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Current Affairs - 02 February 2018

General Affairs 

Arun Jaitley Addresses Media After Presenting Budget 2018: Highlights
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his team of ministers and secretaries held a press conference this evening after he presented the Union Budget 2018. The budget focused on farmers and the rural poor, while boosting jobs and private investment. Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian also spoke to the media.

    Here are the highlights of Arun Jaitley's press conference:

    -I have already made a detailed comment on TV already

    -The budget keeps in view the requirement and needs of the economy

    -We have tried to maintain the fiscal deficit targets

    -This year there were series of circumstances

    -One factor was we are getting GST revenue for 1 month less

    -The second reason was a set of structural reforms had their own impact

    -We covered a lot through direct tax revenue and disinvestment but a small gap was left behind

    -On the expenditure prioritisation, we looked at areas which needed max support

    -The agriculture and rural sector came foremost

    -The announcements were made on the rural sector kept this in view]

    -The other priority was to help those economically weak

    -The government has always tried to help especially this section

    -This includes Increasing Ujjawala Yojana beneficiaries

    -And the mega health scheme is a huge scheme

    -Choosing the 10 crore families will have social and economic criteria

    -This will be expanded in the future

    -Infrastructure is a huge priority too

    -As far as taxation relief is concerned, there are three facets

    -It's not easy to reduce corporate tax rate in one go. That's why we focused on MSMEs this time

    -Bringing back a standard deduction will help the salaried class

    -We announced tax relief and investment benefits to senior citizens as well

    -As the country progrsses, a social security net has to be created

    -The resource needed to build that net is a 1% surcharge

    -The burden is limited but benefits many

    -Long term capital gain was being debated for years

    -We believe that no tax should have retrospective effect thats why we grandfathered all

    -investment till 31 Jan 2018

    -We have been debating salaried members of the legislative body

    -All conceded parliamentarians had important function and bear a large expenditure

    -But it was a class that set its own salary, facing criticism

    -So the decision was taken to link to inflation

    Arun Jaitley on 3 benefit to middle class:
    -This is the first time the contribution of salaried class has been singled out, in total 2.5 crore people, and given a standard deduction of 40K

    -Our senior citizens, a very imp part of the middle class, have been given additional avenues of investment

    -And finally all businesses up to Rs. 250 crore turnover, a key part of middle class, will now pay 5% less tax

India's $250-Billion Military Upgrade Plan Is Sputtering: Foreign Media
  • India celebrated its Republic Day by parading troops and locally made weapons in front of New Delhi's colonial-era sandstone buildings and past 10 Southeast Asian heads of state -- all potential buyers.

    Delhi hopes to export made-in-India military technology, including its BrahMos missiles, to smaller countries in Asia that fear China's rise. India will have another chance to show off at the Singapore air show starting February 6, where BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture between India and Russia, will exhibit for the first time.

    But away from the pageantry of parades and sales pitches, experts suggest India's $250-billion military modernization program is sputtering. That's becoming more important as the U.S. pressures Delhi to tackle a larger role policing the Indo-Pacific, from the Indian Ocean to the waters off Southeast and East Asia.

    While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has held steady against geopolitical rivals, including with China in the face-off at Doklam last year, his administration hasn't fixed a broken defense procurement system in the world's largest arms importer. That prevents it from equipping its own armed forces, let alone those in friendly nations.

    "The structures that are dysfunctional, that have stopped the military from making smart choices, are still there," said Ashley Tellis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has advised U.S. ambassadors to India. "It's not the way to run a military of a major power. It has to be among the worst procurement processes of any major power."

    By contrast, China's military modernization has advanced considerably. Over the past two years, President Xi Jinping has overseen the most sweeping changes to China's military since the 1950s in an effort to create a fighting force that can win modern wars. It's also now the world's third-largest arms exporter, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

    A spokesman for PM Modi didn't respond to calls or texts for comment on India's defense procurement.

    India wants to transition from an importer of weapons systems to an exporter, Ajay Kumar, the government's secretary of defense production, said at a recent panel discussion. India still needs to import most of its components, Mr Kumar said. The BrahMos missile, for instance, is made up of 65 percent imported components.

    "There is significant demand from friendly countries who look toward India for meeting their own requirements," he said, without elaborating.

    PM Modi's government wants to build up its defense industry through its "Make in India" program, hoping to create jobs and cut huge import bills. But India often prioritizes price, awarding contracts to state-owned defense firms that invest little in research and development, over-promise to score contracts and abandon many projects halfway, according to a report from Delhi's Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

    Defense suppliers often compensate for the cost of delays and mandatory investments by inflating the final price, according to one US official who previously worked on Indian procurement issues, who asked not to be named, citing rules for speaking with the media.

    Last year, the Indian Army rejected an Indian-made rifle for the second year in a row after it reportedly failed quality tests. Locally made products like Arjun tanks, light combat aircraft and even bullet-proof jackets often can't be used on the sensitive China or Pakistan borders because of performance issues.

    Part of the problem is procurement is overseen by "non-expert" generalists of the Indian Administrative Service, said Manoj Joshi, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation think-tank who was on a government task force recommending national security reforms.

    "They can't tell you about strategy," he said. "The army, navy and air force are well trained, but their organization is obsolete and their equipment is obsolete."

    After three decades spent developing its own fighter, India put out a tender for 126 warplanes, which morphed into an order for 36 Rafale aircraft from Dassault Aviation SA that will start arriving in 2019.

    Until then, India's air force is heavily reliant on Soviet-era MiG-21s that fall from the sky so often some call them "Flying Coffins." They also have a fleet of newer Russian Sukhoi SU-30MKIs assembled by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. that was temporarily grounded after one jet ejected its pilots without warning.

    Experts suggest India could resolve some issues by appointing a single person in charge of the armed forces, or outline priorities in a national security doctrine.

    "One of the bigger problems is the lack of overarching political direction in terms of how to prepare and what to prepare for," said Anit Mukherjee, a former Indian army major now at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. "The army is saying, 'Hey we need to prepare for a ground war,' and the Navy is saying, 'No, no, no. It's the Indian Ocean.' "

Centre To Set Up 2 Defence Industrial Corridors

  • The government will develop two defence industrial production corridors and bring out an industry-friendly military production policy to promote the defence industry, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today.

    In his Union Budget 2018 speech, he appreciated the role played by the armed forces in meeting challenges on the country's borders as well as in managing the internal security environment, both in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast.

    Mr Jaitley said a lot of emphasis had been laid on modernising and enhancing the operational capability of the defence forces in the last three-and-half years.

    "The government will take measures to develop two defence industrial production corridors in the country," he said.

    Mr Jaitley said the government would also bring out an industry-friendly "defence production policy 2018" to promote domestic production by the public sector, private sector and MSMEs.

    He said a number of initiatives had been taken to develop and nurture India's intrinsic defence production capability to make the nation self-reliant on its defence needs.

    Mr Jaitley said private investment in defence production had been opened up, including liberalising foreign direct investment.

Manik Sarkar Is Poorest Chief Minister With Bank Balance Of Rs. 2,000
  • Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, who has been running the government in the northeastern state for 20 years now, has only Rs. 1,520 in his wallet and about Rs. 2,410 in his bank account. The amount as of January 20 is considerably less than the Rs. 9,720 he had in his account ahead of the 2013 assembly elections.

    The 69-year-old Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Politburo member donates his entire salary to the CPI(M). In his nomination papers seeking re-election from Dhanpur constituency for the February 18 assembly polls, Mr Sarkar declared about 0.0118 acres of land in Krishnanagar that he jointly owns with his sister. The chief minister doesn't have a personal car, home, or any other assets. He has never filed any income tax return, states the election affidavit submitted by him.

    Mr Sarkar has managed without a cellphone. He doesn't have an email account and isn't active on social media.

    "Manik da, as per the party's tradition, donates his entire salary of Rs. 26,315 as the chief minister to the CPI-M fund and receives a monthly allowance of Rs. 9,700 from the party for his livelihood," CPI-M leader Haripada Das told news agency IANS.

    According to the affidavit, Mr Sarkar's wife, Panchali Bhattacharjee, a retired central government officer, also has Rs. 20,140 cash and Rs. 12,15,714 in her bank accounts and fixed deposits. She, too, has inherited an immovable asset (a building) worth Rs. 21 lakh and 20 grams of gold jewellery valued at Rs. 60,000.

    She never uses the government car and travels in public transport, said Mr Das. The couple don't have any children or dependents.

    Their austere lifestyle has been appreciated not just by their supporters, but the opposition parties as well.

    Tripura Pradesh Congress vice president Tapas Dey said that Marxist leader Nripen Chakraborty, who governed the northeastern state for 10 years from 1978 to 1988, also led a simple life and didn't own any assets.

    "A bachelor, Nripen da had left the Chief Minister's official residence in 1988 with a small tin box containing his belongings and some books and he lived in a small MLA's hostel room till his last breath on December 25, 2004," said Mr Dey, a former legislator.

    Mr Sarkar is among key political figures in Tripura, which has been ruled by the Left Front since 1978 with a five-year break between 1988 and 1993, when the Congress and its tribal party ally Tripura Upajati Juba Samity were in power.

    In the election fray since 1981, Mr Sarkar has been elected to the state assembly six times -- 1981 (by-polls), 1983, 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2013 -- and is seeking re-election for the fifth consecutive time.

Congress Scores 3/3 In Rajasthan Bypolls, "Well Done, Proud" Says Rahul Gandhi
  •  The Congress today scored a perfect three on three in the Rajasthan bypolls, delivering a major blow to the ruling BJP ahead of several state elections and the national polls next year. The party won the Alwar and Ajmer parliamentary seats and the Mandalgarh assembly segment, all held by the BJP. 

    "Well done Rajasthan Congress! Proud of each and every one of you. This is a rejection of the BJP by the people of Rajasthan," tweeted Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

    Both the ruling BJP and the Congress prepped for the by-polls as they would for a full election, with Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Congress leader Sachin Pilot campaigning hard in the seats left vacant after the death of lawmakers.

    The scale of Congress's victory should be worrying for the BJP.

    In Alwar, the Congress won by nearly 2 lakh votes and in Ajmer, the Congress candidate defeated his BJP rival by Over 84,000 votes. Despite a rebel in Mandalgarh who snatched 22 per cent of the vote share, the Congress won by more than 12,000 votes.

    "We are committed to Rajasthan's development....now we have to work very hard," said Ms Raje in a tweet.

    Her party asserted that the results do not reflect a national trend. "We are going to study the reasons, but bypolls don't reflect the full picture," said BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya. 

    The BJP and Vasundhara Raje went all out in their campaign to retain the seats, with the Chief Minister dividing her time between Ajmer and Alwar.

    The party assesses that Rajput anger over the film Padmaavat and the cow vigilante attacks in Alwar may have damaged its prospects.

    In the high-voltage run-up to the by-polls, the Congress accused the BJP of trying to polarize voters and doing nothing to stop attacks on Muslims in incidents mostly linked to cow vigilantes.

    Sachin Pilot said the polls mark his party's comeback in a big state at an important point in national politics.

    "The people have rejected the Vasundhara Raje government and its policies. Young people have realized that the politics of polarization doesn't work," said Sachin Pilot, who had lost the Ajmer seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha election in which the Congress failed to win a single seat in Rajasthan.

    Mr Pilot had shifted to Ajmer after his family bastion Dausa became a reserved seat in 2009. But he lost to Sanwar Lal Jat, who died last year.

    All three seats are linked to Rahul Gandhi's top lieutenants in Rajasthan - Mr Pilot, CP Joshi and Jitendra Singh Bhanwar.

    Party leaders like Milind Deora said election results not just in Rajasthan, but also in Gujarat - where the Congress came second but managed just a 10-seat gap with the BJP - are a "manifestation of rural distress in the economy"..

Business Affairs

Union Budget 2018: Ayushman Bharat to be the world's biggest healthcare scheme, says PM Modi
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has begun his Budget speech for financial year 2018-19. He began his speech by highlighting the government's economic reforms undertaken in the last four years and its achievements. Jaitley said that this year's Budget will focus on strengthening agriculture and rural economy and the government was committed to double the farmers income by 2022.
    The Finance Minister further said that the government with Niti Aayog will also devise mechanism to ensure that the farmers get the minimum support price. He said that the country has grown on an average of 7.5 per cent in the first three years of the current government and has become a USD 2.5 trillion economy. "We hope to grow at 7.2 to 7.5 per cent in the second half of the current fiscal," he said. Jaitley further said that India has already become 7th largest economy of the world and it is expected to become 5th largest economy soon.

    REACTIONS FOLLOWING JAITLEY'S BUDGET

    06:41 PM: Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said that pilot projects on electronic health records, land records and digital certification to push the Budget announcment by FM Arun Jaitley.

    Taking FMs Budget announcement forward NITI will run pilots on Electronic health records,land records & digital certification. Wherever people need to establish a trusted, shared, unique record blockchain technology can help by simplifying processes and removing intermediaries.

    - Amitabh Kant (@amitabhk87) February 1, 2018
    06:27 PM: Lauding the new health insurance scheme floated in the Union Budget 2018, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor also pointed out the shortcomings in the ambitious project, enquiring cheekily 'will it prove another jumla?'

    One good thing in #Budget2018 is the health insurance scheme to cover 500 million Indians. But the budget figures show no serious allocation for it, &the Fasal Bima Yojana has already proved a boon for insurance companies more than the insured. Will it prove another #jumla?

    - Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) February 1, 2018
    06:22 PM: Fraud of MSP only for Kharif i.e. Elections: Cost of production used by govt does not include costs of family labour & land rent, which is the global norm. We reiterate our demand for bringing a law giving farmers the Right to Sell at MSP, says CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury.

    Fraud of MSP only for Kharif i.e. Elections:
    Cost of production used by govt does not include costs of family labour & land rent, which is the global norm. We reiterate our demand for bringing a law giving farmers the Right to Sell at MSP.

    - Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) February 1, 2018
    06:16 PM: The Budget proposals should have been bold and radical, and backed by adequate provision of funds. Unfortunately, the Budget proposals are a big let down, said Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

    pic.twitter.com/niQ82VMn98

    - P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) February 1, 2018
    ARUN JAITLEY'S BUDGET PRESSER

    04:42 PM: Shortfall in GST revenue collection is Rs 50,000 crore in current fiscal: Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia

    04:40 PM: Agriculture and rural economy have been given high priority in New India Budget: Arun Jaitley

    04:38 PM: Niti Aayog will devise a mechanism to increase the Minimum Support Price for crops to 1.5 times of production cost, as promised in New India Budget; to be done in consultation with the states: Arun Jaitley

    04:35 PM: Step by step, in every budget, I have been putting surplus money in the hands of the middle-class taxpayer: Arun Jaitley  

    04:30 PM: Contribution of the salaried class has been reognized for the first time: Arun Jaitley

    UNION BUDGET 2018-19: KEY TAKEWAYS

    MSP for all unannounced kharif crops will be one and half times of their production cost like majority of rabi crops: Institutional Farm Credit raised to 11 lakh crore in 2018-19 from 8.5 lakh crore in 2014-15.
    22,000 rural haats to be developed and upgraded into Gramin Agricultural Markets to protect the interests of 86 per cent small and marginal farmers.
    "Operation Greens" launched to address price fluctuations in potato, tomato and onion for benefit of farmers and consumers.
    Two New Funds of Rs10,000 crore announced for Fisheries and Animal Husbandary sectors; Re -structured National Bamboo Mission gets Rs 1290 crore.
    Loans to Women Self Help Groups wil l increase to Rs 75,000 crore in 2019 from 42,500 crore last year.
    Outlay on health, education and soci al protection will be 1.38 lakh crore. Tribal students to get Ekalavya Residential School in each tribal block by 2022. Welfare fund for SCs gets a boost.
    Rs 5.97 lakh crore allocation for infrastructure.
    NITI Aayog to initiate a national programme on Artificial Intelligence. Centres of excellence to be set up on robotics, AI, Internet of things etc.
    To control cash economy, payments exceeding Rs 10,000 in cash made by trusts and institutions to be disallowed and would be subject to tax. 
    Tax on Long Term Capital Gains exceeding Rs 1 lakh at the rate of 10 percent, without allowing any indexation benefit. However, all gains up to 31st January, 2018 will be grandfathered.
    Proposal to introduce tax on distributed income by equity oriented mutual funds at the rate of 10 per cent.
    Proposal to increase cess on personal income tax and corporation tax to 4 percent from present 3 per cent. 
    Proposal to roll out E-assessment across the country to almost eliminate person to person contact leading to greater efficiency and transparency in direct tax collection. 
    Proposed changes in customs duty to promote creation of more jobs in the country and also to incentivise domestic value addition and Make in India in sectors such as food processing, electronics, auto components, footwear and furniture.
    Relief to Senior Citizens proposed:

    Exemption of interest income on deposits with banks and post offices to be increased from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000.
    TDS not required to be deducted under section 194A. Benefit also available for interest from all fixed deposit schemes and recurring deposit schemes.
    Hike in deduction limit for health insurance premium and/ or medical expenditure from Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 50,000 under section 80D.
    Increase in deduction limit for medical expenditure for certain critical illness from Rs 60,000 (in case of senior citizens) and from Rs 80,000 (in case of very senior citizens) to Rs 1 lakh for all senior citizens, under section 80DDB.
    Proposed to extend Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana up to March, 2020. Current investment limit proposed to be increased to Rs 15 lakh from the existing limit of Rs 7.5 lakh per senior citizen.
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Union Budget 2018-19

    01:40 PM: Ayushman Bharat will help 10 crore families in their medical need. This is the biggest ever government-sponsored health care programme in the world: PM Modi   

    01:36 PM: I congratulate the Finance Minister for the decision regarding MSP. I am sure it will help farmers tremendously: PM Narendra Modi 

    01:34 PM: The farmers, Dalits, tribal communities will gain from this Budget. The Budget will bring new opportunities for rural India: PM Narendra Modi 

    01:32 PM: This Budget is farmer friendly, common citizen friendly, business environment friendly and development friendly. It will add to 'Ease of Living': Narendra Modi 

    01:30 PM: This budget has devoted attention to all sectors, ranging from agriculture to infrastructure: PM Narendra Modi

    What Will Get Expensive

    Customs duty on sunglasses, cigarette lighter, toys, bus and truck tyres, select furniture hiked.
    Customs duty on crude edible vegetable oils like groundnut oil, safflower seed oil hiked from 12.5 per cent to 30 per cent; on refined edible vegetable oil from 20 per cent to 35 per cent.
    Customs duty on imitation jewellery hiked from 15 per cent to 20 per cent; doubled on all watches to 20 per cent.
    Import duty on LCD/LED/OLED panels, parts of TVs hiked to 15 per cent; duty on smart watches, wearable devices, footwear doubled to 20 per cent.
    Import duty on fruit juice raised from 30 per cent to 50 per cent.
    Customs duty on perfumes, dental hygiene, after-shave, deodorants, room deodorizers, preparations for use on hair doubled to 20 per cent. 
    UNION BUDGET 2018-19: REACTIONS ON ARUN JAITLEY'S ANNUAL BUDGET SPEECH 

    "Not a single extra rupee increased in Delhi's share in Central taxes since 2001-02, stays at Rs 325 crore. No other part of India gets such treatment. BJP government at Center continues to treat Delhi residents as second-grade citizens: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia

    "Where is the direction? Where will the investment come from? The ambitious health cover programme will go like crop insurance scheme where only insurance companies make money. It's not a budget for common people: Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera

    LIVE UPDATES

    12:45 PM:The government to increase customs duty on mobile phones from 15 per cent to 20 per cent: Arun jaitley
    12:40 PM: Existing 3 per cent cess on health and education to be increased to 4 per cent: Arun jaitley

    12:35 PM: Companies with turnover of upto Rs 250 crore to be taxed at 25 per cent: Arun Jaitley

    12:30 PM:100 per cent tax rebate for farmer producer companies having a turnover of Rs 100 crore: Arun Jaitley

    12:25 PM: No change in personal income tax rates for salaried class: Arun Jaitley 

    12:20 PM:The government estimates fiscal deficit for FY 2018-19 at 3.3 per cent: Arun Jaitley


     LIVE: Revised fiscal deficit estimate for 2017-18 is 3.5% of GDP, fiscal deficit of 3.3% expected for 2018-19: FM @arunjaitley#Budget2018#NewIndiaBudget

    - PIB India (@PIB_India) February 1, 2018
    12:15 PM: The emoluments for the President, Vice-President and Governors were last revised in 2006. Therefore, I propose to revise the emoluments for President to Rs 5 Lakh, for Vice-President Rs 4 lakh and for Governors Rs 3.5 Lakh: Arun Jaitley


    12:10 PM: The government insurance companies will be merged into a single entity, and subsequently listed in the stock exchange, as part of the disinvestment programme: Arun Jaitley

    12:05 PM: The government to take all steps to eliminate use of cryptocurrencies which are being used to fund illegitimate transactions. The government   will also explore the use of block-chain technology for ushering in digital economy: Arun Jaitley

    11:55 AM: The government will contribute 12 per cent of wages of new employees in EPF for all sectors for the next 3 years : Arun Jaitley

    Govt will contribute 12% of wages of new employees in EPF for all sectors for the next 3 years : FM @arunjaitley#Budget2018#NewIndiaBudget#BudgetWithDDNewspic.twitter.com/RP9otSh8nH

    - Doordarshan News (@DDNewsLive) February 1, 2018
    11:50 AM: The government to launch 'Revitalising of Infrastructure and Systems in Education' by 2022 with a total investment of Rs 1 lakh crore in next 4 years: Arun Jaitley

    11:45 AM: World's largest govt-funded health programme - 'National Health Protection Scheme' to cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families by providing upto Rs 5 lakh per family per year: Arun Jaitley

    World's largest govt-funded health programme - 'National Health Protection Scheme' to cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families by providing upto Rs 5 lakh per family per year: FM @arunjaitley#Budget2018#NewIndiaBudget#BudgetWithDDNewspic.twitter.com/pNdC0i2fRg

    - Doordarshan News (@DDNewsLive) February 1, 2018
    11:42 AM: One goverment medical college to be ensured for every 3 parliamentary constituencies by upgrading 24 district-level colleges: Arun Jaitley 

    11:40 AM: The Government is slowly but steadily progressing towards universal health coverage: Arun Jaitley 

    11:38 AM: Providing 5 lakh rupees per family per year for medical reimbursement, under National Health Protection Scheme. This will be world's largest health protection scheme: Arun Jaitley

    11:35 AM: By 2022, every block with more than 50 per cent ST population and at least 20,000 tribal people will have 'Ekalavya' school at par with Navodaya Vidyalas: Arun Jaitley 

    11:32 AM: The government plans to construct 2 crore more toilets under Swachh Bharat Mission: Finance Minister Jaitley 

    11:30 AM: The government uner Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana will provide 8 crore free gas connections to women: Arun Jaitley

    11:25 AM: New scheme to subsidize machinery required for crop residue to tackle air pollution: Finance Minister 

    11:20 AM: 5 Lakh per annum health cover for 50 crore Indians: Arun jaitley

    11:15 AM: Bamboo is green gold, we have removed the classification of bamboo grown outside the forest areas as trees: Arun Jaitley

    11:10 AM: The government should ensure that farmers get minimum support price (MSP) for their production and we in consultation with Niti Aayog will devise a plan to ensure that: Arun Jaitley  

    11:05 AM:This year's Budget will focus on strengthening agriculture and rural economy. We are committed to double the farmers income by 2022: Arun Jaitley


    11:00 AM: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley begins his Budget 2018-19 speech by highlighting the government's economic reforms and its achievements. 

    10:30 AM: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament.

    9:55 AM:Finance Minister Arun Jaitley arrives in Parliament for Budget presentation. He will begin his Budget speech at 11 AM. 

    Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley arrives at the Parliament #UnionBudget2018pic.twitter.com/VhTlrr71UC

    - ANI (@ANI) February 1, 2018
    9:44 AM: Union Budget 2018-19 papers arrive in the Parliament. 

    Delhi: Union Budget papers arrive in Parliament #UnionBudget2018pic.twitter.com/s0UmiIMl0Q

    - ANI (@ANI) February 1, 2018
    9:40 AM:Finance Minister Arun Jaitley meets President Ram Nath Kovind ahead of his Budget 2018-19 presentation in the Parliament at 11 AM.

    Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley met President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan before presenting the Union Budget 2018-19 in the Parliament. pic.twitter.com/7aaRpXhVPy

    - ANI (@ANI) February 1, 2018
    9:18 AM:Ahead of Arun Jaitley's Budget 2018-19 presentation, Sensex opens 157 points higher to 36121, Nifty up 41 points to 11,067 level.


    9:15 AM: If Dalal Street reports are to be true, Arun Jaitley may impose LTCG tax on equities which will make the investment class less attractive to FIIs, DIIs and retail investors.    


    9:10 AM: Arun Jaitley's Day Plan: Finance Minister Jaitley will begin his Budget speech in Parliament at 11 AM. He will hold post Budget press conference in evening at 4 PM. The Finance Minister will also hold discussion with Economic Advisory Council at 4:30 PM.

    8:59 AM: As per ritual, Finance Minister Jaitley poses with Budget briefcase and heads to Rashtrapati Bahavan to meet President Ram Nath Kovind.

    Delhi: Finance minister Arun Jaitley and his team ahead of the #UnionBudget2018 presentation pic.twitter.com/LrECFu4gYP

    - ANI (@ANI) February 1, 2018
    8:44 AM: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley reaches North Block office and he will deliver his Budget speech in Hindi.

    #Visuals from outside Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's residence in Delhi. He will be presenting the Union Budget 2018-19 in the Parliament today. pic.twitter.com/RwRPcTkIHr

    - ANI (@ANI) February 1, 2018
    7:50 AM: It will be a good budget. It will be for the benefit of the common people: Shiv Pratap Shukla, MoS, Finance

    7:45 AM: People expect Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to deliver on Prime Minister Modi's promise of doubling the farmers' income.

    HERE ARE SOME EXPECTATIONS

    Small Businesses

    Small businesses, which have traditionally formed the core support base of the BJP, too may get some sops to ease pain caused to them due to the chaotic rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetisation.

    Infrastructure
    Arun Jaitley is also expected to enhance allocations on infrastructure projects like highways and railways to boost economic growth and generate more jobs.

    Fiscal Deficit
    Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian has indicated that the government may be willing to ease off on the strict fiscal deficit target which would provide more headroom for the finance minister. Jaitley had previously set a target to lower the fiscal deficit to 3.2 per cent of GDP in the current fiscal and to 3 per cent in 2018-19 budget to be presented on Tuesday.

    GST issue
    This will also be the first budget to be presented after the introduction of the new GST regime. As a result the finance minister will have less leverage in changing tax rates since central excise duty on goods and service tax have both been subsumed in the GST and he no longer has the sole power infrato fix rates on them. Another constraint for the finance minister is the increase in international oil prices to around $70 per barrel. The country imports close to 80% of its crude requirement and while high oil prices fuel inflation it also increases the country's trade and current account deficits.

    Exports
    Some kind of incentives to boost exports of certain sectors may be announced while there may be announcements for start-ups.

    Stocks
    The finance minister may also impose a capital gains tax on investments in stocks so that other forms of investments such as fixed deposits in banks turn more attractive.

    Corporate Tax
    While India Inc. is hoping the finance minister will finally show some movement on his 2015 promise to lower corporate tax rate to 25 per cent from 30 per cent over four years this may not happen given the pro-poor tilt in a pre-poll budget. Scrapping the colonial-era tradition of presenting the Budget at the end of February, Jaitley had for the first time presented it on February 1 last year.

    The presentation of the budget was advanced by a month to ensure that proposals take effect from April 1, the beginning of the new financial year. Besides, the nearly century old tradition of having a separate budget for the railways has been dropped. The railway budget now forms a part of the general budget.

    This will be the last full-fledged budget by the present Modi government as a vote-on-account or approval for essential government spending for a limited period is taken in the election year and the full budget is presented after the new government is sworn in.

Budget 2018: Standard Deduction of Rs 40,000 on income tax actually amounts to just Rs 10,000 benefit
  • Budget 2018 is over and the verdict is out. While Indians were expecting major relief by way of new tax slabs, lower tax rates and hiked up allowances, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's focus on the gareeb nagrik and the agriculture sector has translated to disappointment on these fronts.
    In his ongoing Budget speech Jaitley said "We do not propose any changes in personal income tax structure." However, as a small concession, he has announced a standard deduction of Rs 40,000 for salaried taxpayers. This will be in lieu of the existing transport allowance and medical expense reimbursement. However, other medical reimbursements in case of hospitalisation will continue.

    According to him, standard deduction was reintroduced to address the valid perception-backed by data on taxes coughed up-that businessmen had it better than the salaried class. According to him, the existing allowances amount to Rs 30,000 so the actual tax benefit here on would be Rs 10,000 more for each taxpayer. This move is expected to benefit 2.5 crore taxpayers and reduce paperwork along the way. The revenue cost of this concession is pegged at Rs 8,000 crore.

    Budget 2018 has been kinder to senior citizens, in order to allow them a "dignified life".  To begin with, tax exemption of interest income from bank deposits has been raised to Rs 50,000 from the current Rs 10,000. He has also proposed to raise the deduction under health insurance premium under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act to Rs 50,000 (from Rs 30,000 currently). In case of senior citizens with critical illnesses the deduction will be Rs 1 lakh. Moreover, Fixed Deposit/Post office interest to be exempt till Rs 50,000.

    The corporate sector, which has been hoping for an across the board cut in corporate tax rate to 25%, has also been left disappointed. Jaitley has announced that only companies with a turnover of up to Rs 250 crore will now be taxed at 25%. According to him, this move will benefit 99% of companies and the revenue foregone is pegged at Rs 7,000 crore in 2018-19.

    Claiming that the total amount of exempted capital gains has surged to nearly Rs 360,000 crore, and that the return on equity is already high, the FM proposed to tax capital gains exceeding Rs 1 lakh at 10%. The reaction to this can already be seen in the stock market-the Sensex has dipped marginally as a knee-jerk reaction.

    Here's an excerpt from Arun Jaitley's Budget speech on personal income tax:

    There is a general perception in the society that individual business persons have better income as compared to salaried class. However, income tax data analysis suggests that major portion of personal income-tax collection comes from the salaried class. For assessment year 2016-17, 1.89 crore salaried individuals have filed their returns and have paid total tax of Rs1.44 lakh crores which works out to average tax payment of Rs76,306/- per individual salaried taxpayer. As against this, 1.88 crores individual business taxpayers including professionals, who filed their returns for the same assessment year paid total tax of Rs48,000 crores which works out to an average tax payment of Rs25,753/- per individual business taxpayer. In order to provide relief to salaried taxpayers, I propose to allow a standard deduction of Rs40,000/- in lieu of the present exemption in respect of transport allowance and reimbursement of miscellaneous medical expenses.

    However, the transport allowance at enhanced rate shall continue to be available to differently-abled persons. Also other medical reimbursement benefits in case of hospitalization etc., for all employees shall continue. Apart from reducing paper work and compliance, this will help middle class employees even more in terms of reduction in their tax liability. This decision to allow standard deduction shall significantly benefit the pensioners also, who normally do not enjoy any allowance on account of transport and medical expenses. The revenue cost of this decision is approximately Rs8,000 crores. The total number of salaried employees and pensioners who will benefit from this decision is around 2.5 crores.

Budget 2018: PM Modi gives thrust to Make in India with hike in customs duty
  • There is good news for 'Make in India', the government's flagship programme to boost manufacturing in the country. During the Budget speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that to incentivise domestic value addition, he is proposing an increase in customs duty on certain items. "I propose to increase customs duty on mobile phones from 15 per cent to 20 per cent, on some of their parts and accessories to 15 per cent and on certain parts of TVs to 15 per cent. This measure will promote creation of more jobs in the country."  

    Customs duties have been significantly increased in more than 10 sectors to discourage imports, most of it from China and other Asian countries. Think of furniture, lighting, clocks, toys, or even cigarette lighters. The budget proposals lay out one of the most comprehensive approaches to "protect" domestic manufacturing.

    Interestingly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing the World Economic Forum's annual summit in Davos earlier this month, said the sentiment of anti-globalisation was as dangerous as climate change and terror. He spoke of protectionist barriers harming the developing world. Today's budget proposals appear to be a retaliation against that rich world.

    Here are some of them

    1. In the food processing industry, customs duty has jumped five times to 50 per cent for cranberry juice. The duty for orange juice is now raised to 35 per cent from 30 per cent earlier while the duty for all other fruit and vegetable juices is now at 50 per cent from 30 per cent earlier.

    2. Custom duties on 'Perfumes and toiletry preparations' have doubled to 20 per cent.

    3. In 'Automobile and automobile parts', some accessories of motor vehicles, motor cars, motor cycles will now be charged at 15 per cent versus 7.5-10 per cent earlier. CKD imports of motor vehicle, motor cars, and motor cycles have been proposed at 15 per cent from 10 per cent before. The duty on truck and bus radial tyres is proposed at 15 per cent from 10 per cent earlier.

    4. The duty on silk fabrics and footwear has been doubled to 20 per cent.

    5. While the duty on mobile phones are now proposed at 20 per cent from 15 per cent earlier, specified parts and accessories of phones could be charged at 15 per cent from the earlier 7.5-10 per cent. Similarly, the duty on PCBA of charger/adapter and moulded plastics of charger/adapter of mobile phones is proposed at 10 per cent from zero earlier. The new rates for LCD/LED/OLED panels and other parts of LCD/LED/OLED televisions are proposed to be doubled at 15 per cent.  

    6. Imports of furniture, lamps and lighting fitting will be costlier - the proposed duty, in many cases, is now doubled to 20 per cent. Same for watches and clocks, even toys - tricycles, scooters, pedal cars and similar wheeled toys; dolls' carriages; dolls, puzzles of all kinds.

    7. The duty has similarly been proposed to be doubled for items such as sunglasses, candles, kites, lighters, and scent sprays among others.

    While domestic assemblers and manufacturers welcomed the proposed protection - these measures would "revive the confidence of the domestic enterprenuers" - analysts sounded a caution. M.S. Mani, Senior Director of Deloitte India noted that "while the intention behind increasing the customs duties on some products such as mobile phones is to incentivise domestic manufacturing, this will lead to an increase in the prices for these products denting the middle class consumers wallets".

Another warning for Bitcoin investors? Jaitley's budget speech critical of crypto-currencies
  • Since the beginning of 2018, crypto-currencies are on a downward slope. According to a report by Bloomberg, the entire digital currency has lost 30 per cent in value in January alone. This has been the sharpest drop in the history of the digital asset. A total of $44 billion has been wiped off from the $200 billion market value of Bitcoin alone.

    Soon after Finance Minister Arun Jaitely's speech, Bitcoin's value saw a further drop in value by 9 per cent in the past 24 hours. The crypto-currency is now pegged at around $9000. Though a 9 per cent fluctuation is nothing compared to the swinging values of Bitcoin, there is possibility that it may slip further as US begins trading after the budget speech.

    The Indian government and the RBI are both critical of crypto-currencies, including Bitcoin. So much so, the Finance Ministry had recently called it a ponzi scheme. The official statement went on to warn the investors that it is "entirely at their risk and should best avoid participating therein."

    The statement added, "There is a real and heightened risk of investment bubble of the type seen in Ponzi schemes", with investors risking a sudden and prolonged crash. To be clear, a Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent system offering unusually high returns, where early investors are paid off with money from later investors.

    The same sentiment was echoed in Arun Jaitley's budget speech today in which he said that measures would be taken to "eliminate use of these crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities".

    "Distributed ledger system or the block chain technology allows organization of any chain of records or transactions without the need of intermediaries. The Government does not consider crypto-currencies legal tender or coin and will take all measures to eliminate use of these crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system. The Government will explore use of block chain technology proactively for ushering in digital economy," said the Finance Minister during the budget speech.

    This was the government's first Budget after few Blockchain technologies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple made dramatic spikes in value.

Budget 2018: FM Arun Jaitley proposes 4% health & education cess
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today proposed to replace existing 3 per cent education cess on personal income tax and corporation tax with a 4 per cent 'Health and Education Cess' to take care the education and health needs of poor and rural families. 

    At present, a 3 per cent cess, consisting of  2 per cent cess for primary education and 1 per cent cess for secondary and higher education, is levied on personal income tax and corporation tax.

    "In order to take care of the needs of education and health of BPL and rural families... I propose to increase the cess by one per cent. The existing three per cent education cess will be replaced by a four per cent 'Health and Education Cess' to be levied on the tax payable. "This will enable us to collect an estimated additional amount of Rs 11,000 crore," Jaitley said while presenting the Budget 2018-19 in Parliament today. 

    Jaitley in his Budget speech also said that it has been decided that by 2022, every block with more than 50 per cent Schedule Tribe (ST) population and at least 20,000 tribal persons will have an Ekalavya Model Residential School. 

General Awareness

Current Affairs were found in Month - January 2018
      1. Appointments
        1. Ajendra Bahadur Singh is appointed as Chief of Western Naval Command of Indian Navy.
        2. Anandiben Patel has been appointed as Governor of Madhya Pradesh.
        3. Anil Khanna is appointed as Chairman of Finance Commission of Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
        4. Biocon Chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and IDFC Bank founder Rajiv Lall have been appointed to board of US India Business Council. USIBC is chaired by Nisha Desai Biswal.
        5. Dilip Asbe is appointed as Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
        6. Errol D'Souza has been appointed by HRD Ministry as director of IIM Ahmedabad.
        7. Facebook appointed outgoing American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault to its board, making him first African-American to be on board.
        8. Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) appointed Dilip Chenoy as its Director General.
        9. Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) appointed Pramod Agarwal as its new chairman.
        10. Gopal Guru IS appointed as Editor of the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW).
        11. Government appointed AB Mathur as its representative to hold talks with United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).
        12. Government appointed Sivan K as New Chairman of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) and Secretary in Department of Space. He will relpace A S Kiran Kumar as ISRO Chief.
        13. Government appointed Vijay Keshav Gokhale as new Foreign Secretary of India. He is considered Diplomatic Expert on Chinese matters.
        14. Harman International named actress Priyanka Chopra as global brand ambassador for its JBL and Harman Kardon audio brands.
        15. Hemant Kumar Sharma is appointed as Divisional Commissioner of Jammu (J & K).
        16. Indian American Manisha Singh has been appointed as Assistant Secretary of State of USA for economic and business affairs. She is the first woman appointed to the post.
        17. Indian Olympic Association (IOA) appointed Vikram Singh Sisodia as Chef de Mission for 21st Commonwealth Games to be held at Gold Coast in Australia.
        18. Indian-American Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen is elected as Vice Chairman of US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF).
        19. JK Tyres & Industries appointed Rajiv Prasad as president of India Operations.
        20. Jerome H Powell has been appointed as Chairman of Federal Reserve System, Central banking system of USA. 
        21. Juan Orlando Hernandez has been re-appointed as President of Honduras (Central America) for 2nd term.
        22. Kerala Government appointed V J Mathew as Chairman of Maritime Board.
        23. Kookhyun Shim is appointed as MD and CEO of Kia Motors India (subsidiary of Hyundai India). While, Tata Motors appointed Hanne Birgitte Sorensen as an additional and independent director.
        24. Members of Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have moved Doomsday Clock upward by 30 seconds, to bring it just 2 minutes from midnight, closest since 1953 Cold War.
          1. Doomsday Clock is a symbol that represents likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe, Maintained since 1947.
          2. It represents an analogy for threat of global nuclear war. Since 2007, it also reflected climate change and new developments in life sciences that could inflict irrevocable harm to humanity.
          3. It represents hypothetical global catastrophe as midnight. Its original setting in 1947 was seven minutes to midnight.
          4. It has been moved 22 times till now, closest ever to midnight being 2 mins (in 1953 and 2018) and largest 17 mins (in 1991).
          5. On January 28 of 2018, Clock is set at 2 minutes to midnight, amid global threat of nuclear war between USA & North Korea.
        25. Milos Zeman won 2nd 5 year term as President of Czech Republic (Central Europe).
        26. New Indian Ambassadors Appointed -
          1. Srikumar Menon - Angola (Southern Africa)
          2. Tsewang Namgyal - Poland (Eastern Europe)
          3. Rajesh Agarwal - Niger (Western Africa).
        27. Noted Musician AR Rahman is apppointed as brand ambassador of Sikkim State, during Red Panda Winter Festival in Gangtok (Sikkim).
        28. Noted scientist S Somanath has been appointed as as Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala).
        29. Om Prakash Rawat has been appointed as Chief Election commissioner (CEC) of India. Besides, Ashok Lavasa has been appointed as an Election Commissioner of India, after Mr. Rawat has been promoted as Chief Election commissioner.
          1. Election commission of India consists of a Chief EC and 2 ECs. Other election commissioner currently is Sunil Arora.
        30. Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) appointed Hasan Sardar as head coach of national team.
        31. Pankaj Jain is appointed as Managing Director of India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd (IIFCL). Additionally, Devika Shah is appointed as MD and CEO of Indian Clearing Corporation Ltd (ICCL).
        32. Rajesh Ranjan is appointed as next High Ambassador of India to Botswana.
        33. Rajinder Khanna (Former RAW chief) is appointed as new Deputy National Security Adviser (NSA) of India.
          1. Ajit Doval is current National Security Adviser (NSA) of India.
        34. S Selvakumar is appointed as Chairman and Manging Director (CMD) of Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd (SPMCIL).
        35. Sauli Niinisto has been re-elected as President of Finland (Northern Europe) for 2nd term.
        36. Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) approved appointment of Vijay Kumar as Managing Director and CEO of National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX).
        37. Singapore-based Indian-origin businessman Sunny Verghese is appointed as Chairman of World Business Council for Sustainable development( WBCSD).
        38. Sita Ram Mardi is appointed as new Director General of Police (DGP) of Himachal Pradesh.
        39. Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga is appointed as new Prime Minister of African Nation Mali (West Africa).
        40. Sudeep Lakhtakia is appointed as new Director General of National Security Guard (NSG).
        41. Supreme Court collegium recommended senior advocate Indu Malhotra for appointment as a judge of Supreme Court. She is first woman lawyer from India to be directly elected for post of judge of Supreme Court.
        42. Tamil Nadu government appointed B. Rajendran as chairperson of Real Estate Appellate Tribunal (REAT) for Tamil Nadu and Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Additionally, T S Tirumurti is appointed as the Secretary (Economic Relations) in External Affairs Ministry.
        43. Telangana government formed state Minorities Commission with Mohammed Qamaruddin as Chairman and Rajarapu Pratap as vice chairman.
        44. Usha Ananthasubramanian became first woman chairman of Indian Banks’ Association (IBA). She is MD and CEO of Allahabad Bank.
        45. V Narayanan has been appointed as Director of ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC). He succeeded S Somanath who was appointed as Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).
        46. Vijay Keshav Gokhale took charge as new foreign secretary of India, succeeding S Jaishankar.
        47. Viorica Dancila is appointed as First Female Prime Minister of European Nation Romania.

        Awards
        1. 60th Annual Grammy Music Awards held in New York City (USA) -
          1. Album Of The Year - Bruno Mars
          2. Song of the Year - That's What I Like by Bruno Mars
          3. Record Of The Year - 24K Magic by Bruno Mars
          4. Best Pop Solo Performance - Ed Sheeran's Shape of You
          5. Best Pop Vocal Album - Ed Sheeran's Divide
          6. Best Music Film - The Defiant Ones
          7. Best Children's Album - Feel What U Feel by Lisa Loeb
          8. Producer of the Year (Classical): David Frost
        2. Actor Sudhir Dalvi is honored with Janakavi P Sawlaram award, instituted by Thane Municipal Corporation and Janakavi P Savlaram Kala Samiti.
        3. Afghanistan residents awarded Donald Trump a bravery medal for rebuking Pakistan over its failure in curbing terrorist havens.
        4. Awards and Decorations announced on the eve of Republic Day.
          1. 50 people named for Prime Minister’s Shram Awards 2016, including 3 women.
            1. Shram Ratna Award - No awardees.
            2. Shram Bhushan - 12.
            3. Shram Vir/Shram Veerangana Award - 18.
            4. Shram Shree/Shram Devi Award - 20
          2. 44 Persons honored by Jeevan Raksha Padak Awards 2017.
          3. 7 girls and 11 boys honored by National Bravery Awards.
          4. President approved 390 Gallantry Awards and other Defence decorations to Armed Forces personnel. This includes one Ashok Chakra (Air Force's Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala), one Kirti Chakra (Army's Major Vijayanta Bisht), 14 Shaurya Chakras and Other Awards -
            1. 28 Param Vishisht Seva Medals
            2. 4Uttam Yudh Seva Medals
            3. 2 Bar to Ati Vishisht Seva Medals
            4. 49 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals
            5. 10 Yudh Seva Medals
            6. 2 Bar to Sena Medals (Gallantry)
            7. 86 Sena Medals (Gallantry)
            8. 1 Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry)
            9. 3Vayu Sena Medals (Gallantry)
            10. 2 Bar to Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty)
            11. 38 Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty)
            12. 13 Nao Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty)
            13. 14 Vayu Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty)
            14. 1 Bar to Vishisht Seva Medal
            15. 121 Vishisht Seva Medals.
        5. Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee has been honored with France’s highest civilian award, Legion d’Honneur.
        6. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar is awarded first Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Award for Probity (Honesty) in Public Life, instituted by J & K government to mark death anniversary of Mufti M Sayeed.
        7. Biopic on Noted Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, titled A Billion Dreams won 2 awards at 11th Tehran International FICTS Festival 2018 in Iran -
          1. Helmer James Erskine won the Best Director of a Long Documentary trophy.
          2. Producer Ravi Bhagchandka won Special Award for Best Film in Long Documentary section.
        8. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman gave Republic Day Parade Awards 2018 -
          1. Total 23 tableaux participated, of which 14 were from States & UTs, 2 were from Ministry of External Affairs and rest from other Ministries/Departments -
            1. Among states, Maharashtra depicted coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was adjudged best.
            2. Among Ministries/Departments - Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports depicting ‘Khelo India’ was given first prize.
          2. Best marching contingent was Punjab Regiment Among 3 Services and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) among Among para-military and other auxiliary forces.
          3. School children items category -
            1. First prize went to South Central Zone Cultural Centre in Nagpur (Maharashtra), performing ‘Baredi Dance’ from Madhya Pradesh.
            2. Consolation prizes was awarded to North East Zone Cultural Centre in Dimapur (Nagaland) and Oxford Foundation School, Najafgarh (Delhi).
        9. French government will present Legion of Honour award to Indiann actor Soumitra Chatterjee, at 42nd International Kolkata Book Fair.
          1. France will be Theme country for International Kolkata Book Fair 2018.
        10. Indo British Scientist Pratibha Laxman Gai is named for damehood (female equivalent of a knighthood), in British Queen Elizabeth’s New Year’s Honours List 2018.
        11. Industrial Awards in Jan 2018 -
          1. Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (Mumbai) won Samudra Manthan - Caring Organisation of the Yearaward, instituted by maritime industry publication Bhandarkar Shipping.
          2. Central Board of Irrigation and Power (CBIP) conferred Special Recognition Award 2018 on Central Water Commission (CWC), for promoting health and safety of large dams in India through World Bank aided Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP).
        12. Magahi writer Shesh Anand Madhukar has been honoured with Sahitya Akademi Bhasha Samman Award 2018, becoming 2nd writer of Magahi language get this award.
          1. Sahitya Akademi honours writers from 24 regional languages, but Bhasha Samman identifies those languages which are equally spoken in different parts of country. Award prize consists of INR 1 lakh cheque and a memento.
        13. Malayalam actor Mohanlal and athlete P. T. Usha were awarded honorary Doctorate of Literature (D.Litt) by Calicut University (Kerala).
        14. Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports launched Pledge for Khelo India at Khelo India School Games Carnival in Delhi. Its vision is to inspire youngsters to build mass participation and excellence in sports.
          1. Khelo India School Games were launched under Khelo India Programme. It encompassed 16 sports disciplines under which overall 199 gold medals, 199 silver medals, 275 bronze medals are to be awarded.
          2. Khelo India Programme was launched in 2016 for building inclusive and comprehensive sports ecosystem in country.
          3. Under Khelo India, Sports Ministry will select 1000 athletes every year Through School Games, for a scholarship of Rs 5 lakhs each for eight successive years.
          4. It subsumed earlier 3 schemes into 1, namely Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan (RGKA)National Sports Talent Search Scheme (NSTSS) and Urban Sports Infrastructure Scheme (USIS).
        15. NITI Aayog Member Vinod Paul has been awarded prestigious IhsanDoğramacı Family Health Foundation Prize by World Health Organisation (WHO), in recognition to his services in the field of family health. He is the first Indian to receive this global honour.
        16. Noted playback singer Asha Bhosle has been chosen for 5th Yash Chopra Memorial Award for her contribution to Hindi film industry.
        17. Odisha's Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust won United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Award for Innovation in Tourism Enterprise at 14th UNWTO Awards in Madrid (Spain), in recognition of Mangalajodi’s business model that is both economically viable and environmentally sustainable based on principles of community ownership and Eco Tourism.
        18. Outstanding Parliamentarian Awards 2013 - 2017
          1. 2013 - Najma Heptulla (Rajya Sabha).
          2. 2014 - Hukumdev Narayan Yadav (Lok Sabha)
          3. 2015 - Ghulam Nabi Azad (Rajya Sabha)
          4. 2016 - Dinesh Trivedi (Lok Sabha)
          5. 2017 - Bhartruhari Mahatab (Lok Sabha)
        19. P.P. Chaudhary (Minister of State for Law and Justice & Corporate Affairs) has been conferred Honorary Fellowship of Institute of Company secretaries of India (ICSI).
        20. Padma Awards 2018 -
          1. Conferred every year by President of India around March / April.
          2. In 2018, 85 Padma Awards including two duo cases (in a duo case, the award is counted as one) have been announced.
          3. Awards comprise 3 Padma Vibhushan, 9 Padma Bhushan and 73 Padma Shri Awards. 14 awardees are women. Padma awards do not carry any monetary incentives.
          4. Awardees are -
            1. Padma Vibhushan
              Sl. No
              Name
              Field
              State
              1
              Illaiyaraja
              Art-Music
              Tamil Nadu
              2
              Ghulam Mustafa Khan
              Art-Music
              Maharashtra
              3
              P. Parameswaran
              Literature and Education
              Kerala
            2. Padma Bhushan
              Sl. No
              Name
              Field
              State
              1
              Philipose Mar Chrysostom
              Others-Spiritualism
              Kerala
              2
              Mahendra Singh Dhoni
              Sports-Cricket
              Jharkhand
              3
              Pankaj Advani
              Sports- Billiards/Snooker
              Karnataka
              4
              Alexander Kadakin
              (Foreigner/Posthumous)
              Public Affairs
              Russia
              5
              Ramachandran Nagaswamy
              Others-Archaeology
              Tamil Nadu
              6
              Ved Prakash Nanda
              (OCI)
              Literature and Education
              USA
              7
              Laxman Pai
              Art-Painting
              Goa
              8
              Arvind Parikh
              Art-Music
              Maharashtra
              9
              Ms. Sharda Sinha
              Art-Music
              Bihar
            3. Padma Shri
              Sl. No
              Name
              Sub Category
              State
              Sports
              1
              Ms. Saikhom Mirabai Chanu
              Weightlifting
              Manipur
              2
              Somdev Devvarman
              Tennis
              Tripura
              3
              Kidambi Srikanth
              Badminton
              Andhra Pradesh
              4
              Murlikant Petkar
              Swimming
              Maharashtra
              Science and Engineering
              5
              Amitava Roy

              West Bengal
              6
              Vikram Chandra

              Uttarakhand
              7
              Rajagopalan Vasudevan

              Tamil Nadu
              8
              Manas Bihari Verma

              Bihar
              Social Work
              9
              Malai Haji Abdullah Bin Malai Haji Othman(Foreigner)

              BruneiDarussalam
              10
              Sudhanshu Biswas

              West Bengal
              11
              Ms. Sitavva Joddati

              Karnataka
              12
              Ms. Subhasini Mistry

              West Bengal
              13
              Ms. Sulagitti Narasamma

              Karnataka
              14
              Sampat Ramteke (Posthumous)

              Maharashtra
              15
              Ms. Lentina Ao Thakkar

              Nagaland
              16
              Damodar Ganesh Bapat

              Chhattisgarh
              Medicine
              17
              Yeshi Dhoden

              Himachal Pradesh
              18
              Ms. Lakshmikutty
              Traditional
              Kerala
              19
              Pankaj M Shah
              Oncology
              Gujarat
              20
              Abhay Bang (Duo)

              Maharashtra
              Ms. Rani Bang (Duo)

              Maharashtra
              21
              M R Rajagopal
              Palliative Care
              Kerala
              22
              Sanduk Ruit (Foreigner)
              Ophthalmology
              Nepal
              Literature and Education
              23
              Prafulla Govinda Baruah
              Journalism
              Assam
              24
              Pandit Shyamlal Chaturvedi
              Journalism
              Chhattisgarh
              25
              Anwar Jalalpuri (Posthumous)

              Uttar Pradesh
              26
              Piyong Temjen Jamir

              Nagaland
              27
              Ms. Malti Joshi

              Madhya Pradesh
              28
              Arvind Gupta

              Maharashtra
              29
              Digamber Hansda

              Jharkhand
              30
              Arup Kumar Dutta

              Assam
              31
              Ms. Joyshree Goswami Mahanta

              Assam
              32
              Zaverilal Mehta
              Journalism
              Gujarat
              33
              Krishna Bihari Mishra

              West Bengal
              34
              Tomio Mizokami (Foreigner)

              Japan
              35
              Keshav Rao Musalgaonkar

              Madhya Pradesh
              36
              Habibullo Rajabov (Foreigner)

              Tajikistan
              37
              Chandra Sekhar Rath

              Odisha
              38
              Maharao Raghuveer Singh

              Rajasthan
              39
              Bhagirath Prasad Tripathi

              Uttar Pradesh
              40
              Panatawane Gangadhar Vithobaji

              Maharashtra
              41
              A Zakia

              Mizoram
              Art
              42
              Mohan Swaroop Bhatia
              Folk Music
              Uttar Pradesh
              43
              Ms. Langpoklakpam Subadani Devi
              Weaving
              Manipur
              44
              Doddarange Gowda
              Lyrics
              Karnataka
              45
              Ramli Bin Ibrahim (Foreigner)
              Dance
              Malaysia
              46
              Manoj Joshi
              Acting
              Maharashtra
              47
              Vijay Kichlu
              Music
              West Bengal
              48
              Pran Kishore Kaul

              Jammu andKashmir
              49
              Pravakara Maharana
              Sculpture
              Odisha
              50
              Sisir Purushottam Mishra
              Cinema
              Maharashtra
              51
              Ms. Vijayalakshmi Navaneethakrishnan
              Folk Music
              Tamil Nadu
              52
              I Nyoman Nuarta (Foreigner)
              Sculpture
              Indonesia
              53
              Gobaradhan Panika
              Weaving
              Odisha
              54
              Ibrahim Sutar
              Music
              Karnataka
              55
              R Sathyanarayana
              Music
              Karnataka
              56
              Bhajju Shyam
              Painting
              Madhya Pradesh
              57
              Rudrapatnam Narayanaswamy Thyagarajan AND Rudrapatnam Narayanaswamy Tharanathan (DUO)
              Music
              Karnataka
              58
              Baba Yogendra

              Madhya Pradesh
              Trade & Industry
              59
              Rameshwarlal Kabra

              Maharashtra
              60
              Jose Ma Joey Concepcion III (Foreigner)

              Philippines
              Others
              61
              Bounlap Keokangna (Foreigner)
              Architecture
              Laos
              62
              Narayan Das Maharaj
              Spiritualism
              Rajasthan
              63
              Ms. Nouf Marwaai (Foreigner)
              Yoga
              Saudi Arabia
              64
              Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong (Foreigner)
              Spiritualism
              Thailand
              65
              Ms. V Nanammal
              Yoga
              Tamil Nadu
              66
              Siddeshwara Swamiji
              Spiritualism
              Karnataka
              67
              Nguyen Tien Thien (Foreigner)
              Spiritualism
              Vietnam
              68
              Romulus Whitaker
              WildlifeConservation
              Tamil Nadu
              Civil Service
              69
              S S Rathore

              Gujarat
              Public Affairs
              70
              Tommy Koh (Foreigner)

              Singapore
              71
              Hun Many (Foreigner)

              Cambodia
              72
              Bhabani Charan Pattanaik

              Odisha
              73
              Dr Thant Myint – U (Foreigner)

              Myanmar
        21. President Ram Nath Kovind felicitated 112 exceptional women achievers who are the first to set a milestone in their respective fields, selected by Women & Child Development Ministry. Noted Names Include -
          1. Bachendri Pal - First Indian woman to reach Mount Everest summit.
          2. Deepa Malik - first Indian woman to win a medal at Paralympics.
          3. Priya Jhingan - First Lady Cadet to join Indian Army.
          4. P V Sindhu - first Indian woman to become Olympic silver medallist (Badminton)
          5. Nicole Faria - First woman from India to win Miss earth title.
          6. Karnam Malleswari - first Indian female Olympic medal winning weightlifter.
          7. Diana Edulji: First ODI captain of first ever Indian Women’s Cricket Team.
        22. President Ram Nath Kovind honored four 4 artists and scholars in performing arts with Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and 43 artists with Sangeet Natak Akademi awards 2016.
          1. Fellowship awardees receive INR 3 lakh and Akademi Puraskar Awadees receive INR 1 lakh, along with angavastram and a tamrapatra.
        23. Rachel Morrison (USA) became first female cinematographer to receive an Oscar nomination in 89-year-old history of Academy Awards, for her work in Mudbound.
        24. Ravi Menon, The Indian Origin Managing director of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), has been named best central bank governor in Asia-Pacific for 2018 by UK-based magazine The Banker.
        25. Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K Palanichamy received UNESCO Award of Merit awarded to iconic Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple in Tiruchirapalli. This Award of merit was awarded by UNESCO Asia Pacific region for temple's reconstruction without affecting its traditional splendour and Vedic rituals.
        26. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu conferred Badminton Association of India Lifetime Achievement Award to 1983 World Championship medallist Prakash Padukone.

        Books
        1.  Dilli Meri Dilli: Before and After 1998, Book by former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit Dikshit has been released.
        2. Book Home at Last: A Journey to Higher Consciousness, written by Sarada Chiruvolu has been released.
        3. Book Majuli: Resources and Challenges, that appreciates beauty and challenges of Majuli (Assam) has been released. It is by Sanjib Kumar Borkakoti.
        4. Book Staniya Svasasan Mei Addhi Aabadhi, by Sadhana Pandeyhas been released.
        5. Book The Heartfulness Way, authored by Kamlesh D. Patel has been released.
        6. Book The Tall Man Biju Patnaik, written by Sundar Ganesan has been released. Biju Patnaik was father of Odisha's CM Naveen Patnaik.
        7. Former Indian Cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar’s autobiography Imperfect has been launched.

        Committees
        1. Central Government formed committee headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to decide on old, pre-existing projects in ports, which have become unviable.
        2. Election Commission constituted a 14 member committee headed by Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha, to suggest changes to Section 126 of Representation of People Act 1951 (RP Act) in view of social media expansion.
          1. It will study impact of new media and social media during the silence period(48 hours period prior to elections) and its implications. It will suggest modifications to election law and model code of conduct.
        3. Retired Justice Shiv Narayan Dhingra is appointed as head of a new committee to re-investigate 186 closed cases related to 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

        Days
        1. Jan 01, 2018 - 125th Birth Anniversary of Noted Indian Scientist Satyendra Nath Bose.
          1. He is best known for his work on quantum mechanics in early 1920s, providing foundation for Bose–Einstein statistics and theory of Bose–Einstein condensate. He was A Fellow of Royal Society (UK) and was awarded India's second highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan in 1954.
        2. Jan 04 - World Braille Day. It commemorates contribution of Louis Braille who invented reading and writing system that helped blind people across world.
        3. Jan 09 - Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) in India, marking return of M K Gandhi to India from south africa on Jan 9, 1915. It was first celebrated by NDA Government in 2003.
          1. This year marks 25th anniversary of India's partnership with ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Nations and theme wasAncient Route, New Journey: Diaspora in Dynamic ASEAN INDIA Partnership.
          2. On this occasion, first ever Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) Parliamentary Conference held in Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra (PBK) in New Delhi.
        4. Jan 10 - World Hindi Day. It marks holding first World Hindi Conference on 10 January, 1975. Jan 10, 2018 also marks 25th Raising Day of Army Air Defence.
        5. Jan 12 - National Youth Day in India. It marks birth anniversary of legendary social reformer Swami Vivekananda.
          1. On this occasion, 22nd National Youth Festival (NYF) organised in New Delhi by Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports at Gautam Buddha University (Greater Noida).
          2. On this occasion, Jharkhand Govt organized Skill Summit and Provided Employment to 27852 Youth in Private Sector.
        6. Jan 15, 2018 - 70th Indian Army Day. It commemorates the day when K.M Carriappa took over command of Indian Army from F.R.R Bucher, the last British Commander-in-Chief in 1949.
        7. Jan 21 - Statehood Day for North Eastern States of Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya.
          1. On this occasion, Manipur Government launched Chief Minister-gi Hakshelgi Tengbang (CMHT), a health assurance scheme for the poor and disabled people. It will provide cashless treatment to poor at government hospitals, health centres and other empanelled selected private hospitals.
        8. Jan 24 - National Girl Child Day.
          1. Delhi Govt held Girl Child Week programme to celebrate girl child and spread awareness on gender equality.
        9. Jan 24 - Uttar Pradesh Diwas. On this occasion, UP Government approved one district, one product scheme to promote products indigenous to every district. Under this, one product indigenous to every district of Uttar Pradesh would be showcased at 3 day UP Diwas event.
        10. Jan 25 - National Voters' Day. 2018 Theme is Accessible Elections.
        11. Jan 25 - Statehood Day of Himachal Pradesh.
        12. Jan 26 - International Customs Day. 2018 theme is A secure business environment for economic development.
        13. Jan 26, 2018 - 69th Republic Day of India.
          1. As part of Republic Day celebrations, 6 days Bharat Parv event began at Red Fort (Delhi).
          2. This year, Government heads of 10 ASEAN countries were Chief Guests at Republic Day Parade. Participating Guests are -
            NameNation
            Hassanal Bolkiah Brunei
            Hun Sen Cambodia
            Joko Widodo Indonesia
            Thongloun Sisoulith Laos
            Najib Razak Malaysia
            Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Myanmar
            Rodrigo Roa Duterte Philippines
            Lee Hsien Loong Singapore
            Prayuth Chan-ocha Thailand
            Nguyn Xuan Phuc Vietnam
          3. Government advised not to use a national flag made of plastic and asked all states and UTs to ensure strict compliance of Flag Code in view of Republic Day celebrations.
        14. Jan 27 - International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Holocaust means destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, especially caused by fire or nuclear war.
        15. Jan 28, 2018 - World Leprosy Day 2018. It is is observed internationally every year on last Sunday of January.
        16. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) celebrated its 13th Raising Day on Jan 19, 2018.
        17. On 16th January, Goa celebrated Opinion Poll Day as Asmitai Dis (Identity Day). It marks historic poll in 1967, when people of Goa voted not to merge with Maharashtra.

        Defence
        1. 2nd indigenously built offshore patrol vessel (OPV) Vijaya has been commissioned into Indian Coast Guard.
        2. Alpha Design Technologies received INR 45-crore deal with Ministry of Defence to supply indigenous simulators for gunnery and missile firing from BMP II vehicles to Indian Army. Under this, 57 simulators will be manufactured at company’s Bengaluru facility in 2 years.
        3. DefExpo India 2018 will be hosted by Chennai (TN) for the first time in April 2018.
          1. DefExpo India is a largest event of India’s defence sector, held biannually. It displays latest technologies and products manufactured by both Indian and foreign companies.
        4. A Defence Innovation Centre would be set up by CODISSIA in Coimbatore, to assist small industries in manufacturing components for the defence sector. CODISSIA will identify small and micro units as well as start-ups, that can manufacture components required for defence production.
        5. Biennial Joint exercise by Indian and Japanese Coast Guards held in Bay of Bengal, as 8th in series of National Maritime Search and Rescue Workshop and Exercise.
        6. Border Security Force (BSF) launched Operation Alert along 200 km long International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir to prevent infiltration attempts by terrorists from Pakistan.
        7. Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman approved procuring 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines on fast track basis for INR 3,547 crores, to meed needs of Army that is countering continuous threats from Pakistan and China.
        8. Defence Ministry Nirmala Sitharaman cleared 2 procurement proposals -
          1. 131 Barak missiles will be procured from Israel’s Rafael Advance Defence Systems of Israel for INR 460 crores.
          2. 240 precision guided bombs will be procured from JSC Rosonboron Exports (Russia0 for INR 1254 crores.
        9. Defence Ministry approved procurement of P-8I Training Solution for Indian Navy and Low Intensity Conflict Electronic Warfare System (LICEWS) for Indian Army at total cost of INR 2419 crores.
          1. Low Intensity Conflict Electronic Warfare System (LICEWS) will be procured from Bharat Electronics Limited for 470 crores.
          2. P-8I Training SolutionThe P-8I Training Solution will be brought from Boeing (USA) for Rs.1949.32 crore.
        10. Defence Ministry sanctioned raising Territorial Army (TA) battalion comprising ex-servicemen of Indian Army as part of its mission to clean Ganga by 2020, named as Composite Ecological Task Force (CETF) battalion.
          1. CETF will be raised in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh as a pilot project for which INR 167 crores are allocated. It will be commanded by Colonel-rank officer. It will have 8 officers, 20 JCOs and around 500 other ranks on its roll.
        11. Government sanctioned construction of 14460 bunkers at cost of INR 416 crores for people living along Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) in Jammu & Kashmir. It is aimed at protecting locals from ceasefire violations from Pakistan.
        12. Home Minister Rajnath Singh launched ‘Bharat Ke Veer’ graphic novel series on Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) martyrs.
        13. INS Karanj, the 3rd Scorpene class submarine constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited has been commissioned into Indian Navy.
        14. India-Vietnam Bilateral Army Exercise (VINBAX-2018) conducted at Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, as first military exercise between India and Vietnam.
        15. Indian Coast Guard (ICG) commissioned Charlie-435 patroling vessel at Karaikal in Puducherry.
        16. Indian Coast Guard Ship C-161 (ICGS C -161) commissioned at Porbandar in Gujarat.
        17. Indian Navy decommissioned INS Nirbhik and INS Nirghat warships.
        18. Indian Navy signed MoU with Cochin Port Trust (Kerala) for leasing of 228 metres of berths at Mattancherry Wharf for 5 years, to meet requirements of Navy with sizeable increase in its fleet scheduled in the near future.
        19. Indian Navy’s largest ship and only aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya IS formally affiliated to Indian Army’s Bihar Regiment and No. 6 Squadron of the Indian Air Force.
        20. Indo-US joint military exercise Vajra Prahar will be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Seattle (USA) in last week of Jan 2018.
        21. Long Range Surface-to-Surface Ballistic Missile Agni-5 has been successfully fired for 5th time, for its full range of above 5000 KM.

        Economy
        1. 25th Meeting of GST Council held in New Delhi, chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Changes made in GST Regime -
          1. Late fee for failure to furnish FORM GSTR-1 (supply details), FORM GSTR-5 (Non-resident taxable person), FORM GSTR-5A (OIDAR) or FORM GSTR-6 (Input Service Distributor) is reduced to 50 rupees / day (20 rupees per day for NIL filers).
          2. Facility for generation, modification and cancellation of e-way bills is provided on trial basis on ewaybill.nic.in.
          3. Recommended reduced GST rates for 29 goods and 53 services, to come into force from January 25.
        2. A MOU is signed Between Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and Allahabad Bank to provide a centralized platform for processing interest subsidy to eligible beneficiaries under Self Employment Programme (SEP) component of Deendayal AntyodayaYojana- National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM).
          1. The Portal will -
            1. Enable processing interest subsidy for NULM schemes, which will be credited to Aadhaar linked beneficiary accounts through DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer).
            2. Facilitate on-line validation of loans granted by Banks, through Urban Local Bodies.
          2. Self-Employment Component (SEP) of NULM and Need for Portal -
            1. Under SEP, loans for setting up micro- enterprise are available to individuals (upto 2 lakhs) and groups (upto 10 lakhs). Interest subvention from Ministry is available for amount of interest charged above 7%. Women SHGs are eligible for additional 3% subvention on timely loan repayment.
            2. Currently, interest subvention is processed manually, making it a time taking Process and No mechanism was there to ascertain whether beneficiary has received subsidy or not.
            3. Under Proposed Common centralized IT platform to be maanged by Allahabad Bank, Claims will be uploaded by Central/Zonal HQ of banks on portal, concerned States/ULBs will verify thebeneficiaries, after which the claim amount will be transferred.
            4. Allahabad Bank will charge a service fee of 1.05% of interest subsidy amount released.
        3. AU Small Finance Bank signed MoU with LIC to offer Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY). It will provide life cover of INR 2 lakh, at a premium of Rs 330 per annum.
        4. According to RBI's Census on Foreign Liabilities and Assets of Indian Direct Investment Companies 2016-17-
          1. Mauritius was largest source of foreign investment (FDI) in India (21.8% share at market value) followed by USA, UK, Singapore and Japan.
          2. Singapore (19.7%) was major ODI (Outward Direct Investment) destination, followed by Netherlands, Mauritius, and US.
          3. The census carries information on market value of foreign liabilities and assets of Indian companies arising on account of FDI, ODI and other investments.
        5. Allahabad Bank became 11th bank to face prompt corrective action (PCA) by RBI, amid rise in its bad loans.
        6. Andhra Pradesh Grameena Vikas Bank (APGVB) operationalised its first desktop ATM in Warangal (Telangana), to facilitate customers to withdraw small amounts.
          1. Desktop ATM has low power requirements and is designed to work in harsh climatic conditions. It is meant for rural customer who typically have small cash needs.
        7. As per RBI, housing loans in up to Rs. 2 lakh slab had the highest level of non-performing assets (NPAs).
          1. For housing loan slab up to 2 lakh, NPAs of Public Sector Banks and HFCs was 10.4 % in FY17 as compared to 9.8 % in FY16.
          2. Lowest NPAs were reported for housing loans in Rs. 25 lakh and above slab.
        8. As per international rights group Oxfam's Survey -
          1. Richest 1% in India earned 73% of wealth generated in country last year. Also, 67 crore Indians comprising population’s poorest half saw their wealth rise by just 1%.
        9. Bank of Baroda tied up with Digital invoice discounting marketplace Invoicemart, as TReDS (Trade Receivables Electronic Discounting System) partner. TReDS is an online platform through which, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) can access funds for working capital without hassle of applying for loans. Invoicemart is a joint venture between Axis Bank and mjunction services.
        10. Bhopal-based Prodigee Finance Limited received Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC-ND) license from Reserve Bank of India (RBI). ND indicates Non-Deposit accepting NBFC.
        11. Bombay Stock Exchange’s India International Exchange (India INX) listed Indian Railway Finance Corporation’s (IRFC’s) green bonds on its debt listing platform, Global Securities Market (GSM). India INX lists IRFC’s green bonds, becomes first debt security at IFSC.
          1. Green Bonds: Main difference between regular bond and Green Bond is that funds raised through Green Bonds are used for financing projects/business activities that are environment-friendly.
        12. Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) relaxed norms for levy of minimum alternate tax (MAT) for insolvent companies, to make Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 more effective and minimise hardships faced by companies going in for insolvency resolution.
          1. Minimum alternate tax (MAT) aims is to bring into tax realm the companies who do not pay any tax.
          2. This exemption facility will be available only for companies against whom application for corporate insolvency resolution process has been admitted by the adjudicating authority.
          3. This decision was taken after various hardships were faced by companies against whom application for corporate insolvency resolution process was admitted by Adjudicating Authority due to restriction in allowance of brought forward loss for computation of book profit.
        13. Central Government divested 2.52 % of paid-up capital in National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) for approx INR 1200 crores.
        14. Central Statistics Office (CSO) revised gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate for 2015-16 to 8.2% from earlier estimates of 8% and kept 2016-17 growth unchanged at 7.1%.
          1. Real GDP (GDP at constant (2011-12) prices) for 2016-17 and 2015-16 stands at 121.96 trillion and 113.86 trillion INR, showing growth of 7.1% during 2016-17 and 8.2% during 2015-16.
          2. In terms of real gross value added (GVA) at constant (2011-12) basic prices, It grew 7.1% in 2016- 17, as compared to 8.1% in 2015-16.
        15. Chinese Bike Sharing Firm OFO launched its services across seven Indian cities (Indore, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Pune, Coimbatore, and Chennai), in partnership with digital payments firm Paytm.
        16. Chkfake Brand Protection Solutions aunched global app named Chkfake to check authenticity of currency notes of all major currencies worldwide.
        17. Crisil launched FPI Index, to measure performance of investments of foreign portfolio investors (FPI) in fixed-income market. It will serve as benchmark for performance of FPI investments in government securities and high rated corporate bonds with maturity greater than three years.
        18. Department of Commerce signed MoU with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), for integrated development of Logistics sector. Government aims to reduce Logistics cost from 14% of GDP to under 10% by 2022.
        19. Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP)'s Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM), launched IPrism for university students as a unique Intellectual Property (IP) Competition, in association with ASSOCHAM and ERICSSON India.
          1. It aims to foster culture of innovation and creativity in younger generation and invites students to submit films on piracy & counterfeiting under categories of 30 and 60 seconds.
        20. Dev Information Technology will sett up DevX, largest Accelerator Center for startups in Gujarat.
        21. Economic Survey 2017-18 Presented in Parliament by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, prepared by chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian.
          1. Goods and Services Tax (GST) -
            1. GST Regime was launched at midnight on July 1, 2017. This induced Twin Balance Sheet (TBS) problem that was addressed by sending major stressed companies for resolution under Indian Bankruptcy Code and implementing major recapitalisation package to strengthen Public sector banks.
            2. Under GST Regime, there has been 50% increase in number of indirect taxpayers, with 9.8 million GST registrants till Dec 2017. It is more than total Indirect Tax registrants under old system (where many taxpayers were registered under several taxes). After adjusting multiple countings of a single entity, GST has increased number of unique indirect taxpayers by over 50 % (3.4 million).
            3. Business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions account for only 17 % of total, while business-to-business (B2B) and exports are collectively 30-34 % of all transactions.
          2. GDP Growth - Economic Survey Predicts 7-7.5 % Growth in 2018-19 and 6.75 % in 2017-18. GDP growth averaged 7.3% for 2014-15 to 2017-18, highest among major economies of the world.
          3. Sectoral Growth - Agriculture, industry and services sectors are expected to grow at the rate of 2.1 %, 4.4 %, and 8.3 % respectively in 2017-18.
            1. Facts about Services Sector -
              1. Out of the 32 States and UTs, 15 have Services Sector as dominant sector, contributing over half of Gross State Value Added (GSVA).
                1. However, wide variation in seen in terms of share and growth of services GSVA -
                  1. In terms of services GSVA share- Delhi and Chandigarh are at top with over 80 % share, while Sikkim is at bottom (31.7 %)
                  2. In terms of services GSVA growth - Bihar is at top and Uttar Pradesh at bottom with 14.5 % and 7.0 % growth respectively.
              2. FDI equity inflows to services sector grew by 15.0 % during 2017-18 (April-October), amid number of reforms by govt to ensure that India remains an increasingly attractive investment destination.
              3. During April-September 2017-18, Growth in Services Exports and Services Imports stayed good at 16.2 % and 17.4 % Respectively. India was 8th largest exporter in commercial services in 2016 with share of 3.4 %, double to India’s merchandise exports in world at 1.7 %.
            2. Other Factors -
              1. Forex Reserves are on an all time high of $409 Billion.
              2. Fiscal Defict is on a 4 year low in 2017 - 18, being 3.2% of GDP. It was 3.5 % of GDP in 2016-17.
              3. Inflation - WPI Based Inflation expected to be 2.9 % in 2017-18 (compared to 1.7 % in 2016-17). While, CPI Based Inflation expected to be 3.3 % in 2017-18 (compared to 4.5 % in 2016-17).Economic Survey sees average crude oil prices rising 12% in FY19.
              4. GVA (Gross Value Added) growth seen at 6.1% in 2017-18 vs 6.6% in FY2016-17.
            3. India's External Sector -
              1. Exports grew positive during 2016-17 (5.2%) and expected to grow faster in 2017-18 (12.1%).
              2. India’s Current Account Deficit (CAD) stayed 1.2 % of GDP in Q2 of 2017-18, less than 2.5 % of GDP in Q1 of 2017-18.
            4. Notable Points about indian Economy -
              1. India’s formal sector (formal non-farm payroll) is greater than what it currently is believed to be.
                1. When formality was defined in terms of social security provisions like EPFO/ESIC, formal sector payroll was 31 percent of non-agricultural work force.
                2. When formality was defined in terms of being part of GST net, formal sector payroll share was found to be 53 %.
              2. For first time in India’s history, data on international exports of states has been dwelt in Economic Survey.  It indicates States that export internationally and trade with other states are richer.
              3. There has been addition of 1.8 million in individual income tax filers since November 2016.
              4. India’s firm export structure is substantially more egalitarian than in other large countries. Top 1 % of Indian firms account for 38 % of exports, much less than greater share such as 72, 68, 67 and 55 % of exports in Brazil, Germany, Mexico and USA respectively.
              5. Sanitation coverage in rural India increased substantially from 39 % in 2014 to 76 % in January 2018, post launch of Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) on October 2, 2014. So far, 296 districts and over 3.7 lakh villages have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF).
              6. India is improving in Science and Technology with 14 % growth of annual publications between 2009 to 2014. This increased India's share in global publications from 3.1% in 2009 to 4.4% in 2014 as per Scopus Database.
              7. Relief from embedded state taxes (ROSL) announced in 2016 boosted exports of ready-made garments (but not others) by 16 %.
              8. Indian society exhibits strong son "Meta" preference as Parents continue to have children until they get the desired number of sons.
              9. There is substantial avoidable litigation in tax arena which government action could reduce. Tax department's petition success rate is very low (below 30 %). Note that 0.2 % of cases accounted for 56 % of value at stake; whereas 66 % of pending cases (under 10 lakh) accounted for only 1.8 % of value at stake.
              10. Own direct tax collections by Indian states and local governments are significantly lower than that in other federal countries.
              11. Impact of climate change is evident and extreme weather adversely impacts agricultural yields.
              12. INR 20339 crores approved by Government in 2017-18 to meet various obligations arising from interest subvention being provided to farmers on short term crop loans.
        22. Federal Bank partnered with Hedge Equities Ltd for providing Portfolio Investment Scheme (PIS) services to NRIs.
        23. Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley launched India’s First Agri-commodity Options in Guar Seed by National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX). It is first-of-its-kind hedging tool in India, as an effort to make agri-economy more efficient and bring huge amount of value for the farmers.
        24. Flipkart-owned payments firm PhonePe tied-up with FreeCharge Wallet to enable over 45 million users to link their existing FreeCharge Wallet to PhonePe app. PhonePe customers will be able to utilise their FreeCharge wallet balance for all online and offline transactions.
        25. Government launched Savings Bonds with 7.75% Interest, commencing from 10th January 2018. Features -
          1. Applications in form of Bond Ledger Account will be received in designated bank branches and SHCIL (numbering about 1600).
          2. Bonds will be issued in multiples of INR 1000 (face value).
          3. Interest on the Bonds will be taxable under Income-tax Act 1961. Bonds will be exempt from Wealth-tax under Wealth Tax Act 1957.
          4. Bonds will have a maturity of 7 years carrying interest at 7.75% per annum payable half- yearly (cumulative value of 1000 at end of 7 years will be 1703).
        26. Government lowered additional borrowing requirement for current fiscal to INR 20000 crores from previous estimate of 50000 crores, considering revenue receipts and expenditure pattern. Lesser borrowing will enable resttricing fiscal deficit within target.
        27. Government notified Companies (Amendment) Act 2017 that amends Some provisions of Companies Act 2013 and eases implementation of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016.
          1. Amendment Act allows companies to issue shares at a discount to its creditors in instances wherein its debt is converted into shares, which was prohibited under Section 53 of Companies Act 2013.
          2. For defaulting companies, payment of managerial remuneration in excess of 11 % of net profits will now require approval of all stakeholders involved (banks, public financial institutions and other creditors).
        28. Government notified terms of Scheme of Electoral Bonds, to curb flow of illegal money into political acvtivities -
          1. With issuance of electoral bonds, donors can purchase electoral bonds from specific State Bank of India (SBI) branches, and receiving political parties can encash them only through a designated bank account.
          2. Electoral bonds will be available at specified SBI branches for 10 days each in the months of January, April, July and October.
          3. Electoral Bond shall be a bearer instrument in the nature of a Promissory Note (P-notes) and an interest-free banking instrument. Any Donor can buy bonds of any amount among INR 1000 / 10000 / 100000 / 1000000 and 10000000.
          4. Electoral bonds will not carry the name of payee or buyerm and will have a life of only 15 days during which it can be used for making a donation to political parties.
          5. To receive the electoral bonds, Political party must have secured over 1% of the votes polled in last general elections.
        29. Government signed agreement with ONGC for strategic sale of its 51.11% equity share-holding in HPCL for INR 36,915 crores. After this, ONGC will become India's first vertically integrated 'oil major' company, having presence across entire value chain. However, HPCL will continue to be a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE).
        30. Government stated that from January 1, 2018, customers will not have to pay any transaction charges for payments made through debit card, BHIM app and Aadhaar-enabled payment systems for up to Rs 2000, as Merchant discount rate (MDR) Charges will be borne by Government (costing approx 2500 crores INR). Government will reimburse MDR to banks.
        31. Government will infuse INR 88139 crores in 20 public sector banks during current fiscal ending 31st March, to boost lending and revive growth. IDBI Bank is biggest recepient with INR 10610 crores, followed by Bank of India (9232 Crores) and SBI (8800 crores).
        32. HDFC Bank partnered with Rajasthan State Government to promote and nurture the start-ups in state, by providing solutions like current accounts, credit cards and other solutions to start-ups in Rajasthan under its SmartUp programme.
        33. Haryana Government will form a non-banking financial company named Haryana State Financial Services Limited, for efficient management of funds. It will be in-house treasury manager and will be responsible for efficient management of surplus funds of State public enterprises. Authorised capital of this NBFC will be Rs.10 crore while the paid up capital will be Rs. 2 crore.
        34. India signed $100 million Loan Agreement with World Bank to help Boost Rural Economy of Tamil Nadu.
        35. India signed $120 million Loan Agreement with World Bank to improve access to Water Supply Services in Uttarakhand.
        36. India signed $250 million loan agreement with Asian Development Bank (ADB) to finance construction of 6254 kilometres all-weather rural roads in States of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal under Prime Minister’s Rural Roads Program (PMGSY).
        37. Indiabulls Housing Finance raised INR 1000 crores by selling India’s first Social Bonds, that are debt instruments issued to raise funds which is to be deployed in financing/re-financing eligible social projects such as affordable housing, water supply, sanitation, transport etc. Yes Bank was sole investor in these bonds with 5 year maturity.
        38. Indian GDP Growth Forecasts in Jan 2018 -
          1. HSBC predicted 6.5 % GDP Growth for India in FY 2017-18 and 7.0 % in 2018-19.
          2. As per government’s Central Statistics Office (CSO), Indian economy will grow by 6.5% in 2017-18, as compared to 7.1% in 2016-17. GDP Gew by 5.7 % in Apr - June Quarter and 6.3% in July - September quarter.
          3. 2018 Global Economics Prospect (GEP) report by World Bank has projected India’s growth rate to increase to 7.3% in 2018 and 7.5 for 2019 and 2020.
          4. India Ratings and Research projected GDP will improve to 7.1 % in 2018-19 as compared to 6.5 per cent in 2017-18.
          5. International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected Indian GDP to grow at 7.4% in 2018 and 7.8 % in 2019. India’s growth rate dropped to 6.7%. In its latest World Economic Outlook update released in Davos (Switzerland).
        39. Indian IT Firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) signed over GBP 500 million (USD 690 million) deal with M&G Prudential (UK and European savings and investments business of Prudential plc).
        40. Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) and India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) signed agreement for training of IPPB employees in area of payment banking.
          1. IPPB is Government's attempt to boost financial inclusion by providing basic banking services to unbanked population.
        41. Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala (IIITM-K) and Blockchain Education Network (BEN) will jointly set up Kerala Blockchain Academy in Thiruvananthapuram, as first of its kind in India and aims to utilise blockchain technology for welfare of public, promote innovations and entrepreneurship with blockchain technology.
        42. Indian Overseas Bank signed MoU with National Housing Bank for Rural Housing Interest Subsidy Scheme (RHISS) of Ministry of Rural Development. RHISS provides subsidy for housing loans taken by those living in rural areas for construction and modifications of their dwelling units. Interest subsidy is 3% for a loan amount of 2 lakh for 20-year tenure.
        43. India’s factory output, measured by Index of Industrial Production (IIP) rose to 17 Months high of 8.4% in November 2017, up from 2% in October 2017, due to better performance by manufacturing and capital goods sectors.
        44. India’s most-valued Bank HDFC Bank crossed INR 5 trillion market capitalisation for first time (Approx 85 Billion USD), making it only 3rd Indian company (after TCS and Reliance) to achieve this milestone.
        45. IndusInd Bank will introduce India's first battery-powered, interactive payment cards, in association with Dynamics Inc (Pennsylvania(USA) based firm that manufactures intelligent, battery-powered payment cards). New card will have multiple buttons which will allow consumers to pay in multiple ways (through credit points / monthly instalments).
        46. Karnataka Government will hold a Blockchain Hackathon for Governance, for students, startups, and other IT professionals. Cloud-based blockchain technology providers will be invited to provide platforms for use in this hackathon. Karnataka is 3rd Indian State (After Andhra Pradesh and Telangana) to announce plans to adopt blockchain for governance.
        47. Karnataka topped among all states with investment intentions of Rs. 1.49 lakh crore till October 2017, accounting for 43 % of India’s total investment intentions.
        48. Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) and Zone Startups India launched Accelerator Program for three months, to promote startups in early revenue stage. It will help startups achieve product-market fit through a curated customer validation process. It will introduce startups to investors, relevant customers and industry connects.
        49. Maharashtra Government approved Nanaji Deshmukh Krishi Sanjivani Yojna, with expenses of INR 4000 Crores INR. It will be active between 2018-19 to 2023-24.
          1. Scheme will be implemented in 5,142 villages across 15 districts, to improve soil quality, develop foodgrain varieties which can sustain climate variations and effect necessary changes in crop pattern as per availability of water.
          2. 70% of cost will be borne by World Bank while state will contribute 30% over six years.
        50. Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) launched National CSR Data Portal & Corporate Data Portal for bringing accountability and transparency for corporate India It aim to provide easy accessibility to general public and also ensure high level of compliance and will help in institutionalising and consolidating CSR activities.
        51. Mobile payments Firm Paytm and Alibaba Group-owned AGTech Holdings formed a joint venture to launch 'Gamepind' a gaming platform aimed at mobile users in India, with AGTech holding 45% in JV and Paytm owns 55%. Capital invested is $16 Million.
        52. NBFC Capital First has been merged with IDFC Bank. Merged entity will have assets under management of Rs 88000 crore,customer base of over 5 million and branch network of 194.
        53. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) sanctioned Rs 372.51 crore loan assistance to Odisha for irrigation and rural bridge projects, that are to be undertaken during Jan- March 2018 period, under Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).
        54. Norway's fertiliser firm Yara International acquired India's Tata Chemicals’ 1.2 million tonnes per annum production capacity urea plant at Babrala in Uttar Pradesh, for INR 2682 crores. It is first foreign direct investment (FDI) in India's urea sector.
        55. Paytm Payments Bank partnered with Induslnd Bank to introduce a facility to create a fixed deposit (FD) when customer's balance exceeds Rs. 1 lakh at end of day, and earn up to 6.85 % annual interest.
        56. Paytm has set up a new entity called Paytm Money that will offer investment and wealth management products and will invest close to $10 million in new entity. Paytm Money is 4th product from One97 Communications, after Paytm Mall, Payments Bank and wallet.
        57. Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) approved expansion of Government's Atal Pension Yojana (APY) through operational Payments Banks and Small Finance Banks in India. Participation in APY builds a pensioned society and adds sustainable fee income to Banks by way of attractive incentive for mobilizing APY @ Rs 120-150 for each Account. Currently, operational Small Finance Banks and Payment Banks are -
          1. Small Finance Bank-
            1. Ujjivan SFB
            2. Janalakshmi SFB.
            3. Equitas SFB.
            4. A U SFB.
            5. Capital SFB.
            6. ESAF SFB.
            7. Utkarsh SFB.
            8. Suryoday SFB.
            9. Fincare SFB
          2. Payment Bank
            1. Paytm PB
            2. Airtel PB
            3. India Post PB
            4. Fino PB.
        58. Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) permitted partial withdrawal (up to 25%) under National Pension System (NPS) for specified expenses such as construction of residential premises, higher education / marriage of children and treatment of critical illness. This is applicable only to those who have contributed for 3 years.
        59. Punjab National Bank (PNB) and National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) signed MoU to provide financial assistance to Scheduled Caste (SC) families living below Double Poverty Line (DPL).
          1. Persons with annual family income below 40000 in rural areas and 55000 in urban areas are considered to be below double poverty line.
        60. Rating agency CRISIL upgraded its outlook on 18 Indian public sector banks (PSBs) from “negative” to “stable”, after recent news of INR 88139 Crores Infusion by Goverment into PSBs. Along with capital infusion announcement, Government also unveiled ‘Enhanced Access and Service Excellence (EASE)’, a six-fold roadmap for reforms in PSBs which will improve the overall functioning of these banks.
        61. Reliance Communications (RCom) unveiled Eagle express submarine cable system to lay a 68000-km undersea cable for carrying data across Europe and Asia, as a cloud and fiber initiative which will be laid at a cost of $600 million. This submarine cable system will connect its base in India with Italy to west and Hong Kong on east. It is expected to be operational by 2020.
        62. Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd will launch its own cyptocurrency based on Blockchain Technology, named JioCoin, led by Mukesh Ambani’s son Akash Ambani.
        63. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) launched new design chocolate brown ten rupee note, with height 63mm (unchanged) and width 123mm (slightly lesser than 137mm width of existing note). Another difference is that reverse of note will carry a motif of Konark Sun Temple, as compared t0 images of fauna of India - rhinoceros, elephant and tiger o existing note.
        64. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) stated that all the 14 designs of Rs 10 coin are valid and legal tender for transactions, as it was observed that some traders and members of public were reluctant to accept INR 10 coins owing to a doubt about it genuineness.
        65. SBI and NABARD signed agreement with five NGOs in Bengal for promotion of 2,500 joint liability groups (JLGs) in select districts. JLGs are informal groups of 4-10 members engaged in similar economic activities and willing to jointly repay loans taken by group.
        66. SBI reduced base rate and benchmark prime lending rates by 30 basis points each, brining down Base rate to 8.65 % and benchmark prime lending rates to 13.4 %.
        67. Telangana government's Telangana Industrial Health Clinic Ltd received RBI clearance to function as a non-banking finance company (NBFC). It had won SKOCH Platinum Award earlier under smart governance category in MSME segment.
        68. Vodafone partnered with e-commerce firm Flipkart to provide a range of entry-level smartphones at an effective price of INR 999 ,under #MyFirst4GSmartphone campaign.
        69. World Bank Group's International Finance Corporation (IFC) will provide $440 million debt to Mahindra Renewables Pvt. Ltd, Acme Group and global private equity fund Actis Llp to build Rewa solar park in Madhya Pradesh.
          1. Earlier, three 250MW projects were awarded to Acme Solar Holdings, Mahindra Renewables and Actis LLP’s Solenergi Power.
        70. YES Foundation (social development arm of YES Bank) launched 5th YES! i am the CHANGE’ (YIAC)campaign to inculcate spirit of responsible youth citizenship and drive social impact through the medium of films.
          1. Yes foundation invited participation in YIAC Social Filmmaking Challenge, to depict stories of change in a three-minute film. Selected entities will receive a grant of Rs 7.5 crore, for scaling up and capacity building and will also receive three-year mentoring for creating onground tangible social impact.
        71. Yes Bank and Nearby tied up to provide Aadhaar- enabled cardless and pinless ATM service through which, customers can deposit or withdraw money at retailers’ place, using PayNEARBY mobile application.

        International
        1.  Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi automakers alliance overtook Volkwagen as biggest seller of light vehicles in 2017 -
          1. Renault-Nissan Group posted total of 10.61 million light vehicles sales in 2017, taking over Volkswagen's 10.53 million. Volkswagen group also includes Audi, Skoda, Seat and Porsche brands.
          2. Toyota was 3rd with 10.2 million light vehicles sold in 2017.
        2. 2 Days after Saudi Arabia Allowed Indian Haj Pilgrims to travel to Haj via Sea Route, Saudi Arabia has now Increased India's Haj Quota for 2018 to 175025 (1 Lakh 75 Thousand and 25 Pilgrims), an increase of 5000 compared to previous year.
          1. Additionally, Women above 45 years of age will be allowed to travel for Haj in groups of 4 or more women, without a Mehram (Male Companion).
        3. 2017 Global Talent Competitiveness Index by INSEAD -
          1. India is ranked 81st among 118 countries, improving from 92nd rank last year.
          2. Top 5 Nations - Switzerland, Singapore,  United Kingdom,  United States, Sweden.
        4. 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer Report -
          1. In Both Categories of General Public and Informed Experts - China ranked 1st and India ranked 3rd. Indonesia is at 2nd place in both categories.
          2. Note that In 2017 report, India was at top in both categories.
        5. 34th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival (world’s largest ice festival) began in Harbin (north-east China). It highlights ice sculptures of castles, historic landmarks and famous figures.
        6. Global Manufacturing Index released by World Economic Forum (WEF, titled Readiness for the future of production report -
          1. Japan is at top, while India is ranked 30th. Top 5 Nations -
          2. 1Japan
            2South Korea
            3Germany
            4Switzerland
            5China
        7. A 910-carat gem diamond, considered 5th largest gem-quality diamond ever found has been discovered in a Lesotho mine (Africa). It is more valuable as it is colourless, with worth of approx $40 million.
        8. A film on life of Indian Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi won USA Documentary Grand Jury Award at Sundance Film Festival in Utah (USA). The documentary titled Kailash has been directed by Derek Doneen.
        9. According to Sanctum Wealth Management report, India will become the fastest growing large economy in the world in 2018, surpassing China and the country’s equity market will jump to become the fifth largest in world.
        10. According to World Steel Association (WSA), India overtook USA to become 3rd largest steel producer in 2017, with crude steel production growing 6.2% to 101.4 million tonnes (MT). China remains 1st by producing 831.7 MT in 2017, followed by Japan (104.7 MT).
        11. According to wealth index based on data from 4th National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-4) 2015-16,
          1. Wealth index was prepared on basis of information of scores on ownership of consumer goods and household characteristics such as availability of clean drinking water, classified into wealth quintiles.
          2. State wise wealth Distribution -
            1. Delhi and Punjab are richest with over 60% of their households in top wealth quintile. They are followed by Goa (54.5% in top bracket). Bihar is poorest with half of its households in bottom quintile. Rajasthan has most equitable wealth distribution with similar number of households in all quintiles.
          3. Wealth distribution in religious groups -
            1. Jains - 70% population in top quintile.
            2. Sikhs - 59.6% in top quintile.
            3. Hindus and Muslims have similar and also most equitable wealth distribution across all quintiles.
          4. Community wise wealth distribution -
            1. Scheduled tribes are poorest with 45.9% of their people in lowest quintile.
          5. Rural and Urban wealth -
            1. 29% of rural India belongs to bottom quintile, while it is just 3.3% for urban India.
        12. American and Japanese armies launched 13th edition of their joint exercise named Iron Fist, in California (USA).
        13. Andhra Pradesh Government and Zurich (Switzerland) signed a letter of intent to promote mutual prosperity and development.
        14. Annual survey of Gallup International ranked Indian PM Narendra Modi as 3rd among world leaders, with German chancellor Angela Merkel at top and French president Emmanuel Macron at 2nd place.
        15. As per data by International Air Transport Association (IATA), India topped worldwide growth chart of domestic air passenger traffic for November 2017 with growth by 16.4 %, highest in world.
        16. As per data by Sri Lanka Govt., India remains top source of tourists to Sri Lanka in 2017, with over 3.8 Lakh Indians visiting Sri Lanka. India was followed by followed by China and United Kingdom (UK).
        17. As per survey by personal finance platform GoBankingRates
          1. India is 2nd cheapest country to live or retire among 112 countries, after South Africa. It is based on four metrics - local purchasing power index, rent index, Groceries index, and Consumer price index. These metrics evaluate relative affordability as compared to New York city.
          2. Most Expensive - Bermuda (112), Bahamas (111), Hong Kong (110), Switzerland (109) and Ghana (108).
        18. Bangladesh, India and Nepal approved operating procedures for passenger vehicle movement (Passenger protocol) in sub-region under Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA).
        19. Bank of Cyprus selected digital security company Gemalto to supply world’s first biometric payment card for both chip and contactless payments. These cards will use fingerprint recognition instead of a personal identification number (PIN) to authenticate the cardholder.
        20. Bollywood Film Padmaavat has been banned in Malaysia by country’s censor board, stating that it touches on the sensitivities of Islam.
        21. Brazil’s securities regulator prohibited local investment funds from buying cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum.
        22. Bulgaria taken over European Union’s six-month revolving presidency, from Estonia.
        23. California became 6th USA state (after Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Nevada), to permit sale of cannabis for recreational use.
        24. China Navy commissioned indigenously deveoped missile frigate named Rizhao and a new 4000-ton Type 054A Jiangkai II-class guided-missile frigate.
        25. China constructed a 330-foot tall air purifying tower in Xian (Shaanxi Province), biggest in world. It has produced more than 10 million cubic meters of clean air since launch.
        26. China has developed a new underwater surveillance network which will help its submarines to accurately track target vessels and will protect its interests in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea. It will acquire information about underwater environment, streaming acquired information to intelligence centres and providing actionable information to Chinese navy which will use it for tracking, navigation and positioning.
        27. China has set up world’s first 3D-printed bus stops in Fengjing (Shanghai). The bus stops have a closed loop design, accommodating two-round stools inside the structure.
        28. China launched 2 BeiDou-3 satellites to provide navigation and positioning services to countries along Belt and Road initiative (BRI) by end of 2018. Launched satelites were BeiDou-3 M7 and BeiDou-3 M8 (26th and 27th satellites) in BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS).
        29. China launched 2 high-resolution optical remote sensing satellites - Jilin-1 Video 07 and 08, onboard Long March-11 rocket along with 4 other small commercial satellites.
        30. China will build its second foreign naval base in Pakistan, after Djibouti (Nation in Horn of Africa).
          1. It will be set up in Gwadar on the southwestern coast of Balochistan, that holds strategic significance as Gwadar is located near Chabahar port in Iran, that is being jointly developed by Iran, India and Afghanistan.
        31. China will establish 3 international courts (in Beijing, Shenzhen and Xi’an) to deal with disputes related to its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a development strategy focused on road connectivity and maritime cooperation between Eurasian countries.
        32. China will provide financial support to construct counter-terrorism base in Badakshan province of northern Afghanistan that would prevent cross-border infiltration of Chinese Uyghur militants.
        33. China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will issue its first US dollar-denominated bond with minimum worth of $1 billion by June 2018.
          1. Minimum size of issuance will be 1 billion USD, which will be increased upon increase in demand for first bond.
          2. Bond Maturity will be 3 - 5 years, depending on investor demand. AIIB plans to cap its total 2018 borrowing volume at US $3 billion.
        34. Ecuador granted citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
          1. In 2012, Assange, an Australian-Ecuadoran, was granted asylum at Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced an investigation over rape allegations.
        35. Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2018 by World Economic Forum (WEF) in collaboration with Yale University and Columbia University -
          1. India is ranked 177 among 180 countries.
          2. Top 5 countries - Switzerland, France, Denmark, Malta and Sweden.
          3. Bottom 5 countries - Nepal (176), India (177), Congo (178), Bangladesh (179), Burundi (180)
        36. Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kuwait, Peru, Poland and Netherlands joined UN Security Council as non-permanent members.
          1. UN Security Council has 15 members, including 5 with permanent seats who have power to veto resolutions – Britain, China, France, Russia and USA.
        37. European Nation Iceland became First Nation to legalise equal pay between men and women, by passing a law that makes it illegal to pay men more than women, applicable for Companies employing minimum 25 people.
        38. Financial Times London’s Global MBA Ranking 2018 -
          1. Rankings of Prominet Indian B-schools -
            1. Indian School of Business (ISB) - 27th (28th last year)
            2. IIM Ahmedabad - 31st (29th last year)
            3. IIM-Bangalore - 35th (49th last year)
            4. IIM-Calcutta - 78th (95th last year)
          2. Stanford Graduate School of Business, US has topped the ranking followed by France’s INSEAD.
        39. First India-UK Createch Summit will be held in Mumbai in February 2018, to explore convergence of creativity and technology, ‘Createch’ and its application across a range of areas.
        40. Fortune magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies List 2018
          1. Apple topped the for 11th Consecutive year.
          2. E-commerce firm Amazon retained 2nd spot, followed by Google’s parent Alphabet.
        41. Government of South Australia approved building a major solar thermal plant which will be largest such thermal power plant in world and will power 35 % of households in South Australia. It will be developed by a US Firm, Solar Reserve at cost of Australian Dollar 650 million.
        42. India and Buhtan jointly unveiled Special logo for Golden Jubilee (50 years) celebrations through video-conference. During 2018, India and Bhutan will conduct several high-level exchanges.
        43. India and Saudi Arabia signed bilateral annual Haj 2018 agreement, allowing Indian Haj pilgrims through sea route also (that was suspended in 1995). Sending pilgrims through ships will help cut down travel expenses significantly.
        44. India become top borrower from Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with USD 1.5 billion worth of loans in 2017.
          1. Indonesia is at second position with USD 600 million worth loans.
          2. AIIB is headquartered in Beijing (China) and has authorized capital of 100 Billion USD. India is 2nd largest shared holder in AIIB (8.52%) after China (26%). AIIB is preferred lender as it charges only 1 to 1.5 % interest with long term repayment and 5 year grace period.
        45. India contributed $50,000 to United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s Office of Envoy on Youth to help with its mission of involving young people in UNs goals.
        46. India emerged as 5th most attractive market for investments and the optimism over global economic growth is at a record level, as per survey of CEOs by global consultancy PwC.
          1. USA remains as top spot for global investment with 46% global CEOs considering USA as most attractive market for investment, followed by China (33%) and Germany (20%).
        47. India excluded Pakistan from list of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries with which it will be connecting its National Knowledge Network (NKN), a multi-gigabit pan-India network aimed at providing a unified high speed network backbone for educational institutions in India. Researchers from different educational networks can collaborate with each other through NKN.
          1. NKN will be connected from these countries either to Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata, depending on the proximity.
        48. India joined Australia Group, an informal bloc (group) of countries that keeps a tight control over exports of substances used in making of chemical weapons. It is expected to strengthen India’s bid to enter 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
          1. India is now part of 3 of 4 key export control groups in world dealing with non-proliferation. Other 2 are -
            1. Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) - an informal partneship among 35 countries that regulates trade in sensitive equipment and technologies to ensure there is no proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of carrying payloads above 500kg for more than 300km.
            2. Wassenaar Arrangement - An informal grouping of 42 countries, exercising control over the export of dual-use goods and technologies in December 2017.
        49. India provided financial assistance of USD 45.27 million to Sri Lanka for upgrading Kankesanthurai (KKS) Harbour (northern Sri Lanka) into a commercial port, through Export and Import Bank of India (Exim Bank).
        50. Indian peacekeepers in UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have re-built a 300-metre-long river bridge in Akoka village in record time. This bridge will enable people to cross the river and reach a town to access basic services.
        51. India’s IndiGo is ranked 4th most Punctual mega carrier in world, ahead of British Airways and Lufthansa in a List by Aviation Analytics Company OAG. The list ranks Japan Airlines is at top.
        52. India’s first sovereign wealth fund National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and Dubai-based ports operator DP World Pvt. Ltd Jointly created an investment platform to invest up to $3 billion in ports, terminals, transportation and logistics businesses in India. This is the first investment platform from NIIF.
        53. Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Ghaziabad announced as one of champions of United Nations’ initiative on Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), at World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland).
          1. PRME Champions Group consists of B-Schools involved as PRME signatories, working on real-time implementation of sustainability principles from various part of world. It aims to create activities that focus on UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
        54. Iran banned English from being taught in primary schools, amid suspected Western cultural invasion.
        55. Iranian government lifted restrictions on use of Internet, including messaging app Telegram, that were put after protests against unemployment and rising consumer prices in December 2017.
        56. Israel formally withdrawn from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Tensions began after UNESCO admitted Palestine as a member state in 2011.
          1. Israel has been a UNESCO member since 1949, having 9 sites on UNESCO heritage list.
        57. Israel’s parliament passed a law requiring a supermajority to relinquish (leave) control over any part of Jerusalem, that could hamstring city’s division in any future peace deal. It wil bar the government from ceding Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem without approval of at least 80 of the legislature’s 120 members.
        58. JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) approved Official Development Assistance loan for Yen 45 billion for Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Project (Phase 3) (I). People of this area will be provided with safe water supply and sewerage services.
        59. Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched new Earth observation satellite ASNARO-2. It will perform Earth-observation tasks for 5 years from its orbit at an altitude of about 500 km.
        60. Johannesburg (South Africa) based Global Market Research Group New World Wealth Report 2017 -
          1. Based on Total wealth of countrymen, Top 10 wealthiest countries are (amount in USD Billion)-
            1. USA - 64584
            2. China - 24803
            3. Japan - 19522
            4. United Kingdom - 9919
            5. Germany - 9660
            6. India - 8230
            7. France - 6649
            8. Canada - 6393
            9. Australia - 6142
            10. Italy - 4276
          2. Report in Context of India -
            1. India is now 6th richest in terms of welath held by its people.
            2. Since 2016, Indians' wealth increased 25% from 6584 to 8230 Billion USD in Just 1 year, which is more than china's 22 % increase over the period.
        61. Kazakhstan surpassed Iraq as biggest oil over-producer in among Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Nations. Kazakhstan’s oil output in November and December 2017 was nearly 130000 barrels a day and Kazakhstan promised to pump out 20000 barrels a day less as per OPEC pact.
        62. Maitre-2, second passenger bus to Kolkata via Dhaka flagged off from Agartala (Tripura), to boost trans-border relationship between India and Bangladesh.
        63. Messaging App WhatsApp launched Business app, to help small enterprises to connect efficiently with their customers, initially in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK and USA. In it, a small enterprise owner can create a Business Profile containing details like business description, contact details etc. It will be highlighted to regular users on WhatsApp.
        64. National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) signed MoU with SME Corporation Malaysia for cooperation in small and medium businesses (SMBs).
        65. Nepal banned solo climbers from scaling its mountains, including Mount Everest, to reduce accidents.
        66. Nepal started accessing internet from China after commercial operations began at Nepal-China optical fibre link via Rasuwagadhi gateway across Himalayan Mountains. It ends Nepal’s dependence on India for internet bandwidth, considered strategic loss for India. It is believed that initial speed by Chinese fibre link will be 1.5 Gigabit per second (gbps), less than 34 gbps provided by India.
        67. Pakistan Navy successfully test fired indigenously built surface-to-surface anti-ship missile Harba, from newly commissioned Fast Attack Craft PNS Himmat.
        68. Pakistan allowed Chinese currency Yuan for exports and financing transactions. Chinese Yuan is an approved foreign currency for denominating foreign currency transactions in Pakistan.
        69. Philippines expressed its displeasure over construction of an apparent airbase on a man-made island in the South China Sea by China.
          1. China reportedly uses cabbage strategy for militarization of large areas in disputed south china sea, which is protsetd by neighboring nations (inlcuding India, Japan, Bhutan, Philippines, Japan, Malaysia and Brunei ) claiming control on various parts 0f mineral rich south china sea.
          2. Cabbage strategy is also called salami-slicing strateg, Under which a contested area is surrounded by multiple security layers to deny access to the rival nation and is claimed subsequently. As per the observers, China, for a long time, has been pursuing this strategy.
        70. Saudi Arabia and UAE became first countries of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to introduce Value Added Tax (VAT) for first time to increase their revenue away from oil reserves.
        71. South Korea and Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) signed MoU for industrial co-operation, with a focus on automobile, defence and textiles sectors. It aims to help Gujarat-based small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to explore opportunities through joint ventures with South Korean firms.
        72. Sri Lanka banned import of vehicles without airbags for driver and front seat passenger, Anti-Locking Braking System standards (ABS) and other safety features.
        73. Thomson Reuters Corp's First ‘Top 100 Global Technology Leaders list 2018 -
          1. Top 3 - Microsoft (1), Intel (2), Cisco Systems (3)
          2. 45 % of 100 tech companies are headquartered in USA. Japan and Taiwan are tied for second place with 13 companies each, followed by India with 5 tech firms (TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL Tech, Tech Mahindra).
        74. UNESCO Inlcuded bird language of Black Sea villagers (in northern Turkey) in list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. This high pitch system of whistling to communicate in the rugged terrain in Black Sea Regions dates back to some 500 years ago.
        75. USA President announced that USA will no longer give any fund to Pakistan to fight terrorism, as Pakistan has not properly utilized approx 33 Billion USD given to it over past decade.
        76. USA Space Firm SpaceX launched secret Zuma Mission for USA government, onboard Falcon 9 rocket.
          1. Zuma mission remains a secret as its nature or purpose and the agency behind it has not been made public.
        77. USA lifted ban that it had imposed on refugees from 11 nations, which it termed as high-risk countries. The 11 Nations are - Egypt, Iran, Libya, South Sudan, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, Mali, North Korea, Somalia and Syria.
        78. USA placed Pakistan on newly formed Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom, as pakistan continues to harass its religious minorities, tolerates extra-judicial violence in the guise of opposing blasphemy.
          1. Moreover, USA also re-designated 10 countries as Countries of Particular Concern under International Religious Freedom (IRF) Act - Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
        79. United Kingdom (UK) government formed a dedicated national security unit to counter fake news and disinformation. It will flag fake information on social media.
        80. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Health Organisation (WHO) will collaborate to accelerate curbing environmental health risks.
        81. Valletta (capital of Malta), is officially named European Capital of Culture 2018, along with Netherlands' city Leeuwarden.
          1. European Capitals of Culture initiative aims to highlight diversity of European culture and to increase citizens’ sense of belonging to a common cultural area. 
        82. Venezuela Government announced 40 % increase to minimum wage,  amid hyperinflation in oil-rich but crisis-stricken southern american nation.
        83. World Economic Forum (WEF)'s Inclusive Development Index 2018 -
          1. India ranked at 62nd place. China is on 26th position, Pakistan is on 47th and Bangladesh is ranked 34th.
          2. Top 5 Advanced Econpomies - Norway, Ireland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Denmark.
          3. Top 5 Emerging Economies - Lithuania, Hungary, Azerbaijan, Latvia, Poland
        84. World Economic Forums’s (WEF’s) Global Risks Report 2018 -
          1. On dimensions of Likelihood and impact, 5 environmental risks - extreme weather, major natural disasters, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, man-made environmental disasters, and failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation are accorded highest weightage.
          2. Top-ranking global risk on dimension of impact was use of weapons of mass destruction while on dimension of likelihood, extreme weather events ranked top.
        85. e-Commerce Major Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos became richest person ever as his wealth has hit $105.1 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He passed Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates' previous record from 1999 (Gates is now worth $93.3 billion).

        Meetings
        1. 16th International Energy Forum (IEF) Ministerial meeting will be held in New Delhi in April 2018. India will host this in association with China and South Korea.
        2. 2nd meet of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) held in Santiago (Chile). During this, China invited Latin American and Caribbean countries to join its ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, to deepen economic and political cooperation. CELAC was formed in Venezuela in 2011 and it does not include USA and Canada.
        3. 48th annual meeting of World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos (Switzerland) -
          1. Theme for event was Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.
          2. PM Narendra Modi Visited On India's Behalf, along with several other union ministers. He became First Indian PM to Visit Davos WEF Meet in past 20 years, after H D Deve Gowda's Visit in 1997.
          3. World Economic Forum (WEF) launched Global Centre for Cybersecurity to safeguard world from hackers and growing data breaches. Headquartered in Geneva, centre will become operational from March 2018.
          4. Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan has been honoured with 24th Crystal Award at WEF Meet in Davos, for his leadership in championing children’s and women’s rights in India
          5. During this Visit, India and Vietnam signed MOU for cooperation in field of Information and Broadcasting and space. India and Vietnam also launched first ever set of commemorative postage stamps to highlight bilateral ties between them, with theme ancient architecture.
          6. India announced to host informal Ministerial meeting of World Trade Organisation (WTO) in March 2018 in New Delhi.
        4. 4th ASEAN-INDIA Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry held in New Delhi .ASEAN stands for Association of SouthEast Asian Nations.
        5. 7th Asia Steel International Conference will be organized in Bhubaneswar (Odisha) in February 2018, by Tata Steel and Indian Institute of Metals.
        6. Bilateral Meetings in Jan 2018 -
          1. 5th Bilateral Technical Meeting of India and Malaysia on cooperation in Traditional Systems of Medicine held in New Delhi.
        7. Himalayan Hydro Expo 2018 held at Kathmandu (Nepal), to highlight hydropower potential of Nepal.
        8. India attended meeting of international military cooperation departments of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) for first time, in Beijing(China).
        9. India-ASEAN commemorative summit meeting held in New Delhi to mark Silver jubilee (25 Years) of India-ASEAN partnership.
          1. A day before, India - ASEAN business and investment conference was held in New Delhi.
          2. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj inaugurated Bharat-ASEAN Maitri Park in Delhi.
          3. ASEAN consists of 10 countries - Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei.
        10. International Dam Safety Conference held at Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala).
        11. International Solar Alliance (ISA) hosted International Solar Alliance Forum at Future World Energy Summit (WFES) 2018 in Abu Dhabi (UAE). It is ISA's first global Outreach Program after it came into force On 6th December 2017, upon being ratified by 15 Nations. Some key annoucements were made during the event -
          1. Raj Kumar Singh (Minister of State (IC) for Power and New & Renewable Energy) stated that India will achieve its target of 175 GW of installed Renewable Energy capacity well before 2020. India will set up of a $ 350 million solar development fund for solar projects financing.
          2. Upendra Tripathy (Interim DG of ISA) informed that 2nd RE-INVEST meet will be held in India in April 2018, and over 100 projects shall be signed by ISA by April 2018.
          3. YES Bank committed financing solar projects of over $5 Billion. While CLP and NTPC announced partnership with ISA and committed contribution of $1 million each to ISA fund corpus. Yes Bank also tied up with Amplus Energy Solutions to co-finance solar energy projects in India.
        12. Syrian National Dialogue Congress began in Sochi (Russia). This first Syrian peace talks meet has been sponsored by Russia, Iran and Turkey.

        National
        1.  63rd Jio Filmfare Awards 2018 Mumbai -
          1. Best Film - Hindi Medium
          2. Critics' Award for Best Film - Newton
          3. Best Actor (Female) - Vidya Balan for 'Tumhari Sulu'
          4. Best Actor (Male) - Irrfan Khan for 'Hindi Medium'
          5. Best Director - Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari for 'Bareilly Ki Barfi'
          6. Best Actor In A Supporting Role (Male) - Rajkummar Rao for 'Bareilly Ki Barfi'
          7. Best Actor In A Supporting Role (Female) - Meher Vij for 'Secret Superstar'
          8. Best Music Album - Pritam for 'Jagga Jasoos'
          9. Best Playback Singer (Male) - Arijit Singh for 'Roke na ruke naina' - 'Badrinath Ki Dulhania
        2.  Election Commission announced that State Assembly elections will be held for 3 North East states in Feb 2018 - Meghalaya and Nagaland (Feb 27) and Tripura (Feb 18).
        3. 10th Global Forum for Food & Agriculture was held in Berlin (Germany) with theme Shaping the future of livestock – sustainably, responsibly, efficiently. India was represented by Minister of State (MoS) for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.
        4. 11 days Dhanu Yatra festival held in Bargarh district of Odisha.
        5. 12th International Film Festival on Art and Artist began in Bhubaneswar, organised by Bhubaneswar-based Jatin Das Centre of Art (JDCA).
        6. 171st Araadhanai Music Festival started in Thiruvaiyaru (Tamil Nadu). Thyagaraja is one of Trinities of Carnatic music.
        7. 3 Municipal Corporations of Delhi jointly brought out mobile application named 311, to enhance engagement of citizens in the resolution of grievances and improvement of civic services in city. It aims to empower users by giving them locations of nearby police / metro stations / petrol pumps / toilets / parking / hospitals and other public places.
        8. 3 day annual Flamingo Festival held at Pulicat lake and Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary in Sullurpet mandal (Andhra Pradesh). Somewhere between 9,000 to 12,000 Migratory birds from Siberia visit this place during winter season for breeding.
        9. 3rd Science Film Festival of India will held in Goa, titled SCI-FFI Goa.
        10. 4th India International Science Festival will be held in Lucknow, on dates to be decided later.
        11. Sammakka Saaralamma Maha Jathara tribal festival began in Eturunagaram (Telangana). Tribal people from Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh would participate in this festival.
        12. TrackChild and Khoya-Paya portals launched by Ministry of Women and Child Development to track missing and found children. Ministry also provides support for children in trouble through the dedicated toll free number - 1098.
        13. A Kashmiri publishing house Gulshan Books entered Limca Book of Records for a huge collection of 80,000 books. It is the only bookshop-library on a lake.
        14. A MoU was signed between National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) and IL&FS Transportation Networks for construction of over 14 km long 2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir.
          1. This would be India’s longest road tunnel and longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia. It will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh.
          2. Cost of project is INR 6808 crores and will completed in 7 years.
        15. Airports Authority of India (AAI) allocated Rs 3400 crore for upgradation of airports in North East region.
          1. Assam - INR 1720 crores
          2. Tripura - INR 525 crores
          3. Manipur - INR 800 crores
          4. Arunachal Pradesh - INR 211 crores
          5. Mizoram - INR 60 crores
          6. Nagaland - INR 42 crores
        16. An important heritage attraction at National Rail Museum (New Delhi) - a 108 years old monorail became operational, that was used by Maharaja of Patiala Bhupinder Singh. The Museum takes visitors on an exciting journey into Railway history and heritage and depict their contribution to industrial and economic progress of country.
        17. Andhra Pradesh Government signed MoU with NITI Aayog to create an online dashboard for the 115 most backward districts of India, under Transformation of Most Aspirational Districts Scheme.
          1. Backward districts were selected based on education, health, nutrition, rural road connectivity, rural household electrification, access to potable water, individual toilets, etc.
          2. Jharkhand has the highest number of the listed backward districts.
          3. Note that West Bengal, Kerala and Odisha recently opted out of Central Government’s Transformation of Aspirational Districts scheme. Bringing down number of districts to 102 (from 115).
        18. Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu inaugurated World War II Memorial Museum in Changlang district. It is located adjacent to historic Stilwell Road and is expected to boost tourist inflow especially from Southeast Asian countries.
        19. Arunachal Pradesh would get its first (and India's 2nd) Film and Television Institute (FTII). First Film and Television Institute of India of India was set up in Pune in 1960.
        20. As per Airpocalypse II report by environmental Non-governmental organization (NGO) Greenpeace India -
          1. Airpocalypse II analysed PM10 (inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 10 micrometers and smaller) annual averages for 280 cities monitored by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under its national air quality monitoring programme. Highlights of Airpocalypse II -
            1. 47% of population in India is living in areas where there is no air quality monitoring.
            2. Out of 63 crore million people living in 280 cities where air quality is monitored by CPCB, 55 crore live in areas exceeding national safe standards for PM10. CPCB has set 60 micrograms per cubic metres PM10 as safe standard.
          2. Top 5 Polluted Cities
            1. Delhi - 290
            2. Faridabad (Haryana) - 272
            3. Bhiwadi (Rajasthan) - 262
            4. Patna (Bihar) - 261
            5. Dehradun,  (Uttarakhand) - 238
          3. Least Polluted Cities
            1. Hassan (Karnataka) - 26
            2. Pathanamthitta (Kerala) - 26
            3. Nongstoin (Meghalaya) - 26
            4. Darjeeling (West Bengal) - 29
            5. Tura (Meghalaya) - 30
        21. As per Govt. Data, India is leading global milk producer globally in past 3 years, with annual growth rate of 5.53% compared with 2.09% globally. India's Milk production was appr0x 163 million tonnes in 2016-17.
        22. As per a survey by Ixigo, Kozhikode railway station (Kerala) is ranked best in terms of cleanliness, while Hazrat Nizamuddin (Delhi) is ranked lowest. Among trains, Swarna Jayanti Rajdhani is rated cleanest train while Karnataka Express is given lowest ratings.
        23. Assam Assembly will introduce digital budget in its upcoming session, instead of conventional printed booklet. Apart from digital budget, new features to be introduced will be Members Hour (tuesday), a year-long calendar, Best Legislator Award, formation of Pay Commission for MLAs’ salary and fellowships for research work on history of Assembly.
        24. Assam Government released a postage stamp in memory of eminent football player Talimeren Ao.
        25. Assam Govt. launched Chah Bagichar Dhan Puraskar Mela 2017-18, that enables INR 2500 to be credited to accounts of people belonging to tea community, who opened bank accounts during demonetisation.
        26. Assamese and Manipuri language versions of PM’s Official website (www.pmindia.gov.in) have been launched. Now PM INDIA website is available in 11 regional languages - Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu.
        27. BSES Rajdhani Power launched Solar City Initiative (in partnership with USA agency for International Development (USAID) PACE-D and Indo-German Collaboration (GIZ)) aimed to maximise rooftop solar power use in south and west Delhi. Under this, rooftop solar installations will be provided at a single point for entire apartment complex unlike conventional method of having individual installations.
        28. Bengal Global Business Summit 2018 held in Kolkata with Japan, Italy, Poland, Germany, Republic of Korea, Czech Republic, Great Britain, France and UAE as Partner countries and theme Bengal Means Business.
        29. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah launched Yuva Udghosh programme in Varanasi (UP), focusing on enrolling youths above 17 of age.
        30. Bhogali Bihu harvest festival, also called as Magh Bihu festival began in Assam.
        31. Bihar Government banned electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), that are handheld battery-run devices which are used like a conventional cigarette. However the ingredient (in liquid form) may differ.
        32. Bikaner camel festival celebrated in Rajasthan to honour camels.
        33. Cabinet Approvals on 04-01-2018,
          1. Establishment of new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Bilaspur (Himachal Pradesh) under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).
          2. CCEA Approvals -
            1. Construction of 2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel on Srinagar-Leh section connecting NH-1A in Jammu and Kashmir, to provide all-weather connectivity to Leh region. It will be Asia’s largest 2-lane bi-directional tunnel (14.150 km long).
            2. Implementation of Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for capacity augmentation of navigation on 1,380-km Haldia-Varanasi stretch of National Waterway-1 (NW1) on Ganga River, at cost of INR 5,370 crores. It will enable commercial navigation of at least 1500 tonne vessels on the Ganga river.
            3. Mandatory packaging of foodgrains and sugar in jute material for Jute Year 2017-18 (1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018). It aims at sustaining core demand for jute sector and supporting livelihood of workers and farmers dependent on Jute sector.
            4. Amendments in Model Concession Agreement (MCA) to make Port Projects more investor-friendly and make investments more attractive in Port Sector. It calls for setting up Society for Affordable Redressal of Disputes - Ports (SAROD-PORTS) as d6ispute resolution mechanism, similar to provision available in Highway Sector.
          3. MOUs Approved -
            1. With London’s transportation authority Transport for London to improve public transport in India.
            2. With Italy for co-operation in Renewable Energy.
            3. With Israel for co-operation in Oil and Gas Sector.
            4. With Belgium for co-operation in ICT&E.
            5. With Myanmar on Land Border Crossing, as an enabling arrangement for movement of people across border of both counties.
            6. Will sign MOU with Sri Lanka for cooperation in traditional systems of medicine and homoeopathy.
        34. Cabinet Approvals on 10-01-2018 -
          1. FDI Policy Changes -
            1. 100% FDI under automatic route for Single Brand Retail Trading
            2. 100% FDI under automatic route in Construction Development
            3. Foreign airlines allowed investing up to 49% under approval route in Air India
            4. FIIs/FPIs allowed investing in Power Exchanges through primary market
          2. CCEA Approvals-
            1. Fixed term of 3 years for Chairperson and Members of National Trust for the Welfare of Person with Autism, Cerebral Plasy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities.
            2. Continuation of Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) till term of 14th Finance Commission (31-03-2020). It will entail total allocation of INR 11850 crores over 3 years, with additional annual allocation of 5 crore for monitoring through independent agency(ies) and for capacity building/training to State/District officials.
          3. MOUs -
            1. With Canada for cooperation in Science & Technology.
        35. Central Government approved establishment of Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) at Raichur (Karnataka), as 2nd IIIT in Karnataka after one in Dharwad.
        36. Central Government approved state Logo designed by West Bengal Government, highlighting the “Biswa Bangla” theme with Ashoka Pillars.
        37. Chhattisgarh High Court asked all trial courts in state to obtain Aadhaar Cards of accused persons and sureties before issuing release warrant of a prisoner/accused, to curb rampant practice of obtaining bail on the basis of forged revenue papers or by impersonating real surety.
        38. Committee of Governors submitted report titled Rajyapal —Vikas Ke Rajdoot: Catalytic Role of Governors as Agents for Change in Society to President Ram Nath Kovind. Committee of Governors was Formed in October 2017 during 48th Conference of Governors in New Delhi.
        39. Delhi Govt. launched a common card for rides on public buses and metro, becoming first Indian city to have such common mobility card.
        40. Department of Heavy Industries (Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises) allowed Karnataka government to purchase electric vehicles (EVs) under FAME India scheme, at maximum of 60% subsidy.
          1. Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME) India was launched in 2015 under National Electric Mobility Mission (NEMM) aims at promoting eco-friendly vehicles in the country.
        41. Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) provided quota to people with autism, mental illnesses, intellectual disability and victims of acid attacks in Central government jobs.In direct recruitment, 4% of vacancies (up from existing 3%) in groups A, B and C will be reserved for people with over 40% specified disability.
        42. Environment Minister Harshvardhan launched Mihir, a 2.8 PetaFlops capacity high-performance computer system in Noida (UP). It will help Meteorological department to predict climate based calamities and issue warnings for fishermen.
        43. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj inaugurated Puducherry's First Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) at Karaikal. It will enable locals to avail passport related services without having to travel to Puducherry.
        44. External Affairs Ministry announced that Passports will no longer serve as a valid proof of address as Its last page will not printed from now onwards, that includes Names of father / guardian, and address.
          1. Additionally, Passport holders with ECR (Emigration Check Required) status would be issued a passport with orange passport jacket and those with non-ECR status would continue to get a blue passport. As per Govt., This is meant to identify less educated (under 10th) labourers and prevent them from exploitation abroad.
            1. Note that Indian passports have a blue cover, diplomatic and official passports have white and red jackets, respectively. Applicants who haven’t cleared 10th standard are given a passport with ECR category (now with orange jackets).
        45. FY 2017 - 18 Winter Session passed Bills in Jan 2018 -
          1. Rajya Sabha passed Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill 2017 to pave way for tightening loopholes in existing code and to make resolution process more effective. It Bill amends Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) 2016. It was passed by Lok Sabha recently. Main Features Include -
            1. It Bill prohibits certain persons from submitting a resolution plan in case of defaults.
            2. A penalty of minimum Rs 1 lakh and maximum Rs 2 crore has been proposed for contravening any of the provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).
            3. It allows asset reconstruction companies, banks and alternative investment funds registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India to bid for insolvent companies.
          2. Parliament passed National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill 2017, with approval of Rajya Sabha (Lok Sabha already passed it in August 2017). It amends NABARD Act 1981 and -
            1. Allows Government to increase capital of NABARD from Rs. 5000 crore to Rs 30,000 crore (even beyond if required, upon Consultaion with RBI).
            2. Government must hold at least 51% capital share of NABARD, and share capital held by RBI valued at 20 crores (.4%) will be transferred to Government.
            3. Bill replaces terms ‘small-scale industry’ and ‘industry in tiny and decentralised sector’ with terms ‘micro enterprise’, ‘small enterprise’ and ‘medium enterprise’ as defined in MSME Development Act 2006.
          3. Lok Sabha passed Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill 2017 to allow government to take up infrastructure projects within prohibited areas around protected monuments. It amends Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act 1958.
          4. Lok Sabha passed High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill 2017 to hike salaries of judges of Supreme Court (SC) and High Courts (HCs), with effect from January 1, 2016.
            1. It amends HC Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act 1954 and SC Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act 1958.
            2. Hiked Monthly Salaries will be (INR) -
              1. Chief Justice of India (CJI) - 2.80 lakh
              2. Judges of Supreme Court and Chief Justices of High Courts - 2.5 lakh
              3. Judges of High Courts - 2.25 lakh
        46. First all-women staff (41 females) railway station in India, Matunga on Central Railway (CR) in Mumbai, entered Limca Book of Records.
        47. First draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam containing names of 1.9 crore Indians in state has been released, updated after 1951.
        48. GAIL commissioned India’s second largest rooftop solar power plant in Uttar Pradesh, as a 5.76 MWp (Mega Watt peak) solar plant at GAIL’s petrochemical complex at Pata in UP, covering area of 65,000 square meters.
          1. Largest rooftop solar plant in India was commissioned in December 2015 by Tata Power Solar in Amritsar (Punjab) with 12 MWp capacity.
        49. GAIL will set up coal to synthesis gas conversion plants in Odisha, with Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) as technology partner.
          1. Synthesis gas is expected to be cheaper than domestic gas as its a mixture comprising of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.
        50. General Conferences (Jan 01 - 10, 2018) -
          1. 8 day long New Delhi World Book Fair begun in New Delhi, with theme Environment and Climate Change and European union as Guest of Honour country.
          2. 18th All India Whips’ Conference held at Udaipur (Rajasthan). During this, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA) proposed rolling out of e-Sansad in Parliament and e-Vidhan in State Legislatures to digitize and make their functioning paperless.
          3. Annual Conference of DGPs and IGPs held at BSF (Border Security Force) Academy in Tekanpur (Madhya Pradesh). It was attended by PM Narendra Modi.
          4. 4th International Conference on Dharma-Dhamma held at Rajgir (Bihar), organised by Nalanda University with an aim to provide an opportunity to academics and policy makers from India and abroad to share ideas.
          5. Conference on Transformation of Aspirational Districts held in New Delhi, organized by NITI Aayog. During This, NITI Aayog announced to issue a ranking of 115 aspirational districts by April 2018.
          6. Centre for Transportation Research and Management (CTRAM) organized a National Rail Transport Seminar with theme Railways for Sustainable Development in New Delhi.
        51. General Conferences (Jan 11 - 20, 2018) -
          1. Ministry of Culture organized 7th Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav under Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat matrix in Karnataka.
          2. President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated ‘Economic Democracy Conclave at Thane (Maharashtra), organised by Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini (charitable organisation in domain of training of social-political activists).
          3. International Workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (IWDRI) organized by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in Delhi.
          4. 65th Meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) held under Chairmanship of HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar in Delhi.
          5. 3rd geo-political conference Raisina Dialogue held in New Delhi, attended by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and jointly organised by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Observer Research Foundation (ORF). 2018's theme is Managing Disruptive Transitions: Ideas, Institutions and Idiom’.
            1. Raisina Dialogue is an annual conference held in New Delhi, envisioned as India’s flagship conference of geopolitics and geo-economics.
            2. Indian and Israeli PM duo also launched I4Fund Call for Proposal, that provisions establishing a 40 million USD Fund by India's Department of Science and Technology and National Innovation Authority of Israel.
          6. A single day Conclave called Nirman Samvaad, first ever interaction between Railways Ministry and Construction Industry held in Delhi, organized by Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL).
          7. Lalit Kala Akademi’s 59th National Exhibition of Art held in New Delhi, to exhibit brilliance of works of various artists.
          8. 60th India International Garment Fair (IIGF) held at Pragati Maidan (New Delhi).
          9. National Conference on Improving Accessibility held in New Delhi. During this, 100 accessible websites for Divyangs have been launched to empower Divyang persons.
        52. General Conferences (Jan 21 - 31, 2018)
          1. Raipur Municipal Corporation (Chhattisgarh) organized Kachra Mahotsav 2018 as India’s first Garbage Festival. It aims to increase waste usage awareness.
          2. Election Commission of India (ECI) hosted International Conference on ‘Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Election Process’ in New Delhi.
          3. 21st India International Seafood Show (IISS) held in Margao (Goa). IISS is a biennial meeting point for various stakeholders of marine products sector such as producers, processing machinery manufacturers, processors, and technical experts.
          4. First Khadi Haat of India launched by Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) in New Delhi, to held artisans earn better.
          5. Axis Bank launched 4th edition of Evolve, its an annual multi-city knowledge series for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) customers, titled Transform your Family Business into your dream company.
          6. 19th India International Watch and Clock Fair Samaya Bharati 2018 held in Mumbai (Maharashtra).
          7. Indian Coast Guard (ICG) conducted a ‘Day at Sea’ event for children of fishing hamlets at Frazerganj in South 24 Parganas district (West Bengal).
        53. German auto major Mercedes-Benz unveiled India’s first BS-VI-compliant S Class car produced at its Pune facility.
          1. Government’s deadline for switching to new BS-VI emission norms is of April 2020.
          2. BS-VI-compliant S Class can run on BS-IV fuel, which will bring down NOx emissions by 68% and PM by 82% and will lower CO2 burden by 13% and fuel demand by 10%.
        54. Government announced completion of 1st phase of BharatNet project, after laying 254895 km of optical fibre cables (OFC) covering 1,09,926 GPs out of which 1,01,370 GPs are service ready.
          1. BharatNet project forms backbone for Digital India initiative. It aims to bring high speed broadband to all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) through optical fibre by March 2019. It approved in 2011 as National Optical Fibre Netwok.
        55. Government announced names of 9 new cities selected under Smart Cities Mission, with proposed investment of INR 12824 crores. After four rounds of selection, 99 cities have been selected for Smart Cities Mission so far.
        56. Government approved 2018 as National Year of Millets to boost production of the nutrient-rich millets and the sunrise agri industry involved in it.
        57. Government decided to end Haj subsidy from this year, as a part of its policy to 'empower minorities without appeasement'.
          1. Note that despite withdrawal of subsidy, record number of 1.75 lakh Muslims would be Haj undertaking pilgrimage this year from India after Saudi Arabia increased India's quota by 5,000.
        58. Government launched 3rd version of its National Procurement Portal, Government e Marketplace (GeM).
          1. GeM 3.0 will offer several features as standardised and enriched catalogue management, search engine, real time price comparison, template-based Bid and RA creation, demand aggregation, e-EMD, e-PBG, user rating, advanced MIS and analytics and more.
        59. Government sanctioned projects over 10,000 crore rupees in North East for better network connectivity, Including uncovered areas in North Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
        60. Gujarat topped Logistics Ease Across Different States (LEADS) index released at 3rd meeting of Council for Trade Development and Promotion.
          1. LEADS Index is about mobility of goods and efficiency of logistics chain, developed by Commerce and Industry Ministry along with Deloitte.
          2. Gujarat is followed by Punjab and Andhra Pradesh. Among UTs, Daman & Diu topped, followed by Delhi and Chandigarh.
        61. Haryana Government Inauguraed India-Japan Smart Grid Pilot Project in Panipat. It was also annouced to install 10 lakh smart meters across state, to solve various complications faced by power distribution sector.
        62. Haryana became first state to launch High-Risk Pregnancy (HRP) Portal, to help in early identification of high-risk pregnant cases and ensure their timely referral to civil hospital. This portal is designed to track every high-risk pregnant woman till 42 days after delivery.
        63. Haryana government mandated installation of Solar Photovoltaic Power plant in new buildings as per specified norms, aimed at conserving electricity and use it efficiently.
        64. Haryana government will implement integrated solar based micro irrigation scheme (ISBMI) in all districts and formed a Committee to chalk out a plan in this regard.
          1. ISBMI will focus on saving electricity and water, and will also be economical for farmers as they will not be required to install tubewells at their own level instead they just have to pay a nominal amount for water according the crops.
        65. Health Ministry launched India’s first digital Online Oncology Tutorial Series designed by Tata Memorial Center, to train doctors for early detection, prevention, palliation, rehabilitation and treatment of various cancers.
        66. Himachal Pradesh Goverment launched women's safety app named Shakti. It comes with a panic button and would not require internet connectivity.
          1. Once triggered, app would send a message to nearest police control room and start recording audio and video after 20 seconds.
          2. GUDDIYA helpline number 1515 and Hoshiyar Singh helpline number 1090 were also launched, to fight crimes against women in state.
        67. Himachal Pradesh Government launched Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) project to promote organic farming, aimed at doubling income of farmers by the 2022. In ZBNF natural farming methods, cost of growing and harvesting plants is zero as no fertilizers and pesticides are added. It requires almost no monetary investment and envisages use of ‘Jeevamrutha’ and ‘Beejamrutha’.
        68. Himachal Pradesh Government launched a state-level nutrition scheme for HIV-positive children, which will provide nutritional supplement to boost immunity for concerned children.
        69. Himachal Pradesh govt will set up 24X7 ‘Gudiya helpline‘ for reporting crimes against women. Under which, three special crime cells would be set up (one each at Mandi, Shimla and Kangra).
        70. Home Ministry declared Nagaland as disturbed area for 6 more months (till June 2018) under Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act – AFSPA.
          1. Under AFSPA, armed forces attain several overriding powers including authority to open fire and use force against any person acting against the law.
        71. Home Ministry will set up Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) as an apex centre to deal with cyber crimes such as financial frauds, circulation of pornographic and communal contents. I4C will be located in Delhi. It will coordinate with state governments in matters of cyber crimes and will monitor cyber space and social media.
          1. Information and Broadcasting Ministry will also set up a social media communication (SMC) hub for keeping a tab on trending news in districts and gather feedback on Government’s flagship schemes, with investment of INR 17 crores for setting up 707 SMC hubs.
        72. Hyderabad became 2nd large city (above 1 crore population) to be declared open defecation free (ODF), after Mumbai.
          1. Maharashtra government also imposed spot fine of Rs 500 for open defecation, littering, spitting and urinating in public places.
        73. India missed December 2017 deadline announced for elimination of Kala Azar (black fever) in 2017-18 Budget by Government.
          1. Elimination is defined as reducing annual incidence of disease to less than 1 case per 10,000 people at sub-district level.
          2. Kala-azar (visceral leishmaniasis) , also known as black fever and Dumdum fever is most severe form of leishmaniasis. It is slow progressing indigenous disease caused by single-celled parasite of Leishmania family.
        74. India will have its own automated ocean pollution observation system called automated moorings from April 2018, to help monitor ocean pollution levels besides offering insights on changes in marine system. It will do away with present practice of collecting water samples from the sea and studying their pollution levels thereafter.
        75. India's first food testing lab in IITs opened in IIT Kharagpur campus, after National Accreditation Board for Calibration and Testing Laboratories (NABL) approved it for certifying food items based on nutritional value and perform adulteration checks.
        76. Indian Army established a Skill Training Centre in Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir, to empower nd Train Kashmiri youth.
        77. Indian Railways will deploy Drone cameras (UAV/NETRA) for various railway activities especially maintenance of tracks, project monitoring and other railway infrastructure, in-line with Railways’ desire to use technology to enhance safety and efficiency in train operations.
          1. Railways also finalised plan to equip over 8500 stations with Wi-Fi facilities at an estimated cost of INR 700 crores, by March 2019.
          2. At 1200 stations, Wi-Fi facility will be provided to rail passengers while at about 7300 stations, facility will be available to all (passenger and locals).
        78. Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) and Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited (RUMSL) signed agreement worth 210 Crores INR for financing shared infrastructure of 2 large Solar Parks in Madhya Pradesh.
          1. It is under recent US$ 100 Million agreement between Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE), World Bank & IREDA for creating common infrastructure for ultra-mega solar parks in India to achieve 100 GW solar capacity addition target by 2022.
        79. India’s Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education increased from 24.5% in 2015-16 to 25.2% in 2016-17, according to All India Higher Education Survey (AIHES) 2016-17. Tamil Nadu has highest GER at 46.9%, while Bihar has least with GER of 14.9%.
        80. India’s first automatic Early Warning Dissemination System (EWDS) will be lcunahed in March 2018 in Odisha, under National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project.
          1. It will provide Odisha’s entire population residing on 480 km length coastline a pre-warning siren in event of occurrence of natural disasters like tsunami or cyclone.
        81. Infosys Foundation (philanthropic arm of Infosys) signed MoU with Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation for a grant to create a child-friendly village for improving children’s health, providing education and creating a non-violent environment.
        82. International Kite Festival held at Sabarmati River Front in Ahmedabad (Gujarat).
        83. J & K government signed MoU with Central Govt. to create normalcy in Jammu & Kashmir by means of education reforms, named School Education Transformation Roadmap.
        84. Jammu & Kashmir Student Exchange programme ‘Maitreyi Yatra’ held in New Delhi. It is organized by Ministry of Human Resource development with an objective to acquaint youth of Jammu & Kashmir with culture, language and development of different parts of India.
        85. Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Government launched Muhafiz (meaning Guardian in English) scheme, for providing institutionalized socio-economic security to workers in unorganised sector. Registered workers will also be offered Micro Credit facility with a credit limit of INR 10000.
        86. Jammu and Kashmir government formed a committee to study scope and definition of horticulture, headed by chief secretary of Jammu Kashmir Bharat Bhushan Vyas. Study will help in improving and assessing growth of horticulture in Jammu and Kashmir.
        87. Jammu and Kashmir will host its first international martial arts games event in Srinagar in October 2018, named Asian Martial Arts Games.
        88. Jharkhand Government launched Pradhan Mantri LPG Panchayat in Dumka district. Jharkhand is first state where beneficiaries are provided stoves along with gas connections., with an investment of 300 crores.
        89. Jharkhand Govt. launched Saubhagya Yojana, aimed at providing 24*7 electricity to approx 30000 villages across state by December 2018. Under this, above poverty line (APL) families would get electricity connection by paying Rs 500 (Rs 50 each month for 10 months).
        90. Journalists and social activists celebrated 238th anniversary of India’s first newspaper, The Hicky’s Bengal Gazette. James Augustus Hicky is also considered as founder of journalism in India.
        91. Kerala government allowed prisoners in Kerala jails to donate organs to their close relatives.
        92. Kolkata’s Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport became 5th in India having CAT III B landing system runway, enabling flights to land even when visibility is 50 metres with decision height of 15 meters.
        93. Madhya Pradesh became first state to completely implement door-to-door garbage collection in all urban areas, using measures like solid waste management at landfill sites and processing through Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.
        94. Madhya Pradesh government imposed 50 paisa per litle cess on petrol and diesel, to be used for strengthening road infrastructure across state and laying metro railroad in Bhopal and Indore.
        95. Madhya Pradesh government initiated Mission One Click scheme to distribute 30 types of scholarship in schools, through Samagra Education Portal.
        96. Maharashtra Government approved 1% reservation for orphans in government jobs and education.
          1. It is termed as parallel reservation as It will be provided under general category. It means that government does not need to increase its caste reservation quota that has already reached 52%. Out of total jobs available under general category, 1% will be only for orphans.
        97. Maharashtra Government framed helipad policy that lays down strict guidelines for helipads, their location and other procedures to be followed. Need for such policy was felt owing to a series of near-mishaps during last year.
        98. Maharashtra Government proposed a 100 point Performance-linked marking system for 7.5 lakh state government employees. Out of 100 marks, 60 marks will be assigned for performance on objective parameters (speed of completion of task, punctuality, attentiveness), while 40 marks will be given for subjective parameters (quality of file notings, contribution in policy making, articulation of thought).
        99. Maharashtra Government will form an education board for non-English medium schools, that will prepare syllabus for non-English medium schools in Maharashtra.
        100. Maharashtra Health department and Johnson and Johnson signed MoU to train rural midwives and social health activists regarding tuberculosis and maternal and infant mortality. Nearly 10,000 auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) and 60,000 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) in Maharashtra will be trained by Johnson and Johnson at district level.
        101. Maharashtra became first state to unveil Public Cloud Policy that virtually mandates state government departments to shift their data storage onto cloud.
        102. Maharashtra government approved to provide sanitary napkins at a subsidised rate of Rs 5 to women living in rural areas.
        103. Maharashtra government banned sale of tobacco in shops selling Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) items in state, to ensure that youngsters do not get addicted to tobacco products.
        104. Maharashtra government launched Balasaheb Thackeray Shaheed Sanmaan scheme, under which family members of martyrs would be provided jobs with Maharashtra State road Transport Corporation (MSRTC). Apart from jobs, wives of martyrs would also be provided with lifetime free bus passes.
        105. Mankidia tribe in Odisha has been denied habitat rights in Similipal Tiger Reserve (Odisha) amid possibilities of tribals being attacked by wild animals (especially tigers). It is notified under historic Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006.
          1. Mankidia is one of 13 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) and depends on making rope with siali fibre that’s richly available in Similipal.
        106. Minister of Women & Child Development, Maneka Gandhi launched NARI portal, aimed at providing women citizens with easy access to information on government schemes and initiatives for women.
          1. e-Samvad portal is also developed which will be inaugurated soon. It will be a platform for NGOs and Civil Societies to interact with Ministry of Women & Child Development.
        107. Ministries of Railways, Human Resource Development and Department of Science & Technology signed an MoU for joint funding of Technology Mission for Indian Railways, worth approx 300 Crores INR. Funding percentage is - Railways (30%), Human Resource Development (25%) AND Department of Science & Technology (25%).
        108. Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation signed A MOU with Bihar and Jharkhand state governments for completion of balance works of North Koel reservoir project at an estimated cost of INR 1622 crores.
          1. North Koel project was started in 1972 but was later halted in 1993. It is situated on North Koel river (a tributary of Sone river), that will provide irrigation to 1,11,521 hectares of land annually in most drought prone areas of Palamu and Garhwa districts in Jharkhand and Aurangabad and Gaya districts in Bihar.
          2. Out of cost of balance works of INR 1622 crores, component of INR 1013 crores shall be borne by central Govt. as a grant from LTIF under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY).
        109. Ministry of Civil Aviation awarded 325 air routes under 2nd phase of government’s flagship UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam naagrik) regional connectivity scheme.
          1. Government announced that 73 underserved airports and helipads will be connected under phase 2 of UDAN Scheme. Interglobe Aviation (parent firm of IndiGo) was awarded a maximum of 20 proposals, followed by SpiceJet that won 17 proposals.
          2. Around 40% or 129 of 325 air routes were awarded to newly created category of ‘priority areas’ that include Jammu and Kashmir, Northeastern and hill states, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Islands.
          3. UDAN 2 will provide over 26 lakh seats per annum that will be covered with airfare cap of INR 2500 per hour of flying.
          4. Funding for UDAN 2 will be INR 617 crores, significantly more than 213 crores in First Phase.
        110. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) launched Stree Swabhiman Initiative aimed at creating sustainable model for providing adolescent girls and women an access to affordable sanitary products by leveraging Common Service Centres (CSCs). CSCs will provide access to affordable, reliable and modern (eco-friendly) sanitary napkins (menstrual pads) to adolescent girls and women in rural areas.
        111. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) launched Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative to strengthen cybersecurity ecosystem in India, in association with National e-Governance Division (NeGD). It will leverage expertise of the IT industry in cybersecurity and will be operated on principles of awareness, education and enablement.
        112. Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) refused captive breeding of Chiru (Tibetan antelope), whose underfur is used for making famous shahtoosh shawls.
          1. Chiru have been for long time for their underfur, which is renowned for its quality which is traditionally woven into an extremely fine fabric to make Shahtoosh shawls.
        113. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced to increase number of AMRIT pharmacy stores by 4 times by end of 2018 from existing 111.
          1. So far, over 50 lakh patients bought discounted drugs (60 to 90% less than market price) from AMRIT (Affordable medicine and reliable implants for treatment) stores and saved over INR 267 crores.
        114. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched Allied and Health care Professional Database portal to make data repository robust to ensure better systems and frameworks for healthcare workforce in country, to help tracking number of professionals and streams of allied and health care professions.
        115. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will launch National Programme for Control of Viral Hepatitis, as a new scheme free treatment of Hepatitis C from 2018-19, with focus on free anti-viral treatment of Hepatitis C. For this, budget of INR 600 crores is marked for 3 years.
        116. Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) exempted cruise tourists arriving with e-visa from the requirement of biometric enrolment for a period of three years (till 2020), to promote cruise tourism in India.
        117. Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will set up Cyber Warrior Police Force (CWPF) and Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) to tackle internet-related crimes such as cyber threats, child pornography and online stalking, under MHA’s new Cyber & Information Security (CIS) Division.
        118. Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) launched Protocol for Star Rating of Garbage-Free Citiesin Goa, under Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban. It has 7-star rating system for cities, based on multiple cleanliness indicators for solid waste management. City will be given rating of 3 star or above only after it is declared ODF (Open Defecation Free).
        119. Ministry of Housing and Urban affairs (MoHUA) launched Liveability index to rate 116 Indian cities, funded by World Bank.
          1. It aims to measure quality of life in 99 smart cities, capital cities and those with a population of over one million.
          2. Index will rank cities based on set of 79 paarmeters related to various aspects.
        120. Ministry of Science & Technology announced 4 new schemes to promote young scientists and researchers in country - Teacher Associateship for Research Excellence (TARE), Overseas Visiting Doctoral Fellowship (OVDF), Distinguished Investigator Award (DIA) and AWSAR (Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research). These schemes aim at early recognition and reward to young talent in field of science.
        121. Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) launched Management Information System (MIS) portal for Anganwadi Services Training Programme. It enables submission of applications and estimates by NGOs for carrying out Anganwadi Services (ICDS) Training through Anganwadi Workers Training Centres (AWTC) and Middle-Level Training Centres (MLTC).
        122. Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) launched beneficiary module of Rapid Reporting System (RRS), a monitoring system for Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG). It will facilitate monitoring of SAG and take corrective measures by ensuring faster flow of information, accurate targeting of beneficiaries and reduction of leakages. URL for the portal is 'sag-rrs.nic.in.'
        123. NITI Aayog launched first course on Sustainable Urban planning using remote sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) at IIT Kanpur’s outreach centre in Noida (UP). This is first course under Global Initiative on Academic Network (GIAN) Program of HRD Ministry, that aims to boost quality of higher education through international collaboration.
          1. Course aims to impart high level remote sensing and GIS skills to allow them managing rapidly changing urban environment, with focus on water related activities.
        124. Nation-wide cleanliness survey Swachh Survekshan launched to evaluate achievements in cleanliness level in Urban areas, Deemed as world’ biggest survey. It will be conducted in over 4,000 cities and will run till 10 March 2018.
        125. National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) approved 5 Namami Gange projects worth Rs 295 crores in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
        126. Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF) launched India’s internationally benchmarked Forest Management Certification Standard (FMCS). FMCS enlists measures to be taken for responsible utilisation of natural resources and trade of forest products.
        127. North Korea and South Korea will march together under a single unified Korean flag at Winter Olympics 2018 in Pyeongchang (South Korea). They agreed to field a joint women’s ice hockey team after rare peace talks. These are first high-level talks between 2 Koreas in over 2 years.
        128. Odisha Government launched Odisha e-Hospital Management Information System (OeHMIS) online platform that hosts all clinical parameters of patients and reporting of performance criteria of hospitals. It also enables viewing and downloading individual electronic health records.
        129. Odisha State Government announced ‘Mukshyamantri Kalakar Sahayata Jojana’ (MMKSJ), under which artists from across the state will get a monthly assistance of Rs 1200, to benefit approx 50000 artists from across state.
          1. Odisha government also changed eligibility criteria as compared to previous artist assistance scheme, under which only 4000 artists were being given Rs 1000 per month. As per new criteria, any male artist can avail assistance under scheme after attaining the age of 50 years (earlier 60 years), while females have relaxation of 10 years.
        130. Odisha government signed agreement with Software Technology Park of India (STPI), to set up an incubator at IIT Bhubaneswar for promoting research, named Centre of Excellence for Virtual & Augmented Reality (VARCoE).
        131. Oxford Dictionaries declared ‘Aadhaar’ as Hindi Word of the Year for 2017, during Jaipur Literature Festival 2018.
        132. PM Narendra Modi inaugurated project commencement of Rajasthan oil refinery at Pachpadra in Barmer district, as first one to be set up in Rajasthan. It is as a joint venture of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Rajasthan government, with budget of INR 43000 crores and expected to be operational in 4 years.
        133. Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) under Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas launched month long Saksham 2018 (Sanrakshan Kshamta Mahotsav, that aims at creating focused attention on fuel conservation through people centric activities and sensitize masses about efficient use of petroleum products.
        134. President Ram Nath Kovind launched Pulse Polio Immunization (PPI) Programme ear 2018, on eve of National Immunisation Day (NID) observed on 28 January in 2018.
        135. President Ram Nath Kovind on recommendation of Election Commission of India (ECI) disqualified 20 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs from Delhi, citing that they held offices of profit.
          1. In 2016, ECI issued show cause notices to 27 AAP MLAs from Delhi who held offices as parliamentary secretaries.
          2. Office of Profit is a Term used in Article 102 (1)(A) of Constitution that bars member of Indian Parliament / Legislative Assemblies from holding an office that would give its occupant the opportunity to gain a financial advantage or benefit. It refers to a post under central/state government which yields salaries, perks and other benefits.
        136. Puducherry goverment launched a special police force to safeguard tourists, provided with special blue colour head gears.
        137. Punjab Government launched Mahatma Gandhi Sarbat Vikas Yojna (MGSVY) for welfare of downtrodden citizen across state, on lines of Antyodaya principles (means rise of the last person) and will be implemented in rural areas.
        138. Punjab Government signed MoU with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to set up bio-gas and bio-CNG plants in state, to find sustainable solutions to paddy straw burning. Total 400 such plants will become operational in 3-4 years with investment of INR 5000 crores.
        139. RS Puram Police station in Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) is named best in India in SMART Police Stations initiative of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). SMART stands for Sensitive and Strict, Modern with mobility, Alert and Accountable, Reliable and Responsive and Trained and Techno-savvy.
        140. Railways launched SFOORTI (Smart Freight Operation Optimisation & Real Time Information) App for Freight Managers which provides features for monitoring and managing freight business using Geographic Information System (GIS) Views and Dashboard. Features Include -
          1. Freight Operation Information System Map View provides Layered views of freight trains on Railways, that can help plan traffic flows and optimize freight operations.
          2. Forecasted Rakes Awaiting Interchange enables Monitoring of all loads, which have been forecasted for the divisional interchange, but the same interchange has not yet reported.
          3. Stock Specific / Commodity specific Rake Position can be viewed. Loaded and Empty Rakes of specific Rake Types are plotted on Railways network map in Different colours.
          4. Monitoring of New Origination-Destination Added in Railways.
          5. Loading Trends for Major Commodities during a period.
          6. Performance of Freight Trains can be monitored
        141. Railways will standardize trains in terms of number of coaches so that all trains can run on all routes. Soon, all trains would have 22 coaches, making them suitable for running on any route.
          1. Currently, coaches are of two kinds (ICF and LHB) and number of coaches in a train could be 12, 16, 18, 22 or 26, depending on its demand, making it difficult for the railways to substitute one with the other.
        142. Rajasthan government will digitise administrative and historical records of Rajputana’s princely states (10000 Pages/day), to to protect old and fragile documents.
          1. Rajasthan State Archive consists of 30-40 crore administrative and historical records of 22 princely states, and will digitise 3-4 crore documents considered important.
        143. Reliance Industries commissioned and achieved design throughput of world’s largest refinery off-gas cracker at Jamnagar (Gujarat). Refinery will have a capacity of 1.5 million tonnes per annum along with downstream plants and utilities.
        144. Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO) of Railways has launched New Online Vender Registration System, to make related procedures digital and transparent. New system provides major improvements such as Public access to information, expeditious process completion with defined timelines, round-the-year services, availability of all related information on RDSO Website etc.
        145. Residents of Bhanakpur village in Faridabad (Haryana) will begin day by singing national anthem daily at 8 am. Panchayat has installed 20 loudspeakers and 22 CCTV cameras for the purpose. This village is first in Haryana and second in India (after Jammikunta Telangana), to introduce this system.
        146. Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari inaugurated several projects in Uttar Pradesh entailing investment of INR 6517 crores.
        147. Road transport ministry Mandated All taxis, buses and public transport vehicles (except three-wheelers and e-rickshaws) to have location tracking device (GPS) and an alert button from April 1, 2018 onwards.
        148. Shripad Yesso Naik (Minister of State (IC) for AYUSH) laid foundation stone for Central Research Institute (CRI) in Jaipur (Rajasthan), as 3rd CRI under Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH).
        149. Sikkim Government allowed people to forge fraternal ties with trees, under Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules 2017. Purpose is to preserve trees by encouraging people to forge relationship of brotherhood with trees through tradition locally known as Mitini / Mith.
        150. Sub-committee of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) looking into issues of girl’s education has recommended free and compulsory education for girls up to post-graduate level across country.
        151. Supreme Court stayed Karnataka High Court's order to reduce size of pictorial warnings on packages of tobacco products to 40% of package space from earlier 85%.
          1. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in 2014 prescribed mandatory 85% statutory warnings space on both sides of tobacco packaging telling consumers that cigarette smoking and tobacco chewing were harmful to health.
          2. In December 2017, Karnataka HC quashed MoHFW rules related to 85% statutory warnings on packaging of tobacco products, holding that they violated Constitutional norms. This order is now stayed by Supreme Court.
          3. Supreme Court also ruled that playing national anthem before screening movies in cinema halls is not mandatory. Government has formed a committee to finalize on the same and committee will submit report in 6 months. Commitee is headed by B.R. Sharma (Additional Secretary in MHA).
        152. Tamil Nadu Government launched e-governance policy to help public, government and commercial establishments avail all services through digital medium. It lets government to allocate 0.5 % of annual funds for digital initiatives and further increase it to 3 % in 5 years.
        153. Telangana Government inaugurated India’s first National Park for differently abled people in Hyderabad. It has speech therapist, vocational training instructors and physiotherapist for differently-abled children.
        154. Telangana government signed MoU with Clean Authority of Tokyo (Japan), for municipal solid waste incineration facilities.
        155. To Address Privacy Concerns, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) introduced a new concept of Virtual ID which Aadhaar-card holder can generate from its website and give for various purposes, wherever Aadhaar number is necessary to provide.
          1. Virtual would be a random 16-digit number and a user can generate as many Virtual IDs (Older ones will be cancelled when generating new).
          2. It will give limited details (like name, address and photograph), which are sufficient for verification by any authorised agency .
          3. Aadhaar-issuing body will start accepting virtual ID from March 1, 2018 and From June 1, it will be obligatory for all agencies that undertake authentication to accept Virtual ID from their users.
        156. Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDA) introduced face authentication as an additional means of Aadhaar authentication along with fingerprint and iris scan, to enable easy authentication for those who face difficulties in other biometric authentication such as fingerprint and iris scan. It will be available by 1 July, 2018.
        157. Use and sale of imported petroleum coke has been banned in National Capital Region (NCR) by environment ministry, to control air pollution. It also ruled that cement plants in NCR should not store pet coke for over 3 months.
        158. Uttar Pradesh Government banned use of unauthorised loudspeakers at public places, including religious places.
        159. Uttar Pradesh Government inaugurated Mahesra Bridge at Sonauli-Gorakhpur National highway, that links Gorakhpur and other eastern Uttar Pradesh districts with Nepal.
        160. West Bengal Govt. launched water ATM project to ensure bacteria-free drinking water in schools, initially in Kolkata.
        161. West Bengal, Kerala and Odisha opted out of Central Government’s Transformation of Aspirational Districts scheme.
          1. Aspirational districts refer to selected 115 backward districts that are lagging on specific development parameters. Central Government undertook a major policy initiative for rapid transformation of these districts. With exit of 3 states, total districts under this scheme is now reduced to 102.
          2. These states objected that criteria for identifying backward districts was fixed without taking respective State Governments into confidence.
          3. Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ conference was held in New Delhi in rcently, in which NITI Aayog said it will come out with a ranking of 115 aspirational districts by April 2018.
        162. Western Railways introduced modern Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Kiosk Machines for fast and easy printing of tickets booked through UTS App, in mumbai. Additionally, Bhopal became first railway station to have Sanitary napkin Vending Machine.

        Persons
        1. A health worker from Mandi district in Himachal Pradesh, Verma has featured in World Health Organization (WHO) calendar for 2018, for her efforts to ensure hundred per cent coverage of her area of operation under measles and rubella programme.
        2. Actress Kajol became an advocacy ambassador for a Swachh Aadat Swachh Bharat initiative.
        3. American Actor Angelina Jolie will be honoured by American Society of Cinematographers with ASC Board of Governors Award.
        4. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman became first woman defence minister to fly in an IAF Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft.
        5. Indian-origin boy Mehul Garg (10 years age) in UK became youngest applicant in decade to achieve highest score in Mensa IQ test, beating geniuses like Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking by scoring maximum score of 162.
        6. Kolkata (West Bengal) became first Indian city to get a floating market, located on lake at Patuli in South Kolkata which is 400 metres long and 60 metres wide. Lake has been transformed into the floating market similar to one in Thailand.
        7. Mihai Tudose resigned as Prime Minister of Romania (Southeastern Europe).
        8. Minister of State (IC) of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Jitendra Singh has been conferred with degree of Honorary Doctorate by Amity University in recognition of his lifetime achievements in field of academics, research and public life.
        9. Obituaries in Jan 2018 -
          1. Radha Vishwanathan - Carnatic vocalist (daughter of legendary classical singer M S Subbulakshmi).
          2. Anwar Jalalpuri - Noted Urdu poet.
          3. Ambalavaner Sivanandan - Noted Sri Lankna novelist.
          4. John Young - Noted American astronaut, who walked on Moon and was only agency astronaut to go into space as part of Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle programs.
          5. Shrivallabh Vyas - Bollywood Actor.
          6. Jerry Van Dyke - Noted American comedian and actor.
          7. Peter Sutherland - Former Irish World Trade Organization (WTO) director general.
          8. Shashikant Bhagwat - Noted sports journalist.
          9. Saksham Yadav - Former Powerlifting world champion.
          10. Baldev Raj - Noted Nuclear Physicist and Director of National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS).
          11. Sukhchain Singh Cheema - wrestler and Asian Games bronze medalist.
          12. Doodhnath Singh - Noted Hindi writer.
          13. Charu Rohatgi - Noted TV Actress.
          14. Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta - Sarod maestro.
          15. Raghunath Jha - Ex-Union minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterpries.
          16. Gnani Sankaran - Noted Tamil writer and journalist.
          17. NK Trikha - Noted Journalist.
          18. W.B. Rao - Noted Hindi film cinematographer.
          19. Jo Jo White - Noted USA Basketballer (Basketball Hall of Famer).
          20. Kashinath - Noted Kannada film actor.
          21. Leslie Harding Pde - Noted Khasi author (Meghalaya).
          22. Chandi Lahiri - Noted Cartoonist.
          23. Hugh Masekela - Noted Composer and singer. Known as father of South African jazz.
          24. Ursula K. Le Guin - Noted American Writer.
          25. Sulaiman ‘Dik’ Abed - Former South African Cricketer.
          26. Honsen Lyngdoh - Meghalaya's Noted philanthropist.
          27. Jimmy Armfield - Noted England footballer.
          28. Supriya Devi - Noted Bengali actress.
          29. Chandrashekhar - Noted Kannada actor
          30. Gurcharan Singh Kalkat - Noted agricultural scientist and pioneer of India’s Green Revolution.
          31. Ingvar Kamprad - Noted Swedish Industrialist and World's 5th Richest Person with net worth of $58.7 billion. He was founder of Furniture Giant IKEA.
          32. Dinesh Nandan Sahay - Chhattisgarh’s first Governor.
          33. Daya Nath Singh - Noted journalist.
        10. Paul Romer resigned as World Bank’s chief economist.
        11. Tracey Crouch is appointed as UK’s first-ever minister for loneliness, charged to tackle loneliness and combat social isolation. This role has been created in memory of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was murdered in 2016.
        12. Visits from India (Jan 1-10, 2018) -
          1. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited three South East Asian countries – Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore.
            1. Indonesia - Co-chaired 5th meeting of India-Indonesia Joint Commission.
            2. Singapore - Inaugurated Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas of ASEAN countries.
          2. Union Minister (Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation) Nitin Gadkari visited Singapore to inaugurate ASEAN India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.
        13. Visits from India (Jan 11 - 20, 2018)
          1. Minister of State (MoS) for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju Visited UK. On this occasion, India and UK signed 2 MoUs dealing with return of Indians residing in Britain as illegal migrants and sharing of criminal records and intelligence.
          2. Minister for Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad visited Sri Lanka. During His Visit, India and Sri Lanka signed agreements for
            1. Collaboration in Information and communication technology (ICT) sector
            2. Connecting National Knowledge network (NKN) for collaboration among universities and academics
            3. Setting up of e-office system.
        14. Visits from India (Jan 21 - 31, 2018) -
          1. India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar Visited Victoria (Seychelles). During this visit, India and Seychelles signed a revised agreement that will allow India to build military infrastructure on Seychelles’ Assumption Island. Note that Vijay Gokhale is now new Foreign Secretary of India.
        15. Visits to India (Jan 01 - 10, 2018)
          1. King Letsie III and Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso of Lesotho (Southern African Nation) visited India.
          2. H Wiranto (Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs) visited India, To attend first bilateral security dialogue between India and Indonesia.
        16. Visits to India (Jan 11 - 20, 2018)
          1. Prime Minister 0f Israel, Benjamin Netyanahu Visited India. Several MOUs were signed during his visit -
            1. Cyber Security.
            2. Oil and Gas
            3. Air Transport
            4. Film-co-production
            5. Homeopathic Medicine
            6. Space
            7. During this Visit, central Delhi's Teen Murti Chowk is formally renamed as Teen Murti-Haifa after Israeli City Haifa.
            8. Both PMs dedicated to nation, the iCREATE facility located near Ahmedabad (Gujarat). iCreate is an independent Centre created with the objective of facilitating entrepreneurship through a blend of creativity, engineering and leveraging emerging technologies to deal with major issues such as food security, water, cybersecurity, IT and electronics, energy, bio-medical equipment etc.
            9. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu also visited India-Israel Business Summit in Mumbai.
        17. Visits to India (Jan 21 - 31, 2018)
          1. Heads 0f Government of 10 ASEAN Nations visited India to participate in India's 69th Republic day celebrations as Chief Guests. Visiting Delegates are -
            NameNation
            Hassanal Bolkiah Brunei
            Hun Sen Cambodia
            Joko Widodo Indonesia
            Thongloun Sisoulith Laos
            Najib Razak Malaysia
            Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Myanmar
            Rodrigo Roa Duterte Philippines
            Lee Hsien Loong Singapore
            Prayuth Chan-ocha Thailand
            Nguyn Xuan Phuc Vietnam
          2. During this visit by Laos President Thongloun Sisoulith, Airports Authority of India (AAI) signed an agreement with Laos Government for providing SkyRev360, a e-data gathering, invoicing and collection system developed in collaboration with International Air Transport Association (IATA).
          3. During this Visit by Cambodian President Hun Sen, India and Cambodia signed MOUs in several Trades -
            1. Cultural Exchange Programme with Cambodia for Period 2018-2022.
            2. Criminal Matters and prevention of Human Trafficking.
            3. Credit Agreement between EXIM Bank of India and Cambodia for Line of Credit to finance Stung Sva Hab Water Resource Development Project for US$ 36.92 million.

        Science
        1. A new endangered flowering plant species named ‘Primula Zhui’ has been discovered by scientists in Yunnan Province of China, known in Chinese as Zhu Hua Baochun.
        2. A new research at Bhopal's Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IIS) has proved D - 29 virus as capable of desdtroying cancer cells. The research is led by Scientist Soumya Kamilla. Now challenge is to transmit this virus to cancerous cells in body. Upon success in this, the method can be much more successful than Chemotherapy in eleimnating cancer.
        3. Acer launched Acer Swift 7, that claims to be the world’s thinnest laptop, priced at $1,699. It has thickness of 8.98mm and is powered by Intel Core i7 processor.
        4. Chinese scientists for first time have successfully cloned two identical long-tailed macaques (monkeys), named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua using same technique that produced Dolly sheep two decades ago. This makes them world’s first primates (order of mammals that includes monkeys, apes and humans) to be cloned from non-embryonic cell.
          1. These identical long-tailed macaques were cloned using process called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), that involves transferring the nucleus of cell, which includes its DNA, into egg whose nucleus is removed.
          2. Similar work in primates earlier, had always failed, leading some scientists to wonder if primates were resistant.
        5. Indian Scientist Satish Tailor has developed a new thermal spray coating technology for use in gas turbine engine in spacecraft, called controlled segmented Yttria-Stabilised Zirconia (YSZ)-Plasma sprayed coating technology. It can reduce thermal spray coating cost by 50%.
          1. Current costly techniques such as SPS or EB-PVD develop cracks through very expensive processes and are not controllable, while YSZ develops vertical cracks (segmentation) in coating, beneficial for gas turbine engine application used in spacecraft. It can be industrially adopted to make a strain-tolerant coating more economical.
        6. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched 31 satellites along with Cartosat-2 surveillance satellite (weighing total 1383 KG), onboard 42nd Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C40) rocket.
          1. Among 31 satellites, 3 belong to India and rest 28 are of six other countries.
          2. Cartosat-2 series Satellite weighs 710 KG, making it heaviest satellite that PSLV has carried till now. It will beam high-quality images for cartographic, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and utility management.
        7. India’s fastest and first multi-petaflops (PF) supercomputer named Pratyush (meaning Sun) unveiled at Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM). It will enable better weather related forecasts including monsoon, cyclones, tsunamis, earthquakes, lightning etc.
          1. Pratyush has 6.8 PF computational power installed at two MoES Institutes. 4.0 Peta Flops HPC facility at IITM, Pune and 2.8 Peta Flops facility at NCMRWF, Noida.
          2. Pratyush is fourth fastest supercomputer in world for weather and climate research, after supercomputers in Japan, US and UK.
          3. It will enable mapping regions in India at resolution of 3 km and globe at 12 km.
          4. Fastest Supercomputers in world -
            1. SupercomputerPeak speed
              (Rmax)
              Location
              TaihuLight (Sunway)93.01 PFLOPSChina
              Tianhe-2 (NUDT)33.86 PFLOPSChina
              Piz Daint (Cray)19.59 PFLOPSSwitzerland
              ZettaScaler (Gyoukou)17.14 PFLOPSJapan
              Titan (Cray)17.59 PFLOPSUSA
        8. NASA tested a new technology that allows aircraft to fold their wings between zero and 70 degrees while inflight. Built from a shape memory alloy, it operates without a hydraulic system, reducing wing weight by up to 80%.
        9. NASA will launch Parker Solar Probe in 2018 to explore sun’s outer atmosphere, onboard Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle. It aims at Tracing how energy and heat move through solar corona and what accelerates solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.
        10. NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescope discovered SPT0615-JD as farthest known galaxy in universe so far (2,500 light-years away). It is a cluster of 500 million year-old stars.SPT0615-JD was found in Hubble’s Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey (RELICS) and companion S-RELICS Spitzer programme.
        11. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will soon launch two missions - GOLD (Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk) and ICON (Ionospheric Connection Explorer), to explore ionosphere (96 km above Earth’s surface).
          1. ICON will launched in low-Earth orbit (LEO) located at 560 km above Earth and GOLD will be launched in geostationary orbit over Western Hemisphere (about 35,398 km above earth).
          2. It will help in full-disk view of ionosphere and upper atmosphere beneath it every half hour.
        12. Researchers discovered 161 million-year-old fossils of a tiny bird-like dinosaur named Caihong juji from China that sported flashy rainbow feathers and a bony crest on its snout to attract mates.
        13. Researchers from Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) discovered a new species of moth, scientifically named Elcysma Ziroensis in Talley Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh.
        14. Rotavac became first Indigenously developed vaccine from India to be pre-qualified by World Health Organisation (WHO), enabling selling it internationally. Rotavac is first vaccine entirely developed in India to get this WHO status in safety and efficacy.
          1. Rotavac is developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech Limited and protects against childhood diarrhoea caused by rotavirus. It was developed under collaboration between India and USA.
        15. Scientists at University of California (USA) stated that increase in warmer global temperatures and dryer weather conditions could pose a threat to survival of fragile cocoa plant, leading to disappearance of chocolate by 2050. To avoid this, gene-editing technology CRISPR must be used to evolve crops that can survive environmental challenges.
        16. Scientists discovered 4 new balsam species from various locations in Eastern Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh. They are - Impatiens haridasanii, Impatiens pseudocitrina, Impatiens nilalohitae and Impatiens roingensis.
        17. Scientists found a small population of Red Handfishes (Thymichthys politus), walking along seabed off Australia's south coast in Tasmania. This species is only found in isolated island state of south-eastern Tasmania. In this small habitat within radius of 20 metres, fishes walk on seabed, instead of swimming.
        18. Scientists from Duke University in North Carolina (USA) for first time have developed working human skeletal muscle from stem cells in lab.
          1. Stem cells are undifferentiated biological cells that can differentiate into specialized cells and can divide to produce more stem cells, found in multicellular organisms.
          2. Scientists developed human skeletal muscle using adult skin or blood cells that were reprogrammed into a juvenile, versatile state. This may benefit several people suffering of degenerative muscular diseases. It will allow scientists to grow endless amount of functioning muscle in lab to test to test drugs and gene treatments for degenerative diseases.
        19. Scientists from USA's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory discovered a new material for next-generation smart windows that will not only get a tinted look when Sun is too bright but will also convert solar energy into electricity. Researchers discovered a form of perovskite that works well as a stable and photoactive semiconductor material that can reversibly switch between transparent and non-transparent state, without degrading its electronic properties.]
        20. World Health Organisation (WHO) has given its pre-qualification to Typbar Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TVC) developed by Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech for global use.
          1. Typbar TCV is world’s first typhoid vaccine clinically proven to be administered to children from six months of age to adults, and confers long-term protection against typhoid fever.
        21. World’s biggest flooded cave has been discovered in Mexico, after researchers connected 2 underwater caverns in eastern Mexico to reveal biggest flooded cave on planet. It is significant discovery as it could shed new light on ancient Maya civilization. The total length of cave is 347-kms, after connecting cave system named Sac Actun (262 km) with 83-km long Dos Ojos cave system.

        Sports
        1.  2nd Elite Women’s National Boxing Championships held in Haryana.
        2. 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL) Auctions -
          1. Among Indian players, Jaydev Unadkat became most expensive at INR 11.5 crores, bought by Rajasthan Royals.
          2. Overall, Ben Stokes (England) became costliest buy with 12.5 Cr spent on himby Rajasthan Royals.
          3. Sandeep Lamichhane became first Nepali cricketer to get IPL contract after he was bought by Delhi Daredevils for 20 Lakh.
        3. 2018 Maharashtra Men's Tennis Title (Also called Tata Open) -
          1. Men's Singles - Gilles Simon (France), defeating South Africa's Kevin Anderson
        4. 2018 Shenzhen Women's Tennis Open (China) -
          1. Singles - Simona Halep (Romania)
          2. Doubles - Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu AND Simona Halep
        5. 33rd Women Senior National Weightlifting Championships held in Mangaluru (Karnataka). Rakhi Halder lifted 128kgs in clean and jerk for a total of 230kgs to create a new national record.
        6. 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards (honoring best film and American television of 2017), Winners are -
          1. Motion Picture -
            1. Drama - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
            2. Musical/Comedy - Lady Bird.
          2. Director -
            1. Drama- Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water).
          3. Actor -
            1. Drama - Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
            2. Musical / Comedy - James Franco (The Disaster Artist)
          4. Actress-
            1. Drama - Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).
            2. Musical/Comedy - Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)
          5. Actor in a Supporting role -
            1. Motion Picture - Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
          6. Actress in a Supporting role -
            1. Motion Picture - Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
          7. Original Song - This Is Me (Benj Pasek and Justin Paul) - The Greatest Showman.
          8. Animated Feature Film - Coco.
          9. Foreign Language Film - In the Fade (Germany/France)
          10. Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award - Oprah Winfrey.
        7. Aanchal Thakur from Himachal Pradesh became first Indian to win an international medal in skiing after she won Bronze at Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup organised by Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) in Erzurum in Turkey.
        8. Assam Hockey won 8th Hockey India Sub Junior Men National Championship 2018 (B Division) in Assam, defeating Rajasthan.
        9. Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Football Delhi (governing body for football in Delhi) signed MOU for development of sport in Capital.
        10. Australian Open Tennis 2018 -
          1. Men's Singles - Roger Federer (Switzerland), Defeating Marin Cilic of Croatia. It is 20th grand slam title for Federer.
          2. Women's Singles - Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark), defeating Simona Halep (Romania)
          3. Men's Doubles - Oliver Marach (Austria) AND Mate Pavić (Croatia)
          4. Women's Doubles - Tímea Babos (Hungary) AND Kristina Mladenovic (France)
          5. Mixed Doubles - Mate Pavić (Croatia) AND Gabriela Dabrowski (Canada). They defeated Pair of Tímea Babos (Hungary) and Rohan Bopanna (India)
          6. Boys' Singles - Sebastian Korda (USA)
          7. Girls' Singles - Liang En-shuo (Chinese Taipei)
        11. BCCI banned Yusuf Pathan for five months after failed a dope test. However the backdated ban will get over on Jan 14, 2018.
        12. Bahrain will hold first ever Baby Olympics in April 2018, where medals will be contested by 2 - 4 year-olds, to promote Olympic principles at very young age.
        13. Brazilian football player Philippe Coutinho became second most expensive soccer transfer ever after Liverpool FC sent him to Barcelona FC for 160 million Euros ($192 million).
          1. Brazilian football player Neymar is most exensive ever with his 200 million pounds worth transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain in 2017.
        14. Brisbane International Tennis 2018 -
          1. Men's Singles - Nick Kyrgios (Australia)
          2. Women's Singles - Elina Svitolina (Ukraine)
          3. Men's Doubles - Henri Kontinen (Finland) AND John Peers (Australia)
          4. Women's Doubles - Netherlands's Kiki Bertens AND Demi Schuurs
        15. Delhi won Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Cricket Trophy, Defeating Rajasthan in Kolkata (WB).
        16. Egyptian Footballer Mohamed Salah is named Arab Football Player of 2017, in a poll conducted by over 100 sports journalists from various Arab countries.
        17. Football Delhi announced to observe Indian football Captain Sunil Chhetri’s birthday (3rd August) as Delhi’s Football Day.
        18. Former Australian Cricketer Ricky Ponting has been appointed head coach of IPL Team Delhi Daredevils.
        19. G Sathiyan became India’s highest ranked player in International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) rankings, with 49th Rank globally. He is followed by Sharath Kamal who is at 51st world rank. In women’s ranking, Manika Batra topped among Indians with world rank 62.
        20. Harjinder Singh is appointed as Chef De Mission of Indian Contingent participating in 23rd Winter Olympic Games to be held in Pyeongchang (South Korea) in February 2018.
        21. Hyderabad Hunters won 3rd Premier Badminton League championship in Hyderabad, after beating Bengaluru Blasters in final.
        22. ICC Cricket Awards 2018 -
          1. Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for Men’s Cricketer of the Year - Virat Kohli (India). It is kohli's 2nd Title as ICC Cricketer of the year after 2012.
          2. Men’s Test Cricketer of the Year - Steve Smith (Australia)
          3. Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year - Virat Kohli (India)
          4. Men’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year - Hasan Ali (Pakistan)
          5. Men’s Associate Cricketer of the Year - Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
          6. David Shepherd Trophy for ICC Umpire of the Year - Marais Erasmus
          7. ICC Spirit of Cricket - Anya Shrubsole (England)
        23. India at recent misc sports events -
          1. Aditya Mehta won Kolkata Open 2018 International Invitation Snooker Championship, defeating England’s Alfie Burden.
        24. India won Blind Cricket World Cup 2018 by beating Pakistan at Sharjah (UAE).
        25. India's Leander Paes and James Cerretani (USA) won men’s doubles tennis title of Newport Beach Challenger event at California (USA).
        26. Indian Badminton Player Siddharth Pratap Singh won Swedish Open Junior International Series as his first international title. He defeated Denmark’s Mads Christophersen.
        27. Indian golfer Shiv Kapur won Royal Cup