As we bid adieu to 2018 and welcome 2019, take a quick look at important events of 2018, crucial happenings, decisions and discourses that are very important to remember in terms of current affairs. JagaranJosh is providing you with brief and essential information of most important events that took centre stage in the year 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CJI is Master of Roster, has authority to allocate cases: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court on July 5, 2018 ruled that the Chief Justice of India is the ‘Master of Roster’ who has the authority to decide on allocation of cases.
The ruling was given by a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud.
The Bench heard the petition despite two separate judgments by the Supreme Court in November 2017 and April 2018, upholding the CJI’s complete administrative authority to allocate cases and constitute Benches. Both these judgments were pronounced by Benches led by CJI Dipak Misra.
India observes 76th anniversary of Quit India movement
The 76th anniversary of Quit India movement was observed across India on August 8, 2018. On this day in 1942, father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi gave the famous clarion call of ‘Do or Die’ to all Indians to drive the British away from the country.
The movement, also known as the August Kranti Diwas, was launched at the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC), at the height of the Second World War. Mahatma Gandhi had drafted a resolution on the occasion calling for the British to Quit India. The draft proposed that if the British did not agree to the demands, a massive civil disobedience movement would be launched.
The Supreme Court on September 27, 2018 declined to refer the 1994 Ismail Farooqui judgment that mosques are not integral to Islam to a larger constitution bench.
In the majority verdict, the apex court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that the present case on Ayodhya land dispute shall be decided on its own facts and the Ismail Farooqui judgment would have no impact on it.
Justice Ashok Bhushan, who read out the majority judgement on behalf of himself and the CJI, said that the court has to find out the context in which the five-judge had delivered the 1994 judgement.
The five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on September 26, 2018 upheld most of the provisions of the Aadhaar Act by 4:1 Majority while hearing the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other. Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.
Of the five-judges, Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar, Ashok Bhushan validated the provisions of the Aadhaar with few restrictions, while Justice D.Y. Chandrachud held that the entire Aadhar project is unconstitutional.
Sabarimala temple verdict: Supreme Court allows entry of women of all ages
The Supreme Court of India on September 28, 2018 allowed the entry of women into the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Kerala. The apex court held that women, irrespective of their age, have the right to enter the temple. The CJI held that biological or physiological reasons cannot be accepted in freedom for faith.
The five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court comprising CJI Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud, and Indu Malhotra struck down Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 by a 4:1 majority.
PM Modi launches Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 23, 2018 launched the flagship scheme 'Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana' (PMJAY), also known as Ayushman Bharat or the National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM).
Ayushman Bharat, the government-sponsored health insurance scheme, will provide free coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year in any government or even empanelled private hospitals all over India. Launched with an aim to help the poor and the economically deprived, the scheme will be available for 10.74 crore beneficiary families and about 50 crore Indian citizens.
Section 377 verdict: Supreme Court legalises homosexuality, partially strikes down Section 377
A Five Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on September 6, 2018 decriminalised Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) by partially striking down some of its provisions.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra; Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra ruled that Section 377, to the extent it criminalises sexual acts between consenting adults, whether homosexual or hetrosexual, is unconstitutional.
However, bestiality will continue as an offence. Any kind of sexual activity with animals shall remain penal offence under Section 377 of the IPC.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 31, 2018 unveiled the bronze statue of India’s first deputy prime minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at Kevadia in Gujarat's Narmada district.
The 'statue of unity' dedicated to the ‘Iron Man of India’ has been constructed on a river island called the Sadhu Bet on the Narmada river in Kevadiya town.
At 182 metres, the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel will be the tallest statue in the world, surpassing the height of Spring Temple Buddha in China, which had previously held the record at 153 metres.
India in September 2016 signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with France to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets in fly-away condition for €7.8 billion.
Introduced in 2001, Rafale is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole combat aircraft designed and built by French company Dassault Aviation. The aircraft is considered one of the most potent combat jets globally.
The fighter jet, equipped with a wide range of weapons, is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions.
#MeToo movement: Union Minister MJ Akbar resigns from his post over sexual harassment charges
Union Minister of State for External Affairs, MJ Akbar resigned from his post on October 17, 2018 over sexual harassment charges levelled against him by several women journalists in the wake of #MeToo movement.
Akbar's resignation came two days after he filed a criminal defamation complaint in a Delhi’s Patiala House Court against journalist Priya Ramani, who was the first to put #MeToo allegations against Akbar. Following Ramani's complaint, as many as 20 women came out in support of Priya Ramani, accusing Akbar of sexual harassment.
Government removes CBI Director Alok Verma from his post; appoints M Nageshwar Rao
In a dramatic midnight action, the Union Government on October 23, 2018 removed CBI Director Alok Verma from his post. The decision was taken by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) in the past midnight. The committee also issued an order appointing M Nageshwar Rao, presently working as Joint Director at the CBI, as Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The decision came after the ongoing tussle between CBI Chief Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana escalated over bribery allegations, hurled at each other. Earlier, the CBI divested Asthana of all the supervisory charges. The bureau also added five new sections into the existing bribery FIR lodged against Asthana.
Capital Punishment in India: SC upholds constitutional validity of death penalty
The Supreme Court on November 28, 2018 upheld the constitutional validity of death penalty while awarding life term imprisonment to Chhannu Lal Verma instead of death penalty for murdering three persons including two women.
While delivering the judgment, a three-judge bench comprising Justices Kurian Joseph, Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta expressed different opinions with Justice Joseph saying that the provision of capital punishment has failed to become a deterrent and the other two holding its continuance in the rarest of rare cases.
Though the three judges differed on the applicability of death penalty, they were unanimous in commuting or reducing the death sentence of Chhannu Lal Verma.
Venkaiah Naidu lays down foundation stone of Dera Baba Nanak - Kartarpur Sahib Corridor
Marking a new beginning in India-Pakistan relations, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on November 26, 2018 laid the foundation stone for the construction of Dera Baba Nanak - Kartarpur Sahib Road Corridor on the Indian side at Mann village in Gurdaspur district of Punjab. The corridor will provide a passage to Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the holy site of Gurudwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan.
The foundation stone was laid in the presence of Union Minister for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal, and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh.
CBI-Alok Verma Dispute: SC orders CVC to hand over probe report to Alok Verma for his response
The Supreme Court on November 16, 2018 ruled that the vigilance probe report of the CVC against ousted CBI Director Alok Verma gives out “mixed” findings and indicated that some charges need to be investigated further.
The court directed the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to hand over the copy of the probe report to CBI Director Alok Kumar in a sealed cover and asked Verma to file his response by November 19, 2018. The matter will now be heard on November 20. The court stated that the report should also be handed over to Attorney General K K Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
All villages in India are now electrified: PM Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 29, 2018 announced that April 28 will be remembered as a historic day in the development journey of India as on this day, every single village of India was electrified.
The achievement came several days before the deadline set by PM Modi, which was May 10, 2018, for achieving the electrification of all un-electrified villages. Leisang, a village in central Manipur's Senapati district, was the last one to receive electricity on April 29, 2018 under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY).
Nipah Virus Outbreak in India
Recently, the state Health Department has confirmed Nipah virus (NiV) infection for the first time in Kerala with the blood and body fluid samples of two persons who died of viral fever in the past fortnight in Kozhikode district indicating the presence of the zoonotic disease.
This is the first time the Nipah virus has been detected in this state which has high fatality rate and spreads mainly through bats, pigs and other animals. However, According to World Health Organisation (WHO), India has in the past documented human-to-human transmission of the rare Nipah virus.
Supreme Court allows Passive Euthanasia and Living Will with strict guidelines
Recognising right to die with dignity as a fundamental right, the Supreme Court (SC) on March 9, 2018 ruled that the passive euthanasia and advance 'living will' are permissible. The ruling was given by a five-judge Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
The apex court ruled that individuals can draft a living will specifying that they shall not be put on life support, if they undergo an incurable coma in the future. A person can make a statement in advance that his life should not be prolonged by putting him on a ventilator or an artificial support system.
PM Modi’s landmark Visits & Summits
The 33rd edition of the ASEAN Summit concluded on November 15, 2018 at Suntec Singapore Convention Centre, Singapore. The Summit also saw the conclusion of other related summits like 13th East Asia Summit (EAS), 2nd Regional Comprehensive Economic Summit, (RCEP) and ASEAN plus summits.
The Summit began on November 13, 2018. The opening ceremony of the summit was addressed by Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, Chairman of this year’s Summit. In his speech, Lee Hsien Loong called on ASEAN members and partners to uphold multilateralism and international cooperation and tackle common challenges including terrorism and climate change.
India-China Informal Summit: PM Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping highlight importance of maintaining peace along India-China border
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 28, 2018 highlighted the importance of maintaining peace along the India-China border during the first-ever two-day informal summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping that began on April 27, 2018 at Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan, China.
Keeping the Doklam Standoff in mind, both the leaders also decided to issue guidance to their militaries to implement various confidence-building measures to strengthen the existing institutional mechanisms, thus, preventing and managing the situations in the border areas.
PM Modi’s visit to Russia: Key Points
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held his first informal Summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 21, 2018 in the city of Sochi, Russia.
The Summit provided an opportunity for both the leaders to deepen their friendship and to exchange views on international and regional issues, in keeping with the tradition of high level political exchanges between India and Russia.
13th India-Japan Annual Summit: India, Japan sign various agreements, agree to start ‘2+2’ dialogue
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Japan on October 28-29, 2018 to attend the India-Japan Annual Summit with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. After the summit, the two sides exchanged 32 MoUs or agreements including USD 75 billion currency swap agreement and agreed to ‘2+2’ dialogue.
Japan and India entered into a USD 75 billion currency swap agreement that will boost Indian economy as it encounters a steep drop in the rupee’s value. This swap arrangement would be 50 percent higher than the previous swap agreement. Japan had offered a USD 50 billion currency swap in 2013.
19th India-Russia Annual Bilateral Summit: India signs deal with Russia to buy S-400 Triumf Missiles
India and Russia on October 5, 2018 signed a USD 5.43 billion deal for India to procure the S-400 Triumf missile system from Russia. The deal was signed following the 19th India-Russia Annual Bilateral Summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin and other delegates. Russian President Vladimir Putin is on a two-day visit to India.
After bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, India and Russia signed the USD 5.43 billion deal for S-400 air defence system. The system is expected to be delivered by 2020.
Pakistan Elections Results 2018: Imran khan’s party PTI emerges as single largest party
According to the Pakistan Elections results 2018 announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan on July 29, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) with a total of 116 seats has emerged as the single largest party in the National Assembly.
While, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) bagged 64 seats and former President Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) got 43 seats. Though PTI has emerged as the single largest party in the National Assembly, the party is still short of numbers to form the government on its own.
BRICS Summit 2018: Johannesburg Declaration adopted
The heads of state and government of all five BRICS nations including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa convened for the 10th BRICS Summit from July 25-27, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The summit saw the BRICS leaders come together and discuss various international and regional issues of common concern and adopted the 'Johannesburg Declaration' by consensus. The declaration reaffirms principles of democracy, inclusiveness and agrees to fight unilateralism and protectionism.
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.
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.
Opposition candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on September 24, 2018 won the Maldives Presidential Election 2018, defeating incumbent President Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who will stay on in the presidency until his term ends on November 17, 2018.
Ibrahim Mohammad Solih is a consensus candidate of the joint opposition, which includes the Maldivian Democratic Party, the Jumhooree Party, the Adhaalat Party and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s own faction of the Progressive Party.
2+2 Dialogue: India-US sign historic COMCASA agreement
India and the United States signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) during their first-ever ‘two plus two’ dialogue, which was held in New Delhi on September 6, 2018.
The key agreement will open up the way for the sale of more sensitive US military equipment to India. It will help India obtain critical and encrypted defence technologies for the Indian defence platforms from the US.
The high-level talks were held between the foreign and defence ministries of the two nations. India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman hosted the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and US Secretary of Defense James Mattis for the inaugural dialogue.
Global Hunger Index 2018: India ranks 103rd out of 119 countries
As per the 2018 Global Hunger Index (GHI), published on October 10, 2018, the level of hunger and undernutrition worldwide fell to 20.9, down from 29.2 in the year 2000. India was ranked 103rd out of 119 qualifying countries.
South Asia’s child wasting rate constitutes a critical public health emergency. The child wasting rate for the region is amplified by India, which has the region’s largest population and highest level of child wasting at 21 percent. In South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara, the rates of undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting and child mortality are unacceptably high.
WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index 2018: US tops; India ranked 58th
The World Economic Forum (WEF) on October 16, 2018 released the Global Competitiveness Report 2018. The report publishes the Global Competitiveness Index, ranking 140 countries on the basis of 98 indicators organised into 12 pillars.
On the list of 140 economies, the United States topped the list with a score of 85.6. India was ranked as the 58th most competitive economy with a score of 62.0 on the Global Competitiveness Index 2018. India jumped five spots from 2017, the largest gain among G20 economies.
As per the report, India leads the region in all other areas of competitiveness except for health, education and skills. As per the report, India's greatest competitive advantages include its market size and innovation.
Explained: Renaming of US Pacific Command as US Indo-Pacific Command
The Trump administration on May 30, 2018 renamed the US Pacific Command to US Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), recognising the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans,
The announcement was made by the US Defence Secretary James N. Mattis during the change of guard ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbour in Hawaii, wherein Admiral Phil Davidson replaced Admiral Harry Harris as Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command.
Russia Elections 2018: Putin wins historic fourth term
Vladimir Putin, who has literally been at the helm of Russian politics since the turn of the century, cruised through another historic victory by winning a fourth term in Russia’s Presidential elections on March 18, 2018.
Putin, who has ruled Russia for almost two decades, recorded his best election performance with 76.67 per cent of the vote in the preliminary results. The thumping mandate gives Putin another six years of power. The leader, however, rejected the possibility of staying in power indefinitely.
Financial Action Task Force puts Pakistan on ‘grey list’
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on June 27, 2018 added Pakistan to its ‘grey list’ of countries involved in providing monetary assistance to terrorism and related causes. The decision was taken during FATF meeting on Money Laundering in Paris.
At the FATF talks in Paris, a delegation led by Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Pakistani Interim Minister for Finance and Planning, apprised the FATF of steps taken by Pakistan to curb terror financing and money laundering, pleading removal of Pakistan's name from FATF grey list.
Emergency declared in Papua New Guinea over Polio outbreak
A public health emergency has been declared in three Papua New Guinea (PNG) provinces as the country responds to its first polio outbreak in 18 years when it was declared free of the disease. As per the Health Ministry report, at least three provinces Morobe, Madang and the Eastern Highlands confirmed the outbreak of the potentially deadly virus.
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), the virus was detected in a six-year-old boy in April this year. Later, it was found that the same virus stain has been identified in other healthy children in the same locality and community. That declared an official outbreak.
In a historic first, Saudi Arabia lifts ban on female drivers
In a first, women across Saudi Arabia were legally allowed to drive for the first time since 1957 on June 24, 2018, thus, ending the world’s last ban on female drivers which was seen as a symbol of women’s repression in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom.
Following the lifting of ban, women in Saudi Arabia fired up their engines and hit the roads, marking the moment they had waited for since the issuance of the royal decree by King Salman on September 26, 2017 to lift the driving ban on women.
In Detail: United States withdraws from UN Human Rights Council
Nikki Haley, the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on June 19, 2018 announced the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), accusing the council of bias against US ally Israel.
However, Haley asserted that United States will continue to promote human rights outside of the council and would consider rejoining it in the future, if reforms are made. The withdrawal was praised by Republican lawmakers including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and was commended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Trump-Kim Summit: Historic document signed
In a historic first, delegation level talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un began in Singapore on June 12, 2018. The world’s two of the most powerful leaders held a brief one-on-one meeting at the Capella Hotel in Sentosa Island before beginning with their delegation level talks.
Speaking after the one-on-one meet, US president Trump said that both the nations have a terrific relationship ahead and this historic summit would be successful. Kim said “it has not been easy to get here” and that “the old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles, but we have overcome them and we are here today.”
Qingdao Declaration: India refuses to endorse China’s One Belt One Road initiative
India on June 10, 2018 refused to endorse Chinese President Xi Jinping’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project as part of a joint declaration at the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Qingdao.
The summit was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was on a two-day visit to the picturesque coastal city of China's Shandong province to attend the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
Global Peace Index 2018: Iceland tops, India ranks 136th
India fetched 136th rank among 163 countries on the 2018 Global Peace Index that was released on June 7, 2018 by the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP), an Australian think tank. While, Iceland managed to retain its position as the most peaceful country in the world.
India’s GPI rank was 137th out of 163 countries in 2017, when the year 2016 was assessed. In 2018, India’s rank moved up to 136, when the year 2017 is assessed. This is largely attributed to reduction in level of violent crime, driven by increased law enforcement.
Cambridge Analytica controversy: Explained
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on March 21, 2018 apologised for the data debacle that has dragged the social media giant into a huge controversy and said that he was ready to testify before the Congress.
Zuckerberg said, “What we try to do is send the person at Facebook who will have the most knowledge. If that's me, then I am happy to go.” Facebook employs a small army of lawyers and lobbyists in Washington, Zuckerberg himself has never testified before a congressional committee.
China paves way for 3rd term of Xi Jinping, proposes removal of 2-term limit for President
China on February 25, 2018 paved the way for third consecutive term of President Xi Jinping by proposing removal of 2-term limit for President.
The proposal was made by Communist Party of China (CPC) through amendments to China's Constitution. It proposed that the President and the Vice-President shall not be constitutionally restricted to two consecutive terms in office. The proposal was raised to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC). It will be approved at an annual meeting of parliament that will be held on March 5, 2018.
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.
The Assam government released the second and final draft of the state’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) on July 30, 2018. The list incorporates names of 2.89 crore people out of 3.29 crore applicants.
However, the names of 40.07 lakh people have been left out. Their claims and objections will be taken up from August 30 to September 28.
The first draft of NRC was published on December 31, 2017, and it incorporated the names of 1.9 crore people out of the total 3.29 crore applicants.
PM Modi inaugurates Sikkim's first-ever airport
Sikkim’s first-ever airport was inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 24, 2018 at Pakyong. The development is a historic occasion for the entire northeast region of India. The development not only eases connectivity to the Himalayan state but also brings it on the air-map of the world.
The airport is not only India’s 100th functional airport but also one of the country’s five highest airports. The first commercial flight from Pakyong is scheduled to begin from October 4, when Spicejet will start its daily Kolkata-Sikkim flights.
UP Cabinet approves changing name of Allahabad to 'Prayagraj'
The Uttar Cabinet on October 16, 2018 approved the proposal of the state government to rename the city of ‘Allahabad’ as ‘Prayagraj’. The decision has been vehemently opposed by the opposition parties.
The city of Allahabad was originally known as Prayag in ancient times. Between 1574 and 1583, the 16th-century Mughal emperor Akbar founded a fort near the confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna, known as Sangam, as he was impressed with its strategic position.
For a long time Akbar's desire was to found a great city in the town of Piyag, where the rivers Ganges and Jamna join, which is regarded by the people of India with great reverence and which is a place of pilgrimage for the ascetics of the country and to build a choice fort there. Hence, Akbar named the fort and its neighbourhood as Ilahabad, which meant the "Abode of God", inspired by the religion he had founded, Din-i-Illahi. In the later years, Akbar's grandson Shah Jahan renamed the entire city as Allahabad.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has been gaining momentum amid protests against the Bill by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and 44 other organizations in Assam.
These organisations called for the 12-hour shutdown in Assam to protest against the Centre's proposal to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Winter Session of Parliament.
During the 2014 General Elections, the BJP had promised to grant citizenship to Hindus persecuted in the neighbouring countries. In its election manifesto, the BJP had promised to welcome Hindu refugees and give shelter to them.
NITI Aayog unveils Health Index for states, Kerala, Meghalaya top the list
Niti Aayog on February 9, 2019 released a comprehensive 'Healthy States, Progressive India' report in New Delhi. The health index ranks the states on the basis of their performance on measurable indicators such as infant mortality rate, sex ratio at birth and functional 24x7 public health centres.
The healthy state progressive report ranked Kerala, Punjab and Tamil Nadu at the top among the larger states in terms of overall performance. The report was released by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant in New Delhi.
Explained: Shut down of Sterlite Copper plant
The Tamil Nadu government issued an order on May 28, 2018 demanding the permanent closure of the controversial Sterlite Copper factory in Thoothukudi or Tuticorin, which was the centre of violent protests last week that led to the killing of 13 people and left around 100 wounded.
The Government Order (GO) read, “Under Sections 18(1)(b) of the Water Act 1974, in the larger public interest, the government endorse the closure direction of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and also direct the board to seal the unit and close the plant permanently.”
Assembly Election Results 2018: NDA sweeps Nagaland and Tripura, split verdict in Meghalaya
The verdict of the 2018 Assembly Elections in the three north-eastern states- Nagaland, Tripura and Meghalaya-is out.
While the BJP-led NDA swept through Nagaland and Tripura, retaining the former and ending the 25-year-old rule of the left in the latter, elections in Meghalaya resulted in a hung assembly with the BJP likely to take power despite its low numbers. The results, especially NDA’s huge comeback in Tripura, deepen the BJP’s presence in the Christian-majority states across the North-East.
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.
Project Sashakt: Sunil Mehta Committee’s 5-pronged strategy to tackle NPAs approved
Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on July 2, 2018 approved the Sunil Mehta Committee’s suggestions of a 5-pronged strategy to tackle the Non-Performing Assets (NPA).
The committee led by Punjab National Bank Chairman Sunil Mehta has submitted its draft report titled 'Sashakt' to the Finance Ministry with a strategy to tackle stress in the banking sector. However, there is no proposal or recommendation to create a bad bank. The 'Sashakt' Report highlights nine guiding principles aimed at the operational turnaround of the banking sector in a manner that will create jobs and enhance the value of public sector banks.
India on July 1, 2018 observed the 1st Goods and Services Tax (GST) Day to commemorate the first year of the unprecedented reform of Indian taxation.
The celebrations were presided by the Union Minister for Railways, Coal and Finance Piyush Goyal as the Chief Guest and Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla was the Guest of Honour.
Earlier on June 30, 2018, the Union Finance Ministry announced to observe July 1, 2018 as the ‘GST Day’. The GST is a single indirect tax that subsumes most of the Central and State taxes such as the Value Added Tax (VAT), excise duty, service tax, central sales tax, additional customs duty and special additional duty of customs.
The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on September 1, 2018 launched the India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi. The initiative seeks to leverage the expansive network of the postal department to ensure financial inclusion for the masses.
In fact, simultaneous launch events were held for the IPPBs at 650 branches and 3,250 access points. The objective of IPPB is to build the most accessible, affordable and trusted bank for the common man, spearhead the financial inclusion agenda by removing the barriers for the unbanked and reduce the opportunity cost for the under banked populace through assisted doorstep banking.
Government proposes merger of Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank
The Union Finance Ministry on September 17, 2018 announced the proposal to merge three public sector lenders - Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank. The combined lending entity will create India’s third largest bank with a total business of more than Rs 14.82 lakh crore. The proposal will now need the approval of the boards of these individual banks.
The merger of these three state-owned banks is a part of the government's agenda of consolidation of public sector banks. The consolidation was proposed by the Alternative Mechanism comprising Chairperson Arun Jaitley. Post this merger, the number of PSU banks will come down to 19.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on September 3, 2018 asked all scheduled commercial banks with more than 10 branches to appoint an Internal Ombudsman.
The Scheme covers appointment and tenure; roles and responsibilities; procedural guidelines and oversight mechanism for the Internal Ombudsman. All Scheduled Commercial Banks in India having more than 10 banking outlets are required to appoint IO in their banks.
The IO will examine customer complaints referring to the deficiency in service on the part of the bank that are partly or wholly rejected by the bank.
The Union Government, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), on October 8, 2018 decided to issue Sovereign Gold Bonds 2018-19.
The Sovereign Gold Bonds will be issued every month from October 2018 to February 2019 through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices, and recognised stock exchanges such as the National Stock Exchange and Bombay Stock Exchange. The Bonds will be issued by Reserve Bank India on behalf of the Government of India.
The Sovereign Gold Bonds are government securities denominated in grams of gold. They are substitutes for holding physical gold. One need to pay the issue price in cash for purchasing the bonds and the bonds can be redeemed in cash on maturity.
Nearly four years after moving to a new GDP series, the Union Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MOSPI) on November 28, 2018 released the revised Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data for the years 2004-2005 to 2010-2011.
Modifying the data of past years using 2011-12 as the base year instead of 2004-05, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) lowered the GDP growth rate under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government from 10.3 percent in financial year 2010-11 to 8.5 percent.
Maharatna, Navratna & Miniratna Status: NPCC is now a Miniratna
The Union Government on November 27, 2018 conferred the ‘Miniratna status: Category –I’ on the National Projects Construction Corporation Limited (NPCC). The empowerment of Miniratna Status will help NPCC in taking speedy decisions by enhancing the delegation of powers to the Board. NPCC has also been awarded with the ISO 9001:2015 Certification.
The government grants the status of Maharatna, Navratna, and Miniratna to Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) based upon the profit made by these enterprises. The Maharatna, Navratna and Miniratna statuses give financial and administrative power to the companies to a certain extent.
Union Budget 2018: Major Highlights
The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 1, 2018 presented the Union Budget 2018 in the parliament. In the independent India, this will be the 88th budget and the fifth of the Modi Government.
• Operation Green will be launched for agriculture with corpus of Rs 500 crore.
• Rs 1290 crore allocated for restructured bamboo production mission.
• Ujjwala Yojana, the free LPG connection scheme will be expanded to eight crore women.
• The Saubhagya Yojana will be another focus for the government.
• Budget 2018 proposes to treat education holistically without segmentation from pre-nursery to Class 12.
• Revitalising of Infrastructure and Systems of Education (RISE) will be launched by 2019.
• National Health Protection Scheme will be launched to cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families. Under this, up to Rs 5 lakh will be provided to each family per year in secondary and tertiary care institutions. This scheme will have 50 crore beneficiaries.
• Mass formalization of MSME sector is happening after demonetization and GST. Online loan sanctioning facility will be refurbished to speed up the complete process by banks.
• Rs 1. 48 lakh crore have been allocated for the Indian Railways for the year 2018-19.
• UDAN scheme will now connect 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads in the country.
• Recapitalisation: The Union government will recapitalise public sector banks to help them lend an additional Rs 5 lakh crore.
• The total expenditure of the Union government is Rs 21.57 lakh crore. The projected fiscal deficit of the FY 2018-19 is 3.3 per cent of the GDP.
RBI to set up Public Credit Registry to curb bad loans
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on June 6, 2018 announced to set up a Public Credit Registry, an information repository that has all loan information of individuals and corporate borrowers. The repository will be set up in a modular and phased manner. Moreover, RBI will be setting up an implementation task force to undertake the logistics for setting up of the credit repository.
With the help of the credit repository, banks will be able to differentiate between a bad and a good borrower, thus, can accordingly offer attractive interest rates to good borrowers and higher interest rates to bad borrowers.
India’s first manned space mission ‘Gaganyaan’ will be launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) by 2022. The mission was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his 72nd Independence Day speech. The Prime Minister had announced that this manned space mission will take Indian astronauts to space on board 'Gaganyaan' by 2022.
The programme will make India the fourth nation in the world to launch a Human Spaceflight Mission. So far, only the USA, Russia and China have launched human spaceflight missions. The mission's crew will be selected by Indian Air Force (IAF) and ISRO jointly after which they will undergo training for two-three years.
Prior to the actual launch of this manned mission by 2022, the ISRO will launch two unmanned Gaganyaan missions.
The US space agency NASA on August 3, 2018 introduced to the world the crew of nine astronauts who will fly on American-made spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) from the US soil for the first time since the space shuttle’s retirement in 2011.
The astronauts include Indian-origin Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover. They will first crew the test flights and then the missions involving Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft. The missions will begin in 2019.
NASA launches Parker Solar Probe mission to study Sun’s corona
US space agency NASA on August 12, 2018 launched Parker Solar Probe, a historic mission to touch the sun. The main aim of the mission is to send a satellite closer to the Sun than any before.
The mission is named after astrophysicist Eugene Parker, 91, the physicist who first theorised the existence of the solar wind in 1958. It is the first space craft to be named after a living person.
The probe, which is the world’s first-ever mission to touch the Sun, is expected to unlock the mysteries of the star's fiery outer atmosphere and its effects on space weather during its seven-year long journey.
ISRO launches 31 satellites along with Cartosat-2
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 12 January 2018 launched 31 satellites along with Cartosat-2 satellite on its 44.4-metre tall Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C40) rocket. The polar rocket was launched from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
The 320-tonne rocket will place the satellites one-by-one and deploy them into the earth's lower orbit. The entire lift-off process along with the process of placing the satellites in two orbits will take the satellite 2 hours and 21 minutes. It will be the longest flight time of the PSLV C40.
SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy, the world's most powerful rocket carrying car into space
US space flight company SpaceX on February 6, 2018 launched the world's most powerful operational rocket 'Falcon Heavy' into the space. The Falcon Heavy blasted off from the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral, Florida, United States.
Falcon Heavy's smooth takeoff wasn't the only surprising thing about this launch, but also SpaceX managed to guide two of the Falcon Heavy's first-stage rocket boosters to land straight back on Earth. They landed in unison at a Kennedy Space Centre landing pad.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on September 26, 2018 awarded with the prestigious UN Champions of the Earth Award 2018, the highest environmental honour of the United Nations.
The UN Environment jointly awarded PM Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron in the Policy Leadership category for their efforts regarding the creation of the International Solar Alliance.
PM Modi was also acknowledged for his unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single use plastic in India by 2022. This year, the Champions of the Earth Award recognised six of the world’s most outstanding environmental change makers for their combination of bold, innovative, and tireless efforts to tackle some of the most urgent environmental issues.
National Sports Awards 2018 announced; Mirabai Chanu, Virat Kohli to get Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna
The National Sports Awards 2018 were announced by the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports on September 20, 2018. Cricket captain Virat Kohli and world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu will jointly be conferred with Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award 2018, India’s highest sporting honour.
This year, the Ministry received a large number of nominations for these awards. The nominations were considered by the Selection Committees consisting of a former Olympian, Arjuna Awardees, Dronacharya Awardees, Dhyan Chand Awardees, Sport Journalists, Experts and sports administrators.
PM Narendra Modi awarded with prestigious Seoul Peace Prize 2018
The Seoul Peace Prize Committee on October 24, 2018 conferred the 2018 Seoul Peace Prize on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his contribution to world peace through his economic vision, ‘Modinomics’. With this, PM Modi became the 14th recipient of this coveted award.
The committee assessed over a hundred candidates proposed by over 1300 nominators from around the world and decided to bestow the Prize on PM Modi, calling him 'the perfect candidate for the 2018 Seoul Peace Prize’.
The committee recognised Modi's contributions to the growth of the Indian and global economies, crediting 'Modinomics' for reducing social and economic disparity between the rich and the poor.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on October 3, 2018 awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with one half to Frances H. Arnold “for the directed evolution of enzymes” and the other half jointly to George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter “for the phage display of peptides and antibodies”.
The all three of them harnessed the power of evolution which is revealed through the diversity of life. They took control of evolution and used it for purposes that bring the greatest benefit to humankind.
Enzymes produced through directed evolution are used to manufacture everything from biofuels to pharmaceuticals.
James P. Allison, Tasuku Honjo jointly awarded with 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet on October 1, 2018 awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation”.
Cancer kills millions of people every year and is one of humanity’s greatest health challenges. The laureates James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo successfully established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy by stimulating the ability of immune system to attack tumour cells.
Denis Mukwege, Nadia Murad win 2018 Nobel Peace Prize
The Norwegian Nobel Committee on October 5, 2018 awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”.
Both Mukwege and Murad made a crucial contribution to focus attention on combating war crimes. Both of them have helped to give greater visibility to war-time sexual violence, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was recently awarded with the Seoul Peace Prize 2018 for his contribution to international cooperation and fostering global economic growth. He was credited for his contribution towards regional and global peace.
On the similar lines, PM Modi has been honoured with various awards and accolades since the time of taking the hold of premiership of the country in 2014. These are UN Champions of the Earth Award, Grand Collar of the State of Palestine, Amir Amanullah Khan Award of Afghanistan and King Abdulaziz Sash by King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
Padma Awards 2018 announced
The Padma Awards, one of the highest civilian awards of the country, were announced on January 25, 2018. These awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year. The list comprises 3 Padma Vibhushan, 9 Padma Bhushan and 73 Padma Shri awardees. Among them, 14 are women, 16 belong to other categories of foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI and 3 are posthumous.
The Awards are conferred to people belonging to various disciplines or fields including art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports and civil service.
President Ram Nath Kovind presents 65th National Film Awards
President Ram Nath Kovind on May 3, 2018 presented the 65th National Film Awards at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. However, this year, controversy engulfed the National Film Awards as more than 60 awardees boycotted the ceremony.
In a historic first, the President of India presented the National Film Awards to just 11 of the 137 winners; remaining awards were handed over by the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani and MoS Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
Oscars 2018: ‘The Shape of Water’ won maximum awards
The 90th Academy Awards, popularly known as Oscar Awards, were conferred on March 4, 2018 (March 5 as per Indian time).
The award ceremony, hosted by comedian Jimmy Kimmel, was held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles. The nominees were announced on January 23, 2018 through a global live stream from the Academy. While the movie ‘The Shape of Water’ led all nominees with thirteen nominations, Dunkirk came in second with eight, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri came in third with seven.
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.
France on July 15, 2018 clinched their second FIFA World Cup title, beating Croatia 4-2 in the highest-scoring final since 1996. The win comes for France, 20 years after they claimed their first FIFA title- in 1998.
This was the first time that Croatia made it to the finals of the football World Cup. It is also the smallest country to reach the final in the modern era. The team’s previous best performance was in 1998, when again they had lost to France in the semi-finals. The team then failed to get past the group stage in 2002, 2006 and 2014 World Cup and did not qualify in 2010.
India with a haul of 69 medals including 15 gold recorded its best-ever performance in the history of Asian Games at the 2018 edition held in Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia.
Overall, India maintained its top-10 rank by finishing eighth yet again. The previous highest medal tally for India was at the 2010 edition in Guangzhou, China where they had finished 6th with 14 gold, 17 silver and 34 bronze medals.
India set a new record for most medals won and equaled its previous record for maximum gold medals at the Asian Games. India also won 24 silver medals at the 18th Asian Games, which is more than any of the Games’ previous editions.
India on October 13, 2018 concluded its campaign at the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia with a record medal haul, winning a total of 72 medals that included 15 gold, 24 silver and 33 bronze medals. India was placed ninth in the overall tally.
This was India’s best-ever performance at the Asian Para Games, as in the last edition at Incheon it had won 33 medals including 3 gold, 14 silver, 16 bronze medals. India won around half of its medals in Para-athletics with the tally reading 36 medals including 7 gold, 13 silver and 16 bronze.
China finished at the top with 319 medals including 172 gold, 88 silver and 59 bronze, followed by South Korea at the second place with 53 gold, 25 silver and 47 bronze and then Iran with 51 gold, 42 silver and 43 bronze.
Commonwealth Games 2018: India finishes third in medal tally
The 21st Commonwealth Games concluded on April 15, 2018 at Gold Coast, Australia. Legendary boxer Mary Kom was the flagbearer for the Indian delegation at the closing ceremony.
India with a final haul of 66 medals including 26 gold, 20 silver and 20 bronze finished at the third place. Australia stood first with 198 medals including 80 gold, 59 silver and 59 bronze followed by England with 136 medals including 45 gold, 45 silver and 46 bronze.
Cricket Australia bans Steve Smith, David Warner for a year
The latest Australian ball-tampering scandal has incited heavy punishment with Cricket Australia slapping a one-year international ban on Australian skipper Steve Smith and Vice-captain David Warner on March 28, 2018.
The official statement from Cricket Australia read that Smith and Warner have been suspended from all international and domestic cricket, while opening batsman Cameron Bancroft has been banned for a duration of nine months. All three players will, however, be permitted to play club cricket to maintain links with the cricket community.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNATIONS
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.
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.
JDU’s Harivansh Narayan Singh was elected as the new deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha on August 9, 2018. The NDA candidate was pitted against BK Hari Prasad, the joint candidate of the Congress-led Opposition in the voice vote. Singh won the vote with 125 votes in favour and 105 against.
The post of the deputy chairman was lying vacant since June 2018 following the retirement of PJ Kurien, a Congress MP from Kerala.
The NDA candidate, Harivansh Narayan Singh received support from Shiv Sena, Akali Dal, AIADMK, TRS, YSRCP, INLD, BJD, three nominated candidates and SP MP, Amar Singh.
The Union government on September 13, 2018 appointed Justice Ranjan Gogoi as the 46th Chief Justice of India (CJI). He will assume his post on October 3. He will be succeeding incumbent CJI Dipak Misra, who is set to retire a day before his swearing in, on October 2, 2018.
Justice Gogoi’s name was suggested for the esteemed post by Justice Misra himself. He is the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court after Chief Justice Misra. His appointment was confirmed after President Ramnath Kovind signed the warrant of his appointment.
Gita Gopinath becomes first woman Chief Economist at IMF
India-born Gita Gopinath was appointed as the Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on October 3, 2018, becoming the first woman to hold the position. She has also become the second Indian to hold the position, after former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan.
Gopinath would be succeeding Maurice Obstfeld, who is to retire at the end of 2018. She will be assuming the post of economic counselor and director of the IMF’s Research Department.
Gopinath is the third woman in the history of Harvard to be a permanent member of its esteemed economics department and the first Indian since the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen to hold that position. She became a tenured Professor there in 2010.
The ICCI Bank CEO and MD, Chanda Kochhar quit her position with immediate effect on October 4, 2018. The announcement came after her plea for early retirement was accepted by the bank.
Kochhar, who had headed ICICI Bank since May 2009, is also stepping down from the board of directors of its units. Her third term was set to end in March 2019. Sandeep Bakhshi, who was appointed as the bank's COO in June 2018, has been named to succeed Kochhar as the bank’s new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer. Bakhshi has been appointed for a period of five years until October 3, 2023, subject to various approvals.
In June, Kochhar went on a forced leave till the completion of an independent investigation into charges of conflict of interest against her in a case of her husband being a beneficiary of loans from the bank’s borrowers.
Indian-American Nikki Haley on October 9, 2018 resigned as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. President Donald Trump made the formal announcement of her resignation and applauded her work. He cited that Haley wanted to take a break.
Haley, former South Carolina governor, gave no reasons for her exit, however, dismissed speculations that she was planning to run for Presidential bid in 2020. Rather, she said she would be campaigning for Trump's re-election in two years from now.
Her resignation just ahead of the crucial mid-term elections in November 2018 came as a shock and surprise to the American foreign policy and national security experts who believe it is a big loss to the Trump Administration.
Arvind Saxena appointed as Chairman of UPSC
The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind on November 28, 2018 appointed Arvind Saxena as the new Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
The term of his appointment will be from the date he enters the Chairman office till August 7, 2020 when he attains the age of 65 years or till further orders, whichever is earlier. The Government had appointed Saxena as the acting Chairman of UPSC in June 2018. He took over charge from Vinay Mittal who had completed his term.
President Ram Nath Kovind on November 26, 2018 appointed Sunil Arora as the new Chief Election Commissioner. He would be succeeding OP Rawat who retired on November 24. The 62-year-old Arora was appointed to the Election Commission on August 31, 2017. He was brought in last year to fill the vacancy created by former CEC Nasim Zaidi’s retirement.
He is now expected to take charge of his new post on December 2, 2018. Sunil Arora is a 1980 batch IAS officer of the Rajasthan Cadre, who has held top positions in various government departments and ministries.
Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi will step down from the position on October 3, 2018, after helming the post for the last 12 years. The announcement was made by Pepsico on August 6, 2018.
Ramon Laguarta, who has worked with Pepsico for over 22 years, will be succeeding Nooyi. The 54-year-old was unanimously elected to the position by PepsiCo's Board of Directors. He will become the sixth CEO of the company in its 53-year old history.While Nooyi will step down as CEO of food and beverage giant PepsiCo in October, she will continue to serve as the Chairman of the company till early 2019.
Indu Bhushan appointed CEO of Ayushman Bharat mission
Indu Bhushan was on March 27, 2018 appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Union Government’s ambitious Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission (ABNHPM).
Bhushan has been appointed to the post for a period of two years. Bhushan is currently the Director General of East Asia Department, Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila, Philippines. He was appointed to the position in October 2017.
Indra Nooyi appointed as first independent female Director of ICC
PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi was on February 9, 2018 appointed as the Independent Director of the International Cricket Council (ICC). With this, Nooyi became the first independent female Director of the ICC. Nooyi will join the ICC Board in June 2018 to align with the term of the ICC Independent Chairman.
The appointment came following the introduction of the appointment of an Independent Director of ICC, who must be female. The same was approved by the ICC Full Council in June 2017 as part of wide ranging constitutional change to improve the global governance of the sport. Indra Nooyi is a global business leader and has been consistently ranked by Fortune Magazine among the World's Most Powerful Women.
The merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular completed on August 31, 2018, creating India's biggest telecom service provider with over 408 million subscribers. With this, Aditya Birla Group led Idea Cellular was renamed as the Vodafone Idea Limited. Both Vodafone and Idea brands will continue to operate.
The equity infusion of Rs.67.5 billion at Idea and Rs.86 billion at Vodafone along with monetisation of towers of both companies for an enterprise value of Rs.78.5 billion, provides the company a strong cash balance of over Rs 193 billion, after payout of Rs 39 billion to Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
Flipkart co-founder, CEO Binny Bansal steps down
Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal on November 13, 2018 announced his resignation as the CEO of the group, effective immediately.
The decision came to light after Flipkart and Walmart released a statement informing the same. The statement read, "Earlier today, Binny Bansal announced his resignation as CEO of Flipkart Group, effective immediately. Binny has been an important part of Flipkart since co-founding the company, but recent events risked becoming a distraction and Binny has made a decision to step down.”
Walmart buys 77 percent stake in Flipkart: Here are Top 10 takeaways
Global retail giant Walmart on May 9, 2018 formally signed a definitive agreement to acquire 77 percent stake in Flipkart with an investment of around USD 16 billion. The deal will value Flipkart at around USD 20.8 billion, up from its previous valuation of USD 12 billion.
Walmart will pay around USD 16 billion for an initial stake of approximately 77 percent in Flipkart. The remaining business will be held by Flipkart’s existing shareholders, including Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal, Tencent Holdings Limited, Tiger Global Management LLC and Microsoft Corp.
PNB detects India’s biggest bank fraud
India’s Punjab National Bank (PNB) on February 14, 2018 stated that it has detected fraudulent transactions worth over Rs 11,300 crore at its Mumbai branch.
The state-owned lender has suspended 10 of its officers and lodged a complaint against celebrity jewellery designer Nirav Modi for committing fraudulent transactions worth over USD 1.77 billion in one of its Mumbai branches.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away on August 16, 2018 following a prolonged illness at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. He was 93. He was admitted at the AIIMS on June 11, 2018.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the first non-Congress Prime Minister to serve a full five-year term. Vajpayee served three terms as the Prime Minister of India. He served the first term in 1996 for just 13 days. During his second term in 1998-199, he served for 13 months. In his final and third term, he served the nations for full five years from 1999-2004.
M Karunanidhi, DMK chief and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, passes away
DMK patriarch Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, passed away on August 7, 2018 after battling a brief illness at the Kauvery hospital in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. He was 94.
He was known as a strong Indian politician who dominated Tamil Nadu's politics for six decades along with arch-rivals MG Ramachandran and Late J Jayalalithaa. He served as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for five separate terms during the 1969–2011 period. He created a record by winning all the 13 Assembly elections he had contested since 1957.
Popularly called 'Kalaignar', he was known for his film scripts that greatly helped him in his political career. His powers of oratory bestowed on him a cult status much similar to Jayalalithaa.
Stephen Hawking passes away
Renowned physicist and modern cosmology patron, Stephen Hawking, passed away on March 14, 2018 at his home in Cambridge. He was 76.
Hawking’s first major breakthrough came in 1970 when he and Roger Penrose applied the mathematics of black holes to the entire universe and showed that a singularity, a region of infinite curvature in spacetime, lay in our distant past: the point from which came the big bang.
Sridevi, a Bollywood actress who charmed audiences with her larger-than-life performances like Hawa Hawai and Chandni, died on February 24, 2018 in Dubai following a cardiac arrest. She was 54. She is survived by her husband Boney Kapoor and two daughters, Jhanvi and Khushi.
Sridevi was in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to attend a family wedding. Her sudden and untimely death has trembled the entire nation and has saddened millions of fans. Sridevi is considered as the Bollywood’s first female superstar who gave several box-office hits with no man beside her in a leading role.