30 Most Important Current Affairs of December 2018
Jagranjosh.com brings to you December 2018 monthly recap that summarises the top current affairs of the month, covering topics such as the SDG India Index 2018, Niti Aayog's Strategy for New India @75, RBI, Supreme Court Verdicts, State Assembly Elections 2018, UN Human Rights Prize, G20 Summit, Paris Climate Deal and ISRO Missions among others.
1. Gaganyaan Programme: Cabinet approves Indian Human Spaceflight Initiative
The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on December 28, 2018 approved the Gaganyaan Programme, first Indian Human Spaceflight Initiative of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The GSLV Mk-lll rocket will be used to carry the orbital module which will have necessary provisions for sustaining a 3-member crew for the duration of the mission. The approval came following the demonstration of Indian Human Spaceflight capability to low earth orbit for a mission duration ranging from one orbital period to a maximum of seven days.
Two unmanned flights and one manned flight will be undertaken as part of Gaganyaan Programme.
2. Lok Sabha passes Triple Talaq Bill 2018: All you need to know
The Lok Sabha on December 27, 2018 passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, also known as, Triple Talaq Bill. Two hundred forty-five members of the Lok Sabha voted in favour of the bill, while 11 voted against it.
The Bill makes instant triple talaq void and illegal. It seeks to make the practice of instant triple talaq a punishable offence with imprisonment of up to three years. The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad on December 17, 2018.
The NITI Aayog on December 19, 2018 released ‘Strategy for New India @75’, its comprehensive national Strategy for New India which defines clear objectives for 2022-23. The Strategy was released by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
It is a detailed account across 41 crucial areas that recognises the progress already made, identifies binding constraints, and suggests the way forward for achieving the objectives. The forty-one chapters in the document have been merged under four sections - Drivers, Infrastructure, Inclusion and Governance.
4. SDG India Index 2018: Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu ranked as Front Runners
The NITI Aayog on December 21, 2018 released the Baseline Report of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index 2018, documenting the progress made by India’s States and Union Territories (UTs) towards implementation of the 2030 SDG targets.
The SDG India Index was developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Global Green Growth Institute and United Nations in India. Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu were ranked as Front Runners.
5. States’ Startup Ranking 2018 released: Gujarat ranked Best Performer
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on December 20, 2018 announced the results of the first ever States’ Start-up Ranking 2018. DIPP began the exercise to review the Start-up ecosystem of the states from January 2016.
A total of 27 States and 3 Union Territories participated in the exercise. Gujarat was ranked as the "Best Performer" in the States’ Start-up Ranking 2018. Gujarat allocated Rs 100 Crore budget for Startups and provided assistance to 200 projects.
6. WEF’s Global Gender Gap Report 2018: Iceland tops; India ranks 108th
The World Economic Forum (WEF) on December 18, 2018 released the Global Gender Gap Report 2018, reviewing 149 countries on the basis of their progress towards gender parity and then lists them accordingly in its Global Gender Gap Index.
This year, the Gender Gap Index was topped by Iceland with a score of 0.858, holding the top spot in the index for the 10th consecutive year. India was ranked 108th in the Global Gender Gap Index 2018, same as it was ranked in 2017.
7. Fifth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2018-19: RBI keeps policy rates unchanged
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on October 5, 2018 released its Fifth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2018-19. After assessing the current and evolving macroeconomic situation in the economy, the six members Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to keep the policy Repo Rate under the Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.5 percent.
RBI lowered its inflation forecast based on moderation in food inflation and the sharp decline in international crude oil prices. Accordingly, inflation is projected to be in the range of 2.7 to 3.2 percent in the second half of 2018-19.
8. PM Modi inaugurates Bogibeel Bridge in Assam
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 25, 2018 inaugurated India's longest rail-road bridge ‘Bogibeel Bridge’ over the Brahmaputra River in Assam to boost defence along the border with China. The bridge was inaugurated on the birth anniversary of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, under whose government the work for the bridge began in 2002.
The Bogibeel Bridge was a part of the 1985 Assam Accord and was approved in 1997-98. The foundation stone of the bridge was laid by then Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda on January 22, 1997, but the construction work commenced under the premiership of Vajpayee in April 2002.
9. Train 18: India's first locomotive-less train crosses 180 kmph mark during trials
India's first locomotive-less train ‘Train 18’ on December 2, 2018 crossed the 180 kmph speed limit during a test run in the Kota-Sawai Madhopur section. The major trials are now over with just some more remaining. Once Train 18 becomes operational, it will commence its commercial run from January 2019.
Earlier on November 26, 2018, the Research Designs and Standards Organisation announced that the trial run of indigenously developed engineless train 'Train 18' was successfully conducted and the train ran up to 115 km per hour on tracks in Moradabad division of Northern Railway.
The trials proved that the train has defined track geometry parameters, curved alignments of specific radius and station yard zones.
10. SC questions CVC on overnight removal of Alok Verma as CBI Chief; reserves its order
The Supreme Court on December 6, 2018 reserved its order on the pleas filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Alok Verma and NGO Common Cause, challenging the decision of the Central Government to remove Verma as the CBI chief.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph questioned the overnight decision to send the CBI's top two officials Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana on leave after tolerating their fight since July 2018.
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), represented by Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, that what prompted it to take an “overnight” decision to divest Alok Verma of his powers as CBI Director without consulting the Selection Committee.
11. SC bars media, police from revealing identities of victims of rape, sexual assault
The Supreme Court on December 11, 2018 directed the print and electronic media not to reveal the identity of victims of rape and sexual assault even in a remote manner.
The SC bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta stated that it was not necessary to disclose the identity of victims of rape and sexual assault to "arouse public opinion and sentiment" as these issues need to be dealt with sensitively. In its judgement, the SC bench said that the name and identity of victims of rape and sexual assault, including those who had died, cannot be disclosed "even in a remote manner".
12. SC approves Witness Protection Scheme 2018; directs Centre, States to enforce the scheme by 2019
The Supreme Court on December 5, 2018 approved the Witness Protection Scheme 2018 and directed the Central and State Governments to enforce the same in letter and spirit. The scheme will become ‘law’ under Article 141/142 of the Constitution till the enactment of parliamentary and state legislations on the subject.
The Central Government had placed this scheme on record in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking protection for witnesses in rape cases involving offender self-styled preacher Asaram Bapu. It was alleged that as many as 10 witnesses had already been attacked and three witnesses killed. The PIL was filed by four petitioners including a witness, father of a murdered witness, father of the child rape victim and a journalist.
13. Lok Sabha passes Bill prohibiting commercial surrogacy
The Lok Sabha on December 19, 2018 passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 which is aimed at prohibiting commercial surrogacy and unethical practices relating to it.
As per the Bill, Surrogacy is defined as "a practice whereby one woman carries the child for another with the intention that the child should be handed over after birth". Under its provisions, the intending couple must be Indian citizens and married for at least five years with at least one of them being infertile.
The bill permits surrogacy only for couples who cannot conceive a child. Also, the surrogate mother has to be a ‘close relative’ of the intending couple.
14. Urjit Patel resigns as Governor of Reserve Bank of India
Urjit Patel on December 10, 2018 resigned as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) with immediate effect, citing personal reasons. Urjit R Patel was appointed as the 24th Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on August 20, 2016 and took charge on September 4, 2016 for tenure of three years. He succeeded Raghuram Rajan.
He was previously serving as the Deputy Governor of RBI. He mainly looked after monetary policy, economic policy research, statistics and information management, deposit insurance, communication and Right to Information.
With his resignation, Patel became the first RBI governor since 1990 to resign before the completion of the term. Patel’s three-year term was to end in September 2019.
15. Shaktikanta Das assumes charge as 25th Governor of Reserve Bank of India
Shaktikanta Das, Member of the 15th Finance Commission, on December 13, 2018 assumed charge as the 25th Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, made his appointment on December 12, 2018, within 24 hours of Urjit Patel’s sudden resignation as RBI Governor. Das will have a three-year term.
He currently represents India at the G-20 as a Sherpa, representatives of leaders of G20 member countries who coordinate on the agenda of the summit.
16. Kamal Nath takes oath as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath was sworn in as the 18th Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh on December 17, 2018. The swearing-in ceremony took place at the Lal Parade Ground in Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh.
The Congress named veteran leader Kamal Nath as Madhya Pradesh’s next Chief Minister after hours of hectic discussions held by party chief Rahul Gandhi with other senior leaders amid a debate on the old versus the new guard. The other potential Chief Ministerial candidate was from the younger lot, Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Nath is one of the longest-serving and senior-most members of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India's bicameral Parliament.
After over 15 years of successful career in Indian cricket, Indian Opener Gautam Gambhir on December 4, 2018 announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.
Gautam Gambhir was one of the most complete batsmen who opened well in all three forms of the game – Test matches, ODIs and T20s. He exhibited best in his innings between 2008 and the 2011 World Cup. He played an instrumental role in India's successful campaigns in the 2011 World Cup and the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007.
The cricketer was the top-scorer for India in the 2007 World T20 and 2011 World Cup finals. In the 2011 World Cup finals, Gambhir was involved in a crucial 109-run stand with MS Dhoni against Sri Lanka. Gambhir was dismissed with 97 in his kitty that had made India win the 2011 World Cup.
Anup Kumar, legendary Indian Kabaddi player and former World Cup-winning captain, announced his retirement from the sport with immediate effect on December 19, 2018, bringing an end to his 15-year-long career.
Kumar, known to be one of the most efficient players, has led his team to victory on several occasions and contributed to the overall growth of the sport in the nation.
He was appointed as the captain of the Indian National team in 2014 and it was during his tenure that the team won 2 gold medals at Asian Games in 2014 and the Kabaddi World Cup in 2016.
19. WV Raman appointed new head coach of Indian national women’s cricket team
Former India opener Woorkeri Venkat Raman was on December 20, 2018 appointed as the new Head coach of the Indian women's national cricket team. The announcement was made by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
The 53-year-old will take over the role from Ramesh Powar, whose contract was not renewed after the controversies and fall-out with senior women's cricket team player Mithali Raj. Raman’s first assignment in his new post would be the tour of New Zealand, which starts on January 24, 2019. He has been brought on with a two-year contract.
India's Vedangi Kulkarni has become the fastest Asian to cycle the globe. The 20-year-old Indian completed the 29,000 kilometers' distance required to qualify as bicycling across the globe on December 23, 2018.
Overall, Kulkarni spent 159 days peddling up to 300 km a day in 14 countries. Starting off from Perth in July, she will now be flying back to the Australian city to complete the record by cycling a 15 km distance to reach the same place from where she started.
21. Miss Philippines Catriona Gray crowned Miss Universe 2018
Miss Philippines Catriona Gray was crowned Miss Universe after she won the final round of the Miss Universe 2018 pageant, held in Bangkok, Thailand on December 17, 2018. Outgoing Miss Universe Demi Leigh Nel Peters from South Africa crowned her successor.
Miss Philippines made it to the Top 5 along with Miss Puerto Rico, Vietnam, Philippines, South Africa and Venezuela. The top five were then asked questions that were crafted by fellow contestants and had to answer it in 30 seconds or less. This determined the Top 3.
The final three contestants included Miss Philippines, South Africa and Venezuela. During the final round, each contestant was asked the same question.
Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu made history on December 16, 2018 by becoming the first Indian to win the BWF World Tour Finals.
Sindhu claimed the coveted gold medal with a win over 2017 world champion Nozomi Okuhara in straight sets of 21-19, 21-17. With this, Sindhu won her 14th title overall and the first for this year, which had followed up with a series of disappointments after she was unable to win even a single tournament.
Sindhu had lost out on the gold and had to settle for silver in many championships in 2018 including the World Championships, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Thailand Open and India Open.
23. Asma Jahangir posthumously awarded with 2018 UN Human Rights Prize
Asma Jahangir passed away on February 11, 2018 due to cardiac arrest. She was known for her outspoken nature and unrelenting pursuit for human rights. This year, the award coincided with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
With this win, Asma Jahangir became the fourth Pakistani woman to be awarded with the UN Human Rights Prize. Earlier winners were Begum Ra'Ana Liaquat Ali Khan (1978), Benazir Bhutto (2008) and Malala Yousufzai (2013).
A former senior Indian diplomat, Preeti Saran was on December 6, 2018 elected unopposed to an Asia Pacific seat on the United Nation's Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR).
The UN's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) elected Saran to the 18-member committee ‘CESCR’ for a four-year term beginning on January 1, 2019. Saran will begin her term at CESCR after another former Indian diplomat Chandrashekhar Dasgupta completes his third term on the CESCR by the end of December 2018.
25. Qatar to withdraw from OPEC in January 2019
Qatar’s Energy Minister Saad Sherida al-Kaabi on December 3, 2018 announced that the country will withdraw from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in January 2019. With this, Qatar will become the first Gulf country to leave the OPEC, the bloc of 15 oil-producing countries that account for a significant percentage of the world's oil production.
Qatar’s pure strength is the production of Gas. The nation is the world's biggest supplier of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), producing almost 30 percent of the world total. Qatar also shares the world's largest known natural gas field the ‘North Field’ with Iran. Qatar joined OPEC in 1961, one year after its establishment.\
26. G20 Leaders pledge to fight climate change; India to host G20 Summit in 2022
The G20 Summit 2018 concluded on December 1, 2018 in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Nineteen leaders of the world's biggest economies and representatives of the European Union held a meeting together as part of the G20 summit. It was the 13th meeting of Group of Twenty (G20) and the first G20 summit to be hosted in South America. President Mauricio Macri of Argentina assumed the presidency of G20 on November 30, 2017 for one year during an official ceremony in Kirchner Cultural Centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The leaders of the Group agreed to fix the world trading system, however, only 19 agreed to support the Paris accord on fighting climate change with the United States holding onto its withdrawal. In a joint declaration, the leaders of G20 nations, except for US President Donald Trump, reaffirmed their commitment to fight climate change by upholding the Paris Agreement.
The UN Climate Conference (COP24) on December 14, 2018 saw the adoption of ‘Katowice package’, the rulebook for implementation of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
The Ministers of 200 nations reached consensus on rules after two weeks of intense negotiations during the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that took place during December 2-14, 2018 in Katowice, Poland. The meeting was presided by Polish President, Michal Kurtyka.
The adopted guidelines package aims to encourage greater climate action ambition and benefit people from all walks of life, especially the most vulnerable.
28. UN members adopt Global Compact on Refugees
The UN member states on December 17, 2018 voted in favour of the Global Compact on Refugees, affirming international solidarity and cooperation for refugee protection and host community development.
The Global Compact on refugees received 181 votes in favour in the 193-member assembly, days after a UN conference in Morocco adopted a similar compact on migration. The United States and Hungary were the only two nations that voted against the agreement, while 181 countries voted in favour and the Dominican Republic, Eritrea and Libya abstained.
India’s heaviest and most-advanced communication satellite GSAT-11, also called the "Big Bird", was successfully launched into space on December 5, 2018 from the Spaceport in French Guiana, South America.
The satellite will help provide satellite-based internet to remote places where cable-based internet cannot reach. The satellite, weighing 5854 kg, is the heaviest Indian-made equipment that has been put into the orbit.
Developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the GSAT-11 was launched on the Ariane 5 VA-246 rocket from Kourou Launch Base, French Guiana.
India on December 23, 2018 successfully test fired nuclear-capable long-range Inter Continental Ballistic Missile Agni-IV. The strategic surface-to-surface missile was flight tested from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Dr Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast.This was the 7th trial of Agni-IV missile. The test was part of a user trial by the Indian Army.
The Agni-IV missile was designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It has a strike range of 4,000 km. It is 20 metres long and weighs 17 tonnes and has many cutting-edge technologies which can meet global standards including Pershing missile of US.