Current Affairs 22nd December 2020

Table of Contents

1. 22 December: National Mathematics Day

National Mathematics Day is celebrated every year on December 22, honoring the birth anniversary of mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan. The main objective behind celebrating the day is to raise awareness among people about the importance of mathematics for the development of humanity. National Mathematics Day was first observed in 2012.

2. Activist Karima Baloch passes away

Karima Baloch, an activist, who had been vocal about Pakistan Army and government atrocities in Balochistan, was found dead in Toronto, Canada, in Dec 2020. She is believed to be the pioneer of women activism in Pakistan. She had also raised the issue of Balochistan in the UN sessions in Switzerland. She was named as one of the world’s 100 most “inspirational and influential” women in 2016.

3. “Legion of Merit’ awarded to PM Modi

US President Donald Trump has presented the Legion of Merit award to PM Narendra Modi. He has been awarded for his leadership in elevating the strategic partnership of the two countries and the emergence of India as a global power. India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, accepted the award on behalf of him from the US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien at the White House.

4. Saturn, Jupiter closest to each other

A rare cosmic occurrence happened on 21 Dec 20 where two of the biggest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, appeared to merge in the night sky. This occurrence happened for the 2nd time since Galileo discovered Jupiter’s moons and Saturn’s characteristic rings. Both were just about one-fifth the width of a full moon. This was the closest Jupiter-Saturn pairing since July 1623.

5. Oppo sets up first 5G innovation lab in India

Smartphone maker Oppo has set up its first 5G innovation lab in India in Hyderabad, which is also the company’s first 5G lab outside China. The company plans to set up three more functional labs dedicated to camera, power and battery, and performance. The new Oppo labs will focus on making the latest and the most advanced technologies for the world.

6. Google launches insights tools

Google has announced the launch of a website, Travel Insights with Google. It will provide demand trends to travel sector participants including hotels, travel startups, and booking agents. It is aimed at helping the sector better understand the pent-up demand and leverage insights from key data-led tools for businesses to position themselves for recovery.

7. Russia, AstraZeneca sign pact

Developers of the Russian COVID vaccine Sputnik V have announced an agreement with AstraZeneca. It will be signed to test a combination of the British drugmaker’s COVID-19 shots and a component of the vaccine created in Moscow. AstraZeneca developed its vaccine with Oxford University. The Gamaleya Institute developed Sputnik V, and the Russian Direct Investment Fund bankrolled the project.

8. Tilray and Aphria announce merger

Tilray Inc. and Aphria Inc. have agreed to an all-stock merger, which would create the world’s largest cannabis company by sales. The merger will result in a company holding a whopping 17% share of the Canadian cannabis market. The combined company is set to operate under the name ‘Tilray’ and trade under Tilray’s ticker, ‘TLRY’ on the Nasdaq index.

9. Karnataka approves EV manufacturing projects

The Karnataka government has approved investments of Rs 22,419 crores of three different proposals involving electric vehicle (EV) and lithium-ion battery manufacturing. Two proposals of Elest Private Limited of Rs 14,255 crores and Rs 6,339 crores and Rs1,825 crore project by Hyunet Private Limited have been cleared by the CM-led State High-Level Clearance Committee (SHLCC).

10. Bharat Ramamurti appointed NEC member

US President-elect Joe Biden has named Indian American Bharat Ramamurti as one of the three new members of the National Economic Council. The council coordinates the domestic and international economic policymaking process for the administration. The other 2 NEC members are Joelle Gamble, Special Assistant to the US President for Economic Policy, and David Kamin, Deputy Director NEC.

11. lIFL AMC to raise up to Rs 750 crores fund

IIFL Equity Opportunities Fund is raising a fund of funds (FoF) of up to Rs 750 cr, including a Rs 250 cr green-shoe option, to invest in technology-focused venture capital (VC) funds. The FOF is an offering of FL Asset Management Ltd (AMC), which is a subsidiary of lIFL Wealth Management Ltd. It will invest in Blume Ventures, Orios Venture Partners, Kae Capital, and two other VC firms.

12. Odisha fixes cost of Rapid Antigen Covid test

Odisha has fixed the maximum cost for Rapid Antigen Test conducted by private laboratories at Rs 100 (inclusive GST) within the state. Earlier, in Dec 2020, the state govt reduced the maximum price for the RT-PCR COVID-19 tests by private laboratories to Rs 400 from Rs 1,200. Delhi government had also ordered to reduce the rate of RT-PCR tests in Delhi to Rs 800 from the existing Rs 2,400 a few days back.

13. Foundation stone laid for highway projects

Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari inaugurated and laid the foundation for 14 national highway (NH) projects in Telangana on 22 Dec 2020. A total of 59 road works with an approved length of 1918 kilometres and a cost of Rs 17,617 crore have been sanctioned in the state in the last 6 years. These NH projects include 765.663 kilometres long roads worth Rs 13,169 crores.

14. ICICI Bank launches ‘Infinite India’

ICICl Bank has announced the launch of an online platform for foreign companies looking to establish or expand business in the country. Called Infinite India, the platform offers them banking solutions as well as value-added services. It eliminates the need for coordinating with multiple touchpoints leading to a hassle-free experience of doing business in India.

15. Flight operations flagged off on a new route

The first flight operations from Belgaum (Karnataka) to Surat (Gujarat) to Kishangarh (Ajmer) were flagged off on 22 December 2020 under the Regional Connectivity Scheme-UDAN. More than 300 routes have been operationalised under the UDAN scheme, and the flag off marks the inauguration of the 303rd route under the ambit of the scheme.

16. Facilitation centre in Umling, Meghalaya

In Meghalaya, Deputy CM Prestone Tynsong has inaugurated the facilitation center (entry-exit point) in Umiing, Ri-Bhoi district. It will act as a mechanism to check the influx of illegal immigrants. Similar infrastructures at Rattacherra in Jaintia Hills and Bajengdoba in Garo Hills will up in the next few months.

17. Inter-Ministerial Central Team deputed

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has deputed an Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT), led by a Joint Secretary to assess damages caused by Cyclone ‘Burevi’ in Tamil Nadu. IMCT will shortly visit the cyclone-affected districts of the state. Cyclone Burevi had hit the Tamil Nadu coast on 4 December 2020. At least seven people were killed, and houses and agricultural produce were damaged.

18. 5 projects worth Rs 26,659 cr cleared

Karnataka State High-Level Clearance Committee headed by CM BS Yediyurappa has cleared five projects worth Rs 26,659 cr. The projects will create over 13,000 jobs in the state. CM also launched the Affidavit Based Clearance Scheme to provide Ease in Doing Business in the state, which will enable investors to establish their business without any clearances or approvals from various depts.

19. EU approves Pfizer-BioNTech’s corona vaccine

The European Union has approved the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. The first phase of the 27-nation bloc’s mass vaccination program will begin in the last week of December 2020. The first batches of the vaccine will be shipped from Pfizer’s manufacturing site in Belgium in a few days. Doses will be available for all EU countries.

20. 900 billion dollar coronavirus aid package

The US House of Representatives has passed a $900 billion coronavirus aid package. Senators approved the bill on 21 December 2020. It is aimed at reviving the nation’s pandemic-battered economy. The aid includes direct payments for many Americans and support for businesses and unemployment programs.

21. PM Modi to launch ‘SEHAT’ for UT of J&K

PM Modi will launch the ‘SEHAT’- Health Insurance Scheme for J&K on 26 December 2020. It will cover the remaining 1cr population which was not covered under Ayushman Bharat Scheme. Under Ayushman Bharat PM Jan Arogya Yojana, eligible beneficiaries were covered under health cover of Rs 5 Lakh. With the launch of SEHAT, J&K will be among the first in country to achieve universal health coverage.

22. Leopard population increases by 60%

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar released the Status of Leopard in India 2018 report on 21 December 2020. More than 60 percent increase has been recorded in the leopard population over the previous estimate which was conducted in 2014. There were at least 12,852 leopards in the country in 2018 compared to 7,910 leopards estimated in 2014 according to the report.

23. CGWB and CSIR-NGRI sign MoA

A Memorandum of Agreement, MoA has been signed between Central Ground Water Board, Ministry of Jal Shakti, and CSIR-NGRI Hyderabad. It has been signed for the use of advanced heliborne geophysical survey and other scientific studies in parts of the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Haryana under the Aquifer Mapping Programme.

24. MEA organises a virtual conference

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) organized a virtual conference titled ‘Forging Media and Entertainment Partnerships to showcase India at 75’ on 22 Dec 2020. The event is one of the five conferences to be held ahead of the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas. The conference was chaired by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and was held in the panel discussion format.

25. Govt to constitute a high-level committee

The government has decided to constitute a high-level committee to commemorate the 125th Birth Anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The committee will decide on the activities for a one-year-long commemoration starting 23rd January 2021. It will be headed by Home Minister Amit Shah. The members of the Committee will include eminent persons associated with Azad Hind Fauj-INA.

26. Catch the Rain Awareness Generation Campaign

National Water Mission under Ministry of Jal Shakti in collaboration with Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan has launched the JSA II: Catch the Rain Awareness Generation Campaign in New Delhi. The Ministry has involved Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangthan in undertaking the ‘Catch the Rain’ awareness campaign to cover 623 districts. The awareness generation phase will run from mid-Dec 2020 to March 2021.

27. MoU with SIDBI to boost MSME sector

The industries and commerce department of Assam signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) to boost the MSME sector in the state. According to the MoU, a project management unit (PMU) will be deployed by SIDBI with the Government of Assam to monitor the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector.

28. lIFL Home, ICiCI Bank join hands

IIFL Finance home loan subsidiary has tied up with ICICI Bank to provide affordable housing and MSME loans. Under the tie-up, IFLL Home will originate and service customers through the entire loan life-cycle including sourcing, documentation, collection, and loan servicing, and in turn, ICICI Bank will provide funding to these customers.

29. Indian Navy, INCOIS sign MoU

Indian Navy has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services for sharing ocean services data and expertise in operational oceanography, virtually. Dr. T. Srinivasa Kumar, Director INCOIS, and Commodore A A Abhyankar, who heads Indian Navy’s Oceanology and Meteorology Directorate, signed the MoU,

30. Congress veteran Motilal Vora passes away

Veteran Congress leader Motilal Vora passed away in December 2020. He was a former two-time chief minister of undivided Madhya Pradesh. A former governor of Uttar Pradesh in the post-1992 Babri Masjid demolition era and a union minister, Motilal Vora also served as a Rajya Sabha member four times and was a Lok Sabha MP for one term.

31. BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2020

Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has been voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2020. One of Fis all-time great drivers, he equalled Michael Schumachers record of seven world titles with his fourth consecutive championship in 2020. It is the second time Hamilton has been crowned Sports Personality of the Year, he first won the award in 2014.

32. IBM to acquire Norwegian startup Nordcloud

IBM announced an agreement to acquire Nordcloud, a European leader in cloud implementation, application transformation, and managed services. Headquartered in Helsinki, Finland with offices in 10 European countries, Nordcloud’s mission is to help businesses become stronger, fitter, and more agile with the cloud.

33. Food Processing Industries Ministry inks MoUJs

The Ministry of Food Processing Industries has signed an agreement with 5 institutions and cooperatives, for the implementation of a micro food processing enterprises scheme. It also signed an agreement with the Union Bank of India as a nodal bank for the PM Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Scheme. It has also signed a “Joint Communique” with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

33. KKR elevates Sanjay Nayar as Chairman

American private equity (PE) firm KKR & Co. informed that its India CEO Sanjay Nayar will transition to a new role of chairman of KKR India, effective from 31 December 2020. KKR also announced that Gaurav Trehan, who was earlier working with TPG Capital, will join the firm as head of private equity operations in India.

34. Tamil Nadu increases grant for Christians

Tamil Nadu is increasing the grant given to Christians for their pilgrimage to Jerusalem from the present Rs 20,000 to Rs 37,000. This was announced by CM Edappadi Palaniswami on 20 Dec 2020 in Chennai. In February 2020, the state government had invited applicants from Christians to avail of financial assistance to visit the holy land in Jerusalem for a period of ten days.

35. Manipur launches ERSS

The Manipur govt has launched the Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) for emergency calls in times of need. The number 112′ was declared as the emergency number in keeping with the Government of India’s vision of integrating all emergency services with the same number. Dialing 112 willead distressed citizens to lodge
support requests for police assistance, fire dept, etc.

36. Gujarat govt to start ‘Deendayal’ clinics

The Gujarat government will set up dedicated ‘Deendayal’ clinics in the cities and towns with a population of over one lakh. These will provide health services to the poor people near their residences in densely-populated urban areas. In these clinics, MBBS or AYUSH doctors will treat OPD patients and give medicines free of cost between 4 pm and 6 pm every day.

37. CUCET 2021 launched

Union Minister for Education, Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal launched the National Level Entrance cum Scholarship Test of Chandigarh University “CUCET 2021” on 21 Dec 2020. This would offer students academic scholarships worth 733 cr in over 135 UG and PG programs offered by the University. The meritorious student on the basis of CUCET-2021 scores can avail of scholarships up to 100% in the academic fees.

38. 8th oil & gas production plant inaugurated

The eighth oil and gas production plant of the country, Bengal Basin, was inaugurated in Ashoknagar in North 24-Parganas, in West Bengal by Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on 20 Dec 2020. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, ONGC would invest Rs 425 crore in new exploration in the next two years in the basin. The crude from this block will be refined from the Haldia refinery of Indian Oil.

39. DRDO successfully test-fires ATAGS Howitzer

DRDO Successfully test-fired its Advanced Tower Artillery Gun System Howitzer on 19 Dec 2020. It tracked the target accurately and successfully at Odisha’s Balasore firing range. It has the capability to strike targets at the longest range of 48 kilometers. It has been produced by two firms Bharat Forge & Tata Advanced Systems Limited.

40. 1st Sports University in Maharashtra

Maharashtra’s first sports university will come at Balewadi in Pune and will officially begin functioning by the academic year 2021-2022. The university will be the center of sports excellence in the country that will pick and train sportspersons of international caliber. The Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex has hosted the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2008 and will be upgraded to a university.

41. Kailash Satyarthi’s new book

Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s new book titled ‘COVID-19: Sabhyata ka Sankat Aur Samadhan’ (COVID-19: Crisis of Civilisation and Solutions) has been launched. The new book discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the common way of life while suggesting solutions to the ongoing crisis triggered by the disease.

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