity installed in the world. India has played a critical role in setting up of international solar alliance. Further, India moved a resolution during the first meeting for making it a global initiative.
76. On December 07, the Annual Startup India Venture Capital Summit 2018 has been organised by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in collaboration with the Government of Goa with theme 'Mobilizing Global Capital for Innovation in India' in Goa. The focus of the Summit was on the huge return-generating potential of India's vast and diverse market monetized through cutting-edge technologies and supported by investor-friendly regulations. The event showcased the Indian startup opportunity for funds from around the world. Over 150 participants attended the event. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a sister organisation of the World Bank Group, and the Indian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (IVCA) were partners for this initiative.
77. Kolkata-Patna has become the India's second container cargo sector on Inland Waterways. The Inland Waterways Authority of India's (IWAI) vessel 'MV RN Tagore' will be the first cargo vessel to reach Patna's Gaighat IWT terminal on river Ganga (National Waterway-1). On December 6, the vessel sailed from Kolkata's Garden Reach Jetty with the PepsiCo and Emami Agrotech products. It will reach the IWT terminal at Patna in 6-7 days after an 815 kms long voyage on river Ganga (National Waterway-1). The cargo will be unloaded at IWAI's inter-modal terminal at Gaighat in Patna from where onward cargo will be loaded. Earlier, on 12th November 2018, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had received the India's first IWT containerised cargo that reached Varanasi from Kolkata. The Ministry of Shipping is developing NW-1 (River Ganga) under Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) from Haldia to Varanasi (1390 Km) with the technical and financial assistance of the World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs 5369 crore. The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1500-2,000 DWT.
78. Government think tank Niti Aayog has partnered with Perlin – a Singapore-based AI start up - to launch the 'AI 4 All Global Hackathon' for developing solutions aimed at creating social and economic impact in the country. The purpose of this hackathon is to promote awareness and subsequently develop solutions that deliver the twin benefit of efficient computing to address the infrastructure challenges. The hackathon will be run in two stages with stage one ending on January 15, 2019 and stage two, which will only include shortlisted participants from the previous stage, will conclude on March 15, 2019. The first stage will invite ideas for use cases of multi-party computation in areas such as Healthcare, Education, Agriculture, Urbanization, Financial Inclusion. The second stage will call for these ideas to be matured and developed, with a focus on privacy preserving AI and distributed computing. Over 2,000 submissions were received of which Top 10 teams were awarded at the summit.
79. Under PRASAD Scheme, the Government of India (GoI) has recently included Gangotri and Yamunotri in Uttrarakhand, Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh and Parasnath in Jharkhand to develop pilgrimage and heritage destinations in the country. With the new additions, the number of sites under the scheme has now become 41 in 25 states. The acronym 'PRASAD' stands for 'Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive'. It was launched by Ministry of Tourism in 2014-15. The scheme aimed at infrastructure development such as entry points (road, rail and water transport), last mile connectivity, basic tourism facilities like Information/ Interpretation Centers, ATM/ money exchange, eco-friendly modes of transport, lighting and illumination with renewable sources of energy, parking, drinking water, toilets, cloak room, waiting rooms, first aid centers, craft bazars /haats/ souvenir shops/ cafeteria, rain shelters, telecom facilities, internet connectivity etc.
80. The Delhi government has recently launched the 'Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojana' for senior citizens -- which offers free travel packages on five religious circuits for senior citizens from the national capital. The scheme will enable 1,100 senior citizens from each Assembly constituency of Delhi per year to undertake free pilgrimage, the expenses for which will be borne by the Delhi government. Under the scheme, any resident of Delhi above 60 years of age will be eligible for the scheme and those above 70 years can have one attendant. The scheme does not have any income criterion, but preference will be given to those who are from the economically weaker section. It will be given out on first-come-first-served basis. The pilgrimage duration will be of three days and two nights and will be for any of the following routes: Delhi-MathuraVrindavan-Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Delhi; Delhi-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Neelkanth-Delhi; Delhi-Ajmer-Pushkar-Delhi; Delhi-Amritsar-Wagah border-Anandpur Sahib-Delhi; or Delhi-Vaishno Devi-Jammu-Delhi.
81. Prof. Rattan Lal , a distinguished university professor of soil science at the Ohio State University, has won the 'Glinka World Soil Prize 2018' in a ceremony at the headquarters of UN FAO in Rome for his remarkable contribution to sustainable soil management. The Glinka World Soil Prize, named after the pioneering Russian scientist Konstantin D. Glinka, is considered the highest honour in the soil science profession. Lal was born in Gujranwala in West Punjab, Pakistan, and his family came to India as refugees in 1948. He studied in India and later came to the US to work on his doctorate in soils, which he completed in 1968. He has been listed among the World's Most Influential Scientific Minds (2012) and among the top one per cent of all researchers in agriculture.
82. On October 8, Rookie Madhya Pradesh opener Ajay Rohera has created world record for highest first-class score on debut. He scored 267 not out against Hyderabad in their Ranji Trophy Elite Group-B Cricket in Indore. The record was earlier held by former Mumbai stalwart Amol Muzumdar, who had hit 260 versus Haryana at Faridabad in 1994. Beside this, Rohera also became the highest individual scorer for Madhya Pradesh surpassing JP Yadav's 265.
83. Kerala has become the first state in India to have four international airports with the inauguration of the Kannur airport on December 9, 2018. The Kannur airport is spread across over 2,000 acres and can handle around 2,000 passengers at a time. The runway is currently 3,050m long and will be extended to 4,000m. The airport, built on a publicprivate partnership (PPP) mode, may also increase the inter-trade in sectors such as spices and handloom. Mural paintings depicting the heritage of Malabar and Indian dance forms, including Theyyam of north Kerala, Kathakali and Yakshagana, the traditional theatre art form of Karnataka, are among the art works that vie for attention at the airport. The three other international airports are at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode.
84. Prathamesh Maulingkar from India has created history by becoming the first Asian/Indian to win 2018 Mister Supranational title in a competition held in in KrynicaZdroj, Poland. He defeated 37 contestants from all over the world in the final round to win the coveted title. At the same pageant, Mister Supranational Poland was adjudged first runner-up, Mister Supranational Brazil was adjudged second runner-up and Mister Supranational Thailand was announced as the third runner-up.
85. The Submarine Day is celebrated every year by the Indian Navy on December 8 to commemorate the induction of the first submarine, the erstwhile INS Kalvari, into the Indian Navy on this day in 1967. The Foxtrot class submarine was decommissioned on the 31st May, 1996, after 29 years of service.
86. On December 7, China has launched its first-ever space mission 'Chang'e-4' to land a robotic craft on the far side of the Moon. It was launched on a Long March 3B rocket from the southwestern Xichang launch centre, which will explore the Von Karman crater. The mission, which consists of a stationary lander and a rover, will perform a variety of science work and plant a flag for humanity in a region that remains largely unexplored to date. No lander or rover has ever touched the surface there, hence positioning China as the first nation to explore the terrain. The mission will pave the way for the country to deliver samples of Moon rock and soil to Earth. The moon's far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown. If successful, the mission would propel the Chinese space program to a leading position in one of the most important areas of lunar exploration. The name "Chang'e" comes from the Chinese goddess of the moon, and the "4" indicates that this is the 4th robotic mission in China's decade-long lunar exploration program.
87. IIT Kharagpur has won the DSCI Excellence Award 2018 for cyber security education by Data Security Council of India (DSCI), an industry body on data protection set up up by NASSCOM. The institute was awarded for its focused curricula and research work in cryptography, hardware security, cyber security, Internet of Things (IoT) security, and network security. A number of research ventures led by Professor Debdeep Mukhopadhyay at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at IIT Kharagpur were primarily considered for this award. Some of the ventures include the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)-funded projects on developing lightweight protocols for authenticating IoT nodes, IC reverse engineering and trojan detection and the DST-funded 'Swarnajayanti' project on secure authentication protocols for smart grids.
88. On December 7, the 2nd edition of Military Literature Festival (MLF) 2018 was held in Chandigarh with an aim to offer an opportunity for the younger generation to get acquainted with India's glorious military heritage. It also brought a host of cultural activities, food cuisines and competitions to the public. Besides, marshal dances, weapons display, medallion gallery, artists' corner, cultural activities and exhibitions, food and cuisine, book fair, children's Saragarhi Samvadh are amongst other activities to reverberate the minds of participants and visitors with tales of India's soldiers during the three-day event. The fest was also dedicated to the valour of over 74,000 Indians who had laid down their lives in World War I. This year also marks the centenary of the Great War of 1914-1918. The fest was a joint initiative of military historian and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore.
89. On December 8, Shubhankar Sharma has become the fifth and the youngest Indian golfer to clinch the Asian Tour Order of Merit after a groundbreaking year of achievements. With this achievement, He joined the exclusive club of Indians who have achieved the feat in the past - Jyoti Randhawa (2002), Arjun Atwal (2003), Jeev Milkha Singh (2006 and 2008) and Anirban Lahiri (2015).
90. Dr. Rajanish Giri, an assistant professor at IIT Mandi, has been awarded the DBT Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award (IYBA) 2018. Dr. Giri is selected for his proposed innovative idea on Zika virus Capsid Folding and inhibitor discovery. Additionally, he has proven expertise on understanding and solving the fundamental problems of protein folding in various structured and Intrinsically Disordered Proteins. He was selected by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) of Ministry of Science and Technology. Additionally, under the supervision of Dr. Giri, a PhD Scholar 'Nitin Sharma from IIT Mandi' received 'Newton Bhabha Doctoral Placement Grant.
91. The Union Cabinet has recently raised the government's contribution to National Pension Scheme (NPS) to 14% of basic salary from the current 10%. However, minimum employee contribution will remain at 10%. The Cabinet also allowed government employees to commute 60% of the fund accumulated at the time of retirement, up from 40% at present. Also, employees will have the option to invest in either fixed income instruments or equities. As per the Cabinet decision, if the employee decides not to commute any portion of the accumulated fund in NPS at the time of retirement and transfers 100% to annuity scheme, then his pension would be more than 50% of his last drawn pay. The following changes will come into effect from the beginning of a financing year, meaning April 1, 2019.
92. After the approval of the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court, a pilot project for e-payments service will be started at the Pune District Court complex in Shivajinagar on December 15 to bring transparency to cash transactions. The facility will be available into the nazar (clerical) offices in the court, and civil lawyers & litigants can pay court fees, various fines, penalties, judicial deposits, rent, maintenance, etc. The epayment facility will be available on 'pay.ecourt.gov.in/epay' and will help end the serpentine queues on court premises to pay cash. Hence, this will be the first time such a facility is being started anywhere in the country. There will be no extra charge for payments up to Rs 2,000, while the Pune district court administration is also working to facilitate payments above Rs 2,000 at nil or minimal cost through PoS or online services.
93. The AdventureNext India 2018, the first-of-its-kind in India & Asia, was hosted by Madhya Pradesh Tourism at the new International Convention Centre (Minto Hall) in Bhopal on December 3-5. The event was organized by United states based Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA). The theme of the 2-day event was 'Pulse of Tomorrow'. The international event was focused on adventure tourism by combining marketplace (chowk Bazar), meetings, networking opportunities, inspirational speakers and educational sessions together for national and international delegates. Over 200 delegates participated in the event.
94. The International Anti-Corruption Day is observed every year on December 9 to raise public awareness about corruption and how to fight it. The day is also observed in recognition of the United Nations Convention against corruption which was signed in Mexico in 2003.
95. Shi Yomi has become the 23rd district of Arunachal Pradesh, after it was formally inaugurated by Chief Minister Pema Khandu in presence of Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju. The district was carved out of the West Siang district with its headquarters at Tato. It has four administrative units namely Mechuka, Tato, Pidi and Manigong. Earlier, on 29th August 2018, the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly passed a bill for the creation of 3 new districts -- Pakke-Kesang, Lepa Rada and Shi Yomi. Soon, two other districts will be fromalyy inaugurated, which takes the total districts in the state to 25. The Pakke-Kessang district will be carved out of East Kameng district with five administrative units namely Pakke-Kessangn, Seijosa, Pijiriang, Passa Valley and Dissingn Passo with district headquarters at Lemmi. The other district Lepa Rada would be created by bifurcating the Lower Siang district with headquarters at Basar with four administrative units – Tirbin, Basar, Daring and Sago.
96. India is expected to retain its position as the world's top recipient of remittances with $80 million in 2018, as per latest World Bank's report 'Migration and Development Brief'. India is followed by China ($67 billion), Mexico and the Philippines ($34 billion each) and Egypt ($26 billion). The bank estimates that officially recorded remittances to developing countries will increase by 10.8% to reach US$528 billion in 2018, , against a 7.8% growth in 2017. The Global remittances, which include flows to high-income countries, are projected to grow by 10.3% to $689 billion. For 2019, it is projected that remittances growth for the region will slow to 4.3% due to a moderation of growth in advanced economies, lower migration to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the benefits from the oil price spurt dissipating.
97. As per WHO's Global Nutrition Report (GNR 2018) report for 2018, India is facing a major malnutrition crisis as it holds almost a third of the world's burden for stunting. With 46.6 million children who are stunted, India tops the list of countries followed by Nigeria and Pakistan. Stunting (or low height for age) is caused by long-term insufficient nutrient-intake and frequent infections. India also accounted for 25.5 million children who are wasted, followed by Nigeria and Indonesia. Wasting (or low weight for height) is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five. It is usually the result of acute significant food shortage and/or disease. As per report, globally 150.8 million children under five years are stunted and 50.5 million are wasted. India also figures among the set of countries that has more than a million overweight children.
98. On December 10, the Tamil Nadu government launched a 24-hour helpline '181' for women facing domestic violence and sexual harassment at home or workplaces. Through this initiative, they can contact the toll-free helpline to get assistance ranging from police help, legal aid or medical services including ambulance. The service will be available round-the-clock on all days of the week. • Apart from offering authorities aid to victims of domestic violence, the helpline would assist ladies in receiving information on welfare schemes aimed at their advantage. The helpline initiative has been made at a expense of Rs 62.70 lakh.
99. The Steel Authority of India (SAIL)'s Hockey Academy (SHA) has clinched the 115th All India Aga Khan Gold Cup hockey tournament 2018 by defeating the Army XI Danapur in the final by 2-1 at Major Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium in New Delhi. Aga Khan Gold Cup is one of the oldest hockey tournaments in the country.
100. The Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was held in Marrakech, Morocco on 10th and 11th of December, 2018. It is the first-ever UN global agreement on a common approach to international migration in all its dimensions. The global compact is non-legally binding. It is grounded in values of state sovereignty, responsibility-sharing, non-discrimination, and human rights, and recognizes that a cooperative approach is needed to optimize the overall benefits of migration, while addressing its risks and challenges for individuals and communities in countries of origin, transit and destination.
101. Shaktikanta Das, a retired 1980 batch IAS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre, has been appointed as the 25th Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for a period of 3 years. He succeeded the post after the sudden resignation of Urjit Patel as the RBI Governor on December 10, 2018. Prior to this appointment, he was the Member of the 15th Finance Commission and India's sherpa at the 2018 G20 Summit. During his career as an IAS officer, he served in various capacities for Indian and Tamil Nadu governments, including as Economic Affairs Secretary of India, Revenue Secretary of India, Fertilizers Secretary of India.
102. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has launched a Twitter account to spread awareness about cyber crimes and normal precautions to be taken. The Twitter handles - @CyberDost - is aimed at enhancing people's basic knowledge about cyber crimes and precautions to be taken for prevention.
103. Ace Indian pugilist MC Mary Kom has been honoured with the title "Meethoileima" (par excellent queen) by the Manipur Government at a function in Imphal on December 11, 2018. Recently, Mary Kom has won the historic sixth gold medal at the 2018 Women's World Boxing Championship in New Delhi. Now, she is the most successful boxer in the history of the championship and won the gold exactly 16 years after she had won it for the first time in 2002. She had won gold in 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010 editions of the Championship.
104. Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in October 2018 at his country's embassy in Istanbul, has been named Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for his work in journalism along with other journalists who faced politcal persecution for their work. Time Magazine referred to Khashoggi as a "Guardian of the Truth". The magazine has also honoured Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo -- currently imprisoned in Myanmar among others.
105. Rajiv Mehrishi, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, has been appointed as Vice-Chair of UN Panel of Auditors for the year 2019. The United Nations Panel of Auditors consists of External Auditors of the United Nations and its agencies. Presently, the panel consists of 11 countries -- India, Germany, Chile, Canada, France, Italy, Philippines, Ghana, Indonesia, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Currently, the panel is chaired by CAG of the UK. The panel held its annual meeting in New York from 3 to 4 December 2018 and discussed various issues concerning audit of United Nations and the agencies under the United Nations System.The panel also elected the CAG of the UK as Chair of the Panel for another term (2019). The next meeting of the panel will be held in in Bonn, Germany in November-December 2019.
106. The armies of India and China has started the 7th edition of joint military exercise 'Hand-in-Hand 2018' from Dec 11-23 at Chengdu in China. The purpose of the joint military drill is to improve the capabilities of the two armies in fighting terrorism and promote mutual understanding. Both sides have fielded 100 personnel to take part in the exercise that focusses on tactical level operations in an International Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorist environment as per UN mandate. The drills are being held after a gap of one year as they could not be held in 2017 because both armies were locked in a 73-day standoff at Doklam in the Sikkim sector.
107. Arundhati Bhattacharya, former chairman of State Bank of India (SBI) has been appointed as SWIFT India Chairman. She will succeed former banker M V Nair. SWIFT India is a joint venture of top Indian public and private sector banks and SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication).
108. Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Radha Mohan Singh launched an online portal 'ENSURE' - National Livestock Mission-EDEG developed by NABARD. The portal will be operated under the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries. Under the Mission's component called Entrepreneurship Development and Employment Generation (EDEG), subsidy payment for activities related to poultry, small ruminants, pigs etc. through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) goes directly to the beneficiary's account. The aim of the ENSURE is to connect with Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) and provide simple, useful and transparent system to the beneficiary. Under the new process, controlling officer/branch manager of the bank, after scrutinizing & sanctioning of proposal, uploads the subsidy claims in the portal. The subsidy will be approved within 30 days from the date of sanction of loan.
109. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has successfully conducted its first-of-its-kind exercise code-named CROSS BOW-18 from the Air Force Station at Suryalanka in Andhra Pradesh on 05th, 07th & 08th Dec 2018, both by day & night in an integrated networked environment. It's a combined guided weapons firing of Surface-to-Air Missiles, which saw the successful firing of four different classes of missiles like Akash, Spyder, OSA-AK-M and IGLA. The exercise helps improve the combat skills of the missile squadron crew and also strengthen the country's air defence preparedness.
110. DMK MP Kanimozhi has been selected for the Best Woman Parliamentarian (Rajya Sabha) set up by Lokmat newspaper for 2018. A jury of eminent personalities headed by Murali Manohar Joshi selected her for the award and it will be presented to her by Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu on December 13.
111. The 4th Partners' Forum 2018 has been inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on December 12 to discuss issues related to maternal and child health. The 2-day forum was organised by the Union Ministry of Health in association with the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH). About 1500 participants from across 85 countries participated in the international conference. The mission of PMNCH is to support the global health community to work successfully towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Partners' Forum is a global health partnership launched in September 2005 to accelerate efforts to reduce child and maternal mortality, improve adolescent, child, newborn and maternal health. The previous chapters were held in Johannesburg, South Africa (2014), New Delhi, India (2010) and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (2007). This is the second time India is hosting the Partners' Forum.
112. As per Article-316 of the Constitution, the Chairman and other members of UPSC shall be appointed by the President. In case the office of the Chairman becomes vacant his duties shall be performed by one of the other members of the Commission as the President may appoint for the purpose. A member of a UPSC shall hold office for a term of six years from the date on which he enters upon his office or until he attains the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier. Recently, Bharat Bhushan Vyas took the Oath of Office and Secrecy as Member of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). He will have a term of nearly three years, when he attains the age of 65. Prior to this post, he was serving as Adviser to the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).
113. The International Mountain Day (IMD) is observed every year on December 11 to celebrate and bring awareness to the world's mountain environments and the people and cultures that inhabit them. It is an opportunity to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world. The purpose of the 2018 theme "#Mountains Matter" is to create a large social movement that can bring mountain issues on the tables of politicians.
114. Sascha Bajin, coach of the World No.5 five Naomi Osaka, has become the first-ever recepient of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Coach of the Year award. Bajin was behind the Osaka's victory in the US Open 2018. She lifted the women's singles title of US Open 2018 by defeating Serena Williams of US in straight sets 6-2, 6-4. Now, Osaka became the first Japanese woman to contest a Grand Slam singles final and the first Japanese Grand Slam singles champion. The WTA Coach of the Year Award is given to the coach with not only success on-court, but also who serves as an ambassador of the sport and brings coaching to the forefront of the game.
115. India has been ranked 11th out 56 nations & the European Union (EU) at the 2019 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), which was published by Germanwatch, the NewClimate Institute and the Climate Action Network. The CCPI analysis shows that India has improved its standing by 3 places compared to the 2018 report. However, the report has warned that coal projects threaten India's progress on clean energy. The top three ranks have not been acquired by any country because none does well in all categories assessed. But, Sweden has acquired 4th spot, while Morocco spotted at 5th place. The 2019 CCPI was released on the sidelines of 24th Conference of the Parties (COP 24) UN climate summit on global warming in Katowice, Poland. The CCPI is an instrument designed to enhance transparency in international climate politics. Its aim is to put political and social pressure on those countries, which have, up until now, failed to take ambitious action on climate protection. It also aims to highlight those countries with best practice climate policies.
116. Manika Batra has become the first-ever Indian athlete to be decorated with the Breakthrough Table Tennis Star award at the prestigious 2018 ITTF Star Awards in Incheon, South Korea on December 12. Batra won four medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and a bronze at the 2018 Asian Games.
117. Prof. Mushirul Hasan (69), a renowned historian & former vice-chancellor Jamia Millia of Islamia, has passed away in New Delhi on December 10, 2018. He wrote extensively on the partition of India, communalism, and on the history of Islam in South Asia. He has also served as the DG of the National Archives of India (NAI) and President of the Indian History Congress (IHC). Some of his notable works are as follows: India Partition: The Other Face of Freedom, When Stone Walls Cry, Partners in Freedom: Jamia Millia Islamia (co-authored with Rakshanda Jalil) and From Pluralism to Separatism: Qasbas in Colonial India.
118. In Madhya Pradesh, the Pratibha Parva, a programme to nurture talent in school children is being organized in all primary and secondary schools from December 13, 2018. It is an important programme of the School Education Department to improve the quality of elementary education. Around 70 lakh students of more than one lakh government schools will take part in this congregation of children. The aim of this 3- day programme is to assess the skill of students in quality education and strengthening the corrective academic efforts.
119. The International Human Rights Day (IHRD) is observed every year on December 10 to commemorate the day when the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris in 1948. The 2018 theme is 'Stand up for the human rights'. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the document which declared inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being -- regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
120. Israel has recently become a full member of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global financial watchdog on money laundering, terror financing and other threats to the international financial system. The FATF is empowered to ensure that financing of UN-designated terrorist organisations is blocked. It has the power to publicly name countries not abiding by its norms, making it difficult for such countries to source financial flows internationally. Now, FATF has 38 members, including all five permanent members of the Security Council, and countries with economic influence.
121. In a landmark ruling, the Delhi High Court has ordered a ban on the sale of medicines online by e-pharmacists across India and has directed the Delhi government and the Centre to put the order into effect immediately. The order was passed by a division bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao on a petition filed by Dr. Zaheer Ahmed, who sought a ban on "illegal" sale of drugs and medicines online. The PIL expressed concern over the unregulated sales of medicines on the internet. The PIL further stated that the government has failed in its responsibility to protect public health and fulfill its obligation under Article 21 of the constitution by allowing unchecked online sales. It also highlighted that the online sale of medicines is not permitted under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Pharmacy Act, 1948. In 2015, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) clearly instructed state authorities to curb sales of medicines online in order to protect public health, but the practice continued. In some cases, medicines were sold without prescriptions.
122. India has recently signed an ascension pact to the 30-member Trans Regional Maritime Network (T-RMN) at Italian Naval Headquarters in Rome, Italy. The pact will give India the access to information on ships which pass through the Indian Ocean region that will greatly help the security forces in keeping a tab on any suspicious activity. The multilat (sic) construct comprises 30 countries & is steered by Italy. The IOR is India's backyard and first respondent to any crisis situation. India already has bilateral White Shipping Agreements with 36 countries.
123. As per latest Swedish think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPTI) annual report, Russia has emerged as the world's second-largest arms producer after the United States. Russia surpassed Britain, which had held that spot since 2002 and remains Western Europe's No. 1 arms maker. According to the report on the world's 100 biggest armaments groups, the combined arms sales of Russian companies amounted to $37.7 billion in 2017, or 9.5% of a total $398.2 billion, recording 8.5% year-on-year growth. The report includes both domestic and foreign sales around the globe, but doesn't include Chinese companies because of unreliable statistics.
124. The Uttar Pradesh-based start up 'Help Us Green' has been honoured by UN Climate Action Award at a special ceremony at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 24) in Katowice, Poland for recycling temple waste to spread fragrance. As per UN document, Help Us Green has come up with the world's first profitable solution to the monumental temple waste problem: flowercycling. It gives marginalised women the chance to earn livelihoods and be respected in their communities through collecting temple ceremonial flowers tossed into the River Ganges and turning them into sustainable incense. The startup collects 8.4 tonnes of floral waste from temples in Uttar Pradesh on a daily basis. These sacred flowers are handcrafted into charcoal-free incense, organic vermicompost and biodegradable packaging material through its 'flowercycling' technology. Women collect floral-waste daily from temples. The waste is up-cycled to produce organic fertilisers, natural incense, and biodegradable packaging material.
125. On December 12, the Indian Navy inducted its first non-tethered Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) System at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai. The DSRV is used to rescue crew members from submarines stranded under water in the high seas. The DSRV can be operated at a depth of 650m & can hold around 15 people. With this, the Indian Navy joins a select league of navies with the sovereign capability in fly away configuration to search, locate and rescue crew from a disabled submarine. The Indian Navy currently operates submarines of the Sindhughosh, Shishumar, Kalvari Classes as well as nuclear powered submarines. The operating medium and the nature of operations undertaken by submarines expose them to high degree of inherent risk. In such an eventuality, traditional methods of search and rescue at sea are ineffective for a disabled submarine. Hence, this new method will overcome the above said risk.
126. On December 12, Japan picked the Chinese character "disaster" to define the year 2018, a year that saw deadly floods, strong earthquakes and heavy storms. The selection came after Japan was buffeted this year by torrential rains in the country's west and an large earthquake in Hokkaido, heightening public awareness of the importance of disaster prevention measures. Japan was also rocked by man-made calamities such as stolen cryptocurrencies and the uncovering of harassment by coaches in the athletic world. The competition is rum by every year by the Kyoto-based Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation since 1995. The Chinese characters (or Kanji) are used widely in Japanese as well as other alphabets. Earlier, "North" won in 2017 after North Korea's missile launches, and "gold" in 2016 after the Rio Olympics.
127. On 10th December 2018, the Kaiga Atomic Power Station (KAPS) has created a world record for the longest uninterrupted operation for 941 days. The Unit-1 of Kaiga Generating Station (KGS) at Kaiga, located the river Kali in Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka, has been generating electricity continuously since May 13, 2016. It is an indigenously-built PHWR run by domestic fuel (uranium). It began commercial operations on November 16, 2000, and has produced 500 cr. units of power so far. It evidences the excellence in design, construction, safety, quality and operation & maintenance practices of Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL). Earlier, the record of 940 days was held by Unit 2 of Heysham of the United Kingdom (UK).
128. On December 12, the European Parliament has approved the world's largest free trade deal between Japan and the European Union (EU). The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement will go into effect in February 2019. It will remove duties on almost all agricultural and industrial products as well as open up the service sector and procurement. It also moves to eliminate non-tariff barriers to trade. It includes standards of labor, safety, environment, consumer protection and, for the first time, a specific commitment to the Paris climate agreement. The EU-Japan agreement has been celebrated as a victory for Europe as a free trade champion in the face of U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionism and the U.K.'s decision to leave the EU. This agreement is projected to increase exports between the two economies by 34% for the EU and 29% for Japan, liberalizing up to 99% of bilateral trade.
129. Brijendra Pal Singh, who is the director-producer of the popular crime investigation series C.I.D., has been appointed as the new president of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Society and Chairman of Governing Council. He succeeded Anupam Kher, who had stepped down as the chairman in October 2018 citing "international commitments". As per provisions of FTII rules, Singh's tenure will be for the remaining period of block of three years starting from March 4 2017. Prior to being nominated as the new FTII chief, Singh was serving in the capacity of vice chairman of the FTII Governing Council.
130. The International Universal Health Coverage Day (UHCD) is observed every year on December 12 to mobilize diverse stakeholders to call for stronger, more equitable health systems to achieve universal health coverage, leaving no one behind. It is promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO). The day is also the anniversary of the first unanimous United Nations resolution calling for all nations to provide for their citizens affordable, quality health care. he theme for the 2018 UHC Day is- "Unite for Universal Health Coverage: Now is the Time for Collective Action".
131. Noted English author Amitav Ghosh has been honoured with 54th Jnanpith Award for 2018 for his outstanding contribution towards literature. The decision was taken in a meeting of Jnanpith Selection Board chaired by eminent novelist, scholar and Jnanpith laureate Pratibha Ray. Mr. Ghosh's novels include Shadow Lines, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, and the Ibis trilogy — Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke, and Flood of Fire — discussing the opium trade between India and China run by the East India Company. He is also recipient of the Padma Shri and Sahitya Akademi Award.
132. The Union government has constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to examine the specific recommendations of High Level Empowered Committee (HLEC) constituted to address the issue of stressed power projects and forward their comments for consideration by the Union Cabinet. The panel, headed by Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha, had submitted its report in November 2018. The other members of the GOM are Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal and Power Minister R K Singh.
133. On December 11, the world's first Floating Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP) - Akademik Lomonosov - has become operational at the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is constructed by the state nuclear power firm Rosatom. The FNPP has a capacity of 70MW and is equipped with two reactors of 35MW each. According to Rosatom, an FNPP's operational life span is 40 years, with the possibility of being extended up to 50 years. An FNPP is basically a mobile, low-capacity reactor unit operable in remote areas isolated from the main power distribution system, or in places hard to access by land. They are designed to maintain both uninterruptible power and plentiful desalinated water supply in remote areas.
134. The 39th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit 2018 was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In it, the Secretary-General Abdellatif al-Zayani read the closure declaration in which member countries underscored their loyalty to the organization. The declaration called on to form a route map to complete the integration between member states and ensure financial unity until 2025. GCC declaration also emphasized that it would continue to support fellow states, the Palestinian cause, and Yemen. Although the 39th summit was held in Riyadh upon a request from Oman, Oman will be the president for the next 12 months. The next summit is going to be held under the United Arab Emirates (UAE) presidency. The GCC, established in 1981 in Abu Dhabi, comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
135. The National Energy Conservation Day (NECD) is observed every year on 14th December by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), under Ministry of Power, with an aim to demonstrate India's achievements in energy efficiency and conservation, while working for its ambition of holistic development as part of the nation's overall effort towards climate change mitigation. The day is also meant to raise awareness about the importance of energy & its conservation.
136. On the occasion of 2018 National Energy Conservation Day (NECD), the Ministry of Power has launched the ECO Niwas Samhita 2018 - an Energy Conservation Building Code for Residential Buildings (ECBC-R) - to promote energy efficiency in home construction. It's purpose is to benefit the occupants and the environment by promoting energy efficiency in design and construction of homes, apartments and townships. The parameters listed in the Code have been developed based on large number of parameters using climate and energy related data. The Code is expected to assist large number of architects and builders who are involved in design and construction of new residential complexes in different parts of the country. Implementation of this Code will have potential for energy savings to the tune of 125 billion units of electricity per year by 2030, which is equivalent to about 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emission.
137. Pu Zoramthanga, the President of Mizo National Front (MNF), has been sworn-in as the new Chief Minister of Mizoram. He was administered the oath of office and secrecy in Mizo Language by Mizoram Governor K Rajasekharan during a ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Aizawl. This is his third stint as chief minister of the northeastern state, having led the MNF government in Mizoram in 1998 and 2003. Mr Tawnluia will be the deputy chief minister. The MNF came to power in Mizoram capturing 26 of the 40 seats in the state assembly in the recently-held polls.
138. The Nigerian military has lifted a ban on UNICEF operations in the ravaged northeast of the country. Earlier, the army had suspended the aid agency & accused it of training spies supporting Boko Haram jihadists. Boko Haram's Islamist insurgency has killed more than 27,000 people since it began in 2009 and has triggered a humanitarian crisis in the wider Lake Chad region, where the jihadists have stepped up attacks in recent month.
139. The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) recently launched an exercise 'Operation Oliva' along the serene sea waters of Gahirmatha marine sanctuary in Odisha to protect the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles during their mating season. The exercise is part of its annual mission to ensure the safe mid-sea sojourn of breeding Olive Ridley sea turtles.
140. The Punjab Legislative assembly has unanimously passed a resolution to seek 33% reservation for women in both Parliament and state assemblies. The resolution, which was moved by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, has urged the Union Government to enact the Women's Reservation Bill as fast as possible. The Bill would ensure greater equity and balanced representation for both men and women in the national electoral process and decision making. Once the bill got enacted, 181 seats in Lok Sabha will be reserved for women along with 1,370 assembly seats (out of a total of 4,109) in 28 state assemblies in the country.
141. Rio Olympics Silver medallist PV Sindhu became the first Indian to lift the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour Finals title at Guangzhou, China. In the summit clash, Sindhu defeated Japanese Nozomi Okuhara, in straight games, 21-19, 21-17 to claim the top honours of the season-ending event and her first title of the year. With the win, Sindhu also equalled her head-to-head record with Okuhara to 6-6.
142. The Vijay Diwas is commemorated every year on 16th of December to mark India's victory over Pakistan in 1971 during the war for the independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan. The end of war resulted in unilateral & unconditional surrender of Pakistani Army. On this day in 1971, the chief of the Pakistani forces, General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with 93,000 troops, surrendered to the allied forces consists of Indian Army and Mukti Bahini, led by Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora in Dhaka after their defeat in the Liberation War. The end of the war also resulted in subsequent secession of East Pakistan into Bangladesh. The anniversary of Vijay Divas is observed across India by paying tributes to the martyrs who laid down their lives for the nation.
143. In Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently inaugurated a 175 km long of sewerage network at Prayagraj, which will carry 7.8 Cr litres sewage water per day to existing STPs (Sewage Treatment Plants) at Salori, Kodra & Ponghat for treatment which earlier ended up in Ganga. He also laid the foundation stone for two projects in the trans-Ganga/Yamuna area under One City-One Operator scheme with a sanctioned budget of Rs 767.59 crore.The project is based on Hybrid Annuity based Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode that includes operations and maintenance of all the sewerage infrastructure for 15 years. These projects include intersection and diversion (I&D) of sewage network, seven sewage pumping stations and three STPs having a total capacity of 72 million litre per day (MLD). With these projects, there will be comprehensive sewerage coverage of Prayagraj, including areas on the other side of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers.
144. India's first private sector unit for manufacturing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) has recently opened at Adani Aerospace Park near Shamshabad in Hyderabad. The 50,000-sq ft state-of-the-art facility facility is built by the Adani Group and Israel-based Elbit Systems. It will start operations with the manufacturing of complete carbon composite aero-structures for the Hermes 900 UAV, followed by the Hermes 450 UAV, catering to the global markets, and will further be ramped-up for the assembly and integration of complete UAVs here. As of now, after manufacturing, the integration of the UAV units will be done in Israel.
145. The state of Jharkhand has been selected for 2018 Krishi Karman award for producing best quality rice in the year 2016-17 by the Union Ministry of Agriculture. The award to be given away in February 2019 will carry a cash prize of Rs 2 crore, a trophy and a commendation letter, which will be handed over to the State representative in the Agriculture Fair scheduled to be organised in Delhi in the month of February-March, 2019. As a gesture of appreciation to the farmers of the state for achieving the milestone, two progressive farmers, i.e. one male and one female, would also be given 'Agriculture Minister's Krishi Karman Award'.
146. Iranian film 'The Dark Room', directed by Rouhollah Hejazi, won the Suvarna Chakoram (Golden Crow Pheasant) award at the 23rd International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK-2018). The film won the award, comprising a purse of Rs 15 lakh, a sculpture and citation, for an intimate exploration of relationships within a family at a time of change, creating a complete cinematic experience, and for its sensitive treatment of delicate issues. Beside this, Malayalam Director Lijo Jose Pellissery has been awarded the 'Rajatha Chakoram' (The Silver Crow Pheasant), for the best director for his movie 'Ee.Ma.Yau'. The Rajatha Chakoram award for debut director was won by Anamika Haksar for her film 'Taking the Horse to Eat Jelabis'.
147. On December 2018, an Indian American film producer Ashok Amritraj has been honoured with the French Knight of the National Order of Merit for his contribution to the world of cinema and Indo-French film industry. He has been the producer of Hollywood films such as Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance with Nicholas Cage and 99 Homes starring Andrew Garfield. The Order of Merit is part of France's premier award - the Legion of Honor - and is awarded "to recognize eminent artists as well as people who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world".
148. The Nepal government has banned the use of Indian currency notes of Rs 2,000, Rs 500 and Rs 200 denominations in the country. The decision will adversely affect Nepalese labourers working in India as well as Indian tourists visiting the Himalayan nation. Currently, India is Nepal's largest trade partner and supplies the majority of its consumer goods. Indian currency is extensively used by Nepalese people and businesses for their savings and transactions. Hence, the Nepalese government has asked the people to refrain from keeping or carrying Indian bank notes higher than Rs. 100 denomination as it has not legalised them.
149. Catriona Elisa Gray from Philippines has been crowned at the 67th Miss Universe 2018 at a gala ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand on December 17. She was crowned by Miss Universe 2017 Demi Leigh Nel-Peters, who comes from South Africa. She is the fourth Filipina Miss Universe, after Gloria Diaz in 1969, Margie Moran in 1973 and Pia Wurtzbach in 2015. She beated contestants from 93 other countries to claim the prize. In it, Tamaryn Green from South Africa was named the first runner-up while Miss Venezuela Sthefany Gutierrez stood third.
150. In Hockey, Belgium has claimed their first ever World Cup title. They defeated Netherlands 3-2 in a dramatic shoot-out in the final of the 14th edition of Men's World Cup 2018 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha on December 16. Both the teams, goalless at full time, were at level 2-2 after five penalties. Belgium has won the trophy after 16 years. Earlier, the defending champions Australia secured a consolation bronze medal after mauling England 8-1.
151. The 37th Senior National Rowing Championship has started in the Army Rowing Node in Pune, Maharashtra on December 17. Around 500 rowers and coaches from various rowing associations acrossthe country will take part in the Championship which will run up to 22nd ofthis month. The Rowers for the World Championships-2019 will be selected from this event. The World Championship -2019 is the first qualifying Championship for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
152. Tulsi Giri (93), Nepal's two-time prime minister and senior politician, has passed away in Kathmandu, Nepal on December 18, 2018. Born in 1926 in Siraha district, Giri started his political career from Nepali Congress party. He later turned a die-hard supporter of Panchyat system after then King Mahendra Shah imposed the system. He served as the country's Prime Minister twice during the tenure of slain King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah in 1975 and 1977. Birendra, the eldest son of King Mahendra Shah, was the King of Nepal from 1972 until his death in the 2001 Nepalese royal massacre. After the country eliminated the Panchyat system and absolute monarchy through the 1990 People's Movement during the rule of King Birendra, Giri left the country and was living in Sri Lanka. He returned to Nepal in 2005 when then King Gyanendra Shah, who took over the reigns following the royal massacre, appointed him the vicechairman of the Cabinet (equivalent to the Prime Minister's post).
153. Indian-American Shree Saini has been crowned Miss India Worldwide 2018 at a pageant held in the Fords City of New Jersey. The event was organised by the New York-based India Festival Committee (IFC). Sakshi Sinha from Australia and Anusha Sareen from the United Kingdom were respectively declared first and second runnerups in the 27th annual global pageant for people of Indian origin.
154. Government think-tank NITI Aayog organised the 3rd edition of the Women Transforming India Awards 2018 in collaboration with United Nations, and launched the upgraded portal of the Women Entrepreneurship Platform on December 16. The awards were instituted to recognise and celebrate stories of exemplary women from across India. This year's theme is 'Women and Entrepreneurship' and 15 winners have been chosen through an extensive six-month long process to identify fascinating and inspiring stories of women entrepreneurs. The event will include panel discussions. The panellists include entrepreneurs, investors and experts such as Debjani Ghosh, Shivani Wazir Pasrich, Geeta Chandran, Radhika Ghai and Sania Mirza.
155. Ramphal Pawar, an IPS officer from the West Bengal cadre, has been appointed the new Director of National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB). The NCRB is responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC). It is headquartered in New Delhi and is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Apart from this, Intelligence Bureau (IB) Director Rajiv Jain and Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) Secretary Anil K Dhasmana, both of whose two-year terms were scheduled to end later this month, have been given six-month extensions. As per officials, the Central Government does not want to disturb the continuity in the IB and the R&AW and wanted a new government to take a decision on appointments on these key posts after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
156. India's first military flight using blended bio-jet fuel has been successfully flown by Indian Air Force (IAF) through an AN-32 transport aircraft in Chandigarh. Bio-jet fuel is made from Jatropha oil sourced from the Chattisgarh Biodiesel Development Authority and processed at the CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun. The project is a combined effort of IAF, DRDO, Directorate General Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DGAQA) and CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum. Now, IAF intends to fly the An-32 transport aircraft using biojet fuel on 26th January 2019 in the Republic Day flypast.
157. Pandit Arun Bhaduri (75), the renowned Hindustani classical singer, has passed away in Kolkata, West Bengal on December 17, 2018. He is considered to be one of the masters of Bengali songs and Bhajans. Bhaduri was an exponent on Kirana and Rampur Gharana. He has fused all these styles beautifully to create an inimitable style of his own. Some notable disciples of Him are Koushik Bhattacharjee, Kasturi Bandopadhyay, Tushar Dutta, Indrani Mukherjee and many more.
158. The International Migrants Day (IMD) is observed every year on 18th of December to protect the rights of migrant workers and members of their families. On this day, in 1990, The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution on the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. The 2018 theme "Migration with Dignity" recognizes that treating every migrant with dignity is one of the fundamental requirements we face before anything else we attempt on migration.
159. Madhavi Goradia Divan has been appointed as new Additional Solicitor General of India (ASGI) in Supreme Court (SC). With this, she became only the third woman to become an ASG in the Apex Court. Her appointment has been approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet(ACC) and she will hold office till June 30, 2020. Prior to her, Senior advocate Indira Jaising was the first woman to be appointed as the ASG, while the second one was Pinky Anand, who still holds the post.
160. The United Arab Emriates (UAE) government has officially declared 2019 as Year of Tolerance to strengthen the nation's role of encouraging stability and prosperity in the region. As per officials, the 'Year of Tolerance' would be an extension of the current 'Year of Zayed', which celebrates the values of the country's founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan. This year, the UAE announced it will be a global co-ordinator for cooperation within a new Global Tolerance Alliance to promote acceptance around the world. The Special Olympic World Games, to be held in Abu Dhabi from March 14-21 in 2019, are also expected to feature heavily in a year-long series of events promoting tolerance.
161. 'Period. End of Sentence', the short documentary film on the stigma surrounding women during menstruation in rural India, has been shortlisted at the 91st Oscar in the Documentary Short Subject category. The short film is directed by award-winning Iranian-American filmmaker Rayka Zehtabchi. It is executive produced by Guneet Monga and is co-produced by Monga's Sikhya Entertainment, which has backed films like 'The Lunchbox' & 'Masaan'. The 26-minute film follows the exploits of two girls from Hapur village in Uttar Pradesh as they struggle to fight the stigma against menstruation and install a pad vending machine in their village.
162. Uday Shankar, currently chairman of Star India and president of 21st Century Fox AsiaPacific (only Asia), has been elected as vice president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) for the year 2018-19 at the 91st AGM of the apex industry body. Shankar is the first Indian media and entertainment executive to assume the leadership position in a national industry chamber like FICCI. He has recently been appointed Chairman of Star and Disney India and President of Asia Pacific unit of The Walt Disney Company. The appointment is part of Disney's integration planning for its acquisition of 21st Century Fox and strategic alignment of its consolidated international business units.
163. Jammu and Kashmir has become the first State in India to bring in a law banning "sextortion", i.e. sexual exploitation of women by those in positions of authority or those in a fiduciary relationship or by a public servant. The State Administrative Council (SAC) led by Governor Satya Pal Malik has recently approved two bills - the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018 and the Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The latter bill seeks to amend the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), whereby specific offence under section 354 E is being inserted to provide for the offence of 'Sextortion'. The RPC is the criminal code applicable in the state of J&K. Sextortion is a corruption in a form where the government officials, judges, educators, law enforcement personnel force people for sexual favours in return of something which is under their authority to grant.
164. Industry body Nasscom has collaborated with the IIT-Madras for its FutureSkills Platform that is targeted at re-skilling/upskilling 4 million people from the IT-ITeS industry, students entering the workforce and employees of other industries/government on digital skills. The partnership will be directly with the Sector Skills Council (SSC), which is the education and skill development initiative of Nasscom. The SSC and IIT Madras will work towards building a skills academy and establish a program with extensive courses and training programmes to facilitate skill building in the institution.
165. An international team of astronomers has discovered the most-distant object ever spotted in our solar system. Its provisional designation is '2018 VG18' & nicknamed as "Farout" for its extremely distant location. The pinkish dwarf planet is more than 100 times farther from the sun than Earth is — and almost four times more distant than Pluto. Farout is about 120 astronomical units (AU), where 1 AU is defined as the distance between the Earth and the Sun. It is discovered by Scott S Sheppard from Carnegie Institution for Science, David Tholen from University of Hawaii, and Chad Trujillo from Northern Arizona University in the US. On 17th Deember 2018, Farour's discovery was announced by the International Astronomical Union (IAU)'s Minor Planet Center. The second-most-distant observed solar system object is Eris at about 96 AU & Pluto is currently at about 34 AU.
166. Actress Sonam Kapoor has been named People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India's Person of the Year for 2018 for her animal advocacy efforts. Sonam has been feted as she sings in praise of vegan eating and because she keeps animal skins out of her handbag line for her fashion brand Rheson, apart from taking other action for the welfare of animals. Past recipients of PETA India's Person of the Year Award include Anushka Sharma, Sunny Leone, Shashi Tharoor, Kapil Sharma, Hema Malini, R. Madhavan and Jacqueline Fernandez. The motto of PETA India is "Animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment or abuse in any other way".
167. The Department of Posts (DoP) has recently released the commemorative Postage Stamp on Rajkumar Shukla, who was associated with Champaran Satyagraha of 1917. In drawing the attention of Mahatma Gandhi to the plight of peasants suffering under an oppressive system established by European indigo planters in Champaran (Bihar), Rajkumar Shukla made a seminal contribution culminating in the launch of the Champaran Satyagraha in 1917 by Mahatma Gandhi ji. This struggle was a turning point in India's fight for independence. The DoP has been paying a tribute to eminent personalities who have made a significant contribution to public life especially freedom fighters. With this stamp, the Department has released 43 issues in the current calendar year.
168. The European Union (EU) has decided to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new cars and vans by 2030 despite industry concerns the targets are for now "totally unrealistic". The targets will require new cars sold in 2030 to emit 37.5% less Co2 on average compared to 2021 levels. Emissions from new vans will have to be 31% lower. Ambassadors from EU countries are expected to endorse the deal in Brussels on 19th December 2018 after the COP24 summit in Poland aimed at breathing new life into the 2015 Paris climate deal. The new law means by 2030 around a third of new cars will be electric or hydrogen-powered. Under the COP21 agreement in Paris, the EU pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions (like those of carbon dioxide and methane) by 40% of 1990 levels by 2030.
169. The Haryana Government has launched 'Shiksha Setu' app to ensure better connectivity with college students. It will provide students information on attendance, fee, online admission and scholarships of all government colleges of the state. The app will provide instant updates of important notices, circulars and other programmes to students and teachers, while allowing the former to pay their fee online. During admissions, the students would be able to check the status of seats or course in every college in the state and will also get access to information such as details of scholarships and eligibility conditions among others. Apart from this, the students will also get instant information on assignments and notifications.
170. India has been ranked 108th among 149 countries at the World Economic Forum (WEF) gender gap index for year 2018. As per report titled 'Measuring the Global Gender Gap', India ranked lower on all segments - economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival ranking, and political empowerment."It needs to make improvements across the board, from women's participation to getting more women into senior and professional roles. The global list was topped by Iceland having closed more than 85.8% of its overall gender gap. Iceland holds the top spot in the index for the 10th consecutive year. Nordic countries Norway (2nd, 83.5%), Sweden (3rd, 82.2%), and Finland (4th, 82.1%) dominated the top slots. The Gender gap was measured across four key pillars -- economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment, and health and survival.
171. Nageswara Rao, a 1986 batch officer of the Odisha cadre, has been appointed the additional Director of Central Bureau Investigation (CBI). Prior to this post, Rao was holding post of interim CBI Director after the government stepped in between Director CBI Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana fight on 24th October 2018. The Centre had sent both top two officers of the CBI - Verma and Asthana - on "compulsory leave" as the spat between them reached the Delhi High Court.
172. The 9th meeting of India-ROK Joint Commission (ROK/ South Korea) was held in New Delhi on December 18-19, 2018. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyungwha co-chaired the meeting with her Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj and reviewed the progress in multifaceted cooperation under the Special Strategic Partnership between the two countries. Both sides agreed to raise the quantum of the bilateral trade to US $50 billion by the year 2030.
173. On December 19, ISRO has successfully launched its military communication satellite GSAT 7A through launch vehicle 'GSLV-F11'into the orbit from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR) at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. Dubbed 'Angry Bird', GSAT 7A is designed to expand network capabilities to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in Ku-band over the Indian region. It will do this by connecting many of the ground radar stations, airbases and aircrafts operated by the IAF, and is also expected to boost some of their network-dependant warfare and drone capabilities. GSLV–F11 is ISRO's fourth generation launch vehicle with three stages. The four liquid strap-ons and a solid rocket motor at the core form the first stage. The second stage is equipped with a high thrust engine using liquid fuel. The Cryogenic Upper Stage forms the third and final stage of the vehicle. The 2,250 kg GSAT-7A is a geostationary satellite & has a mission life of 8 years.
174. Gujarat has emerged as the top performer among States and Union Territories (UT) in the first-ever ranking of the Start-up Ecosystem across the country. The ranking was released by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP). Gujarat, with 100 percentile, has performed better than all other states in all the 7 areas including start up policy, incubation support, seeding innovation and scaling innovation. Meanwhile, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha and Rajasthan, with a score of more than 85 percentile, have been adjudged the top performers. Other States, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana were identified as "leaders".
175. On December 20, Home Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the 2018 All-India annual conference of the State Directors General and Inspectors General of Police, which is started near the Statue of Unity located in Narmada district of Gujarat. Heads of all the three forces, Home Ministers of all the states and heads of all government security agencies including IB, CID, CBI and ATS are attending the three day conference. The top agenda of the conference will be militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, cross-border terrorism and attempts to radicalize youth.
176. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) has officially adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The document is the first-ever negotiated global framework on a common approach to international migration in all its dimensions. It is meant to address issues that concern the world's 258 million people on the move and countries of origin, transit and destination. The non-binding agreement was adopted by the General Assembly with 152 votes in favour in Marrakesh, Morocco on 10th December 2018. India voted in favour of the resolution while, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Poland, and US voted against it. The document reaffirms the foundational principles of global community, including national sovereignty and universal human rights. Though non-legally binding, the Compact is the outcome of a long negotiation process and provides a strong platform for cooperation on migration, drawing on best practices and international law.
177. The book "A Rural Manifesto – Realising India's Future through her Villages" has been authored by BJP MP Varun Gandhi. In it, he suggested solutions to address the concerns of rural India. The book seeks to open a national conversation on rural distress & highlighted the potential solutions in development policy with a focus on making the rural economy resilient. In this heartfelt and timely book, covering facets of the Indian rural economy, Feroze Varun Gandhi shines a bright light on the travails of the marginal farmer and asks searching questions on why the rural economy remains in doldrums, six decades after Independence.
178. The International Human Solidarity Day (IHSD) is observed every year on December 20 to raise public awareness of the importance of solidarity. This day aims to celebrate unity in diversity and remind people of the importance of solidarity in working towards eradicating poverty. It is a day to encourage debate on the ways to promote solidarity for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including poverty eradication.
179. To promote the artistic talent of the students, the National Balrang-2018 has started at the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalya (IGRMS) in Bhopal on 19th of December. The 3-day cultural festival is being organised by the School Education Department of Madhya Pradesh in collaboration with the IGRMS. Its purpose is to introduce children with various cultural diversities and traditional lifestyles so as to instill the spirit of social harmony, human values, and brotherhood. 'Balrang' is a unique programme that has been held in Bhopal since the past 23 years. As many as 520 students from various schools in 18 states and two union territories will present folk dances, songs and other cultural programmes.
180. Silao Khaja, the traditional delicacy of Nalanda district of Bihar, has recently got GI tag from the Geographical Indications Registry at Chennai. The Silao Khaja is known for its taste, crispness and multi-layered appearance which is attributed to local water and climate of Silao. The sweet consists of 12 to 16 very thin dough-sheets placed over one another. The light yellow colour sweet has wheat-flour, sugar, maida, ghee, cardamom and aniseeds as ingredients. The application for GI tag was filed by Silao Khaja Audyogik Swavalambi Sahakari Samiti Limited. According to the documents submitted to GI Registry by the applicant, the famous British archaeologist J D Beglar who visited Silao in 1872-73 describes the 'sweetmeat' and writes about the legend that the sweet dates back to King Vikramaditya. Another myth is that Lord Buddha was offered Silao Khaja when he passed through Silao in the course of his journey from Rajgir to Nalanda. Silao is located close to Buddhist sites.
181. In order to mark the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Patharughat, the Assam government has announced three schemes - Assam Farmers' Credit Subsidy Scheme (AFCSS), Assam Farmers' Interest Relief Scheme (AFIRS) and Assam Farmers' Incentive Scheme (AFIS) - for the welfare of farmers. On 28th January 1894, approx 140 peasants were killed in an unprovoked police firing while protesting against enhanced revenue. Hence, Patharighat is also known as Assam's Jallianwala Bagh. Under 'AFCSS', whatever amount of loan the farmers took from banks and whatever amount they repaid, 25% of the money will be reimbursed by the state government. Under 'AFIRS', currently 3% of the 7% interest against farm loan is paid by the Central government and the remaining 4% is required to be paid by farmers. The state government has decided to pay the remaining 4% loan to give relief to the farmers. Under 'AFIS', the state government will pay a one-time cash incentive up to Rs 10,000 for activating the inactive KCC accounts provided the farmers deposits the outstanding loan amounts.
182. Former India opener, W. V. Raman has been appointed the new coach of the Indian women's cricket team. The selection of Raman was based on recommendations of the ad-hoc committee comprising Kapil Dev, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy. His first assignment is the tour of New Zealand beginning on January 2019. Raman is a vastly-experienced coach having been in charge of Tamil Nadu and India Under-19 teams in the past. Raman has represented India in 11 Tests and 27 ODIs.
183. The book titled "Changing India" has been author by former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh & is recently released at an event in New Delhi. In the book, the Congress leader narrated his journey from an economist to a politician and shared anecdotes from his life.
184. The SDG India Index: Baseline Report 2018 has been released by the NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar, CEO Amitabh Kant and UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Yuri Afanasiev at NITI Aayog in New Delhi on December 21. The Index is intended to provide a holistic view on the social, economic and environmental status of the country and its States and UTs. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which came into being in September 2015, are in the Third year of global implementation. The SDGs are ambitious global aspirations on development that address key aspects of universal wellbeing, across different socio-economic, cultural, geographical divisions as well as the interconnectedness among the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development. NITI Aayog has the twin mandate to oversee the implementation of SDGs in the country and promote Competitive and Cooperative Federalism among States and Union Territories. In exercise of these roles, NITI Aayog has developed the SDG India Index and the First Baseline Report for 2018 with the support of Global Green Growth Institute and UN in India.
185. As per latest report of Reporters without Borders (RSF), Afghanistan is the most deadliest country for journalists in 2018, with 13 deaths, followed by Syria (11) and Yemen (8). India has emerged among the world's fifth-most deadliest place for journalists alongside a first-time entrant in the list – the United States. The report titled 'Worldwide Round-up of Journalists Killed, Detained, Held Hostage', highlighted that the risk journalists face even in countries like India which are not even at war. It observed that the killing of journalists were carried out using barbaric methods. In India, six journalists have been murdered in 2018 and many others were the targets of murder attempts, physical attacks, and threats. In addition, the journalists witnessed hate campaigns against them, including incitement to murder, which is a common thing on social networks. However, the RSF highlighted some positive news from Iraq, where no journalist was killed for the first time since the US-led invasion of 2003.
186. India's largest cancer hospital-cum-research facility- the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has recently opened its OPD services after soft launch at Badhsa village in Jhajjar district of Haryana on December 18, 2018. The hospital's foundation stone was laid by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2014. It is expected to be fully operational by December 2020. The NCI, which is a project under Delhi AIIMS, will be headed by Dr GK Rath who is also the chief of Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital at AIIMS. The institute is spread over 50 acres. The facilities of X-ray, ultrasound, blood tests and biopsy have been made available at the Outpatient Department (OPD). The NCI is being developed at a cost Rs 2,035 crore. It will have 710 beds for different facilities like surgical oncology, radiation oncology, medical oncology, anaesthesia, palliative care and nuclear medicine, besides 1,080 hostel rooms for doctors and 800 rooms for attendants of cancer patients.
187. NITI Aayog has released its comprehensive national 'Strategy for New India @ 75′ document with an aim to accelerate growth to 9-10% and make the country a $4-trillion economy by 2022-23. It is a detailed exposition across 41 crucial areas, that recognizes the progress already made, identifies binding constraints, and suggests the way forward for achieving the clearly stated objectives. The 41 chapters in the document have been disaggregated under four sections: Drivers, Infrastructure, Inclusionand Governance. The overarching focus of the Strategy document is to further improve the policy environment in which private investors and other stakeholders can contribute their fullest towards achieving the goals set out for New India 2022.
188. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has launched the "Asiatic Lion Conservation Project" with an aim to protect and conserve the world's last ranging free population of Asiatic Lion and its associated ecosystem. The total budget of the project for 3 years that amounts to nearly Rs. 9784 lakh will be funded from the Centrally Sponsored Scheme- Development of Wildlife Habitat (CSS-DWH) with the contributing ratio being 60:40 of Central and State share. The conservation of Asiatic Lions has always been a priority of Government of India (GoI). The project activities is envisaged in a manner to cause habitat improvement, scientific interventions, disease control and veterinary care supplemented with adequate eco development works for the fringe population in order to ensure a stable and viable Lion population in the Country. The 2015 census showed a population of 523 Asiatic Lions in the Gir Protected Area Network of 1648.79 sq. km.
189. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, a 1984-batch Indian Foreign Service diplomat, has been appointed as the new Ambassador of India to the United States (US). He will succeed Navtej Sarna. Presently, Shringla is the High Commissioner to the People's Republic of Bangladesh. Beside him, Riva Ganguly Das, 1986 batch IFS, who is presently Director General of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) will take over as the High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh.
190. The Consumer Protection Bill 2018 has recently passed in Lok Sabha to strengthen the rights of consumers and to provide a mechanism for redressal of their complaints regarding defects in goods and deficiency in services. It seeks to establish Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions at District, State and National levels. It will replace the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 & will now go to the Rajya Sabha for passage. As per provision in 2018 bill, the Central Consumer Protection Authority shall consist of a Chief Commissioner and such number of other Commissioners as may be prescribed, to be appointed by the Central Government to exercise the powers and discharge the functions under this Act. The headquarters of the Central Authority shall be at such place in the National Capital Region of Delhi. By notification, the Central Government may make rules to provide for the qualifications for appointment, method of recruitment, procedure for appointment, term of office, salaries and allowances, resignation, removal and other terms and conditions of the service of the Chief Commissioner and Commissioners of the Central Authority.
191. The first-ever meeting of the newly constituted India-China High-Level Mechanism on Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges was held in New Delhi on December 21, 2018. The new mechanism aims to build synergies in people-to-people ties. The meeting was co-chaired by the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. In it, India and China identified 10 areas for boosting people-to-people cooperation in keeping with the 'Wuhan spirit' put in place by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping after their informal summit at Wuhan in April 2018. These are as follows: cultural exchanges, films and television coproduction, media, sports, youth affairs, tourism, exchanges between states and cities, traditional medicine, yoga, and academics.
192. Ten monuments have been adopted under the 'Adopt A Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan' scheme, which is a collaborative effort by Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), and State/UTs Governments . The project primarily focuses on providing basic amenities that include cleanliness, public conveniences, safe drinking water, ease of access for tourists, signages, illumination, Wi-fi etc. No fund is given by Ministry of Tourism. The 10 sites include Red Fort (Delhi) and Gandikota Fort (Andhra Pradesh) adopted by Dalmia Bharat Limited; area surrounding Gangotri Temple, Trail to Gaumukh in Uttarakhand and Mt Stok Kangri Trek (Ladakh) adopted by Adventure Tour Operators Association of India; Jantar Mantar (Delhi) by Apeejay Park Hotels; Surajkund in Haryana by Bliss Resorts; and Qutub Minar (Delhi), Ajanta Caves (Maharashtra), Leh Palace of Leh (Jammu & Kashmir) and Hampi (Hazara Rama Temple) of Karnataka adopted by Yatra Online.
193. On 20th December, Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh launched the iGOT (Integrated Government Online Training Programme) for government employees. The iGOT will augment the existing training mechanism with online module-based training coupled with certification. The programme, developed by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Ministry of Personnel, will make training inputs available to a government servant on-site and on flexitime basis. The initiative aims at "competent civil services for good governance". Dr. Singh also launched Right to Information (RTI) Portal on Judgments/Orders of Supreme Court, High Courts and CIC that will provide a learning environment for all stakeholders under which a repository on the landmark cases on the RTI will be available at one place. He also launched a hybrid course on administrative laws developed by the DoPT in collaboration with premier law institute National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru.
194. The National Mathematics Day (NMD) is celebrated every year in India on December 22 to commemorate the birth anniversary of great mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan. The day also recognizes his contribution to the world of mathematics, which includes mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions. The NMD was declared by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2012 to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Ramanujan. Born in 1887 in Erode, Madras Presidency (now Tamil Nadu), Ramanujan's affinity for Mathematics was such that he failed in college exams because of his negligence for non-mathematical subjects. However, his talents were recognized by a mathematician at Madras Port Trust were Ramanujan had started working as a clerk in 1912. In 1917, Ramanujan was elected to be a member of the London Mathematical Society. In 1918 he also became a Fellow of the Royal Society, becoming the youngest person to achieve the feat. But due to ill health, he died in 1920 at the age of 32.
195. As per global auditors - International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Indian aviation sector has maintained the highest safety audit rating in 2018. Provisionally, India has been given 74% marks by ICAO and has maintained Category 1 (highest category) under International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) by FAA in 2018. FAA had conducted an audit of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in July 2018 — the third since 2013 — to confirm India's adherence to standards laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and oversight of Indian airlines. The Category 1 means the carriers from the assessed state may initiate or continue service to the US in a normal manner and take part in reciprocal code-share arrangements with American carriers.
196. The Ministry of Aviation along with the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has launched an official mobile app "GAS-2019" for the Global Aviation Summit (GAS) for 2019, which is scheduled to be held in Mumbai in January 2019. The app enables users to interact with the co-delegates and speakers besides providing a platform for networking through personal and group chats. The summit is being hosted by the civil aviation ministry along with the AAI and industry lobby FICCI.
197. Arjuna awardee Anup Kumar, the legendary kabaddi player and India's World Cupwinning captain, has announced his retirement with immediate effect on 19th December 2018. He began his international career in 2006 at the South Asian Games in Sri Lanka. He captained the National team in 2014 and it was during his tenure that the team won 2 gold medals at the Incheon Asian Games in 2014 and the Kabaddi World Cup in 2016. In a career spanning over 15 years, Kumar has led several teams to victory and grown the sport in the country. In season 2 of the Pro Kabaddi League, Anup captained U Mumba and led the team to victory.
198. Ten central agencies have been authorized by the Government of India (GoI) to intercept information from any computer. This notification was issued by the 'Cyber and Information Security' division of the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) under the authority of Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba. The 10 agencies notified under the new order are the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Central Board of Direct Taxes (for Income Tax Department), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in service areas of J-K, North East and Assam) and Delhi Police commissioner. According to the new order, the agencies have been authorised "for the purpose of interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource under section 69 of the Information Technology (IT) Act of 2000".
199. Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal , has been conferred the Skoch Chief Minister of the Year Award for 2018 for her contribution in the overall development of the state and emerging as the best chief minister in the country. Banerjee has been conferred with the prestigious award on the basis of the state's performance in the field of governance, culture, finance, urban and rural development. In 2018, The state has bagged 31 Skoch Awards for its performance across different fields besides implementing unique projects. As per Skoch, West Bengal has also won the top position in terms of the number of man-days created and the amount spent in paying people for their work in the 100 days' work scheme. Besides Banerjee, the Skoch Group has also awarded Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu with the 'SKOCH Sprinter of the Year', and Commerce and Industry and civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu as the 'Steady Reformer'.
200. On 22nd December 2018, the 6th edition of Yuva Natya Samaroh has started at Kamani Auditorium in New Delhi with some of the best modern, mythological as well as Parsi style drama. It is a theatre festival of five young directors. The 5-day fest is being organised by Sahitya Kala Parishad, Department of Art, Culture and Languages, Government of Delhi. The festival lineup includes Mahasweta Devi's iconic 'Rudali' directed by Arvind Singh, Ashok Lal's 'Shatru' directed by Sunil Rawat, Chandrashekhara Kambar's mythological drama 'Shivarathri' translated by Veena Sharma and directed by Susheel Sharma. The event will come to a close on December 26 with Parsi play 'Safed Khoon' directed by Samiruddin (Javed Sameer).
201. Indian woman Vedangi Kulkarni has become the fastest Asian to cycle the globe. Hailing from a suburb of Pune, Vedangi cycled into Kolkata in the wee hours on 23rd December 2018, completing the 29,000 kilometers' distance required to qualify as bicycling across the globe. She spent 159 days peddling up to 300km a day in 14 countries. Starting off from Perth in July 2018, she will now be flying back to the Australian city to complete the record by cycling a 15km distance to reach the same place from where she started. Vedangi is a student of the University of Bournemouth in the United Kingdom pursuing a degree in sports management. Earlier, British adventurer Jenny Graham (38) is the fastest woman to have cycled the globe in 124 days in 2018.
202. India's first music museum will be set up with assistance from the Central government in Thiruvaiyaru, Tamil Nadu, the birth place of Saint Tyagaraja, one of the Trinities of Carnatic music. The Tyagaraja Aaradhana Music Festival which is held annually in January in Thiruvaiyaru attracts musical talents from all over the world.
203. The National Farmer's Day (NFD) is celebrated every year in India on December 23 to acknowledge the role of farmers in India's socio-economic development and to mark the birth anniversary of 5th Prime Minister Late Chaudhary Charan Singh. He used to be referred to as the 'champions of India's peasants' for his strive for the betterment of farmer's lives in the country. The day is popularly known as Kisan Diwas.
204. In Indonesia, a volcano-triggered tsunami has killed at least 281 people and injured more than thousand in Sunda Strait. Hundreds of buildings were destroyed by the wave, which hit the coast of southern Sumatra and the western tip of Java after a volcano known as Anak Krakatoa (the "Child of Krakatoa") erupted. Anak Krakatoa has been active since June 2018 & occasionally sending massive plumes of ash high into the sky and in October a tour boat was nearly hit by lava bombs from the erupting volcano. Experts say Anak Krakatoa emerged around 1928 in the caldera of Krakatoa, a volcanic island that violently erupted in 1883. With subsequent lava flows it grew from a submarine setting to become a small volcanic island, with the cone now standing at an altitude of around 300 metres (1,000 feet) above sea level. Since its birth, Anak Krakatoa has been in a "state of semi-continuous eruptive activity", growing bigger as it experiences eruptions every two to three years. The vast archipelago nation is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth due to its position straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide.
205. The National Consumer Day (NCD) is observed every year in India on 24th December to highlight the importance of the consumer movement and the need to make every consumer more aware of their rights and responsibilities. The 2018 theme is "Timely Disposal of Consumer Complaints". On this day the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted. The Act aims to provide consumers with effective safeguards against different types of exploitation, such as defective goods, deficiency in services and unfair trade practices. Recently, the Lok Sabha passed the Consumer Protection Bill of 2018, which seeks to replace the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. It also seeks to establish Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions at District, State and National level.
206. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently released the list of top 10 police stations in India for Year 2018. The Kalu Police Station (Rajasthan) grabbed the top spot on the list and was followed by Campbell Bay (Andaman & Nicobar Islands), Farakka (West Bengal), Nettapakkam (Puducherry), Guderi (Karnataka), Chopal (Himachal Pradesh), Lakheri (Rajasthan), Periyakulam (Tamil Nadu), Munsyari (Uttarakhand) and Churchorem (Goa). The list was prepared by Intelligence Bureau (IB) along with state agencies to ascertain the best police stations in the country. The police stations were assessed on parameters like crime control, community policing and public image etc.
207. The NITI Aayog has recently released the report titled "SDG India Index: Baseline Report 2018", which evaluates progress in social, economic and environmental terms. In it, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have emerged as top performing states. While, Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are the worst performing states in the government think tank's first of its kind India Index for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The Aayog has developed the SDG India Index which is a comprehensive index to measure progress of states/UTs, through a single measurable index and the First Baseline Report for 2018 was prepared with the support of United Nations in India.
208. Nirmala Sitharaman, the Defense Minister of India, has launched the Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) to boost maritime security at Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) Gurugram on 22 Dec 18. IFC will function as a platform where multiple friendly nations can freely exchange nonsensitive information. The intention of this collaborative endeavour shall be to secure the global commons for a peaceful, stable and prosperous region towards the well-being of all. The IOR is vital to world trade and economic prosperity of many countries as more than 75% of the world's maritime trade and 50% of global oil consumption passes through it.
209. The federal government of Burundi has declared Gitega as the country's new political capital on 22nd December 2018. As per officials, Bujumbura will remain the economic capital as many of country's business activities' are based there. Burundi is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west.
210. Nirupam Sen (72), Veteran CPI (M) leader & three-time MLA from Bardhaman Dakshin constituency , has passed away in Kolkata, West Bengal on December 24, 2018. One of the most prominent faces of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharya cabinet after the CPI(M)-led Left Front was voted to power in 2001, Sen was handed the charge of Commerce and Industry. It was under the leadership of Bhattacharya and Sen that the Left Front started selling the dream of industrialisation in the state and shifted focus to private investments. This shift in the policy reaped them heavy dividends, resulting in the Left Front's resounding victory in the 2006 Assembly election.
211. BVP Rao, who represented Archery Association of Assam, has been elected as the president of the Archery Association of India (AAI) in the controversial polls held under a High Court-appointed administrator. Rao beat Rupak Debroy of Tripura at the elections held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
212. The Indian Railways has won 17 awards at the National Energy Conservation Awards (NECA) 2018. This is the highest number of awards bagged by a single organisation. These awards are given by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) of the Ministry of Power to various institutions for adopting measures for reducing energy consumption and cost. Under 'transport' category, Indian Railways obtained 10 awards for the subsector railway station. In it, Vidisha railway station in Madhya Pradesh won the first prize. Under 'building' category, Indian Railways got three awards for subsector Railway hospitals. Here, Railway hospitals of Izzatnagar division won the first prize. Under 'institution' category, Indian Railways bagged four awards for subsector state PWD, CPWD and PHED. Passenger reservation system complex building of Secunderabad division won the first prize.
213. The Government of India (GoI) has announced the institution of a new award named after freedom fighter Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, which would be given every year for "outstanding efforts" in the field of furthering national integration. The award was announced by Narendra Modi at the DGPs/IGPs Conference at Kevadia , Gujarat on December 22, 2018. The annual award would be given to any Indian who has contributed to national unity in any manner. Sardar Patel, who served as the first Deputy Prime Minister of India, is called the "Unifier of India". He is also remembered as the "patron saint of India's civil servants" for having established the modern all-India services system. He was appointed as the 49th President of Indian National Congress (INC) in Karachi session of 1931. This session became memorable for its resolution on Fundamental Rights and Economic Policy.
214. Dipali Borthakur (77), the legendary Assamese singer, has passed away in Guwahati on December 21, 2018. She was popularly referred to as the "Nightingale of Assam". For her outstanding contributions to the field of arts, Borthakur was honored with the Padma Shri award in 1998.
215. The Manipur Assembly has unanimously passed the 'Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Bill of 2018'. The bill recommends a rigorous life imprisonment for those involved in mob violence, if it results in the death of a person. The bill was introduced in the Assembly in the wake of incidents of mob lynchings in the state.
216. On the occasion of Good Governance Day (GGD-2018 ), Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India's longest rail-cum-road bridge "Bogibeel" over the Brahmaputra in the Dibrugarh district of Assam. The 4.94km long double-decker bridge, which begins at Dibrugarh and ends at Dhemaji districts of Assam, will connect parts of Arunachal Pradesh by road as well as railway. The Bogibeel Bridge will play a crucial role in defence movement along the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh. The bridge, constructed at an estimated cost of around Rs.5,900 crore, has a serviceable period of around 120 years. The rail link connects two existing railway networks running at south bank and north bank of the river.
217. The 106th Indian Science Congress (ISC-2019) will be held at Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar, Punjab on January 3-7 with theme ''Future India: Science and Technology' . It will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) has been organising the event annually to bring together science fraternity from across the world to discuss innovations and researches. This year, six Nobel laureates from countries like Germany, Hungary, England and others will be participating in the science congress to make it the largest such gathering of its kind in the country. Eminent scientists from Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Department of Science and Technology (DST), University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) are also slated to take part. The science congress will attract over 20,000 delegates including 3000 acclaimed scientists and researchers.
218. India's national accreditation body, the National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB) has secured equivalence for its accreditation for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS) Certification Bodies in Asia- Pacific region. It has signed the Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA) of the Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC) on 19 December 2018. Now, NABCB can facilitate export of Indian goods into the world market by attesting that these are certified as per international standards by competent certifying bodies. With this, any industry carrying ISO 45001 certificate with NABCB logo will be recognized in the Asia Pacific region. The immediate beneficiary of this equivalence is the Indian Industry which is exporting products to various countries especially in the Asia Pacific region. NABCB is the third accreditation body in the Asia Pacific Region to become internationally equivalent in the region, the other two being the accreditation bodies of Hong Kong and Mexico. The headquarters of NABCB is located in New Delhi.
219. On December 23, Bala Rafique Shaikh clinched the 62nd Maharashtra Kesari 2018 title by defeating Abhijeet Katke of Pune in the wrestling duel held at Azad ground, Jalna, Maharashtra. He defeated his opponent 11-3 in the one-sided match. Shaikh was honoured with a silver mace and cash prize of Rs 1 lakh. Maharashtra Kesari is an Indian-style prestigious wrestling championship, established in 1961. 'Kesari' is a Sanskrit word for 'Lion'.
220. Real Madrid, a professional football club based in Madrid, has won the 15th edition of FIFA Club World Cup 2018 in United Arab Emirates (UAE) on December 22. They successfully defended their title (their third consecutive) after defeating Al-Ain 4–1 in the final. With the win, they broke the tie with Barcelona to become the outright record winners of the competition.
221. Late music composer Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar has been bestowed with the Mohammed Rafi Lifetime Achievement Award, which consists of Rs. 1 lakh and a trophy. Kudalkar formed a successful and long partnership with Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma and as music composers they belted out hit tracks like 'Bindiya Chamkegi', 'Main Shayar Toh Nahin' and 'Hansta Hua Noorani Chehra' among others. The award was instituted by an NGO headed by Mumbai BJP Chief Ashish Shelar. While playback singer Usha Timothy was honoured with the Mohammed Rafi award and Rs. 51,000 at a programme held in suburban Bandra She has sung 1,000 songs in multiple Indian languages such as Hindi, Malayalam, Punjabi, Bhojpuri and Marathi, among others.
222. Mount Etna, the active volcano in quake-stricken Italian island of Sicily, has recently erupted on 24th December 2018. A chain of around 130 earthquakes have rocked the volcano with the strongest posting a magnitude of 4.0. The quake was the strongest in the region after Mount Etna erupted, spewing ash and forcing the temporary closure of Sicilian airspace. Despite the closure of a part of the highway running along the coast, the airport at the eastern city of Catania, the capital of the province, was open. Mount Etna, which is Europe's highest and most active volcano, is 3,300m high with frequent eruptions recorded in the past 2,700 years. Its most recent eruptions occurred in the spring of 2017 and its last major eruption in the 2008/2009 winter.
223. Japan has decided to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and will resume commercial whaling in July 2019. As per officials, leaving the IWC means Japanese whalers will be able to resume hunting in Japanese coastal waters of minke and other whales currently protected by the IWC. However, Japan will not be able to continue the so-called scientific research hunts in the Antarctic that it has been exceptionally allowed as an IWC member under the Antarctic Treaty. The withdrawal also means Japan joins Iceland and Norway in openly defying the IWC's ban on commercial whale hunting. Tokyo argues that whaling is an important part of Japan's traditions, and the withdrawal would allow fishermen to pass country's rich whaling culture onto the next generation. The IWC, established in 1946 to conserve and manage the world's whale and cetacean population, introduced a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986.
224. The Maharashtra government has launched Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee International Schools in Mumbai on the occasion of 94th birth anniversary of the late Prime Minister. The school is affiliated to the Maharashtra International Education Board (MIEB) with an aim to achieve higher education standards in rural areas.
225. The Haryana government has recently decided to renamed Child Care Institutes as Jagannath Ashrams. This was announced by the Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar while addressing the people during a dance competition organised by women wing of All India Vaish Federation (AIVF) in Karnal on December 25, 2018.
226. Divya Patidar Joshi has been crowned the prestigious Mrs India 2018 at the Mrs. India My Identity Beauty Pageant 2018 finale in Delhi on December 25, 2018. Hailing from Madhya Pardesh's Ratlam, Divya won the crown of Mrs India from among 24 promising contestants. She won all the rounds of Beauty with Brain contest along with Best Cat Walk title. Now, she will represent India at the Mrs Universe 2019 event.
227. Sulagitti Narasamma (97), the renowned social worker and Padma Shri awardee, has passed away in Bengaluru on December 26, 2018. Born in 1920, she hailed from a community that was at the time referred to as 'untouchable'. She is best known for extending free of cost midwife services to women at a time when medical help was hard to come by in rural areas. It is believed that she learned the art from her grandmother, Marigemma, at a very young age. She had helped deliver more than 15,000 babies in Krishnapura, a remote village in Pavagada taluk in Karnataka. Her work received special recognition in Krishnapura & was conferred an honorary doctorate by the Tumkur University in 2014. She was also conferred with the Padma Shri by President Ram Nath Kovind on March 20, 2018.
228. The photo division of Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B) is organizing the 7th National Photography Awards in February 2019. Entries for all the awards have been invited from across the country. The photographers will be awarded in mainly three categories - life time achievement award, awards for professional photographers and the awards for the amateur photographers. The award for professional photographer has two categories- professional photographer of the year award with cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh and special mention awards with cash prize of Rs. 50 thousand. The Life Time Achievement award carries a cash prize of Rs 3 lakh. The entries can be sent to the photo division by 31st of December 2018. Those interested can visit the division's website for further details.
229. On 26th December, the tribal Baduga community in the Nilgiris district of Tamil nadu is celebrating their annual Heddaiyamman festival. In this connection, thousands of devotees clad in the traditional white dress of the community flocked to places like Kannerimukku and Kerbetta near Kotagiri and Hallu Kerai near Coonoor to pay obeisance to their presiding deity. People observe 48 days fast and walk in religious processions, holding up a holy shaft which symbolizes the miracle of the traditional Badaga goddess. The celebrations will continue throughout the coming week in different villages including Petthala, Beragani, and Ketti. The Badagas are an indigenous tribal group in the Nilgiris and occupy more than 400 remote hill villages in the district.
230. Noted sitar player Manju Mehta has been conferred with the 'Tansen Samman' for 2018 by the Madhya Pradesh government for her contribution in the field of music. Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar presented the award to Mehta at the inaugural ceremony of the 2018 Tansen Music Festival on December 25. She was given a cash award of Rs 2 lakh and a memento. Mehta is a recipient of several honours & learnt music from legendary sitar maestro late Pandit Ravi Shankar. Meanwhile, the 'Raja Mansingh Tomar Honour' was given to the Sankat Mochan Pratishthan in Varanasi for 2017 and the Natrang Pratishthan of New Delhi for 2018. The award is given to institutions for nurturing good music. The Tansen Music Festival is organised every year by the MP culture department in the memory of Tansen, one of the greatest artists in Indian history. It is being held in Gwalior since the past 94 years.
231. On December 27, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant released the Second Delta Ranking of the Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP). The ranking details the incremental progress achieved by the districts during June to October in 2018 across six key development sectors. Virudhunagar district in Tamil Nadu has shown the most improvement overall, followed by Nuapada district in Odisha, Siddarthnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar's Aurangabad and Koraput in Odisha. The districts have been ranked in a transparent basis on parameters across various performance indicators like Health and Nutrition, Education, Skill Development and Basic Infrastructure among others. The rankings are based on the data that is publicly available through the Champions of Change Dashboard, which includes data entered on a real-time basis at the district level. The rankings, for the first time, also factored in inputs from household survey conducted by NITI Aayog's knowledge partners, namely, TATA Trusts and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
232. Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki has officially declared that Palestine would apply for full state membership at the United Nations in January 2019. To secure full state membership, the Palestinians need support from at least nine out of the UNSC's 15 member states. Beside this, Mr Al-Malki would also demand the UNSC implementation of Resolution 2334 and ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an official inquiry into Israeli settlement construction. According to UNSC Resolution 2334, the UN Secretary General should present the Security Council with a progress report every three months on Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories. Palestine has been recognized by the UN as a non-member observer state since 2012.
233. The Central government has decided to rename three popular islands of Andaman and Nicobar to mark the 75th anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's historic visit to the islands. The names of Ross Island, Neil Island and Havelock Island will be changed to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island, Shaheed Dweep and Swaraj Dweep, respectively. On 30th December 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Port Blair to make the announcement of name change. He will also release a commemorative stamp and a coin on the occasion. On 30th December 1943, Bose had hoisted the national flag at the Gymkhana Ground (now Netaji Stadium) in Port Blair and announced that the islands were the first Indian Territory to be freed from British rule. This was done after the Japanese captured the islands during the time of World War II. At that time, Bose reportedly suggested renaming Andaman and Nicobar islands as Shaheed and Swaraj Dweep.
234. Thailand has become the first nation in Southeast Asia to legalize medical use of marijuana, as well as the kratom, a locally grown plant traditionally used as a stimulant and painkiller. The changes, which become law when published in the Royal Gazette, legalize the production, import, export, possession and use of marijuana and kratom products for medical purposes. But, recreational use of the drugs remains illegal and subject to prison terms and fines commensurate with the quantities involved. Marijuana is a psychoactive drug from the Cannabis plant intended for medical or recreational use. Earlier, in October 2018, Canada officially becomes the 2nd Country in the world to legalize the recreational use of marijuana nationwide after Uruguay.
235. The Knesset, Israel's parliament, has unanimously approved long-awaited, controversial law to allow exports of medical marijuana, allowing Israel to tap the lucrative global market. Though, the bill still needs approval from the cabinet and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But, this step is seen as a formality. With this approval, Israel will become the third country, after the Netherlands and Canada, to do so. Marijuana (scientific name: Cannabis sativa) is the most commonly used illegal substance worldwide. The main psychoactive part of cannabis is THC (Tetra Hydro Cannabinol). Of the 483 known compounds in the cannabis plant, THC affects the brain the most. Cannabis can be used by smoking, vaporizing, within food, or as an extract. The shortterm side effects of marijuana include a decrease in short-term memory, dry mouth, impaired motor skills, red eyes, and feelings of paranoia or anxiety. Long-term side effects may include addiction, decreased mental ability in those who started as teenagers, and behavioral problems in children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy.
236. On 27th December, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat launched a universal health coverage scheme, which is known as the 'Atal Ayushman Uttarakhand Yojana'. Under the scheme, each household in the state will be able to avail medical treatment of up to Rs 5 lakh annually. The scheme will benefit 23 lakh households and will cover 1,350 critical diseases. A total of 99 government and 66 private hospitals have been selected under the scheme. With this, the hill state has become the first in the country to offer universal health coverage.
237. The 26th National Children's Science Congress (NCSC) has been inaugurated by the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at the Siksha 'O' Anusandhan (SOA) in Bhubaneswar, Odisha on December 27, 2018. Over 800 school students across the country including differently-abled children, students from 10 ASEAN & 5 Gulf countries are expected to attend the five-day Congress. NCSC is a nationwide Science Communication programme started in the year 1993. The primary objective of the NCSC is to make a forum available to children of the age-group of 10-17 years, both from formal school system as well as from out of school, to exhibit their creativity and innovativeness and more particularly their ability to solve a societal problem experienced locally using the method of science. The 2018 theme is "Science, Technology & Innovation for A Clean, Green and Healthy Nation".
238. Dr. Hamidi Kashmiri, the tallest literary figure in the world of Urdu language, literature and literary criticism, has passed away in Srinagar, J&K on December 27, 2018. He was a prolific creative writer, an acclaimed critic and propounder of "Iktishaafi Tanqueed". He has also been the Vice Chancellor of University of Kashmir for years during the most difficult times of militant unrest. His some notable works include Iqtishafi Tanqeed Ki Sheryat, Ainame Ibraaq, Mahasir Tanqeed, Riyasati Jammu Aur Kashmir Urdu Adab, Jadeed Kashir Shayeri , etc. Kashmiri is a recipient of the Ghalib Award and Sahitya Akademi Award (2005). The Government of India honored him in 2010, with the third highest civilian award of Padma Shri.
239. In Assam, the third Dwijing Festival 2018 has started on the bank of Aye river at Chirang district on December 27. Around 15 lakh tourists are expected to participate in the 12 day long festival. Adventure sports, food mart, cultural events, traditional games are being organized in the fest. Participants from Thailand, Bhutan and Bangladesh are also taken part in the festival. The festival provides livelihood opportunities for the local people and focuses on business activities for better economic generation through rural tourism.
240. Dronacharya awardee C A Kuttappa has taken over as India's chief boxing coach at the ongoing national camp. Kuttappa is credited with shaping some of the country's most successful boxers such as Vijender Singh, M Suranjoy Singh and Shiva Thapa, among others. He took over from veteran coach SR Singh at the beginning of the camp which started December 10. Singh has since retired. The current set of boxers in the camp, barring the national champions, will be giving trials in the second week of January 2019, which will lead to a pruning and form the basis of selection for the India Open and the prestigious Strandja Memorial in Bulgaria
241. The Madhya Pradesh government has declared the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS) as National Park in compliance with the last condition imposed by a Supreme Courtappointed committee for the much awaited 'translocation of Asiatic lions from Gir in Gujarat'. The move is expected to pave way for translocation of lions from Gir National Park (GNP) in Gujarat to Kuno. The Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Sheopur district of Gwalior division & has been chosen as a second home for over 500 Asiatic lions. It is spread over 750 sq km area.
242. On December 26, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh has been conferred the "Champions of Change" award by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu for exemplary leadership in bringing about transformation in governance in the Northeastern state at an event organized at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. The other awardees included Union Minister of State for Food Processing Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Sudarshan and Member of Parliament Nishikant Dubey. The award was instituted by the Centre to identify remarkable progress made in 115 "aspirational" districts whose development is being monitored by NITI Aayog. The event was attended by eminent jurists, politicians, social leaders etc. The award is an initiative of the Interactive Forum of Indian Economy, a Government of India (GoI) recognized NGO.
243. Aadi Sai Vijaykaran, a 13-year-old from Chennai, has created history by winning the Junior Debate Championship at the World Scholar's Cup held at Yale University, the USA from November 16-21. He has been adjudged the world's best School debater at a global contest. This is the first time an individual from India has won the coveted title. The theme for the cup was 'An Entangled World: diplomacy, human relationships, the science of memory, and literature, art'. Vijaykaran is a trained Carnatic musician, has a black belt in Karate, plays chess and football.
244. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has constituted an expert committee, headed by its former governor Dr. Bimal Jalan, to review the existing Economic Capital Framework (ECF). The purpose of the committee is to suggest how the central bank should handle its reserves and whether it can transfer its surplus to the Government of India (GoI). The six-member panel has former deputy RBI governor Rakesh Mohan as its vice chairman and comprises economic affairs secretary Subhash Chandra Garg, RBI central board members Bharat Doshi and Sudhir Mankad and deputy governor NS Vishwanathan. It will review the need and justification of various provisions, reserves and buffers that RBI has maintained for contingency purposes and suggest an adequate level of risk provisioning. It will submit its report within 90 days of its first meeting.
245. Russia has successfully tested a new hypersonic nuclear weapon delivery system , named "Avangard", from the Dombarovskiy missile base in the southern Ural Mountains. It successfully hit a practice target on the Kura shooting range on Kamchatka, 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) away. The Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle flies 27 times faster than the speed of sound, which makes it impossible to intercept. It has been claimed the Avangard system is designed using new composite materials to withstand temperatures of up to 2000 degrees Celsius that come from a flight through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. As per officials, the Avangard could be fitted to the Soviet-made UR-100UTTKh intercontinental ballistic missile, which is code-named SS-19 Stiletto by NATO. Russia claims its new weapons will be more nimble and can change direction making them far harder to track and intercept.
246. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has recently resumed its diplomatic service in Syria after six years of suspension, signaling a thaw in the relations between the two countries, as also with the Arab world. The diplomatic thaw comes after the U.S. announced plans to pull its troops from Syria. This move will also prevent the dangers of regional interference in Syrian affairs. Hence, this marks the first official acknowledgment by regional adversaries of Syrian President Bashar Assad that he has won the almost 8-year civil war to dislodge him. Earlier, the UAE broke ties with Syria in February 2012 when "Arab Spring"-inspired protests began against Assad's rule and metastasized into a sectarian conflict that killed hundreds of thousands, made millions of others refugees and laid waste to vast areas of the country. Syria was also expelled from the 22-member Arab League in 2011. Arab countries sanctioned Damascus and condemned its use of military force against civilians.
247. The Odisha forest department is all set to add another Olive Ridley mass nesting site to its wildlife map at the Bahuda river mouth in Ganjam district to lure the endangered sea turtles to come over for mass nesting in 2019. Around 3-km stretch of the beach from Sunapur to Anantpur at Bahuda rookery is being developed as a possible olive ridley mass nesting site. The Bahuda rookery is located around 20 km to the south of Rushikulya rookery coast, a major mass nesting site of olive ridleys on the Indian coastline. In Odisha, Gahirmatha marine sanctuary and Rushikulya rookery coast in Ganjam district are the two main Olive Ridley nesting sites. Of these sites, Gahirmatha marine sanctuary is the world's largest rookery of endangered Olive Ridley Sea Turtles. Odisha is home to 50% of the total world's population of Olive Ridleys and about 90% of Indian population of sea turtles.
248. The scientists at Cambridge University have built a Virtual Reality (VR) 3D model of cancer that will help increase the understanding of cancer as well as in the search for new treatment. Researchers from the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Researchers started with a one millimetre cubed piece of breast cancer tissue biopsy, containing around 100,000 cells. They cut wafer thin slices, scanned and then stained them with markers to show their molecular make-up and DNA characteristics. The tumour was then rebuilt using virtual reality (VR), which allows multiple users from anywhere, in the world to examine the tumour. Although the human tissue sample was about the size of a pinhead, using the VR headsets, it could be magnified to appear several metres across. To explore the tumour in more detail, the VR system allows one to 'fly through' the cells.
249. Nirendranath Chakraborty (94), the famous Bengali poet , has passed away in Kolkata, West Bengal on December 25, 2018. Born in 1924 at Faridpur in undivided Bengal, Chakraborty was a dominant figure in the modern Bengali literary field. His first book of poems 'Nil Nirjone' was published in 1954 when he was 30 years old. He won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1974 for his poem 'Ulanga Raja' (naked king) which mocked the social set up. His 'Amalkanti Roddur Hote Cheyechhilo' (Ammalkanto wanted to be the sunshine), 'Kolkatar Jishu' (Christ of Kolkata) and 'Pahari Bichhe' (Mountain scorpion) are considered his two other cult poems. Chakraborty had been associated with leading Bengali magazine 'Desh' and 'Anandamela' for children, whose editor he had been for years, and some well known other magazines. He had penned more than 47 books, many of them for children, apart from 12 novels and numerous essays on different issues.
250. The 26th edition of International Camel Festival (ICF-2019) will be organized by the Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan in Bikaner on January 12 and 13. The fest is a lively and colourful event & activities such as fur cutting, camel decoration, designing among others would be organized in the event. Competitions like Mr Bikana and Miss Marwan, cultural performances by folk artistes from different regions would also be held during the festival.
251. Luka Modric, who led Croatia to their first-ever FIFA World Cup final, has been named the 2018 Balkan Athlete of the year. Modric won the Champions League for the third time in a row with his club "Real Madrid" in May 2018 before leading Croatia to the 2018 World Cup final, where they lost 4-2 to France. He also won the prestigious Ballon d'Or for the first time earlier in December 2018. While Tennis player Novak Djokovic of Serbia got 2nd position in the Balkan poll, and Romania's Simona Halep third. The poll was organized by the Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) and included the national news agencies of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey.
252. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) was awarded Best Capital City in the Solid Waste Management in the Swachh Survekshan 2018 rankings. The Swachh Survekshan was launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) under Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban). According to a press release, the Swachh Survekashan survey ranks cities on various parameters including sanitation, provision of basic amenities etc.
253. The Central Zone of Indian Railways has developed an AI-powered robot, named as 'USTAAD', which will scrutinize parts of train coaches in real time and transmit them over a WiFi connection. The acronym 'USTAAD' stands for Undergear Surveillance Through Artificial Intelligence Assisted Droid. The robot is developed by the mechanical branch of Central Railway's Nagpur division. It would click pictures and record videos of the under-gears of trains and send them to engineers for repairs and maintenance. The robot is also capable of zooming into a spot in case of any doubt. It is equipped with LED flood light and able to capture the videos in low light as well as in dark mode. By use of this robot the chances of mistake and any deficiency overlooked by human eye can be eliminated thus reducing chances of human error. With the help of USTAAD, engineers can easily see and examine areas which are hard to see and hard to approach such as cramped or narrow spaces between under-gear parts.
254. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has launched a 'Survey on Retail Payment Habits of Individuals (SRPHi)' to capture payment habits of individuals in six cities, including four metropolitan towns. According to RBI release, the survey will cover a sample of 6,000 individuals from various socio-economic backgrounds across six cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Guwahati. The survey seeks qualitative responses from individuals on their payment habits. The findings may provide some idea about awareness and usage habits of digital payment products.
255. On December 28, the unique Chapparam (Chariot) festival was celebrated with traditional rituals and festivities in the famous Madurai Meenakshi temple, in Tamil Nadu. The fest symbolizes the importance of preserving all kinds of food and fodder. The festival is also an auspicious occasion when the God and Goddess measure out food for all living beings. In it, both Goddess Meenakshi and her spouse Lord Sundareswarar circumambulate the four main streets around the temple. Cooked rice, which is distributed among devotees, are taken home and preserved because it signifies prosperity for the whole year. Another specialty of the festival is that the chariot of Goddess Meenakshi is pulled by lady devotees alone.
256. The book titled "Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From" has been authored by journalist Tony Joseph, which unravels our history using the results of genetics and other research. According to book, the Indian population is a result of four major migrations, including that of the Aryans, into the country in prehistoric times. Apart from the formation of the Indian population and the development of the Harappan Civilisation, the book also looks into when and how the caste system began.
257. On December 29, the 12th Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) was inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The summit is being organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, more commonly known as AAPI. Mr. Kovind acknowledged the professionalism and excellent reputation of doctors of Indian origin in the US.
258. The Union Cabinet has recently approved Submission of India's 2nd Biennial Update Report (BUR) to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), which contains 2014 updates of national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories. As per an official statement, in 2014, approx 2.607 billion tonnes of of CC-2 equivalent) of GHGs were emitted from all activities, excluding 'land use, land use change and forestry' (LULUCF) in India. The net national GHG emissions after including LULUCF were around 2.306 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent. The BUR contains five major components - National Circumstances; National Greenhouse Gas Inventory; Mitigation Actions; Finance, Technology and Capacity Building Needs and Support Received and Domestic Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) arrangements. As per the report, India is on course of achieving the target for emission intensity of the economy and share of non-fossil fuel-based power capacity.
259. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has brought out a booklet on cyber safety for school children to inform them about different aspects of cyber safety. The booklet, titled 'A Handbook for Students on cyber Safety', also deals with the problems of cyber bullying, cyber grooming and email fraud. It advises teenagers against accepting friend requests from unknown people on social media. The booklet explains various kinds of cyber crimes like identity theft, job fraud, email spoofing and how children can overcome them. The information provided in the handbook is intended to create awareness among citizens especially students about various cyber threats that can impact them and ways to safeguard themselves against cyber crimes. The booklet also provides details about various safeguards that can be adopted by children to protect themselves from cyber grooming.
260. The Union Cabinet has recently approved amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of 2012 to make punishment more stringent for committing sexual crimes against children. To discourage the trend of child sexual abuse by acting as a deterrent, Section-4, Section-5 and Section-6 are proposed to be amended to provide the option of stringent punishment, including the death penalty, for committing aggravated penetrative sexual assault crime on a child. The amendments are also proposed in section-9 to protect children from sexual offences in times of natural calamities and disasters. The amendment is expected to discourage the trend of child sexual abuse by acting as a deterrent due to strong penal provisions incorporated in the Act. It may protect the interest of vulnerable children in times of distress and ensure their safety and dignity. The amendment aims to establish clarity regarding the aspects of child abuse and punishment.
261. On December 30, India submitted its Sixth National Report (NR6) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The report was submitted online to the CBD Secretariat by the Environment Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, during the inaugural session of the 13th National Meeting of the State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs) in New Delhi. With this, India is among the first five countries in the world, the first in Asia and the first among the biodiversity-rich mega diverse countries to have submitted the report. The submission of national reports is a mandatory obligation on parties to international treaties, including the CBD. The NR6 provides an update of progress in achievement of 12 National Biodiversity Targets (NBT) developed under the convention process in line with the 20 global Aichi biodiversity targets. As per report, the population of the lion has risen from 177 in 1968 to over 520 in 2015 and elephants from 12 thousand in the 1970s to 30 thousand in 2015. One-horned Indian Rhino which was on the brink of extinction during the early 20th century, now number 2400.
262. Mrinal Sen (95), the legendary filmmaker, has passed away in Kolkata, West Bengal on December 30, 2018. Along with his contemporaries Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, he was often considered to be one of the greatest ambassadors of Bengali parallel cinema on the global stage with films like Ek Din Achanak, Padatik, Mrigaya, Akaler Sandhane, Chorus, Kharij, Khandahar, Bhuwan Shome, Akash Kusum and Calcutta 71. He made his directorial debut with Raat Bhore in 1955 and is known for making films that focussed on socio-politial issues. A recipient of 12 international film awards, Mrinal Sen was also a member of the Indian People's Theatre Association. Sen was an ardent follower of Marxist philosophy.
263. In Madhya Pradesh, the state government has decided to form a new Spiritual Department to strengthen inter-communal harmony and Sarvadharma Sambhav in the state covering all religions, sects and faiths. In the new department, the Religious Trust and Endowments and Happiness Department will be merged. The Directorate of Religious Trusts and Endowments, Pilgrimage and Fair Authority, Directorate of Mukhya Mantri Teerth-Darshan Yojana and Rajya Anand Sansthan working till now will also be included in the new department. Meanwhile, the proceedings of the formation of trust for Rivers Tapti, Mandakini and Kshipra will also be carried out. Law will be made to make holy rivers of the state a living unit. In many countries like America, England, Bangladesh, Myanmar etc, the Department of Spiritual Affairs is working under different names.
264. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently dedicated to the nation - the 6th IRRI South Asia Regional Centre (IRRI SARC) at the campus of National Seed Research and Training Center (NSRTC) in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. The first international Center in the eastern India is expected to play a major role in harnessing and sustaining rice production in the region. It will help farmers of the region to develop varieties of paddy which grow in minimum water and have low sugar content and high nutritional value.It will also serve as a hub for rice research and training in South Asia and SAARC region. Here, IRRI stands for 'International Rice Research Institute'. Beside this, PM Modi also attended the 'One District, One Product' Regional Summit at Deendayal Hastakala Sankul in Varanasi. This scheme is aimed at enhancing the skills of local people and increasing the reach of the indigenous trades, crafts and products from small towns and small districts in the state. These include handicrafts, food processing, engineering goods, carpets, readymade clothes, leather goods etc which not only earn foreign exchange but also provide employment to the people.
265. "Finding Beauty in Garbage", a documentary film based on the garbage of Dibrugarh town in Assam has bagged the Best Short documentary film award in Asia South East International Short Film Festival at Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The film gives a satirical take to the problem of garbage disposal. The 7 minute film was produced, directed and scripted by Satyamam Dutta who is an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer presently posted in Dibrugarh. The burning problem of garbage disposal has been projected by Dutta with a satirical approach prompting viewers to think and realize how the disposal of garbage affects their life. The film has shown how the inhabitants of the city have become so accustomed and immune to the garbage and dirt around that they no longer want to fight with it but want to cohabit with them. The film is slated to be released on 1st January 2019 through video sharing website YouTube and other social media platforms.
266. The repressive central Asian nation of Turkmenistan has recently launched its first messaging app 'BizBarde', which will allow the exchange of messages, files, photos and videos. Here, the likes of Facebook and Whatsapp are banned. It is one of the world's most isolated regimes where Western services including Twitter and Viber, along with popular Russian networks Odnoklassniki and VKontakte blocked. The country sits on the world's 4th largest reserves of natural gas and regularly finds itself at the bottom of global rights and press freedom rankings. Only officially sanctioned media are allowed to operate and internet access is provided solely by the state-owned TurkmenTelecom.
267. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has banned Sikh militant group under the Section 35 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) of 1967. It has been banned for its involvement in several killings, bombings and other terror activities during its violent campaign for "secession of Punjab". As per officials, KLF has also been banned for committing and promoting various acts of terrorism in India as well as recruitment of youth for terrorist activities in the country. Hence, MHA added KLF as the 40th organisation to the banned list which also includes four other Sikh extremist groups - Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), Khalistan Commando Force (KCF), International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) and Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF). The KLF came into existence in 1986 by Aroor Singh and Sukhvinder Singh Babbar with the objective of establishing an independent Khalistan by secession of Punjab from India "through violent means"
268. The Pakistan Cabinet has recently approved the issuance of first-ever Chinese renminbidenominated bonds to raise loans from China's capital markets. The Panda bonds will be denominated in Chinese yuan. It is expected that the possible transaction size of bonds will be equivalent to $500 million in two different tranches. They will help the government diversify the investor base of capital market issuance and provide a source of raising renminbi (RMB). The size, tenure and pricing would be determined on the basis of market response at the time of issuance. Earlier, in March 2018, the Philippines became the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations member to issue Panda bond.
269. The 3rd edition of women's national boxing championships has started at the JSW Sports-owned Inspire Institute of Sport in Vijayanagara, Karnataka on December 31, 2018 and will be held till 6th of the next month. With close to 250 entries received from 31 states and institutions, pugilists will compete in all 10 weight categories viz. 48kg, 51kg, 54kg, 57kg, 60kg, 64kg, 69kg, 75kg, 81kg and +81kg class. The Inspire Institute of Sport, which will be hosting the women's national championship is heralded for its multispecialty facilities and is India's first privately-funded High-Performance Olympic Training Centre.
270. The Delhi Police has become the first police force in the country to digitize all malkhanas, when Delhi Police commissioner Amulya Patnaik inaugurated the emalkhana project in the remaining 10 districts at Chinamaya Mission. A booklet on emalkhana functioning was also released on the occasion and a short film on how the project was executed was shown. Malkhanas are rooms for keeping seized arms and ammunition, across every police station in the state. Under the new innovative system, details of the case property are first entered into the software and a photograph is uploaded. The case property is packed in a cardboard box to prevent damage, and a unique barcode is generated for the same. The box is then placed on to a specific almirah or rack whose details are entered in the software. This makes location of the case property easier by simply entering details of the case property in the software module. The software also allows the details of any case property being visible at the simple click of a button. According to the official release, around 3, 11,600 case properties have been encrypted in digital form across all the police stations in the state.