Current Affairs 16th January 2021

Table of Contents

1. K Mazumdar-Shaw selected as one of USIBC’s VC

US-India Business Council (USIBC) has selected Biocon Executive Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw as one of its vice-chairs. US Chamber of Commerce’s USIBC on 14 Jan 2021 announced three vice-chairs to its 2021 Global Board of Directors. The two other business executives joining Shaw as vice-chairs are Amway CEO Milind Pant and Edward Knight who is the Vice-Chair at Nasdaq.

2. Shakti: World’s 1st flexible bulletproof vest

An Indian Army Major has indigenously developed the world’s first bulletproof jacket, meant to be used by both male and female combatants. The ballistic vest, dubbed ‘Shakti’, made by Major Anoop Mishra is also the world’s first flexible body armour. The flexible design means that the ballistic jacket will be able to absorb the impact and reduce or stop penetration to the torso.

3. No foreign chief guest for Republic Day

The Ministry of External Affairs has announced that there will be no foreign leader as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will be for the first time in over five decades that India will not have a chief guest at the Republic Day parade. India had invited Boris Johnson as the Republic Day chief guest for 2021, which he has cancelled now.

4. Special Marriage Act: No notice period

Allahabad High Court has ruled that couples seeking to solemnise their marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 can choose not to publish the 30-day notice of their intention to marry. Section 5 of the Act is the legislation that allows solemnisation of marriages irrespective of the religion of the couple. It requires parties to give a 30-day public notice of their intention to marry.

5. Fiat Chrysler partners with Wipro

Wipro has been chosen as a strategic technology services partner by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to establish its first Global Digital Hub in Hyderabad. The digital hub is named FCA ICT India. As part of this engagement, Wipro will source and build a talent pool of more than 1000 skilled consultants and technologists for FCA ICT India.

6. Tamil Nadu: 11th to complete ONORC reform

Tamil Nadu has become the 11th state in the country to successfully undertake the Public Distribution System (PDS) reforms stipulated by the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance. It has become eligible to mobilise additional financial resources of Rs. 4,813 crores. The other 10 states are Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, MP, Telangana, Tripura, and UP.

7. Shi Zhengli honoured by China

China has honoured virologist Shi Zhengli from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. She has earned the name of ‘Bat Woman’ for her passionate research into bats and viruses. She was honoured as an “advanced worker of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)”. Shi was honoured along with 20 advanced workers during the CAS 2021 annual work conference held in Beijing.

8. Recruitment of acid attack victims

The Centre has opened up 3,566 government jobs for persons with benchmark disabilities. The jobs include postings under new categories for acid attack victims and those living with dwarfism, muscular dystrophy, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, specific learning disability, etc. They will be recruited under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

9. IRFC raises nearly Rs. 1,400 crore

Indian Railway Finance Corporation Limited, the dedicated market borrowing arm of the Indian Railways, has raised Rs. 1398.63 cr from 31 anchor investors ahead of its public issue. These anchor investors have been allocated 534,563,007 equity shares at an upper price band of Rs. 26 per equity share. The initial public offering of IRFC, worth about Rs. 4,600 cr, will hit the market on 18 Jan 2021.

10. Embassy Reit raises nearly Rs. 2,600 cr

Embassy Office Parks Reit, the country’s first listed real estate investment trust, has raised Rs. 2,600 crores through the issue of non-convertible debentures (NCDs) to refinance existing debt of its office park Embassy Tech Village in Bengaluru. It has successfully priced and allotted through a private placement Rs. 2,600 crore, or $351 million, of secured NCDs at a 6.40% quarterly coupon.

11. NHAI plans to raise over Rs. 10,000 cr

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) plans to raise at least Rs. 10,000 crores this calendar year by monetizing its assets. It plans to monetize about 1,200km of roads. The first will be the InviT infrastructure investment trust), which is ready to be launched in the coming months. The second will be 3-4 bundles under the toll-operate-transfer (TOT) route of about 150km each.

12. Dr. Reddy’s gets DCGI nod

Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories has received approval from the Drugs Control General of India (DCGI) to conduct a phase 3 clinical trial for the Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19. The phase 3 study of Sputnik V will be conducted on 1500 subjects. The vaccine’s efficacy is confirmed at 91.4% based on data analysis of the final control point of clinical trials in Russia.

13. 51st International Film Festival begins

The 51st edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) began on 16 January 2021. The opening ceremony was held in the presence of the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar and Chief Minister of Goa Dr. Pramod Sawant. It is Asia’s first international film festival. It is being organised in a hybrid manner for the year 2021 because of the pandemic.

14. Kerala Finance Minister presents State Budget

Kerala State Budget for the financial year 2021-22 was presented by Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac on 15 Jan 2021. The floor price of rubber was raised to Rs 170 while the procurement price of paddy and coconut was also increased. The first phase of the Kerala Fiber Optic Network (KFON) project will be announced in Feb 2021. The project aims at making the internet accessible to everyone.

15. Former MP B. S. Gnanadesikan passes away

Former Member of Parliament B. S. Gnanadesikan passed away in January 2021. He served as Rajya Sabha Member from the Congress Party twice from 2001 to 2013. He was also the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee Chief. He resigned from the Congress and joined the Tamil Maanila Congress led by G. K. Vaasan. He was working as the Deputy Leader of TMC. The party is now in alliance with NDA.

16. Karnataka sets up 243 centres

Karnataka has set up 243 centres across the State to administer Covishield and Covaxin vaccines. 8,14,500 doses of both vaccines are available for vaccination. Covishield will be administered in 237 centres and Covaxin in six centres in Shivamogga, Hassan, Chikmagalur, Chamrajnagar, and Davangere. A total of 7,17,439 health warriors will be vaccinated in the initial phase.

17. 3,67,000 families added to Ayushman Bharat

The UP Govt has added more than 3,67,000 families to Ayushman Bharat Yojana in December 2020. The State govt launched a special drive from 15th December 2020 to 14th January 2021 to bring those families under the ambit of the scheme who were not part of it. More than 10,07,000 golden cards were provided to the poor families who will now be able to avail all the facilities of the scheme.

18. Varun Kapur in top-10 in world junior rankings

In badminton, Indian shuttlers Varun Kapur and Samiya Imad Farooqui have confirmed top-10 spots in the world junior rankings of the Badminton World Federation. They have been ranked world no. 2. 3 more shuttlers-Tasnim Mir (4), Treesa Jolly (8) and Aditi Bhatt (10) have found a place in the top-10. In the women’s doubles category, Tressa (8), Tanisha Crasto (9), and Aditi (9) are in the top-10.

19. India and Japan sign MoU

India and Japan signed an MoU to enhance cooperation in the field of Information and Communications Technologies on 15 Jan 2021. The Department of Telecom and Japan’s Ministry of Communications will enhance mutual cooperation in the field of 5G technologies, telecom security, submarine optical fiber cable system to islands of India, spectrum management, etc.

20. PM Modi to flag off 8 trains on 17 Jan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off eight trains connecting different regions of the country to Kevadiya on 17 January 2021 via video conferencing. He will also inaugurate the new station buildings of Dabhoi, Chandod, and Kevadiya. The Prime Minister will also inaugurate several other projects related to the Railway sector in Gujarat during the event.

21. Arjun Munda receives SKOCH Challenger Award

Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda virtually received the SKOCH Challenger Award conferred to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs for e-Governance, on 16 Jan 2021. The award has been given to the Ministry for its IT-led initiatives and other transformational initiatives leading to outcome-based performance improvement. It has digitalised all the processes leading to a paperless office.

22. Foundation stone laid for Hubballi corridor

Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways, and MSMEs Nitin Gadkari laid the foundation stone for the construction of an elevated corridor in Hubballi, Karnataka on 15 Jan 2021. He also announced a decision for 13 highway projects of 847 kilometres at a cost of Rs. 21,000 cr in North Karnataka. This will include 4-laning of Hubballi-Dharwad bypass and Dharwad-Belagavi stretch of the highway.

23. States, UTs need to take approval from ECI

The Election Commission of India has announced that state and UT govts will need its prior approval if any disciplinary action is initiated against the Chief Electoral Officers and other officers during their tenure. State and UT govts will not reduce facilities such as security and other facilities provided to the office of the Chief Electoral Officer for the proper discharge of duties.

24. COVID vaccination campaign launched

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched India’s COVID 19 vaccination campaign on 16 January 2021. It is the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination program. India is vaccinating three crore people in its first phase of vaccination. In the second phase, 30 crore people will be vaccinated. Between the first and second doses, a gap of about one month will be kept.

25. R Singh launches the Aero India-21 application

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launched the Aero India-21 mobile application on 15 Jan 2021, in Bengaluru. The application will be a handy interactive interface for all issues related to the event and promises to provide a hassle-free entry to the venue. Aero India – 21 will be held from 3rd to 5th February 2021, at the Air Force base in Bengaluru.

26. Haryana govt plans to set up a film city

Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar has announced that the state government is formulating a plan to open a film city in the state for which land spanning 50 to 100 acres has been finalised. Besides, a state-level award will be given to Haryanvi artistes every year to encourage them and all possible help will be rendered for promoting the arts.

27. Nuvia to be acquired by Qualcomm

Qualcomm Technologies has announced to acquire Nuvia, a two-year-old chip startup company established by former Apple executives, for $1.4 billion. It plans to use Nuvia’s technology in its flagship smartphones, next-generation laptops, auto components, and other electronics gear. Nuvia founders Gerard Williams III, John Bruno, Manu Gulati, and their employees will be joining Qualcomm.

28. Metro’s Airport line gets green signal

Union Urban Affairs and Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri have announced that the 56-km outer ring road metro line to Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport has been finalised by the Urban Affairs Ministry. The airport line includes two phases – Central Silk Board to KR Puram (Phase 2A) and KR Puram to Kempegowda International Airport (Phase 2B).

29. Blue Origin launches NS-14 mission

Blue Origin has successfully launched and landed its New Shepard vehicle on its latest mission, NS-14, with hopes that human flights can begin soon. The mission launched on 14 Jan 2021 from the company’s launch site One in West Texas. Up to six people will eventually be able to fly on the rocket. The mission also had a “dummy human” on board, nicknamed Mannequin Skywalker.

30. Digit Insurance becomes 1st Indian unicorn

Digit Insurance has become the country’s 1st unicorn in 2021 after existing investors including A91 Partners, Faering Capital, and TVS Capital infused Rs 135 cr in the company at a valuation of $1.9 B. Launched in 2017, the Bengaluru-based company uses technology to simplify methods for their clients, like smartphone-enabled self-inspection and audio claims. The firm has about 1.5 cr clients.

31. Snapdeal features in ‘notorious markets’ list

Snapdeal, along with 4 Indian shopping complexes have figured in the latest 2020 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy issued by the Office of the US Trade Representative. The 4 Indian markets that have found mention in the list are Heera Panna, Kidderpore, Palika Bazaar, and Tank Road. The list has 39 online markets and 34 physical markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy.

32. Col. P Singh presented with Silver Salver

Col. Prithipal Singh (ret), who has the unique distinction of serving in all three services, was presented with a Silver Salver on behalf of Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat on the occasion of Veterans Day on 14 Jan 2021. During his service with the military, he participated in World War 2 and the 1965 Indo-Pak war. He is the only officer to serve in the Indian Army, Navy, and Airforce.

33. North Korea unveils a new ballistic missile

North Korea has unveiled a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile, described as “the world’s most powerful weapon”, at a military parade on 14 January 2021. Several of the missiles were displayed at a parade overseen by leader Kim Jong-un. The new type of submarine-launched missiles was larger than the ones North Korea already tested.

34. Major companies unite to create VP

Major companies, health organizations, and nonprofits have announced that they are working together to create digital vaccination passports so that people could prove their COVID-19 immunization status. The Vaccination Credential Initiative is a coalition that includes Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, Cerner, etc. People without smartphones could receive printed QR codes with the information.

35. Ravi Gaikwad wins World Humanitarian Award

Philanthropist Ravi Gaikwad has been awarded The “Nelson Mandela” World Humanitarian Award. This award was given to him for his dedication to the service of humanity. He has also won Lifetime Achievement Award in the Social Welfare category of Mid-Day Showbiz Icon Awards 2020, and an award at the Legends Dadasaheb Phalke Award (2020) too in Mumbai.

36. Odisha CM launches projects in Kalahandi

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik inaugurated and laid the foundation stones for various development projects worth Rs 2,085 crore in Kalahandi district, on 14 Jan 2021. Patnaik inaugurated 54 projects and laid the foundation stone for 52 projects. Kalahandi is the second-largest rice producer in the state. It is also supplying rice to the country’s public distribution system.

37. 57th Foundation Day of Food Corp of India

57th Foundation Day of Food Corporation of India was celebrated on 14th January 2021. Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Railways, and Commerce and Industry inaugurated the newly constructed building of its Divisional Office, Mysuru. He also mentioned that FCI had procured 140 LMT paddy and 390 LMT wheat during the pandemic.

38. Two-day ‘Prarambh’ Summit begins

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal addressed the inaugural session of the 2-day Prarambh: The Startup India International Summit in New Delhi, on 15 Jan 21. The summit is being organised as a follow-up of the announcement made by PM Modi at the 4th BIMSTEC Summit held in Nepal in Aug 2018 wherein India committed to hosting the BIMSTEC Startup Conclave. The summit will have 24 sessions.

39. GAIL to buyback 6.97 cr equity shares

GAIL Ltd has announced a buyback plan of 6.97 cr equity shares with a face value of Rs 10 each representing 1.55 per cent of the total number of fully paid-up equity shares. GAIL’s board also approved an interim dividend for FY2020-21 at Rs 2.50 per unit on the paid-up equity share capital. The record date for dividends as well as for the purpose of share buyback has been fixed at 28 Jan’21.

40. ABB in partnership with Surat Municipal Corp

ABB India has partnered with Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) to further roll out next-generation technology for delivering continuous water supply across the city. The new infrastructure will enable over 10 lakh residents to access safe and reliable water supply in line with the government’s Smart Cities Mission. Surat’s textile units consume more than 45 crore litres of water per day.

41. GRSE signs a contract with govt of Guyana

The Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd has signed a $12.7 mn contract to build an ocean-going vessel for the govt of Guyana in the Caribbean region in South America. The 1,700-tonne vessel is to be used on the coastal and riverine areas of Guyana. It will be equipped with 2 caterpillar marine diesel engines coupled with twin disc reduction gearboxes to achieve a speed of 15 knots.

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