Current Affairs

17 July, 2021


Electricity demand Growing Faster than RE Capacity: IEA Report

According to the mid-2021 edition of ‘Electricity Market Report’ released by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the demand for electricity is growing faster than the production of Renewable Energy (RE). This is leading to an increase in usage of heavily polluting coal, threatening the efforts made by countries to reach Carbon neutrality. Electricity demand is expected to grow by 5% in 2021, which is 1% more than the drop experienced in 2020 due to COVID-19. Renewable power production increased by 7% in 2020. IEA expects RE production to grow by 8% in 2021 and by more than 6% in 2022.

i.Despite increase in RE production, renewables will serve only around 50% of projected growth in global demand in 2021 and 2022.
ii.It will leave fossil fuel power stations to cover around 45% of extra demand in 2021.
iii.Emissions from Coal-fired power stations are expected to hit record high in 2022.
iv.The report states that in order to limit climate change, Use of coal needs to decrease by more than 6% a year.
About International Energy Agency (IEA)
Executive Director – Dr Fatih Birol
Headquarters – Paris, France

Commonwealth Countries lost Trade worth USD 345 billion in 2020: Commonwealth Trade Review 2021

According to a recent review ‘Energising Commonwealth Trade in a Digital World: Paths to Recovery Post-COVID‘ released by the Commonwealth Association, due to COVID-19 commonwealth countries lost trade worth USD 345 billion worth of trade in 2020, including USD 60 billion in intra-Commonwealth trade. Among the developing nations, only India recorded higher overall Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows in 2020. FDI inflows increased by more than USD 13 billion in 2020, a 29.5% increase over the average annual inflows for 2017-19. Globally, COVID-19 has impacted all Commonwealth members’ economies and led to USD 1.15 trillion in past GDP in just one year.
Regarding India
ii.According to the analysis, in 2019, India was the 2nd largest global exporter of ICT services (after Ireland). Among the Commonwealth countries, India was the largest ICT exporter with service exports totaling USD 70 billion. The value of India’s ICT services exports to Commonwealth countries has increased from USD 9 billion in 2010 to USD 17 billion in 2019.
About The Commonwealth
Secretary General – Patricia Janet Scotland
Headquarters – London, UK
Members – 54


India, Sri Lanka & Maldives conduct TTX-2021 on Maritime Security

Defence Officials from India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives participated in a virtual Trilateral Tabletop Exercise 2021 (TTX-2021) on Maritime Security. TTX-2021 was organized by Maritime Warfare Centre, Mumbai from July 14-15, 2021. Enhancing mutual understanding, exchanging best practices & procedures for countering common transnational crimes like curbing narcotics and assistance in maritime search and rescue were discussed. India is holding discussions with countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as per its ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)’ policies.

Operation Sagar Aaraksha II:
Recently, Indian Coast Guard (ICG) in coordination with Sri Lankan Navy & Airforce executed ‘Operation Sagar Aaraksha II’ to fight a major fire onboard the MV X-Press Pearl, a chemical laden container vessel anchored off Colombo.
About Sri Lanka
President – Gotabaya Rajapaksa
Capital – Colombo, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
Currency – Sri Lankan Rupee

IAHE signs pact with University of New South Wales for setting up Centre of Excellence ‘CATTS’ at IAHE, Noida

An agreement has been inked between Indian Academy of Highway Engineers (IAHE), under the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MORTH) eith University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia for setting up a Centre of Excellence (CoE) i.e. ‘Centre for Advanced Transportation Technology and Systems (CATTS)’ at IAHE, Noida (Uttar Pradesh). As a part of agreement, there will be capacity building, technology transfer and creation of an enabling environment for establishment of CATTS in IAHE.

It was signed during a virtual ceremony in the presence of Union Minister Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Ministry of MoRTH; Minister of State (MoS) Gen (Retd) Dr Vijay Kumar Singh, Ministry of MoRTH; Sanjeev Kumar, Director IAHE; Professor Ian Jacobs, Vice-Chancellor of UNSW, Professor Vinayak Dixit, Director Research Centre for Integrated Transport Innovation (UNSW) along with other senior officials of MORTH, IAHE and UNSW.
About upcoming CATTS:
i.Under CATTS, UNSW will build India specific Macro Model (Computable Equilibrium Model) for the entire Nation Highway network and in-principle National Highways.
ii.UNSW will also build India specific Urban Pervasive Data Model for Noida including coding of simulation software, calibration & validation and scenario analysis.
iii.There will be 6 workshops on UNSW certified course on smart transportation systems and modeling. Three workshops will be held in India while three will be in Australia. Each of the workshops will be of five days consisting of 40 participants.
iv.It will also promote industries and startups from Australia and India in the transportation sector.

Overview of PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Varanasi, UP

Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi paid a one-day visit to his constituency Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. During the visit, he inaugurated and laid the foundation stone for multiple development projects worth INR 1500 crores. He inaugurated Projects worth around INR 744 crores which includes 100 bed Mother & Child Hospital (MCH) wing in Banaras Hindu University (BHU), multi-level parking at Godauliya, Ro-Ro (Roll-on/Roll-off) Vessels for tourism development on River Ganga and 3 lane flyover bridge on the Varanasi-Ghazipur Highway. He laid Foundation stones for several projects and public works worth INR 839 crores. It includes Centre for Skill and Technical Support of Central Institute of Petrochemical Engineering and Technology (CIPET), 143 rural projects under Jal Jeevan Mission and Mango and vegetable integrated pack house in Karkhiyaon.

‘Rudrakash’ – an International Cooperation and Convention Centre was also inaugurated by PM Modi. The centre has been built with financial assistance from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at a cost ~ INR 200 crores. Several projects under PRASHAD (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation And Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive) scheme were also inaugurated.
About Uttar Pradesh
Chief Minister – Yogi Adityanath
Governor – Anandiben Patel
Capital – Lucknow


FEDDY – AI-powered virtual customer assistance launched by Federal Bank

FEDDY, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered virtual assistant was launched by Federal Bank to provide 24*7 assistance to its customers on banking related queries. FEDDY is a State-of-Art tool that can also be integrated and accessed through Alexa, Google Assistant and WhatsApp.
Notably, Federal Bank previously launched

“FedSelfie”- a user-friendly tool that allows users’ to open a bank account by taking selfies.

“Federal 24*7” – Users can open bank accounts through Video Call

CIL hires Accenture for Digitalization of Mine Process

Coal India Limited(CIL), state-owned coal mining and refining corporation has appointed Accenture Solutions Private Limited (Accenture) as a consultant to enhance their performance through digitization of 3 mines of South Eastern Coalfields Limited(SECL) and 4 mines of Northern Coalfields Limited(NCL), subsidiaries of CIL.
This is a first of its kind initiative by the company to utilise digitalisation to increase coal production. The 7 identified mines are, SECL: Kusmunda, Gevra and Dipka NCL: Nigahi, Jayant, Dudhichua and Khadia.

To use the available data analytic techniques to increase mine productivity and project efficiency through effective system management.
Accenture has quoted assurance of a 100 million tonne increase in the production of the 7 selected mines in the financial year 2022-2023(FY2023) over the baseline coal production figure. Binay Dayal, Director Technical of CIL signed the agreement on behalf of CIL & Amit Verma signed on behalf of Accenture.

Features of the collaboration:
i.Accenture will assist CIL in improving the efficiency and project monitoring of the 7 mines.
ii.Accenture will also support CIL to create a Business continuity plan leading to Mining 4.0 – with Digital technology.
iii.This will facilitate the CIL to achieve the target of producing 1 Billion Tonnes by 2024.
About Coal India Limited(CIL):
Chairman Cum Managing Director– Pramod Agrawal
Headquarters– Kolkata, West Bengal
Established in November 1975

RBI Restricted MasterCard; RBL Bank tie-up with VISA to Issue Credit Cards

The restriction imposed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)on MasterCard from on-boarding new domestic customers (debit, credit or prepaid) onto their card networks from July 22, 2021, have imposed a higher impact on the card issuer’s (bank) business growth.

RBL Bank, which has issued credit cards only on the Mastercard payment network, has now entered into an agreement with Visa Worldwide Pte Ltd to issue credit cards on Visa’s payment network. YES Bank, and Bajaj Finserv, that have all their credit card business with MasterCard also got affected. HDFC Bank has 3 co-branded cards with Mastercard while State Bank of India (SBI) has 2. RBL Bank is the 5th largest credit card issuer in India.


Madhya Pradesh Cricketer Anshula Rao becomes 1st Woman Cricketer to be banned for doping

Anshula Rao, a woman cricketer from Madhya Pradesh, was banned for 4-years by the National Anti-Doping Agency after failing a dope test. She is the 1st Woman Cricketer to be banned for use of illegal substances, for intentionally using 19-Norandrosterone, a performance-enhancing steroid.

Karnataka set to host 2nd Edition of Khelo India University Games in March 2022

Karnataka, the host of 2nd edition of Khelo India University Games (KIUG) announced that the 12-day long event will be conducted from 5th March 2022 in Bangalore. Decisions were taken to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Chief Guest for the event’s inauguration, which is planned to be held at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bangalore, Karnataka.
i.A total of 18 sporting events will be conducted in KIUG, with the inclusion of 2 new indigenous games – Yogasana & Mallakhamb

Hosts – Karnataka in partnership with the Association of Indian Universities

ii.Over 6000 persons & 158 universities are expected to participate in the event, with an estimated budget of Rs 40 crore
Khelo India Program:
i.Annually 1,000 sports person will be selected for Khelo India Scholarship, who will receive Rs 5 lakhs as financial assistance for their training for a period of 8-years
ii.1st Edition of Khelo India University Games (KIUG) was conducted at KIIT University (Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology University) in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
iii.Panjab University – Chandigarh was the Champion of the 1st edition KIUG that was held in 2020.


Digital Platform ‘Kisan Sarathi’ launched to help Farmers

The digital platform ‘Kisan Sarathi’ was jointly launched by Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar and Union Minister for Electronics & Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw to help farmers get ‘right information at the right time’ in their desired language. The portal was launched virtually on the occasion of 93rd Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Foundation Day i.e 16th July, 2021. The initiative will help in addressing the location specific information needs of the farmers as well as Agricultural Extension, Education and Research activities of ICAR. The portal is powered by Interactive Information Dissemination System (IIDS), Digital India Corporation (DIC), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

About Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY)
Union Minister – Ashwini Vaishnaw (Rajya Sabha – Odisha)
Minister of State – Rajeev Chandrasekhar (Rajya Sabha – Karnataka)

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Launched AI-powered Grievance Management App

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launched an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered grievance management application called ‘CPGRAMS (Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System) app’, it was developed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) along with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur. This web-based application is the 1st system developed based on AI, data science, and Machine Learning (ML) techniques to improve the public grievance redressal system of the Government. The AI-enabled CPGRAMS app would be more beneficial to analyse and address the lakh of complaints that are received on CPGRAMS, the web-based system over NICNET (National Informatics Centre Network). The AI tool of the app has the ability to understand the content of the people’s complaints (grievances) and would automatically analyse it.

Note – CPGRAMS is the online web-based system over NICNET, it was developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC) in association with the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG) and the Directorate of Public Grievances (DPG).
About Ministry of Defence(MoD):
Union Minister – Raj Nath Singh (Constituency – Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh)
Minister of State – Ajay Bhatt (Constituency – Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar, Uttarakhand)

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