World Braille Day Observed on 04 January 2022
World Braille Day is observed globally on 4th January 2019. The day aims to recognize the right of access to braille by blind people and raise awareness of the importance of braille as a means of communication in the full realization of the human rights for blind and partially sighted people.
The day is marked remembering the birth anniversary of Louis Braille, the inventor of Braille – for people with visual disabilities. Louis Braille was born on 4th January 1809 in the town of Coupvray in northern France.
Braille is a tactile representation of alphabetic and numerical symbols using six dots to represent each letter and number, and even musical, mathematical, and scientific symbols. Braille (named after its inventor in 19th century France, Louis Braille) is used by blind and partially sighted people to read the same books and periodicals as those printed in a visual font.
Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw launched “India Semiconductor Mission”
Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnav has launched the India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) to attract large investments for setting up semiconductor wafer fabrication facilities in India.
The companies that are interested are invited by the Centre for the development of the semiconductors and display manufacturing ecosystem in India. ISM is a specialized and independent business division within the Digital India Corporation.
The financial support of up to 50 percent of the project cost (ceiling of Rs 12,000 crore per fab) will be provided for the scheme for setting up display fabs.
Fiscal support will be provided on ‘pari-passu’ basis for a period of six years from the date of approval both for semiconductor fabs and display fabs.
Telangana tops in the highest number of ODF villages
Telangana stood first in the country in the list of the highest number of open defecation-free (ODF Plus) villages under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Phase-II program till December 31, 2021.
As many as 13,737 out of 14,200 villages in the State are on the ODF Plus list, which is 96.74%. This was followed by Tamil Nadu with 4,432 villages (35.39%) and Karnataka with 1,511 villages (5.59%). Gujarat took the 17th position with only 83 villages (0.45%).
Ex-UK PM Tony Blair joins top royal order
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Duchess of Cornwall, and Baroness Amos are to be appointed as members of the Order of the Garter, England’s oldest and most senior order of chivalry.
The former prime minister now will be known as ‘Sir Tony’. The appointments are the personal choice of the Queen, who has up to 24 “knight and lady companions”. The ceremonial order, founded in 1348, is a recognition of significant public service and made without prime ministerial advice.
Under Sir Tony’s leadership, the UK joined the US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan – an official inquiry into the 2003 Iraq war was strongly critical of his government and UK military chiefs. He famously referred to Diana, Princess of Wales, as the “people’s princess” after her death.
France takes over EU Presidency for six months 2022
France has assumed the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union with effect from January 01, 2022. The country will continue to hold the EU presidency for the next six months till June 30, 2022.
This is the 13th time that France has taken over the rotating presidency. The motto of France as EU President is “recovery, strength, belonging.”
France will work to place the continent’s digitization and climate protection at the forefront. The presidency of the EU rotates every six months among the member states of the 27-nation bloc. Upon the completion of six months presidency, France will be replaced by the Czech Republic.
Useful notes for all competitive exams:
- France Capital: Paris;
- France Currency: Euro;
- France Prime Minister: Jean Castex;
- President of France: Emmanuel Macron.
Russia’s test-fires new hypersonic Tsirkon missiles 2022
Russia successfully test-fired around 10 new Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic cruise missiles from a frigate and other two missiles from a submarine.
The Zircon missile would be capable of flying at nine times the speed of sound and have a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles).
The Tsirkon Cruise Missile will join Avangard glide vehicles and the air-launched Kinzhal (Dagger) missiles in Russia’s hypersonic arsenal.
Zircon is intended to arm Russian cruisers, frigates, and submarines. It is one of several hypersonic missiles under development in Russia. The launch was the latest in a series of tests of Zircon, which is set to enter service next year.
Useful notes for all competitive exams:
- Russia Capital: Moscow;
- Russia Currency: Rouble;
- Russia President: Vladimir Putin.
Vinod Kannan named as next CEO of Vistara airline
Vinod Kannan took over as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vistara Airlines. He replaced Leslie Thng who was the CEO from July 16, 2017, to December 31, 2021. It added that Deepak Rajawat has been elevated to take up the role of Vistara’s Chief Commercial Officer. Vistara is a 51:49 joint venture between Tata Sons Private Limited and Singapore Airlines.
Kannan spent over two decades working with SIA and has held several senior positions in the airline’s head office in Singapore as well as overseas. He holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the National University of Singapore and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Indian-origin Ashok Elluswamy was the first employee to be hired for Tesla’s
Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk, who has been using social media to recruit people, has disclosed that Indian-origin Ashok Elluswamy was the first employee to be hired for his electric vehicle company’s Autopilot team.
Before joining Tesla, Mr. Elluswamy was associated with Volkswagen Electronic Research Lab and WABCO Vehicle Control System.
Ashok Elluswamy holds a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from the College of Engineering Guindy, Chennai, and a Master’s degree in Robotics System Development from Carnegie Mellon University.
NTPC plans to buy 5% equity in Power Exchange of India Ltd
State-owned power generation company NTPC Ltd. is set to acquire a 5 percent equity stake in Power Exchange of India Ltd (PXIL).
It must be noted that the government is planning to expand the share of the spot power market in the total electricity supply in India to 25 percent by 2023-24. At present, the size of short-term power trading is about 5 percent.
About Power Exchange of India Ltd:
- It was incorporated on February 20, 2008, as India’s first institutionally promoted power exchange.
- PXIL provides various electricity trading solutions and helps in connecting buyers with sellers.
- The authorised share capital of the PXIL is Rs 120 crore and the paid-up capital is Rs 58.47 crore.
GoI keeps interest rates on Small Savings Schemes unchanged
The interest rates on the small savings schemes will remain the same for the fourth quarter of 2021-2022 (January – February – March 2022) as they were in the third quarter of 2021-22 (October-December 2021).
It must be noted that West Bengal is the highest contributor to the small saving schemes while Uttar Pradesh is the second top contributor. Also remember, the government notifies the Interest rates for small savings schemes on a quarterly basis.
Various Interest Rates for Quarter-4 (Jan-March) of 2021-22:
|S.No||Small Savings Scheme||Interest Rate|
|1||Post Office Savings Account||4%|
|2||5-Year Post Office Recurring Deposit (RD) Account||5.8%|
|3||Post Office Time Deposit (TD) Account – One Year||5.5%|
|4||Post Office Time Deposit Account (TD) – Two Years||5.5%|
|5||Post Office Time Deposit Account (TD) – Three Years||5.5%|
|6||Post Office Time Deposit Account (TD) – Five Years||6.7%|
|7||Post Office Monthly Income Scheme Account (MIS)||6.6%|
|8||Senior Citizen Savings Scheme (SCSS)||7.4%|
|9||15-Year Public Provident Fund Account (PPF)||7.1%|
|10||National Savings Certificates (NSC)||6.8%|
|11||Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP)||6.9%|
|12||Sukanya Samriddhi Account||7.6%|
Exercise Milan 2022: India to host 46 nations mega naval wargames
India has invited a total of 46 friendly foreign countries to participate in the multinational naval exercise Milan in Visakhapatnam, scheduled from February 25, 2022.
The theme of this 11th edition of exercise Milan is camaraderie, cohesion, and collaboration. This exercise was initiated in 1995 and held biennially and conducted with friendly navies.
The professional competitions and conferences planned during this phase shall build the operational tempo for the Sea Phase planned from March 1-4. This Phase would be utilized to consolidate upon the lessons learned during harbor interactions and to build upon the experience of operating together at sea.
The countries that have been extended invitations for participation include Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Israel, Iran, France, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, among others.
As per an official, India has increased its naval engagements with friendly nations at bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral levels since 2018.
Schemes and Committees
Sushmita Dev in 31-member Panel to examine bill on raising the legal age of marriage
The parliamentary standing committee constituted to examine “The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021” comprises a total of 31 members, including only one women representative.
Out of the total 31 members, TMC MP Sushmita Dev is the sole woman representative on the committee. The Bill seeks to raise the legal age of marriage for women in India from 18 to 21 to bring it at par with men.
The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021 seeks to amend the “Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006” and seven personal laws, which are: Indian Christian Marriage Act; the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act; the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act; the Special Marriage Act; the Hindu Marriage Act; and the Foreign Marriage Act.
SEBI reconstitutes its primary market advisory committee
Capital markets regulator, Securities, and Exchange Board of India have restructured its primary market advisory committee on data. The committee aims to measure pertaining to areas such as securities market data access and privacy.
Sebi has appointed Professor at National Law University, Delhi, and former chairperson, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India S Sahoo as Panel Head. Earlier this panel was headed by Madhabi Puri Buch, an ex-whole-time member of Sebi.
The scope of the work of the committee includes identifying segment-wise data perimeters, data needs, and gaps, recommending data privacy and data access regulations applicable to market data. It is responsible for recommending appropriate policy for access to securities market data.
In addition, the committee recommends standardization of data definitions; data identification logic ( usage of uniform codes for identifying and storing data – raw data and derived data), and data validation techniques (single source of truth, validation).
Science and Technology
Covid-19 new variant ‘IHU’ discovered in France
Scientists and experts in France have reportedly identified a new variant of COVID-19 termed ‘IHU’. The new variant is said to be a more mutated strain than Omicron.
The B.1.640.2 or IHU variant was first identified by the academics at institute IHU Mediterranee Infection and contains 46 mutations, which is more than Omicron.
Nearly 12 cases of this new variant have been reported near Marseilles and have been linked to the African country Cameroon. But, the Omicron strain is still dominating in most parts of the world.
This new variant can be a major threat, however, the cases have not been reported so far in countries other than France and are not labeled as ‘variant under investigation’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez announces retirement from cricket
Pakistani all-rounder, Mohammad Hafeez has announced his retirement from international cricket on January 03, 2022, to end his career spanning more than 18 years.
The 41-year-old Hafeez retired from Test cricket in December 2018. He has played 55 Tests, 218 ODIs, and 119 T20Is for Pakistan, scoring 12,780 runs across formats. He is nicknamed “The Professor”.
Bollywood film producer Vijay Galani passes away
Bollywood film producer Vijay Galani has passed away. He was suffering from blood cancer and was in London seeking treatment.
He is known for producing films like Salman Khan’s Suryavanshi (1992), Govinda and Manisha Koirala’s Achanak (1998), Akshay Kumar’s Ajnabee (2001), Paresh Rawal and Mallika Sherawat’s Bachke Rehna Re Baba (2005), Salman Khan’s Veer (2010). His last production venture was Vidyut Jammwal and Shruti Haasan’s The Power (2021).
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