Current Affairs

4 February, 2022

International

India signs Cooperation Agreement with SKAO

India signed an interim agreement to confirm commitment to work on the mega astronomy project, Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO). SKAO is proposed to be the world’s largest radio telescope, which will be established in South Africa and Australia. The agreement will be valid only for one year.

Signatories:
Prof Yashwant Gupta, centre director of National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) and Prof Phil Diamond, director general of SKA signed the agreement.
Highlights:
i.The Cooperation Agreement was signed between representatives of TIFR – National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), On behalf of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), India and Director General of SKA in a virtual meeting. NCRA is within the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), working in the SKA’s development since the 1990s. India is a participating country in the construction of SKAO but it is yet to get the approval from Government of India to become a Member Country in SKA Council.

ii.Through this agreement India will initiate its first monetary contribution towards the construction phase of the SKA, the project stated in 2021.
Note– In 2021, the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) Council approved the establishment of the world’s largest radio telescope, SKA Telescope.
In 2020, the SKA Organisation graduated to becoming the SKA Council, an umbrella body to plan, undertake and oversee the construction of SKA Observatory. India was a member of SKA Organisation but it is yet to become a member of SKA Council.

About Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organization:
It is a private organization dedicated to radio astronomy.
Headquartered– Cheshire, United Kingdom
Founded- 2011
Member countries (14) – Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

National

BDL and Indian Army signs contract for Supply of Konkurs-M Anti-Tank Missiles

A contract has been inked between Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and the Indian Army worth Rs 3,131.82 crore in New Delhi, Delhi for the manufacturing and supply of Konkurs-M, anti-tank guided missile, by BDL under a license agreement with a Russian Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). This contract will be executed in three years.

About Konkurs-M:
It is a second generation, mechanized infantry anti-tank guided missile, to destroy armoured vehicles equipped with explosive reactives. It can be launched either from the BMP (Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty)-II tank or from a ground launcher. It has a range between 75 to 4000 metres. It has been indigenised up to the maximum extent. It has a speed of 65 Kph and Range of 600 Km.

SBI-NCF-IGNCA sign MoU for Development of Atmanirbhar Bharat Centre for Design at Red Fort, Delhi

A tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between State Bank of India (SBI), Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) and National Culture Fund (NCF) for the development of Atmanirbhar Bharat Centre for Design (ABCD) at L1 Barrack, Red Fort, Delhi. It will be implemented by IGNCA, an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Culture while SBI will sponsor it with a contribution of Rs. 10 crore under CSR (Corporate social responsibility).

Aim behind ABCD:
To highlight, promote and celebrate the products with Geographical Indication (GI) sign, as it signifies a specific geographic origin infused with unique features of that region.
Reason behind this Development:
Ministry of Culture through NCF, a trust notified on 28th November, 1996 under charitable Endowments Acts, 1890 mandates to establish partnerships in the field of heritage for the restoration and protection of tangible and intangible heritage. Following this norm, NCF approached SBI to support the ABCD project, where the latter agreed for its sponsorship. All contributions to NCF are given 100% tax exemption under Section 80G (2) of the Income Tax Act of 1961.

Government approves continuation of Scheme of Assistance to NSFs with an outlay of Rs. 1575 crore

The Union Government approved the continuation of Scheme of Assistance to National Sports Federations (NSFs) with an outlay of Rs. 1575 crore for 15th Finance Commission Cycle (2021-22 to 2025-26).

Highlights:
i.The Scheme of Assistance to NSFs is the flagship Central Sector Scheme (CSS), that provides financial support to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
ii.It is the main source of funding for preparation of national athletic teams for all major National and International competitions. NSFs will use the funds to conduct national coaching camps, procure sports equipment, provide training of international standards, provide sports science support etc.

iii.The outlay will support the NSFs to train and field national teams for national and international upcoming competitions including the Commonwealth and Asian Games of 2022, Olympics & Paralympics in 2024 and the Asian & Commonwealth Games in 2026.
Note – Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) is a scheme under the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports to train Olympic bound Indian athletes.
About Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports:
Union Minister- Anurag Singh Thakur (Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh)
Minister of State- Nisith Pramanik (Coobehar, West Bengal)

Economy

SEBI Restructures High-Power Advisory Committee on Settlement Orders and Compounding of Offences

Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Capital markets regulator has restructured its four-member high-power advisory committee on settlement orders and compounding of offences. The panel will work as per SEBI (Settlement Proceedings) Regulations, 2018.

About the Committee:
i.The committee was earlier headed by Vijay C Daga, retired judge of the High Court of Bombay and now it will be chaired by Jai Narayan Patel, former chief justice of Calcutta High Court.
ii.New Members – SEBI has listed M S Sahoo, a former chairperson at Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, and Poornima Advani, ex-chairperson of National Commission for Women, as new members of advisory committee.
iii.PK Malhotra, former law secretary in the Ministry of Law & Justice will continue as a member of the committee.
About Settlement Proceedings Regulations:
i.In January 2022, SEBI has amended the SEBI (Settlement Proceedings) Regulations, 2018, called the SEBI (Settlement Proceedings) (Amendment) Regulations, 2022 where an alleged wrongdoer can settle a pending case with the regulator without admission or denial of guilt by paying a settlement fee. According to the amendment, the timeline for filing settlement applications has been reduced to 60 days from the current 180 days.

ii.Further, the period for submission of revised settlement terms form, after the Internal Committee (IC), has been rationalised to 15 days which will be from the date of the IC meeting. The current rule allows 10 days plus additional 20 days. Click here to know more
About Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI):
Establishment – 12th April 1992 (In accordance with SEBI Act 1992)
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
Chairman – Ajay Tyagi

Edelweiss General Insurance launches Sector’s 1st AI Voice Bot for automated Motor Claims

Edelweiss General Insurance launched an AI (Artificial Intelligent) powered voice bot for automated registration of motor claims. It is powered by Yellow.ai platform. The end-to-end AI Voice Bot is the first of its kind services in the General Insurance industry in India.

Highlights:
i.The AI voice bot is currently available in Hindi, English and Hinglish, enabling real time registration of claims that work 24/7.
ii.Initially it is introduced for garage owners and will be extended to all customers in upcoming months. The AI bot can also answer queries asked by the garage representatives of EGI and also provide the services like claims registration number, speech recognition models without any human involvement.

Note – AU Small Finance Bank recently launched “QR (Quick Response) Code Sound Box” to boost its digital payment services.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
AI is the ability of a computer or a robot which is controlled by installed programmes to do tasks that are usually done by humans.
About Edelweiss General Insurance:
CEO– Shanai Ghosh
Headquarters- Mumbai, Maharashtra

EXIM Bank Signed USD 500m LoC Agreement with Sri Lanka

The Export Import (Exim) Bank of India signed a USD 500 million Line of Credit (LoC) agreement with the Government of Sri Lanka to support the country to overcome its current fuel shortages. The LoC will last for 1 year at a ‘nominal’ interest rate, of under 2 percent.
Financial Support from India:
i.The emergency LoC financial support was announced after the virtual meeting between the External Affairs Minister of India S Jaishankar and Sri Lanka’s Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa, which was held on January 15, 2022.
ii.In January 2022 the Indian government announced a billion-dollar assistance package in addition to other balance of payment support to Sri Lanka for their economic crisis. On January 13, 2022, India extended a USD 400 million currency swap to Sri Lanka.
iii.India also postponed USD 500 million due for settlement to the Asian Clearing Union (ACU), to support the island nation in coping with its dollar crunch.
Economic crisis in Sri Lanka:
i.The island nation is currently struggling with a shortage of almost all essentials, due to the lack of dollars to pay for the imports.
ii.The Sri Lankan government might invite bids from Indian suppliers to finalise its import. In addition to the dollar crisis, the country is also suffering from the inability to import fuel, leading to frequent reports of shortages, as well as power failures.
Note – Recently, Sri Lanka has decided to purchase 40,000 metric tonnes of petrol and 40,000 metric tonnes of diesel from the Indian Oil Corporation (India) to face the fuel and energy crisis.
About Export Import (EXIM) Bank of India:
Establishment – 1982
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
Managing Director – Harsha Bangari

Sports

Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2022: Norway’s Magnus Carlsen Won the Title

Norwegian Grandmaster(GM), Magnus Carlsen (world rank: 1), has won the title of Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2022, organised by the Tata Steel Chess Tournament. He has won his 8th Tata Steel Title defeating Italian-American GM Fabiano Caruana. Magnus Carlsen, holds the record for most wins at the tournament. The Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2022, 84th edition, took place in Wijk ann Zee, the Netherlands from 14th January to 30th January 2022. The Tata Steel Chess Tournament is internationally known as “The Wimbledon of Chess” and it was formerly known as the Corus chess tournament.

Note:
India’s Viswanathan Anand has won the 5 Tata Steel Title, the 2nd most wins in the tournament.
Additional info:
Grandmaster Erigaisi Arjun of India has won the Tata Steel Challengers and earned a spot in the Tata Steel Masters 2023.
Erigaisi Arjun from Warangal, Telangana has become the 4th Indian to win the Challengers title after P Harikrishna, B Adhiban and Vidit Gujrathi.
About Magnus Carlsen:
Magnus Carlsen became the World Chess Champion in 2013 by defeating Viswanathan Anand.
He topped the International Chess Federation(FIDE) world ranking at the age of 19 and became the youngest person to do so.
About the Tata Steel Chess Tournament:
i.The Tata Steel Chess Tournament was instituted as the Hoogovens tournament in 1938.
ii.In 1999, the sponsor of the tournament Koninklijke Hoogovens merged with British Steel to form the Corus Group, after which the tournament was called the Corus chess tournament.
iii.In 2007, the Corus Group was acquired by Tata of India and renamed as Tata Steel Europe in September 2010.

Miscellaneous

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launches US Intelligence Satellite ‘NROL-87’

An intelligence satellite namely ‘NROL-87’ for the United States (US) National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) was launched into space through a two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base (VSFB) in California, US. NROL-87 is described as the ‘national security payload’ with an outlay of $50 Million. NROL-87 is designed, built, and operated by the NRO to support its overhead reconnaissance mission.The NRO is the government agency for developing, building, launching and maintaining US satellites that provide intelligence data to senior policymakers.

CCI approves Additional Equity Acquisition in Escorts Ltd by Kubota Corporation

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) approved the acquisition of certain additional equity shares of Escorts Ltd by Kubota Corporation.

About Competition Commission of India (CCI):
CCI was established in 2003, under the provisions of the Competition act 2002.
Fully Operational- March, 2009.
Chairperson– Ashok Kumar Gupta
About Kubota Corporation:
Chairman– Masatoshi Kimata
Headquarters– Osaka, Japan
About Escorts limited:
Chairperson- Nikhil Nanda
Headquarters– Faridabad, Haryana

Former Sports Secretary Ravi Mittal Appointed as new Chairperson of IBBI

Ravi Mittal, former secretary of the department of sports is appointed as the new Chairperson of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) for a period of 5 years or till the age of 65, whichever is early. Following the retirement of M S Sahoo on 30th September 2021, Navrang Saini, a whole-time member of IBBI, has been serving as the Chairperson(additional charge) of IBBI. Ravi Mittal will take over from Navrang Saini after his term ends on 5th March 2022.

About Ravi Mittal:
i.Ravi Mittal is a 1986 batch IAS officer from Bihar cadre who has previously served as the secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting(MIB).
ii.In April 2020, he was appointed as the Secretary of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports replacing Radhey Shyam Julaniya.
iii.He has also held the additional charge as secretary of the Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship(MSDE).

About Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI):
IBBI was established on 1st October 2016, under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Code).
Chairperson– Navrang Saini
Headquarters– New Delhi, Delhi

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