Current affairs (3RD JANUARY)

INDIAN CHOSEN AS THE CO-CHAIR OF APAP

India has been chosen as the co-chair of the IUCN-supported Asia Protected Areas Partnership (APAP) for a period of three years till November 2023. India will replace South Korea, which held the post for 3 years until November 2020.

As a co-chair, India would be responsible to assist other Asian countries in managing their protected areas. The APAP is chaired by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Asia and co-chaired by an APAP nation member on a rotational basis.

The APAP was formally launched in 2014, at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Australia.

It is a regional platform to assist governments and different stakeholders to collaborate for more practical administration of protected areas (PA) within the area. Currently, there are 21 members from 17 international locations.

  • International Union for Conservation of Nature Headquarters: Gland, Switzerland.
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature CEO: Grethel Aguilar.
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature Founder: Julian Huxley.
CABINET APPROVED MOU BETWEEN INDIA AND BHUTAN

The Union Cabinet approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between India and Bhutan on the peaceful use of outer space. The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on November 19, 2020.

The agreement enables the two countries to seek cooperation in space science, navigation, planetary exploration, use of space systems, spacecraft and ground systems.

The memorandum of understanding will help establish a joint working group. The group will be created by ISRO members and the Ministry of Information and Communication of Bhutan.

The agreement will provide opportunities to explore cooperation in satellite communications, space science, satellite navigation and outer space exploration.

The use of outer space between countries and between countries is determined following the Outer Space Treaty. As of June 2020, 110 countries have become parties to the Outer Space Treaty.

The Outer Space Treaty prohibits the placement of nuclear weapons in space. Moreover, it only restricts the use of the moon and other celestial bodies for peaceful purposes.

It established that outer space could be explored freely, but no country can claim sovereignty over outer space.

The Outer Space Treaty does not prohibit military activities in space. Besides, it also allows the weaponization of space, with some exceptions, such as establishing military bases and military exercises on celestial bodies.

The Outer Space Treaty was adopted by the United Nations in 1963 and signed by Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States in 1967. Other treaties such as the Moon Treaty were also signed while using outer space. However, none of these treaties has been widely accepted as the Outer Space Treaty.

AMBANI ON 12TH SPOT IN BLOOMBERG BILLIONAIRES INDEX

India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, the chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) dropped down to 12th spot in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index 2021 (as on 2nd January 2021).

The net worth of Ambani dropped from 90 billion USD (around Rs. 6.62 lakh crore) (in early 2020) to 76.7 billion USD (around Rs. 5.6 lakh crore).

The drop in the net worth of Mukesh Ambani was due to the correction in the shares of RIL which has fallen to Rs.1995.50 on 30th December 2020, which is 16% from its all-time high of Rs 2369.35.

Zhong Shanshan, referred to as “Lone Wolf”, has replaced Ambani as Asia’s richest person, he is one of the fastest in the history to achieve the feat.

Zhong Shanshan is Chinese billionaire whose net worth is 78.2 billion USD, which is attributed to the listing of Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprises Co and Nongu Spring Co, a bottled water firm.

As Per Hurun Global Rich List 2020, India’s Mukesh Ambani dropped to the eighth position in the Hurun global rich list 2020. However, he retained as Asia’s Richest Person.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos topped the charts with a net worth of $201 billion. Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk ($145 billion) moved into the second position.

French multinational luxury goods conglomerate Louis Vuitton SE group head Bernard Arnault ($120 billion) came in third, followed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates ($111 billion) and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg ($109 billion) in the fifth slot.

LEON MENDONCA BECOMES INDIA’S 67TH GRANDMASTER

Goa’s 14-year-old Leon Mendonca has become India’s 67th chess Grandmaster by winning the third and final norm at a tournament in Italy.

Mendonca, who achieved the feat at 14 years, 9 months and 17 days, is the second GM from the coastal State. Chennai player G. Akash, had in July, become the country’s 66th Grandmaster.

He became the 29th Youngest GM in the world. The 1st GM from Goa is Ivana Maria Furtado, she achieved it in 2011.

The player achieved his first GM norm at the Rigo Chess GM Round Robin, while the second came at the event in Budapest in November and the final one at the Vergani Cup in Italy.

Sergey Karjakin of Russia holds the record for the World’s Youngest ever GM having qualified for the title at the age of 12 years and 7 months (achieved the title in 2003).

GM is a title awarded by FIDE (International Chess Federation). It is the highest title a chess player can obtain apart from World Champion.

  • International Chess Federation President: Arkady Dvorkovich.
  • International Chess Federation Headquarters: Lausanne, Switzerland.
  • International Chess Federation Founded: 20 July 1924.
ADB & SIGNED LOAN AGREEMENT FOR PROJECTS IN ASSAM

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has signed a $231 million loan with the Government of India to augment electricity generation capacity in the state of Assam.

This is the third tranche loan for the ‘Assam Power Sector Investment Programme’ that was approved by the ADB Board in July 2014.

Under the project, 120 megawatts (MW) hydroelectric power plant would be constructed.

The programme focuses on enhancing the capacity and efficiency of the energy generation and distribution systems in Assam to improve the availability of electricity service to end-users.

The programme, including its two previous tranches, focuses on enhancing capacity and efficiency of the energy generation and distribution systems in Assam to improve electricity service to end-users.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION LAUNCHED COVID-19 APP

The World Health Organization recently launched the COVID-19 mobile application. The app provides users with the latest updates on covid-19. This application is called “WHO COVID-19 Application”.

The mobile application launched by the World Health Organization will provide trusted information from experts from the organization and regional partners. It will provide regular updates and notifications about the scientific discoveries of covid-19.

Users can understand the symptoms of the covid-19 disease. The app also provides information on how users can protect themselves and their communities from viruses.

The app will also provide vaccine advancements provided by the World Health Organization and its partners.

It has a selfless purpose, which means selfless care for the well-being of others. The app provides information on how users can help in different ways during the pandemic.

The app is currently only available in Nigeria. However, the world organization is working with local stakeholders to provide the application in all countries/regions worldwide and make it more geographically feasible. It also includes information from local health organizations.

The mobile application developed by the World Health Organization for the World Health Organization was developed for medical workers to fight COVID-19. The application is called “WHO Academy COVID-19 Mobile Learning Application”.

The application supports seven different languages, such as English, Arabic, Portuguese, French, Chinese, Spanish, and Russian.

Current affairs (1ST & 2ND JANUARY)

PM MODI LAID FOUNDATION STONE OF LIGHT HOUSE PROJECTS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of Light House projects (LHPs) at six sites across six States through video conference on 1st January 2021.

The LHPs will be implemented at Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Rajkot (Gujarat), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Agartala (Tripura) and Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh).

The project is being constructed under the Global Housing Technology Challenge (GHTC)-India. It has been conceptualised by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

GHTC-India envisages providing an ecosystem for the adoption of innovative technologies in the housing construction sector in a holistic manner.

Under the programme, over 1,000 houses would be built in each of the six cities in 12 months along with allied infrastructure facilities.

The houses are called lighthouse projects in technical language. Houses being built under the Light House Projects (LHPs) will take less time to build and will be resilient, affordable and comfortable as they use the best of new-age alternative global technologies, materials and processes in the construction sector.

IFSCA BECOMES ASSOCIATE MEMBER OF IOSCO

The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) has become an Associate Member of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). The Headquarter of IOSCO is at Madrid, Spain.

About IOSCO: The IOSCO is the international organization of the world’s securities regulators, covering more than 95% of the world’s securities markets, and is also the global standard-setter for the securities sector.

With this new membership, IFSCA will get the platform to exchange information at the global level and regional level on areas of common interests and help to learn from the experiences and best practices of the regulators of other well established financial centres.

About IFSCA: The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) was established by the Ministry of Finance in April 2020 as a unified authority to regulate all financial services in International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs) in the country. The body has it’s headquarter in Gandhinagar in Gujarat.

NAVY & DRDO CONDUCTED THE MAIDEN TRIAL OF SAHAYAK-NG

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) along with the Indian Navy conducted the successful maiden test trial of ‘SAHAYAK-NG’ India’s first indigenously designed and developed Air Dropped Container from IL 38SD aircraft (Indian Navy) off the coast of Goa.

The trial was conducted by the Indian Navy to enhance its operational logistics capabilities and provide critical engineering stores to ships that are deployed more than 2000 kilometres from the coast.

SAHAYAK-NG is an advanced version of SAHAYAK Mk I. The newly developed GPS aided air dropped container is having the capability to carry a payload that weighs up to 50 kilograms and can be dropped from heavy aircraft.

Two DRDO laboratories, Naval Science and Technological Laboratory, Visakhapatnam and Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment, Agra were involved in the development of the SAHAYAK-NG container along with the industry partner M/s Avantel for GPS integration.

COUNTRY’S 1ST POLLINATOR PARK TO SET UP IN UTTARAKHAND

The country’s first pollinator park with over 40 species of butterflies, honeybees, birds and insects has been developed over four acres at Haldwani, Uttarakhand.

The objective behind developing the park is to conserve various pollinator species, create awareness among people in general about the importance of conservation of these species and to promote further research on various aspects of pollination, including a threat to habitat and impact of pollution on pollinators.

There are at present 40 species of pollinators at the park, including common jezebel, common emigrant, red pierrot, common sailor, plain tiger, the common leopard, the common moron, common grass yellow, common blue bottle, common four-ring, peacock pansy, the painted lady, pioneer white, yellow-orange tip and lime butterfly.

Pollinators provide pollination services to over 180,000 different plant species. Without them, existing populations of plants would decline, even if soil, air, nutrients, and other life-sustaining elements were available.

The importance of pollinators was recognised long back in the west and to conserve pollinators, parks, gardens, strips and pathways were created on a large scale in countries like the USA.

INDIA’S FIRST TESTBED TIHAN LAUNCHED AT IIT HYDERABAD

Union Minister of Education, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has virtually laid the foundation stone of “TiHAN-IIT Hyderabad”, India’s first Testbed for Autonomous Navigation Systems (Terrestrial and Aerial) at IIT Hyderabad.

The Technology Innovation Hub on Autonomous Navigation Systems (TiHAN) for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Remotely Operated Vehicles at IIT Hyderabad.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, has sanctioned Rs. 135 crores to IIT Hyderabad under the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS) to set up a Technology Innovation Hub on Autonomous Navigation and Data Acquisition Systems.

Two acres of land has already been allocated in the IIT Hyderabad campus and the facilities are planned in phases. All Smart poles are enabled with communication providing technology with some Poles designed with sprinklers to simulate rain scenarios.

The developed testbed will be available for use by all the industries, R&D labs, academia conducting research and development in the broad areas of autonomous navigation.

DRDO OBSERVES ITS 63RD FOUNDATION DAY ON 1ST JAN.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) observed the 63rd Foundation Day of its establishment on January 01, 2021.

DRDO was established in 1958 with just 10 laboratories to enhance the research work in the Defence sector. At that time, it was tasked with designing and developing cutting edge defence technologies for Indian Armed Forces.

As of now, DRDO is working in multiple cutting edge military technology areas, which include aeronautics, armaments, combat vehicles, electronics, instrumentation, engineering systems, missiles, materials, naval systems, advanced computing, simulation, cyber, life sciences and other technologies for defence.

  • Secretary Department of Defence Research and Development & Chairman DRDO: Dr G Satheesh Reddy.
  • DRDO Headquarters: New Delhi.
  • DRDO Established: 1958.
UMESH SINHA NAMED AS DY. ELECTION COMMISSIONER OF INDIA

Umesh Sinha has been named as the deputy election commissioner in the Election Commission of India. Sinha, a 1986-batch IAS officer (retired) is at present serving as secretary-general in the commission.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet cleared the extension in the term of reemployment of Sinha as deputy election commissioner on contract basis for a period of six months beyond December 31, 2020.

His term will end on June 30, 2021. At present Sinha is also part of a committee set up by the Election Commission to look into the issue of revising the election expenditure of candidates during campaigning.

  • Chief Election Commissioner of India: Sunil Arora.
  • Chief Election Commissioner Formed: 25 January 1950.
  • Chief Election Commissioner Headquarters: New Delhi.
ISRO CHAIRMAN K SIVAN TERM EXTENDED FOR ONE YEAR

The Central Government has approved the extension of the term of ISRO Chairman K Sivan, for a period of one year.

He was due to retire on January 14, 2021. Sivan will now continue as ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space up to January 14, 2022. He joined ISRO in 1982, has been the chairman of the space agency since January 2018.

ISRO chief has imminent knowledge in Aerospace engineering, Space Transportation Systems Engineering, Launch vehicles, mission simulation software design and many other operations related to Space programs.

He is also the main architect of 6D trajectory simulation software, SITARA which is the foundation of both the real-time and non-real-time trajectory simulations of all vehicles developed in the space agency.

  • ISRO Chairman: K.Sivan.
  • ISRO Headquarters: Bengaluru, Karnataka.
  • ISRO established: 15 August 1969
1ST SOCIAL IMPACT BOND: UNDP & PCMC JOINS HAND

Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, Pune has recently signed an MoU with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India to co-create India’s first Social Impact Bond (SIB).

This is the first time that a government body will act as the ‘outcome funder’ in a bond, whereas traditionally most government-funded public projects require large and early investments by the government with a substantial gestation period of outcomes and involve various kinds of risks.

A Social Impact Bond also called pay-for-success bond or pay-for-success financing or simply social bond is basically a contract with public sector authority, where it pays for better social outcomes.

This bond is a form of outcome-based contracting and aims at improving social outcomes for a specific group of citizens. The PCMC administration will bear the costs of a public welfare project associated with the bond if the pre-defined project targets are fulfilled.

  • UNDP Headquarters: New York, New York, United States.
  • UNDP Head: Achim Steiner.
  • UNDP Founded: 22 November 1965.
PT. SATISH VYAS CONFERRED PRESTIGIOUS TANSEN SAMMAN

In Madhya Pradesh, 96th Tansen Music Festival began in Gwalior with strict COVID-19 guidelines in place.

In the inaugural ceremony renowned santoor player, Pandit Satish Vyas was conferred upon the prestigious Tansen Samman.

Bhopal-based institution Abhinav Kala Parishad was honoured with Raja Mansingh Tomar award. The festival pays tribute to Tansen, one of 9 gems in Akbar’s court.