Current Affairs 2nd February 2021

Table of Contents

1. World Wetlands Day: 2 February

2 February is celebrated as World Wetlands Day every year. It raises global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet. This day also marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. Wetlands are land areas that are saturated or flooded with water either permanently or seasonally.

2. SEBI slaps Rs. 2.38 crore fine on 23 entities

SEBI has slapped a total penalty of Rs. 2.38 crore on 23 entities for indulging in fraudulent trading activities in the shares of Steel Exchange India Ltd (SEIL). The fine has been levied in the range of Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 8 lakh on 23 entities and individuals. An investigation was carried out by the regulator into the shares of SEIL during July to December 2017 period.

3. Rs. 5,976 crores for Nagpur Metro Phase-II

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman has made a budgetary provision of Rs. 5,976 crore for Nagpur Metro Phase-II. Phase II covers the rural parts of the Nagpur district and will serve as an extension to the on-going first phase. It will be spread over 43.8 km length with 32 stations. The corridors identified for it include Automotive Square to Kanhan, MIHAN to Butibori MIDC, etc.

4. India, Qatar held Foreign Office Consultations

The 4th Foreign Office Consultations between India and Qatar was held virtually on 1 February 2021. The Indian side was led by Sanjay Bhattacharyya, Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs. The Qatari side was led by Dr. Ahmad Hassan Al-Hamadi, Secretary-General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Both sides agreed to convene the first Joint Commission Meeting at the Foreign Minister level at an early date.

5. Lt Gen CP Mohanty: Vice Chief of Army Staff

Lieutenant General Chandi Prasad Mohanty took over as the Vice Chief of the Army Staff on 1 Feb 2021. Lt Gen CP Mohanty was commissioned into the Rajput Regiment in 1982. In a career spanning four decades, the General officer served across a wide spectrum of conflicts and terrain profiles and tenanted a host of Command, Staff, and Instructional appointments.

6. Capital outlay increased by nearly 19 percent

Union Budget 2021-22 has increased defense capital outlay by 18.75 percent. This is the highest ever increase in the capital outlay of Defence in the last 15 years. Defense allocation in the budget has been increased to over 4,78,195 crore rupees for the Financial Year 2021-22. Allocation under Non-Salary Revenue to meet operational requirement has been increased to over 54,624 crore rupees.

7. Fiscal deficit pegged at 6.8 percent of GDP

The fiscal deficit for the financial year 2021-22 has been pegged at 6.8%. The total resources being transferred to the states including the devolution of states share, grants, loans, and releases under the centrally sponsored scheme in the budget estimate for the fiscal is 13 lakh 88 thousand 502 crore rupees. Some parts of mobiles will move from a ‘nil’ rate to a moderate 2.5 percent.

8. Tax holiday for startups extended

To incentivize start-ups in the country, the government has extended the eligibility for claiming tax holiday for start-ups by one more year – till 31 March 2022. The Government has also extended the capital gains exemption for investment in start-ups by one more year – till 31st March 2022 to incentivize funding of the start-ups.

9. Agricultural credit target enhanced

To provide adequate credit to farmers, the government has enhanced the agricultural credit target to 16.5 lakh crore rupees in the next fiscal. The government has also enhanced the allocation to the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund from 30,000 to 40,000 crore rupees. It has enlarged the scope of the Operation Green Scheme to include 22 perishable products besides tomatoes, onions, and potatoes.

10. RBI cancels license of Shivam Sahakari Bank

The license of Maharashtra-based Shivam Sahakari Bank has been canceled as it does not have adequate capital and earning prospects. Consequently, the bank ceases to carry on banking business, with effect from the close of business on 29 Jan 2021. As per the data submitted by the bank, more than 99% of the depositors are fully insured by Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation.

11. bluShift Aerospace launches 1st Biofuel rocket

Maine-based rocket startup bluShift Aerospace launched the world’s 1st commercial booster powered by biofuel on 31 Jan 2021. The biofuel prototype, called Stardust 1.0, took off despite freezing temperatures and 2 false starts. The company’s rocket engine called the Modular Adaptable Rocket Engine for Vehicle Launch (MAREVL) uses a proprietary solid biofuel which is ecofriendly.

12. New chameleon species found in Africa

On an expedition in the North of Madagascar, a team of scientists, led by the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology, has discovered a minuscule new species of chameleon. Scientists have named the new species Brookesia nana. With a body size of just 13.5 mm (0.53 inches), this Nano-Chameleon (Brookesia nana) is the smallest known male of the roughly 11,500 known reptile species.

13. DM to inaugurate HAL’s 2nd LCA production line

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will inaugurate the 2nd production line of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited”s Tejas Light Combat Aircraft in Bengaluru on 2 Feb 2021. The delivery of the Tejas LCA to the Indian Air Force under a Rs. 48,000-cr deal will begin from March 2024. Annually around 16 aircraft will be rolled out till the completion of the total supply of 83 jets.

14. Govt to facilitate a ‘world-class’ fintech hub

The Government will facilitate the setting up of a world-class fintech hub in Gujarat International Finance Tec (GIFT) city. GIFT City is a planned business district that spans over 886 ac of land with 62 mn sq. ft. of a built-up area which includes office spaces, residential apartments, schools, hospitals, etc. It is located on the bank of the river Sabarmati connecting Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar.

15. Rs. 1.41L cr for Urban Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0

Finance Minister N Sitharaman has announced Rs. 1.41 lakh cr for the Urban Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0, which will be completed over a span of 5 years from 2021-26. 4,378 urban local bodies would be benefited, and liquid waste management would be carried out across 500 AMRUT cities. In 2020, Rs. 9,994 cr were allocated for Swachh Bharat Mission Rural and Rs. 2,300 cr for Swachh Bharat Mission Urban.

16. Scheme for setting up mega textile parks

The government has unveiled a scheme for setting up mega textile parks in the country. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced while presenting the Budget 2021-22 in Parliament. A scheme of mega-investment textile parks will be launched in addition to the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme. 7 mega textile parks will be launched in 3 years as part of the scheme.

17. 1st unmanned space flight set to launch in Dec

India’s first unmanned space flight as part of the ‘Gaganyaan’ mission is listed to be launched in Dec 2021. Initially planned for Dec 2020, the launch was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 2 unmanned GSLV rockets will be tested before the actual human flight takes place.

18. Govt proposes Rs. 2,23,846 cr outlay for healthcare

The government has proposed Rs. 2,23,846 cr Budget outlay for health and well being for 2021-22, compared to Rs. 94,452 cr in 2020-21, an increase of 137%. Finance Minister N Sitharaman also proposed Rs. 35,000 cr outlay for COVID-19 vaccines for the fiscal year 2021-22 and announced the Pneumococcal vaccine, which is currently limited to only 5 Indian states, will be rolled out across the country.

19. Power consumption grows 10.2% in January

India’s power consumption grew at a three-month high rate of 10.2% at 111.43 billion units (BU) in January 2021. Power consumption in January 2020 was 101.15 BU. Besides, peak power demand also recorded double-digit growth of nearly 11% at 189.64 GW in January 2021 compared to 170.97 GW in January 2020. The 189.64 GW peak power demand recorded on 30 Jan 21 was also an all-time high so far.

20. India to emerge as the most resilient economy

India will emerge as the most resilient economy after Germany in 2021. Germany ranks first in the PHDCCI International Economic Resilience (IER) Rank followed by India and South Korea at second and third positions, respectively. India’s real GDP growth rate is projected to be the highest at 11.5% in the year 2021 among the top-10 leading economies in the world.

21. Govt proposes vehicle scrappage policy

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced the voluntary vehicle scrappage policy to phase out unfit, pollution-causing vehicles. The policy will help reduce vehicular pollution and cut oil import bill. Vehicles will undergo a fitness test in automated centers. Age of the vehicles will be 15 years in the case of commercial vehicles and 20 years in the case of personal vehicles.

22. First paperless budget after independence

In the wake of the ongoing pandemic, Union Budget 2021 was paperless. This was the first time since independence that the Budget papers were not printed. To present the first paperless Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman switched to a Made-in-India tablet. The Finance Ministry earlier unveiled the Union Budget Mobile App where all the budget documents will be available.

23. Rs. 2.87 lakh crore outlay for Jal Jeevan mission

The govt has announced the Jal Jeevan mission with an outlay of Rs. 2.87 lakh crore for 4,378 urban local bodies. Swachh Bharat 2.0 will be implemented with an outlay of Rs. 1,41,678 crore over a period of five years. The Finance Minister has also announced a production linked incentive (PLI) scheme with an outlay of Rs. 1.97 lakh crore for 5 years starting this fiscal.

24. Rs. 1.1 lakh crore allocation for Indian Railways

To boost infrastructure, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced Rs. 1.1 lakh crore allocation for Indian Railways in the Union Budget 2021. Of this, Rs. 1.07 lakh crore would be for capital expenditure. The government has also announced an Rs. 18,000 crore scheme to augment public transport in urban areas. There will be 100% electrification of broad gauge rail tracks by December 2023.

25. India gets electricity distribution scheme

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced a massive Rs. 3.05 trillion electricity distribution reform programme. The Reforms-Linked, Result-Based Scheme for Distribution, initially referred to as the Atal Distribution System Improvement Yojana, is aimed at helping discoms trim electricity losses to 12-15% from current levels. The scheme will work in phases.

26. Strategic divestment in 2 PSU banks

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced strategic divestment in two public sector companies and financial institutions, including 2 PSU banks and one insurance company, in the next fiscal year. FM also put disinvestment receipts at Rs. 1.75 lakh cr for the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2021. She also announced that LIC IPO will be brought in FY22.

27. Rs. 64,000 crore health scheme announced

The government will spend Rs 64,180 crores over the next six years to improve healthcare services available across primary to tertiary care facilities. A new centrally sponsored scheme, PM Atmanirbhar Swasthya Yojana will be launched. The scheme will support over 17,000 rural and over 7,000 urban health and wellness centers. This scheme is in addition to the existing National Health Mission.

28. Incorporation of ‘one person companies’

The government has proposed to incentivize the incorporation of one-person companies (OPCs), a move that will benefit startups. The incorporation will be incentivized by allowing such companies to grow without restriction on paid-up capital, allowing conversion into any other type of company, reducing the residency limit for an Indian citizen to set up an OPC from 182 days to 120 days, etc.

29. Government will set up ARC and AMC

The government will set up an asset reconstruction company (ARC) and an asset management company (AMC) to house stressed assets currently in the book of Indian banks. The government will also infuse Rs. 20,000 crores into public sector banks as part of its recapitalization plan. It will ease the bad loan burden by taking over assets and attempting recoveries.

30. SEBI as gold exchanges regulator

The Finance Ministry will notify the SEBI as the regulator for gold exchanges. The securities market code will include the Sebi Act, Depositories Act, and Government Securities Act, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said while presenting the Budget for 2021-22 in Parliament. The government has also proposed to launch a unified securities market code.

31. Rs. 15,700 crore provided for the MSME sector

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has made a provision of Rs. 15,700 crores for the MSME sector in the Union Budget 2021-22. To further facilitate credit flow under the scheme of Stand Up India for the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes and also women, it has been propose to reduce the margin money requirement from 25% to 15% only.

32. Asus to develop ROG Academy in India

The Asus Republic of Gamers (ROG) has announced the launch of the Asus ROG Academy in India. The competitive Esports training initiative will be India’s first virtual academy programme for upcoming gamers who are looking to be professionals. Asus ROG will identify PC gamers through a screening process and the selected individuals will be provided the necessary equipment and coaching.

33. Lucknow Metro: 1st to use UV Rays to disinfect

The Lucknow Metro has set a record by becoming the first metro project in the country to use ultraviolet (UV) rays to sanitize train coaches. The UP Metro Rail Corporation (UPMRC) has taken inspiration from the New York Metro’s experiment to sanitize trains with UV lamp rays. The apparatus which was certified by DRDO in Oct 2020, sanitizes the entire coach in seven minutes.

34. RS Sharma to head Ayushman Bharat

The National Health Authority (NHA) has appointed RS Sharma as the new Chief Executive to head its health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat or Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. He will be replacing Indu Bhushan whose three years terms came to an end. Sharma is the former Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), and a member of, National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration.

35. Okhla Bird Sanctuary to organize Bird festival

The Divisional Forest Department is celebrating a bird festival at Okhla bird sanctuary to commemorate International Wetland Day on 2 Feb 2021. The event is being organized to spread awareness about wetlands and also assess the species density in the sanctuary. Several birders have been invited for a quick assessment of the species density in the sanctuary.

36. IOC to set up Rs. 29,300 cr refinery

Indian Oil Corporation’s board has agreed for setting up a new refinery in Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu at an estimated cost of Rs 29,361 crore. The plant will be established by IOC’s subsidiary, Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL), to meet the demand of petroleum products in southern India. The new refinery will have an annual refining capacity of 9 million metric tonnes.

37. ‘Har Ghar Pani, Har Ghar Safai’ mission

Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh has virtually launched the ‘Har Ghar Pani, Har Ghar Safai’ mission as part of the government’s campaign to accomplish the goal of 100 percent potable piped water supply in all rural households by March 2022. He also inaugurated one Mega Surface Water Supply Scheme covering 85 villages in the Moga district, and 144 new water supply schemes for 172 villages.

38. IKEA acquires 11000 acres of forest in Georgia

Ikea has acquired almost 11,000 acres of forestland in southeastern Georgia to protect its diverse ecosystems from development. The land, acquired from non-profit conservation foundation The Conservation Fund, is home to more than 350 plant and wildlife species. The company has also planted close to 7 million seedlings in countries all over the world.

39. Yes Securities upgrades IndusInd Bank rating

Analysts at Yes Securities have upgraded the rating of Induslnd Bank from Add to Buy based on increased confidence around the deposits franchise and credit cost trajectory. The brokerage has raised the 12-month target price to Rs. 1,070, 16% up from the last traded price of Rs. 924. The share of Induslnd Bank has soared 44% in the last three months.

40. Actor, screenwriter John Frey passes away

Actor, screenwriter, and director John Frey, widely known for the 2018 film ‘Cabaret Maxime’, passed away in January 2021. He won the Portuguese Society of Authors best screenplay award for Bruno de Almeida’s film ‘Cabaret Maxime’. Frey and de Almeida collaborated on several films including ‘On the Run’ (1999), ‘The Lovebirds’ (2009), ‘The Lecture’ (2012), and ‘Operation Autumn’ (2013).

41. Pak receives 5L doses of Chinese CO-19 vaccine

Pakistan is set to launch its COVID-19 vaccination campaign as it received the 1st batch of “Sinopharm”, a novel coronavirus vaccine developed by China, on 1 Feb 2021. Pakistan plans to additionally procure another 1.1 mn doses of the vaccine from China. Pakistan’s drug regulator has so far approved AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines for emergency use in the country.

42. Emmy-winning writer Allan Burns passes away

The Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated screenwriter and producer Allan Burns passed away in January 2021. He has received 16 Emmy nominations, and he was honored in 1988 with the WGA’s prestigious Laurel Award. He was occasionally worked in the movies, and he was nominated for an adapted screenplay Oscar for ‘A Little Romance’ (1979).

43. Paul Crutzen passes away

Paul Crutzen passes away on Jan 2021. The Dutch chemist was a co-recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on stratospheric ozone destruction. He popularized the term Anthropocene in 2000 to define the current geological era in which human activity is influencing the planet.

44. Writer Ranendra conferred with an award

Hindi writer and storyteller Ranendra bagged the ‘Shrilal Shukla Smriti IFFCO Sahitya Samman-2020’ award by Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO). He made his debut in the literary world in 2008 with his novel ‘Global Gaon ke Devta’ in which he talked about a tribal community called ‘Asura’. The award had earlier been conferred on Vidyasagar Nautiyal, Shekhar Joshi, etc.

45. ASEAN India Hackathon inaugurated

Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank’ addressed the inaugural ceremony of the ASEAN India Hackathon on 1 Feb 2021. It is an initiative taken by the Ministry of Education. It is being organized online from 1-3 Feb 2021. It offers opportunities for all the 10 ASEAN countries and India to forward their economic and cultural ties.

46. Hamid Ansari’s new book

Former Vice President Hamid Ansari has come up with his new autobiography called ‘By Many a Happy Accident’. It is on Ansari’s life as a diplomat, and then Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman for two terms. It also contains several accounts of Ansari’s interactions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one of them being when he had just become Vice President.

47. Tamil Nadu wins Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy

In Cricket, Tamil Nadu lifted the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy after defeating Baroda by seven wickets in the final at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad on 31 Jan 2021. This was Tamil Nadu’s second Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) triumph, after winning their first title way back in 2006-07. Baroda had won the title twice in the past (in 2011-12 and 2013-14).

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