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Current Affairs December – 2019

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India

Nirav Modi declared fugitive economic offender

Nirav Modi declared fugitive economic offender

Nirav Modi was declared a fugitive economic offender by a special court of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in Mumbai on 5 December 2019 on a plea of the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are the prime accused in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case of about ₹14,000 crore. After the matter came to light, Modi fled to Europe and was absconding. However, later, he was arrested and is now housed in Wandsworth prison in south-west London.

A fugitive economic offender is a person who has been issued an arrest warrant in case of an economic offence of more than ₹100 crore and has left the country to escape action. In such a case, a special court issues a notice to the accused person to appear before the court within six weeks from the date of issue of the notice. If the accused person appears before the court, the proceedings are stopped and the person is not declared a fugitive economic offender.

Special PMLA judge VC Barde observed that the fraud-accused never had the intent to return to the country and face the law. Barde added, ‘In response to the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the respondent via email replied that he was out of the country for business purposes and that there were security concerns if he returned to India. The respondent further contended that he could not return as his passport was revoked.’

Nirav Modi is the second businessman after Vijay Mallya to be declared a fugitive economic offender. Mallya was accused of fraud with default of bank loans amounting to ₹9,000 crore.

For more details, visit https://economictimes

Citizenship Amendment Bill becomes Act

Citizenship Amendment Bill becomes Act

The Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill on 9 December 2019. The bill was later signed by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, on 12 December and it became an Act.

This Act intends to provide Indian citizenship to refugees from six communities, namely Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian, Jain, and Parsi, belonging to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. According to the Act, the applicant should have come to India on or before 31 December 2014. These people include those who are ‘forced or compelled to take shelter in India due to persecution on the grounds of their religion’ in their native country.

The Act will not apply to states that have the inner-line permit rule (permit allowing Indians from other states to enter certain protected states), ie. Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.

For more details, visit https://www.indiatoday.in

Gujarat Police honoured with President’s Colours

Gujarat Police honoured with President’s Colours

Gujarat police was honoured with the President’s Colours award at a ceremony at the Karai police academy on 15 December 2019 for its service, valour, bravery, and martyrdom. Henceforth, police personnel of all ranks in Gujarat will have to wear the President’s Colour or Nishaan on the left shoulder of their uniform.

The President’s Colours is the highest honour conferred upon the armed forces, para military forces and state police forces. Gujarat Police has become the seventh police force in the country to receive this honour after Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, and Assam.

On the occasion, DGP of Gujarat Police Shivanand Jha informed that the officials and personnel of Gujarat Police are equipped with modern technology, skills and training to improve its efficiency in maintaining law and order.

Gujarat Police has a sanctioned strength of 1,06,831 personnel, including 84,476 civil police personnel and 22,355 armed police personnel.

For more details, visit https://timesofindia

Hemant Soren sworn in Chief Minister of Jharkhand

Hemant Soren sworn in Chief Minister of Jharkhand

Hemant Soren from Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) was sworn in as the eleventh Chief Minister of Jharkhand at the Morabadi Ground in Ranchi on 29 December 2019. This is his second stint as Jharkhand chief minister. The 44-year-old had earlier served as the fifth chief minister of the state between July 2013 and December 2014. His father Shibu Soren was also a three-time chief minister of the state.

Congress legislature party leader Alamgir Alam, state Congress President Rameshwar Oraon and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MLA Satyanand Bhokta took oath as cabinet ministers at the ceremony.

In the recently conducted assembly elections, the JMM-Congress-RJD alliance acquired 47 seats in the 81-member house, winning over the BJP. In addition, the three-party alliance received support from five other MLAs, including three from JVM, one from CPI (M-L) and one from NCP.

For more details, visit https://www.indiatoday.in

SDG Index 2019–2020 released

SDG Index 2019–2020 released

NITI Aayog released the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Index for 2019–2020 on 30 December 2019. The Index tracks the progress of all states and union territories on a set of 100 national indicators derived from the National Indicator Framework, measuring their progress on the outcomes of interventions and schemes of the Government of India.

As per the Index, India has shown improvement in its overall score, moving from 57 in 2018 to 60 in 2019 with maximum improvement in water and sanitation, power and industry.

Kerala topped the list of states, followed by Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa. Among union territories, Chandigarh came on top, followed by Puducherry and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Both Kerala and Chandigarh have 70 points each. The worst performing state was Bihar.

Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim performed remarkably well, showing an improvement in their overall score from 2018 to 2019. UP improved its overall score from 42 to 55, followed by Odisha with an increase of seven points from 51 to 58 and Sikkim from a score of 58 to 65.

For more details, visit https://economictimes

Literature

Sahitya Akademi Award 2019 announced

Sahitya Akademi Award 2019 announced

Sahitya Akademi announced winners for its annual Sahitya Akademi Awards in 23 languages on 18 December 2019. The awards for Nepali, however, have not been announced so far.

Seven books of poetry, four novels, six short stories, three non-fiction books and three essays won the award this year. The list of recipients comprise Shashi Tharoor for An Era of Darkness, Nand Kishore Acharya for Chheelate Hue Apne Ko, Chinmoy Guha for Ghumer Darja Thele, Shafey Kidwai for Sawaneh-E-Sir Syed: Ek Bazadeed, Cho Dharman for Sool, besides others.

The awards will be presented at an event held during the Festival of Letters in New Delhi on 25 February 2020. The recipients will be awarded with a casket containing an engraved copper-plaque, a shawl and cash award of ₹ 1,00,000.

The Sahitya Akademi Award is one of the highest literary awards in the country. They were first given in 1955.

For more details, visit https://www.thehindu.com

Sports

South Asian Games 2019: India tops with 312 medals

South Asian Games 2019: India tops with 312 medals

India emerged on top at the 13th South Asian Games with the highest-ever medal tally. The haul of 312 medals include 174 gold, 93 silver and 45 bronze. The second position was grabbed by Nepal with 206 medals, including 51 gold, 60 silver and 95 bronze, followed by Sri Lanka with 251 medals, including 40 gold, 83 silver and 128 bronze.

The event was held between 1 December and 10 December in three cities of Nepal: Kathmandu, Pokhara, Janakpur. A total of 2,715 participants competed in 27 disciplines, namely athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, cycling, fencing, football, handball, swimming, shooting, weightlifting and wrestling. Cricket was included in this edition after a gap of eight years.

A total of seven South Asian countries, including India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Maldives, were a part of the games. The official mascot of the South Asian Games 2019 was a pair of blackbucks, an endangered species found in southern Nepal.

For more details, visit https://sportstar.thehindu.com

Kuldeep Yadav becomes first Indian bowler to take two ODI hat-tricks

Kuldeep Yadav becomes first Indian bowler to take two ODI hat-tricks

Kuldeep Yadav became the first Indian bowler to take two hat-tricks in ODIs, when he achieved the feat during the second match between India and West Indies in Visakhapatnam on 18 December 2019.

The 25-year-old took three successive wickets of Shai Hope (78), Jason Holder (11) and Alzarri Joseph (0) in the 33rd over of the match to claim his hat-trick. He has achieved the feat previously against Australia at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, in 2017. Back then, he claimed the wickets of Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins.

The other players who have picked up more than one hat-trick in ODIs include Wasim Akram, Saqlain Mushtaq, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga and Trent Boult.

This is the first time India claimed four international hat-tricks in a calendar year. It started with Shami’s hat-trick against Afghanistan in World Cup 2019, followed by Jasprit Bumrah’s in tests during India’s tour of the West Indies and Deepak Chahar’s hat-trick against Bangladesh in the T20 International series.

For more details, visit https://sportstar.thehindu.com

Koneru Humpy wins Women’s World Rapid Chess Championship

Koneru Humpy wins Women’s World Rapid Chess Championship

India’s Koneru Humpy won the World Rapid Chess Championship 2019 title by defeating Lei Tingjie of China in the tiebreaker series (Armageddon) in Moscow, Russia, on 28 December 2019. Armageddon chess is a variation in which different rules apply for each of the two players.

With this victory, Humpy, the country’s youngest woman chess grandmaster became the second Indian to win the rapid gold in the current format. This is her first world title.

The 32-year-old had taken a sabbatical between 2016 and 2018 after becoming a mother.

Rapid chess championship is a tournament played under rapid time controls. In this tournament, the players are given less time to decide their moves than the other tournaments.

For more details, visit https://sports.ndtv.com

Rakhi Halder creates two new national records in weightlifting

Rakhi Halder creates two new national records in weightlifting

Indian weightlifter Rakhi Haldar created two national records in the 64 kg category at the Qatar International Cup by lifting 95 kg in the snatch category and 123 kg in the clean and jerk category to end with a total effort of 218 kg. Besides these records, the Bengali athlete also managed to clinch a bronze medal at the event.

Previously, the 26-year had won the gold with a combined effort of 214 kg, i.e. 94 kg in the snatch category and 120 kg in the clean and jerk category at the Commonwealth Championships in June.

Snatch and clean and jerk are the two major techniques in weightlifting. While the former involves lifting the load above the head in one go, the latter involves lifting the load in two steps.

For more details, visit https://www.firstpost.com

Environment

Global Climate Risk Index 2020 released

Global Climate Risk Index 2020 released

The Global Climate Risk Index 2020, released on 4 December 2019, clearly shows that signs of escalating climate change can no longer be ignored on any continent or in any region. The Index assesses the extent to which different countries are affected by climate change. The most recent data available for 2018 and from 1999 to 2018 were taken into account to prepare the Index.

Here are a few key findings of the report.

a. Of the 118 countries assessed, the top five most-affected countries in 2018 are Japan, the Philippines, Germany, Madagascar and India.
b. The major cause of damage in all the countries is extreme weather, specifically heatwaves.
c. About 4,95,000 people died as a direct result of more than 12,000 extreme weather events globally between 1999 and 2018.
d. Out of the ten most affected countries and territories in the period 1999 to 2018, seven were developing countries in the low income or lower-middle income country group, and two were classified as upper-middle income countries.

The report was prepared by Germanwatch, an independent development and environmental organisation which works for sustainable global development.

For more details, visit https://www.hindustantimes.com

Green cover in India increased by 5,188 square kms

Green cover in India increased by 5,188 square kms

Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar released the India State of Forest Report (IFSR) 2019 in New Delhi on 30 December 2019. The report published by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) assessed the forest and tree resources of the country including an extensive mapping of forest cover over a period of two years.

According to the report, the forest cover in India is consistently increasing. The data shows that there has been an increase of 5,188 sq. km in the total forest and tree cover in the country between 2017 and 2019.

Key findings of the report

a. The top three states showing increase in forest cover are Karnataka (1,025 sq. km) followed by Andhra Pradesh (990 sq km) and Kerala (823 sq km).
b. In terms of forest cover as percentage of total geographical area, the top five states are Mizoram (85.41%), Arunachal Pradesh (79.63%), Meghalaya (76.33%), Manipur (75.46%) and Nagaland (75.31%).
c. Mangrove cover has been separately reported in the ISFR 2019. The current assessment shows an increase of 54 sq km in mangrove cover. Top three states showing mangrove cover increase are Gujarat (37 sq km), followed by Maharashtra (16 sq km) and Odisha (8 sq km).
d. An increase of 0.32 million hectares in bamboo bearing area has been observed as compared to the last assessment.
e. Under the current assessment, there is an increase of 42.6 million tonnes in the carbon stock of the country. Carbon stock is the quantity of carbon contained in a reservoir or a similar place which has the capacity to accumulate or release carbon.

For more details, visit https://timesofindia

Science & Technology

PSLV successfully launches RISAT-2BR1

PSLV successfully launches RISAT-2BR1

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched its spy satellite, RISAT-2BR1, along with nine foreign satellites from the first launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh on 11 December 2019. The satellite was launched through the rocket PSLV-C48 (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-Commercial 48).

RISAT-2BR1 or the radar imaging earth observation satellite is capable of capturing high-resolution images, even when the sky is cloudy. The 628 kg satellite with a life span of five years will provide services in the fields of disaster management, agriculture and forestry. It is the second satellite in the RISAT-2B series and is expected to be followed by two more satellites.

PSLV-C48 is the second flight of PSLV in ‘QL’ configuration. The QL variant has four ground-lit strap-on boosters. Moreover, it is the 50th launch of the PSLV and 75th launch vehicle mission from Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

For more details, visit https://www.isro.gov.in

DRDO successfully test-fires Pinaka

DRDO successfully test-fires Pinaka

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test-fired the indigenously developed missile system Pinaka Mk II from Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha on 20 December.

The Pinaka Mk-II rocket is a modified version, integrated with navigation, control and guidance systems, which help to increase its target range, capacity and accuracy. The multi-barrel rocket launch system is capable of striking into enemy territory up to a range of 75 km with high precision. The missile’s navigation system is supported by the Indian Regional Satellite System (IRNSS), also known as NAVIC (NAVigation with Indian Constellation).

Pinaka has been jointly developed by Pune’s Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) and Hyderabad’s Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL).

Earlier in March, three successful trials of Pinaka’s guided rocket system were conducted from the Pokhran test range in Rajasthan.

For more details, visit https://www.indiatoday.in

Christina Koch sets record for longest single spaceflight by a woman

Christina Koch sets record for longest single spaceflight by a woman

NASA astronaut Christina Koch set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman completing 289 days, 5 hours, 1 minute at 6:16 p.m. CST on board the International Space Station (ISS) on 28 December 2019. If her return to Earth remains as scheduled, i.e. in February 2020, Koch will have spent 328 days in space. The previous record was set by former station commander Peggy Whitson, who stayed 288 days at the ISS in 2016-17.

The main objective of Koch’s extended mission is to help NASA learn about the effects of long space flights in order to support their future space exploration missions to the Moon and Mars.

On 18 October 2019, Koch was part of another record when she along with Jessica Meir performed the first official all-female spacewalk by travelling outside the ISS to replace a faulty battery charge/discharge unit.

The world record for the single longest mission by any space explorer, man or woman, is held by cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov. He spent 438 consecutive days on board Russia’s former space station Mir between January 1994 and March 1995.

For more details, visit https://nypost.com

World

World Malaria Report 2019 published

World Malaria Report 2019 published

The World Malaria Report 2019 released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 4 December 2019, says that global deaths caused by malaria have reduced from an estimated 4,16,000 deaths in 2017 to 4,05,000 deaths in 2018. The highest number of malaria cases were reported from the African region (93%), followed by South-East Asia region (3.4%) and the Eastern Mediterranean region (2.1%). According to the report, almost 85% of all deaths in 2018 occurred in 20 countries in the African region and India.

Malaria is caused by Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax parasites and is spread by the bite of female Anopheles mosquitoes.

As per the data, India has shown the largest dip in malaria cases (26 lakh drop in cases as compared to 2017)., Further, only 7 out of 28 Indian states and 9 UTs accounted for 90% of the estimated malaria cases in 2018. These states include West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. The only other nation that reported a reduction in malaria cases is Uganda.

For more details, visit https://www.healthissuesindia.com

Train service between Lahore and Wagah resumes after 22 years

Train service between Lahore and Wagah resumes after 22 years

The train service between Lahore and Wagah resumed operation on 15 December 2019 after a gap of 22 years. The train will make three round trips every day and carry around 1,000 passengers to and fro.

After the inauguration ceremony, the Railways Minister of Pakistan, Sheikh Rashid said, ‘We want to start or revive the connection of Lahore metropolitan city with its suburbs through rail routes. And Lahore–Wagah is the first step that would be followed by another train from Lahore to Raiwind within the next 15 days.’

The fare for a one-side travel has been fixed at PKR 30. The travel time for the train is about an hour including a stoppage at Jallo station.

For more details, visit https://www.outlookindia.com

Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf awarded the death penalty

Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf awarded the death penalty

Pakistan’s former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf was awarded the death penalty in the high treason case by a special court in Islamabad on 17 December 2019. The bench of judges comprising Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justices Nazar Akbar and Shahid Karim found him guilty 2-1.

Gen. Musharraf was the 10th President of Pakistan who served the country from 2001 to 2008. In November 2007, he suspended the constitution and imposed emergency rule in Pakistan, which sparked protests across the country. He later resigned in 2008 to avoid the threat of impeachment.

Musharraf was booked in the treason case in December 2013. However, with the approval of the superior courts as well as the interior ministry, he left for Dubai in 2016 for medical treatment and has not returned since.

For more details, visit https://www.bbc.com

WEF Gender Gap Index released

WEF Gender Gap Index released

The World Economic Forum (WEF) released the latest edition of Gender Gap Index on 17 December 2019. According to the report, there is still a 31.4% average gender gap that remains to be mitigated globally.

Iceland has again become the most gender-equal country in the world for the eleventh time in a row, followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden. The other economies in the top 10 include Nicaragua, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, Rwanda and Germany. Yemen is ranked worst in the list at 153rd rank.

India has slipped four places to rank 112th globally in terms of gender gap. Furthermore, the country slipped to 150th place on health and survival, 112th on educational attainment and 149th in economic participation. The report also highlights that only 34.5 % of the economic opportunities are available for women in India.

The World Economic Forum is a non-profit organisation, based in Switzerland, and headquartered in Geneva.

For more details, visit https://economictimes

Finland’s Sanna Marin becomes world’s youngest prime minister

Finland’s Sanna Marin becomes world’s youngest prime minister

Sanna Marin from the Social Democrat party of Finland is all set to take on the world as the youngest prime minister at the age of 34. The Centre Party had lost its confidence in PM Antti Rinne over his handling of a postal strike. As a result, his government resigned and Marin was chosen by her party as the sole candidate to replace him.

The country’s coalition government consists of five parties, four of which are led by women. Marin will be the third female prime minister of the Nordic country.

Prior to becoming the PM, Marin had been the transport and communications minister of Finland since June 2019. Ms. Marin began her political career in 2012, when she was elected to the local council in the southern city of Tampere. She has also been a Member of Parliament since 2015.

For more details, visit https://www.bbc.com

Miscellaneous

Florence Nightingale Awards 2019 announced

Florence Nightingale Awards 2019

President Ram Nath Kovind presented the National Florence Nightingale Awards to 36 nursing personnel at a ceremony in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, on the occasion of International Nurses Day on 5 December 2019.

Lini Sajeesh from Kozhikode, who had passed away while caring for a Nipah patient in Kerala, was awarded posthumously. Her award was received by her husband, Sajeesh P. In addition, N Sobana, who had played a vital role in taking care of Nipah patients for over a month as the Head Nurse in Calicut Medical College hospital was also honoured with the national award.

While presenting the awards, the President said that nurses play a significant role in delivering quality healthcare, addressing multiple health challenges and caring for the health needs of families, individuals and communities as a whole. He further stated that nurses are a symbol of seva, shushrusha and karuna.

For more details, visit https://www.aninews.in

South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi crowned Miss Universe

South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi crowned Miss Universe

South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe 2019 in Atlanta, US, on 9 December. The 26-year-old was also crowned Miss South Africa 2019.

On winning the pageant, she said, ‘I come from strong women who have fought not only to be recognised as humans, but to be recognised as intelligent and capable leaders. Because of those women, I’m here today and it is now my responsibility to inspire others to lead, to be the best, and stay confident in everything that they do’.

Madison Anderson from Puerto Rico and Sofía Aragon from Mexico were announced the first runner-up and second runner-up respectively in the contest.

Tunzi is only the third woman from South Africa to win the Miss Universe title after Margaret Gardiner who won the title in 1978 and Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters who won the title in 2017. Apart from her career in modelling, Tunzi is an activist and fights against gender-based violence.

For more details, visit https://www.thehindu.com

Jamaica’s Toni-Ann Singh Crowned Miss World 2019

Jamaica's Toni-Ann Singh Crowned Miss World 2019

Toni Ann Singh from Jamaica was crowned Miss World 2019 in a beauty pageant held at ExCeL Arena, London, on 11 December 2019. The first runner-up and second runner-up positions at the pageant were grabbed by Opelie Mejino from France and Suman Rao from India, respectively.
Singh is a student of women’s studies and psychology at Florida State University and aspires to be a medical doctor. She is fond of singing and even sang a version of the late singer Whitney Houston’s ‘I have nothing’ in the last phase of the competition.

On winning the contest, she said, ‘It’s okay to celebrate things like beauty and attributes like strength and those things. But this is so much more.’

The 23-year-old won over 111 contestants and received her crown from last year’s winner, Vanessa Ponce of Mexico. Jamaica had last won this pageant in 1993 when Lisa Hanna had represented the country.

For more details, visit https://www.thehindubusinessline.com

Greta Thunberg named Time Person of the Year 2019

Greta Thunberg named Time Person of the Year 2019

Greta Thunberg, the teen activist from Sweden, was chosen as the Person of the Year 2019 by TIME magazine. The 16-year-old is the youngest person to be chosen for this honour by the magazine.

‘In the 16 months since (her protests began), she has addressed heads of state at the UN, met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history’, the magazine said.

Last year, the teenager started to miss school every Friday to protest outside the Swedish parliament, urging the government to take strict actions towards climate change. Since then, she has been inspiring millions of people across the world to join the protest.

The Person of the Year is an annual issue of the US-based news magazine that features and profiles a person, a group, an idea, or an object that has done the most to influence the events of the year for better or for worse.

For more details, visit https://www.bbc.com

Nirmala Sitharaman among Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women of 2019

Nirmala Sitharaman among Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women of 2019

The list of World’s 100 Most Powerful Women of 2019 has been released by Forbes. It has been topped by the 65-year-old German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the ninth time in a row. The second spot in the list has been claimed by Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank. Lagarde was ranked at number 22 last year on the same list.

The Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, has also been included at rank 34. Sitharaman, who is India’s first full time woman FM, surpassed many popular names in the list, such as Queen Elizabeth II and Ivanka Trump.

Others in the list include American philanthropist Melinda Gates (6th), IBM CEO Jinny Rometty (9th), Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (18th), Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (29th), New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (38th), tennis player Serena Williams (81st) and environmental activist Greta Thunberg (100th).

For more details, visit https://www.indiatoday.in

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