General Knowledge & Current Affairs

October 2021 - 18th to 25th

1.Sri Lanka seeks 500 million dollar as loan from India

  • The Government of Sri Lanka has sought a USD 500 million credit line from India to pay for its crude oil purchases, as the country is facing a severe foreign exchange crisis in the island nation after the pandemic hit the nation’s earnings from tourism and remittances.
  • The USD 500 million credit line is part of the India-Sri Lanka economic partnership arrangement. The facility would be used for purchasing petrol and diesel requirements

2. Ecuador declares state of emergency over crime wave

  • Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso has declared a 60-day state of emergency in the South American country, due to the rise in violent drug crimes.
  • President Lasso has pointed to drug trafficking and consumption as the main drivers behind an increase in murders, home burglary, thefts of vehicles and goods, and muggings.
  • Under the emergency measures, the armed forces and police would work together to carry out “arms checks, inspections, 24-hour patrols, and drug searches, among other actions. Ecuador is a transit country for cocaine smuggled from neighboring Peru and Colombia and much of the crime wave is thought to be drug-related.

3. India, Israel, UAE, U.S. decide to launch quadrilateral economic forum

  • India, Israel, United Arab Emirates and the United States have decided to launch a new quadrilateral economic forum. Quadrilateral builds on ongoing cooperation between U.S., Israel and UAE after the Abraham Accords last year.
  • This QUAD grouping had decided to establish an international forum for economic cooperation and discussed possibilities for joint infrastructure projects expanding economic and political cooperation in the Middle East and Asia.
  • India, the United States, Israel and the UAE have decided to form a forum for future economic cooperation and to explore possibilities of joint infrastructure projects in the fields of Transportation, Technology, Maritime security, Economics, Trade as well as for additional joint projects.

4. Barbados elects its first-ever president, removing UK’s Queen Elizabeth

  • Barbados has elected its first-ever president as it prepares to become a republic, removing Queen Elizabeth as head of state.
  • Dame Sandra Mason, 72, is set to be sworn in on 30 November, which will mark the country’s 55th anniversary of independence from Britain.
  • The first woman to serve on the Barbados Court of Appeals, Dame Sandra has been governor-general since 2018. The historic election came after a joint session of the House of Assembly and the Senate.  Described the vote as a “seminal moment” for the nation.

5. Donald Trump to launch social media platform called Truth Social

  • Donald Trump has announced plans to launch a social media platform called TRUTH Social that will be rolled be out early next year. The former US president, who was banned from Facebook and Twitter earlier this year, says his goal is to rival the tech companies that have denied him the megaphone that was paramount to his rise.
  • Truth social will be a product of a new venture called the Trump Media & Technology Group. He wants to create a platform that rivals Twitter or Facebook, but that simply won’t happen.

6. Turkey joins Pakistan in FATF Grey list

  • Global terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has retained Pakistan on its ‘Grey List’ of countries.
  • In a briefing, FATF president Marcus Player also said that three new countries Turkey, Jordan, and Mali have also been added to the Grey List.
  • In June this year, the FATF had retained Pakistan on its ‘Grey List’ for failing to check money laundering, leading to terror financing.

7. South Korea flight tests first homegrown space rocket “Nuri”

  • South Korea recently launched its first indigenously developed rocket, known as “Korean Satellite Launch Vehicle II” or “Nuri”.
  • The launch vehicle lifted off from the Naro Space Center, in Goheung, built on an island nearly 300 miles (500 kilometers) south of Seoul.
  • Nuri rocket is 47.2 metres long and weighs 200 tons. The three-stage rocket is fitted with six liquid-fuelled engines. It has been built at an estimated cost of 2 trillion won (£1.23bn or $1.6bn).

8. China launches satellite ‘Shijian-21’

  • China successfully launched a new satellite named Shijian-21. The satellite will be used to test and verify space debris mitigation technologies.
  • Shijian-21 was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in southwest China’s Sichuan Province on a Long March-3B carrier rocket.
  • The satellite will be mainly used to test and verify space debris mitigation technologies. This launch marked the 393rd mission for the Long March series carrier rockets.

1.Kung Fu Nuns wins UNESCO’s Martial Arts Education Prize 2021

  • The well-known Kung Fu Nuns of the Drukpa order of Buddhism has won the inaugural UNESCO’s Martial Arts Education Prize 2021, for their brave and heroic acts of service and championing of gender equality across the Himalayas.
  • The Nuns empower young girls through martial arts, to defend themselves, build confidence, and take on leadership roles in their communities.
  • The award has been launched by UNESCO ICM (International Centre of Martial Arts for Youth Development and Engagement), to collect and promote good practices of martial arts education (MA Edu.)

2. India crosses 100-crore COVID-19 vaccination doses milestone

  • India completed 100 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines on 21st October, in about 9 months since the drive began. PM Modi called the achievement “the triumph of Indian science, enterprise and collective spirit of 130 crore Indians”.
  • The Prime Minister visited the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital here and interacted with healthcare workers and people receiving the vaccine.
  • To mark the occasion, the Union Health Ministry held a series of events and released a two-minute and four-second video with rap and visual representation of the country’s fight against COVID-19.

3. Election Commission of India launches Garuda App

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) has launched the Garuda app for digital mapping of all polling stations, to ensure faster, smarter, transparent and timely completion of election work.
  • Through the Garuda app, Booth Level Officers (BLO) will upload photos and location information of the polling stations, along with data like latitude and longitude of the center, from their registered mobile numbers. The app will also help in reducing the paperwork.

1.Rajasthan launched ‘Prashasan Gaon ke Sang’ Campaign

  • Rajasthan Government has launched a mega campaign named ‘Prashasan Gaon Ke Sang’ till December 17, 2021, to provide local access to government services in the remotest villages of the state.
  • Officials from 22 Departments of the local administration will reach out to the rural parts of every gram panchayat to offer on-spot solutions to the applicants.
  • The campaign will be conducted on the observation of the respective district collector, for on spot disposal of applications.
  • While the campaign is intended to bring departments closer to residents, large-scale awareness efforts are being held ahead of time to guarantee that citizens can take full use of the services provided at the camps.
  • The campaign is likely to be extremely beneficial to those who are unfamiliar with digital procedures as well as those who have difficulty travelling to government offices for physical verification.
  • Along with services such as land deed allotment, land deed transfers, and the issuance of various certificates, the campaign will also include public health initiatives such as seasonal illness control and public awareness.

1.Bharti AXA sign Bancassurance Partnership with Utkarsh Small Finance Bank

  • Bharti AXA Life Insurance Company Limited (Bharti AXA Life) has entered into a bancassurance partnership with Utkarsh Small Finance Bank to ensure distribution of life insurance products through the bank’s network across India.
  • This partnership will enable the Bharti AXA life to reach Tier II and Tier III markets with insurance solutions and increase the reach of insurance in India.
  • Under this partnership, the Bharti AXA Life’s insurance comprehensive suite of life insurance plans including the protection, health, savings and investment plans will be made available for the customers of the bank across 202 districts of 19 states and 2 Union territories.

1.NASA launches Lucy Mission to study the Jupiter Trojan asteroids

  • The US space agency NASA has launched a first-of-its-kind mission called ‘Lucy Mission‘to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids.
  • The mission life of Lucy is 12-year, during which the spacecraft will fly by a total of eight ancient asteroids to study about solar system’s evolution. These will include one main-belt asteroid and seven Jupiter Trojan asteroids.
  • The Lucy mission will mark NASA’s first single spacecraft mission in history to explore so many different asteroids.
  • The Lucy probe was launched on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on October 16, 2021.
  • Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids are two large clusters of space rocks that scientists believe are remnants of the primordial material that formed the solar system’s outer planets.

2. China launched 1st Solar Exploration Satellite

  • China has successfully launched its 1st solar exploration satellite into space from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern Shanxi Province aboard a Long March-2D rocket.
  • The satellite was named as ‘Xihe’ (Xihe is the goddess of the sun who created the calendar in ancient Chinese mythology), also known as the Chinese Hα Solar Explorer (CHASE). The satellite has been developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

3. Microsoft Launches Program to Support AI Startups in India

  • Microsoft recently announced the launch of Microsoft AI Innovate, a 10-week initiative that will support startups in India leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, helping them scale operations, drive innovation, & build industry expertise.
  • The program will also enable startups to reach out to newer customers and geographies with Microsoft’s sales and partners.

1.India’s Bhavani Devi wins Charlellville National Competition in France

  • Fencer Bhavani Devi, who made history at the Tokyo Olympics by becoming the first Indian to compete in the sport at the Games, has won the Charlellville National Competition in France in the individual women’s sabre event.
  • She is currently ranked 50th in the world and is the top-ranked fencer from India. She is eyeing a good show at the 2022 Asian Games and has started preparing for the multi-discipline sporting extravaganza.

2. China and Indonesia won Uber Cup and and Thomas Cup Respectively

  • China beat Japan 3-1 in a thrilling Uber Cup final in Aarhus, Denmark, to reclaim the Uber Cup title. This is China’s 15th Uber Cup title win in 19 finals.
  • The match pivoted on the longest match in the Uber Cup history when Chen Qing Chan and Jia Yi Fan won their doubles match.
  • Indonesia lifted the Thomas Cup trophy for the first time since 2002 after defeating the defending champions China 3-0 in the final match held in Aarhus, Denmark.
  • Uber and Thomas Cup are the biennial international badminton championship played by the women and men’s national teams of the members of the Badminton World Federation.

3. FIFA Ranking 2021: India ranked 106th

  • India has ranked 106th in the FIFA (Fédération International de Football Association) Rankings 2021, the position of team India was increased to one spot.
  • After the victory in the SAFF (South Asian Football Federation) Championship 2021 of team India led by Sunil Chhetri, it has secured the 106th position.
  • The team has defeated Nepal in the summit clash. Under the FIFA Rankings, Belgium is at 1st position. Brazil holds 2nd position, France holds 3rd position.

1. E-auction portal rolled out to promote trading of ‘Kashmir Saffron’

  • The Agriculture Department of Jammu and Kashmir has set up an e-auction portal to enhance trading of GI-tagged ‘Kashmir Saffron’
  • The portal has been launched with the primary objective of assuring buyers to have access to quality ‘Kashmir Saffron’
  • The Department, under the aegis of India International Kashmir Saffron Trading Centre (IIKSTC), has established the portal in partnership with NSE-IT
  • The Saffron growers of Kashmir valley as well as the buyers across India have been appealed to get themselves registered as sellers and buyers for E-trading on the portal. The portal will ensure free e-Trading between registered growers and buyers

2. 51st IFFI to be held in Goa from Nov 20

  • 51st International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will be held in Goa, from November 20th to 28th
  • This film festival is a hybrid film festival due to COVID 19, would screen films on the official digital platform along with the theatrical screenings

3.CISF develops in-house mobile app “Pensioners Corner”

  • The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has made an in-house mobile app “Pensioners Corner”.
  • The mobile app has been created by CISF to reach to the pensioners and to bring them on to the digital platform as a one-stop solution
  • Through the mobile app “Pensioners Corner”, CISF will reach out to the Ex-Force personnel, who devoted their life for the country, in order to increase their self-esteem
  • The mobile app comprises of inbuilt grievance redressal mechanism and will also contain information about all important circulars such as job opportunities and benefits pertaining to pensioners

4. Tata Group to launch “Super App” for digital services

  • Tata Group is launching a new app named “Super App” purported to bring together the country’s disparate sales sector to offer a range of consumer goods
  • The app will put the conglomerate in competition with giants of the region like Reliance Industries and global titans like Amazon
  • The app will offer food and grocery ordering, fashion and lifestyle, consumer electronics and consumer durables, insurance, and financial services, education, healthcare, and bill payments

1. International Day against Nuclear Tests: 29 August

  • The International Day against Nuclear Tests is observed globally on 29th August since 2010
  • The day aims to increase awareness about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions and the need for their cessation as one of the means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world

2. Women’s Equality Day 2020

  • The 100th anniversary of the Women’s Equality Day is being observed in the United States on August 26, to commemorate American women getting the constitutional right to vote
  • Women’s Equality Day is now often observed across the world to encourage and spread awareness about women’s empowerment

1.Amitabh Chaudhry reappointed Axis Bank CEO

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) approved the re-appointment of Amitabh Chaudhry as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of private lender Axis Bank for a period of three years.
  • Amitabh had taken charge as Axis Bank’s new MD and CEO in January 2019 after as outgoing MD and CEO Shikha Sharma retired, effective December 31, 2018. The extended three-year term will be effective from January 1, 2022.

2. Amit Rastogi appointed new Chairman & Managing Director of NRDC

  • Commodore Amit Rastogi (Retd) has been appointed as the new Chairman & Managing Director of the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC).
  • Prior to this, he was the Director of Electrical Engineering at Integrated Headquarters, Ministry of Defence for 5 years and Additional General Manager Tech Services at Naval Dockyard for 2 years.
  • NRDC was established in India in 1953 to help develop and promote technologies developed at various national R&D institutions.

3. A Balasubramanian becomes new Chairman of AMFI

  • A Balasubramanian has been elected as the new Chairman of the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI). He replaces Nilesh Shah, the Managing Director of Kotak Mutual Fund.
  • Balasubramanian is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aditya Birla Sun Life Asset Management. Meanwhile, Radhika Gupta, the MD and CEO of Edelweiss AMC, has been appointed as vice-chair of AMFI.

4. SAI appoints Commodore PK Garg as new CEO of TOPS

  • The Sports Authority of India (SAI) appointed Commodore PK Garg as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) at the Mission Olympic Cell meeting. He joined the Indian Navy in 1984 and was in charge of many important and prestigious assignments over 34 years of service.
  • Commodore Garg, who was the High-Performance Director with Sports Authority of India till June 2021, is also an Arjuna Awardee recipient (1990) in Sailing and has also won the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Awardee in 1993-94.

5. Alok Mishra becomes new MD of India Ports Global Limited

  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has appointed Captain Alok Mishra as the Managing Director of India Ports Global Limited (IPGL).
  • He is currently serving as the Head of operation and transformation lead at the Gateway Terminals India Pvt Ltd (GTI), Mumbai Maharashtra. Alok Mishra has been appointed for the full-time role for a term of 5 years.
  • Alok Mishra succeeds Harjeet Kaur Joshi, CMD of Delivery Company of India Ltd (SCI), who held the additional charge as the MD of IPGL.

1.4th General Assembly of International Solar Alliance begins

  • The Fourth General Assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) has been organised virtually between October 18 and 21, 2021.
  • The Assembly will be presided over by President of the ISA Assembly RK Singh, who is also the Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy.

2. CII organizes International Conference and Exhibition “Future Tech 2021”

  • The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has organised an International Conference and Exhibition on Digital technologies, “Future Tech 2021- a Journey of digital transformation to technology adoption and acceleration” from October 19 to 27, 2021.  The focus theme of the International conference is “Driving technologies for building the future, we all can trust”.
  • The inaugural session was virtually attended by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State in the Ministry of Electronics & IT, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. The theme will have 5 pillars: Strategy, Growth, Resilience, Inclusiveness, and Trust.
  • The International conference will serve as a platform for Indian industry and entrepreneurs to understand the nuances of technologies and identify the right approach and technologies for their business as well as B2B partnerships.

1.NITI Aayog joins hand with ISRO to launch Geospatial Energy Map

  • NITI Aayog has launched the Geospatial Energy Map of India which will provide a holistic picture of all energy resources of the country.
  • The map has been developed by NITI Aayog in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Energy Ministries of the Government of India.
  • The map will help to identify and locate all primary and secondary sources of energy and their transportation/transmission networks to provide a comprehensive view of energy production and distribution in a country, which would further help in planning and making investment decisions.

1. CCI approves acquisition by Lightstone Fund S.A

  • The acquisition by Lightstone Fund S.A., for and on behalf of Lightstone Global Fund (LGT) of certain equity stakes has been approved by the Competition Commission of India (CCI)
  • Under Section 31(1) of the Competition Act, 2002, the Lightstone Fund S.A. will acquire certain equity stakes in 91Streets Media Technologies Pvt. Ltd. (91Streets), Ascent Health and Wellness Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (Ascent), API Holdings Pvt. Ltd. (API), Aahaan Commercials Pvt. Ltd. (Aahaan) and Lokprakash Vidhya Pvt. Ltd. (Lokprakash).

2. GoI and AIIB sign MoU for $500 million for Mumbai Urban Transport Project-III

    • The Government of India, the Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has signed a loan agreement for a $500 million Mumbai Urban Transport Project-III
    • The aim of the project is to improve the network capacity, service quality and safety of the suburban railway system in Mumbai. With a population of 22.8 million (2011), Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) is the most populous metropolitan region in India and is expected to reach 29.3 million by 2031 and 32.1 million by 2041

1.DRDO Successfully flight-tests Expendable Aerial Target ‘ABHYAS’

  • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight-tested the High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT) – ABHYAS, from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur off the coast of Bay of Bengal in Odisha.
  • The target aircraft is equipped with a MEMS-based Inertial Navigation System (INS) for navigation along with the Flight Control Computer (FCC) for guidance and control.
  • ABHYAS is designed & developed by DRDO laboratory, Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Bengaluru, for the Indian Armed Forces. The air vehicle ABHYAS can be used as an aerial target for the evaluation of various missile systems.
  • The vehicle is programmed for fully autonomous flight. The check-out of air vehicles is done using a laptop-based Ground Control Station (GCS).

2. Indian Navy launches Offshore Sailing Regatta

  • The Indian Navy has organised an Offshore Sailing Regatta from Kochi to Goa, as a part of the Aazadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations, and above all, boost the spirit of adventure and ocean sailing among the Navy Personnel.
  • The event organised under the aegis of the Indian Naval Sailing Association (INSA) will see the participation of six Indian naval sailing vessels (INSVs), comprising of four 40 footers ad two 56 footers.
  • The vessels will cover a total distance of 360 nautical miles between the starting points at the Naval base in Kochi to Goa.

1.Centre approves hike in DA/DR for central government employees and pensioners

  • The Union Cabinet has approved a further hike of 3 per cent in Dearness Allowance (DA) and Dearness Relief (DR) for the central government employees and pensioners.
  • The increase of 3% is over the existing rate of 28 per cent of the basic pay/pension and will be effective from July 1, 2021. Now after this hike, the DA/DR will increase to 31%.
  • It must be remembered that earlier in July 2021, the government had announced an 11% hike in DA/DR from 17% to 28% of the basic pay/pension. It will cost the exchequer Rs 9,488.70 crore per annum.
  • As a result, the DA and DR instalments are due for four periods including January 1, 2020, July 1, 2020, January 1, 2021, and July 1, 2021. However, the rate of DA/DR for the period between January 2020 to June 2021 shall remain at 17%.

1.WHO Global TB report for 2021: India worst-hit country in TB elimination

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released the ‘Global TB report for 2021, where it highlighted the effects of COVID-19 which led to a huge reversal in the progress of Tuberculosis (TB) elimination.
  • The report also mentioned India as the worst-hit country in TB elimination, where the detection of new TB cases saw a huge impact in 2020.
  • A dramatic reduction of 20% TB cases were witnessed in 2020 as compared to 2019, i.e.; a gap of 4.1 million cases. The progress in TB detection has gone back to the levels of 2012, with India accounting for 41% of the total case drops in 2020.

2. India ranks 40th in 2021 Mercer CFS Global Pension Index survey

  • Mercer Consulting, a leading global management consulting firm, has released the 13th edition of the Mercer Global Pension Index (2021 MCGPI).
  • India has been ranked at 40th position out of 43 countries in the 2021 Mercer CFS Global Pension Index survey. In 2020, India was ranked at 34th position out of 39 pension systems.
  • Iceland has topped this ranking with an index value of 84.2 followed by the Netherlands with 83.5 and Norway with 82.0. India had an overall index value of 43.3. Thailand had the lowest overall index value at 40.6. The 2021 MCGPI, has added 4 new retirement systems: Iceland, Taiwan, UAE and Uruguay.

3. India ranks 71st on 2021 Global Food Security Index

  • India has achieved the 71st position in the Global Food Security (GFS) Index 2021 from among a list of 113 countries. The GFS Index is designed and constructed by London-based Economist Impact and is sponsored by Corteva Agriscience.
  • The overall score of India is 57.2 points on the GFS Index 2021. Ireland, Australia, the UK, Finland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, Japan, France and the US shared the top rank.
  • Their overall GFS score were in the range of 77.8 and 80 points on the index. The GFS Index measures the factors affecting food insecurity around the world based on 4 main factors and 58 unique food security indicators. The factors include affordability, availability, quality and safety, and natural resources and resilience.

4. India ranks 79th in World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2021

  • India has ranked 79 out of 139 countries and jurisdictions in the World Justice Project’s (WJP) Rule of Law Index 2021.
  • The WJP Rule of Law Index 2021 ranks the countries based on scores ranging from 0 to 1, with 1 indicating the strongest adherence to the rule of law.
  • Denmark, Norway and Finland topped the World Justice Project’s (WJP) Rule of Law Index 2021.
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