Current Affairs

7 January, 2022

International

New Coronavirus Variant Named IHU, Discovered in France

The Scientists of France have discovered a new variant of the Coronavirus, named IHU – B.1.640.2 variant. The new variant named IHU was discovered by the academics at the institute IHU Mediterranee Infection, Marseille, France. IHU variant contains 46 mutations (more than the Omicron) and 37 deletions resulting in 30 amino acid substitutions and 12 deletions. IHU (B.1.640.2) has not been spotted in other countries or labelled a variant under investigation by the World Health Organization (WHO).

National

Dr Jitendra Singh Launches Theme of National Science Day 2022

Minister of State (MoS) (Independent Charge) for the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) Dr Jitendra Singh launched the theme of National Science Day 2022 in New Delhi raising public appreciation of the scientific issues. The National Science Day (NSD) is observed every year on 28th February to mark the discovery of the Raman effect.

Theme – ‘Integrated Approach in Science and Technology (S&T) for Sustainable Future’.

Awards presented on NSD:

i.The DST presents the National Awards for Science every year starting from 1987 to encourage and recognize the outstanding efforts in the area of S&T communication
ii.The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) that supports basic research in science and engineering presents SERB women excellence award.

About SERB – This provides grants to women below 40 years of age who have received recognition from any one or more national Academies such as Young Scientist Medal, Young Associateship medal, etc.

iii.Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research (AWSAR) award, an initiative of DST is also presented on NSD to recognize Research in Science, Technology and Innovation by PhD Scholars and Post Doctoral Fellows in popular science writing format.
About Department of Science (DST):
The DST is under the Ministry of Science and Technology
Secretary – Dr. Srivari Chandrasekhar
Headquarters – New Delhi, Delhi

Telecommunication Engineering Centre releases Report on ‘Code of Practice for Securing Consumer Internet of Things’

A Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC), under Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Ministry of Communications, has released a report ‘Code of Practice for Securing Consumer Internet of Things (IoT)’ a baseline requirement aligned with global standards and best practices to secure Consumer IoT devices. It is released for the use by IoT device manufacturers, Service providers/ system integrators and application developers etc.

Need behind this report:
The growth of IoT devices is at full pace therefore it is required to protect the users and the networks that connect these IoT devices from hacking by adhering to safety and security standards. IoT is being used to create smart infrastructure in various verticals such as Power, Automotive, Safety & Surveillance, Remote Health Management, Agriculture, Smart Homes and Smart Cities etc, using connected devices.

MoHUA-NIUA & 15 Academic Institutes launches Smart cities and Academia Towards Action & Research (SAAR)

i.As part of the nationwide Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM) celebrations, the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) has launched a ‘Smart cities and Academia Towards Action & Research (SAAR)’ programme.

ii.It is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) and 15 leading Indian academic institutions.
iii.Under SAAR, there will be preparation of a compendium of 75 landmark urban projects under SCM. These will be innovative, multi-sectoral, and have been implemented across geographies.

About Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA):
Union Minister– Hardeep Singh Puri (Constituency- Uttar Pradesh)
Minister of State (MoS)– Kaushal Kishore (Constituency- Mohanlalganj, Uttar Pradesh)
About National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA):
Director– Hitesh Vaidya
Headquarters– New Delhi, Delhi

Environment Minister, Bhupender Yadav Chaired the 19th Meeting of NTCA; 14 Tiger Reserves got CA|TS Accreditation

The 19th Meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) was held under the chairmanship of the Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Bhupender Yadav. Currently, there are 51 Tiger Reserves in India and more than 35 rivers originate from those areas which are crucial for water security. As per the statement of the environment minister, Tiger continues to be an endangered species and the tiger population need to be managed actively.

Highlights of Key Initiatives Launched:
i.The environment minister launched an action plan for the reintroduction, protection and conservation of 7 major big cats in India including the cheetah, which has become extinct in independent India. Under the action plan, 50 of these big cats will be introduced in the next 5 years in various parks.

ii.He stated about the success of the ‘India for Tigers: A Rally on Wheels’, which was organized under the aegis of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
iii.He also released a Water Atlas, mapping all the water bodies in the tiger bearing areas of India.
iv.He announced that 14 Tiger reserves across India have received accreditation of the global Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS). NTCA is working on getting other Tiger Reserves evaluated for CA|TS accreditation.
About Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change(MoEF&CC):
Union Minister – Bhupender Yadav (Constituency – Rajya Sabha Rajasthan)
Minister of State – Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Constituency – Buxar, Bihar)

Economy

SBI General Insurance launches ‘#BahaneChhodoTaxBachao’ Campaign on Tax Saving

SBI (State Bank of India) General Insurance Company Ltd launched a campaign titled ‘#BahaneChhodoTaxBachao’ to increase awareness around the need to buy health insurance to save tax. It will also highlight the other benefits of opting for health insurance. The campaign is in a quirky Vox Pop format featuring anchor Rudraksh Singh aka Rudy

A health insurance not just prevents a medical emergency but also benefit from saving tax under section 80D of Income Tax Act, 1961.
About SBI (State Bank of India) General Insurance:
Managing Director (MD) & Chief Executive Officer (CEO)– Prakash Chandra Kandpal
Tagline– Suraksha Aur Bharosa Dono
Headquarters– Mumbai, Maharashtra

Reliance Jio Introduces UPI Autopay in Collaboration with NPCI

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and Reliance Jio collaborated to announce the introduction of Unified Payment Interface (UPI) Autopay for the telecom industry. Through this collaboration, Reliance Jio has become the 1st telecom company to launch a UPI autopay facility for both prepaid and postpaid subscribers. Jio customers can now autopay for their tariff plans on the MyJio app and avail touch-free auto-recharge and bill payments facility.

Benefits:
i.Jio Users can create, modify and remove the e-mandate for the tariff plans by setting instructions on the MyJio App using UPI Autopay.
ii.Jio users will no longer need to remember their date of recharge once the validity ends as the users’ recharge would auto-renew on the set date.
iii.The customers do not have to enter the UPI PIN for recharge amounts up to Rs.5,000.
About National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI):
CEO & MD – Dilip Asbe
Establishment – 2008
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra

RBI Releases Eligibility Criteria for Entities to Become ‘specified Users’ of CICs

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released the eligibility criteria for entities to be categorised as ‘Specified User’ of Credit Information Companies (CICs). The eligible criteria are issued under clause (j) of Regulation 3 of the CICs (Amendment) Regulations, 2021.

Eligibility criteria:
i.A ‘specified user’ should be a company incorporated in India or a Statutory Corporation established in India.
ii.Experience: In case the entity is a company, it should have not less than 3 years of experience in running the business/activity of processing information for the support or benefit of credit institutions and shall have a clean track record.
iii.Net worth: The company should have a net worth of not less than Rs 2 crore as per the latest audited balance sheet and should meet the requirement on a continuing basis.
About Credit Information Companies (CICs):
i.Currently, there are 4 CICs — Credit Information Bureau (India) Ltd (CIBIL), Equifax Credit Information Services Pvt Ltd, Experian Credit Information Company of India Pvt Ltd and CRIF High Mark Credit Information Services Pvt Ltd.
Functions:
ii.Along with the business of credit information, a CIC will also provide credit information to individual and corporate borrowers’ own credit reports and also provide data management services to its member’s Credit Institutions.
iii.CIC will also collect, process, collate and disseminate data/information related to property mortgaged to credit institutions and investments made in Securities other than those issued by Central Government.

Sports

Khelo India Games 2023

The Khelo India Games were introduced to revive the sports culture in India. The 2021 Khelo India Games were postponed due to COVID crisis. It is now to be conducted in Haryana in January 2022. The Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Singh Thakur is to attend the games.
The Khelo India Youth Games 2022-23 is to be held in Madhya Pradesh. The Madhya Pradesh Cabinet recently approved to host the games from Bhopal. The cabinet also approved to land allocation of 50 – acre land to establish an international sports complex.

Miscellaneous

Reliance Retail Picked up a 25.8% Stake in Dunzo for USD 200 Million

Reliance Retail Ventures Limited (RRVL), a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited(RIL) has purchased a 25.8% stake in Bengaluru-based startup Dunzo (Dunzo Digital Private Limited), an Indian company, with an investment of USD 200 Million (~ Rs 1489 crore).
Dunzo funding round:
i.Dunzo has raised USD 240 million in a round of funding where the investment was led by RRVL.
ii.Lightbox, Lightrock, 3L Capital and Alteria Capital, the existing investors of Dunzo were the other participants of the funding round.
Additional info:
Dunzo and RRVL will also enter into a business partnership under which Dunzo will enable hyperlocal logistics for the retail stores operated by RRVL and enhance the omni-channel capabilities of RRVL. Under the partnership, Dunzo will also facilitate last-mile deliveries for JioMart’s merchant network.

About Reliance Retail Ventures Limited(RRVL):
Chairman & Managing Director(CMD)– Mukesh Ambani
Headquarters– Mumbai, Maharashtra
About Dunzo (Dunzo Digital Private Limited):
Dunzo is a leading quick commerce category in India that provides delivery services across 7 cities (Bengaluru, Pune, Gurugram, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad & Chennai)
CEO & Co-Founder– Kabeer Biswas
Headquarters– Bengaluru, Karnataka.

NTPC Limited to Acquire 5% Equity Stake in PXIL

NTPC Limited (formerly known as National Thermal Power Corporation Limited,) is set to acquire up to 5% of the equity stake in Power Exchange India Limited (PXIL).
PXIL is India’s first institutionally promoted power exchange, that provides electricity trading solutions and connects buyers as well as sellers. This acquisition is in line with the intention of the government to increase the share of the spot power market to 25% of the total electricity supply in India by 2023- 2024.

Background:
In October 2021, the expert group, established by the Ministry of Power, recommended expanding the size of short-term power trading from about 5% at present to 25% by 2023-24. This is expected to be part of the draft National Electricity Policy (NEP).

Additional info:
i.According to the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), the share of the short-term market has accounted for 10% of the total electricity procured in 2019-20.
90% of the total power supply was procured by the distribution company(discom) through long-term contracts and short-term intra-state transactions.
ii.According to the industry data, the short-term trading is around 14-15% of the total power supply in India and most of that is bilateral PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) while the exchange trading is 5%.
About NTPC Limited:
Chairman & Managing Director– Gurdeep Singh
Headquarters– New Delhi, Delhi
Incorporated on 7th November 1975

Govt reappoints Vijay Paul Sharma as Chairman of CACP

The Central government has reappointed Vijay Paul Sharma as Chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) after he resigned in May 2021 completing his five-year term (2016-2021).
i.Vijay Paul Sharma also serves as a professor in the Agriculture department at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A) Gujarat.
Functions of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP):
i.The CACP was established in 1965.
ii.It is an apex advisory body that works under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
iii.The CACP recommends the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) to the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) to incentivise cultivators.
About Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare:
Union Minister- Narendra Singh Tomar (Morena, Madhya Pradesh)
Minister of State- Shobha Karandlaje (Udupi Chikmagalur, Karnataka), Kailash Choudhary (Barmer, Rajasthan)

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