• Current Affairs, 3 December 2019

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    1. Cabinet Secretary reviews the issue of Onion Prices in the
    2. RBI Imposes Rs 1.50 crore penalty on Corporation Bank
    3. India’s GDP growth further dips to 4.5% in July-Sept
    4. Aditya Birla Finance becomes first NBFC to list commercial paper on bourses
    5. Exploration of 37 and drilling of 121 non-CIL coal blocks this year
    6. Shri Hari Mohan takes over as Chairman, Ordnance Factory Board
    7. GST Revenue collection for November, 2019
    8. Soma Roy Burman takes charge as new Controller General of Accounts
    9. On Worlds AIDS Day, Dr. Harsh Vardhan commends partner communities for their singular contribution to the AIDS cause
    • HR Khan Appointed as chairman of MFI panel
    1. ‘SURYA KIRAN – XIV’
    2. Fifth NITI Aayog–DRC Dialogue Held in Wuhan
    3. Saudi Arabia elected to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee 
    4. UNEP report warns world to cut emission by 7.6% to achieve 1.5°C Paris target by 2030
    5. South Asian Games: India win 14 medals

     

     

     

    NATIONAL NEWS

     

     

    1. Cabinet Secretary reviews the issue of Onion Prices in the Country

     

    • Cabinet Secretary Shri Rajiv Gauba today chaired a meeting of the Committee of Secretaries to review the issue of rising prices of Onions across the country.
    • In a video conference held with the Chief Secretaries of the 11 major onion producing states, the Cabinet Secretary was briefed about the various steps being taken by the States to tackle the rising prices of Onions.
    • Chief Secretaries from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana participated in the video conference.
    • The Cabinet Secretary directed the States that the overall availability of the Onions has to be beefed up, considering the temporary shortage, to stabilise the prices.The Centre has already taken a decision on not allowing the export of Onions during the current season.
    • The States were further directed to maintain considerable buffer stocks, impose stock limits on traders and to ensure strict action against hoarding.
    • Shri Rajiv Gaubasaid that the Union Government has approved the import of 11000 Metric Tonnes of onions from the 29thNovember to tide over the situation. The deliveries are expected from the last week of December, 2019.
    • This is in addition to the decision of the Government to import 6090 Metric Tonnes of Onions from Egypt on the 22ndNovember 2019. The deliveries are expected from 2nd Week of December.
    • Cabinet Secretary directed the States to utilise their Food and Civil Supply Departments to procure and distribute Onions at reasonable prices.
    • Secretary Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Secretary Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Secretary Food & Public Distribution along with other senior officials of Government of India also attended the meeting.

     

    1. RBI Imposes Rs 1.50 crore penalty on Corporation Bank

     

     

    • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed a monetary penalty of 1.50 crore on Corporation Bank for non-compliance with certain provisions of directions issued by RBI.
    • The penalty has been imposed in exercise of powers vested in the RBI under the provisions of Section 47 A (1) (c) read with Section 46 (4) (i) and 51 (1) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
    • This action is based on the deficiencies in regulatory compliance and is not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the bank with its customers.

     

    1. India’s GDP growth further dips to 4.5% in July-Sept

    • India’s GDP growth hit an over six-year low of 4.5 percent in July-September 2019, dragged mainly by deceleration in manufacturing output and subdued farm sector activity.
    • The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was recorded at 7 percent in the corresponding quarter of FY 2018-19. In the previous quarter of the ongoing fiscal, the economic growth was 5 percent.
    • This GDP growth data for the September 2019 quarter is the lowest since January-March of 2012-13, when it was registered at 4.3 per cent.

     

    1. Aditya Birla Finance becomes first NBFC to list commercial paper on bourses

     

    • Non-bank lender Aditya Birla Finance became the first company to list its commercial papers borrowing of Rs 100 crore on the bourses.
    • The Kumarmangalam Birla-led company listed its CPs on NSE with a value date of November 28, 2019 and maturity date on February 7, 2020 on BSE and NSE, both the bourses.
    • ABFL is a diversified non-banking finance company (NBFC) with a long-term credit rating of AAA (Stable) from both Icra as well as India Ratings.

     

    5. Exploration of 37 and drilling of 121 non-CIL coal blocks this year

    ·        The government has planned exploration of 37 coal blocks and 10 lignite blocks along with drilling of 121 coal blocks and one lignite block in the current fiscal in addition to exploration and drilling of coal blocks allocated to state-run Coal India Limited (CIL) informed the Coal Minister Shri Pralhad Joshi to the Parliament on Monday.

    • “Exploration of Non-Coal India Limited (Non-CIL) coal blocks is carried out under the Central Sector Scheme ‘Exploration of Coal & Lignite’ of the Ministry of Coal. Under this scheme, both regional exploration and detailed drilling of these blocks are conducted. Each year exploration programme of regional exploration & detailed drilling in Non-CIL blocks in coal & lignite is approved. The regional exploration for the year 2019-20 has been planned for 37 coal blocks & 10 lignite blocks, whereas detailed drilling has been planned for 121 coal blocks & 1 lignite block.” Coal Minister Shri Pralhad Joshi said in a reply to the Rajya Sabha.
    • The minister also informed to the upper house that fund of Rs. 937 crores have been allocated for exploration and drilling of Non-CIL blocks in coal and lignite out of which Rs. 120 crores have to be spent on regional exploration and remaining 817 crores to be spent for detailed drilling.
    • In a reply to the House, the minister also informed that the country will produce 810 Million Tonnes (MT) of coal in the current fiscal for which targets for Coal India Limited, Singareni Collieries Co. Ltd and Captive & others have been set as 660 MT, 67 MT and 83 MT respectively.
    • In another reply, the minister informed that the focus of the Government is on accelerating domestic production of coal through allocation of more coal blocks, pursuing with State Government for assistance in land acquisition and coordinated efforts with Railways for movement of coal. He also said that in order to enhance coal production, CIL has taken many steps. This state-run Manharatna company will open 55 greenfield projects having capacity of 92 million tonne per annum (MTPA) and expand 193 brownfield projects having capacity of about 310 MTPA in next five years. He said maximum use of technology and portal based monitoring of on-going projects are in place to ensure timely completion of projects.

    6. Shri Hari Mohan takes over as Chairman, Ordnance Factory Board

      

    ·        Shri Hari Mohan has taken over the charge as Chairman, Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) w.e.f. December 01, 2019 from Shri Saurabh Kumar who superannuated from the services. A 1982-batch Indian Ordnance Factories’ Service (I.O.F.S.) officer with Post Graduate Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Shri Hari Mohan had been a topper of University of Allahabad & University of Pune while obtaining his Bachelor & Masters in Mechanical Engineering. He holds an M. Phil in Public Administration.

    ·        In a career spanning 39 years, Shri Hari Mohan has contributed significantly in various positions in Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) Hardwar, Vehicle Factory Jabalpur, Engine Factory Avadi, Heavy Vehicle Factory Avadi, Ammunition Factory Khadki, Ordnance Factory Bolangir, Ordnance Factory Chanda, Ordnance Factory Dehu Road, OFB New Delhi Office and Ministry of Steel & Mines.

    ·        The I.O.F.S. officer has a versatile experience in the field of manufacture of Armoured Vehicles, Artillery, Tank and Ammunition, Small Arms Ammunition, Projects Management and Corporate Governance, among other areas. He has made significant contributions in improving the production of Armoured Fighting Vehicles like Ajeya Tanks, MBT Arjun, Bridge Layer and Trawls Tanks. He has also made significant contribution to the modernisation of steel plants of the Steel Authority of India limited (SAIL) during his tenure in Ministry of Steel & Mines.

    ·        Shri Hari Mohan has held various senior positions as General Manager, Dehu Road (Pune, Senior General Manager, Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi (HVF, Chennai). He was also awarded the ‘Ayudh Ratna’ award in 2018 for his services at the HVF. Before taking over as DGOF and Chairman, he was holding charge as Member of the OFB and was in charge of the Weapons, Vehicles and Equipment (WV&E) division of the OFB.

    7. GST Revenue collection for November, 2019

    ·        The gross GST revenue collected in the month of November, 2019 is Rs 1,03,492 crore of which CGST is Rs 19,592crore, SGST is Rs 27,144crore, IGST is Rs 49,028crore (including Rs 20,948crore collected on imports) and Cess is Rs7,727 crore (including Rs 869 crore collected on imports). The total number of GSTR 3B Returns filed for the month of Octoberup to 30th November, 2019 is 77.83 lakh.

    ·         The government has settled Rs 25,150crore to CGST and Rs 17,431crore to SGST from IGST as regular settlement. The total revenue earned by Central Government and the State Governments after regular settlement in the month of November, 2019 is Rs 44,742 crore for CGST and Rs 44,576 crore for the SGST.

    ·        After two months of negative growth, GST revenues witnessed an impressive recovery with a positive growth of 6% in November, 2019 over the November, 2018 collections. During the month, the GST collection on domestic transactions witnessed a growth of 12%, highest during the year. The GST collection on imports continued to see negative growth at (-)13%, but was an improvement over last month’s growth of (-)20%.This is the eighth time since the inception of GST in July 2017 that monthly collection has crossed the mark of Rs one lakh crore. Also, November 2019 collection is the third highest monthly collection since introduction of GST, next only to April 2019 and March 2019collections.

    8. Soma Roy Burman takes charge as new Controller General of Accounts

    ·        Smt. Soma Roy Burman, a 1986-batch Indian Civil Accounts Service (ICAS) Officer, took charge as the new Controller General of Accounts.

    ·        Smt. Burman is the 24th Controller General of Accounts (CGA) and is the seventh woman to hold this coveted position.

    ·        The Government of India appointed Smt. Burman, as the Controller General of Accounts (CGA), Ministry of Finance, Department of Expenditure with effect from December 1, 2019.

    ·        Smt. Burman holds the degree of M.Phil in Mathematical Statistics from the University of Delhi.

    ·        During her 33-year long career, she has held cadre positions at different levels in Ministries such as Home Affairs, Information & Broadcasting, Industry, Finance, Human Resource Development and Shipping, Road Transport & Highways. She has headed the Central Pension Accounting Office (CPAO) as the Chief Controller (Pension) and the Institute of Government Accounts and Finance (INGAF), New Delhi, as Director.

    ·        She has also handled important portfolios while on Central deputation to the Government of India, where she served as Deputy Secretary/Director in the Department of Economic Affairs (Budget Division) and as Joint Secretary and Financial Adviser, NATGRID, Ministry of Home Affairs. She has also held charge as Director in the office of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India on deputation.

    ·        Prior to assuming the charge of CGA, Smt. Burman served as Additional Controller General of Accounts in the office of CGA handling the critical areas of Accounting Rules, Policy and reforms, Financial Reporting, Data Analytics, Cash and Budget Management.  Smt. Burman has been actively involved in the formulation of wide ranging reforms in these areas for strengthening Public Financial Management in the Union Government.

    9. On Worlds AIDS Day, Dr. Harsh Vardhan commends partner communities for their singular contribution to the AIDS cause

    ·        “Let us shun any kind of discrimination in our thoughts, actions and behaviour in our interaction with those who have HIV and AIDS. Let us do away with nomenclatures such as “AIDS/HIV communities”. Let us not bracket people who suffer from and have survived various diseases”. This was stated by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare as he inaugurated the event celebrating the World AIDS Day, organised by the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), here today. “While we have travelled a long distance in our fight against AIDS and HIV, there are still some significant milestones that need to be achieved for making the country free of HIV AIDS by 2030, such as the lingering pockets of stigma and discrimination against those who have or have had AIDS”, he added.

    • Dr Harsh Vardhan commended the immense contribution of the partner communities who have played a yeoman role in spreading information about the disease, to dispel misinformation, fear and apprehensions, and helped people to access testing and treating services of NACO. “You are our pillars of strength who have built bridges with the underserved, un-served and marginalised communities”, he stated. The global theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is ‘Communities Make A Difference’. At the event, he awarded the various Red Ribbon Clubs which have mobilised the youth and communities across the country. More than 1200 Red Ribbon Clubs have contributed to this collective effort, he stated. 
    • Speaking at the event, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that during 2018-19, around 79% of people living with HIV knew their HIV status, 82% diagnosed with HIV infection are receiving free antiretroviral therapy and 79% are virally suppressed. This means we are on the right track and our continued efforts coupled with calibrated momentum shall make this target achievable. “One of the unique quests is adaptability and customization of strategies according to the need of the hour. NACO has revived and revamped its conventional prevention strategies to achieve the new targets. NACO is focusing on the combination of prevention tools and methods that are needed to end the AIDS epidemic.” Dr. Harsh Vardhan added that the programme has also given focused attention to elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV. 
    • The Union Minister emphasized upon the newer steps which are being taken by Government of India to achieve Sustainable Development Goal of ending the epidemic of AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, “The basic target remains that of ‘Three Zeros’ – i.e. zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination” he said. Dr. Harsh Vardhan further said that in sync with the Ministry’s ‘Digital India’ campaign, NACO has strengthened its monitoring mechanism with more than 35,000 reporting units providing information on completely IT enabled system. Stressing on the need for multi-faceted and multi-sectoral response, Dr. Harsh Vardhan stated that NACO has not only signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with 18 key Ministries/Departments to augment a comprehensive AIDS response but also with more than 650 industries of public and private sectors to mobilize their support. He also commended the contribution of the pharma industry of the country which has supported other countries in their fight against AIDS through affordable drugs.
    • The event also saw launch of the NACO Mobile Application, new IEC Material for TI NGOs, Calendar-2020, Comprehensive Module for Private Practitioners on Management of HIV/AIDS, 2019 by Dr. Harsh Vardhan. Two PLHIV members shared their experience of having survived the disease and the support they have received from NACO, and other support organisations for overcoming the stigma.
    • Also present at the event were Dr. Arun Kumar Panda, Secretary (MSME) & Secretary (in-charge), Health & Family Welfare, Sh. Sanjeeva Kumar, Special Secretary (NACO), Sh. Alok Saxena, JS (NACO), Dr. Bilali Camara, Country Coordinator, UNAIDS, Dr. Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative (India) and more than 1200 members of partners and various CSOs, NGOs and BSF, CISF.

    10. HR Khan Appointed as chairman of MFI panel

    ·        Former deputy governor of RBI, HR Khan has been appointed as the first chairman of the steering committee of the Code for Responsible Lending (CRL) in micro-credit.

    ·        The CRL is a self-regulatory step for the micro-credit industry making diverse entities like banks, NBFC-MFIs and NBFCs adhere to standards of customer protection.

    ·        CRL was launched in September by MFIN and Sa-Dhan, an RBI-recognised association of MFIs, along with Finance Industry Development Council, an association of NBFCs.

     

     

    INTERNATIONAL NEWS

     

    1. ‘SURYA KIRAN – XIV’

     

    • ‘SURYA KIRAN – XIV’the Joint military exercise between India and Nepal will be held in Salijhandi, Rupendehi district of Nepal from 03 to 16 December 2019.
    • The Objective of the exercise is to increase interoperability in jungle warfare, counter-terrorism operations in mountainous terrain, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, medical and environmental conservation.
    • 300 soldiers from both the Indian and Nepal Army will participate in the exercise.
    • Both the countries will share the experience about various counter-insurgency and terrorism operations .

     

     

    1. Fifth NITI Aayog–DRC Dialogue Held in Wuhan

     

    • The Fifth Dialogue of NITI Aayog and Development Research Centre (DRC), of the State Council, People’s Republic of China, was held in Wuhan, China. The Indian delegationwas led by Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog while the Chinese delegation was led by Ma Jiantang, Party Secretary of DRC.
    • This is the first ministerial Dialogue between China and India since the informal meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chennai.
    • Sessions of the dialogue included global economy, globalisation and macroeconomic policies in China and India, innovation and development, and potential for Sino-India trade and economic cooperation.
    • Based on the agreement at the Fourth Dialogue in Mumbai 2018, DRC and NITI Aayog had undertaken joint research in the areas of WTO (World Trade Organization) reform and urbanization.
    • The Sixth Dialoguewill be convened in India in the second half of November 2020.

     

    1. Saudi Arabia elected to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee 

    • Saudi Arabia was elected to UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Committee for the first time during the 22nd General Assembly of the State Parties after winning the membership in the UNESCO Executive Board for 2019-2023. The UNESCO Executive board comprises of 58 member states.
    • Saudi Arabia has five sites that are currently included in the World Heritage Sites List- Madain Saleh in Al-Ula, the Turaif district in Diriyah, the historic area in Jeddah, rock paintings in Jubbah and Shuwaymis and the oasis of Al-Ahsa.
    • The list of other countries included in the World Heritage Committee are Egypt, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Oman, Thailand, the Russian Federation and South Africa.
    • The current members of the World Heritage Committee are Australia, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, China, Guatemala, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Norway, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Spain and Uganda.
    • The World Heritage Committee acts as the final authority to decide the sites and properties to be included in the World Heritage Sites and is also responsible for the implementation of theWorld Heritage Convention. The members of the Committee are elected by the General Assembly of States Parties for a four-year term.
    • The 43rd sessionof the World Heritage Committee was held in Baku, Azerbaijan in the year 2019 and the 44th session is to be held in Fuzhou, China in the year 2020.

     

    14.         UNEP report warns world to cut emission by 7.6% to achieve 1.5°C Paris target by 2030

     

    • The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report titled “Emissions Gap Report 2019” warns the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6%each year between 2020 and 2030 to achieve the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement by 2030. Despite the commitments under the Paris Agreement temperatures are still expected to rise by 3.2°C, bringing even wider-ranging and more destructive climate impacts.
    • The Paris Agreement:It is a 2015 landmark climate accord, that pledges to keep global warming “well below” 2 °C (degree Celsius) above pre-industrial levels and strive for a lower limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced that if the world fails to limit global warming to below 1.5°C, frequency and intensity of climate impact would increase.
    • India’s work in reducing GHG: India, along with China, Mexico, Russia and Turkey are projected to meet their targets with current policies. India, Russia and Turkey are expected to ‘over perform’ their targets by around 15%.
    • India had made 3 promises at the 21st Conference of Parties meeting in Paris, France in December 2015. They were to lower emission intensity of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), to create more forests to absorb 2.5 billion to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere and 40% of installed capacity for electricity generation based on non-fossil fuels.
    • In 2018, 55.3 gigatonnes of Carbon-dioxide (CO2) equivalent of greenhouse gases (GHG) were emitted globally. In 2017 the emission was 54 gigatonnes.
    • Fossil fuel burning:The main reason for increase in CO2 emissions was burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuel burning dominate GHG emissions and led to grow by 2% in 2018 reaching a record 37.5 gigatonnes per year.
    • Inorder to stay under 2°C, by the year 2030, emissions would need to be 25%(15 gigatonnes of CO2) lower than in 2018. For a 1.5°C-consistent pathway, the reduction needs to be even deeper 55%(32 gigatonnes) below 2018 levels.
    • Underachievement by key economies: Key economic countries like Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, South Africa and the United States of America(USA) continue to underachieve on the targets which they set for themselves in Paris in 2015, known as “Nationally Determined Contributions” (NDCs).
    • G20 nations:G20(Group of 20) nations account for 78% of all emissions, but 15 G20 members have not committed to a timeline for net-zero emissions of GHG.

     

     

     

    SPORTS NEWS

     

     

    1. South Asian Games: India win 14 medals

     

    • India won 14 medals, including three gold, eight silver and three bronze on the first day of 13th South Asian Games.
    • Adarsha M N Sinimol gave India the first gold medal by winning the men’s individual triathlon event at Pokhara in Nepal today. Sinimol compatriot Bishworjit Srikhom took the silver in a 1-2 finish.
    • Thoudam Sorojini Devi and Mohan Pragnya added a silver and a bronze in the women’s individual event. In Taekwondo, India clinched two gold, six silver and two bronze medals.
    • At the conclusion of day one, hosts Nepal were on top winning 15 gold, three silver and six bronze, India remained at number two while Sri Lanka was third, with three gold, seven silver and 14 bronze.

     

     

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