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    Free material of Current Affair & GK of 13th Deccember 2017


    Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of art forms, literature and architecture from ancient to modern times.

    UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture





    The Second UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture is being held in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.

    Objective of the conference: It will bring together, for the second time, Ministers of Tourism and Ministers of Culture as well as private sector stakeholders and experts with the objective of building and strengthening partnerships between the Tourism and Culture sectors and enhance their role in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    Aim of the conference: The conference aims to address a wide range of topics, including governance models, tourism development and protection of cultural heritage, culture and tourism in urban development and creativity, and exploring cultural landscape in tourism as a vehicle for sustainable development in destinations worldwide.



    This Conference is a sequel to the First UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture, held in Siem Reap, Cambodia in February 2015 and will provide the platform to reflect upon the Siem Reap Declaration that pledged to explore the synergies of the tourism and culture sectors to work in harmony for sustainable development.


    Significance of this conference:

    The United Nations has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, thereby offering a unique opportunity to explore and highlight tourism’s potential to help transform the world into a place of prosperity and wellbeing for all. In this context, the second UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture features prominently as one of the official events on the calendar of activities of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.


    About UNWTO:


    What is it?

    The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.


    UNWTO’s membership includes 158 countries, 6 Associate Members and over 500 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.

    What it does?

    §  As the leading international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.

    §  UNWTO encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, to maximize tourism’s socio-economic contribution while minimizing its possible negative impacts, and is committed to promoting tourism as an instrument in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), geared towards reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development worldwide.

    §  UNWTO generates market knowledge, promotes competitive and sustainable tourism policies and instruments, fosters tourism education and training, and works to make tourism an effective tool for development through technical assistance projects in over 100 countries around the world.


    Important Geophysical phenomena.

    Why meteoroids explode before reaching Earth decoded





    A recent study found that our atmosphere is a better shield from meteoroids than previously thought. So far, researchers knew that meteoroids often blew up before they reach the Earth’s surface, but they did not know why.


    But, why meteoroids explode before reaching Earth?

    When a meteor comes hurtling towards Earth, the high-pressure air in front of it seeps into its pores and cracks, pushing the body of the meteor apart and causing it to explode.

    There is a big gradient between high-pressure air in front of the meteor and the vacuum of air behind it. If the air can move through the passages in the meteorite, it can easily get inside and blow off pieces.


    Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government.

    Special courts to try politicians



    In a decision intended to end the inordinate delay in the prosecution of politicians in criminal cases, the Centre has decided to set up special courts to deal exclusively with cases against 1,581 MPs and MLAs with the aim of disposing of them in a year. this decision has been conveyed by the centre to the Supreme Court.

    What has the Centre proposed?

    Initially, 12 courts would be constituted. Two special courts would handle cases against 228 MPs and the other 10 would be set up in 10 states — Andhra, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, MP, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, UP and Bengal—where the number of MLAs booked for criminal acts is more than 65. Disposing of 1,581criminal cases involving political persons within a time frame of one year as directed by the SC is the aim as well as the objective of the scheme.


    Need for special courts:

    There are several high-profile cases against leaders from almost all political parties—regional and national where investigations have dragged on for years and those facing trial have evaded prison.


    Implications of this move:

    The Centre’s decision could be a setback to politicians who, despite facing serious charges, have remained members of Parliament and state assemblies due to time consumed in trials. Such cases will fall in the purview of special courts and their fate will be decided expeditiously.


    Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


    FAME India scheme






    Original equipment manufacturers will have to seek approval from the Department of Heavy Industry before accepting any proposal to supply electric buses for availing incentives under the FAME India scheme. The move is aimed at facilitating the smooth roll out and management of demand incentives for electric buses under the scheme.


    About FAME India scheme:


    What is it? With an aim to promote eco-friendly vehicles, the government had launched the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME-India) scheme in 2015.


    The FAME India Scheme is aimed at incentivising all vehicle segments, including two-wheelers, three wheeler auto, passenger four-wheeler vehicle, light commercial vehicles and buses. The scheme covers hybrid and electric technologies like a strong hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles.

    Facts: FAME India – Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India – is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. The scheme envisages Rs 795 crore support in the first two fiscals starting with the current year. It is being administered by the Heavy Industries Ministry.


    India and its neighbourhood- relations.

    India, Australia call for ‘open’ Asia-Pacific zone






    India and Australia highlighted the need to maintain the Asia-Pacific region as a “free” and “open” zone under recently held the “2+2” dialogue model which includes the foreign and defense secretaries of both sides. The discussion was the first meeting of this level since the two sides participated in the quadrilateral discussion for a new strategic partnership targeting the Asia-Pacific region.


    Need to maintain the Asia- Pacific region as a free and open zone:

    A free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large. Besides, there is a growing convergence of strategic perspectives between the India and Australia.


    Way ahead:

    Asia’s third largest economy, India – remains on the outside of the APEC grouping despite a membership request dating back more than 20 years. India in APEC would help offset the now-overwhelming influence of the Chinese economy, while also embedding India in a forum that would nudge it toward further economic reform.


    Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

    Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank






    India will host the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of AIIB at Mumbai on 25th and 26th June 2018. In this regard, the Government of India and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) Secretariat have signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to delineate the duties and responsibilities of major stakeholders who would be involved in organizing the aforesaid Annual Meeting.

    The Theme of the Annual Meeting, 2018 will be “Mobilizing Finance for Infrastructure: Innovation and Collaboration”.


    About AIIB:


    What is it?

    The AIIB was established as a new multilateral financial institution aimed at providing “financial support for infrastructure development and regional connectivity in Asia.” It was founded in October, 2014, and has its headquarters in Beijing.


    Its goals are also to boost economic development in the region, create wealth, prove infrastructure, and promote regional cooperation and partnership.


    Funding: The value of AIIB’s authorized capital amounts to $100 billion, with almost $30 billion invested by China. India is not only one of the founding members of AIIB but is also the 2nd largest shareholder in AIIB.


    Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

    New bridges inaugurated in eastern Arunachal Pradesh



    Context: Two crucial bridges in eastern Arunachal Pradesh have been dedicated to the nation. The bridges have been built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).



    The new bridges are:

    Injupani Bridge: It is a 140-metre long-bridge on Roing-Koronu-Paya road, which is a part of Trans Arunachal Highway. The completion of the Injupani Bridge will provide an uninterrupted access between Roing & Tezu, both important district HQs in Arunachal Pradesh.


    Deopani/Eze Bridge: It is 300-metre long pre-stressed concrete balanced cantilever bridge over the Eze river at Roing in Arunachal Pradesh. The completion of the Eze bridge has come as a boon for the people of the area, especially those of Dibang Valley district, as the district remained cut off from the rest of the country during the monsoons each year.


    About BRO:

    Functioning under the control of the Ministry of Defence since 2015, the BRO is engaged in road construction to provide connectivity to difficult and inaccessible regions in the border areas of the country.

    §  It is staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Military Police and army personnel on extra regimental employment.

    §  Engineering Service and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.

    §  Currently, the organisation maintains operations in twenty-one states, one UT (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), and neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

    §  The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometres of roads and about 12,200 meters of permanent bridges in the country.


    Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

    IMT highway





    India is planning to hold talks with Asean countries to extend the India-Myanmar-Thailand highway up to Vietnam. As per proposals from India, the highway could be extended to Vietnam via Laos and Cambodia.


    Significance of this expansion:

    This connectivity can generate an estimated $70 billion annually in incremental GDP and $20 million in incremental aggregate employment by 2025. Connecting India with the South eastern countries through a network of road will create jobs, market for crops grown in hilly regions of the Northeast which will also help growers in getting better price for their produce.


    About IMT highway:

    The India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway is a highway under construction under India’s Look East policy that will connect Moreh, India with Mae Sot, Thailand via Myanmar. The road is expected to boost trade and commerce in the ASEAN–India Free Trade Area, as well as with the rest of Southeast Asia. It is important to note that the project already missed its first deadline in 2015 and India has consistently faced difficulty in implementing its projects in Myanmar.



    The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), has 10 member nations Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia.


    Important Points


    o    New initiatives on Universal Health Coverage Day 2017 launched by - Union Government


    o    Priyanka Chopra conferred Mother Teresa Memorial award for social justice


    o    Rajasthan government to recognise political prisoners as -  ‘Loktantra Sainani’


    Sikh American Gurbir Grewal nominated to be New Jersey Attorney General  on - 12th December 2017


    DCI, NHAI sign MoU to facilitate supply of sand on - 12th December 2017


                                    Current Affairs – Details


    New initiatives on Universal Health Coverage Day 2017 launched by - Union Government


    Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda launched various initiatives to observe Universal Health Coverage Day 2017 on 11th December 2017.


    Universal Health Coverage Day is observed every year on 12th December to commemorate the first unanimous United Nations resolution calling for countries providing affordable, quality health care to every person, everywhere.


    LaQshya Initiative


    o    Considering the fact that there is a need to improve the quality of care in Labour rooms especially on the day of birth for maternal and neonatal survival, the Ministry launched 'LaQshya' Initiative also called 'Labour Room Quality Improvement Initiative'


    o    LaQshya was launched as a safe delivery mobile application for health workers who manage normal and complicated deliveries in the peripheral areas.


    o    It is expected to improve the quality of care provided to the pregnant mother in the Labour Room and Maternity Operation Theatres aiming to prevent undesirable adverse outcomes associated with the childbirth.


    o    It will be implemented in government Medical Colleges (MCs) other than District Hospitals (DHs), and high delivery load Sub- District Hospitals (SDHs) and Community Health Centres (CHCs).


    o    It is also planning to conduct quality certification of labour rooms and providing facilities to achieve the outlined targets.


    o    It is aiming to minimize preventable maternal and new-born mortality, morbidity and stillbirths associated with the care around delivery in Labour room and Maternity OT.


    Priyanka Chopra conferred Mother Teresa Memorial award for social justice


    Indian actor, Priyanka Chopra has been awarded with the 2017 Mother Teresa Memorial Award for her 
    contribution towards lending her support towards social causes like her recent visit to Syria where she met and interacted with refugee children.

    She is also UNICEF's Goodwill Ambassador and is known for supporting various philanthropic activities. Her mother Madhu Chopra received the award on her behalf. While speaking on the occasion, her mother said, "I humbly accept the award on her behalf.

    She continued by saying that it is justifiable for her to receive this honourable award and that the actor 
    would be humbled that her efforts have been recognised by the foundation believing to help the needy and support the deprived and to raise funds for those who are impoverished.


                    More about Mother Teresa Award


    o    These Awards are conferred to honour individuals and organizations promoting peace, equality and social justice and aim to encourage the cause of justice and peaceful coexistence, while providing an impetus for society to imbibe these values.

    o    The award is given in honour of Mother Teresa who was one of the greatest social reformers.


    Rajasthan government to recognise political prisoners as -  ‘Loktantra Sainani’


    The state government of Rajasthan has finalised to recognise political prisoners kept in jails during the
    emergency period as ‘Loktantra Sainani’.
    The state’s cabinet marked to change the name of Rajasthan MISA and DIR Bandi Pension Rules 2008 to the Rajasthan Loktantra Sainani samman Nidhi 2008 on 12th December 2017.

    Key Highlights

    o    Till date, only those people who were hold under MISA and DIR and put in any of the Rajasthan jails were facilitated with the monthly pension of Rs 12,000 and a monthly allowance of Rs 1200.


    o    The total number of these people is 1050.

    o    However, after the cabinet’s conclusion, every Rajasthani¸ who was put in any jail in the nation during emergency time, will also be eligible for the pension.


    o    Those people will not be required to give the certificate of the respective Jail Superintendent or Superintendent of Police for availing pension.


    o    Now only self-declaration has to be submitted.

    o    Apart from this, the state government would be instructing all the district collectors to invite such Loktantra Sainanis to the programs that will be held at district level on the Republic Day and Independence Day occasions. 


    Sikh American Gurbir Grewal nominated to be New Jersey Attorney General  on - 12th December 2017


    Sikh American Gurbir Grewal on 12th December 2017 became 1st Sikh public prosecutor to be suggested for the post of Attorney General of New Jersey. Grewal was suggested to the post by Democrat Governor-elect Phil Murphy.
    If Grewal's suggestion is approved by the State Senate, he will be the 1st Sikh to attain the top state law
    enforcement position in the United States. He will also be the 2nd Indian-American after Kamala Harris, who attained the position in California before her election to the US Senate.

    More about Gurbir Grewal


    o    Grewal is the prosecutor of Bergen County, an important district across the river from New York City. He was authorized by current Republican Governor Chris Christie.

    o    Grewal has earlier worked as an Assistant Federal Prosecutor in New York and New Jersey.

    o    Earlier to being Bergen County's top law enforcement officer, he served as the former chief of the Economic Crimes Unit at the U.S. Attorney's Office with former federal prosecutor Paul Fishman.

    o    He also worked as the President of the South Asian Bar Association of New York and a member of the New Jersey Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association

    DCI, NHAI sign MoU to facilitate supply of sand on - 12th December 2017

    The Dredging Corporation of India signed a MoU with the National Highways Authority of India on 12th
    December 2017 to authorize the availability of sand for highway construction work.
    The Concessionaires working on highways assignments have been facing a scarcity of sand at various sites. Thus, the agreement focuses to fill this gap by smoothing the availability of sand for these concessionaires.

    Important Highlights


    o    The accordance aims to smooth the supply of sand for highways construction work.


    o    Under the MoU, the business intermediaries will ship and stock the sand at different ports in India and market it across the nation.


    o    The NHAI will smooth the whole process by showing the availability of sand at different stockyards at the ports.

    Did you know?

    The Dredging Corporation of India intends to manage dredging operations at various locations in South East Asia, generating greater volumes of sand.


    For decades, pollution and its harmful effects on people’s health, the environment, and the planet have been neglected both by Governments and the international development agenda. Yet, Air pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and death in the world today. Its implications are many.

    A report of the Lancet Commission on pollution and health states that around 19 lakh people die prematurely every year from diseases caused by outdoor and indoor air pollution.

    A study by the Indian Journal of Pediatrics shows that the lungs of children who grow up in polluted environments like Delhi are 10% smaller compared to the lungs of children who grow up in the U.S. This is nothing short of a public health emergency. What is needed, therefore, is a comprehensive policy to curb pollution.


    Main causes of Air pollution


    At the heart of the problem of pollution are carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. About 75% of all greenhouse gas emissions are CO2 emissions produced through burning fossil fuels — oil, coal and natural gas — to generate energy.


    §  Since the early 2000s, carbon emissions have increased because of high growth in the Indian economy.


    §  In 2014, India’s total carbon emissions were more than three times the levels in 1990, as per World Bank data.


    §  This is because of India’s heavy dependence on fossil fuels and a dramatically low level of energy efficiency.




    Effects of Air pollution


    §  In 2015, diseases caused by air, water & soil pollution were responsible for 9 million premature deaths, i.e. 16% of all global deaths. Exposures to contaminated air, water and soil kill more people than smoking, hunger, natural disasters, war, AIDS, or malaria.

    §  Pollution disproportionately kills the poor and the vulnerable.

    §  Children are at high risk of pollution-related disease, as exposures to even small amounts of certain chemicals in utero and in early infancy can result in disease, life-long disability and death.

    §  Almost all exposures to pollution are involuntary and represent a massive global injustice.

    §  Pollution is costly

    §  The costs attributed to pollution-related diseases will increase as researchers discover more associations between pollution & disease.

    §  Pollution-related diseases reduce GDP in low- to middle-income countries by up to 2% per year.

    §  The nature of pollution is changing

    §  Significant investments in improving access to safe water and sanitation have greatly reduced water pollution’s impact.

    §  However, modern forms of pollution from industry and transport are at a scale never seen before. These include outdoor air, chemical and soil pollution, and exposures in the workplace.


    How can this crisis be solved?


    Air pollution and climate change are closely linked and share common solutions.


    Fossil fuel combustion in higher-income countries and the burning of biomass in lower-income countries accounts for 85% of airborne particulate pollution and is a major source of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that drive climate change.

    Remodel the energy mix Emissions can be curbed only if people are persuaded to move away from fossil fuels and adopt greener forms of energy.


    §  A part of the carbon revenue thus generated can be used for a systemic overhaul of the energy mix, which, to a large extent, would address the pressing problem of environmental degradation.


    §  The Indian economy’s energy mix needs to be remodelled through investments in clean renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and low-emissions bioenergy,


    §  Raise the level of energy efficiency through investments in building retrofits, grid upgrades, and industrial efficiency.


    §  Carbon tax can be a key policy instrument in helping the country meets the challenges posed by Air pollution.



    There is, however, a problem with carbon tax. It’s regressive in nature — it affects the poor more than the rich.


    What is the way out?


    §  ‘Tax and dividend’ policy:


                    According to which the revenue thus generated is distributed equally across its citizens and as a result, the poor are more than compensated for the loss, since in absolute amounts the rich pay more carbon tax than the poor.

    Such a policy of cash transfer, which might work in the West, however, has a problem in the Indian context.


    §   Instead of a cash transfer, the other part of the carbon revenue can be used for an in-kind transfer of free electricity to the population that contributes less carbon than the economy average, and universal travel passes to compensate for the rise in transport costs and to encourage the use of green public transport.


    §   Such a policy justly addresses the widening schism between Bharat, which bears the climate impact burden, and India, which is imposing that burden because of its lifestyle choices.


    The level of carbon tax required for this policy to come into effect is 2,818 per metric tonne of CO2. It will be levied upstream, namely, at ports, mine-heads, and so on. While the prices of almost all the commodities will rise, the highest rise in price will be in fuel and energy since the carbon content is the highest in this category.


    Other benefits


    §  Carbon Tax policy not only curbs emissions but also delivers on providing more employment since the employment elasticity in greener forms of energy is higher than those in fossil fuel-based energy.


    §  Higher prices of commodities according to their carbon content will induce households, including the rich, to look for greener substitutes.


    §  Availability of free energy also addresses the issue of stealing of electricity, since there will be no incentive left for those who steal. In India, even in 2014, the value of electricity stolen through corrupt means amounts to about 0.8% of GDP.


    §  Policy also will give more health benefits as a significant part of more than 3% of India’s GDP currently spent on pollution-induced diseases will surely come down.




    Reducing pollution presents a powerful opportunity to save lives and grow economies. Better way to curb pollution is to tax carbon. Accelerating the switch to cleaner sources of energy will reduce air pollution and improve human and planetary health.

    Government also need to integrate pollution challenges and control strategies into planning processes. Collaborate on solving pollution with development agencies. Design and implement programs that reduce pollution, and save lives.




    • This country will be hosting the 3rd Annual Meeting of Board of Governors of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank - India

    • This state’s government has proposed to bear hospital bills of road accident, burn & acid attack victims - Delhi

    • This state has decided to recognise political prisoners held in jails during  the emergency period as ‘Loktantra Sainani’ - Rajasthan

    • This is the ranking of Indian men’s hockey team in the latest listings released by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) - Sixth

    • This is the ranking of Indian women’s hockey team in the latest listings released by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) - Tenth

    • This nation’s President has signed a USD 692 billion defence budget - US • Initiative launched on the occasion of Universal Health Coverage Day 2017 - Laqshya

    • This food company ordered recall over salmonella fears - Lactalis

    • Universal Health Coverage Day (UHCD) is observed every year on - 12 December

    • This country will host 2021 Champions Trophy and 2023 World Cup - India

    • This state became the rst in India to oer e-mail IDs in Hindi - Rajasthan

    • Second UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture was held in - Muscat    



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