General Knowledge & Current Affairs

July 2021 - 21st to 31st

1.Russia successfully tested S-500 missile system

  • Russia has successfully test-fired its new S-500 air defence missile systems, from a southern training range, Kapustin Yar, on July 20, 2021. It hit a high-speed ballistic target as planned.
  • The S-500 missile system is under development by the Almaz-Antey Air Defence Concern. After tests are successfully completed the first S-500 systems which are also named the Triumfator-M and Prometheus will be placed at an air defence unit outside the city of Moscow.
  • The S-500 is the most advanced anti-missile system in the world and is expected to have a range of 
  • This missile system is also capable of countering attacks from 
  • The S-500, also known as Prometey or 55R6M “Triumfator-M”,is a Russian surface-to-air missile/anti-ballistic missile system which is the most advanced anti-missile system in the world and is capable of countering attacks from space.

2.United Kingdom reports cases of ‘Norovirus’ infection

  • The United Kingdom is now reporting an outbreak of norovirus. Public Health England (PHE) recently issued a warning regarding  England has recorded 154 cases of norovirus in the country. An increase in norovirus cases in educational settings has been reported.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), norovirus is very contagious that causes diarrhoea and vomiting. People suffering from norovirus disease can shed billions of virus particles. And to make people sick only a few of them is required.
  • Symptoms of norovirus are vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain and nausea. This virus can cause inflammation of the intestines or the stomach and it is termed acute gastroenteritis.
  • Other symptoms of this virus are headache, fever and body aches. People generally develop the symptoms within 12 to 48 hours and they can last up to 1 to 3 days

1.Amit Shah inaugurates Greater Sohra Water Supply Scheme

  • Union Home Minister, Amit Shah along with chief minister Conrad K. Sangma inaugurated the much-awaited Greater Sohra Water Supply Scheme at Sohra in East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya.
  • The Greater Sohra Water Supply Scheme was conceptualised by the Meghalaya government and an amount of  24.08 cr was sanctioned by the DoNER ministry in 2019 under North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme (NESIDS).
  • He also planted tree saplings in Sohra as part of the Sohra Afforestation Project of the Assam Rifles.
  • This is a first of its kind initiative of the Government of Meghalaya to bring together the Ministry of Home Affairs, Defence officials, and village communities for a novel and humanitarian purpose in the field of Natural Resource Management in a very important and ecologically fragile landscape.

2.Govt announces 27% reservation for OBCs, 10% quota for EWS in medical seats

  • The centre has announced 27% reservation for OBCs and a 10% quota for students from the economically weaker sections (EWS) for undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses under the All-India Quota (AIQ) scheme.
  • Under the AIQ scheme, 15% of seats at the UG level and 50% seats at the PG level are kept domicile free in government medical and dental colleges against which students from other states to are offered admission while the rest of the seats are kept only for students from within the state.
  • This will immensely help thousands of our youth every year get better opportunities and create a new paradigm of social justice in our country.
  • A statement by the government said that the decision would benefit nearly 1500 OBC students in MBBS and 2500 OBC students in PG while it will also impact around 550 EWS students in MBBS and around 1000 EWS students in PG medicine.

1.Assam CM Himanta Biswa assures govt jobs for National Games Medalists

  • The Assam State Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma has assured jobs for all National Games medalists of Assam from now on.
  • He also mentioned that all those who won medals in National Games so far for Assam would be given Sports Pension by the State Government. He hoped that this decision would help the sportspersons of the state.
  • The Chief Minister also announced that the house would send a goodwill message to boxer Lovlina Borgohain who will be vying for a medal in Tokyo Olympics.
  • The Chief Minister stated about the increase of sports pension on the sixth day of the Assam Assembly cabinet meeting. Further, the minister also said that the government is planning to increase the pension of sportsperson from Rs. 8000 to Rs. 10,000.

2.Puri becomes India’s first city to provide quality drinking tap water

  • Puri has become the first city in India where people can avail high-quality drinking water directly from the tap on a 24-hour basis.
  • It has enabled the people of Puri to collect quality drinking water directly from the tap. Henceforth, people need not have to store or filter drinking water.
  • The project would benefit 5 lakh citizens of Puri and 2 crore tourists who visit the tourist place every year. They need not have to move around with water bottles.
  • Puri would no more be burdened with 400 metric tonnes of plastic waste. Water fountains have been developed at 400 locations in Puri.

3.Indore becomes only Indian city to make it to Int’l Clean Air Catalyst Programme

  • The Indore city of Madhya Pradesh, or the cleanest city of India, has become the only city from the country to be selected for International Clean Air Catalyst Programme.
  • The project will be operated for a period of five years to purify the air in the city with the cooperation of Indore Municipal Corporation and Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board.
  • Under the project, USAID and partners will work with local communities to better understand local pollution sources and identify, test, accelerate, and scale solutions for cleaner, healthier air.
  • Clean Air Catalyst is a new flagship programme launched by The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and a global consortium of organisations, led by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to combat air pollution in low and middle-income countries by accelerating clean air solutions.

1.ADB projected India’s economic growth forecast at 10% in FY22

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has downgraded India’s economic growth forecast for the financial year 2021-22 (FY22) to 10 per cent, in its Asian Development Outlook (ADO) Supplement for July. Earlier this was estimated at 11%.
  • The multilateral funding agency has lowered the GDP growth forecast on account of the adverse impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Further, ADB has projected the GDP growth rate for FY2022 (2022-23) to 7.5 per cent from the earlier projection of 7 per cent.

2.Care Ratings Projects India’s GDP growth between 8.8-9% in FY22

  • The Care Ratings agency has estimated the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)growth rate of India to be in the range of  8.8 to 9 per cent in the current financial year, that is 2021-22 (FY22).
  • The country’s economy had contracted by 7.3 per cent in fiscal 2020-21. The report also said the fiscal deficit for FY22 is projected between Rs 17.38 lakh crore to Rs 17.68 lakh The main drivers of the economy would be the agriculture and industry sectors.

3.Modi govt’s fiscal deficit touches 18.2% of annual target

  • The central government’s fiscal deficit stood at Rs. 2.74 lakh crore or 2 per cent of the full year’s Budget estimate at the end of June, according to data released by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA).
  • The fiscal deficit at the end of June 2020 was 2 per cent of the Budget Estimates (BE) of 2020-21.
  • The fiscal deficit or the gap between expenditure and revenue for 2020-21 was 9.3 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), better than 9.5 per cent projected in the revised estimates in the Budget in February

1.DRDO successfully flight-tests indigenously developed MPATGM

  • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)successfully flight-tested indigenously developed third-generation Man-Portable Antitank Guided Missile (MPATGM)  for its minimum range.
  • The missile was launched from a man-portable launcher integrated with a thermal site, and all the mission objectives were met.
  • The missile has already been flight-tested for the maximum range.
  • MPATGM is a low weight, fire and forgets missile, incorporated with state-of-the-art Miniaturized Infrared Imaging Seeker along with advanced avionics.
  • It is being developed to strengthen the combat capabilities of the Indian Army.

2.Indo-Russia Joint Military Drill ‘Exercise INDRA 2021’ to be held in Russia

  • The 12th Edition of the Indo-Russia joint military exercise called ‘Exercise INDRA 2021’ will be held at Volgograd, Russia from 01 to 13 August 2021.
  • The exercise will entail the conduct of counter-terror operations under the United Nations mandate by a joint force against international terror groups.
  • Exercise INDRA-21 will further strengthen mutual confidence and interoperability between the Indian & Russian Armies and enable sharing of best practices between the contingents of both countries.
  • The exercise will be yet another milestone in strengthening security cooperation and will serve to reinforce the longstanding bond of friendship between India and Russia.
  • 50 personnel from both nations will form part of the exercise, which will involve the conduct of counter-terror operations against international terror groups, under the United Nations mandate.
  • The Indian Army contingent comprising of a Mechanised Infantry Battalion underwent rigorous training at different locations in India to refine their drills for participation in the joint exercise

1.IPS officer Nasir Kamal appointed DG of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security

  • Senior IPS officer Nasir Kamal has been appointed the Director-General of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS). He is a 1986-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre.
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved Kamal’s appointment to the post of Director General in BCAS for a tenure up to his superannuation on July 31, 2022.

2.Rakesh Asthana appointed as Delhi Police Commissioner

  • Border Security Force (BSF) Director General (DG), Rakesh Asthana has been appointed as the Delhi Police Commissioner, with immediate effect. His appointment comes just three days before his superannuation on July 31, 2021.
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has extended Asthana’s service initially for a period of one year beyond the date of his superannuation or until further order, whichever is earlier.
  • Asthana, a 1984-batch IPS officer, had earlier served as the Special Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation. He was the Narcotics Control Bureau chief when actor Rhea Chakraborty was arrested in a drugs case in Mumbai.
  • During his stint in the CBI in 2018,  Ashtana was engaged in an unsavoury spat with the then CBI Director Alok Verma. Both the officers were removed from the central probe agency and Asthana was subsequently cleared of the charges.

3.Bharat Bill Pay appoints Pay U’s Noopur Chaturvedi as new CEO

  • Bharat Bill Payment System has appointed former Pay U and Airtel Payments Bank executive Noopur Chaturvedi as its new chief executive officer. Chaturvedi, prior to this appointment, was the country head for small and medium businesses at PayU.
  • In a career spanning nearly two decades, she has worked with Airtel Payments Bank, Samsung, ING Vysya Bank and Citibank in various senior roles.
  • Bharat Bill Pay is an interoperable and integrated bill payment system for online as well as agent-based settlement of recurring bills.
  • On April 1 this year, NPCI transferred all its BBPS mandates to a newly set up subsidiary called the NPCI Bharat Bill Pay Limited (NBBL), effectively hiving off its automated billing business. Founded in 2013

1.Kotak Mahindra Bank signs MoU with the Indian Navy for salary account

  • The Indian Navy has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kotak Mahindra for salary accounts of all its personnel – both serving and retired.
  • The bank will reportedly offer special salary account benefits to the Indian Navy like enhanced complimentary personal accident insurance cover, special education benefit for children, and additional girl child benefit, and attractive rates and zero processing fees on personal loans, home loans and car loans.
  • The Kotak salary account provides a range of privileges, and we have further personalized our offering, keeping in mind the requirements of Indian Navy personnel and their families. With a full suite of products, we will support the Indian Navy with all their banking requirements, backed by quality customer service and digital-first solutions.

2.Maruti Suzuki, Savitribai Phule Pune University tie-up to train youth

  • Maruti Suzuki India Limitedhas announced a partnership with Maharashtra’s Savitribai Phule Pune University to train youth in automobile retail.
  • The aim is to offer a customised three years “Bachelor of Vocational Studies in Retail Management” course to students. The three-year curriculum will comprise one-year classroom training followed by two-year on-the-job training at Maruti Suzuki authorised dealerships.
  • The course is based on the concept of ‘Earn while you Learn’ where students will receive a stipend during their on-the-job training. The course will allow the students to build a promising career in automobile sales in India

1.RBI plans digital currency pilots soon

  • The Reserve Bank of Indiais currently working on a phased implementation strategy for its own digital currency, Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), and will launch it in the wholesale and retail segments soon. India is already a leader in digital payments, but cash remains dominant for small-value transactions.
  • RBI is currently examining the scope of CBDCs, the underlying technology, the validation mechanism, distribution architecture and degree of anonymity etc.
  • The primary idea for the RBI is to protect consumers from the appalling level of volatility seen in some or many of the virtual currencies that have no sovereign backing.
  • Though the phased rollout of digital currency augurs well for India, it will come with its own challenges.
  • Digital currencies are gaining more and more traction by the day, and there are countries that have launched or are going to be launching digital currencies, including Ecuador, Tunisia, Senegal, Sweden, Estonia, China, Russia, Japan, Venezuela, and Israel.

2.RBI imposes Rs5-crore monetary penalty on Axis Bank

  • The Reserve Bank of India has imposed a monetary penalty of Rs 5 crore on private sector lender Axis Bank.
  • The penalty is for contravention of and non-compliance with certain provisions of directions issued by RBI on ‘Strengthening the Controls of Payment Ecosystem between Sponsor Banks and SCBs/UCBs as a Corporate Customer’,‘ Cyber Security Framework in Banks’, ‘RBI (Financial Services provided by Banks) Directions, 2016’, ‘Financial Inclusion- Access to Banking Services – Basic Savings bank Deposit Account’ and ‘Frauds – Classification and Reporting’.
  • The penalty has been imposed in the exercise of powers vested in RBI under the provisions of section 47 A (1) (c) read with section 46 (4) (i) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 (the Act).
  • The RBI had conducted statutory Inspections for Supervisory Evaluation (ISE) of Axis Bank with reference to its financial position as of March 31, 2017, March 31, 2018 and March 31, 2019

1.Tokyo 2020: Mirabai Chanu wins Silver in weightlifting

  • Mirabai Chanuwon the silver medal and became the first Indian to win an Olympic medal at the 2020 Tokyo Games in the Women’s 49kg category.
  • China’s Zhihui Houwon the gold medal in the women’s 49-kg weightlifting at the Tokyo Olympics, lifting a total of 210 kg, while Indonesia’s Windy Cantika Aisah won the bronze medal.
  • Chanu managed to lift a total of 202 kg in the women’s 49kg category to become the second Indian weightlifter after Karnam Malleswari to win an Olympic medal. A new Olympic record was registered by Mirabai Chanu with a successful lift of 115kg in clean and jerk

1.World’s first 3D-printed steel bridge opened in Amsterdam

  • The world’s first 3D-printed steel bridge was opened to the public in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
  • It was developed by MX3D, a Dutch robotics company, in collaboration with a consortium of experts, and represents a major milestone for 3D-printing technology.
  • After four years of development, the bridge was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. It was installed over one of the oldest canals in Amsterdam’s city centre – the Oudezijds Achterburgwal.
  • The 12-metre-long steel structure will be a ‘living laboratory’ that will capture and transmit data on its health in real-time to show how it changes over its lifespan.
  • The length of the bridge is nearly 40 feet. It is a 6-ton stainless steel structure. 
  • The smart sensor network was designed and installed by a team from The Alan Turing Institute

1.Uzbekistan hosts ‘Central-South Asia conference 2021

  • Uzbekistan has hosted a high-level International Conference titled “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity.
  • Challenges and Opportunities” at Tashkent. The conference was an initiative of the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
  • It was attended by President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, Ministers from Central Asian, West Asian and South Asian countries, including Minister of External Affairs of India  S. Jaishankar.
  • Delegates from over 40 countries and about 30 international organizations, and heads of think tanks participated in the conference

1.NASA selects SpaceX for mission to Jupiter moon Europa

  • The US space agency NASA has selected California-based SpaceX to provide launch services for Earth’s first mission to conduct detailed investigations of Jupiter’s moon Europa.
  • The mission called ‘Europa Clipper mission is scheduled to be launched in October 2024 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
  • Conduct a detailed survey of Europa to investigate whether the icy moon has conditions suitable for life, produce high-resolution images of Europa’s surface, determine its composition, look for signs of recent or ongoing geological activity, measure the thickness of the moon’s icy shell, search for subsurface lakes, determine the depth and salinity of Europa’s ocean.

2.Hubble Finds First Evidence of Water Vapor at Jupiter’s Moon Ganymede

  • For the first time, astronomers have uncovered evidence of water vapour in the atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. This water vapour forms when ice from the moon’s surface sublimates that turns from solid to gas.
  • Scientists used new and archival datasets from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to make the discovery, published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
  • In 1998, Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph took the first ultraviolet (UV) images of Ganymede, which revealed colourful ribbons of electrified gas called auroral bands, and provided further evidence that Ganymede has a weak magnetic field.
  • The similarities in these UV observations were explained by the presence of molecular oxygen (O2). But some observed features did not match the expected emissions from a pure O2 atmosphere. At the same time, scientists concluded this discrepancy was likely related to higher concentrations of atomic oxygen (O).

3.IIT Hyderabad developed Covid RNA test kit called “COVIHOME”

  • India’s first Rapid electronic Covid-19 RNA Test kit that allows self-testing at home called ‘COVIHOME’ has been developed by a research group at the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad.
  • The kit has been validated by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and can be used to check for Covid-19 trace at the comfort of home.
  • This test kit can produce results within 30 minutes for both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients.
  • The major benefit of this testing kit is that it does not require RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction),an expert human resource, and a BSL 2 lab facility for the extraction of RNA, so it has the potential for one to take the test at home without expert supervision.
  • The validation report confirmed the kit’s efficiency at 94.2 per cent, Sensitivity 91.3 per cent and Specificity 98.2 per cent.
  • While a test currently costs around Rs 400, the developers say that mass production of the testing kit will help to reduce the cost to around Rs 300 per test
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