Current Affairs

19 August, 2021


WHO Forms Expert Group ‘SAGO’ to study into COVID-19 origin

The World Health Organisation(WHO) created a new advisory group “The International Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens” or ‘SAGO’ to study into the origin of the COVID-19. The advisory group will develop a global framework to study the emergence of future pathogens with pandemic potential. For SARS-CoV-2, SAGO will support the undertaking of recommended studies outlined in the March 2021 report.

UN Women and MyGov Launched Amrit Mahotsav Shri Shakti Challenge 2021

As a part of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, the 75th year of Independence of India, MyGov under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY) along with the United Nations(UN) Women launched the “Amrit Mahotsav Shri Shakti Innovation Challenge 2021”. Amrit Mahotsav Shri Shakti Innovation Challenge 2021 is a platform for women. The challenge is implemented under the Multi-Partner Trust Fund (COVID-19) Programme.

Aim: Nari Sashaktikaran – to empower women to help them reach their full potential.
Objective of the challenge: To encourage the technology solutions developed by Women Entrepreneurs to ensure women’s safety and empowerment.
Features of Amrit Mahotsav Shri Shakti Challenge 2021:
i.The Amrit Mahotsav Shri Shakti Challenge 2021 will accept the entries till 17th September 2021.
ii.The shortlisted 10 nominees will get a grant of Rs 1 lakh each, to develop the proof of concept of their idea.
iii.5 winners of the challenge will get Rs 5 lakh each, to develop market and implement their solution.
MeitY-NASSCOM Start-up Women Entrepreneur Awards 2020-21:
The winners of the MeitY-NASSCOM Women Startup Entrepreneurs Awards 2020-2021 In partnership with UN Women was announced on 17th August 2021, during the virtual event held as a part of the celebration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
i.The jury members selected 12 women entrepreneurs as Winners, 2 were declared as Jury Choice Awardees and 1 was felicitated as special mention.
ii.Each Winner and Jury Choice Award were rewarded with a cash prize of Rs 2 Lakh.
iii.33 women entrepreneurs were selected for the MeitY-NASSCOM Tech Women Entrepreneur Accelerator Program.
Click here for the list of winners and Jury Choice awards & Special mention
About UN Women:
UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Executive Director– Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Headquarters– New York City, United States of America


BDL, MBDA signs agreement to manufacture ASRAAM missiles in Telangana

Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and MBDA, Europe based Missiles Manufacturer signed an agreement to establish a facility for the Final Assembly, Integration and Test (FAIT) of Advanced Short Range Air to Air Missiles (ASRAAM) in Bhanur, Telangana. The agreement was signed between NP Diwakar, Director (Technical) of BDL and George Kyriakides, Director of International Industrial Cooperation, MBDA. Under the agreement, MBDA will transfer the equipment and technology to BDL for establishing the facility.

Advanced Short Range Air to Air Missiles (ASRAAM)
i.It is an infrared guided Air to Air Missile within Visual range developed by MBDA.
ii.ASRAAM travels at a speed of Mach 3 upto a range of more than 25 Kms.
About Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL)
Chairman & Managing Director (CMD) – Commodore Siddharth Mishra (Retd)
Headquarters – Hyderabad, Telangana

60th PE Survey FY20: Net Profit of CPSEs Decreased by 20% to Rs 1.38 Lakh Crore

The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE), Ministry of Finance, released the 60th Public Enterprises (PE) Survey 2019-20 report. As per the report, the net profit of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) in FY20 decreased by 20 percent from Rs 1.74 lakh crore in FY19 to around Rs 1.38 lakh crore. The decrease in profit was mainly due to the fall in profits in the petroleum sector.

Highlights of the Report on CPSEs:

Indicators FY20
Profit (of 171 profit-making CPSEs) Rs 1,38,112 crore
Loss (of 84 loss-making CPSEs) Rs 44,817 crore
Total Paid-up Capital Rs 3,10,737 crore
Reserves and Surplus Rs 9,57,579 crore
Net Worth Rs 12,35,706 crore
About the PE Survey:
i.The PE Survey is an annual survey provided by DPE. It divides CPSEs into 5 sectors viz, Agriculture; Mining & Exploration; Manufacturing, Processing & Generation; Services; and Enterprises Under Construction.
ii.DPE is the nodal agency for all CPSEs. The number of CPSEs in FY20 was increased to 366 from 348 in FY19.
iii.CPSE’s: It includes the enterprises in which the Government of India holds more than 50 percent equity. The subsidiaries of CPSEs that are registered in India will also be categorised as CPSEs (only if the CPSE has more than 50 percent equity stake in it). Departmentally run public enterprises, banking institutions and insurance companies are excluded from CPSE.

iv.The PE survey was initiated from FY 1960-61 on the recommendations of the estimates committee.
Note – As per National Accounts Statistics 2021, the National Gross Value Added (GVA) at current prices is estimated at Rs 184.6 lakh crore in FY20.
About Ministry of Finance:
Union Minister – Nirmala Sitharaman (Constituency – Karnataka)
Minister of State – Pankaj Chaudhary (Constituency – Maharajganj, Uttar Pradesh), Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad (Constituency – Maharashtra)

Tata Power Solar receives 50MW Solar PV & 50 Mwh Battery Storage Project in Leh, Ladakh

Tata Power Solar, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Power has received projects worth INR 386 crore to build a 50MWp Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Plant and 50 Mwh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) project in Phyang village of Leh, Union Territory of Ladakh. The project will be India’s 1st co-located large scale BESS solution and 1st large scale solar project in the UT of Ladakh at a high altitude of 3600 meters above mean sea level. It includes design, engineering, construction of Solar Photovoltaic grid connected power plant and BESS along with 10 years of operations and maintenance services. The project is expected to be completed by March 2023.

About Tata Power
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) & Managing Director (MD) – Praveer Sinha
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
About Union Territory of Ladakh
Capital – Leh
Lieutenant Governor – Radha Krishna Mathur

WCD Minister Smriti Irani launches 2nd Phase of SAMVAD in Bengaluru, Karnataka

The 2nd phase of SAMVAD was launched by the Union Minister of Women and Child Development (WCD) Smriti Zubin Irani in Bengaluru,Karnataka on the successful completion of one year of SAMVAD programme. SAMVAD stands for Support, Advocacy & Mental Health intervention for children in Vulnerable circumstances and Distress.

Objective: It aims to ensure holistic development and psychosocial well being of children and adolescents.
Highlights: The Ministry of Women and Child Development is funding this initiative. National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) is the implementing agency It is a National level initiative and Integrated Resource working for providing protection, support for mental health, psychosocial care for children.

About the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS)
The NIMHANS is the apex centre of mental health and neuroscience education. It operates autonomously under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Location: Bangalore
Director: Dr. Pratima Murthy
About The Ministry of Women and Child Development-
Minister: Smriti Zubin Irani (Amethi, Uttar Pradesh)
Minister of state: Dr Munjpara Mahendrabhaji (Surendranagar, Gujarat).


RBI Allowed HDFC Bank to Issue New Credit Cards

In August 2021, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had removed the restriction imposed on HDFC Bank after 8 months and allowed it to issue new credit cards. However, the restrictions on the bank’s new offerings under its Digital 2.0 were not removed.
Background: On December 2, 2020, the RBI has stopped HDFC which has the largest credit card base in India from issuing new credit cards due to its series of digital banking outages.

Kotak Mahindra Bank introduces a DIY Digital Repayment platform, in tie-up with Creditas Solutions

Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited (KMBL) in partnership with Creditas Solutions launched a secure Digital Repayment ‘Neo Collections’ Platform for missed loan repayments named ‘Do It Yourself (DIY)’.

Objective: To provide a convenient repayment experience for customers and increase efficiency. The repayment platform was powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). It provides a personalised and non-intrusive experience for the customers to repay their outstanding dues by themselves. The platform analyses both historical as well as live customer interaction data, and creates hyper-personalised scenarios to connect with each customer. It also provides the language choice for the customers. The platform also offers customised repayment plans or payment resolution options in line with the bank’s internal credit guidelines.
About Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited (KMBL):
Establishment – 1985
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
MD & CEO – Uday Kotak

ICICI, StanChart, HSBC Entered into India’s 1st Swaption Deal

ICICI Bank had executed India’s 1st set of ‘swaption’ deals with HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank. ICICI Bank and the two overseas lenders transacted ‘swaptions’ on Overnight Index Swap (OIS) for a total notional sum of Rs 700 crore. The Reserve Bank of India issued guidelines for ‘swaption’ deals in June 2019. Interest Rate Swaption: It is an option on IRS. A swaption contract gives the buyer the right, but not the obligation (not bound), to enter into an Interest Rate Swap deal. Swaption will protect the borrowers and investors from changing interest rate scenarios by enabling them to fix an interest rate on future borrowings through the option on an IRS.

About ICICI Bank:
Establishment – 1955 (Incorporated in 1994)
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
MD & CEO – Sandeep Bakhshi
Tagline – Hum hai na, Khayal Apka

World Bank’s IFC Extended Rs 557 crore Debt Support to IndoSpace Logistics Fund

International Finance Corporation (IFC), the investment arm of World Bank, has extended loan support of $75 million (~Rs 557 crore) to Indospace Logistics Parks III LP, a $580-million vintage fund for developing logistics and industrial parks across India.

Objective: To enhance warehousing and supply chain infrastructure in India Indospace will use the investment to develop an efficient logistics ecosystem in India and facilitate domestic and foreign trade. The investment will also support it to build a warehouse in Luhari III, a site near Gurgaon, Delhi, and other key areas in North India. The current funding will also strengthen the warehousing facilities to accommodate the demand for essentials, like pharmaceuticals and Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).
About International Finance Corporation (IFC):
Establishment – 1956
Headquarters – Washington D.C., USA
MD, Executive Vice President – Makhtar Diop


Government launches Fit India Freedom Run

Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Anurag Thakur, launched a nationwide programme of Fit India Freedom Run 2.0 on August 13, 2021 to celebrate the Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav. Key Points According to union sports minister. programme has been launched at 75 ‘iconic’ locations.

Indian athletes leave for Tokyo Paralympics

First batch of Indian athletes, including flagbearer Thangavelu Mariyappan have left for the Tokyo Paralympics on August 18, 2021. About 2020 Summer Paralympics 2020 Summer Paralympics is branded as Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. They are an upcoming major international multi-sport parasports event. The Games are governed by International Paralympic Committee.


Virendra Kumar Social Justice Minister Launched TAPAS, To Offer Social Defence Courses

Dr. Virendra Kumar, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, launched an online portal TAPAS (Training for Augmenting Productivity and Services) to offer access to lectures, study materials and others, supplementing the physical classroom without compromising teaching quality. It was developed by the National Institute of Social Defence(NISD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. TAPAS prospectus and an informative video on Online Learning Management System was also released.

Objective of TAPAS:
To offer training and enhance the knowledge and skills for the capacity building of the participants
Training for Augmenting Productivity and Services (TAPAS):
i.The courses offered in TAPAS can be assessed by anyone at free of cost.
ii.This will enable the ministry to reach out to the people working in the area of social defence.
iii.The platform offers various courses in the field of social defence for the capacity building of stakeholders.
iv.The platform also offers 5 free courses on Drug (Substance) Abuse Prevention, Geriatric/Elderly Care, Care and Management of Dementia, Transgender Issues and Social Defence Issues.
i.TAPAS, a standard MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) platform has course material like filmed lectures and e-study material.
ii.Discussion forums to support and encourage interactions among students and course coordinators are also available in TAPAS.
About Minister of Social Justice and Development:
Union Minister– Dr Virendra Kumar (Constituency- Tikamgarh Madhya Pradesh)
Minister of State– A. Narayanaswamy (Constituency- Chitradurga, Karnataka); Ramdas Athawale (Constituency- Rajya sabha- Maharashtra) & Pratima Bhoumik (Constituency- Tripura West, Tripura)

DST launches 3 Online Applications- SOI’s GeoSpatial Data Dissemination Portal, SOI’s Sarthi Web GIS Application and NATMO’s Manchitran

Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India has launched 3 Online Applications which will make for the 1st time geospatial data collected by the government freely and easily available to citizens and Organisations in India. The 3 Online application are
i.Survey of India (SOI) GeoSpatial Data Dissemination Portal
ii.SOI’s Sarathi Web Geographical Information System (GIS) Application
iii.Manchitran, the enterprise Geoportal of National Atlas & Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO)
GeoSpatial Data Dissemination Portal
It is developed by SOI. The portal contains digital products like Digital Geographical Map, Political Map, Digital Geographical Road Map, Digital Geographical Physical Map of India and Open Series Map Scale
SOI’s Sarathi Web GIS Application
It will bring GIS into the hands of people by saving time and resources in Data validation which will facilitate scheme SVAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improved technology in Village Areas)
i.It is developed by NATMO. The portal will provide extended services and serve the requirements of Students, Researchers, Industry, Policy makers etc…
ii.The geoportal contains data that NATMO has acquired for the past 65 years
About Survey of India (SOI)
Surveyor General of India – Naveen Tomar
Headquarters – Dehradun, Uttarakhand
About National Atlas & Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO)
Director – Dr.Tapati Banerjee
Headquarters – Kolkata, West Bengal

Minister of Commerce & Industry Piyush Goyal Conferred National IP Awards 2020

Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry(MoCI) conferred the National Intellectual Property(IP) Awards 2020 to the winners during the award ceremony held on 17th August 2021.
Click here for the list of winners and special citations Each award carries a cash prize of Rs 1 Lakh, trophy and citation.

About the National IP Awards:
i.The National IP Awards, the annual awards, are conferred by the Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks (CGPDTM), Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry,
ii.The award recognises the top achievers(individuals, institutions, organisations, enterprises, police units and other legal entities) for IP creation, commercialization and enforcement, which has contributed to strengthening the IP Ecosystem in India.
Reduction of filing fee:
Union Minister Piyush Goyal announced the 80% reduction in the total filing fee for Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) (from Rs 4,24,500 to Rs. 84,900) to all recognized educational institutions irrespective of whether such institute is in India or outside India.
India Recorded 572% Growth in the Grant of Patents:
i.Piyush Goyal highlighted that by granting 28,391 patents in 2020-21, India has recorded a 572% growth in the grant of patents in the last 7 years, compared to the 4227 grants in 2013-2014.
ii.He also stated that the reduction in time of patent examination from 72 months in December 2016 to 12-24 months in December 2020.
iii.The trademark registration has increased in India, there have been 14.2 lakh trademark registrations between 2016 and 2020, as compared to 11 lakh during the previous 75 years from 1940-2015.
India’s rank in the Global Innovation Index (GII) has improved to 48th in 2020 which was at 81 in 2015-2016.
The ministry aims to get India among the top 25 nations in the Global Innovation index.
About Ministry of Commerce & Industry(MoCI):
Union Minister– Piyush Goyal (Rajya Sabha- Maharashtra)
Minister of State– Som Parkash(Constituency- Hoshiarpur, Punjab) & Anupriya Patel (Constituency- Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh)

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