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General Awareness

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General Awareness - Top Stories

01 Jan 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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No Scope for a Fresh Election

  •  Responding to the Opposition's call for a fresh election, Bangladesh's Chief Election Commissioner K. M. Nurul Huda ruled out the demand.
  • He said that the allegations of ballot-stuffing are completely untrue.
  • As per Awami League joint general secretary Abdur Rahman, foreign and domestic observers had declared that the election was held in a fair environment.

Elizabeth Hints at 2020 Presidential Bid

  •  U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a progressive Democrat, has formed an exploratory committee to run for President in 2020.
  • Ms. Warren had said in September that she would take a hard look at running for the Democratic nomination to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.
  • Ms. Warren, an architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau set up after the 2008 financial crisis, has been a strong voice in the Senate on financial issues and a self-described defender of the ordinary American against powerful interests.

Resignations of Vatican Spokesperson and Deputy

  •  The Vatican announced the resignations of its spokesman and his deputy, without giving any explanation.
  • Pope Francis accepted the resignations of the director and deputy director of the press office of the Vatican, Greg Burke and Paloma Garcia Ovejero, and named Alessandro Gisotti as acting director.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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HDFC Raises Home Loan Rate

  •  Mortgage financier HDFC has increased the home loan rate by 10 basis points (bps) with effect from January 1.
  • For loans up to Rs. 30 lakh, the new rate will be 8.95% and for between Rs. 30 lakh and Rs. 75 lakh, it will be 9.10%. For loans over Rs. 75 lakh, interest rate will be 9.15%.
  • Interest rates for women borrowers will be 5 bps lower than the above rates. 
  • In December, State Bank of India has hiked interest rates by 10 bps.

Core sector Growth Slowed

  •  Core sector growth slowed to 3.5% in November, the slowest in 16 months, from 4.8% in October, due in large part to a slowdown in the coal, cement and electricity sectors.
  • Coal production increased by 3.7% in November 2018, dramatically slower than the 11.3% growth seen in October.
  • The cement sector similarly saw growth in November slowing to 8.8% from 18.4% in October.
  • The electricity sector grew 5.4% in November compared with 10.9% in October.

Big Jump in Bank Frauds

  •  As per the Reserve Bank of India, there has been a four-fold increase in the quantum of money swindled by fraudsters from banks in the last four years.
  • Looking at the progress in the first half of the ongoing fiscal, the pace of frauds seems to be continuing on the upward trajectory.
  • RBI said that 5,917 frauds involving an amount of Rs. 41,167 crore were reported by the banks in fiscal year 2017-18, as against 4,306 frauds entailing an amount of Rs. 10,170 crore in FY14.

Fund Raising via NCD Surges

  •  Indian companies raised over Rs. 29,300 crore by issuing non-convertible debentures (NCDs) to retail investors in 2018 to meet their business requirements, representing a three-fold surge compare to the preceding year.
  • NCDs are loan-linked bonds that cannot be converted into stocks and usually offer higher interest rates than convertible.
  • Firms that tapped the NCD route this year are Muthoot Finance, Kosamattam Finance, Srei Equipment Finance, Dewan Housing Finance Corp, JM Financial Credit Solutions, Shriram Transport Finance Company, ECL Finance, Indiabulls Commercial Credit, Tata Capital Financial Services, Aadhar Housing Finance, Manappuram Finance and KLM Axiva Finvest.

SPORTS

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Sri Lanka Most Corrupt Cricket Nation 

  •  The International Cricket Council (ICC) has rated Sri Lanka as the most corrupt cricket nation by the world.
  • As per reports, a host of scandals have rocked Sri Lankan cricket in recent years including a match-fixing controversy revealed in a sting operation carried out for a TV documentary.
  • The ICC anti-corruption unit has regularly investigated cases in the island nation.

Cricket Australia's ODI Team of the Year

  •  Virat Kohli was chosen as the skipper of Cricket Australia's ODI Team Of The Year.
  • Apart from Virat Kohli, the other Indians to make the list were opener Rohit Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah who finished 2018 as the highest wicket-taker across all the three formats.
  • Cricket Australia's selected XI: Rohit Sharma (India), Jonny Bairstow (England), Joe Root (England), Virat Kohli (India, c), Shimron Hetmyer (West Indies), Jos Buttler (England, wk), Thisara Perera (Sri Lanka), Rashid Khan (Afghanistan), Kuldeep Yadav (India), Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh), Jasprit Bumrah (India).

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Entire Nagaland Declared Disturbed

  • The entire state of Nagaland has been declared disturbed area for six more months, till June-end, under the controversial AFSPA, which empowers security forces to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without any prior notice.
  • The AFSPA has been in force in Nagaland for several decades. It has not been withdrawn even after a framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015 by Naga insurgent group NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and government interlocutor R. N. Ravi in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Sajjan Sent to Jail

  •  Former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar surrendered before a local court to serve the life sentence awarded to him by the Delhi High Court for murder of five Sikhs during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
  • Former MLAs Krishan Khokhar and Mahender Yadav, who were also convicted in the same case and awarded 10-year jail terms each, surrendered before the court earlier during the day.
  • The court was informed by authorities that all convicts have been taken to Mandoli jail.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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Vivek Bhatia as MD & CEO

  •  German industrial giant Thyssenkrupp appointment Vivek Bhatia as MD & CEO of Thyssenkrupp Industries India, effective January 1, 2019.
  • Mr. Bhatia was earlier CEO - Asia Pacific at Thyssenkrupp AG, driving group activities for all Thyssenkrupp companies in the region. 

CIC Gets New Chief

  •  Sudhir Bhargava has been appointed the new Chief Information Commissioner. Four new members have also been appointed to the Central Information Commission (CIC), taking its strength to seven. Four vacancies still remain.
  • The CIC is the highest appeal body under the Right to Information Act. It has been functioning with just three members since the former chief and several members completed their tenure last month.
  • Mr. Bhargava has been a Commissioner since June 2015, and will take over as the ninth chief of the CIC.

V. K. Yadav New Railway Board Chairman

  •  V. K. Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway, has been appointed the new Railway Board Chairman.
  • Mr. Yadav takes over from Ashwani Lohani. Mr. Lohani was appointed Chairman after A. K. Mital resigned in August, 2017.

Shirish Moreshwar Apte Appointed as Vice-chairman

  •  Fortis Healthcare appointed Shirish Moreshwar Apte as vice-chairman of the company.
  • Currently, he is also the independent non-executive chairman of Pierfront Mezzanine Fund Pte.
  • Apte concurrently serves on several boards of directors including Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the Supervisory Board of Bank Handlowy, Poland and Fullerton India Credit Company Ltd.

Personalities the World Bid Farewell To

  •  The year 2018 has witnessed the demise of several renowned personalities which include people from political, science and sports backgrounds. 
  • Some of them are: former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Indian cricket team captain Ajit Wadekar, Former Chief Minister of Delhi Madan Lal Khurana, Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar, Renowned British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, Kofi Annan, the former United NationsSecretary-General and former US President George Herbert Walker Bush. 

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Best Supporting Organisation Award

  •  NMDC Ltd., Hyderabad, has been conferred with "Best Supporting Organisation Award in Public Sector" by Quality Circle Forum of India (QCFI) at its 32nd national convention on quality concepts held at Gwalior.
  • NMDC has been the main stay of Hyderabad chapter of Quality Circle Forum of India in taking the QC movement forward.
  • D. Sunil Kumar, GM (Production), NMDC, Donimalai, and GE Reeta Reddy, DGM (HRD), NMDC, Hyderabad, received the award on behalf of NMDC from A. K. Mittal, president emeritus, QCFI.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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 Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill

  •  The Lok Sabha passed the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, allowing the country's top medical education regulator 'Medical Council of India' (MCI) to be superseded by a board of governors (BoG).
  • The bill will replace an ordinance promulgated by the President in September last year.
  • The BoG comprises prominent doctors and medical professionals, headed by Niti Aayog member Dr. Vinod Paul, and includes directors of New Delhi's All India institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and PGI, Chandigarh.

Report on Citizenship Bill

  •  The Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016, which proposes citizenship to persecuted minorities barring Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, is likely to table its report on January 7 on the penultimate day of the winter session of Parliament as the panel cleared the report rejecting all amendments moved by the Opposition.
  • The report will clear the decks for the legislation to become a reality. The Bill proposes citizenship to six persecuted minorities, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists, from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 2014.
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