1. Supreme Court reinstates Alok Verma as CBI Director
- Alok Verma (1979 batch IPS officer) has been reinstated as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief by the Supreme Court.
- Earlier, Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana were sent on leave in October 2018 amid a bitter feud between the CBI’s top two.
- Verma’s two-year tenure as CBI director ends on 31st January 2019.
- CBI’s Joint Director M Nageswara Rao (1986 batch Odisha-cadre IPS officer) was given the charge of interim chief of the probe agency.
- The judgment was pronounced by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph
2. Rajesh Chandra appointed Director-General of SSB
- According to an order issued by the Personnel Ministry, Kumar Rajesh Chandra (IPS officer-1985-batch-Bihar cadre) has been appointed as the director general of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), up to 31st December 2021.
- Currently, He is the director general of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).
- The SSB has about 80,000 personnel, guards India’s borders with Nepal and Bangladesh.
- Prior to 2001, the force was known as the Special Service Bureau (SSB).
3. Gita Gopinath joins IMF as its first female chief economist
- India born Gita Gopinath (47 -years) has joined International Monetary Fund (IMF) as its chief economist(11th).
- She has the first woman to hold the top IMF post.
- Gopinath succeeds Maurice (Maury) Obstfeld (retired on 31st December) as Economic Counsellor and Director of the IMF’s Research Department.
- The Economic Counsellor of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is also the Director of the Fund’s Research Department and is responsible for providing independent advice to the Fund on its policy issues.
4. Egypt opens West Asia’s largest cathedral in its new administrative capital
- Egypt President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has opened West Asia’s largest cathedral in its New Administrative Capital (45 kilometres east of Cairo).
- President al-Sisi inaugurated the newly-built Cathedral of Nativity and mosque on the eve of Coptic Christmas.
- The two places of worship stand as a symbol in the face of attempts to undermine the country’s stability and sectarian seditions.
- The ceremony was attended by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and a host of Arab dignitaries.
- It included recorded video messages of support from the region’s top Christian clerics as well as Pope Francis.
- Unlike December 25, Coptic Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on January 7, following the Coptic calendar.
5. 4th Edition of Raisina Dialogue begins in New Delhi
- The fourth edition of the Raisina Dialogue has begun in New Delhi.
- Ms Erna Solberg (Norway Prime Minister) has delivered the inaugural address in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sushma Swaraj (External Affairs Minister).
- The theme of this year Dialogue is “A World Reorder: New Geometries; Fluid Partnerships; Uncertain Outcomes”.
- The Dialogue will bring together over 600 delegates from 93 countries, including influential political leaders, strategic thinkers, policy practitioners, technology innovators, business representatives and academics.
- Ministry of External Affairs in partnership with Observer Research Foundation is organizing the flagship annual geopolitical and geostrategic conference.
6. HRD Minister approves the addition of 5000 more seats in Navodaya Vidyalayas from AY 2019-20
- The Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar has announced to increase 5000 seats (at present-46600 seats) in Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) for the Academic Year 2019-20.
- This unprecedented expansion of JNVs, nearly free of cost residential schools, will provide more opportunity for talented children from rural areas to get a quality education.
- For the 2019 entrance test, 31.10 lakh students have registered for the entrance examination.
- In the next four years, the government is likely to add 32000 more seats.
7. Prayagraj to Katra direct bus services started
- Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath flagged off the direct bus services from Prayagraj to Katra in Jammu and Kashmir.
- The service was started on the occasion when the UP State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) signed an inter-state bus pact with its counterpart in J&K.
- Now, those pilgrims who will visit Kumbh (Prayagraj) can directly go to Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine located in Katra.
- Fare of these AC buses will be Rs 1,333 each.
- The distance of about 1,387km between Prayagraj and Katra will be covered in almost 24 hours.
8. TN Youth welfare and sports Development minister resigns
- Tamil Nadu Youth Welfare and Sports Development Minister Balakrishna Reddy has resigned following a special court sentencing him to three years imprisonment.
- As per Raj Bhavan release, his portfolio has been allocated to School Education Minister KA Sengottayyan.
- Earlier, Mr Reddy was convicted in a stone pelting case by a Chennai special court.
9. AAI bans single-use plastic items at 129 airports across the country
- Airports Authority of India (AAI) has imposed a ban on single-use plastic items at its 129 airports across the country.
- These steps include the banning of single-use plastic items like straws, plastic cutlery, plastic plates etc.
- Based on a third-party assessment carried out by the Quality Council of India (QCI), 16 of its airports have been declared as Single-Use Plastic Free.
- Single-use plastic items are used only once and then thrown in the trash.
- The QCI will complete its assessment of total 34 airports, which are managed by the AAI, by 31st January 2019.
10. Cabinet approves 10% quota for economically backward upper castes
- The Union Cabinet has approved 10% reservation in direct recruitments and for admission in higher educational institutions for the economically backward section in the general category.
- The reservation benefit is likely to be availed by those whose annual income is below Rs 8 lakh and have up to five acres of Agricultural land.
- The government will bring a constitutional amendment bill in Parliament, as the quota will be over and above the existing 50 per cent reservation.
- Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution will have to be amended for implementation of the decision.
11. Indian economy expects to grow at 7.2% in 2018-19
- According to Central Statistics Office (CSO) report, Indian economy is expected to grow at 7.2% in 2018-19 (earlier 6.7%) due to improvement in the performance of agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
- At current prices, GDP grows by 12.3% rising to 188. 41 lakh crores.
- Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg described India continued to remain the fastest growing economy in the world.
12. Naveen Patnaik announces interest-free loans for women SHGs
- Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has announced interest-free loans of up to Rs. 3 lakhs for six lakh women self-help groups (WSHGs) in the state.
- It will benefit about 70 lakh women of the state.
- Mr. Patnaik also distributed financial assistance of Rs. 3,000 each to six lakh WSHGs as part of the state government’s efforts to digitally empower women.
- He also launched a scheme to distribute Rs. 15,000 seed money per group to three lakh new self-help groups.
- The chief minister announced incentives of Rs. 500 per month for Anganwadi workers and Rs. 200 for helpers.