Current Affairs 15th January 2021

Table of Contents

1. Indian Army Day: 15 January

Indian Army Day is celebrated every year on 15 January. The year 2021 marks India’s 73rd Army Day. In 1949, on this day, the last British Commander-in-Chief of India, General Sir Francis Butcher, was replaced by the then Lieutenant General KM Cariappa. He became the first Indian Army Chief of independent India. Kariyappa commanded the Indian Army in the 1947 Indo-Pak war.

2. Thiruvalluvar Day: 15 January

The Government of Tamil Nadu celebrates 15th January as Thiruvalluvar Day in honor of the poet Thiruvalluvar. Thiruvalluvar was a celebrated Tamil poet and philosopher who lived in the 4th century BCE. Commonly known as Valluvar, he is best known for authoring Thirukkural, a collection of couplets on ethics, political and economic matters, and love.

3. Lee’s selected as Golden Globes ambassadors

Satchel and Jackson Lee, the daughter, and son of Hollywood filmmaker Spike Lee, have been chosen as ambassadors for 78th Golden Globes ceremony. The annual Golden Globes ceremony, to be hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, will be held on February 28, 2021. Satchel and Jackson are the first siblings of colour to hold the position. Jackson is the first Black male ambassador.

4. DoFPD’s scheme to ramp up ethanol distillation

The Department of Food and Public Distribution (DoFPD) has notified a modified scheme for extending financial assistance for the expansion of ethanol distillation capacity. This scheme will also facilitate the setting up of distilleries to produce first-generation ethanol from feedstocks such as rice, wheat, barley, corn, and sorghum.

5. New species of Bat found in West Africa

A new species of orange and black color bat has been discovered from the Nimba Mountains in West Africa. The species has been named Myotis nimbaensis in recognition of the Guinea mountain range it inhabits. The American Museum of Natural History informed about this new discovery.

6. Govt to set up faceless digital mechanism

The government has announced plans to set up the National Faceless Penalty Centre (NFPC) to have an unbiased and transparent digital faceless mechanism for imposing penalties on tax defaulters. India is 1st country to build a system for faceless assessment, appeal, and penalty proceedings. This is just another step to harness the power of technology in reforming the income tax department.

7. Cuba designated ‘state sponsor of terrorism’

The Trump administration has re-designated Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism”. It has been given this designation for repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism. On May 13, 2020, the State Dept notified Congress that it had certified Cuba under Section 40A(a) of the Arms Export Control Act as “not cooperating fully” with US counterterrorism efforts in 2019,

8. France hosted the One Planet Summit

The Government of France organised the fourth ‘One Planet Summit through video conferencing, on 11 Jan 2021. It focused on protecting the world’s biodiversity. The summit was organised in cooperation with the United Nations and the World Bank. The theme of the summit was “Let’s act together for nature”. The aim is to accelerate the implementation of the Paris climate agreement.

9. Janaagraha’s Best State award won by Odisha

Department of Housing and Urban Development, Government of Odisha was declared the winner under the Best State Category in the second edition of Janaagraha City Governance Awards. It was awarded for its project JAGA Mission. Piped Water Supply Scheme for all Urban Households, Public Health Engineering Organisation, Odisha won the Best Civic Agency.

10. Former CEC Quraishi’s new book

Former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi will come out with a book in Feb 2021. The book is titled “The Population Myth: Islam, Family Planning and Politics in India”. It evaluates India’s demographics from a religious perspective and seeks to bust the myth that Islam is against family planning. It is a detailed analysis of the ‘Muslim rate of growth’.

11. World’s oldest cave painting discovered

A team of archaeologists has discovered the world’s oldest known cave painting dating back to more than 45,000 years. The cave painting depicts a wild boar endemic to the Sulawesi island of Indonesia, where the painting was found. The central Indonesian island, which occupies an area of over 174,000 sq. km, is situated between Asia and Australia and has a long history of human occupation.

12. Madhya Pradesh signs MoUs with Kerala

Madhya Pradesh and Kerala have signed an MoU for implementation of the Kerala Responsible Tourism (RT) initiative. The Responsible Tourism initiative involves local communities and makes tourism a tool for rural development. The two states signed a joint declaration under which Kerala will extend a series of services under a 16-point programme.

13. AICTE joins hands with Cyber peace

AICTE has joined hands with Cyber peace to train 5 lakh students and faculty on cybersecurity, and with Pupilfirst for the CoronaSafe internship programme. The two programmes were announced on National Youth Day. The results of the AICTE-Pupilfirst Corona Safe Engineering Fellowship (Internship) Programme were also announced.

14. Indian Army signs a contract with ideaForge

The Indian Army has signed an approximately USD 20 million contract for a high-altitude variant of ideaForge’s SWITCH UAV which will be delivered over a period of 1 year. SWITCH UAV is an indigenous system built to cater for the most demanding surveillance operations of the Indian Forces. It is man-portable and has the highest time on target compared to any other UAV in its class.

15. Samantha Power to lead the US int aid agency

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Samantha Power, to head up the US agency tasked with providing civilian foreign aid. She was the US ambassador to the United Nations during the Obama administration. Biden will also elevate the position of administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to a member of the National Security Council in his administration.

16. RBI slaps Rs 2 crore fine on Deutsche Bank

The RBI has imposed a penalty of Rs. 2 crores on Deutsche Bank AG for non-compliance with certain provisions of directions concerning interest rate on deposits. The statutory inspection of Deutsche Bank’s financial position as of March 31, 2019, and the Risk Assessment Report revealed non-compliance with the ‘Reserve Bank of India (Interest Rate on Deposits) Directions, 2016!

17. IRDAI sets up panel

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has set up a panel of experts to examine the availability of health insurance products in the country. It will recommend suitable products and processes. It will also suggest the approach on coverage of specific disease or an area of practice (like cardiology). IRDAI Chairperson Subhash Chandra Khuntia will head the committee.

18. NHPC signs definitive agreement

NHPC has signed a definitive agreement on 13 January 2021 for the implementation of the approved resolution plan submitted by NHPC for the takeover of Jalpower Corporation (JPCL). JPCL was implementing the 120 MW Rangit Stage-IV HE Project in Sikkim. NHPC will make an upfront payment of Rs.165 crore for the resolution plan of JPCL.

19. Medical college to be set up in Osmanabad

The Maharashtra cabinet will set up a government medical college and a 430-bed hospital in Marathwada’s Osmanabad district. Rs 674.14 crore will be made available for setting up the medical college and hospital. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s party, the Shiv Sena, has for long been demanding that Osmanabad be renamed as Dharashiv.

20. Google completes acquisition of Fitbit

Alphabet Inc’s Google has completed its $21 billion acquisition of wearable device maker Fitbit Inc. The deal had triggered concerns over Google’s market power and the use of people’s health data in targeted advertising. The companies won antitrust approval from the European Union in Dec 2020 after Google agreed to restrictions on how it will use customers’ health-related data.

21. Union Budget to be presented on 1 February

Union Budget 2021 is all set to present on 1 Feb 2021. The President will address both Houses of Parliament assembled together on 29th Jan 2021. The first part of the budget session will begin on Jan 29 and end on Feb 15. The second part will go on from March 8 to April 8. For the first time since Nov 26, 1947, the budget copies will not be printed.

22. Rohini Godbole conferred with the French Order of Merit

Indian physicist and Padma Shri awardee Rohini Godbole has been conferred with the Ordre National du Merite, one of the highest distinctions granted by France to honour eminent persons. She is a professor at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. She has been recognised for her work in promoting the visibility of women in science. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2019.

23. DMRC to get 50 e-buses for feeder services

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) will get its first batch of 50 electric buses (e-buses) for the feeder service by April 2021. The air-conditioned e-buses will have a carrying capacity of 22 passengers and will be fitted with CCTV cameras, a GPS tracking system, and display boards. The e-buses will run on new routes in north and east Delhi. DMRC currently has 174 feeder buses.

24. SC Bar Association President D Dave resigns

Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave has stepped down as the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on 14 January 2021. He was first elected SCBA President in 2014 and was re-elected in 2015. Senior Advocate Chander Uday Singh also resigned from his post of Member of the Executive (Senior) of the SCBA.

25. PayPal becomes 1st fully own payment platform

PayPal Holding Inc has become the first foreign operator with 100% control of a payment platform in China. It acquired a 30% stake in China’s GoPay, formally known as Guofubao Information Technology Co., on Dec 31, 2020. It had already bought a 70% stake in GoPay in 2019. It will compete with domestic payments giants Alipay and WeChat Pay.

26. IFFI 2021 to pay homage to 28 artists

IFFI 2021 will showcase films of 19 artists from India and 9 international names who passed away in 2020. Actors Irrfan Khan, Sushant Singh Rajput, Rishi Kapoor, and Hollywood star Chadwick Boseman are among 28 names from the world of cinema to be honoured during the 51st International Film Festival of India. A total of 224 films will be screened under different sections at the 51st edition.

27. Haryana CM inaugurates air taxi service

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar inaugurated air taxi services on 14 Jan 2021. The air taxi service was launched from Chandigarh to Hisar under the UDAN scheme of the Central government. In the second phase, services for Hisar to Dehradun will be started on January 18. In the third phase, two more routes from Chandigarh to Dehradun and Hisar to Dharamshala will be added on Jan 23.

28. Vietnam emerging as low-cost manufacturing hub

Vietnam is emerging as a low-cost manufacturing hub in Asian supply chains, beating India & China in indicators, including foreign direct investment policy and foreign trade and exchange controls. Vietnam scored 6 on a scale of 10 in the FDI policy, both India and China have scored 5.5 each. India scored 5.5 in foreign trade and exchange controls, while Vietnam scored 7.3 and China 6.4.

29. Bolivia signs contract with Serum Institute

The Bolivian government has signed a contract with India’s Serum Institute for the supply of 5 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. Bolivia has also signed an agreement through the global COVAX initiative, which is backed by the World Health Organization and seeks to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, to receive a further 3.6 million doses of a range of vaccines.

30. Genome sequencing lab launched at IGIA

Spice Health and government research institute CSIR-IGIB have set up a portable testing laboratory for genome sequencing at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport. The aim of the lab is to ensure early action against new variants of coronavirus that have emerged in countries like the UK. The laboratory was inaugurated by Dr VK Paul, member of NITI Aayog and Chairman of NEGVAC.

31. Jan Aushadhi Kendras: Record sale of Rs 484 cr

Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendras have registered a record sale of Rs 484 crore in the current financial year. The sales were recorded at the 7,064 Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendras across all districts of the country selling quality generic medicines. This is 60 percent higher than the corresponding figures of the previous financial year.

32. Polio Vaccination Day rescheduled to Jan 31

The govt has decided to reschedule the Polio Vaccination Day, also known as the National Immunisation Day or Polio Ravivar to 31st of January 2021. It was earlier scheduled for January 17, 2021 across India, but has been rescheduled because of the COVID vaccination drive that will begin on 16 Jan 2021. President Ram Nath Kovind will launch the Polio National Immunisation Day on 30 Jan 2021.

33. 321 school children in R-Day Parade

321 school children and 80 folk artists will feature in the cultural programme of Republic Day Parade on 26th January 2021. School children from four Delhi schools and folk artists from East Zonal Cultural Centre, Kolkata will take part in the cultural programme. The students of Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Delhi will present a programme on the theme – Hum Fit toh India Fit.

34. US imposes new sanctions on Chinese officials

The US has imposed new sanctions on Chinese officials and added CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corporation) to a blacklist. It is adding China’s state oil company, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, to a list of companies with which US citizens are banned from doing business. The US administration also added Chinese aviation firm Skyrizon and nine other firms to the blacklist.

35. Joe Biden unveils $1.9 trillion relief package

US President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion COVID emergency relief package. It is designed to provide another infusion of federal aid for families, businesses, and local governments confronting a surge of covid cases. Biden’s plan includes a new round of direct payments to US households, funding to promote the safe opening of schools, and mounting a national vaccine program.

36. India-Oman Strategic Consultative Group meet

A meeting of the India-Oman Strategic Consultative Group, IOSCG was held in New Delhi on 14 Jan 2021. The Indian delegation was led by Secretary Sanjay Bhattacharya while the Omani delegation was led by Undersecretary for Diplomatic Affairs in Foreign Ministry Sheikh Khalifa bin Ali al-Harthy. This was the first high-level official visit from Oman to India since the onset of COVID-19.

37. Nepal Foreign Affairs Minister visits India

Foreign Affairs Minister of Nepal Pradeep Kumar Gyawali arrived in New Delhi on a three-day official visit to India, on 14 January 2021. Mr. Gyawali met External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar on 15 January 2021. Both leaders co-chaired the 6th India-Nepal Joint Commission Meeting in New Delhi on 15 January 2021.

38. Dhaka International Film Festival from 16 Jan

The 19th Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) will be inaugurated on 16th January 2021. The film festival for the year 2021 is dedicated to the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. 225 films from 73 countries will be screened during the 9-day long festival between 16-24 January 2021. Spring Blossom, directed by Suzanne Lindon, will be the opening film of the festival.

39. Telangana celebrates festival ‘Kanuma’

In Telangana, people celebrated Kanuma, the festival of cattle, on 15 Jan 2021, i.e. the third day of the Sankranti festival. On the occasion, the people especially in rural areas, worship cattle, and agriculture tools. Cattle processions are held at many places across the state. Cattle competitions and rural sports for youth are also held at several places to mark the day.

40. J&K govt begins hi-tech, 24*7 call centre

Manoj Sinha has started a hi-tech, round the clock call center for pilgrims of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. The initiative is aimed at providing much-needed assistance to the pilgrims to plan their visit to the holy shrine, keeping in view the prevailing weather conditions, etc. It has SMS, outbound services, and e-mail services for the convenience of the devotees.

41. J&K DGP sanctions over Rs 4.16 cr welfare loan

J&K Director General Police, Dilbag Singh has sanctioned over Rs 4.16 crore welfare loan, relief in favour of 425 officers and police personnel of the Union Territory. It aims to provide more welfare measures for them and meeting their urgent needs. Rs 54.5 lakh has been sanctioned in favour of 55 personnel to meet the expenses of self-treatment and treatment of their dependents.

42. Air India launches new flight

Air India has introduced the first-ever non-stop services between Hyderabad and Chicago. The flight Al 108 from Chicago to Hyderabad will operate on Wednesdays. The return flight Al-107 from Hyderabad to Chicago will operate once a week every Friday. The total flight time on this route will be approx 16 hours 45 minutes from Hyderabad to Chicago.

43. 20-month-old girl becomes youngest donor

A 20-month-old toddler girl Dhanishtha from Delhi has become the “youngest cadaver donor” in the country. She lost her life after suffering a fall from the first floor of her house. Her heart, liver, both kidneys and both corneas were retrieved at the Sir Ganga Ram hospital and used in five patients. At 0.26 per million, India has among the lowest rate of organ donation.

44. Garima Verma named Digital Director

Incoming First Lady Jill Biden has named Indian-American Garima Verma as her Digital Director and Michael LaRosa as Press Secretary. She served as audience development and content strategist on the Biden-Harris campaign. She previously worked in the entertainment space, marketing films at Paramount Pictures and television shows at The Walt Disney Company’s ABC Network.

45. Jubilant FoodWorks into the top 100 m-cap club

Jubilant FoodWorks that operates Domino’s Pizza and Dunkin’ Donuts in India, has entered the list of the top 100 companies in India by average market capitalization for the period between July to December 2020. It’s ranking in 2017 was 229. Reliance Industries, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, and HDFC Bank Ltd are the top three.

46. Thales, Bharat Dynamics ink deal

Thales and Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) have signed an agreement. They will work in partnership on an air defence system with the support of the Indian and British govts. Through the agreement, BDL will become a part of the STARStreak missile system’s global supply chain, providing the opportunity for export of Indian manufactured components to this system’s existing and future customers.

47. Phase-2 of Bengaluru Metro inaugurated

The six-km long Southern Extension line under phase-2 of Namma Metro was flagged off on 14 January 2021. The line is from Yelachenahalli to Silk Institute Metro stations. The route was opened for commercial operations on 15 January 2021. Phase-2 was sanctioned in 2014 and was supposed to be completed by 2018, but got delayed.

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