General Knowledge & Current Affairs

September 2021 - 16th to 23rd

1.US, UK and Australia announce new partnership “AUKUS”.

  • United States, United Kingdom and Australia have announced the new partnership “AUKUS” a new trilateral security partnership for the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The trilateral grouping was formally announced by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and US President Joe Biden with a vision for a safer and more secure Indo-Pacific.
  • The first project of AUKUS will be to help Australia acquire a nuclear-powered conventionally-armed submarine fleet.
  • AUKUS will also involve a new architecture of meetings and engagements between the three countries, as well as cooperation across emerging technologies (applied AI, quantum technologies and undersea capabilities).

2. Iran becomes 9th member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

  • Iran was officially admitted as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The decision to admit Iran as a full member was declared in the 21st summit of the SCO leaders in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
  • At the end of the 21st Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the leaders of the eight main members of the organization agreed to change the membership of the Islamic Republic of Iran from an observer member to a full member and signed the relevant documents.
  • Accordingly, the technical process of Iran becoming one of the main members of the organization has begun and Iran will henceforth cooperate and interact with member countries as the main member of the important regional organization.

3. Justin Trudeau wins 3rd term as Prime Minister of Canada

  • Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has won the third term to serve as the PM of the country, after his party won the 2021 parliamentary elections on September 20, 2021.
  • However, the Liberal Party of the 49-year-old Justin Trudeau could only manage to win minority seats in the election. Justin Trudeau is in power since 2015.
  • Trudeau’s Liberals were leading or elected in 157 seats exactly the same number they won in 2019, 13 short of the 170 needed for a majority in the House of Commons.

1.Nitin Gadkari launches AI-powered road safety project ‘iRASTE’.

  • Union Minister for Road Transport, Nitin Gadkari launched ‘iRASTE’, an Artificial Intelligence-powered project.
  • The project aims to help reduce road accidents, understand the factors responsible for these events and come up with solutions to mitigate them. IRASTE stands for Intelligent Solutions for Road Safety through Technology and Engineering.
  • The project has been launched on a pilot basis in Nagpur, Maharashtra with the aim of reducing accidents by 50 per cent in the city.
  • The project is launched jointly by the Centre, Intel, INAI, IIIT-Hyderabad, CSIR-CRRI (Central Road Research Institute), Mahindra & Mahindra and Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC).
  • The main focus of the project will focus on vehicle safety, mobility analysis and road infrastructure safety to move towards a ‘Vision Zero’ accident scenario.

2. Niti Aayog launches ‘Shoonya’ programme to promote zero-pollution.

  • Niti Aayog in collaboration with US-based Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and RMI India, has launched a campaign named Shoonya, to promote zero-pollution delivery vehicles by working with consumers and industry.
  • The campaign will promote the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in the urban deliveries segment and create consumer awareness about the health, environmental and economic benefits of electric vehicles.

3. Cabinet approves 100% FDI under automatic route in Telecom Sector.

  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved a number of structural and process reforms in the Telecom sector, to provide relief to ailing telecom service providers, struggling with high levels of debt.
  • A total of 9 structural and 5 process reforms have been approved by the Union Cabinet. Some major reforms announced are as follows:
  • Change in the definition of AGR: The definition of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) has been changed and now all non-telecom revenue will be removed from AGR.
  • Rationalized Spectrum Usage Charges: The monthly compounding of interest on spectrum usage charges is replaced by annual compounding and the interest rate will come down, based on the formula MCLR + 2%. Penalty on payment of license fees, spectrum user charges and all kinds of charges have been completely scrapped.
  • Four-year Moratorium on dues: Moratorium has been announced on statutory dues of the telecom sector for four years. It will be applicable from October 1, 2021
  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): The government has increased the FDI in the Telecom sector under the automatic route from 49% to 100%.
  • Auction calendar fixed: Spectrum auctions will henceforth be held in the last quarter of every financial year.

1.India’s 61st Software Technology park center opened in Nagaland.

  • Nagaland’s first and India’s 61st Software Technology Park of India (STPI) center was inaugurated at Kohima. The inauguration of the STPI center in Kohima is a fulfilment of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of creating a technology ecosystem in the northeast to create opportunities for future generations in the region.
  • The MoS urged the need to create real change in the technology ecosystem. In order to create job opportunities, he said, the state government must work towards creating an interconnection of institutions to create awareness about various opportunities available for the youth.

2. Charanjit Singh Channi to be next chief minister of Punjab.

  • The Congress party has elected Charanjit Singh Channi, the outgoing technical education minister, as the new chief minister of Punjab after Captain Amarinder Singh resigned from the post.
  • He has been elected as the leader of the Punjab Congress Legislative Party (CLP). He is an MLA from the Chamkaur Sahib Assembly constituency. He will become Punjab’s first Dalit chief minister.
  • Captain Amarinder Singh, who resigned as the chief minister of Punjab on Saturday following months of infighting between him and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.

3. ‘Katley’ declared as state fish of Sikkim.

  • The Government of Sikkim has declared ‘Cooper Mahseer’ locally named as ‘Katley’ as the state fish. Neolissochilus hexagonolepis is the scientific name of the Cooper Mahseer.
  • The decision has been taken to highlight the importance of the Katley fish and to give emphasis to its conservation measures. The fish has high market value and is highly preferred by the public in the State.

4. Manipur’s Sirarakhong Chilly and Tamenglong Orange gets GI tag.

  • Two famous products of Manipur, Hathei chilly, which is found in Manipur’s Ukrul district and is known for its unique flavor, and Tamenglong mandarin orange have been granted the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
  • This is a historic milestone in the history of Manipur and it will increase the income of farmers in Manipur.
  • The Hathei chilly works as a good anti-oxidant and possesses high calcium and Vitamin C levels. It has an extremely high American Spice Trade Association (ASTA) colour value of 164. The extractable colour of chilly is usually expressed using ASTA values.

5. Assam set up a tea Park at Kamrup district’s Chayygaon.

  • Assam is setting up a tea Park at Chayygaon in Kamrup District. This tea garden will have rail and port connectivity, cargo and warehouse amenities, processing facilities like tea grinding, blending, packaging and other utility services under one roof.
  • Tea garden companies using garden lands for plantation of Segun and agar or selling off the tea estates, the Minister stated that tea garden owners cannot sell off their estates as the leased land still belongs to Assam Government and instead asked them to focus on innovation and branding of Assam Tea.

6. Uttar Pradesh Government to set up ‘Electronic Park’.

  • The Yogi Adityanath led Uttar Pradesh government has cleared a proposal to develop an ‘Electronic Park’, along the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) area, near Noida, to promote the electronics industry.
  • The park is proposed to be developed in an area of 250 acres of the YEIDA near Jewar Airport.
  • National and international companies manufacturing mobile phones, TVs and other electronic devices and accessories will establish their units in the park.
  • The new Electronic Park will be built at an investment of around Rs 50,000 crore as well as generate employment for thousands of local youths.

1.Power Finance Corporation issues India’s first-ever Euro Green Bond.

  • The leading power sector NBFC, Power Finance Corporation Ltd (PFC), successfully issued its maiden Euro Green Bond. The 7-year Euro 300 million Bond has been priced at 1.841 per cent.
  • This Euro Green Bond is the first-ever Euro denominated Green bond issuance from India. It is also the first-ever Euro issuance by an Indian NBFC. With the issuance, PFC has also forayed into the European market for its international fundraising.

1.Infosys launches digital commerce platform Equinox.

  • Infosys, a global leader in next-generation digital services and consulting, launched Infosys Equinox to help enterprises securely deliver hyper-segmented, personalized Omni channel commerce experiences for B2B and B2C buyers.
  • The platform’s future-ready architecture offers unprecedented flexibility for enterprises to pick and choose out-of-the-box micro services and pre-built experiences to build curated digital journeys that enhance their digital commerce or launch it grounds-up in a matter of weeks.
  • Infosys Equinox also brings together best-of-breed service, product, platform and industry capabilities from Infosys, and its partners, in an integrated ecosystem.

2. SpaceX launches first all-tourist crew into orbit.

  • The crew of the Inspiration4, the first-ever orbital flight crewed entirely by tourists, is now officially in orbit, according to a Live stream from SpaceX. The SpaceX rocket blasted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
  • The passengers will now spend three days aboard their 13-foot-wide Crew Dragon capsule in orbit at a 350-mile altitude.
  • The crew includes 38-year-old billionaire Jared Isaac man, who personally financed the trip; Hayley Arceneux, 29, a childhood cancer survivor and current St. Jude physician assistant; Sian Proctor, 51, a geologist and community college teacher with a PhD; and Chris Sembroski, a 42-year-old Lockheed Martin employee and lifelong space fan who claimed his seat through an online raffle.

1.GM D. Gukesh of India wins Norway Chess Open 2021.

  • India’s D Gukesh won his second consecutive tournament of this month, the Norway Chess Open 2021 Masters section.
  • Gukesh scored an unbeaten 8.5/10 and finished a full point ahead of the competition to win the tournament.
  • Iniyan secured sole second position with 8.5/10 points, finishing a half point ahead of top seed Dmitrij Kollars (Germany) and Valentin Dragnev (Austria).

2.Pankaj Advani wins his 24th world title in Doha.

  • Star Indian cueist Pankaj Advani has grabbed his 24th World title when he triumphed at the IBSF 6-Red Snooker World Cup with a victory over Pakistan’s Babar Masih in the final.
  • Advani, who won his 11th Asian title last week, started the final with a comfortable 42-13 win in the opening frame. The 36-year-old won the third and fourth in quick succession to go 3-1 up.
  • The Pakistani cueist, in no mood to play second fiddle to his worthy opponent, crafted a wonderful 56 break to bridge the gap.

1.Ford becomes the latest US car manufacturer to exit India.

  • Ford Motor Co. will stop making cars in India and record roughly $2 billion in restructuring charges, scaling back significantly in a country that past management saw becoming one of its three biggest markets.
  • Ford will wind down an assembly plant in Gujarat by the fourth quarter, as well as vehicle and engine manufacturing plants in Chennai by the second quarter of next year.
  • Ford Motor Company has announced that it would stop producing cars in India as the global auto industry continues to grapple with a shortfall in semiconductors and other components due to supply chain disruptions.
  • Other US companies that stopped operation in India are Ford’s American rival General Motors (GM) and the American motorcycle company Harley-Davidson.

2.India’s first indigenous cruise liner launched by IRCTC.

  • The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has joined hands and signed the agreement with Cordelia Cruises being operated by M/s Waterways Leisure Tourism Pvt. Ltd for promotion and marketing of the first indigenous luxury cruise in India.
  • This is another incredible luxury travel offering under IRCTC”s umbrella of tourism services to the public.
  • The luxury travel offering in the form of the indigenous cruise will take guests on-boards to some of the most popular Indian and international tourist destinations – such as Goa, Diu, Kochi, the Lakshadweep islands, and Sri Lanka.
  • Cordelia Cruises is one of India’s premium cruise liners and aspires to promote and drive the cruise culture in India through experiences that are “stylish, luxurious, and most importantly, inherently Indian.”

3. Geeta Samota becomes ‘Fastest Indian’ to Summit Two Peaks.

  • CISF official Geeta Samota became the “fastest Indian” to summit two peaks located in Africa and Russia.
  •  Earlier this month, Sub Inspector Geeta Samota had scaled Mount Elbrus in Russia, the highest peak in Europe. While Mt Elbrus (5,642 mts) is in Russia, the Kilimanjaro peak (5,895 mts) is located in Tanzania and is Africa’s highest peak.

4.Ladakh set to roll out 1st edition of” Himalayan Film Festival 2021″.

  • The first edition of ‘The Himalayan Film Festival-2021’ (THFF) will begin from 24 to 28 September at Leh, Ladakh. The film festival is being organized by the Administration of Union Territory of Ladakh in collaboration with the Directorate of Film Festivals, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
  • The film festival is being hosted in collaboration with the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh. The five-day film festival is a part of the celebration of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ commemorating 75 years of India’s Independence.

5. Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry beaches get coveted ‘blue flag’ certification.

  • Two more beaches in India have been awarded “Blue Flag” certification, an international eco-level tag, taking the total number of such beaches in the country to 10. The two beaches to receive the certification this year are Kovalam in Tamil Nadu and Eden in Pondicherry.
  • The Foundation for Environment Education (FEE), Denmark, which accords the Blue Flag certification, has also given re-certification for eight nominated beaches – Shivrajpur-Gujarat, Ghoghla-Diu, Kasarkod and Padubidri-Karnataka, Kappad-Kerala, Rushikonda- Andhra Pradesh, Golden-Odisha and Radhanagar- Andaman and Nicobar, which were awarded the Blue Flag certificate last year.

1.Air Marshal VR Chaudhari appointed as new IAF Chief.

  • Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force Air Marshal, Vivek Ram Chaudhari has been appointed the next Chief of Air Staff.
  • The current Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria is set to retire on September 30. Chaudhari had taken over as the vice chief on July 1 this year, after Air Marshal HS Arora retired.
  • He is a recipient of the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and the Vayu Sena Medals.

2. UN chief appoints Kailash Satyarthi as SDG Advocate.

  • Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi has been appointed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Advocate in the 76th UN General Assembly.
  • Guterres appointed Satyarthi, STEM activist Valentina Munoz Rabanal, Microsoft President Brad Smith and K-pop superstars BLACKPINK as new SDG Advocates. With this, the UN now has total of 16 SDG Advocates.
  • The SDG Advocates use their considerable spheres of influence to reach new constituencies to act now and keep the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals for people and for the planet.
  • The UN said climate action, bridging the digital divide, gender equality and the promotion of the rights of children are key issues to be championed by the new SDG Advocates.
  • The SDG Advocates are prominent leaders in the world who work to mobilize action to deliver the 17 SDGs by 2030, using their considerable spheres of influence.

1.PM Narendra Modi virtually addresses 21st SCO Meeting.

  • The 21st Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Heads of State was held in hybrid format on September 17, 2021, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
  • The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon. This was the first SCO Summit held in a hybrid format and the fourth Summit in which India participated as a full-fledged member of SCO.
  • The Indian delegation was led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who participated in the meeting via video-link and at Dushanbe, India was represented by External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar.
  • PM Modi has expressed India’s support for the “central role” of the United Nations in the global deliberation regarding the current system in Afghanistan.

2. PM Modi departs for 3-day visit to US.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a three-day visit to the United States. He is accompanied by a high-level delegation consisting of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and senior officials including Harsh Vardhan Shringla.
  • This is Prime Minister Modi’s first visit abroad beyond the neighborhood since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
  • Biden will host PM Modi at the White House on September 24.
  • PM Modi will address the General Debate of the High-Level Segment of 76th Session of UN General Assembly (UNGA) on September 25 in New York.
  • Prime Minister’s visit would be bilateral meetings with our close partners Japan and Australia where he will hold several bilateral meetings including with US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

1.3-day Indian Army Chief’s Conclave in Delhi begins.

  • The 8th edition of the Indian Army Chief’s Conclave, a gathering of serving and former Chiefs of Army Staff of the Indian Army, organized at New Delhi from September 16-18. The highlight of the three-day event will be the invite extended to former Chiefs of the Nepali Army, who were also Chiefs of the Indian Army.
  • The Conclave is a forum for the exchange of ideas between the old guard and the current leadership of the Indian Army. It will involve discussions on the rapid transformation of the Indian Army, self-reliance through Atmanirbhar and Make in India initiatives in defense manufacturing and skilling of the Indian soldier to fight modern wars.
  • The former Army Chiefs will pay homage to the fallen brave hearts during a wreath-laying ceremony at the National War Memorial.
  • The Chiefs will also interact with members of the Society of Indian Defense Manufacturers where they will be apprised of the institutional symbiosis between the Indian Army and indigenous private defense manufacturers.
  • The Chiefs are also scheduled to meet the prodigious soldiers who earned laurels for the Nation in the recently concluded Olympic Games at Tokyo.

2. Indian military participates in SCO Exercise ‘Peaceful Mission’ 2021.

  • The Indian military contingent comprising of an all arms combined force of 200 personnel is participating in the Exercise PEACEFUL MISSION -2021, a Joint Counter Terrorism Exercise between Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states.
  • The Exercise PEACEFUL MISSION- 2021 is being hosted by Russia in the Orenburg Region of South-West Russia from September 13 to 25, 2021. In 2021, the 6th edition of the biennial multilateral Exercise PEACEFUL MISSION is being undertaken.
  • The aim of the exercise is to foster close relations between SCO member states and to enhance the abilities of the military leaders to command multi-national military contingents. The exercise will enable sharing of best practices between the Armed Forces of SCO nations.

3. Defense Ministry constitutes High Level Expert Committee to review NCC.

  • The Ministry of Defense has constituted a High-Level Expert Committee, for a comprehensive review of the National Cadet Corps (NCC). Former Member of Parliament (MP) Baijayant Panda will be the Chairperson of the Committee.
  • The 15-member committee will also include Cricketer MS Dhoni and Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra as members.
  • Suggest measures to empower NCC cadets to contribute more effectively towards nation building
  • Propose ways for gainful engagement of NCC Alumni for the betterment of the organization
  • Recommend best practices of similar international youth organizations for inclusion in the NCC curriculum.

4. Indo-Nepal joint military exercise Surya Kiran-XV to begin at Pithoragarh.

  • The 15th edition of Indo–Nepal Joint Military Training Exercise Surya Kiran will be held from September 20, 2021, at Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand.
  • The previous edition of the Exercise Surya Kiran was conducted in Nepal in 2019. The exercise was called off in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The Indian Army and Nepali Army would share their experiences of various counter-insurgency operations, and familiarize themselves with each other’s weapons, equipment, tactics, techniques and procedures of operating in a counter-insurgency environment in mountainous terrain.
  • The joint military training will help in improving bilateral relations and further strengthen the traditional friendship between the two nations.

5. Indian & Indonesian Navy participate in 3rd edition of ‘Samudra Shakti’.

  • The 3rd edition of Bilateral Exercise ‘Samudra Shakti’ is scheduled from September 20 to Sep 22.
  • Indian Naval Ships Shivalik and Kadmatt had already arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia in the preparedness of this one of a kind exercise aimed at improving bilateral ties between India and Indonesia.
  • The Indian navy will be participating in Samudra Shakti with the Indonesian navy to enhance mutual understanding and interoperability in maritime operations between the two navies.

1. UNCTAD projects Indian economy to expand 7.2% in 2021.

  • The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has pegged India’s economic growth rate to hit a four-year high of 7.2 per cent for 2021 against a contraction of 7 per cent in 2020.
  • At this rate, India would be the fastest-growing economy after China, which is projected to grow by 8.3 per cent. Calculations are based on GDP at constant dollars in 2015.

2. OECD lowered India’s FY22 growth projection to 9.7%.

  • The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has marginally lowered India’s growth projection for the ongoing fiscal to 9.7%, a reduction of 20 basis points (bps). For FY23, OECD reduced India’s growth projection by 30 basis points to 7.9%.
  • According to OECD data, India is the worst hit among major economies, with its real GDP in the June quarter 15% lower than the pre-pandemic forecast and around 7% lower than the December quarter.

3. ADB cuts India’s GDP forecast for FY22 to 10%.

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has revised downwards India’s economic growth forecast for the current fiscal, 2021-22 (FY22) to 10 per cent. Earlier this was projected at 11 per cent.
  • The Manila-based multilateral funding agency ADB has predicted the GDP growth for fiscal 2022-23 (FY23) to 7.5 per cent.
  • The growth forecast for India in the fiscal year 2021 (ending in March 2022) was revised down, as the spike in COVID-19 cases during May dented the recovery, the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

1.World Bank Group Discontinues Doing Business Report .

  • The World Bank Group has decided to discontinue publication of its ‘Doing Business” rankings of country business climates after a review of data irregularities in the 2018 and 2020 reports.
  • The decision was taken by the Board of Executive Directors, World Bank Group management after data irregularities on Doing Business 2018 and 2020 were reported.
  • To fill the void created by the discontinuation of this report, World Bank would be working on a new approach to assessing the business and investment climate.

2. Harmilan Kaur Bains sets new record in 1500m race at National level.

  • Harmilan Kaur Bains of Punjab has created a new national record in the women’s 1500m race by clocking 4:05.39 to bag the gold at the 60th National Open Athletics Championships in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Hanamkonda in Telangana.
  • With this achievement, the 23-year-old athlete has erased the 19-year-old record held by Sunita Rani in 1500m at the 2002 Asian Games in Bussan by clocking 4:06.03.

3. India’s Raja Rithvik becomes 70th Grandmaster.

  • India’s R Raja Rithvik became chess Grandmaster after he crossed the ELO Rating of 2500. The 17-year-old achieved this GM title in Vezerkepzo Grandmaster Chess Tournament at Budapest, Hungary.
  • He thus became the 70th Grandmaster from the country. A native of Warangal, Rithvik has been undergoing advanced coaching at RACE Chess Academy under reputed coach N.V.S. Rama Raju.

4. Pankaj Advani wins Asian Snooker Championship 2021.

  • India’s Pankaj Advani won the Asian Snooker Championship 2021 by defeating Amir Sarkhosh. He has won this title for a second consecutive time. He is the winner of the last Asian Snooker Championship held in 2019.
  • In 2019, Pankaj also became the only player who won the titles in all forms of billiards, snooker, 6Reds, and 10Reds competitions. Yasin Merchant (1989, 2001), Alok Kumar (2004), Aditya Mehta (2012) were the other Indians who won the championship.

5. FSSAI’s 3rd State Food Safety Index 2021 released.

  • Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Mansukh Mandaviya has released the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)’s 3rd State Food Safety Index (SFSI) to measure the performance of States across five parameters of food safety.
  • The Minister felicitated nine leading States/UTs based on the ranking for the year 2020-21 for their impressive performance.
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