Current Affairs 25th February 2021

Table of Contents

1. Israel launches “green pass”

Israel has launched a coronavirus “green pass” system, which allows people who have been vaccinated to access public facilities. Israelis who have got both Pfizer vaccine shots and those who have recovered from the virus get a “Green Pass” certificate in the form of a QR code or printout. The pass allows entry to gyms, swimming pools, hotels, entertainment venues and sporting events.

2. Bharat Forge joins hands with Paramount Group

Bharat Forge has inked a pact with global aerospace and technology firm Paramount Group to manufacture armoured vehicles like Kalyani M4 in the country. An agreement to this effect was signed by both companies during the International Defence Expo (IDEX 2021) in Abu Dhabi. The Kalyani M4 is a multi-role platform, designed to meet the specific requirements of armed forces for quick mobility.

3. Motera Cricket Stadium renamed

The world’s largest cricket arena – the refurbished Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, Gujarat has been renamed ‘Narendra Modi Stadium’ after the Prime Minister. The venue is hosting the third Test match between India and England from 24 Feb 2021. President Ram Nath Kovind on 24 Feb 2021 laid the foundation stone of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Enclave.

4. HarperCollins, Amar Chitra Katha announce JV

Amar Chitra Katha has joined hands with HarperCollins India to bring the iconic folktales of India from its comic books in a new format for younger readers. Each book in the Amar Chitra Katha Folktales Series is adapted from the original Amar Chitra Katha comics. Founded in 1967, Amar Chitra Katha has been a household name for generations of Indians.

5. New alpine plant species discovered

A new species of alpine plant in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang district has been discovered by a group of scientists of three institutes of the country. The new species belongs to the family of the Himalayan sunflower. The discovery of the species was published in Biodiversitas: Journal of Biological Diversity. It is named as Cremanthodium Indicum and generally flowers from July to August.

6. Essar Power to set up solar plant in MP

Essar Power Ltd will be setting up a 90 MW solar plant in Madhya Pradesh. The board of Essar Power Ltd, an investee company of Essar Global Fund (EGFL), has approved an investment of Rs. 300 crores for the pant. The proposed power plant is a solar photovoltaic project to be set up in Bhander, in the Datia district of MP and will be executed in 2 parts – 33.7 MW and 56.17 MW.

7. Andhra govt to provide Rs 15,000 to women

From the financial year 2021-22, an assistance of Rs. 15,000 per year will be extended to women in the age group of 45-60 from economically backward classes (EBCs) belonging to upper castes, on the lines of Kapu Nestham and YSR Cheyutha. The castes include Brahmin, Vysya, Velama, Kshatriya, etc. The new scheme EBC Nestham has been allocated Rs. 670 crore for the next three years.

8. Punjab launches ‘PSCADB’ mobile app

The Punjab State Cooperative Agriculture Development Bank (PSCADB) has launched the ‘PSCADB’ mobile app. It has been launched in a bid to benefit common people in general and farmers in particular. It will also help in locating the Punjab Agricultural Development Banks in the villages. The Android and iOS version of this app is designed and developed by National Informatics Centre.

9. RBI ropes in Punjabi rapper for a campaign

The Reserve Bank of India has roped in Punjabi singer-rapper Viruss in its public awareness campaign. The campaign also includes Viruss’ popular 2017 Indie hit ‘Bam Bhole’ that was recreated for Akshay Kumar-Kiara Advani’s film Laxmii. RBI’s latest public directives on how one can and should protect themselves from cyber crimes and identity theft come along with rap music.

10. Rahul Khullar passes away

Rahul Khullar, former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman and Commerce Secretary, passed away in February 2021. A 1975-batch IAS officer, Khullar’s first deputation with the central government was as Deputy Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office in 1985. In 2009, he was appointed the Commerce Secretary, a post which he held till 2012 when he was selected to head TRAI.

11. G Sathiyan wins 82nd National TT Championship

G Sathiyan won over Sharath Kamal in the 82nd National Table Tennis Championships on 23 Feb 2021. This is his first national title. World No. 37 Sathiyan beat three-time Olympian Achanta Sharath Kamal 11-6, 11-7, 10-12, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, thus denying the latter a record-extending tenth national title.

12. Coal India signs MoU with Railways’ CRIS

Coal India Limited (CIL) has joined hands with the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), an arm of the Ministry of Railways, for freight monitoring and data sharing. CIL will get access to the Freight Operations Information System (FOIS) of Indian Railways, through which it will monitor movement of coal rakes and coal despatch activity. CIL has signed an MoU with CRIS for the same.

13. PM Narendra Modi chairs 36th PRAGATI Meeting

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the 36th PRAGATI meeting on 24 Feb 2021. In the meeting, 10 agenda items were taken up for review including 8 projects, grievance relating to 1 scheme, and 1 programme. In the previous 35 PRAGATI interactions, 290 projects having a total cost of about Rs. 13.60 lakh crore, along with 51 programmes/schemes have been reviewed.

14. Prime Minister addresses a webinar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a webinar on the effective implementation of budget provisions in the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) on 24 Feb 2021. He informed that an empowered group of Secretaries has been formed to connect with the investors. He also informed that a production-linked incentive has been introduced to encourage investors.

15. Cabinet approves a scheme for IT Hardware

The Union Cabinet has approved the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for IT Hardware. The scheme proposed a production-linked incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in the value chain of IT Hardware. The target segments under the proposed scheme include laptops, tablets, all-in-one PCs, and servers.

16. PLI scheme approved for Pharmaceuticals

The Union Cabinet has approved the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Pharmaceuticals over a period of the financial year 2020-21 to 2028-29. It will benefit domestic manufacturers and is expected to contribute to the availability of wider range of affordable medicines for consumers. The scheme is also expected to bring in investment of Rs. 15,000 crore in the pharmaceutical sector.

17. Top states awarded under the PM-KISAN scheme

Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar awarded the top-performing states and districts for their exemplary work with respect to the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme on 24 Feb 2021. Maharashtra was awarded in the category of Good Performance in Physical Verification and Grievance Redressal.

18. Ajay Kochhar takes charge as the FOCWF

Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar took over as the Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet (FOCWF) at a ceremony held onboard INS Vikramaditya on 24 February 2021. He took over from Rear Admiral Krishna Swaminathan. Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar, a specialist in Gunnery and Missile Warfare, was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 1 Jul 1988. He has commanded 5 warships on both the Western and Eastern seaboard.

19. Vijay Sampla takes charge as Chairman of NCSC

Vijay Sampla assumed the charge of Chairman National Commission for Scheduled Castes(NCSC) in New Delhi on 24 February 2021. He has been the former Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment from 2014-2019. He served as Chairman, Khadi and Village Industries Board, Punjab from 2009-2012, and subsequently, his name was recommended for Rashtrapati Award.

20. PM to inaugurate 2nd Maritime India Summit

Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways is organizing Maritime India Summit 2021 on a virtual platform www.maritimeindiasummitin, from 2-4 March 2021. It is aimed at promoting both international and domestic investment in the Ports and Maritime Sector. PM Narendra Modi will inaugurate the summit on 2 Mar 21. Its objective is to propel India to the forefront of the global maritime sector.

21. MoA signed between ICAR-CCARI and GSBB

A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between ICAR-Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute (ICAR-CCARI), Goa, and Goa State Biodiversity Board (GSBB), Goa. It has been signed for commercialization of ICAR-CCARIs technology. The technology helps in the effective utilization of pericarp (outer cover of nutmeg fruit), otherwise discarded, by preparing the nutmeg taffy.

22. CCI imposes Rs. 4 lakh penalty on FPBAI

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed a penalty of Rs 4 lakh on the Federation of Publishers and Booksellers Association in India (FPBAI) and its present and past Presidents for anti-competitive practices. An investigation revealed that by restricting discounts, FPBAI indirectly determined sale prices of books, journals, sold by FPBAI members.

23. Osamu Suzuki announces retirement

Suzuki Motor Corp’s 91-year old chairman, Osamu Suzuki, announced he will retire in June 2021. However, he will remain active as an adviser. He headed the company for more than four decades. His son Toshihiro Suzuki is the President and CEO of the company. Osamu Suzuki, who joined Suzuki Motor in 1958, became President in 1978 and was also appointed as Chairman in 2000.

24. Tech Mahindra to launch Global Chess League

With an aim to revolutionize and popularise chess across the world, Tech Mahindra has announced the launch of the Global Chess League. It will be a first-of-its-kind phygital (physical and digital) format league. Tech Mahindra has also roped in five-time world chess champion and Indian chess grandmaster Viswanathan Anand as mentor and partner for the league.

25. Fullerton India appoints Shantanu Mitra as CEO

Fullerton India Credit Company (Fullerton India)has announced the appointment of Shantanu Mitra as its new CEO and MD with effect from 2 April 2021. Mitra has over 40 years of experience in financial services, with over 20 years at Standard Chartered and Citibank. His last role in Standard Chartered was Senior Regional Risk Officer, India, Middle East and Africa, based in Mumbai.

26. Thailand receives its 1st COVID-19 vaccines

Thailand received its first 200,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac on 24 February 2021 from China. It is the country’s first batch of coronavirus vaccines. Thailand is expecting to take delivery of a further 1.8 mn doses of CoronaVac in March and April-2021, to be given mainly to health workers and at-risk groups.

27. Assam declared as ‘disturbed area’

Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi declared the entire state as a ‘disturbed area’ for 6 months beginning February 27, 2021. Assam is declared as a ‘disturbed area’ under the powers conferred in Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958. As of Feb-21, besides Assam, AFSPA is in force in Nagaland and parts of Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

28. Joe Biden nominates Indian-American lawyer

US President Joe Biden has nominated Indian-American lawyer Kiran Ahuja to head the Office of Personnel Management. She will be the first Indian-American to head this department. She had served as Chief of Staff to Director of US Office of Personnel Management from 2015 to 2017. The United States Office of Personnel Management is a federal agency that manages US civilian services.

29. Delhi govt introduces contactless tickets

The Delhi government on 24 Feb 2021, for the first time since its inception, expanded ambitious contactless ticketing service to all its Delhi transport corporation (DTC) buses. The ticketless scheme was introduced by the government in May-June, 2020 during the lockdown. The scheme is aimed at reducing physical human interaction that increased the chances of the spread of Covid-19.

30. Vaccine to people above 60 yrs from 1st March

Government will start administering Covid-19 vaccine to people above 60 years of age from 1st March 2021. Those above 45 years of age with comorbidities will also be vaccinated in this phase. The vaccine will be administered free of cost at ten thousand government hospitals to these groups. The cost of the vaccine at 20 thousand private vaccination centres will be borne by the government.

31. Ghana receives world’s 1st free Covax vaccine

The western African country Ghana has become the 1st country to receive Coronavirus vaccines through the Covax vaccine-sharing initiative. Around 6 lakhs doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and produced by the Serum Institute of India arrived in Ghana on 24 Feb 2021. Covax is aiming to deliver about 2 bn doses of COVID-19 vaccines globally by the end of 2021.

32. ABFRL picks up 33.5% stake in GPPL

Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail (ABFRL) has acquired 33.5% stake in Goodview Properties Private Limited (GPPL). GPPL was founded by fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani, for Rs. 67 crore. Under this partnership, ABFRL and Tahiliani will also form a new entity. ABFRL will hold 80% stake in the new entity while Tahiliani will hold the remaining 20%.

33. Ashok Leyland to buy stake in Hinduja Tech

Hinduja Group flagship firm Ashok Leyland has entered an agreement with Nissan International Holding BV to acquire 38% stake in Hinduja Tech for Rs. 70.20 cr. It will acquire 58,500,000 shares for a total consideration of Rs. 70.20 cr constituting 38% in the paid-up share capital of Hinduja Tech Ltd. Prior to the stake sale, Hinduja Tech Ltd was wholly-owned unlisted subsidiary of Ashok Leyland.

34. IRDAI forms a working group committee

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has formed a working group committee to relook its information and security guidelines amid the exponential increase in cyberattacks across the globe in the wake of covid-19. The committee will review whether to extend the applicability of guidelines for insurers to other entities, with or without modification.

35. Wipro launches Cisco Business Unit

Wipro has launched a Cisco Business Unit. It will focus on the development and adoption of end-to-end digital transformation solutions leveraging Cisco Systems Inc. technologies for customers. Wipro, a gold-certified Cisco partner, is among top 10 global systems integrator partners of Cisco. The Cisco Business Unit will provide a full stack of industry offerings aligned to customers needs.

36. Just Dial launches its B2B platform, Jd Mart

Just Dial Limited has launched its business-to-business (B2B) portal, Jd Mart, across various platforms for users. Jd Mart is an exclusive B2B portal for a new wholesale experience. B2B buyers can discover quality vendors offering a wide selection of products to choose from, spread across various categories to suit all their B2B needs.

37. Siliguri-Dhaka train services to begin

A new cross-border train route will start between New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri in India and Dhaka in Bangladesh from 26 March 2021. This is the third passenger train service between the neighbouring nations, after Maitree express and Bandhan express. The Prime Ministers of both countries will jointly inaugurate the passenger train service. The train will have 10 coaches.

38. IIFL, Axis Securities to acquire Karvy accounts

Brokerage firms IIFL Securities and Axis Securities will acquire the accounts of Karvy Stock Broking after winning the bids conducted by exchanges and depositories. While IIFL will get the Demat accounts of Karvy with depositories NSDL and CDSL, Axis Securities will obtain the trading or broking accounts. IIFL Securities will get more than 11 million Demat accounts.

39. Pakistan extends line of credit to Sri Lanka

Pakistan has extended a $ 50 million line of credit for the defence to Sri Lanka. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was on a 2-day visit to Colombo in February 2021. During the visit, the Pakistani delegation also invited Colombo to use its Gwadar port, part of the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC), for trade with China and Central Asia.

40. Kalpesh Kikani: CEO of Piramal Alternatives

Piramal Enterprises Ltd has appointed Kalpesh Kikani as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of its Rs. 11,000 plus crore Assets Under Management (AUM) Alternatives business managed through its subsidiaries and joint ventures. He served as Managing Director at AION Capital (a JV between Apollo Global Management and ICICI Group) earlier. He also has spent over 15 years at ICICI Bank.

41. Delhi government notifies a scheme

The Delhi government has notified its flagship scheme for the doorstep delivery of ration that is likely to be rolled out from March 2021. The ‘Mukhya Mantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna’ (MMGGRY) under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) of the National Food Security Act, 2013, was notified by the government on February 20, 2021. It involves the delivery of packed wheat flour and rice.

42. ReNew Power to merge with RMG

Goldman Sachs backed ReNew Power Ventures Pvt. Ltd has announced a merger agreement with RMG Acquisition Corp. II (RMG II). RMG is a Nasdaq-listed special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The transaction puts an enterprise value of around $8 billion on ReNew Power and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.

43. PM Modi visits Puducherry

PM Modi visited Puducherry on 25 Feb 21 and laid the foundation stone for several projects there. The projects include the inauguration of a 100-bed girls’ hostel at Lawspet also, the reconstructed Heritage Marie Building built by the French. He also laid the foundation stone for Minor Port at Puducherry, the Synthetic Athletic Track at Indira Gandhi Sports Complex, etc.

44. PM Modi inaugurates key projects in Tamilnadu

PM laid the foundation stone of multiple infrastructure projects worth over Rs. 12,400 cr at Tamilnadu on 25 February 2021. PM dedicated Rs 8k cr Neyveli New Thermal Power Project, also 709 MW Solar Power Project of NLCIL to the nation. He also laid the foundation stone of the extension of the Lower Bhavani Project System, taken up at a cost of Rs. 934 cr under NABARD infrastructure assistance.

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