1. Amit Panghal clinches gold in Boxing World Cup
World Championships silver-medal winning boxer Amit Panghal clinched the gold medal without having to fight his final bout at the Cologne World Cup in Germany. Panghal was given a walkover by Germany’s Argishti Terteryan in the final of the 52kg category. Veteran boxer Satish Kumar won the silver medal in 91+ kg category.
2. NHAI Chairman gets six months extension
Sukhbir Singh Sandhu has been given six months extension as the chairman of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). Sandhu is a 1988-batch IAS officer of Uttarakhand cadre. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the extension in central deputation tenure of Sandhu, chairman, NHAI ,MoRTH, for a period of six months beyond January 21, 2021, i.e. up to July 21, 2021
3. RSS Ideologue MG Vaidya Passes Away
Senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue and first spokesperson of the organization, Madhav Govind Vaidya passed away in December 2020. MG Vaidya was an ace journalist, ex MLC, Sanskrit scholar and first official spokesperson of RSS.
4. Qualcomm releases Snapdragon 888 AnTuTu
Qualcomm has released benchmark scores of its latest flagship Snapdragon 888 mobile platform, which is set to power a variety of premium and mid-range handsets in 2021. The scores cover select industry benchmarks testing system including CPU, GPU, and Al use cases. The benchmarks are on AnTuTu, GFX Bench, Geekbench, Ludashi, MLPerf, and ProCyon.
5. Switzerland calls Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine safe
Swiss drugs regulator Swissmedic has authorised the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and partner BioNTech. It is the first vaccine against Covid-19 that has been approved by the country. The vaccine has been authorised or approved for emergency use in more than 15 countries, including the UK and US.
6. Google rolls out free, weekly COVID-19 test
Alphabet Inc’s Google is offering free and weekly at-home COVID-19 testing for all its US employees and plans to expand the benefit globally during 2021. A Google spokesman said the company had rolled out the benefit this week for all 90,000 US employees, with the initiative guaranteeing them a weekly, at-home nasal swab and a lab analysis.
7. US Space Force members to known as guardians
The Trump administration celebrated the first birthday of the U.S. Space Force on December 18 by announcing that its members will be known as “guardians”. Vice President Mike Pence made the announcement at a celebratory event tracing the development of the newest branch of the military over the past year.
8. Volunteers launch newsletter Trolley Times
The farmers’ agitation along the Delhi borders has given birth to a four-page bi-weekly newsletter Trolley Times in Hindi and Punjabi. The newsletter is the brainchild of a team of six youngsters. It has been named so since it was planned and designed on a tractor-trolley. The first edition was rolled out on 19 December 2020.
9. Punjab distributes 1.3 lakh Smartphones
Punjab Government has distributed smartphones to Class 12 students of government schools. The initiative to distribute mobile phones to students of Class 12 was introduced to facilitate seamless e-learning. Under the programme, smartphones were to be given to 1,75,443 Class 12 students.
10. Padubidri beach to be open for tourists
The Udupi district administration has decided to allow domestic and foreign tourists to the blue flag-certified Padubidri beach. The Padubidri beach had received blue flag international recognition on October 1, along with seven other beaches in the country. The recognition was awarded by an international jury of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), Denmark.
12. Scheme for Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies
The Quality Council of India in collaboration with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has launched a scheme for approval of Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies aimed at scaling up the number of recognised Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies in the country. The recognised Hygiene Rating Audit Agency will verify the compliance by the FBOs with food hygiene and safety procedures laid by FSSAI.
13. Spain to begin vaccinations on December 27
Spain’s vaccination campaign against the coronavirus will begin on December 27, 2020. It plans to vaccinate elderly residents and staff in nursing homes first, then health workers and other vulnerable people such as the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. The government expects to have around 15-20 million people vaccinated against the virus by June 2021.
14. Jewar airport to be named as Noida International Airport
.The second airport in the NCR will be officially known as Noida International Airport. The upcoming airport will be located at Jewar in Greater Noida. Zurich Airport International and the Uttar Pradesh government have also revealed the official logo of Noida International Airport – a symbol that shows a Sarus Crane – the state bird of the state – in flight.
15. Ethanol-blended gasoline to curb pollution
The Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry has proposed the adoption of E20 fuel, a blend of 20% of ethanol with gasoline–as an automobile fuel. This has been approved in its attempt to reduce harmful emissions from vehicles and curb pollution. It has also proposed the adoption of mass emission standards for E20 fuel and has sought comments from relevant stakeholders for the same.
16. OneWeb plans high-speed internet in India
OneWeb plans to start high-speed internet services in India by mid-2022. The company launched 36 satellites from Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia on 18 Dec 2020, taking its total in-orbit constellation to 110 satellites. OneWeb plans to have a total of 648 low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites as part of its plan to deliver high-speed and low-latency broadband services globally.
17. Warburg sells stake in AU Small Finance Bank
Warburg Pincus has sold a 4,47% stake in AU Small Finance Bank for Rs 1,247.69 crore through open market transactions. The bulk deal data available with the BSE showed Redwood Investment Ltd, an entity owned by Warburg Pincus, disposed off 13.7 million shares in the bank. The shares were sold at an average price of Rs 910.55, valuing the transactions at Rs 1,248 crores.
18. Infosys divests its holdings in startup Whoop
Infosys Ltd has divested one-third of its holdings for about $10 million in Boston-based startup Whoop Inc. In 2015, Infosys had made a minority investment of $3 million in Whoop which offers performance optimisation solutions for professional athletes and sports teams. The investment was part of Infosys’ $500 million Innovation Fund.
19. SCR zone commissions first longer loop line
Indian Railways’ South Central Railway zone has commissioned the first longer loop line at Bikkavolu Railway Station of Vijayawada Division. These will accommodate Long haul trains like Jai Kisan specials where 2 freight trains are combined. In Railways, loop lines are constructed in the station area to accommodate more number of trains and to ease out the train operations.
20. PVR’s board approves plan to raise Rs 800 crore
The board of the PVR Ltd has approved a capital raising plan that could see the company raise up to Rs 800 crore. The company will look to raise the capital through a qualified institutional placement offering or a preferential allotment. In August 2020, PVR raised Rs 300 crore through a rights issue. In November 2020 Inox Leisure Ltd had raised Rs 250 crore through a QIP.
21. Tata Motors launches its ‘Go Green’ initiative
Tata Motors has announced the launch of its ‘Go Green’ initiative. Under this initiative, Tata Motors will plant a sapling for the sale of every new commercial vehicle and for every new customer who gets their vehicle serviced at the company’s workshop. It will also nurture the sapling and provide the customer with a certificate and a link with the geotagged location of the plantation.
22. Cisco along with govt launches a competition
Cisco and The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation, in association with the Government of India, has announced the Cisco Agri Challenge. It will help discover ground-breaking agritech solutions that can help small and marginal farmers improve their farm production and income opportunities. The challenge has a prize purse of Rs 2 crore and it will run for a year.
23. Zomato raises $660 million
Zomato has completed its primary fundraise worth $660 million, giving the company a valuation of $3.9 billion. The fundraise saw 10 new investors join Zomato including Tiger Global Management, Baillie Gifford, Luxor Capital, Kora Capital, Steadview, D1 Capitall and Mirae Asset. Zomato is also raising $140 million as a part of a secondary transaction.
24. WhatsApp to bring voice calls to desktop
Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp will introduce voice and video calling feature to the messaging app’s desktop version in 2021. With over 2 billion users globally, WhatsApp is second only to its parent firm Facebook Inc’s app, yet it is largely used for personal calls, unlike Zoom or Google Meet. WhatsApp has already rolled out the feature to some desktop users on a trial basis.
25. Vedant Patel: Assistant Press Secretary
US President-elect Joe Biden has named Indian-American Vedant Patel to be the Assistant Press Secretary. He is currently the senior spokesperson of the Biden inaugural committee and has been a part of the Biden campaign as well where he served as Regional Communications Director. During Biden’s primary campaign, Patel served as the Nevada and Western Primary-States Communications Director.
25. COVAX alliance secures 2 billion doses
Global vaccine partnership COVAX has lined up almost two billion dosees of existing and candidate COVID-19 vaccines for use worldwide. This includes 200 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine through an agreement between the Vaccine Alliance Gavi, the Serum Institute of India and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
26. IndiGrid buys FRV’s solar projects
IndiaGrid Trust has entered into an agreement to acquire 100% stakes in FRV Andhra Pradesh Solar Farm-I Pvt Ltd and FRV India Solar Park-I Pvt Ltd from FRV Solar Holdings XI B.V. IndiGrid, an infrastructure investment trust (InvlT), is making the acquisition at an enterprise value of Rs 660 crores. The two projects comprise of 50 MW of solar assets each.
27. MTAR Technologies files for Rs 650 crore IPO
MTAR Technologies Ltd has filed a draft red herring prospectus (DRHP) with the Securities Exchange Board of India for an initial public offering (IPO). The Hyderabad based precision engineering solutions company will raise approximately Rs 600-650 crore. The IPO will be a fresh issue of up to 4 million shares and an offer for sale of up to 8.22 million shares of face value of Rs 10 a share.
28. Bharti AXA Life Guaranteed Income Pro launched
Bharti AXA Life Insurance has launched Bharti AXA Life Guaranteed Income Pro that offers life insurance along with maturity benefits and guaranteed returns. This non-linked, non-participating savings insurance plan is designed to provide financial stability to individuals. It also ensures policyholders of future income requirements with dual benefits of savings and protection.
29. 75% discount in rent to Marathi drama theatres
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, BMC has decided to give 75% discount in rent to Marathi drama theatres which have suffered financially due to Corona pandemic. Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar informed that this concession will be available till March 2021. The reduction in rent will bring relief to these theatres.
30. IISF 2020 to be organized from 22 December
India International Science Festival (ISF) 2020 is going to be organized from 22 December 2020 on virtual platforms. This will be the largest science festival to be held on a virtual platform. The central theme of 2020’s festival is “Science for Self-reliant India and Global Welfare” The festival will culminate on 25 Dec 2020 the birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
31. Selection of films for 51st IFFI announced
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar has announced the selection of 23 feature and 20 non-feature films in Indian Panorama for the 51st International Film Festival of India. The event will be held in Goa in January 2021. In the feature films section, the 23 films selected include Hindi films Saand Ki Aankh and Chichhore, Marathi movie Prawaas, Sanskrit mie Namo, etc.