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Important Current Affairs 17th January 2021

NATIONAL

Kite festival Shakrain celebrated in Dhaka

• On this occasion, people engaged in kite flying and fireworks among many other recent additions like ‘DJ Party’ to celebrate this occasion. The kite flying competition is followed by winter cake festival -- pithapuli in which rice cake pudding is eaten by people.

• This is a centuries-old tradition in several parts of Bangladesh celebrated on the last day of the Bengali month of Paush. People in the old Dhaka city of Shakhari Bazar, Laxmibazar, Bangshal and Sutrapur among others celebrated this festival with great joy.

• The Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) organised the festival for the first time this year with the slogan ‘Let’s Fly a kite, Cherish Tradition’. The festival was held in all the 75 wards of DSCC with the Mayor Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh inaugurating the festival by flying the kite in the city.

Indian-American Garima Verma named digital director in Office of the First Lady

• Incoming First Lady, Jill Biden has named Indian-American Garima Verma as her digital director and Michael LaRosa press secretary, the Biden transition team has announced.  She served as audience development and content strategist on the Biden-Harris campaign. Before joining the campaign, Verma was a volunteer with the content team, designing graphics for distribution to Biden-Harris volunteers across the country.

• Verma, who was born in India, grew up in Ohio and the Central Valley of California. She previously worked in the entertainment space, marketing films at Paramount Pictures and television shows at The Walt Disney Company’s ABC Network, and media agency Horizon Media. Verma has also served as an independent consultant in marketing, design and digital for a number of small business and non-profit clients.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

TEPC appoints Sandeep Aggarwal as new Chairman

• The Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC) has appointed Sandeep Aggarwal as the new Chairman. Aggarwal, the Managing Director and Promoter of Delhi-based Paramount Communications, will take over from Shyamal Ghosh, ex-Telecom Secretary.

• TEPC is an independent body set up by the government to promote and develop the export of telecom equipment and services.

Indian-American Vidur Sharma Appointed As Covid Testing Adviser By Biden

• Joe Biden has named Indian-American health policy expert Vidur Sharma as testing advisor in his C-19 Response Team, as the US President-elect laid out his ambitious goal to intensify vaccinations across the country to tackle the spread of the deadly pandemic.

• The announcement of Sharma's appointment as Policy Advisor for Testing was made by Biden on Friday along with additional members of the White House C-19 Response Team.

• During the Obama administration, Sharma served as a health policy advisor on the Domestic Policy Council.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

IFFI: Biswajit Chatterjee awarded ‘Indian Personality of the Year’

• Inaugurating the 51st International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here on Saturday, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar, announced a new ‘Indian Personality of the Year’ award, which he announced was being conferred upon veteran actor, director and singer Biswajit Chatterjee.

• During his address, Javadekar also made a strong pitch for the film industry as well as other private companies to start participating in the annual festival from its next edition.

Shri Amresh Kumar Chaudhary has been awarded prestigious "Chief of Army Staff Commendation"

• Incumbent Chief Controller, Shri Amresh Kumar Chaudhary has been awarded prestigious " Chief of Army Staff Commendation" for his outstanding contribution to Armed Forces during critical period of Covid19 pandemic and it’s various operations.

• Shri Amresh Kumar Chaudhary is currently working as Chief Controller in Mil Rail.

• Shri Amresh Kumar Chaudhary is a very sincere, hard-working, proactive and result-oriented official with highest degree of integrity.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

ICICI Bank ties up with fintech Niyo to issue prepaid cards to MSMEs

• ICICI Bank, a leading Indian private sector bank, and Niyo, a new age fintech company announced a tie-up to issue prepaid cards to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) workers. MSMEs will now be able to get ‘ICICI Bank Niyo Bharat Payroll Card’ powered by Visa, for their blue-collar workers.

• With this, MSMEs can upload the salaries of their workers on the card, which the workers can then utilise as per their need seamlessly.

• These workers are mostly under-banked and are deprived of banking facilities.

• The ‘ICICI Bank Niyo Bharat Payroll Card’ allows an individual to receive funds up to Rs 1 lakh into the card account. It offers convenience and safety of digital banking to the blue-collar workforce while providing a state-of-the-art salary disbursement solution to the employers.

• Any MSME can tie-up with Niyo to avail of the prepaid card. After the tie-up, cards are issued to the workers at their workplace itself while their KYC verification is done simultaneously using a biometric device.

• Once activated, workers can use the card to withdraw funds at ATMs, make online transactions on e-commerce portals and make payment by swiping the card at Point of Sale (PoS) machines.

YES Bank launches wellness themed credit card

• Yes Bank has announced its partnership with Aditya Birla Wellness Private Limited to launch the ‘YES BANK Wellness’ and ‘YES BANK Wellness Plus’ Credit Cards – aimed at the holistic health, self-care and wellness of consumers. This is an innovative step to encourage and promote self-care, mental and physical well-being.

• Consumers can now enjoy the bouquet of complementary health benefits by simply registering on the Aditya Birla Multiply App.

• Benefits include reward points, diet plans, consultations etc

• The mobile app allows consumers to avail complimentary benefits such as annual health check-up, round the clock doctor or counsellor helpline, in-studio or home-based workout sessions, personalized diet plans, among others, right at their fingertips.

GM to invest C$1 billion in Canada plant to manufacture electric vans

• General Motors Co and labor union Unifor said on Friday they have reached a tentative deal for the automaker to invest nearly C$1 billion ($785.42 million) in its CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, to manufacture commercial electric vans.

• Under the tentative deal, which is yet to be ratified by the union workers, GM has agreed to begin large-scale commercial production of EV600, an electric van, at its CAMI plant, Unifor said in a statement.

• The Detroit automaker said in a separate statement that work would begin immediately at the plant.

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Important Current Affairs 8th January 2021

SPORTS

Claire Polosak set to become first female match official in men’s Test match

• Australia’s Claire Polosak is set to become the first female match official in a men’s Test match when she takes up the fourth umpire’s role in the third Test between India and Australia. The 32-year-old from New South Wales has already earned the distinction of being the first woman on-field umpire in a men’s ODI match in ICC’s Division 2 league between Namibia and Oman played at the Windhoek in 2019.

• The duties of a fourth umpire include bringing on the new ball, carrying drinks on to the field for the umpires, checking the batteries in the light meter, observing the pitch during the lunch and tea intervals to make sure there is no interference, and bringing on new bails.

• The fourth umpire can also take over the third umpire’s position if something happens to one of the on-field umpires, in which case the third umpire takes over on-field duties.

• As per ICC rules for Test matches, the fourth umpire is appointed by the home cricket board from their nominees to the International Panel of ICC Umpires and from the host country.

Khelo India Ice Hockey Tournament begins in Chiktan, Kargil

• Khelo India Ice Hockey Tournament organised at Chiktan in Kàrgil, Ladakh. For the first time, the women team of Chiktan also participated in the Khelo India Games in Kargil district. There are 13 teams from different villages of Chiktan participating in the tournament, which include 11 men’s teams and 2 women’s teams.

• The tournament was inaugurated by SDM Shakar Chiktan and the Chief Guest of the event Kacho Asgar Ali khan in the presence of ZPEO Chiktan Ghulam Rasool along with in-charge police post-Chiktan.

OBITUARY

Oldest living first-class cricketer Alan Burgess passes away

• The world’s oldest living first-class cricketer Alan Burgess has passed away at the age of 100. A right-hand batsman and slow left-arm bowler, Alan appeared in 11 first-class matches for Canterbury from 1940/41 to 1951/52 and also for New Zealand Services in England in 1945. He took 6-52 on debut against Otago at Lancaster Park in a match that began on Christmas Day 1940.

• Alan Burgess was a tank driver for New Zealand’s forces in England during the Second World War. Following his death, India’s Raghunath Chandorkar is now the oldest first-class cricketer alive.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Hima Kohli appointed as 1st Woman Chief Justice of Telangana High Court

• The senior-most judge of Delhi High Court, Justice Hima Kohli has been appointed as the new Chief Justice of Telangana High Court. She is the first woman to be sworn in as CJ of Telangana HC.

• Justice Kohli was administered the oath of office by Telangana Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan. She replaces CJ Raghvendra Singh Chauhan, who has been appointed as the CJ of Uttarakhand HC.

Biden selects Judge Merrick Garland for attorney general

• President-elect Joe Biden will nominate federal appeals judge Merrick Garland to be the next U.S. attorney general. He serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, one of 13 federal appeals courts.

• Vanita Gupta, the head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, will be nominated by Biden as the Associate Attorney General, the No. 3 people in the department.

Arup Kumar Goswami sworn in as CJ of Andhra Pradesh High Court

• Justice Goswami was transferred from the Sikkim High Court a few days ago. He replaced J.K. Maheswari who has been posted as the Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court.

• Chief Justice Goswami began his career as an advocate with the Bar Council of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura in 1985.

Alex Ellis appointed new British high commissioner to India

• Alexander Ellis has been appointed British high commissioner to India and will take up the key role later this month. He has held several posts, including deputy national security adviser in the cabinet office, director-general in the department for exiting the European Union, and the British ambassador to Portugal.

• Ellis succeeds Philip Barton. In August 2020, Barton was promoted as permanent undersecretary in the UK’s newly formed foreign, commonwealth and development office.

Karan Bajwa to head Google Cloud in Asia Pacific

• Google Cloud has announced the elevation of Karan Bajwa as its new leader for the Asia Pacific. Presently, Bajwa leads Google Cloud in India. He will lead all regional revenue and go-to-market operations for Google Cloud, including on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Google Workspace. He succeeds Rick Harshman who leaves the organisation for a new opportunity.

• At present, Bajwa is based in Gurgaon but will relocate to Singapore in 2021. He will continue to lead Google Cloud in India until a new senior leader for the business is appointed.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

A book on India’s tours Down Under by R. Kaushik

• A book titled ‘India’s 71-Year Test: The Journey to Triumph in Australia’ and one which reflects on India’s previous 12 tours Down Under, was launched.

• The book, a Bradman Museum initiative, is authored by senior cricket scribe R. Kaushik, and it chronicles a rivalry that has given a fillip to Test cricket.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

IDFC Mutual Fund unveils new investor awareness campaign #PaisonKoRokoMat

• IDFC Mutual Funds has launched its latest pan-India investor awareness campaign titled #PaisonKoRokoMat. With this new campaign, IDFC Mutual Fund aims to shift the conversation regarding wealth creation from the traditional to the contemporary.

• This new campaign of IDFC Mutual Fund urges savers to become investors and explore the smart and modern mutual fund vehicle for their investments.

• The 360-degree campaign focuses on looking beyond the traditional ways of growing your money and using your goals to allocate your money across asset classes and investment solutions.

• The campaign has been conceptualised and created by TBWAIndia.

PNB Collaborates with IIT Kanpur to set up Fintech Innovation Centre

• Punjab National Bank has partnered with IIT Kanpur and the Foundation for Innovation & Research in Science & Technology (FIRST) to set up a ‘Fintech Innovation Centre (FIC)’ at the institute’s campus. PNB and IIT Kanpur will jointly work to set up this innovation centre as a vehicle for research and development of technological solutions, with the help of FIRST, to address challenges and explore opportunities in the Banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) space.

• PNB intends to create new products or solutions with technological innovations by creating an FIC involving IITK’s experienced faculty members with the help of FIRST.

• The collaboration of technical prowess from IIT Kanpur and financial expertise of PNB makes it an apt “Fin-Tech” partnership that will help build innovations and entrepreneurial excellence.

• The FIC will be supported by a holistic ecosystem of financial institutions, academia, VC funds, technology companies and key government organizations.

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Important Current Affairs 2nd January 2021

INTERNATIONAL

GoAir announces expansion of services to United Arab Emirates

• Budget carrier GoAir on Thursday announced expansion of its services to the UAE with launch of new flights to Sharjah from Mumbai, Delhi, Kochi and Kannur.

• Currently, flights to the UAE are operated under an Air Bubble Agreement since international commercial flights to and from India remain suspended from March 23 in the wake of the C-19 pandemic.

NATIONAL

INDIAN AIR FORCE LAUNCHES E-GOVERNANCE (E-OFFICE) PAN IAF

• The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria PVSM AVSM VM ADC formally launched the IAF e-Governance (e-Office) portal at Air HQ, Vayu Bhavan on 31 Dec 20. The implementation undertaken as part of Digital India and e-governance initiative will transition the entire Indian Air Force to a ‘paperless office’ workflow.

• The launch of e-Governance in IAF marks a paradigm shift from the current method of correspondence, filing and documentation to a digital one. The platform would achieve enhanced transparency, improved efficiency, increased accountability, assured data integrity and rapidly accessible archives along with a major reduction in the use of paper.

Agriculture Ministry inaugurates virtual Agri-hackathon Atmanirbhar Krishi

• Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar inaugurated the Virtual Agri-hackathon 2020 organised by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare in association with IARI, Pusa, New Delhi.

• Speaking on the occasion, Narendra Singh Tomar said that Agri India Hackathon is the largest virtual gathering to create dialogues and accelerate innovations.

Odisha govt plans memorial for 'martyrs' C-19 warriors

• Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday announced plans to build a memorial in the State Capital for the C-19 warriors who laid their lives in the line of duty.

• The Chief Minister made this announcement during a discussion with family members of martyred C-19 warriors of five districts through video conference. Expressing his gratitude to the family members of martyred warriors, Naveen said names of those who lost their lives will be inscribed in the memorial to keep their memory live.

India exports first shipment of moringa powder to US

• India has started exports of Moringa powder, keeping in mind its rising global demand and nutritional properties, the commerce ministry said on Thursday.

• "Two tonne of organic certified Moringa powder were sent to the US through air consignment on December 29.

Delhi's air quality in December best in 4 years: CPCB

• Pollution levels in Delhi this December were the lowest in the last four years, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

• The average air quality index (AQI) for December stood at 308. It was 337 last year, 360 in 2018 and 316 in 2017, the CPCB data showed.

• The capital recorded four "severe" air quality days this December as compared to eight each in 2019 and 2018 and one in 2017.

• There were 10 "poor" air days this December as against seven, four and nine in 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Shri Suneet Sharma takes over the charge of new Chairman & CEO of Railway Board

• Shri SuneetSharma, has taken over the charge of new Chairman & Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Railway Board (Ministry of Railways) and ex-officio Principal Secretary to Government of India. The appointments committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Shri Suneet Sharma as Chairman & CEO of Railway Board. Prior to this, Shri Suneet Sharma worked as General Manager, Eastern Railway.

• Shri Suneet Sharma joined the Indian Railways in 1979 as a Special Class Apprentice while he was studying engineering at IIT Kanpur. A graduate in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering he has more than 40 years of experience serving in the Indian Railways in various capacities.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

Canara Bank Raises Rs 1,635 Crore Via Bonds

• State-owned Canara Bank on Thursday said it has raised Rs 1,635 crore through bonds, to fund business growth.

• The capital was raised by issuing additional tier-1 bonds at 8.50 per cent coupon on December 31, the bank said in a statement.

• The fund raise will help the bank boost its capital adequacy ratio.

Jubilant FoodWorks to buy 10% stake in Barbeque Nation

• Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd will invest ₹92 crore to buy a 10.76% stake in Barbeque Nation Hospitality Ltd (BNHL), which runs the popular Barbeque Nation (BBQ) chain of restaurants.

• “The company will acquire 36,50,794 fully paid-up equity shares of face value of ₹5 each aggregating to 10.76% stake in BNHL,” Jubilant FoodWorks, which operates the Domino’s Pizza chain and the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and doughnut chain in India, said in a regulatory filing on Thursday. The all-cash deal is expected to conclude by 25 January.

RBI to conduct simultaneous sale-purchase of govt securities on Jan 7

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will conduct simultaneous purchase and sale of government securities under open market operations (OMOs) for Rs 10,000 crore each on January 7.

• The decision was taken after a review of current liquidity and financial conditions, the RBI said in a statement.

• Eligible participants should submit their bids in electronic format on RBI's core banking solution (E-Kuber) system between 10 and 11 am on January 7.

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Important Current Affairs 30th December 2020

NATIONAL NEWS

Mumbai airport introduces express C-19 testing facility, gives results in 13 minutes

• The city's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) on Tuesday said it has introduced a new 24X7 C-19 testing facility, which gives test results in flat 13 minutes at a cost of ₹ 4,500.

• Since its launch on December 15, CSMIA has witnessed an average of 30-35 such tests per day, CSMIA said in a release.

• A total of 400 express tests have been carried out at the airport till December 28, which include passengers who had connecting flights to destinations outside Maharashtra.

Harsh Vardhan launches India’s 1st indigenous pneumonia vaccine ‘Pneumosil’

• The Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan launched India’s first indigenously developed vaccine against pneumonia. The Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) named ‘Pneumosil’ has been developed by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and PATH, an international, nonprofit global health organization based in Seattle.

• The vaccine will provide protection against 10 variants of pneumococcus bacteria that causes pneumonia, meningitis, ear, and blood infections in children. Pneumococcal disease is the largest contributor to under-five mortality rate worldwide.

INCOIS launches “Digital Ocean” app for information sharing

• The Union Minister of Earth Sciences, Science & Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan virtually inaugurated the web-based application “Digital Ocean”. It has been developed by Hyderabad-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) an autonomous organization under M/o Earth sciences. Digital Ocean is a first of its kind digital platform for Ocean Data Management.

• Digital Ocean is a step towards Prime Minister’s vision of Digital India, to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.

• Digital Ocean will serve as a one-stop-solution for all the data related to the ocean.

• It will help to share this knowledge about the ocean with a wide range of users including research institutions, operational agencies, strategic users, the academic community, maritime industry and policymakers, as well as general public and the common man that too free of cost.

PM Modi flagged off India’s first driverless train on Delhi Metro

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has flagged off the country’s first-ever fully-automated driverless train service on the Magenta Line of the Delhi Metro. Apart from this, PM also launched fully operational National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) on the Airport Express Line of Delhi Metro, to connect DMRC with the NCMC service.

• NCMC, also known as ‘One Nation One Card’, is an inter-operable transport card that allows the holders all in one service to pay for their travel, toll taxes, parking charges, retail shopping and even withdraw money.

SPORTS

BWF bans Russian badminton player Nikita Khakimov for 5 years

• The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has imposed a 5-year ban on Russian shuttler Nikita Khakimov for charges of “betting, wagering and irregular match results. Khakimov was part of the Russian men’s team that won the bronze medal at the 2020 European Team Championships.

• The 32-year-old Khakimov was found to breach BWF’s integrity regulations, including approaching a player and offering money to manipulate a match, betting on badminton games and deliberately destroying evidence of a corruption offence to conceal from the BWF.

Anshu Malik wins silver at Individual Wrestling World Cup in Serbia

• Indian wrestler, Anshu Malik has become the first wrestler of the country to finish on the podium position at the Individual Wrestling World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia.

• The 19-year-old won a silver medal in the women’s 57kg category to claim first international medal of the tournament for the country. She lost to Moldova’s Anastasia Nichita 5-1 in the final.

OBITUARY

French fashion designer Pierre Cardin passes away

• French fashion designer Pierre Cardin, hailed for his visionary creations but also for bringing stylish clothes to the masses, died Tuesday aged 98.

• Cardin, who was born to a low-income family in northern Italy but became a France-based fashion superstar, died in a hospital in Neuilly in the west of Paris.

• Born into poverty in 1922 near Venice in northern Italy, his family emigrated to France when he was a small child.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Kerala’s Arya Rajendran becomes India’s youngest mayor from Thiruvananthapuram

• The 21-year-old college student, Arya Rajendran has been elected the new mayor of Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, of Kerala. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader, Arya is the youngest person in India to occupy the post of mayor anywhere in the country.

• Arya won 54 votes out of 99 votes cast in the civic body polls in Kerala. She is also the state president of Balasangam, the children’s wing of the CPI(M). Arya is a second-year student of Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Mathematics at the All Saints College.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

Tata Sons to buy 32.67% stake in AirAsia India for $37.66 million

• In a move that is being pegged as the first step in consolidation of Tata Group’s aviation portfolio, Tata Sons will purchase 32.67 per cent stake in AirAsia India from Malaysian AirAsia Group Bhd, taking its holding in the joint-venture airline up to 83.67 per cent. In a filing to the Malaysian stock exchanges, the AirAsia Group said that the deal, which is worth $37.66 million, will see its share in the Indian budget airline go down to 16.33 per cent.

• As of date, AirAsia held a 49 per cent stake in AirAsia India, while Tata Sons held 51 per cent. In addition to this, Tata Sons also owns 51 per cent stake in full-service airline Vistara, the rest of which it is owned by Singapore Airlines.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

AU Small Finance, ICICI Pru Life tie up to offer life insurance solutions

• AU Small Finance Bank has announced a strategic partnership with ICICI Prudential Life Insurance to offer life insurance solutions. The tie-up aims to deliver “paperless, secure, and hassle-free life insurance”.

• Through the corporate agency arrangement, over 18 lakh customers of AU Bank across over 700 banking touchpoints in 13 states and 2 Union territories, will have easy access to the entire suite of customer-centric protection and long-term savings products of ICICI Prudential Life. AU Bank even claimed that these products will enable customers to provide financial security to themselves and their families and help them achieve their financial goals.

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Important Current Affairs 27th December 2020

NATIONAL

Himachal CM unveils 18-feet statue of Vajpayee in Shimla

• Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has unveiled an 18-feet tall statue of late former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the occasion of his 96th birth anniversary at the historic Ridge in the state capital.

• The statue has been built at a cost of Rs 1.08 crore. The Ridge Maidan also houses statues of Mahatma Gandhi and former prime minister Indira Gandhi.

Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri launches E-Sampada web portal

• Housing and Urban Affairs Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri has launched E-Sampada, a new web portal and mobile app on Good Governance Day. The new application provides a single-window for all the services including an allotment for over one lakh government residential accommodations, office space allotment to government organisations in 45 office complexes in 28 cities and booking of 1,176-holiday homerooms.

• The portal provides online facility to users across India to lodge complaints, submit documents and appear for the virtual hearing.

• This is a significant step towards the promotion of e-governance to enhance transparency and accountability in providing various estate services like allotment, retention, regularisation and no dues certificate.

• The real-time information on utilisation of assets and delivery of service will facilitate optimum utilisation of resources.

• The automated processes will minimize human intervention and will lead to greater transparency.

Punjab Govt launches mobile app and web portal ‘PR Insight’

• Punjab Chief Minister Captain, Amarinder Singh has launched Mobile Application and web portal called ‘PR Insight’, to improve the delivery of citizen-centric services, based upon the feedback of its citizens on government policies. The basic objective of PR Insight is to re-orient the existing schemes and programmes of the state government to the people’s satisfaction after meticulously monitoring their feedback.

• PR Insight application has been developed by the Information & Public Relations Department to provide a single repository & dashboard of all the news articles & social media posts of the State.

• This single repository of news articles and social media posts are then analysed using advance analytics and sentiment analysis tools to understand citizen feedback on Government policies and perception of Governance by the citizens.

• As many as 31 leading Newspaper agencies/portals have been integrated online with PR Insight application & portal and all the State Departments’ news articles are fetched from these newspaper agencies on a real-time basis.

• The app will monitor the citizen’s feedback and subsequently ensure responsive and transparent administration in the State.

India’s first Lithium refinery to be set up in Gujarat

• India’s first Lithium refinery is soon going to be set up in Gujarat. Manikaran Power Limited, one of the country’s largest power trading and renewable energy company will invest around Rs 1,000 crore to set up this refinery. The refinery will process Lithium ore to produce battery-grade material. Lithium is a rare element and is usually not found in India.

• Last year, Manikaran Power had collaborated with Australian firm Neometals to tap the Mount Marion Lithium mine in Western Australia. The proposed project is expected to help Gujarat secure the raw material supply for domestic manufacturing of Lithium batteries as it looks to promote electric vehicles.

SPORTS

FIFA cancels next year’s U-20, U-17 World Cups

• FIFA has cancelled men’s U-20 and U-17 World Cup tournaments in 2021 for the novel coronavirus. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has decided to cancel the 2021 editions of the men’s FIFA U-20 World Cup and FIFA U-17 World Cup, and to appoint Indonesia and Peru respectively, who were due to host the tournaments in 2021, as the hosts of the 2023 editions.

• So Peru will host the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2023. In the same year, the FIFA U-20 World Cup will be held by Indonesia.

OBITUARY

Legendary Urdu poet Shamsur Rahman Faruqi passes away

• Legendary Urdu poet and critic, Shamsur Rahman Faruqi has passed away, a month after recovering from C-19.

• He received Saraswati Samman in 1996 for his work ‘She’r-e Shor-Angez’, a four-volume study of the eighteenth-century poet Mir Taqi Mir. The Government of India awarded him the civilian honour of Padma Shri in 2009.

Former England batsman John Edrich passes away

• Former English first-class batsman John Edrich has passed away. He was amongst the best players of his generation, during a career that ran from 1956 to 1978. He played 77 test matches for England, and scored more than 5,000 runs, spanning 13 years between 1963 and 1976.

• He scored a triple-century during a test match in 1965 that is the fifth-highest Test score for England.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

A new book titled ‘Covid-19: Sabhyata ka Sankat aur Samadhan’ released

• Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s new book titled ‘Covid-19: Sabhyata ka Sankat Aur Samadhan’ (Covid-19: Crisis of Civilisation and Solutions) was launched by former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh. The Hindi book, published by Prabhat Prakashan.

• The new book discusses how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the common way of life while suggesting solutions to the ongoing crisis triggered by the disease. The book discusses how the pandemic has influenced the education system, business, politics, public safety, foreign policy, law, medicine, economy and development of countries.

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Important Current Affairs 26th December 2020

INTERNATIONAL

DFC to invest USD 54 million in India to support critical infrastructure projects

• The United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has announced to invest $54 million in India to support the development of critical infrastructure projects in the country in the wake of the C-19 pandemic. The DFC will invest this $54 million in equity for the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) in India.

• NIIF will use this capital to support economic growth and address critical development challenges in the country. This financing is part of NIIF’s final round of fund-raising for the fund.

• DFC is the development finance institution of the United States federal government, primarily responsible for providing and facilitating the financing of private development projects in lower- and middle-income countries.

NATIONAL

Niti Aayog launches Cloud Storage Service ‘DigiBoxx’

• NITI Aayog has launched indigenously developed India’s first Digital Asset Management and Storage platform, called ‘DigiBoxx’. The initiative will give a boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, as India now has its own cloud storage platform.

• This cloud storage and file sharing service will be available for desktop, iOS, and Android users, including both regular users as well as businesses. Digiboxx offers free 20GB cloud storage space, and 100GB space per month at just Rs 30.

SPORTS

India’s largest hockey stadium to be set up in Odisha

• Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik has announced that India’s biggest hockey stadium is being set up in Rourkela city of Odisha. The stadium will be constructed in the Biju Patnaik University of Technology campus, Rourkela.

• It will have a sitting capacity of 20,000 people, spread over 15 acres of land.

• The stadium will be developed as a benchmark for other hockey stadiums around the world.

• It must be noted that Odisha will be hosting FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup for a second consecutive time, in 2034, at two venues, Bhubaneswar and Rourkela.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Good Governance Day: 25 December

• In India, Good Governance Day (Sushasan Divas) is observed annually on 25th December. In this day nation celebrates the birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna and former-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Good Governance Day was established in 2014 to honour Prime Minister Vajpayee by fostering awareness among the Indian people of accountability in government. In keeping with this principle, the Good Governance Day has been declared to be a working day for the government.

• Atal Bihari Vajpayee served as the Prime Minister of India for three times. His first term was for only 13 days in 1996. He served his second term for a period of thirteen months from March 1998 to April 1999 and then a full term from 1999 to 2004. His first entry into parliament was in 1962 through the Rajya Sabha. He was elected to the Lok Sabha seven times. In 2015, Mr Vajpayee was conferred the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

RBI cancels the Licence of the Subhadra Local Area Bank, Maharashtra

• The Reserve Bank of India has cancelled the banking licence issued to Subhadra Local Area Bank Ltd., Kolhapur, Maharashtra to carry on banking business in India. The Reserve Bank cancelled the licence of the Subhadra Local Area Bank Ltd as it had breached the minimum net worth requirement for two quarters in the financial year 2019-20.

• The affairs of the Subhadra Local Area Bank Ltd. were conducted in a manner detrimental to the interests of its present and future depositors. After this, there are only two Local Area Banks operational in India, i,e.– Coastal Local Area Bank Ltd and Krishna Bhima Samruddhi LAB Ltd.

HDFC Bank ranks top among 100 BFSI Firms in India

• HDFC Bank is the top-ranked company among the 100 Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) companies in the country, as per the BFSI Movers and Shakers 2020 report by Wizikey. HDFC Bank has topped because of its customer service, monetary management, and innovative offerings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

• ICICI Bank and State Bank of India (SBI) are ranked second and third, respectively. Other top 10 banks in 2020 Wizikey’s BFSI Movers and Shakers report are Yes Bank, PNB, HSBC Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Bank of Baroda, Deutsche Bank, and IDBI.

• Wallet and UPI segment: Google Pay.

• Neo Banks segment: YONO.

• Payments bank category: Airtel Payments Bank.

Ind-Ra revises India’s GDP contraction to 7.8% for FY21

• India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) has revised India’s GDP estimate for the current financial year 2020-21 (FY21) to -7.8 per cent from -11.8 per cent estimated earlier.

• This lower contraction rate is mainly due to the easing of C-19 curbs and better-than-expected recovery in the second quarter. Ind-Ra has also estimated the GDP to grow by 9.6% in 2021-22 (FY22).

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Important Current Affairs 25th December 2020

NATIONAL

Karnataka unveils “FRUITS” portal for farmers

• Karnataka government has unveiled the Farmer Registration and Unified beneficiary Information System (FRUITS), an e-governance portal, to create a repository of farmland information and farm loan details on a single platform. All farmers will be registered and given an identification number on the portal.

• The FRUITS Portal is integrated into the BHOOMI Package of the Karnataka State for fetching and validating the land details. One other important facility of this Portal is online creation of charge by which visit of farmers to Sub-Registrar Office is avoided.

Canara Bank has agreed to run FRUITS on a pilot basis.

• Canara Bank observed that Karnataka State Government has always been in the forefront of technology initiatives to improve the ease of Banking as can be seen from the various initiatives like BHOOMI Package, Debt Waiver Portal and currently, the FRUITS Portal.

• Using this number, banks and other lending institutions can access the land details of farmers as well as details of their existing borrowings and take a quick decision on lending.

Cabinet approves 100% FDI in DTH services

• The Union Cabinet approved revised guidelines for Direct-to-Home (DTH) broadcasting services, allowing 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) as well as increasing the licence period to 20 years. Due to our I&B guidelines, this field was not getting the benefit of 100 per cent FDI. After changing the guidelines, the guidelines will have the same guidelines as the Commerce Ministry and will come under 100 per cent FDI.

• Under the revised guidelines the licenses will be issued for a period of 20 years, compared to 10 years at the moment, and will be renewed for a 10-year period. The license fee has been revised from 10 per cent of gross revenue (GR) to 8 per cent of adjusted gross revenue (AGR), which will be calculated by deduction of GST from GR.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

Cabinet approves the merger of four Govt film media units

• The Cabinet approved the merger of four government-run film and media units — the Films Division, the Directorate of Film Festivals, the National Film Archives of India and the autonomous body Children’s Film Society, with the National Film Development Corporation.

• The merger of Film Media Units under one corporation will lead to convergence of activities and resources and better coordination, thereby ensuring synergy and efficiency in achieving the mandate of each media unit. This will lead to a reduction in duplication of activities and direct savings to the exchequer.

• The Films Division, which was established in 1948 and is the oldest of the four units, was created primarily to produce documentaries and news magazines as publicity for government programmes and to keep a cinematic record of Indian history.

• The National Film Archives of India was established in 1964 with the primary objective of acquiring and preserving Indian cinematic heritage.

• The Directorate of Film Festivals was set up in 1973 to promote Indian films and cultural exchange.

• The Children’s Film Society, which was founded in 1955 with the specific objective of providing children and young people value-based entertainment through the medium of films.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

NTPC wins the prestigious CII-ITC Sustainability Awards 2020

• Country’s largest power producer, National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) has been conferred “Excellence” in the prestigious CII-ITC Sustainability Awards 2020 in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Domain. NTPC has been honoured in the Corporate Excellence Category, Commendation for Significant Achievement.

• This is the highest award conferred by CII-ITC in CSR domain. NTPC is the only PSU to receive the award in the Corporate Excellence category. NTPC wins the prestigious CII-ITC Sustainability Awards in Corporate Excellence category second time in a row i.e. in the year 2019 and 2020.

Srinagar’s Amar Singh College recognised with UNESCO Award

• Srinagar based Amar Singh College has been recognized with the ‘Award of Merit’ in the 2020 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The restoration of the Amar Singh College brought back one of the most prominent institutional buildings in Kashmir to its former glory.

• The college building is 80 years old and INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) chapter in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir had carried out the conservation work at the Amar Singh College.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay-NIF book prize announced

• The winners of the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay New India Foundation Book Prize 2020 for the best non-fiction book on contemporary/ modern India were announced. The Prize was given jointly to Amit Ahuja for his Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements (Oxford University Press) and to former Union minister Jairam Ramesh for his A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of VK Krishna Menon (Penguin Random House), a biography of politician and diplomat VK Krishna Menon.

• The award carries a citation and a cash prize of Rs 15 lakh, that will be shared by the two authors.

VP Venkaiah Naidu virtually released the book ‘Oh Mizoram’

• VP Venkaiah Naidu virtually released the book ‘Oh Mizoram’, written by Governor of Mizoram, Shri P S Sreedharan Pillai. Pillai is a lawyer, an orator, a prolific writer, a philanthropist, and a thinker.

• He has written 125 books in Malayalam & English. Oh, Mizoram is his first poetry collection in English.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

PayU ties up with Google Pay to introduce tokenised payments

• PayU with Google Pay has introduced tokenised payments flow for Indian merchants. With the digital token linked to the phone and card information tokenised, Google Pay users can make repeat payments seamlessly and securely. Through the option of one-click payment, one doesn’t need to re-enter the payment data, as the OTP is read automatically and the payment is processed instantaneously.

• Tokenised payments offer a highly convenient, safe, and friction-free payment experience, and we are excited to partner with Google Pay to make this available for our merchants. It will help them build lasting trust and loyalty with customers, reduce risks of cart abandonment and payment failures, and scale up their businesses.

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Important Current Affairs 21st December 2020

NATIONAL

India International Science Festival begins from 22 December

• Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences in association with Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA) are organized the India International Science Festival (IISF) from 22 December. This year this festival will be through virtual mode.

• The central theme of this year’s festival is “Science for Self-reliant India and Global Welfare”.

• India International Science Festival (IISF) launched in 2015 is a celebration to promote Science and Technology.

Indian Railways initiates National Rail Plan in the country

• Indian Railways has launched National Rail Plan with an aim to increase modal share of the Railways.

• This plan is being circulated among various Ministries for their views now. Railways aim to finalize the final plan by January 2021.

• As part of a national commitment to reduce Carbon emission, The railways will also increase the modal share of Railways from 27 per cent currently to 45 per cent in freight by 2030.

SPORTS

Yogasana recognized as a competitive Sport in India by Sports Ministry

• Union Sports Minsitry has approved Yogasana as a competitive Sport in India. The Objective for this recognition is to spread awareness about Yoga and its advantages to people.

• Yogasana will be introduced as a sport discipline in Khelo India, National Games and International Sports Events.

• After this approval now Yogasana becomes eligible to enter several sports event.

OBITUARY

Veteran Journalist and first official RSS Spokesperson MG Vaidya passes away

• Senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue, MG Vaidya has passed away. He was a veteran journalist, a Sanskrit scholar and the first official spokesperson of the RSS. He became a member of the RSS in 1943.

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Human Solidarity Day: 20 December

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

• The General Assembly, on 22 December 2005, by resolution 60/209 identified solidarity as one of the fundamental and universal values that should underlie relations between peoples in the twenty-first century, and in that regard decided to proclaim 20 December of each year International Human Solidarity Day.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Ratan Tata honoured with “ASSOCHAM Enterprise of the Century Award”

• Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressed the ‘ASSOCHAM Foundation Week 2020’ via video conferencing. 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 economies.’

• 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.

Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Telecom Skill Excellence Awards announced

• Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has presented the Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Telecom Skill Excellence Awards, including a cash award of Rs 50,000 and Rs 30,000 respectively, to both awardees. The nominations were called for the first time for the year 2018.

First Prize:

• Sreenivas Karanam, Bengaluru was selected for the FIRST prize 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.

• The service enables the fishermen to have one-one voice calls, group calls, SMS, Location services and Emergency services while they are out of GSM coverage area. The service is available from Thiruvanathapuram to Calicut, almost 500km along Kerala coast, with devices installed in nearly 900 motorboats.

Second Prize:

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

• The system under the pilot phase is installed in Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand, to prevent elephant deaths by train-elephant collision.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

RBI extends restrictions on PMC Bank for 3 months

• 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 in India

• The World Bank has approved 4 India projects worth over $800 million. The projects will support a range of development initiatives that supports the efforts of India to rebuild itself by creating a sustainable and resilient economy.

The projects that have been approved are:

1. $400 million Second Accelerating India’s C-19 Social Protection Response Program.

2. $100 million Chhattisgarh Inclusive Rural and Accelerated Agriculture Growth Project (CHIRAAG).

3. $68 million Nagaland: Enhancing Classroom Teaching and Resources Project.

4. $250 million Second Dam Improvement and Rehabilitation Project (DRIP-2).

$400 Million Second Accelerating India’s C-19 Social Protection Response Program:

• The Government of India and the World Bank signed a $400 million Second Accelerating India’s C-19 Social Protection Response Program.

• The project supports and protects India’s efforts to provide social assistance to poor and vulnerable households, severely affected by the C-19 pandemic.

• It is the 2nd operation in a programmatic series of 2. The 1st operation of $750 million was approved in May 2020. The Program builds on the outcomes achieved by the 1st operation.

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

Dam Improvement and Rehabilitation Project (DRIP-2):

• 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.

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Important Current Affairs 9th December 2020

NATIONAL

Kiren Rijiju launches 2nd edition of Fit India Cyclothon

• Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has launched the second edition of Fit India Cyclothon through a virtual platform. The mega cycling event will run for 25 days, beginning from 7th December till 31st December 2020. The event has been organised across the country in each district. The citizens can participate by registering on Fit India website.

• The participants can cycle daily for a distance of their choice, and share their images and videos on social media. They may also tag @FitIndiaOff and use the hashtag – FitIndiaCyclothon and #NewIndiaFitIndia.

PM Modi virtually inaugurates Construction work of Agra Metro project

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the construction work of the Agra Metro project in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. The Agra Metro project comprises 2 corridors with a total length of 29.4 km. It would connect major tourist attractions like Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Sikandra with railway stations and bus stands.

• The estimated cost of the project will be around Rs 8,379.62 crore. It will be completed in 5 years.

• The Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation (UPMRC) has set the target to complete the first phase of the Agra Metro Rail Project by December 2022.

• Once operational, the project will boost `Ease of Living` of the 26 lakh population of the city and also cater to more than 60 lakh tourists who visit Agra every year.

• It will also provide an environment-friendly Mass Rapid Transit System to the city.

Centre Launches QRMP scheme for GST payers

• The Central Government has launched ‘Quarterly Return filing & Monthly Payment of Taxes (QRMP)’ scheme for small taxpayers under the GST system. Taxpayers with an aggregate annual turnover of up to Rs 5 crore in the preceding financial year and have filed their October GSTR-3B (sales) return by November 30, 2020, are eligible for this scheme. The notifications for the same were issued by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).

• Persons with aggregate turnover up to Rs 5 crore would be allowed to furnish their GSTR-1 and GSTR-3B returns on a quarterly basis, beginning January-March quarter of 2020-21.

Quarterly GSTR-1 and GSTR-3B can also be filed through an SMS.

• Taxpayers can also make GST payments every month, through challan, with effect from January 1, 2021.

• This can be done either by self-assessment of monthly liability or 35% of net cash liability of previous filed GSTR-3B of the quarter.

• Under this, the registered person or a taxpayer will furnish a return for every quarter, under sub-rule (1) of rule 61A of the Central Goods and Services Tax Rules, 2017 and pay the monthly tax under sub-section (7) of section 39 of the same Act.

• After the above changes, the act is named as the Central Goods and Services Tax (Thirteenth Amendment) Rules, 2020.

OBITUARY

All India Radio writer Madhukar Gangadhar passes away

• Eminent Hindi writer, Madhukar Gangadhar passed away. He was the lead storyteller of the new story movement. He was an associate of Renuji in Patna Akashvani, director of All India Radio in Allahabad & Deputy Director General at Delhi AIR.

• After serving for 39 years in All India Radio (AIR) he became an independent writer based in Delhi. ‘Motiyo Wale Hath’, ‘Hirna Ki Aankhen’ are some of his most well-known works.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Anil Soni appointed first CEO of The WHO Foundation

• US-based Indian-origin health expert, Anil Soni has been appointed as the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the newly-created “The World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation”. Before this, he was working with Viatris, a global healthcare company in the US, where he served as Head of Global Infectious Diseases. He will assume his role as CEO with effect from 1st January 2021.

• The WHO Foundation was launched in May 2020 as an independent grant-making agency, based in Geneva, Switzerland, to work alongside the WHO and the global health community to address the most pressing global health challenges.

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Anti-Corruption Day: 09 December

• International Anti-Corruption Day is observed annually on 9 December to raise public awareness for anti-corruption. The day is observed since the passage of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption on 31 October 2003.

• The theme of International Anti-Corruption Day 2020: ‘RECOVER with INTEGRITY.’ The theme focuses on recovery through corruption mitigation and emphasizes that inclusive C-19 recovery can only be achieved with integrity.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Raj Kamal Jha wins Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize

• Journalist-author, Raj Kamal Jha has won the 3rd Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize for his novel, “The City and The Sea”. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the winner of the $5,000 prize was announced online in Copenhagen, Denmark.

• Jha’s book, which is based on the December 2012 Nirbhaya rape and murder case, was chosen from ten shortlisted books including Amitav Ghosh’s Gun Island, Nirmala Govindarajan’s Taboo and Ranjit Hoskote’s Jonahwhale.

• The Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize for Social Achievement 2020 was conferred to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the late Sultan of Oman and The People of Oman,

• Renowned Indian choreographer Sandip Soparrkar for his contribution to the betterment of society through his initiative Dance for a Cause.

ICAR wins 2020 King Bhumibol World Soil Day Award

• The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), has won the prestigious International King Bhumibol World Soil Day Award for 2020. The award was presented annually by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The award was conferred to the ICAR on the occasion of World Soil Day, on December 5. ICAR India will officially receive the award by Her Royal Highness, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, during an event in Bangkok in January 2021.

• ICAR has been conferred the award for its commitment to raising awareness of the importance of healthy soils at the World Soil Day celebration in 2019, which addressed soil erosion under the motto “Stop soil erosion, save our future”.

• The programme was organised by Bhopal-based Indian Institute of Soil Science, an autonomous institute for higher learning, established under the umbrella of Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

RANKING

India Ranks 10th in the Climate Change Performance Index 2021

• India is ranked at 10th place in the ‘Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2021’, released on 7th December 2020. The overall score of India is 63.98. It is for the second time in a row that India emerged among the top 10 countries with higher climate performance from among 58 economies. India was at 9th spot last year in the index.

• Like CCPI 2020, the first three places in 2021 ranking also remains unoccupied, since none of the countries is on the path compatible with the Paris climate targets, to implement strategies to limit global warming below 2 or even 1.5°C. Sweden (4th) United Kingdom (5th), Denmark (6th), Morocco (7th), Norway (8th), Chile (9th) were among the top 10 rankers in the index. It was also noted that, from the G20 countries, only the EU as a whole, along with the UK and India, ranked among high performers.

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Important Current Affairs 8th December 2020

INTERNATIONAL

China becomes second nation to plant flag on the Moon

• China has become the second country in the world to unfurl its national flag on the moon surface. Earlier this feat was achieved only by the USA when it planted its flag on the Moon during the Apollo mission in 1969. China achieved the historic feat when ‘Chang’e 5‘ probe of China, which was launched to collect soil and rock samples of the lunar surface, took off from the moon to return to earth after planting the national flag on 3rd December 2020.

• If the return journey concludes successfully, China becomes the only third country globally to have samples from the moon. Till date, this record is maintained only by the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.

SPORTS

Sergio Perez wins Sakhir Grand Prix 2020

• Sergio Perez (Mexico-Racing Point-BWT Mercedes), won the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain. Esteban Ocon (Renault-France) secured the second position, followed by and Lance Stroll (Racing Point-BWT Mercedes-Canada) at third place.

• The race was the maiden edition of the Sakhir Grand Prix and sixteenth race of the 2020 Formula One World Championship. This is the first Formula One win for Perez. He is also the first Mexican Formula One driver to win a race since Pedro Rodríguez won the 1970 Belgian Grand Prix.

Sri Lanka to host Asia Cup in 2021

• Sri Lanka will host the Asia Cup in June 2021 while Pakistan has earned the rights to host the tournament in 2022. As per the original schedule, the tournament was supposed to be hosted by Pakistan in 2020, however, it got postponed due to the C-19 pandemic.

• Now the event has been moved forward to June 2021, with Sri Lanka Cricket taking the hosting rights from PCB. As compensation, PCB has got the hosting rights for the 2022 edition.

Jehan Daruvala becomes first Indian to win F2 race

• Jehan Daruvala created history, as he became the first Indian to win a Formula 2 race at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, Bahrain. This was the final race of the F2 season. The Formula 2 Championship is a second-tier single-seater racing championship.

• The 22-year-old Jehan Daruvala is currently a member of the Red Bull Junior Team and competes for Carlin Motorsport. His Japanese teammate, Yuki Tsunoda came second while Britain’s Daniel Ticktum was in a third spot. Racing legend Michael Schumacher’s son Mick Schumacher was crowned as the overall F2 champion of the season.

OBITUARY

Father of Fibre Optics Narinder Singh Kapany passes away

• Narinder Singh Kapany, also known as the father of fibre optics, passed away. The India-born American physicist was named as one of the seven “Unsung Heroes” by Fortune in their ‘Businessmen of the Century’ issue of November 1999.

• Kapany was the first to transmit images through fibre optics back in 1954 and laid the foundation for high-speed internet technology. He not only founded fibre optics but also used his own invention for the business. He founded the Optics Technology Incorporation and Kaptron Incorporation in 1960 and 1973 respectively. He studied at Agra University and then moved to Imperial College in London. He received his PhD from the University of London in 1955.

• He received ‘The Excellence 2000 Award’ from the USA Pan-Asian American Chamber of Commerce in 1998, a fellow of numerous scientific societies including the British Royal Academy of Engineering, the Optical Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Serum Institute’s Adar Poonawalla named as 1 of 6 “Asians Of The Year”

• Adar Poonawalla, the Chief Executive of the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), has been named among six “The Straits Times Asians of the Year” for 2020, by Singapore’s leading daily, The Straits Times, for their work in fighting the C-19 pandemic.

• SII has collaborated with the University of Oxford and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to develop C-19 vaccine, ‘C-19 shield’, and is conducting trials in India.

The other five Asians of the Year includes:

• Chinese researcher Zhang Yongzhen

• China’s Major-General Chen Wei,

• Japan’s Dr Ryuichi Morishita

• Singapore’s Professor Ooi Eng Eong

• South Korean businessman Seo Jung-jin

• The Straits Times has collectively referred these 6 winners as “the virus busters”, because they are heroes of a kind, having devoted themselves to the pressing cause of resolving the C-19 pandemic, each in their own capacity.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

ICICI Bank Launches iMobile Pay to offer Payments

• The private lender ICICI Bank has launched a new version of its mobile payment app called iMobile Pay, to offer payment and banking services to customers of any bank. The latest version of the app is interoperable and will now allow payments and other banking services to even those customers who do not hold an ICICI Bank account.

• Using the app, the customers of other banks can link their bank account, generate a UPI ID and start paying, shopping, transfer funds to any bank account or to any other payment apps or digital wallets; or bill payments and online recharges, among others.

• It also offers instant banking services such as savings account, investments, loans, credit cards, gift cards, and travel cards, among others.

Kotak AMC launches REIT Funds of Funds scheme

• Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Company (Kotak Mutual Fund), has launched Kotak International REIT Fund of Funds, India’s first diversified REIT Mutual Fund. REIT stands for Real Estate Investment Trust.

• Kotak International REIT Fund of Funds is an open-ended mutual fund scheme that will invest in units of SMAM Asia REIT Sub Trust Fund.

• This mutual fund scheme will have a diversified investment portfolio comprising of listed REITs which will invest in real estate projects like residential, office, data centres, warehousing, retail and hospitality.

• The Kotak International REIT Fund of Funds will invest in units of Japan-based SMAM Asia REIT Sub Trust Fund.

• The SMAM Asia REIT Sub Trust Fund is one of the largest Asia Pacific (Ex Japan) REIT funds investing in listed REITs in the Asia Pacific region.

• It is managed by Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Company, which has a significant portfolio of listed Real Estate Investment Trusts in Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong.

PNB launches loan management solution ‘LenS-The Lending Solution’

• Punjab National Bank (PNB) has launched a tech-based loan management solution ‘LenS-The Lending Solution’, to speed up and maintain accuracy in online loan processing and sanctioning of credit proposals. It is envisaged to be implemented in a phased manner for all kinds of loans. Under the Mudra scheme, the processing and sanction of credit proposals up to Rs 10 lakh including Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises ( MSME) loans (fresh, renewal, enhancement and review) will be done by LenS.

• To standardise the system, process and assess formats for credit processing

• To auto-generate the loan documents for each type of credit facilities

• To reduce delay, cost and human errors involved in manual processing, digital record maintenance, security & data privacy.

• Ready to use monitoring and MIS reports for better tracking and transparency.

ADB approves $190 million loan to upgrade power distribution in Bengaluru

• The Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of $190 million (approx Rs 1,400 crore) to modernize and upgrade the power distribution system in Bengaluru, Karnataka. The financial-assistance by ADB will be used for the Bengaluru Smart Energy Efficient Power Distribution Project.

• The $190 million loan includes a $100 million sovereign loan and a $90 million non-sovereign guarantee loan to Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM). BESCOM is one of five state-owned distribution utilities and the largest in Karnataka. This combination of sovereign and non-sovereign loans is being deployed by ADB in India on a pilot basis for the first time.

RTGS system to be available on 24×7 basis from December 14

• The Reserve Bank of India has announced that the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system will be made available round the clock on all days of the year with effect from 00:30 hours on December 14, 2020. Presently RTGS system is available for customers between 7:00 AM and 6:00 PM.

• RTGS shall continue to be governed by the RTGS System Regulations, 2013. RTGS shall be available for customer and inter-bank transactions round the clock, except for the interval between ‘end-of-day’ and ‘start-of-day’ processes, whose timings would be duly broadcasted through the RTGS system. Intra-Day Liquidity (IDL) facility shall be made available to facilitate smooth operations.

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