Current Affairs 17th January 2021

1. Vidur Sharma appointed Covid Testing Advisor

Joe Biden has named Indian-American health policy expert Vidur Sharma as Testing Advisor in his COVID-19 Response Team. During the Obama administration, Sharma served as a health policy advisor on the Domestic Policy Council. Among other appointments were Amy Chang, Policy Advisor; Abbe Gluck, Special Counsel; David Kessler, Chief Science Officer of COVID Response, etc.

2. Festival Shakrain celebrated in Dhaka

The traditional festival of Shakrain was celebrated in several parts of Dhaka on 14 Jan 2021. The kite flying competition is followed by the 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.

3. PepsiCo pledges net-zero emissions

PepsiCo will achieve net-zero emissions by 2040 and is targeting the reduction of absolute greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain by more than 40% by decade-end. It has pledged to achieve net-zero emissions one decade earlier than called for in the Paris Agreement. Its emissions reduction plan will be comprehensive across priority areas such as agriculture, packaging, etc.

4. EESL, PCRA to distribute PNG stoves

Energy Efficiency Services Limited has signed an MoU with the Petroleum Conservation Research Association. It will distribute energy-efficient PNG-based cookstoves. Energy Efficient PNG Cook Stove (EEPS) programme will be implemented on a pan-India basis. The programme, in its first phase, will witness the distribution of 10 lakh energy efficient PNG based cookstoves in select cities,

5. Fiji wins the presidency of UNHRC

Fiji won the presidency of the UN Human Rights Council on 15 Jan 2021. It beat Bahrain and Uzbekistan in a secret ballot. Fiji’s Nazahat Shameen Khan won with 29 votes versus 14 for Bahrain and 4 for Uzbekistan. The presidency rotates geographically with each region typically making a selection by consensus but this was the first-ever secret ballot in the Council.

6. Sandeep Aggarwal appointed new TEPC chairman

Sandeep Aggarwal has been appointed as the new Chairman of the Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC). He is the MD of Paramount Communications Ltd., a cable manufacturer. He will take over from Shyamal Ghosh, ex-Telecom Secretary. The TEPC was set up by the Government of India to promote and develop the export of Telecom Equipment and Services.

7. Biswajit Chatterjee awarded at IFFI

The 51st International Film Festival of India has conferred Biswajit Chatterjee, veteran actor, producer of Hindi and Bengali cinema, with the Indian Personality of the Year Award. This award will be presented to him, when the National Film Awards are presented in March 2021. Biswajit Chatterjee is known for his roles of Kumar Vijay Singh in Bees Saal Baad and Raja Amit Kumar Singh in Kohra.

8. AstraZeneca vaccine approved in Pakistan

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has become the first vaccine against novel coronavirus to get approval for emergency use in Pakistan. Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) granted emergency use authorisation to AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine. In the first phase, two categories of people would be administered the vaccine – the frontline healthcare workers and people over 65 years of age.

9. Amresh Kumar Chaudhary honoured with an award

Amresh Kumar Chaudhary has been awarded the prestigious “Chief of Army Staff Commendation”. He has been honoured for his outstanding contribution to Armed Forces during the critical period of the Covid-19 pandemic and its various operations. Amresh Kumar Chaudhary is currently working as Chief Controller in Mil Rail. Mil Rail is an extension of the Traffic Directorate of the Ministry of Railways.

10. GM to invest C$1 billion in Canada plant

General Motors Co and labour union Unifor 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. Under the tentative deal, GM has agreed to begin large-scale commercial production of EV600, an electric van, at its CAMI plant. The work would begin immediately at the plant.

11. Ebola vaccine stockpile set up

Four international health and humanitarian groups have established a global Ebola vaccine stockpile in order to secure the outbreak response. It will help countries to contain any future Ebola epidemics by providing timely access to vaccines for populations at risk during outbreaks. The Ebola vaccine is manufactured by Merck, Sharp & Dohme (MSD) Corp, and developed with support from the US.

12. Driverless metro car for MMRDA

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on 15 January 2021, unveiled a driverless metro car for Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). The cars will operate on 25 kV AC traction power. He also virtually launched the Aerospace Assembly Hangar, situated within BEML’s Bangalore complex, and unveiled the first indigenously manufactured Tatra Cabin by BEML.

13. Vittorio Storaro to be honoured at IFFI

Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro will be honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 51st International Film Festival of India. He is best known for his work in the films like “The Conformist” (1970), “Last Tango in Paris” (1972), etc. Storaro has 3 Academy Awards for Best Cinematography for the films “Apocalypse Now” (1979), “Reds” (1981), and “The Last Emperor” (1987).

14. Wonderla receives COV-safe certification

Wonderla Bangalore has secured COV-Safe certification by Bureau Veritas India. It is the first theme park chain in India to receive this highly coveted certification. ‘COV-SAFE Hygiene Assessment’ is based on the parameters of leadership, risk management, compliance management, personal hygiene, facility hygiene, monitoring measurement & analysis.

15. IAF TETTRA conference held

The annual TETTRA (Technical Type Training) conference was held in a hybrid format at Air Force Station Jalahalli in Bengaluru on 15 Jan 2021. The conference was presided over by Air Marshal RD Mathur, Air Officer Commanding in Chief Training Command. Trophies were presented to the best TETTRA schools in three different categories viz- Fighter aircraft, Transport Aircraft, and Systems.

16. ADB and EIB join hands

Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have formed a new clean and sustainable ocean partnership. They will support initiatives in Asia and the Pacific to help meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate goals of the Paris Agreement. Both institutions will finance activities aimed at promoting cleaner oceans through the reduction of land-based plastics.

17. Fellowship scheme for artists in Delhi

In a first-of-its-kind initiative, Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, on 15 January 2021, launched the “Street Theatre and Performing Arts Fellowship” scheme. It will give artists an opportunity to showcase their craft. The flagship scheme has been started by the Sahitya Kala Parishad under the Department of Arts, Culture, and Languages. Nearly 500 artists have been selected for this scheme.

18. Simulator building inaugurated in Delhi

A new four-storey simulator building was inaugurated on 15 Jan 2021 at Delhi Metro Rail Academy(DMRA). It was inaugurated by Dr. Mangu Singh, Managing Director/DMRC. The building is equipped with state-of-the-art simulator facilities pertaining to train driving, electrical, signalling, etc. He also inaugurated a new Foot Over Bridge (FOB) in front of Shastri Park Metro depot.

19. New rules for Jharkhand Civil Services Exam

Jharkhand has for the first time framed rules pertaining to Jharkhand Civil Services. This will supersede The Bihar Civil Services (Executive Branch) and The Bihar Junior Civil Services Recruitment Rules of 1951. For each vacancy, 15 candidates will be selected for Main (Examination). A calendar of vacancies will be published at the start of each year which wasn’t done until the last exam.

20. IMD celebrated its 146th Foundation Day

India Meteorological Department (IMD) celebrated its 146th Foundation Day on 15 Jan 2021. IMD is one of the oldest, scientific service organizations in the country, in existence well before Independence. On the occasion, Dr. Harsh Vardhan inaugurated Doppler Weather Radars at Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand, and Kufri, Himachal Pradesh, and released a report on cyclone disturbances during 2020.

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