Current Affairs 5th March 2021

Table of Contents

1. HDFC ERGO’s new Business Kisht Suraksha

HDFC ERGO General Insurance has introduced Business Kisht Suraksha. It is a unique cover aimed at protecting the balance sheet of Microfinance Institutions (MFIS), financial institutions, and banks in the event of a catastrophe or natural disaster. The product can also be tailor-made depending on the geographical presence of the borrower, MFI, or any financial institution.

2. Nippon Steel inks pact with Odisha

ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India (AM/NS India) inked an agreement with the Odisha government on 4 March 2021. It will set up a 12 mtpa integrated steel plant in the Kendrapada district with an investment of Rs. 50,000 crores. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and steel tycoon Lakshmi N Mittal were present during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at Lokaseva Bhavan.

3. Rankings of Municipal Performance Index-2020

Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri released the final rankings of the Municipal Performance Index-2020 on 4 March 2021. In the Million plus category, Indore has emerged as the highest-ranked municipality, followed by Surat and Bhopal. In the Less than Million category, New Delhi Municipal Council has emerged as the leader, followed by Tirupati and Gandhinagar.

4. Rankings of Ease of Living Index-2020

Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri on 4 March 2021, released the final rankings of Ease of Living Index-2020 in New Delhi. Bengaluru emerged as the top performer in the Million Plus category, followed by Pune, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Surat, Navi Mumbai, Coimbatore, Vadodara, Indore and Greater Mumbai. In the Less than Million category, Shimla was ranked the highest.

5. Mohankrishna Bohara to be awarded

The 30th Bihari Puraskar for 2020 will be given to Mohankrishna Bohara for his Hindi book of criticism, titled Taslima: Sangharsh aur Sahitya. The book was published in 2016. Bihari Puraskar carries award money of two lakh 50 thousand rupees, a citation and a plaque. The award is one of the three literary awards instituted by the K.K. Birla Foundation in 1991.

6. Gujarat govt to establish of two textile parks

The Gujarat government has announced the establishment of two mega textile parks. This was announced by Deputy CM Nitin Patel during his budget speech. These will help to enable forward and backward integration in the sector. The allocation of Rs. 1,500 cr in Gujarat budget for providing subsidies to the textile industries will also boost the competitiveness of the domestic manufacturers.

7. Nod for police command centre in Visakhapatnam

The Andhra Pradesh government has accorded sanction to build the Police Command and Control Centre (CCC) in Visakhapatnam. The CCC would be built in the available government land in Visakhapatnam at a cost of Rs. 13.80 crore. The original plan was to establish the CCC in Vijayawada city, which forms part of the present capital region Amaravati.

8. Gujarat Assembly passes a bill

The Gujarat Assembly has passed three bills. The first one- the Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University Act of 2007 seeks to change the name of a private university. The second bill seeks to amend The Gujarat Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2005. The third bill is aimed at amending certain provisions of The Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act of 2013.

9. Tourism Minister lays foundation for a project

Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Prahlad Singh Patel has laid the foundation stone for the project “Development of Maa Bamleshwari Devi Temple, Dongargarh, Chhattisgarh. It has been approved under the PRASHAD Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism in New Delhi. The project includes works for the development of pilgrimage infrastructure at ‘Pilgrimage Activity Center’.

10. A lost bird found in Indonesia

Some time between 1843-1848, a small brown-grey songbird with a distinctive black eye-stripe had been found. It wasn’t spotted for more than 170 years after that reporting. However, on October 5, 2020, a solitary black-browed babbler (Malacocincla perspicillata) was spotted in Indonesia. The finding was reported on 25 February 2021 in Birding ASIA, the biannual bulletin of the Oriental Bird Club.

11. Swiss citizens to vote on burqa ban referendum

The Swiss citizens are set to vote on whether they want to ban full facial coverings in public, on March 7, 2021. A similar burqa ban was imposed previously by other European nations including the Netherlands, Germany, France, Austria, Belgium and Denmark. The initiative proposes some exceptions to the ban, including in “places of worship” and for “health reasons”.

12. Web Werks inks agreement with Iron Mountain

Web Werks, an independent data center provider in India, has entered into a partnership with Iron Mountain, which will invest US$150mn primary equity into Web Werks over the next two years. After the investment period, Iron Mountain will be the majority investor in the venture. Once completed, this transaction will allow Web Werks to accelerate its expansion across different Indian cities.

13. Women fund managers oversee Rs. 4.11 trn assets

A total of 30 women fund managers oversee around Rs. 4.11 trillion as open and close end assets, which is 13.5% of the total mutual fund assets In India. This was stated in a Morningstar Women Fund Managers’ report. The report showed that out of the 376 fund managers in India, 30 were women, managing funds either as primary or secondary managers or have oversight as heads of equity or debt.

14. Tech Mahindra partners with ThoughtSpot

As part of its focus on digital growth, Tech Mahindra Ltd has partnered with ThoughtSpot, a provider of search and artificial intelligence (Al)-driven analytics. It will offer real-time analytics for enterprises globally. Tech Mahindra will integrate ThoughtSpot’s search and Al-driven analytics platform with its Virtual Analyst platform to drive multi-level data analysis.

15. Government aims to reduce 6,000 compliances

The government aims to do away with more than 6,000 compliance requirements for businesses, both at the central and state level in 2021. To reduce compliance burden and ensure better easing of doing business environment for companies operating in India, the government has started identifying redundant rules in state and central acts that can be removed.

16. RBI to start purchase and sale of securities

The Reserve Bank of India will conduct simultaneous purchase and sale of government securities under Open Market Operations (OMO) on March 10, 2021. The decision was taken after a review of current liquidity and financial conditions. It will purchase four government securities of different maturity dates aggregating to Rs. 20,000 crore and sell three securities aggregating to Rs. 15,000 crore.

17. EPFO recommends 8.5% annual rate of interest

The Central Board of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization has recommended an 8.5% annual rate of interest for FY 2020-21. The decision was taken in the 228th meeting of the Central Board of Trustees, which was held on 4 March 2021 in Srinagar, under the chairmanship of Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar. Since 2014, EPFO has consistently generated returns not less than 8.5%.

18. OPEC-Plus to extend production cuts till April

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies have agreed to extend most oil cuts till April 2021, offering small exemptions to Russia and Kazakhstan. It was decided after the demand recovery from the pandemic was still fragile. OPEC would extend its voluntary oil output cut of one million barrels per day (bpd).

19. Dwarka Expressway to be completed by August 2022

Road, Transport, and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has informed that the Dwarka Expressway will be completed by August 2022. The total length of this expressway is 29 kilometers. Out of this, 18.9 kilometers length falls in Haryana. It is India’s first nine-kilometer-long eight-lane flyover on a single pier. It is also the first elevated urban expressway in the country.

20. Delimitation Commission gets 1-year extension

The Delimitation Commission, a panel for redrawing the Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, has got a one-year extension. The panel, headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, will get one more year for completing its task in the Union Territory. The panel was set up in 2020 to redraw the electoral constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir

21. Ayodhya Temple Trust to expand temple area

Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, set up for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya is planning to expand the temple complex area. It will be done for providing better facilities to the devotees who will visit the city from all over the world. The Trust has purchased 1,040-square meter land in Ayodhya which is located around one kilometer away from the temple land.

22. Ladakh, J&K to have separate cell in NCW

Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir will have a separate cell in the National Commission for Women (NCW). The Commission’s Chairperson Rekha Sharma informed that by the end of March 2021, a separate cell for the new UTs will be created. It is being created because of the absence of State Women’s Commissions to deal with the women issues in the new Union Territories.

23. 930mn tonnes of food thrown away: UN report

A new UN global report has revealed that more than 930 million tonnes of food is thrown away in waste bins every year. The UN Environment Programme, UNEP, through the Food Waste Index Report 2021 revealed that 17% of the food available to consumers in shops, households, and restaurants is just dumped. Some food is also lost on farms and in supply chains.

24. UNICEF’S new research

United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF has warned that at least one in seven children lived under stay-at-home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, putting their mental health and well-being at risk. Based on new research, it said, more than 330 million youngsters have been stuck at home for at least nine months since the virus spread uncontrollably in 2020.

25. China sets economic growth target ‘above 6%’

China has set an economic growth target of “above 6 percent” for 2021. This was announced at the National People’s Congress in Beijing on 5 March 2021. The International Monetary Fund’s forecast in January 2021 said that China’s economy would grow by 8.1 percent in 2021. China is the second-largest economy in the world.

26. Opening of two new KVs announced

Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has announced the opening of two new Kendriya Vidyalayas in Karnataka and Punjab. KV Sadalaga, Belagavi, in Karnataka, and KV IIT Ropar in Punjab will be two new additions to Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan. With this, the total number of KVs across the country will rise to 1247. Initially, these two Vidyalayas will function with classes I to V.

27. Prakash Javadekar holds a meeting

Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar held a meeting with representatives of Over the Top, OTT industry on 4 March 2021. He explained to them the provisions of the new OTT rules. It was highlighted that the rules focus on the self-classification of content instead of any form of censorship. The center will create an Inter-Departmental Committee to look at complaints.

28. PM Narendra Modi receives CERAWeek award

Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the CERAWeek Global Energy and Environment Leadership Award on 5 March 2021. He also delivered a keynote address at the Cambridge Energy Research Associates Week-2021 via video conferencing. CERAWeek was founded in 1983 by Dr. Daniel Yergin. CERAWeek Global Energy and Environment Leadership Award was instituted in 2016.

29. RailTel launches prepaid Wi-Fi connectivity

RailTel has launched a prepaid Wi-Fi service across more than 4,000 train stations at nominal rates. Under this facility, a passenger can use 30 min free Wi-Fi per day at 1 Mbps speed at these 4000 railway stations. For using the Wi-Fi facility at higher speed of up to 34 Mbps, the user will need to choose a plan. RailTel is a central public sector enterprise under the Ministry of Railways.

30. Wipro to acquire global tech company Capco

Wipro has signed an agreement to buy London-based Capco, a global management and technology consultancy, for $1.45 billion. It is Wipro’s biggest acquisition as of February 2021. The acquisition will make Wipro one of the largest end-to-end global consulting, technology and transformation service providers to BFSI (banking financial services and insurance).

31. IIMK to host ‘Start-O-Sphere’ 2021

The Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode will organize the sixth edition of its annual National Entrepreneurship Summit ‘Start-O-Sphere’ on March 6-7, 2021. The event is organized by IIMK Entrepreneurship Cell (E-Cell) team with the support of IIMK LIVE, its business incubator. The event aims to support start-ups by providing them an opportunity to network, get mentored, and funded.

32. Ashoka University and IIT Delhi ink MoU

Ashoka University and IIT Delhi have entered into an agreement to establish the “Ashoka University-IITD Collaborative Research Platform. The platform will undertake joint activities on academic research and human resource development, which will have a great economic and social impact on society. The partnership will invite joint research projects in interdisciplinary areas.

33. ‘Combat free fall’ training by Indian Army

The Indian Army’s Special Forces Training School commenced training of Turkmenistan Special Forces in “combat free fall” on 4 March 2021. In “combat free fall”, paratroopers fall from a plane from a height of up to 30,000 feet and stealthily glide to the target. Training of paratroopers will assist in the capability enhancement of Turkmenistan Special Forces.

34. ‘Radio Chinar 90.4, Har Dil Ki Dhadkan’

The 1st of its kind in North Kashmir, a community radio station with the tagline “Radio Chinar 90.4, Har Dil Ki Dhadkan” was inaugurated on 4 March 2021 by the Indian Army. This radio station has been started with an aim to revitalize the connection within different segments of the community. The reach of the radio station will be Sopore, Bandipora & Baramulla Districts.

35. PM’s virtual summit with Swedish counterpart

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a virtual summit with his Swedish counterpart Stefan Löfven on 5 March 2021. Both the leaders will hold comprehensive discussions on bilateral relations and will exchange views on regional and global issues including further strengthening of cooperation in the post COVID era. This will be the fifth interaction between the two leaders since 2015.

36. 1st ‘red rice’ consignment flagged off to US

The first consignment of ‘red rice’ flagged off to the US on 4 March 2021. Iron rich ‘red rice’ is grown in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam, without the use of any chemical fertilizer. This rice variety is referred as ‘Bao-Dhaan which is an integral part of Assamese food. The growth in exports of ‘red rice’ would enhance the incomes of farming families of the Brahmaputra flood plains.

37. India receives highest FDI in April-Dec 2020

India received the highest ever Foreign Direct Investments of over USD 67 billion for the first nine months of the financial year 2020-21. During the period of April to December 2020, FDI equity inflow grew by 40 per cent as compared to the corresponding period in the financial year 2019-20. Government measures on the fronts of policy reforms resulted in tremendous FDI inflows.

38. 2023: International Year of Millets

The United Nations has unanimously declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets. A resolution to declare 2023 as the International Year of Millets was introduced by India and supported by over 70 nations in the UN General Assembly. This aims to raise awareness about the health benefits of the grain and their suitability for cultivation under changing climatic conditions.

39. QS World University Rankings

12 Indian Institutions secured a position in top 100 in QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021. These institutions are IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, IIT Madras, IIT Kharagpur, IISC Bangalore, IIT Guwahati, IIM Bangalore, IIM Ahmedabad, JNU, Anna University, Uni. of Delhi, and O P Jindal Uni. QS World University Rankings is an annual publication of university rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds.

40. India opens Energy Office in Moscow

India opened India Energy Office (IEO) in Russia on 2 March 2021 with a goal to push an already burgeoning energy partnership between the two strategic partners. The IEO will cover five top Indian entities- Oil India Limited, ONGC Limited Videsh Limited, GAIL (India) Limited, Indian Oil Corporation Limited, and Engineers India Limited.

41. Matam Venkata Rao: MD of Central Bank of India

Matam Venkata Rao has taken over charge as the Managing Director and CEO of Central Bank of India with effect from 1st March 2021. Prior to joining the current assignment, Rao was Executive Director, Canara Bank for more than three years. He had joined Allahabad Bank as Agricultural Field Officer in 1988 and worked in various capacities in different geographical areas of the country.

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