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Important Current Affairs 16th January 2022

INTERNATIONAL

Philippines confirms move to acquire BrahMos cruise missiles in $375 mn deal

• Philippines has become the first foreign country to place an order for the purchase of the BrahMos Shore-Based cruise Missile System for its navy. This agreement will give a big boost to India’s defence manufacturing system. The estimated deal cost is worth $374,9 million. The BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd will supply the missile, under the Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System Acquisition Project, for Philippine Navy.

Nicaragua's Ortega sworn in for fourth term as U.S., EU impose sanctions

• Nicaraguan President José Daniel Ortega Saavedra, leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), was sworn in for a new presidential term. This marks his 5th term and 4th consecutive term as the President of Nicaragua. He will remain in the office until January 2027. He received the presidential sash from Gustavo Porras, head of the National Assembly. Ortega’s first stint in power ended in 1990 and upon returning as president in 2007, he quickly set about gaining control of key state institutions.

NATIONAL

India grants financial assistance of over USD 900 million to Sri Lanka to overcome forex crisis

• India has announced financial assistance of USD 900 million loans to Sri Lanka to help the island nation in building up its depleted foreign reserves and for food imports. It must be noted that Sri Lanka is currently facing a shortage of almost all essential commodities due to a shortage of dollars to pay for the imports. India is extending its support through the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay met Cabraal and expressed India’s strong support to Sri Lanka in the wake of RBI extending over USD 900 million facilities.

• These comprise deferment of Asian Clearing Union settlement of over USD 509 million and currency swap of USD 400 million. Sri Lanka is currently experiencing a shortage of almost all essentials due to a shortage of dollars to pay for the imports. Additionally, power cuts are imposed at peak hours as the state power entity is unable to obtain fuel to run turbines. The state fuel entity has stopped oil supplies as the electricity board has large unpaid bills. The only refinery was shut as it was unable to pay dollars for crude imports.

Meenakashi Lekhi launches 'North East on Wheels Expedition’ to promote Culture of Northeastern States

• Minister of State for Culture, Meenakashi Lekhi has launched the ‘North East on Wheels Expedition’ in New Delhi to promote the Culture of Northeastern States. The Bike Expedition is scheduled between 8th to 16th April this year to mark the celebrations of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.

• 75 Bikers participating in this expedition will be selected from all over the country and will cover about 9000 km in the North East Region in 6 groups. The expedition will also promote the Dekho Apna Desh initiative of the Ministry of Tourism. The Riders will also carry the message of the importance of Road Safety.

20th Dhaka International Film Festival Inaugurated 

• The 20th Dhaka International Film Festival begins at Dhaka, Bangladesh. The festival will showcase 225 films from 70 countries under 10 categories will be screened across various venues in Dhaka between 15-23 January. The film festival is being organized in a hybrid mode with many films being streamed online during the festival. The DIFF will also organise the 8th edition of the ‘Women in Cinema’ international conference, as well as the 4th edition of the ‘West meets East’ screenplay lab during the festival.

• The Indian entries to the 20th DIFF include films like Koozhangal directed by P S Vinothraj, Avijatrik directed by Subhrajit Mitra, Mayar Jonjal directed by Indranil Roychowdhury, and Aandaal directed by Shareef Easa among the 35 entries.

• The Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) is organised by the Rainbow film Society established in 1977. The DIFF was started in 1992. The festival will have ten sections including the Asian Competition Section, Retrospective, Tribute, Bangladesh panorama, Wide Angle, Cinema of the World, Children’s Film, Spiritual film, Women Filmmakers section and short and independent films.

SPORTS

Virat Kohli quits as India’s Test captaincy after seven years

• Virat Kohli has stepped down as the Test captain of the Indian national cricket team after seven years. He first led the national side in Test cricket in 2014 against Australia. He guided the team to an unprecedented back-to-back Test series wins Down Under. Kohli also thanked former head coach Ravi Shastri and former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in his statement.

• In 2021, India also finished as the runners-up in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship. Kohli had recently stepped down as India’s T20I captain and was subsequently removed as the ODI captain ahead of the South Africa tour. India also became a top-ranked Test side in the world.

SUMMIT'S & MOU's

Indifi, GPay join hands to offer instant digital credit to SMEs

• Small businesses-focused online lending platform Indifi Technologies has collaborated with Google Pay to provide instant loans to eligible medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) merchants through the Google Pay platform. The borrowing process is entirely digital and eligible merchants on the Google Pay for the Business app can click on loan offerings from Indifi and submit an application online. The loans will be in the range of Rs 2.5 to Rs 3 lakh.

• With a 35 per cent share of monthly UPI volumes, Google Pay has been growing its financial services play over the past year like other payments leaders in India. It already provides loans and short-term credit to individuals and small merchants in tie-ups with IIFL Loans, CASHe, and ZestMoney, among others.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

Paytm Payments Bank leads UPI beneficiary chart: SBI biggest remitter in December

• Paytm Payments Bank Ltd (PPBL) became the largest and fastest-growing UPI beneficiary bank in India. It becomes the first beneficiary bank in the country to achieve the landmark of over 926 million UPI transactions in a single month. Beneficiary banks are the banks of the account holder who is receiving money. Paytm Payments Bank has also gained rapid traction as a remitter bank for UPI payments.

• While State Bank of India (SBI) topped the chart of being the biggest remitter in December 2021, according to data released by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). State Bank of India followed PPBL as the second-largest beneficiary with 664.89 million transactions.

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Important Current Affairs 15th January 2022

INTERNATIONAL

Cyprus Finds C-19 Infections That Combine Delta and Omicron

•Cyprus has detected a new variant dubbed as “Deltacron”, that has a similar genetic background to the Delta variant, coupled with 10 mutations from Omicron. The variant has already affected 25 people in Cyprus. According to Dr Leondios Kostrikis, the head of the laboratory of biotechnology and molecular virology at the University of Cyprus, of the 25 samples taken in Cyprus, 11 were hospitalised due to the virus, while 14 were from the general population.

•The new variant from the lineage named B.1.640.2 is believed to have infected 12 people in the country, according to the yet-to-be peer-reviewed study supported by the French government. Studies have shown that the co-existence of Delta and Omicron increases the chances of a new variant as a result of them trading genes.

NATIONAL

India’s Forest, Tree Cover Rose By 2,261 Sq Km In Last 2 Years: Environment Minister Releases Report

•Union Environment Minister, Bhupender Yadav has launched the 17th edition of the biennial ‘India State of Forest Report (ISFR)’ 2021. ISFR is released by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), every two years since 1987 to assess the country’s forest resources. India’s forest and tree cover rose by 2,261 square kilometres in ISFR 2021 as compared to the assessment of 2019. This includes an increase of 1,540 square kilometres in forest cover and a 721 sq km increase in tree cover.

•The forest and tree cover in India is now 8,09,537 sq km. Total forest cover is 7,13,789 sq km, (21.71 per cent of the geographical area) and tree cover is 95,748 sq km (2.91 per cent of the geographical area).

•The total forest and tree cover in the country is now spread across 80.9 million hectares or 24.62% of the geographical area of the country.

•The top five states in terms of increase in forest cover are Andhra Pradesh (647 sq km), Telangana (632 sq km), Odisha (537 sq km), Karnataka (155 sq km) and Jharkhand (110 sq km).

Kachai Lemon Festival begins in Manipur

•The 18th edition of the two days long Kachai Lemon Festival began in Manipur at the Local Ground of Kachai Village in Ukhrul district. The Kachai Lemon Festival is organised annually to promote this unique kind of lemon fruit and to encourage lemon farmers. This year, altogether 260 stalls are put up at the festival showcasing the rich reap of lemon this year. This year the festival is being organised under the theme ‘Organic Kachai Lemon for Safe Environment and Rural Transformation’. A training program for lemon farmers will be held tomorrow as part of the festival.

•Kachai Lemon of Manipur has been accorded Geographical Indication (GI) registration tag and widely grown in the Kachai Village of Ukhrul district. Unlike the other lemon varieties grown in other parts of the world, Kachai Lemon is considered to be unique as it is a rich source of ascorbic acid and famous for its juice content.

SPORTS

AISCD will host the first World Deaf T20 Cricket Championship in Kerala from January 10 to 20, 2023

•The All India Sports Council of the Deaf has got approval from the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) to host the first World Deaf T20 Cricket Championship in Kerala from January 10-20, 2023. This championship was planned to be conducted in 2020-21 but due to the sudden outbreak of coronavirus, it was postponed first to 2022 & now fixed for 2023. A minimum of eight countries are expected to take part in the championship and this kind of international event is being held in India with the approval of the ICSD for the first time.”

•AISCD is the only Centre-recognised national sports federation for the deaf, while the ICSD is the only international federation recognized as governing body of the deaf sports movement and Deaflympics sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Isro successfully conducts cryo engine test for Gaganyaan rocket

•Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully conducted the qualification test of Cryogenic Engine for Gaganyaan programme for a duration of 720 seconds at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu. According to the space agency, the performance of the engine met the test objectives and the engine parameters were closely matching with the predictions during the entire duration of the test.

•This successful long-duration test is a major milestone for the Human Space Programme – Gaganyaan. It ensures the reliability and robustness of the cryogenic engine for induction into the human-rated launch vehicle for Gaganyaan. Further, this engine will undergo four more tests for a cumulative duration of 1810 seconds. Subsequently, one more engine will undergo two short-duration tests & one long-duration test to complete the cryogenic engine qualification for Gaganyaan Programme.

APPOINTMEN & RESIGNATION

Kurukshetra University's Prof Emeritus Tanwar Made ICHR Chairman

•Professor emeritus, Kurukshetra University, Raghuvendra Tanwar has been appointed as chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR). Tanwar appointment is for a period of three years from the day he assumes the office of the Chairman of the Council or until further order. Tanwar, who joined Kurukshetra University as a lecturer in August 1977, has an outstanding academic record, with two gold medals in MA History.

•The primary aim and objective of the Indian Council of Historical Research is to promote and give directions to historical research and to encourage and foster objective and scientific writing of history. Enhancing the academic standard of the output of ICHR activities has been the foremost objective in it’s agenda.

OBITURY

29-year-old Olympic & World Medallist Deon Lendore Passes Away In Car Crash In Texas

•Olympic athlete Deon Lendore, who participated in the 400 meters race at the 2020 Olympics, passed away at the age of 29 years due to a fatal car accident in Texas, United States (US). He was born on 28 October 1992 in Trinidad and Tobago (the Caribbean Islands, South America), was an expert of 400 meters championships. He participated in the London Olympics in 2012 and won a Bronze medal in 4×400 meter relay. He also participated in the Tokyo Olympic 2021 and in 2016 Rio Olympics.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Indian Army Day 2022 : 15th January

•The Army Day in India is celebrated on 15 January every year, to salute the valiant soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect the country and its citizens. This year marks the 74th Indian Army Day. The day is marked to commemorate the day when General (later Field Marshal) KM Carriappa took over the command of the Army from General Sir FRR Bucher, the last British Commander-in-Chief in 1949 and became the first Commander-in-Chief of Indian Army post Independence.

•The Indian Army is one of the most powerful militaries of the world, competing with superpowers like the US, Russia and China. The motto of the Indian Army is ‘service before self’ and its mission is to ensure national security and national unity, defend the nation from external aggression and internal threats, and maintain peace and security within its borders. Salute to the brave soldiers, who risk and sacrifice their lives to protect us. Even the Prime Minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1965 had given the slogan like “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan”.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

Forex reserves down by USD 878 mn to USD 632.736 bn

•As per the weekly Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, the foreign exchange reserves of India declined by $878 million to USD 632.736 billion in the week ended January 7, 2022. In the previous week ended December 31, India’s reserves dropped by $1.466 billion to $633.614 billion. The decline was mainly due to a fall in gold reserves and foreign currency assets (FCA). In the reporting week, FCAs decreased by $497 million to $569.392 billion.

•Gold reserves declined by $360 million to $39.044 billion. The special drawing rights (SDRs) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) fell by $16 million to $19.098 billion. India’s reserve position with the IMF dipped by $5 million to $5.202 billion.

HDFC Bank adjudged 'Best Private Bank in India' at the Global Private Banking Awards 2021

•HDFC Bank was named as the ‘Best Private Bank’ in India at the ‘Global Private Banking Awards 2021’ which was organised by Professional Wealth Management (PWM) in a virtual ceremony. PWM is a wealth management Magazine, published by the Financial Times Group. The award was given for contributing to accelerate key trends, including digitalisation, communication and investment in environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies.

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Important Current Affairs 14th January 2022

INTERNATIONAL

Man in the US receives a genetically-modified pig heart in the world's first transplant of its kind

• A US man has become the first person in the world to get a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig. David Bennett, 57, is doing well three days after the experimental seven-hour procedure in Baltimore. The possibility of using animal organs for so-called xenotransplantation to meet the demand has long been considered, and using pig heart valves is already common.

• Pigs are increasingly becoming popular candidates for organ transplantation. This is because their organs are anatomically similar to those of humans. What’s more, porcine components are more tuned for genetic engineering.

NATIONAL

India's oldest sloth bear Gulabo dies at Bhopal's Van Vihar national park

• India’s oldest female sloth bear, whose name was Gulabo, has passed away at the Van Vihar National Park and Zoo, located in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Gulabo was the oldest sloth bear of the country. She died at the age of 40. She was rescued from a street performer (Madaari) in May 2006, when she was 25 years. Gulabo was one of the star attractions in the park. The Van Vihar National Park, located on the banks of Bhopal’s Upper Lake, also runs a rescue and breeding centre for sloth bears.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

RBI approves one-year term for Ittira Davis as CEO of Ujjivan SFB

• Reserve Bank of India has approved the appointment of Ittira Davis as managing director & chief executive officer of (MD & CEO) of Ujjivan Small Finance Bank for one tenure. He will take charge of the extended tenure from January 14, 2022. The post had been lying vacant since three-month following the sudden exit of incumbent Nitin Chugh.

• Prior to Ujjivan, Davis was the Managing Director with the Europe Arab Bank, London. He has also held leadership positions with Arab Bank plc, Bahrain and Citibank, India. He has over 40 years of work experience in India, Middle East and Europe.

RenewBuy ropes in Rajkummar Rao as its brand ambassador

• RenewBuy, an online insurance platform, has appointed Rajkummar Rao as the brand ambassador for its 1st 360-degree consumer advertising campaign that highlights consumers’ insurance needs. The campaign was designed and conceptualised by Havas Worldwide India. “Smart Tech, Right Advice” is the theme of the campaign. This program aims to increase the spread of insurance policies digitally for consumers from any part of the country.

Eminent rocket scientist S Somanath appointed ISRO chief

• Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced the appointment of the eminent rocket scientist Dr S Somanath as its new chairman and Space Secretary. He will succeed Kailasavadivoo Sivan who completes his extended tenure. The post of the ISRO chairman, the Space Secretary and the Space Commission chief is usually held by one person only.

• Mr Somanath is an expert in a host of disciplines including launch vehicle design and has specialised in launch vehicle systems engineering, structural design, structural dynamics, integration designs and procedures, mechanism design, and pyrotechnics. He is currently the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram. He was a team leader for the Integration of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) during the early phases of his career.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Armed Forces Veterans Day 2022: 14 th January 

• In India, the Armed Forces Veterans Day is observed each year on 14 January since 2017. The day aims to acknowledge and honour the selfless devotion and sacrifice of our veterans in the service of the nation. 2022 marks the 6th Armed Forces Veterans Day. It is observed as a mark of respect and recognition of the services rendered by Field Marshal KM Cariappa OBE, the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces who retired on 14 January 1953.

• Armed Forces Veterans Day is observed to reiterate the resolve of services for the well being of veterans and assure them that their valuable suggestions are always welcome. Last year, Admiral Karambir Singh released the ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ song dedicated to our brave and courageous soldiers of the 1971 war. At various events, stalls are set up at the venue for the benefit of ex-servicemen, which includes health and medical check-up camp, job placement and resettlement stall. In addition, there are informative lectures on pensions and welfare-related subjects. Various government departments commemorate the day in their own unique way.

BOOKS & AUTHOR

Autobiography of Arundhati Bhattacharya released

• HarperCollins is set to publish “Indomitable: A Working Woman’s Notes on Life, Work and Leadership” the autobiography of Arundhati Bhattacharya, retired Indian banker and former first-ever woman Chairperson of the State Bank of India. Indomitable features the story of Arundhati Bhattacharya’s life as a banker and the difficulties she faced in the male-dominated sector. She is the chairperson and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of salesforce India, a cloud-based Software as a service (SaaS) company headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States of America.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

Centre to become Vodafone Idea’s major shareholder with 35.8% stake

• The Central Government of India is set to become the largest shareholder in Vodafone Idea. The company’s board approved the conversion of Rs 16,000 crores in interest into equity. India’s third-largest network Vi or Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL) has approved the interest on the spectrum and Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues into government equity.

• VIL accepted a four-year moratorium as well as accepted the equity conversion, which means the Indian government will own almost 35.8% of VIL’s stake followed by Vodafone Group which owns 28.5% and 17.8% by Aditya Birla Group.

UN forecasts India's GDP to grow 6.5% in FY22

• The GDP growth forecast of India in fiscal 2022 is estimated to grow at 6.5 per cent as per the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2022 report. Earlier this was estimated at 8.4%. The WESP is a flagship report produced by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA). UN has projected the growth rate for fiscal 2023 (FY 2022-2023) at 5.9 per cent.

India retail inflation rises to 5.59% in December, hits 5-month high

• Retail inflation in December 2021 rose to a six-month high of 5.59 per cent from 4.91 per cent in November 2021, mainly due to a sharp rise in food prices as food inflation for the period under review also rose steeply to 4.05 per cent against 1.87 per cent in November 2021.

• According to data released by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation, prices of cereals, egg, milk products and prepared meals went up during December 2021. Apart from these items, prices of clothing and footwear, education, health as well as recreation activities and transportation too witnessed a rise in December 2021 compared to November 2021.

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Important Current Affairs 13th January 2022

NATIONAL

Kochi to become the first city with water metro project with launch of electric boats

•  Kochi, Kerala has become India’s first city to have a Water Metro Project after the launch of its first boat in December 2021, namely ‘Muziris,’ among the 23 battery-powered electric boats being manufactured by Cochin Shipyard Limited. This launch is a part of the Rs 747-crore project which is operated by Kochi Water Metro Ltd (KWML). The boats will be called Water Metros.

•  With a total outlay of Rs 819 crore, the project’s major part is financed under Indo-German Financial Cooperation through a long-term loan agreement of 85 million Euros (Rs 579 crore) with the German funding agency, KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau).

9th edition of North East Festival concludes in Guwahati

•  The 9th edition of the North East Festival concluded in Guwahati, Assam. The main purpose of this festival is to promote and highlight the commercial and tourism potential of the North East region. The festival was organised in the format of a carnival with live music and dance performances, engaging the visitors throughout the day in the open area while serious discussions on business, economic, socio-political issues of the region engrossed the intellectuals in the conference halls.

•  The festival aimed at integrated marketing of the entire North-East to attract tourists and investments. The closing day was graced by Assam’s Agriculture Minister Atul Bora, who interacted with entrepreneurs participating from across the North-East region.

Odisha tops medal chart in national skill competition

•  India Skills 2021 national competition concluded with more than 200 participants who were felicitated by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. As many as 270 winners of the Competition felicitated with 61 gold, 77 silver, 53 bronze and 79 medallions of excellence. More than five hundred competitors from across the country participated in the competition to showcase their talent from 54 industrial sectors. These sectors include car paint, patisserie and confectionery, welding, additive manufacturing, cyber security, floristry, among others.

•  Odisha finished first out of 26 states and union territories of this year in the ‘IndiaSkills 2021’ contest with 51 medals. Odisha won 10 gold, 18 silver, 9 bronze, and 14 medallions.

•  With 30 medals, Maharashtra remained in second place, while Kerala took third place with 25 medals.

India’s first heli-hub to be set up in Gurugram with many aviation facilities

•  Haryana Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala announced that Gurugram will get India’s 1st heli-hub with all aviation facilities. The heli-hub will be the first of its kind in India to have all facilities at one place for helicopters. The heli-hub is proposed to be built in Gurugram & would be near the metro facility along with easy connectivity to industrial areas (Noida & Bhiwadi).

•  The Haryana government has proposed to set up the first heli-hub of the country in Gurugram designed to have many aviation facilities like heliport, hangars, repairs, and any other related services.

SPORTS

New Zealand’s Ajaz Patel wins ICC Player of the Month Award for December 2021

•  India-born New Zealand cricketer Ajaz Patel has won the ICC Player of the Month award for December following his stupendous 10-wicket haul against Virat Kohli and Co. in the second Test in Mumbai. The left-arm spinner was nominated for the award alongside India opener Mayank Agarwal and Australian pacer Mitchell Starc but beat them to it on the back of his incredibly rare feat.

•  Ajaz picked up 14 wickets in the Mumbai Test match in early December against India, including all 10 in the first innings, to become only the third player in Test history, after Jim Laker and Anil Kumble, to achieve the remarkable milestone.

Tata group to replace Vivo as IPL title sponsor

•  The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has informed that Tata group has replaced Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Vivo as the title sponsor of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. The multinational conglomerate will pay Rs. 300 crore per year as the title sponsor of IPL for the next two seasons. This is about 60% of what Vivo would have paid.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

Alikhan Smailov named Kazakhstan's Prime Minister

•  The parliament of Kazakhstan has unanimously approved the appointment of Alikhan Smailov as the new Prime Minister of the country. His name was nominated by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on January 11, 2022. Prior to this, the 49-year-old Smailov served as the country’s finance minister from 2018 to 2020. He became the first deputy prime minister in the Cabinet in 2019.

OBITURY

Revolutionary Kannada writer and activist Champa passes away at 83

•  Prominent Kannada writer Chandrashekhar Patil, popularly known as “Champa”, passed away at the age of 82. He was a Kannada language activist, a poet and a playwright and also served as President of the Kannada Sahitya Parishat (KSP) and Chairman of the Kannada Development Authority.

RANKING

Indian passport becomes 83rd most powerful globally in 2022, up from 90th rank

•  India has improved its position by seven places to rank at 83rd place among 111 countries in the latest Henley Passport Index, released for Q1 of 2022. India ranked at 90th spot among 116 countries in Q4 of 2021 in October. The Indian passport has visa-free access to 60 destinations worldwide in Q1 2022, as compared to 58 destinations in Q4 of 2021. Oman and Armenia are the latest destinations where Indian passport holders can visit without obtaining a visa.

•  Japan and Singapore have retained the joint top position in the Henley Global Mobility Report 2022 Q1. Their passports holders are allowed to travel visa-free to 192 countries. Afghanistan has the world’s least powerful passports, with a visa-free score of 26.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

India’s central bank is setting up a fintech department to keep up with crypto

•  Reserve Bank of India has set up a separate internal department for fintech (Financial technology). The new department has been created with effect from January 04, 2022, by subsuming the FinTech Division of Department of Payment and Settlement Systems, Central Office (DPSS, CO).

•  The department will not only promote innovation in the sector but also identify the challenges and opportunities associated with it and address them in a timely manner. Ajay Kumar Choudhary, who was recently promoted as the Executive Director of RBI was appointed as head of the department.

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Important Current Affairs 12th January 2022

NATIONAL

Kevadia railway station in Gujarat renamed as Ekta Nagar railway station

• The Ministry of Railways has approved the renaming of the Kevadiya railway station in the Narmada district of Gujarat, as Ekta Nagar railway station. The Statue of Unity’s Kevadiya railway station falls under the Vadodara division. The station code of Ekta Nagar railway station will be EKNR. The numerical code of the station will be 08224620.

• Last year, the Ministry of Railways had said tourists visiting the world’s tallest statue in Gujarat “Statue of Unity” will be able to experience the rich cultural history of the state at the Kevadiya railway station itself. Under the public-private partnership (PPP) initiative, the Vadodara Division of Western Railways had awarded first of its kind contract in the Indian Railways network for the development of an Art Gallery with a Souvenir shop at Gujarat’s Kevadiya Railway station.

Jan Dhan Accounts Deposits Cross ₹ 1.5 lakh Crore By December 2021

• According to the finance ministry, the deposits in bank accounts opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) scheme have crossed Rs 1.5 lakh crore mark. The total balance in accounts under the Jan Dhan scheme was recorded at Rs 1,50,939.36 crore as of December-end 2021. The data revealed that over 44.23 crore accounts have been opened under the scheme.

• Of this, 34.9 crore accounts were opened with the public sector banks, 8.05 crore with regional rural banks, and the remaining 1.28 crore with private sector banks. RuPay Debit Cards were issued to 31.28 crores PMJDY beneficiaries under this scheme.

Chennai International Airport ranks 8th in the World for ‘On-Time Performance’ for the year 2021

• The Chennai International Airport is one of the top 10 large international airports in the world that ensures ‘on-time’ departures. In a review conducted by Cirium, an organisation that specialises in offering aviation data to travel, finance, aerospace, and aviation industries, the airport has been ranked 8th for ‘on-time performance’ for the year 2021. According to the latest traffic figures of Chennai Airport, it has done recovery of 80 % in domestic traffic. It is the sixth busiest airport in India.

• Besides that, Chennai airport is the only Indian airport to figure in the top 10 positions of the list. The first three positions have been bagged by United State’s Miami Airport, Fukuoka Airport, and Haneda Airport in Japan.

SPORTS

14-yr-old Bharath Subramaniyam becomes India's 73rd chess Grandmaster

• Tamil Nadu’s Bharath Subramaniyam became India’s 73rd chess Grandmaster. He secured the third and final Grandmaster norm at an event at Cattolica in Italy. He scored 6.5 points from nine rounds along with four others and finish seventh in the event. He secured his third GM norm here as well as touched the requisite 2,500 (Elo) mark.

• Fellow Indian player M R Lalith Babu became the winner in the tournament, with seven points. He won the title on the basis of a better tie-break score as he tied with three others including Anton Korobov from Ukraine. In order to become a GM, a player has to secure three GM norms as well as cross the live rating of 2,500 Elo points.

Five golfers including Aditi Ashok among 10 more athletes added to TOPS

• Mission Olympic Cell under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has added ten athletes to the list of athletes who would be provided support under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS). Total 10 new entrants, five athletes have been included in the Core group while five have been added to the Development group. Now, the total number of athletes under TOPS has increased to 301, which includes 107 in the Core group while 294 in the Development group.

• TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme) is a flagship program of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports which was launched in September 2014 and revamped in April 2018.

• The scheme aims to provide all requisite support and assistance to probable athletes identified for the Olympic Games/Paralympic Games and other major international tournaments so that they can win medals.

SUMMIT'S & MOU's

19th Meeting of National Tiger Conservation Authority held

• The 19th meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) was held under the chairmanship of the union minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Bhupender Yadav. Currently, there are 51 Tiger Reserves in India and more than 35 rivers originate from those areas which are crucial for water security.

• The environment minister launched an action plan for the reintroduction, protection and conservation of 7 major big cats in India including the cheetah, which has become extinct in independent India.

• Under the action plan, 50 of these big cats will be introduced in the next 5 years in various parks.

OBITURY

David Sassoli European Parliament President, dies aged 65

• European Parliament President, David Sassoli has passed away due to health issues. He had served as the President of the European Parliament from July 2019 until his death in January 2022. He was first elected as a member of the European Parliament (MEP) in 2009.

• Later in July 2014, Sassoli was elected Vice-President of the European Parliament. In the 2019 European Parliament election in Italy, he was elected as new president with 128,533 votes. European Parliament is one of the seven branches of the EU. Its headquarter is at Strasbourg, France.

IMPORTANT DAYS

National Youth Day 2022: 12th January

• In India, the National Youth Day is celebrated on 12 January annually to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. The main aim behind this is to make sure that the students across the country can be encouraged to learn about the life, the ideas and philosophy of Swami Vivekananda and apply them in their lives.

• In 2022, we are observing the 159th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanand (12 January 1863). The theme for National Youth Day 2022 is The Theme of 2022 is “It’s all in the mind.”

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

Kerala Arts & Crafts Village wins international award

• Kerala Arts and Crafts Village Organization (KACV) from Kovalam, Kerala was awarded the ‘International Craft Award for 2021’ for the best craft village in the world by the World Crafts Council International. It is the only award India received in the non-individual category. The KACV was established by the Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society (UL CCS) for the State Tourism Department of Kerala. In 2021, the Village of the Year award was won by ‘Kraf Komuniti Ku’ in Malaysia.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

RBL Bank collaborates with Google to enhance customer experience

• RBL Bank and Google announced a strategic collaboration to fuel the Bank’s customer experience strategy. Through this, the bank will expand its value proposition to serve its rapidly growing customer base through the digital platform, Abacus 2.0. It will enable better customer data management, and analytics, enabling effective cross-selling within the Bank’s large customer base. RBL Bank currently has over 4 million urban retail asset and liability customers.

• This collaboration will enable better customer data management, and analytics, enabling effective cross-selling within the Bank’s large customer base and subsequently reducing the cost of customer acquisition, significantly. Through Abacus 2.0, the Bank aims to provide a superior and holistic one-stop solution to its existing and new customers, to seamlessly deliver its different product offerings across channels.

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Important Current Affairs 11th January 2022

NATIONAL

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated in Chandigarh

• Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has inaugurated Kalpana Chawla Centre for Research in Space Science and Technology (KCCRSST) at Chandigarh University. The Union Minister also launched Chandigarh University’s Defence Scholarship Scheme, worth Rs 10 Crore, for the wards of Defence Personnel of the three services. Kalpana Chawla was the first woman of Indian origin to go to space.

• Established with the objective of training students in space science and satellite development and to meet future challenges in the area of space research, this state-of-the-art space centre would be the Ground Control Station (GCS) for the Chandigarh University’s Student Satellite (CUSAT), an in-house developed nano-satellite being designed by the students of Chandigarh University, and a Geo Spatial Centre for research, besides other important projects.

SPORTS

17-year old Nodirbek Abdusattorov is the new Rapid World Champion

• Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzbekistan), won the World Rapid Chess Championship 2021 by defeating Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia) in a tiebreaker and dethroning Magnus Carlsen, the current World Number 1. 2020 FIDE Championship was won by Magnus Carlsen.

• Nodirbek won the title along with a prize of $60,000, where he lost only one match against the Ukrainian Anton Korobov, and tied in five others. The Uzbeki Grand Master (GM), received the Mard Uglon (“Brave Son”) Presidential medal.

Monfils Fends Off Khachanov To Clinch Adelaide Title

• French tennis player Gael Monfils beat Russia’s Karen Khachanov in the men’s singles event of the 2022 Adelaide International 1 to claim the 11th ATP title of his career. In the women’s category, World number one Australian star Ashleigh Barty beat Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan to win her second Adelaide International title. 2022 Adelaide International 1 was a combined ATP Tour 250 and WTA 500 tournament.

LLC Appointed Cricketer Jhulan Goswami as Ambassador 

• Legends League Cricket (LLC) has appointed Jhulan Goswami as an ambassador to its All Women Match Official Team to promote Women’s Empowerment initiatives of the LLC and to increase participation of women in cricket. The LLC set up an All Women Match Official Team for the League. This is the first of its all-women official teams that would officiate an entire men’s league.

• Legends League Cricket (LLC) is the professional cricket league for retired cricketers. The inaugural session of LLC will be organized from January 20 2022 at Oman Cricket Stadium in Muscat, Oman. Legends League Cricket (LLC) 2022 teams: Indian Maharaja, Aisan Lions, World Giants.

OBITURY

Oscar, Emmy, Grammy-winning lyricist Marilyn Bergman dies at 93

 

• Marilyn Bergman, the Oscar, Emmy and Grammy-winning American lyricist and songwriter has passed away. Bergman collaborated with her husband, Alan Bergman for song-writing. The renowned music-writing duo wrote the music and lyrics for numerous celebrated television shows, films, and stage musicals. The pair were nominated for Oscars 16 times and won three times.

IMPORTANT DAYS

National Human Trafficking Awareness 11th January 2022

• This year National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is observed on January 11, 2022, which is on Tuesday. The day aims at raising awareness of the plight of human trafficking victims, and promoting and protecting their rights. Though the entire month of January has already been recognized as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, this day is specifically dedicated to awareness and prevention of illegal practice.

• In 2007, the United States Senate ratified the resolution establishing January 11th as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. In 2010, President Obama dedicated the entire month of January to awareness and prevention of human trafficking. Today, there are over 50 established organizations that globally combat this illegal practice, and more awareness has been raised than ever before.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

ICMR award for Dr. Satish Adiga

• A professor in the clinical embryology department at Kasturba Medical College (KMC), under Manipal Academy of Higher education (MAHE), Dr Satish Adiga has been selected by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for its national award. He will receive Dr Subhas Mukherjee Award from ICMR in recognition for his outstanding contribution to the field of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). He has contributed significantly to both clinical IVF and fertility research.

Golden Globe Awards 2022 announced

• The Golden Globe Awards 2022 ceremony was held to recognise excellence in film, both American and international, and American television. This was the 79th edition of the annual event, which honoured the best in American television, as well as film in 2021 as chosen by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Two of the films namely The Power of the Dog and the West Side Story, won the most number of awards with 3 each.

78th SKOCH Summit: FSL won the Silver SKOCH Award for Governance

• The Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) won SKOCH Award in the Silver category for its work towards combating Crime and Violence against Children. The award was given out at the 78 SKOCH Summit. The “State of Governance” was the theme of the summit.

• Deepa Verma, the Director of the Rohini-based lab, has accepted the award on behalf of the lab. FSL is a scientific department and a participant in the criminal justice system whose mission is to investigate incidents of crime and violence against children who have suffered physical, sexual, financial, or emotional harm.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

RBI ups threshold for LCR maintenance by banks on funds received from non-financial small biz customers

• The Reserve Bank of India has increased the threshold limit for Banks to maintain the Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) on deposits and other ‘extension of funds’ received from non-financial small business customers from Rs 5 crore to Rs 7.5 crore. This is applicable on all Commercial Banks other than Regional Rural Banks, Local Area Banks, and Payments Banks. To better align RBI’s guidelines with the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) standard and enable banks to manage liquidity risk more effectively.

• LCR promotes the short-term resilience of banks to potential liquidity disruptions by ensuring that they have sufficient high-quality liquid assets (HQLAs) to survive an acute stress scenario lasting for 30 days.

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Important Current Affairs 10th January 2022

NATIONAL

Uttar Pradesh government declares 4 villages near Nepal border as revenue villages

• The Uttar Pradesh government declared four villages located near the Nepal border in the district as revenue villages. District Magistrate of Bahraich, Dinesh Chandra Singh said the decision was taken before the announcement of the general elections to the UP Legislative Assembly. These four villages are Bhavanipur, Tedhia, Dhakia and Bichhia located in Mihinpurwa tehsil of the district. All these villages are Vantangiya villages.

• The Vantangiya’ community comprises people brought from Myanmar during the colonial rule to plant trees. A revenue village is a small administrative region with defined borders. One revenue village may contain many hamlets. A village administrative officer is the head officer of a revenue village.

Vikrant India's 1st indigenous aircraft carrier, begin sea trials

• The Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) 1, which will be called INS Vikrant once it enters service with the Indian Navy, began another set of sea trials on Sunday to carry out complex manoeuvres in high seas ahead of its planned induction in August.

• The 40,000-tonne aircraft carrier, the largest and most complex warship to be built in India, successfully completed a five-day maiden sea voyage in August and underwent 10-day sea trials in October.

SPORTS

Bharath Subramaniyam becomes India's 73rd chess GM

• Fourteen-year old Bharath Subramaniyam on Sunday became India's 73rd chess Grandmaster, securing the third and final GM norm at an event in Italy.

• The Chennai-based player scored 6.5 points from nine rounds along with four others to finish seventh overall in the event held at Cattolica.

• He obtained his third GM norm here and also touched the requisite 2,500 (Elo) mark.

• Fellow Indian player M R Lalith Babu emerged winner in the tournament with seven points, winning the title on the basis of a better tie-break score after he tied with three others including top-seed Anton Korobov (Ukraine).

• Bharath finished with six wins and one draw while losing two games - against Korobov and Lalith Babu.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATION

Saini’s term as IBBI chief extended

• The Government of India has extended the tenure of Navrang Saini as interim Chairperson of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) for three more months till March 05, 2022. Mr. Saini, who is a Whole Time Member of IBBI, was assigned additional charge of Chairperson in addition to his existing duties in October 2021 for three months till January 13, 2022. The post of full-time Chairperson has been lying vacant after M.S. Sahoo retired upon completing a five-year tenure on September 30, 2021.

Ex-RBI Governor Urjit Patel appointed Vice President of AIIB

• Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel has been appointed as a vice-president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a Beijing based multilateral development bank.

• He will succeed outgoing Vice President D J Pandian, who is in charge of sovereign and non-sovereign lending of the AIIB in South Asia, the Pacific Islands and South-East Asia.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Hindi Day 2022: 10th January

• World Hindi Day is celebrated on January 10 since 2006 to promote the language at the global stage. The day marks the anniversary of the first World Hindi Conference which was inaugurated on January 10, 1975, by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi. However, the celebration of first World Hindi Day was commenced on 10 January 2006 by former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

• The language got its name from the Persian term ‘Hind’ which means ‘the land of Indus’. The language is spoken in India, Trinidad, Nepal, Guyana, Mauritius and other countries.

December 26 to be observed as 'Veer Baal Diwas'

• Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi has declared that starting from the year 2022, December 26 will be observed as ‘Veer Baal Diwas’ every year. The day will be commemorated as a tribute to the courage of the 4 Sahibzades (the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji), who attained martyrdom in the 17th century. The announcement was made by PM Modi on January 09, 2022, on the occasion of the Parkash Purab of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, or the birth anniversary of the 10th guru of Sikhs and the founder of the Khalsa community.

• 26 December marks the day on which Sahibzada Zorawar Singh Ji and Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji (younger pair of Sahibzade) attained martyrdom after being sealed alive in a wall, at the tender age of 6 and 9 years. Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji and Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Ji (older pair of Sahibzade) attained martyrdom on December 21, 1705, fighting the enemy in battle at Chamkaur Sahib at the young age of 18 and 14 years.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

Forex reserves down by USD 1.466 bn to USD 633.614 bn

• As per the latest Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, the foreign currency reserves of India declined by $1.466 billion to $633.614 billion, in the last week of 2021, which ended December 31, 2021. Gold reserves rose by USD 14 million to USD 39.405 billion. India’s forex touched a lifetime high of USD 642.453 billion in the week ended September 03, 2021. Forex reserves include foreign currency assets (FCAs), gold reserves, SDRs and the country’s reserve position with the IMF.

Real GDP to grow at around 9.5% in FY22: SBI Ecowrap

• The economic research team of the State Bank of India (SBI) released its Ecowrap report. In the report, SBI researchers have revised upwards the real GDP of India to around 9.5 per cent in 2021-22 (FY22) on a year-on-year (YoY). The report believes that though rising Covid infections could impact mobility, yet economic activity is not expected to get much affected.

Reliance to buy control of New York's Mandarin Oriental hotel for $98 mn

• Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has announced the acquisition of a controlling stake of 73.37% in Mandarin Oriental New York, a premium luxury hotel in midtown Manhattan. RIL through its wholly-owned arm Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Limited has acquired the entire share capital of Cayman Islands-based Columbus Centre Corporation (Cayman), for an equity value of approximately $98.15 million (Rs 735 crore).

• Cayman is the parent company of Mandarin Oriental hotel. It had indirect ownership of a 73.37 per cent stake in the hotel. Reliance will also take over the hotel’s debt in excess of $115 million to take the entire deal value to around $270. The transaction is anticipated to close by the end of March 2022.

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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 8th January 2022

INTERNATIONAL

Senior Chinese diplomat Zhang Ming takes charge of Secretary-General of SCO

• China’s senior diplomat Zhang Ming has taken charge as the new Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in which India is a member. He has taken charge from Vladimir Norov, former Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan for a three-year term. He was until recently China’s ambassador to the European Union.

• The SCO comprises eight member states: India, Kazakhstan, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It also comprises four countries with “observer” status and six more as “dialogue partners”. India joined SCO at the Astana summit in 2017. 2022 will be an important year for India at SCO as, for the first time, it will assume the presidency of SCO, after Uzbekistan, for the period 2022-2023 which will culminate with the SCO Summit to be hosted by the Indian side in 2023. The SCO Summit is the meeting of the Council of Heads of States (HOS) and along with the Council of Heads of Government (HOG) makes two most important dialogue mechanisms among SCO member states.

NATIONAL

Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh addressed 24th National Conference on e-Governance in Hyderabad

• Union Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Jitendra Singh has inaugurated the 24th National Conference on e-Governance in Hyderabad, Telangana. The theme of the two-day Conference is ‘India’s Techade: Digital Governance in a Post Pandemic World’. The conference has been organised by the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG) and the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), in association with the State Government of Telangana.

• The conference would provide considerable momentum to the e-governance initiatives across the country, providing opportunities for civil servants and industry captains to showcase their successful interventions in e-governance in improving end to end service delivery. Delegates from 28 states and 9 Union Territories along with academia, research institutions, IT industry would be participating in the conference through virtual mode.

EC hikes expenditure limits for candidates ahead of Assembly polls

• The Election Commission of India has increased the existing election expenditure limit for candidates in Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies, due to the rise in inflation. The new limits will be applicable in all upcoming elections in the country. The previous major revision in the election expenditure limit was done in 2014. It was further increased by 10% in 2020. EC had formed a Committee to study the cost factors and other related issues, and make suitable recommendations.

• The ceiling on parliamentary poll expenditure has been raised from 70 lakh to 95 lakh rupees in bigger states and 54 lakh to 75 lakhs in smaller states.

• The bigger states include Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka.

Gujarat launched second edition of the student start-up and innovation policy

• Gujarat Chief Minister, Bhupendra Patel has been launched “Student Start-ups and Innovation Policy 2.0 (SSIP-2.0)” for the next five years. The policy contains provisions for the establishment of active innovation and incubation centres in all universities in the state. The policy aims to cover 50 lakh students across 1,000 higher education institutes and 10,000 schools of innovation and entrepreneurship. The policy also aims to give assistance to 10,000 proof of concepts and prototypes developed by the students and to 1,000 proof of concepts developed by school children.

India joins Quad partners, Japan and South Korea for Sea Dragon exercise

• India and its partners in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad along with Canada and South Korea are participating in the multinational exercise Sea Dragon 2022 at Guam in the Western Pacific. The six nations that are participating in the exercise are the United States, Australia, Canada, India, Japan and South Korea.

• The exercise, primarily focused on anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training, will involve more than 270 hours of in-flight training and activities ranging from tracking simulated targets to tracking a US Navy submarine. Each event will be graded and the country scoring the highest points will receive the Dragon Belt award.

• Sea Dragon 22 focuses on anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training and excellence, which includes everything from tracking simulated targets to tracking a genuine US Navy submarine. Pilots and flight officers from all around the world develop strategies and discuss tactics in training sessions that take into account their individual countries’ skills and equipment.

APPOINTMENT & RESIGNATIONS

Centre Re-Appoints Vijay Paul Sharma as Chairman of CACP

• The Centre has re-appointed Vijay Paul Sharma as the chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) after he relinquished the post in May last year following completion of the five-year tenure. The role of the CACP chairman will be crucial in the proposed committee on the minimum support price (MSP) and other reforms. Sharma, a professor at the Centre for Management in Agriculture at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, was appointed CACP Chairman for the first time in June 2016.

• The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, established in 1965, is an apex advisory body under the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. It’s an expert body that recommends the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) by taking into consideration various factors.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

Uttar Pradesh awarded first prize in 3rd National Water Awards

• Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has declared the winners of the third National Water Awards for the year 2020. Uttar Pradesh has been adjudged as the Best State in water conservation efforts in the National Water Awards 2020. It is followed by Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu respectively. The award comes with a citation, trophy and cash prize. Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh received the best district award in the northern zone followed by Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar in Punjab.

• The National Water Award was launched by the Jal Shakti Ministry in 2018 to recognise and motivate individuals and organizations doing exemplary work in the field of water resources management.

BOOKS & AUTHOR

Book “Mamata Beyond 2021” authored by Jayanta Ghosal

• HarperCollins Publishers India is set to publish a new book titled “Mamata: Beyond 2021”, authored by political journalist Jayanta Ghosal and translated by Arunava Sinha. The announcement about the release of the book was made on 5th January 2022, the birthday of Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister (CM) of West Bengal and the leader of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) party. The book explores and examines why the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost the 2021 West Bengal Election.

BANKING AND ECONOMIC

SBI General Insurance launched #BahaneChhodoTaxBachao; a quirky Vox Pop campaign on Save Tax with Health Insurance

• State Bank of India General Insurance Company Ltd has launched a campaign titled ‘#BahaneChhodoTaxBachao’ to increase awareness around the need to buy health insurance to save tax. It will also highlight the other benefits of opting for health insurance. The campaign aims to increase the awareness of how buying health insurance can help people save tax which is crucial and seasonal in the last quarter of the financial year for all Indians. The campaign will also underline the other benefits of opting for health insurance.

• The campaign is in a quirky Vox Pop format featuring anchor Rudraksh Singh aka Rudy is seen travelling across major cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata and asks the lamest excuse that people have to offer for not buying/opting for health insurance. The idea here is to find out ‘India ka lamest excuse’ for not opting for health insurance. Health insurance not just prevents a medical emergency but also benefit from saving tax under section 80D of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

Spread of Omicron to reduce GDP growth by 10 basis points in FY22: Ind-Ra

• The rating agency India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) has downgraded the GDP of India for the current fiscal FY 2021-2022. Ind-Ra expects the GDP to clock a growth rate of 9.3% y-o-y in FY22. Earlier this estimate was 9.4%. Meanwhile, Brickworks Ratings has also revised India’s GDP growth forecast for the current fiscal (FY22) to 8.5-9%. Earlier this was estimated at 10%. The rapid spread of the Omicron variant is the main driver to downgrade GDP growth projections.

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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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