Union Government launches Project Darpan to improve postal services for rural customers
Union Minister of Communications Manoj Sinha on 21 December 2017 launched Project DARPAN – “Digital Advancement of Rural Post Office for A New India” to improve the quality of service and add value to services for rural customers.
The project has an outlay of 1400 crore rupees and intends to provide a low power technology solution to each Branch Postmaster (BPM). This will enable all 1.29 Lakhs Branch Post Offices (BOs) to improve the level of services being offered to rural customers across all the states.
At Present, 43171 Branch Post Offices have migrated under the “DARPAN” project with the aim of financial inclusion to rural population.
Sahitya Akademi Awards 2017 announced
India's national academy of letters Sahitya Akademi on 21 December 2017 announced its annual awards, recognising the literary works of 24 writers in 24 different Indian languages.
Seven novels, five poetries, five short stories, five literary criticism, and one play and one essay won the Sahitya Akademi Awards 2017.
Mamang Dai was awarded in English language for his novel The Black Hill. While, Ramesh Kuntal Megh won the award in Hindi for his literary criticism work Vishw Mithak Sarit Sagar. The awards will be conferred upon the winners during a ceremony on 12 February 2018.
Cabinet approves new Consumer Protection Bill
The Union Cabinet on 20 December 2017 approved a new Consumer Protection Bill that seeks to establish an authority to safeguard consumers' rights and has provisions for penalty and jail terms in case of adulteration and misleading ads by companies.
As per the new bill, the celebrities endorsing misleading advertisements will also be liable for a fine and ban up to three years.
In August 2015, the Centre had introduced the Consumer Protection Bill in the Lok Sabha to repeal the 30-year-old Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The new bill has been introduced by the consumer affairs ministry to replace the 2015 bill, as there were many amendments to the bill.
UN General Assembly rejects US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital
The United Nations General Assembly resolution, declaring US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital as ‘null and void’, was passed with an overwhelming majority on 21 December 2017.
The resolution moved by Turkey and Yemen was passed despite US President Donald Trump’s threats to cut funding to US aid recipients who voted in favor. Overall, 128 nations including India voted in favour of the resolution, 9 voted against and 35 abstained from voting.
The symbolic vote by the General Assembly is not, however, legally binding. The resolution stresses on the fact that Jerusalem is a final status issue that requires being resolved through negotiations.
Indian Navy conducts Exercise Naseem-Al-Bahr with Oman Navy
Indian Navy on 20 December 2017 conducted the joint naval exercise Naseem-Al-Bahr with the Oman Navy. The exercise is also known as Sea Breeze. This is the 11th edition of the exercise which has been a biennial feature since 1993.
Indian Naval Ships Trikand and Teg entered Muscat, Oman on 16 December 2017 for the harbour phase. A Pre-sail conference for the exercise was held at Said Bin Sultan Naval Base, Wudam on 17 Dec 17.
The Indian Navy ships along with four Royal Navy of Oman ships Al Rasikh, Khassab, Al Mubashir and Al Bushra are currently sailing for the sea phase of the exercise. For the first time, an Indian Navy submarine along with versatile long range maritime aircraft P8I are participating in the exercise.