DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS : December 15 & 16, 2019

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Govt took several initiatives for providing Ease of Doing Business

  • The Corporate Affairs Ministry has taken several initiatives for providing Ease of Doing Business to law-abiding corporates.
  • This is in pursuance of the objective of providing greater Ease of Doing Business, bring about greater transparency in corporate structure and fostering better corporate compliance to enhance the efficiency of the process under the Companies Act of 2013.
  • They include the creation of an institution of a robust Insolvency and Bankruptcy framework. India has improved its ranking on the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report moving up 14 positions to 63rd position as compared to 77th position in 2018.
  • India’s leap of 14 ranks in the Ease of Doing Business ranking is significant considering that there has been a continuous improvement since 2015 and for the third consecutive year India is amongst the top 10 improvers.
  • The Ministry has contributed towards insolvency resolution. India’s ranking jumped 56 places to 52 in 2019 from 108 in 2018.
  • Recovery rate increased from 26.5 per cent in 2018 to 71.6 per cent in 2019. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 12th of December, 2019.

Rashtrapati Bhavan, Delhi hosted university heads’ conference

  • Rashtrapati Bhavan hosted a conference of 46 Heads of Central Universities and Institutes of Higher Learning in several fields including agriculture, pharmaceuticals, aviation, design, petroleum and energy.
  • Speaking at the concluding session today, President Ram Nath Kovind said, India has set itself for sustainable development as it strives to eliminate poverty and become a middle-income country.
  • He said, each of these institutes will be instrumental to the realization of the country’s socio-economic goals. He said that the Central Agricultural Universities can support the national goal of promoting sustainable agriculture, productivity and supporting farmers with useful research.
  • During the conference, different sub-groups comprising of heads of various institutes made presentations on issues such as the promotion of research, promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship among students and building industry-academia linkages.

Ayush Minister gives information about Ayurveda, Siddha & Unani system’s recognition in neighbouring countries

  • The government has said the Indian systems of Ayurveda and Siddha are recognized in Nepal and Sri Lanka and the Unani system in Bangladesh. Minister of State for Ayush Shripad Yesso Naik gave this information in a written reply in the Lok Sabha last week.
  • He said the Ayush Ministry has signed country-to-country MoUs with 22 countries for cooperation in the field of Traditional Medicine and Homoeopathy.

President Kovind to present Visitor’s awards 2019

  • President Ram Nath Kovind will present the Visitor’s awards, 2019 at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday. The awards will be conferred during the conference of Vice-Chancellors of Central Universities, Directors of IISERs and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Subsequent to the presentation of the awards, the conference will witness presentations by several sub groups of the heads of institutions. 
  • These will on issues such as the promotion of research, innovation and entrepreneurship, industry-academia linkages, filling up of vacancies, creating and utilising alumni-based endowment funds and completing infrastructure projects. 
  • Apart from the heads of 49 institutions of higher learning, Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Sanjay Dhotre will attend the Conference. Secretaries of concerned Departments, Chairmen of University Grants Commission and AICTE will also take part in it.

Information having national importance should reach people fast, says Prasar Bharti CEOR

  • Prasar Bharti Chief Executive Officer, Shashi Sekhar Vempati today stressed on the need for leveraging advancements in technologies like direct to mobile for disseminating right information.
  • He was speaking at a conference held by Broadcast Engineering Society, Hyderabad chapter on Future Broadcasting-Direct to Mobile.
  • He said, information having national importance should reach people fast and direct to mobile will help in giving people the right information in the right perspective. He asked broadcasters to focus on reaching people direct on mobiles in this view.
  • He also observed that direct to mobile is gaining importance especially when the difference between communication and broadcasting is getting blurred in the emerging 5G technology.
  • Telangana IT and Industries Principle Secretary Jayesh Ranjan said the state government has initiated several measures to utilize advance technology for the benefit of common people.
  • Referring to Digital classrooms, Mr Ranjan said, results are improved by about 10 per cent due to digital classes. He also said, 8.5 million households have been connected with the net through optic fibre.

Govt plans to install more automatic weather stations across country

  • The government proposes to set up more Automated Weather Stations across the country.
  • They include 200 each for North East India and District Agriculture Meteorological Units and 100 each for tourism places and Kerala.
  • Giving this information in a written reply in the Lok Sabha last week, Earth Sciences Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, 80 Automated Weather Stations will be set for measurement of snowfall and snow depth along the Himalayas and North East.

Over 7700 cases settled by National Lok Adalat in J&K, Ladakh

  • Over 7,700 cases were settled yesterday at the day-long National Lok Adalat across the twin union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • A total of 11,461 cases were taken up by 128 benches at various courts of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh during the Lok Adalat.
  • 7,728 cases were disposed of and an amount of over 15.87 crore rupees was awarded as compensation and settlement in various cases, including that of civil, criminal and labour disputes.

Virtual Police Station inaugurated at Andhra University

  • Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy inaugurated the Virtual Police Station at Andhra University. This is the first such facility in the State of Andhra Pradesh. The AU facility is seen as a pilot project and will later be replicated at other educational institutions. The initiative is expected to help bridge the gap between students and the police department
  • The Virtual Police Station has been set up on the suggestion of Andhra University’s Vice-Chancellor to make it easy for students to report their grievances.


Sri Lankan govt formally releases its new National policy Framework

  • Sri Lankan government today formally released its new National policy Framework meant to guide the government ministries and departments in implementing their policies. The framework titled ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor’ is aimed at achieving fourfold outcome of being a productive citizen, a contented family, a virtuous, disciplined and just society and a prosperous nation. 
  • Among the main objectives are maintaining a 6.5 per cent or higher GDP growth rate under the macroeconomic programme, achieving a per capita income exceeding 6,500 US dollar during 2020 to 2025. The policy further elaborates to keep the unemployment rate below 4 per cent and the inflation rate below 5 per cent, as well as to manage the government revenue and expenditure to keep the budget deficit below 4 per cent of GDP. 
  • The policy mandates to implement a national and international partnership based on principles of priority to national security, friendly and non-aligned foreign policy. It also mandates an administration free from corruption and new constitution that fulfills people’s wishes.

China suspends additional tariffs on US goods after two sides announce major breakthrough in trade war

  • China suspended additional tariffs on US products today after Washington and Beijing announced a major thaw in their trade war Friday.
  • China’s finance ministry announced today that it will suspend the planned addition of 10 percent and 5 percent tariffs on some US imports. The Ministry also said that China will continue to suspend additional tariffs on US-made autos and spare parts.
  • The move follows US President Trump’s cancellation of new tariffs on Chinese products as part of a phase one trade deal
  • On Friday, China’s commerce ministry said, it had agreed with the US a mini-deal that includes a progressive rollback of tariffs and the protection of intellectual property rights.
  • The two sides have yet to sign the agreement, which represents a major breakthrough in the 21-month standoff between the world’s two largest economies.

Martyred Intellectuals day observed in Bangladesh yesterday

  • The Martyred Intellectuals Day was observed in Bangladesh yesterday to commemorate the intellectuals killed by the Pakistan army and their local collaborators a few days before Bangladesh got liberated in 1971.
  • Hundreds of scholars, doctors, engineers, artists, teachers and other eminent personalities were massacred in Dhaka on this day in 1971. They were dragged out of their homes and brutally murdered by the Pakistan army and their collaborators in Bangladesh.
  • President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid tribute to the martyred intellectuals by placing a wreath at the Martyred Intellectuals Memorial at Mirpur in Dhaka..
  • Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre (IGCC) of High Commission of India also organized a music and poetry program in Dhaka to commemorate the Martyred Intellectuals Day.
  • Eminent poet Syed Al Farooque and singer Nahid Nazia rendered the music poetry performance to pay tribute on this solemn occasion. High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das felicitated the artists.

West Bengal tops in a 100-day work programme for promoting livelihoods

  • West Bengal has been selected for the 1st prize in 100-Day Work Programme for Promoting Livelihoods.
  • The Rural Development Ministry has selected Bankura and Cooch Behar Districts of the state for 1st and 2nd positions among districts in the country in implementation of rural job scheme.
  • Disclosing this in a Facebook post today, the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also informed that Baburmahal Gram Panchayat of Kulpi in South 24 Parganas District has also bagged best performance award from the Centre.


Corporate Affairs Ministry takes several initiatives for providing Ease of Doing Business to law abiding corporates

  • The Corporate Affairs Ministry has taken several initiatives for providing Ease of Doing Business to law abiding corporates. This is in pursuance of the objective of providing greater Ease of Doing Business, bring about greater transparency in corporate structure and fostering better corporate compliance to enhance efficiency of the process under the Companies Act of 2013. These include creation of institution of a robust Insolvency and Bankruptcy framework. 
  • India has improved its ranking on the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report moving up 14 positions to 63rd position as compared to 77th position in 2018. India’s leap of 14 ranks in the Ease of Doing Business ranking is significant considering that there has been continuous improvement since 2015 and for the third consecutive year India is amongst the top 10 improvers. 
  • The Ministry has contributed towards insolvency resolution. India’s ranking jumped 56 places to 52 in 2019 from 108 in 2018. Recovery rate increased from 26.5 per cent in 2018 to 71.6 per cent in 2019. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 12th of this month. 
  • During the last three years more than 1,25,000 companies have been incorporated every year in the country in this manner, as compared to 50-60,000 companies in earlier years. Corporate Affairs Ministry has released the National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct.

Amazon’s Audible launches app “Audible Suno” in India

  • Amazon earlier this month launched a portable, battery powered smart speaker – Amazon Echo Input Portable – especially for Indian market. And now the company has launched a new app that, like the portable smart speaker has been launched exclusively for the Indian audience.
  • Amazon-owned company, Audible, has launched the Audible Suno app on the Google Play Store and it offers audio content from nearly 60 content creators including celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Karan Johar, Tabu and Anurag Kashyap, both in Hindi and in English.
  • On Apple’s App Store, these shows are available in the company’s existing Audible app.


Former PM Abdelmadjid Tebboune elected as the President of Algeria

  • Former Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune has been elected as Algeria‘s new president after a contentious election denounced by the country’s protest movement.
  • The 74-year-old came first in the five-men presidential race, garnering 58.15 percent of Thursday’s vote, according to official results. Turnout stood at just over 41 percent.


Rohit Sharma becomes brand ambassador of La Liga in India

  • La Liga, the top tier of Spanish club football, announced cricketer Rohit Sharma as its brand ambassador in India.
  • He becomes the first non-footballer in the league’s 90-year-old history to endorse the brand. Rohit Sharma came on board after being sounded out by Jose Antonio Cachaza, Managing Director, La Liga India last year. 
  • La Liga has been actively taking initiatives to promote the football, including group screenings, and friendly games.


New Zealand Olympic athletic champion Peter Snell passes away

  • New Zealand’s Peter Snell is the last male athlete to have completed the 800m and 1500m double at an Olympic Games, which he achieved in Tokyo in 1964.
  • The former 800m and mile world record holder also claimed 800m gold four years earlier in Rome.


Nation celebrates Vijay Diwas today

  • The nation celebrates Vijay Diwas today to commemorate India’s victory over Pakistan in 1971 war. Rich tributes are being paid to the martyrs who laid down their lives during the war. 
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, he salutes the courage and valour of Indian soldiers. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, India is proud of the Armed Forces who have defended the country in every situation. In his message, Mr Singh said the nation salutes the indomitable courage and valour of India’s armed forces.


CBDT extends advance tax payment deadline for northeastern region to Dec 31

  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has extended the date for payment of third installment of Advance Tax for financial year 2019-20 to 31st of this month for the North Eastern Region.
  • Earlier, the deadline was 15th of December. The decision to this effect was taken in view of the recent disturbance in the region. Advance tax payments, under the direct tax category, are made four times in a financial year.

Mandatory to link PAN-Aadhaar by Dec 31: Income Tax Department

  • The Income Tax Department has said that it will be mandatory to link Permanent Account Number (PAN) with Aadhaar by the end of this month. This will facilitate to reap seamless benefits of income tax services. The deadline for linking PAN with Aadhaar was extended till the 31st of December, by Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). Earlier, the deadline was 30th of September.
  • In order to link a PAN with Aadhaar online, the assess is required to log in to the e-filing portal.
  • The Income Tax Department also provides an SMS-based facility to enable the linking. Aadhaar is issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to a resident of India and PAN is a 10-digit alphanumeric number allotted by the I-T Department to a person, firm or entity.

Wholesale price inflation rose to 0.58% in November

  • The annual rate of inflation based on monthly Wholesale Price Index (WPI) rose to 0.58% in November as opposed to 0.16% in October, the previous month, according to an official statement released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.
  • The government data comes after it was reported that retail inflation rose to 5.54% in November indicating higher food prices.
  • Prices of several vegetables increased in October after supplies were diminished following heavy rainfall that damaged harvests.


Green Deal: Nuclear energy one of EU’s solution to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050

  • European Union leaders agreed Friday that nuclear energy will be part of the bloc’s solution to making its economy carbon neutral by 2050, allowing them to win the support of two coal-dependent countries.
  • EU heads of state and government agreed that nuclear energy will be recognized as a way to fight climate change as part of a deal that endorsed the climate target. While Poland did not immediately agree to the plan, the concessions on nuclear energy were enough for the Czech Republic and Hungary to give their approval.
  • The two nations had the support of France, which relies on nuclear power for 60 percent of its electricity. They managed to break the resistance of sceptical countries, including Luxembourg, Austria and Germany to get a clear reference to nuclear power in the meeting’s conclusions.


Bengaluru city police first in India to have bicycle-borne cops

  • In the wake of increasing criminal activities in Bengaluru’s Cubbon Park, and neighbouring areas, the city police have initiated ‘Pedal Police. This is the first time the BCP has saddled up to fight crime on a bicycle. The pedal police were launched by Bengaluru City Police Commissioner (BCP) Bhaskar Rao, IPS. Five bicycles were sponsored by a non-profit trust, Citizens for Sustainability (CiFoS), as a part of #ABetterBangalorean campaign.
  • The pedal police branded bicycles equipped with police lights, alarms, reflective vests and helmets were distributed to police personnel of the Cubbon Park Police station by Commissioner Rao. Rao said that the idea behind pedal police is to cover all parts of the city as there are several areas where taking a four-wheeler or two-wheeler will be difficult and with this patrolling can be eco-friendly.

Nagaland governor RN Ravi gets additional charge of Meghalaya


  • Nagaland governor and Centre’s interlocutor for Naga talks, RN Ravi, has been assigned the additional responsibility as the Governor of Meghalaya.
  • Ravi is a former intelligence official who has specialised in the Northeast. Seen as the figure who was responsible for the framework agreement signed between the government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isaak- Muivah) in 2014, he was appointed the governor of Nagaland earlier this year.


NEFT Transactions to Be Available 24×7 From Today, Including Holidays

  • Transferring money online has become a lot easier from today as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has allowed National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) facility available for 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. So no more checking the deadlines or referring the calendar while making transactions because the 24X7 NEFT system will be available on all days of the year, including holidays.
  • NEFT does not have any minimum transaction limit, whereas RTGS can only be used for high-value transactions with a minimum limit of Rs 2 lakh.

Moody Cuts India’s GDP Forecast for FY20 To 4.9% From 5.8%       

  • As India’s growth has been languishing and in the September ended quarter of the current financial year it reported a growth rate of just 4.5% in comparison to the 5% figure recorded for the earlier quarter, Moody’s Investors Service on December 16 reduced its India GDP forecast for FY 20 from 5.8% earlier to 4.9%.
  • Further even though rate of economic growth in India is expected to gain pace from next year onwards due to spill over impact from policy stimulus, GDP is expected to be lower than what has been recorded for recent years.

Reliance Industries topples IOC to become India’s largest company        

  • Boosted by its consumer-facing businesses like organised retail and telecom, Reliance Industries ended state-owned Indian Oil Corporation’s (IOC) 10-year reign as India’s largest company, topping the Fortune India 500 list.
  • State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) was ranked third, same as in 2018. It was followed by State Bank of India, Tata Motors and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) -all with no changes in their ranking between 2018 and 2019.


Ben Stokes wins prestigious BBC sports personality of the year 2019 award

  • England all-rounder Ben Stokes has won the esteemed BBC sports personality of the year 2019 award for his role in the ICC World Cup 2019 and the home Ashes series. The 28-year-old is only the fifth cricketer, and the first after Andrew -Flintoff in 2005, to have collected this award. 
  • The honour, announced, is part of BBC’s annual sporting award, and commemorates the best of British sports, with the public voting on shortlisted prospect. England men’s ODI team was named team of the year for their World Cup victory, while the win itself was picked greatest sporting moment of 2019.


ICC Test Rankings: Virat Kohli’s reign continues as Marnus Labuschagne breaks into top 5

  • Virat Kohli’s reign continues as Marnus Labuschagne breaks into top 5.India skipper Virat Kohli has maintained his top spot in the latest ICC Test Rankings for batsmen. Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have also maintained their respective 4th and 6th spot in the rankings where Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne and Babar Azam have moved upwards.
  • Azam has reached the top 10 for the first time, moving from 13th to ninth position after his unbeaten knock of 102 in the drawn Rawalpindi Test against Sri Lanka. He is currently No.1 in the T20I rankings and has enjoyed the best ranking of second in the ODIs.

World chess champion Magnus Carlsen becomes No.1 Fantasy Premier League player

  • Magnus Carlsen is a No. 1 player in both reality and fantasy.
  • The world chess champion from Norway is showing he has a flair for another game by moving to the top of the standings in Fantasy Premier League, an online soccer competition played by more than 7 million people.


French New Wave star Anna Karina passes away

  • France’s culture minister, Franck Reister took to Twitter to announce Anna Karina’s death French New Wave star Anna Karina, who served as a muse for Jean-Luc Godard and appeared in eight of his films, is no more. She was 79.
  • Karina’s best known films include “The Little Soldier”, “Vivre sa vie”, “Band of Outsiders”, “Pierrot le Fou” and “Alphaville” all throughout the 1960s. She starred in “A Woman Is a Woman”, as well, in a performance that earned her the silver bear award for best actress at the Berlin Film Festival in 1961.

Chelsea Lately star Chuy Bravo dies at 63

  • Chuy Bravo, who served as a sidekick to comedian Chelsea Handler on her show, has died. According to Deadline, Bravo, who had turned 63 on December 7, passed away in Mexico City on Sunday. 
  • The cause of his death is yet to be determined. The Mexican, who had dwarfism, was best known for working with Handler on her show “Chelsea Lately” during the period of 2007-2014.

Former Union Minister of State Ishwar Dayal Swami passes away

  • Ishwar Dayal Swami won his first Lok Sabha election in 1996, was re-elected in 1999 and made Union Minister of State for Home in A.B. Vajpayee’s National Democratic Alliance government.

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