No extra charge on digital payments via RuPay & UPI from 1st Jan 2020:
- The Union Finance Minister has announced that the Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) charges for businesses with over Rs 50 crore annual revenues will be waived off from January 1, 2020.
- Also, the digital transactions made using RuPay credit cards, or UPI QR codes will not face any additional charges for merchants or customers from January 1, 2020.
- All shops, business establishments and companies with an annual turnover of Rs 50 crore or more have been mandated to offer these modes of payment to customers.
- The Department of Revenue will also notify RuPay and UPI as the prescribed mode of payment for digital transactions without any Merchant Discount Rate (MDR).
- The Merchant Discount Rate is the percentage of the digital transaction that a merchant pays to banks. This cost is often passed on to the customer. The decision aims to promote the home-grown digital payment pathways like RuPay and UPI, over those promoted by foreign companies, including VISA and MasterCard.
CBIC paid Rs 1,12,000 crore as IGST refunds to exporters:
- Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has announced that it has paid Rs 1,12,000 crore as Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) refunds to exporters.
- According to CBIC, over 83,000 exporters have been benefited by these refunds. The numbers indicated the government’s efforts to fast track refunds under GST especially to exporters. Also, as of now, refunds of only 3,604 crores are pending with Customs.
- CBIC is using data analytics to identify risky exporter entities that “take input tax credit fraudulently and monetize it by paying IGST and taking refund”. Such exporters are being subject to KYC and verification process before the grant of refund.
PAN-Aadhaar Linking Deadline Extended Till March 2020:
- The last date for the mandatory linking of the Permanent Account Number (PAN) with Aadhaar has been extended till March 2020.
- The earlier deadline was December 31.
- This is the eighth time that the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has extended the deadline for individuals to link their PAN with Aadhaar. Supreme Court, in September last year, had declared the Centre’s flagship Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid and held that the biometric ID would remain mandatory for the filing of I-T returns and allotment of the PAN.
UAE Extends 300 Million US Dollars Of Development Aid To Jordan:
- Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) announced that it is providing 300 million US dollars as development aid to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
- In a statement the UAE government said that “the UAE leadership’s decision reaffirms the commitment to standing alongside the brotherly leadership and people of Jordan, reflecting the nation’s foreign policy that carries the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and continues under the leadership of President Sheikh Khalifa.”
11-day long ‘Dhanu Jatra’ begins in Odisha:
- The 11-day long ‘Dhanu Jatra’ begins at Bargarh in western Odisha. Dhanu Jatra is considered as the largest open-air theatre of the world.
- It is based on the mythological story of Lord Krishna and his demon uncle King Kansa. It is about the episode of Krishna and Balaram’s visit to Mathura to witness the Dhanu ceremony organized by their (maternal) uncle King Kansa.
- Dhanu Jatra is the annual drama-based open-air theatrical performance celebrated in and around Bargarh city. The annual festival came into being in 1947-48 to celebrate Indian’s Independence and to symbolize the victory of good over evil.
Indian Railways introduces a new Passenger Information System:
- Indian Railways introduced a new “Passenger Information System” at Anakapalle Railway Station of Vijayawada Division in South Central Railway.
- The comprises “At a Glance Display Board” which gives a glance of the status of various train timings at the Station and “Coach Guidance Display Board” which provides the Coach Composition position of a train.
- The application aims to provide better features and easy guidance to the passengers and hence providing satisfactory user experience.
- The system provides automated display information about the trains expected at the station in the next two hours in Trilingual form i.e. in three languages: Telugu, English and Hindi.
CACS & e-BCAS launched to enhance security & ease of doing at airports:
- Minister of State (I/C) for Civil Aviation launched the Biometric enabled Centralised Access Control System (CACS) and ‘e-BCAS Project Training Module’. The two projects aims to enhance security and ease of doing business at airports.
- The CACS project is aimed to digitize the employee movement process at the airports. This multi-layered security system encompasses the uniqueness of the Airport Entry Permit (AEP) users, biometric authentication in addition to PIN-based identity verification through contactless smart card technology.
- The ‘e-BCAS’ project envisaged to achieve a “paperless office” under e-Governance initiative of Government of India. The ‘e-BCAS Project: Training Module’ aims to switch from manual process of training to digital platform.
- The objective of the e-BCAS project is to make all the activities in the BCAS transparent, user-friendly, and efficient. It also intends to provide an ease of doing business with the stakeholders.
Bengaluru’s University Of Agricultural Sciences To Host Indian Science Congress:
- The University of Agricultural Sciences in Bengaluru is gearing up to host the 107th Indian Science Congress from 3rd to 7th of January.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the conference to be attended by over 15,000 delegates including Nobel laureates, scientists, academicians, students, farmers among others.
- General President of the Indian Science Congress Association Prof. K S Rangappa informed in Bengaluru today that 1,500 scientific papers and 5700 posters will be laid in 14 scientific disciplines.
Ahmedabad-Mumbai Tejas Train To Be Flagged Off On Jan 17:
- After the successful run of Lucknow-Delhi Tejas Express, the second premium Tejas train is ready to run between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
- Railway Ministry has said that the train will be flagged off from Ahmedabad on 17th January next year.
“India State of Forest Report 2019” released:
- The Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change released the biennial “India State of Forest Report (ISFR)”, in New Delhi.
- The report provides information on forest cover, tree cover, mangrove cover, growing stock inside and outside the forest areas, carbon stock in India’s forests, Forest Types and Biodiversity, Forest Fire monitoring and forest cover in different slopes & altitudes.
- The report is published by the Forest Survey of India (FSI). The FSI has been mandated to assess the forest and tree resources of the country including wall-to-wall forest cover mapping in a biennial cycle.
- This is the 16th edition of India State of Forest Report. In comparison to the assessment of 2017, there is an increase of 5,188 sq. km in the total forest and tree cover of the country.
- The total forest and tree cover of the country is 80.73 million hectare. It is 24.56% of the total geographical area of the country.
- The forest and tree cover has increased by more than 130 million hectares in the last 4 years.
- Area-wise, Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country.
- In terms of forest cover as percentage of total geographical area, the top five States are Mizoram (85.41%), Arunachal Pradesh (79.63%), Meghalaya (76.33%), Manipur (75.46%) and Nagaland (75.31%).
- In comparison with ISFR 2017, the increase in the forest cover has been observed as 3,976 sq km and that in tree cover is 1,212 sq. km.
- The top 3 states showing increase in forest cover are Karnataka (1,025 sq. km) followed by Andhra Pradesh (990 sq km) and Kerala (823 sq km).
- Mangrove cover has been separately reported in the ISFR 2019 and the total mangrove cover in the country is 4,975 sq km which showed an increase of 54 sq Km as comapre to that of 2017. Top three states showing mangrove cover increase are Gujarat (37 sq km) followed by Maharashtra (16 sq km) and Odisha (8 sq km).
- The extent of bamboo bearing area of the country has been estimated 16 million hectare showing an increase of 0.32 million hectare.
- The total carbon stock in country’s forest is estimated 7,124.6 million tonnes and there an increase of 42.6 million tonnes in the carbon stock of country as compared to the last assessment of 2017.
- There are 62,466 wetlands covering 3.8% of the area within the Recorded Forest Area (RFA)/Green Wash (GW) of the country.
Losar Festival (Ladakhi New Year) Celebrated In UT Of Ladakh:
- The people of Union Territory (UT) of the Ladakh region celebrated Losar festival, the Ladakhi new year.
- The Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) and Leh Hill Council, Leh organised the celebrations in which Ladakh Lieutenant Governor Radha Krishna Mathur participated.
- The year 2020 will mark the 1st Losar festival celebrated in the Ladakh Region as a UT.
11th CEBR’s Report: India To Surpass Germany As The 4th-Largest Economy In 2026:
- On December 26, 2019 United Kingdom (UK)-based Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) released its 11th annual report titled ‘World Economic League Table 2020′ (WELT 2020).
- According to the report, India is expected to overtake Germany as the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2026. It also estimated that India will overtake Japan as the third-largest economy by 2034.
- 5 trillion-dollar economy: The Indian govt. has set a target to become a 5 trillion-dollar economy by 2024-25. However, the report has estimated that, this target will be achieved in 2026, two years later than the fixed target year.
- India in 2019: India overtook both France and the United Kingdom to become the 5th largest economy in 2019.
- Next 15 years: The report estimated that India, japan and Germany will battle for the 3rd position in the next 15 years.
- USA and China: United States of America (USA) will remain as the world’s largest economy throughout 2020s and may be overtaken by China in 2033.
Year 2019 Was Hottest Ever Registered In Russia:
- 2019 was the hottest ever registered in Russia, as climate change pushes global temperatures to record highs. Moscow’s average temperature for 2019 had hit 7.6 to 7.7 degrees Celsius, beating the previous record by 0.3 degrees.
- Moscow has seen its warmest December in a century this year
NASA Astronaut Christina Koch Sets New Record For Longest Single Space Mission By A Woman:
- Christina Hammock Koch (40), an American engineer and the United States (US) Space agency-NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) astronaut has created history by becoming the longest-lived woman in space.
- She overtook the record of NASA’s astronaut Peggy Whitson for 288 days in the International Space Station (ISS).
China Successfully Launches Largest Carrier Rocket:
- China has successfully launched the largest carrier rocket of the country, Long March-5, from Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China’s Hainan Province.
- The Chinese space authorities declared the mission a “complete success” just over half an hour after the lift-off when the Shijian-20 satellite it carried entered its designated orbit. It is the country’s third attempt to launch the rocket.
S S Deswal given additional charge of DG of CRPF:
- S S Deswal has been given the “additional” charge to head Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The Union home ministry took the decision as CRPF’s serving Director General (DG) R R Bhatnagar retired on 31st December, 2019.
- S S Deswal is presently serving as the Director General of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
General Mukund Naravane becomes new Indian Army chief:
- General Manoj Mukund Naravane took charge as the 28th Chief of Army Staff. He succeeded General Bipin Rawat who retired on 31st December, 2019. Earlier, General Naravane was serving as vice chief of the Indian Army.
- In his 37 years of service, he has also headed the Army’s Eastern Command that takes care of India’s nearly 4,000-km border with China.
- General Mukund Naravane is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy. He was commissioned into the 7th battalion, the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment in June 1980.
Amitabh Bachchan Honoured With Dadasaheb Phalke Award:
- Veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan was presented the Dadasaheb Phalke award by President Ram NathKovind at Rashtrapati Bhawan .
- Mr Bachhan expressed gratitude towards government, Information and Broadcasting Ministry and all the jury members after being conferred with the Award.
Sarbananda Sonowal launches torch relay of Khelo India Youth Games:
- Assam Chief Minister has launched the torch relay of the Khelo India Youth Games in Guwahati, Assam. The 3rd edition of the tournament will be held in January 2020.
- Athletes from all over the country will be coming to Guwahati for the Khelo India Youth Games. The officials of the competition are preparing a total of eight venues for the tournament to make the Games one of the largest sporting spectacles of the country.
IOA ends boycott call for 2022 Commonwealth Games:
- The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has withdrawn its boycott call for the 2022 Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham. The decision was taken during its Annual General Meeting held in New Delhi.
- The cause of the boycott call was exclusion of shooting. IOA also announced that the country will bid to host either the 2026 or the 2030 edition.
Boxer Vikas Krishan Makes It To India Squad For Olympic Qualifiers:
- In Boxing, Vikas Krishan claimed a slot in the Indian men’s boxing squad in the 69kilogram category for next year’s Olympic qualifiers after winning his final trial bout along with two others in Bengaluru.
- The former world championships and Asian Games medal-winner, who competed in the middleweight 75kilogram category
Koneru Humpy Becomes Women’s World Rapid Chess Champion:
- Indian grandmaster Koneru Humpy has become the 2019 Women’s World Rapid Champion.
- She defeated China’s Lei Tingjie in a dramatic final in Moscow, Russia.
- After losing the opening game, Humpy made an impressive comeback and collected nine points each in 12 rounds to be tied with Tingjie.
- The duo then played a fierce game to break the deadlock.
- Tingjie finished with a silver, while Turkey’s Ekaterina Atalik won bronze.
- This is a significant triumph for Humpy who is India’s best-ever women’s chess player.
- She is more at ease in the classical format and was clearly trying to take her skills in the rapid format to a new level. Norway’s Magnus Carlsen claimed the men’s title.
Udayan Mane Sets New PGTI Record; Bags TATA Steel Tour Championship Title:
- Udayan Maneproduced a flawless seven-under 65 on the final day to claim a thrilling one-shot win at the season-ending TATA Steel Tour Championship in Jamshedpur.
- Mane’s 67-66-64-65 determined final round effort saw him establish a new PGTI record for the lowest tournament total as he closed the week with a jaw-dropping 26-under-262 at the Golmuri Golf Course. It was Mane’s eighth professional title and his second win on the PGTI this season.
- SSP Chawrasia had settled for second place with another outstanding total score of 25-under-263. Aman Raj (71) the third-round leader, ended the week in tied third place at 23-under-265 along with Delhi’s Chiragh Kumar (67).
Five Indian Women Boxers Book Their Place For Olympic Qualifiers:
- Five Indian women boxers booked their place for the Olympic Qualifiers at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi.
- Mary Kom defeated Nikhat Zareen 9-1 in the final bout of the 51kg category while in 57kg Sakshi Chaudhary outclassed her opponent Sonia Lather 9-1.
- In the 60kg event, Simranjit Kaur won her bout against Sarita Devi in split decision 8-2. In the 69kg and 75kg category, Lovlina Borgohain and Pooja Rani won their respective matches by unanimous decision and registered their spot in the Indian squad.