Current Affairs

2 July, 2021

International

COVID-19 Impact on Tourism; Global Economy can Lose $4 trillion: UNWTO, UNCTAD

As per the joint report released by the UN (United Nations) Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) named ‘COVID-19 and Tourism: An Update’, India has experienced a 54 percent drop in tourist arrivals in 2020 due to COVID-19. The report has estimated a loss of $4 trillion in terms of global GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for 2020 and 2021 due to the fall down of international tourism due to COVID-19. In 2020, a loss of $2.4 trillion is estimated for ‘International tourism and linked sectors’ due to the sharp drop in international tourist arrivals.

About UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO):
Establishment – 1975
Headquarters – Madrid, Spain
Secretary-General – Zurab Pololikashvili
Member States – 159

Overview of EAM Jaishankar’s Visit to Greece & Italy

India’s External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr S Jaishankar paid an official visit to two countries Greece from June 25-27, 2021 & Italy from June 28-29, 2021.
i.EAM Jaishankar’s visit to Greece is the 1st visit by an Indian foreign minister to Greece since 2003. He conveyed India’s felicitations towards the 200th anniversary of Greek Independence. During the visit, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias signed and handed over the Agreement on the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to the Indian side. They exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest in the context of new geo-political and geo-economic realities, including the Indo-Pacific.

ii.EAM visited Italy to participate in the G20 Foreign Affairs Ministers’ Meeting 2021 followed by a joint session of Foreign Affairs and Development Ministers.
The meetings took place from June 28-29, 2021 at Matera, Basilicata, Italy from June 28-29, 2021 and was hosted by Italy, which hosts the 2021 Presidency of G20. India is expected to hold the presidency of the G20 in 2022. During the 1st joint meeting of Foreign Affairs and Development Ministers adopted the ‘Matera Declaration’.

About Greece
President – Katerina Sakellaropoulou
Capital – Athens
Currency – Euro
About G20
Members – 20 (19 countries + European Union)
2021 Presidency – Italy
Established – 1999

FAO & CIAT released Report on Insights and Threats to Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) released a report titled
‘Indigenous Peoples’ Food System, Insights of sustainability and resilience from the front line of climate change’. Indigenous people are the practitioners of unique cultures and ways of connecting people and the environment. They have a population of 500 million people in more than 90 countries.

What is in the study?
The study identified diverse plant and animal species that are a part of Indigenous Peoples’ food systems. Globally, these people depend on these species and also look after them to generate food sustainably and enhance biodiversity.
i.This food system is the most sustainable in the world in terms of efficiency, no waste, seasonality and reciprocity.
ii.The study also triggered a warning against this sophisticated food system due to increasing threats.
Study Coverage:
The study has examined 8 Indigenous Peoples’ food systems in depth viz. the Khasi, Bhotia and Anwal peoples in India, Baka people in Cameroon, the Inari Sami people in Finland, the MelanesiansSI people in the Solomon Islands, the Kel Tamasheq people in Mali, the Tikuna, Cocama and Yagua peoples in Colombia, and the Maya Ch’orti’ in Guatemala.
About Indigenous Peoples’ Food System:
Indigenous people generate hundreds of food items with a unique technique of combining different food like hunting, gathering, fishing, pastoralism and shifting cultivation, without depleting natural resources.
For Example:
i.In the Solomon Islands, the MelanesiansSI people combine agroforestry, wild food gathering and fishing to generate 70% of their dietary needs.
ii.In Finland’s Arctic region, through fishing, hunting and herding, the Inari Sámi people generate 75% of the protein they consume.
Points to be noted:
i.FAO, a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that leads international efforts to defeat hunger headquartered at Rome, Italy.
ii.CIAT, an international research and development organization to tackle food insecurity and malnutrition, climate change, and environmental degradation is headquartered at Rome, Italy.

National

Indian Navy inked MoU with BEL Ltd to develop Emerging Technologies

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Indian Navy and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) at Integrated Headquarters, Ministry of Defence (Navy), New Delhi to create a joint Technology Incubation Forum (TIF). The reason behind this MoU is to foster development of Emerging Technologies.

India, Russia begin Construction of Units 5 & 6 of Kudankulam Nuclear Plant, Tamil Nadu

Rosatom, a Russian state-run Nuclear Energy Corporation & Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) have started the construction work on Units 5 & 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu. Kudankulam is India’s largest nuclear power station. The starting of works were virtually launched by Atomic Energy Commission chairman and DAE secretary K N Vyas in the presence of Alexey Likhachev, Director General, Rosatom Global and CMD of NPCIL S K Sharma. Rosatom & NPCIL have been building 6 power reactors of 1,000 MW each at Kudankulam. Units 1 and 2 have already been commissioned, while work on unit 3 & 4 is in advanced stage and is expected to be completed by 2026-27.

i.The construction of KNPP began on 31st March, 2002. The nuclear plant is a result of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed on 20th November 1988 between the then Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi and the Soviet head of state, Mikhail Gorbachev.
ii.India and Russia’s agreement on nuclear power envisions building as many as 12 nuclear plants by 2035.
About Rosatom
Director General – Alexey Likhachev
Headquarters – Moscow, Russia
About Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL)
CMD – S K Sharma
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra

Cabinet Approvals on June 30, 2021

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi accorded approval for several initiatives. They are Extension of last date of registration till 31st March, 2022 for Atma Nirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana (ABRY). Revised Implementation Strategy Of BharatNet through PPP Model – The estimated maximum viability gap funding is INR 19,041 crores. Loan Guarantee Scheme for Covid Affected Sectors (LGSCAS) and to enhance the Target Credit Line for Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) Approval for ‘Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme’ – The scheme will be available till 2025-26 and is worth INR 3.03 Lakh crore (Central Fund – 97,000 crore).

About Gambia
President – Adama Barrow
Capital – Banjul
Currency – Gambian Dalasi (GMD)
About Myanmar
Acting President – Myint Swe
Capital – Naypyidaw
Currency – Kyat

Economy

NPST receives TPAP Registration from NPCI

Network People Services Technology (NPST), an Thane-based banking technology provider has received a Third-Party Application Provider (TPAP) registration from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) for its TimePay solution.
What is TPAP?
TPAP is the entity that provides the UPI compliant app to the end-user customers to facilitate UPI (Unified Payments Interface) based payment transactions. TPAP is a service provider to the PSP (Payment Service Provider) and participates in UPI through PSP. Some of the Third-Party providers are Google Pay, Amazon Pay or PhonePe.

ICICI Bank Launched Banking Solution for Doctors – ‘Salute Doctors’

On the eve of National Doctor’s Day, on July 01, 2021, ICICI Bank launched ‘Salute Doctors’, a digital and instant banking solution that is designed exclusively for medical doctors. The solution is powered by ICICI STACK, a digital banking platform with nearly 500 services It offers customized banking and value-added services to every doctor such as medical students, senior medical consultants, and even the owner of a hospital or a clinic.
About ICICI Bank:
Establishment – 1955(Incorporated in 1994)
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
MD& CEO – Sandeep Bakhshi
Tagline – Hum hai na, Khayal Apka

Forex Reserves in FY21 Increased by $99.2 Billion; Current Account Surplus at 0.9% of GDP in FY21 – RBI data

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released the ‘Sources of Variation in Foreign Exchange(Forex) Reserves in India during 2020-21’ and reported an increase in the forex reserves in nominal terms, including the valuation effects, by USD 99.2 billion in FY21, compared to USD 64.9 billion of FY20.
Variation in Forex Reserves:

Item

FY21 (US$ Billion)

FY20 (US$ Billion)

Forex reserves on a balance of payments basis (i.e., excluding valuation effects)

87.3

59.5

Forex reserves in nominal terms (including the valuation effects)

99.2

64.9

current account balance

23.9

-24.7

Capital account

63.4

84.2

Foreign investment

80.1

44.4

RBI Released India’s BoP Data
i.RBI released the preliminary data on India’s balance of payments (BoP) for the fourth quarter (Q4) of FY21 (January-March, 2021) and reported a Current account surplus of 0.9 percent of GDP in FY21, as against a deficit of 0.9 percent in FY20 due to the sharp contraction in the trade deficit to $102.2 billion in FY21 from $157.5 billion in FY20.
ii.The current account deficit (CAD) in Q4 FY21 was increased to US$ 8.1 billion (1 percent of GDP) when compared with a surplus of US$ 0.6 billion (0.1 per cent of GDP) in Q4 FY20 and a deficit of US$ 2.2 billion (0.3 percent of GDP) in Q3 FY21.
About Reserve Bank of India (RBI):
Established – 1st April 1935
Headquarters– Mumbai, Maharashtra
Governor– Shaktikanta Das
Deputy Governors – Mahesh Kumar Jain, Michael Debabrata Patra, M. Rajeshwar Rao, T. Rabi Sankar

World Bank Approved USD 500 Million Loan to Support India’s Informal Working Class

The World Bank (WB) Board of Executive Directors approved a USD 500 million (~ Rs 3,726.30 crore) loan programme to support India’s informal working class to overcome the COVID-19 distress and to support the states to manage the current pandemic, future climate and disaster shock. Out of the USD 500 million loan, USD 112.50 million will be financed by the International Development Association (IDA) and the remaining USD 387.50 million will be provided as a loan from International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). Maturity: The loan has a maturity period of 18.5 years with a grace period of 5 years.

Sports

ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 Shifted to UAE – Oman

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has shifted the venue of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Tournament from India to United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman, due to India’s prevailing pandemic situation. The tournament will be hosted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at 4 venues from 17 October to 14 November 2021.
i.ICC Men’s T20 World Cup will be participated by 16 teams and the last T20 World Cup event was won by West Indies in 2016 in India.

Indian American Abhimanyu Mishra Became the Youngest Chess Grandmaster

Indian American chess player Abhimanyu Mishra (12 years 4 months, 25 days old) became the youngest ever Chess Grandmaster after he scored his third Grandmaster (GM) norm in Budapest, Hungary. He won the title against 15-year-old Indian chess player Leon Luke Mendonca Abhimanyu Mishra broke the record of Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin who held the position for 19 years. He became the youngest grandmaster at the age of 12 years and seven months.

About Abhimanyu Mishra:
i.Abhimanyu Mishra scored both his first and second Grandmaster norms at the April Vezerkepzo tournament and the May 2021 First Saturday tournament.
ii.He scored his 3rd GM norm having crossed the required 2500 Elo rating.

Miscellaneous

ADIA Picked up Minority stake in Mobikwik for $20 million

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), the United Arab Emirates’s (UAE) sovereign wealth fund, has picked up a minority stake in Mobikwik, the IPO (Initial Public Offering)-bound digital payments firm, for around $20 million (~ Rs 150 crore). As per the Registrar of Companies (RoC) filing by Mobikwik after the current funding the values at $700 million (~ Rs 5,193 crore). Currently it is working on a Rs 1,200-crore primary share sale. In April, 2021, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) ordered MobiKwik to probe alleged data leak of its 110 million users that was breached. Mobikwik is backed by Sequoia Capital and India’s Bajaj Finance

Amazon Web Services acquired Encrypted Messaging app Wickr

Amazon is all set to have its own messaging application as its cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services (AWS), has acquired encrypted messaging platform Wickr for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition is on the lines of the company’s strategy for government contract work. Notably, Wickr is a popular app with government agencies in the United States (US). Wicker, a secure messaging app offers end-to-end encrypted and content-expiring messages, including photos, videos, and file attachments.

About Wickr:
Launched in 2012, it is designed for government agencies, military, enterprise and individuals. It has different apps for specific needs like Wickr Pro, Wickr RAM, and Wickr Enterprise, Wickr Me. WickrRAM was specifically designed for the military. It claimed to be the only collaboration platform that adheres to all security guidelines by National Security Agency (NSA), US.

CCI Approved Acquisition of SB Energy by Adani Green; Merger of Tech Data, SYNNEX

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) under Section 31(1) of the Competition Act, 2002 has approved the acquisition of SB Energy Holding Limited by Adani Green Energy Limited for about $3.5 billion, the largest acquisition in the renewable energy sector in India.

Background: In May 2021, Adani Green Energy made a share purchase agreement with SoftBank Group and Bharti Group for the acquisition of a 100 percent stake in SB Energy India. SB Energy is a joint venture between Japan-based SoftBank Group Corp (80 percent) and Bharti Group (20 percent) and houses 4,954 MW of renewable assets across 4 states in India. Through this acquisition, AGEL will achieve a total renewable capacity of 24.3 GW and an operating renewable capacity of 4.9 GW.

About SB Energy Holdings Limited:
Establishment – 2011
Headquarters – Tokyo, Japan
Representative Director & CEO – Shigeki Miwa
About Adani Green Energy Limited (AGEL):
Headquarters – Ahmedabad, Gujarat
MD & CEO – Vneet S. Jaain

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