Current Affairs 4th February 2021

Table of Contents

1. India at 53rd position in Democracy Index

India slipped two places to 53rd position in the 2020 Democracy Index’s global ranking, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit. India’s overall score fell from 6.9 in 2019 to 6.61. Norway topped The Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest Democracy Index report titled “Democracy in sickness and in health?”, with Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, and Canada making up the top five.

2. World Cancer Day: 4 February

World Cancer Day is observed on 4th February every year. The aim to observe World Cancer Day is to reduce misconceptions about cancer and to help people in getting the right information about it. The top cancers that affect the Indian population are lung, breast, cervical, head and neck, and colorectal cancer (CRC). The theme for World Cancer Day 2021 is ‘I Am and I Will’.

3. Chauri Chaura Centenary celebrations

PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the Chauri Chaura Centenary celebrations in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh on 4 February 2021. The day marks 100 years of the Chauri Chaura incident. He also released a postal stamp dedicated to the Chauri Chaura Centenary during the event. The UP govt has launched a dedicated website Chaurichaura100.com to sensitize the people about the sacrifices of great freedom fighters.

4. Ravi Avalur to lead Harley India operations

Hero MotoCorp Ltd has appointed Ravi Avalur as the Head of its new business unit that will be responsible for Harley-Davidson Incs motorcycle business in India. Avalur was the former managing director of Italian motorcycle maker, Ducati, in India. Before Hero, Avalur was the Head of Strategy and International business divisions at Michigan-based auto parts maker Cooper.

5. Amazon to invest $200 million in Tennessee

Amazon will invest $200 million in eastern Tennessee to build a new warehouse distribution site that will result in 800 jobs. The facility is expected to be completed in 2022. It will be Amazon’s third fulfillment center to use robotics technology in Tennessee and the company’s eighth fulfillment center in Tennessee. Separately, Amazon is also building an operations hub in Nashville.

6. RIL to sell its Marcellus Shale asset

Reliance Marcellus, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) will divest all of its interest in certain upstream assets in the Marcellus shale play of south-western Pennsylvania. These assets have been agreed to be sold to Northern Oil and Gas (NOG), Inc, a Delaware corporation. They will be sold for a consideration of $250 million cash and warrants.

7. Oxford, Pfizer vaccine to be combined in trial

British scientists started a study on 4 Feb 2021 to find out if it’s okay to mix and match coronavirus vaccines. The University of Oxford has begun a trial combining vaccines from AstraZeneca and Pfizer in a two-shot schedule to assess the immune responses generated from the doses. Participants will get one shot of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine followed by a dose from Pfizer, or vice versa.

8. Deborah Liu named CEO of Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com Inc. has appointed former Facebook Inc. executive Deborah Liu to become its next Chief Executive Officer, effective March 1, 2021. Ancestry is the world’s largest consumer genealogy company. Liu is also the founder of Women in Product, a nonprofit network of women in technology leadership roles. She held previous positions at PayPal Holdings Inc. and EBay Inc.

9. HCL signs five-year global deal with Airbus

HCL Technologies has signed a five-year digital workplace services agreement with Airbus. It will establish a modernized digital workplace to enhance the user experience and service quality for the majority of Airbus employees globally. HCL’s Fluid Workplace Model which enables businesses to meet the challenges of remote working will enable Airbus to deploy the latest digital technologies.

10. Virat Kohli: India’s top celebrity endorser

Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli retained the top celebrity endorser rank for the fourth consecutive year in the 2020 Duff & Phelps celebrity brand valuation report. His brand value stands at $237.7 mn. Akshay Kumar retained the second position with a brand value of $118.9 mn, registering a 13.8% jump. Ranveer Singh maintained the third position with a brand value of $102.9 mn.

11. Bikram Singh Bedi: MD of Google Cloud

Google Cloud has announced the appointment of Bikram Singh Bedi as the Managing Director for its India business. With the current appointment, Bedi will succeed Karan Bajwa, who was recently elevated as the Vice President of Google’s Asia Pacific Cloud. He joined Google Cloud from Indian online grocery delivery startup, Grofers where he served as President Strategy and New Initiatives.

12. Musical programme ‘Abhivadan’ to be organized

Bharat Ratna awardee Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s birth centenary year began from 4 Feb 2021. To mark the occasion, the Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal is organizing a musical programme called ‘Abhivadan’ in Pune on February 6-7, 2021. It will be conducted in 3 sessions. A special short film by Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal made on Panditji post his demise will be shown in the third session.

13. NBFCs to implement an internal audit system

The RBI has directed select Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) and Urban Co-operatives Banks (UCBs) to implement a risk-based internal audit system. All deposit-taking NBFCs, all non-deposit taking NBFCs with asset size of 5,000 crore rupees and above and all urban cooperative banks with asset size of 500 crore rupees and above will have to implement the system by March 2022.

14. Meeting held for J&K Development Mission

In J&K, Principal Secretary Skill Development Department, (SDD) Dr. Asgar Samoon, convened a meeting with senior officers of SDD and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) on 3 Feb 2021. It was held to review ‘Skill Targets for J&K Development Mission under Pradhan Mantri Vikas Kaushal Yojna (PMVKY) 2.0 and 3.0’. It was also informed that the department is going to train 700 aspirants.

15. 2nd Phase of vaccination launched in Rajasthan

In Rajasthan, the 2nd Phase of COVID vaccination has launched on 4 February 2021. About 2,40,000 frontline workers have been registered for the 2nd Phase in the state. More than 55 thousand employees of local bodies and about one lakh 61 thousand police and paramilitary personnel will also get vaccinated.

16. New State Administrative Council of Myanmar

The regime in Myanmar headed by the Army has announced a new State Administrative Council. The council headed by the Army Chief General Min Aung Hlaing has eleven members out of which eight are from the military. The Union Election Commission will be reconstituted for implementing the duties and functions.

17. China to provide vaccines to COVAX

China plans to provide 10 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine to developing countries through the global vaccine sharing initiative COVAX. China joined the COVAX in October 2020. COVAX is expected to start distributing vaccines in February 2021, mainly to poor and middle-income countries. It has a target of procuring 2 billion doses by end of 2021.

18. US extends a Treaty with Russia

United States has extended the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) nuclear arms control treaty with Russia for five years. Now the pact has been extended to 5th February 2026. The treaty limits the United States and Russia to deploying no more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads each and imposes restrictions on the land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.

19. India: Fastest to administer 4 mn vaccines

India has become the fastest country in the world to reach the four million COVID-19 vaccination mark. The country has achieved this feat in 18 days. As on 1st February 2021, India was among the top five countries in terms of the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered to people. The gap between active and recovered cases is continuously increasing and stands at 1,03,02574.

20. ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ victory flame received

As part of ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ celebration commemorating 50 years of the 1971 war triumph against Pakistan, one of the victory flames was received at Air Force Station Adampur, on 3 Feb 2021. Many Air veterans were felicitated during the event. During the war, SU-7 and MIG-21 aircraft from the base operated over Shakargarh and Chhamb battlefields losing 9 pilots, killed in action.

21. Indian Ocean Region Defence Ministers Conclave

India hosted the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Defence Ministers’ Conclave on the sidelines of Aero India 2021, on 4 Feb 2021. The broad theme of it was ‘Enhanced Peace, Security, and Cooperation in the Indian Ocean. It addressed information-sharing towards increased maritime domain awareness, maritime surveillance and co-operation, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), etc.

22. Web portal of the Gobardhan scheme launched

A web portal for monitoring the progress of the Gobardhan scheme was launched on 3 Feb 2021. Gobardhan is an important component of Swachh Bharat Mission Phase-2 for organic solid waste management. Through the scheme, the country will get ethanol, bio-diesel, and compressed bio-fuel in the coming years. It aims at supporting villages effectively to manage their cattle dung and organic waste.

23. Ajay Singh re-elected as President of BFI

Ajay Singh has been re-elected as President of the Boxing Federation of India after defeating former Maharashtra Sports Minister Ashish Shelar in the polls. He received 37 votes while Shelar, who has held many top positions in sport, including the role of President of Maharashtra Cricket Association and Mumbai District Football Association, got 27 votes in the BFI elections on 3 Feb 2021.

24. 1st openly gay person confirmed to US cabinet

Pete Buttigieg was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on 3 Feb 2021, on an 86-13 vote to head the U.S. Transportation Department, the 1st openly gay U.S. Cabinet secretary confirmed by lawmakers. Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, will oversee aviation, highways, vehicles, pipelines, and transit, as well as efforts to ensure safe transportation in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

25. Telangana: No road tax, registration fee on EV

The Telangana Transport Department has exempted road tax and registration fee for a fixed number of electric vehicles of various categories. This is in line with the Telangana Electric Vehicles (EV) and Energy Storage Policy 2020-30 announced by the State IT and Industries Minister KT Rama Rao to encourage electric vehicles by providing an exemption from road tax and registration fee.

26. Praveen Sinha takes over as CBI Interim Chief

Praveen Sinha, currently Additional Director of the CBI, was appointed as its Interim Chief on 2 Feb 2021, as current Chief R.K Shukla’s two-year tenure ended. Mr. Shukla, a 1983 batch Madhya Pradesh cadre IPS officer, was appointed in January 2019. Sinha is a 1988 batch Gujarat cadre IPS officer.

27. Mexico approves Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine

Mexico has approved the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V for use. The Health Ministry of Mexico signed a contract for 400,000 doses of Sputnik V that will arrive in Feb 2021. The Russian vaccine would become the third to receive emergency approval in Mexico. The regulating agency approved the Pfizer vaccine in December 2020 and AstraZeneca’s in January 2021.

28. Reliance gets the world’s 1st ‘carbon-neutral’ oil

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd has sourced the world’s first consignment of ‘carbon-neutral oil’ from the US as it aims to become a net zero-carbon company by 2035. Reliance got 2 million barrels of consignment Permian basin. Oxy Low Carbon Ventures (OLCV), a division of US oil major Occidental, delivered carbon-neutral oil to Reliance.

29. PM-CARES contributed Rs. 2,200 cr for phase 1

The PM-CARES fund has contributed over Rs. 2,200 cr for the 1st phase of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive. For January-March, the vaccination cost is expected to be about Rs. 2,700 cr approximately. Part of it is coming from the Health Ministry and some part of it is funded from the PM CARES Fund. This is for the first round of 3 crore frontline and health workers.

30. “Writing with Fire” wins audience award at SFF

“Writing with Fire” has won the audience award in the World Cinema Documentary category at the Sundance Film Festival 2021. It is directed, edited, and produced by R. Thomas and S. Ghosh. The festival, which started from 28 Jan and concluded on 3 Feb, is presented by Sundance Organisation, a nonprofit that discovers and supports independent artists, and introduces audiences to their work.

31. 1st Asian country to approve Moderna’s vaccine

Singapore has become the first country in Asia to approve Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine and the first shipment to arrive around March 2021. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is the second to be authorized for pandemic use in Singapore, after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is already being rolled out in the city-state. As of 2 Feb, more than 175,000 individuals have been vaccinated.

32. 8 states to get Rs. 8k cr for one new city each

The central government is planning to build 8 new cities to meet the demands of urban expansion. The 15th Finance Commission has recommended a grant of Rs. 8,000 cr to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MOHUA) for the cities. According to the Ministry, each city will get Rs. 1,000 cr for initial development over the next five years.

33. BMC allocates Rs. 2945.78 cr for education

The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has announced the allocation of funds for its education budget for the year 2021-22. The budgetary estimates for 2021-22 are set at Rs. 2945.78 cr, which is marginally higher than that of 2020 wherein the budgetary estimates were Rs. 2944.59 cr. Rs. 2 cr has been set aside for the opening of 10 new CBSE schools under the civic body.

34. Tata Consumer to acquire Kottaram Agro Foods

Tata Consumer Products will acquire Bengaluru-based Kottaram Agro Foods for Rs. 155.8 crores to expand its product portfolio. The company will acquire 100% of the issued and paid-up equity share capital of KAF. Kottaram Agro Foods (KAF) is primarily engaged in the business of healthy breakfast cereals and millet-based snacks under the trademark Soulful. Brand Soulful was launched in 2013.

35. Device that creates 3D images of skin

A team from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has developed a portable device that produces high-resolution 3D images of human skin within 10 minutes. The portable skin mapping (imaging) device could be used to assess the severity of skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. The researchers designed a prototype of their device using polylactic acid (PLA).

36. Punjab CM lays foundation stone of AFPI

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh laid the foundation stone of Sardar Bahadur Amin Chand Soni Armed Forces Preparatory Institute at Bajwara in Punjab through video conferencing on 3 Feb 2021. The project will be executed at a cost of Rs. 27 cr over an area of 12.75 ac by the Punjab Public Works Department (PWD) and would be completed by the end of 2021.

37. Zoho’s founder named to NSA’s advisory board

Zoho founder Sridhar Vembu has been appointed to the reconstituted National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) led by National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval. He is one of the Padma Shri awardees announced by the government of India on 26 Jan 2021. The members of NSAB typically have 2-year terms. Other new members in this term include K Radhakrishnan, Anshuman Tripathy, and Arun K Singh.

38. Gaurav Saravgi: Exec Director of Motilal Oswal

Motilal Oswal Investment Advisors has appointed Gaurav Saravgi as its Executive Director for investment banking. Saravgi has 18 years of experience in equities with 16 years in investment banking. He joins Motilal Oswal from Centrum Capital where he was associated as the Senior Director for investment banking and Head of equity capital markets.

39. 1st wetland conservation center in Chennai

India, on the occasion of Wetland Conservation Day, set up its 1st dedicated center for conservation of wetlands in Chennai, which occupies around 4.6% of the country’s landmass. It has been named as ‘Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management. It is a part of the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM), under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

40. Best training institutions awards

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has won its first round of best training institute awards for Gazetted Officers. The awards have been declared by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for a span of four consecutive years, starting from 2016 to 2020. CRPF’s Shivpuri school and training institute in Neemach have been awarded as the best training centers for years 2017 and 2018.

41. Waterbirds census conducted for the first time

In West Bengal, the Forest Department has conducted a waterbird census for the first time. The study was conducted from the 12th of January to the 2nd of February 2021 in 54 different locations across the state. For the first time, a black-necked grebe has been traced in the Sunderbans while more than four thousand great knots were seen at different places in the area.

42. Sangeeta Bahadur: High Commissioner to Malta

Sangeeta Bahadur has been appointed as the next High Commissioner of India to the Republic of Malta. She is presently the Ambassador of India to Belarus. Sangeeta is a 1987 batch Indian Foreign Service Officer. She is expected to take up the assignment shortly.

43. New Zealand in final of World Test C’ship

New Zealand has become the first team to reach the final of the inaugural World Test Championship. India will qualify if they beat England in the upcoming series that will kickstart from February 5, 2021, by winning at least two matches. As of now, India has the highest percentage points 71.7 while New Zealand has 70. The WTC final is scheduled to be held from June 18 at the Lord’s.

44. ADB, Japan to strengthen cooperation

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) have signed a memorandum of cooperation. It will strengthen cooperation between the two organizations under the Cleaner Energy Future Initiative for ASEAN (CEFIA). The cooperation will focus on the areas of renewable energy, energy conservation and efficiency, and other technologies.

45. India out of Colombo terminal project

The Sri Lankan government has reneged on a 2019 agreement with India and Japan to develop the strategic East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo Port. The operation of the east terminal would be done by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority on its own. India and Japan together were to hold a 49% stake in ECT.

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