Current Affairs 24th December 2020

Table of Contents

1. National Consumer Rights Day: 24 December

In India, the National Consumer Day is observed every year on December 24 to spread awareness about consumer importance, their rights, and responsibilities. On December 24, 1986, the Consumer Protection Act 1986 received the approval of the President and came into force. The main objective of the Act is to provide consumers with effective safeguards against different types of exploitation.

2. 21st Century Icon Awards

The 21st Century Icon Award winners have been announced in London. The list of winners includes Shankar Mahadevan, Adolfo Cambiaso, Mohit Burman, Chris Gayle, Raman Kant, Christian Levett, Ajeet Singh, to name a few. The 21st Century Icon Awards celebrate the success of the next generation by recognizing dynamic entrepreneurs and successful individuals, helping them to keep growing.

3. Devendra Fadnavis releases book ‘Ayodhya’

Former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis released the book ‘Ayodhya’ on 22 December 2020 in Mumbai. It has been written by BJP’s State Vice President Madhav Bhandari. The book contains a study of all the events in history, all the historical evidence, and the evidence of different researchers. There is no political commentary in it.

4. NTPC wins the CII-ITC Sustainability Awards 2020

NTPC Ltd has been conferred “Excellence” in the prestigious CII-ITC Sustainability Awards 2020 in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Domain. NTPC has been honored in the Corporate Excellence Category, Commendation for Significant Achievement. This is the highest award conferred by CII-ITC in the CSR domain. NTPC is the only PSU to receive the award in the Corporate Excellence category.

5. Global Indian Scientists & Technocrats meet

The Global Indian Scientists & Technocrats (GIST) meet was inaugurated on 23 Dec’20, as a part of the Indian International Science Festival (IISF) 2020. GIST meeting had participants from several countries including the USA, UK, Qatar, Angola, Anguilla, Australia, Switzerland, and India. Deliberations and presentations were held in the areas of agriculture, water, Al applications, etc.

6. International Science Literature Festival – Vigyanika

CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (CSIR-NISCAIR), Ministry of Earth Sciences, and Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA) jointly organized the inaugural session of Vigyanika-International Science Literature Festival on the opening day of IISF 2020. A session on ‘Science literature in Indian regional languages’ was chaired by Mr. Nandan Kudhyadi, a science filmmaker.

7. ‘Axis Multicap Fund’ to be renamed

Axis Mutual Fund, one of the best performing mutual fund houses in India, is in process of renaming ‘Axis Multicap Fund’ to ‘Axis Flexicap Fund’. It will be an open-ended dynamic equity scheme that invests across large-cap, mid-cap, and small-cap stocks to facilitate capital appreciation over a medium to long term. The same will be effective from January 30th, 2021 onwards.

8. SpiceJet ties-up with Hyderabad airport

SpiceJet has signed an MoU with GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo (GHAC), a GMR group company. It has been signed for providing a seamless service to all vaccine manufacturers in the region. As part of this association, SpiceXpress the cargo arm of SpiceJet will provide efficient, speedy, and reliable solutions for vaccine delivery, while also creating a sustainable cold chain network.

9. Aurobindo Pharma to make COVAXX’s vaccine

Aurobindo Pharma Ltd would make and sell US-based COVAXX’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate for supply in India and to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) under a licensing deal. It also has non-exclusive rights to sell the shot, which is currently undergoing an early-stage trial, in certain other emerging markets. COVAXX is a unit of privately-owned United Biomedical Inc.

10. Strict enforcement of dust control measures

The Commission of Air Quality Management has directed strict enforcement of dust control measures to curb air pollution in Delhi-NCR. It also issued statutory directions to Central Pollution Control Board, Pollution Control Boards, and Delhi Pollution Control Committee to constitute teams for inspection. It also issued directions to levy an environmental compensation charge from violators.

11. 18 highway projects inaugurated in Rajasthan

Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari inaugurated and laid the foundation stone for 18 highway projects in Rajasthan on 24 December 2020. These projects carry a road length of nearly 1127 kilometers. These roads will enhance better connectivity, convenience, and economic growth in the state. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot presided over the virtual function.

12. Himachal Pradesh govt to frame a policy

Himachal Pradesh government has decided to frame an integrated Drug Prevention Policy including Drug Prevention, Treatment, Management, and Rehabilitation Programme. The state government has decided to open six drug de-addiction centers in the state. It has also decided to introduce a chapter on the ill-effects of drug abuse in the syllabus of government schools to sensitize the students.

13. Successful trial of MR-SAM missile

DRDO conducted the successful trial of the Medium Range Surface to Air MR-SAM missile from Chandipur off the Odisha coast, on 23 Dec 2020. This was the army version of the MR-SAM missile which has been designed jointly by India and Israel. The missile is designed to provide the armed forces with air defense capability against a variety of airborne targets at medium ranges.

14. Health Ministry and MeitY launch a challenge

Health Ministry and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology have launched a Grand Challenge for strengthening the COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network, COWIN system. The top 2 contestants from the challenge will be rewarded with Rs 40 lakh and Rs 20 lakh respectively, post successful migration of the developed solutions on the cloud on which the COWIN is hosted.

15. PM Modi to release Rs. 18,000 crore

PM Modi will release the next installment of financial benefit under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) on 25 Dec’20 through video conferencing. He will transfer more than Rs 18,000 crore to more than 9 crore beneficiary farmer families. Under the scheme, a financial benefit of Rs. 6,000 per year is provided to small and marginal farmers, payable in 3 installments of Rs. 2,000 each.

16. Cabinet approves a scheme

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved changes in the centrally sponsored Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme to benefit more than four crore Scheduled Caste students in the next five years. It approved a total investment of over 59,000 crores for the purpose. The scheme allows students to pursue any course from class 11, with the govt providing for the cost of education.

17. Consultations held between India and S.Korea

Secretary (East) in Ministry of External Affairs Riva Ganguly Das and South Korea’s first Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-Kun held consultations through a digital video conference on 23 Dec’20. The consultations covered issues related to bilateral cooperation, COVID response, etc. Both agreed to further strengthen the high-level exchanges in 2021 and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation.

18. IIT Jodhpur inks MoU with WhizHack

IIT Jodhpur and WhizHack Technologies Private Limited have signed an MoU. They will establish a new Centre of Excellence (CoE) for innovations in Cyber Security, AI, and IoT. This CoE is being set up for the purpose of advancing scientific and technological products and services for protecting assets of India’s strategic importance like government infrastructure.

19. Merger of 4 Film Media Units with NFDC

The Cabinet has approved the merger of Films Division, Directorate of Film Festivals, National Film Archives of India, and Children’s Film Society with National Film Development Corporation.The merger of them under one corporation will lead to convergence of activities and resources and better coordination. Cabinet also approved the appointment of a Transaction Advisor and Legal Advisor.

20. ISRO to open Regional Academic Centre

ISRO will establish a Regional Academic Centre for Space at IIT-Varanasi to facilitate short and long term projects at the institute. ISRO and the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) signed an MoU on 23 December 2020 in this regard. Short-term projects for B-Tech and M-Tech students from the institute and associate institutes will also be included.

21. UP to develop 100-gram panchayat in Gorakhpur

The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to develop 100-gram panchayats in the Gorakhpur district as model villages. The villages will be made self-sufficient and act as examples for other gram panchayats. CM Adityanath directed officers of the district administration that the performance grants and corporate social responsibility funds are to be used in gram panchayats to create model villages.

22. US Congress passes bill on next Dalai Lama

The US Congress has passed a bill that reaffirms the right of Tibetans to choose a successor to their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020, which was passed by the US Senate, calls for the establishment of a US consulate in Tibet’s main city of Lhasa and underlines the absolute right of Tibetans to choose a successor to the Dalai Lama.

23. Airport in Sindhudurg to function from Jan 21

Flight operations from the newly-built Chipi airport in Konkan’s Sindhudurg district will commence operations from January 2021. The airport, located close to the Goa border, will provide better connectivity to the Konkan region of Maharashtra, Goa, north Karnataka and western Maharashtra. It will further boost tourism and development in the Konkan region.

24. WTO to review e-commerce and farm policies

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) will be reviewing India’s e-commerce policy, farm policy, and digital tax initiative, along with other trade policies in January 2021. In addition, the contentious goods and service tax (GST) and changes in intellectual property rights law may too attract attention at the review. India’s last policy review at WTO was conducted in 2015.

25. Dharmendra honoured by New Jersey Senate

Bollywood veteran Dharmendra was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the State of New Jersey in the United States, by a Joint Legislative Resolution passed by the Senate and the General Assembly. The award was conferred upon the veteran actor via a zoom event organised by Bollywood Insider, a premier publication of Hindi Cinema in the United States.

26. India receives FDI proposals from China

The government has received over 120 foreign direct investment proposals worth about 12,000 crores from China since April 2020. This was achieved when India made it mandatory for a company from countries sharing a land border with India to invest in any sector only after getting government approval. The decision was taken to curb opportunistic takeovers or acquisitions of domestic firms.

27. Jallikattu event allowed by Tamil Nadu govt

The Tamil Nadu government has granted permission to hold Jallikattu event with certain restrictions amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. According to the guidelines issued by the Tamil government, the number of players cannot be more than 150 at an event and COVID-19 negative certificate has been made mandatory for all players. The festival is celebrated on Mattu Pongal.

28. MH govt forms panel to frame policies on EVs

The Maharashtra government has formed a seven-member committee to decide policies for EVs purchase in various departments and for charging facilities. The committee will suggest steps to ban BS III standard and old vehicles in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and also recommend the use of EVs for public transport. The additional chief secretary (home department) will lead the committee.

29. Gambhir’s ‘Jan Rasoi’ to serve lunch at Rs 1

BJP MP Gautam Gambhir will launch ‘Jan Rasoi’ canteens that will serve lunch to the needy at Rs 1 in his parliamentary constituency of East Delhi. He will inaugurate the first such canteen in Gandhi Nagar on 24th Dec, followed by another in Ashok Nagar on the Republic Day. The project is being funded by Gautam Gambhir Foundation and the MP’s personal resources and has no government support.

30. DPIIT to organise global summit on startups

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) will be organising a global summit on startups on 15 and 16 January 2021 with a view to promoting the growth of the sector. Startups from Asian countries, domestic players and global entrepreneurs would participate in the virtual summit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to address the participants on January 16.

31. FGII partners with NGO Room to Read

Future Generali India Insurance Company Limited (FGII) has partnered with an NGO Room to Read to improve literacy level and inculcate reading habits among underprivileged children. FGII will use its uniquely designed annual report to raise funds for the NGO-backed schools. FGII was incorporated in Sept 2007 with the objective of providing retail, personal and rural insurance solutions.

32. Businesses to pay at least 1% GST liability

Businesses with a monthly turnover of over 50 lakh will have to mandatorily pay at least 1 per cent of their GST liability in cash. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has introduced Rule 86B in Goods and Services Tax (GST) rules which restricts the use of input tax credit (ITC) for discharging GST liability to 99 per cent.

33. ADB approves a loan of $231m

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has sanctioned a $231m loan for the construction of the Lower Kopili Hydroelectric Power (LKHEP) plant in Central Assam. The LKHEP plant is expected to double the hydropower generation capacity of the Assam Power Generation Corporation (APGCL). The plant will produce a total capacity of 120MW of electricity to harness water from the Kopili River.

34. Sugathakumari passes away

Poet and social activist Sugathakumari passed away in Thiruvananthapuram in December 2020 following COVID-19-related health complications. Muthuchippi (Pearl Oyster), Paavam Maanavahridayam (Poor Human Heart), are some of her noted works. In 2006, she was honoured with Padma Shri, the country’s fourth-highest civilian honour.

35. Microsoft, McAfee form task force

Microsoft, McAfee and other tech companies, security firms and non-profits have formed a new group, called the ‘Ransomware Task Force’ (RTF) to tackle ransomware attacks. The task force will assess technical solutions at varying levels of ransomware chain to provide protections during a ransomware attack. The Ransomware Task Force website will be launched in January 2021.

36. Special Education Region to come up at Dholera

The Gujarat govt has announced a Gujarat Special Education Region (G-SER) to be developed at the Dholera Special Investment Region (DSIR). An MoU was signed between Cerestra Group and the state govt to establish G-SER.  It will develop residential, sports complexes and other facilities for students. Dholera Industrial City is spread over 920 square km.

37. ADB signs $40m loan to Northern Arc Capital

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a $40 million loan to Northern Arc Capital Limited (NACL) to support the livelihoods of microfinance borrowers and MSMEs in India. The loan is disbursed to NACL as part of ADB’s ongoing COVID-19 response. NACL will on-lend the loan proceeds and provide guarantees to financial institutions and individual borrowers,

38. Bihar government to constitute a task force

In Bihar, a task force will be constituted at the block level in each district for free covid vaccination in the state. This step has been taken to enable vaccination in rural areas of the state. Vaccination will be given on lines of pulse polio vaccination. Besides health workers, health officials will be also engaged in vaccination work.

39. DigiBoxx platform launched

India’s first digital asset management platform DigiBoxx was launched on 23 Dec 2020. The platform provides an easy and secure way to store all the files in one centralised location. DigiBoxx has free 2GB storage space and the file shared stays for 45 days. The platform was launched by CEO of NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant, who also signed up for an account, thus becoming the first user.

40. Aditya Nath Das appointed new AP Chief Sec.

Aditya Nath Das, an IAS officer of the 1987 batch, has been appointed as the new Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh. He will take over from Nilam Sawhney, who will retire from service on Dec 31, 2020. Sawhney will be the new Principal Advisor to the Chief Minister, in the rank of a Cabinet Minister, upon her retirement. She will be the second Principal Advisor to the CM with a Cabinet rank.

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