Current Affairs 31st December 2020

1. Punjab & Sind Bank gets zero-coupon bonds

The government has used financial innovation to recapitalise Punjab & Sind Bank by issuing the lender Rs 5,500-crore worth of non-interest bearing bonds valued at par. These are special types of zero-coupon bonds issued by the government after proper due diligence. These non-transferable special GOI securities have a maturity of 10-15 years and issued specifically to Punjab & Sind Bank.

2. Raghav Bahl quits as MD of Quint

Raghav Bahl has resigned as MD of Quint Digital Media Ltd. Bahl will continue to act as a non-executive promoter director on the Board of the company. Bahl is best known for founding the Network18 group in the early 1990s and expanding it into a media conglomerate with TV channels, digital properties, and a magazine.

3. ABSL MF introduces a provision for int, stocks

As part of its conversion to a flexicap fund, Aditya Birla Sun Life (ABSL) Mutual Fund has introduced a provision for up to 35% investment in international stocks in its 12,000 crores odd equity fund. The asset management company (AMC) has strategically introduced this provision in conjunction with a change in the category of its multicap fund to flexicap.

4. Cycle rally organized at Udhampur in J&K

In the UT of J&K, to generate awareness among the common masses about the Fit India campaign, Municipal Council Udhampur organized a cycle rally at Udhampur on 30 Dec 2020. DDC, Udhampur, Dr. Piyush Singla flagged off the cycle rally, which culminated at Town Hall Udhampur. The main objective of organizing this awareness rally was to sensitize the common masses about the Fit India campaign.

5. New training centres to be established

New Government tool room and training centers will be established in different parts of Karnataka to impart training in different skills. Training centers under construction in Challakere, Koppala, Chitradurga, Hunsuru, and Madakeri will be ready soon. Vijayapura and Bengaluru Rural districts are chosen for building new skill training centers apart from 24 Centers functioning now.

6. Intra state-level programme begins in Jammu

In J&K, as part of National Youth Festival 2021, an Intra state-level event began on 30 Dec’20 at Teacher’s Bhawan Gandhi Nagar, Jammu. It is being organised by the Department of Youth Services and Sports, J&K in collaboration with Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, J&K. The intrastate festival would culminate on 4 Jan’21. The theme of it is “Standing together for truth, we the power of youth”.

7. Centre declares Nagaland ‘disturbed area’

The entire state of Nagaland has been declared a disturbed area for six more months. In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, the Central government has declared it to be a disturbed area for a period of six months. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act has been in force in Nagaland for several decades.

8. Union Cabinet approves a project

The Union Cabinet has approved a project to enhance the facilities at Paradip port in Odisha. The project, envisaged at a cost of around Rs 3000cr, will enhance the cargo handling capacity of the port while boosting the industrial economy and generating employment opportunities. It will also usher in port-led development in Odisha and eastern India in sync with the PM’s vision of Purvodaya.

9. AstraZeneca vaccine approved for use in the UK

In the UK, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use, with the first doses due to be given soon amid rising coronavirus cases. The govt has ordered 100 mn doses – enough to vaccinate 50 mn people. 53,135 new Covid cases were recorded in the UK on 29 Dec 2020 – the highest single-day rise since mass testing began.

10. India, Sri Lanka hold meeting

The 4th meeting of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group on Fisheries was held on 30 Dec 2020 through virtual mode. The meeting covered the entire gamut of issues related to fishermen and fishing boats which have been on the agenda of bilateral discussions between India and Sri Lanka for many years. The Indian delegation was led by Dr. Rajeev Ranjan, Secretary in Department of Fisheries.

11. Indian Army inducts 10m short span bridges

The Indian Army has inducted three sets of 10-meter short span bridges. They were formally handed over on 29 Dec’20 at the Talegaon facility of Larsen and Toubro Limited. The equipment will meet the important requirement of providing mobility to own forces by speedy bridging of gaps during operations.

12. Cabinet clears a modified scheme

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, CCEA has approved a modified scheme to enhance ethanol distillation capacity in the country for producing 1st Generation ethanol from feedstocks such as cereals like rice, wheat, barley, etc. The cabinet approved an interest subvention of 4,573 crore rupees for new distilleries producing ethanol. India currently has a capacity of 684 crore litres.

13. Successful maiden test trial of SAHAYAK-NG

DRDO along with the Indian Navy conducted the successful maiden test trial of SAHAYAK-NG- India’s first indigenously designed and developed Air Dropped Container from IL 38SD aircraft of Indian Navy off the coast of Goa on 30 Dec’20. The trial was conducted by the Indian Navy to enhance its operational logistics capabilities and provide critical engineering stores to ships.

14. PM chairs 34th PRAGATI interaction

PM Modi chaired the 34th PRAGATI interaction on 30 Dec 2020. In the meeting, various projects, programs, and grievances were reviewed. Projects of the Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs were discussed. These projects, with a total cost of about one lakh crore rupees, pertained to ten states and UTs including UP and MP.

15. Export of Akash missile system approved

The government has approved the export of the indigenous Akash missile system. A committee for faster approvals has been created. The Akash missile is a surface-to-air missile with a range of 25 kilometers. Developed by DRDO, it is India’s first indigenously designed missile system and can target fighter jets, cruise missiles, drones, and other aerial assets.

16. PM to lay foundation stone of few projects

PM Modi will lay the foundation stone of Light House Projects (LHPs) under Global Housing Technology Challenge (GHTC)-India at six sites across six states on 1 Jan 2021. He will also announce winners under Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators (ASHA)- India. He will also release a certificate course on innovative construction technologies named NAVARITIH.

17. Govt launches Global Pravasi Rishta portal

The External Affairs Ministry has launched the Global Pravasi Rishta portal and app to connect with the nearly 3.12 crore strong Indian diaspora across the world. It aims to create a three-way communication between the ministry, Indian missions, and the diaspora. The mobile app will be used by the diaspora and the Indian nationals, while the portal web interface will be used by the missions.

18. Cabinet approves industrial corridor nodes

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved to construct Industrial Corridor nodes in Krishnapatnam and Tumakuru at estimated cost of Rs. 7,725 cr. The committee has approved three proposals from the Department of Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT). These include the Krishnapatnam Industrial Area in Andhra Pradesh with an estimated cost of Rs. 2,139.44 cr for the project.

19. Foundation stone laid for TIHAN Foundation

Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank has laid the foundation stone of the Indian Institute of Technology, IIT Hyderabad’s TIHAN Foundation. The ‘TIHAN Foundation’ has been incorporated as a Section-8 company by the institute in June 2020. TIHAN- Technology Innovation Hub on Autonomous Navigation Systems for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Remotely Operated Vehicles.

20. BARC develops eye cancer therapy

The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai has developed an eye cancer therapy in the form of the first indigenous Ruthenium 106 Plaque for the treatment of ocular tumors. It has provided a simpler and cost-effective option for the patients. In September 2020, it was used for the first time for the treatment of a patient with choroidal hemangioma and the results proved to be satisfactory.

21. Nikhil Nandy passes away

Olympian Nikhil Nandy passed away in December 2020. He had won the Calcutta Football League with Eastern Railways back in 1958. The Nandy brothers, Nikhil along with two of his elder brothers Santosh and Anil, also hold the unique record of representing India in the Olympics — the sole family in India where all three brothers went on to play in the Olympics.

22. Mother Teresa Memorial Awardees felicitated

Harmony Foundation hosted the Mother Teresa Memorial Awards for Social Justice on December 27, 2020. The Awards, in its 16th year, is the only award endorsed by Sister Prema, the Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, the organization started by Mother Teresa. The theme for 2020’s awards was ‘Celebrating Compassion In Times Of Covid.’ The awardees include Dr Anthony Fauci, etc.

23. UK signs free trade agreement with Vietnam

The United Kingdom and Vietnam signed an agreement on free trade on 29 Dec 2020. The agreement will come into force on 1 Jan 2021 and stipulates elimination of 99 per cent of tariffs within seven years. Earlier in Dec 2020, the country’s government announced signing a free trade deal with Singapore.

24. India’s 1st ethanol plant to be set up

Chhattisgarh govt has signed an MoU for the country’s first ethanol plant to be set up in the state under the public-private partnership (PPP) model. The contract was signed by Bhoramdev Cooperative Sugar Factory Kawardha and Chhattisgarh Distillery Limited’s subsidiary NKJ Biofuel for a period of 30 yrs. It will prove to be important in ensuring timely payment of sugarcane price to farmers.

25. Shantanu Mohapatra passes away

Legendary Odia music director Shantanu Mohapatra passed away in Dec 2020. He composed the first modern Odia ballad “Konark Gatha” with lyrics by lyricist Gurukrushna Goswami and sung by Akshay Mohanty. He also wrote ‘Kalijae’ which was sung by Sikandar Alam. In honour of his lifetime contribution to Odia culture, the Utkal University of Culture had conferred honorary D.Litt on him in 2011.

26. RSS chief inaugurates a research centre

Rashtriya Swayam Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat inaugurated ‘Kesari Media Studies and Research Centre’ at Chalappuram, near Kozhikode on 29 Dec 2020. He also released eight books including “RSS in Kerala: Saga of a Struggle” on the martyrs of the RSS and BJP, authored by Dr A K M Das and compiled jointly by Dr Das, V M Gopinath and Shabu Prasad.

27. Main Bhi Digital drive to be launched

The ‘Main Bhi Digital’ (me too digital) drive designed by the Centre will be organised in 2021. The drive has been prompted by the success of the Prime Minister Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi scheme that provides vendors microcredit. As part of the new drive, between January 4 and 22, 2021 over 10 lakh street vendors across the country will be trained in using digital payments.

28. Assam introduces Bill to convert madrasas

The Assam govt has introduced the Assam Repealing Bill, 2020 to abolish all state-run Madrassas by converting them into general schools from April 1, 2021. The legislation proposes to abolish two existing Acts-The Assam Madrassa Education Act, 1995 and The Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation of Services of Employees and Re-Organisation of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018.

29. Anshu Malik wins silver medal

Anshu Malik, a freestyle wrestler, became the first Indian to finish on the podium at the Individual Wrestling World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia. She won a silver medal in the women’s 57kg division. She lost to Moldova’s Anastasia Nichita 5-1 in the final. This was Anshu’s third international tournament at the senior level, and she has won a medal in each of the previous ones.

30. Bill to make Bodo associate official language

The Assam government has introduced ‘The Assam Official Language (Amendment) Bill, 2020’ in the legislative assembly. The Bill will allow Bodo language in Devanagari script as an ‘associate official language’ for “all or any of the official purposes” of Assam. The Bill proposes to substitute Section 5A of the Assam Official Language Act, 1960.

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