Current Affairs

20 December, 2021

International

Karl Nehammer Sworn in as Chancellor of Austria

Karl Nehammer was sworn in as Austria’s chancellor by Alexander Van der Bellen, President of Austria in a ceremony in Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria. He is succeeding the career diplomat Alexander Schallenberg who took charge as chancellor in October 2021. He is the 3rd person to hold the role of Austria’s Chancellor in the last two months. Karl Nehammer from the ruling conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), previously served as the Interior Minister of Austria.

India & US announce new programme ‘Technology-based Energy Solutions: Innovations for Net Zero’

India and the United States (US) announced a new programme ‘Technology-based Energy Solutions: Innovations for Net Zero’ to support innovations to tackle climate and clean energy challenges.
Objective:
To support India-US Science & Technology-based entrepreneurial initiatives and address the development and implementation of clean and renewable energy, energy storage, and carbon sequestration.

About United States (US):
President- Joe Biden
Capital- Washington, D.C.
Currency– United States Dollar

National

Rajasthan’s Art and Culture Minister BD Kalla inaugurated 24th Lokrang-2021 in Jaipur

For the first time in two years amid COVID-19, on December 16, 2021, Rajasthan’s Art and Culture Minister Dr. Bulaki Das Kalla inaugurated 11-day long 24th ‘Lokrang-2021’, an annual festival of folk artists, at Jawahar Kala Kendra (JKK) in Jaipur, Rajasthan. It is organized by JKK, Art and Culture Department and RUDA (Rural Non-Agriculture Development Agency) under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. It will culminate on December 26, 2021. It will comprise National Handicrafts Fair in Shilpgram (rural arts and crafts complex in JKK) in collaboration with RUDA; and Rajasthani Language Writing Festival.

NSDC and GIF launched Project AMBER to Empower Youth with Industry Relevant Skills

National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and Generation India Foundation (GIF) launched ‘Project AMBER‘ (Accelerated Mission for Better Employment and Retention) at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi to bridge the gap between skilling and employment.

Objective: To develop and implement a scalable, and sustainable model of skill development to empower India’s youth with industry-relevant skills and employment opportunities.
About National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC):
Establishment – July 31, 2008
Headquarters – NewDelhi, Delhi
Chairman – A M Naik

Series of MoUs Signed at the National Conference on Investment Opportunities in Highway, Transport and Logistics

A series of memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed during the National Conference on Investment Opportunities in Highway, Transport and Logistics, which was held in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The MoU was signed under the chairmanship of the Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Nitin Gadkari.

Series of MoU’s signed:
i.MoU signed for the setting up of Multi-Modal Logistics Parks (MMLPs) for setting up at five strategic locations in Maharashtra – Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Pune, Aurangabad, Nashik and Dighi Port Industrial Estate.
ii.An MoU has been signed between the Government of Maharashtra and Tata Motors for the Registered Vehicle Scrapping Facility (RVSF).
iii.The MoU has been signed between Maharashtra Government and Cooperative Energy Recycling and Organics (CERO), India’s first organized vehicle recycler, for setting up additional Vehicle Scrapping Facilities in Maharashtra.
iv.MoU signed with the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Indian Institute of Technology, (IIT) Madras and MapmyIndia for collaboration on driver and road safety technologies.
About MapmyIndia:
MapmyIndia provides advanced digital maps, geospatial software and location-based IoT technologies.
Co-founder, Chairman & Managing Director (MD) – Rakesh Kumar Verma
Established – 1995
Headquarters – New Delhi, Delhi

PM Modi lays Foundation stone of Ganga Expressway in UP

Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the longest highway in India, the Ganga Expressway in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh (UP) to offer fast-paced connectivity in India. The six-lane 594 km long expressway will be built at a cost of about Rs 36200 crore will connect the western and eastern regions of UP.

Features of Ganga Expressway:
i.The highway will pass through different districts of UP such as Meerut, Hapur, Bulandshahr, Amroha, Sambhal, Budaun, Shahjahanpur, Hardoi, Unnao, Rae Bareli, Pratapgarh and Prayagraj.
ii.A 3.5 km long airstrip was also planned to be built in Shahjahanpur for assisting emergency landing and take-off of Air Force planes.
iii.An industrial corridor will also be built along the expressway for the socio-economic development of the region.
Note – PM also pays tributes to revolutionaries of the Kakori incident – Pandit Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaq Ullah Khan, Thakur Roshan Singh, whose martyrdom day falls on December 19.
Participants: Chief Minister of UP, Yogi Adityanath, Union Minister B L Varma also participated on the occasion.
About Uttar Pradesh(UP):
Governor – Anandiben Patel
Bird Sanctuary – Vijay Sagar Bird Sanctuary Hathinala, Renukut (Sonbhadra)
Festival – Ganga Dussehra, Buddha Purnima

Economy

GoI & KFW sign Euro 442.26mn loan for Surat Metro Rail Project

The Government of India (GoI) and the Germany Development Bank- KfW (Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau) signed Euro 442.26 million loan for 40.35 km Surat Metro Rail project in Gujarat.
Outlay:
i.The total cost of the project is Euro 1.50 billion, out of which KfW is financing Euro 442.26 million.
ii.The project is co-financed by French Development Agency, AFD (Agence Française de Développemet) with Euro 250 million. The agreement for the same was signed on January 28, 2021.
Signatories:
It was signed by Rajat Kumar Mishra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of Government of India; and Ms Claudia Schmerler, Head of Division, Climate Finance and Urban Mobility for KFW.
About Surat Metro Project:
i.In January 2021, Prime Minister (PM) of India Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the project with an objective to strengthen the transport infrastructure and safer public transport of the Surat urban agglomeration. It comprises two corridors. While corridor-1 is 21.61 km long and is from Sarthana to Dream City. Corridor-2 is 18.74 km long and is from Bhesan to Saroli.

ii.It will also aid in curbing the problem of traffic congestion and provide integrated town & land use planning through Transit-Oriented Development.
iii.The envisages integrated multi modal transport system and improved access to the metro system.
iv.Solar energy will also be harnessed at both Depots of Surat Metro.
About KfW (Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau)
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)– Stefan Wintels
Headquarters– Frankfurt, Germany

IFSCA Sets up Panel for Creating Framework for Transfer of Stressed Loan

The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) set up a committee for creating a framework for the transfer of stressed loans from domestic lenders to financial institutions. Former executive director of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) G Padmanabhan will chair the committee along with expertise in banking and legal firms.

About IFSCA:
i.IFSCA is established to develop and regulate financial products, financial services, and financial institutions in the IFSCs.

Objective – To serve as an international financial platform for India and the global economy.

ii.Prior to the establishment of IFSCA, domestic financial regulators RBI, The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority (PFRDA) and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) regulated business in IFSC. Currently, GIFT IFSC is the only IFSC centre in India.
About Reserve Bank of India (RBI):
Governor – Shaktikanta Das
Established – 1935
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra

RBI Authorised RBL Bank to Collect Indirect Taxes

Based on the recommendation from the Controller General of Accounts, the Ministry of Finance, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has granted permission to RBL Bank to collect indirect taxes on behalf of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC). RBL Bank has already got permission from RBI in November 2021 to collect direct taxes. Thus the current announcement enables the bank to collect both direct and indirect taxes. After technical integration, the banks’ corporate and individual customers could pay their indirect taxes through the bank’s mobile banking, net banking platforms and branch banking network.

Sports

India concluded Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship with 16 Medals Including 4 Gold

India concluded the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships 2021 with 16 medals, including 4 golds held at Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Bindyarani Devi being India’s only medallist at the world championships 2021. Indian weightlifter Purnima Pandey won the gold medal in the +87kg women’s category at the Commonwealth.

Other Medals:
i.India’s Gurdeep Singh won Commonwealth bronze in the men’s +109kg.
ii.South Korea’s Son Young-hee won the gold medal at the world championships with an overall lift of 282kg (122+159).
iii.New Zealand’s David Liti won the gold medal for a total of 407kg (176+231) followed by Pakistan’s Muhammad Nooh Dastgir Butt, who lifted 390kg (165+225).
About International Weightlifting Federation (IWF):
The World Weightlifting championship is organised by IWF. The first competition, held in March 1891, was won by Edward Lawrence Levy (England).
Interim President – Michael Sheriar Irani
Headquarters – Lausanne, Switzerland

Miscellaneous

New generation ballistic missile ‘Agni P’ successfully test-fired by DRDO in Odisha

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test-fired its new generation Agni Prime (Agni-P) missile. The test was done from a defence base at Dr APJ Abdul Kalam island off the Odisha coast in Balasore. The Agni-P is a new generation advanced variant of the Agni class of missiles. The surface nuclear capable ballistic missile with a range of 1000 to 2000 km.

Salient features of Agni-P:
i.The missile was designed and developed completely by the DRDO is accurate and effective to the point. The successful test became a part of the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. The nuclear-capable Agni-P was first successfully test-fired by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on June 28, 2021.

ii.The missile weighs 50% less than Agni-3 & can be launched from rail and road and stored for a longer period.
iii.Agni-P is a new generation advanced variant of the Agni class of missiles. The longest of the Agni series is Agni-V, an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) with a range of over 5,000 km.

Other successful tests:
i.In December 2021, the Navy successfully tested the indigenous Vertical Launched Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM). It was test-fired from a static vertical launcher in the Integrated Test Range (ITR), off the Odisha coast at Chandipur.
ii.In October, India successfully launched the earlier variant of the surface to surface ballistic missile, Agni-V from APJ Abdul Kalam Island, Odisha. The missile, which uses a three-stage solid-fuelled engine, is capable of striking targets at ranges up to 5,000 kms.
About Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO):
Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Chairman-Dr G Satheesh Reddy
Headquarters- New Delhi
Founded- 1958

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