Current Affairs 17th December 2020

Table of Contents

1. WhatsApp to launch insurance, pension products

WhatsApp plans to launch health insurance and micro-pension products on its messaging platform in India. WhatsApp, which counts India as its biggest market with 400 million users, is working in partnership with financial institutions on pilots of micro-insurance, and micro pernsion products. It is partnering with the SBI General Insurance to provide consumers with health insurance products.

2. US Congress passes defence policy bill

The US Congress has officially passed the $740 billion defence policy bill, which among other things include calling out Chinese aggression against India along the Line of Actual Control. The US House of Representatives and the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act. The House and Senate versions of the bill were reconciled by a bipartisan Congressional conference committee.

3. GOI set to launch Brand India Mission

The government is all set to launch a ‘Brand India’ mission, focused on the promotion of quality products that are manufactured in the country. This mission is being piloted by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The mission is based on similar policies in other countries such as Switzerland, the United States, Germany and France.

4. UNEP Champions of the Earth award

The UN Environment Programme announced six laureates of the 2020 Champions of the Earth award, the UN’s highest environmental honour. Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of Fiji, honoured in the Policy Leadership category for his global climate action work and his commitment to climate-responsive national development.

5. RBI re-appoints Uday Kotak as MD of KMB

The RBI has approved the re-appointment of Uday Kotak as managing director of the Kotak Mahindra Bank for a further period of three years. The banking sector regulator also approved the appointment of part-time chairman Prakash Apte for three years. Kotak is the founder managing director and promoter of the bank.

6. World Bank approves 4 India projects

The World Bank approved four India projects Worth over $800 million to support development initiatives. The projects that have been approved are: Chhattisgarh Inclusive Rural and Accelerated Agriculture Growth Project (CHIRAAG); Nagaland: Enhancing Classroom Teaching and Resources Project; and Second Dam Improvement and Rehabilitation Project (DRIP-2).

7. Tom Moody returns to Sunrisers Hyderabad camp

Australian Tom Moody has been appointed Director of Cricket at Indian Premier League side Sunrisers Hyderabad. Moody, 55, was the Hyderabad coach for seven years and led them to their only IPL title in 2016. He was replaced by another Australian Trevor Bayliss in 2019.

8. Canara Bank launches “FX 4 U”

Canara Bank has launched “FX 4U” through internet banking helping users to manage and handle their forex transactions seamlessly. All eligible individual customers can undertake remittance facility as per FEMA regulations. Corporate customers can make and submit the LC applications along with documents through internet banking once the LC module is activated.

9. UN chief appoints S Chatterjee as RC in China

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed senior UN official Siddharth Chatterjee of India as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China. Chatterjee also served in the Intl Federation of the Red Cross & Red Crescent as the Chief Diplomat and Head of Resource Mobilisation in Switzerland. Before joining the United Nations in 1997, he was a commissioned officer in India’s Army.

10. Twitter to shut down streaming app Periscope

Twitter Inc would shut down live-streaming app Periscope, which it bought in 2015, due to declining usage over the past couple of years and high supporting costs. Most of Periscope’s core capabilities have been integrated into Twitter and the company plans to remove it from app stores by March 2021.

11. GoDaddy acquires US-based Poynt

GoDaddy has signed a pact to acquire California-based payments processor Poynt in a $365 million deal. It includes $320 million in cash at closing and $45 million in deferred cash payments subject to certain performance and employment conditions over 3 years. The acquisition will help the Internet names and registrations management major to expand commerce services with integrated payments.

12. JEE to be held four times in a year from 2021

The JEE-Mains exam for admission to engineering colleges will be held four times a year starting 2021 to offer flexibility to students and a chance to improve their scores. The first edition of the exam will be held from February 23 to 26, folowed by rounds in March, April and May. The exams are being conducted in 13 languages for the first time.

13. Spice Money: Sonu Sood as brand ambassador

Digispice Technologies’ subsidiary Spice Money has roped in Bollywood actor Sonu Sood as its brand ambassador in return for a minority equity stake. Spice Money Ltd (formerly known as Spice Digital Limited) (SML), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company has appointed Sonu Sood as the brand ambassador through Sood Infomatics (SIL) for a cash consideration for a period of three years.

14. DBS Bank India partners with Haqdarshak

DBS Bank India has collaborated with Haqdarshak. It will assist Indian MSMEs via Haqdarshak’s newly unveiled platform, which provides access to MSME-focused government-assisted schemes across the country. In 2018, Haqdarshak received DBS Foundation’s annual Social Enterprise (SE) Grant for their citizen-focused platform.

15. Telangana forms cabinet sub-committee

Telangana CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao has appointed a cabinet sub-committee to finalise guidelines for registration of non-agricultural lands and other properties in the state. The sub-committee will be headed by Roads and Buildings Minister Vemula Prashanth Reddy. It will have Municipal Administration andInformation Technology Minister K.T. Rama Rao as one of its members.

16. AIFF organises a online course

All India Football Federation (AIFF) organised a three-day online refresher course for AIFF E-certificate instructors from 11-13 Dec 2020. Danny Abboud from Football Federation Australia (FFA) and Jordi Fernandez from FC Barcelona attended the sessions as the Course Instructors. AIFF is headquartered in Delhi and Praful Patel is its President.

17. Prof Sanchita: 1st VC Of Dakshin University

Prof. Sanchita Roy Mukherjee has been appointed the first Vice-Chancellor of the Dakshin Dinajpur University. She is the Professor of Economics at the North Bengal University. She has published 52 literary works and served as the Head of the Department of Economics at the University from 2005-2007 and from 2011-2013.

18. Cabinet okays Rs 3,500 cr sugar export subsidy

The govt has approved a subsidy of Rs 3,500 cr to sugar mills for export of 60 lakh tonnes of sweetener during the ongoing marketing year. This is a part of its efforts to help them clear outstanding dues to sugarcane farmers. Both sugar industry as well as sugarcane farmers are in crisis because of high domestic production at 310 lakh tonnes as against the annual demand of 260 lakh tonnes.

19. Online reading portal ‘Tadaa’ launched

A new reading portal, named Tadaa, has been started by a Delhi-based NGO Katha that works in the field of education. It has been developed by Katha as part of its 300 million citizens challenge. It was launched by Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia on 15 December 2020. This newe-portal won’t just be available in India, but will be accessible for children all over the world.

20. Deadly fungal infection reported in Delhi

Doctors in Delhi have reported multiple cases of a deadly fungal infection in patients, which they claim was triggered by Covid-19. Physicians at the Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi have diagnosed mucormycosis in over 12 patients. It can lead to loss of eyesight, affects the nose and jaw bone and can also lead to 50% mortality when it affects the brain in about fifteen days.

21. Action plan to save pangolins

Maharashtra is set to be the first state in India to have a dedicated action plan for the conservation of pangolins – the world’s most trafficked animal. Pangolins are listed in Schedule of India’s Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, implying the highest degree of protection. A proposal to form a study group to prepare a five-year conservation action plan for pangolins has been approved.

22. GoI, World Bank sign 400 mn dollar project

Govt of India and the World Bank have signed a $400mn project to protect India’s poor and vulnerable from the impact of COVID-19. This is the 2nd operation in a programmatic series of two. The first operation of $750 mn was approved in May 2020. The program will strengthen the capability of state and central governments to provide coordinated and adequate social protection to the poor.

23. Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir Nidhi Samarpan Abhiyan

Secretary General of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust Champat Rai has announced the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir Nidhi Samarpan Abhiyan. It will run from 15th January to 27th February 2021. It will be launched to collect funds for the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. Voluntary donations will be accepted for which coupons of Rs 10, Rs 100, and Rs 1,000 will be available.

24. Economic diplomacy website launched

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has launched the economic diplomacy website. It will showcase India’s economic, sectoral, and state-wise strengths. The website focuses on the government’s ease of doing business initiatives, policy reforms, and incentives aimed at attracting foreign investment. It highlights opportunities for the country’s agriculture exports abroad.

25. Prasar Bharati CEO: VP of Asia-Pacific BU

Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati has been elected as the Vice President of Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, one of the largest broadcasting associations in the world. The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union was formed in 1964 as a professional association of broadcasting organizations with over 286 members in 57 countries and regions. Vempati has been elected to the office for 3 .years

26. India signs loan agreement with NDB

The Govt of India and the New Development Bank have signed a loan agreement for 1,000 million dollars. The program will support the govt in mitigating the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and enable economic recovery in the rural areas through Natural Resource Management (NRM) works. This will facilitate economic activity and employment generation to stimulate rural demand.

27. 278 lakh households get tap water connections

278 lakh households have been provided tap water connections under Jal Jeevan Mission. At presernt more than 6 crore rural households in the country are getting potable water in their households through taps. The mission was announced on 15 August 2019. For 2020-21, a sum of Rs. 23,500 crore has been allocated for the implementation of the mission.

28. ICG Interceptor Boat commissioned

Indian Coast Guard Interceptor Boat got commissioned on 15 Dec 2020 at Hazira in Gujarat. This Interceptor boat is built indigenously by L&T Jetty, Hazira is capable of a high speed of 45 knots having the capability to operate in shallow waters. It is fitted with the latest state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment designed for high-speed interception, close coast patrol, etc.

29. Chilahati-Haldibari rail link to be reopened

India and Bangladesh will reopen the Chilahati-Haldibari rail link after nearly 55 years. It was cut off during the 1965 India-Pakistan war. The inauguration of the rail link took place during the virtual summit of the PMs of India and Bangladesh on 17 Dec 2020. The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link was part of the Broad Gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri.

30. Bangladesh celebrated Victory Day on 16 Dec

Bangladesh celebrated Bijoy Dibosh Victory Day on 16 December 2020. On this day it attained liberation from Pakistan and became an independent nation in 1971 under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Close to 3 million people of Bangladesh and several thousands of Indian soldiers had lost their lives during the Iiberation war.

31. Essay competition in Bangladesh launched

The High Commission of India in Bangladesh launched a writing competition on the topic ‘What Liberation Means to Me?’ for Bangladeshi youth between 18-35 years of age. It was launched on the eve of Victory Day. The submission deadline for the competition is 10th January 2021. The winner of the essay competition will be awarded a laptop as a prize.

32. UP govt to launch ‘Kisan Kalyan Mission’

UP govt will launch a special program to double the income of farmers. The program named Kisan Kalyan Mission will cover all assembly constituencies of the state. Under the mission, various programs will be organized across the state. Exhibitions of agriculture and associate sectors will be organized which will include the products of MSME sector units and livelihood missions.

33. Suvendu Adhikari resigns as TC MLA

Trinamool Congress leader Suvendu Adhikari submitted his resignation as an MLA, to the West Bengal assembly secretary on 16 December 2020. It is expected that he will join the BJP during Union Minister Amit Shah’s visit to the state. He had quit the post of minister in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet in November 2020.

34. Atmanirbhar Bharat Guidance Centre started

The Maharashtra unit of Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha has started the Atmanirbhar Bharat Guidance Centre. It will promote the center’s Atma Nirbhar programme. The Rs. 20 lakh crore Atma Nirbhar package has been announced with the twin objectives. The first objective is to reduce the distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by helping the weaker sections get foodgrains and monetary support.

35. Steel Authority of India Limited awarded

Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has been awarded the Golden Peacock Environment Management Award for the year 2020 in the steel sector by the Institute of Directors. It has been the winner of this award for successive two years. The award encourages corporates to enhance their environmental performance and to compete with peers to set benchmarks.

36. Inaugural ceremonyof IFFI to be held in Jan

The inaugural ceremony of International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will be held on 16 Jan 2021 in Goa. The ceremony will be held in a hybrid mode wherein the inaugural and closing ceremony will be held in physical mode while the remaining part will be conducted in virtual mode. Its theme would be ‘Big to BIGGER, Creativity, Technology and Innovation – Reshaping Consumer Experience’.

37. Induslnd Bank launches ‘PIONEER Heritage’

IndusInd Bank in partnership with Mastercard has announced the launch of its first metal credit card – PIONEER Heritage. The all-new credit card has been specially curated to match the requirements of affluent Indian professionals and entrepreneurs. It is equipped with best-in-class features and privileges across an array of categories like travel, wellness, lifestyle among others.

38. Tata Motors to buy share in Marcopolo

Tata Motors Ltd (TML) has entered into a share purchase agreement with Brazilian bus and coach manufacturer Marcopolo S.A. It will buy the latter’s 49% share of their joint venture Tata Marcopolo Motors Ltd (TMML) for 99.96 crores. Formed in 2006, TTML was a 51:49 joint venture between TML and Marcopolo S.A, one of the largest bus manufacturers globally.

39. RBI relaxes norms for an initiative

The RBI has relaxed eligibility norms for applicants under its regulatory sandbox initiative. It has announced cross-border payments as the theme of the 2nd cohort under this scheme. A regulatory sandbox usually refers to a system of live-testing new products or services in a controlled environment, for which regulators may or may not permit relaxations for the limited purpose of the testing.

40. Thrikutam joins True North

True North has appointed former Infosys veteran Prasad Thrikutam as an operating partner to help its foray into technology investments. Thrikutam worked with Infosys between 1995 and 2014, holding many senior positions, including Head of Americas and Global Head of strategic sales. He was the President and Global Head, applications and digital business, at Dell Services from 2014 to 2017.

41. Home Credit launches EMI scheme

Home Credit India has launched a bouquet of innovative financing products and offerings for its customers. The company has partnered with leading consumer durable brands to offer attractive customer-friendly finance schemes. Offers are available across popular home appliances brands like LG Electronics, Samsung, Sony, Xiaomi, Haier, Voltas, Whirlpool, Blue Star, Aisen, and Voltas-Beko.

42. Yes Bank partners with VISA

Yes Bank has announced its partnership with VISA as a payment processor to enhance payments efficiency for salaried and Yes First account holders. With the new design, the card number and CVV details have been discreetly placed at the back, thereby improving security by making it less easy to capture these details while using it at ATMs or POS terminals.

43. Govt to sell 2251.25 MHz spectrum

The Cabinet approved the telecom spectrum auction to be held in March 2021. The auction will be for spectrum in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300MHz and 2500 MHz frequency bands and a total of 2251.25 MHz is being offered with a total valuation of 73,92,332.70 crore. Spectrum will be offered for the assignment for a validity period of 20 years.

44. GSL launches patrol vessel ICGS Saksham

Goa Shipyard Ltd launched the fifth and final Offshore Patrol Vessel out of an order of five such vessels which is constructing for the Indian Coast Guard. The vessel has been named ICGS Saksham. GSL’s OPVs are 2,350-tonne vessels, armed with 30-millimetre guns and equipped with “quick response boats” to handle emergencies along the coast, piracy and anti-terrorism missions.

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