Current Affairs

20 December, 2019


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2nd session of  2+2 Ministerial Dialogue between India & US held in Washington DC

The 2nd session of the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue between India & United States(US) was held in Washington DC, US. The meeting was hosted by the Department of State at Foggy bottom headquarters in Washington DC. The focus of the meeting was on deepening bilateral strategic and defence cooperation, exchanging perspectives on global developments, & shared leadership between the two countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

Indian Delegation: Union Minister of Defence(MoD) Shri Rajnath Singh and Minister of External Affairs(MEA) Shri Subrahmanyam Jaishankar lead the Indian delegation to the 2+2 dialogue.

NSF report 2019: India ranks world’s 3rd largest producer of scientific articles;China tops

The United States(US) govt agency National Science Foundation (NSF) released a data ‘Science and Engineering Indicators 2019’ on the number of scientific papers published worldwide for the year 2019. As per the data, India was ranked as the world’s 3rd largest publisher of science and engineering(S&E) articles. The list was topped by China.

FM Nirmala Sitharaman chairs 38th GST council meeting in New Delhi

Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman has chaired the 38th  Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council Meeting in New Delhi. The meeting was also attended by the Union Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs Shri Anurag Thakur besides Finance Ministers of States & UTs and senior officers of Ministry of Finance.
Highlights of 38th GST Council Meet:
The GST council has decided to levy uniform tax on lottery will be effective from March 01,2020 at 28%.
The Council also rationalized tax rate to 18 % (from 12%) on bags belonging to HSN code 3923/6305 (woven and non-woven bags and sacks of polythene).
GST Council has decided to give exemption from penalty on those who do not fill GSTR-1 from July 2017.

India expanded areas covered by Indo-Pacific policy

India has increased the area covered by its Indo-Pacific policy. It was announced by Minister of External Affairs(MEA) in his address at the 6th Indian Ocean Dialogue held in New Delhi. This has been done to include western Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. With this, the Indian partnership in the Indo-Pacific region which includes the Quad, ASEAN, and Western Indian Ocean, will additionally include Gulf states and Africa.

AMRUT mission flagship on urban renewal extended by 2 yrs to 2022 from 2020

The centre has decided to extend the mission period of its flagship initiative Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for urban renewal from 2020 to 2022. The extension was made, as the previously set targets were unable to be met in 500 cities of the country.

Amrut: It was first launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on June 25, 2015. The programme was preceded by Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission(JNNURM). Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs(MoHUA) is the agency responsible for AMRUT.

Deadline extended: It is for the 1st time the govt. has initiated projects on such a large scale, thus there has been a need to complete all the projects with an extended time. Hence, AMRUT Mission would require three additional years upto 2022-23 to complete all projects.

The Supreme Court sets up two- Judge Committee to speed up the disposal of  rape cases 

The Supreme Court (SC) has formed two-Judge Committee to speed up the disposal process of rape cases across the country. The cases will be monitored by the panel to make the process fast and well organized.
About National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB):
Founded- 11 March 1986
Headquarters- New Delhi
Director- Ramphal Pawar

Commerce ministry set up Tripura’s 1st SEZ at Paschim Jalefa, Sabroom

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) has announced the setting up of 1st Special Economic Zone(SEZ) in Tripura at an estimated cost of Rs 1550 crores. The SEZ is being set up in  Paschim Jalefa, Sabroom of South Tripura District and is 130kilometers away from Agartala, the capital city.  The SEZ will be a boost for Agro-Based Food Processing.

The developer of SEZ in Tripura will be Tripura Industrial Development Corporation (TIDC) Ltd.

Job creation: Through this SEZ, 12,000 skilled jobs will be generated.

Rural development ministry launches 3rd phase of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana

Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister of Rural Development, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare & Panchayati Raj,has launched Phase III of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in New Delhi.The launching event was held on the side lines of the National Workshop on PMGSY organised by the Ministry of Rural Development.
Under this phase,the central Government aims to construct 1,25,000 km of roads with an estimated cost of about 80,250 crores rupees (Central Share of Rs. 53,800 crores) for the period 2019-20 – 2024-25.

Government approves Rs.436 crore for Future Skills PRIME to skill IT professionals

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has approved Rs.436 crore for Future Skills PRIME (Programme for Reskilling/Upskilling of IT Manpower for Employability) over a period of three years. The program aims to skill 412,000 IT (Information Technology) professionals in new technologies. The training will be executed by the Ministry of Electronics, IT and Nasscom.
Future Skills PRIME:

Every learner will be provided with a skills wallet in which he/she will get an opportunity to receive 12,000 from the government of India as incentive.

Apart from the IT industry the existing infrastructure of CDAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) and NIELIT (National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology) centers will also be borrowed as resource centers.

Future Skills Initiative:


Smartphone maker realme launched financial services platform ‘realme Paysa’

Smartphone manufacturer Realme launched its new financial services platform named ‘Realme Paysa‘. The platform will provide certain products like loans, mutual funds and credit score reports to consumers. The beta version of the app which is currently being used will offer digital personal loans of up to Rs 1 lakh and SME(Small and Medium Enterprise) loans upto Rs 5 lakhs.
About Realme: 
Founded- May 4, 2018.
Founder- Sky Li.
Parent company- BBK
Headquarters- China.

Bengaluru-based PhonePe clocks 5 Bn transactions

PhonePe Private Limited (PhonePe) ,an Indian e-commerce payment system and digital wallet company, has crossed 5 billion transactions on its app.
About PhonePe:
Founded– 2015
Headquarters– Bangalore, Karnataka
Founder & CEO– Sameer Nigam
It is a mobile payment platform using which one can transfer money using UPI(Unified Payments Interface), recharge phone numbers, pay utility bills, etc.
It is accepted as a payment option across 80 lakh MSMEs(Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) in more than 215 cities in India.

GeM inks MoU with UCO Bank & BoM for payment-related services

Government e-Marketplace (GeM) ,a one stop portal to facilitate online procurement of common use Goods & Services required by various government departments, has signed MoU (Memorandum of understanding) with Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) & UCO Bank (formerly United Commercial Bank) to provide a paperless, cashless, and transparent payment system on its portal.
About UCO Bank:
Founded– 6 January 1943
Headquarters– Kolkata, West Bengal
MD & CEO– Shri. Atul Kumar Goel
Tagline– Honours Your Trust.
About Bank of Maharashtra:
Founded– 1935
Headquarters– Pune , Maharashtra
MD & CEO– A. S. Rajeev
Tagline– One family one bank.


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IAU names a star and a planet with Indian names: Bibha and Santamasa

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) named a star and a planet with Indian names. The star would be called ‘Bibha’ and the planet would be called ‘Santamasa’. The yellow star in the Sextans constellation and its exoplanet, were earlier named HD 86081 and 86081b.

Devesh Srivastava raised to the position of Chairman and MD at GIC Re

Devesh Srivastava has been raised to the position of Chairman and Managing Director (MD) at the General Insurance Corporation India (GIC Re). Previously he was managing the departments of human resource and training, ReInsurance Worldwide (RIWW), corporate communications, CMD’s Secretariat and innovation centre, he was transferred to GIC in 1999.
About General Insurance Corporation India (GIC Re):
Founded- 22 November 1972
Headquarters- Mumbai, India
Chairman- Devesh Srivastava      

NCLAT restores Cyrus Mistry as executive chairman of Tata Group

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has restored former Tata group Chairman Cyrus Mistry as executive chairman of Tata Group who was ousted from his position citing nonperformance in work. He was then replaced by Natarajan Chandrasekaran. NCLAT has now held Natarajan Chandrasekaran appointment as illegal after Mistry’s restoration.
About National Company Law Appellate Tribunal NCLAT:
Fact- It adjudicates issues relating to Indian companies.
Founded- 1 June 2016.
Headquarters- New Delhi.
Act- Companies Act 2013.

Mallika Srinivasan, chairman of TAFE appointed as a board member of USIBC

Mallika Srinivasan, Chairman of Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited (TAFE) was appointed as one of the board members of the United States (US)- India Business Council (USIBC), a global board of the US Chamber of Commerce. The appointment is to take immediate effect as she joins a prestigious list of Chief Executive Officers (CEO) and executives on USIBC 35-member board.
About US- India Business Council (USIBC):
Founded- 1975
Headquarters- Washington D.C, United States (US)
Chairman- Nisha Desai Biswal

2019 Sahitya Akademi Awards in 23 languages announced

The Sahitya Akademi announced its annual Sahitya Akademi Awards in 23 languages for the year 2019. 7 books of poetry, 4 novel, 6 short stories, 3 essays and one in each of non-fiction, autobiography and biography won the awards.

Award Announcement: Usually Sahitya Akademi Award for 24 languages will be awarded. This time 23 languages were announced. Nepali (24th language) will be announced later.

Shashi Tharoor: Indian politician, writer and Congress party member Shashi Tharoor won the Sahitya Akademi Award for his book “An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India”.

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