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Important Current Affairs 9th January 2022

INTERNATIONAL

Pakistan to get its first woman Supreme Court judge as Justice Ayesha Malik

• Pakistan has moved closer to appointing the first woman judge of the Supreme Court, after a high-power panel approved the elevation of Lahore High Court judge Ayesha Malik to the apex court. The Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP), headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, approved Malik’s elevation by a majority of five votes against four.

• This is the second time that the JCP held a meeting to decide on Justice Malik’s elevation. Justice Malik’s name first came before the JCP on September 9 last year but the panel was equally split, resulting in the rejection of her candidature.

NATIONAL

Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh inaugurated India's first unique 'Rock' museum

• Union Minister of State for Science and Technology, Dr Jitendra Singh has inaugurated India’s first Open Rock Museum in Hyderabad, Telangana. Museum displays around 35 different types of rocks from different parts of India with ages ranging from 3.3 billion years to around 55 million years of the Earth’s history.

• The Open Rock Museum, set up with the aim of educating and enlightening the masses about several lesser-known facts, displays around 35 different types of rocks from different parts of India. These rocks also represent the deepest part of the earth, up to 175 km from the surface of the earth. The rocks have been sourced from Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir and others.

KVIC launches ‘Mobile Honey Processing Van’ to support farmers and beekeepers

• Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) Chairman, Vinai Kumar Saxena has launched the country’s first Mobile Honey Processing Van at Village Sirora in Ghaziabad. The Mobile Van has been designed in-house by KVIC at its Multi-disciplinary Training Centre, Panjokehra, at a cost of Rs 15 lakh. This mobile honey processing unit can process up to 300 KG of honey in 8 hours. The van is also equipped with a testing laboratory, that would instantly examine the quality of honey.

• The Mobile Honey Processing Van comes as a major development under KVIC’s Honey Mission which aims at training beekeepers, distributing Bee Boxes to farmers and helping rural, educated as well as unemployed youth to earn extra income through beekeeping activities.

• In line with the Prime Minister’s dream of “Sweet Kranti” (Sweet Revolution) through honey production, the KVIC has come up with this unique innovation to enable beekeepers and farmers to get a fair prices for their honey production.

DPIIT to organize Startup India Innovation Week from 10th January

• The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry have decided to organise a week-long virtual innovation celebration called ‘Startup India Innovation Week’ to showcase the spread and depth of entrepreneurship across India. The virtual event will be organised from January 10 to January 16, 2022. The event also aims to commemorate the 75th year of India’s independence ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.

• ‘Startup India Innovation Week’ will have sessions ranging from topics such as enhancing market access opportunities, discussions with industry leaders, best practices by states, capacity building of enablers, reverse pitching by incubators, technology exhibitions, corporate connect and more. “The programme is expected to bring together top policymakers, industry, academia, investors, startups, and all ecosystem enablers from across the globe,”.

Made-in-India test kit to detect Omicron gets ICMR nod

• The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved a testing kit for detecting the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The covid kit developed by Tata is called ‘OmiSure’ and will be an enhancement for the detection of the Omicron variant. The kit is manufactured by Tata Medical and Diagnostics. The tests have been performed as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Responsibility for batch-to-batch consistency lies with the manufacturer.

• The Tata Medical and Diagnostics has developed a kit ‘OmiSure’ that can detect the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV2 in nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal specimens during the RT-PCR tests. The test kit is compatible with all standard Real-Time PCR Machines. The test run time of this kit is 85 minutes. The result turnaround time, including sample collection and RNA extraction, is 130 minutes.

SPORTS

Winter Olympics-bound Arif Khan included in TOPS, granted Rs 17.46 lakh for training

• Sports Ministry’s Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) of India has approved the inclusion of Alpine Skiing athlete Md Arif Khan in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) Core group, until the Winter Olympics, scheduled this February in Beijing, China. The feat earned Khan the unique distinction of becoming the first Indian to win direct quota spots in two different Winter Olympics events, besides being the first athlete from the country to seal a berth at the Winter Olympic games 2022.

• Khan will take part in the Winter Olympics in the Slalom and Giant Slalom events. He has also been approved an amount of Rs 17.46 Lakh under TOPS towards training in Europe and procurement of equipment, ahead of the grand event in China. Khan’s current training base is in Austria, where he is accompanied by his coach and physio.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

OPEC elects Kuwait's Haitham al-Ghais as new secretary general

• Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has appointed Kuwaiti oil executive Haitham Al Ghais as its new secretary-general, as demand for oil continues to improve amid a mild recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Al Ghais, a veteran of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and Kuwait’s Opec governor from 2017 to June 2021, will take the group’s reins in August, replacing Mohammad Barkindo.

• The move comes as the oil exporters’ group and its allies prepare to decide on a future course for oil production. Opec+ is expected to stick to the plan and increase production by 400,000 barrels per day in February.

OBITURY

Sidney Poitier, first black man to win Oscar for best actor, dies at 94

• Bahamian-American actor Sidney Poitier, who won an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1964, has died at the age of 94. In 1963, Poitier had made a film in Arizona, Lilies of the Field. The performance led to a huge milestone making him the first black winner of a lead-acting Oscar. He was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Obama for his work.

• Sidney Poitier started his career as an actor in theatre in the 1940s before his breakthrough film role in the 1950 release No Way Out. Over a five-decade career in films, he worked both as an actor and director. His last appearance on screen was in the 1997 film Jackal.

Shillong Chamber Choir founder Neil Nongkynrih dies at 52

• Founder of Shillong Chamber Choir (SCC) and renowned Indian concert pianist Neil Nongkynrih passed away. In 2010, SCC performed for former US President Barack Obama & Michelle Obama during their visit to India. SCC’s version of ‘Vande Maataram’ was played during the live telecast program Indian space rocket Chandrayaan – 2’s landing on the moon. In 2015, he was awarded the Padma Shri – India’s fourth-highest civilian honour.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Pravasi Bhartiya Divas observed  on 09th January 2022

• The Non-Resident Indian Day or also known as the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas is celebrated every year on 9th January every year. The aim of the event is to strengthen the engagement of the overseas Indian community with the Government of India and reconnect them with their roots. On the occasion of 2022 Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD), Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan will speak at a virtual youth PBD conference on the “role of Indian diaspora” in innovation and new technology.

• On 9 January 1915, Mahatma Gandhi came to India from South Africa and became the greatest Pravasi who led India’s Freedom Struggle and made India free from British or colonial rule. As a Non-Resident Indian or Pravasi, he is presented as a symbol of a change and development that could bring into India.

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Important Current Affairs 7th January 2022

INTERNATIONAL

Antigua, Barbuda joins International Solar alliance in presence of Indian High Commission in Guyana

• The Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda joined the International Solar Alliance (ISA) as the 102nd member by signing the International Solar Alliance Framework Agreement, the India-led global green energy initiative. The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne signed the framework agreement in the presence of Indian High Commissioner Dr K. J. Srinivasa to catalyze global energy transition through a solar-led approach.

• ISA was jointly launched by India and France in 2015 during the 21st session of the United Nations Climate Change COP-21 in Paris, France to promote solar energy.

JC Chaudhry achieves the first Guinness World Record on Numerology, first of 2022

• India’s one of the top numerologists, JC Chaudhry has achieved the first-ever Guinness World Record in Numerology and the first world record of 2022 by educating about ancient science to around 6000 participants, enthusiasts of numerology joined from the United States, the United Kingdom, Middle East, and India. The Guinness World Record London office has opened a new category, “Numerology” for this achievement.

• The initiative was organised by CNPL (Chaudhry Nummero Pvt Ltd) and the Indian Institute of Numerology to create awareness regarding numerology, which is prevalent across ancient cultures like Greece, Egypt, China, Chaldea and India.

NATIONAL

PM Modi to inaugurate National Youth Festival on January 12

• Puducherry has been handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to host the 25th National Youth Festival. The 25th National Youth Festival is going to be held in Puducherry from 12th to 16th January 2022. The festival has been organised as part of the Azadi ki Amrit Mahotsav marking the 75th year of Independence, said Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports and Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur.

• The festival is likely to draw around 7000 youths in the age group of 18 to 22 from across the country. Around 500 youths from Puducherry will take part in the event.

• The government of India holds National Youth Festival, as a part of National Youth Week celebrations. It is organised with the aim of propagating the concept of national integration, brotherhood, the spirit of communal harmony, courage and adventure amongst the youth.

• This aim is achieved by organizing gatherings of youth and encouraging them to take part in different activities.

Akshaya Patra Foundation to help enhance effectiveness of mid-day meal scheme

• United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) in India, has partnered with The Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF), a not-for-profit organization, to enhance the effectiveness of the Pradhan Mantri – Poshan Shakti Nirman (PM POSHAN) scheme (earlier known as National Programme for Mid-Day Meal in Schools). The partnership aims to enhance food safety and hygiene projects, capacity building of cooks-cum-helpers and nutritional quality of school meals.

• Under this collaboration, WFP and TAPF will share knowledge through workshops and policy and strategy dialogues with the government to enhance the quality of the school meal programme. Since its inception in 1961, school meals have been part of WFP’s mission. WFP has six decades of experience supporting school feeding and working with more than 100 countries to set up sustainable national school feeding programmes.

UJALA completes 7 years of energy-efficient and affordable LED distribution

• The flagship UJALA programme of the Ministry of Power has successfully completed seven years of distributing and selling LED lights on January 05, 2022. Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) scheme was launched by Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi on January 05, 2015.

• UJALA initiative is the world’s largest zero-subsidy domestic lighting programme with more than 36.78 crore LEDs distributed across the country.

• As on 5th January 2022, 47,778 million (48 billion) kilowatt-hour (kWh) per annum energy has been saved. The demand of 9,565 Megawatt (MW) has been avoided, along with 386 crore tonnes of reduction in CO2 emissions.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

Bank Of Baroda Ropes In Cricketer Shafali Verma As Brand Endorser

• State-owned Bank of Baroda has signed cricketer Shafali Verma as its brand endorser. The Bank continuously supports the youth of the country through its various banking and non-banking initiatives and this announcement reflects the bank’s ethos of adding value to its customer experience by choosing youth-icons like Shafali to inspire them.”

• In 2019, at the age of 15, Shafali became the youngest cricketer to play in a Women’s Twenty20 International match for India. Previously in 2021, Shafali Verma became the 1st Women Cricketer to Hit 3 Sixes in Test Match.

India's TS Tirumurti assumes new chair of UN Counter-Terrorism Committee

• India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, T S Tirumurti has been appointed as the Chair of the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee for 2022. India has assumed the chairmanship of the United Nations Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (UNSC-CTC) for one year, beginning from January 01, 2022.

• Being the Chair of Counter-Terrorism Committee 2022, India will work to further enhance the role of the Counter-Terrorism Committee in strengthening the multilateral response to counter-terrorism, and ensure that global response to the threat of terrorism remains unambiguous, undivided and effective. India is currently a non-permanent member of the 15-nation UNSC. Its two-year term will end on December 31, 2022.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism awards: 2022

• The Indian Express Group has announced the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards (RNG Awards) for journalists across the country, for their work done in 2019. RNG awards are one the most prestigious awards in India in the field of journalism, held annually since 2006. The photo stories of our winners appeared in our print and digital editions between December 24, 2021, and January 4, 2022.

• The award is given to honour journalists across the country from print, broadcast and digital media who have maintained the highest standards of their profession and, despite immense challenges, produced work that sustains public trust in the media and impacts the lives of people. The award is named after Ramnath Goenka, the founder of “The Indian Express” and Indian Express Group in 1932.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

RBI cancels Certificate of Authorisation of Muthoot Vehicle and Asset Finance, Eko India Financial Services

• Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has cancelled the Certificate of Authorisation (CoA) of two Payment System Operators (PSOs): Muthoot Vehicle and Asset Finance Limited and Eko India Financial Services Private Limited, citing non-compliance with regulatory requirements under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007. Both Muthoot Vehicle and Asset Finance Limited and Eko India Financial Services Private Limited had the certificate of authorisation issued by the RBI for issuance and operation of prepaid payment instruments.

• The RBI further mentioned in its press release that the COA cancellation came into force on December 31, 2021. But RBI clarified in its notice that the customers or merchants who have a valid claim on these companies as PSOs can approach them for settlement of their claims within three years from the date of cancellation.

Reliance Retail acquires 26% in Dunzo for $200 million

• Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail has invested $200 million or around Rs 1,488 crore in Bengaluru-based quick commerce player Dunzo for a 25.8 per cent stake on a fully diluted basis. The move will help Reliance get a foothold in the country’s growing quick delivery market. Dunzo raised a total of $240 million in this latest round led by the Reliance Industries Ltd arm. The other existing investors were Lightbox, Ligthrock, 3L Capital and Alteria Capital, who participated in the round.

• The funding will be used to strengthen Dunzo’s vision to excel in the quick commerce business, enabling instant delivery of essentials from a network of micro warehouses while also expanding its B2B business vertical to enable logistics for local merchants in Indian cities.

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Important Current Affairs 6th January 2022

INTERNATIONAL

Google buys Israeli security startup Siemplify for $500 million

• Alphabet Inc-owned, Google has acquired Israeli cybersecurity startup Siemplify, in a deal worth $500 million. This acquisition will expand the U.S. tech giant’s security offerings in the country amid rising cyber-attacks. Siemplify will be integrated into Google Cloud’s Chronicle operation. As a part of Google Cloud’s security team, Siemplify will help companies better manage their threat response.

• This purchase marks the fourth acquisition of an Israeli company by Google and its first in the cybersecurity industry outside the US.

• Siemplify was founded in 2015 by Amos Stern (CEO), Alon Cohen (CTO) and Garry Fatakhov (COO). It has offices in Tel Aviv and headquarters in New York.

• Siemplify specializes in end-to-end security services for enterprises, typically referred to as security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) services.

NATIONAL

Ganjam declared child-marriage-free, becomes Odisha’s first district to earn the distinction

• Odisha’s Ganjam has declared itself a child marriage free district, the first in the State. The district administration has been able to stop as many as 450 child marriages and video-record 48,383 marriages in two years — 2020 and 2021. After verification, the Ganjam administration declared it a child marriage free district. Sarpanchs and task force committee members had sent recommendations that no child marriage had taken place in their respective areas.

• Ganjam had started a programme Nirbhaya Kadhi (Fearless bud). All heads of educational institutes were directed to inform the administration if any girl aged between 12 and 18 remained absent from school for five days. As many as one lakh teenagers have undergone counselling in the past two years. The administration also made the production of Aadhaar cards mandatory for any marriages to take place.

Ayush Minister Sarbananda Sonowal lays foundation stone for Heartfulness International Yoga academy

• Union Ayush Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal has laid the foundation stone of the Heartfulness International Yoga Academy in Hyderabad, Telangana. He also launched 75 crores suryanamaskar initiative as part of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav”. The academy tries to reach all levels of society through training programmes and these will be overseen by an international team.

• This the academy has therapeutic Yoga rooms for consultation, one to one training spaces or small group classes; pre-natal Yoga rooms; a lecture hall with  200 sitting capacity; a full-fledged recording studio with editing suites for pre-recorded wellness programs; a recording Yoga hall fully equipped for Live online Yoga Classes; a Yoga library with books from every Yoga Institutions and access to Yoga research articles.

Himachal becomes, first smoke-free state of the country

• Himachal Pradesh became the first LPG enables, also, smoke-free state. This milestone was achieved due to the Ujjwala Scheme and Grahini Suvidha Yojana by Centre. The Ujjwala scheme was introduced by the government to get rid of the smoke. The Grahini Suvidha Scheme was introduced to assist the women of rural areas.

• Ujjwalla Yojna was started by the Centre government with the view to free the women of the country from indoor pollution. Along with this, the Himachal government also started the Grihini Suvidha Yojana to benefit as many women as possible, under the scheme.

• Under the Ujjwala yojana with an expenditure of Rs. 21.81 crore 1.36 lakh free domestic connections were given in Himachal, while under the Grihini Suvidha Yojana of the Himachal government, 3.23 lakh housewives were provided free gas cylinders at a cost of Rs. 120 crore.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

Former US diplomat Atul Keshap appointed head of US-India Business Council

• Indian-origin American diplomat Atul Keshap has been appointed as the President of the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) by the US Chambers of Commerce. His term is effective from January 05, 2022. The US Chambers of Commerce is the parent body of USIBC. Atul Keshap replaces Nisha Desai Biswal.

• Prior to this, Keshap served in Delhi as United States Chargé d’Affaires to India, leading the US Embassy team. The USIBC represents top global companies operating across the United States, India, and the Indo-Pacific.

RBI appoints Ajay Kumar Choudhary and Deepak Kumar as new Executive Directors

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has appointed Deepak Kumar and Ajay Kumar Choudhary as new executive directors (ED) with effect from 03 January. Prior to being promoted as ED, Deepak Kumar was heading the department of information technology of RBI, while Ajay Choudhary was Chief General Manager-in-Charge, Department of Supervision.

• Kumar has over a span of three decades working in RBI’s central office departments covering policy making and project management functions in the areas of information technology, cyber security, payment systems, currency management, human resource management, banking supervision, foreign exchange management.

• Meanwhile, Choudhary has, over a span of three decades, served in supervision, regulation, currency management, payments and settlements, and other areas in the Reserve Bank, in its Central Office as well as Regional Offices. He will look after the fintech department, risk monitoring department and inspection department.

OBITUARY

Padmashri Sindhutai Sapkal passed away at the age of 73

• Social worker Sindhutai Sapkal, who was called as ‘Mother of Orphans’ passed away at the age of 73 years. She was also referred to just as ‘Sindhutai’ or ‘Mai’. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2021 in the Social Work category. Apart from this, she had received more than 750 awards and honours in her lifetime. She adopted close to 2,000 orphans and is grandmother to even more. She was from Maharashtra. A biopic on her life titled “Mee Sindhutai Sapkal“ was released in the year 2010.

Veteran Vice Admiral S H Sarma passed away at the age of 100

• The Indian Navy’s 1971 Indo-Pak war veteran Vice Admiral S.H. Sarma has passed away, at the age of 100. He was the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet during the 1971 war. India had defeated Pakistan in the 1971 war leading to the creation of Bangladesh. Vice Admiral Sarma had celebrated his 100th birthday on December 1 last year. He also took part in the Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav celebration in Delhi recently.

• Sarma was the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet during the 1971 war. India had defeated Pakistan in the 1971 war leading to the creation of Bangladesh.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Day of War Orphans 2022: 6 January

• World Day of War Orphans is marked on 6 January to create awareness about the plight of children who have lost their parents due to conflict. In any conflict, children are one of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups present. Children who have been injured in a gunfight or separated from their families require particular care in order to heal the mental wounds of war, begin school, and restart normal life.

• World Day of War Orphans was started by the French organisation SOS Enfants en Detresses, which aimed to help children affected by conflict. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an orphan is defined as a “child under 18 years of age who has lost one or both parents to any cause of death”.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

Airtel Payments Bank gets permission to function as scheduled bank from RBI

• Airtel Payments Bank has been categorised as a scheduled bank by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the second schedule of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. With this, Airtel Payments Bank can now pitch for the government. Airtel Payments Bank is among the fastest-growing digital banks in the country, with a base of 115 million users. It offers a suite of digital solutions through the Airtel Thanks app and a retail network of over 500,000 neighbourhood banking points. The bank turned profitable in the quarter ended September 2021.

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Important Current Affairs 5th January 2022

INTERNATIONAL

Apple becomes first company to hit $3 trillion market value

• The stock market value of Apple Inc. hit $3 trillion and became the world’s first company to do so. The market cap of Apple hit $182.86 per share, which made it the world’s first company to touch the $3 trillion mark. However shortly after hitting the mark, the share value dipped below it and did not rise again until the market closed. The iPhone maker passed $2 trillion in 2020 and over $1 trillion in 2018.

• The world’s most valuable company reached the milestone as investors bet that consumers will continue to shell out top dollar for iPhones, MacBooks and services such as Apple TV and Apple Music. In China, the world’s largest smartphone market, Apple continued to lead for the second straight month, beating rivals such as Vivo and Xiaomi, recent data from CounterPoint Research showed.

Ex-UK PM Tony Blair now 'Sir Tony', joins top royal order

• Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Duchess of Cornwall, and Baroness Amos are to be appointed as members of the Order of the Garter, England’s oldest and most senior order of chivalry. The former prime minister now will be known as ‘Sir Tony’. The appointments are the personal choice of the Queen, who has up to 24 “knight and lady companions”. The ceremonial order, founded in 1348, is a recognition of significant public service and made without prime ministerial advice.

• Under Sir Tony’s leadership, the UK joined the US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan – an official inquiry into the 2003 Iraq war was strongly critical of his government and UK military chiefs. He famously referred to Diana, Princess of Wales, as the “people’s princess” after her death.

IHU Variant of C-19 Detected in France 

• Scientists and experts in France have reportedly identified a new variant of C-19 termed ‘IHU’. The new variant is said to be a more mutated strain than Omicron. The B.1.640.2 or IHU variant was first identified by the academics at institute IHU Mediterranee Infection and contains 46 mutations, which is more than Omicron. Nearly 12 cases of this new variant have been reported near Marseilles and has been linked to the African country Cameroon. But, the Omicron strain is still dominating in most parts of the world.

• This new variant can be a major threat, however, the cases have not been reported so far in countries other than France and is not labelled as ‘variant under investigation’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

NATIONAL

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan launched NEAT 3.0

• Union Minister of Education, Dharmendra Pradhan has launched National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT 3.0), and regional language textbooks prescribed by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). NEAT 3.0 aims to provide the best-developed ed-tech solutions and courses to students on a single platform. It will be beneficial especially among the economically disadvantaged students. It is a Public-Private Partnership model between the Government (through its implementing agency AICTE) and the Education Technology companies.

• 58 global and Indian ed-tech startup companies have come together for this solution and are offering 100 courses and e-resources to enhance learning outcomes, developing employable skills as well as overcome learning loss. The collaboration of global ed-tech companies and Indian start-ups by way of NEAT will help to build on the digital education bedrock of India.

Telangana stood first in the country in the list of highest number of ODF Plus villages

• Telangana stood first in the country in the list of the highest number of open defecation free (ODF Plus) villages under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Phase-II programme till December 31, 2021. As many as 13,737 out of 14,200 villages in the State are on the ODF Plus list, which is 96.74%. This was followed by Tamil Nadu with 4,432 villages (35.39%) and Karnataka with 1,511 villages (5.59%). Gujarat took the 17th position with only 83 villages (0.45%).

• The State government has enacted a new Telangana Panchayat Raj Act to ensure the holistic development of villages. A secretary has been posted in every panchayat for smooth execution of welfare programmes, close monitoring, digital reporting and to ensure the prevalence of good governance in villages. Multi-purpose workers have been appointed to maintain proper sanitation in villages. There are 12,769 dedicated compost sheds in all gram panchayats. Tankers have also been provided to water the plants for greenery in villages.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

Sudan’s Hamdok resigns as prime minister amid political deadlock

• Prime Minister of Sudan, Abdalla Hamdok has announced his resignation on January 02, 2022. The decision follows a military coup that caused political deadlock and widespread pro-democracy protests in the country. The 66-year-old Hamdok served as the 15th Prime Minister of Sudan from 2019 to 2022.

• Mr Hamdok called for a dialogue to agree on a “national charter” and to “draw a roadmap” to complete the transition. The October coup had upended Sudan’s plans to move to democracy after a popular uprising forced the military’s overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government in April 2019.

Alka Mittal becomes first woman to head ONGC as CMD

• Director HR in ONGC, Alka Mittal has been given the additional charge as the new interim chairman and managing director (CMD) of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), the largest oil and gas producer in India. She is the first woman to head the top post at the Maharatna company. She replaces Subhash Kumar who superannuated on December 31. He was also serving as an interim head.

• Alka Mittal has been appointed for a period of six months with effect from January 1, 2022, or till the appointment of a regular incumbent to the post, or until further order, whichever is the earliest.

Indian-origin Ashok Elluswamy was first employee to be hired for Tesla's Autopilot team: Elon Musk

• Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk, who has been using social media to recruit people, has disclosed that Indian-origin Ashok Elluswamy was the first employee to be hired for his electric vehicle company’s Autopilot team. Before joining Tesla, Mr Elluswamy was associated with Volkswagen Electronic Research Lab and WABCO Vehicle Control System.

• Ashok Elluswamy holds a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from the College of Engineering Guindy, Chennai and a Master’s degree in Robotics System Development from Carnegie Mellon University.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

SBI, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank continue to remain systemically important banks: RBI

• Reserve Bank of India has retained State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank as Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs). These three banks have continued to be on the D-SIBs list published by RBI, since Sep 04, 2017. Domestic Systemically Important Banks are those banks which if fail would have a significant impact on the economy.

• The D-SIBs banks are classified into 5 buckets. Bucket 1, Bucket 2, Bucket 3, Bucket 4 and Bucket 5. With Bucket 5 being the most important followed by rest in decreasing order. State Bank of India is in Bucket 3, while ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank are in Bucket 1. The updated list is based on the data collected from banks as of March 31, 2021.

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Important Current Affairs 4th January 2022

INTERNATIONAL

France takes over EU presidency as national election looms

• France has assumed the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union with effect from January 01, 2022. The country will continue to hold the EU presidency for the next six months till June 30, 2022. This is the 13th time that France has taken over the rotating presidency. The motto of France as EU President is “recovery, strength, belonging.”

• France will work to place the continent’s digitization and climate protection at the forefront. The presidency of the EU rotates every six months among the member states of the 27-nation bloc. Upon the completion of six months presidency, France will be replaced by the Czech Republic.

NATIONAL

Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of Major Dhyan Chand Sports University in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of Major Dhyan Chand Sports University in Meerut. The University will be established at Salawa and Kaili villages of Sardhana town in Meerut at an estimated cost of about 700 Crore rupees. The University will have the capacity of training 1080 sportspersons including 540 female and 540 male sportspersons.

• The Sports University will be equipped with modern and state-of-the-art sports infrastructure including synthetic Hockey ground, Football ground, Basketball, Volleyball, Handball, Kabaddi ground, Lawn tennis court, Gymnasium hall, Synthetic running stadium, Swimming pool, Multipurpose hall, and a Cycling Velodrome.

• It will also house facilities for Shooting, Squash, Gymnastics, Weightlifting, Archery, Canoeing, and Kayaking, among other facilities with the capacity of training.

Nirmala Sitharaman chairs 46th GST council meet ahead of Union Budget 2022

• The GST Council’s 46th meeting was held in New Delhi under the chairmanship of Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman. The GST Council has recommended deferring the decision to change the rates in textiles recommended in the 45th GST Council meeting. Consequently, the existing GST rates of 5 % instead of 12% in textile sector would continue.

• This convention attains special significance as it comes days ahead of Sitharaman presenting the much-anticipated Union Budget 2022-23 on February 1, for which she has been holding a series of pre-budget consultations with stakeholders.

First electric boat built for Kochi Water Metro Project handed over to KMRL

• In Kerala, the first battery-powered electric boat built for the Kochi Water Metro Project was handed over to the Kochi Metro Rail Limited. The fully air-conditioned boat is among the 23 boats being built by the Cochin Shipyard for the 747-crore rupee Kochi Water Metro project. Kochi Water Metro system will have 78 ferries, linking 38 terminals spread over 76 route kilometres.

• The battery-powered water metro boat can carry 100 passengers. KMRL said it was for the first time in the world a centrally controlled integrated water transport system with a large fleet is powered by the battery.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan launched 100-day reading campaign 'Padhe Bharat'

• Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has launched a 100-day reading campaign ‘Padhe Bharat. The launch of the 100 Days Reading Campaign is in alignment with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 which lays emphasis on the promotion of joyful reading culture for children by ensuring the availability of age-appropriate reading books for children in local/mother tongue/regional/tribal language.

• The Minister while launching the campaign has underlined the importance of reading that children need to develop to ensure continuous and lifelong learning. He also reinforced that the habit of reading, if inculcated at an early age, helps in brain development and enhances imagination and provide a conducive learning environment for children.

OBITURY

Hindi film producer Vijay Galani passed away 

• Bollywood film producer Vijay Galani has passed away. He was suffering from blood cancer and was in London for seeking treatment. He is known for producing films like Salman Khan’s Suryavanshi (1992), Govinda and Manisha Koirala’s Achanak (1998), Akshay Kumar’s Ajnabee (2001), Paresh Rawal and Mallika Sherawat’s Bachke Rehna Re Baba (2005), Salman Khan’s Veer (2010). His last production venture was Vidyut Jammwal and Shruti Haasan’s The Power (2021).

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Braille Day 2022: 4th January 

• World Braille Day is observed globally on 4th January since 2019. The day aims to recognize the right of access to braille by blind people and raise awareness of the importance of braille as a means of communication in the full realization of the human rights for blind and partially sighted people. The day is marked remembering the birth anniversary of Louis Braille, the inventor of Braille – for people with visual disabilities. Louis Braille was born on 4th January 1809 in the town of Coupvray in northern France.

• Braille is a tactile representation of alphabetic and numerical symbols using six dots to represent each letter and number, and even musical, mathematical and scientific symbols. Braille (named after its inventor in 19th century France, Louis Braille) is used by blind and partially sighted people to read the same books and periodicals as those printed in a visual font.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

Tech Mahindra to acquire 100% stake in Allyis India and Green Investments LLC

• Tech Mahindra has approved a proposal for the acquisition of a 100 per cent stake in Allyis India and Green Investments, for a total consideration of up to USD 125 million. The acquisition will bolster Tech Mahindra’s capabilities in Digital Experience Solutions, Learning & Development, Marketing, Instructional Design; Engineering: Cloud & Automation, BI & Analytics, Technical support services.

• Tech Mahindra will pay total consideration of up to $125 million, including employment-related and performance-related earnouts, as per a regulatory update filed with the exchanges. Allyis India Pvt Ltd and Green Investments LLC offer technology consulting and managed services for organisations to help reduce costs, improve performance, and meet their objectives. Allyis India Pvt Ltd was incorporated in 2018 whole Green Investments LLC was incorporated in 2013.

Capital markets regulator SEBI reconstituted its Primary Market Advisory Committee

• Capital markets regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India has restructured its primary market advisory committee on data. The committee aims to measure pertaining to areas such as securities market data access and privacy. Sebi has appointed Professor at National Law University, Delhi and former chairperson, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India S Sahoo as Panel Head. Earlier this panel was headed by Madhabi Puri Buch, an ex-whole time member of Sebi.

• The scope of the work of the committee includes identifying segment-wise data perimeters, data needs and gaps, recommending data privacy and data access regulations applicable to market data. It is responsible for recommending appropriate policy for access to securities market data.

• In addition, the committee recommends standardization of data definitions; data identification logic ( usage of uniform codes for identifying and storing data – raw data and derived data) and data validation techniques (single source of truth, validation).

GST Collection at Rs 1.29 Lakh Crore in December, 13% Higher Than December 2020

• GST revenue collected in December 2021 was over Rs 1.29 lakh crore, 13 per cent higher than the same month in 2020. The gross GST revenue collected in the month of December 2021 is ₹ 1,29,780 crore, of which CGST is ₹ 22,578 crore, SGST is ₹ 28,658 crore, IGST is Rs 69,155 crore (including Rs 37,527 crores collected on import of goods) and cess is Rs 9,389 crore.

• Though the collection was lower than Rs 1.31 lakh crore mopped up in November, December is the sixth month in a row when revenue from goods sold and services rendered stood at over Rs 1 lakh crore. The average monthly gross GST collection for the third quarter (October-December) of the current year has been Rs 1.30 lakh crore against the average monthly collection of Rs 1.10 lakh crore and Rs 1.15 lakh crore in the first and second quarter, respectively.

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Important Current Affairs 2nd January 2022

INTERNATIONAL

Australia to rename islands to Honor Queen Elizabeth on platinum jubilee

• Australia will rename Aspen Island in Canberra's Lake Burley Griffin as part of June 2022 national and community events to celebrate 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the British throne, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday.

• "Seventy years of service is a truly immense achievement, and we are proud to join with other Commonwealth nations to celebrate this milestone... Aspen Island in Canberra's Lake Burley Griffin, the home of the National Carillon, will be renamed Queen Elizabeth II.

• According to Morrison, celebrations will include opening of new Queen Elizabeth Water Gardens, the lighting of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Beacon in Canberra, the release of commemorative stamps and coins, as well as illuminating monuments all around Australia.

Chinese Ministry Launches Five-Year Plan to Become Global Robotics Hub

• China has announced a five-year roadmap to achieve its goal of becoming a global robotics innovation hub by the year 2025. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology revealed operating income from the country’s robotics industry is expected to grow by around 20% per year between 2021 and 2025. From 2016 to 2020, the sector expanded at an average growth rate of 15%. Last year, operating income surpassed 100 billion yuan ($15.69 billion) for the first time.

• To achieve its goal by 2025 of becoming a worldwide robotics innovation centre, China has proposed a strategy concentrating on improvements to essential components such as servo motors and control panels. As per the 2021 World Robot Report, South Korea, Singapore, and Japan were the top three most automated countries in Asia-Pacific.

NATIONAL

Centre approves 9544 Cr grant to Jharkhand under Jal Jeevan Mission

• 315 water supply schemes of Rs. 9,544 Crore approved under Jal Jeevan Mission for Jharkhand. These schemes will providetap water supply to about 8 lakh rural households in 4,424 villages of the State.

• On 15th August 2019, at the time of launch of Jal Jeevan Mission, only 3.45 lakh (5.83%) rural homes in Jharkhand had tap water supply. In 28 months, despite C-19 pandemic and lockdown disruptions, the State has provided tap water connection to 6.73 lakh (11.38%) households. As on date, out of 59.23 lakh rural household in the State, 10.18 lakh (17.20%) are getting tap water supply in their homes.

UP's Jhansi Railway Station Gets A New Name, Called Veerangana Laxmibai Station

• Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh has announced that the government of UP has renamed the Jhansi Railway Station, in Jhansi, UP as “Veerangana Laxmibai Railway Station” after Rani Laxmibai. The announcement was made by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. A notification to this effect has been issued by the UP government and the Railways has started preparations to implement the change. Earlier the Mughalsarai Railway station was renamed as Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya junction and the Faizabad Railway station as Ayodhya Cantt.

Sikkim Governor renamed Jawaharlal Nehru Road as ‘Narendra Modi Marg’

• Governor of Sikkim, Ganga Prasad, has named a new road Narendra Modi Marg. The Governor viewed the road under Kabi Lungchok from Kyongsala, 4th mile. This is an alternative to Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg. The National Monument at National Highway 310 was built by Border Roads Organization. It will be easier for Indian tourists to reach Nathula Border. The stretch, constructed by Border Roads Organisation, has reduced the distance between Gangtok and Tsomgo lake by 15 km.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

VK tripathi appointed as chairman and CEO of Railway board

• The Indian Railways has appointed VK Tripathi as chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Railway Board. He is currently working as the general manager of North-Eastern Railway, Gorakhpur.

• Tripathi’s appointment has been approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) and he is currently General Manager, North-Eastern Railway. He will replace Suneet Sharma, a 1982 batch IRSME officer.

• A career railway officer, Tripathi did his B.Tech (Electrical Engineering) from Roorkee and joined the railways through the Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE) batch of 1983.

• His first posting was as an assistant electrical engineer for the Northern Railway.

Asheesh Pandey joins Bank of Maharashtra as executive director

• Shri Asheesh Pandey joined as Executive Director, Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) today on 31st December, 2021. Prior to joining BoM, Shri Asheesh Pandey was Chief General Manager & Chief Operations Officer (COO) at Union Bank of India (UBI). Shri Asheesh Pandey has a progressive professional career spanning more than 24 years and over these years have handled a diversified portfolio ranging from Credit, Credit Monitoring, Treasury & Merchant Banking, Foreign Transactions & Joint Ventures, Marketing & Customer Relationships and Banking Operations.

• Shri Asheesh Pandey is a Mechanical Engineer (Hons) with Post Graduation in Management (Hons) with specialisation in Finance & Marketing.

Online travel company EaseMyTrip has appointed actors Vijay Raaz and Varun Sharma as its brand ambassadors

• Bollywood actors Vijay Raaz & Varun Sharma have been named as brand ambassadors for EaseMyTrip.com (Easy Trip Planners Ltd), an online travel company based in India. EaseMyTrip founded by Nishant Pitti and Rikant Pitti in 2008 was started as the Business-to-Business (B2B) portal and entered into the business-to-consumer (B2C) segment in 2011.

• Raaz and Sharma will be coming together as a duo for the first time for any brand campaign. The actors with their mass appeal and strong connection with the audience will complement the brand’s image. The company added that the actors are admired by fans for their genuine and down-to-earth personalities and their ability to make their acts memorable. They are also known for their impeccable comic timing and both actors have created a niche in the market.

IMPORTANT DAYS

DRDO celebrates its 64th foundation day on 1st January 2022

• Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is celebrating its 64th foundation day today. It was on this day in 1958 when DRDO was formed to make India strong and self-reliant in terms of science and technology and especially in military technologies.

• Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today wished to all Defence Research and Development Organisation, DRDO scientists and personnel on their 64th Raising Day. In a tweet, Mr Singh said, they are working tirelessly towards strengthening India’s defence capabilities and making the country self-reliant in defence sector. He hoped that the DRDO scientists and personnel will keep serving the nation with the same zeal.

• In the span of 63 years the organization has transformed the landscape of defence research and development in the country. Talking exclusively to All India Radio, the Chairman of DRDO Dr G. Satheesh Reddy said that the last year was the year of major breakthroughs and accomplishments even under the difficult situation posed due to C-19.

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Important Current Affairs 1st January 2022

NATIONAL

India votes in favour of UNSC resolution to renew mandate of counter-terrorism committee executive directorate

• India will chair the Counter-Terrorism Committee of UNSC in January 2022 after 10 years. The Counter-Terrorism Committee was established by Security Council resolution 1373 adopted unanimously on 28 September 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks in the US. The Committee was tasked with monitoring the implementation of resolution 1373 which requested countries to implement a number of measures aimed at enhancing their legal and institutional ability to counter terrorist activities at home and around the world.

• This includes taking steps to criminalize the financing of terrorism, freezing any funds related to persons involved in acts of terrorism, denying all forms of financial support for terrorist groups, suppressing the provision of safe haven, sustenance or support for terrorists and sharing information with other governments on any groups practising or planning terrorist acts.

Jawaharlal Nehru Road renamed as 'Narendra Modi Marg' by Sikkim Guv

• Governor of Sikkim, Ganga Prasad, has named a new road Narendra Modi Marg. The Governor viewed the road under Kabi Lungchok from Kyongsala, 4th mile. This is an alternative to Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg. The National Monument at National Highway 310 was built by Border Roads Organization. It will be easier for Indian tourists to reach Nathula Border. The stretch, constructed by Border Roads Organisation, has reduced the distance between Gangtok and Tsomgo lake by 15 km.

SPORTS

South African Wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock announces retirement from Test cricket

• South Africa’s wicketkeeper-batter Quinton de Kock has announced his retirement from Test cricket with immediate effect late. His announcement came just hours after South Africa’s 113-run defeat to India in the first Test of the three-match series.

• De Kock cited his intentions to spend more time with his growing family for the timing. In a statement, the 29-year-old de Kock said he made his decision in order to have more time to spend with his family. De Kock and his wife Sasha are expecting their first child in the coming days.

NewZealand’s senior batter Ross Taylor announces retirement from international cricket

• Veteran New Zealand batter, Ross Taylor has announced retirement from international cricket at the end of the ongoing domestic season. Taylor hence will play his final appearance in the second Test against Bangladesh, where will equal Daniel Vettori’s record of 112 tests for New Zealand. He will be part of the one-day international series in Australia. He is the first cricketer to play more than 100 matches for New Zealand in all 3 formats.

Indian bowler Jasprit Bumrah 100 Test Wickets

• Jasprit Bumrah has achieved the milestone of picking 100 wickets away from home in 22 Test matches. Van der Dussen became Bumrah’s 100th Test victim in overseas conditions. The 28-year-old now has 105 wickets, out of which 101 have come away from home. Bumrah, who made his Test debut in South Africa in 2018, has played 25 Tests, 23 of which have come on the road.

Indian bowler Mohammed Shami becomes 11th Indian bowler to take 200 wickets in Test cricket

• Mohammed Shami became just the 11th Indian bowler to claim 200 wickets in Test cricket in just 55 test matches. During this process, he became the only 5th Indian pacer to bag 200 wickets in the purest format of the game. Also, Shami is the third fastest Indian pacer to reach this milestone as Kapil Dev and Javagal Srinath bagged 200 Test wickets in 50 and 54 Tests respectively.

APPOINTMEN & RESIGNATION

ITBP DG Arora to hold additional charge of Sashastra Seema Bal

• ITBP director general Sanjay Arora will hold the additional charge of another border guarding force Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) as the latter’s chief Kumar Rajesh Chandra is set to retire on December 31. Arora, a 1988-batch officer of Tamil Nadu cadre, was appointed the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) DG in August and he took charge of the India-China LAC guarding force on September 1. The SSB is primarily tasked to guard unfenced Indian borders with Nepal and Bhutan.

Anupam Ray to be India's new permanent representative at UN Conference on Disarmament

• Senior diplomat Anupam Ray has been appointed as India’s next permanent representative to the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. Ray, a 1994-batch Indian Foreign Service officer, is currently serving as a joint secretary in the MEA’s headquarters in Delhi. Ray will succeed Pankaj Sharma. Sharma, a 1991-batch Indian Foreign Service officer, has been appointed as India’s next ambassador to Mexico.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

 All India Co-ordinated Research Project (AICRP) on poultry breeding

• The All India Co-ordinated Research Project (AICRP) on poultry breeding, Mannuthy, under the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Science University (KVASU), bagged the national breed conservation award for 2021. The centre received the prestigious award from ICAR – The National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR) for the conservation and research activities on the Tellicherry breed, the only registered native chicken breed from the State.

• The centre started conservation of the Tellicherry breed in 2014. Through scientific selection and management, the breed began laying eggs as early as in five months and the annual egg production increased to 160-170 eggs.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

SBI acquires 9.95% stake in India International Exchange (IFSC)

• State Bank of India will acquire up to 9.95 per cent stake in India International Clearing Corporation (IFSC) Ltd subject to a maximum investment of Rs 34.03 crore. The Clearing Corporation is a GIFT City (Gandhinagar, Gujarat) based Market Infrastructure Institution (MII). The Corporation is the first international clearing corporation to be set up at Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) International Financial Services Centre (IFSC). The Clearing Corporation acts as a central counterparty providing clearing & settlement and risk management services to India International Exchange (IFSC) Ltd.

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Important Current Affairs 31st December 2021

NATIONAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

CP Goyal as Director-General of Forests & Special Secretary

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

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

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

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

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

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

RANKING

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

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

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

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

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

India welcomes Egypt as member of New Development Bank of BRICS

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

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

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

Axis Bank is 2nd largest in PoS machines in India

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

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

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

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

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

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

RBI releases report on trend and progress of banking in India

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

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

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

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Important Current Affairs 30th December 2021

INTERNATIONAL

China launched a new satellite 

• China has launched a new satellite with a camera capable of taking photos of the ground with a resolution of five meters, according to the National Space Administration of China (CNSA). The satellite, called “Ziyuan-1 02E” or “Five Meter 02 Optical Satellite”. Beijing time by a Long March-4C rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Beijing Province. Shanxi (northern China). This is the 39th launch of the Longue Marche-4C rocket and the 403rd launch of the entire Long March series.

• The Ziyuan-1 02E weighs approximately 2.5 kilograms and is equipped with infrared, near-infrared and hyperspectral cameras. The cameras can take panchromatic color images of the Earth.

• The satellite will work with the five-meter optical satellite 01 and will reduce the revisiting time of Chinese territory from three days to two days.

The first-ever bus-train dual-mode vehicle launched in Japan

• Japan has introduced a minibus lookalike world’s first dual-mode vehicle (DMV) in its town of Kaiyo. The vehicle can run on normal rubber tyres on the road but its steel wheels, which are in its underbelly, descend when it hits the rail tracks. The DMV can carry up to 21 passengers and runs at a speed of 60km/h on rail tracks and can go as fast as around 100km/h on public roads.

• The front tyres are lifted off the track and the rear wheels stay down to propel the DMV onto the railway. This feature of effectively changing into a train-like module easily on a rail track is the first of its kind. Powered by diesel, the small fleet of vehicles comes in different colours. It runs along part of the coast of Shikoku island in southern Japan, connecting several small towns and offering passengers attractive seaside scenery.

NATIONAL

Telangana tops in implementation of Rurban Mission

• Telangana has secured 1st place among the 34 states and Union Territories that implement the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM). Tamil Nadu and Gujarat have secured 2nd and 3rd place on the list respectively. In the Ranking of the Cluster, among the 295 clusters, the Ryakal cluster of Sangareddy and the Jukkal cluster of Kamareddy in Telangana has secured the 1st and 2nd position respectively. The Aibawk cluster of Aizawl in Mizoram has secured the 3rd position.

• The Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) follows the vision of “Development of a cluster of villages that preserve and nurture the essence of rural community life with focus on equity and inclusiveness without compromising with the facilities perceived to be essentially urban in nature, thus creating a cluster of “Rurban Villages”. The objective of the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) is to stimulate local economic development, enhance basic services, and create well planned Rurban clusters.

Haryana’s CM Manohar Lal Khattar launched Haryana Kaushal Rozgar Nigam portal

• The Chief Minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar has launched the ‘Haryana Kaushal Rozgar Nigam portal’ and announced to set up the Atal Park & Smriti Kendra in Gurugram, Haryana. The CM also honoured 78 officers and employees for delivering the best services in various fields. He also launched a magazine ‘Vyavastha Parivartan Se Susashan’ and the 2022 official calendar.

• Now all the problems of the public are being solved easily through CM Window. So far, more than 8.5 lakh issues have been resolved. The government has abolished the practice of remand in the cases of the Revenue Department. Only a maximum of two appeals can be made in this. Apart from this, a run through the system has been implemented to accelerate the file work. The government has abolished the contractual practice in the recruitments made in the departments.

PM Modi launches Rs 11,000 Cr hydropower projects in Himachal

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated and laid the foundation of the hydropower projects worth Rs 11000 crore in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. He inaugurated the Sawra-Kuddu Hydro Power Project, a 111 MW Project which has been built at a cost of around Rs 2,080 crore. He also laid the foundation stone of the Renukaji Dam project which has been kept pending for around 3 decades. The 40 MW project will be built at a cost of around Rs 7,000 crore. Other Projects are: Luhri Stage 1 Hydro Power Project and the Dhaulasidh Hydro Power Project, the first hydropower project of the Hamirpur district.

SPORTS

Nitesh Kumar wins double gold at 4th Para-Badminton National Championship in Odisha

• Nitesh Kumar won doubled gold at the 4th Para-Badminton National Championship, which concluded in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Haryana’s Nitesh along with his partner Tarun Dhillon defeated World No. 1 Paralympic Games gold medallist Pramod Bhagat and Manoj Sarkar in straight sets 21-19, 21-11 in the Men’s doubles finals to win the gold.

• Earlier, Nitesh also won the gold medal in the Men’s singles category. World No 1 SL3 Para-Badminton player Parul Parmar from Gujarat also secured gold while Mandeep Kaur from Uttarakhand won Silver and Mansi won bronze.

Uttar Pradesh Hockey win Junior National Championship 2021

• Uttar Pradesh has crowned the winners of the 11th Junior National Men’s Hockey Championship following a 3-1 victory over Chandigarh in the final at Kovilpatti, Tamil Nadu. Tournament top scorer Sharda Nand Tiwari opened the scoring for Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh Hockey maintained its unbeaten record. In the 3rd/4th Place playoff match, the Hockey Association of Odisha edged out Hockey Haryana 3 – 2 in a closely contested affair to clinch 3rd place in the competition.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

IAS Radhika Jha appointed CEO of Energy Efficiency Services

• Radhika Jha has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer in state-run Energy Efficiency Services (EESL). EESL is a joint venture between NTPC, Power Grid, Power Finance Corp and REC, working to promote energy efficiency in the country.

• Prior to the new posting, the IAS officer was serving as Secretary to the Government of Uttarakhand for the Education Department. She took charge of the post in July this year and navigated the operational guidelines for resuming classes post COVID. Also, Jha played a key role in formulating a detailed strategy to cover up for the learning loss. Earlier, Radhika Jha also led the Centre’s Integrated Power Development Scheme as Executive Director in Power Finance Corp, before moving to the state.

OBITURY

Greece's former president Karolos Papoulias dies at 92

• Veteran Greek politician Karolos Papoulias, who served as president at the height of the economic crisis of the 2010s, died. Papoulias, a longtime socialist lawmaker and minister, was close to Andreas Papandreou, the founder of the Socialist PASOK party. He served two terms between 2005 and 2015.

• Papoulias, who was also foreign minister in 1985-89 and 1993-96, was a high-ranking member of socialist PASOK party and a close associate of its late leader and former prime minister Andreas Papandreou.

EO Wilson, Known as 'Father of Biodiversity,' Dies at 92

• E.O. Wilson, the former Harvard University biologist and Pulitzer Prize winner whose study of ants and human behaviour made him one of the world’s most influential scientists and prompted his calls for action to protect millions of species on the planet, has passed away. He was 92. To protect Earth earned him the nickname “Darwin’s natural heir”.

• He was the author of hundreds of scientific papers and more than 30 books, two of which won him Pulitzer Prizes for nonfiction: 1978’s On Human Nature, and The Ants in 1990. The “father of biodiversity,” as Wilson was also known, attempted to unify the natural sciences with the humanities and said there was still time to reverse a “sixth extinction” of most species on the planet if environmental degradation was halted.

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Important Current Affairs 29th December 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Japan launches huge Inmarsat-6 F1 communications satellite into orbit

• Japan has launched Inmarsat-6 F1, a communication satellite, through a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) H-IIA204 rocket from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center that will enter geostationary orbit, about 22,240 miles (35,790 kilometres) above the earth. It is developed by the London-based company Inmarsat as a part of its next-generation satellite broadband service. The satellite is 12,060-pound (5,470 kilograms) and is the first of two ‘I-6’ spacecraft.

• Designated H-IIAF45, Inmarsat-6 F1 launch is Japan’s third orbital flight of 2021 and H-IIA’s second mission of the year, marking the 45th flight of the H-IIA vehicle overall.

Alia Bhatt named PETA India's Person of the Year

• People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has named Bollywood star Alia Bhatt its 2021 Person of the Year. She is an animal lover and often shares pictures with her pets. This year, Alia Bhatt invested in Phool, the company behind Fleather, which is a vegan leather made from discarded temple flowers.

• Her vegan kidswear line, Ed-a-Mamma, also won a 2021 PETA India fashion award for helping to nurture kids’ love for animals and nature. Alia also starred in a pro-adoption PETA India campaign to help cats and dogs. She has used her position to call for stronger animal protection laws.

NATIONAL

Centre sets up high-level committee to examine possibility of lifting AFSPA from Nagaland

• The Government of India has decided to constitute a ‘five-member’ committee to look into the demand for withdrawal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act “AFSPA” in Nagaland. The committee headed by Vivek Joshi, the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, would submit its recommendations within 45 days. Additional Secretary in the Home Ministry Piyush Goyal will be its Member-Secretary. The Chief Secretary and DGP of Nagaland and the DGP of Assam Rifles will be the other members of the committee.

• Vivek Joshi, who is Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, will head the five-member committee while Additional Secretary in the Union Home Ministry Piyush Goyal will be the member secretary of the panel. Other members of the committee are the chief secretary and DGP of Nagaland and the DGP of the Assam Rifles.

NITI Aayog releases fourth edition of state health index

• NITI Aayog has released the fourth edition of the State Health Index for 2019–20 that provides incremental performance in health outcomes and status. The index is developed by: NITI Aayog, World Bank, and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). The report, titled “Healthy States, Progressive India”, ranks states and Union Territories on their year-on-year incremental performance in health outcomes as well as their overall status. The index is being compiled and published since 2017. The reports aim to nudge states/UTs towards building robust health systems and improving service delivery.

• Among the ‘Larger States’, in terms of annual incremental performance, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Telangana are the top three ranking states.

CEBR: India expected to become 3rd largest economy by 2031

• The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) from the United Kingdom has predicted that the Indian economy will become the world’s third-largest by the year 2031. In the year 2022, India is set to regain its sixth position in World Economic League Table (WELT) from France, as per CEBR.

• In the year 2020, India’s GDP had witnessed a contraction of 7.3% due to the C-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown leading to constraints on economic activity. India has witnessed a large scale spread of infections and has the third-highest death toll worldwide, behind US and Brazil. However, with the help of emergency aid and prompt measures taken by the Indian government, the country has recovered from the second wave of C-19.

• The annual league table also predicted that China will overtake the US to be the largest economy in 2030 (two years later than the forecast in 2021). The world economy is set to surpass $100 trillion for the first time in 2022.

Rajnath Singh inaugurates Brahmos missile manufacturing unit in Lucknow

• Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has laid the foundation stone of the BrahMos Aerospace cruise missile manufacturing unit in Lucknow. He also laid the foundation of DRDO Defence Technology and Test Centre in Lucknow. BrahMos Project will help in creating 5,500 fresh job opportunities.

• BrahMos is a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India and the NPOM of Russia. BrahMos missile derives its name from the Brahmaputra river of India and the Moskva river of Russia.

• All the three wings of the Indian defence forces have already inducted the BrahMos advanced weapon system.

• Recently, India successfully test-fired the air version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from the integrated test range of Chandipur.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

Government of India has appointed Atul Kumar Goel as the new MD and CEO of PNB

• The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the appointment of Atul Kumar Goel, MD & CEO of UCO Bank, as MD & CEO of Punjab National Bank (PNB) with effect from February 1 next year. Goel will serve as PNB chief until December 31, 2024, which is his attaining the superannuation age. Goel will replace Mallikarjuna Rao, incumbent MD & CEO of PNB.  Rao was given a three-month extension that will end on January 31, 2022.

• Meanwhile, the ACC has appointed Soma Sankara Prasad, currently Deputy Managing Director at State Bank of India, as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer in UCO Bank. He will serve as MD & CEO of UCO Bank till the date of attaining the age of superannuation on May 31, 2023.

Aarati Krishnan: SEBI Member Of MF Advisory Panel

• Aarati Krishnan, Editorial Consultant with BusinessLine, has been inducted as a member of the Securities & Exchange Board of India’s Advisory Committee on Mutual Funds. The committee, chaired by Usha Thorat, former Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India, advises SEBI on matters related to mutual fund regulation to ensure investor protection, development of the industry and disclosure requirements. It suggests measures required to be taken to render the legal framework for mutual funds transparent and simple for investors and constituents.

• The committee has 24 members comprising CEOs of leading mutual fund houses as well as representatives from academia, exchanges, consumer interest groups, fund trustees, rating agencies, distribution firms and media.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

Global Environment And Climate Action Citizen Award 2021: Viral Desai honoured

• Viral Sudhirbhai Desai, an industrialist from Surat, who is popularly known as the Greenman or green man of Gujarat has been honoured with the Global Environment and Climate Action Citizen Award 2021. Among the 28 personalities from 11 countries (which includes the United Kingdom(UK), the United States(US), New Zealand, France, and Malaysia,) who were honoured with this award, Viral Desai was the only Indian to win the honour for climate change.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

Indipaisa partners with NSDL Payments Bank to launch a new Fintech platform targeting India's flourishing 63 million SME sector

• Indipaisa has signed a partnership agreement with NSDL Payments Bank to launch Financial Technology (Fintech) solutions targeting India’s 63 million Small & Mid-sized Enterprise (SME) sector. To empower SME owners & operators to provide facilities and services that help them grow businesses, comply with government tax laws and build a sustainable future.

• Indipaisa’s mission is to empower SME owners and operators to take charge of their finances as well as give them facilities and services that help them grow their businesses, comply with government tax laws, and build a better future for their families.

• Indipaisa plans to introduce multiple financial products and services customized from the ground up to match the specific needs of Indian SME owners and operators.

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