Latest Current Affairs Daily Update

29th & 30th Jan 2021 Current Affairs

National News

India pledges $150,000 for UN Peacebuilding Fund for 2021

India has announced a pledge of USD 150,000 to the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) for the year 2021 to support the activities and programs this year. The Peacebuilding Fund has put forth its five-year strategy, which requires 1.5 billion dollars for 2020-2024.

This was announced by TS Tirumurti, India’s permanent representative to the United Nations on January 25, 2021.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed that he was grateful to the countries that committed to providing over $439 million in support of the UN’s work toward peacebuilding & conflict prevention through the UN Peacebuilding Fund.

UN Peacekeeping aims to mainly help countries navigate through the difficult path from conflict to peace. The UN peacekeeping has unique strengths including legitimacy, burden sharing and an ability to deploy troops and police from around the world and integrate them with civilian peacekeepers to address a range of mandates set by the UN Security Council and General Assembly.

India’s “Vaccine Maitri” Initiative begins

Vaccine Maitri Initiative is an initiative launched by India to gift COVID-19 vaccines to neighbouring countries. Recently, Sri Lanka and Bahrain have received the COVID-19 vaccines from India under the initiative.

The Vaccine Maitri initiative was launched by India on January 20 to gift COVID-19 vaccines to neighbouring countries.

Sri Lanka has received 5 lakh Covid-19 vaccines from India as a part of the “Vaccine Maitri” initiative.

Consignment of vaccines has also been sent to Bahrain. The country will receive 10,800 vaccines under the initiative.

India has already delivered over 5 million doses to seven countries in the neighbourhood under the initiative before Sri Lanka and Bahrain.

The 7 countries are- the Maldives (100,000 vaccines), Bhutan (150,000 vaccines), Nepal (1 million vaccines), Bangladesh (2 million vaccines), Myanmar (1.5 million vaccines), Mauritius (100,000 vaccines), and Seychelles (50,000 vaccines).

Commercial supplies of Covishield have also been sent to Morocco, Brazil, (2 million doses each), and Bangladesh (5 million doses).

Maharashtra launches ‘jail tourism’ initiative from Pune’s Yerawada jail

The Prison Department of Maharashtra has launched its jail tourism initiative starting with more than 150-year-old Yerawada Central Prison in Pune.

The initiative was launched in a move to help students learn about historical experiences.

Yerawada jail is 150 years old where several freedom fighters, including Mahatma Gandhi, Lokmanya Tilak were imprisoned, Pune-pact was signed within the premises etc.

The visitors will also get to see the faasi yard, the area where the death sentence is executed.

This is the place where Chapekar brothers were executed in 1899 for the assassination of British Plague Commissioner of Pune WC Rand.

The last execution that the faasi yard witnessed was in November 2012 of Ajmal Kasab, a convict of 26/11 attacks, who was buried inside the prison premises.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Chief Minister of Maharashtra: Uddhav Thackeray; Governor: Bhagat Singh Koshyari.

Election Commission rolls out digital voter ID cards “e-EPIC”

The Election Commission has rolled out the electronic version of the voters’ photo identity card e-EPIC, which can be stored on mobile phones and downloaded on personal computers.

The physical card takes time to print and reach the voter, and the idea is to provide faster delivery and easy accessibility to the document.

The e-EPIC is a secure portable document format (PDF) version of the EPIC which can be downloaded on mobile or in a self-printable form on the computer.

The voter can store the card on his/her mobile, upload it as a PDF on Digi locker or print it & self-laminate.

The e-elector photo identity card is a non-editable digital version of the elector photo identity card and can be saved in facilities such as digital locker as well as can be printed in the PDF format.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Chief Election Commissioner of India: Sunil Arora.
  • Chief Election Commissioner Formed: 25 January 1950.
  • Chief Election Commissioner Headquarters: New Delhi.

International News

Kaja Kallas to become Estonia’s first female prime minister

Kaja Kallas, the leader of the Reform Party will become Estonia’s first female prime minister.

The Reform Party, led by Kallas, won the 2019 parliamentary election in Estonia with 34 MPs in the country’s 101-seat parliament, Riigikogu.

Estonia would thus currently become the only country in the world where both the president Kersti Kaljulaid and the prime minister are women.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Estonia Capital: Tallinn.
  • Estonia Currency: Euro.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigns

Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte resigned after losing his Senate majority, plunging the country into political uncertainty just as it’s battling the pandemic and a recession.

He tendered his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella, the ultimate arbiter of Italian political crises, who invited him to stay on in a caretaker capacity pending discussions on what happens next.

Italy was the first European country to face the full force of the Covid-19 pandemic and has since suffered badly, with the economy plunged into recession and deaths still rising by around 400 a day.

Parts of the country remain under partial lockdown, the vaccination programme has slowed and a deadline is looming to agree on plans to spend billions of euros in European Union recovery funds.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • President of Italy: Sergio Mattarella.
  • Capital of Italy: Rome; Currency of Italy: Euro.

Banking News

HSBC inaugurates international banking unit in Gujarat

Global financial services major HSBC has inaugurated it’s International Banking Unit (IBU) branch at GIFT City near Gandhinagar city in Gujarat.

HSBC is one of the earliest global financial institutions setting up a branch at India’s GIFT City and was the first bank to get a licence from the newly set up International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA).

HSBC’s IBU branch at Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) will be operational for customer transactions with effect from January 27.

HSBC has been present in the country for more than 160 years and its fourth branch globally was opened in India. HSBC operates in all of the leading international financial service hubs in the world and looks forward to the development of GIFT City as a globally competitive international financial centre.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • HSBC Bank India CEO: Surendra Rosha.
  • HSBC Bank India HQ: Mumbai, Maharashtra.

Bharti AXA General Insurance launches “Krishi Sakha” App for farmers

Bharti AXA General Insurance has launched Krishi Sakha App, a one-stop-shop for Indian farmers that offers them relevant information to cater to their daily farming needs. It also provides guidance to farmers to adopt best farming practices and enhance their productivity.

The farmers through this app will also have access to the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) portal for crop insurance-related information.

Bharti AXA ‘Krishi Sakha’ aims at helping Indian farmers make informed decisions through customized information related to their farming requirements.

It shares relevant information about the scientific way of farming, crop cultivation, sowing, or harvesting of major crops. It guides the farmers about weather forecasting, market and crop prices and government schemes related to insurance and agriculture.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Bharti AXA General Insurance Established: 2008.
  • Bharti AXA General Insurance Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • Bharti AXA General Insurance MD and CEO: Sanjeev Srinivasan.
  • Bharti AXA General Insurance Tagline: Suraksha ka Naya Nazariya.

Appointments News

Dhanlaxmi Bank Board approves appointment of J K Shivan as MD and CEO

Board of Directors of Kerala-based Dhanlaxmi Bank have given the approval to appoint J K Shivan as managing director and CEO of the Bank. It may be recalled that the shareholders of the Kerala-based had voted against MD & CEO Sunil Gurbaxani On September 30, 2020. Then, in December that year, the lender appointed Shivan as the new MD & CEO.

However, the banking regulator, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), had asked the Dhanlaxmi Bank Board to get shareholders’ approval before appointing J K Shivan as the next chief of the bank.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Dhanlaxmi Bank Headquarters: Thrissur, Kerala.
  • Dhanlaxmi Bank Founded: 1927.

Swaminathan Janakiraman and Aswini Kumar Tewari appointed as MDs of SBI

The appointments committee (ACC) of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Swaminathan Janakiraman and Ashwini Kumar Tewari as new Managing Directors (MDs) of State Bank of India (SBI) for a period of three years.

Prior to this, Swaminathan Janakiraman was the deputy managing director (Finance) at SBI and Ashwini Kumar Tewari was serving as MD & CEO of SBI Card, a subsidiary of SBI.

SBI is headed by a Chairman and four managing directors. Dinesh Kumar Khara is the current Chairman of the bank. The other two MDs of the bank are C.S. Setty and Ashwani Bhatia. The two posts were vacant since October 2020.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • State Bank of India Headquarters: Mumbai; Founded: 1 July 1955.

Agreements News

India Inks Strategic Partnership Agreement with IEA

India has inked a strategic partnership agreement with the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world’s premier energy monitor, on 27 January 2021.

The objective of the MoU is to strengthen cooperation in global energy security, stability and sustainability as well as strengthen mutual trust and cooperation between IEA members and the Government of India.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Power Secretary Sanjiv Nandan Sahai and IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. This deal will help India to gain full membership of IEA.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • International Energy Agency headquarters: Paris, France.
  • International Energy Agency Member Countries: 30.
  • International Energy Agency Establishment: November 1974.

Awards News

Meghalaya wins National Award for Best Electoral Practices 2020

The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Meghalaya was selected for a Special Award for Information Technology applications in Elections by the Election Commission of India (ECI), in the National Best Electoral Practices Awards-2020.

President Ram Nath Kovind virtually conferred the award to Meghalaya CEO F.R. Kharkongor at the National Voters’ Day Award function held in New Delhi.

The award recognises the sustained and consistent IT application efforts in electoral activities being made by the Office of the CEO in the entire Enrolment to Elections (E2E) process and for leveraging technology for the benefit of all categories of voters, both general and persons with disabilities (PWDs).

The ECI has consistently been championing the use of technology covering the non-election period, such as voter portal, voter helpline app, SMS, 1950 helpline, political party registration and online tracking.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Meghalaya Capital: Shillong.
  • Meghalaya Governor: Satya Pal Malik.
  • Meghalaya Chief minister: Conrad Sangma.

Ram Temple tableau of Uttar Pradesh on Republic Day wins 1st prize

The Ram Temple tableau of Uttar Pradesh that was on display during the Republic Day 2021 has bagged the first prize among all tableaux. The theme of Uttar Pradesh’s tableau was ‘Ayodhya: Cultural Heritage of Uttar Pradesh’.

The cultural heritage of ancient holy town Ayodhya, a replica of a Ram temple, a glimpse of ‘Deepotsav’ and various stories from Ramayana epic were depicted in the tableau.

The Tripura tableau won the second prize for the Republic Day parade. Uttarakhand’s tableau on the theme ‘Dev Bhoomi — The Land of the Gods’ was adjudged third among the states and union territories.

The tableau of Central Public Works Department (CPWD), with the theme ‘Amar Jawan’, bagged a special prize for paying tribute to the fallen heroes of the armed forces.


Defence News

Lt Gen Chandi Prasad Mohanty appointed as new Army Vice-Chief

Lieutenant General Chandi Prasad Mohanty has been appointed as the new Vice-chief of Army staff. He would assume the office on February 1, 2021, from Lt General SK Saini, who is superannuating on 31 January 2021.

Lt General CP Mohanty is an alumnus of Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun, and National Defence Academy. He is a June 1982 batch Infantry Officer from the Rajput Regiment.

Vice-Chief of Army Staff is the deputy head and the second-highest-ranking officer of the Indian Army. The position is held by the senior officer in the rank of Lt-General, of the Commander in Chief grade.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • 28th Chief of Army Staff: General Manoj Mukund Naravane.
  • The motto of Indian Army: “Service Before Self”.
  • Headquarters of Indian Army: New Delhi.

Ranks and Reports

TCS ranks third most valued IT services brand globally

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has been ranked third most-valued IT services brand globally, after Accenture and IBM, according to a report by Brand Finance. Third-ranked TCS is rapidly closing the gap with IBM following a healthy 11% brand value increase to USD 15 billion. 

Accenture retained the title of world’s most valuable and strongest IT services brand with record brand value of USD 26 billion, while IBM continued at the second place with a brand value of USD 16.1 billion.

Four Indian IT services companies have secured spots in the top-10 globally, namely, TCS (3), Infosys (4), HCL (7) and Wipro (9). Accenture has retained the title of world’s most valuable and strongest IT services brand with a brand value of $26 billion. 

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Tata Consultancy Services CEO: Rajesh Gopinathan.
  • Tata Consultancy Services Founded: 1 April 1968.
  • Tata Consultancy Services Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra.

India Ranks 86 among 98 Countries in Lowy Institute’s Covid-19 Response Index

India has been ranked at 86th position among 98 countries in the new Coronavirus Performance Index released by Australia-based Lowy Institute.

Countries were ranked based on the publicly available and comparable data on Covid-19 response. The Lowy Institute is an independent international policy think tank, located in Sydney.

New Zealand, Vietnam and Taiwan are the top three countries respectively in the index. Brazil was ranked at the bottom of the list for worst handling of the pandemic than any other country. China was excluded from the list due to lack of publicly available data.

India Secures 86th Rank in Corruption Perception Index 2020

India has been ranked 86th among 180 countries in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2020, released by Transparency International. This year, India’s rank has slipped six places compared to 2019, when it was ranked at 80th spot. The CPI score for India in 2020 is 40. India is sharing its position jointly with Burkina Faso, Morocco, East Timor, Trinidad and Tobago and Turkey.

New Zealand and Denmark have jointly secured the first position with scores of 88. Somalia and South Sudan rank lowest at 179th position with scores of 12.

Useful notes for all competitive exams:

  • Transparency International Headquarters location: Berlin, Germany.
  • Transparency International Chairperson: Delia Ferreira Rubio.
  • Transparency International Founded: 4 May 1993.

Reliance Jio ranked 5th strongest brand globally

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s four-year-old telecom venture Reliance Jio has been ranked the fifth strongest brand globally behind the likes of Ferrari and Coca-Cola. As per the ranking, Reliance Jio has emerged as the 5th strongest brand in the world.

Reliance Jio has made its entry to the world’s strongest brands. Reliance has been ranked as the 5th strongest brand in the world. It has a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 91.7 out of 100.

The Brand Finance’s Global 500 ranking of the strongest brands globally, which determined the relative strength of brands, is topped by WeChat, according to its annual report on most valuable and strongest global brands.


Summits and Conferences

PM Modi Chairs 35th PRAGATI Meet

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has chaired the 35th PRAGATI meeting to review multiple projects, grievances and programmes. In the meeting, ten agenda items were taken for review worth Rs. 54,675 crore, related to 15 states.

These included nine projects and one programme. Prime Minister also reviewed the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana.

PRAGATI stands for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation.

Of the total 9 projects, 3 projects were from the Ministry of Railways, 3 from Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and 1 project each from Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Power Ministry and Ministry of External Affairs.

The States are Odisha, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Jharkhand, Bihar, Telangana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, West Bengal, Haryana, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh.


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