Current Affairs 6th March 2021

Table of Contents

1. Zimbabwe: 1st country to authorize COVAXIN

Zimbabwe has authorized the use of India’s indigenous vaccine COVAXIN. With this, it has become the first country in Africa to authorize the Indian COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The Hyderabad-based developers Bharat Biotech have informed that its Covaxin vaccine was 81 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 following the third round of clinical trials

2. Freedom House demotes India’s freedom score

Washington-based noted think tank Freedom House has demoted India’s freedom score from “free” to “partly free”. India’s score decreased from 71 to 67, with 100 being the ranking for the freest country, and its rank fell from 83 to 88 out of 211 countries. The freest countries in the world, with a score of 100, are Finland, Norway, and Sweden, while the least free are Tibet and Syria.

3. PNB Housing Finance, Yes Bank sign pact

PNB Housing Finance has tied up with Yes Bank for a strategic co-lending service that will facilitate retail home loans at competitive rates. PNB Housing and Yes Bank will synergize capabilities to provide an efficient and seamless experience to existing and new retail home loan customers. Both will jointly do due diligence and co-originate the loan at an agreed ratio.

4. Agriculture census to be conducted in Gujarat

An agriculture census will be conducted in Gujarat in 2021 as part of a pan-India exercise to collect various data related to the key sector. Data regarding farmers’ land holdings, collected from the periodic exercise, is crucial for formulating policies for the agriculture sector.bAn agriculture census is conducted (across the country) every 5 years. The last one was conducted in 2015-16.

5. AckoDrive partners with IDFC FIRST Bank

AckoDrive has announced a partnership with IDFC FIRST Bank to issue free FASTags. With this, getting a FASTag would be hassle-free and convenient. Unlike FASTags issued by others, AckoDrive’s digital platform requires no issuance fee, no paperwork, or security deposit. These FASTags can also be used for contactless payments for fuel purchases at HPCL pumps.

6. IIT Roorkee opens center for drone research

A state-of-art Centre for Drone Research at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee has been inaugurated. The initiative has secured a seed funding of Rs. 1 crore from alumni of the 1994 batch on the occasion of their Silver Jubilee Reunion. Frontier research would be conducted on several aspects of drone technology, including drone development and anti-drone technology at this center.

7. India signs pact with the Philippines

India and the Philippines have signed a key agreement to facilitate government-to-government deals on military hardware, including the potential supply of BrahMos cruise missiles. The signing of the “implementing arrangement” for procuring defense materials and equipment was announced by the department of national defense of the Philippines.

8. ICC opens investigation into war crimes

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor has opened a formal investigation into alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories. The probe would cover events in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip since June 2014. The Hague-based court ruled in February 2021 that it could exercise its criminal jurisdiction over the territories.

9. Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine

Canada on 5 March 2021, has authorized a fourth Covid-19 vaccine, adding Johnson & Johnson’s candidate to its approved list alongside AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Moderna shots. It is the first single-dose Covid-19 vaccine to be authorized in the country and has been cleared for use by people over 18 years of age.

10. Joe Biden appoints 2 more Indian-Americans

US President Joe Biden has appointed two more Indian-Americans in key administrative positions. Chiraag Bains has been appointed as Special Assistant to the President for Criminal Justice and Pronita Gupta has been named Special Assistant to the President for Labour and Workers. From 2010 to 2017 Chiraag served in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division

11. Cipher to go public via $2 billion SPAC merger

Cipher Mining Inc has agreed to go public through a merger with blank-check firm Good Works Acquisition Corp in a deal valuing it at $2 billion, underscoring the rising interest in the bitcoin space. Tyler Page is the Chief Executive Officer of Cipher. In January 2021, cryptocurrency platform Bakkt had also agreed to go public through a merger with a blank-check firm.

12. Application for reading CoV-2 test results

Researchers have reported the development of a smartphone application that combines smartphone camera imaging with machine learning to interpret SARS-CoV-2 serological rapid diagnostic test (RDT) results, the visual interpretation of which can be highly subjective. The application yielded only 18 false negatives and 5 false positives out of 3,344 samples tested using 11 RDTs.

13. COVAX delivered 20 million doses in the first week

COVAX- the international program set up to get coronavirus vaccines to the world has delivered 20 million vaccine doses to 20 countries in the first week of distribution. In the coming days, COVAX will deliver 14.4 million doses to a further 31 countries. That brings the total number of countries to 51. Ghana became the first country to receive Covid-19 vaccines through COVAX on 3 March 21.

14. Maharashtra’s economy to grow at minus 8%

Maharashtra’s economy is expected to grow at minus 8% in the year 2020-21. It is the lowest rate ever. This was stated in the economic survey of Maharashtra tabled in the legislature on 5 March 2021. Except for agriculture and allied sectors, all the other sectors are expected to grow with a negative growth rate. 11.7% growth is expected in the agriculture and allied sectors.

15. Meghalaya govt launches portal for workers

The Meghalaya government has launched the online registration portal for migrant workers under the Meghalaya Identification Registration (Safety and Security) of Migrant Workers Act 2020. It will improve the ease of doing business. Only those migrant workers/laborers who fulfill various criteria stated under the Act will be issued with a labor license.

16. HP: GSDP estimated to register negative growth

In Himachal Pradesh, the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) is estimated to register a negative growth of 6.2 percent in the current FY 2020-21. This was stated by the state govt in the Assembly while tabling the report of the Economic Survey in the house on 5 March 2021. GSDP at current prices is estimated to be 1,62,816 crore rupees in 2019-20 as against 1,49,442 crore rupees in 2018-19.

17. J&K LG Manoj Sinha chairs high-level meeting

In Jammu and Kashmir, Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha chaired a high-level preparatory meeting of ‘Azaadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav- India@75 for celebrating 75 years of Independence of India on 5 March 2021. The birthplaces of freedom fighters and martyrs, Brigadier Rajinder Singh (village Bagoona, Samba), and Maqbool Sherwani (Baramulla town) were selected for mega curtain-raiser events on 12 March 2021.

18. Andhra CM launches AP Fact Check website

Andhra Pradesh CM Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy launched the AP Fact Check website and Twitter account at his camp office on 5 March 2021. With malicious propaganda spread in the media and on social media, the state government has launched the website in a bid to curb such false news. He stressed the need to identify where these campaigns originate and take legal action

19. Bangladesh launches national app portal

The Government of Bangladesh has launched its national app portal bdapps.com. The agreement between the Information and Communication Technology Division (ICT) division of the government of Bangladesh and the telecom company Robi was signed in Dhaka on 4 March 2021. Through this agreement, BDApps will be established as the hub of the ICT division for application developers.

20. ITBP hands over SCME to Himachal P. Police

Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has handed over more than 60 sets of various categories of Special Clothing and Mountaineering Equipment (SCME) to Himachal Pradesh Police personnel deployed on Atal Tunnel Security. These will be used by HP police personnel in extremely cold conditions. Atal Tunnel is located at altitudes of more than 10000 feet where winter temperature remains sub-zero.

21. Convocation of the State Judicial Academy

President Ramnath Kovind is on a two-day visit to Madhya Pradesh from 6 March 2021. He will attend the convocation ceremony of the State Judicial Academy in Jabalpur. The academy imparts quality judicial education to the newly inducted Civil Judges and directly appointed Additional District Judges. He will also attend the Narmada Aarti in Gwavarigath and will also visit Damoh.

22. PM to address Janaushadhi Diwas celebrations

PM Narendra Modi will address the Janaushadhi Diwas celebrations through video conferencing on 7 March 2021. He will dedicate to the nation the 7500th Janaushadhi Kendra at North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, Shillong. He will also interact with beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana and give awards to stakeholders.

23. Combined Commanders’ Conference concludes

PM Narendra Modi addressed the valedictory session of the Combined Commanders’ conference at the Statue of Unity in Kevadia, Gujarat on 6 March 2021. Since 2014, this conference has been taking place in different locations of the country other than Delhi. The last edition of the conference was held in 2018 at the Air Force Station in Jodhpur.

24. Government constitutes National Committee

The govt has constituted a National Committee headed by PM Narendra Modi to commemorate 75 years of India’s Independence. The committee has 259 members and includes dignitaries and eminent citizens from all walks of life. It will provide policy direction and guidelines for the formulation of programs for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Indian Independence.

25. SoftBank Strategy Chief plans exit

Chief Strategy Officer of SoftBank, Katsunori Sago will resign on 31 March 2021. He is working with SoftBank since June 2018. Before joining SoftBank, Sago spent more than 2 decades at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., rising to become Vice-Chairman of its operations in Japan.

26. Odisha pays tribute to Biju Patnaik

On 6 March 2021, the Odisha government paid rich tributes to legendary leader Biju Patnaik on his 105th birth anniversary. Biju Patnaik was the Chief Minister of Odisha twice in the mid-60s and the first half of the 90s. The state government also observed the day as “Panchayati Raj Day” as Biju Patnaik was instrumental in decentralizing power to the grassroots level.

27. Front airbags in cars mandatory from April 1

Airbags for front-seat passengers in all cars will be mandatory for new vehicles. The government plans to implement this norm for all new models of cars which are manufactured from April 1, 2021, onwards. Previously, the government had made having an airbag mandatory for the driver’s seat in all cars. This had come into effect on July 1, 2019.

28. Chairman of Muthoot Group passes away

MG George Muthoot, the Chairman of the Muthoot Group, passed away on 5 March 2021. He was instrumental in making Muthoot Finance Ltd, the largest gold financing company in India and the first-ever NBFC to join the ‘Rs 1,000-cr net profit club’. He was ranked India’s 26th richest person with a net worth of $4.8 bn by Forbes magazine in 2020.

29. Drew Vollero: First CFO of Reddit

Reddit has appointed Drew Vollero as its first Chief Financial Officer. Formerly, he worked as a Chief Financial Officer in Snapchat-parent Snap. Vollero, who has also worked at toymaker Mattel Inc, will lead Reddit’s finance team starting at the end of March 2021.

30. IMPCL to sell products on Gov e-Market portal

Indian Medicines Pharmaceutical Corporation Limited (IMPCL) will sell products on Government e-Market (GeM) portal. This deal will offer Ayurvedic and Unani medicines of IMPCL to figure on the GeM portal to hundreds of government sector buyers. The GeM has created 31 categories covering 311 medicines, which will be uploaded on Portal.

31. India’s total vaccine supply 461.66 L doses

India’s total vaccine supply under the Vaccine Maitri initiative has reached 461.66 lakh doses. As of February 2021, 71.5 lakh doses have been delivered through grant and 288.4 lakh doses on commercial terms. In total, India has delivered vaccines to 47 countries and to UN healthcare workers as well.

32. NSA of Nigeria visits New Delhi

The National Security Adviser of Nigeria, Major General (Retd.) Babagana Monguno visited New Delhi on 4 March 2021. This was the first Strategic and Counter-Terrorism Dialogue between India and Nigeria at the level of NSA. The threats and challenges faced by democratic societies from terrorism, extremism, and radicalization were discussed in bilateral talks.

33. Exim Bank inks pact with Eswatini

Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) has inked a $10.40 million (Rs. 75.99 crores) loan deal with Eswatini (Swaziland) on behalf of the Indian government. It has been done for the construction of a disaster recovery site. With the signing of this agreement, Exim Bank, till date has extended three LoCs to Eswatini, taking the total value to $68.30 million.

34. India grants NRs 44.17 million to Nepal

India has extended a grant of Nepali Rs 44.17 million to Nepal to build a new building for Naharpur Secondary School at Butwal-11 in Rupandehi district under the Nepal-Bharat Maitri Development Partnership. This is a part of India’s High Impact Community Development Project scheme program. An MoU has been signed in this regard.

35. Hackathon on mobility picks six projects

Six winning solutions were pitched during a Sweden-India digital hackathon. These include a pedestrian road cross assist system, a super-fast modular charger, and intelligent battery management system for electric vehicles, and a Co2 calculator for smart vehicles. The virtual award ceremony of the ‘Sweden-India Mobility Hackathon: Changing the way we move!’ took place on 3 March 2021.

36. 29th edition of New Delhi World Book Fair

The 29th edition of the annual New Delhi World Book Fair, organized by the National Book Trust (NBT), India will be held virtually from March 6-12, 2021. The theme of the book fair is ‘National Education Policy (NEP) 2020’. Over 15 countries including the UK, US, UAE, China, France, Iran, Nepal, Spain, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Italy are participating in the Foreign Publishers Hall at the Fair.

37. CSIR’s Floriculture Mission launched

Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan launched the ‘CSIR Floriculture Mission’, on 4 March 2021. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Floriculture Mission has been approved for implementation in 21 states and UTs wherein available knowledge base in CSIR Institutes will be utilized and leveraged to help the farmers and industry re-position themselves.

38. DRDO conducts a test of SFDR technology

DRDO on 5 March 2021 successfully conducted a flight test of Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) technology in Odisha. The test was carried out from the integrated test range (ITR) launch platform at Chandipur. The successful demonstration of the SFDR technology will enable DRDO to develop long-range air-to-air missiles. During the test, all subsystems performed as expected.

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