Current Affairs 19th February 2021

1. India: Fastest growing market economy

India will be one of the fastest-growing emerging market economies with a 10% growth in the next fiscal. This was informed by S&P Director, Sovereign and International Public Finance Ratings, Andrew Wood while speaking in a webinar on India outlook. The forecast for India in 2021 is on the stronger side and shows that a lot of economic activity is coming back online to normalization.

2. Uttar Pradesh’s 1st transgender public toilet

Uttar Pradesh’s first transgender toilet has been built in Kamachha area of Varanasi under the smart city project. This will ensure the participation of the community in the cleanliness of the city. It was inaugurated by Mrudula Jaiswal, Mayor of the city, on 18 February 2021. The government is also planning to open four more transgender toilets in different locations of the city.

3. VIVO returns as title sponsor for IPL

The Indian Premier League (IPL) has made an announcement that smartphone manufacturer VIVO will be returning as the title sponsor for 2021. Brijesh Patel, the Chairman of the Indian Premier League made this announcement. Under the IPL “mini-auction” for 2021, 291 players will be listed. The cricketers have been shortlisted by the eight franchises.

4. Honda CEO to step down

Honda Motor Co’s Chief Executive Officer Takahiro Hachigo would step down, handing over the reins to the Head of Honda’s research and development arm, Toshihiro Mibe, on April 1, 2021. Hachigo will remain on the board. Mibe joined Honda in 1987. He became President of Honda’s R&D unit in 2019.

5. DLF acquires 51.8% stake in Fairleaf

DLF Group’s rental arm DLF Cyber City Developers Limited (DCCDL) has acquired a 51.8% stake in Fairleaf Real Estate Pvt Ltd for Rs. 780 crores. Fairleaf has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of DCCDL with effect from 18th February 2021. In December 2020, DCCDL had entered into a Securities Purchase Agreement with funds managed by Hines (Hines) for the acquisition of their stake in Fairleaf.

6. UP: 1st to complete more than 3 cr tests

Uttar Pradesh has become the first state to complete more than three crore COVID-19 tests and administer more than ten lakh vaccines to health care workers and frontline workers. Additional Chief Secretary (Medical and Health) Amit Mohan Prasad informed that 1,20,384 COVID samples were tested in the state on a single day on 18 February 2021.

7. Janaushadhi Kendra inaugurated in Bengaluru

Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers D.V.Sadananda Gowda inaugurated a Janaushadhi Kendra in Bengaluru on 18 Feb 2021. There are 7,500 Janaushadhi Kendras in the country and Karnataka alone has 850 such shops. The Janaushadhi shops provide BP tablets at a price of 250 to 300 rupees as against 2,500 to 3,000 rupees charged for the branded medicines.

8. Nagaland Chief Minister announces 2 new grants

Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio has announced two new grants, namely, the Chief Minister’s Grant for Journalism and the Chief Minister’s Research Grant. The research grant will support the advancement of science and extend funding to research and research scholars. A Centre for Parliamentary Studies and Research Centre for Conflict Resolution will also be set up in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly.

9. Chris Morris becomes costliest player at IPL

Chris Morris became the costliest ever player at an IPL auction for Rajasthan Royal. Krishnappa Gowtham became the costliest Indian uncapped player for Chennai Super Kings at the IPL 2021 auction. Cheteshwar Pujara was also sold to Chennai Super Kings. A total of 292 players were enlisted for the auctions- 164 of them Indian and 125 overseas.

10. Bangladesh SC launches ‘Amar Vasha’

The Bangladesh Supreme Court on 19 Feb 2021 launched the Artificial Intelligence (AI) based translation software ‘Amar Vasha’ through a virtual event. The software will translate orders and judgements of the Supreme Court from English to Bangla. The Software has been developed with ‘EkStep’ foundation of India. It is based on their ‘Anuvaad’ translation software used in India.

11. India, Nepal signs MoU

India and Nepal have signed an MoU for the reconstruction of six secondary schools in the Himalayan nation. The MoU was signed between the Indian Embassy and Nepal’s Central Level Project Implementation Unit (Education) of Nepal Reconstruction Authority (NRA). The schools will be constructed at a total cost of Nepali Rupees 518 million.

12. WCCB receives an award by UNEP

The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has received the Asia Environmental Enforcement Award-2020 awarded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has been awarded this year under the Innovation category. Earlier, the Bureau had received the award in 2018 under the same category.

13. Third India Tourism Mart held

Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan addressed the third India Tourism Mart, organized by the Federation of Associations in India Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH), on 18 Feb 2021. He informed that India is also one of the largest manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and supplies a large portion of vaccines across the globe. The government is also planning to soon restart E-Tourist Visas.

14. ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha’ to be held in March

The 4th edition of Prime Minister’s Interaction Programme ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha’ will be held in March 2021. Through this programme, PM Narendra Modi holds a brainstorming session with school students, teachers, and parents in connection with the upcoming examinations. The participants of this programme will be selected through an online competition which will be organized on MyGov platform.

15. App launched for India Surveys on Labour

Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar has launched software applications and instruction manuals with questionnaires for five ‘All India Surveys on Labour. An All India Quarterly Establishment Based Employment Survey will also be launched to assess the employment situation in establishments with more than 10 workers and also less than 10 workers.

16. NHAI transitions to cashless toll collection

National Highways Authority of India(NHAI) has successfully transitioned to 100 percent cashless toll collection at National Highway fee plazas across the country. All lanes in the fee plazas on National Highways have been declared as FASTag lanes from 16th of February 2021. To facilitate the adoption of FASTag by highway users, a Free FASTag campaign is also underway till 1st March 2021.

17. PM Modi to chair 6th meeting of NITI Aayog

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair the sixth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog virtually on 20 Feb 2021. Deliberations on agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing, health, and nutrition are the key agenda of the meeting. The sixth meeting will witness the entry of Ladakh for the first time in addition to the participation of Jammu and Kashmir as a Union Territory.

18. Hyderabad: 2020 Tree City of the World

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the Arbor Day Foundation have recognized Hyderabad as a 2020 Tree City of the World. It has been recognized for its commitment to growing and maintaining urban forests. It is the only city in India to earn the title. Most of the other cities were from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

19. Birth anniversary of Shivaji Maharaj

February 19, 2021, marks the 391st birth anniversary of Shivaji Bhonsle, popularly known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He was born on February 19, 1630, in Shivneri fort in Junnar tehsil of Pune. He established the Maratha kingdom, with Raigarh as its capital. On June 6, 1974, he was crowned as the Chhatrapati – the King of Marathas.

20. Kumbh Mela 2021 and COVID-19 protocols

Kumbh Mela 2021 will be held from 1st to 30th April in the holy city of Haridwar. COVID-19 negative report issued not later than 72 hours is mandatory for the visitors of Kumbh-Mela. All devotees desirous of attending the Kumbh Mela must register with the Uttarakhand government. The Kumbh Mela has been restricted to just 30 days to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection.

21. Facebook blocks Australians from sharing news

Facebook has barred users from sharing or reading news from Australian publishers on its platform. Facebook announced the decision in response to proposed legislation in Australia that would force tech platforms to pay news publishers for content. Total web traffic to Australian news sites dropped by around 13% after Facebook Inc blocked their content on the social media platform.

22. NASA’s Perseverance lands successfully on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover successfully touched down the surface of Mars on 18 Feb’21, after its 292.5 million-mile journey from Earth. Perseverance, the biggest, most advanced rover ever sent by NASA, became the 9th spacecraft since the 1970s to successfully land on Mars. The rover will begin its search for traces of ancient microbial life on Mars. Perseverance was launched on 30 July 2020.

23. K.K.Menon: Most Versatile Actor award

Kay Kay Menon has been honoured with the award for ‘Most Versatile Actor’ at Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival 2021. DPIFF is one of India’s most prestigious awards ceremony which honours actors and artists who have contributed to the Indian cinema. It is India’s only independent award function with a mission to celebrate the legacy of Dadasaheb Phalke, Father of Indian Cinema.

24. Jaishankar to visit Maldives, Mauritius

External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar will undertake a visit to the Maldives on February 20-21 and Mauritius on February 22-23, 2021. During his visit to Mauritius, the Minister will call on President Prithvirajsing Roopun and Prime Minister Pravind Jagnauth. Both Maldives and Mauritius are India’s key maritime neighbors in the Indian Ocean Region.

25. N.V.Reddy takes over as Principal DG, AIR News

Indian Information Service officer N. Venudhar Reddy took over as Principal Director General of All India Radio News on 18 February 21. Prior to this, he was working as Joint Secretary in the Dept of Investment and Public Asset Management under the Finance Ministry. He has earlier served as Additional Director General in the Bureau of Outreach and Communication.

26. ISA to launch World Solar Bank

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) plans to launch the World Solar Bank (WSB) at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November 2021. The ISA is the first treaty-based international government organization headquartered in India. The ISA was co-founded by India at the 2015 climate change conference in Paris.

27. 5 Indian-origin persons feature in TIME’s list

Five Indian-origin personalities, including Twitter’s top lawyer Vijaya Gadde and UK’s Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, have featured in TIME magazine’s annual list of 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future. Other personalities are Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta, doctor and Executive Director of nonprofit Get Us PPE Shikha Gupta and founder of nonprofit Upsolve Rohan Pavuluri.

28. Piramal Group to take over DHFL

The Reserve Bank of India has given the nod to Piramal Group led by Ajay Piramal for the takeover of Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DHFL). The lenders are now in the process of taking the proposal to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). RBI’s approval comes a month after the Piramal Group won the bidding for bankrupt DHFL.

29. Russia will register CoviVac on 20 Feb

Russia will register CoviVac, its third vaccine against the novel coronavirus pandemic, on 20 February 2021. Human trials of the Russian vaccine Sputnik have also been ongoing in India, conducted by India’s Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd and supported by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). 26 other countries have also approved the inoculation for use.

30. Air pollution claims 54,000 lives in Delhi

Air pollution caused by hazardous PM2.5 fine particulate matter led to the death of 54,000 people in Delhi in 2020 where pollution levels remained almost six times above the prescribed WHO limits, according to a new study. According to a Greenpeace Southeast Asia analysis of IQAir data, 1800 deaths per million were estimated due to PM2.5 air pollution in Delhi.

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