Current Affairs 6th January 2021

Table of Contents

1. Alexander Elis: New British HC to India

Alexander Ellis has been appointed as the new British High Commissioner to India in succession to Sir Philip Barton. Mr. Ellis will take up his appointment from January 2021. He was holding the portfolio of Deputy National Security Adviser in the UK. He has earlier served in Lisbon and Brazil as well.

2. Guidelines for digital payment infra fund

The RBI has announced operational guidelines for the Payments Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) scheme. It is aimed at encouraging the deployment of more digital payments infrastructure across tier-3 to tier-6 centres. The fund will be used to subsidize banks and non-banks for deploying payment infrastructure, which will be contingent upon specific targets being achieved.

3. D-Mart crosses Rs. 2 trillion in market cap

Avenue Supermarts Ltd, the owner of the D-Mart chain of retail stores, has crossed Rs. 2 trillion in market valuation after the stock surged nearly 20% in the last three weeks. Since 17 December, D-Mart climbed 20% adding investors wealth by nearly Rs. 35,000 crore. Domestic equities were up in 21 out of 23 sessions having gained nearly 8.52%.

4. Aguada jail to be revamped as a tourist spot

Goa’s historic jail at Aguada, which no longer houses prisoners, is being developed as a tourist spot. The renovation will be completed in March 2021 following which it be will be opened for visitors. The Portuguese-era structure, part of the historic Aguada Fort at Sinquerim village near the Mandovi river in North Goa district, will have a museum depicting the state’s liberation
struggle.

5. SpiceJet to operate 21 new flights

SpiceJet will operate 21 new domestic and international flights from January 12, 2021. The airline will introduce two weekly flights on the route from Mumbai to Ras Al-Khaimah in the UAE and increase frequency on the Delhi-Ras Al-Khaimah route to four weekly flights. The airline will operate bigger B737 aircraft on
the Delhi-Jharsuguda route instead of the Q400 aircraft.

6. ‘BBB-‘ rating to SBľs proposed senior bonds

S&P Global Ratings has assigned its ‘BBB-‘ long-term issue rating to a proposed issue of senior unsecured notes by State Bank of India (SBI: BBB-/Stable/A-3) under the bank’s $10 billion medium-term note programme. The notes will be issued from the bank’s London branch. Fitch rating too has assigned a ‘BBB-(EXP)” expected rating to State Bank of India’s proposed senior unsecured notes.

7. EdTech platform Kyt raises $5 million

Educational tech platform Kyt has raised $5 million in a Series A funding round. The investment is led by Alpha Wave Incubation (AWI), a venture fund managed by Falcon Edge Capital. Sequoia Capital India’s Surge, January Capital, Titan Capital, and other angel investors also participated in the round. Kyt is the first Indian company to receive investment from Singapore-based January Capital.

8. Freight Business Development portal launched

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal launched an exclusive Freight Business Development portal on 5 January 2021. It will act as a one-stop, single-window solution for all the needs of its freight customers. The first-of-its-kind dedicated freight portal will ensure that all operations stay customer-centric, reduce the costs for logistics providers, and also simplify the process of goods transportation.

9. Maharashtra gov to supply water to 65 villages

Maharashtra government has planned to supply water from Mhaisal Irrigation Scheme in the Sangli district to the remaining 65 villages in the drought-prone areas. A proposal to provide permanent flood water to the district in the future is also under the government’s consideration. The state government is yet to fix the supply source of water for the Mhaisal scheme.

10. Operation Sadhbhavana observed

In Leh, on behalf of the Fire and Fury Corps, the Ladakh Scouts Regiment Centre (LSRC) observed Operation Sadhbhavana on 5 January 2021. Under this, LSRC Commandant Rinchen Dorje distributed Covid management equipment to primary health centres in Phyang, Phey, and Spituk villages in Leh district. LSRC is an infantry regiment of the Indian Army, also known as ‘Snow Warriors

11. Maharashtra govt to conduct another dry run

Maharashtra government will conduct another dry run on 8th January 2021 in each district to ensure there is no loophole before the actual rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. The vaccination programme will begin soon. Data of almost 79 lakh health workers have been registered on the CO-WIN app that will be used for the vaccination programme. The health workers will receive the vaccine for free.

12. Kerala declares Bird flu as state disaster

The Kerala government has declared bird flu as a state disaster. A high alert has been issued in Kottayam and Alappuzha districts where the disease has been detected primarily. Bird flu was detected in the state when samples of dead ducks were tested in some parts of both the districts. However, it has been clarified that the disease has not been transmitted to people.

13. UP govt launches Kisan Kalyan Mission

Uttar Pradesh government launched a special program named as Kisan Kalyan Mission for farmer welfare and to double the farmer’s income of the state, on 6 Jan 2021. A 3 week-long campaign will be organised in every development block of all 75 districts. Under this program, the UP government will also felicitate 100 progressive farmers’ in each district of the state.

14. 4000 villages to be covered under a scheme

Gujarat government will cover 4000 villages under the Kisan Suryoday Yojana by the end of January 2021. Kisan Suryoday Yojana was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Gujarat in 2020. Under this scheme, farmers are being provided day time agriculture power supply. Gujarat government has planned to cover all the villages under this scheme by the end of 2022.

15. First meeting of the project monitoring committee

The first meeting of the high-level project monitoring committee to review the progress of projects funded by the Indian Line of Credit (LOC) was held on 5 Jan 2021 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It has decided to take steps to ease the tendering process to speed up the implementation of the projects. Bangladesh is the largest development partner under the Line of Credit programme of India.

16. China’s Hebei province enters ‘wartime’ mode

North China’s Hebei province entered “wartime” mode on 5 Jan 2021. Xiaoguozhuang village in Hebei’s provincial capital Shijiazhuang has been declared as a no-go zone under a full lockdown. China currently has one high-risk area and 48 medium-risk areas, of which 32 are located in Northeast China’s Liaoning province, 7 in Beijing, 6 in Northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, and 3 in Hebei.

17. Israel authorizes Moderna vaccine for use

Israel’s Health Ministry has authorized Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, marking the vaccine’s third regulatory authorization and the first outside North America. It has secured 6 mn doses and first deliveries are expected to begin in Jan 2021. Moderna has received authorization for its vaccine in the US and Canada and additional authorizations are currently under review in the United Kingdom.

18. “Udyog Manthan” being organized

Dept for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade is organizingUdyog Manthan – a marathon of focused sector-specific webinars for promoting quality and productivity in the Indian industry. It is being held from 4 January to 2nd of March 2021. Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal chaired the session on 6 January 2021. The webinar series comprises of 45 sessions.

19. PM Modi to dedicate Freight Corridor to nation

PM Narendra Modi will dedicate to the nation the 306 km New Rewari – New Madar Section of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor on 7 Jan 2021. He will also flag off the world’s first double-stack long haul 1.5 km long container train hauled by electric traction from New Ateli -New Kishangarh during the event. The new freight corridor is situated in Haryana and Rajasthan.

20. Toycathon 2021 launched

Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ and Union Minister for Textiles and Women & Child Development Smriti Zubin Irani jointly launched the Toycathon 2021 on 5 Jan’21. This Toycathon is aimed to conceptualize innovative toys based on the Indian value system which will inculcate the positive behaviour and good value among the children. The grand finale will be from 23-25 February 2021.

21. Tech Mahindra partners with CME

Tech Mahindra’s research and development arm, Makers Lab, has collaborated with the College of Military Engineering (CME), Pune. It will address challenges in the field of defence through technological innovations. CME wil leverage the partnership to address critical military problem statements and be future-ready using next-generation technologies of Al and robotics.

22. WB Minister Laxmi Ratan Shukla resigns

West Bengal Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports and former Indian cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla resigned from the Trinamool Congress in Jan 2021. The former Indian cricketer will remain an MLA till the term of the State Assembly expires. He had come to politics in 2016 and had tought with TMC ticket.

23. Healthcare venture “Haven” to shut in Feb

Haven, the joint venture of Amazon, JPMorgan and Berkshire’s healthcare venture will shut in Feb 2021. The joint venture was started in 2018 to provide better healthcare services and insurance at a lower cost to workers and families at the three firms. It faced hurdles when it’s Chief Executive Officer Atul Gawande, a Harvard surgeon and author, stepped down to take the role of chairman.

24. Scientists develop drone from pineapple leaves

Malaysian researchers have developed an eco-friendly drone made out of the fibre found in the pineapple leaves. The project has been headed by Professor Mohamed Thariq Hameed Sultan from Malaysia’s Putra University. The prototype drones have been able to fly to a height of about 1,000 metres (3,280 ft) and stay in the air for about 20 minutes.

25. Special cell to encourage women entrepreneurs

To encourage women entrepreneurs in Maharashtra, the state government has decided to set up a women entrepreneurship cell. The cell will be formed under the Maharashtra State Innovation Society, a nodal agency formed to boost the innovation-driven entrepreneurial ecosystem in the state. Financial assistance will also be given to set up start-ups by women entrepreneurship.

26. WestBridge exits gaming firm Nazara

WestBridge Capital has sold its entire shareholding in Indian gaming company Nazara Technologies to Plutus Wealth Management for over Rs 500 crore. WestBridge, which had been one of the early investors in the company, had invested Rs 22.6 crore in Nazara since 2005, and obtained sales consideration of approximately INR 1000 Cr from its investment.

27. Kotak Securities launches programme

Kotak Securities Ltd (KSL) announced the launch of its startups’ investment and engagement programme on 5 Jan 2021 to invest in fintech companiees. For this initiative, KSL has set up an exclusive Corporate Development Department (CDD) with an initial investment corpus of Rs 50 crore. KSL will launch incubation and accelerator programmes, hackathons, networking events and demo day programmes.

28. RBl imposes Rs. 2.5 cr fine on Bajaj Finance

RBI hasimposed a penalty of Rs 2.5 crore on Bajaj Finance Limited, Pune, on January 5, 2021, for violation of various directions, including on recovery and collection practices. There was also a violation of a specific direction to the company to ensure full compliance with the Fair Practices Code in “letter and spirit”.

29. PM-CARES fund allocates over Rs 201 crores

The PM CARES Fund Trust is allocating about Rs. 201 crores to install medical oxygen generation plants in government hospitals in the country A total of 162 plants will be installed in 32 states and UTs with a total capacity of 154.19 MT. The procurement will be done by the Central Medical Supply Store, an autonomous body of the Health Ministry.

30. Students make organic sanitary napkins

The students of a government school in Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district of Telangana have developed ‘zero waste’ sanitary napkins named Stree Raksha Pads. The students of Zilla Parishad High School (ZPHS) Mulkalapally have made these organic sanitary pads using water hyacinth, fenugreek, turmeric, neem and sabja seeds. The sanitary pads available in the market are made from petroleum chemical.

31. Gulf states sign solidarity and stability deal

Guif leaders signed a “solidarity and stability” agreement towards ernding the diplomatic rift with Qatar at a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Saudi Arabia on January 5, 2021. Leaders of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council signed the Al-Ula declaration, named after the Saudi city where the summit is being held, and a final communique.

32. NDRF team inducts over 100 women Officials

The first batch of over 100 women disaster combatants and rescuers has been inducted in the country’s federal calamity force– National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). The team of freshly trained NDRF personnel was deployed for contingency duties on the banks of the Ganga river in Uttar Pradesh’s Garh Mukteshwar town. NDRF has 12 operational battalions at present located in various states.

33. Uttarakhand’s tableau chosen for R-Day parade

Uttarakhand’s tableau featuring the Kedarnath temple has been selected by the Defence Ministry for the upcoming Republic Day parade in New Delhi. It was among the tableaus of 32 other states and UT which participated in the process out of which the Centre selected only 17. It has been selected for the 12th time for the Republic Day parade since the formation of the state in 2000.

34. Maha Metro and DRDO Sign MoU

The Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation (Maha Metro) has signed an MoU with DRDO to install the “biodigester technology” at all metro stations in Pune. Biodigester technology is an eco-friendly, cost-effective, decentralised, on-site human waste treatment technology that uses an anaerobic microbial consortium. This technology first got invented for the Siachen glacier.

35. Iran tests drones in military exercise

Iran launched exercises featuring a wide array of domestically produced drones on 5 Jan 2021. Iran’s armed forces are to test combat drones used as bombers, interceptors and in reconnaissance missions in the two-day exercises in central Semnan province. The exercise was conducted two days after the first anniversary of the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike.

36. IBM appoints Gary D. Cohn as Vice Chairman

IBM has named Gary Cohn as Vice Chairman and member of its executive leadership team. He will serve as a senior representative of IBM as the company works to accelerate its hybrid cloud and Al strategy. He was former director of the National Economic Council under president Donald Trump.

37. Vietnam purchased Indian rice for first time

Vietnam, the world’s third-biggest exporter of rice, has started buying rice from India for the first time in decades after local prices jumped to their highest in nine years amid limited domestic supplies. Indian traders have been contracted to export 70,000 tonnes of 100 percent broken rice for January and February 2021 shipments at around $310 per tonne on a free-on-board (FOB) basis.

38. TRIFED signs MoU with Akhil Bhartiya Ashram

TRIFED (Tribal Co-operative Marketing Federation of India) under Ministry of Tribal Affairs, has signed an MoU with Akhil Bhartiya Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra. The MoU was exchanged between the two organisations on January 3, 2021, to work together for setting up of TRIFoOD Parks in 5 districts in Madhya Pradesh. The two organisations will work together by undertaking various initiatives.

39. Sanjay Kapoor elected AICF President

Sanjay Kapoor was elected President of the All India Chess Federation (AICF) while Bharat Singh Chauhan retained the Secretary’s post in the polls held online on 4 Jan 2021. Kapoor, representing Uttar Pradesh Chess Association, defeated incumbent PR Venketrama Raja in a close contest. Naresh Sharma, belonging to the Chauhan faction, was elected as treasurer,

40. Tata Power, SIDBI to finance MSMEs

Tata Povwer has announced a partnership with Small Industries Bank of India (SIDBI) to provide affordable financing scheme for MSME Customers in the rooftop solar segment. The scheme will empower MSMEs to adopt sustainable energy for their businesses. Tata Power and SIDBl will provide a financing solution without any collateral at an interest rate of less than 10 per cent.

41. Ramalingeswara Park inaugurated

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik inaugurated Ramlingeshwar Park in Berhampur of Ganjam district, through video conferencing on 4 Jan 2021. The Ramlingeshwar Reservoir and Park has
been built at a cost of Rs 12 crore. The park has a huge statue of Lord Shiva in the centre of the pond. Besides, water fountains have also been put in the park.

42. Centum Electronics Limited receives an award

Centum Electronics Limited has been awarded the Defence Technology Absorption Award by DRDO. The award was handed over to Centum CMD, Apparao V Mallavarapu by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. It is given in recognition of Centum Electronics’ outstanding contribution towards the absorption of critical technology in defence space systerms and pioneering the development of space-grade hardware.

43. Tamil Nadu announces a public holiday

Tamil Nadu CM K Palaniswami has declared government holiday on January 28 on account of Thaipusam festival celebrated in the honour of Lord Murugan. Thaipusam is an important festival that is celebrated in Tamil Nadu and also in Kerala and foreign countries like Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Singapore and Malaysia. Thaipusam will be included in the list of public holidays in the coming years.

44. UK abolishes ‘tampon tax’

The UK has abolished the 5 per cent rate of value-added tax (VAT) on menstrual products, known as the tampon tax. There will no longer be VAT on period products from January 1, 2021. This is a part of wider government action to ‘end period poverty’ which includes the roll-out of free sanitary products in schools, colleges and hospitals.

45. Internet shutdowns cost India $2.8 billion

Internet shutdowns cost India $2.8 billion, putting it at the top of a list of 21 countries that ‘curbed citizens’ web access in 2020. India accounted for about three-quarters of the $4 billion lost worldwide to internet curbs. It’s losses more than doubled compared to 2019, a report from a U.K-based digital privacy and security research group showed.

46. TOC launches new initiative

The Indian Oil Corporation (1OC) has launched a new initiative Prayaas to address the needs of the local communities near its fuel stations. Shyam Bohra, Executive Director and State Head of Delhi and Haryana State Office, distributed blankets to the inhabitants of night shelters near IOC-owned company-operated outlet in Jangpura, on 4 Jan 2021. These shelters are run by the Delhi govt.

47. Desh Nayak Diwas on 23 January

To mark the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, West Bengal will observe January 23 as ‘Desh Nayak Diwas’. A national university will also be built-in Netaji’s memory. On January 23, 2021, a rally will be taken out from Shyambazar to Netaji Statue in Kolkata, along with the police band. A tableau will also be displayed on the theme based on Netaji’s life on January 26, 2021.

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