9 PM Current Affairs Brief – December 28th, 2019

More than 1 cr houses sanctioned under PM Awas Yojana (Urban)

News: Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has informed that one crore houses have already been sanctioned under PM Awas Yojana (Urban).


Housing for all scheme
  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Mission was launched in 2015. It aims to provide housing for all in urban areas by year 2022. The objective is to construct 1.2 crore houses.
  • It has four components:
  • In-situ Slum Redevelopment (ISSR) with participation of private developers using land as a resource
  • Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP) with Public & Private sectors
  • Subsidy for Beneficiary-led Individual house construction or Enhancement (BLC), and
  • Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through Credit-Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS).

Additional Information:

Global Housing Technology Challenge-India:

  • Launched in 2019, it is an initiative under PM Awas Yojana (U).
  • It aims to transform the eco-system of housing construction sector in India through lighthouse projects built using advanced proven technologies. 
  • The challenge has three components:
  • Conduct of Grand Expo-cum-Conference,
  • Identifying Proven Demonstrable Technologies from across the globe and
  • Promoting Potential Technologies through the establishment of Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators- India (ASHA-I) for incubation and accelerator support.

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G)

  • It aims at providing a pucca house, with basic amenities, to all houseless and those households living in kutcha and dilapidated house, by 2022.
  • It is implemented by Ministry of Rural Development.

Explained: What is SnowEx

News: NASA has launched a seasonal campaign which is a part of


  • SnowEx is a five year program initiated and funded by NASA’s Terrestrial Hydrology Program
  • It aims to address the most important gaps in our snow remote sensing knowledge. It seeks to lay groundwork for a snow satellite mission to study global snow water equivalent (SWE).
  • SnowEx seeks to study six broad snow climate categories in North America. It includes tundra (alpine or Arctic), taiga (Boreal forest), warm (temperate) forest, maritime, prairie, and ephemeral.

Additional Information:

Snow Water Equivalent: It is the amount of water contained within the snowpack i.e. the depth of water that will result if the entire snowpack is melted instantaneously.

Earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India found in A.P.

News: The Epigraphy Branch of the Archaeological Survey of India has discovered the earliest epigraphic evidence for the Saptamatrika cult


About the discovery

  • It was discovered in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The inscription is in Sanskrit and in Brahmi characters. It was issued by Satavahana king Vijaya in 207 A.D.
  • It is also the earliest Sanskrit inscription to have been discovered in South India so far.

About Saptamatrika: Saptamatrika is a group of seven mother-goddesses (each of whom is the Shakti) worshipped in Hinduism

Prime Minister releases Operational Guidelines for the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM)

News: The Prime Minister released the Operational Guidelines of Jal Jeevan Mission


About Jal Jeevan Mission:

  • Aim: Provide potable water in adequate quantity (55 litre per capita per day) of prescribed quality (BIS Standard of IS: 10500) on regular basis to all rural households by 2024.
  • Implementing Ministry: It will be implemented by Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation under the Jal Shakti Ministry.
  • Institutional arrangement  for Implementation:
  • National Jal Jeevan Mission at the Central level;
  • State Water and Sanitation Mission (SWSM) at State level;
  • District Water and Sanitation Mission (DWSM) at district level; and
  • Village Water Sanitation Committee (VWSC)/ Paani Samiti at village Level.
  • Features:
  • Focus on integrated demand and supply-side management of water at the local level.
  • Implement source sustainability measures recharge and reuse through grey water management, water conservation, and rain water harvesting.
  • Convergence with other Central and State Government Schemes to achieve sustainable water supply management across India.
  • Generate maximum community participation in the form of ‘jan andolan’ to achieve functional household tap connection by 2024.

Shehri Samridhi Utsav

News: Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM will be organising a consultative meeting to set out the framework for Shehri Samriddhi Utsav (SSU) 2020.


About Shehri Samriddhi Utsav

  • Launched in 2019, it is an initiative of Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
  • It aims to extend the outreach of Deendayal Antyodaya Mission – National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM), to the most vulnerable people.
  • It also seeks to showcase its initiatives and facilitate access of Self-Help Group (SHG) members to the other government schemes.

About Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM):

It was launched by Ministry of Housing and Urban affairs in 2013.

Aim: To reduce poverty and vulnerability of the urban poor households.


  • Building capacity of the urban poor
  • Enhancing and expanding existing livelihoods options of the urban poor
  • Building skills to enable access to growing market-based job opportunities
  • Training and support to the establishment of micro-enterprises by the urban poor

Implementation: In all District Headquarter Towns and all other cities with a population of 1, 00,000 or more as per 2011 census

MGNREGA trends: fewer jobs since July, wider demand-supply gap

News: The gap between the number of households demanding MGNREGA work and the number who were provided work has been the highest in 2019-20.


Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was enacted in 2005.

Aim: To enhance livelihood security of household in rural areas of India


  • To guarantee 100 days of wage employment per year to rural households.
  • Creation of durable rural assets
  • Social inclusion of women, SCs and STs

Beneficiary: Adultmembers of any rural households willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage. Minimum one-third of the workers should be women

Key features:

  1. Provides legal right to employment
  2. Gram Panchayat is mandated to provide employment with 15 days of work application, failing which worker is entitled to unemployment allowance
  3. Wages must be paid according to the wages specified for agricultural labourers in the state under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 or as notified by Central govt.
  4. Payment of wages within 15 days of competition of work, failing which worker is entitled to delay compensation of 0.05%/ day of wages earned
  5. Geo-tagging all assets created under MGNREGA.

Implementation: Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) in association with state governments monitors the implementation of the scheme.

UGC issues norms for ethics in higher education

News:Recently,Union Minister of Human Resource Development(MHRD) has adopted the Quality Improvement Programme Mandate developed by UGC to improve the quality in higher educational institutions


About the Quality Improvement Programme Mandate:

  • The quality mandate aims at evolving higher education system to equip the country’s next generation with vital skills, knowledge and ethics for leading a rewarding life.
  • The mandate was developed by the University Grants Commission (UGC) which contains 5 documents covering the 5 verticals of Quality Mandate.

About the 5 verticals of Quality Mandate:

  • Evaluation reforms:UGC has published Evaluation Reforms in Higher Educational Institutions in India in order to make student assessment more meaningful, effective and linked to ‘Learning Outcomes’.
  • Eco-friendly and Sustainable University Campuses:The SATAT Framework encourages universities to adopt reflective policies and practices to enhance the environmental quality of the campus and to adopt sustainable green and sustainable methods in its future.
  • Human Values and professional ethics:UGC has also developed a policy framework named MulyaPravah which are Guidelines for Inculcation of Human Values and Professional Ethics in Higher Educational Institutions.
  • Faculty Induction Programme:The Guidelines for Guru-Dakshata – A guide to Faculty Induction programme(FIP) aims to sensitise and motivate the faculty to adopt learner centred approaches, ICT integrated learning and new pedagogic approaches to teaching-learning, assessment tools in higher education.
  • Academic Research and integrity:UGC has set up a Consortium for Academic and Research Ethics (UGC-CARE) to continuously monitor and identify quality journals across disciplines.

Additional information:

About UGC:

  • The University Grants Commission of India (UGC India) is a statutory body set up by the Indian Union government in accordance to the UGC Act,1956 under Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • It is charged with coordination,determination and maintenance of standards of higher education.It provides recognition to universities in India and disburses funds to such recognised universities and colleges.

Scheme for Enhancement of Competitiveness in Capital Goods Sector to be Scaled up

News:Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises is implementing the scheme for Enhancement of Competitiveness in the Indian Capital Goods Sector.


About the scheme:

  • Department of Heavy Industry in the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises had launched the scheme for Enhancement of Competitiveness in the Indian Capital Goods Sector in 2014.
  • The scheme is focused on making the Indian capital goods sector globally competitive and give a boost to the Indian economy. 
  • It aims to address the technological obsolescence, limited access to quality industrial infrastructure and common facilities in the capital goods sector.

Objectives of the scheme:

  • To encourage technology development through joint participation with Academia, Industry R&D institute and Government and facilitate transfer/acquiring the critical technologies in the capital goods sector.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  • To create common physical infrastructure for enhancing the competitiveness of the local industry, enabling it to withstand the import penetration.

Components Of The Scheme:The scheme has five components to achieve the desired result in pilot mode –     

  • Advanced Centres of Excellence
  • Integrated Industrial Infrastructure Facilities(IIFC)
  • Common Engineering Facility Centre(CEFC)
  • Testing & Certification Centre(T&CC) and 
  • Technology Acquisition Fund Programme(TAFP).

Additional information:

About the Capital Goods Sector:

  • Capital Goods refer to products that are used in the production of other products but are not incorporated into the new product.
  • These include machine tools, industrial machinery, process plant equipment, construction & mining equipment, electrical equipment, textile machinery, printing & packaging machinery among others.
  • Capital Goods industry is considered as the most important component of manufacturing sector.
  • The manufacturing sector is crucial for the development of the country’s economy as the Capital Goods industry contributes about 12% to the total manufacturing activity in India that is about 2% of the GDP. 
  • The Government of India has set a target of USD 1 trillion manufacturing economy in the next five years and to achieve this the sector has to grow at double digits. 

Ladakhi New Year being celebrated with traditional fervor & enthusiasm

News:Union Territory of Ladakh is celebrating Losar Festival on 27 December 2019.


About Losar Festival:

  • Losar is Tibetan word for new year.Losar festival is celebrated to mark the Ladakhi or Tibetan New Year.
  • The festival is regarded as the most important socio-religious event of Ladakh.
  • The festival is held annually on the 1st Day of the Eleventh Month of Tibetan Calendar correlating to a date in the Gregorian calendar. 
  • During the festival,Ladakhi Buddhists make religious offering before their deities in the domestic shrines or in the Gompas.
  • The festival also organises various cultural events, ancient rituals and also traditional performances.

Additional information:

  • The variation of the Losar festival in Nepal is called as Lhochhar festival. It is observed about eight weeks earlier than the Tibetan Losar.

CCMB kicks off its Young Innovators Program

News:Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology(CCMB) has launched its 7 Young Innovators’ Program (YIP).


About Young Innovators’ Program(YIP):

  • The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology(CCMB) Young Innovators is a program for school children.
  • The program aims to emphasize that creativity, keen interest and enthusiasm are the main components of success in science by giving access to active research labs via this program.
  • It identifies talented young students of grades VIII to X and encourages them to appreciate scientific methodologies through this program.
  • The selected students carry out experiments such as preparation and analysis of their own DNA, preparation and examination of nanoparticles, grow bacteria and count them. 
  • Apart from this, they also interact with various scientists and discuss their work during the program.On successful completion of the program, students are awarded with a certificate.

Additional information:

About CCMB:

  • The Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology(CCMB) is a premier research organization in frontier areas of modern biology. 
  • The objectives of the Centre are to conduct high quality basic research and training in frontier areas of modern biology and promote centralized national facilities for new and modern techniques in the interdisciplinary areas of biology.

To control strays, Centre pushes new technology to produce only female calves

News:The Centre has found an innovative solution to control stray animal population.It is implementing the sex-sorting semen technology for artificial insemination which will produce only female animals.


About Sexed Semen:

  • Sexed semen technology is about preselecting the sex of offspring by sorting or separating the X-sperms from Y-sperms.
  • The aim is to deliver freedom from male calves by ensuring that cows are inseminated by semen containing only X-chromosome-bearing sperms.This will ensure that only a female calf is born.

How does this process works?

  • The reproductive system of cattle is similar to humans.Cows carry XX chromosomes while bull semen carries both X and Y.
  • If the egg fertilized with an ‘X’ chromosome,a female calf is born and if with ‘Y’, a male is born.
  • There are two techniques to produce sexed semen (a)One is the ‘sorting process’ in which ‘X’ and ‘Y’ chromosomes are separated. ‘X’ are retained and ‘Y’ discarded and (b)The other is in which ‘Y’ chromosomes are altogether killed.
  • After this,Cows are impregnated using sexed semen through the artificial insemination process with consumption of one straw per cow.
  • Artificial insemination is the technique in which semen with living sperm is collected from the male and introduced into female reproductive tract at the proper time with the help of instruments.

Significance of this method:

  • This method is being used as male calves are considered a financial burden.They are either killed or abandoned on the roads by farmers as they do not give milk.
  • This has led to an increasing number of cattle roaming the streets which has caused fatal road accidents as well.
  • Hence,this technology would help dairy farmers ensure production of only female calves which would eventually put an end to the practice of abandoning the male calves that later posing a major threat to human life in the form of the stray cattle.

Financial system stable despite slowdown:RBI report 

News:The Reserve Bank of India has released its biannual Financial Stability Report,2019.


About Financial Stability Report:

  • The Financial Stability Report are bi-annual reports published by the Reserve Bank of India(RBI).
  • The report is the collective assessment of the Sub-Committee of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) on risks to financial stability.
  • It reviews the nature, magnitude and implications of risks that may have a bearing on the macroeconomic environment, financial institutions, markets and infrastructure.

Key takeaways from the report:

On India’s Economic Growth:

  • The Reserve Bank has said that the country’s financial system remains stable despite slowing economic growth. 
  • The aggregate demand has slowed down in the second half of the current financial year ending March 2020 adding to an already slowing economic growth.
  • The Global factors such as a delay in Brexit deal, trade tensions, impending recession, oil-market disruptions and geopolitical risks has caused uncertainties leading to a significant deceleration in growth.
  • The reviving of the twin engines of India’s economic growth namely private consumption and investment while being vigilant about developments in global financial markets remain a critical challenge for RBI.

On Banking Sector:

  • The Banks capital adequacy ratio has improved significantly after the recapitalisation of public sector banks(PSBs) by the government. 
  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) has tackled the issue of bad loans which had slowed down the performance and growth of private, public-sector banks and even non-banks.
  • RBI has also taken several policy measures to improve the condition of the financial system such as (a)introducing a liquidity management regime for NBFCs (b)improving the banks’ governance culture (c)resolution of stressed assets and (d)for the development of payment infrastructure.
  • However,RBI expects the banks gross non-performing asset(GNPA) ratio to increase from 9.3% in September 2019 to 9.9% by September 2020.
  • This is primarily due to change in macroeconomic scenario, marginal increase in slippages and the denominator effect of declining credit growth.
  • Further,the frauds reported by the banks touched an all time high of around Rs 1.13 lakhs in the FY19.The frauds reported between 2001-18 accounted to 90% of the frauds registered in 2019 alone.

Additional information:

About Capital Adequacy Ratio(CAR):

  • Capital Adequacy Ratio(CAR) is the ratio of a bank’s capital in relation to its risk weighted assets and current liabilities. 
  • It is decided by central banks and bank regulators to prevent commercial banks from taking excess leverage and becoming insolvent in the process.
  • The risk weighted assets take into account (a)credit risk (b)market risk and (c)operational risk while deciding Capital Adequacy Ratio(CAR).

Explained:Significance of Iran, China, Russia holding joint naval drill in Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman

News:Iran, China and Russia has began a joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman.


About the Naval Exercise:

  • The aim of this exercise is to bolster security of international maritime commerce, combatting piracy and terrorism and sharing information and experience.
  • The exercise began in the port city of Chabahar in southeastern Iran and are due to continue in northern parts of the Indian Ocean.
  • The exercise comes at a time of heightened tensions between the US and Iran after the United States had withdrawn from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in May,2018.

Significance of the exercise:

  • The Gulf of Oman where the exercise is being held is a critical waterway as it connects the Arabian Sea to the Strait of Hormuz.
  • It is located between energy producers countries namely Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman (the exclave of Musandam), and the United Arab Emirates(UAE).
  • A fifth of the world’s oil passes through this waterway — around 30% of all sea-borne crude oil globally.
  • Since 2019, the region around the Gulf of Oman has been a focal point of global tensions.
  • In June 2019,two tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman.The ship were carrying oil and other transporting a cargo of chemicals near the strategically important Strait of Hormuz. The US has blamed Iran for the attack but Iran had denied the allegations.

Explained:Swami Shraddhanand and Arya Samaj

News:Recently,Arya Samaj observed the death anniversary of Arya Samaj Missionary Swami Shraddhanand who was assassinated on December 23, 1926.


About Swami Shraddhanand:

  • Swami Shraddhanand was born on February 22,1856 at village Talwan in Jalandhar district in Punjab province.
  • In the early 1880s, he came into contact with Swami Dayanand, the founder of the Arya Samaj.Shraddhanand also wrote a book called Hindu Sangathan.
  • By 1923, he focussed primarily on the shuddhi movement(reconversion to Hinduism).
  • Shuddhi Movement was started by Arya Samaj to bring back the people who had converted to Islam and Christianity from Hinduism.Swami Dayanand Sarawati played a prominent role in the shuddhi movement.
  • In 1923, he also became the president of Bharatiya Hindu Shuddhi Sabha created with an aim of reconverting Muslims specifically Malkani Rajputs in the western United Province.
  • He was also against the then prevailing social inequality in Indian society particularly untouchability which he termed as a curse and a blot on the reputation of the Hindus.

About Arya Samaj:

  • Arya Samaj is a Hindu reform movement that was founded by Dayanand Saraswati in 1875 in Bombay.The movement believes in the infallible authority of the Vedas.
  • The central objectives of Arya Samaj is to eradicate Ignorance (Agyan), Indigence or Poverty (Abhav) and Injustice (Anayay) from this earth.

A hundred Tibetan gazelles

News:Recently,the Tibetan gazelles has been in the news for its declining population since the last decade.


About Tibetan gazelles:

  • Tibetan gazelles are also known as goa (Procapra picticaudata).They are a species of antelope that inhabits the Tibetan plateau.
  • The Tibetan gazelles are endemic to the Tibetan plateau and given its wide distribution across Tibet, Ladakh and parts of Sikkim.
  • They are listed as Near Threatened in the IUCN red list.
  • Tibetan gazelles fur lacks an undercoat.It consists of long guard hairs only and is notably thicker in winter.


  • According to recent assessments,the population of Tibetan Gazelles is on the decline since the last decade.
  • Hunting and intensified livestock grazing are the primary causes of the decline of the Tibetan gazelle.

IAF bids farewell to its most lethal MiG-27 as it flies one last time

News:The MiG-27 which is known as Bahadur has been decommissioned by the Indian Air Force(IAF).


About MIG 27:

  • The MIG 27 was commissioned into the Indian Air Force in 1985 from erstwhile Soviet Union(Russia).
  • It was initially developed in the Soviet Union and later indigenously manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in India.
  • The aircraft is known for its role during the 1999 Kargil War which earned the nickname ‘Bahadur’ from IAF pilots.
  • The aircraft is currently in service with the Kazakhstan and Sri Lankan Air Forces in the ground attack role.All Russian and Ukrainian MiG-27s have been retired.

Features of the aircraft:

  • The aircraft has a single-engine which is the most powerful in the world and variable geometry wing.This wing allows the fighter pilot to change the wing sweep angle as per the mission requirements.
  • The maximum speed of the aircraft is 1,700 km/hr.It can carry up to 4,000 kg of other armament externally.
  • It is upgraded with the state of the art avionics and weapon computers.It has the capability to deliver different loads on ground targets with precision.
  • It also has the capability to drop bombs, precision munitions guided by TV/laser and also air-to-air missiles for self-defence.
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