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Important Current Affairs 31st December 2020

NATIONAL NEWS

Harsh Vardhan nominated to the Board of ‘GAVI’, The Vaccine Alliance

•  Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has been nominated as the board member of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI). The seat is currently held by Myint Htwe of Myanmar. Dr Vardhan will represent the South East Area Regional Office (SEARO)/ Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) constituency on the GAVI Board.  Dr Vardhan will assume the charge with effect from January 1, 2021, and serve till December 31, 2023.

•  The vaccine alliance GAVI is an international organization, that provides a forum for balanced strategic decision-making, innovation and partner collaboration.

•  It was created to improve access to new and underused vaccines for numerous vaccine-preventable diseases for children who live in the world’s poorest countries.

•  The GAVI board is responsible for the strategic direction and policy-making oversees the operations of the Vaccine Alliance and monitors programme implementation.

Harsh Vardhan inaugurates India’s highest meteorological centre at Leh

•  Union Minister of Earth Sciences, Dr Harsh Vardhan inaugurated the meteorological centre (MC) of the India Meteorological Department at Leh in Ladakh via video conferencing. The centre would provide localised weather forecasts in the region, which would result in strengthening the weather-related early warning system for the region.

•  The meteorological centre at Leh is the second MC located in the Himalayas. The first such facility is based in Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh.

•  The facility is located at a height of 3,500 metres, which makes it the highest meteorological centre in India.

•  This new MC will provide short-range (three days,) medium-range (12 days) and long-range (one month) forecast for Leh and Kargil districts of the Union Territory.

Nitin Gadkari announces Multi-Model Logistics Park in Assam’s Silchar

•  Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari has announced that a multi-modal logistics park in Assam. It will be constructed in Silchar and the Balacherra-Harengajao section of the Silchar-Saurashtra Highway will be completed in March 2022. Mr Gadkari made this announcement at a public meeting at Zero Point on the East-West Corridor at Madhurmukh at Rangpur.

•  The Union Minister for Road Transport laid the foundation stone of 20 projects and inaugurated seven projects worth Rs 2,366 crores for Assam with a total length of 439 km.

•  The logistics park will be constructed in Silchar and construction works of East-West Corridor would be expedited and two new bridges would come up over the Barak river.

•  Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to send a proposal for ₹ 250 crore project in the Corporate Social Responsibility Fund for the Barak Valley.

•  The water transport system of Brahmaputra would be strengthened, the Union Minister said that dredging work on Barak river has also been completed.

India’s 1st hot air balloon wildlife safari launched in Madhya Pradesh

•  India’s first hot air balloon wildlife safari in a tiger reserve was launched in the world-famous Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve by Madhya Pradesh forest minister Vijay Shah. Now like Africa’s forests, tourists in India will also enjoy hot air balloon wildlife safari. The state was planning to introduce this service in Pench, Kanha and Panna tiger reserves as well.

•  The activity will be restricted to the buffer area and people can watch tigers, leopards, Indian sloth bear and other wild animals from a height. It is the first in any tiger reserve in the country. The service is being operated by Jaipur-based Sky Waltz and company.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Cabinet approves export of indigenously-developed Akash Missile System

•  The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal to export indigenously-developed Akash Missile System. The Cabinet has also approved to set up of a committee for faster approvals of exports. The export version of Akash will be different from System currently deployed with Indian Armed Forces.

•  Akash is a short-range Surface to Air Missile with a range of 25 Kms to protect vulnerable areas and vulnerable points from air attacks. It was inducted in IAF in 2014 and in the Indian Army in 2015.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

V.K. Yadav chairman of railway board conferred with Eminent Engineer Award

•  The chairman & CEO of Railway Board, Vinod Kumar Yadav has been conferred with the prestigious “Eminent Engineer Award for the Year 2020’. This award is given by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) for his outstanding contribution towards modernization and reforms over Indian Railways.

•  Every year Institution of Engineering and Technology, Delhi Local Network celebrates Engineers’ Day on the 15th of September to commemorate the birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna Sir M Visvesvaraya. On this occasion, besides technical activities, the Institution also presents the Eminent Engineer’s Award to distinguished Engineering personalities for their outstanding services in the field of Engineering and technology.

•  The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is a multidisciplinary professional engineering institution formally known as The Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), established in 1871.

•  It is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with over 168,000 members in 150 countries. The Institution is celebrating glorious 150 years of existence.

•  IET is registered as a Charity in England and Wales and Scotland. IET Delhi Local Network is one of nine such networks in South Asia, which constitutes the Indian arm of the IET.

Hemant Kumar Pandey gets DRDO’s “Scientist of the Year” award

•  Senior scientist Hemant Kumar Pandey has been honoured with DRDO’s ”Scientist of the Year Award” for his contribution in developing several herbal medicines, including the popular drug Lukoskin meant for the treatment of leucoderma. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had recently facilitated the scientist at an event here with the prestigious award that comprises a certificate and cash prize of Rs 2 lakh.

•  The scientist has developed six herbal drugs so far, Lukoskin used for treating leucoderma or Vitiligo, a condition in which white patches get developed on the skin, has been most widely appreciated and found huge acceptance in the market.

•  A recipient of several prestigious awards for his contribution in the field of herbal medicine, Pandey has been undertaking research at the Defence Research and Development Organisation”s (DRDO) lab Defence Institute of Bio-Energy Research (DIBER) at Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand for the past 25 years.

•  Apart from Lukoskin, Pandey has developed drugs for the treatment of eczema and toothache as well as an anti-radiation cream, most of which are already being sold in the market following the transfer of technology (ToT).

Bihar wins Digital India award for transferring money in C-19 time

•  The Chief Minister Secretariat of Bihar, the Disaster Management Department besides the National Informatics Centre (NIC) of the state have jointly been chosen as winners in the “pandemic category” Digital India Awards 2020. Bihar government’s initiative to transfer financial assistance directly to the accounts of beneficiaries during the C-19 pandemic has made its departments winners of the Digital India Awards, instituted by the central government, this year for innovative steps in e-governance.

•  More than 21 lakh stranded workers outside Bihar were provided financial assistance through the “Bihar Sahayata Mobile App”. The Digital India Awards, instituted under the aegis of the National Portal of India, serve the purpose of bringing to the fore innovative digital solutions and thereby inspiring emulation by all government entities.

K. Veeramani honoured with Dr. Narendra Dabholkar Memorial Award

•  The Dr Narendra Dabholkar Memorial Award for this year has been conferred upon Dravidar Kazhagam president K. Veeramani. The award was instituted in the memory of the Maharashtra-based rationalist Dabholkar.

•  The U.S.-based Maharashtra Foundation had instituted the award in his memory, a release issued by the Dravidar Kazhagam. The award includes ₹1 lakh and a citation. Mr Veeramani has dedicated his whole life to propagate rationalism and served for the cause of social justice in society.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Late Justice Rajindar Sachar’s Autobiography: ‘In Pursuit of Justice’

•  The family of Late Justice Rajindar Sachar in association with The Indian Society of International Law and The Indian Law Institute is organizing the book launch “In Pursuit Of Justice: An Autobiography” written by Late Justice Rajindar Sachar. The book has been posthumously published.

•  Justice Rajindar Sachar was a socialist, an egalitarian, a defender of civil liberties, a deeply engaged citizen of India, and, above all, a humanist.

•  A man who believed in standing for the last man in the line, he was ‘armed’ with a moral compass that never wavered.

•  He joined the Delhi High Court in 1970 but was transferred out of Delhi for voicing his opposition to the Emergency.

•  During those dark days, he shared a close bond with justice H.R. Khanna, the lone voice of dissent in a Supreme Court that chose to side with Indira Gandhi.

•  Brought back to Delhi after the Emergency, he rose to become the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

 ICICI Bank and Google Pay collaborate to bring digital registration of FASTag

•  ICICI Bank has announced that it is collaborating with Google to issue FASTag. It has become the first bank to join hands with Google Pay for the issuance of FASTag. Customers will now be able to order, track and recharge ICICI Bank FASTag via the Google Pay app. Currently, Google Pay users could recharge their FASTag on the app, but purchasing one directly from the Google app was not possible.

•  The new partnership will now allow users to conveniently order, track, and recharge ICICI Bank FASTags from the app itself. The government has made January 1, 2021, as the new date for mandatorily adding FASTags to vehicles.

•  The announcement makes ICICI Bank the first bank to join hands with Google Pay for the issuance of FASTag. This will also add competition for Paytm, which currently issues FASTags from the app as well and is quite a popular choice for many customers.

•  The association gains prominence during the widespread pandemic as this allows any Google Pay user to order and receive FASTag in a seamless and contact-less manner.

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Important Current Affairs 30th December 2020

NATIONAL NEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INCOIS launches “Digital Ocean” app for information sharing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPORTS

BWF bans Russian badminton player Nikita Khakimov for 5 years

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

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

Anshu Malik wins silver at Individual Wrestling World Cup in Serbia

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

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

OBITUARY

French fashion designer Pierre Cardin passes away

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

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

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

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

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

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

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

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

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

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

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

BANKING AND ECONOMY

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

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

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

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Important Current Affairs 29th December 2020

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

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

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

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

NATIONAL NEWS

ICF develops new high-speed Vistadome coaches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPORTS

ICC Awards of the Decade 2020 announced

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

List of Winners

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

ICC Men’s Awards

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

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

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

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

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

ICC Women’s Award

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

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

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

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

OBITUARY

Veteran Dance Historian Sunil Kothari passes away

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

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

Cinematographer Ishwar Bidri passes away

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

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

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

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

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

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

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

BANKING AND ECONOMY

TCS crosses ₹11 trln in market capitalisation

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

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

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

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

Tesla to start selling cars in India in early 2021

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

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

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

Dixon Technologies’ subsidiary to make smartphones for Motorola

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

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

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

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Important Current Affairs 28th December 2020

INTERNATIONAL

Myanmar commissions submarine gifted by India

• Myanmar on Saturday inducted into its navy a submarine it received from India, which of late stepped up its maritime security cooperation with its neighbours as well as other nations in the Indo-Pacific region amid growing belligerence of China.

• The INS Sindhuvir, a Kilo-class submarine of the Indian Navy, has been renamed as the UMS Minye Theinkhathu. It was commissioned by the Myanmar Navy on the occasion of its 73rd anniversary. It is the first submarine to be acquired by the Myanmar Navy.

• India handed over the INS Sindhuvir to Myanmar three years after China provided two submarines to Bangladesh in 2017.

• The INS Sindhuvir was in service of the Indian Navy since 1988. It was refitted by Hindustan Shipyard before being handed over to the Myanmar Navy earlier this year. The Indian Navy also made arrangements for the personnel of the Myanmar Navy to operate the submarine.

NATIONAL

PM Narendra Modi to flag off 100th Kisan Rail via video conference

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off the 100th "Kisan Rail" from Maharashtra's Sangola to Shalimar in West Bengal via video conferencing on Monday.

• "Kisan Rail has been a game changer in ensuring fast transportation of agriculture produce across the nation. It provides a seamless supply chain of perishable produce," the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.

• The multi-commodity train service will carry vegetables such as cauliflower, capsicum, cabbage, drumstick, chilli and onion as well as fruits like grape, orange, pomegranate, banana and custard apple, it said.

• There will be no bar on the size of consignment and Loading and unloading of perishable commodities will be permitted at all stoppages en route, the PMO said.

Jammu gets its first woman bus driver

• Pooja Devi of Kathua district has become the first woman passenger bus driver in Jammu and Kashmir. Mother of three children, Pooja Devi ferried passengers on Jammu-Kathua route for the first time on Thursday.

History of Sikh Gurus to be included in school syllabus: Yogi Adityanath

• Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, at a Kirtan held in his residence on Sunday, announced that the history of Sikh gurus will now be included in the school curriculum in the state to educate students about the origins of the religion.

• CM Yogi made this announcement at a Gurbani Kirtan held at his residence on the occasion of 'Sahibzada Diwas', which marks the martyrdom of four 'sahibzada' (sons) of 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh and his mother Mata Gujri.

PM Modi launched Ayushman Bharat scheme for Jammu & Kashmir

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) SEHAT scheme for the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, via video conferencing. Talking about the Jammu and Kashmir Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY SEHAT scheme, PM Modi said that getting free treatment up to 5 lakh rupees under this scheme would improve the ease of living. About 6 lakh families of the state are getting the benefit of Ayushman Bharat Scheme. All 21 lakh families will now get the same benefits after the SEHAT scheme, PM Modi said.

• The prime minister further said that another benefit of this scheme would be that treatment is not limited to government and private hospitals in Jammu and Kashmir only. Rather, treatment can be availed from thousands of hospitals empanelled under this scheme in the country.

Kovind Inaugurates, Lays Foundation Stone Of Developmental Projects In Diu

• Daman and Diu/Dadra and Nagar Haveli, President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated and laid foundation stones for several projects on Saturday, according to the President's Secretariat.

• These included the inauguration of -- first academic session of IIIT Vadodara-International Campus Diu; and Kamleshwar School, Ghoghla; laying of the foundation stone for -- the construction of a school at Saudwadi; improvement of 1.3 kilometers heritage walk-way on Diu City Wall; conservation and facade restoration of heritage precincts (Zampa and market precinct); up-gradation of fruits and vegetable market at Fort Road; and development of integrated municipal solid waste management system for entire urban and rural areas of Diu.

SPORTS

International Cricket Council (ICC) announced its Test, ODI and T20I teams of the decade

• The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced its Test, ODI and T20I teams of the decade on Sunday and cricket fans in India were thrilled. Legendary MS Dhoni, who retired on August 15, has been named as the captain of ODI and T20I teams. whereas Virat Kohli has been declared the captain of the Test team which includes the likes of former stalwart skippers Kumar Sangakkara and Alastair Cook.

• For India, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has been named in the Test XI of the decade, men's ODI team of the decade included Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli apart from the side's captain Dhoni. Men's T20I team of the decade has four Indians - Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Jasprit Bumrah.

• However, on the flip side no cricketer from Pakistan got a place in any of the XI's. There were representations from Australia, New Zealand, England, South Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan in at least one of the three teams.

OBITUARY

Former WWE Wrestler Luke Harper Passes Away

• Professional Wrestler Jon Huber, popularly known as Luke Harper in the WWE, and Brodie Lee in the AEW has died aged 41 of non-C-19 related lung issue, an AEW official statement on social media said on Sunday.

• The professional wrestler from Rochester, New York started his career back in 2003, made his name in the independent wrestling scene, wrestling for promotions like Dragon Gate and Combat Zone Wrestling. In 2012 he won his first WWE contract, where he made a big splash in NXT and then in the WWE main roster as Luke Harper part of the ultra-popular Wyatt Family.

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Important Current Affairs 27th December 2020

NATIONAL

Himachal CM unveils 18-feet statue of Vajpayee in Shimla

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

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

Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri launches E-Sampada web portal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPORTS

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

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

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

OBITUARY

Legendary Urdu poet Shamsur Rahman Faruqi passes away

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

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

Former England batsman John Edrich passes away

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

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

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

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

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

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

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Important Current Affairs 26th December 2020

INTERNATIONAL

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

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

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

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

NATIONAL

Niti Aayog launches Cloud Storage Service ‘DigiBoxx’

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

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

SPORTS

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

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

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

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

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

IMPORTANT DAYS

Good Governance Day: 25 December

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

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

BANKING AND ECONOMY

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

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

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

HDFC Bank ranks top among 100 BFSI Firms in India

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

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

• Wallet and UPI segment: Google Pay.

• Neo Banks segment: YONO.

• Payments bank category: Airtel Payments Bank.

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

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

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

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Important Current Affairs 25th December 2020

NATIONAL

Karnataka unveils “FRUITS” portal for farmers

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

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

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

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

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

Cabinet approves 100% FDI in DTH services

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

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

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

Cabinet approves the merger of four Govt film media units

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

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

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

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

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

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

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

NTPC wins the prestigious CII-ITC Sustainability Awards 2020

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

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

Srinagar’s Amar Singh College recognised with UNESCO Award

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

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

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay-NIF book prize announced

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

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

VP Venkaiah Naidu virtually released the book ‘Oh Mizoram’

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

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

BANKING AND ECONOMY

PayU ties up with Google Pay to introduce tokenised payments

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

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

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Important Current Affairs 24th December 2020

INTERNATIONAL

Donald Trump Honours PM Modi With Top US Honour ‘Legion Of Merit’

• US President Donald Trump has presented America’s highest military decoration, ‘The Legion of Merit’, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The prestigious Legion of Merit was given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his leadership in elevating strategic partnership of the two countries.

• The award was accepted by India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu on behalf of the prime minister from the US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien at the White House on 21 December 2020.

NATIONAL

World Bank signs $500mn project to develop highways in India

• The Government of India and the World Bank signed a $500 million project to build safe and green national highway corridors in the states of Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The project will also enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) in mainstreaming safety and green technologies. The $500 million loans from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development a lending arm of World Bank Group, has a maturity of 18.5 years including a grace period of five years.

• The Green National Highways Corridors Project will support MoRTH construct 783 km of highways in various geographies by integrating safe and green technology designs such as local and marginal materials, industrial byproducts, and other bioengineering solutions.

• The project will help reduce GHG emissions in the construction and maintenance of highways.

• The ultimate objective of transport infrastructure is to provide seamless connectivity and reduce logistics costs.

• The Government of India has launched many investment programs in road sector infrastructure to strengthen and improve logistics performance.

• This project will also support analytics to map the freight volume and movement pattern on the National Highway network, identify constraints, and provide innovative logistics solutions.

Dharmendra Pradhan dedicates Bengal’s 1st oil and gas reserve ‘Bengal Basin’

• Union Petroleum & Natural Gas Minister, Dharmendra Pradhan has dedicated West Bengal’s first oil and gas reserve, ‘Bengal Basin’, to the nation. The Bengal Basin is explored and owned by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). It is the eight producing basins of India by ONGC.

• The others are Krishna-Godavari (KG), Mumbai Offshore, Assam Shelf, Rajasthan, Cauvery, Assam-Arakan Fold Belt and Cambay. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Limited commenced the production of crude oil from the Asokenagar-1 well, Bengal Basin in 24 Paragana district of the state on 20 December 2020.

OBITUARY

Renowned Malayalam poet Sugathakumari passes away

• Renowned poet and activist, Sugathakumari passed away, after testing positive for the coronavirus. She was one of the most active campaigners of the Save Silent Valley Movement when it took shape in the 1970s. She wrote a poem Marathinu Sthuti (Hymn to a Tree), which was recited at every other protest to save the Silent Valley.

•  Sugathakumari was awarded India’s fourth-highest civilian award, Padma Shri, in 2006.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Vineet Agarwal takes over as new Assocham President

• Managing Director of logistics major Transport Corporation of India Limited, Vineet Agarwal has taken over as the new President of The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham).

• He replaces Niranjan Hiranandani, Co-Founder and MD, Hiranandani Group of Companies. Sumant Sinha, Chairman and Managing Director of ReNew Power, is the new Senior Vice-President of Assocham.

Satyendra Garg assumes Andaman and Nicobar DGP charge

• Senior IPS officer, Satyendra Garg has assumed Andaman and Nicobar DGP charge. Garg, a 1987-batch IPS officer was posted as joint secretary in the Union home ministry. He was handing the North East division in the home ministry as a joint secretary before being repatriated to his cadre.

• Among other top-level reshuffle IPS officer, Ranvir Singh Krishna is named the police chief of Puducherry. He will replace 1988-batch IPS officer Balaji Srivastava who will assume charge in Delhi. Srivastav has been transferred to the Delhi Police.

IMPORTANT DAYS

National Consumer Rights Day 2020

• National Consumer Rights Day is observed every year on December 24. On this day in 1986, the Consumer Protection Act 1986 received the Presidential assent and thus came into force. The Act aims to provide consumers with effective safeguards against different types of exploitation, such as defective goods, deficiency in services and unfair trade practices.

• This day provides an opportunity for people to highlight the importance of the consumer rights movement and the need to make every consumer more aware of their rights and responsibilities.

• ‘Jago Grahak Jago’, which means ‘Be aware consumer’, is a consumer awareness program launched by the Department of Consumer Affairs.

• As part of this initiative, the government has used channels to create consumer awareness through print, media advertisements, audio campaigns and video campaigns for consumer information and education.

Amit Shah to lead panel on Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary event

• The Union Government has decided to constitute a High-Level Committee (HLC) to commemorate the 125th Birth Anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The High-Level Committee will be headed by the Union Home Minister,  Amit Shah.

• This HLC will decide on the activities for a one-year-long commemoration beginning 23 January 2021, as a tribute and mark of gratitude to the contribution made by Netaji in India’s freedom struggle. The other members of the High-Level Commemoration Committee will include experts, historians, authors, family members of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, as well as eminent persons associated with Azad Hind Fauj/INA.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

UN Women and Kerala govt tie-up for India’s 1st Gender Data Hub

• The UN Women and Kerala government have collaborated to establish India’s first Gender Data Hub. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in this regard in the presence of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Three key areas of co-operation, as specified in the MoU, will be setting up the Gender Data Centre at The Gender Park, launching the second edition of the International Conference on Gender Equality, and increasing engagement on the global normative frameworks on gender equality and empowerment of women.

• The Gender Hub builds on the goals established through the International Conference on Gender Equality held in November 2015, to collect, analyse and use more nuanced data and inform policy formulation in a manner that centre-stage women’s rights. This collaboration will broaden and deepen various pioneering initiatives for gender equality and women empowerment launched by the Social Justice Department of Kerala through The Gender Park.

12th GRIHA Summit of TERI Concludes

• The 12th GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) Summit was held virtually. It was inaugurated by Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu virtually. The Summit provides a platform to deliberate on innovative technologies and solutions to help in creating robust mechanisms for developing sustainable and resilient solutions for the benefit of the entire community.

• The theme of the Summit was “Rejuvenating Resilient Habitats”. It is the annual flagship event organized by GRIHA Council in association with ‘key stakeholders in the construction industry’ to discuss and deliberate on the furtherance of Sustainable Habitat Development in India.

• It is an independent, not-for-profit society jointly setup by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India to promote and administer green buildings in India.

• Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) is the national rating system of India for any completed building construction.

• It has been being recognised as India’s own green building rating system in India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Devendra Fadnavis releases book ‘Ayodhya’ written by Madhav Bhandari

• Maharashtra former Chief Minister and present leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis has released the book ‘Ayodhya’ written by Madhav Bhandari. The book will serve as a key reference document summarising the protests held for the cause of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.

• The book brings together various references that are related to Ayodhya town in Uttar Pradesh. The invaders had destroyed the Ram temple there and a defeatist mentality was thrust upon Hindus for years to come. The (temple) campaign was undertaken to counter this mentality and awaken the community.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

BoB signs MoU with defence forces named “Baroda Military Salary package

• Bank of Baroda (BoB) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard under which the bank would offer customised services along with a host of facilities to account holders. The bank has also renewed its existing MoU with the Indian Army to offer specially customised banking services through ”Baroda Military Salary Package”.

• Services under ”Baroda Military Salary Package will be offered to serving and retired personnel of Indian Armed Forces through the Bank”s network of over 8,200 domestic branches and around 20,000 business correspondent touchpoints.

• The package offers very attractive benefits including free Personal Accidental Insurance cover, Permanent Total Disability cover, Partial disability Cover and Air Accident Insurance Cover of sizable amounts, as well as Higher Education Cover and Girl Child Marriage Cover on death in case of serving personnel.

• Other offerings under the package include unlimited free ATM transactions at all bank ATMs, waivers or concessions on various service charges in retail loans, free remittance facility through RTGS/NEFT, free Demand Draft/Banker”s Cheque, substantial discount in locker rentals, and various additional benefits in the usage of Cards.

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Important Current Affairs 23rd December 2020

INTERNATIONAL

PM Narendra Modi addresses 6th Indo-Japan SAMVAD Conference

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has addressed the sixth edition of the India-Japan SAMVAD conference 2020, via virtual conferencing. The purpose of this Samvad Conference is to discuss the need to build the future of Asia on the positive influence of traditions of non-violence and democracy in Asia.

• During the conference, the PM proposed to create a library of traditional Buddhist literature and scriptures in India. This library will collect digital copies of Buddhist literature from across different parts of the world. The library will then translate these works and make them available for all scholars and monks of Buddhism.

NATIONAL

PM Modi to launch ‘SEHAT’, Health Insurance Scheme for J&K

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch ‘SEHAT’ – Health Insurance Scheme for the entire Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir on 26th December. This scheme will cover the remaining One crore population which was not covered under Ayushman Bharat Scheme. Under Ayushman Bharat PM Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), eligible beneficiaries were covered under Health Cover of Rs 5 Lakh.

• Under PMJAY scheme, 30 lakh people are being covered in J&K. With the launch of ‘SEHAT’ Scheme by the Prime Minister on December 26, J&K will be among the first in the country to achieve Universal Health Coverage. Programmes will be organized across the UT and the distribution of Golden cards will be started on the same day. Around 16 Lakh registrations have been done as on date and the registrations for the rest of the beneficiaries is underway.

GoI notifies new “Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020”

• The Union Power Ministry, R. K. Singh has framed the new ‘Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020. These rules shall empower the consumers of electricity and added that these Rules emanate from the conviction that the power systems exist to serve the consumers and the consumers have rights to get the reliable services and quality electricity.

(Rights of Consumers) Rules 2020:

• These rules provide for Rights of consumers and Obligations of Distribution licensees.

• The distribution licensee shall supply 24×7 power to all consumers.

• However, the commission may specify lower hours of supply for some categories of consumers like agriculture.

Prakash Javadekar releases ‘Status of Leopards in India 2018’ report

• The Union environment minister, Prakash Javadekar has released a report titled the ‘Status of Leopard in India 2018’. As per the report, the population of leopard in India has increased by 60 per cent in four years since 2014.

• India now has 12,852 leopards as per 2018 estimate, compared to the previous estimate of 7910 conducted in 2014. The States of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra recorded the highest leopard estimates at 3,421, 1,783, and 1,690 respectively.

SPORTS

Lewis Hamilton wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2020

• Formula 1 world champion, Lewis Hamilton has won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2020. This is the second time that the 35-year-old Hamilton has been crowned Sports Personality of the Year. Prior to this, he won the award in 2014.

• Helen Rollason Award: Captain Sir Tom Moore

• Expert Special Panel Award: Marcus Rashford

• Coach of the Year: Jurgen Klopp (Football)

• Team of the Year: Liverpool FC

• Unsung Hero: Sgt Matt Ratana

• Captain Tom Young Unsung Hero: Tobias Weller

• Young Sports Personality of the Year: Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix (British diver)

IMPORTANT DAYS

India Observes National Farmer’s Day on December 23

• National Farmer’s Day (Kisan Diwas) is observed every year on 23 December in India to remember the role of Indian farmers in the economy. The day is observed to mark the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh. He brought farmer-friendly policies and worked towards the welfare of the farmers.

• He was the fifth Prime Minister of India and served the country as Prime Minister from 28 July 1979 to 14 January 1980.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

India-Vietnam Leaders’ Virtual Summit 2020

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, jointly addressed the India-Vietnam Virtual Summit, via video conferencing. During the Summit, a ‘Joint Vision for Peace, Prosperity and People’ document was adopted to guide the future development of the India-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

• Both leaders agreed to support each other’s national development priorities and work together towards the shared objective of a peaceful, stable, secure, free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.

• India and Vietnam signed seven agreements during the virtual summit in areas such as defence, scientific research, renewable energy, nuclear energy, petro-chemicals, and cancer treatment.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

ICICI Bank launches online portal ‘Infinite India’

• ICICI Bank has launched an online platform ‘Infinite India’ to support foreign companies to establish or expand business in India. The one-stop portal will offer banking solutions as well as value-added services such as the incorporation of a business entity, corporate filings, licences and registrations, HR services, compliances and taxation among others.

• Through this initiative, ICICI bank aims to strengthen its position in the multinational corporations (MNC) segment. The initiative is part of our strategy to further strengthen our technology-enabled offerings aimed to partner with foreign companies coming to India.

ADB announces Rs 2100 crore loan to Tripura

• The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has announced to provide Rs 2,100 crore loan to the Tripura government for the development of urban areas and tourism in the northeastern state. From the total fund of Rs 2,100 crore, Rs 1600 crore will be for urban development and Rs 500 crore for the tourism sector.

• Under this, all 20 urban local bodies in Tripura would be covered and in the tourism sector, all tourism destinations, roads leading to them and tourist facilities would be covered.

• Under the loan arrangement, initially ADB would provide Rs 40 crore for engagement of project design and management consultants for urban and tourism sectors.

• Once the projects are prepared, ADB would provide Rs 1,600 crore for development works in urban areas and Rs 500 crore in the tourism sector over the next three years.

Central Bank of India ties up with NPCI to launch ‘RuPay Select’

• The Central Bank of India has launched a unique variant of a contactless debit card under the name ‘RuPay Select’, in association with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). Central Bank RuPay Select Debit cardholders will be able to avail complimentary membership and concessional access to golf courses, gyms, spas and restaurants.

• This RuPay Debit Select Card will focus on customers’ lifestyle, fitness, rejuvenation, nutrition and personal care.

• The card comes with features such as airport lounge access to over 20 domestic and more than 500 international lounges.

• The card will also facilitate offline transactions in both transits as well as retail purchases.

• Apart from this, the cardholders would also be entitled to discounted health check-ups with this National Common Mobility Debit Card (NCMC).

• Additionally, it comes up with an accidental and permanent disability insurance cover up to 10 lakh at no extra cost to customers.

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Important Current Affairs 22nd December 2020

INTERNATIONAL

20th IORA Council of Ministers Meeting Held in UAE

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

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

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

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

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

Singapore’s 'Hawker' Culture gets UNESCO recognition

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

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

NATIONAL

Rajnath Singh inaugurates advanced “HWT” test facility in Hyderabad

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

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

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

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

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

1. Border Surveillance System (BOSS)

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

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

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

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

2. Indian maritime situational awareness system (IMSAS)

• It was handed to Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh.

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

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

3. Astra Mk-1 missile system

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

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

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

S. Jaishankar addresses 5th Annual Global Technology Summit

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

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

"Varasat" campaign launched in Uttar Pradesh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPORTS

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

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

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

Indian Boxers bag 3 Gold at Cologne Boxing World Cup

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

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

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

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

OBITUARY

Senior-most Congress veteran Motilal Vora passes away

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

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

IMPORTANT DAYS

National Mathematics Day observed on 22 December

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

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

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

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