Current Affairs in Short: 19 December 2018
M Nageswara Rao, who is holding post of interim CBI Director, was promoted to the rank of an additional director by the government on December 18, 2018. The Supreme Court has asked Rao not to take any policy decisions until it hears the petition related to the feud between Verma and Asthana.
Nageswara Rao appointed CBI additional director
• M Nageswara Rao, who is holding post of interim CBI Director, was promoted to the rank of an additional director by the government on December 18, 2018.
• A 1986-batch IPS officer from the Odisha cadre, Rao's name was cleared by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.
• The promotion of Rao, who took over as interim CBI Director amid a midnight drama on October 24, came after the government stepped in between Director CBI Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana fight, which reached court.
• Rao was not considered for the rank of additional director in November 2016 as well as when a review of this batch took place in April 2018. He had joined the CBI as a joint director in 2016.
• The Supreme Court has asked Rao not to take any policy decisions until it hears the petition related to the feud between Verma and Asthana.
India’s International Aviation Safety Assessment rated highest
• The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has retained the highest aviation safety ranking for India.
• The US regulator, FAA carried out an audit in July 2018 to confirm India's adherence to the standards laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
• Following the audit, the FAA formally communicated that India is adhering to the safety standards of the ICAO and India's International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) rating remains 'Category 1'.
• India is the fastest growing domestic aviation market in the world and registered double-digit growth for the 50th consecutive month in October. The latest development comes as a boost for the overall aviation sector.
Assam govt approves debt relief scheme for farmers
• The Assam government has approved debt relief scheme for the farmers of the state. The decision was taken in a cabinet meeting headed by Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal, held in Guwahati on December 17, 2018.
• The state cabinet decided to waive 25 percent of loan amount to the farmers. However the maximum relief per farmer would be capped at 25 thousand rupees.
• The cabinet also decided that a farmer could avail a Kisan Credit Card (KCC) loan at zero percent interest.
• The Cabinet also approved a farmers’ incentive scheme, under which Rs 10000 would be given to farmers having bad debts for taking loan under KCC.
Railways to introduce first AC local train in north India in 2019
• The first AC local train in north India will hit the tracks next year, with the railways planning to launch the state-of-the-art train for passengers travelling short distances from Delhi.
• The MEMU (mainline electric multiple unit) train, having eight stainless-steel coaches, will cater to the Uttar Pradesh cities within 200-300 km from Delhi.
• The upgraded MEMU air-conditioned trains can run at a speed of 130 kmph instead of 100 kmph in the previous versions.
• It has been manufactured at a cost of Rs 26 crore and has a capacity to carry 2,618 passengers as against 2,402 passengers in the present one.
• All the eight coaches will have two toilets each, GPS-enabled information system, automated doors, CCTV surveillance systems and cushioned seats.
Triple Talaq bill discriminatory: AIMIM
• The All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) on December 18, 2018 alleged that the triple talaq bill introduced by the NDA government was discriminatory.
• The AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi said he would be proposing amendments to it to "ensure that deserted spouses are protected."
• A fresh Bill to make the practice of tripe talaq among Muslims a penal offence was introduced in the Lok Sabha Monday to replace an ordinance issued in September.
• Under the proposed law, giving instant triple talaq will be illegal and void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband.
Sri Lankan Parliament debates abolition of Executive Presidency
• Sri Lankan Parliament on December 18, 2018 debated abolition of Executive Presidency as the tug of war between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe continued.
• The United National Party (UNP) led by Wickremsinghe told Parliament that they will support moves to slash the powers of the President. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) also said that they will support the 20th amendment to the constitution.
• The amendment was introduced in parliament a few months back but it had not mustered support from UNP and other parties but with changed circumstances, the UNP has decided to support it.
New Zealand to phase out plastic shopping bags from 2019
• In New Zealand, regulations for mandatory phase-out of single-use plastic shopping bags will take effect from July 1, 2019.
• The retailers will no longer be able to sell or give away single-use plastic shopping bags from July next year after the cabinet agreed to the proposed regulations for a mandatory nationwide phase-out of these bags.
• Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage has said that plastic shopping bags are a hazard for nature, particularly marine wildlife. They can also introduce harmful microplastics into the food chain.
• New Zealand has recently become a signatory to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, a global pledge to address the root causes of plastic pollution.
EU to reduce new car emissions by 37.5 per cent by 2030
• The European Union (EU) forged ahead on December 18, 2018 with plans to slash carbon dioxide emissions from new cars and vans by 2030.
• The EU member countries and the European Parliament have struck an ambitious deal, under which Brussels would help the bloc meet its commitments under the Paris climate accord.
• The targets will require new cars sold in 2030 to emit 37.5 percent less carbon dioxide on average compared to 2021 levels. The emissions from new vans will have to be 31 percent lower.
Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel resigns over migration spat
• Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has resigned amid pressure on his government over his support for the UN global compact on migration.
• The pressure increased after his biggest coalition partner, the right-wing N-VA party, quit the government over the issue.
• Michel lost the backing of the party over his support for the UN migration pact, a cause celebre for European anti-immigration parties.
• Belgium has a history of division between wealthier Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north and the run-down French-speaking former industrial heartland of Wallonia in the south. This has contributed to political instability and Belgium holds the modern European record for going the longest time without a government, a whopping 541 days in 2010-2011.