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Important Current Affairs 31st December 2021

NATIONAL

PM Narendra Modi launches blockchain-based digital degrees at IIT Kanpur convocation

• Under the National Blockchain Project, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched blockchain-based digital degrees at the 54th Convocation Ceremony of IIT Kanpur. Later Prime Minister also inaugurated the completed section of the Kanpur Metro Rail Project and the Bina-Panki Multiproduct Pipeline Project. These digital degrees can be verified globally and are unforgeable.

• The blockchain technology being used by IIT Kanpur to award digital degrees has been developed in-house. It is being touted as a revolutionary technology for the education sector. The technology is already being used in the financial sector. The technology has been developed by the institute under the National Blockchain Project.

PM inaugurates Bina (MP)-Panki (UP) Multiproduct pipeline project, Total cost of the project is Rs.1524 crore

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the 356 Km long Bina Refinery (Madhya Pradesh)- POL Terminal at Panki (Kanpur, UP) Multiproduct pipeline project ( capacity of 45 million metric tonnes per annum) with an outlay of Rs 1524 crore (Rs. 1227 crores in UP and Rs. 297 crores in MP). The project has been completed and commissioned one month ahead of the approved completion schedule of December 2021 (3 years from PNGRB authorisation) and within the approved cost. It will provide for safe and efficient evacuation of products from Bina Refinery and also improve the availability of products in Eastern U.P, Central U.P., Northern Bihar and Southern Uttarakhand.

• PM has also inaugurated the completed section of the Kanpur Metro Rail Project and undertook a metro ride from the IIT metro station to Geeta Nagar. The entire length of the Metro Rail Project in Kanpur is 32 Km and is being built at a cost of around ₹11,000 crores. PM also attended the 54th Convocation Ceremony of IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) Kanpur.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

CP Goyal as Director-General of Forests & Special Secretary

• Indian Forest Service officer, Chandra Prakash Goyal has been appointed as the Director-General of Forests & Special Secretary (DGF&SS), Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change. Goyal, a 1986 batch IFS officer was previously the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest under Uttar Pradesh Department of Forest.

• The Appointments Committee of the Union Cabinet approved the appointment of the IFoS officer. He had returned to UP after being on central deputation as Joint Secretary in the Indian Department of Biotechnology.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

Sahitya Akademi Announces Winners Of Yuva Puraskar, Bal Sahitya Puraskar 2021

• Sahitya Akademi announced its prestigious Sahitya Akademi Awards, Yuva Puraskar and Bal Sahitya Puraskar 2021 in various languages. According to the board, an engraved copper plate, shawl and an amount of Rs 1 lakh will be given to the main Sahitya Akademi prize winner and an engraved copper plate and an amount of Rs 50,000 each will be given to the Yuva Puraskar and Bal Sahitya Puraskar.

• The Sahitya Akademi Award 2021 was given in 20 Indian languages, the winner of Gujarati, Maithili, Manipuri, and Urdu languages will be announced at a later date. Seven books of poetry, two novels, five books of short stories, two plays, one book each of biography, autobiography, criticism, and epic poetry have won the Sahitya Akademi Awards 2021. Author, Namita Gokhale was awarded for her novel Things to Leave Behind.

RANKING

ARIIA rankings: IIT Madras bags No. 1 spot for third consecutive year

• IIT Madras has bagged the first position in the Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) 2021, for the third consecutive year, under the category of CFTIs/ Central Universities/ Institute of National Importance (Technical). The third edition of the ARIIA ranking was dominated by the IITs in the centrally funded institution category. Seven IITs are on the top-10 list. IIT-Madras is followed by IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, IT Kanpur, and IIT Roorkee. The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru bagged the sixth position in the category.

• In the state and deemed to be universities category, Panjab University (Chandigarh) topped the ranking followed by Delhi Technological University, and Netaji Subhas University of Technology (Delhi).

• In the government engineering colleges category, the College of Engineering in Pune stood first, followed by PSG College of Technology in Tamil Nadu, and LD College of Engineering in Gujarat.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

India welcomes Egypt as member of New Development Bank of BRICS

• Egypt added as the fourth new member of BRICS New Development Bank. Bangladesh, UAE, and Uruguay joined BRICS New Development Bank in September 2021. Membership expansion enables New Development Bank to position itself as a premier development institution for emerging economies. BRICS New Development Bank is a multilateral bank that was established by Brazil, Russia, China, India, and South Africa to finance sustainable development and infrastructure projects.

Real GDP likely to sustain 9% growth rate in FY22 & 23: Icra

• ICRA Credit rating agency has expected India’s real gross domestic product (GDP) will grow with 9% rate in fiscal years 2022 and 2023. The Indian economy has grown at 8.4 percent in the second quarter of the current fiscal year. ICRA said the growth momentum is not enough to confirm a change in the Monetary Policy stance in the February 2022 review. The Future Expectation Index continued to display optimism because of improving the overall economic situation.

Axis Bank is 2nd largest in PoS machines in India

• Axis Bank has become the second-largest merchant-acquiring bank in the country, leapfrogging two spaces during 2021 by installing over two lakh card-swipe machines during the year. This is part of the bank’s ‘Axis One’ strategy where it approaches the customers by offering its entire gamut of products instead of a standalone service.

• Axis Bank’s strategy to increase the number of merchants is to offer the latest in technology to them and address pain points. For instance, the bank installs Android PoS machines and has also come out with a printer-less compact machine. On the agenda are bring-your-own-device (BYOD) solutions that will enable the use of regular smartphones with an attachment for accepting cards.

IndusInd Bank has announced the launch of 'Green Fixed Deposits'

• IndusInd Bank has announced the launch of ‘green fixed deposits’, whereby the deposit proceeds will be used to finance projects and firms supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A green deposit is a fixed-term deposit for investors looking to invest their surplus cash reserves in environmentally friendly projects. These deposits will be offered to both retail & corporate customers.

• The Bank will use the proceeds from these deposits to finance a wide array of sectors falling under the SDG category including, energy efficiency, renewable energy, green transport, sustainable food, agriculture, forestry, waste management and greenhouse gas reduction.

• The interest on the Green deposit remains attractive with an additional benefit of 50 basis points for senior citizens. In all ways, it is similar to a regular bank deposit but in addition, depositors will be issued a ‘Green’ certificate as well as an ‘Assurance’ certificate confirming the end-use of deposit proceeds at the end of the financial year.”

RBI releases report on trend and progress of banking in India

• India’s central bank, RBI has released the latest iteration of its annual report on the financial performance of the country. In its report, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) details that, despite the devastation caused by the COVID-19 outbreak in India, the financial performance of banks has improved, citing a fall in the gross non-performing asset ratio for scheduled commercial banks (SCBs).

• The report, titled ‘Report on Trend and Progress of Banking in India,’ also showed how a rise in profitability of SCBs in 2020-21 was driven less by an increase in income but more via reductions in expenditure.

• The gross non-performing assets (GNPAs) ratio of SCBs fell from 8.2 per cent at the end of March 2020 to 7.3 per cent in March 2021. This decreased further to 6.9 per cent at the end of September 2021.

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