• Current Affairs , 18 December 2019

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    1. Address by the Hon’ble President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind On the Occasion of Presentation of the 5th Visitor’s Award and Meet of Vice-Chancellors of Central Universities
    2. Fifth meeting of the Economic Advisory Council of the Fifteenth Finance Commission
    3. New Guidelines and Simplified Approval Process for Coal Projects
    4. India among top 10 improvers in EODB
    5. Index Numbers of Wholesale Price in India (Base: 2011-12=100) Review for the month of November,2019
    6. Three-day state-level orange festival begins in Manipur
    7. 7-Day International Film Festival in Khajuraho
    8. Lt Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane to be next Army Chief
    9. IAS Ravi Mittal takes charge as new I&B Secretary
    • Indo – Russian Tri- Services Exercise Indra 2019
    1. Portuguese PM Antonio Costa to visit India from 19-20 December
    2. Controversy erupts over Razakar list in Bangladesh
    3. Pope Francis abolishes “pontifical secret” used in clergy sex abuse cases
    4. Musharraf Pervez sentenced to death for high treason
    5. Smriti Mandhana in ICC’s ODI and T20 team of the year

     

     

     

    NATIONAL NEWS

     

     

    1. Address by the Hon’ble President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind On the Occasion of Presentation of the 5th Visitor’s Award and Meet of Vice-Chancellors of Central Universities

     

     

    • In the two sessions today, we heard about the best practices from some of the top ranked institutes and universities and also saw the presentations of sub-groups on different issues faced by them. I thank all of you for your concise but very informative presentations. I am happy to note that we have been making progress particularly in holding convocations, updating syllabus and curriculum, filling faculty positions and speeding up infrastructure projects. But there is always more room for improvement and we must strive to do better each year in all these parameters.
    • Though there have been noteworthy achievements in several areas, however, as we have heard, there are areas in which you are facing challenges. We need to acknowledge those challenges and then address them through a conscious, clear and systematic approach.
    • In many cases, these challenges cannot be resolved by the universities alone and they need institutional and long term support of the Government. In this regard, I appreciate the presence of the Minister for Human Resource Development and other officers from the Ministry. They are the people who can ensure that the goals of your institutes are aligned with the aspirations and hopes of the people of this country. I am sure the heads of the institutes will seek their guidance as they chart their growth stories.
    • However, a lot of possible improvements lie fully within your own grasp. Simple steps like strictly adhering to your Academic Calendar for admissions, conduct of classes, examinations, declaration of results and awarding of degrees at convocations and so on, can be the starting point on the journey towards excellence. Similarly, there are some steps that you can take to address the shortage of faculty in your universities. For instance, you can develop a robust visiting faculty program or use online teaching tools. You must also strengthen your existing faculty through leadership programs such as LEAP, that is now entering its second year.
    • I do not wish to dwell in detail on the themes on which you made presentations. It is imperative to fill up vacancies and attract top-quality faculty. At the same time, you must ensure adequate gender balance in your institutes, particularly of the faculty. I have been appointing more women as visitor nominees in various committees and I urge all of you to do everything you can to ensure adequate representation. Also, all of you must collaborate with the industry as well as your alumni in creative ways. IIT Delhi has made a presentation on their alumni endowment fund today. You must embrace your alumni and involve them closely in your activities. Your alumni are important stakeholders in your growth and they will always remain your most loyal and dedicated supporters. I hope to hear from more of you when we meet next year on your alumni initiatives.
    • I had mentioned in the morning session that our universities and higher educational institutions should play a leading role in addressing the specific challenges faced by our nation and our society. Many of these challenges require creative and innovative solutions. It is your paramount duty to ensure that your campuses emerge as spaces that nurture free expression and ideas, where experimentation is encouraged and failure is not ridiculed but is seen as learning. In addition, universities should become the laboratories for exposing students to the problems that need to be addressed in the cause of nation-building.

     

    1. Fifth meeting of the Economic Advisory Council of the Fifteenth Finance Commission
    • The fifth meeting of the Economic Advisory Council of the Fifteenth Finance Commission (XVFC) was held in New Delhi today. Chairman and Members of the XVFC, members of the Advisory Council and some special invitees attended the meeting.
    • Advisory Council Members were updated by the Commission regarding the additional terms of reference extending XVFC’s term till October’2020. Additional ToRs also asked the Commission to submit two reports- one, for the year 2020-21 and second report for the five year period of 2021-22 to 2025-26.
    • Advisory Council was informed about submission of the 2020-21 report and now the Commission is on its next task of preparing the report for 2021-26 period.
    • Possible macro assumptions for the Commission’s award period relating to real growth, inflation etcwere discussed in detail. Issues like the structural shift in inflation, the relationship between the GDP deflator and the consumer price inflation and possible trajectories of movement in real activity were discussed.
    • Tax revenues and expenditure patterns emerging both at the Union and the States level. Possible way to improve tax collection for additional resource mobilization.
    • Issues related to stabilization of Goods & Services Tax (GST), relationship between GST Council and Finance Commission and GST compensation being paid to States.
    • Issues related to compliance and adherence to Fiscal responsibility legislations (FRLs) enacted by respective governments. The need for bringing in fiscal  transparency was underlined in the discussions.

     

     

    1. New Guidelines and Simplified Approval Process for Coal Projects

     

    • In sync with the Government’s commitment for ‘Ease of doing business’, theMinistry of Coalhas decided to simplify the process of clearance for Coal Mining Projects. This will not only expedite operationalisation of already allotted coal blocks, but also encourage prospective investors/bidders in future auctions.
    • The Ministry of Coal has re-engineeredthe Mining Plan preparation and approval process. This is likely to slash the approval period substantially from existing 90 days to about30 days. The re-engineering process includes simplification of guidelines& format for preparation of Mining Plan, amendments in relevant provisions of Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 and approval process.
    • The proposed simplified guidelines and format not only reduce the mining plan formulation time but also make the document lighter and easier to comprehend. This will further facilitate hosting the soft copy in an accessible data base.
    • The proposed system of mining plan preparation and approval allows the leasee to get the mining plan prepared by Mining Plan Preparing Agency (MPPA) and get it certified by Mining Plan Certifying Agency (MPCA) and submit the mining plan to Ministry of Coal for approval. This will improve the quality &reduce time fordetailed scrutiny.
    • To ensure the quality of preparation of Mining Plan, Government approved accrediting body will accredit agency(s) consisting a team of multi-disciplinary background, which will be recognised for preparation of mining plan and for certification (i.e. scrutiny from geo-mining & techno-administrative angles),Government will accredit agency(s) consisting of multi-disciplinary domain experts, who will certify that the mining plan prepared by MPPA, is in line with the prevailing guidelines and is complete in all respects. On certification by the MPCA, a committee in government will considerthe Mining Plan for approval and Government will dispose application of within the stipulated period.
    • In the next phase to further ease the system, the entire Mining Plan approval process is proposed to be made online forapplication, processing and approval. This system will ultimately interact with PARIVESH portal of MoEF&CC and similar portals of other related ministries and organisations of the Central and State Governments.

     

    1. India among top 10 improvers in EODB

    • India’s remarkable jump in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report 2020.
    • India ranks 63rd among 190 countries improving by 14 ranks from its rank of 77 in 2019. India has improved its rank in 7 out of 10 indicators and has moved closer to international best practices. The 2020 edition of the Report acknowledges India as one of the top 10 improvers, third time in a row, with an improvement of 67 ranks in 3 years. It is also the highest jump by any large country since 2011.
    • A total of 25,930 startups are now recognised under the Startup India Initiative, of which 7,033startups have been recognised since 1st June 2019.
    • The Startup India Hub has 3,64,818 registered users of which 44,197 users have been added since 1st June 2019.With the amendment in Section 54GB of Income Tax Act on August 1st, 2019 the condition of minimum holding of 50% of share capital or voting rights in the startup has been relaxed to 25%.
    • In the past 4 years India’s rank in the GII has improved from the 81strank in 2015 to the present 52nd rank in GII 2019 report. India became the first developing country to launch the Global Innovation Index (GII) in association with World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and Confederation of India (CII).
    • Final Patent (amendment) Rules, 2019– published on 17th September, 2019 amending The Patents Rules, 2003 has led to significant simplification of rules, especially for startups and MSMEs.
    • The Patent (Second Amendment) Rules, 2019published to reduce fees for small entity/MSMEs for processing of patent applications under various sections of the Patents Act, 1970 will incentivise MSMEs to file for more parents.
    • In order to promote export the Department of Commerce has undertaken various measures:
    • Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) has introduced a new Export Credit Insurance Scheme (ECIS) called ‘NIRVIK’ for exporters in which increased insurance cover for export credit has been extended by banks from existing average of 60% to 90% for both Principal and Interest.
    • Accounts with limits below Rs. 80 crore, the premium rates will be moderated to 0.60 per annum and for those exceeding Rs. 80 crore, it will be 0.72 per annum for the same enhanced cover. It is expected that the initiative will cost about Rs 1,700 cr per annum. It will provide comfort to banks, bring down the cost of credit due to capital relief, less provision requirement and liquidity due to quick settlement of claims and will ensure timely and adequate working capital and relief to MSMEs.

     

    1. Index Numbers of Wholesale Price in India (Base: 2011-12=100) Review for the month of November,2019

     

    • The official Wholesale Price Index for ‘All Commodities’ (Base: 2011-12=100) for the month of November,2019 rose by 0.10% to 122.3 (provisional) from 122.2 (provisional) for the previous month.
    • The annual rate of inflation, based on monthly WPI, stood at 0.58% (provisional) for the month of November,2019 (over November,2018) as compared to 0.16% (provisional) for the previous month and 4.47% during the corresponding month of the previous year. Build up inflation rate in the financial year so far was 2.00% compared to a buildup rate of 4.56% in the corresponding period of the previous year.
    • Inflation for important commodities / commodity groups is indicated in Annex-1 and Annex-II.The movement of the index for the various commodity group is summarized below:-
    • PRIMARY ARTICLES (Weight 22.62%)
    • The index for this major group rose by 0.9% to 147.3 (provisional) from 146.0 (provisional) for the previous month. The groups and items which showed variations during the month are as follows:-
    • The index for ‘Food Articles’ group rose by 1.4% to 162.4 (provisional) from 160.2 (provisional) for the previous month due to higher price ofurad (19%), fish-marine (6%), moong (5%), rajma (4%), jowar, egg, condiments & spices, fruits & vegetables andmasur (3% each), wheat, arhar, poultry chicken andbajra (2% each) and gram, fish-inland and pork (1% each). However, the price ofmaize (6%), tea (4%), ragi (3%) and beef and buffalo meat and betel leaves (1% each) declined.
    • The index for ‘Non-Food Articles’ group rose by 0.6% to 127.0 (provisional) from 126.3 (provisional) for the previous month due to higher price of floriculture (15%), raw rubber and gaur seed (5% each), hides (raw) and raw jute (2% each) and linseed, rape & mustard seed, fodder, gingelly seed (sesamum), safflower (kardi seed), soyabean andniger seed (1% each). However, the price of raw silk (8%), groundnut seed (6%), castor seed and cotton seed (4% each), raw cotton and coir fibre (3% each) and copra (coconut) (1%) declined.
    • The index for ‘Minerals’ group declined by 2.3% to 154.8 (provisional) from 158.4 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of iron ore (8%), manganese ore (7%), limestone (3%) and copper concentrate and chromite (1% each). However, the price of lead concentrate and zinc concentrate (4% each) moved up.
    • The index for ‘Crude Petroleum & Natural Gas’ group declined by 3.1% to 83.1 (provisional) from 85.8 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of crude petroleum (5%). However, the price of natural gas (1%) moved up.
    • FUEL & POWER (Weight 13.15%)
    • The index for this major group declined by 0.8% to 101.3 (provisional) from 102.1 (provisional) for the previous month. The groups and items which showed variations during the month are as follows:-
    • The index for ‘Mineral Oils’ group declined by 1.5% to 91.6 (provisional) from 93.0 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of furnace oil (24%), ATF (3%) and HSD (1%) and bitumen (1%). However, the price of LPG (12%), naphtha (3%) and kerosene (1%) moved up.
    • MANUFACTURED PRODUCTS (Weight 64.23%)
    • The index for this major group declined by 0.1% to 117.8 (provisional) from 117.9 (provisional) for the previous month. The groups and items which showed variations during the month are as follows:-
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Food Products’ group rose by 0.6% to 135.3 (provisional) from 134.5 (provisional) for the previous month due to higher price of bagasse (5%), coffee powder with chicory (4%), palm oil, molasses, mustard oil, vanaspati and honey (3% each), ice cream, powder milk, wheat bran and spices (including mixed spices) (2% each) and processed tea, sunflower oil, rice bran oil, soyabean oil, cotton seed oil, instant coffee, butter, processing and preserving of fruit and vegetables, gram powder (besan), basmati rice, manufacture of bakery products andsooji (rawa ) (1% each). However, the price ofgur (6%), manufacture of macaroni, noodles, couscous and similar farinaceous products (4%), other meats, preserved/processed and rice products (2% each) and manufacture of cocoa, chocolate and sugar confectionery, manufacture of starches and starch products, copra oil, manufacture of prepared animal feeds, buffalo meat, fresh/frozen and sugar (1% each) declined.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Beverages’ group rose by 0.3% to 123.8 (provisional) from 123.4 (provisional) for the previous month due to higher price of aerated drinks/soft drinks (incl. soft drink concentrates) and rectified spirit (1% each). However, the price of beer and bottled mineral water (1% each) declined.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Tobacco Products’ group declined by 1.3% to 153.2 (provisional) from 155.2 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of cigarette and other tobacco products (2% each). However, the price ofbiri (1%) moved up.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Textiles’ group declined by 0.5% to 117.1 (provisional) from 117.7 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of synthetic yarn andtexturised and twisted yarn (2% each) and viscose yarn and cotton yarn (1% each). However, the price of manufacture of cordage, rope, twine and netting (2%) moved up.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Wearing Apparel’ group rose by 0.4% to 138.9 (provisional) from 138.4 (provisional) for the previous month due to higher price of manufacture of wearing apparel (woven), except fur apparel (1%).
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Leather and Related Products’ group rose by 0.1% to 118.7 (provisional) from 118.6 (provisional) for the previous month due to higher price of chrome tanned leather, canvas shoes and travel goods, handbags, office bags, etc. (1% each). However, the price of vegetable tanned leather (3%), belt & other articles of leather and athletic/sport shoes (2% each) and waterproof footwear (1%) declined.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Wood and of Products of Wood and Cork ‘ group declined by 0.5% to 133.7 (provisional) from 134.4 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of timber/wooden plank, sawn/resawn (2%) and wood cutting, processed/sized, wooden box/crate and lamination wooden sheets/veneer sheets (1% each). However, the price of wooden board (non-electrical) (1%) moved up.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Paper and Paper Products’ group declined by 0.5% to 119.7 (provisional) from 120.3 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of hard board (3%), paper carton/box, card board and newsprint (2% each) and pulp board, paper for printing & writing, laminated paper and corrugated paper board (1% each). However, the price of tissue paper, poster paper, base paper and bristle paper board (1% each) moved up.
    • The index for ‘Printing and Reproduction of Recorded Media ‘ group declined by 0.6% to 152.3 (provisional) from 153.2 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of journal/periodical and hologram (3d) (2% each) and printed form & schedule and sticker plastic (1% each).
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Chemicals and Chemical Products’ group declined by 0.5% to 116.8 (provisional) from 117.4 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of camphor (16%), organic surface active agent and caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) (6% each), carbon black and plasticizer (4% each), phthalic anhydride, organic solvent and nitric acid (3% each), alkyl benzene, tooth paste/tooth powder, varnish (all types), soda ash/washing soda, mono ethyl glycol, ammonia liquid, sulphuric acid, additive and dye stuff/dyes incl. dye intermediates and pigments/colours (2% each) and polyester fibre fabric, poly vinyl chloride (PVC), ammonium nitrate, ethylene oxide, other inorganic chemicals, poly propylene (PP), rubber chemicals, foundry chemical, toilet soap, shampoo, polyethylene, XLPE compound, explosive, adhesive excluding gum, insecticide and pesticide, polyester chips or polyethylene terepthalate (pet) chips, viscose staple fibre, paint, detergent cake, washing soap cake/bar/powder, sodium silicate and phosphoric acid (1% each). However, the price of hydrogen peroxide (8%), gelatine (7%), catalysts and fatty acid (3% each) and mixed fertilizer, ammonia gas, adhesive tape (non-medicinal), alcohols, menthol, agro chemical formulation, ammonium sulphate, amine, oleoresin and aromatic chemicals (1% each) moved up.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Pharmaceuticals, Medicinal Chemical and Botanical Products’ group rose by 0.6% to 126.6 (provisional) from 125.9 (provisional) for the previous month due to higher price of plastic capsules (3%) and API& formulations of vitamins, antibiotics & preparations thereof, antioxidants and anti-diabetic drug excluding insulin (i.e. tolbutam) (1% each). However, the price of anti-cancer drugs and anti-retroviral drugs for HIV treatment (3% each), simvastatin and anti-inflammatory preparation (2% each) and antipyretic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory formulations, vials/ampoule, glass, empty or filled and anti-allergic drugs (1% each) declined.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Rubber and Plastics Products’ group declined by 0.6% to 107.7 (provisional) from 108.3 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of condoms and plastic furniture (4% each) and motor car tube, processed rubber and tractor tyre (2% each) and rubber cloth/sheet, medium & heavy commercial vehicle tyre, rubber moulded goods, plastic tube (flexible/non-flexible), plastic box/container, plastic film, elastic webbing, plastic components, polypropylene film, 2/3 wheeler tyre, rubber components & parts, cycle/cycle rickshaw tyre, solid rubber tyres/wheels, plastic bag and plastic tape (1% each). However, the price of polyester film (non-metalized) (4%), conveyer belt (fibre based) (3%) and rubber tread, rubber crumb and plastic bottle (1% each) moved up.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Other Non-Metallic Mineral Products’ group declined by 0.3% to 115.4 (provisional) from 115.8 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of cement superfine (4%), porcelain sanitary ware and stone, chip (3% each), granite (2%) and clinker, fibre glass incl. sheet, ceramic tiles (vitrified tiles) and plain bricks (1% each). However, the price of non-ceramic tiles, ordinary portland cement, railway sleeper, porcelain crockery, marble slab and toughened glass (1% each) moved up.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Basic Metals’ group declined by 0.3% to 103.3 (provisional) from 103.6 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of alloy steel castings (4%), MS wire rods, MS castings and ferromanganese (3%eacdh), aluminium powder, GP/GC sheet, aluminium castings, angles, channels, sections, steel (coated/not) andaluminium alloys (2% each) and stainless steel tubes, cold rolled (CR) coils & sheets, including narrow strip , hot rolled (HR) coils & sheets, including narrow strip, silicomanganese, MS pencil ingots (1%), alumnium foil, stainless steel coils, strips & sheets, mild steel (MS) blooms, MS bright bars, other ferro alloys and galvanized iron pipes (1% each). However, the price of rails (6%), steel cables (3%),aluminium disk and circles, stainless steel pencil ingots/billets/slabs, steel forgings – rough, sponge iron/direct reduced iron (DRI) and ferrochrome (2% each) and copper metal/copper rings, aluminium shapes – bars/rods/flats, brass metal/sheet/coils and alloy steel wire rods (1% each) moved up.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Fabricated Metal Products, Except Machinery and Equipment’ group rose by 0.4% to 115.5 (provisional) from 115.0 (provisional) for the previous month due to higher price ofaluminium utensils (8%), hand tools (3%), forged steel rings, jigs & fixture and bolts, screws, nuts & nails of iron & steel (2% each) and cylinders, steel pipes, tubes & poles and metal cutting tools & accessories (1% each). However, the price of sanitary fittings of iron & steel (11%), iron/steel hinges (4%), electrical stamping- laminated or otherwise, steel drums and barrels (2% each) and copper bolts, screws, nuts, bracket, iron/steel cap, pressure cooker, stainless steel tank and steel container (1% each) declined.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Computer, Electronic and Optical Products’ group declined by 0.3% to 109.5 (provisional) from 109.8 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price ofcolour TV (4%) and electronic printed circuit board (PCB)/micro circuit (1%). However, the price of watch (3%) and scientific time keeping device, capacitors, telephone sets including mobile handsets, electro-diagnostic apparatus, used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences and air conditioner (1% each) moved up.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Electrical Equipment’ group declined by 0.3% to 110.9 (provisional) from 111.2 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of insulator and air coolers (5%), domestic gas stove, fibre optic cables and ACSR conductors (3% each) and electrical resistors (except heating resistors), electric switch, washing machines/laundry machines, electric accumulators, jelly filled cable, fan and copper wire (1% each). However, the price of PVC insulated cable (3%), rotor/magneto rotor assembly and solenoid valve (2% each) and insulating & flexible wire, connector/plug/socket/holder-electric, electric welding machine, transformer, electric switch gear control/starter, safety fuse, AC motor  andaluminium/alloy conductor (1% each) moved up.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Machinery and Equipment’ group declined by 0.2% to 112.6 (provisional) from 112.8 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of dumper (9%), packing machine and roller and ball bearings (5% each), manufacture of bearings, gears, gearing and driving elements (4%), chillers and water purifier (2% each) and cranes, air gas compressor including compressor for refrigerator, mining, quarrying & metallurgical machinery/parts, gasket kit and agricultural tractors (1% each). However, the price of pressure vessel and tank for fermentation & other food processing (18%), chemical equipment & system (5%) and harvesters, moulding machine, agriculture implements, hydraulic pump, deep freezers, filtration equipment and centrifugal pumps (1% each) moved up.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Motor Vehicles, Trailers And Semi-Trailers’ group rose by 1.0% to 115.7 (provisional) from 114.6 (provisional) for the previous month due to higher price of engine (5%), seat for motor vehicles (3%), brake pad/brake liner/brake block/brake rubber, others and radiators & coolers (2% each) and gear box and parts, cylinder liners, shafts of all kinds and steering gear control system (1% each). However, the price of axles of motor vehicles and wheels/wheels & parts (2% each) and head lamp and crankshaft (1% each) declined.
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Other Transport Equipment’ group rose by 0.3% to 118.3 (provisional) from 118.0 (provisional) for the previous month due to higher price of scooters (2%) and tanker (1%).
    • The index for ‘Manufacture of Furniture’ group rose by 0.3% to 131.2 (provisional) from 130.8 (provisional) for the previous month due to higher price of foam and rubber mattress (3%) and hospital furniture (1%). However, the price of wooden furniture (1%) declined.
    • The index for ‘Other Manufacturing’ group declined by 2.7% to 113.6 (provisional) from 116.7 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of gold & gold ornaments and silver (3% each) and cricket bat (1%). However, the price of stringed musical instruments (incl. santoor, guitars, etc.) (6%), sports goods of rubber (incl. balls) (4%), cricket ball (3%), playing cards (2%) and football andcarrom board (1% each) moved up.
    • WPI FOOD INDEX (Weight 24.38%)
    • The rate of inflation based on WPI Food Index consisting of ‘Food Articles’ from Primary Articles group and ‘Food Product’ from Manufactured Products group increased from 7.65% in October, 2019 to 9.02% in November, 2019.
    FINAL INDEX FOR THE MONTH OF  SEPTEMBER, 2019 (BASE YEAR:2011-12=100)
    For the month of September, 2019, the final Wholesale Price Index for ‘All Commodities'(Base: 2011-12=100) and annual rate of inflation remained unchanged at its provisional level of 121.3 and 0.33 percentrespectively as reported on 14.10.2019.

     

     

    1. Three-day state-level orange festival begins in Manipur

     

    • In Manipur, a three-day State-level Orange Festival began.
    • Chief Minister N. Biren Singh inaugurated the festival at district headquarters Tamenglong.
    • Tamenglong district is the largest producer of orange fruit in Manipur.
    • The state government under the sponsorship of North Eastern Council organise the festival annually to promote the fruit and encourage its growers.
    • This year, there are more than 300 orange stalls in the festival.
    • On day one, orange growers’ competition was held and prizes were distributed to top position Tamenglong orange would received Geographical Indication Tagging Certificate very soon.

     

    1. 7-Day International Film Festival in Khajuraho

     

    • In Madhya Pradesh, the Chief Minister Kamal Nath inaugurated the 7-Day International Film Festival in Shilpkala village of Khajuraho.
    • Films from the country and abroad including Bundelkhandi will be screened at the Tapra Talkies made for the festival.
    • The International Khajuraho Film Festival is being organized by the Prayas Sanstha in collaboration with the State Government.
    • Events like interaction with film stars, film making workshop, mobile filmmaking workshop, plays, programmes for promoting local art and culture, herbal forest fair, animal fair etc are also organized during the Film Festival.

     

    1. Lt Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane to be next Army Chief

     

    • Lt Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane will be the next Chief of Army Staff.
    • He is currently serving as Vice Chief of the Army.
    • Lt Gen Naravane will succeed Gen Bipin Rawat, who will retire on the 31st of this month.
    • Before taking charge as Vice Chief in September, Lt Gen Naravane was heading the Eastern Command of the Army.
    • An alumnus of the National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy  Lt Gen Naravane, was commissioned into the 7th battalion, the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment in June 1980.

     

    1. IAS Ravi Mittal takes charge as new I&B Secretary

     

    • IAS officer Ravi Mittal took charge as the new Secretary, Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
    • Mr Mittal took charge from Amit Khare who has been appointed as Secretary, Department of Higher Education.
    • Before this, Mr Mittal, a 1986 batch IAS officer of Bihar Cadre, was working as the Special Secretary in the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance.

     

    1. Indo – Russian Tri- Services Exercise Indra 2019

    • Exercise INDRA – 2019 is the second edition of Joint Tri Services Exercise between Indian and Russian Armed Forces which is being conducted from  10-20 December 2019 simultaneously at Pune and Gwalior for Air Force elements.
    • IAF is undertaking service specific and joint missions during the exercise. Russian Federation Air Force (RFAF) element is participating in the exercise along with IAF counterparts.
    • The broad theme for the exercise is to organise a Joint Task Force for undertaking planning and execution of air operations for eliminating terrorists at the request of the third country under UN mandate. However, combined missions between IAF and RFAF would also be undertaken for enriching experience and maximising training value in terms of interoperability.
    • The INDRA exercises are being regularly held since 2003, initially being  a bilateral single service exercise between India and Russia. The first-ever Joint  Tri Services Exercise was held in the Eastern Military District of Russia in Oct 2017. This year IAF has fielded Su-30MKI, Jaguar, MI-17 helicopters, Airborne Warning & Control System aircraft and Garuds of IAF are participating in the exercise.
    • Tri Services Ex INDRA-2019 will further strengthen mutual confidence, interoperability and enable sharing of best practices between the Armed Forces of both countries. The exercise show cases the long-standing bond of India and Russia friendship.

     

     

     

     

    INTERNATIONAL NEWS

     

     

    1. Portuguese PM Antonio Costa to visit India from 19-20 December

     

    • Prime Minister of Portugal, Antonio Costa will be on a two-day visit to India from 19 December.
    • He will attend the second meeting of the Organising Committee on the celebrations for the 150th Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
    • The Organising Committee meeting will be presided over by President Ram Nath Kovind.
    • The Portuguese Prime Minister is also scheduled to hold official talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
    • This will be the third official meeting between the two leaders in a span of 3 years.

     

    1. Controversy erupts over Razakar list in Bangladesh

     

    • A controversy has erupted in Bangladesh over the list of collaborators who helped Pakistan during the Liberation War of 1971.
    • The first list of 10,789 names of the collaborators known as Razakars was published on Sunday by the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs. Soon afterwards, it was found that the list contained names of some of the Liberation Warfighters or Muktijodhas as Razakars.
    • According to media reports, public protests erupted in places like Barguna against the inclusion of the name of a prominent freedom fighter from the area in the Razakar list.
    • Accepting the responsibility for the error, Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque said in Dhaka today that if there are a large number of mistakes in the list, the ministry will withdraw it.
    • He, however, pointed out that the list was not prepared by his ministry and it was provided by the Home Ministry.
    • Meanwhile, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the  Liberation War Affairs Ministry should have properly scrutinised the list of Razakars before publishing it.
    • Razakar was a militia force formed by the Pakistan military through an ordinance promulgated in 1971 to help the army suppress any rebellion in the then West Pakistan.
    • Razakars colluded with the Pakistan army to engage in rape, murder and looting of Bangladeshi people who were fighting the Liberation War.
    • There has been a persistent demand in Bangladesh to publish the list of the Pakistani Collaborators or Razakars.

     

    1. Pope Francis abolishes “pontifical secret” used in clergy sex abuse cases

     

     

     

    • Pope Francis has abolished the pontifical secret used in clergy sexual abuse cases, after mounting criticism.
    • The high degree of confidentiality has been used to protect pedophiles, silence victims and keep law enforcement from investigating crimes.
    • In a new document, Francis decreed that information in abuse cases must be protected by church leaders to ensure its security, integrity and confidentiality.
    • The new law was issued today on Francis’ 83rd birthday, as he struggles to respond to the global explosion of the abuse scandal.
    • The Vatican had long insisted that confidentiality was necessary to protect the privacy of the victim, the reputation of the accused and the integrity of the canonical process.

     

    1. Musharraf Pervez sentenced to death for high treason

     

     

    • Pakistan’s former dictator Pervez Musharraf was today sentenced to death in a case of treason for subverting the Constitution.
    • This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that a military chief has been declared guilty of high treason and handed the death sentence.
    • A three-member bench of a special court, headed by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, found the ailing 76-year-old former Army chief guilty of high treason and handed him the death sentence.
    • Before issuing the verdict, the court rejected a plea by the prosecutors to delay the verdict.
    • Musharraf is currently living in Dubai on self-exile. The former Army chief left for Dubai for medical treatment in March 2016 and has not returned since, citing security and health reasons.
    • His indictment for treason was a highly significant moment in a country where the powerful military has held sway for much of its independent history.
    • Musharraf seized power by ousting then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a 1999 bloodless coup. He has also served as Pakistan’s president from 2001 to 2008. He was sentenced for suspending the Constitution and imposing extra-constitutional emergency in 2007.
    • In a video statement from his hospital bed, Musharraf called the treason case absolutely baseless. His legal team can appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court. If the top court upholds the special court’s verdict, the President of Pakistan possesses the constitutional authority under Article 45 to pardon a death row defendant.

     

     

    SPORTS NEWS

     

    1. Smriti Mandhana in ICC’s ODI and T20 team of the year

     

     

    • India opener Smriti Mandhana was today named in both the International Cricket Council’s ODI and T20 teams of the year, capping off a memorable season. Mandhana has Jhulan Goswami, Poonam Yadav and Shikha Pandey for company in the ODI team of the year and all-rounder Deepti Sharma in the T20 side.
    • Mandhana has played 51 ODIs and 66 T20Is for India, besides a couple of Test matches. She has a combined tally of 3476 runs in T20Is and ODIs.
    • Australia’s Alyssa Healy was chosen as the T20 cricketer of the year following her record-breaking 148 against Sri Lanka earlier this year.
    • The ODI cricketer of the year honour went to Australia’s Ellyse Perry, who scored 441 runs and took 21 wickets.

     

     

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