Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar appointed as ex-officio Chancellor of Pondicherry University

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1 Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar appointed as ex-officio Chancellor of Pondicherry University

Vice President of India  Jagdeep Dhankhar  has   been appointed as the ex-officio Chancellor  of  Pondicherry University . The appointment results from an amendment to statute 1(1) of the Pondicherry University Act 1985. The official communication from the university’s registrar in-charge Rajneesh Bhutani said the change is effective from December 5. Pondicherry University, established by an Act of Parliament in 1985, has been a premier institution for higher education in the region. The Pondicherry University Act of 1985 outlines the governance structure of the university, including the post of Chancellor.

2 Formation of 16th Finance Commission, Dr. Arvind Panagariya of Columbia University will be the Chairman.

The Center   has constituted the 16th Finance Commission . Former Chairman of NITI Aayog,  Dr. Arvind Panagariya  will be its Chairman. Dr. Panagariya   is a professor at Columbia University . The Finance Ministry statement said that Indian Administrative Service officer  Ritwik Ranjanam Pandey  will be the Secretary of the Commission. The Finance Commission   will make recommendations on various matters including distribution of net tax between the Center and the States . It will also suggest necessary measures to increase the Consolidated Fund of the State to supplement the resources of the Panchayats and Municipalities in the State. The Commission   may also review the existing financial arrangements for disaster management efforts with reference to the funds constituted under the Disaster Management Act 2005 and make appropriate recommendations in this regard. The Sixteenth Finance Commission has been requested to   provide its report by October 31, 2025,  covering a period of five years starting from  April 1, 2026 .

3 Rajasthan government will provide domestic LPG cylinders at a concessional rate of Rs 450

Rajasthan  government   will provide  subsidized domestic gas cylinders at the rate of Rs 450 from January 1 . Chief Minister  Bhajanlal Sharma  has announced that the subsidy amount  will be sent directly  to the accounts of women beneficiaries . At present, people living below the poverty line and beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana are given LPG cylinders at the rate of Rs 500. Each family will get 12 subsidized cylinders every year.

4 Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) gets new logo

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD)  recently   got a new logo ahead of the start of its 150th year of providing weather and climate services to the country. The new logo, in a mix of orange and green, features the numeric 150 inscribed with the current logo which depicts the Indian monsoon winds passing over India.  IMD  was established in 1875. It is the National Meteorological Service of the country and is the lead government agency in all matters related to meteorology and allied subjects. It functions as an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India. IMD is one of the six regional specialized meteorological centers of the World Meteorological Organization.

5 Breakthrough Awards 2024

The 2024 Breakthrough Awards  in  the Life Sciences category recognized groundbreaking research transforming the lives of people living with   three rare diseases –  Parkinson’s disease, cystic fibrosis and cancer  .  Awards were also given in the categories of fundamental physics  and  mathematics .

  1. Life Sciences :
    • Advances in cancer treatmentCarl June  and  Michel Saidelen  genetically engineered T cells with synthetic receptors to recognize single cancer cells, leading to remarkable success in the treatment of liquid cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. Some patients have experienced complete tumor eradication and long-term remission after treatment.
    • Cystic Fibrosis Breakthrough :  Sabine HadidaPaul Negulescu  and  Frederick Van Gore  invented the first effective drugs to treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis. These drugs, including the triple combination drug, enable the protein to function properly, significantly improving the quality of life and lifespan of people suffering from this disease.
    • Discovery of Parkinson’s diseaseThomas GasserAlan Sidransky  and  Andrew Singleton  discovered the most common genetic cause of Parkinson’s disease. These findings point to the involvement of lysosomes in neuronal destruction as well as provide clues about the underlying causes of the disease.
  2. Fundamental Physics : Winners  John Cardy  and  Alexander Zamolodchikov  have contributed a lifetime of profound insights into quantum field theories.
  3. Mathematics : Laureate  Simon Brendel  has made significant contributions to differential geometry, a field that uses calculus to study curves, surfaces, and spaces.

6 Angola is out of OPEC

Angola , one of Africa  ‘s two largest oil producers,   has announced it is   withdrawing from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), an  organization of oil producers,  due to a dispute over production quotas . OPEC and  10 allied countries  decided to cut oil production further in 2024 to shore up volatile global prices, which Angola says goes against its policy of avoiding price collapse and honoring contracts. OPEC (headquartered  in Vienna, Austria  ) is a permanent, intergovernmental organization created at the Baghdad Conference in 1960 by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Angola joined the group in 2007 and is not the first country to leave the cartel. Ecuador, Indonesia and Qatar have all done the same. With Angola’s withdrawal from OPEC, it will be left with 12 members.

7 Increase in Copra MSP: Incentive to farmers and markets

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)  recently   announced a significant increase in  the Minimum Support Price (MSP)  for  Copra/Copra to ₹11,160 per quintal for  Milled Copra  for the 2024 season  and  ₹11,160 per quintal  for Ball Copra.  These adjustments are  aimed at ensuring adequate margins of 51.84% for milling copra and 63.26% for ball copra, which will   benefit   major producing states like KeralaTamil Nadu  and Karnataka . National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (NAFED) and National Cooperative Consumers Federation (NCCF) will act as Central Nodal Agencies (CNA) for procurement under the Price Support Scheme (PSS), thereby facilitating the procurement of copra and desiccated coconut. Continuous support will be ensured. The MSP, set by the government, ensures that farmers get a guaranteed amount for their produce. The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), functioning under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare since 1965, recommends MSP on the basis of cost of production, market trends and demand-supply dynamics.

8 Home Ministry declares ‘Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Jammu and Kashmir (TeH)’ as an unlawful organization

The Government of India has declared ‘ Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Jammu and Kashmir (TeH) ‘  as an unlawful organization under Section 3 (1) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967. In a post on the The group has been found spreading anti-India propaganda and continuing terrorist activities to promote separatism in Jammu and Kashmir.”

9 Vice Admiral V Srinivas takes over as the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command, Kochi

Vice Admiral  V Srinivas , Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) and Navy Medal (NM) as the  30th Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command (FOCINC)  at an impressive ceremonial parade held at Naval Base,  Kochi on 31 Dec 23  Took over as. He takes over from Vice Admiral  MA Hampiholi , PVSM, AVSM, NM, who retires after an illustrious career of nearly four decades in the Indian Navy.

10 paramilitary forces adopt ‘Sandesh’ for safe official movement

 In a strategic move aimed at strengthening  data security and  prioritizing  indigenous technology , the paramilitary force is set to switch to Sandes’ ‘Sandesh App’   for all official communications and document sharing in the new year  . This change underscores the growing importance of ensuring secure messaging platforms within organizations protect and secure sensitive information.

11 ‘Man of the Year 2023’ award to Shri LP Hemanth K Srinivasulu

 At an important ceremony held on  December 28, 2023 ,  the newly appointed Director of  the Latin America and Caribbean Business Council, Mr. L. P. Hemant K. Srinivasulu was honored with  the prestigious “ Man of the Year-2023 ” award.  The award was presented by the Home Minister of India,  Shri Amit Shah . The honor serves as recognition of Mr. Hemanth’s outstanding contributions to trade diplomacy and global economic relations.

12 Praja Palan program launched by Telangana government

Telangana  Deputy Chief Minister  Bhatti Vikramarka Mallu  recently   inaugurated   the government’s  Praja Palan program in Ibrahimpatnam ,  marking the beginning of a comprehensive initiative aimed at understanding and addressing the needs of people at the grassroots level. The Praja Palan program is designed to collect comprehensive information about the needs of residents, creating a detailed database at the grassroots level. The initiative involves the collection of applications from individuals, enabling the government to identify potential beneficiaries of the six guarantees promised by the Congress during the assembly elections.

13 For the first time, India paid UAE in rupees to buy crude oil.

 India  , the world’s  third largest energy consumer,  has  for the first time paid in rupees for crude oil  purchased from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) . This is a historic step taken by India to promote the local currency globally. The move is part of India’s broader efforts to diversify oil suppliers, cut transaction costs and establish the rupee as a viable trade settlement currency. This initiative comes as part of the Reserve Bank of India’s decision on July 11, 2022, to allow importers to make payments in rupees and exporters to receive payments in local currency. Officials have stressed that internationalization is an ongoing process, and currently has no specific goals.

14 Tata Power secures Rajasthan transmission project

Tata Power  , a special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up by  PFC Consulting,  a subsidiary of  Power Finance Corporation,  has emerged victorious  in the bidding for the  BikanerIII Neemrana-II Transmission Project . The estimated cost of the project is ₹1,544 crore. Tata Power won the project through a tariff-based competitive bidding process, and received a letter of intent as the successful bidder. The transmission initiative will be implemented on a build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) basis and is designed to facilitate the extraction of 7.7 GW of renewable energy from the Bikaner complex in Rajasthan. The project involves construction of a 340 km long transmission corridor, connecting Bikaner-III pooling station to Neemrana II substation.

15 Government plans to sell FCI rice under ‘Bharat’ brand

 To control  rice prices, the government  is now considering a proposal to sell FCI rice  under  the ‘Bharat’ brand . Information about this proposal has been given by an official of the Food Ministry. The official said that its concessional rates have not been decided yet. Earlier, the government had started selling rice through e-auction under the Open Market Sale Scheme.

16 SBI, HDFC, ICICI are important banks in terms of financial system.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has  reaffirmed   State Bank of India (SBI)HDFC Bank  and  ICICI Bank  as  domestic systemically important banks (D-SIBs) . Notably, SBI and HDFC Bank have been shifted to higher categories, which will require an increase in D-SIB buffer requirements from April 1, 2025.

17 RBI approves ICICI Pru Mutual Fund’s acquisition of stake in Federal Bank, RBL Bank and Equitas Small Finance Bank

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI)  has   approved  ICICI Prudential Asset Management Company Limited (ICICI AMC)  to acquire up to 9.95% stake  in  Federal Bank . The approval, issued on December 28, comes with certain conditions as per the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and the RBI Master Direction and Guidelines on Acquisition and Holding of Shares or Voting Rights in Banking Companies dated January 16, 2023. Along with this, RBI has   also approved ICICI AMC  to  acquire 9.95% stake  in  RBL Bank  and  Equitas Small Finance Bank . Similar to Federal Bank approvals, these permissions are subject to compliance with relevant provisions outlined in the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and RBI guidelines issued on January 16, 2023.

18 AIIB leads in funding Rs 2.5 thousand crore for Green InvIT of Mahindra-OTPP

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is set to lead  a Rs 2,500 crore  fundraising round for  Mahindra Group-  backed  Sustainable Energy Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT)  . Various domestic institutional investors (DIIs) will also actively participate in this initiative.

19 GCC Free Trade Agreement with South Korea

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)  has taken an important step in strengthening economic ties with key Asian partners by signing its second free trade agreement (FTA)  this year  .  The recent agreement with South Korea  underlines the bloc’s commitment to boosting investment ties and diversifying its economic portfolio. As part of the newly established FTA, South Korea has committed to remove tariffs on approximately 90% of all goods, including critical energy resources such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other petroleum products. The Gulf country, on the other hand, has 76.4% of traded products. And will respond by eliminating tariffs on 4% merchandise. This mutual reduction in trade barriers aims to stimulate economic activity and create a more favorable environment for bilateral commerce. The scope of the agreement goes beyond tariff elimination, to trade in goods, services, government procurement and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). extends to cooperation between.

20 Amendment in Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act for OBC reservation

 The Administrative Council (AC)  chaired by Lieutenant Governor  Manoj Sinha  recently   approved significant changes to the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 . The amendment   focuses on including the definition of Other Backward Classes (OBC) in grassroots level democratic institutions within the Act to facilitate  their reservation  . The draft of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act (Amendment) Bill 2023 was initially submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India. Subsequently, the comments raised by the Ministry of Home Affairs were carefully examined, thereby incorporating necessary amendments in the revised draft.