Current Affairs 1st January 2021

Table of Contents

1. Colonel Narendra ‘Bull’ Kumar passes away

Colonel Narendra ‘Bull’ Kumar (Retired), who contributed significantly to the security of our country by paving the way for India’s move into the Siachen Glacier has passed away in Dec 2020. The mountaineering legend led an expedition of the Indian Army to the Siachin Glacier in April 1984. The pre-emptive mobilisation helped the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, launch Operation Meghdoot.

2. Suneet Sharma: New CEO of Railway Board

Suneet Sharma has been appointed as the new Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Railway Board (Ministry of Railways) and ex-officio Principal Secretary to Government of India. Earlier, Suneet Sharma worked as General Manager, Eastern Railway. He has won many professional awards as well during the course of his career.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo named as ‘Player of the Century’

– Juventus Cristiano Ronaldo has won the ‘Player of the Century’ award at the Globe Soccer Awards. Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, during the event, won the Player of the Year award. The club’s coach Hansi Flick bagged the Coach of the Year award. Also, Bayern Munich won the Club of the Year award. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola won the Coach of the Century award.

4. All calls from Jio to any networks to be free from January 1, 2021

Voice calls from Reliance Jio’s network to any network across India will be free starting January 1, 2021. Reliance Jio’s move comes as the interconnect usage charges (IUC) for all domestic voice calls will end from January 1 and ‘Bill and Keep’ regime will be implemented. In September 2019, Jio had started charging its customers for off-net voice calls.

5. Lewis Hamilton knighted in UK honours list

Lewis Hamilton was awarded a knighthood as part of Britain’s traditional New Year’s Honours list. Hamilton’s knighthood was awarded in the “overseas” section of the honours list because he lives in low-tax Monaco. The queen’s honours are awarded twice a year, in late December and in June, when the monarch’s birthday is observed.

6. FASTag deadline extended till Feb 15, 2021

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has extended the deadline for FASTags for all vehicles in India till February 15, 2021. National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had announced to completely do away with cash transactions for paying toll charges from January 1, 2021. The Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 have been amended to accommodate the change.

7. RBI to sale-purchase of govt securities

The RBI will conduct simultaneous purchase and sale of government securities under open market operations (OMOs) for Rs. 10,000 crores each on January 7, 2021. The decision was taken after a review of current liquidity and financial conditions. Eligible participants should submit their bids in electronic format on RBI’s core banking solution (E-Kuber) system on January 7, 2021.

8. India starts export of Moringa powder

India has started export of Moringa powder keeping in mind its rising global demand. Two tonnes of organic certified Moringa powder were sent to the United States through air consignment on 29 Dec 2020. Moringa has been used for centuries due to its medicinal properties and health benefits in various forms.

9. Odisha government to set up a memorial

The Odisha government will set up a memorial in honour of all the Covid warriors who sacrificed their lives fighting the deadly virus. The memorial will carry the names of all the martyred Covid warriors to keep their memory alive. The state government has decided to construct the memorial in the capital Bhubaneswar. This was announced by CM Naveen Patnaik.

10. Runway of Bengaluru now CAT III B compliant

Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru now has a CAT IIIB compliant South runway that can be used by aircraft even during inclement weather and foggy conditions. It will facilitate aircraft landing with a runway visual range as low as 50 m and take off at 125 metres. The Bengaluru airport is the only airport in South India and sixth in the country to have CAT IIIB compliant runway.

11. WHO clears Pfizer vaccine for emergency use

The World Health Organization has cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. This means poorer countries may soon get access to the shot already available in Europe and North America. WHO’s review found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine met the must-have criteria for safety and efficacy set out by WHO,

12. Deadline for filing ITR extended further

The Government has further extended the deadline to file the income tax return (ITR) for individual taxpayers till 10th January 2021 in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. The deadline for filing ITR for the financial year 2019-20 by companies has also been extended till 15th February 2021. This is the third time that the Income Tax department has extended the return filing deadline.

13. Nationwide dry run for vaccination on 2 Jan

The dry run for the COVID-19 vaccine will take place across the country on 2 January 2021. The Centre has asked all states and UTs to ensure effective preparedness for the vaccine rollout. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting to review the preparedness at session sites for COVID-19 vaccination on 31 December 2020.

14. ISRO Chief Sivan gets one-year extension

K Sivan, Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation and Secretary, the Department of Space, has got a 1-year extension till January 14, 2022. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet extended the tenure of Sivan for one year. He joined ISRO in 1982 and was inducted into the PSLV Project. He took over as ISRO chairman in January 2018.

15. Virtual Agri-hackathon 2020 inaugurated

Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar inaugurated the Virtual Agri-hackathon 2020 in New Delhi on 31 Dec 2020. The two-month-long event is the first of its kind and the largest virtual event in the history of Indian agriculture. The hackathon will happen in three elimination rounds and the final 24 winners will get a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh.

16. Postal articles to be affixed with forms

All postal articles including ordinary articles containing goods meant for delivery to foreign destinations will be affixed with correct and complete relevant custom declaration forms. These forms include details of sender and recipient along with a description of the contents of the article. India Post will not accept any article in the absence of correct disclosure by the customer.

17. IAF e-Governance (e-Office) portal launched

Indian Air Force Chief, Air Marshal R K S Bhadauria formally launched the IAF e-Governance (e-Office) portal in New Delhi on 31 Dec 2020. The launch of the portal is part of Digital India and an e-governance initiative that will transform the entire IAF into a paperless office workflow. It marks a major shift from the current method of correspondence, filing, and documentation to a digital one.

18. Foundation stone for IIM Sambalpur to be laid

PM Modi will lay the foundation stone of the permanent campus of IIM Sambalpur on 2 Jan 2021. IIM Sambalpur is the first IIM to implement the idea of flipped classrooms where the basic concepts are learnt in digital mode and experiential learning takes place in the class, through live projects from the industry. It has also outscored all other IIMs in terms of highest gender diversity.

19. Centre orders 83 crore syringes

Government has ordered 83 crore syringes for COVID-19 vaccination drive and Universal Immunization Programme in the country. The centre has also invited bids for 35 crore more syringes. Government has prioritized 30 crore people for COVID vaccine which includes health workers, frontline workers and sanitation staff.

20. Govt extends benefit of RoDTEP scheme

Govt has decided to extend the benefit of the scheme for Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RODTEP) to all export goods with effect from 1 Jan 2021, to boost export. The scheme will refund to exporters the embedded central, state and local taxes that were so far not being given rebate or refunded. The refund will be credited in the exporter’s ledger account with customs.

21. Defence Ministry signs contract with BEL

Defence Ministry has signed a contract with Bharat Electronics Limited for procurement of 10 Lynx U2 Fire Control systems for frontline warships of Indian Navy at a cost of 1,355 crore rupees. The LYNX U2 GFCS is a Naval Gun Fire Control System designed to acquire, track and engage targets amidst sea clutter. It is capable of accurately tracking air and surface targets.

22. Elevation of four judges notified

Law and Justice Ministry has notified the elevation of four judges as Chief Justices (CJ) of Odisha, Telangana, Madras and J&K High Courts. President Ram Nath Kovind has appointed Dr Justice S. Muralidhar as CJ of Odisha High Court and Kumari Justice Hima Kohli as C) of Telangana. Justice Pankaj Mithal will be CJ of J&K and Ladakh High Court and Justice Sanjib Banerjee, CJ of Madras.

23. BHEL gets Rs 3,200 cr hydro projects in Andhra

Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) has bagged orders worth Rs 3,200 cr for hydro projects in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The order for electro-mechanical works for 12 x 80-megawatt Polavaram hydropower project in Andhra Pradesh envisages manufacture and supply of India’s highest unit rating Kaplan hydro turbines. BHEL sets account for 45% of India’s total installed hydropower capacity.

24. Centre approves transport hub in Greater Noida

Government has approved the construction of a multi-modal logistics and transport hub in UP’s Greater Noida at an estimated cost of Rs3,883.80 crore. The hub will be located near a railway station in Boraki. It also cleared the construction of trunk infrastructure components for Krishnapatnam and Tumakuru industrial areas in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka worth Rs2,139.44 cr and Rs1,701.81 cr.

25. IRCTC’s upgraded e-ticketing website

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has launched an upgraded version of the e-ticketing website of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). The booking of meals, retiring rooms and hotels has been integrated with the website and passengers can directly book along with the tickets. Passengers can check their refund status at the user accounts page.

26. General Naravane receives Guard of Honour

Chief of Army Staff, General Manoj Mukund Naravane received a Guard of Honour at Republic of Korea (ROK) Army Headquarters at Gyeryong in December 2020. The Chief of Army Staff also called on General Nam Yeong shin, Chief of Staff of the Republic of Korea Army and discussed issues of bilateral defence cooperation. He also visited the Agency for Defence Development at Daejeon.

27. Amazon acquires podcast network Wondery

Amazon has announced its acquisition of podcast publisher Wondery. Wondery was founded in 2016 by former Fox executive Hernan Lopez, it has around 20 million listeners per month. It’s behind true-crime hits like Dirty John, about the life and death of John Meehan, and Dr Death, about infamous neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch.

28. Biden names Kathleen Hicks as first woman DDS

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Kathleen Hicks to be his Deputy Defence Secretary, making her the first woman to hold the post if she is approved by the Senate. Hicks served in the Obama regime and was confirmed by the Senate in 2012 as the Chief Deputy Under Secretary of Defence for policy. Hicks also served as the Deputy Under Secretary of Defence for strategy, plans, and forces.

29. Unacademy buys test prep startup NeoStencil

Unacademy has acquired test preparation startup NeoStencil to grow its footprint in Tier II and III cities. In 2020, Unacademy has acquired Kreatryx, and PrepLadder, besides funding in Mastree, and is taking over the custodianship of CodeChef. Founded by Kush Beejal and Love Beejal in 2014, NeoStencil has tie-ups with over 100 institutes and offers 500 plus courses to nearly 1 M students.

30. Punjab CM launches mobile app ‘DigiNest’

Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh has virtually launched a mobile application ‘DigiNest! It will give people digital access to the state government’s directory, which can be synced with the smartphone with the click of a button. The Chief Minister also rolled out an online Punjab Advertisement Release Order System which would help streamline the process of issuance of advertisements.

31. CSC partners with IIT Delhi

Common Services Center’s Special Purpose Vehicle has partnered with IIT Delhi. It will establish a design and innovation lab which will conduct research on new products and services for village-level entrepreneurs (VLE). The project named ‘Design and Innovation in VLE’s Indigenous Network Ecosystem’ (Divine) Lab will promote design and innovation among the village level entrepreneurs (VLE).

32. V.K. Yadav bags Eminent Engineer Award

V.K. Yadav, Chairman and CEO, Railway Board has been conferred with the ‘Eminent Engineer Award for the Year 2020’ by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). He has been awarded for his outstanding contribution towards modernization and reforms over Indian Railways. IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with over 168,000 members in 150 countries.

33. RuPay partners with RBL Bank

RuPay has partnered with RBL Bank to launch an innovative payment solution for Indian merchants RuPay PoS, in association with PayNearby. The RuPay PoS will transform smartphones into merchant Point of Sale (PoS) terminals for the retailers. Merchants will now be able to accept contactless payments of up to 5,000 through a simple tap and pay mechanism on his NFC enabled mobile phones.

34. Leon Mendonca: India’s 67th Grandmaster

Leon Mendonca has become India’s 67th chess Grandmaster by winning the third and final norm at the Vergani Cup in Italy. Mendonca, who achieved the feat at 14 years, is the second GM from Goa. At the Vergani Cup in Bassano del Grappa, he finished second with 6.5 points behind Ukraine’s Vitaliy Bernadskiy (7 points).

35. New Karnataka Chief Secretary appointed

P Ravi Kumar, an IAS officer of the 1984 batch, has been appointed as the new Chief Secretary of Karnataka. He will take over from incumbent TM Vijay Bhaskar, who will retire from service on December 31, 2020. Kumar, who is presently the Additional Chief Secretary, will be the 38th Chief Secretary of the state,

36. Delhi government notifies a policy

The Delhi govt has notified the Tree Transplantation Policy. Under this, agencies will have to transplant a minimum of 80 per cent of the trees affected by their development works. Ten saplings will be planted for each tree transplanted or felled and the Department of Forests and Wildlife will keep a detailed and up-to-date record of applications approved for tree felling.

37. Umesh Sinha appointed Dy Election Commissioner

Umesh Sinha has been appointed as the Deputy Election Commissioner in the Election Commission of India. Sinha, a 1986-batch IAS officer (retired) of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, is at present the Secretary-General in the commission. Sinha is a part of a committee set up by the Election Commission to look into the issue of revising the election expenditure of candidates during campaigning.

38. INCOIS launches ‘Digital Ocean’

Union Minister for Science and Technology Dr Harshvardhan has launched the ‘Digital Ocean platform of Indian National Centre for Oceanic Information Services (INCOIS). It is a one-stop-solution for all data related needs of a wide range of users, including research institutions, operational agencies, etc. It will facilitate an online interactive web-based environment for data integration.

39. Rafale jets to carry out SKYROS wargames

Rafale fighter jets of India and France will carry out wargames codenamed Exercise SKYROS in Jodhpur in the third week of Jan 2021. The French Air Force Rafale fighters would be coming to Jodhpur which would see them flying with Indian Rafales from the 17 Squadron and the Su-30MKI fighters. This would be the first major wargame of the Indian Air Force (IAF) involving the Rafale fighters.

40. ‘Artificial sun’ achieves 100 million degrees

South Korea’s magnetic fusion device, the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research, or KSTAR, has set a new world record, reaching an ion temperature of over 100 million degrees Celsius for a record 20 seconds. The KSTAR was able to achieve a temperature of over 6.6 times more than that of Sun’s. The KSTAR has often been referred to as South Korea’s “artificial sun”.

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