Current Affairs 18th December 2017 (18/12/2017)

National Current Affairs:

  • National Commission for Minorities has set up a three member committee, led by the commission’s Vice Chairman George Kurien, to look into whether Hindus should get minority status in seven states and a Union Territory where they are not the dominant religious group.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the B R Ambedkar International Centre in New Delhi. He said it would be an important place for research on social and economic issues. The prime minister also unveiled two statues of Ambedkar at the centre in Janpath.
  • India successfully test-fired its supersonic surface-to-air missile Akash with indigenous radio frequency seeker from a test range in Odisha. The state-of-the-art indigenous missile targeting an UAV ‘Banshee’, was fired from the launch complex-III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur near Balasore.
  • After ‘Yoga’ and Nouroi, Kumbh Mela, the largest congregation of pilgrims on the planet, has been listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage under UNESCO. The Kumbh Mela is held in Haridwar, Allahabad, Ujjain and Nashik.
  • In a bid to address the festering problem of vacancies in the National Green Tribunal, the government has amended rules to allow the court to constitute single member Benches. Current rules require that every Bench of the NGT consist of “two or more- members and made up of at least one judicial and one expert.
  • Navy Day was observed on 4 December to celebrate the Indian Navy’s achievements and commemorate the sacrifices made by its personnel. The date commemorates the launch of Operation Trident, a devastating attack on the Pakistan Naval Headquarters of Karachi during the 1971 war against Pakistan.
  • India joined the Wassenaar Arrangement after completing the internal procedures. The membership will facilitate high-technology tie-ups for country’s defence and space programmes. India has become the arrangement’s 42nd participating State. In a tweet, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has thanked all the 41 Wassenaar Arrangement member states for their support.
  • Hyderabad is all set to be a home for world’s first Information Technology campus for persons with disabilities (PWDs). On the eve of World Disability Day, the State government entered into an agreement with Vindhya E-Infomedia Private Limited to set up the IT campus which will focus on creating employment exclusively for PWDs.
  • Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has signed an agreement with German firm GIZ for technical cooperation in the implementation of transport projects in Coimbatore, Bhubaneshwar and Kochi. An official release said, the agreement has been signed by the ministry’s officer on special duty Mukund Kumar Sinha, and GIZ Country Director Wolfgang Henning in the presence of Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.
  • The Delhi government has cancelled the license of Max Hospital in the city after it was found guilty of medical negligence recently. On the 30th of November, the Hospital in Shalimar Bagh had declared prematurely born twins dead and handed than over to their parents in a polythene bag.
  • India has been declared free from infective Trachoma which is a contagious bacterial infection of the eye. It causes inflamed granulation on the inner surface of the lids. Releasing the National Trachoma Survey Report (2014-17) in New Delhi, Health Minister J P Nadda made an announcement in this regard and termed it as a momentous achievement. He said, the Survey results indicate that active Trachoma is no longer a public health problem in the country.
  • Shashi Kapoor, a leading Bollywood actor and producer from the 1970s and 80s, died after a long illness. He was 79. Born on March 18, 1938, to the illustrious and formidable theatre and film actor Prithviraj Kapoor, he was honoured with Padma Shushan in 2011 and received the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 2015.

International Current Affairs:

  • With 19 countries ratifying its framework agreement, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) became the first treaty-based international government organisation to be based in India. This marks the culmination of India’s efforts, which had taken a lead role in setting up the ISA-an alliance of 121 sunshine countries situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
  • US President Donald Trump’s administration said it was withdrawing the US from an international pact aimed at improving global migration and refugee issues, prompting criticism from the United Nations.The US has been a part of the non binding New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants since it was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly last year.
  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated the first phase of Chabahar Port. India’s Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan represented New Delhi at the inauguration ceremony. Afghanistan, Iran and India have reiterated their resolve for earliest completion of the strategic Chabahar Port that allows these countries, the landlocked Afghanistan in particular, to bypass Pakistan while conducting bilateral trade.
  • South Korea and the United States concluded the Vigilant ACE exercises, the largest joint air drill, meant to serve as a show of strength following North Korea’s latest missile launch.
  • Britain and the European Union reached a historic deal on the terms of Brexit. The deal would avoid a hard border in Ireland and establish judicial protocols to protect the rights of the 3 million European citizens in Britain and a million British citizens in the European Union. Addressing a joint press conference European Commission, President Jean-Claude Juncker said sufficient progress had been made by Britain on separation issues, including the Irish border, Britain’s divorce bill, and citizens rights.
  • The Maldives signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA)with China in Beijing despite criticism by Maldivian Opposition parties. Maldives also endorsed China’s Maritime Silk Road project which is shunned by India for its strategic implications in the Indian Ocean. The FTA was among 12 agreements signed in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his visiting Maldivian counterpart Abdullah Yameen.
  • In Congo, at least 15 UN peace keepers have been killed and several injured in an attack in North Kivu province. The peace keepers, all from Tanzania, were working at a UN mission in the province which is home to the Ugandan rebel group the Allied Democratic forces. A UN official said, the group, which has attacked the mission in the past month, is suspected to be behind the attack. ¬†At least five Congolese soldiers were also killed.
  • International Day of Persons with Disabilities was observed on 3 December. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the e situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
  • World Soil Day (WSD) was observed on December 5, 2017. The Day is held annually as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and advocating for the sustainable management of soil resources. An international day to celebrate Soil was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002.

Business & Economy Current Affairs:

  • The Reserve Bank of India kept interest rate unchanged in the fifth bi-monthly policy review. Consequently, the repo rate, at which it lends to banks, will stand at 6 percent. The reverse repo, at which RBI borrows from banks, will continue to be at 5.75 percent.
  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes, CBDT, has extended the date for linking of Aadhaar with Permanent Account Number (PAN) till the 31st of March next year. In a release, the Finance Ministry said, it has come to notice that some of the taxpayers have not yet completed the linking of PAN with Aadhaar. Therefore, to facilitate the process of linking, it has been decided to further extend the time for linking of Aadhaar with PAN. All taxpayers having Aadhaar Number or Enrollment Number are required to link the same with Permanent Account Number.
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s former Chairman, D K Sarraf, as the new Chairman of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board.
  • The department of pharmaceuticals (DoP) has set up a high-level committee comprising experts to assist on matters of pricing and launch of new drugs to help resolve issues in a time-bound manner.
  • The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, in association with the North Eastern States organised the 6th International Tourism Mart from 5-7 December, 2017. The Mart has put the spotlight on Indias Act East Policy, blossoming ties with ASEAN and the larger East Asia region, home to the worlds rapidly growing economies and Indies emerging tourism markets.

Sports Current Affairs:

  • India bagged five medals on the opening day of the 10th Asian Airgun Shooting Championships at Wako, Japan. Ravi Kumar won the Bronze in the Men’s 10 metre air rifle individual event, while Arjun Babuta won the Silver in the corresponding junior event. India also clinched three team silver medals in each of the three air rifle events.
  • In Hockey, India lost to Rio Olympics Gold medalists Argentina, 1-0 in the first semi-final of the World League Final at Bhubaneswar.

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