Govt launches Green-Ag, GEF-assisted project, in partnership with FAO

The Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Shri Parshottam Rupala informed that the Government had launched a Global Environment Facility (GEF) assisted project namely, “Green – Ag: Transforming Indian Agriculture for global environment benefits and the conservation of critical biodiversity and forest landscapes” in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) during September, 2018.

The project was launched in high-conservation-value landscapes of five States namely (i) Madhya Pradesh: Chambal Landscape, (ii) Mizoram: Dampa Landscape, (iii) Odisha: Similipal Landscape, (iv)Rajasthan: Desert National Park Landscape and v) Uttarakhand: Corbett-Rajaji Landscape.

The project is aimed to mainstream biodiversity, climate change and sustainable land management objectives and practices into Indian agriculture.

The project will be funded through 33.5 million dollar grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) implemented by the government of India and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. 
About Global Environment Facility (GEF):
♦ Established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems, the GEF unites 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.
♦ CEO and Chairperson GEF: Naoko Ishii
♦ Head office: Washington, United States of America
About Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare:
♦ Minister: Shri Radha Mohan Singh
♦ Minister of State: Shri Parshottam Rupala, Smt. Krishna Raj, Shri. Gajendra S.S


Parliament passes NCTE amendment Bill

The Parliament following the approval from the Rajya-Sabha passed a bill to provide retrospective recognition to central and state government funded institutions offering B.Ed and related courses that are not recognized under the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) Act.

The NCTE (Amendment) Bill which will be a one-time measure would help over 17,000 students who have obtained B.Ed degrees from those institutions which do not have NCTE approval for the course under the 1993 law.

23 state and central universities and colleges offering B.Ed courses were found not recognised by the Council.

About National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) Act, 1993:
The NCTE Act, 1993 came into force on 1 July 1995 and is applicable throughout the country, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The NCTE plans and co-ordinates the development of the teacher education system throughout the country and ensure maintenance of norms and standards in the teacher education system.
About Ministry of Human Resource Development:
♦ Minister: Prakash Javadekar
♦ Minister of State: Dr. Satya Pal Singh, Shri Upendra Kushwaha
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi


Parliament passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill

The Parliament passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2018 that seeks to do away with the no-detention policy in schools.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, was moved in the Rajya-Sabha by Union minister for Human Resources Development Prakash Javadekar and was passed by a voice vote. It is already passed by the Lower House (Lok-Sabha) on July 18 2018.

Under current provisions of the Section 16 of the Act, no student can be detained up to class 8th but as per the amendment, it would be left to the States to decide whether to continue the no-detention policy. 25 states have favoured abolishing the no-detention policy.
About Right to Education (RTE) Act:
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act) provides for free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years.
About Ministry of Human Resource Development:
♦ Minister: Prakash Javadekar
♦ Minister of State: Dr. Satya Pal Singh, Shri Upendra Kushwaha
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi


Parliamentary Panel Report on Western Ghats

The Parliamentary panel, which keeps track of assurances given by ministers, presented its latest report on Western Ghats on the floor of the Rajya Sabha.

Area of interest of the Panel:
The panel examined issues regarding the categorisation of the Western Ghats as Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) as per the recommendations of two committees led by Madhav Gadgil and K. Kasturirangan.

The ecologically sensitive areas (ESA) which is stretched in about 56,000 square kilometres of the Western Ghats could not be earmarked as ‘no-go’ zones due to State governments’ ‘insensitivity’ though three draft notifications had been issued over four years for earmarking ESA.

The implementation of the recommendations of the Kasturirangan report is only possible with active support of local population and also requires consultation with the State government at micro level to achieve the objectives of saving the Western Ghats.
About Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change:
♦ Minister: Dr. Harsh Vardhan
♦ Minister of State: Dr. Mahesh Sharma


6 monuments declared of national importance in 2018  by ASI: Ministry of Culture

The Ministry of Culture announced that Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) declared monuments as ‘protected and of national importance’ under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, in 2018.

These sites are:

  • 125-year-old Old High Court Building in Nagpur, Maharashtra,
  • Mughal era monuments in Agra- Haveli of Agha Khan and Hathi Khana,
  • The Neemrana Baori in Alwar district of Rajasthan,
  • The Group of Temples in Ranipur Jharail in Bolangir district of Odisha,
  • The Vishnu Temple in Kotali, Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand.

♦ Headquarters: New Delhi.
♦ Founded: 1861.
♦ Under Ministry of Culture.
♦ Director General: Smt. Usha Sharma.


Andhra tops ACI’s Ease of Doing Business index

In the latest ranking of Singapore’s Asia Competitiveness Institute’s (ACI)Ease of Doing Business (EDB) index 2018, Andhra Pradesh emerged on top of the 21 states of India that were considered for the ranking, while Maharashtra and Delhi came in second and third place, respectively.

Andhra Pradesh rose from the 5th rank in 2016 to the top spot in 2018.

The ACI’s EDB index is based upon three parameters called ABC -Attractiveness to Investors, Business Friendliness and Competitiveness Policies. iii. The index captured the business environment at the sub-national level on the basis of 72 hard and soft indicators.

The Ease of Doing Business (EDB) list is compiled by a team of researchers led by Tan Khee Giap, who is the co-director of Asia competitiveness institute (ACI), and associate professor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.
About Andhra Pradesh:
♦ Chief Minister: N. Chandrababu Naidu
♦ Governor: E. S. L. Narasimhan
♦ Capital: Amaravati
About Singapore:
♦ Capital: Singapore city 
♦ Currency: Singapore dollar
♦ President: Halimah Yacob
♦ Prime Minister: Lee Hsien Loong



Rishabh Pant 1st ever Indian wicketkeeper to slam Test ton in Australia

India’s wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant became the first Indian wicketkeeper batsman to score a century in Test against Australia on Australian soil after hitting 159 runs on the 2nd day of 4th Test Match at Sydney, Australia.

Rishabh pant broke Farokh Engineer’s record of highest Test runs against Australia on Australian soil. Farokh Engineer scored 89 runs in 1967.

Rishabh Pant also became the only Indian wicket keeper who has two test centuries outside Asia.


Pujara faces 1258 balls in Australia series, breaks Dravid’s record

30 years old Indian Batsman, Cheteshwar Pujara has faced 1258 balls in the ongoing test series so far against Australia to become the batsman who had faced highest deliveries in a test series in Australia beating India’s Former Captain, Rahul Dravid’s record of 1203 balls.

He achieved the feat by scoring 193 runs of 373 deliveries on the 2nd day of 4th Test Match against Australia in Sydney.


Economy and Finance

Cyber frauds in Indian banking sector hiked over 50% in FY18; it is one-third of the overall amount of frauds in India: RBI

According to the Reserve Bank of India’s Report on Trend and Progress of Banking in India 2017-18, India witnessed a jumped of 159 per cent to almost ₹110 crore, from ₹42.3 crore in 2017-18.

As a measure, the RBI plans to set up a compliance and tracking system portal to tackle the proliferation of cyber fraud and seeks to establish a better redressal mechanism for consumers.

This would address cybersecurity complaints from all regulated entities including Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs) and mobile banking interfaces.

The process of redressal mechanism will be directed under the Internal Ombudsman Scheme of 2018.
Internal Ombudsman Scheme of 2018:
♦ In May 2015, RBI advised all public-sector and select private and foreign banks to appoint Internal Ombudsman (IO) as an independent authority to review complaints that were partially or wholly rejected by the respective banks.
♦ RBI made it mandatory for lenders with more than 10 branches to have an independent authority.
♦ The IO got its statutory powers under Section 35 A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 in the form of ‘Internal Ombudsman Scheme, 2018’.
♦ The Scheme covers, inter-alia, appointment / tenure, roles and responsibilities, procedural guidelines and oversight mechanism for the IO.


ICICI Bank, Small Business FinCredit joined hands to provide loans worth Rs. 1 crore to MSMEs for 15-year tenure

ICICI Bank, in a first-of-its-kind programme, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Small Business FinCredit India Pvt. Ltd. (SBFC), a systemically important Non-Banking Finance Company for entrepreneurs, to jointly provide credit worth up to Rs 1 crore to MSMEs for a tenure of 15 years.

This MOU was signed under RBI’s circular dated September 21, 2018, that permits banks to engage with a non-banking financial company (NBFC) to co-originate loans for the creation of priority sector assets.

Under this arrangement, ICICI Bank will co-originate loan against property with SBFC at a mutually agreed ratio.
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai.
♦ MD& CEO: Mr. Sandeep Bakshi.
♦ Chairman: Mr. Girish Chandra Chaturvedi.
♦ Tagline: Hum Hain Na!


Sebi allows custodial serices in commodity market, paves way for MF entry

Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the market regulator has allowed custodial services in the commodity derivatives market enabling participation of institutional investors, including mutual funds, in the segment.

The new framework will allow the existing custodians to add commodities as an asset class and provide physical delivery of both the securities and commodities.

Currently, the regulation on custodian of securities allows safekeeping of securities, gold or gold related instruments, title deeds of real estate and services incidental but doesn’t allows protection of goods, which are underlying assets of commodity derivatives.

Under the new rules, the responsibility of custodians will not be limited to holding of securities but would also include holding of goods.

The new regulations will enable participation of institutional investors such as mutual funds and portfolio managers in commodity derivatives market.
About Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI):
♦ Chairman: Ajay Tyagi
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Founded: 12 April 1992 through the SEBI Act, 1992



India’s Arunima Sinha becomes first female amputee to climb the highest peak of Antarctica – Mt Vinson

30 years old former National level Volleyball player turned mountaineer, Arunima Sinha became the world’s first female amputee to climb Mount Vinson, the highest peak of Antarctica.

The Padma Shree Awardee, Arunima Sinha became the first woman amputee to climb Mount Everest in 2013.

She is from Uttar Pradesh and had lost one of her legs in a horrific incident in which she was thrown off the Padmawati Express train in 2011.

Arunima Sinha’s aim is to summit seven peaks across seven continents. She had already scaled five peaks which are Mt Everest, Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Ebrus. Mt Kosciuszko and Mt Aconcagua.


Prof.Manoj Das, an eminent English and Odia Litterateur, received the Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja National Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature

Manoj Das, an eminent English and Odia Litterateur received the “Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja National Award for Lifetime Achievement” in literature during 53rd Foundation day ceremony organized by the Berhampur University, Odisha.

Noted Folk dance Guru Nabaghana Parida was awarded with Dakshin Odisha Loksanakruti Samman during the ceremony.

Manoj Sinha has been already honoured with Sahitya Akademi Award, Orissa Sahitya Akademi award, Sarala Award, Sahitya Bharati Award and Padma Shri.
About Odisha
♦ Governor: Ganeshi Lal
♦ Chief Minister: Naveen Patnaik
♦ Capital: Bhubaneswar
♦ National Park: Similipal National Park, Bhitarkanika National Park


15-year old Wahengbam Lamnganba Singh from Manipur, selected by Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) for receiving National Bravery Award

A 15-year-old class IXth student, Wahengbam Lamnganba Singh, of Kumbi area in Manipur, has been selected by the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) for receiving National Bravery Award.
He will be honoured because he had saved his two and half year’s old cousin brother from drowning in a pond, on May 16, 2018.

He would receive the award from Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi.

National Bravery Awards are given under the aegis of the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) every Republic Day.

These awards are broadly classified into five categories, including the Bharat Award, Sanjay Chopra Award, Geeta Chopra Award, Bapu Gaidhani Award and the General National Bravery Awards.  


Justice Asif Khosa appointed new Chief Justice of Pakistan succeeding the outgoing Justice Saqib Nisar

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, the senior most judge of the Supreme Court, was appointed as the new Chief Justice of Pakistan.

He will succeed incumbent Chief Justice Saqib Nisar who will be retiring from service on January 17, 2019.

Justice Khosa, 64, has been a senior Justice of the Supreme Court since December 2016.

He has also served as an advocate in the Lahore High Court and Supreme Court.
♦ Capital: Islamabad.
♦ Currency: Pakistani rupee.


PayU India CEO Amrish Rau joined parent company Naspers as head of financial technology

PayU India’s CEO Amrish Rau joined as the head of financial technology partnerships and investments for Naspers’ fintech business. Nasper is South African parent of PayU.

Rau will continue to report to Laurent le Moal the chief executive of PayU, which is headquartered in the Netherlands.

He joined PayU after Citrus Pay was acquired by PayU in 2016 for $130 million in cash.
♦ Headquarters: Netherlands.
PayU India:
♦ Headquarters: Gurgaon, Haryana.



World Braille Day celebrated on January 4

On 4th January 2019, United Nations observed the first official World Braille Day remembering the birth anniversary of Louis Braille who was the inventor of Braille for the people with visual disabilities.

World Braille day is observed annually on 4th January to raise awareness on the importance of Braille for approximately 1.3 billion people living with some form of distance or near vision impairment.

Louis Braille was born on 4th January 1809 in France and he lost his vision at the age of 3.

On the occasion of World Braille Day, half part of evening bulletin of All India Radio – Ahmedabad was read by a Visually challenged primary school teacher, Mr. Krishnabhai Thakar.
About United Nations
♦ Headquarters: New York, USA
♦ Secretary General: Antonio Guterres

Thought of the Day

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.

Quiz based on Daily Current Affairs 4th January 2019

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