Current Affairs

21 January, 2022

International

American Poet Maya Angelou Becomes 1st Black Woman to Appear on US Coin

The United States (US) Mints has started rolling out quarters featuring American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. She has become the first black woman to be featured on the US Currency.
This is a part of the US’s American Women Quarters Programme. Maya Angelou is known for her autobiography titled “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. The quarter features George Washington, 1st President of the US and Maya Angelou on the other side. The program also features Sally Ride, the first American woman in space and Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, Nina Otero-Warren, a suffrage leader; and Anna May Wong, a Chinese-American film star.

15th BRICS STI Steering Committee meeting:India To Host 5 events in 2022;China Succeeded India as Chair for 2022

15th meeting of the BRICS Science Technology Innovation (STI) Steering Committee decides that India will host five events in 2022.During the meeting, India handed over the chairmanship to China. China will be the Chair for 2022.

Theme for BRICS 2022 -“Foster High-Quality BRICS Partnership Usher in a New Era for Global Development”.
Note– India was the chair of the BRICS for 2021.

Sanjeev Kumar Varshney, Advisor and Head International Cooperation, Department of Science and Technology led the Indian delegation in 15th meeting of BRICS STI Steering Committee.

Highlights:
i.Out of 25 events that is to be conducted in 2022 by China, India will host five. The Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is the main executing agency for the BRICS Startups Forum and creation of innovation Knowledge Hub.
ii.India will host the following 5 events in the year 2022:

BRICS Startups Forum meeting

Working Groups meetings on Energy,Biotechnology & Biomedicine

ICT & High-Performance Computing
Launching of BRICS innovation Launchpad as a microsite( Knowledge Hub)
STIEP (Science, Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Partnership) Working Group Meeting.
iii.The BRICS Young Scientist Conclave will be held in September 2022 hosted by China in a virtual format, and areas of focus will be carbon peak neutralization, biomedicine, artificial intelligence, material science and modern agriculture.
iv.India tentatively indicated willingness to host the STIEP working group meeting on 23rd – 24th March 2022 and BRICS Startups Forum Meeting in May/June 2022.
About BRICS:
i.The British Economist Jim O’Neill coined the term BRIC (without South Africa) in 2001, claiming that by 2050 the four BRIC economies would come to dominate the global economy by 2050.
ii.Currently the BRICS comprises five major emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (joined in 2010).
iii.The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.
iv.New Development Bank– It is a multilateral development bank operated by the BRICS states. It was founded in 2014, at the 6th BRICS Summit at Fortaleza, Brazil & Came into force in 2015.
Headquarters -Shanghai, China.

UNCTAD’s Investment Trends Monitor: FDI Flows to India Slips 26% in 2021

As per the United Nation Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) ‘Investment Trends Monitor’ published in January 19, 2022, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows to India in 2021 had decreased by 26 percent mainly because large Mergers & Acquisition (M&A) offers recorded in 2020 were not repeated. The world’s overseas direct funding flows have rebounded in 2021, which rose at 77 percent to an estimated USD 65 trillion, from USD 929 billion in 2020.

About United Nation Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD):
Secretary-General – Rebeca Grynspan (1st women & central american to serve as Secretary-General)
Establishment – 1964
Headquarters – Geneva, Switzerland

Indonesia Replaces Sinking Jakarta with New Capital City Nusantara

The Indonesian Parliament has passed a law to relocate its capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan, situated to the east of Borneo island. The new capital city of the country will be called Nusantara, which is a symbol of the identity of the nation, and also a new centre of economic gravity. The new state capital law provides a legal framework for President Joko Widodo’s ambitious approximately USD 32 billion megaproject.

About Nusantara:
i.The name of the new city Nusantara (also called IKN) has been chosen by President Joko Widodo, it is a Javanese term translated as ‘archipelago’ in the Indonesian language.
ii.According to data from the National Planning and Development Agency, the total land area for the new capital city will be around 256,143 hectares (around 2,561 square kilometres), mostly converted from the forest area. Indonesia owns the majority of Borneo, the world’s third-largest island, with Malaysia and Brunei each holding parts of its northern region.

iii.The Nusantara will be a low-carbon ‘super hub’ that supports pharmaceutical, health and technology sectors to promote sustainable growth beyond Java Island.
iv.It will also place Indonesia in a strategic position in world trade routes, investment flows, and technological innovation.
Additional info:
Other countries that have changed capitals include – (i)Brazil changed its capital city from Rio De Janeiro to Brasilia in 1960. (ii) In 1991, Nigeria changed its capital from Lagos to Abuja. (iii) Kazakhstan moved its capital city from Almaty to Nur-Sultan in 1997. (iv) Myanmar changed its capital from Rangoon to Naypyidaw in 2005.

National

IFSCA inks MOU with Insurance Institute of India for Capacity Building of Insurance Professionals

The International Financial Services Centers Authority (IFSCA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Insurance Institute of India (III) for capacity building of insurance professionals in International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs).
What will be done under the MoU?
i.III will make changes to the academic curriculum as per the current needs of the insurance industry.
ii.It will also introduce certificate courses and professional examinations as IFSCA’s regulatory framework requires periodic professional examinations and training.
iii.Both entities jointly conduct seminars, workshops and conferences to disseminate professional knowledge at the infrastructure and facilities available with III for academic activities.
iv.III will promote subjects relating to working of IFSCA to the students enrolling for doctoral studies under its agreement with the University of Mumbai. III will also nominate its faculties for training and research on global insurance reinsurance laws and regulations of major financial hubs.

About Insurance Institute of India (III):
Insurance Institute of India formerly known as Federation of Insurance Institutes (J.C. Setalvad Memorial).Its certification is recognized by the insurance industry, regulators, and other internationally reputed insurance education providers. It is also a member of the Institute of Global Insurance Education (IGIE).
Parent Ministry– Ministry of Finance
President– Devesh Srivastava
Headquarter– Mumbai, Maharashtra

India & Denmark Initiate Joint Research & Development on Green fuels

India and Denmark signed an agreement to work together in joint research and development on green fuels including green hydrogen during the Joint Science and Technology (S&T) Committee meeting held virtually.
Chaired By:
The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. S. K. Varshney, Adviser & Head, International Cooperation, Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt. of India, and Dr. Stine Jørgensen, Deputy Director of the Danish Agency for Higher Education and Science, Govt. of Denmark.
About Denmark:Denmark has two autonomous provinces – the Faroe Islands and Greenland.

Prime Minister– Mette Frederiksen
Capital- Copenhagen
Currency– Danish krone

Cabinet approval on January 19, 2022

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister (PM) of India Narendra Modi has approved the following proposals the details of which were briefed by Union Minister Anurag Singh Thakur, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB).
i.The Union Cabinet has approved the sanction of remaining Rs 973.74 crore under ‘Scheme for grant of ex-gratia payment of difference between compound interest and simple interest for six months to borrowers in specified loan accounts (1.3.2020 to 31.8.2020)’ to State Bank of India (SBI).
ii.The CCEA approved the equity infusion of Rs 1500 crore in Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA).
iii.The Cabinet has extended the tenure of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NSCK) by three years up to March 31, 2025 w.e.f. April 1, 2022.
About Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA):
It is a Mini-Ratna (Category-1) company
Parent Ministry– Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE)
Chairman and Managing Director (CMD)- Pardip Kumar Das
Headquarters– New Delhi

Economy

Amazon India Signs MoU with NIF to Empower Grassroot Entrepreneurs

Amazon India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the NIF Incubation and Entrepreneurship Council (NIFientreC), a technology business incubator hosted by the National Innovation Foundation (NIF), for online distribution of products of grassroots innovations, student creativity based innovations and outstanding traditional knowledge-based ready to market products.

Objective – To accelerate grassroots innovation, local economy, and livelihoods across rural India.

Signatories – The MoU was signed by Er Rakesh Maheshwari, Executive Director, NIFientreC, and Sumit Sahay, Director, Amazon Seller Services Private Limited (ASSPL).

About the MoU:
i.Under the partnership, Amazon and NIFientreC will collaborate with key players in the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, including central and state government partners, to conduct training programmes and encourage grassroots innovation. The collaboration will ensure a capacity building of grassroots innovators regularly through masterclasses, workshops, and other interactive training programmes by engaging industry and subject matter experts.

ii.The training programme includes the fundamental aspects of being a successful e-commerce participant for being self-reliant and also for creating visibility for their products, generating demand and responding.
iii.The MoU signing ceremony was followed by a workshop for the grassroots innovators and entrepreneurs supported by NIFientreC with trainers from Amazon.
Participants – Chetan Krishnaswamy, Vice President, Public Policy, Amazon; Veeresh Singh, CEO, NIFientreC; and Tushar Garg, Scientist, NIF also participated in the occasion.
Note – On 15th January 2022, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi declared January 16 as the National Start-up Day along with the announcement of the current decade as the ‘techade’ of India.
About National Innovation Foundation (NIF):
NIF is an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), which is also a financial supporter.
Establishment – 2000
Headquarters – Gandhinagar, Gujarat
Chairperson – P. S. Goel
Director – Vipin Kumar

NSE Remains World’s Largest Derivatives Market for 3rd Straight Year; NSE Indices launches Nifty India Defence Index

The National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) has emerged as the world’s largest derivatives exchange for the third consecutive year in 2021 in terms of the number of contracts traded, based on the statistics maintained by the Futures Industry Association (FIA). As per the statistics maintained by the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) for 2021, the NSE exchange was ranked 4th by the number of trades in cash equities.

Note – NSE Indices, the National Stock Exchange’s index services subsidiary, launched Nifty India Defence index to track the performance of a portfolio of stocks that broadly represent the Defence theme.
About National Stock Exchange of India (NSE)
Establishment – 1992
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
MD & CEO – Vikram Limaye

RBI Released RBI-DPI for September 2021; Digital Payments Grew by 39.64%

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released the RBI – Digital Payments Index (RBI-DPI) for September 2021, as per the index the digital payments increased by 39.64 percent to 304.06 as against 217.74 in September 2020.
About RBI-DPI:
i.It is the index launched by RBI in January 2021 with March 2018 as the base period (ie. DPI score for March 2018 is set at 100) to identify the extent of digitisation of payments across the country. The index will be released semi-annually with a lag of 4 months.
ii.Index Parameters: The index has 5 different parameters and sub-parameters to represent the adoption and deepening of digital payments across India over different time periods.
iii.The 5 parameters include – Payment Enablers, Payment Infrastructure – Demand-side factors, Payment Infrastructure – Supply-side factors, Payment Performance, and Consumer Centricity.
iv.RBI-DPI Series since Inception:

Period RBI – DPI Index
March 2018 (Base) 100
March 2019 153.47
September 2019 173.49
March 2020 207.84
September 2020 217.74
March 2021 270.59
September 2021 304.06
About Reserve Bank of India (RBI):
Establishment – 1st April 1935
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
Governor – Shaktikanta Das
Deputy Governors – Mahesh Kumar Jain, Michael Debabrata Patra, and M Rajeshwar Rao, T. Rabi Sankar

Sports

Padma Awardee Sania Mirza Announced Retirement at the End of 2022 Season

Padma Awardee Sania Mirza(35-year-old), an Indian professional tennis player, has announced that she will retire at the end of the 2022 season. She made the announcement following her defeat in the Australian Open Women’s double first round with partner Nadiia Kichenok(Ukraine).
About Sania Mirza:
i.Sania Mirza, currently ranked 68th(Doubles) in the world is a former World’s No. 1 in Doubles and had a career-best ranking of 27 in Singles.
ii.She is one of the 2 Indian female tennis players to win a Women’s Tennis Association(WTA) title of any kind and the only player to reach the top 100 singles ranking, Ankita Raina was the 2nd woman to win the WTA title.
iii.She won the 2005 AP Tourism Hyderabad Open and became the first Indian woman to win a WTA singles title.
iv.Her first-ever Grand Slam match was in the 2005 Australian Open against Cindy Watson.
She has won six Grand Slam titles (3 in Women’s doubles and 3 in Mixed Doubles) in her career. 2015 Wimbledon, 2015 US Open and 2016 Australian Open with Martina Hingis and 2009 Australian Open and 2012 French Open with Mahesh Bhupathi, and 2014 US Open with Bruno Soares.
Awards and honours:
2004 Arjuna Award for Tennis
2006 Padma Shri for sports
2015 Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award (now Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award)
2016 Padma Bhushan for sports

Smriti Mandhana named in 2021 ICC T20I women’s Team of the Year

Indian cricketer Smriti Mandhana was named in 2021 ICC (International Cricket Council) Women’s T20I team of the year. No Other Indian Player named in Men’s as well Women’s List.

Highlights:
i.Smriti Mandhana is India’s highest scorer who scored 255 runs at an average of 31.87 in 2021.
ii.She scored two fifties in the nine matches with the strike-rate of 131.44.
iii.It is also the 3rd time Smriti Mandhana won the title for the T20I team of the year after 2018 (opener) and 2019 (number three).
iv.2021 ICC Women’s T20I Team of the Year: Smriti Mandhana (India), Tammy Beaumont (England), Danni Wyatt (England), Gaby Lewis (Ireland), Nat Sciver (c) (England), Amy Jones (England), Laura Wolvaardt (South Africa), Marizanne Kapp (South Africa), Sophie Ecclestone (England), Loryn Phiri (Zimbabwe), Shabnim Ismail (South Africa).
About ICC (International Cricket Council):
Chairman- Greg Barclay
Headquarters- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Founded- 1909

Miscellaneous

India successfully Test-Fires New Version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in Chandipur off Odisha Coast

India successfully test-fired a new version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile at Chandipur, off Odisha coast.The missile is equipped with new technological developments and precision.The launch was conducted by Brahmos Aerospace in close coordination with the teams of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Highlights:
i.On January 11 2022, India successfully tested an advanced sea to sea variant of BrahMos Supersonic Cruise missile from the INS Visakhapatnam warship.
ii.BrahMos is the main weapon system of the Indian Navy warships.An underwater version is also being developed which will be used by the submarines of India.
About BrahMos Missile:
i.The BrahMos is a universal long range supersonic cruise missile system developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Russian Federation’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya.
ii.BrahMos was named after two major rivers of India and Russia: Brahmaputra and Moskva.
iii.It is equipped with Stealth Technology, Advanced guidance system, High Target Accuracy (irrespective of weather conditions), Constant supersonic speed. BrahMos can be launched from land, aircraft, ships, and even submarines. BRAHMOS Weapon Systems has been inducted and is operational with the Indian Navy (IN) as well as the Indian Army (IA).

Chennai-based Rhapsody Music Foundation won QS-Wharton Reimagine Education Award 2021

Chennai-based Rhapsody Music Foundation has won the QS-Wharton Reimagine Education Award 2021 (gold) under the Arts and Humanities. Reimagine Education Award is considered as the Oscar in the Education space. which is ranked number 1 in Asia and in the world.
Rhapsody – Creative Intelligence Delivered receives two Gold Awards. It has won the Regional Award – Asia and the Discipline Award for Arts & Humanities. Rhapsody Music Foundation was founded by Anil Srinivasan, an acclaimed classical pianist, in 2013. The winners of the 2021 awards were announced at the annual Reimagine Education Conference.

Additional info:
i.Lockdown Learning of Tata Steel Foundation received a Bronze award in Regional Award – Asia.
ii.Tata Steel Foundation has implemented the Lockdown Learning module in the digitally dark villages of Jharkhand and Odisha to address the covid-19 impacts on learning among children, resulting in increased dropout rate.
Reimagine Education Awards:
i.The Reimagine Education Awards are given by the Wharton School’s Alfred West Jr. Learning Lab and QS Quacquarelli Symonds.
ii.The award recognises the world’s successful educational innovations enhancing student learning outcomes and employability.

Dr Albert Bourla Chairman & CEO of Pfizer Won 2022 Genesis Prize

The Genesis Prize Foundation has named Dr Albert Bourla, Chief Executive Officer(CEO) and Chairman of Pfizer as the 2022 Genesis Prize Laureate for his efforts in leading the development of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Genesis Prize, dubbed the “Jewish Nobel”, carries a cash prize of USD 1 Million. The prize is awarded to the winner for their professional achievements and contribution towards humanity and their commitment to Jewish Values.

The President of Israel Isaac Herzog will present the Genesis Prize to Dr Albert Bourla at a ceremony in Jerusalem which is set to be held on 29th June 2022.
Note:
Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was the first to win U.S. approval for emergency use in December 2020, and Israel quickly became one of the first countries to inoculate its population with the vaccine.
About Genesis Prize:
i.The Genesis Prize was inaugurated in 2013. The prize is funded by a USD 100 million endowment established by the Foundation.
ii.It was inaugurated in partnership between Genesis Prize Foundation and the Chairman’s office of the Jewish Agency, a non-profit group associated with the Israeli Government.
About Dr Albert Bourla:
i.Dr Albert Bourla was born in Thessaloniki, Greece.
ii.He was the son of Holocaust Survivors, who were a part of Thessaloniki’s Jewish community.
iii.He is set to donate his prize to the projects aimed at preserving the memory of Holocaust victims (particularly in Greece).
iv.Albert is a member of the Business Roundtable, the Business Council and the New York City Mayor’s Corporate Council.

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