1. India-Germany Leaders’ Video-Teleconference

  • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi held a video-teleconference with a German counterpart, Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel.
  • The two leaders discussed key issues of mutual importance including the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, bilateral ties, regional and global issues, particularly India-EU relations.
  • The Prime Minister briefed Chancellor Merkel on the developments in India with regard to the vaccine and assured Chancellor Merkel of India‟s commitment to deploy its capacities for the benefit of the world.
  • The Prime Minister welcomed Germany‟s decision to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and expressed his desire to further strengthen cooperation with Germany under the platform of Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

2. Cabinet approves signing of Memorandum of Cooperation between India and Japan on Partnership in “Specified Skilled Worker”

  • The Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) would enhance people-to-people contacts, foster mobility of workers and skilled professionals from India to Japan.
  • Skilled Indian workers from fourteen sectors viz. Nursing care; Building cleaning; Material Processing industry; Industrial machinery manufacturing industry; Electric and electronic information related industry; Construction; Shipbuilding and ship-related industry; Automobile maintenance; Aviation; Lodging; Agriculture; Fisheries; Food and beverages manufacturing industry and Foodservice industry would have enhanced job opportunities to work in Japan.

3. World of Coriander Webinar held to Accelerate Quality Production & Export of Coriander

  • The Spices Board of India and DBT-SABC Biotech Kisan Hub in collaboration with ICAR-NRCSS, RSAMB and Kota Agriculture University organized the World of Coriander webinar, Accelerating Quality Production, Post-Harvesting, Value Addition & Export of Coriander from India‟ on 4th January 2020, with the participation of more than hundred key stakeholders from various states.
  • The Hadoti region of South-East Rajasthan and Guna district of Madhya Pradesh is known for coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) production and contributes a major share in coriander export from the country.
  • Considering the vast potential of Hadoti-Guna region, Sh D Sathiyan, Chairman-cum-Secretary of the Spices Board of India urged the
    entrepreneurs and exporters to tap the tremendous opportunities in the export of whole coriander and other processed products such as coriander split (daal), powder and essential oil.
  • Smt Anu Shree Poonia, Spices Board Member, underlined the need for integrated and coordinated efforts from all departments to make Rajasthan the next spice manufacturing and export hub.
  • With the same outlook, Sh PM Suresh Kumar, Director, Spices Board highlighted about common facility centre established by Spices Board in Spice Parks located at Jodhpur, Ramganj Mandi (Kota) and Guna andon increased demand for Indian Spices in the International market, particularly Coriander.

4. Status report on Avian Influenza in Kerala in ducks and report of avian influenza in crows/wild/ migratory birds in the country

  • Some samples of crow from Kale Hanumanji Forest Nakka, Jaipur, Rajasthan found positive for H5N8 Avian influenza virus.
  • Advisories have been issued to the States so as to avoid further spread of disease to poultry. Unusual moralities have been found in 7111 domestic birds in Haryana, 150 wild birds in Madhya Pradesh, 10 crows in Gujarat, 336 migratory birds in Himachal Pradesh today.
  • As per report received from Haryana, a total of 430267 birds have died in Barwala, Panchkula in past 25 days and the samples have been sent to the designated laboratory for testing, the results are still awaited.
  • The state has constituted 59 RRTs to control and contain the disease.

5. Government of India & NDB sign two loan agreements for USD 646 million for upgrading State Highway Network and District Road Network in Andhra Pradesh.

  • The NDB was established based on the Inter-Governmental agreement among the BRICS countries (Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa) signed on July 15, 2014. The Bank’s purpose is to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging market economies and developing countries.
  • The Government of India, the Government of Andhra Pradesh, and the New Development Bank (NDB) today signed loan agreements of up to USD 323 million each for two projects.
  • The first project – Andhra Pradesh Roads and Bridges Reconstruction Project – comprises widening 1,600 km of State Highways to double lane and reconstructing dilapidated bridges on the State Highway network.
  • The second project – Andhra Pradesh Mandal Connectivity and Rural Connectivity Improvement Project – comprises widening 1,400 km of district roads to double lane and reconstructing dilapidated bridges on the district road network. The Government of Andhra Pradesh will implement the Projects through the Roads and Buildings Department.
  • The two projects are expected to improve mobility and connectivity to the socioeconomic centres, enhance transport efficiency, improve road safety and riding quality, and provide all-weather accessibility for the State’s road users.
  • The projects would increase the roads’ daily traffic capacity to 15,000 passenger car units, which is expected to meet the projected traffic growth over the next 20 years.
  • The agreement was signed by Shri Baldeo Purushartha, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India, Shri M. T. Krishna Babu, Principal Secretary, Transport, Roads and Buildings Department on behalf of the Government of Andhra Pradesh and Mr Xian Zhu, Vice President, and Chief Operations Officer on behalf of the NDB.

6. Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh rewarded for completing three out of four reforms.

  • Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have become the first group of States to complete three out of the four citizen-centric reforms stipulated by the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance.
  • The two States have completed the One Nation, One Ration Card Reforms, Ease of Doing Business Reforms, and Urban Local Bodies Reforms.
  • Upon completion of reforms in the three sectors, the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance has decided to provide additional financial assistance amounting to Rs.1004 crore to these States under the newly launched Scheme of “Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure”.
  • The Scheme of “Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure” is aimed at boosting capital expenditure by the State Governments who are facing difficult financial environment this year due to the shortfall in tax revenue arising from the COVID 19 pandemic.
  • Andhra Pradesh will get an additional amount of Rs.344 crore .
  • Madhya Pradesh has become entitled to receive Rs.660 crore for capital projects. The Scheme was announced by the Finance Minister on 12th October 2020 as part of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat package.

7. In a massive country-wide exercise, another Mock Drill on COVID19 Vaccine administration to be conducted in all States and UTs on 8th January 2021.

  • Around 1.7 lakh vaccinators and 3 lakh vaccination team members trained in vaccine administration.
  • Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) has been proactively carrying out the preparations for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine, in collaboration with States/UTs and all stakeholders, over the past couple of months to ensure that the preparations for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Two COVID vaccines have been given emergency use authorisation by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) recently.
  • As a simulation of actual execution, another round of dry run/mock drill in all 700+ districts of all States/UTs (except UP and Haryana who have already conducted/ will be conducting the dry run in all districts on 5th January and 7th January respectively) is planned on 8th January 2021 to ensure efficient planning and management for vaccine delivery in each district of all States/UTs.
  • To facilitate the entire vaccination process software Co-WIN has been developed by the Health Ministry for real-time information of vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries for COVID-19 vaccine.
  • This software will assist the programme managers across all levels in the conduct of the vaccination sessions. A dedicated 24×7 call centre has also been established for technical queries of Co-WIN users

8. Dr Harsh Vardhan releases Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI) Wave-1, India Report.

  • “Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI) will provide an evidence base for national and state-level programmes and policies for the elderly population”.
  • LASI is a full–scale national survey of scientific investigation of the health, economic, and social determinants and consequences of population ageing in India.
  • The National Programme for Health Care of Elderly, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has undertaken the Longitudinal Ageing Study of India, through International Institute for Population Sciences, (IIPS), Mumbai in collaboration with Harvard School of Public Health, University of Southern California, USA, Dte.GHS, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and National Institute on Ageing.
  • It is India‟s first and the world‟s largest ever survey that provides a longitudinal database for designing policies and programmes for the older population in the broad domains of social, health, and economic well-being.
  • The LASI, Wave 1 covered a baseline sample of 72,250 individuals aged 45 and above and their spouses including 31,464 elderly persons aged 60 and above and 6,749 oldest-old persons aged 75 and above from all States and Union Territories (UTs) of India (excluding Sikkim).
  • A unique feature of LASI is the coverage of comprehensive biomarkers. No other survey in India collects detailed data on health and biomarkers together with information on family and social network, income, assets, and consumption.

9. Central Vista: India court clears controversial Delhi renovation plan.

  • India’s Supreme Court has allowed the government to go ahead with a renovation project that includes the construction of a new parliament.
  • The new building, which will be larger than the current one, will have seating for 1,400 MPs, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
  • Under the renovation plan – known as the Central Vista Project – a new building will replace the existing colonial-era parliament complex.
  • It is expected to be completed by 2022 when India celebrates 75 years of independence.

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