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Important Current Affairs 19th January 2021

INTERNATIONAL

India and Japan inks MoC to promote movement of skilled workers

• India and Japan signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) a Basic Framework for Partnership for Proper Operation of the System Pertaining to Specified Skilled Worker (SSW), to promote the movement of skilled workers from India to Japan. The MoC was signed between Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Ambassador of Japan to India Suzuki Satoshi.

• The MoC covers 14 categories of specified skills. The skilled workers from India who meet these skills requirement and Japanese language tests would be eligible for employment in Japan on a contractual basis.

• These workers would be granted the status of Specified Skilled Worker by Japan.

• The 14 specified industry fields include nursing care, building cleaning, material processing, industrial machinery manufacturing, electric and electronic information, construction, shipbuilding and ship-related industry, automobile maintenance, aviation, lodging, agriculture, fisheries, food and beverages manufacturing and food services industry.

NATIONAL

Harsh Vardhan chairs 148th session of WHO Executive Board

• Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare digitally chaired the 148th session of WHO Executive Board, through Video Conference. The 148th session of the Executive Board has been organised from 18-26 January 2021.

• The meeting provides a platform to bring together all member states to set the directions and agenda and continue striving for the objective of Health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Also, the WHO has declared the Year 2021 as the Year of Global Solidarity and Survival.

Nitin Gadkari inaugurates National Road Safety Month 2021

• The first-ever National Road Safety Month was inaugurated by Union Minister for Defence Shri Rajnath Singh and Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways & MSME Nitin Gadkari. It is the inaugural edition of the National Road Safety Month and is being held in place of National Road Safety Week, which was being observed since the past few years. The objective of the month-long programme is to build awareness about road safety and reduce road accidents in India. It will be held till 17 February 2021.

• During this period, nation-wide activities would be conducted throughout the country in association with State Govt./Union Territory administrations, NHAI, NHIDCL, OEMs and NGOs.

• The centre is also taking several measures to reduce road accidents by Restructuring and Strengthening 4E’s of Road safety, which are: Engineering, Education, Enforcement and Emergency care Services.

PM Modi launches Rs 1,000-crore ‘Startup India Seed Fund’

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched Rs 1,000-crore ‘Startup India Seed Fund’ on 16 January 2021, while addressing the ‘Prarambh: Startup India International Summit’ 2021. This initiative will help in setting up new startups and promote their growth.

• The Startup India Seed Fund would support startups in need of initial capital to start and grow their business and help budding entrepreneurs pursue innovative ideas.

• The government has been implementing the Fund of Fund Scheme to help startups raise equity capital. Going forward, the government will also help startups in raising debt capital.

India’s first COVID-19 Vaccine recipient is Manish Kumar

• Manish Kumar, a sanitation worker in Delhi, became the first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in India after PM Modi flagged off the nationwide vaccination drive on 16 January 2021. Manish Kumar was given the injection at AIIMS in Delhi while Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan was also present.

• PM Modi launched the nationwide vaccine drive via videoconferencing and congratulated the people of India on getting two Made in India vaccines. India’s vaccination programme is based on a very important principle that those who are in need of the vaccine will get vaccinated first. Our doctors, nurses, medical & paramedical staff, sanitation workers in hospitals – be it private or hospital are entitled to get vaccinated. This will be done on priority.

SPORTS

Khelo India Zanskar Winter Sport & Youth festival 2021 begins

• In Ladakh, the inaugural edition of the Khelo India Zanskar Winter Sport & Youth Festival 2021 kicked off on 18th January 2021. The 13- Day Zanskar Winter Sports Festival aims to open a new arena in Ladakh for adventure and Nature loving tourists and a boost for local Youth to hone up their skills in winter sports to represent India.

• A series of snow-based activities will be held for the next 13 days to promote tourism and economic activities in the Snowbound, picturesque Zanskar.

OBITUARY

Legendary classical musician Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan passes away

• Legendary Indian classical musician and Padma Vibhushan awardee Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan passed away. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1991, the Padma Bhusan in 2006, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2018.

• In 2003, he was also awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, which is the highest recognition given to practising Indian artists by the Sangeet Natak Akademi.

IMPORTANT DAYS

GoI decides to celebrate January 23 as Parakram Diwas

• The birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, on January 23, as ‘Parakram Diwas’ every year, the Ministry of Culture announced. The day is celebrated to honour and remember Netaji’s indomitable spirit and selfless service to the nation. Earlier this month, the Ministry of Culture held a high-level committee, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in a befitting manner.

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit West Bengal on January 23 to attend Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary celebrations at the Victorial Memorial in Kolkata. The PM is also likely to visit National Library located in Belvedere Estate, Alipore.

NDRF Celebrates its 16th Raising Day

• The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) celebrated its 16th Raising Day on 18th January. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), a specialized multi-skilled, humanitarian force of the country, came into existence on January 19th, 2006 has been playing a vital role in Disaster Management and Community awareness for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the country.

• The NDRF has earned good name and fame nationally and internationally with its selfless service and unmatched professionalism in disaster management. NDRF has saved more than One lakh lives in its 3100 operations and rescued/evacuated over 6.7 lakh people during disasters.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Ramchandra Guha’s latest book ‘The Commonwealth of Cricket’

•  Ramchandra Guha’s latest book ‘The Commonwealth of Cricket’ would be launching virtually in the Tata Literature Live (The Mumbai Lit fest) this month. His latest book juxtaposes his life with his abiding love for the game & this conversation could not come at a better time with India and Australia in the midst of an enthralling test series.

•  In his upcoming book, ‘The commonwealth of cricket: The most subtle and sophisticated game known to mankind’, Guha has penned down his personal account of being intimately involved with the game starting from the time he was a child growing up in Dehradun to his days in college, from his encounters with the best Indian and foreign cricket players to becoming part of the BCCI.

•  As he traces his multifaceted encounters with the game through anecdotes, memoirs and evocative portraits of cricketing legends, he charts the extraordinary social and historical changes that cricket underwent in India and the world.

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Important Current Affairs 9th January 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Indian-American Raj Iyer becomes U.S. Army’s first CIO

• Indian-American Dr Raj Iyer has taken over as the first Chief Information Officer of the US Army, after the Pentagon created the position in July 2020. Dr Raj Iyer is one of the highest-ranking Indian-American civilians in the US Department of Defence.

• Dr Iyer holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering had been serving as the Principal Advisor to the Secretary of the Army and directs representation of the secretary in matters relating to information management/information technology (IT). The position of CIO is equivalent to a three-star General.

NATIONAL

India to chair 3 key subsidiary bodies of UN Security Council

• The Permanent Representative of India to the UN, T S Tirumurti has announced that India has been asked to chair three important committees of the UN Security Council (UNSC), during its tenure as a non-permanent member of the powerful 15-nation UN body.

The three highly significant committees include:

1. Taliban Sanctions Committee

2. Counter-Terrorism Committee

3. Libyan Sanctions Committee

• Among these, India will chair the Counter-Terrorism Committee of UNSC in 2022, which coincides with the 75th anniversary of India’s independence. India began its two-year term at UNSC from January 01, 2021. It is the eighth time that the country has joined UNSC as the non-permanent member. In 2021, along with India, Norway, Kenya, Ireland and Mexico joined as non-permanent members in the Council.

PM Modi dedicates new Section of Western Dedicated Freight Corridor

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dedicated the 306-km New Rewari-New Madar section of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC) to the nation. Through video-conferencing, Modi also flagged off the world’s first double-stack long-haul 1.5-km-long container train hauled by electric traction from New Ateli-New Kishangarh.

• The New Rewari-New Madar section of the WDFC is situated in Haryana, approximately 79 km in Mahendragarh and Rewari districts and Rajasthan approximately 227 km in Jaipur, Ajmer, Sikar, Nagaur, and Alwar districts.

Karnataka Government launches Krishi Sanjeevani Vans to test soil, water

• The Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yediyurappa flagged off 40 Krishi Sanjeevani vans in Bengaluru. These vans have been launched by the state Agriculture Department with Central assistance under National Krishi Vikas Yojana to take up this novel programme.

• To take labs to the agriculture fields, study the conditions and address the needs of the farmers about pest control, the fertility of the soil, weeds and suitable crops in the existing conditions so that farmers get support for their farming techniques.

• Depending on the soil, water and pests inflicting the crops, the Agriculture Department personnel can suggest remedies.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Pakistan successfully test fires “Fatah-1” Rocket System

• The Pakistan Army successfully conducted the test flight of an indigenously developed Guided Multi Launch Rocket System, Fatah-1. The Fatah-1 weapon system is capable of precisely delivering conventional warheads deep into “enemy territory.”

• According to Director General of Army, Media Wing, Major General Babar Iftikhar, Fatah-1 weapon system can hit targets up to a range of 140 km.

OBITUARY

Veteran Professor Chitra Ghosh passes away

• Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s niece and eminent academician Chitra Ghosh has passed away. She made pioneering contributions to academics and community services and dedicated her life in serving the people, teaching & inspiring the youth.

• Professor Bose was the former head of the political science department at Lady Brabourne College in Kolkata.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

JK Maheshwari sworn in as Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court

• Justice Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari was sworn in as the new Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court. Governor Ganga Prasad administered the oath of office to Justice Maheshwari during a function held in Raj Bhavan.

• Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami of the Sikkim High Court has now been transferred for appointment as the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s Chief Justice.

Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia appointed as Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court

• Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia appointed as Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court informed the Ministry of Law and Justice. The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind in the exercise of the power conferred by clause (1) of Article 217 of the Constitution of India, appointed Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, Judge of the Uttarakhand High Court, as Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court.

• Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, was enrolled as an Advocate on July 7, 1986, and practised in the Allahabad and Uttarakhand High Courts in Civil, Constitutional, Service, and Labour matters and has specialized in Service and Constitutional matters. He was appointed as a permanent judge of the Uttarakhand High Court on November 1, 2008.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

RBI officer Giridharan pens novel ‘Right Under our Nose’

• A general manager at RBI, R Giridharan has authored his debut book ”Right Under our Nose”. In ”Right Under Your Nose”, a murderer eliminates scientists right under the nose of the police and leaves forensics baffled.

• In response, the chief minister calls upon Vijay, who is given an impossible deadline to solve the case before Parliament resumes in a week.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

IHS Markit: Indian economy to rebound with 8.9% growth in FY22

• London-based financial services company IHS Markit has projected the Indian economy to rebound by 8.9 per cent in the fiscal year 2021-22, beginning April 2021. This upward estimate is based on the backdrop of the significant improvement in domestic economic activity in the fourth quarter of 2020 by India.

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Important Current Affairs 5th January 2021

INTERNATIONAL

U.S. Congress passes ‘Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act’

• The U.S. Congress has passed the ‘Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act’ to increase the number of scholarships for Pakistani women in higher education under merit and needs-based programme. The bill was passed by the United States Senate by a voice vote on January 1. The bill now heads to the White House for U.S. President Donald Trump to sign into law.

• The bill requires the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to award at least 50% of scholarships under a Pakistan-based higher education scholarship programme to Pakistani women, from 2020 to 2022, across a range of academic disciplines and in accordance with existing eligibility criteria.

• The bill also requires USAID to consult with and leverage investments by the Pakistani private sector and Pakistani diaspora in the United States to improve and expand access to education programmes in Pakistan.

NATIONAL

Bajaj Auto becomes world’s most valuable two-wheeler company

• Indian multinational two-wheeler and three-wheeler manufacturing company, Bajaj Auto has become the most valuable two-wheeler company in the world, after it crossed a market capitalization of more than Rs. 1 lakh crore, on January 01, 2021.

• Bajaj’s share price on NSE closed at Rs. 3,479 per share on the first day of 2021, leading to a market capitalization of more than Rs 1,00,670.76 crore. Thus, Bajaj Auto is not only the most valued company in the two-wheeler segment but also the first-ever two-wheeler company in the world to have reached this market cap milestone.

PM Modi inaugurates National Metrology Conclave 2021

• Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has addressed the National Metrology Conclave, via video conferencing on January 04, 2021. National Metrology Conclave 2021 was organised by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL), New Delhi, to mark its 75th year of inception.

• This year theme: ‘Metrology for the Inclusive Growth of the Nation’.

• As a part of this conclave, PM Modi also dedicated ‘National Atomic Timescale’, and ‘Bhartiya Nirdeshak Dravya’ to the nation, and laid the foundation stone of the ‘National Environmental Standards Laboratory’.

Delhi government sets up Tamil Academy

• Delhi government Department of Art, Culture, and Language has set-up a Tamil academy to promote the language and culture of the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Delhi has a large population of people from Tamil Nadu and we want to present a platform to the people of Delhi to get a taste of the art and culture of Tamil Nadu.

• The Delhi government has appointed a former councillor and member of Delhi Tamil Sangam N Raja as the Vice-Chairman of the academy.

• The Department of Art, Culture, and Language of the Delhi govt has decided that the new academy will introduce various awards to promote and reward the good works of people in Tamil language and culture.

• The government will also provide language courses through this academy. The De

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

GRSE delivers 8th landing craft utility ship to Indian Navy

• Kolkata-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) has delivered the Landing Craft Utility (LCU) MK IV class vessel ‘IN LCU L-58’ (Yard 2099) to the Indian Navy. The amphibious ships, to be based in the strategic location of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which is close to various routes leading to the South China Sea. LCU L-58 is the final ship in the series of 8 LCUs being manufactured by GRSE for the Indian Navy.

• The LCU ships, equipped with state-of-the-art technology, were developed in-house with 90 per cent of its parts indigenously manufactured.

• These ships are very unique in their design and class in the world. A very specific kind of requirement was given by the Indian Navy — the speed of 15 knots, a displacement of 900- odd tonnes and a low draught for beaching in the shallowest of waters.

• The ships are designed to accommodate 216 personnel and have two indigenous CRN 91 guns to provide artillery fire support during landing operations.

OBITUARY

Ace mountaineer Colonel Narendra ‘Bull’ Kumar passes away

• Ace mountaineer Colonel Narendra ‘Bull’ Kumar, who helped India secure the Siachen Glacier, passed away. He was responsible for the success of Operation Meghdoot in 1984. He was the first Indian to climb Mount Nanda Devi. He climbed Mount Everest in 1965, Mount Blanc( highest peak in the Alps), and later Mount Kangchenchanga. He earned the nickname ‘Bull’ for relentlessly charging into everything he did.

• Col Kumar, who was awarded the Kirti Chakra, Padma Shri, Arjun Award and the McGregor medal, carried out multiple expeditions in the Siachen glacier area in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Former Union Minister Buta Singh passes away

• Former Union Minister and senior Rajasthan Congress leader Buta Singh passed away. The veteran politician Buta Singh served as Home Minister of India in the Rajiv Gandhi government from 1986 to 1989.

• Buta Singh had also served as the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. He was a four-time MP from Jalore-Sirohi Lok Sabha constituency. He served as the Chairperson of the National Commission For Scheduled Cast from 2007 to 2010.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Pankaj Mithal sworn in as CJ of J&K, Ladakh Court

• Justice Pankaj Mithal has been appointed as the new Chief Justice (CJ) of the Common High Court for the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh in Jammu on January 04, 2021.

• Chief justice Mithal has been appointed in view of the retirement of chief justice Gita Mittal recently. Chief Justice Mithal was administered the oath of office by Lieutenant Governor of J&k, Manoj Sinha.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Oscar nominee ‘Another Round’ to be opening movie at 51st IFFI

• The 51st International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will open on 16th January, with the Indian premiere of the movie ‘Another Round’ by Thomas Vinterberg. The movie starring Cannes Best Actor Award winner Mads Mikkelsen is among a star-studded line up of movies being showcased at IFFI. The movie is also Denmark’s official entry to the Oscars. The festival will also witness the World Premiere of ‘Mehrunisa’. The film by Sandeep Kumar will premier mid-fest.

• The festival will close on 24th January with the India Premiere of the historical drama ‘Wife of a Spy’ by Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

51st IFFI is being organised from 16th to 24th January in Goa.

• This edition is being organised in a hybrid mode for the first time and will comprise of both online and in-person experience. The festival will be loaded with a line-up of famous movies with a total of 224 films from across the globe.

• This includes 21 non-feature films and 26 feature films under the Indian Panorama section. Media registration for the festival has opened recently and is available till 10th January.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

ADB approves $100 million loan to upgrade power distribution system in Bengaluru

• The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a USD 100 million (around Rs 730 crore) loan to modernise and upgrade the power distribution system in Bengaluru city. Besides the USD 100 million sovereign loans, ADB will provide a USD 90 million loan without sovereign guarantee for the project to Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Ltd (BESCOM), one of the five state-owned distribution utilities in Karnataka.

• In parallel to underground distribution cables, over 2,800 km of fibre optical cables will be installed to strengthen communication network. Moving about 7,200 km of distribution lines underground will help reduce technical and commercial losses by about 30 per cent.

• The fibre optical cables will be used for smart metering systems, distribution automation system (DAS) in the distribution grid, and other communication networks.

• The project will install 1,700 automated ring main units adapted with a DAS to monitor and control the distribution line switch gears from the control centre.

• The loan will strengthen the capacity of BESCOM in operation and maintenance of underground cabling, environment and social safeguards, financial management and commercial financing. Improved financial management ca.

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Important Current Affairs 3rd January 2021

NATIONAL

PM Modi lays foundation stone of Light House projects (LHPs)

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of Light House projects (LHPs) at six sites across six States through video conference on 1st January 2021. The LHPs will be implemented at Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Rajkot (Gujarat), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Agartala (Tripura) and Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh).

• The project is being constructed under the Global Housing Technology Challenge (GHTC)-India. It has been conceptualised by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

• GHTC-India envisages providing an ecosystem for the adoption of innovative technologies in the housing construction sector in a holistic manner.

• Under the programme, over 1,000 houses would be built in each of the six cities in 12 months along with allied infrastructure facilities.

• The houses are called lighthouse projects in technical language. Houses being built under the Light House Projects (LHPs) will take less time to build and will be resilient, affordable and comfortable as they use the best of new-age alternative global technologies, materials and processes in the construction sector.

OBITUARY

Legendary Music Director Shantanu Mohapatra passes away

• Legendary Odia musician, Shantanu Mohapatra passed away. He was the first Odia music composer to work with legends like Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey and Md Rafi and also the first to work in Hindi, Bengali, Assamese and Telugu film industries.

• Mohapatra has composed music for hundreds of Odia film songs and Jatra (opera) shows in a career that spanned over three decades. Mohapatra, who retired as the Director of Odisha Mining Corporation, received several awards including the Odisha Film Critic Award for his contribution to Odia music.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Umesh Sinha named deputy election commissioner

• Umesh Sinha has been named as the deputy election commissioner in the Election Commission of India. Sinha, a 1986-batch IAS officer (retired) is at present serving as secretary-general in the commission.

• The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet cleared the extension in the term of reemployment of Sinha as deputy election commissioner on contract basis for a period of six months beyond December 31, 2020. His term will end on June 30, 2021. At present Sinha is also part of a committee set up by the Election Commission to look into the issue of revising the election expenditure of candidates during campaigning.

Suneet Sharma takes over as new Chairman & CEO of Railway Board

• The appointments committee of the Cabinet has approved Suneet Sharma appointment as Chairman & CEO of Railway Board, Ministry of Railways and ex-officio Principal Secretary to Government of India. He took over in his new role with effect from January 01, 2021. The extended one-year tenure of Sharma’s predecessor, Vinod Kumar Yadav, who also became the restructured Board’s first CEO, ended on December 31, 2020.

• Prior to this, Suneet Sharma worked as General Manager, Eastern Railway.

• 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. He has done stints in Operational working, maintenance in Sheds, Depots and Workshops.

IMPORTANT DAYS

DRDO Celebrates 63rd Foundation Day on 1st January 2021

• The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) observed the 63rd Foundation Day of its establishment on January 01, 2021. DRDO was established in 1958 with just 10 laboratories to enhance the research work in the Defence sector. At that time, it was tasked with designing and developing cutting edge defence technologies for Indian Armed Forces.

• As of now, DRDO is working in multiple cutting edge military technology areas, which include aeronautics, armaments, combat vehicles, electronics, instrumentation, engineering systems, missiles, materials, naval systems, advanced computing, simulation, cyber, life sciences and other technologies for defence.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

A book titled “Vahana Masterclass” launched by Italian Writer Alfredo Covelli

• Alfredo Covelli, an Italy based author has launched his new book Vahana Masterclass for children and Young Audience. The books will be illustrated and published by Scholastic India. Alfredo had a keen interest in our Indian culture and mythology which inspired him to write a story on Lord Ganesh for children.

• The book narrates the story of the Ganesha looking for a new vahana to accompany him to all the great adventures around the cosmos.

• After millenniums of service, the great VahanaMushika, holy mount of Lord Ganesha is about to retire to live the rest of his life in meditation.

• For this reason, 4 young mice (3 months each) are selected from different parts of India: intelligent Anand from Kolkata (selected by Goddess Kali), devoted Kanu from Gujarat (selected by Lord Krishna), brave Karthik from Chennai (selected by the other Vahanas), and compassionate Gitanjali from Uttarakhand (selected by Prakriti, nature).

BANKING AND ECONOMY

ADB to provide $231 mn loan to enhance power generation capacity in Assam

• The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has signed a $231 million loan with the Government of India to augment electricity generation capacity in the state of Assam. This is the third tranche loan for the ‘Assam Power Sector Investment Programme’ that was approved by the ADB Board in July 2014.

• Under the project, 120 megawatts (MW) hydroelectric power plant would be constructed. The programme focuses on enhancing the capacity and efficiency of the energy generation and distribution systems in Assam to improve the availability of electricity service to end-users. The programme, including its two previous tranches, focuses on enhancing capacity and efficiency of the energy generation and distribution systems in Assam to improve electricity service to end-users.

ADB and India sign $10 million loan to support horticulture in HP

• The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India have signed a $10 million project readiness financing (PRF). This agreement aims to help finance piloting activities, and design and capacity building for an ensuing project that aims to expand horticulture production and farm household income in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh.

• The PRF project will support advance actions to achieve a high level of project readiness through detailed design activities, capacity building of state-level agencies, and creating an enabling environment for subtropical horticulture development in the state.

• The PRF project aims to ensure implementation readiness with prior testing of new production technologies and marketing systems so that the ensuing project is cost-effective and gets completed in a timely manner to enhance farm profitability.

• The ensuing project, to be designed by the PRF, will support the development of subtropical horticulture, including cultivation of fruits and vegetables, in the state’s southern region which is currently lagging due to limited access to perennial water sources, crops losses due to wild animal encroachment and limited access to high-value markets.

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Important Current Affairs 29th December 2020

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

India-Vietnamese Navy conducts PASSEX-2020 in South China Sea

• The Indian Navy and Vietnamese Navy undertook the naval passage exercise PASSEX in the South China Sea. The two-day exercise was conducted s part of efforts to boost maritime cooperation between the two countries. The Indian Naval Ship (INS) Kiltan took part in the exercise.

• INS Kiltan, reached Vietnam’s Nha Rong Port in Ho Chi Minh City, carrying humanitarian assistance to deliver 15 tonnes of relief material for flood-affected people under Mission Sagar-III. This mission of INS Kiltan is part of India’s Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) assistance to Friendly Foreign Countries during the ongoing pandemic.

NATIONAL NEWS

ICF develops new high-speed Vistadome coaches

• Indian Railways' Integral Coach Factory(ICF) the coach manufacturing unit located in Chennai has successfully completed the speed trials of the new design Vistadome tourist coaches.

• The new design Vistadome tourist coach manufactured by ICF has successfully completed 180kmph oscillation trial.

• Squeeze test of the above coach were already completed in ICF in the current month.

• The Vistadome coach has large glass windows, glass roof, observation lounge and rotatable seats allowing passengers to experience breathtakingly beautiful locations and sites enroute the journey.

PM to inaugurate ‘New Bhaupur- New Khurja section’ of Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC)

• ‘New Bhaupur- New Khurja section’ of Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) will be inaugurated by the PM Narendra Modi on 29th December, 2020 at 11 AM through video conferencing.

• During the event, Prime Minister will also inaugurate EDFC’s Operation Control Centre (OCC) at Prayagraj.

• On the occasion, Governor of Uttar Pradesh Shrimati Anandiben Patel, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Shri Yogi Adityanath and Union Minister Shri Piyush Goyal will also be present.

• New Bhaupur- New Khurja section of EDFC is 351 km and situated in Uttar Pradesh. It is built at a cost of Rs 5,750 crores. The section will open new vistas of opportunity for the local industries such as aluminium industry (Pukhrayan region of Kanpur Dehat district), dairy sector (Auraiya district), textile production/block printing (Etawah district), glassware industry (Firozabad district), pottery products (Khurja of Bulandshahr district), asafoetida or ‘hing’ production (Hathras district) and locks and hardware (Aligarh district).

• The section will also decongest the existing Kanpur-Delhi mainline and will enable Indian Railways to run faster trains.  A state-of-the-art Operation Control Centre (OCC) at Prayagraj will act as the command centre for the entire route length of the EDFC.

• Globally, the OCC is one of the largest structures of its type. It consists of modern interiors, ergonomic design and best-in-class acoustics. The building is environment-friendly with a Green Building rating of GRIHA4 and is built as per norms of the ‘Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan’.

• The EDFC is 1856 route km and starts from Sahnewal near Ludhiana (Punjab). It will pass through the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand to terminate at Dankuni in West Bengal.

• It is being constructed by Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL), that has been set up as a special purpose vehicle to build and operate Dedicated Freight Corridors.

• DFCCIL is also constructing the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (1504 route km) that connects Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai and will traverse through the states of UP, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

SPORTS

ICC Awards of the Decade 2020 announced

• The winners of the prestigious ICC Awards of the Decade were announced on 28th December 2020. The ICC Awards of The Decade recognise the best players across Cricket over the past 10 years.

List of Winners

• ICC Spirit of Cricket Award of the Decade: MS Dhoni (India)

ICC Men’s Awards

• Sir Garfield Sobers Award for ICC Male Cricketer of the Decade: Virat Kohli (India)

• ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Decade: Virat Kohli (India)

• ICC Men’s T20I Cricketer of the Decade:  Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)

• ICC Men’s Test Cricketer of the Decade: Steve Smith(Australia)

• ICC Men’s Associate Cricketer of the Decade: Kyle Coetzer (Scotland)

ICC Women’s Award

• Rachael Heyhoe Flint Award for ICC Female Cricketer of the Decade: Ellyse Perry (Australia)

• ICC Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Decade: Ellyse Perry(Australia)

• ICC Women’s T20I Cricketer of the Decade: Ellyse Perry (Australia)

• ICC Women’s Associate Cricketer of the Decade: Kathryn Bryce (Scotland)

OBITUARY

Veteran Dance Historian Sunil Kothari passes away

• Padma Shri awardee dance historian and critic, Sunil Kothari has passed away. He was qualified as a Chartered Accountant, before turning to the study of Indian dance forms. He authored more than 20 books on the subject of Indian dance forms.

• The noted dance scholar Kothari received numerous titles and awards for his contribution to Indian dance forms. Some of them include the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1995); the Padma Shri bestowed by the Government of India (2001); and the Life Time Achievement Award of the Dance Critics Association, New York, USA (2011).

Cinematographer Ishwar Bidri passes away

• Veteran cinematographer Ishwar Bidri, best known for his work in popular 1990s films like Andaz Apna Apna and Border, died on Sunday due to multiple health issues. He was 87.

• The noted director of photography breathed his last at a hospital in Karnataka, his son Sanjeev Bidri said.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Union Minister Shripad Naik Releases book “Sutranivednachi sutra- ek anbav”

• Union Minister of State (I/C) for AYUSH and Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik released a Konkani book “Sutranivednachi sutra- ek anbav”, by Dr Roopa Chari on 26 December, 2020. It is published by Sanjana Publications .

• Dr. Roopa Chari is a well-known personality in the field of Compering in Goa.

• This book will help aspiring youngsters, who wish to make a career in this field. This is the spontaneous art; you don’t nurture it by having any classes. With proper study, you always have to be vigilant, as compere is the link between the audience and the speaker.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

TCS crosses ₹11 trln in market capitalisation

• Tata Consultancy Services Ltd's market capitalisation surged past ₹11 trillion on Monday, making it the second Indian firm after Reliance Industries Ltd to achieve this milestone.

• Shares of TCS jumped nearly 1.2% intraday to hit an all-time high of ₹2942 a piece on the BSE with a market capitalisation of ₹11.03 trillion. So far, this year, the scrip has surged 36%.

• Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd remains India's most valued company with an mcap of ₹12.75 trillion.

• Of the 47 brokerages tracking TCS, 26 have recommend buy, 14 have maintained sell, while 7 have put hold rating on the stock, according to Bloomberg.

Tesla to start selling cars in India in early 2021

• Billionaire Elon Musk’s clean energy and electric vehicle company Tesla will start operations in India early next year, confirmed Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari.

• Tesla is initially expected to sell its vehicles in India, and it would also look at setting up a manufacturing facility at a later stage depending on demand.

• Gadkari has already held a few rounds of talks with top Tesla executives. Some states have also held meetings with the electric car company for sales of its vehicles in India.

Dixon Technologies’ subsidiary to make smartphones for Motorola

• Dixon Technologies said its wholly-owned subsidiary Padget Electronics will begin making smartphones for Motorola.

• Padget Electronics has inked an agreement with Motorola Mobility LLC for manufacturing smartphones, the statement added.

• The products will be manufactured at Padget’s manufacturing facility located at Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

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Important Current Affairs 22nd December 2020

INTERNATIONAL

20th IORA Council of Ministers Meeting Held in UAE

• The 20th edition of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers (COM) Meeting via video conferencing under the Chairmanship of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The theme of the meeting was “Promoting a Shared Destiny and Path to Prosperity in the Indian Ocean”. The Indian delegation was led by V. Muraleedharan, MoS, Ministry of External Affairs. Sri Lanka has assumed the charge of Vice-Chair of IORA for the period 2021-23.

• The COM-20 was inaugurated by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the UAE.

• The UAE assumed the position of the IORA Chair in November 2019 during the 19th COM, for the period 2019-2021.

• All 22 Member States and 10 Dialogue Partners participated in the virtual meeting to discuss ways in coordinating efforts to achieve IORA’s vision for a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indian Ocean region as outlined in the Jakarta Concord and IORA Action Plan.

• During the 2020 COM, France was inducted as the 23rd member state of IORA.

Singapore’s 'Hawker' Culture gets UNESCO recognition

• The Hawker Culture of street food in Singapore has been inducted by UNESCO in its prestigious ‘Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’. The Hawker Culture is a popular Singaporean style of street dining and culinary practices in a multicultural urban environment.

• Hawker centres are naturally-ventilated premises with stalls selling food from various cultures like Chinese, Malay, Indian, among others. The Hawkers of Singapore are known to master a variety of cuisines which they serve at the ‘community dining rooms’ where people from across all walks of life gather and share their unique experiences.

NATIONAL

Rajnath Singh inaugurates advanced “HWT” test facility in Hyderabad

• Union Minister of Defence, Rajnath Singh has inaugurated the advanced Hypersonic Wind Tunnel (HWT) test facility of the DRDO in Hyderabad, Telangana. The state-of-the-art HWT Test facility has made India as the only third country in the world, after the US and Russia, to have such a huge facility in size and capability.

• The indigenously developed HWT Test facility is a pressure vacuum-driven enclosed free jet facility having a nozzle exit diameter of 1 metre. This will simulate Mach No 5 to 12 (Mach represents the multiplication factor to the speed of sound)”.

• The facility has the capability to simulate hypersonic flow over a wide spectrum and will play a major role in the realization of highly complex futuristic aerospace and defence systems.

Rajnath Singh hands over high-tech systems to chiefs of 3 armed forces

• The Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh recently handed over three indigenously developed high technology systems to chiefs of the three armed forces: the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force. The three systems namely, Border Surveillance System (BOSS), Indian Maritime Situational Awareness System (IMSAS) and ASTRA Mk-I Missile, have been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

1. Border Surveillance System (BOSS)

• BOSS is an all-weather electronic surveillance system. It was handed over to Army Chief General M M Naravane.

• BOSS has already been deployed in Ladakh against the Chinese troops for day and night surveillance.

• It has been designed and developed by Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE), Dehradun and is being produced by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Machlipatnam.

• The system facilitates monitoring and surveillance by automatically detecting the intrusions in harsh high-altitude sub-zero temperature areas with remote operation capability.

2. Indian maritime situational awareness system (IMSAS)

• It was handed to Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh.

• The IMSAS is a state-of-the-art high-performance intelligent software system that provides Global Maritime Situational Picture, Marine planning tools and Analytical capabilities to Indian Navy.

• The product is jointly conceptualised and developed by Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIR), Bengaluru and Indian Navy, while it is being produced by BEL, Bengaluru.

3. Astra Mk-1 missile system

• It was handed over to Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria.

• This missile is the first indigenously developed beyond visual range (BVR) missile that can be launched from Sukhoi-30, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Mig-29 and Mig-29K.

• ASTRA weapon system has been developed by Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL) and production by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) Hyderabad.

S. Jaishankar addresses 5th Annual Global Technology Summit

• The 5th edition of the annual Global Technology Summit (GTS) was organised virtually by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Government of India in collaboration with Carnegie India (CI). GTS is one of the four flagship annual conferences organised by MEA. The other three conferences are the Raisina Dialogue, the Geo-economic dialogue, and the Indian Ocean Conference.

• The theme of the 2020 GTS was “The Geopolitics of Technology”. The speakers from included the External Affairs Minister, Dr S. Jaishankar, and Dr K. VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.

"Varasat" campaign launched in Uttar Pradesh

• The Uttar Pradesh government has launched a special campaign ‘Varasat’ (natural succession) to curb property & land-related disputes in rural areas. This is a first of its kind campaign in the state which aims to put an end the land-related issues in the rural areas and eradicate the exploitation of the villagers over succession rights by land mafias, who generally target disputed properties. The two-month-long special drive will continue till 15th February 2020.

• Under the arrangements, the villagers will get both online and offline facilities for registering their ‘Varasat’.

• For the people who have landed in the village but they are living at some other place, a special counter will be opened at the Tehsil-level where they can apply for the same.

India’s 1st CoE for Skill Development in Power Sector inaugurated in Gurugram

• The Minister of State for Skill Development, Raj Kumar Singh has inaugurated the first Centre of Excellence (CoE) for ‘skill development in the power sector’ in Gurugram. The CoE has been established in the campus of National Institute of Solar Energy, Gurugram, Haryana.

• This new centre has been set up by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India, in collaboration with the Ministry of National Education and Youth, Government of France and Schneider Electric.

• It has high-end modern labs designed keeping in mind the future technology, which will further strengthen India and France’s relationship in the energy sector.

• The centre will design and deliver Training for Trainers, Instructors, Training of Assessors and other high-end programmes in the power and solar sector.

SPORTS

Sports Ministry permits 4 indigenous sports in Khelo India Youth Games 2021

• The Sports Ministry has approved the inclusion of four indigenous Games to be a part of Khelo India Youth Games 2021, which is scheduled to be held in Haryana.

• The four new games are, Gatka, Kalaripayattu, Thang-Ta and Mallakhamba. The four selected games represent different parts of the country and will get national recognition with the help of the Khelo India Youth Games 2021.

Indian Boxers bag 3 Gold at Cologne Boxing World Cup

• Indian boxers have bagged 9 medals including three gold, two silver and four bronze at the Cologne Boxing World Cup 2020, held in Cologne, Germany. India finished 2nd in the overall Medals List, Germany topped the list with 16 medals. The Cologne Boxing World 2020 was hosted by the European Boxing Confederation (EUBC).

• Gold: The three gold medals for India were bagged by Amit Panghal (52kg), Manisha Moun (57kg) and Simranjit Kaur (60kg) in their respective categories.

• Silver: Silver medals were claimed by Sakshi Choudhary (57kg) and Satish Kumar (91kg).

• Bronze: Sonia Lather (57kg), Pooja Rani (75kg) Gaurav Solanki (57kg) and Mohamed Hussamudin (57kg) claimed the bronze medal in their respective categories.

OBITUARY

Senior-most Congress veteran Motilal Vora passes away

• Veteran Congress leader, Motilal Vora has passed away following post-C-19 complications. He was born at Jodhpur in Rajasthan and began his career as a journalist. The late Congress leader served as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh twice, once from 1985 to 1988 and then again in 1989 for 11 months.

• He also held the office of Governor of Uttar Pradesh between 1993 and 1996. He had served as a Rajya Sabha member four times and as a Lok Sabha member once from Chhattisgarh.

IMPORTANT DAYS

National Mathematics Day observed on 22 December

• India observes the National Mathematics Day every year on 22 December since 2012. The day is celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. This year nation celebrates his 133rd birth anniversary of Ramanujan.

• Ramanujan had a wealth of ideas that have transformed and reshaped 20th-century mathematics. These ideas continue to shape mathematics of the 21st century. The main objective behind the celebration of National Mathematics Day is to make people aware of the development of mathematics and its importance in the growth of humanity.

• The day was announced on 26 February 2012 by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to mark the 125th anniversary of the birth of the Indian mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan (22 Dec 1887- 26 Apr 1920). 2012 was also observed as National Mathematics Year.

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Important Current Affairs 18th December 2020

INTERNATIONAL

NASA selects Raja Chari as commander of SpaceX Crew-3 mission

• NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have selected Indian-American Raja Chari to be the Commander of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station. Presently Raja Chari, is a colonel in the US Air Force. He will be the commander of SpaceX Crew-3 mission, while Nasa’s Tom Marshburn will be pilot and ESA’s Matthias Maurer will serve as a mission specialist. This mission is expected to be launched next year.

• When Chari, Marshburn, and Maurer arrive at the orbiting laboratory, they will become expedition crew members for the duration of their six-month stay. The crew will have a slight overlap with the Crew-2 astronauts, who are expected to launch in the spring of 2021.

• Chari was born in Milwaukee, but considers Cedar Falls, Iowa, his hometown. Raja Chari’s father Srinivas Chari left for the US from Hyderabad at a young age for an engineering degree.

• He is a colonel in the US Air Force and joins the mission with extensive experience as a test pilot.

• For Raja Chari, this will be the first spaceflight. He became a Nasa astronaut in 2017.

NATIONAL

PM Modi inaugurates world’s largest renewable energy park in Gujarat

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the 30,000 megawatt (MW) capacity hybrid renewable energy park in Kutch district of Gujarat. It will be the largest renewable energy park of its kind in the world. It is expected to play a major role in fulfilling India’s vision of generating 450 GW (4,50,000 mw) of power by 2030.

• The park is being constructed between Khawda and Vighakhot villages near India-Pakistan border.

• The renewable park will have two dedicated zones, one each for the wind energy and solar energy.

• It will be spread over 72,600 hectares of waste land, including 49,600 hectares for solar project and 23,000 hectares of land for wind power.

SPORTS

Qatar to host 2030 Asian Games, 2034 edition in Saudi Arabia

• The 2030 Asian Games were awarded to Doha, Qatar and the 2034 event went to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia after a deal was struck between the rival nations. Doha beat Riyadh for the 2030 Games in the vote at the Olympic Council of Asia’s (OCA) general assembly.

• The vote took place amid a bitter and long-running political dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Saudi Arabia is one of four countries which has imposed a trade and travel boycott on Qatar since 2017. The OCA reached a deal to vote on the 2030 host but to give the other candidate the 2034 event.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

ISRO sets up dedicated control centre ‘NETRA’ for SSA

• The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has set up a dedicated Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Control Centre named “NETRA”, at its ISTRAC campus at Peenya, Bengaluru. The ISRO SSA Control Centre ‘NETRA’ was formally inaugurated by ISRO Chairman K Sivan.

• The “NEtwork for space object TRacking and Analysis (NETRA)” will monitor, track and protect India’s space assets. It will function as a hub of all SSA activities within India.

• It has been set up as a ‘Directorate of Space Situational Awareness and Management (DSSAM)’ aiming to protect high valued space assets from space debris close approaches and collisions.

• The state-of-the-art facility, dedicated to SSA activities, will also help to coordinate between Indian agencies, their foreign counterparts and international bodies.

• The main elements of NETRA would be a radar, an optical telescope facility, and a control centre.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Arabic Language Day observed globally on 18 December

• UN Arabic Language Day is observed annually on December 18 every year. The day was established by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2010 to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six of its official languages throughout the Organization.

• December 18 was chosen as the date for the Arabic language as it is “the day in 1973 when the General Assembly approved Arabic as an official UN language “.

International Migrants Day is celebrated on 18 December

• The International Migrants Day is observed globally on 18 December every year. In December 2000, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 18 December as International Migrants Day after considering the large and increasing number of migrants in the world.

• The theme of International Migrants Day 2020 is ‘Reimagining Human Mobility’.

• The day marks the anniversary of the adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, which was adopted by the United Nations (UN) on 18 December 1990.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

PM Modi holds virtual summit with Sheikh Hasina

• The Government of India and Bangladesh held a virtual summit to hold comprehensive discussions on the entire spectrum of the bilateral relationship, including further strengthening cooperation in the post-C-19 era. The meeting was led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina.

• The two leaders jointly inaugurated the Chilahati-Haldibari rail link, which would connect the borders of the two neighbouring countries. The rail route lies between Haldibari in West Bengal and Chilahati in Bangladesh. It is re-opened after a gap of 55 years. The railway line has been defunct after rail links between India and then East Pakistan snapped in 1965.

• Both the leaders also digitally inaugurated the digital exhibition in the honour of Mahatma Gandhi and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman.

• The Indian side also released a postal stamp to commemorate Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

• Apart from this, the two sides signed 7 MoUs and agreements in various fields.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Kylie Jenner tops Forbes’ list of highest-paid celebrities of 2020

• American media personality and reality TV star, Kylie Jenner has been crowned the highest-paid celebrity of 2020 by Forbes. The top-earning stars in the world earned a combined of $6.1 billion in 2020 with Kylie Jenner. Setting aside Kylie’s history with Forbes, the financial experts there calculated her earning this year to be at $590 million after she sold a majority of her beauty brand’s stake to Coty Inc.

• Ranked at number 2 on the list by making $170 million was American rapper and record producer Kanye West, who is also coincidentally Kylie’s brother-in-law. In addition to Tyler Perry, Howard Stern, and Dwayne Johnson, A-lister athletes like Roger Federer, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar and LeBron James helped round out the top 10. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the entertainment industry, this year’s combined total of USD 6.1 billion was USD 200 million lesser than that of 2019.

SAIL gets Golden Peacock Environment Management Award 2020

• Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has been awarded with the prestigious Golden Peacock Environment Management Award for the year 2020 in the Steel Sector by the Institute of Directors. The company has been the winner of this award for successive two years and this bears testimony to the efforts made by it for sustainable and environmentally responsible steel making. This award is one of the most coveted awards in the category.

• SAIL, as its Corporate Responsibility for Environment Protection continuously focuses on adopting various environmental measures including, upgrading of pollution control facilities, treatment & recirculation of wastewater from individual units & outfalls, enhancement in the green cover in & around Plants & Units, efficient handling of different solid wastes (viz. process waste, hazardous waste, canteen/township waste), carbon sequestration through afforestation, eco-restoration of mined out area, among others.

• Also, the impact of SAIL’s initiatives and best practices on improving cleaner environment, reducing emissions & discharges, mitigating impacts of climate change and helping the Company to conduct its operations in environmentally benign manner has been recognized.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

India pledges USD 1 million to WADA to support Clean Sport

• India has pledged a sum of USD 1 million to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), towards its scientific research budget, to ensure an atmosphere of Clean Sport globally. The contribution made by India is the highest among contributions made by other world governments, including China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This contribution is over and above the annual contribution made to WADA’s core budget by India.

• The sum will be used by WADA to develop innovative anti-doping testing and detection methods, and further strengthen WADA’s independent Investigations and Intelligence Department. The total contribution of all member nations will be matched by an equal sum by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to create a corpus of USD 10 million.

Canara Bank unveils “FX 4 U” for forex remittance via Internet Banking

• Canara Bank has launched FX 4 U that enables its entire internet banking users to handle forex transactions hasslefree. FX 4 U is used for forex remittance through internet banking. With this development, eligible customers will be able to undertake remittance facility in adherence to the FEMA regulations 1999.

• Once the letter of credit (LC) module is activated, the corporate customers can make and submit LC applications with documents through internet banking.

• Corporate customers can make and submit the LC applications along with documents through internet banking once the LC module is activated.

• The transactions that are submitted through internet banking will flow seamlessly to the Centralized Process Centre – Forex Transactions(CPCFT), where the Compliance and accounting will be done and transmitted through The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).

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Important Current Affairs 10th December 2020

INTERNATIONAL

Mt Everest declared 86 cm taller by Nepal and China

• The world’s highest mountain peak ‘Mount Everest’ has become taller by 86 cm, as per a survey conducted jointly by Nepal and China. The Government of Nepal and China jointly conducted an exercise to measure the world’s highest peak. The new height of Mt Everest has been calculated at 8,848.86 metres, which is 0.86m more than the previous measurement done by India in 1954. In feet, the new elevation is about 29,031 ft, or about 3 ft higher than Nepal’s previous claim. In Tibetan language, Mount Everest is known as Mount Qomolangma while in Nepalese language it is famous as Sagar-Matha.

• The common declaration meant that the two countries have shed their long-standing difference in opinion about the mountain’s height — 29,017 feet (8,844 m) claimed by China and 29,028 ft (8,848 m) by Nepal.

• In 1955, the height of Mount Everest was measured at 8848 m (29,028 feet) by the Survey of India.

• There was also a third estimate, even higher, in 1999, a US team put the elevation at 29,035 feet (nearly 8,850 m). This survey was sponsored by the National Geographic Society, US. The Society uses this measurement, while the rest of the world, except China, had accepted 8,848 m so far.

NATIONAL

PM Modi Inaugurates virtual India Mobile Congress 2020

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated and addressed the virtual edition of the India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2020 on 8th December 2020 through video conference. The objective of IMC 2020 is to align with the Prime Minister’s vision to promote ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, ‘Digital Inclusivity’, and ‘Sustainable development, entrepreneurship & innovation’ and drive foreign and local investments, encourage R&D in the telecom and emerging technology sectors.

• The theme for IMC 2020 is “Inclusive Innovation – Smart, Secure, Sustainable”. The three-day event will be held from 8th to 10th December 2020. IMC 2020 has been organised by the Department of Telecommunications, Government of India, and the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

Gwalior, Orchha in UNESCO world heritage cities list

• The historical fort cities of Gwalior and Orchha in Madhya Pradesh have been included in the list of UNESCO’s world heritage cities under its The World Heritage Cities Programme. Under the plan, UNESCO will suggest best measures and resources for the development and beautification of these places as per the UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape recommendations. With this Inclusion, the total number of UNESCO World Heritage Cities of India will increase to 40.

• The inclusion will lead to the beautification of both cities by the MP Tourism Department in collaboration with UNESCO.

• In this regard, UNESCO team will visit the state in 2021 and will prepare a master plan for their development and conservation under the Historic Urban Landscape recommendation.

• Chemical treatment of historic spots like Mansingh Palace, Gujri Mahal and Sahastrabahu Temple will also be done so that art inscribed on them will become more visible.

• Guards will also be deployed at both places to welcome tourists as per the Indian traditions

About Gwalior:

• Gwalior was established in the 9th century and ruled by Gurjar Pratihar Rajvansh, Tomar, Baghel Kachvaho and Scindias. It occupies a sandstone plateau and consists of memorials, forts and palaces.

• The famous spots include Sun Temple, Jal Vilas Palace, Memorial of Tansen, Tigra Dam, 15th-century Gujari Mahal Palace among others.

About Orchha:

• Orchha means ‘hidden palace’, as its name suggests it is popular for its temples and palaces and was the capital of the Bundela kingdom in the 16th century.

• The famous spots in the town are Raj Mahal, Jehangir Mahal, Ramraja Temple, Rai Praveen Mahal, and Laxminarayan Mandir.

SPORTS

Parthiv Patel announces retirement from all forms of cricket

• India’s wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. The 35-year-old left-hander, who made his international debut in 2002, played 25 Tests, 38 ODIS and two T20Is for India. He last wore Indian jersey in 2018 during a Test match against South Africa in Johannesburg.

• While the Gujarat cricketer represented his state in 194 first-class matches. He played 204 T20 matches for his state and various IPL franchises and scored 4,300 runs at a strike rate of 123.84, with the help of 23 half-centuries.

Yulimar Rojas and Mondo Duplantis crowned 2020 World Athletes of the Year

• Swedish pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis and Venezuelan triple jumper Yulimar Rojas are the 2020 Male and Female World Athletes of the Year. They are their countries’ first recipients of the prestigious athletics award announced during the virtual awards.

• At the age of 20, Duplantis is the youngest ever winner of the Male Athlete of the Year Award after twice breaking the absolute world record (6.17m and 6.18m) in February before producing the highest outdoor vault in history (6.15m) in September.

• Rojas who broke the world indoor triple jump record with a leap of 15.43m, finished the shortened 2020 season undefeated in four triple jump competitions indoors and outdoors.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Human Rights Day: 10 December

• Human Rights Day is celebrated on 10 December annually across the world. This Day came into existence on December 10, 1948, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations. This day is observed every year across the world, as it empowers us all. The day also acknowledges the advocates and defenders of human rights around the world.

• This year theme of Human Rights Day: Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights. This year theme relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts.

• The UDHR is a milestone document that proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or another status. Available in more than 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

PwC, UNICEF and YuWaah partner to redefine education

• Consulting firm PwC India has collaborated with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and YuWaah (Generation Unlimited in India) to upskill 300 million young Indians over the next 10 years. This collaboration is part of PwC’s global multi-sector partnership with UNICEF and Generation Unlimited to upskill and provide about 1.8 billion youngsters with socio-economic opportunities from school to work by 2030.

• This partnership will focus on three facets to India’s digital empowerment for youngsters, which are education, skilling and entrepreneurship. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), India is staring at a 29 million skill deficit by 2030.

NTPC inks MoU with IIFM-Bhopal for Narmada Landscape Restoration Project

• National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC), a PSU under Ministry of Power, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal, for the implementation of Narmada Landscape Restoration Project (NLRP). IIFM Bhopal is an Autonomous Institute under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).

• The NLRP Project involves a grant in aid from NTPC Ltd and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in equal proportions.

• IIFM-Bhopal will be jointly implementing this project with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) [Headquarter-Seoul, South Korea], an intergovernmental organization that promotes sustainable and inclusive economic growth in emerging economies.

• IIFM Bhopal will participate in the project with the grant-in-aid from NTPC, Ltd and GGGI will participate with funding support from USAID.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Invest India wins United Nations Investment Promotion Award 2020

• The Geneva-based United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has awarded the 2020 United Nations Investment Promotion Award to Invest India, the National Investment Promotion Agency of India. The Invest India was declared the winner from among the 180 global Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs).

• The response of IPAs to the C-19 pandemic was the basis for the evaluation of the 2020 United Nations Investment Promotion Award. The annual award recognizes and celebrates the outstanding achievements and best practices of Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) across the globe.

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.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

Fitch Ratings lowers India’s GDP contraction at 9.4% for FY21

• Fitch Ratings has revised the GDP growth rate for India in its Global Economic Outlook, and now expects the economy to contract 9.4 per cent in the current financial year 2020-21, as compared to (-)10.5 per cent forecast earlier. Fitch has also projected the FY22 GDP growth at 11 per cent and 6.3 per cent growth in FY23.

Nomura Expects India to be fastest growing Asian economy in FY21

• The Japanese research and brokerage house Nomura has projected India to be the fastest-growing Asian economy in 2021. Nomura has estimated the gross domestic product (GDP) growth of India for the calendar year 2021 (CY21) at 9.9%. For the calendar year 2020 (CY20), Nomura expects GDP growth at -7.1 per cent.

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Important Current Affairs 1st December 2020

INTERNATIONAL

Arab Gulf’s first coal-based power plant being developed in Dubai

• The first coal-based power plant of Arab Gulf country is being developed in Saih Shuaib, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The 2,400MW Hassyan clean coal power station will be built at an estimated cost of $ 3.4 billion.

• The project will comprise four units of 600MW each, which are expected to start operations in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively. The power plant is expected to produce sufficient electricity to power approximately 250,000 households.

NATIONAL

Narendra Singh Tomar launches Honey FPO Programme in 5 states

• The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar virtually inaugurated Honey Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO) Programme in five states, for producing honey. The Honey FPO Programme aims to address the issues faced by the beekeeping industry and also promote honey production in the country. This will also help in achieving the goal of increasing farmer’s income.

• These 5 FPOs will be set up by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (NAFED). They will be set up at

• East Champaran (Bihar)

• Morena (Madhya Pradesh)

• Bharatpur (Rajasthan)

• Mathura (Uttar Pradesh)

• Sunderbans (West Bengal)

• The Honey FPO Programme has been launched under the Central Sector Scheme for Formation & Promotion of new 10,000 FPOs.

• The Government has approved 2,200 FPOs for the current financial year 2020-21.

• The task of creating these FPOs has been given to Nabard (600 FPOs), Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (500), National Cooperative Development Corporation (500) and NAFED which will support 50 commodity-specific FPOs and some State-level organisations.

SPORTS

Lewis Hamilton wins Bahrain Grand Prix 2020

• Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-Great Britain) has won the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain. The race was the fifteenth round of the 2020 Formula One World Championship. This is the 11th victory for Hamilton of the season, and 95th F1 win of his career.

• Also, Hamilton now holds the records for the most wins (95), in Formula One history. Red Bull Racing teammates Max Verstappen (Netherlands) and Alexander Albon (Thailand) were second and third respectively.

Virat Kohli becomes fastest to reach 22,000 international runs

• Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli scripted another record in the game. He broke Sachin Tendulkar’s record and became the quickest batsman to complete 22,000 runs. He reached the milestone in his 462nd innings. Tendulkar batted 493 times to reach that mark. They are followed by Brian Lara (511 innings) and Ricky Ponting (514 innings) on the list. The only batsman with an average of over 50 across all formats, Kohli has 7240 runs in Tests, 12834 runs in ODIs and 2794 runs in T20Is.

• Kohli achieved this feat during the second ODI between Australia and India at the SCG. Notably, Kohli has become the eighth batsman overall and the third Indian to surpass 22,000 international runs.  Rahul Dravid, who scored 24208 runs, is another Indian on the list.

OBITUARY

Senegal World Cup footballer Papa Bouba Diop passes away

• Senegal’s professional footballer, Papa Bouba Diop, who helped the country win the FIFA World Cup match in 2002, has passed away. He was of the age of 42. His goal helped Senegal secure historic 1–0 win over the then-world champions France in the opening match of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and Senegal’s first-ever match at the FIFA World Cup. Diop has won 63 caps for Senegal.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World AIDS Day: 01 December

• Every year, on 1 December, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. The day provides an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. This year the theme of World AIDS Day is “Global solidarity, shared responsibility”.

• In 2020, the world’s attention has been focused by the C-19 pandemic on health and how pandemics affect lives and livelihoods. C-19 is showing once again how health is interlinked with other critical issues, such as reducing inequality, human rights, gender equality, social protection and economic growth.

BSF Celebrates its 56th Raising Day on December 1, 2020

• The Border Security Force (BSF), is observing its 56th Raising Day on 01 December 2020. BSF was formed on December 1, 1965, as a unified central agency, after the Indo-Pak and India-China wars, for ensuring the security of the borders of India and for matters connected therewith. It is one of the five Central Armed Police Forces of the Union of India and stands as the world’s largest border guarding force. BSF has been termed as the First Line of Defence of Indian Territories.

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

• The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is an UN-organized day held every year on November 29. It is observed to mark the anniversary of resolution 181, wherein the Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine on November 29, 1947.

• In 1977, the General Assembly called for the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. On that day, in 1947, the Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine. This date, which was chosen because of its meaning and significance to the Palestinian people, is based on the call by the United Nations General Assembly for an annual observance of the resolution on the partition of Palestine.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

India and Finland sign MOU on environmental protection

• India and Finland signed an MoU for developing cooperation in the field of Environment protection and biodiversity conservation. The MoU was signed by Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar from the Indian side and his Finnish counterpart Krista Mikkonen through video-mode.

• Further, advance Indian and Finnish partnership and strengthen technological, scientific and management capabilities and develop bilateral cooperation in the field of environmental protection and biodiversity conservation

• Support, exchange best practices in areas like prevention of air and water pollution, waste management, and promotion of circular economy.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

A book titled ‘Future of Regional Cooperation in Asia and the Pacific’ by ADB

• The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has released a new book titled ‘Future of Regional Cooperation in Asia and the Pacific’.

• The book provides insight on how stronger regional cooperation strategies, including in health, trade, finance, and disaster risk, can help governments in Asia and the Pacific accelerate economic growth and robust recovery from the C-19 pandemic. It also explores opportunities for economies in the region to work together to recover and rebuild from the C-19 pandemic.

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Important Current Affairs 21st November 2020

NATIONAL

Mastercard & USAID Partners to launch “Project Kirana”

• Mastercard and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have collaborated under Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP) to launch ‘Project Kirana’ in India, to help women entrepreneurs grow and thrive.

• Project Kirana is a two-year programme, and initially, it will be rolled out in select cities of Uttar Pradesh, including Lucknow, Kanpur and Varanasi. The programme will be implemented by DAI Digital Frontiers and ACCESS Development Services.

• Build financial and digital literacy skills;

• Improve basic business management skills including inventory management, accounting, budget management and customer loyalty;

• Addressing cultural and other barriers to women becoming successful Kirana entrepreneurs;

• It will work to increase revenue streams, expand financial inclusion and digital payments adoption of Kirana shops that are owned or operated by women.

Ravi Shankar Prasad releases “My Stamp on Chhath Puja”

• Union Minister of Communications, Electronics & Information Technology and Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad has released a “My Stamp on Chhath Puja”. My Stamp is an innovative concept initiated by the Department of Posts. Any common person or corporate organisation can now book order and get a personalised photograph or an image of a Postage Stamp.

• My Stamp is one of the unique products being offered by India Post, which has gained its popularity in the customised gifting category. My Stamp on Chhath Puja is available in all Philatelic bureaus and major post offices across the country. A special cover on the theme “Chhath-A symbol of Simplicity and Cleanliness” was also released.

CBIC Chairman Ajit Kumar inaugurates GST Bhawan

• Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) Chairman M. Ajit Kumar, along with members of the Board inaugurated the GST Bhawan, Panchkula,  Haryana. The state of the art building will house the offices of Central GST at Panchkula. It has been built at a cost of about 31 crores rupees.

• This is the first major infrastructure project of CBIC completed in these times of C-19. The building is a fully air-conditioned three-storied building built on a plot of about 1.4 acres with 7600 square metres covered area and seating capacity of about 200 persons.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Television Day: 21 November

• World Television Day is observed on 21 November every year. The day is observed to acknowledge the role of broadcast media. On this day, the journalists, writers, bloggers, and others who are associated with the medium promote the role of television in communication and globalization.

• The 21 November was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1996, because the first World Television Forum was held in 1996.

World Fisheries Day: 21 November

• World Fisheries Day is celebrated on 21 November every year throughout the world by the fisherfolk communities. It highlights the importance of healthy oceans ecosystems and to ensure sustainable stocks of fisheries in the world. 2020 is the fourth World Fisheries Day.

• The World Fisheries Day helps in highlighting the critical importance to human lives, of water and the lives it sustains, both in and out of water. Water forms a continuum, whether contained in rivers, lakes, and ocean. Fishing communities worldwide celebrate this day through rallies, workshops, public meetings, cultural programs, dramas, exhibition, music show, and demonstrations to highlight the importance of maintaining the world’s fisheries.

Africa Industrialization Day: 20 November

• Africa Industrialization Day is celebrated on November 20 each year. It is a time when governments and other organizations in many African countries examine ways to stimulate Africa’s industrialization process. It is also an occasion to draw worldwide media attention to the problems and challenges of industrialization in Africa.

• Theme 2020: “Inclusive and sustainable industrialisation in the AfCFTA era”.

World Children’s Day is celebrated on 20 November

• World Children’s Day is observed globally on 20 November every year. The day is celebrated to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare. November 20th is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

• World Children’s Day was first established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day and is celebrated on 20 November each year.  It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

World Bank Signs $120 Million Project to Improve Connectivity in Meghalaya

• The Government of India, the Government of Meghalaya and the World Bank has signed a $120-million project to improve and modernize the transport sector of Meghalaya. This will help Meghalaya to harness its vast growth potential for high-value agriculture and tourism. The $120 million loans from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a maturity of 14 years including a grace period of six years. The International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) is a development bank administered by the World Bank.

• The Meghalaya Integrated Transport Project (MITP) will improve about 300 km of strategic road segments and stand-alone bridges by using innovative, climate-resilient, and nature-based solutions.

• The segments will serve major agriculture areas, important tourist destinations, small-scale industries, major towns and underserved populations by linking them to markets, health and education centres, and national and international corridors.

• It will also support innovative solutions such as precast bridges to reduce both time and cost of construction.

• This operation will also support the state’s government “Restart Meghalaya Mission” to revive and boost development activities affected due to C-19 pandemic.

• It will help restore transport services for the movement of agricultural produce, improve access to health facilities during C-19 type medical emergencies, benefit about 500,000 inhabitants, and generate direct employment of about 8 million person-days.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Scottish Author Douglas Stuart wins 2020 Booker Prize

• Scottish writer Douglas Stuart has won the 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction. He has been awarded for his debut novel, “Shuggie Bain”. The 44-year-old Stuart is only the second Scot to have won the prestigious literary prize.

• The Booker Prize for Fiction, (formerly known as the Booker–McConnell Prize (1969–2001) and the Man Booker Prize (2002–2019)), is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original novel written in the English language and published in the United Kingdom. It carries £50,000 prize ($66,000).

Dr Pokhriyal to be conferred with Vatayan Lifetime Achievement Award

• Union Education Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ will be conferred with the Vatayan Lifetime Achievement Award. This award will be conferred to the Minister for writing, poetry and other literary works. The Minister has penned more than 75 books on wide-ranging issues, which have also been translated into many national and foreign languages. Vatayan International Awards given by the Vatayan-UK organization in London honours poets, writers and artists for their exemplary work in their respective fields.

• Mr Pokhriyal has earlier received several awards in the field of literature and administration including Sahitya Bharati Award by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Sahitya Gaurav Samman by Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Bharat Gaurav Samman, Good Governance Award by Dubai Government, outstanding Achievement Award by Global Organization of Person of Indian Origin by Mauritius, awarded in Ukraine in the area of environmental protection, among others. Mr Nishank is also honoured with “Himal Gaurav Samman” by Nepal.

RANKING

India Ranks 77 in TRACE Bribery Risk Matrix 2020

• India is placed at 77th position in the TRACE Bribery Risk Matrix 2020. India has achieved a score of 45 in a global list that measures business bribery risks of 2020. India’s rank stood 78 positions in 2019. It was a better performance than neighbouring nations such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and China. But, Bhutan scored better than India and got 48th place in the list.

• North Korea, Turkmenistan, South Sudan, Venezuela and Eritrea had the highest commercial bribery risk. Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and New Zealand showed the lowest bribery risk.

• The TRACE Matrix list is released by TRACE International, an anti-bribery standard-setting organisation, which measures business bribery risk in 194 countries, territories, and autonomous and semi-autonomous regions.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh unveils two books

• Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has unveiled two books ‘The Republican Ethic Volume III’ and ‘Loktantra Ke Swar’ which are a collection of selected speeches of President Ram Nath Kovind during the third year of his presidency. Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar unveiled the e-book versions of the two books.

• Mr Rajnath Singh stated that the President’s speeches depict his concern towards issues such as girls education, empowerment of women, and welfare of the weaker sections.  All the speeches in this book reflect on the self-confidence in this country. This book comprises speeches on the country’s efforts to fight C-19, where India is faring much better than other countries, to bravely defending its borders. This compilation of speeches of President Kovind presents a comprehensive picture of his work, personality and values.

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