General Knowledge & Current Affairs

June 2021 - 1st to 5th

1. WHO names Covid-19 variants first found in India as ‘Kappa’ and ‘Delta’

·         The UN health agency, World Health Organisation (WHO), has given easy-to-say labels to two variants of the Covid-19, first found in India. The two variants are B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2.

·         The B.1.617.1 variant of the Covid-19 has been named as ‘Kappa’ while the B1.617.2 variant is named as ‘Delta.’

·         The naming of these variants do not aim at replacing the existing scientific names of these #SARSCoV2 Variants of Concern (VOCs) & Interest (VOIs), but is aimed at helping the public discussion about VOI/VOC.

2. Isaac Herzog Elected as President of Israel

  • Veteran Israeli politician, Isaac Herzog, has been elected as the President of the country on June 01, 2021, during the 120 members parliamentary election for 2021.
  • The 60-year-old Herzog will be the 11th President of Israel, assuming office with effect from July 09, 2021. He will succeed Reuven Rivlin, who is set to complete his tenure in July 2021 after seven years in office.

1.      Bill Gates and EU pledge $1 billion boost for green technology

 

  • The European Union and an energy investment programme founded by Bill Gates plan to raise up to $1 billion to roll out the low-carbon technologies Europe is betting on to meet its climate change goals.
  • The partnership would see Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy use private capital and philanthropic funds to match funding provided by the EU.
  • The aim is to together provide up to 820 million euros, or $1 billion, from 2022 to 2026.
  • Support will target hydrogen produced from renewable energy, sustainable aviation fuels, technology to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, and long-duration energy storage.
  • Those technologies are seen as critical to slashing emissions from sectors like heavy industry and aviation but remain too expensive to scale up without support and compete with cheaper fossil fuel alternatives.

    1.         RDSO Becomes First Standards Body to Join ‘One Nation, One Standard’ Scheme

    ·         Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), which sets standards for the Indian Railway Sector, has become the first standards body in the country to join the ‘One Nation, One Standard’ scheme of the central government.

    ·         The RDSO, the sole R&D wing of the Railways Ministry, has now been recognised as a ‘Standard Developing Organisation’ by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), for a three years period.BIS is the implementing agency for the ‘One Nation, One Standard’ scheme. RDSO and BIS will be now jointly defining the parameters to ensure quality goods and services for the Railways.

    ·         The ‘One Nation, One Standard’ scheme was launched in 2019 with the objective to develop one template of standard for one given product in the country, instead of having multiple agencies set it, thereby building a ‘Brand India’ identity in the long run.

    2.      Union Cabinet approves MoC between India-Japan on urban development

    • The Union Cabinet has approved a memorandum of cooperation between India-Japan in the field of sustainable urban development.
    • A Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) on Sustainable Urban Development has been signed between the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, Government of India and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Government of Japan.
    • A Joint Working Group (JWG) will be also formed to implement the programmes on cooperation under the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC). The JWG will meet once a year.
    • The MoC will strengthen the technical cooperation in the field of Urban Planning, Smart Cities Development, Affordable Housing (including rental housing), Urban Flood Management, Sewerage and Waste Water Management, etc.
    • The best practices and key learnings will be exchanged between India and Japan in the field of Sustainable Urban Development.

    1. Madhya Pradesh Government launches ‘Ankur’ scheme
    • In Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan government has launched a scheme named ‘Ankur’ under which citizens will be awarded for planting trees during monsoon.
    • Citizens taking part in this initiative will be given the Pranvayu Award, to ensure public participation in the programme.
    • A sapling plantation campaign will be carried out during the monsoon.
    • Participants will have to upload a picture while planting the sapling and then upload another photograph after taking care of the sapling for 30 days.
    • The winners will then be selected from each district, following a verification, to get the Pranvayu Award.
    • Citizens can participate in the tree plantation drive by registering themselves on the Vayudoot app, which has been launched by the state for managing the activities of the “Ankur” program
    1.  Narendra Singh Tomar inaugurates Indus Best Mega Food Park in Chhattisgarh
    • Union Minister for Food Processing Industries, Narendra Singh Tomar virtually inaugurated the Indus Best MegaFood Park along with Bhupesh Baghel, Chief Minister, Chhattisgarh, and in presence of Rameswar Teli, Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries.
    • The Mega Food Park will ensure value addition, a longer shelf life for farm produce, better price realization for farmers, excellent storage facility and will provide an alternate market for farmers in the region.
    • The Park will also provide direct and indirect employment to about 5,000 persons and benefit about 25,000 farmers in the CPC and PPC catchment areas.
    • The modern infrastructure for food processing created at Park will benefit the processors and consumers of Chhattisgarh and adjoining areas immensely and prove to be a big boost to the growth of the food processing sector in the State of Chhattisgarh.

     

    1. Gujarat’s Vishwamitri river project gets National Green Tribunal nod
    • The Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) recently directed the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), Gujarat and other authorities to implement the Vishwamitri River Action Plan, including preparation for demarcation, plantation and maintaining the integrity of the river.
    • The crocodiles, turtles & highly protected species have been breeding in the stretches of the river. The NGT has observed that the Vishwamitri River in Vadodara is among the 351 polluted river stretches identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), and the restoration of such stretches has also been “exhaustively considered” by the Tribunal in another hearing of a petition by the same applicants.

    1. OECD estimate growth cut of India to 9.9% FY22

     

    • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has cut India’s growth projection to 9.9 % for Financial Year 2022. In March, it estimated growth to 12.6%.
    • The rate was cut witnessing covid cases lockdowns which have threatened to stall the nascent economic recovery of India.
    • As per OECD, “pandemic can be contained quickly but GDP (gross domestic product) growth will still be about 10% in 2021-22 and 8% in 2022-23.

     

    2. Moody’s Projects Indian Economy to grow 9.3% in FY22

    • According to Moody’s Investors Service, India’s economy will rebound in the current financial year to mark a growth of 9.3 per cent but the second Covid-19 wave has increased risks to the country’s outlook with potential longer-term credit implications.
    • Moody’s Investors Service has projected the GDP growth rate of the Indian economy as follows: 2021-22 (FY22): 9.3%; 2022-23 (FY23): 7.9%.
    • In terms of Sovereign ratings, Moody’s has estimated a ‘Baa3’ rating on India with a negative outlook.
    • The economy rebounded quickly from a steep contraction in 2020, it said. But risks to India’s credit profile including a persistent slowdown in growth, weak government finances and rising financial sector risks have been exacerbated by the shock of coronavirus second wave.

    3. RBI Governor Addressed On RBI Monetary Policy 2021

    • The six-member monetary policy committee of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) headed by Governor Shaktikanta Das, has decided to keep key lending rates unchanged for the sixth consecutive time, in its June 2021 policy review meeting held between June 2 to 4, 2021.
    • The RBI’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has decided to continue with an accommodative stance until necessary to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. The next meeting of the MPC is scheduled from August 4 to 6, 2021.

    1. Ravi Shahtri’s Debut Book Titled ‘Stargazing: The Players in My Life’
    • Cricket all-rounder, commentator and coach, Ravi Shastri is now making his publishing debut, as he has penned a book titled ‘Stargazing: The Players in My Life’.
    • The book is being published by HarperCollins India. It is been co-authored by Ayaz Memon. It is expected to be released on June 25, 2021.
    • In the book, Shastri has written about some 60 extraordinary talents he has met from across the world who have inspired him

    Science and Technology News

    1. IIT Guwahati researchers design “smart windows” to cut carbon emissions
    • IIT Guwahati researchers have developed a “Smart Window” material that can effectively control the amount of heat and light passing through it in response to an applied voltage.
    • This material can help in developing automatic climate control systems in buildings. Such materials can help develop efficient automatic climate control systems in buildings, the scientists claimed.
    • This study was recently published in the journal- ‘Solar Energy Materials & Solar Cells.
    • However, achieving such a target is made easier by innovation by Debabrata Sikdar, an assistant professor at IIT’s Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering, and his research student Ashish Kumar Chowdhary
    1. XraySetu Launched to Detect Covid in Rural Population via WhatsApp
    • A new AI-driven platform called ‘XraySetu’ has been developed to help in the early detection of COVID 19, with the help of Chest X-ray.
    • The solution will be beneficial for early detection especially in rural areas, where RT-PCR tests and CT-Scans are not easily available. XraySetu will operate through WhatsApp. It will identify COVID positive patients even from low-resolution Chest X-Ray images sent over Whatsapp-based Chatbot.
    • The solution has been developed by ARTPARK (AI & Robotics Technology Park), a not-for-profit foundation established by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, with support from the Department of Science & Technology (DST), GOI, in collaboration with Bangalore based HealthTech startup Niramai and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

    1. WHO honours Dr Harsh Vardhan for efforts in tobacco control

    ·         World Health Organisation (WHO) has awarded Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan with `WHO Director-General Special Recognition Award` for his accomplishments in the area of tobacco control.

    ·         Every year, WHO recognises individuals or organisations in each of the six WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control. This recognition takes the form of the WHO Director-General Special Recognition Award and World No Tobacco Day Awards.

    ·         Dr Harsh Vardhan leadership was instrumental in the 2019 national legislation to ban E-cigarettes and heated tobacco products

    2. Utah Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson wins 2021 Sixth Man of the Year

    ·         Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson has won the 2020-21 Kia NBA Sixth Man Award for his contributions in a reserve role.

    ·         This is the first Sixth Man honour for Clarkson, who becomes the first player to win the annual award with the Jazz.

    ·         Clarkson becomes the first player in Jazz franchise history to win the award and was presented the trophy by his teammate and fellow Sixth Man of the Year Finalist Joe Ingles.

    ·         Clarkson received 65 first-place votes and earned 407 total points from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters

    1.      David Diop wins International Booker 2021

    • David Diop has become the first French novelist to win the International Booker prize for translated fiction with At Night All Blood Is Black, his first novel translated into English.
    • Diop, the author of two novels, and his translator Anna Moschovakis split the £50,000 annual prize, which goes to the best author and translator of a work translated into English.
    • The International Booker Prize, formerly known as the Man Booker International Prize, has been awarded since 2005 when it was won by Albanian writer Ismail Kadare. It is a sister prize to the Booker Prize, awarded to a novel written in English.

    1. Tata Steel’s T.V. Narendran takes over as CII president
    • Tata Steel Ltd chief executive officer and managing director, T.V. Narendran has taken over as president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for 2021-22.
    • He takes over the leadership of the industry body from Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd managing director and chief executive officer Uday Kotak, who has completed his term.
    • Narendran, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, has been associated with the CII for many years.
    • He was the chairman of CII eastern region during 2016-17 and has led the industry body’s national committees on leadership and human resources, besides being chairman of CII Jharkhand
    1. Magma Fincorp appoints Adar Poonawalla as chairman
    • Magma Fincorp has appointed Adar Poonawalla as its chairman as part of a management overhaul following the Poonawala-controlled Rising Sun Holdings acquiring a controlling stake in it. Rising Sun invested Rs 3,456 crore in the non-bank lender earlier this month.
    • Magma will soon be rebranded as Poonawalla Group company. The lender has also appointed Abhay Bhutada as MD & Vijay Deshwal as CEO.
    1. Dr Vinay K Nandicoori appointed as Director of CCMB
    • Former IITian, Dr Vinay K Nandicoori, has been appointed as the Director at the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, Telangana. He is a well-known molecular biologist, and a scientist at the DBT-National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi.
    • Dr Nandicoori’s research interest extensively spans molecular signalling networks in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the micro-organism that causes TB. His research has found national and international relevance and recognition.

    1. SCO Agreement On Mass Media Cooperation Gets India’s Retrospective Nod
    • The Cabinet accorded an ex post facto approval for signing and ratifying an agreement on cooperation in the field of mass media between all member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
    • The agreement aims to promote equal and mutually beneficial cooperation among associations in the field of mass media. The agreement, which was signed in June 2019, would provide an opportunity for the member states to share best practices and new innovations in the field of mass media.
    • The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation, the creation of which was announced on June 15, 2001, in Shanghai.
    • SCO comprises eight countries: India, Kazakhstan, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
    1. IPPB ties up with Mahindra Rural Housing Finance for cash management solution
    • Mahindra Rural Housing Finance Limited (MRHFL), a subsidiary of Mahindra and Mahindra Financial Ltd, and India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) have tied up a strategic partnership for a cash management solution.
    • As part of the tie-up, IPPB will be offering cash management and collection services to MRHFL through its access points and postal service providers.
    • Mahindra Rural Housing Finance said in a statement, adding that with the cash management service, its customers will be able to repay their monthly or quarterly loan instalments at over 1.36 lakh post offices.
    • Cash management being the lifeline of business operations, IPPB with its robust network and technology platform can help corporates to manage their receivables safely, securely and seamlessly.
    1. Bharti AXA Life in bancassurance pact with Shivalik Small Finance Bank
    • Private life insurer Bharti AXA Life Insurance has entered into a bancassurance partnership with Shivalik Small Finance Bank for the distribution of its life insurance products through the bank’s pan-India network of branches.
    • This alliance is a part of the bank’s various measures towards financial inclusion and acceleration of wealth creation for its customers.
    • Bharti AXA Life Insurance will offer its suite of life insurance products, including protection, health, savings and investment plans, to customers of Shivalik Small Finance Bank across its 31 branches and digital network across the country.
    • This alliance will enable over 4.5 lakh customers of Shivalik Bank to access the range of products offered by the company to provide financial security.

    1. RBI cancels licence of Shivajirao Bhosale Sahakari Bank
    • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has cancelled the licence of Pune-based Shivajirao Bhosale Sahakari Bank. The bank ceases to carry on banking business, with effect from the close of business on May 31.
    • The bank does not have adequate capital and earning prospects. As such, it does not comply with the provision of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
    • The RBI observed that the bank with its present financial position would be unable to pay its present depositors in full. The bank was placed under RBI Directions from the close of business on May 4, 2019
    1. ICICI Lombard companions with Microsoft to automate audits of service calls
    • The country’s largest private sector general insurer, ICICI Lombard has tied up with Microsoft to strengthen and automate the quality control processes.
    • The insurer will make use of Microsoft’s Azure Speech Services and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to screen its daily service calls made by customer service reps.
    • The deployment of Azure’s synthetic instruments has, amongst different issues, allowed ICICI Lombard to enhance the accuracy of its high-quality audits.
    • In response to Girish Nayak, ICICI Lombard’s chief expertise officer, the usage of cognitive intelligence expertise will automate high-quality checks which can in flip make their service extra environment friendly.

     

    1. ICICI Bank Became 2nd Globally to offer ‘SWIFT gpi Instant’ facility
    • ICICI Bank has announced that it has tied up with SWIFT to offer a facility that helps overseas partner banks to send instant remittances on behalf of their customers to the beneficiary in India.
    • The beneficiary gets the credit to the bank account instantly. This makes ICICI Bank the first bank in Asia-Pacific and the second globally to offer the facility, called ‘SWIFT gpi Instant’, for cross border inward payments.
    • With this new service, we continue to live up to our commitment to offering customer-centric solutions enabling quick and hassle-free money transfers.

    Centre for World University Rankings 2021-22 announced

    • Centre for World University Rankings 2021-22 has announced, 19,788 institutions were ranked, and those that placed at the top made the global 2000 list.
    • Harvard University has topped the ranking globally followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford UniversityUniversity of Cambridge, and Oxford University respectively.
    • As many as 68 Indian institutes have made it to the list of the top 2000 higher education institutes across the world, as per the Centre for World University Rankings (CWUR) 2021-22.
    • The Indian pack is led by the IIM-Ahmedabad which has bagged 415th rank followed by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) at 459th rank
    1. Wipro becomes third Indian IT firm to scale Rs 3 trillion market cap
    • Wipro has touched Rs 3 trillion in market capitalisation for the first time, becoming the third Indian IT firm to achieve the milestone after Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys.
    • The company won its largest deal ever from German retailer Metro and has seen deal wins of $7.1 billion. India has a total of 13 listed firms that have crossed the Rs 3 trillion m-cap. Wipro now ranks 14th.
    • Reliance Industries is India’s most valued company with a market capitalisation of ₹14.05 trillion, followed by Tata Consultancy Services Ltd and HDFC Bank with an m-cap of ₹11.58 trillion and ₹8.33 trillion, respectively.

    1. UN Sustainable Transport Conference will take place in China
    • The second United Nations Global Sustainable Transport Conference will be held from 14-16 October 2021 in Beijing, China.
    • It will provide an opportunity to focus attention on the opportunities, challenges and solutions towards achieving sustainable transport worldwide.
    • The conference will follow up on the first Global Sustainable Transport Conference, held in 2016 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and is expected to indicate a way forward for sustainable transport to help achieve the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

    1. World Bicycle Day celebrated on 3rd June
    • United Nations celebrates World Bicycle Day every year on 3rd June to advance the use of the bicycle as a means of fostering sustainable development.
    • The day aims to strengthen education for children and young people, preventing disease, promoting health, promoting tolerance, mutual understanding and respect and facilitating social inclusion and a culture of peace.
    • The day was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in April 2018. World Bicycle Day is being observed every year to encourage member nations to give particular attention to the bicycle in cross-cutting development strategies and to improve road safety and integrate it into sustainable mobility and transport infrastructure planning and design. It also aims to promote the bicycle among all members of society.
    1. International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression: 04 June
    • International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression is observed globally on 4th June every year.
    • This day affirms the UN’s commitment to guard the rights of children. This day is to acknowledge the pain suffered by children throughout the planet who are the victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse.
    • The main aim of celebrating today is to spread the notice about the pain and sufferings faced by the victims as children.
    • On August 19, 1982, during an emergency session on the question of Palestine, the UN General Assembly, appalled at the amount of innocent Palestinian and Lebanese child victims of Israel’s acts of aggression, decided to commemorate 4 June of every year because of the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression.
    1. World Environment Day: 5th June
    • World Environment Day is observed globally on 5th June every year. This day is observed to raise awareness about protecting the environment and to remind people not to take nature for granted.
    • The day provides an opportunity to broaden the “basis for an enlightened opinion and responsible conduct by individuals, enterprises, and communities in preserving and enhancing the environment.”
    • The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is ‘Reimagine. Recreate. Restore.’ as this year marks the beginning of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Pakistan is the global host for the day to highlight the importance of ecosystem restoration this year.

    1. Asian Boxing Championship: India’s Sanjeet Kumar wins gold medal
    • India’s pugilist Sanjeet Kumar won a gold medal in the 91 kg weight category at the ASBC Asian Boxing Championships.
    • Sanjeet pulled off a massive upset as he defeated five-time Asian Championships medallist and Rio Olympic silver medalist Vassiliy Levit of Kazakhstan in a 3-2 split decision in the final of Asian Championships in Dubai to clinch the gold.
    1. ICC Expands Men’s ODI Cricket World Cup to 14 teams
    • The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced that the Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2027 and 2031, will once again be a 14-team, 54-match tournament.
    • Earlier in the 2019 World Cup, only 10 teams contested, compared to 14 teams in the 2015 World Cup.
    • These 14 teams will split into two groups of seven, top three from each group will be progressing to a Super Six stage, followed by semifinals and final.
    • ICC has also decided to expand the men’s T20 World Cup to 20 teams. The tournament will take place every two years from 2024-2030.

    1. IFFCO introduces world’s first ‘Nano Urea’ for farmers across world
    • Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) has introduced the world’s first Nano Urea Liquid for farmers across the world. According to an official statement issued by IFFCO, the world’s first Nano Urea Liquid was introduced in its 50th annual general body meeting held in the online-offline mode in India.
    • The Nano Urea Liquid has been indigenously developed after many years of research by its scientists and engineers through a proprietary technology developed at Nano Biotechnology Research Centre, Kalol, in line with ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Krishi’.
    • The Nano Urea Liquid has been found effective and efficient for plant nutrition which increases the production with improved nutritional quality.
    • It will also have a huge positive impact on the quality of underground water, very significant reduction in global warming with an impact on climate change and sustainable development.
      1. World Health Assembly adopts decision to recognize 30 January as World NTD Day
    • 74th World Health Assembly endorsed a decision recognizing 30 January as World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day (‘World NTD Day’).
    • World NTD Day commemorates the simultaneous launch of the first NTD road map and the London Declaration on NTDs on 30 January 2012.
    • For countries where neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are prevalent and for the global community of partners, this is a new dawn.

    1. Pharmeasy acquires Medlife to create India’s largest online pharmacy
    • Pharmeasy acquires Medlife to create India’s largest online pharmacy
    • Pharmeasy has announced the acquisition of rival Medlife, thereby creating India’s largest online pharmacy.
    • The deal will make PharmEasy the largest player in the domestic online pharmacy sector, with the combined entity set to serve 2 million customers a month. The deal values the stake of Medlife shareholders at $250 million.
    • Medlife customers need to log in to the PharmEasy app to start using their Medlife account via the same mobile number. All their digitised prescriptions and saved addresses dating back to a year will be available on the PharmEasy app.

    1. NATO Conduct Steadfast Defender 21 war Games
    • North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is organising “Steadfast Defender 21 war games” military exercises in Europe as tensions with Russia increases.
    • These war games are being organised with the aim of simulating the response of a 30-nation military organisation for the attack on any one of its members. It seeks to test the ability of NATO to deploy troops from America.
    • Top NATO brass insists that the military exercises, involving some 9,000 troops from 20 nations, are not aimed at Russia specifically, but they focus on the Black Sea region, where Russia stands accused of blocking the free navigation of ships
    1. Navy’s Hydrographic Survey Ship Sandhayak To Be Decommissioned
    • Indian Navy’s hydrographic survey ship, Sandhayak would be decommissioned after serving the nation for 40 years.
    • The decommissioning ceremony of INS Sandhayak will be held at naval dockyard Visakhapatnam and will be a low-key event attended only by in-station officers and sailors with strict observance of COVID-19 protocols.
    • The ship, during its commissioned service, undertook approximately 200 major hydrographic surveys and numerous minor surveys in both east and west coasts of the country, the Andaman seas as well as in the neighbouring countries.
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