1. India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Council ( 2nd edition) was held in New Delhi. During the meeting, both countries exchanged four pacts in areas of health, transport (motor vehicles agreement), space and new development partnership. The meeting was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani.
2. 2017 Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI):
India’s financial capital Mumbai was ranked at 60th position, up by three positions compared to previous edition among 92 financial centres released by the Z/Yen and China Development Institute. It is published twice a year based on aggregate of indices from five key areas: business environment, financial sector development, infrastructure factors, human capital, reputation and general factors. London has topped in the list. New York (2),Singapore (3rd), Hong Kong ( 4th), Tokyo (5th), San Francisco (6th), Chicago (7th),Sydney (8th),Boston(9th) and Toronto (10th).
3. Bugworks Research, a Bengaluru-based biotech startup, became India’s and Asia’s first to receive the international CARB-X (Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator) grant for its antibiotic research and development. CARB-X is a public-private international partnership set up in 2016 to focus on innovations to improve diagnosis and treatment of drug-resistant infections. It had grown out of US President Barack Obama’s 2015 Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (CARB) initiative.
4. ‘FoSCoRIS’, a nationwide online platform to bring in transparency in food safety inspection and sampling has launched by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The web-based ‘FoSCoRIS’ system will help to verify compliance of food safety and hygiene standards by food businesses as per the government norms. It will bring together all key stakeholders– food businesses, food safety officers, designated officers, state food safety commissioners on a nation-wide IT platform.
5. In recent months, North Korea under the leadership of Kim Jong-un had staged series of missile tests including ICBMs that appeared to bring much of US mainland into range. It was followed up with sixth nuclear test on September 3, 2017 which was the largest to date, was claimed to be a miniaturized hydrogen bomb. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously passed new set of tougher sanctions against North Korea over its sixth and most powerful nuclear test (claimed to be Hydrogen bomb). It was overall the ninth sanctions resolution unanimously adopted by UNSC since 2006 over North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs. The new sanctions imposes ban on North Korea’s textile exports and capping imports of crude oil.
6. The Union Government has reconstituted six Committees of the Cabinet after recent ministry reshuffle. The six Committees of the Cabinet are Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC): It is responsible for all appointments of higher ranks in the Central Secretariat, Public Enterprises and Financial Institutions. It is headed by PM . Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA): It looks into the matters related to the progress of government business in the Parliament of India. It is headed by Union Home Minister. Cabinet Committee on Accommodation (CCA): It is responsible for the allotment of accommodation for various top positions in the Government of India. It is headed by PM. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA): It deals with the activities pertaining to the economics of the country. It is headed by PM. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan were also included as permanent members of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA): It is responsible for all issues related to domestic and foreign affairs. It is most powerful cabinet committee and is described as Super Cabinet. It is headed by PM. Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS): It is one of the most important committees in India, it looks into the matters of defence expenditures and National Security. It is headed by PM. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who was elevated in recent Cabinet restructuring process was inducted as full time member of Cabinet Committee on Security, Cabinet Committees on Economic and Political Affairs.
7. The Union Cabinet has given approved introduction of the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in the Parliament. The Bill seeks to amend Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972. The present upper ceiling on gratuity amount under Act was Rs. 10 Lakh. The provisions for Union Government employees under CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972 with regard to gratuity are also similar. Before implementation of 7th Central Pay Commission, ceiling under CCS (Pension) Rules was Rs. 10 Lakh. However, with implementation of 7th Central Pay Commission from January 2-016, the gratuity ceiling was increased to Rs. 20 Lakhs. The Amendment will increase maximum limit of gratuity of employees, in Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs)/Autonomous Organizations under Government and in private sector who are not covered under Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972, at par with Central Government employees.
8. The Union Cabinet approval authorized BSNL to monetize its telecom tower infrastructure with formation of separate subsidiary company. Independent, dedicated tower company of BSNL with a focused approach will help to increase BSNL’s external tenancies and generate higher revenue for new company. Decision in this regard was taken in the Union Cabinet Meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
9. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved survey project to acquire 48,243 Line Kilometer (LKM) 2D seismic data for appraisal of Indian sedimentary basins where limited data is available. India has total 26 sedimentary basins covering area of 3.14 Million Sq Km (MSK) spread over onland, shallow water and deep water. The project will be implemented by Oil India Limited (OIL) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). Under it, survey work will be carried out in 24 States. OIL will conduct survey in North-Eastern States, while ONGC will cover remaining area. The entire project is likely to be completed by 2019-2020.
10. Union Finance Ministry has constituted Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi to monitor and resolve IT challenges faced in implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST). It also recommended Committee on Exports to look into issues of exports. Both committees were constituted following the decision taken in 21st GST Council meeting in Hyderabad, Telangana.
11. India and Belarus have inked 10 agreements after extensive delegational levels talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Belarus President A G Lukashenko in New Delhi to expand cooperation in range of areas including oil and gas, education and sports and also decided to explore joint development and manufacture of military platforms.
12. India’s first state of art virology laboratory which will play important role in developing new drugs and technologies in Homoeopathy to combat emerging challenges of viral diseases was inaugurated at Dr. Anjali Chatterjee Regional Research Institute for Homoeopathy in Kolkata, West Bengal.
13. Telangana Forest Department for first time has re-introduced ‘mouse deer’ in the forests of Nallamalla in Amrabad Tiger Reserve (ATR) bred at Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad.
14. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved Dairy Processing & Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) Scheme with an outlay of Rs 10,881 crore to boost dairy sector. Initially, Rs.8,004 crore loan will be provided by NABARD to National Dairy Development Board (NDDB)and National Dairy Development Cooperation (NDDC). It will be managed by National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and shall be implemented from 2017-18 to 2028-29.
15. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has launched “Wood is Good” Campaign under Partnership for Land Use Science (Forest-Plus). The purpose of campaign is to promote wood as climate-friendly resource and substitute to materials like steel and plastic as it is carbon neutral unlike others materials which leave carbon footprint in their production. It was launched on sidelines of two-day conference on “Sustainable landscapes and forest ecosystems: Theory to Practice” in New Delhi.
16. The University Grants Commission (UGC) rolled out an application process for universities and higher education institutes (public or private) seeking “institutions of eminence” status. It will be 90-day application process for interested public and private institutions. Institutions applying for it will be divided into three categories- existing government educational institutions, existing private higher educational institutions and sponsoring organisation for setting up of private institutions. The HRD Ministry will set up empowered expert committee to process application. The entire process of shortlisting institutions will be completed by March-April 2018.
17. The Union Cabinet has approved 1% additional DA ( Dearness Allowance) to Central Govt employees.
18. The Supreme Court has recently ruled that the 6 months cooling period in divorce cases can be waived off by a trail court. This cooling period was directed under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
19. Raj Shah (Indian –American ) was appointed as the deputy assistant to the President and Principal Deputy Press Secretary by US President Donald Trump.
20. Second Start Up Conference was held in New Delhi
21. All India Radio, Kohima will be soon launching the FM Channel named after the State’s official bird “Tragopan”
22. The Union Cabinet has approved signing of MoU between India and Morocco to maintain co-operation in the field of health.23. India and Armenia has signed a MoU on co-operation in the field of disaster management.