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Important Current Affairs 19th January 2021

INTERNATIONAL

India and Japan inks MoC to promote movement of skilled workers

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

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

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

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

NATIONAL

Harsh Vardhan chairs 148th session of WHO Executive Board

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

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

Nitin Gadkari inaugurates National Road Safety Month 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPORTS

Khelo India Zanskar Winter Sport & Youth festival 2021 begins

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

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

OBITUARY

Legendary classical musician Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan passes away

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

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

IMPORTANT DAYS

GoI decides to celebrate January 23 as Parakram Diwas

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

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

NDRF Celebrates its 16th Raising Day

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

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

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

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

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

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

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

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Important Current Affairs 17th January 2021

NATIONAL

Kite festival Shakrain celebrated in Dhaka

• On this occasion, people engaged in kite flying and fireworks among many other recent additions like ‘DJ Party’ to celebrate this occasion. The kite flying competition is followed by winter cake festival -- pithapuli in which rice cake pudding is eaten by people.

• This is a centuries-old tradition in several parts of Bangladesh celebrated on the last day of the Bengali month of Paush. People in the old Dhaka city of Shakhari Bazar, Laxmibazar, Bangshal and Sutrapur among others celebrated this festival with great joy.

• The Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) organised the festival for the first time this year with the slogan ‘Let’s Fly a kite, Cherish Tradition’. The festival was held in all the 75 wards of DSCC with the Mayor Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh inaugurating the festival by flying the kite in the city.

Indian-American Garima Verma named digital director in Office of the First Lady

• Incoming First Lady, Jill Biden has named Indian-American Garima Verma as her digital director and Michael LaRosa press secretary, the Biden transition team has announced.  She served as audience development and content strategist on the Biden-Harris campaign. Before joining the campaign, Verma was a volunteer with the content team, designing graphics for distribution to Biden-Harris volunteers across the country.

• Verma, who was born in India, grew up in Ohio and the Central Valley of California. She previously worked in the entertainment space, marketing films at Paramount Pictures and television shows at The Walt Disney Company’s ABC Network, and media agency Horizon Media. Verma has also served as an independent consultant in marketing, design and digital for a number of small business and non-profit clients.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

TEPC appoints Sandeep Aggarwal as new Chairman

• The Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC) has appointed Sandeep Aggarwal as the new Chairman. Aggarwal, the Managing Director and Promoter of Delhi-based Paramount Communications, will take over from Shyamal Ghosh, ex-Telecom Secretary.

• TEPC is an independent body set up by the government to promote and develop the export of telecom equipment and services.

Indian-American Vidur Sharma Appointed As Covid Testing Adviser By Biden

• Joe Biden has named Indian-American health policy expert Vidur Sharma as testing advisor in his C-19 Response Team, as the US President-elect laid out his ambitious goal to intensify vaccinations across the country to tackle the spread of the deadly pandemic.

• The announcement of Sharma's appointment as Policy Advisor for Testing was made by Biden on Friday along with additional members of the White House C-19 Response Team.

• During the Obama administration, Sharma served as a health policy advisor on the Domestic Policy Council.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

IFFI: Biswajit Chatterjee awarded ‘Indian Personality of the Year’

• Inaugurating the 51st International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here on Saturday, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar, announced a new ‘Indian Personality of the Year’ award, which he announced was being conferred upon veteran actor, director and singer Biswajit Chatterjee.

• During his address, Javadekar also made a strong pitch for the film industry as well as other private companies to start participating in the annual festival from its next edition.

Shri Amresh Kumar Chaudhary has been awarded prestigious "Chief of Army Staff Commendation"

• Incumbent Chief Controller, Shri Amresh Kumar Chaudhary has been awarded prestigious " Chief of Army Staff Commendation" for his outstanding contribution to Armed Forces during critical period of Covid19 pandemic and it’s various operations.

• Shri Amresh Kumar Chaudhary is currently working as Chief Controller in Mil Rail.

• Shri Amresh Kumar Chaudhary is a very sincere, hard-working, proactive and result-oriented official with highest degree of integrity.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

ICICI Bank ties up with fintech Niyo to issue prepaid cards to MSMEs

• ICICI Bank, a leading Indian private sector bank, and Niyo, a new age fintech company announced a tie-up to issue prepaid cards to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) workers. MSMEs will now be able to get ‘ICICI Bank Niyo Bharat Payroll Card’ powered by Visa, for their blue-collar workers.

• With this, MSMEs can upload the salaries of their workers on the card, which the workers can then utilise as per their need seamlessly.

• These workers are mostly under-banked and are deprived of banking facilities.

• The ‘ICICI Bank Niyo Bharat Payroll Card’ allows an individual to receive funds up to Rs 1 lakh into the card account. It offers convenience and safety of digital banking to the blue-collar workforce while providing a state-of-the-art salary disbursement solution to the employers.

• Any MSME can tie-up with Niyo to avail of the prepaid card. After the tie-up, cards are issued to the workers at their workplace itself while their KYC verification is done simultaneously using a biometric device.

• Once activated, workers can use the card to withdraw funds at ATMs, make online transactions on e-commerce portals and make payment by swiping the card at Point of Sale (PoS) machines.

YES Bank launches wellness themed credit card

• Yes Bank has announced its partnership with Aditya Birla Wellness Private Limited to launch the ‘YES BANK Wellness’ and ‘YES BANK Wellness Plus’ Credit Cards – aimed at the holistic health, self-care and wellness of consumers. This is an innovative step to encourage and promote self-care, mental and physical well-being.

• Consumers can now enjoy the bouquet of complementary health benefits by simply registering on the Aditya Birla Multiply App.

• Benefits include reward points, diet plans, consultations etc

• The mobile app allows consumers to avail complimentary benefits such as annual health check-up, round the clock doctor or counsellor helpline, in-studio or home-based workout sessions, personalized diet plans, among others, right at their fingertips.

GM to invest C$1 billion in Canada plant to manufacture electric vans

• General Motors Co and labor union Unifor said on Friday they have reached a tentative deal for the automaker to invest nearly C$1 billion ($785.42 million) in its CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, to manufacture commercial electric vans.

• Under the tentative deal, which is yet to be ratified by the union workers, GM has agreed to begin large-scale commercial production of EV600, an electric van, at its CAMI plant, Unifor said in a statement.

• The Detroit automaker said in a separate statement that work would begin immediately at the plant.

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Important Current Affairs 5th January 2021

INTERNATIONAL

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

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

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

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

NATIONAL

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

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

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

PM Modi inaugurates National Metrology Conclave 2021

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

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

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

Delhi government sets up Tamil Academy

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

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

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

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

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

GRSE delivers 8th landing craft utility ship to Indian Navy

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

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

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

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

OBITUARY

Ace mountaineer Colonel Narendra ‘Bull’ Kumar passes away

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

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

Former Union Minister Buta Singh passes away

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

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

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

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

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

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

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

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

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

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

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

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

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

BANKING AND ECONOMY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Important Current Affairs 2nd January 2021

INTERNATIONAL

GoAir announces expansion of services to United Arab Emirates

• Budget carrier GoAir on Thursday announced expansion of its services to the UAE with launch of new flights to Sharjah from Mumbai, Delhi, Kochi and Kannur.

• Currently, flights to the UAE are operated under an Air Bubble Agreement since international commercial flights to and from India remain suspended from March 23 in the wake of the C-19 pandemic.

NATIONAL

INDIAN AIR FORCE LAUNCHES E-GOVERNANCE (E-OFFICE) PAN IAF

• The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria PVSM AVSM VM ADC formally launched the IAF e-Governance (e-Office) portal at Air HQ, Vayu Bhavan on 31 Dec 20. The implementation undertaken as part of Digital India and e-governance initiative will transition the entire Indian Air Force to a ‘paperless office’ workflow.

• The launch of e-Governance in IAF marks a paradigm shift from the current method of correspondence, filing and documentation to a digital one. The platform would achieve enhanced transparency, improved efficiency, increased accountability, assured data integrity and rapidly accessible archives along with a major reduction in the use of paper.

Agriculture Ministry inaugurates virtual Agri-hackathon Atmanirbhar Krishi

• Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar inaugurated the Virtual Agri-hackathon 2020 organised by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare in association with IARI, Pusa, New Delhi.

• Speaking on the occasion, Narendra Singh Tomar said that Agri India Hackathon is the largest virtual gathering to create dialogues and accelerate innovations.

Odisha govt plans memorial for 'martyrs' C-19 warriors

• Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday announced plans to build a memorial in the State Capital for the C-19 warriors who laid their lives in the line of duty.

• The Chief Minister made this announcement during a discussion with family members of martyred C-19 warriors of five districts through video conference. Expressing his gratitude to the family members of martyred warriors, Naveen said names of those who lost their lives will be inscribed in the memorial to keep their memory live.

India exports first shipment of moringa powder to US

• India has started exports of Moringa powder, keeping in mind its rising global demand and nutritional properties, the commerce ministry said on Thursday.

• "Two tonne of organic certified Moringa powder were sent to the US through air consignment on December 29.

Delhi's air quality in December best in 4 years: CPCB

• Pollution levels in Delhi this December were the lowest in the last four years, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

• The average air quality index (AQI) for December stood at 308. It was 337 last year, 360 in 2018 and 316 in 2017, the CPCB data showed.

• The capital recorded four "severe" air quality days this December as compared to eight each in 2019 and 2018 and one in 2017.

• There were 10 "poor" air days this December as against seven, four and nine in 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Shri Suneet Sharma takes over the charge of new Chairman & CEO of Railway Board

• Shri SuneetSharma, has taken over the charge of new Chairman & Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Railway Board (Ministry of Railways) and ex-officio Principal Secretary to Government of India. The appointments committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Shri Suneet Sharma as Chairman & CEO of Railway Board. Prior to this, Shri Suneet Sharma worked as General Manager, Eastern Railway.

• Shri Suneet Sharma joined the Indian Railways in 1979 as a Special Class Apprentice while he was studying engineering at IIT Kanpur. A graduate in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering he has more than 40 years of experience serving in the Indian Railways in various capacities.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

Canara Bank Raises Rs 1,635 Crore Via Bonds

• State-owned Canara Bank on Thursday said it has raised Rs 1,635 crore through bonds, to fund business growth.

• The capital was raised by issuing additional tier-1 bonds at 8.50 per cent coupon on December 31, the bank said in a statement.

• The fund raise will help the bank boost its capital adequacy ratio.

Jubilant FoodWorks to buy 10% stake in Barbeque Nation

• Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd will invest ₹92 crore to buy a 10.76% stake in Barbeque Nation Hospitality Ltd (BNHL), which runs the popular Barbeque Nation (BBQ) chain of restaurants.

• “The company will acquire 36,50,794 fully paid-up equity shares of face value of ₹5 each aggregating to 10.76% stake in BNHL,” Jubilant FoodWorks, which operates the Domino’s Pizza chain and the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and doughnut chain in India, said in a regulatory filing on Thursday. The all-cash deal is expected to conclude by 25 January.

RBI to conduct simultaneous sale-purchase of govt securities on Jan 7

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will conduct simultaneous purchase and sale of government securities under open market operations (OMOs) for Rs 10,000 crore each on January 7.

• The decision was taken after a review of current liquidity and financial conditions, the RBI said in a statement.

• Eligible participants should submit their bids in electronic format on RBI's core banking solution (E-Kuber) system between 10 and 11 am on January 7.

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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 19th December 2020

INTERNATIONAL

Boris Johnson invites PM Modi to UK-Led G-7 Summit

• United Kingdom Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to join the UK-hosted G-7 summit 2021. UK Prime Minister Johnson has also accepted the very generous invitation to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations in January.

• PM Johnson will attend India’s annual Republic Day parade in New Delhi.

35th Edition Of India-Indonesia CORPATs

• The 35th edition of India-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol (IND-INDO CORPAT) between the Indian Navy and the Indonesian Navy is being conducted from 17 to 18 December 2020. The 35th IND – INDO CORPAT will contribute towards the Indian Navy’s efforts to consolidate inter-operability and forge strong bonds of friendship across the Indo Pacific.

• Indian Naval Ship (INS) Kulish, an indigenously built missile corvette along with P8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) will undertake coordinated patrol with Indonesian Naval Ship KRI Cut Nyak Dien, a Kapitan Pattimura (Parchim I) class corvette and an MPA of the Indonesian Navy.

• To reinforce maritime links, the two navies have been carrying out CORPAT along their International Maritime Boundary Line since 2002, with the aim of ensuring safety and security of shipping and international trade in the region. CORPATs build up understanding and interoperability between navies and facilitate the institution of measures to prevent and suppress Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing, drug trafficking, maritime terrorism, armed robbery and piracy.

NATIONAL

Nehru Zoological Park Hyderabad gets ISO certifications

• Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad, with its standard working procedures, has acquired ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Standards Certification from ASCB, UK. The Hyderabad Zoo has become the first zoo in the country to receive ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Standards Certificate. This was presented to Telangana Forests Minister A. Indra Karan Reddy.

• HYM International Certifications, Accredited by ASCB(UK) recently conducted an assessment of the Zoo for ISO 9001:2015 Certifications and expressed satisfaction and happiness in the standards being followed in Nehru Zoological Park in the area of sanitation, food processing, animal breeding, Zoo Hospital, animal care, hygiene maintenance and establishment.

Uttar Pradesh govt to launch ‘Kisan Kalyan Mission’

• Uttar Pradesh government will launch a special program to double the income of farmers. The program named as “Kisan Kalyan Mission” will cover all assembly constituencies of the state. Under the Kisan Kalyan mission, various programs will be organised across the state.

• Exhibitions of agriculture and Associate sectors will be organised which will include the products of MSME sector units and livelihood missions.

• Farmer meetings will also be organised in which progressive farmers, scientist and workers associated with Agriculture Department will explain the scientific farming and provide information about the schemes of the government.

• Farmers will be given benefit under the various schemes of the agriculture department during these events.

• Under the Kisan Kalyan mission, many departments of state government like agriculture marketing Mandi Parishad, Horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries, sugarcane food and supply and Panchayati Raj will work together.

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik launched ‘Pareshram’ Portal

• Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik through a video conference, launched ‘Pareshram’ Portal along with 22 online services of Labour and Employees State Insurance Department. The Portal and the Online Services shall be helpful in “Ease of Doing Business” and contribute significantly to the industrial development of the State.

• The Portal will provide 52 types of services in the coming days. This technology is the foundation of 5-T initiative and this will help in transformation, hoped that information regarding different Labour Laws will be available and industries, commercial organisations, small entrepreneurs and public will be benefited through this Portal.

SPORTS

Robert Lewandowski and Lucy Bronze win best of 2020 FIFA awards

• The Bayern Munich striker, Robert Lewandowski has been named The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2020, beating off competition from last year’s winner Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The 32-year-old Lewandowski, top scorer in Europe and winner of the Champions League with Bayern.

• Manchester City full-back, Lucy Bronze won the women’s best player award, becoming the first female English player to take the prize. It is the first occasion for both Lewandowski and Bronze to win the award, with the Pole only the second player after Luka Modric in 2018 to break a 13-year Messi-Ronaldo hegemony.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

NHAI chairman Sukhbir Singh Sandhu gets six months extension

• Sukhbir Singh Sandhu has been given six months extension as the chairman of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

• The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the extension in central deputation tenure of Sandhu, chairman, NHAI, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, for a period of six months beyond January 21, 2021, i.e. up to July 21, 2021. Sandhu is a 1988-batch IAS officer of Uttarakhand cadre.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

ADB and India sign $300 million loan to upgrade power projects in UP

• The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has signed $300 million loan agreement with the Government of India to upgrade rural power distribution networks in Uttar Pradesh. This upgradation helps to provide reliable electricity supply to consumers in the state. This is the first tranche of the loan for the Uttar Pradesh Power Distribution Network Rehabilitation Project.

• Overall, the $430 million multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) has been approved for the project constituting two tranches.

• The project envisages conversion of 65,000 kilometres (km) of rural low-voltage distribution lines from bare conductors to aerial bundled conductors (ABC) to create a robust distribution network that will benefit an estimated 70 million people in 46,000 villages.

GoI and ADB sign 4.21 million dollar PRF facility for Tripura

• The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a US $4.21 million project readiness financing (PRF) facility for the preparation of infrastructure development projects to improve urban amenities and develop tourism infrastructure in Tripura. This is ADB’s first PRF facility for a state in the northeastern region of India.

• The facility will support the Tripura Government’s priorities of improving urban services and tourism infrastructure that will help boost economic development.

• The facility aims to ensure high readiness of ensuing infrastructure projects through feasibility studies, preparing detailed engineering designs, and capacity building of state-level agencies while ensuring climate and disaster resilience and sustainability of sub-projects.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

India’s Vidyut Mohan named among ‘Young Champions of the Earth’ by UNEP

• Vidyut Mohan was one of the “Young Champions of the Earth” winners by United Nations Environment Programme. A 29-year-old Indian entrepreneur is among the seven winners of the prestigious “Young Champions of the Earth” 2020 prize given by the UN environment agency to global change-makers using innovative ideas and ambitious action to help solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. The prize is annually awarded to 7 entrepreneurs under age 30.

• Vidyut Mohan, an engineer, is the co-founder of “Takachar”, a social enterprise enabling farmers to prevent open burning of their waste farm residues and earn extra income by converting them into value-added chemicals like activated carbon on-site.

RANKING

India ranks 111 in Human Freedom Index 2020

• A worldwide ranking of civil, economic and personal freedom, the Human Freedom Index 2020 was released. India was placed at the 111th spot out of 162 countries. In 2019, India ranked 94 on the index.

• The first three spots have been bagged by New Zealand, Switzerland and Hong Kong. The United States and the United Kingdom are tied at the 17th spot on the index. War-torn Syria ranked the last on the list.

• India’s scored 6.30 out of 10 in personal freedom and 6.56 in economic freedom. The country’s overall human freedom score was 6.43.

• However, India has been ranked ahead of China and Bangladesh, which ranked 129 and 139 on the 2020 index respectively.

• Human Freedom Index was published by American think tank Cato Institute and Fraser Institute in Canada. The index takes into account 76 indicators of personal, civil, and economic freedoms to rank 162 countries from 2008 to 2018. The institutes noted that the world has seen a notable decline in personal freedom since 2008.

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Important Current Affairs 9th December 2020

NATIONAL

Kiren Rijiju launches 2nd edition of Fit India Cyclothon

• Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has launched the second edition of Fit India Cyclothon through a virtual platform. The mega cycling event will run for 25 days, beginning from 7th December till 31st December 2020. The event has been organised across the country in each district. The citizens can participate by registering on Fit India website.

• The participants can cycle daily for a distance of their choice, and share their images and videos on social media. They may also tag @FitIndiaOff and use the hashtag – FitIndiaCyclothon and #NewIndiaFitIndia.

PM Modi virtually inaugurates Construction work of Agra Metro project

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the construction work of the Agra Metro project in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. The Agra Metro project comprises 2 corridors with a total length of 29.4 km. It would connect major tourist attractions like Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Sikandra with railway stations and bus stands.

• The estimated cost of the project will be around Rs 8,379.62 crore. It will be completed in 5 years.

• The Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation (UPMRC) has set the target to complete the first phase of the Agra Metro Rail Project by December 2022.

• Once operational, the project will boost `Ease of Living` of the 26 lakh population of the city and also cater to more than 60 lakh tourists who visit Agra every year.

• It will also provide an environment-friendly Mass Rapid Transit System to the city.

Centre Launches QRMP scheme for GST payers

• The Central Government has launched ‘Quarterly Return filing & Monthly Payment of Taxes (QRMP)’ scheme for small taxpayers under the GST system. Taxpayers with an aggregate annual turnover of up to Rs 5 crore in the preceding financial year and have filed their October GSTR-3B (sales) return by November 30, 2020, are eligible for this scheme. The notifications for the same were issued by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).

• Persons with aggregate turnover up to Rs 5 crore would be allowed to furnish their GSTR-1 and GSTR-3B returns on a quarterly basis, beginning January-March quarter of 2020-21.

Quarterly GSTR-1 and GSTR-3B can also be filed through an SMS.

• Taxpayers can also make GST payments every month, through challan, with effect from January 1, 2021.

• This can be done either by self-assessment of monthly liability or 35% of net cash liability of previous filed GSTR-3B of the quarter.

• Under this, the registered person or a taxpayer will furnish a return for every quarter, under sub-rule (1) of rule 61A of the Central Goods and Services Tax Rules, 2017 and pay the monthly tax under sub-section (7) of section 39 of the same Act.

• After the above changes, the act is named as the Central Goods and Services Tax (Thirteenth Amendment) Rules, 2020.

OBITUARY

All India Radio writer Madhukar Gangadhar passes away

• Eminent Hindi writer, Madhukar Gangadhar passed away. He was the lead storyteller of the new story movement. He was an associate of Renuji in Patna Akashvani, director of All India Radio in Allahabad & Deputy Director General at Delhi AIR.

• After serving for 39 years in All India Radio (AIR) he became an independent writer based in Delhi. ‘Motiyo Wale Hath’, ‘Hirna Ki Aankhen’ are some of his most well-known works.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Anil Soni appointed first CEO of The WHO Foundation

• US-based Indian-origin health expert, Anil Soni has been appointed as the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the newly-created “The World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation”. Before this, he was working with Viatris, a global healthcare company in the US, where he served as Head of Global Infectious Diseases. He will assume his role as CEO with effect from 1st January 2021.

• The WHO Foundation was launched in May 2020 as an independent grant-making agency, based in Geneva, Switzerland, to work alongside the WHO and the global health community to address the most pressing global health challenges.

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Anti-Corruption Day: 09 December

• International Anti-Corruption Day is observed annually on 9 December to raise public awareness for anti-corruption. The day is observed since the passage of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption on 31 October 2003.

• The theme of International Anti-Corruption Day 2020: ‘RECOVER with INTEGRITY.’ The theme focuses on recovery through corruption mitigation and emphasizes that inclusive C-19 recovery can only be achieved with integrity.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Raj Kamal Jha wins Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize

• Journalist-author, Raj Kamal Jha has won the 3rd Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize for his novel, “The City and The Sea”. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the winner of the $5,000 prize was announced online in Copenhagen, Denmark.

• Jha’s book, which is based on the December 2012 Nirbhaya rape and murder case, was chosen from ten shortlisted books including Amitav Ghosh’s Gun Island, Nirmala Govindarajan’s Taboo and Ranjit Hoskote’s Jonahwhale.

• The Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize for Social Achievement 2020 was conferred to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the late Sultan of Oman and The People of Oman,

• Renowned Indian choreographer Sandip Soparrkar for his contribution to the betterment of society through his initiative Dance for a Cause.

ICAR wins 2020 King Bhumibol World Soil Day Award

• The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), has won the prestigious International King Bhumibol World Soil Day Award for 2020. The award was presented annually by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The award was conferred to the ICAR on the occasion of World Soil Day, on December 5. ICAR India will officially receive the award by Her Royal Highness, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, during an event in Bangkok in January 2021.

• ICAR has been conferred the award for its commitment to raising awareness of the importance of healthy soils at the World Soil Day celebration in 2019, which addressed soil erosion under the motto “Stop soil erosion, save our future”.

• The programme was organised by Bhopal-based Indian Institute of Soil Science, an autonomous institute for higher learning, established under the umbrella of Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

RANKING

India Ranks 10th in the Climate Change Performance Index 2021

• India is ranked at 10th place in the ‘Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2021’, released on 7th December 2020. The overall score of India is 63.98. It is for the second time in a row that India emerged among the top 10 countries with higher climate performance from among 58 economies. India was at 9th spot last year in the index.

• Like CCPI 2020, the first three places in 2021 ranking also remains unoccupied, since none of the countries is on the path compatible with the Paris climate targets, to implement strategies to limit global warming below 2 or even 1.5°C. Sweden (4th) United Kingdom (5th), Denmark (6th), Morocco (7th), Norway (8th), Chile (9th) were among the top 10 rankers in the index. It was also noted that, from the G20 countries, only the EU as a whole, along with the UK and India, ranked among high performers.

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Important Current Affairs 5th December 2020

NATIONAL

International Sand Art Festival & Konark Festival 2020 begins

• The 9th edition of the International Sand Art Festival and the 31st edition of the Konark Festival has kicked-off in Odisha. International Sand Art Festival is being held at the Chandrabhaga Beach of Konark in Puri district of Odisha. About 70 artists from across the country are taking part in the festival. The world-renowned sand artist and Padmashree Awardee, Sudarsan Pattnaik, has been appointed as Chief Curator of the festival.

• The festival is organised every year as part of the Konark Dance Festival, to provide a platform for both national and international sand artists to showcase their talent. However, in 2020 international artists are not participating due to the ongoing global C-19 pandemic.

• Meanwhile, the Konark Festival is organised by Odisha Tourism to showcase the best of India’s traditional and classical dance forms, and offer interesting insights into the rich cultural heritage of the country.

• Leading exponents and dance enthusiasts of almost all classical dance forms of India, including Odissi, Bharatanatyam, Manipuri, Kuchipudi and Kathak, are participating in the five-day classical dance carnival.

OBITUARY

Lakshadweep Administrator Dineshwar Sharma passes away

• Lakshadweep Administrator, Dineshwar Sharma passed away. He was earlier headed the Intelligence Bureau and was also the Interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir.

• The 66-year-old retired IPS officer of the Kerala cadre had been appointed administrator of the Lakshadweep Union Territory in October 2019. He was assistant director in the IB in Kashmir between 1994 and 1996 and then went on to serve on the Kashmir desk of the bureau in the national capital.

Former PM of Pakistan Zafarullah Jamali passes away

• The 15th Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zafarullah Khan Jamali passed away. He served as PM from November 2002 to June 2004 for a duration of 1 Year, 7 Months and 3 days. He is the first politician from Balochistan to become Prime Minister.

• Jamali served the country when former military dictator Pervez Musharraf was the President of the country. As PM, Jamali vowed to sign a peace agreement and cease-fire in the disputed Kashmir region. In 2004, Jamali made the first high-level visit from Pakistan to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban government in 2001.

Former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing passes away

• The former President of France, Valery Giscard d’Estaing has passed away at the age of 94, from the complications of coronavirus. He had served as the third president of the Republic of France from 1974 to 1981. He was born on 2nd February 1926 in Koblenz, French-occupied Germany (now Germany).

• Giscard founded the Union for French Democracy, a centre-right political party in 1978 to counter the Gaullist preponderance over the political right in France. He lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 and he also liberalised the laws on divorce, abortion and contraception during his tenure as the President.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Kuldeep Handoo appointed as “Fit India” movement ambassador

• Srinagar born Wushu coach and the first Dronacharya Awardee from the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Kuldeep Handoo is appointed as the Ambassador of Fit India movement. He won 11 gold medals in National and 6 in International stage, is the Wushu coach of Team India. Under his guidance Athletes have won two gold medals at the world championship and one at the World Cup. He also serves as Inspector of police in Jammu and Kashmir.

• Jammu and Kashmir Police medal award, for meritorious service

• The Parshuram Award, an honour of sports in the state of Himachal Pradesh

• Fit India movement was launched in August 2019, to encourage Indians to include fitness activities and sports in their daily lives to pave the way for a healthy and fit lifestyle.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Soil Day: 05 December

• The World Soil Day is celebrated every year on December 5 to raise awareness of the importance of soil quality for human well-being, food security and ecosystems. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) campaign “Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity” aims to raise awareness of the importance of sustaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being.

• The date of 5 December was chosen because it corresponds with the official birthday of the late H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand, who was one of the main proponents of this initiative.

• An international day to celebrate Soil was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002. Under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, FAO has supported the formal establishment of WSD as a global awareness-raising platform. The FAO Conference unanimously endorsed World Soil Day in June 2013 and requested its official adoption at the 68th UN General Assembly. In December 2013, the UN General Assembly responded by designating 5 December 2014 as the first official World Soil Day.

International Volunteer Day: 05 December

• The International Volunteer Day (IVD), also called International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development is observed on 5 December every year. IVD 2020 Theme: “Together We Can Through Volunteering”. The IVD international observance was mandated by the UN General Assembly in 1985.

• The purpose of the day to celebrate the efforts of volunteers and organizations and offer the opportunity to promote volunteerism, encourage governments to support volunteer efforts and recognize volunteer contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local, national and international levels.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

India & USA signs MoU on Intellectual Property Cooperation

• The Government of India and the United States of America (USA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of Intellectual Property Cooperation. As a part of this MoU, the two sides will develop Biennial Work Plan to implement the MoU which will include the detailed planning for carrying out of the co-operation activities including the scope of action. The Union Cabinet had approved the signing the MoU for the same on 19 February 2020.

• The MoU was signed between Dr Guruprasad Mohapatra, Secretary, DPIIT and Mr Andrei Iancu, who represented the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Department of Commerce of the United States of America respectively.

RANKING

Manipur’s Nongpok Sekmai Police Station best in India

• The Nongpok Sekmai Police Station in Manipur topped the list of best police stations in India, while Sooramangalam All Women Police Station at Salem, Tamil Nadu was adjudged the second best police station in the country. The Kharsang PS, Arunachal Pradesh‘s Changlang district was adjudged the country’s third-best police station.

Here is the list of Top 5 Police Stations for 2020:

State

District

Police Station

Manipur

Thoubal

Nongpok Sekmai

Tamil Nadu

Salem City

       AWPS-Suramangalam

Arunachal Pradesh

Changlang

Kharsang

Chhattisgarh

Surajpur

Jhilmili (Bhaiya Thana)

Goa

South Goa

Sanguem

• The top 10 Police Stations were selected from among the 16,671 Police Stations in the country through data analysis, direct observation and public feedback.

HCL’s Roshni Nadar tops Kotak Wealth-Hurun wealthy women list 2020

• Chairperson of HCL Technologies, Roshni Nadar Malhotra has topped the list of wealthiest women in India, according to the second edition of ‘Kotak Wealth Hurun–Leading Wealthy Women’ report. The report is compiled by Kotak Wealth Management, a division of Kotak Mahindra Bank, and Hurun India.

• Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw of Biocon and Leena Gandhi Tewari of USV are at the second and third rank respectively in the Kotak Wealth Hurun wealthy women list 2020. Shaw is also the wealthiest self-made woman on the list. 19 women from this list also feature in the Hurun India Rich List 2020, and 6 women have made it to the Hurun Global Rich List 2020.

• The ranking is based on the net worth of women as on September 30, 2020, and focuses exclusively on women who play an active role in their family business, entrepreneurs and professionals.

Reliance Industries tops Fortune India 500 Ranking 2020

• Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has topped the 2020 Fortune 500 list of Indian companies, released. The revenue of RIL clocked Rs 615,854.00, accounting for 7% of cumulative revenues and 11 per cent profit of the companies. The country’s biggest oil firm, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOC), bagged the second spot, followed by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) at the third position. The list was published by Fortune India, which is part of the Kolkata-based RP Sanjiv Goenka Group.

Top 10 companies on the 2020 Fortune India-500 list:

1. Reliance Industries

2. Indian Oil Corporation

3. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation

4. State Bank of India

5. Bharat Petroleum Corporation

6. Tata Motors

7. Rajesh Exports

8. Tata Consultancy Services

9. ICICI Bank

10. Larsen & Toubro

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Important Current Affairs 3rd December 2020

NATIONAL

IOCL launches India’s first 100 Octane Premium Petrol

• Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel, Dharmendra Pradhan launched India’s first indigenously developed ‘100 Octane premium petrol’ through video conferencing. Octane ratings are measures of fuel stability that increases engine efficiency. The high octane premium grade petrol will be marketed under the brand ‘XP-100’. It has been developed by Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) at its Mathura refinery in Uttar Pradesh.

• XP-100 will be made available in a phased manner across the country and in the first phase, it will be made available in 10 cities. The cities are Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Agra, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad.

• With this launch, India has joined a select league of nations globally that have such superior quality fuel.  Till date, such quality of fuel is available only in six countries including USA, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Malaysia and Israel.

West Bengal launches massive ‘Duare Sarkar’ outreach campaign

• West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee has launched a massive campaign titled ‘Duare Sarkar’ (government at doorsteps) to aware people about the 11 state-run welfare schemes and help them avail its benefits. The two-month-long outreach programme has been launched keeping in view the 2021 state assembly elections which are due in April-May.

• The campaign will continue from December 1, 2020, to January 30, 2020, in four phases, with slogan ‘jar jekhane darkar, asche apnar duare sarkar’ (government will be at your doorsteps whenever you need it). The 11 schemes will be made available to the beneficiaries through camps set up for the purpose.

Arjun Munda e-launches "Virtual Aadi Mahotsav-Madhya Pradesh"

• The Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, Arjun Munda has launched the first-ever virtual edition of Aadi Mahotsav – Madhya Pradesh. The event will showcase the tribal traditions of the various tribal communities by having their crafts and natural products on display. Videos showcasing different aspects of their culture – music, dance etc, will also be shared. In essence, it will still be a celebration of the tribes and their diverse, varied lifestyle but on a different platform.

• The 10-day long festival will begin from December 1, 2020. It is being hosted on the Tribes India website – www.tribesindia.com. The highlights of the virtual launch included a virtual tour of the artisans’ workplace and glimpses of the tribal dance and music from Madhya Pradesh. The main focus of the first virtual Aadi Mahotsav is on the tribal craft and culture of Madhya Pradesh. The next focus state of the programme would be Gujarat ( from 11th December 2020), followed by West Bengal from the 21st December 2020.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Indian Army successfully testfires Anti-Ship version of BrahMos missile

• India successfully test-fired the anti-ship version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands territory. The test was conducted as part of the ongoing trials being conducted by the Indian Navy. The DRDO-developed BrahMos supersonic cruise missile with a strike range of 300 Km was launched from Indian Navy’s INS Ranvijay and it successfully hit its target ship near the Car Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal.

• Recently the land-attack version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was also successfully test-fired from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands territory. The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is the world’s fastest operational system in its class.

OBITUARY

MDH owner ‘Mahashay’ Dharampal Gulati passes away

• The owner of MDH Masala, Dharampal Gulati passed away. He was born in 1923 in Sialkot, Pakistan. He was fondly called ‘dalaji’ and ‘Mahashayji’. A school dropout, Dharampal Gulati joined his father’s spice business in the early days. Back in 2019, the government honoured him with Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award in the country.

• After partition in 1947, Dharampal Gulati moved to India and stayed at a refugee camp in Amritsar. He then moved to Delhi and opened a store in Delhi’s Karol Bagh. Gulati officially established the company in 1959. The business did not just flourish in India only but Gulati became a distributor and exporter as well. His company exports Indian spices to various parts of the world including the UK, Europe, UAE, Canda, etc.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhary becomes new Director General of BRO

• Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhary has been appointed as the 27th Director General of Border Roads Organisation (BRO). His appointment is effective from 1st December 2020.

• Lt Gen Chaudhary succeeds Lt Gen Harpal Singh who has been appointed as the new Engineer-in-Chief of the Indian Army. The BRO is responsible for construction and maintenance of all border roads including those along the frontiers with China and Pakistan.

AR Rahman roped in as ‘BAFTA Breakthrough’ India ambassador

• Oscar and Grammy-winning Indian composer, AR Rahman has been roped in as ambassador of the BAFTA Breakthrough initiative in India. In 2020, BAFTA will identify and support up to five exceptional talents working in film, games or television in India.

• The BAFTA Breakthrough initiative, is part of the Academy’s year-long programme to support new talent, coming up in the film, games and television industries in the UK, China, India and the US and gives them access to unique career development and mentoring opportunities. It is a unique opportunity for promising artists to be supported by a world-renowned organisation, including connections with other talented creatives across the world and being mentored by BAFTA-winners and nominees.

Bata names Sandeep Kataria as global CEO

• Footwear major Bata Shoe Organization has appointed Sandeep Kataria as the new global Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He is the first Indian to be appointed to the global role of Bata (Headquarter-Lausanne, Switzerland). He takes over from Alexis Nasard, who has stepped down after almost five years in the role.

• Before this, Kataria was the CEO of Bata India since 2017. Under Kataria, Bata India managed to transform into the largest footwear retailer in India within a relatively short span.

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Day of Persons with Disabilities: 03 December

• The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed annually on December 3. The IDPWD day was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly. The 2020 theme: ‘Not all Disabilities are Visible’.

• The day is celebrated to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

RANKING

India ranked 8th in Global Terrorism Index 2020

• In the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2020, India has been ranked at 8th spot globally in the list of countries most affected by terrorism in 2019. The GTI score of India is 7.353 out of 10. India recorded 277 Deaths, 439 Injuries & 558 Incidents due to Terrorism in 2019. Regionally, South Asia was the most impacted region by terrorism in 2019, recording more deaths than any other region. Also, globally the deaths caused due to terrorism fell by 15 per cent to 13,286 in 2019 over 2018.

• Jammu and Kashmir was the most affected Region due to terrorism, it reported 165 attacks and 103 deaths. The three most active groups in Kashmir was Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Hizbul Mujahideen & Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

• Chhattisgarh was the second most affected region in India with 85 attacks and 53 deaths all from Maoist Extremists.

Countries Most Affected by Terrorism:

• With a score of 9.592, Afghanistan has topped the index as the worst terror impacted nation among the 163 countries.

• It is followed by Iraq (8.682) and Nigeria (8.314) at second and third place respectively.

Countries Least Affected by Terrorism:

• Qatar (0.014) took the 133rd Rank followed by Uzbekistan (0.010) in the 134th Rank and around 29 Countries (score of 0.000) took the 135th Rank which means they are Least Affected Countries or Face No Impact due to Terrorism.

US Air Quality Index: Lahore is world’s most polluted city

• Lahore, the cultural capital Pakistan, has been ranked as the world’s most polluted city, according to air pollution data released by the US Air Quality Index (AQI). Lahore reported a particulate matter (PM) rating of 423. New Delhi stood second with a PM of 229, while Nepal’s capital Kathmandu ranked the third with a PM of 178.

• The Air Quality Index (AQI) is released by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to give people an idea of whether it’s safe to breathe the air.

• AQI is based on the levels of five major pollutants regulated by the EPA: ground-level ozone, particulate matter (PM2.5), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.

• AQI measures air quality by placing it on a scale of 0-500, where air quality is regarded as satisfactory if the AQI is under 50.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

ADB and India sign $50 million loan agreement for West Bengal

• The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India have inked $50 million policy-based loan agreement to improve financial management procedures and operational efficiencies in West Bengal. Titled as the ‘West Bengal Public Finance Management Investment Programme’, the project will help to achieve more fiscal savings, promote informed decision making, and improve service delivery in the state.

• A centre for fiscal policy and public finance will be established to deepen the capacity of the state government officials on public finance management while developing a web-based grievance redress system for transport corporations and urban local bodies will provide a credible citizen-government interface.

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