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General Awareness

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General Awareness - Top Stories

29 Dec 2018

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Syrian Army Enters Manbij

  •  Syrian troops deployed in support of Kurdish forces around a strategic northern city, in a shift of alliances hastened by last week's announcement of a U.S. military withdrawal.
  • The move marked another key step in President Bashar al-Assad's Russian-backed drive to reassert control over the country.
  • The Syrian army announced that it had raised the flag in Manbij, a strategic city close to the Turkish border where Kurdis forces have been deployed since 2016 and where U.S.-led coalition forces are also stationed.

Trump Threatened to Seal Mexico Border

  •  President Donald Trump threatened  to seal the U.S.-Mexico border entirely if the Congress does not approve billions of dollars in funding for a wall.
  • Trump said that the alternative to funding his hugely controversial wall project would be total separation from Mexico, making U.S. car companies pull out their factories based on the other side of the frontier. 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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Tighter ALM Norms for NBFCs

  •  The liquidity crisis at the Infrastructure Finance and Leasing Services (IL&FS) has prompted the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to tighten the asset-liability management (ALM) framework for non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and bring them on par with the commercial banks.
  • The Reserve Bank intends to strengthen the ALM framework for NBFCs on lines similar to that for banks and harmonise it across different categories of NBFCs. 

NPAs of State-run Banks Declined

  •  Various initiatives taken by the government have yielded results, with the bad loans of public sector banks declining by over Rs. 23,000 crore from a peak of Rs. 9.62 lakh crore in March 2018.
  • Public sector banks (PSBs) have also made a record recovery of Rs. 60,726 crore in the first half of the current financial year, which is more than double the amount recovered in the corresponding period last year.

IPOs of Six CPSEs Approved

  •  The Union Cabinet approved the listing of central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) on the stock exchanges through initial public offering (IPO) or follow-on public offer (FPO).
  • The companies that will go for IPOs include Telecommunication Consultants (India) Ltd, RailTel Corporation India Ltd, National Seed Corporation India Ltd, Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Limited, Water & Power Consultancy Services (India) Limited and FCI Aravali Gypsum and Minerals (India) Limited.

London's Gatwick Airport Sold

  •  Vinci SA agreed to acquire control of Gatwick Airport for 2.9 billion pounds ($3.7 billion) as the French construction company jumped on the chance to add a major London hub to its aviation portfolio.
  • The purchase of the 50.01 percent stake in the world's second-busiest single runway airport from a group of investors including sovereign wealth funds from Abu Dhabi and Australia will be financed with pound-denominated debt.
  • With 45.7 million passengers in 2018, Gatwick will become the largest airport in Vinci's global network spanning Brazil to Sweden.

Steel Tariff Exemption

  •  India is in talks with the United States over exemptions on steel tariffs.
  • India will also seek relief from Canada over quotas and tariffs next month as Indian steel companies have been affected by Canadian tariffs.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Biennial Update Report to UNFCCC

  •  The Union Cabinet approved the submission of India's second Biennial Update Report (BUR) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • The second biennial update report aims to provide an update to India's first biennial report to the United Nation's body on climate change.
  • The report contains five major components including national circumstances, national greenhouse gas inventory, mitigation actions, finance, technology and capacity building needs and support received and domestic monitoring, reporting and verification arrangements.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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B.S. Kushwaha Quits RLSP

  •  Rashtriya Lok Samata Party national vice president Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha left the party and joined the ruling JD(U) along with his supporters and asserted that the NDA would win 2019 Lok Sabha polls in the State.
  • Mr. Kushwaha joined the JD(U) in the presence of party State unit president Bashishtha Narayan Singh and Education Minister Krishnandan Prasad Verma.

America's Most Admired Woman

  •  According to a Gallup poll, former First Lady Michelle Obama has been named America's most admired woman. Former President Barack Obama was named the most admired man for the 11th year in a row.
  • Hillary, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and a former US senator and secretary of state, has topped the list 22 times including the past 17 years in a row.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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 Homoeopathy Bill, 2018

  •  The Union Cabinet has approved the draft National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2018.
  • The draft Bill provides for the constitution of a National Commission with three autonomous boards entrusted with the conduct of education of Homoeopathy by Homoeopathy Education Board.

Draft Bill on Indian Medicine

  • The Union Cabinet approved the draft National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2018.
  • The NCIM will promote availability of affordable healthcare services in all parts of the country.
  • The draft Bill will enable the constitution of a National Commission with four autonomous boards for the purpose of conducting overall education in Ayurveda.
  • To assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions, the Bill proposes an entrance and an exit exam that all graduates need to clear to get practising licenses. 
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