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19th and 20th Feb 2021 Current Affairs

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National News

Cabinet approves PLI scheme for telecom sector worth Rs 12,195 crore

The Union Cabinet approved a Rs 12,195-crore Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for domestic manufacturing of telecom and networking products such as switches, routers, radio access network, wireless equipment and other IoT access devices.

Through this decision, the government aims to offset the imports of telecom equipment worth more than Rs 50,000 crore and reinforce it with “Made in India” products both for domestic markets and exports.

The support under the PLI scheme will be provided to companies manufacturers of specified telecom and networking products in India like Gigabit Passive Optical Networks (GPON), base routers, Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM), Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS/ IPMPLS) and 5G/4G radios.

The government will soon come up with a PLI scheme to encourage the production of laptops and tablet PCs.

Prime Minister launches “Mahabahu-Brahmaputra” initiative in Assam

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has virtually launched the “Mahabahu-Brahmaputra” initiative in Assam. He laid the foundation stone for the Dhubri Phulbari bridge. PM also perform the bhumi puja for the construction of the Majuli Bridge in Assam.

PM has announced the details stated that the landmark day in the development journey for Assam as Mahabahu-Brahmaputra initiative is going to be launched.

Mahabahu-Brahmaputra initiative is going to be marked with the inauguration of the Ro-Pax vessel operations.

The Ro-Pax vessel operations will be launched in between the Neamatighat & Majuli, Dhubri-Hatsingimari and North-South Guwahati. This initiative also includes the inauguration of the Inland Water Transport Terminal at Jogighopa. The initiative will also be marked with the inauguration of various tourist jetties at four locations in order to promote river tourism and employment across the state.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Assam CM: Sarbananda Sonowal.
  • Assam Governor: Jagdish Mukhi.

Thaawarchand Gehlot Releases 3rd Edition of Indian Sign Language Dictionary

The Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot released the “3rd edition of the Indian Sign Language (ISL) Dictionary, in a virtual event.

The 3rd edition of the ISL dictionary contains a total of 10,000 terms. These include the 6000 terms of the first and second edition of the dictionary.

The terms are of everyday use from academic terms, legal & administrative terms, medical terms, technical terms and agricultural terms.

The Dictionary has been developed by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), an autonomous Institute under the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.

The 1st edition of the ISL Dictionary was launched on 23 March 2018 with 3000 terms.

The 2nd edition was launched on 27th February 2019, with 6000 terms (including earlier 3000 terms).

Centre Launches new Instant Messaging platform “Sandes

The National Informatics Centre (NIC), under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, has launched an instant messaging platform called “Sandes”. Similar to WhatsApp, the new government instant messaging systems (GIMS) platform can be used for all kinds of communications by anyone using a mobile number or email id.

The need to build a home-grown messaging platform was felt by the government to ensure secure communication between people as they worked from home, following the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19.

The Sandes app is also a part of the government strategy to encourage the use of India-made software so as to build an ecosystem of indigenously developed products.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • National Informatics Centre Founded: 1976.
  • National Informatics Centre Director-General: Neeta Verma.
  • National Informatics Centre Headquarters: New Delhi.

“Snakepedia” mobile app launched in Kerala

A team of scientists, doctors and photographers in Kerala have launched a mobile application named “Snakepedia”, that will present all relevant information on snakes, to help the public as well as doctors in treating snake bites.

The main aim of the app is to help the public identify snakes, avail proper treatment on time for snakebites, bust myths about snakes, and protect snakes as well as snakebite victims.

The android mobile application documents information on snakes with the help of pictures, infographics and podcasts and analyses its first aid, treatment, myths and superstitions.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Kerala CM: Pinarayi Vijayan.
  • Kerala Governor: Arif Mohammad Khan.

Odisha Govt announced Development Package for Maa Samaleswari Shrine

The state government of Odisha, under Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, has launched the development work for the SAMALEI Project (Samaleswari Temple Area Management and Local Economy Initiatives), to offer the divine experience to tourists & devotees.

The project involves the development of 108 acres of land in & around the 16th-century shrine of Maa Samaleswari, the presiding deity of western Odisha.

Odisha Government has announced a package of Rs 200-crore for the 2021-22 fiscal for the implementation of the project. The project will be implemented under MoSarkar5T and will focus on the beautification of the temple & the economic development of local people.

It will include the development of amenities for devotees inside the 12-acre temple premises and the development of four tall heritage welcome gates.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Chief Minister of Odisha: Naveen Patnaik.
  • Odisha Capital: Bhubaneswar.
  • Odisha Governor: Ganeshi Lal.

Mamata Banerjee launches ‘Maa’ scheme to provide meals at Rs 5

West Bengal government launched “Maa” canteens for providing subsidised cooked meals for the poor and the destitute at a nominal cost of ₹5. The govt will give a subsidy of ₹15 and people have to pay ₹5.

The kitchen will run by Self-Help Groups (SHG). The government allocated ₹ 100 crores for this project.

The canteens will be open from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. every day. People will get a plate of rice, dal, a vegetable and egg curry.

This new initiative is for common people. Though we give free rations there is still a huge demand for cooked food. Therefore, we are starting these community kitchens.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Chief Minister of West Bengal: Mamata Banerjee; Governor: Jagdeep Dhankhar.

International News

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia resigns

The Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Gakharia has announced his resignation. The 45-year-old Gakharia served as the Prime Minister from 8 September 2019 to 18 February 2021.

He was stepping down because of disagreements within his own team over the decision to arrest Nika Melia, chairman of the United National Movement opposition party.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Georgia Capital: Tbilisi; Currency: Georgian lari.

Agreement News

HCL Tech inks pact with IIT Kanpur to build up competence in cybersecurity

HCL Technologies has inked an agreement with the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) to collaborate in the area of cybersecurity. As part of the pact, the IT company will work with C3iHub, a specialised cybersecurity research centre at IITK.

This collaboration will bring together the country’s brightest minds, advanced research capabilities and global resources to develop advanced solutions in the area of cybersecurity.

HCL and IITK will bring in real-world industry exposure to carry out joint initiatives and research.

The teams will develop a security framework and solutions for cybersecurity challenges in current and future operational technologies as one of the first areas of interest.

They will also work together to discover and manage cyber threats, vulnerabilities, and risks for critical infrastructure.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • HCL Technologies CEO: C Vijayakumar.
  • HCL Technologies Founded: 11 August 1976.
  • HCL Technologies Headquarters: Noida.

Banking News

RBI permits residents to make remittances to IFSCs under LRS

The Reserve Bank of India has permitted resident individuals to make remittances under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) to International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs) in the country.

The decision of the RBI is aimed at deepening the financial markets in the IFSCs and providing an opportunity for resident individuals to diversify their portfolios.

The RBI has reviewed the extant guidelines on LRS and decided to permit resident individuals to make remittances under LRS to IFSCs set up in India under the Special Economic Zone Act, 2005.

The remittance shall be made only for making investments in IFSCs in securities, other than those issued by entities/companies resident (outside IFSC) in India. Any funds lying idle in the account for a period up to 15 days from the date of its receipt into the account shall be immediately repatriated to the domestic INR account of the investor in India.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • RBI 25th Governor: Shaktikant Das; Headquarters: Mumbai; Founded: 1 April 1935, Kolkata.
  • India’s first IFSC: Gujarat International Finance Tec-City.

ICICI Lombard partners with Flipkart to offer ‘Hospicash’ insurance

The e-commerce company Flipkart has partnered with ICICI Lombard to offer its customers the ‘Group SafeGuard’ insurance, a group health insurance policy.

The ‘Group SafeGuard’ comes with daily cash benefits starting from Rs 500, and ‘Hospicash’ benefit for Flipkart consumers.

The product will allow consumers to avail a payout for each day of hospitalisation.

The fixed daily amount will enable consumers to pay for incidental medical or emergency expenses.

The insurance is affordably priced, paperless, and flexible; covering both accidental hospitalisations or planned surgeries/treatment.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Flipkart headquarters: Bengaluru, Karnataka.
  • Flipkart CEO: Kalyan Krishnamurthy.
  • ICICI Lombard CEO: Bhargav Dasgupta.
  • ICICI Lombard Headquarters: Mumbai.
  • ICICI Lombard Founded: 2001.

Defence News

India joins Iran-Russia’s two-day navy exercise

India joined Iran and Russia in the naval exercise dubbed as “Iran-Russia Maritime Security Belt 2021”, which kicked-off in the northern part of the Indian Ocean. The Chinese navy will also join the exercise.

The purpose of the drill is to enhance the security of international maritime trade, confront maritime piracy and terrorism, and exchange information.

The drill will cover an area of 17,000 square kilometres (6,500 square miles).

It will include shooting at sea and air targets and liberating hijacked ships, as well as search and rescue and anti-piracy operations.

The exercise ‘Iran-Russia Maritime Security Belt’ is so flexible that any country could join if they wish to do so.


Economy News

Oxford Economics Revises India’s GDP to 10.2% for 2021

The global forecasting firm Oxford Economics has revised India’s economic growth projection for the Calendar year 2021 to 10.2 per cent, compared to a previous estimate of 8.8 per cent.

The reason for the upward revision is the receding COVID-19 risks and the shift in the monetary policy outlook.

Oxford Economics is headquartered in Oxford, United Kingdom and has 6 office locations across 5 countries. It provides global forecasts and analysis to predict and manage economic risk.


Appointments News

Ajai Malhotra becomes first Indian chairperson at UNHRC advisory

Ajai Malhotra became the first Indian to be elected as the Chairperson of the United Nations Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council. He has been on the Indian team negotiating issues such as biological diversity, climate change, desertification, education, energy, forestry, health, human rights, human settlements, intellectual property, international law, labour, ozone depletion, sustainable development and trade.

Malhotra first joined the Indian Foreign Services in 1977. Malhotra has previously served as ambassador to Russia, Kuwait, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York and Romania.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Human Rights Council Founded: 15 March 2006.
  • Human Rights Council President: Nazhat Shameem.
  • Human Rights Council Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

Schemes and Committees

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launches Pilot Pey Jal Survekshan

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the Pilot Pey Jal Survekshan under Jal Jeevan Mission- Urban. The Pilot Pey Jal Survekshan has been launched in 10 cities, which are Agra, Badlapur, Bhubaneswar, Churu, Kochi, Madurai, Patiala, Rohtak, Surat and Tumkur.

The motive of the Jal Jeevan Mission Urban is to provide universal coverage of water supply to all households through functional taps in all 4,378 statutory towns in accordance with Sustainable Development Goal – 6.

The Government has proposed a total outlay of Rs 2.87 lakh crore for JJM (U) in fiscal 2021-22, which includes Rs. 10,000 crore for continuing financial support to AMRUT Mission.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Minister of State (IC) of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs: Hardeep Singh Puri.

Summits and Conference

Dharmendra Pradhan Participates in 11th IEA, IEF, OPEC Symposium

The 11th IEA-IEF-OPEC Symposium on Energy Outlooks was held virtually on February 17, 2021, under the patronage of the Minister of Energy of Saudi Arabia HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud.

From India, the Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel, Dharmendra Pradhan, participated in the symposium.

The trilateral symposium discussed the long-term outlooks of key producer and consumer countries, apart from the comparative analysis of short, medium, and long-term energy outlooks that OPEC and the IEA published in 2020.


Science and Technology

 Hyundai Develops Ultimate Mobility Vehicle ‘TIGER X-1’

Hyundai Motor Company has launched a Transformer-like robocar dubbed as TIGER X-1, that can travel over the most challenging terrains on the Earth as well as on other planets.

TIGER stands for Transforming Intelligent Ground Excursion Robot, and the X-1 denotes its experimental status.

The Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV) TIGER is being developed by Hyundai in partnership with Autodesk and Sundberg-Ferar.

Tiger is designed as a battery-electric vehicle, comprising of a small pod with four wheels on extendable legs. it will be able to operate as either a four-wheel-drive vehicle or a four-legged walking robot.

The vehicle is unscrewed, meaning that its, main use will be to carry payloads over remote and inaccessible locations, and not the people

It will help in search and rescue, scientific research, military, or exploratory missions (even on new planets).

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Hyundai Motor Company Founder: Chung Ju-Yung.
  • Hyundai Motor Company Founded: 29 December 1967, Seoul, South Korea.

IIT Madras-incubated Pi Beam launches PiMo e-bike

An IIT Madras-Incubated start-up Pi Beam Electric has recently launched a sustainable electric two-wheeler, dubbed as PiMo. The utility e-bike has been developed for personal and commercial use. It does not require a licence or registration. The cost of the electric two-wheeler has been fixed at Rs. 30, 000.

It eliminates fuel costs as it runs on battery. The electric vehicle offers ‘Battery Swapping’, meaning that the drained battery can be exchanged for a fully charged one at designated locations.

The battery can charge faster than a smartphone and comes with a range of 50 km. Pi Beam aims to sell 10,000 vehicles by the end of the financial year 2021-22.


Awards News

YS Jagan Mohan Reddy conferred SKOCH Chief Minister of the Year Award

The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has been conferred the Skoch Chief Minister of the Year Award. The Award has been presented to the CM by Chairman, Skoch Group, Sameer Kochhar personally at Tadepalli in Andhra Pradesh. The award selection was based on a study of project-level outcomes in various States.

Similarly, initiatives have been taken across the government to respond to COVID-19 and have shown desirable outcomes. All the above and more is evident in a year-long study of 123 projects from across sectors in Andhra Pradesh.

The State has taken several revolutionary measures in the past two years to make governance more efficient and transparent. Innovative measures have been taken across sectors, the credit for which goes to the Chief Minister.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh: YS Jagan Mohan Reddy; Governor: Biswa Bhusan Harichandan.

Sports News

Chris Morris becomes IPL’s most expensive player

Former Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) superstar and South African all-rounder Chris Morris shattered all records at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 auction in Chennai. Rajasthan Royals went all-out for the South African all-rounder Morris, buying him for a whopping INR 16.25 crore.

Morris, who was declared surplus to requirement by the Virat Kohli-led side after the conclusion of the IPL 2020 last year, turned out to be the most expensive player bought in the history of the cash-rich tournament.

South Africa’s Faf du Plessis retires from Test cricket

Former captain of South Africa, Faf du Plessis has announced his retirement from Test cricket.

The 36-year-old made his Test debut in November 2012 and played a total of 69 games in the longest format.

He scored 4163 runs in his Test career, at an average of 40.02, with 10 centuries and 21 fifties.

Kings XI Punjab renamed as Punjab Kings ahead of IPL auction

The IPL Franchise, Kings XI Punjab has formally been renamed as Punjab Kings ahead of the Indian Premier League auction. The new brand name and logo of the team was officially released by the management.

The Punjab-based IPL franchise ‘Punjab Kings‘ is co-owned by Bollywood actress Preity Zinta, along with businessman Ness Wadia, Mohit Burman and Karn Paul. The side is currently led by batsman KL Rahul, with former Indian captain Anil Kumble as its head coach.


Miscellaneous News

Kiran Bedi Removed As Puducherry Lt Governor

Kiran Bedi, the Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherry, has been removed from the top position. Tamilisai Soundararajan, the Governor of Telangana, has been given additional charge as the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry till a permanent replacement will be announced.

The development comes in the backdrop of a major shake-up in the Puducherry Assembly after several Congress legislators resigned ahead of the Assembly elections due this year.


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