20th Dec, 2020

India Ranks 111 in Human Freedom Index 2020; New Zealand Tops

India has been ranked at the 111th spot out of 162 countries in the Human Freedom Index 2020. In 2019, India was ranked 94 on the index.

The overall human freedom score of India in 2020 was 6.43.

New Zealand (8.87), Switzerland (8.82) and Hong Kong (8.74) has bagged the first three spots. 

Syrian Arab Republic is the last ranked country with the human freedom score of 3.97 out of 10.

Human Freedom Index 2020

The Human Freedom Index is published by American think tank Cato Institute and Fraser Institute in Canada.

The index ranks a country based on the civil, economic and personal freedom, enjoyed by the resident of that country.

It has taken into account 76 indicators of personal, civil, and economic freedoms to rank 162 countries.

These indicators are grouped in 12 major parameters.

The 2020 Index has taken into account the data from 2008 to 2018.

The countries get score on a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 represents more freedom.

RBI extends restrictions on PMC Bank for 3 months till 31 March 2020

The Reserve Bank of India has further extended the restrictions on crisis-ridden Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank by three months till 31 March, 2021.

The bank has also received four Expression of Interest (EoI) for its revival. To examine them, the bank would need some more time.

These proposals will be examined by the bank with regard to their viability and feasibility taking into account the best interest of the depositors.

As per the Expression of Interest, the bank wants to identify a suitable equity investor/ group of investors willing to take over management control so as to revive the bank and commence regular day-to-day operations.

The PMC bank was placed under Directions by RBI with effect from the close of its business on September 23, 2019 and superseded the bank’s board due to a huge fraud perpetrated by the promoter of a real estate group and some bank officials.

The Directions for PMC Bank were last extended for a further period of six months from June 23, 2020, to December 22, 2020

World Bank approves several projects to support development initiatives in India

The World Bank has approved several projects for India, to support development initiatives that will strengthen India’s social protection architecture. These include:

  • Chhattisgarh Inclusive Rural and Accelerated Agriculture Growth Project (CHIRAAG);
  • Nagaland: Enhancing Classroom Teaching and Resources Project; and
  • Second Dam Improvement and Rehabilitation Project (DRIP-2).

CHIRAAG project

Amount sanctioned: USD 100 million

CHIRAAG aims at promoting nutrition-supportive agriculture for tribal households in Chhattisgarh

It will develop sustainable production systems that allow tribal households in remote areas of Chhattisgarh to practice round-the-year production of diversified and nutritious food.

It will be implemented in the southern tribal-majority region of the state where a large population is undernourished and poor.

The project will benefit over 180,000 households from about 1,000 villages in eight districts of Chhattisgarh.

Nagaland: Enhancing Classroom Teaching and Resources Project

Amount approved: USD 68 million

It will improve classroom instruction; create opportunities for the professional development of teachers; and build technology systems to provide students and teachers with more access to blended and online learning as well as allow better monitoring of policies and programs. It will enhance overall quality education in the state


Financial aid approved: USD 250 million

DRIP-2 will improve the safety and performance of existing dams across various states of India, and strengthen dam safety by building dam safety guidelines; bring in global experience; and introduce newer technologies.

PM Modi Confers ‘ASSOCHAM Enterprise of the Century Award’ to Shri Ratan Tata

Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressed the ‘ASSOCHAM Foundation Week 2020’ via video conferencing on 19th December 2020.

The week long Associated Chambers of Commerce of India (ASSOCHAM) Foundation Week was organised from 15 to 19 December 2020.

The theme of the programme was ‘India’s resilience: Atmanirbhar roadmap towards $5 trillion economy.’

As a part of the celebration, PM Modi also presented the ‘ASSOCHAM Enterprise of the Century Award’ to Shri Ratan Tata, on behalf of the TATA Group, for his distinguished contributions to the country.

In the last 100 years, ASSOCHAM and the entire Tata group has worked very hard to strengthen India’s economy and help the common Indian.

It must be noted that Mr. Tata will also be honored with the ‘Global Visionary of Sustainable Business and Peace’ award by the Indo-Israel Chambers of Commerce on December 21. 

He will receive the award during the launch of the Federation of Indo-Israel Chamber of Commerce’s international chapter in Dubai, for promoting innovation that supports sustainability and peace in the region, including with the Palestinians.

Union Minister Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad presents Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Telecom Skill Excellence Awards

The Union Minister of Communications and Electronics & IT, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad presented the Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Telecom Skill Excellence Awards for the year 2018 along with Shri Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre, Minister of State for Communications and Electronics & IT on 18th December 2020.

First Prize – Shri. Sreenivas Karanam of Bangalore – Rs 50,000 

Second Prize – Prof. Subrat Kar of New Delhi  – Rs 30,000

The Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Telecom Skill Excellence Awards scheme was launched in 2017 by DoT.

The award was named after Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay ji to commemorate his birth centenary.

Purpose : to reward the successful telecom skilled people for their special contributions  in the areas of Telecom Skilling, Telecom Services, Telecom Manufacturing, Telecom Applications in deploying telecom dependent sectoral solutions for different fields such as agriculture, commerce, health, education etc.

The nominations were called for the first time for year 2018. 

Sreenivas Karanam received the award for his contribution in developing a cost-effective customized technical solution under the brand ‘C mobile’, for deep sea communication, operating along the Kerala coast, facilitating communication among fishermen and issue of weather alerts etc 

Subrat Kar was selected for his innovative solution on development & deployment of a large scale sensor network  and devices to avoid train-animal collision , which works without interfering with natural movements/behaviour of animals, thereby helping in wildlife conservation. 

Indian entrepreneur Vidyut Mohan among UNEP’s Seven ‘Young Champions of the Earth’ for 2020

A 29-year-old Indian entrepreneur, Vidyut Mohan, has been recognised as one of the seven winners of the prestigious “Young Champions of the Earth” 2020 prize given by the UN environment agency, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) annually.

The Young Champions of the Earth is given to global change-makers, for using innovative ideas and ambitious action to help solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

The prize is awarded every year to seven entrepreneurs under the age of 30 with bold ideas for sustainable environmental change.

About Vidyut Mohan

An engineer by profession, Vidyut Mohan is the co-founder of a social enterprise “Takachar”.

Through his enterprise, Vidyut helped the farmers to turn their farm waste into value-added chemicals like activated carbon on-site, which in turn helped them to earn extra income as well as prevented open burning of waste farm residues.

Other Winners

  • Nzambi Matee from Kenya
  • Xiaoyuan Ren from China 
  • Lefteris Arapakis from Greece
  • Niria Alicia Garcia from the US
  • Max Hidalgo Quinto from Peru
  • Fatemah Alzelzela from Kuwait 

Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir announces retirement from international cricket

The 28-year-old Pakistani fast bowler Mohammad Amir has announced his retirement from international cricket.

Mohammad Amir has given ‘mental torture’ from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), as the reason for his retirement. 

Amir had already announced retirement from Test cricket in 2019.

Amir played 30 Tests, 61 ODIs, and 50 T20Is in his international career, during which he took 119, 81, and 59 wickets in the three formats respectively.

His last appearance for Pakistan was in the T20I series against England in August 2020. 

Mauritius badminton player Kate Foo Kune banned for two years in doping case

The Mauritian badminton player Kate Jessica Foo Kune has been banned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for two years for an anti-doping violation.

The ban period of the 27-year-old Kune will apply from 15 December 2020.

Foo Kune tested positive for a banned steroid during the 2019 African Badminton World Championships in Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Goa Liberation Day: 19 December

The Goa Liberation Day (गोवा मुक्ति दिवस) is observed on December 19 in India. 2020 marks the 60th Goa Liberation Day.

The Day is celebrated to commemorate the great valour of the Indian armed forces in freeing Goa from around 450 years of Portuguese rule.

Goa was liberated on December 19, 1961.

The 36-hour military operation, conducted from December 18, 1961, was code-named ‘Operation Vijay’ meaning ‘Operation Victory,’ and involved attacks by the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and Indian Army.

International Human Solidarity Day : 20 December 

Every year International Human Solidarity Day is observed on December 20 to celebrate the unity in diversity and raise awareness about the importance of solidarity.

The day was proclaimed by the United Nations’ (UN) General Assembly on December 22, 2005.

According to the United Nations Millennium Declaration, solidarity is among the fundamental values that are essential to international relations.

Solidarity is defined as an awareness of shared interests and objectives that create a psychological sense of unity and ties in a society that bind people together as one.

Veteran Journalist and first official RSS Spokesperson MG Vaidya passes away at 97

Senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue MG Vaidya has passed away after a brief illness. He was 97.

Vaidya was a veteran journalist, a Sanskrit scholar and the first official spokesperson of the RSS.

The RSS is the ideological mentor of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Vaidya became a member of the RSS in 1943.