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Important Current Affairs 24th February 2022

INTERNATIONAL

Russia-Ukraine Border Conflict 

• The Russia-Ukraine Border Conflict, have been simmering for more than two months, with diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue showing little sign of progress. Russia has more than 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine, sparking Western warnings of an imminent invasion. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, meanwhile, voiced concerns that Russia continues to build up troop numbers along Ukraine’s borders, including in Belarus.

• The Border conflict in Ukraine began with protests in the capital city of Kiev in November 2013 against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to reject a deal for greater economic integration with the European Union. After a violent crackdown by state security forces unintentionally drew an even greater number of protesters and escalated the conflict, President Yanukovych fled the country in February 2014.

• In March 2014, Russian troops took control of Ukraine’s Crimean region, before formally annexing the peninsula after Crimeans voted to join the Russian Federation in a disputed local referendum. Russian President Vladimir Putin cited the need to protect the rights of Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Crimea and southeast Ukraine. The Border conflict heightened ethnic divisions, and two months later pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine held a referendum to declare independence from Ukraine.

NATIONAL

Union Minister Giriraj Singh launches Rural Connectivity GIS Data in Public Domain

• Giriraj Singh, who is the Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, has released the Rural Connectivity GIS Data in Public Domain. This data includes the GIS data for more than 8 lakh rural facilities which have been collected and digitised using the GIS platform developed for the PM-GSY scheme. Other than Giriraj Singh, other Union Ministers like Faggan Singh Kulaste and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, were also present at the release event.

• An estimate is that more than 6.90 lakh km of roads have been constructed, which connects 1,61,508 habitations with an expenditure of about 2.69 lakh crores of Indian rupees.

• Speed of the construction of rural roads under the PMGSY has seen massive growth during the last few years and the use of new technology has been emphasized which has resulted in a saving of about 5000 crores of Indian rupees.

• The data which has been made available in the public domain can be beneficial to the startups, entrepreneurs, businesses, civil society, academics and other government departments to build products, conduct research,  and plan investments for a quicker disaster response.

IAF to participate in multi-nation air exercise 'Ex Cobra Warrior 22' in UK

• Indian Air Force will participate in a multi-nation air exercise named ‘Exercise Cobra Warrior 22’ at Waddington, in the United Kingdom from March 06 to 27, 2022. IAF Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas will participate in the exercise along with fighter aircraft of the UK and other leading Air Forces. Five Tejas aircraft will fly to the United Kingdom. IAF C-17 aircraft will provide the necessary transport support for induction and de-induction.

• The exercise is aimed at providing operational exposure and sharing best practices amongst the participating Air Forces, thereby enhancing combat capability and forging bonds of friendship. This will be a platform for LCA Tejas to demonstrate its manoeuvrability and operational capability.

OBITUARY

Andhra minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy passes away at 50

• Andhra Pradesh Industries Minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy has passed away. The 50 years old Minister returned to India from Dubai Expo. Reddy, was a two-time MLA from the Atmakur Assembly constituency in the Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh. He was the Minister for Industries, Commerce, and Information Technology in Andhra Pradesh Government.

Renowned Malayalam Actor Dies At 74

• Veteran Malayalam film and stage actress, KPAC Lalitha has passed away at 74. In a career spanning five decades, she starred in over 550 films in Malayalam and Tamil. Born as Maheswari Amma in Kayamkulam of Alappuzha, the actress had joined K.P.A.C (Kerala People’s Arts Club), a prominent drama troop in Kerala.

• Lalitha won two National Film Awards for Best Supporting Actress along with four Kerala State Film Awards. She got the national award for the character in ‘Amaram’ in 1999 and for ‘Shantham’ in 2000. She also held the position of the Chairperson of Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy for five years.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNATIONS

Centre nominates Sanjay Malhotra as a Director of Central Board of RBI

• The Centre government has nominated Sanjay Malhotra, Secretary, Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance, as a Director on the Central Board of Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The nomination of Malhotra, a 1990 batch IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre, is effective from February 16, 2022, and until further orders.

• Prior to his appointment as DFS Secretary, Malhotra was the Chairman and Managing Director of REC Ltd. He succeeded Debashish Panda, who completed his term on January 31, 2022.

K.N. Raghavan new Chairman of ISRG

• Executive Director of the Indian Rubber Board, K.N. Raghavan has been elected the new Chairman of the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG). He will officiate as Chairman of the group for the next two years. He will preside over the meeting of the heads of delegation scheduled for March 31 at Singapore.

• India, being both a producer and a consumer of rubber, will be in a good position to protect the interests of both producers and consumers in the IRSG -the only international commodity body approved by the Common Fund for Commodities for development financing in the rubber sector.

• International Rubber Study Group (IRSG), an intergovernmental organisation of natural and synthetic rubber producing and consuming countries. IRSG is the only forum for natural rubber (NR) and synthetic rubber (SR) producers and consumers to discuss matters affecting the world rubber industry and act as an interface between government and the Industry. International Rubber Study Group Members: Cameroon; Cote d’Ivoire; European Union; India; Nigeria; Russia; Singapore; Sri Lanka.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Central Excise Day 24 February 2022

• Central Excise Day of India is celebrated every year on February 24. The day is being celebrated to honour the service of the Central Board of Excise and Custom (CBEC) to the country. The day is celebrated to honour the officers associated with CBEC and their services. The day is celebrated to commemorate the legislation of the Central Excise and Salt act on 24 February 1944.

• The central excise day is celebrated to raise awareness about the contribution of the central excise officers among the general public of the country.

• The jobs of the members of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs in preventing corruption among the manufacturing industries are worth appreciation and encouragement.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

India Ratings pegs FY22 GDP growth at 8.6% on data revision

• India Ratings has revised downwards its GDP growth forecast for 2021-22 to 8.6 per cent from the consensus 9.2 per cent projected earlier. According to an India rating analysis, National Statistical Organisation (NSO) is likely to peg the FY22 real gross domestic product growth at Rs 147.2 lakh crore. This translates into a GDP growth rate of 8.6 per cent, down from the 9.2 per cent forecast in the first advance estimate released on January 7, 2022.

• The major reason for the likely downward revision is the upward revision of FY21 GDP to Rs 135.6 lakh crore in the first revised estimate of national income for FY21, which was released on January 31, 2022.

Alternative investment policy: Sebi rejigs panel

• Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has reconstituted its alternative investment policy advisory committee, which advises the capital markets regulator on a range of issues that impact further development of the (Alternative Investment Fund) AIF space. The committee has now 20 members. The panel, which was constituted by Sebi in March 2015, earlier had 22 members. Till now, the committee has submitted three reports on the AIF industry.

• The committee is chaired by Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy. Apart from Murthy, the committee includes members from Sebi, Ministry of Finance, AIF players and industry associations.

• Gopal Srinivasan, chairman and managing director, TVS Capital Funds; Gopal Jain, co-founder and managing partner, Gaja Capital; Vipul Roongta, managing director and CEO, HDFC Capital Advisors; and Renuka Ramnath, chairperson, Indian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (IVCA) are among the members of the panel, as per Sebi.

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Important Current Affairs 23rd February 2022

INTERNATIONAL

Israeli Defense Forces Successfully Test Naval Version Of Iron Dome Missile Defense System

• Israel successfully tested a new naval air defence system “C-Dome,” to be used on the Israeli Navy’s Sa’ar 6-class corvettes. C-Dome is the naval version of the Iron Dome, an all-weather air defence system of Israel to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and missiles, from the Gaza Strip. The successful test further strengthens the missile defence systems of the Israeli Navy to safeguard the maritime assets of the State of Israel.

• The systems that we are developing as part of Israel’s multi-tier missile defence array enable us to operate against Iranian proxies in the region and defend against their weapon systems, which are constantly being upgraded. The C-Dome is to become part of Israel’s multilayer missile defence system — which includes weapons capable of intercepting everything from long-range missiles to short-range rockets.

Russia wants to 'turn Ukraine into a broken country'

• Russian President, Vladimir Putin has recognised the independence of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine – Donetsk and Luhansk. Putin’s announcement paved the way for Russia to openly send troops and weapons to the long-running conflict pitting Ukrainian forces against Moscow-backed rebels. Russian-backed rebels have been fighting Ukrainian troops in Donetsk and Luhansk since 2014, with regular violence despite a ceasefire agreement.

• Putin signed decrees recognizing the Donetsk and Luhansk regions’ independence, eight years after fighting erupted between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces, and called on lawmakers to approve measures paving the way for military support.

NATIONAL

Centre organise week-long ‘Vigyan Sarvatra Pujyate’ Science exhibition at 75 locations across country

• The Government of India has organised a week-long science exhibition titled ‘Vigyan Sarvatra Pujyate’ from February 22 to 28, 2022, as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav commemoration. It will be conducted simultaneously at 75 locations across the country through a hybrid model. The inaugural programme was held at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi on the 22nd of February.

• The exhibition will celebrate science and technology (S&T) and display the country’s scientific legacy and technology prowess. The exhibition will culminate on February 28, 2022, which coincide with the National Science Day, commemorated in remembrance of Nobel Laureate Sir C.V. Raman’s path-breaking discovery of the Raman Effect in 1930.

Lavender designated as brand product of J&K’s Doda district, the birthplace of Purple Revolution

• The Union Minister of Science & Technology, Dr Jitendra Singh, chaired the District Development Coordination & Monitoring Committee (DISHA) meetings of several districts in Jammu & Kashmir recently. A key decision taken during the meeting was to designate Lavender as a Doda brand product, to promote lavender under the ‘One District, One Product’ initiative of the Modi Government.

• Doda district in J&K is the birthplace of India’s Purple Revolution or the cultivation of Lavender. Though, Lavender cultivation is practised in almost all the 20 districts of Jammu & Kashmir.

• Purple Revolution (Lavender cultivation) was launched under the Aroma Mission of the Union Ministry of Science & Technology. The AROMA mission is implemented by the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) through its Jammu-based laboratory, the Indian Institute of Integrative Medicines (IIIM).

• The Mission’s objective is the cultivation of important medicinal and aromatic plants domestically to empower domestic farmers and support India’s aromatic crop-based agro-economy by reducing imports of aromatic oils and increasing homegrown varieties. The Lavender crop is however a native to Europe.

Railway Ministry Shares Glimpse Of India’s First-ever Cable-stayed Rail Bridge In J&K

• The Indian Railways has shared new images of the country’s first cable-stayed bridge on the Anji river in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district. The under-construction Anji Khad bridge, part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project, will connect Katra and Reasi areas through rail links. The bridge will stand at a height of 331 metres above the river bed – higher than the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The total length of the bridge is 473.25 metres and it is supported by 96 cables.

• The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link is deemed to be one of the most difficult projects undertaken in the Indian subcontinent. The bridge has been designed to withstand storms and strong winds. Given the complex geology of the high-altitude region, constructing the bridge is very challenging. The Railways has divided the 272-km rail link into three subsections.

SPORTS

At 16, India’s big chess hope scales first peak, beats his own hero and World No 1 Magnus Carlsen

• India’s teen chess Grandmaster, Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa has created history as he defeated world number one chess champion, Magnus Carlsen, of Norway in an online chess tournament. The Airthings Masters is the first of the nine events of the 2022 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, being held from February to November 2022.

• The 16-year-old Pragg achieved the feat in the eighth round of the Airthings Masters, an online rapid chess tournament, in 39 moves with black pieces. Pragg is also only the third Indian grandmaster to win against Magnus Carlsen apart from Viswanathan Anand and Pentala Harikrishna.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

C-19 Vaccine: Corbevax gets DCGI nod for emergency use in 12-18 year olds

• The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved the Corona Vaccine Biologicals E Ltd’s Corbevax for children in the age group of 12 to 18 years. Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company Biological E Ltd said its coronavirus vaccine Corbevax, is also India’s third homegrown vaccine. Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is being given to children aged 15 to 18 years from January 3.

• Corbevax is called a protein subunit and currently, we have an example of the hepatitis B vaccine which is also similarly a protein subunit vaccine. Corbevax and the other vaccine in India, we have Covovax from Serum Institute.

APPOINTMENS & RESIGNATIONS

Takuya Tsumura to take over as new President & CEO of Honda Cars India

• Japanese auto major Honda Motor Co. Ltd. has announced the appointment of Takuya Tsumura as the new President & CEO of Honda Cars India Ltd (HCIL) with effect from 1 April 2022. The appointment comes as part of the management changes announced annually by the company.

• Tsumura will take over from Gaku Nakanishi, who moves from India to regional headquarters in Asia and Oceania region – Asian Honda as General Manager, Automobile Business for the region. Tsumura has been associated with Honda Motor for more than 30 years. He has worked in several international markets including Thailand, Australia, China, Japan, Turkey, Europe and Asia & Oceania regions. Tsumura was in-charge of South Asian countries, including India from 1997 to 2000.

SUMMIT'S & MOU's

India and France adopt road map on ‘blue economy’

• India and France have inked a roadmap to enhance their bilateral exchanges on the blue economy and ocean governance. Dr S Jaishankar is on a three-day visit to France, from February 20 to 22, 2022, to attend EU Ministerial Forum for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific scheduled for February 22. The agreement on ‘Roadmap on Blue Economy and Ocean Governance’ was signed between India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar’s and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.

• The partnership will help to explore the potential for collaboration in marine science research for a better understanding of oceans and ensure that the ocean remains a global common, a space of freedom and trade, based on the rule of law.

• The scope of the roadmap will encompass maritime trade, the naval industry, fisheries, marine technology and scientific research, integrated coastal management, marine eco-tourism, inland waterways, and cooperation between competent administrations on civil maritime issues.

• India and France underscored that fisheries are a vital economic sector and play a decisive role in food security and livelihood security, particularly for coastal populations.

Education ministry approves continuation of RUSA scheme till 2026

• The Ministry of Education has approved the continuation of the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) scheme till 31st March 2026 with an expenditure of 12,929.16 crores. The new phase of the scheme would support around 1,600 projects. Out of Rs 12,929.16 crores of expenditure, the centre will share Rs 8,120.97 crores, and the state will share Rs 4,808.19 crores.

• The new phase of the scheme has been designed to implement some of the recommendations of the New Education Policy (NEP). Under the new phase of the scheme, State Governments will support Gender inclusion, Equity Initiatives, Enhance employability through vocationalisation and skill upgradation.

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Important Current Affairs 21st February 2022

INTERNATIONAL

UK’s researchers found 180-Million-Year-Old Fossil of ‘Sea Dragon’

• United Kingdom researchers have found colossal 180-million-year-old fossilised remains of an Ichthyosaur, popularly known as a ‘sea dragon’. The researchers show one of the most significant discoveries in the region as the fossil is the biggest and most complete skeleton of its kind found in the United Kingdom. Ichthyosaurs resembled dolphins in body shape and became extinct around 90 million years ago, after first appearing 250 million years ago.

• Joe Davis of the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust discovered it during the routine draining of a lagoon island at the Rutland Water reservoir in February 2021. The first ichthyosaurs, which are called sea dragons because they tend to have very large teeth and eyes, were discovered by the fossil hunter and palaeontologist Mary Anning in the early 19th century. The specimen is currently being treated by a specialist paleontological conservator, a process that will take 12-18 months.

Mali conflict: Macron announces troops to leave after nine years

• French president, Emmanuel Macron has announced that France and its European partners will start the military withdrawal from Mali after more than nine years fighting a jihadist insurgency. France first deployed troops against jihadists in Mali in 2013 under the Socialist president François Hollande. The decision has been taken due to a breakdown in France’s relations with the ruling junta government in the country. The heart of this military operation will be shifted from Mali to Niger.

• In recent years, jihadists have taken over swaths of territory in the former French colony, exploiting political turmoil, poverty and the weakness of local authorities. Critics of French strategy in Mali have long accused policymakers in Paris of focusing on the military force at the expense of politics. The withdrawal applies to 2,400 French troops in Mali and a smaller European force of several hundred, which was created in 2020 to reduce the burden on French forces.

NATIONAL

GoI, World GOI Signed USD 115 million loan agreement for REWARD Project

• The Government of India, the State Governments of Karnataka and Odisha and the World Bank have signed a $115 million (INR 869 crore) Rejuvenating Watersheds for Agricultural Resilience through Innovative Development (REWARD) Programme. This programme will help national and state institutions adopt improved watershed management practices to help increase farmers’ resilience to climate change, promote higher productivity and better incomes.

OBITUARY

Ravish Tiwari, Express chief of national bureau, passes away

• Senior journalist, Ravish Tiwari has passed away. He was the national bureau chief of Indian Express. He was popular for his political news reporting. Before this, he had also served as Senior Assistant Editor at Economic Times, Associate Editor at India Today and Senior Assistant Editor at the Indian Express. He had done his graduation from IIT Bombay and master’s from the University of Oxford.

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Mother Language Day 2022 : 21st February

• The International Mother Language Day (IMLD) is observed annually on the 21st of February. The day aims to raise awareness regarding linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism. The 2022 theme is “Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities”. The UN mentioned in its statement that this year’s theme raises the potential role of technology to advance multilingual education and support the development of quality teaching and learning for all.

• International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999. The UN General Assembly welcomed the proclamation of the day in its resolution of 2002.

SUMMIT'S & MOU's

TransUnion Cibil partners Ficci on MSME consumer education program

• TransUnion CIBIL has partnered with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) to launch a unique nationwide MSME consumer education program to support MSME. This program will kick off with MSME clusters in Maharashtra, Assam and Tripura and aims to reach thousands of MSMEs across key MSME clusters in India.

• The program objective is to empower MSMEs with knowledge on how to build a good credit history and CIBIL Rank to avail easier and faster access to finance. TransUnion CIBIL is committed to supporting banks and credit institutions in the sustainable growth of their MSME portfolios while improving reach and driving access to finance for MSMEs.

• In addition to offering MSME lenders solutions like CIBIL Rank and commercial credit reports for astute lending, TransUnion CIBIL also publishes insights reports like the MSME Pulse in association with SIDBI and the recent Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) analysis report to support policymakers and the industry with market insights on the MSME sector.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards 2022 Announced

• The prestigious ceremony of Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards 2022 was held on February 20. The event was held in Mumbai and the best performances from last year were honoured in the event this time. This year Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards 2022 celebrated the opulence of Indian Cinema and also commemorated the 75 years of Independence or Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.

• Best Film, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Role, and Best Negative Role, were among the other titles that were given to the personalities of the Indian film fraternity.

winners of Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards 2022:

• Film of the Year Award: Pushpa: The Rise

• Best Film Award: Shershaah

• Best Actor Award: Ranveer Singh for film 83

• Best Actress Award: Kriti Sanon for film Mimi

• Outstanding Contribution to Films: Asha Parekh

• Critics Best Actor Award: Sidharth Malhotra

• Critics Best Actress Award: Kiara Advani

• Best Actor in Supporting Role Award: Satish Kaushik for film Kaagaz

• Best Actress in Supporting Role Award: Lara Dutta for film Bell-Bottom

• Best Actor in Negative Role Award: Aayush Sharma for film Antim: The Final Truth

• People’s Choice Best Actor Award: Abhimanyu Dasani

• People’s Choice Best Actress Award: Radhika Madan

• Best Debut Award: Ahan Shetty for film Tadap

• Best Playback Singer Male Award: Vishal Mishra

• Best Playback Singer Female Award: Kanika Kapoor

• Critics Best Film Award: Sardar Udham Singh

• Best Director Award: Ken Ghosh for film State of Siege: Temple Attack

• Best Cinematographer Award: Jayakrishna Gummadi for film Haseena Dilruba

• Best International Feature Film Award: Another Round

• Best Short Film Award: Pauli

• Best Actor in Web Series Award: Manoj Bajpayee for The Family Man 2

• Best Actress in Web Series Award: Raveena Tandon for Aranyak

• Best Web Series Award: Candy

• Best Actor in Television Series Award: Shaheer Sheikh for Kuch Rang Pyar Ke Aise Bhi

• Best Actress in Television Series Award: Shraddha Arya for Kundali Bhagya

• Television Series of the Year Award: Anupama

• Most Promising Actor in Television Series Award: Dheeraj Dhoopar for Kundali Bhagya

• Most Promising Actress in Television Series Award: Rupali Ganguly for Anupama

BOOKS & AUTHOR

Book ‘A Nation To Protect’ authored by Priyam Gandhi Mody

• The book titled “A Nation To Protect” authored by Priyam Gandhi Mody was launched by Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya. The book highlights the role of PM Narendra Modi during the Covid crisis in the past two years. The book documents the Centre’s leadership in this unprecedented time and how it tided the nation through the crisis.

• During the launch, Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya said he believed that ‘A Nation to Protect’ describes the reality as it unfolded during the last two years. “We have seen what happens when there is a true leadership with a vision,” said Mandaviya referring to PM Modi.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

SBI, BoB, PNB and Canara Bank pick up stake in IDRCL

• State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank (PNB), Bank of Baroda (BoB), Union Bank of India (UBI), Canara Bank, and Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) have announced their subscription to the shares of India Debt Resolution Company Ltd (IDRCL). Public Sector Banks (PSBs) and Public FIs will hold a maximum of 49% in stake of IDRCL while the remaining stake will be with private-sector lenders. The NARCL has been incorporated under the Companies Act, and public sector banks will hold 51 per cent in NARCL.

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Important Current Affairs 14th February 2022

NATIONAL

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari inaugurates 14.5 km long rail-cum-road-bridge over Ganga river at Munger in Bihar

• The Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar jointly inaugurated the 14.5-kilometre long ‘Rail-cum-Road-Bridge’ in Bihar. The much-awaited bridge is constructed over the River Ganga on NH 333B in Bihar’s Munger region. The cost of the ‘Rail-cum-Road-Bridge’ project is Rs 696 crore. The new bridge will reduce travel time, give a boost to tourism, agriculture as well as generate employment opportunities.

• One of Bihar’s major tourist and pilgrimage sites, the city of Munger is well known for its rich ancient history, culture, education and commerce. With the construction of this Rail-cum-Road-Bridge, the distance from Munger to Khagaria will be less than 100 kilometres and also, the distance from Munger to Begusarai will be less than 20 kilometres.

President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurates politically significant Durbar Hall at Raj Bhavan

• President of India, Ram Nath Kovind has inaugurated the Durbar Hall at Raj Bhavan, situated at Malabar Hill, Mumbai. While retaining the heritage features of the old court hall, the new hall has been given additional features such as a balcony and a sea view gallery. Durbar Hall has political importance as it has been associated with oath-taking ceremonies of the Governors, chief ministers of the state.

• Earlier, the inauguration of Durbar Hall was scheduled on December 8, 2021, but it was postponed due to the sudden demise of General Bipin Rawat, chief of defence staff in a helicopter crash.

Army holds 1st hackathon to boost cyber warfare

• Indian army has conducted a first-of-its-kind Hackathon named “Sainya Ranakshetram”. The hackathon was conducted in the Military College of Telecommunication Engineering (MCTE), Mhow under the overall guidance of the Shimla-based Army Training Command (ARTRAC), one of the seven commands of the Indian Army.

• The event was conducted from 01 October 2021 to 31 December 2021 under the name of “Sainya Ranakshetram”, in collaboration with the Rashtriya Raksha University.

• The virtual event witnessed the participation of over 15,000 participants and comprised a number of challenges based on Secure Coding, Software Defined Radio exploitation and Cyber Offensive skills. Further, the main highlights of the event included participants competing with each other in cyberspace against simulated threats.

• Additionally, the event also hosted a plethora of training sessions and sessions by experts for the participants. Cyber enthusiasts from across India were the cynosure in the entire event.

Maharashtra’s Health Minister announces "Hope Express" will be launched to prevent cancer

• Maharashtra’s Health Minister, Rajesh Tope has announced that “Hope Express” will be launched in the state to prevent cancer. This is the first such machine in India. He was speaking at the launch of a state-of-the-art Mosaic-3D radiation machine at a private hospital in Kolhapur. The State Health Minister also promised to take initiative to start Hope Express in every district of the state through district planning.

• The State Health Minister also promised to take initiative to start Hope Express in every district of the state through district planning. He also inaugurated the Oncoprime Cancer Center online at the Hattarki Hospital in Gadhinglaj. The centre will benefit patients in rural areas.

SPORTS

ESPNcricinfo awards 2021: Rishabh Pant wins ‘Test Batting Award’, Kane Williamson is ‘Captain of Year’

• In the 15th Edition of ESPNcricinfo Awards, India’s wicketkeeper-batsman, Rishabh Pant wins the ‘Test Batting’ award by scoring 89 not out, helped India to win the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2021 by (2-1) and shattered Australia’s unbeaten record at Gabba after 32 years. Rishabh Pant was the top scorer of the series for the Indian team, scoring (274 runs).

• New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson was adjudged ‘Captain of the Year’.

• The Test bowling award went to Kyle Jamieson (New Zealand) for his 5 wickets leaving just 31 runs, which helped New Zealand in becoming the first World Test champions (2019-2021).

• England fast bowler Ollie Robinson was named Debutant of the Year.

• Saqib Mahmood’s 4 for 42 in a nine-wicket win over Pakistan got him the top ODI bowling prize.

• Jos Buttler won the T20I batting award.

• The ODI batting and T20I bowling awards went to Pakistan. Fakhar Zaman won the top batting prize. Shaheen Afridi won the T20I bowling award for his annihilation of India in the 10-wicket win for Pakistan at the T20 World Cup.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

Chairman of SC-appointed panel on Char Dham all-weather road resigns

• Veteran environmentalist Ravi Chopra has resigned as chairman of the Supreme Court’s High Powered Committee (HPC) on the Char Dham project. His belief that the HPC could protect this fragile (Himalayan) ecology has been shattered. The Supreme Court on December 14 allowed double-lane widening of roads for the project in view of “security concerns.”

• In his resignation letter to the secretary-general of the Supreme Court on January 27, Chopra referred to the apex court’s December 2021 order that accepted the wider road configuration to meet defence needs, instead of what the HPC had recommended and the SC accepted in its earlier order in September 2020. In 2018, the project was challenged by an NGO for its potential impact on the Himalayan ecology due to felling trees, cutting hills and dumping excavated material. In 2019, the SC formed the HPC Chopra to examine the issues, and in September 2020, accepted his recommendation on road width etc.

Actor Pankaj Tripathi invests in agritech startup Krishi Network

• Cultino Agrotech Pvt Ltd, which runs agritech app Krishi Network has roped in film actor Pankaj Tripathi as a brand ambassador, with a view to reaching out to farmers to its app. Tripathi’s background as a farmer resonates with the platform’s aim to aid farmers to grow their profits by offering them solutions to critical decisions. The app is currently available in Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, and English, and is planned to be launched in other languages soon.

• The startup plans to use the fresh funds to boost their artificial intelligence-based technology platform across India. Founded by IIT Kharagpur alumni Ashish Mishra and Siddhant Bhomia, Krishi Network leverages the growing rural internet penetration to create a platform that eases information accessibility for farmers and enables them to generate higher profits from their land.

RANKING

India among top 5 economies for ease of starting new business

• The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2021/2022 report, unveiled at the Dubai Expo, India is among the top five easiest places to start a new business. The survey of Indian respondents, who answered questions on their entrepreneurial activity, attitudes to enterprise and view of their local entrepreneurial ecosystem, found that 82% think it is easy to start a business, placing India fourth globally. It was topped by Saudi Arabia and followed by Netherlands & Sweden.

• India has topped amongst low-income economies (according to GDP per capita) on different Entrepreneurial Framework Conditions such as Entrepreneurial Finance, Ease of Access to Finance, Government Policy: Support and Relevance; and Government Support: Taxes and Bureaucracy; while Government Entrepreneurial Programmes was ranked second highest.

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Important Current Affairs 10th February 2022

INTERNATIONAL

Instagram announces ‘Take a Break’ feature to encourage breaks from social media

• Instagram has announced the launch of ‘Take a Break’ in all countries, including India, to empower people to make informed decisions about the way they are spending their time. This feature will be promoted in India through a campaign, in partnership with ‘We The Young ’, called ‘Break Zaroori Hai’. ‘Take a Break’ was first launched in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, and it is now available for everyone globally.

• Take a Break’ is a feature that will show up for people, as they have been scrolling for a certain amount of time. They will be asked to take a break from Instagram and suggest that they set reminders to take more breaks in the future.

• They will also be shown expert-backed tips to help them reflect and reset. To make sure that young people are aware of this feature, they will be shown notifications suggesting they turn these reminders on.

• The ‘Take a Break’ reminders build on Instagram’s existing time management tools including Daily Limit, which lets people know when they’ve reached the total amount of time they want to spend on Instagram each day, and offers the ability to mute notifications from Instagram.

NATIONAL

UNEP signs MoU with Maharashtra govt for implementing climate change actions

• The United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) has signed an MoU with the Maharashtra government to support its ‘Majhi Vasundhara’ campaign. It is an initiative towards sustainable use of energy and environmental development. The literal meaning of ‘Majhi Vasundhara’ is ‘My Earth’. It is an initiative of the Environment and Climate Change Department, Government of Maharashtra.

• Majhi Vasundhara’ is an initiative of the Government of Maharashtra’s Environment and Climate Change Department to empower citizens with knowledge on the impacts of climate change and environmental issues and to encourage them to make a conscious effort towards improvement of the environment. To empower citizens with knowledge on the impacts of climate change and environmental issues and to encourage them to make a conscious effort towards the improvement of the environment.

Gujarat unveils new IT policy to generate 1 lakh direct jobs

• Chief Minister of Gujarat, Bhupendra Patel has announced a new IT/ITeS policy for the next five years. This policy will provide financial incentives up to Rs 200 crore to the entities willing to incur capital expenditures. It will also generate employment of about 1 lakh youths. It also seeks to increase IT-ITeS exports from the current Rs 3000 crores annually to 25,000 crores over the next five years. Its operative period will start from the day of notification to 31st March 2027.

• The policy launched at a formal event at a club in GIFT City in Gandhinagar replaces the 2016-2021 policy that had set an ambitious target to increase exports up to USD two billion (Rs 13,000 crore), IT turnover to USD 15 billion (Rs 75,000 crore) and create 10 lakh direct jobs. The policy provides support for both capital (CAPEX) and operational (OPEX) expenditures. “This is a unique model that gives flexibility to industries to plan their expenditures and addresses the viability concerns.

India's first biomass-based hydrogen plant coming up in MP

• India’s first commercial-scale biomass-based hydrogen plant will come up at the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh. Every day this plant will produce one tonne of hydrogen, from 30 tonnes of biomass feedstock. The plant is being put up by a joint venture of Watomo Energies Ltd and Biezel Green Energy with an investment of Rs 24 crore.

• The company owns the technology for a ‘thermally accelerated anerobic digestion (TAD) reactor’ that can produce hydrogen, methane and biochar from biomass. Biezel Green will own 50 per cent in the yet-to-be-named joint venture; the other 50 per cent will come from interested farmers.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

Pradip Shah appointed Pfizer India chairman

• Pfizer India has appointed Pradip Shah as the chairman of its board following the resignation of RA Shah. He is the ex-managing director and a founding member of Crisil. Prior to founding Crisil, he assisted in founding HDFC in 1977. He has also served as a consultant to USAID, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank.

• Pradip is a director on the board of several reputed companies. He is also a member of various prestigious committees/commissions. He is presently the Chairman of Indasia Fund Advisors. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and is also a chartered accountant and a cost accountant.

Sanjay Malhotra appointed DFS Secretary in Finance Ministry

• Sanjay Malhotra has been named as Secretary in the Department of Financial Services in the Ministry of Finance. He is a 1990 batch IAS officer of the Rajasthan cadre. Before this, Sanjay Malhotra was Chairman and Managing Director of REC Ltd. He has succeeded Debashish Panda, who completed his term as DFS Secretary on January 31, 2022.

• Malhotra has an exhaustive power sector experience. The reforms-based result-linked power distribution sector scheme to be applicable till 2025-26 aims to reduce India’s AT&C loss to 12-15% and gradually narrow the deficit between the cost of electricity and the price at which it is supplied to ‘zero’ by 2024-25.

SUMMIT'S & MOU's

IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw Kicks Off NITI Aayog's Fintech Open Summit

• NITI Aayog, in collaboration with PhonePe, AWS and EY, has organized a three-week-long virtual summit, ‘Fintech Open’, from 7–28 February. The summit was inaugurated by Union Minister for Railways, Communications, and Electronics and IT, Ashwini Vaishnaw in the presence of NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar. A first-of-its-kind initiative, Fintech Open will bring together regulators, fintech professionals and enthusiasts, industry leaders, the start-up community, and developers to collaborate, exchange ideas and innovate.

• An open platform is created using public investment, wherein numerous private entrepreneurs, start-ups and developers can join to create new solutions. For example, today, 270 banks are connected with the UPI and many entrepreneurs and start-ups have provided solutions that have helped increase the country’s fintech adoption rate—which is the highest globally at 87%.’

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Pulses Day 2022:10 February

• The United Nations designated World Pulses Day is observed every year on 10 February. The day has been established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to recognize the importance of pulses (dry beans, lentils, dry peas, chickpeas, lupins) as a global food. This year World Pulses Day’s theme: “Pulses to empower youth in achieving sustainable agrifood systems”.

• In 2018, the UN General Assembly decided to mark 10 February as World Pulses Day. The first WPD was held on February 10, 2019. On 20 December 2013, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/68/231) proclaiming 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (IYP). The celebration of the year, led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), increased the public awareness of the nutritional and environmental benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

India in global gold buying spree; RBI 2nd largest buyer of yellow metal

• The largest buyer, the Central Bank of Thailand, bought 90 metric tonnes of gold while RBI bought 77.5 metric tonnes taking its total gold reserve to 754.1 tonnes at the end of December 2021. When it comes to gold buying, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) emerged as the second-largest buyer of yellow metal among the world’s Central Banks in 2021. As per Goldhub, India’s official gold reserves is the ninth-largest in the world. Goldhub is the official website of the World Gold Council that maintains all the data regarding precious metals.

• At the end of December 2021, RBI gold reserves stood at 754.1 tonnes, which amounts to 6.22 per cent of India’s forex reserves. As per RBI data, India’s total reserves at the end of December 31, 2021, stood at $633.61 billion, including gold reserves worth $39.405 billion.

Razorpay acquires majority stake in Malaysian fintech startup Curlec

• Razorpay has expanded into South-East Asia with the acquisition of a majority stake in a Malaysian fintech firm Curlec, valuing the company between $19-20 million. Razorpay expects to complete the full acquisition in the next one-and-a-half years. The Kuala Lumpur-based, Curlec builds solutions for recurring payments for businesses. This marks Razorpay’s fourth acquisition overall and its first in the international markets.

• This acquisition will allow us to quickly ramp up and start scaling in Southeast Asia as a market. Curlec has been powering recurring payments for multiple companies in the Malaysian market. With them as part of this team, we will have a local team that understands the nuances of the market in Malaysia and Southeast Asia at large.

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Important Current Affairs 9th February 2022

NATIONAL

RPF has launched a nationwide “AAHT operation” to combat human trafficking

• Indian Railway Protection Force has launched a nationwide operation to curb human trafficking. As part of “Operation AAHT”, special teams will be deployed on all long-distance trains/routes with a focus on rescuing victims, particularly women and children, from the clutches of traffickers. The Railways, which operate about 21,000 trains across the country daily, is the most reliable mode of transportation for the traffickers who often moved their victims on long-distance trains.

• The RPF that rescued more than 2,000 women and children between 2017-21 from the clutches of traffickers intensified the crackdown on human trafficking with the increasing number of cases. The National Crime Records Bureau registers about 2,200 cases of Human Trafficking cases on an average each year.

Age-old Kanchoth festival celebrated in J&K's Bhaderwah

• The ancient festival of Kanchoth is annually celebrated, mainly by the Nag followers, during the Shukla Paksha of Magh month which usually falls in January or February. The festival is celebrated with religious fervour across the Chenab valley region of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

• The 3-day festival is celebrated by married women who pray for the long life of their husbands. Kanchoth or Gauri Tritya is widely celebrated in hilly kishtwar, Ramban and Doda of Jammu province. The festival is celebrated across Bhaderwah (also known as mini-Kashmir), Kotli, Mathola, Ghata, Khakhal, Gupt Ganga, Chinnote, Kapra, Bhalra, Bheja, Chinchora and other regions.

PMKSY scheme extended till FY'26 with Rs 4600 crore outlay

• The ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY)’ has been extended till March 2026 with an allocation of Rs 4,600 crore. The scheme is administered by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries. The scheme aims for the overall growth and development of the food processing sector. In May 2017, the Central Government had launched SAMPADA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) with an allocation of Rs 6,000 crore. The scheme was renamed as PMKSY in August 2017.

• The scheme will boost the growth of the food processing sector but also help in providing better prices to farmers and creating huge employment opportunities. PMKSY is an umbrella scheme incorporating ongoing schemes of the ministry like Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure, Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure, Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters, Creation /Expansion of Food Processing and Preservation Capacities and Operation Greens.

NITI Aayog, USAID to collaborate in healthcare

• Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have announced a new partnership under the Sustainable Access to Markets and Resources for Innovative Delivery of Healthcare (SAMRIDH) initiative. It aims to improve access to affordable and quality healthcare for vulnerable populations in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, and rural and tribal regions.  It aims to mobilize a capital pool of $100+ million from the private sector and bilateral organizations. It leverages this fund to offer both grant and debt financing provision to support the expansion of market-based health solutions.

• AIM and SAMRIDH have announced a Call for Proposals for healthcare innovators and entrepreneurs in India. Through this initiative, they will focus on innovations across the healthcare landscape.

• This new partnership announced will enhance SAMRIDH’s efforts to reach vulnerable populations, leveraging AIM’s expertise in innovation and entrepreneurship.

• The collaboration would focus on innovations across the healthcare landscape with the common goal to mount an effective response to the ongoing third wave of C-19 and build health system preparedness for future infectious disease outbreaks and health emergencies.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

MediBuddy ropes in Amitabh Bachchan as brand ambassador

• MediBuddy, one of India’s largest digital healthcare platforms, has signed legendary Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan as the official brand ambassador. As part of the deal, Bachchan will be seen endorsing various services available on the platform, while highlighting the need to prioritise one’s health.

• With the deal in place, MediBuddy is looking at further amplifying its reach across India. Leveraging the veteran actor’s popularity, especially across tier II and tier III cities, the brand aims to position itself as a household name.

SUMMIT'S & MOU's

Sonata Software ties up with Microsoft in its launch

• A global IT Services, and Technology Solutions Company, Sonata Software has announced its partnership with Microsoft for its launch of ‘Microsoft Cloud for Retail’. The company has been a partner with Microsoft for over three decades. The ‘Microsoft Cloud for Retail’ collaboration is expected to further strengthen the relationship. Sonata Software delivers solutions for retailers worldwide, leveraging world-class IPs, in-house migration and modernisation tools.

• The partnership with Microsoft Cloud for Retail will further enhance our capabilities, with its emphasis on leveraging data, elevating the shopping experience, building real-time, sustainable supply chains, and empowering store associates. The Sonata Connected Retail solution is available through Microsoft AppSource. Sonata Software is a Microsoft Gold Partner and is a member of the Microsoft Inner Circle for Business Applications.

Govt signs deal to develop clean energy tech in Kerala

• Kerala Government has signed an MoU with the Social Alpha’s Energy Lab – “Clean Energy International Incubation Centre (CEIIC)” to support innovative and clean energy technology programmes in Kerala. The Government of Kerala signed this agreement through Kerala Development & Innovation Strategy Council (KDISC) and Energy Management Centre (EMC).

• The EMC Kerala represents the Power Department agencies including the Kerala State Electricity Board, Electrical Inspectorate and ANERT (Agency for New and Renewable Energy Research and Technology). To establish a clean energy incubation centre to boost green energy development and energy conservation activities in Kerala.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

PM CARES Fund corpus triples to Rs 10,990.17 crore in FY 2020-21

• The total corpus under the PM CARES Funds in 2020-21 was Rs 10,990.17 crore. While Rs 3,976.17 crore was spent from the fund in 2020-21, according to the latest audited statement of PM CARES Funds. As on March 31, 2021, the Fund had an unspent balance of Rs 7,013.99 crore. The government has used a part of the money to buy medical equipment, including ventilators, to boost the battle against the C-19 and has also provided relief to migrants.

• The highest amount was spent on Procurement of 6.6 crore doses of C-19 vaccine i.e. Rs 1,392.82 crore. The Fund was established on March 27, 2020. PM CARES fund is a dedicated national fund with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation like posed by the C-19 pandemic. Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of the PM CARES Fund.  The fund was set up as a public charitable trust “keeping in mind the need for having a dedicated national fund with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the C-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected”.

RBI to observe February 14-18, 2022 as Financial Literacy week 2022

• The Reserve Bank of India will observe February 14-18, 2022 as Financial Literacy week 2022. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been conducting Financial Literacy Week (FLW) every year since 2016 to propagate financial education messages on a particular theme across the country. Banks have been advised to disseminate the information and create awareness among its customers and the general public.The theme of Financial Literacy week 2022 is: “Go Digital, Go Secure”. The theme is aligned with one of the strategic objectives of the National Strategy for Financial Education: 2020-2025.

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Important Current Affairs 7th February 2022

NATIONAL

C-19: Bengal starts open-air classroom 'Paray Shikshalaya'

• West Bengal government has launched an open-air classroom programme Paray Shikshalaya (Neighbourhood Schools) for primary and pre-primary students. Under the ‘Paray Shikshalaya’ project, primary and pre-primary students of government schools will be taught in open spaces. The state government will also provide mid-day meals to the students of ‘Paray Shikshalaya’. The para teachers and primary school teachers would be part of this project. They will provide elementary education to children of Class 1-5.

KVIC cancels license of oldest Khadi Institution “Khadi Emporium” Mumbai

• Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has cancelled the “Khadi Certification” of its oldest Khadi Institution named Mumbai Khadi & Village Industries Association (MKVIA). This MKVIA was running the popular “Khadi Emporium” at Metropolitan Insurance House, Mumbai since 1954. KVIC has cancelled the license of MKVIA as the latter had started selling fake Khadi products, which was against the “zero-tolerance” policy of KVIC against the sale of spurious/non-Khadi products.

• The action came after KVIC found that the said Khadi Emporium at D.N. Road was selling non-Khadi products in the guise of genuine Khadi. During a routine inspection, KVIC officials collected samples from the Emporium that were found to be non-Khadi products.

• KVIC issued a legal notice to MKVIA for flouting the norms of the “Khadi Certificate” and “Khadi Mark Certificate” issued by the Commission. With the cancellation of the registration, Khadi Emporium ceases to be a genuine Khadi Outlet and is no longer permitted to sell Khadi products from the Emporium.

• KVIC is also contemplating legal action against the MKVIA for criminal breach of trust and cheating the public at large by misusing the credibility and popularity of brand Khadi.

Narendra Modi inaugurated 50th Anniversary Celebrations of Hyderabad-based ICRISAT

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Patancheru, Hyderabad. During the occasion, PM also inaugurated two research facilities of ICRISAT, which were Climate Change Research Facility on Plant Protection and Rapid Generation Advancement Facility.

• These two facilities are dedicated to the smallholder farmers of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Prime Minister also unveiled a specially designed logo of ICRISAT and launched a commemorative stamp issued on the occasion. Its objective is to conduct agricultural research for rural development, in Asia & sub-Saharan Africa.

SPORTS

International Olympic Committee approves three urban sports for 2028 Los Angeles Olympics

• International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approved a proposal to include Surfing, Skateboarding and Sport Climbing for the 2028 Summer Olympics Games that will be organized in Los Angeles, United States. The 2028 Summer Olympics are officially known as the Games of the XXXIV Olympiad, or Los Angeles 2028 is a forthcoming event scheduled to take place from July 21 – August 6, 2028, in Los Angeles, California, US.

• The 2024 Summer Olympics Games will be organized in Paris, France. With this Paris becomes only the second city to host 3 Summer Olympic games. Surfing, Skateboarding and Sport Climbing had made their Olympic debut in Tokyo Olympics 2021 and will also be included in the “additional” list for Paris in 2024. Boxing, weightlifting and modern pentathlon also have the chance to be included in upcoming Olympics games.

Foundation stone for World's third-largest cricket stadium laid in Jaipur

• Rajasthan Chief Minister, Ashok Gehlot and BCCI President Sourav Ganguly laid the foundation stone of the world’s third-largest cricket stadium in Jaipur. The International Cricket Stadium in Jaipur will be the second-largest cricket stadium in India and the third-largest in the world. The new international stadium will be built by the Rajasthan Cricket Academy (RCA) on the Jaipur-Delhi bypass, over 100 acres of land in Jaipur. The stadium will have a seating capacity of 75,000 spectators.

• Currently, Narendra Modi Stadium (former Motera Stadium) in Ahmedabad is the world’s largest stadium with a capacity of 132,000 spectators.

• The second-largest stadium is Australia’s Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) which has a capacity of 1,00,024 spectators.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Swarajability: India's first AI-based job portal for persons with disabilities launched

• The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-Hyderabad) has launched the beta version of ‘Swarajability’, a job portal powered by artificial intelligence that helps people with disabilities acquire relevant skills and find jobs. The platform will analyse the profiles of the job seekers and suggest the skills they would require to become eligible. A platform that addressed this challenge would help this vulnerable section of the population.

• The institute has developed the platform in association with Youth4Jobs, Visual Quest and Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. While IIT-H offers its expertise in AI, Visual Quest India has developed the platform. Youth4Jobs provides skilling services to job seekers. The project is funded by Kotak Mahindra Bank. There are 21 million persons with disabilities in the country. About 70 per cent of them are either unemployed or underemployed.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

History Professor Dinesh Prasad Saklani is the new NCERT director

• Professor Dinesh Prasad Saklani has been appointed as the new Director of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). He has replaced Hrushikesh Senapaty, who finished his term a year ago. The new director has been appointed for a period of five years with effect from the date of assumption of charge of the post, or till he attains the age of 65 years, or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

• Professor Saklani has been awarded with Distinguished Academy Award by Punjab Kala and Sahitya Academy, Jalandhar for Historical writing in 2005. The new director is a member of the Academic Council of Uttarakhand Open University, Haldwani. Professor Saklani is also a life member in the Indian History Congress; Uttarakhand History and Culture Association and of Book Club IIAS Shimla.

OBITURY

Former Greek president Christos Sartzetakis dies aged 92

• Former Greek President Christos Sartzetakis has passed away at the age of 92 years due to respiratory failure in Athens, Greece. He was a Greek jurist and a judge of the Supreme Court, who resisted against the militants during the 1967-1974 Rule of the Colonels. He served as the President of Greece for a four-year term (1985 to 1990), after getting nominated by the socialist PASOK party.

Senior politician BJP’s first torchbearer in Lok Sabha, C Janga Reddy passes away

• Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Chandupatla Janga Reddy has passed away in Hyderabad following health issues. He was a native of Warangal and a former MLA in Andhra Pradesh. He is best known for his time as a Member of Parliament in the 8th Lok Sabha in 1984, which also marked the BJP’s debut in the Lok Sabha, following Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

• Reddy was one of the only two BJP MPs who got elected to the Lok Sabha in 1984 in 543 Parliament constituencies. The other was A K Patel. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly in undivided Andhra Pradesh thrice.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

Kotak General Insurance and CARS24 offer Motor Insurance for used cars

• Kotak Mahindra General Insurance Company has signed an agreement with Cars24 Financial Services Private Limited (CARS24 Financial Services) to provide motor insurance services to used car buyers. Under the partnership, used car buyers from Cars24 will be directly provided with Kotak General Insurance’s comprehensive motor insurance plans.

• The partnership will provide a trustworthy and faster way to avail of motor insurance with a fully digital insurance process. Customers can also avail of cashless claims servicing at Kotak General Insurance’s platform of garages and enable convenient claim settlement services.

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Important Current Affairs 4th February 2022

INTERNATIONAL

Winter Olympics host China welcomes Year of Tiger with quiet celebrations amid COVID-19 outbreaks

• China is celebrating the Spring Festival, it’s the most important annual festival as it entered the Lunar new “Year of the Tiger”. Last year was celebrated as the Lunar Year of the Ox. According to the Chinese Zodiac calendar, the Year of the Ox has ended and the Year of the Tiger has begun from February 1, 2022, and will end on January 21, 2023.

• In Chinese culture, the tiger symbolizes bravery, vigor and strength and it is believed that it can lift people from adversity and usher in final auspiciousness and peace. Each year is named after one of 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac in a repeating cycle. This year, Spring Festival celebrations coincide with the Beijing Winter Olympics.

NATIONAL

US regains top spot as India’s trade partner in 2021

• The United States was India’s top trading partner in the calendar year 2021 with a trade of $112.3 billion. The US is followed by China on second. The value of trade between India and China was $110.4 billion. In 2020, China was India’s top trading partner and the US was in the second rank. In 2019 USA was India’s top trading partner and China was on second.

Aravalli Biodiversity Park in Gurugram declared as India’s first OECM site

• The Aravalli Biodiversity Park in Gurugram, Haryana, has been declared as India’s first “other effective area-based conservation measures” (OECM) site. This was informed by the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change on the occasion of World Wetlands Day. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) gives OECM tag to those areas that are not protected but support rich biodiversity. The tag designates the area as a biodiversity hotspot on the international map.

• OECM is a status for a place that has achieved effective in-situ conservation of biodiversity outside protected areas like forests. The park, which once was an abandoned mining pit, was transformed into a lush green forest patch in 10 years. Now, it has about 400 native species of plants.

SPORTS

New Zealand’s All rounder cricketer Daryl Mitchell named the ICC Spirit of Cricket Award 2021

• New Zealand cricketer, Daryl Mitchell has been named the winner of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Spirit of Cricket Award 2021. This award is given to him for his gesture of refusing to take a single in the high-pressure 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Semi-Finals against England as he felt he had “obstructed” the way of bowler Adil Rashid at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. He has become the 4th New Zealand player to win the award after Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson.

• The ICC Spirit of Cricket Award is annually awarded by the ICC to recognise the player most notable for “upholding the ‘Spirit of the Game’”.

Neeraj Chopra nominated for Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award 2022

• Tokyo Olympics gold medallist, Neeraj Chopra has been nominated for the prestigious 2022 Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award. The other 5 nominees are Daniil Medvedev (Australian Open runner-up), Emma Raducanu (British tennis star), Pedri (Barcelona and Spain footballer), Yulimar Rojas (Venezuelan athlete) and Ariarne Titmus (Australian swimmer). The winners will be revealed in April following a vote by the Laureus World Sports Academy, made up of 71 sporting greats.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

India's most powerful supercomputer Param Pravega launched - Indian Institute of Science

• The Indian Institute of Science (IISc.), Bengaluru, has installed and commissioned Param Pravega, one of the most powerful supercomputers in India. It is also the largest supercomputer in an Indian academic institution. Param Pravega has a total supercomputing capacity of 3.3 petaflops (1 petaflop equals a quadrillion or 1015 operations per second).

• The supercomputer has been designed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC). It has been developed under the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM), a joint initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), and implemented by C-DAC and IISc.

SUMMIT'S & MOU's

SBI-NCF-IGNCA sign MoU for Development of Atmanirbhar Bharat Centre for Design at Red Fort, Delhi

• The State Bank of India (SBI) has signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indira Gandhi Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) and National Culture Fund (NCF) of the Ministry of Culture, for Development of Atmanirbhar Bharat Centre for Design (ABCD) at L1 Barrack, Red Fort, in Delhi. The main objective of Project ABCD is to highlight, promote and celebrate the products that have the Geographical Indication sign to give a boost to Economic Value Addition to GI products from India.

• The ABCD project will be implemented by IGNCA, an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Culture through the ministry’s NCF fund. SBI will sponsor the project under CSR with a contribution of Rs. 10 crores for the implementation of the ABCD Project.

BOOKS & AUTHOR

Coloniality, Civilisation, Constitution' authored by J Sai Deepak

• A Trilogy book series titled, ‘India, That is Bharat: Coloniality, Civilisation, Constitution’ is authored by J Sai Deepak and published by Bloomsbury India. The 1st part was released on 15th August 2021, is set to launch the 2nd part in June 2022. Whereas, the 3rd and last parts will be released in June 2023.

• It is the first part of a comprehensive trilogy, which examines the impact of European ‘colonial consciousness’ (or ‘coloniality’), on Bharat (India). It highlights how colonialism changes the socio-religious culture, history, education, language and racial patterns in India.

• India, That Is Bharat, the first book of a comprehensive trilogy, explores the influence of European ‘colonial consciousness’ (or ‘coloniality’), in particular its religious and racial roots, on Bharat as the successor state to the Indic civilisation and the origins of the Indian Constitution.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

Export Import Bank of India, Sri Lanka sign $500-million loan agreement

• Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) on behalf of the government of India, extended a line of credit of $500 million to the government of the socialist republic of Sri Lanka for financing the purchase of petroleum products. The fund will be used by the Island nation for the purchase of petroleum products. With the signing of this new LOC agreement, the total LOC extended by Exim Bank to Sri Lanka till date has reached 10, taking the total value of LOCs extended to USD 2.18 billion.

• With the signing of this LoC agreement, Exim Bank has now in place 276 lines of credit, covering 61 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), with credit commitments of around $27.84 billion, available for financing exports from India. Besides promoting India’s exports, Exim Bank’s LoCs enable the demonstration of Indian expertise and project execution capabilities in emerging markets.

RBI cancels licence of Nashik-based Independence Co-operative Bank

• The Reserve Bank of India has cancelled the license of Independence Co-operative Bank Ltd., Nashik, Maharashtra w.e.f February 03, 2022. The major reason for the cancellation of the license by RBI is that bank does not have adequate capital and earning prospects. This means that it does not comply with the provisions of Section 11(1) and Section 22 (3) (d) read with Section 56 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.

• The bank has stopped operation from the close of business on February 3, putting depositors of the bank in trouble. They would however receive up to Rs five lakh from Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC), after the bank’s liquidation.

• RBI has told the Commissioner for Cooperation and Registrar of Cooperative Societies in Maharashtra to issue an order for winding up the bank and appoint a liquidator. As per the data submitted by the bank, more than 99 per cent of the depositors are entitled to receive the full amount of their deposits from DICGC.

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Important Current Affairs 3rd February 2022

NATIONAL

Andhra Pradesh Social activists builds Gandhi Mandiram and Smruthi Vanam at Srikakulam

• In Andhra Pradesh, a few social activists have built a temple for Mahatma Gandhi (Gandhi Mandiram) and Smrithi Vanam (memorial park) for our great freedom fighters’ at the Municipal Park in Srikakulam.

• The statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Gandhi Mandiram along with the statues at Smrithi Vanam were unveiled on the eve of Gandhiji’s death anniversary, on January 30, 2022 as a tribute to the Father of Nation and freedom fighters.

• The new initiative will inculcate patriotism among the youths by remembering the sacrifices of freedom fighters.

• The Gandhi temple has been built at an estimated cost of Rs 20 lakh with the help of donors

India’s first geopark to be set up in Jabalpur district of Madhya Pradesh

• India’s first geological park is being set up at Lamheta village of Jabalpur district in Madhya Pradesh.

• The approval to set up the geopark has been granted by the Geological Survey of India (GSI).

• The estimated cost of setting up the project is Rs 35 crore.

Spituk Gustor Festival observed in Ladakh

• The annual Spituk Gustor Festival was observed in Ladakh on January 30 and 31, 2022, to celebrate the culture and traditional heritage of the Union Territory.

• The term Gustor literally means ‘Sacrifice’ in the Tibetan language.

• The two-day festival is celebrated by various monasteries of the UT such as Thiksey, Spituk, Korzok and Karsha.

• The Spituk Gustor festival is marked by different kinds of rituals, ceremonies, music & Cham Dance.

• Cham Dance is a colourful mask dance performed by the monks of the Spituk monastery, located in Leh district, in their best robes depicting different deities.

APPOINTMENT

Lt Gen GAV Reddy Succeeds Lt Gen KJS Dhillon As head of Defence Intelligence Agency

• Lieutenant General GAV Reddy has been appointed as the Director-General of the Defence Intelligence Agency. He will replace Lieutenant General KJS Dhillon.

• The post of the director general is held on a rotation basis between the three Armed services- the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force

• The Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) is an intelligence agency responsible for providing and coordinating defence and military intelligence to the Indian Armed Forces. It was formed in 2002.

BANKING & ECONOMY

CRISIL projects India’s GDP growth for FY22 at 9.2% and for FY23 at 7.8%

• Rating Agency CRISIL has made the following projections for the GDP growth rate of India:

• For 2021-22 (FY22) = 9.2%

• For 2022-23 (FY23)= 7.8%

LIC ranked 10th most valued insurance brand globally: Brand Finance

• As per a brand valuation report released by Brand Finance, Life Insurance Corporation has been ranked at 10th in the list of insurance brands globally. Ping An Insurance of China is at the top.

• LIC is the only Indian insurance company in the top 10 list. LIC has a valuation of USD 8.656 billion (around Rs 64,722 crore).

• As per Brand Finance, the market value of LIC will become Rs 43.40 lakh crore (USD 59.21 billion) by 2022, and Rs 58.9-lakh crore (USD 78.63 billion) by 2027.

• It must be noted that LIC was ranked as 206th most valuable brand in 2021 by Brand Finance.

Patanjali and PNB launches co-branded contactless credit cards in partnership with RuPay

• Patanjali Ayurved Ltd and Punjab National Bank (PNB) have launched a co-branded contactless credit card in partnership with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

• The cards will be offered on the RuPay Platform of NPCI.

• The co-branded Rupay contactless credit cards are available in two variants which includes PNB RuPay Platinum and PNB RuPay Select.

SCHEMES

Government approves continuation of Scheme of Assistance to National Sports Federations with an outlay of Rs. 1575 crore

• Central Government has approved the continuation of Scheme of Assistance to National Sports Federations (NSFs) for XV Finance Commission Cycle (2021-22 to 2025-26). The outlay of this scheme for the next five years will be Rs. 1575 crore.

• This scheme is managed by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and it is the main source of funding for the preparation of national teams for all major national and international competitions including the Olympic Games.

DAYS

World Interfaith Harmony Week: February 01-07

• The World Interfaith Harmony Week is observed annually during the first week of February, which means from February 01 to 07.

• The observation aims to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.

• World Interfaith Harmony Week was designated by the UN General Assembly in 2010.

• It was proposed by King Abdullah II of Jordan at the United Nations in 2010.

• Theme in 2022 is Faith and spiritual leadership to combat stigma and conflict during pandemic recovery.

OBITUARY

Additional Solicitor General Rupinder Singh Suri passes away

• Senior advocate and Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Rupinder Singh Suri has passed away.

• Mr Suri was appointed as the ASG in on 30 January 2020 for a period till 29 June 2023.

• Suri was designated as a senior advocate in 2009.

• He had also served as the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association.

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Important Current Affairs 17th January 2022

INTERNATIONAL

Indian, Russian Navies carry out joint exercise in Arabian Sea

• Indian Navy and Russian Navy undertook PASSEX exercises at the port of Cochin, in the Arabian Sea. The Indian Navy’s indigenously designed and built guided-missile destroyer, INS Kochi, took part in the exercise. Russian Federation Navy was represented by RFS Admiral Tributs.

• Two other Russian naval ships Russian Naval Missile Cruiser Varyag, and Russian Tanker Boris Butoma were also accompanied. The exercise showcased cohesiveness and interoperability between the two navies and included tactical manoeuvres, cross-deck helicopter operations and seamanship activities.

NATIONAL

World's Largest Khadi National Flag To Be Displayed At 1971 War Site

• The world’s largest national flag, made of Khadi fabric was put to display to celebrate the “Army Day” on January 15, 2022. It was displayed at Longewala, along the India – Pakistan Border in Jaisalmer. Longewala was the centre stage of the historic battle of 1971 between India and Pakistan. It will be the fifth public display of the Khadi flag. 70 khadi artisans prepared this flag in 49 days. Its making has created about 3500 man-hours of additional work for Khadi artisans and allied workers.

• The Monumental National Flag is 225 feet long and 150 feet wide. It is approximately 1400 kgs in weight.

• 4500 meters of hand-woven, hand-spun, Khadi cotton bunting has been used to make the flag. It covers an area of 33, 750 square feet.The Ashok Chakra in the flag has a diameter of 30 feet.

January 16 to be celebrated as National Startup Day: PM Modi

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared to mark 16th  January as ‘National Start-up Day’. The announcement was made by PM Modi on January 15, 2022, via video conferencing during a week-long event “Celebrating Innovation Ecosystem” as a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. The Prime Minister interacted with more than 150 startups across different sectors, during the event.

• The startups, categorised under six groups, gave presentations to the Prime Minister on six themes — ‘growing from roots, ‘nudging the DNA’, ‘from local to global, ‘technology of future’, ‘building champions in manufacturing’ and ‘sustainable development.

• The Prime Minister was of the view Indian startups can easily make it to the global stage and reach other countries and told the young entrepreneurs: “Don’t just keep your dreams local, make them global. Remember this mantra — let’s Innovate for India, innovate from India”.

SPORTS

Tasnim Mir becomes first Indian to claim world no. 1 status in u-19 girls singles

• Tasnim Mir became the first Indian to grab World no 1 in Under-19 (U-19) Girls Singles category with 10,810 points in the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) Junior rankings. She is followed by Mariia Golubeva from Russia and Lucia Rodriguez from Spain. In 2021, she won 3 Junior International Tournaments held in Bulgaria, France and Belgium, which helped her climb up for No.1 position. The World No.1 position in Boy’s Singles is shared by Lakshya Sen, Siril Verma and Aditya Joshi.

Former West Indies Cricket Captain Clive Lloyd Receives Knighthood

• Former West Indies Captain Clive Lloyd received Knighthood from Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge at Windsor Castle, for his services towards the game of cricket. On the same day, England’s world cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan was awarded with CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) by Prince William for his services towards the game of cricket. The CBE is the highest-ranking Order of the British Empire award, followed by OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) and then MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire).

• A knighthood is a title that is given to a man by a British king or queen for his achievements or his service to his country. A man who has been given a knighthood can put ‘Sir’ in front of his name instead of ‘ Mr’.

India Open: Lakshya Sen stuns world champion Loh Kean Yew to win maiden Super 500 title

• Indian badminton player Lakshya Sen has defeated World Champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore, in the men’s singles final of India Open 2022 to secure his maiden Super 500 title. The 20-year-old Sen gained victory over Yew in straight games 24-22, 21-17. The 2022 India Open (badminton), officially Yonex-Sunrise India Open 2022, was held at the K. D. Jadhav Indoor Hall in New Delhi, India, from 11 to 16 January 2022.

16th 'India Digital Summit' organised by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI)

• Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Piyush Goyal virtually addressed the 16th India Digital Summit, 2022. The two-day virtual event was organised on January 11 and 12, 2022 by the Internet And Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The theme of the summit was “Supercharging Startups”.

• India Digital Summit is the oldest event of the digital industry in India. During the event, the Minister unveiled ‘LEAP’ as the way forward to further strengthen our Startups ecosystem. LEAP stands for “Leverage, Encourage, Access & Promote”.

OBITURY

Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj passes away at 83

• Legendary Kathak dancer, Pandit Birju Maharaj has passed away at the age of 83. A recipient of the country’s second-highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan, he was fondly called Pandit-ji or Maharaj-ji by his disciples and legions of followers and was one of India’s best-known artistes.

• Birju Maharaj was a descendant of the Maharaj family of Kathak dancers, which includes his two uncles, Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj, and his father and guru, Acchan Maharaj. Birju Maharaj was also a singer par excellence, having command over Thumri, Dadra, Bhajan and Ghazal.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

RBI releases Annual Report of Ombudsman Schemes, 2020-21

• Reserve Bank of India has released the Annual Report of the Ombudsman Schemes for 2020-21, which has been prepared for the 9-month period (July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021) in alignment with the change in the Financial Year of RBI from ‘July – June’ to ‘April – March’ with effect from July 1, 2020. The Annual Report covers the activities under the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, 2006 (BOS), the Ombudsman Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies, 2018 (OSNBFC) and the Ombudsman Scheme for Digital Transactions, 2019 (OSDT).

• The volume of complaints received under all the 3 Ombudsman Schemes increased by 22.27 percent on an annualized basis and stood at 3,03,107.

• The complaints received at BOS from July 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, stood at 2,73,204

• The complaints received at OSNBFCs stood at 26,957 during July 1, 2020-March 31, 2021

• The number of complaints received at the OSDT rose to 2,946 during July 1, 2020-March 31, 2021.

Yes Mutual Fund rechristened as White Oak Capital Mutual Fund

• The name of YES Asset Management has been rechristened as WhiteOak Capital Asset Management and therefore the name of YES Mutual Fund has been changed to WhiteOak Capital Mutual Fund. The change in the names are effective from January 12, 2022. White Oak got the license to run a mutual fund. White Oak Capital group provides investment management and advisory services for equity assets of over Rs 42,000 crore.

• In November 2021, White Oak Capital Group, through its subsidiary, GPL Finance and Investments, acquired the mutual fund business, Yes Asset Management, of Yes Bank. The White Oak Capital group provides investment management and advisory services for Indian equity investors.

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