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Monthly Current Affairs: December 2020 in English

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MONTHLY CURRENT AFFAIRS

Monthly Current Affairs: December 2020 in English

CURRENT AFFAIRS DECEMBER 2020 IN ENGLISH

In this monthly current affairs section, we have covered entire important topics like Persons in News, Places in News, National Affairs, International Affairs, Sports Affairs, Schemes & Policies, Awards & Recognition, Appointments,  Books and Authors, Important Days and themes, Obituary, Ranking and Index, Conference and Summits, Agreements and MoUs, Defence, STATIC, etc of December 2020. These current affairs are important for upcoming exams of SSC like CGL, CHSL, CPO.

 Persons in News

 The US President-elect Joe Biden and the Vice president-elect Kamala Harris are named as the 2020 person of the year by The Time magazine.

  • Harris became the country's first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president-elect.
  • In 2019, Time picked young climate activist, Greta Thunberg.

 Indian-American Gitanjali Rao, a "brilliant" young scientist and inventor, has been named by TIME magazine as the first-ever Kid of the Year'

  • She has been honoured for "astonishing work using technology to tackle issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying.
  • Rao was selected from a field of more than 5,000 nominees as TIME's first-ever Kid of the Year.

 First Dronacharya Awardee from the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Kuldeep Handoo has been appointed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Fit India’ Ambassador.

  • Mr Handoo, who is Wushu Coach of Team India is serving as Inspector in Jammu and Kashmir Police Department.
  • Handoo is also the recipient of the Jammu and Kashmir Police medal award, for meritorious service, and the Parshuram Award, an honour for sports in the state of Himachal Pradesh.

 HCL Technologies' Roshni Nadar Malhotra is the wealthiest woman in India

  • A new study by Hurun India, in association with Kotak Wealth, has named top 100 women wealth creators and leaders, which included many self made business entrepreneurs, start-up founders and professional managers.
  • Roshni is currently the CEO and Executive Director of HCL Corporation, a holding company that controls HCL Tech and HCL Infosystems.

 US President-elect Joe Biden has tapped his key COVID-19 advisor Dr Vivek Murthy as the next Surgeon General

  • The 43-year-old Indian-American doctor is one of the three co-chairs of Biden's COVID-19 Advisory Board.
  • The surgeon general serves a four-year term and is the top government official on public health issues. Jerome Adams is the incumbent Surgeon General.

 US President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Indian-American Neera Tanden as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, a top position inside the White House responsible for managing the administration’s budget.

  • She would be the first woman of color to head the influential Office of Management and Budget at the White House. 
  • Tanden is currently chief executive of the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

 Oscar winning Indian composer AR Rahman has been appointed as the ambassador for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' (BAFTA) 'Breakthrough India Initiative'

  • This initiative is supported by Netflix. 
  • The initiative marks BAFTA’s first steps into India, showcasing and supporting the next generation of creative talent in film, games and television globally 

 Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of the world's largest vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India, is among six people named "Asians of the Year" by Singapore's leading daily, The Straits Times for their work in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) has collaborated with the University of Oxford and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for making the COVID-19 vaccine, ''Covidshield'', and is conducting trials in India

 Indian actor Sonu Sood has been named the number one South Asian celebrity in the world for his philanthropic efforts during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic this year, in a first-of-its-kind ranking released

  • The 47-year-old Bollywood star beat off tough global competition to top the ‘50 Asian Celebrities in The World’ list, which is published by UK-based weekly newspaper Eastern Eye.

 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed senior UN official Siddharth Chatterjee of India as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China.

  • Resident Coordinators are the UN Secretary-General's representatives for development at the country level. 
  • They lead UN teams supporting countries to recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Siddharth Chatterjee is at present the UN country head at Kenya, and will take up his assignment in Beijing in January 2021.
  • He has been with the UN for over 20 years. He has worked at the UN missions in Iraq, and at the UNICEF offices in Somalia, Darfur (Sudan), South Sudan and Indonesia.

 Veteran industrialist Ratan Tata was honoured by the Indo-Israel Chambers of Commerce for promoting innovation that supports sustainability and peace in the region, including with the Palestinians.

  • The chairman emeritus of the Tata group was honoured with the 'Global Visionary of Sustainable Business and Peace' award during the launch of the Federation of Indo-Israel Chamber of Commerce's international chapter in Dubai on December 21.
  • The virtual ceremony was attended by senior officials from Israel, India and UAE.
  • He has generously contributed towards promoting innovation that supports sustainability and has been a promoter of peace in the region.
  •  He has visited Israel a few times which has been extremely beneficial in promoting ties between the two countries. 

 US President-elect Joe Biden has named Indian American Bharat Ramamurti as the deputy director of the National Economic Council

  • National Economic Council is the White House advisory agency to the President on domestic and global economic policymaking.
  • He is the Managing Director of the Corporate Power programme at the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal think-tank. He was an aide of Senator Elizabeth Warren for seven years and served as her economic adviser during her 2020 presidential election campaign.

 Arya Rajendran has been elected as the mayor of Thiruvananthapuram Corporation and became the youngest mayor of India at the age of 21.

  • Arya Rajendran won as councillor from Mudavanmukal ward of Thiruvananthapuram corporation at the 2020 Kerala local body elections.
  • In India, Suman Koli who became the Mayor of Bharatpur in Rajasthan at 21 years in 2009 is one of the youngest.

Places in News

 The Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad has become the first in India to acquire ISO Quality Management Standards Certification.

  • Nehru Zoological Park, with its standard working procedures, has acquired the Certification from ASCB (Accreditation Service for Certifying Bodies), UK.
  • The zoo was assessed on the basis of sanitisation, food processing, animal breeding, medicare, animal care, hygiene maintenance and establishment.
  •  The certification is based on assessment of internal operating procedures and how effectively implemented. 
  • This was presented to Telangana Forests Minister A. Indra Karan Reddy.

 The proposed greenfield airport at Jewar in Uttar Pradesh's Gautam Buddha Nagar will now be officially known as Noida International Airport. 

  • The nomenclature of the greenfield airport was finalised by Zurich Airport International and UP government in the presence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
  • The airport is being developed by Swiss developer Zurich Airport International AG. 
  • The Noida International Greenfield Airport will have a picture of Sarus Crane - the state bird of UP - as its logo.
  • It will be designed on the lines of world-famous airports in London, Moscow and Milan.

 Dr. Harsh Vardhan has recently inaugurated the highest Meteorological Centre in India at Leh via video conferencing

  • The Centre will be a world class facility for high altitude meteorology and will cater to the various kinds of weather and climate needs of the people and the administration of Ladakh
  • It is located at 3,500 metres above sea level in Leh
  • After Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh, the Leh centre is the second Meteorological Centre located in the Himalayas.

 Skill India has established the first Centre of Excellence for Skill Development in the Power Sector in the campus of National Institute of Solar Energy, Gurugram Haryana.

  • India's partnership with the Government of France for instituting the Centre of Excellence is another shining example of cooperation between the countries to achieve their long-term energy goals.
  • The first Centre of Excellence for skill development in the power sector was inaugurated for creating a pool of highly skilled trainers and to increase employability of candidates in the field of Electricity, Automation and Solar Energy Sectors.

Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has inaugurated the Suryadhar lake in his home constituency of Doiwala, Uttarakhand. 

  • The lake has a holding capacity of 77,000 cubic metres and built at a cost of Rs 50.25 crore,
  • It will address the drinking water and irrigation needs of nearly 20 villages around it and is also set to become a major tourist and water sports destination in coming times.

 Pakistan's cultural capital Lahore has once again topped the list of world's most polluted cities.

  • Lahore ranks the most polluted city in the world," according to air pollution data released by the US Air Quality Index
  • According to the index, Lahore reported a particulate matter (PM) rating of 423.
  • Lahore is not the only Pakistani city to feature in the top 10 list for the worst air quality. Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi ranked at 7 on the AQI.
  • New Delhi came in second with a PM of 229, while Nepal's capital Kathmandu ranked the third-worst city with a PM of 178.

 AI & Robotics Technology Park (ART PARK) is a unique not-for-profit foundation established by Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru with support from AI Foundry in a public-private model.

  • ARTPARK will develop DataSetu - that will enable confidentiality and privacy-preserving framework to share data and run analytics spurring the data-sharing ecosystem and create a data marketplace, boosting AI applications and solutions.
  • ARTPARK will boost R&D and Technology innovations
  • It will promote technology innovations in intelligence (AI) and robotics leading to societal impact by executing mission mode R&D projects in healthcare, education, mobility, infrastructure, agriculture, retail and cyber security, focusing on problems unique to India

 Rahim Khan’s tomb has been recently opened to the public after six years of restoration work.

  • It is one of the largest conservation project ever undertaken for any monument of national importance in India
  • Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan was the commander-in-chief of Akbar’s army, and a poet 
  • He built a tomb in 1598 in memory of his wife Mah Banu
  • He was one of the nine important ministers (dewan) in his court, also known as the Navaratnas.
  • His tomb is situated near Humayun's Tomb, in New Delhi.

 Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has inaugurated the three lane 1.5 km long Koilwar bridge over Sone river in Bihar through Video Conferencing. 

  • A sum of 266 crore rupees has been spent on the bridge. The existing two lane bridge for both rail and road traffic is 138 years old.
  •  A six-lane bridge is being made in its place, of which, a three-lane carriageway has been opened for public. 
  • The bridge is a major road for transport between Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. 
  • The Ministry has approved a four-lane elevated road from Bharauli (Buxar) to Haidaria for providing connectivity to the Purvanchal Expressway.

 The Forest Minister of Madhya Pradesh has recently launched the first hot air balloon safari of India in the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve of Madhya Pradesh.

  • This is the first hot air balloon safari.
  • The hot air balloon ride is to be restricted in the buffer area. 
  • The service is to be operated by a Jaipur based Sky Waltz company.

National Affairs

 India recorded the largest reduction in malaria cases in South East Asia.

  • The World Malaria Report, 2020 was recently released by the World Health Organisation.
  • As per the report, the case count in India has reduced from 20 million in 2000 to around 5.6 million in 2019. 
  • According to the world Malaria report, 2020 prepared by the World Health Organisation, India was one among the 11 highest Malaria burden countries in the world.

 An ambitious project of radio-tagging vultures in Panna National Park was launched to study the movements and habits of scavenger birds. 

  • As many as 25 birds will be radio tagged in the first phase of the project launched by the Wildlife Institute of India scientists in the park now a part of the UNESCO's world network of biosphere reserve.
  • The avian scavenger is protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife protection Act, 1972.

 The TRIFED has decided to organise its annual event Aadi Mahotsav-2020 in an online mode.

  • The 10-day-long Áadi Mahotsav’ will be launched by Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda 
  • The Aadi Mahotsav is being hosted on the Tribes India website www.tribesindia.com and the main focus of this year is on the tribal craft and culture of Madhya Pradesh.
  • The festival is an attempt to familiarize the people with the rich and diverse craft and culture of the tribal communities across the country, in one place.

 Assam environment and forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya unveiled the map for the state's sixth proposed national park - Raimona National Park at Kokrajhar.

  • This proposal has been submitted to Assam Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi for upgrading an area of 422 sq km of notified Ripu Reserve Forest under Manas National Park and Tiger Reserve as the proposed 'Raimona National Park'.
  • Ripu reserve forest is the state’s oldest forest and it was the best managed forest in the country till it was ravaged and fragmented by militancy in the last part of the 20th century. 

 West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has named the newly built “Majerhat bridge” in Kolkata as ‘Jai Hind’ bridge to commemorate the 125th Birth Anniversary of Subash Chandra Bose. 

  • January 23, 2021, will be the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji
  • The new bridge has been built in the place of an old one which collapsed in September 2018.
  •  It is 650-metres long and connects the Central part of Kolkata to the Southwestern suburbs of Behala and others.

 Smuggling in India Report 2019-20 has been released by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

  • The report was released during 63rd Founding Day Celebrations of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).
  • The report is an analysis of trends of organized smuggling on Gold and Foreign Currency, Narcotic Drugs, Security, Environment and Commercial Frauds.
  • The awards given during 63rd Founding Day Celebrations are Bravery awards DRI Utkrisht Seva Samman, 2020.
  • The winners of Bravery awards are Najimudeen T S and Sumer Sen (an independent witness).
  • B. Sankaran, an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer has won the DRI Utkrisht Seva Samman, 2020.

 Vice President Venkaiah Naidu has virtually released a commemorative Postage Stamp in honour of the late Prime Minister of India & Freedom Fighter, I K Gujral (Inder Kumar Gujral).

  • I K Gujral was the 12th Prime Minister of India, he served as the Prime Minister from April 1997-March 1998. 
  • He was born in Jhelum (now in Pakistan) in 1919. During his tenure as India’s External Affairs Minister, I K Gujral laid a set of five principles – ‘Gujral Doctrine’ to guide the conduct of foreign relations with India’s immediate neighbours.
  •  He passed away in 2012 due to a lung infection

 Bihar held its first ever migratory bird festival this year.

  • The historic ‘Silk City’ of Bhagalpur has hosted the three-day ‘Bird Festival’ from December 11 to 13, which will showcase hundreds of species of migratory birds that make the riverine diaras their temporary home during the winters.
  • The region houses a large number of migratory birds between November and March every year. 
  • The festival is being jointly organised by the state forest department, the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), a wildlife research organization promoting the cause of nature conservation across the country, and the Mandar Nature Club, a Bhagalpur-based conservation organization.

 Gwalior and Orchha in Madhya Pradesh have been included in the list of UNESCO’s world heritage cities under its urban landscape city programme 

  • UNESCO's approach to managing historic urban landscapes is holistic by integrating the goals of urban heritage conservation and those of social and economic development.
  • This method sees urban heritage as a social, cultural and economic asset for the development of cities
  • The Historic Urban Landscape approach moves beyond the preservation of the physical environment and focuses on the entire human environment with all of its tangible and intangible qualities.

 Lakshadweep is the first Union Territory to become 100% organic 

  • Earlier in 2016, Sikkim became India’s first “100 percent organic” State.
  • The entire 32 square kilometre geographical land area of the UT was declared as organic after receiving required certifications and declarations under Centre’s Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (organic farming improvement programme).
  • Earlier, the UT administration had imposed a formal uniform ban on sale, use and entry of synthetic chemicals for agriculture purposes from October 2017 onwards to make the islands a chemical-free zone.

 The BJP-led government in Karnataka passed the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill (2020) in the Assembly amid strong opposition from the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular).

  • The Bill envisages a ban on all forms of cattle slaughter and stringent punishment for offenders.
  • The 2020 Bill is a revised version of a law passed by the BJP when it was in power in 2010. It was presented in a bid to ban all forms of cattle slaughter by recommending stringent punishment for violators.
  • The 2010 Bill was passed when BJP was in power with B S Yediyurappa as Chief Minister. It was shelved in 2013 by the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government after the Bill failed to get the Governor’s assent.

 BSE (earlier known as Bombay Stock Exchange) has launched an electronic spot platform for agricultural commodities through its subsidiary BSE Investments Ltd.

  • BSE E-Agricultural Markets Ltd (BEAM) will function as a national level, institutionalised, electronic, transparent commodity spot trading platform in line with the Prime Minister's vision to create a single market.
  • With the help of BEAM, farmers in one state will be able to reach out to markets in other states and auction their produce.
  • This will not only help farmers and farmer collectives discover best prices for their products based on the quality but also offers to build capacity to help intermediaries, processors and exporters procure from states.
  • The platform facilitates spot agricultural commodities transactions across value chains consisting of producers, intermediaries, ancillary services and consumers.

 The Union Cabinet has approved the merger of four government film media units with the NFDC (National Film Development Corporation) with an aim of converging activities and resources.

  • The Films Division
  • The Directorate of Film Festivals
  • The National Film Archives of India
  • The Children's Film Society, India 

will be merged with the National Film Development Corporation Limited by expanding the memorandum of articles of association of the NFDC, which will then carry out all the activities performed by the four organisations.

  • The NFDC is a Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU), incorporated in 1975 with the primary objective of planning and promoting an organised, efficient and integrated development of the Indian film industry.
  • The Films Division- was established in 1948 to produce documentaries and news magazines for the publicity of government programmes and cinematic record of Indian history.
  • The Children's Film Society is an autonomous organisation, was founded in 1955 under the Societies Act with the specific objective of providing children value-based entertainment.
  • The National Film Archives of India, a subordinate office of the information and broadcasting ministry, was established as a media unit in 1964 with the primary objective of acquiring and preserving Indian cinematic heritage.
  • The Directorate of Film Festivals, as an attached office of the information and broadcasting ministry, was set up in 1973 to promote Indian films and cultural exchange.

 India has added one more wetland, Tso Kar Wetland Complex in Ladakh, in its list of Ramsar sites under an international convention, meant for preserving ecological character of selected wetlands across the globe. 

  • Tso Kar wetland is India 42nd Ramsar site and the second in the UT of Ladakh.
  • The Tso Kar Basin is a high-altitude wetland complex, consisting of two principal waterbodies, Startsapuk Tso, a freshwater lake of about 438 hectares to the south, and Tso Kar itself, a hypersaline lake of 1,800 hectares to the north, situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh.

 Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are the leading states of India in doing Urban local body reforms.

  • The central government has granted permission to Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh for the additional borrowing of Rs 4998 crore to implement the reforms in urban local bodies.
  • To get additional financial assistance, states have to complete three out of four reforms suggested under the “Scheme for Financial Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure”.
  • The main of the reforms in urban local bodies is to make them financially strong to provide better service to citizens.
  • The two states have successfully completed the set of reforms in functioning of ULBs, as specified by the Department of Expenditure.
  • To motivate the States to undertake reforms in various citizen centric sectors, the Ministry of Finance has linked a part of additional borrowing permission granted to the States to completion of reforms.

 Union Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' virtually laid the foundation stone of 'TiHAN-IIT Hyderabad', India's first Testbed for Autonomous Navigation Systems (Terrestrial and Aerial) 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 (UAVs, ROVs, etc.).
  • Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank has virtually laid the foundation stone of TiHAN-IIT Hyderabad.
  • TiHAN-IIT Hyderabad is the first Test bed for Autonomous Navigation Systems (Terrestrial and Aerial) of India.
  • Under the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS), IIT Hyderabad was provided a grant to set up a Technology Innovation Hub on Autonomous Navigation and Data Acquisition Systems (UAVs, RoVs, etc.).
  • The facility will be available for use by all the industries, R&D labs, academia conducting R&D in the broad areas of autonomous navigation.

 

International Affairs

 Britain has become the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. 

  • The government has accepted the recommendation from the Independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for use. 
  • The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week. Priority for vaccination will be given to healthcare workers and care home residents.
  • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has proven 95 per cent effective against COVID-19 in the final phase trials.

 Bangladesh signed its first Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with Bhutan allowing duty free access to a range of goods between the two countries.

  • This is the first PTA Bangladesh has signed with any country in the world
  • The agreement was signed on the occasion marking the 50 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries
  • In 1971, Bhutan was the first country in the world, followed by India as the second, to recognise Bangladesh as an independent country
  • Bangladesh is expected to sign 11 more PTAs and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with countries like Indonesia and Nepal by June next year.

 The World Economic Forum (WEF) has decided to host its 2021 annual meeting in Singapore, which earlier was scheduled to take place in Lucerne-Burgenstock, Switzerland from 13-16 May 2021.

  • The decision to shift the annual forum from Switzerland has been taken in view of the Covid-19 situation in Europe.
  • This would be the second time since its inception in 1971 that the forum will be held outside Switzerland. In 2002, the forum was held in New York to show solidarity with the American people in the aftermath of 9/11.
  • The meeting is generally held in Davos, Switzerland, but amid covid, the meeting was first shifted to Lucerne-Burgenstock, Switzerland in October 2020. Now again the venue has been shifted to Singapore.
  • It would return to Davos, Switzerland, in 2022.

 The ‘Swadhinata Sarak’ between Bangladesh and India will be opened on 26 March next year. 

  • The road remains functional on the Indian side while it will be connected through Mujibnagar, Meherpur district in Bangladesh.
  • The Chilahati-Haldibari rail link which was active till 1965 will be inaugurated during the summit meeting between the two Prime Ministers on December 17.
  • The two countries have set an example by resolving issues like Land Border Agreement (LBA) and maritime boundaries through dialogue and discussions.

 The first Trilateral Working Group Meeting between India, Iran and Uzbekistan on the joint use of Chabahar Port was held virtually on December 14, 2020.

The meeting was held as a follow up of decisions taken during the virtual summit held between Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and President H.E. Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan on December 11, 2020.

India and Bangladesh have reopened the Chilahati-Haldibari rail link after 55 years.

  • The inauguration of the rail link took place during the Virtual Summit of the Prime Ministers of India and Bangladesh on Dec 17, 2020.
  • The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link was part of the Broad Gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri.
  • With the inauguration of the Haldibari-Chilahati rail link, five out of six rail links will become operational. The other four operational rail links between India and Bangladesh are Petrapole-Benapole, Gede-Darshana, Singhabad-Rohanpur and Radhikapur-Birol.
  • Haldibari-Chilahati route will enhance connectivity to Assam and West Bengal from Bangladesh.

 The 4th Bilateral Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting between the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) India and the National Narcotics Board (BNN), Indonesia was held on 17th  December, 2020. 

  • The Indian delegation was led by Shri Rakesh Asthana, Director General, Narcotics Control Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The  Indonesian delegation was led by Mr. PujiSarwono, Deputy of Legal Affairs and Cooperation, National Narcotic Board of Indonesia.
  • Both the countries agreed on exchange of intelligence information in a timely manner to conduct follow-up investigation in drug seizure cases, New Psychoactive Substances and their precursors. 
  • The 5th India -Indonesia Bilateral Joint Working Group Meeting on Drug Control Cooperation will be held in India in 2021

 Hawker culture in Singapore has been officially added to the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

  • Singapore’s tradition of communal dining at hawker centres, open air food courts is very popular by celebrity chefs.
  • “Hawker” centers across Singapore were started in the 1970s to provide space to street vendors.These centers have been added to the list for their cultural significance.
  • Singapore’s hawker centres were set up to house former street vendors, or “hawkers” in an effort to clean up the island in the 1970s and serve a variety of cheap, no-frills dishes to locals as well as providing a social setting.

Sports Affairs

 The Sports Ministry has approved the inclusion of four indigenous Games to be a part of Khelo India Youth Games 2021, scheduled to take place in Haryana.

  • The games include Gatka, Kalaripayattu, Thang-Ta and Mallakhamba.
  • In the 2021 Khelo India Youth Games these four disciplines, along with Yogasana are expected to get their much deserved attention among sports enthusiasts and youth of the country.

The four selected games represent different parts of the country. 

  • Kalaripayattu has its origin from Kerala and has practitioners all over the world. 
  • Mallakhamba has been well-known across India and Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have been the hotspots of this sport. 
  • Gatka originates from Punjab and this traditional fighting style of the Nihang Sikh Warriors is used both as self-defense as well as a sport. 
  • Thang-Ta is a Manipuri martial art.

 Yulimar Rojas and Mondo Duplantis crowned 2020 World Athletes of the Year

  • Swedish pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis and Venezuelan triple jumper Yulimar Rojas are the 2020 Male and Female World Athletes of the Year.
  • They are their countries' first recipients of the prestigious athletics award announced during the virtual World Athletics Awards on 5 December.
  • At 20, Duplantis is the youngest ever winner of the Male Athlete of the Year Award after twice breaking the absolute world record (6.17m and 6.18m) in February before producing the highest outdoor vault in history (6.15m) in September.

Bala Devi created history by becoming the first Indian woman to score in a professional European football league.

  •  The Rangers FC player scored against Motherwell. Rangers won the match 9-0, with the attacker also helping her side win a penalty. 
  • Devi joined the Scottish club in January 2020. She became the first Indian woman to sign a professional football contract overseas.
  • Ngangom Bala Devi is an Indian women's footballer who plays as a forward for Scottish Women's Premier League club Rangers and India women's national football team.
  • The forward joined the Scottish club in January 2020, and became the first Indian woman to sign a professional football contract overseas.

 The India Sports Awards -2020 were presented by the Federation of Indian Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to sports personalities who have made outstanding contributions in the field of sports.

  • Madhya Pradesh has been awarded the "Best State Promoting Sports Award'' for the unprecedented development being made in the state in the field of sports and the international sports facilities being provided to the players. 
  • Tokyo Olympics-bound athletes — wrestler Bajrang Punia and shooter Elavenil Valarivan — bagged the top honours at the FICCI India Sports Awards 2020 held virtually this year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The two athletes, who have had an impressive 2019-20 season, won the Sportsperson of the Year awards in their respective categories.

The 2023 Indian Ocean Island Games (IOIG), will take place in Madagascar, instead of Maldives.

  • The Indian Ocean Island Games Federation has changed the host nation due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 2023 Indian Ocean Island Games will be the 11th edition of this multi-sport event for athletes representing the National Olympic Committees of Indian Ocean island nations.
  • Maldives had received the hosting right of the event in 2019.

 The International Golf Federation (IGF) elected Annika Sorenstam as its new president effective January 1, 2021. 

  • IGF President, Peter Dawson, is stepping down after 10  years of leadership and service. 
  • Sorenstam, a 72-time winner on the LPGA Tour and former No. 1 from Sweden.
  • International Golf Federation HQs  Lausanne, Switzerland

 Breakdancing was one of four new sports along with skateboarding, Surfing and sport climbing to get the Olympic green light for inclusion at the 2024 Paris Games.

  • The four sports were included as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board met to confirm the Paris 2024 programme.
  • Skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing have already been added to the programme for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which will take place in 2021 after being postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sri Lanka will host the Asia Cup in June 2021 while Pakistan has earned the rights to host the tournament in 2022. 

  • As per the original schedule, the tournament was supposed to be hosted by Pakistan in 2020, however, it got postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Now the event has been moved forward to June 2021, with Sri Lanka Cricket taking the hosting rights from PCB. 
  • As compensation, PCB has got the hosting rights for the 2022 edition.

 Red Bull’s racer Max Verstappen (Netherlands) won Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2020, which was held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

  • This was his second victory of the Formula 1 season and 10th victory of his international racing career.
  • The race was the 17th and final round of the 2020 Formula One World Championship.
  • Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes-Finland) bagged 2nd place, followed by Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-Great Britain).

 The 2030 Asian Games were awarded to Doha, Qatar and the 2034 event went to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia after a deal was struck between the rival nations.

  • Doha beat Riyadh for the 2030 Games in the vote at the Olympic Council of Asia’s (OCA) general assembly.
  • The vote took place amid a bitter and long-running political dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. 
  • Saudi Arabia is one of four countries which has imposed a trade and travel boycott on Qatar since 2017.
  • Qatar will also host the 2022 World Cup.
  • Asian Games 2022- China
  • Asian Games 2026- Japan

 Robert Lewandowski won FIFA Best Men’s Player for 2020.

  • It is the biggest individual prize of his career.
  • Lucy Bronze was voted the best women’s player to give England its first individual victory at the FIFA awards. 
  • Bronze got 52 points from the women’s voting jury. 
  • Lewandowski is also the first men’s winner from a club outside Spain since Ronaldo won the 2008 award as a Manchester United player.

 India has pledged a sum of USD 1 million to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) towards the global agency’s scientific research budget, which will allow WADA to develop innovative anti-doping testing and detection methods.

  • The money will also be used to further strengthen WADA’s independent Investigations and Intelligence Department.
  • India’s contribution of USD 1 million is the highest among contributions made by other world governments, including China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
  • The total contribution of all member nations will be matched by an equal sum by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to create a corpus of USD 10 million. 
  • WADA HQs-Montreal, Canada
  • WADA President Witold Banka

 The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has appointed former Test cricketer Mohammad Wasim as the chairman of its selection committee until the 2023 World Cup

  • Former wicketkeeper-batsman Saleem Yousuf was confirmed as chair of the PCB Cricket Committee.
  • Former Pakistan international Mohammad Wasim took over the role from Misbah-ul-Haq.
  • Wasim has been handed the duties until the next ICC Men's Cricket World Cup in 2023 and his first assignment will involve selection for the upcoming two Tests and three-match T20I series against South Africa. 

Maharashtra's first international sports university will be set up in Pune district and start functioning from the academic session 2021-22.

  • The institution will bring together faculties of various sports activities and help in research to bring up international level sports-persons.
  • The Maharashtra cabinet last week approved a draft bill for the constitution of the international sports university, and it was passed in the just-concluded winter session of the state Legislature.

 Indian boxers bagged nine medals including three golds, two silver and four bronze at the Cologne Boxing World Cup held in Koln, Germany.

  • Indian boxers Amit Panghal (men's 52kg), Simranjit Kaur (women's 60kg) and Manisha Moun (women's 57kg) won gold medals in their respective weight divisions at the Cologne Boxing World Cup in Germany.
  • Panghal had beaten France's Billal Bennama in the semis to earn his gold medal bout.
  • Simranjit Kaur defeated Maya Kleinhans in the title bout to clinch the top prize. 
  • Manisha Moun defeated two-time AIBA Women’s Youth World Champion Sakshi Choudhary in a closely fought contest.

 Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has won this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

  • The Stevenage driver received the award at the end of a season in which he broke Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 race wins
  • He tied the German’s record seven titles.
  • Liverpool FC captain Jordan Henderson was runner-up, with jockey Hollie Doyle third.

 Rafael Nadal has received the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the third year straight and fourth time overall after winning a 13th Roland Garros crown.

  • World No. 1 Novak Djokovic along with US Open champions Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares were also honoured for finishing 2020 on top of the men's singles and men's doubles rankings.
  • Federer, who played only six singles all year, was the singles fans’ favourite for a record-extending 18th straight year, and Tiafoe was given the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award for his social activity. 

 India's top basketball player Satnam Singh Bhamara has been banned for two years by the National Anti-Doping Agency's (NADA).

  • He created history by becoming the first Indian player to be drafted into an NBA team in 2015
  • Bhamara's ban period  kicked off retrospectively from November 19, 2019, the day the basketball player had voluntarily accepted the provisional suspension imposed by NADA. Bhamara's suspension will end on November 18, 2021.
  •  During this period, he won't be able to represent India.

 India’s best junior Grandmasters Nihal Sarin, D Gukesh and Women International Master (WIM) Rakshitta Ravi won gold medals in their respective categories in the FIDE Online World Youth and Cadet Rapid Championships.

  • Sarin beat Armenian GM Shant Sargyan in the Open under-18 section final.
  • Rakshitta Ravi also won by a similar margin against China's Song Yuxin in the girls under-16 final.
  • Gukesh beat Volodar Murzin in the final of the under-14 category.
  • Mrinmoy Rajkhowa won the bronze medal for India in the U-10 Open group.

 Chetan Sharma, former Indian pacer has been appointed chairman of the senior national selection panel by the BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC).

  • Abbey Kuruvilla and Debashis Mohanty were picked in the five-member team.
  • Chetan, 54, represented India in 23 Tests and 65 ODIs during an 11-year-old international career. The highlight of his career was his hat-trick in the 1987 World Cup.
  • At the age of 16, Sharma started playing first-class cricket for Haryana and made his Test debut aged 18, a year after making his ODI debut against the West Indies in December 1983.

 FIFA has cancelled men’s Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups due to coronavirus pandemic. These World Cups will now be played in 2023

Indonesia is still hosting the Under-20s and Peru the Under-17s.

  • COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges for the hosting of international sporting events.
  • It will be the 19th edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, the biennial international men's youth football championship contested by the under-17 national teams of the member associations of FIFA. 
  • The two host countries, Australia and New Zealand will automatically qualify for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023.

 Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has announced that India’s biggest hockey stadium will come up at Rourkela.

  • The 20,000-capacity facility will host matches of FIH men’s World Cup in 2023.
  • It will be spreaded over 15 acres of land. 
  • The stadium will be constructed in the Biju Patnaik University of Technology campus.
  • FIH men’s World Cup 2023 tournament will be organised both in the capital city Bhubaneswar and Rourkela in Sundargarh district.

 India captain Virat Kohli has won the Sir Garfield Sobers award for ICC Male Cricketer of the Decade

  • Kohli was also picked for the ODI Cricketer of the Decade award.
  • Former India skipper MS Dhoni won the 'ICC Spirit of Cricket Award of the Decade', chosen by fans for his gesture of calling back England batsman Ian Bell after a bizarre run out in the Nottingham Test in 2011.
  • Ellyse Perry wins the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Award for ICC Female Cricketer of the Decade
  • She is ICC Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Decade and T20I Cricketer of the Decade

 Cristiano Ronaldo has won the 'Player of the Century' award at the Globe Soccer Awards.

  • Robert Lewandowski, during the event, won the Player of the Year award.
  • The club's coach Hansi Flick bagged the Coach of the Year award.
  • Also, Bayern Munich won the Club of the Year award.
  • Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola won the Coach of the Century award. 
  • Spanish giants Real Madrid won the Club of the Century award during the event.

 Zena Wooldridge from England has been elected as the World Squash Federation President.

  • She will become the 10th WSF President to serve since the Federation’s inception in 1967. She is the second female President after New Zealand’s Susie Simcock. 
  • She replaces outgoing President Jacques Fontaine, from France. 
  • She previously served six years as President of the European Squash Federation between 2013-2019.
  • HQs-Hastings, England 

Schemes and Policies

 The Union Cabinet has approved the PM-WANI (Wi-Fi Access Network Interface) scheme.

  • The Cabinet has approved a proposal of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for creating Public Wi-Fi Networks by Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOAs).
  • The Public Wi-Fi Networks will allow the public to access public Wi-Fi service through Public Data Offices (PDOs) all over the country without levy of any License Fee and this Public Wi-Fi Access Network Interface will be called PM-WANI.
  •  It will also strengthen the Digital India mission.
  • Registration is not required for PDOs. However, it is mandatory for App Providers to register through SARAL SANCHAR, an online registration portal of DoT.

 The Assam government has launched a massive beneficiary scheme,the Orunodoi scheme. 

  • Under this scheme, an amount of Rs 830 per month will be given to the qualified 22 lakh families to purchase fundamental items like medicines, pulses, sugar, etc and the state government will spend Rs 2,400 crore annually.
  • Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal will formally launch the scheme during a ceremonial function to be held at Amingaon in Kamrup (Metro) district.

 The West Bengal government’s flagship outreach programme, Duare Sarkar has been launched recently. 

  • The scheme will provide public services delivery on doorstep and hear out grievances of other welfare schemes.
  • The special drive will be held between December 1, 2020, and January 30, 2021.
  • Under this scheme, 20,000 camps will be organised in four phases to avail scheme benefits.

 The Uttar Pradesh government has recently launched a scheme to take the unique culture of its ethnic Tharu tribe across the world.

  • The scheme involves creating homestays. The idea is to offer tourists an experience of living in the natural Tharu habitat, in traditional huts made of grass collected mainly from the forests.
  • The community belongs to the Terai lowlands, amid the Shivaliks or lower Himalayas. Most of them are forest dwellers, and some practice agriculture.
  • The word tharu is believed to be derived from sthavir, meaning followers of Theravada Buddhism.
  • The Tharus live in both India and Nepal. In the Indian terai, they live mostly in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar.
  • Tharu women have stronger property rights than is allowed to women in mainstream North Indian Hindu custom.

 Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy launched ‘Jagananna Jeeva Kranthi’ scheme, under which 2.49 lakh sheep and goat units will be distributed to women in a phased manner at a cost of ₹1,869 crore.

  • Each unit consists of 15 animals including a ram or billy goat.
  • The scheme aims to raise the living standards of women with less labour and less investment. 
  • By promoting agricultural allied sectors, more economic development will occur and eventually benefit farmers.
  • Under the scheme, women from the Backward Class (BC,) the Scheduled Caste (SC), and the Scheduled Tribe (ST) between the age groups of 45 and 60 years will get the livestock.
  • The State has signed MoUs with Reliance, Allana group, Amul, HUL, Procter & Gamble and ITC to collaborate and empower women beneficiaries of YSR Cheyutha and Aasara schemes.
  • These MoUs are aimed at providing more business opportunities and bring self-reliance 

among the women by extending financial assistance.

 Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy  has launched the ‘YSR Free Crop Insurance’ scheme and directly credited Rs.1,252 crore into the bank accounts of 9.48 lakh farmers who have lost their crops in 2019.

  • About 49.80 lakh farmers have been brought under the insurance cover and the state government took the responsibility by paying Rs.971 crore towards premium for the fiscal 2019-20.
  • 45.96 lakh hectares of land was covered with insurance.
  • The crop loss enumeration was done with regard to the Nivar Cyclone.
  • The details would be displayed at Rythu Bharosa Kendras (RBKs) along with village secretariats and compensation would be paid by December 31.

 Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has announced the launch of the ‘Kisan Kalyan Mission’ for doubling the income of farmers.

  • Under it, many programs will be organized by the state government, including exhibitions related to agriculture sectors, MSME products, and livelihood missions.
  • The farmer’s meeting will be organized to provide information to farmers about government schemes related to the agriculture sector. Scientist and Agriculture department workers will also explain the benefits of scientific farming to farmers.
  • The central government has set a target of doubling farmers’ income by the year 2022. 

 PM Modi launched the Social Endeavour for Health and Telemedicine- SEHAT scheme in UT of Jammu & Kashmir on December 26, 2020. 

  • The scheme will cover the remaining one crore population which has not been covered under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme.
  • With the launch of the Sehat scheme in Jammu & Kashmir by PM Modi, the Union Territory will be among the first in India to achieve Universal Health Coverage. 
  • Currently, under Ayushman Bharat PM Jan Arogya Yojana- PMJAY, 30 lakh people are covered in Jammu and Kashmir. 
  • Under PMJAY, the eligible beneficiaries have been covered under health cover of Rs. 5 lakh.

 Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal launched several important schemes on the occasion of Good Governance Day.

  • Mukhyamantri Bagwani Bima Yojana for insurance of horticultural crops was announced by the CM. 
  • Under this scheme, farmers' crops will be compensated for losses due to adverse weather and natural disasters.
  • He had also announced an innovative project "Suksham Sinchai Se Har Khet Mein Pani", through which water availability to farmers would be ensured by on-farm micro irrigation based on canal water and STP treated wastewater that would be launched on a pilot-basis from January 1, 2021.

Awards and Recognition

 US President Donald Trump presented the prestigious Legion of Merit award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

  • India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu accepted the award on behalf of the prime minister from the US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien at the White House.
  • Mr Modi was presented with the highest degree Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit which is given only to the Head of State or Government. 
  • The awards were received by their respective ambassadors in Washington DC.

 Ranjitsinh Disale from Solapur, Maharashtra, has won the $1-million Global Teacher Prize 2020.

  • Ranjitsinh Disale has been given the prize for his contribution to promoting girls’ education and quick-response (QR) coded textbook revolution in India.
  • His school became the first in Maharashtra to introduce QR codes. 
  • The Human Resources Development Ministry then brought QR codes for all the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks in 2018.

 Actor John Abraham has been awarded the ‘Person of the Year’ title by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), India.

  • In 2020, John had sent a letter urging e-retailer Quikr to stop trading in live animals. Over the years, he has teamed up with PETA India to push for a ban on animal circuses, speak up for Mumbai’s dancing monkeys, and star in an ad-campaign urging everyone not to keep birds in cages. 
  • He also adopted a community dog, urged authorities to stop illegal pig slaughter in Goa and put a football jersey on the auction block to benefit the organisations that help animals.
  • Past recipients of the honour include politician Shashi Tharoor, former Supreme Court Justice KS Panicker Radhakrishnan, cricketer Virat Kohli, and actors Anushka Sharma.

 UNCTAD has announced Invest India as the winner of the 2020 United Nations Investment Promotion Award.

  • The award was presented at the headquarters of UNCTAD in Geneva.
  • The award is presented to recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements and best practices of Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs).
  • UNCTAD assessed the work done by 180 Investment Promotion Agencies.
  • Some of the good practices followed by Invest India are Business Immunity Platform, Exclusive Investment Forum webinar series, its social media engagement, focus COVID response teams created, etc.
  • The UN Investment Promotion Award is the most honourable award for Investment Promotion Agencies. Some of the past winners of this award are Germany, South Korea and Singapore.

 NGO HelpAge India received the "2020 UN Population Award" in the institutional category for its contribution towards serving disadvantaged elderly people and raising awareness on their cause.

  • The UN Population Award, established by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1981, recognises contributions in the fields of population and reproductive health.
  •  The award ceremony was held virtually in the UN's New York office.
  • Bhutan's Queen Mother Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck was given the 2020 United Nations Population Award in the individual category for her work on sexual health and gender violence.

 The Harmony Foundation has awarded this year’s Mother Teresa Memorial Awards.

  • The theme for Harmony Foundation’s award this year is ‘Celebrating Compassion in Times Of Covid’ and the award ceremony was held virtually on December 27.
  • KK Shailaja; Minister of Health, Kerala, famous chef Vikas Khanna, 
  • Dr. Pradeep Kumar and IPS officer Sanjay Pandey are the award winners from India. 
  • Harmony Foundation is an international NGO which works in the realm of Social Justice. It was founded in October of 2005.

 The Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians 2020 was awarded to Dr. Carolina Araujo

  • She is a mathematician from the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IMPA), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in a virtual ceremony on 9th December 2020.
  • The prize was awarded annually to a researcher from a developing country funded by the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India in collaboration with ICTP (International Centre for Theoretical Physics), and the International Mathematical Union was given for her outstanding work in algebraic geometry.

 UNESCO has decided to launch an international prize in the field of ‘creative economy’ in the name of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. 

  • Starting November 2021, the dollar 50 thousand award will be given away once in two years for global economic initiatives of the youth.
  • The award will recognise exceptional initiatives taken by cultural workers and organizations in the development of the creative economy.
  • The award will create an opportunity to spread the ideology of Bangabandhu in the world and inspire the cultural workers to develop the creative economy.
  • UNESCO has declared 2021 as ‘International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development’.

 Ashraf Patel of Pravah & ComMutiny Youth Collective wins the Social Entrepreneur of the Year (SEOY) Award – India 2020

  • It is the 11th edition of the annual award, instituted by the Schwab Foundation and Jubilant Bhartia Foundation in 2010.
  • The Schwab Foundation is the sister organisation of the World Economic Forum.
  • The award was presented by Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Hon. Minister of Women & Child Development &Textiles, Government of India at a virtual ceremony in presence of eminent personalities from different fields from across the world.

 Vidyut Mohan has won the prestigious 2020 Young Champions of the Earth Award by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) 

  • He co-founded Takachar, which builds affordable and portable biomass upgrading equipment, allowing farmers to earn extra income and prevent open burning by converting crop waste into fuels, fertilizers and activated carbon.
  • The Young Champions of the Earth prize is awarded every year to seven entrepreneurs under the age of 30 with bold ideas for sustainable environmental change.

 The Indian Institute of Technology- Madras has bagged the ‘Most Innovative Institute of the Year’ award from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for its disruptive innovations.

  • This award is one of the categories in CII Industrial Innovation Awards 2020 and was bestowed during the DST-CII Technology Summit’ held virtually.
  • Innovations recognised for this award include VITALSENS, a platform technology for wearable health monitoring device
  • "Arise" standing wheelchair for disabled people and Shakti, India's first indigenous microprocessor.

Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has presented the ‘ASSOCHAM Enterprise of the Century Award’ to Shri Ratan Tata, who received the award on behalf of the TATA Group

  • ASSOCHAM has commemorated its journey over the past century and its Foundation Day on 12th December 2020. 
  • The chamber has organized a 5-day virtual event from 15th to 19th December 2020.
  • The theme of the programme is, ‘India’s resilience: Atmanirbhar roadmap towards $5 trillion economy.
  • The Associated Chambers of Commerce of India or ASSOCHAM was established in 1920 by promoter chambers representing all regions of India. It has over 400 chambers and trade associations in its fold and serves over 4.5 lakh members across India.

 The Chief Minister Secretariat of Bihar, National Informatics Centre and the Disaster Management Department have been jointly chosen as winners in “Pandemic Category” in Digital India Awards, 2020.

  • The Bihar Government provided Rs 1000 to workers coming from outside Bihar.
  • The assistance was provided through “Bihar Sahayata Mobile App”.
  • Earlier the Uttar Pradesh Food and Civil Supplies Department won the Digital India Award, 2020 under the “Excellence in Digital Governance” category. It was selected for its Points of Sale based food distribution, online billing and payment for food grains purchased from farmers, GPS tracking of vehicles transporting food grains.

 Haryana government’s e-governance project Antyodaya Saral has won the Digital India Awards 2020 under the “Excellence in Digital Governance” category.

  • The award was conferred on December 30 by President Ram Nath Kovind.
  • Antyodaya Saral is government to citizen focused public service delivery online platform that can be used to apply for over 549 schemes and services of the state government.
  • Currently, services from 40 departments, boards and corporations are being provided with the help of Common Service Centre (CSC) and 117 Antyodaya Saral Kendras.

British Indian journalist and author Anita Anand’s book has won a prestigious history-literary prize in the UK.

  • The book titled, “The Patient Assassin”: A True Tale of Massacre, Revenge and the Raj” beat six other titles for the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History 2020, awarded annually for a non-fiction book of specifically historical content.
  • The judges described it as a “genuine historical classic” which will be read for decades to come.
  • Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay New India Foundation Book Prize 2020 was given jointly to Amit Ahuja for his Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements (Oxford University Press) and to former Union minister Jairam Ramesh for his A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of VK Krishna Menon (Penguin Random House), a biography of politician and diplomat VK Krishna Menon.

Important Appointments

 Indian-origin Anil Soni has been appointed as the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the WHO Foundation.

  • He will take his position from 1 January 2021. He was head of Global Infectious Diseases at Viatris. Viatris is a global healthcare company.
  • He has served as Senior Advisor, HIV at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and CEO at Clinton Health Access Initiative.  
  • He has also worked in different roles for Global Fund to fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis and for Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

 Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati has been elected as the vice president of Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, one of the largest broadcasting associations in the world.

  • The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union was formed in 1964 as a professional association of broadcasting organisations with over 286 members in 57 countries and regions, reaching the potential population of about three billion people.
  • Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union HQs- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has approved the empanelment of Manoj Singh Rawat as the Additional Director General (ADG) of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

  • He is the first-ever officer from the cadre to be promoted to the ADG rank.
  • Mr Rawat has a wide range of field and training experience acquired both in India and abroad.
  • At present, he is heading the Operations branch of the ITBP at its headquarters in New Delhi.
  •  He is likely to head the newly created Western Command at Chandigarh.

 Vineet Agarwal, managing director of logistics major Transport Corporation of India Limited (TCIL) has taken over as the new president of ASSOCHAM  (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India).

  • He replaces Dr Niranjan Hiranandani, co-founder and managing director, Hiranandani Group of Companies who has completed his tenure at the chamber, during its centenary year.
  • Sumant Sinha, Chairman and Managing Director of ReNew Power, is the new Senior Vice-President of Assocham.

 IAS officer and joint secretary in the Union fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying ministry, Varsha Joshi, has been appointed as interim chairman of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB).

  • Joshi will replace Dilip Rath, whose tenure gets over on December 1.
  • NDDB HQs- Anand, Gujarat  
  • Dilip Rath has been unanimously elected to the board of global dairy body International Dairy Federation (IDF).
  • International Dairy Federation Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium.

 Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has appointed senior IAS officer Utpal Kumar Singh as Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha.

  • He will succeed incumbent Snehlata Shrivastava. 
  • Singh has been appointed as Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha in the rank and status of Cabinet Secretary with effect from December 1, 2020, the Lok Sabha secretariat said in a statement.
  • At present, he is posted as Secretary in the Lok Sabha secretariat. 

Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry assumed the charge as 27th Director General Border Roads (DGBR) on December 1, 2020.

  • Lt Gen Chaudhary succeeds Lt Gen Harpal Singh who has been appointed as the new Engineer-in-Chief of the Indian Army.
  • Some of his important appointments include command of an engineer unit and command of an engineer brigade.
  • Before taking over as Director General Border Roads, he was holding the appointment of ADG LW&E in QMG’s Branch at Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defence (Army).

Uday Shankar has become the new President of FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry)

  • He has succeeded Sangita Reddy.
  • Shankar is the President of The Walt Disney Company for Asia Pacific and the Chairman of Star and Disney India.
  • He is the first-ever media and entertainment executive in India to lead a national industry chamber such as FICCI, which is India's oldest industry body.

 

Books and Authors 

 Alfredo Covelli, an Italy based author has launched his new book Vahana Masterclass for children and Young Audience in the Indian market.

The books will be illustrated and published by Scholastic India. 

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has released the book '40-Years with Abdul Kalam- Untold Stories' authored by Dr A Sivathanu Pillai, former chief of BrahMos Aerospace at a virtual function organised in Chennai. 

  • The book is published by Pentagon Press LLP and the foreword was written by Pranab Mukherjee, former president of India.

 Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank presented the first copy of his inspirational book “Pioneer of Humanity: Maharishi Arvind” to President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhava

  • The book is in Hindi with the title ‘Manavta ke Praneta Maharishi Arvind’.

Best-selling author Amish Tripathi has announced a new non-fiction book Dharma: Decoding the Epics for a Meaningful Life. 

  • This would be his second in the genre after Immortal India, which was released in 2017.
  • The book has been co-authored by Amish’s sister Bhavna Roy, and offers practical and philosophical lessons from our epics that are relevant in the modern world.
  • Published by Westland Publications, the book is written in a conversational style (echoing the method of many ancient Upanishads). 

 The memoir, titled "The Presidential Years", will be globally released in January 2021.

The new book by late former president Pranab Mukherjee will recount his fascinating journey from growing up under the flicker of a lamp in a remote village of Bengal to walking the rampart of the Rasthrapati Bhavan as the first citizen of India. It is published by Rupa Books.

 Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi's new book titled 'COVID-19: Sabhyata ka Sankat aur Samadhan' (COVID-19: Crisis of Civilisation and Solutions) was launched online on December 17, 2020 by former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh.

 The book, titled “Vajpayee: The Years that Changed India”  is written by author Shakti Sinha.

The book was released on the occasion of Vajpayee’s 96th birth anniversary (December 25).

The author, Shakti Sinha had worked with him for three and a half years in the 1990s, first as a secretary to the leader of the Opposition (1996-97) and later as his private secretary (1998-99)

 Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu has released a book of English poems titled Oh Mizoram, written by Mizoram Governor P.S. Sreedharan Pillai.

Pillai is a successful lawyer, an orator, a prolific writer, a philanthropist, and a thinker.

 External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has recently launched the book titled 'Reporting India: My Seventy-Year Journey as a Journalist’

  • It was written by the ANI Chairman Prem Prakash 
  • The book depicts the history of India from a foreign policy perspective.

 The book "In Pursuit Of Justice: An Autobiography" written by Late Justice Rajindar Sachar.

  • Rajindar Sachar retired as the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court in 1985. 
  • He was widely known for his seminal report titled the "Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India (better known as the Sachar Committee Report : 2006) 

 Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Devendra Fadnavis has recently released a book titled  'Ayodhya' written by BJP's State Vice President Madhav Bhandari.

  • This book constitutes various references related to Ayodhya. It provides information about the history of the Ram temple.   

Union Minister of state (I/C) for AYUSH and Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik released a Konkani book titled “Sutranivednachi sutra- ek anbav”.

  • The book has been written by Dr Roopa Chari, a well-known personality in the field of Compering.
  • This book will help aspiring youngsters, who wish to make a career in the field of Compering.

Important Days and Themes

 World AIDS Day is observed on the 1st of December, every year, since 1988. 

AIDS is the abbreviation for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

 The National Pollution Control Day is celebrated every year on 2nd of December in India.

It is observed to give honor and memorialize thousands of human beings who had lost their existence because of the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984.

Border Security Force (BSF) 56th Rising Day - 1st Dec

  • Motto of BSF - 'Duty for Life' (Jeevan Paryant Kartavya)
  • Gujarat cadre IPS officer of 1984-batch Rakesh Asthana took charge as the 27th Director-General of Border Security Force (BSF)

 World Computer Literacy Day is observed on Dec 2nd every year to promote digital literacy about computers and technology and to reduce digital division in the world.

 International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed on December 3.

    • Theme - “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.
  • The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was instituted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1992. 

 Navy Day is celebrated in India on December 4.

  • Indian Navy has decided to observe 2021 as ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ to commemorate the golden jubilee year of Victory in the Indo-Pak war 1971.
  • In India, the Navy Day is celebrated in the memory of the launch of Operation Trident during the Indo-Pak war in 1971. The day is celebrated as a mark of reverence to those who were martyred in the war.

International Volunteer Day (IVD) is observed by the UN General Assembly, each year on 5 December.

  • This day was mandated by the UN General Assembly in 1985.
  • International Volunteer Day-2020 theme- "Together We Can Through Volunteering"

 World Soil Day (WSD) is held annually on 5th December to raise awareness regarding the importance of healthy soil and the sustainable management of soil resources.

2020 World Soil Day Campaign and Theme -"Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity

 International Civil Aviation Day is celebrated every year on 7th December 

  • Theme 2020: “Advancing Innovation for Global Aviation Development”
  • HQs- Montreal, Canada

The Armed Forces Flag Day has been observed in India since 7th December 1949. 

  • The day is dedicated towards collection of funds from the people.
  • The month of December is to be celebrated as “Gaurav Maah”.

 International Anti-corruption day 2020 date falls on December 9 every year. 

The theme of the day is, 'United Against Corruption' which focuses on corruption as one of the biggest obstacles to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 Human Rights Day is celebrated on December 10.

  • The day is celebrated on this day every year to commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 
  • The declaration was adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 as the shared standard yardstick to protect human rights across the globe. The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC India has organized a function through virtual mode to celebrate Human Rights Day. 

The United Nations General Assembly designated 11 December “International Mountain Day”. 

Theme- Mountain Biodiversity 

 Every year, UNICEF Day is observed on December 11 by the United Nations because the United Nations General Assembly created UNICEF on December 11, 1946. 

  • UNICEF stands for United Nations International Children Emergency Fund.
  • The UN adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Child on November 20, 1959. It also adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1989 and is guided by this convention.
  • It was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace in 1965. 

 The National Energy Conservation Day is celebrated every year on December 14.

 'Energy Conservation Day' is celebrated to raise awareness among the general public about the importance of energy conservation and energy efficiency.

 On 12 December 2017, the United Nations proclaimed 12 December as International Universal Health Coverage Day.

Theme of this year is Health For All - Protect Everyone.

 The nation celebrates 16 December as Vijay Diwas to commemorate India’s victory over Pakistan in 1971 war. 

  • Vijay Diwas is celebrated on December 16 every year by the two nations to commemorate India's victory over Pakistan and the liberation of Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, in 1971.

 The United Nations (UN) International Migrants Day is annually held on December 18 to recognize the efforts, contributions, and rights of migrants worldwide

 Minorities Rights Day is celebrated by the National Commission for Minorities in India on December 18 every year. 

  • United Nations on 18 December, 1992 adopted and broadcast the Statement on the individual's Rights belonging to religious or Linguistic National or Ethnic Minorities. 
  • Union Ministry of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi 
  • The National commission for Minorities was established under the National Commission for  Minorities act, 1992.

 Goa Liberation Day is observed on December 19 every year in India and it marks the day Indian armed forces freed Goa in 1961 following 450 years of Portuguese rule.

International Human Solidarity Day is observed on 20 December. 

The Day aims to raise public awareness of the importance of solidarity. 

 National Mathematics Day is celebrated on 22 December annually to commemorate the birth anniversary of the famous mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.

The Indian government had also declared 2012 as the National Mathematics year.

 Kisan Diwas or National Farmers' Day is observed on December 23, the birth anniversary of Chaudhary Charan Singh, the fifth prime minister of India.

National Consumer Day is observed on 24th December.

On this day in the year 1986, the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, had received assent from the President of India. 

  • Theme 2020 - “The Sustainable Consumer”

Good Governance Day is observed in India annually on the 25th of December  to mark the 96th birth anniversary of the former Prime Minister.

  • On this day; Prime Minister Narendra Modi has released a book titled 'Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Parliament: A Commemorative Volume'.

  • Atal Bihari Vajpayee served as the Prime Minister of India for three times. 

 The first-ever International Day of Epidemic Preparedness observed on 27th December.

Obituary

 ISRO scientist and Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre's former director Dr S Ramakrishnan passed away.

  • He was 70. 
  • He is a recipient of several prestigious awards including the Padma Shri.
  • He had also served as a member of the International Council of Aerospace Scientists and Chairman of the Flight Readiness Review Committee on ISRO launches.

 Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali; former Prime Minister of Pakistan, passed away in Rawalpindi at the age of 76.

  • Jamali served as the premier from November 2002 until June 2004
  • Jamali, the country's first and only elected Prime Minister from Balochistan, had served during the military regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf. 
  • However, Gen Musharraf sought his resignation in 2004 and he was replaced by Shaukat Aziz.

Administrator of Lakshadweep Dineshwar Sharma, who earlier headed the Intelligence Bureau passed away. 

  • He was also the Interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir. 
  • The 66-year-old retired IPS officer of the Kerala cadre had been appointed administrator of the Lakshadweep Union Territory in October 2019.
  • A recipient of the Indian Police Medal for meritorious service in 1997, Dineshwar Sharma was also conferred the President's Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 2003.

 Renowned Physicist and Sikh activist Narinder Singh Kapany passed away recently. 

  • He was 94.
  • He was popularly called the ‘father of fiber optics’ and had more than 100 patents in his name.
  • Kapany was the first to transmit images through fiber optics back in 1954 and laid the foundation for high speed internet technology.
  • He not only founded fiber optics, but also used his own invention for the business.

 Dennis Ralston, a five-time Grand Slam doubles champion who was one of the first players signed to the professional World Championship Tennis tour in the 1960s and a member of the sport’s Hall of Fame passed away. 

  • He was 78.
  • Ralston lost to Manuel Santana of Spain in three sets in the 1966 Wimbledon final.
  • He reached the semifinals at the 1960 U.S. national championships and the 1970 Australian Open. 

 Eminent aerospace scientist Prof. Roddam Narasimha passed away recently. 

  • He was 87. 
  • Prof Narasimha had served as Director of National Aerospace Laboratories and Chairperson of the Engineering Mechanics unit of Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bengaluru. 
  • He was bestowed with Padma Vibhushan in 2013 for his contribution to the country’s aerospace programmes like Light Combat Aircraft. 

Veteran Congress leader Motilal Vora passed away recently.

  • He was 93.
  • He served as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh (1985–1988; 1989).
  • In 1988, Vora became a member of the Rajya Sabha, and assumed the office of Union Minister of Health and Civil Aviation.
  • Motilal Vora was elected to the Madhya Pradesh Assembly six times and served twice as Chief Minister of the State. He was Member of Rajya Sabha four times and the Lok Sabha for one term. He also served as Governor of Uttar Pradesh(1993-1996).

Noted architect Vikram Lall, who designed the iconic Buddha Smriti Park in Patna has passed away in Brussels.

  • Lall, who was part of the team that designed the Akshardham Temple in Delhi, was also an author and scholar of Buddhist architecture, and a connoisseur of Indian classical music.
  • His notable work includes the sprawling Buddha Smriti Park in Patna which was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama in 2010.

Ranking and Index

 In the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2020, India has been ranked at 8th spot globally in the list of countries most affected by terrorism in 2019.

  • The GTI score of India is 7.353 out of 10.
  • With a score of 9.592, Afghanistan has topped the index as the worst terror impacted nation among the 163 countries.
  • It is followed by Iraq (8.682) and Nigeria (8.314) at second and third place respectively.
  • Regionally, South Asia was the most impacted region by terrorism in 2019, recording more deaths than any other region.

 The Ministry of Home Affairs recently released the annual ranking of police Stations in India. The annual ranking has been done since 2015.

  • Nongpok Sekmai police station in Thoubal district of Manipur was ranked as the best performing police station in the country.
  • The All Women Police Station of Suramangalam in Salem city of Tamilnadu was ranked second in the list
  • Kharsangh police station of Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh ranked third.

 The Niti Aayog has recently released the rankings of aspirational districts for the month of October 2020. 

  • Mamit district of Mizoram has topped the rankings of aspirational districts by government think-tank Niti Aayog for October. 
  • Banka (Bihar) and Dhenkanal (Odisha) have been placed at the second and third positions, respectively.
  •  Guna (Madhya Pradesh) and Pakur (Jharkhand) stood at fourth and fifth positions.
  • The rankings took into account incremental progress made by over 112 aspirational districts across six developmental areas during October.

 India remains in the top 10 for the second year in a row in the latest global Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) released in Germany. 

  • The biggest current emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) China figures at 33rd rank while the largest historical polluter, the USA, appears at the bottom of the list.
  • Though India slid one position down from ninth in 2019 to 10th this year, the country’s journey towards climate protection has been consistent with it improving its ranking from 31st in 2014.

 India dropped one spot to 131 among 189 countries in the 2020 human development index, according to a report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

  • Human Development Index is the measure of a nation's health, education, and standards of living.
  • Norway topped the index, followed by Ireland, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Iceland
  • Life expectancy of Indians at birth in 2019 was 69.7 years while Bangladesh had a life expectancy of 72.6 years and Pakistan 67.3 years.
  • India, Bhutan (129), Bangladesh (133), Nepal (142), and Pakistan (154) were ranked among countries with medium human development.

 The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) has announced its Asia University Rankings 2021 Asia’s higher education institutions ranking.

  • The three IITs that have made it to the top 50 in the QS Asia University Ranking 2021 are IIT Bombay (IIT-B), IIT Delhi (IIT-D), and IIT Madras (IIT-M). However, no Indian institute could make it to the top 10 of the QS list for 2021.
  • QS had compared 650 Asian institutions from 18 locations based on 11 key parameters, which include academic standing, employability, and research quality and the National University of Singapore secured the top position for the third consecutive year.

Human Freedom Index 2020 has been recently released.

  • India was ranked 110 in terms of personal freedom and 105 on economic freedom, with an overall score of 6.43 out of 10.
  • New Zealand was ranked one in the index, followed by Switzerland and Hong Kong.
  • The index covered 76 indicators of personal, civic and economic freedom.
  • The three least-free countries in descending order are Venezuela, Sudan, and Syria. The index put China at 129 rank, Bangladesh at 139 and Pakistan at 140.

 The World Bank recently came out with its corrected ‘Ease of Doing Business’ report after suspending it in August 2020 due to what is referred to be several irregularities.

  • Many irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. 
  • In its reviewed report which was released on 16 December 2020, the Bank said that in the 2018 report released in October 2017, China should have been shown dropping seven notches to 85th rather than remaining 78th. 
  • Similarly, according to the corrections to data for the 2020 report, released in October 2019, Saudi Arabia would not have been the top improving economy, while Azerbaijan would have moved up and been one of the top 10 improvers. Azerbaijan's 2020 ranking would be 28, instead of its previous global ranking of 34.
  • Saudi Arabia's global ranking would be 63 in Doing Business 2020 in place of 62. The UAE's position in the global ranking would be unchanged at
  • India’s ranking (63) , however, remained unaffected in the revised Ease of Doing Business report released by the World Bank. 

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has confirmed that the Indian men's hockey team has ended 2020 at the fourth spot in team rankings while the women's side finished at the ninth spot.

  • The Netherlands has ended the year at the first spot in women's rankings while Belgium take the honours in men's rankings.
  • The FIH introduced a new match-based model for the calculation of the FIH World Rankings in January, with opposing teams exchanging points in FIH-sanctioned games.

Conference and Summits 

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) -Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Technology Summit 2020 has been held over a digital platform from December 7-9

  • Theme- 'Building Global Technology Partnerships'
  • Portugal is the partner country this year.
  • The summit witnessed the signing of several MoUs and agreements which will increase bilateral trade between the two countries.
  • Several other countries like the UK, USA, Sweden, Israel, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Japan, Canada, Australia and Singapore have been invited to be the participating countries of the Summit.
  • Both organisations have planned to structure their cooperation in sectors such as water, healthcare, agriculture, IT/ICT, clean technologies etc
  • DST secretary- Ashutosh Sharma

Sustainable Mountain Development Summit held in Dehradun

  • The theme for this year is Emerging Pathways for Building a Resilient Post COVID-19 Mountain Economy, Adaptation, Innovation and Acceleration. 
  • The summit will focus on the overall objective of building pathways toward a resilient and sustainable mountain economy in the context of a post COVID-19 scenario and Climate Change.

The Virtual Global Climate Summit 2020 marks the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement which was adopted on 12th December 2015.

  • The summit named Climate Ambition Summit 2020 is being co-hosted by the UK, UN, and France.
  • The summit  was addressed by PM Modi.
  • As per the Climate Transparency Report 2020, India is the only G20 country to meet its commitments. The report was earlier known as Brown to Green Report.
  • India has not only achieved its target against climate change as per the Paris Agreement 2015 but has also gone beyond it.
  • India has increased it's solar capacity from 2.63 Gigawatt in 2014 to around 36 Gigawatt in 2020.

Agreements and MoUs 

 Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), Asia’s oldest stock exchange, has signed four MoUs with Mission Youth, Government of J&K to spread financial awareness, support economic development, and encourage sustainable livelihood in the Union Territory.

  • The MoUs were signed by the representatives of BSE and CEO, Mission Youth, Dr Syed Abid Rasheed Shah in the presence of the Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha
  • Under Mission Youth, the J&K government works on Policy and Process interventions to bridge the skill gaps to generate employment opportunities in various sectors.
  • BSE’s association with Mission Youth, Government of J&K will enable youngsters and women particularly to learn more about the financial world, develop requisite skills essential to make a career in the BFSI (Banking, Financial Services and Insurance ) space.
  • MD & CEO, BSE-Ashish Kumar Chauhan
  • Mission Youth CEO - Dr. Syed Abid Rasheed Shah

India and Vietnam have signed an agreement for cooperation in the field of hydrography to enable sharing of data and assist in production of navigational charts by both countries

  • Defence minister Rajnath Singh and his Vietnamese counterpart General Ngo Xuan Lich held talks via video-conferencing.
  • Hydrography deals with the measurement and description of the physical features of oceans and seas.
  • They discussed various ongoing projects and the future trajectory of bilateral defence engagements

India and the US have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to increase intellectual property cooperation.

  • Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), in the field of Intellectual Property Cooperation with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Department of Commerce of the United States of America. 
  • Dr. Guruprasad Mohapatra, Secretary, DPIIT and Mr. Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property & Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) conducted a virtual signing ceremony for the same.

The World Health Organization and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched a new collaboration to strengthen the delivery of emergency medical and health services during humanitarian crises.

  • WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and IFRC Secretary-General Mr Jagan Chapagain have signed a MoU to cooperate on implementing the Emergency Medical Team (EMT) initiative
  • The MoU, also known as the Red Channel Agreement, is the culmination of years of collaboration between IFRC and the WHO Emergency Medical Team Initiative.
  • The new agreement will bring more synergies to health emergency response between the two international organizations, particularly in technical standards, accountability, and coordination. 

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Ministry of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology of the Republic of Austria on Technology Cooperation in the Road Infrastructure Sector in New Delhi.

  • The MoU aims to create an effective framework for bilateral cooperation in the field of Road Transportation.
  • India has had good diplomatic relations with Austria since the establishment of bilateral ties between the two countries in 1949. 
  • The MOU was signed by the Additional Secretary, MoRTH Shri K.C. Gupta and the Ambassador of Austria Brigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer.

Morocco has become the fourth Arab nation to normalise relations with Israel after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

  • It is a part of a deal in which the US agreed to recognise its claim over the disputed Western Sahara region.
  • It is the subject of a dispute between Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, which has been seeking to establish an independent state.

The Government of Karnataka and British Council has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to further bilateral cooperation in higher education.

  • The three years MoU involves leadership development in higher education institutions. 
  • On bilateral ties between Karnataka and UK, the Chief Minister welcomed the establishment of the Tech Hubs and Tech Cluster programmes as well as Go Global programmes to take innovative start ups from India to UK. 

Defence Affairs

 The Defence Research and Development Organisation [DRDO] has created a new laboratory named Defence Geo-Informatics Research Establishment by merging two existing labs. 

  • The new lab will focus on research on terrain and avalanches along the border with China from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh
  • The two new labs merged by the government are the Manali-headquartered Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment (SASE) and the Delhi-based Defence Terrain Research Establishment.
  • The merger of two labs happened soon after PM Narendra Modi took a detailed review meeting on the DRDO with all the stakeholders, including his ministerial colleagues, DRDO chairman and Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat.
  • DRDO chief G Satheesh Reddy 

 The public sector aerospace manufacturing company, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited delivered the biggest cryogenic propellant tank (C 32 LH 2) to the Indian Space Research Organisation in Bengaluru.

  • The biggest cryogenic propellant tank of aluminium alloy is designed for improving the payload capability of GSLV MK III heavy lift satellite launch vehicle of ISRO. 
  • The tank was handed over by HAL Director(Operations) M S Velpari to Director(LPSC) Dr. V Narayanan of ISRO in virtual mode.
  • The tank designed by HAL can load 5755 kg propellant fuel in the 89 cubic meter volume. 

 The Indian Air Force has carried out firing of the indigenously developed Akash missile system along with Russian short-range Igla missiles as part of a drill at air force station Suryalanka in Andhra Pradesh.

  • Vice Chief of Air Staff (VCAS) Air Marshal HS Arora witnessed the surface-to-air guided weapons firing drill.
  • The firing of the missiles was carried out as part of an exercise from November 23 to December 2.
  • Akash missile system along with Russian short range Igla missiles were fired and engaged the Maneuverable Expendable Aerial Targets providing near realistic training to the combat crew.

 Himgiri is the first of the three Project 17A ships being built at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE), Kolkata has been launched recently. 

  • The launch of ‘Himgiri’ has showcased GRSE’s commitment towards the building of three state-of-the-art warships of P17A for Indian Navy. 
  • Over the years, GRSE has emerged as a leading shipyard having built over 100 ships. 
  • The yard has scaled up its infrastructure and skill sets to meet new challenges in building P17A ships.
  • P17A ships are the first gas turbine propulsion and largest combat platforms ever built at GRSE.

 The air forces of Pakistan and China conducted a joint exercise "Shaheen or Falcon-IX" at an operational air base of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in Sindh province.

  • The  exercise was designed to deepen practical cooperation and improve the actual-combat training level of the two sides.
  • The opening ceremony of the exercise was jointly witnessed by Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Operations) Air Vice Marshal Waqas Ahmed Sulehri and Assistant Chief of Staff, PLAAF, Major General Sun Hong
  • The joint exercise will improve the actual level of combat training and strengthen practical cooperation between the two air forces.

ICGS (Indian Coast Guard Ship) Saksham; the 5th and the last vessel; of the indigenous project for five Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) has been recently launched by the Goa Shipyard Limited

  • In August 2020, the Indian Coast Guard Ship Sarthak was launched. It was the fourth in the series. The third in the series called ICGS Sajag was launched in November 2019.
  • The ICGS Saksham was constructed under the Indigenous Offshore Patrol Project
  • The indigenous project was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 13, 2016. Since then two vessels have been commissioned and all five have been launched. 

 Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has handed over three indigenously developed Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) systems to Army, Navy and Air Force at a function held in DRDO Bhawan.

  • Shri Rajnath Singh handed over the Indian Maritime Situational Awareness System (IMSAS) to the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh.
  • ASTRA Mk-I Missile to Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria
  • and Border Surveillance System (BOSS) to the Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane.
  • Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh also gave away awards to DRDO scientists for outstanding contributions in various categories during the function.
  • The awards include DRDO Lifetime Achievement Award – 2018 to Shri N V Kadam for his contributions for developing control and guidance schemes for missiles.
  • The 37-year-old Amir Sharma, Cyber Advisor, DRDO, was a major focus point of DRDO award function. Hailing from J&K, he is DRDO’s youngest awardee of “Agni Award for Self Reliance”.

 DRDO successfully test-fired its Advanced Tower Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) Howitzer.

  •  It tracked the target accurately and successfully at Odisha’s Balasore firing range.
  •  It has the capability to strike targets at the longest range of 48 kilometers.
  •  DRDO developed it with the private sector industry to promote Atma Nirbhar Bharat.
  •  It has been produced by two firms Bharat Forge & Tata Advanced Systems Limited.
  • The ATAGS Howitzer has already fired over 2,000 rounds during the field trials in Sikkim and Pokhran. 
  • DRDO assured that 200 Indian howitzers will be ready for induction in 18 months.

 DRDO has achieved a major milestone with the maiden launch of Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM), Army Version from Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, off the Coast of Odisha

  • The missile completely destroyed a high speed unmanned aerial target which was mimicking an aircraft with a direct hit. 
  • This army version of the MR-SAM missile has been designed jointly by India and Israel. 

India and France will carry out wargames codenamed Exercise SKYROS in Jodhpur in the third week of January 2021.

  • The French Air Force Rafale fighters would be coming to Jodhpur for the SKYROS wargames.
  • Indian Rafales from the 17 Squadron and the Su-30MKI fighters would be deployed there.
  • This would be the first major wargame of the Indian Air Force (IAF) involving the Rafale fighters which were inducted into the service in August 2020.
  • The wargames being conducted are different from the routine Garuda series exercises.

Science and Technology

 The first Indian vaccine against Pneumonia has been developed by Serum Institute of India. 

  • The vaccine will be much more affordable than the existing ones manufactured by two foreign companies.
  • Serum Institute has conducted the phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical trials of the vaccine in India and African nation Gambia.
  • This is the first indigenously developed vaccine in the field of pneumonia.

 IIT-Ropar has recently announced its partnership with IIT Alumni Council to set up first Global Centre of Excellence (GCE) 

  • The GCE will focus on agritech and water with hi-tech multi-disciplinary support
  • This will be the first such GCE under the India Innovation Network (i2Net) initiative set up by IIT Alumni Council.

 China has successfully launched a new Earth observation satellite which can take high-resolution pictures of ground objects across the globe.

  • The satellite, Gaofen-14, was sent into orbit by a Long March-3B carrier rocket. Geofen-14 is an optical stereo mapping satellite.
  • The satellite was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in southwest China's Sichuan province, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
  • It can efficiently obtain high precision stereo images globally, draw large scale digital topographic maps, produce digital elevation models, and provide basic geographic information.

 The Bengaluru-based space-technology start-up “Pixxel”, has signed a pact with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to launch its first remote-sensing satellite on Isro’s workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket in early 2021. 

    • Earlier, the startup had planned to launch this satellite towards the end of 2020 and on a Russian Soyuz rocket.
  • Pixxel aims to put a constellation of 30 earth observation micro-satellites into a sun-synchronous orbit by mid-2023.

 Nasa and the European Space Agency (ESA) have selected Indian-American Raja Chari to be the Commander of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station.

  • Raja Chari, 43, is a colonel in the US Air Force. He will be the commander of SpaceX Crew-3 mission while Nasa's Tom Marshburn will be pilot and ESA's Matthias Maurer will serve as a mission specialist. This mission is expected to be launched next year.
  • The fourth crew member of this mission will be added at a later date, following a review by Nasa and its international partners.

 The national space agency ISRO has launched India’s communication satellite CMS-01 using the rocket PSLV-C50.

  • This satellite will be the replacement of aged satellite GSAT-12.
  • The launch was held from the second launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
  • For the PSLV rocket, this would be the 52nd flight and for the national space agency ISRO, this would be the 77th launch mission from home.
  • Generally, communication satellites are heavier and therefore the PSLV rocket carrying it requires an extra thrust to take them to the geo-synchronous transfer orbit.
  • The role of providing the additional thrust will be played by the six strap-on motors fitted with the rocket.

 The Indian Space Research Organisation has set up a dedicated control centre for Space Situational Awareness (SSA) activities in Bangalore. 

  • The ISRO SSA Control centre, “NETRA” is  aimed at monitoring, tracking and protecting India's space assets.
  • The Network for space object Tracking and Analysis (NETRA) project is initiated as a first step towards meeting this goal, its main elements being a radar, an optical telescope facility, and a control centre.
  • The control centre was formally inaugurated by Chairman, ISRO and Secretary, Department of Space K Sivan.

 Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has announced that it will establish a Regional Academic Centre for Space at IIT Varanasi (BHU).

  • The Centre will facilitate both long and short-term projects at the institute.
  • ISRO and IIT-BHU signed an agreement for setting up of the centre on the campus. 
  • The Centre is also aimed at helping to develop a culture of research and development among the students at IIT BHU.
  • The Regional Academic Centre for Space (RAC-S) of ISRO will act as a major facilitator for promoting space technology activities in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh
  • Regional Academic Centre for Space (RAC-S) is a regional level new initiative to pursue advanced research in the areas of relevance to the future technological and programmatic needs of the Indian Space Programme. Other RAC-S are in :
    • NIT Kurukshetra 
    • MNIT Jaipur 
    • Guwahati University 
  • NIT Surathkal (Karnataka) 

 Indian Space startup, Skyroot Aerospace has successfully test-fired a solid propulsion rocket engine, named Kalam-5.

  • With this, it has become the first private company of India to successfully design, develop and test a full solid-fueled rocket stage. 
  • This crucial propulsion technology will be used for their maiden rocket Vikram-1, which is under active manufacturing and is targeted to be launched in December 2021 with the help of ISRO.
  • Hyderabad-based Skyroot has designed the Kalam-5 engine using a carbon composite case, which is five times lesser than steel and has zero moving parts.
  •  A scaled-up version will be built and tested at Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) facilities before powering its Vikram rocket by December 2021.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare has been nominated by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) as a member of the GAVI Board.

  • Dr. Harsh Vardhan will be representing the South East Area Regional Office/Western Pacific Regional Office constituency on the GAVI Board.
  • The seat is currently held by Mr. Myint Htwe of Myanmar. 
  • Dr. Harsh Vardhan will be representing India from 1stJanuary 2021 until 31st December 2023.
  • The Board normally meets twice a year in June and November/ Decemberand holds an annual retreat, normally in March or April.
  • All these meetings are  normally attended in person.
  • The GAVIBoard is responsible for strategic direction and policy-making, oversees the operations of the Vaccine Alliance and monitors programme implementation.

Finance and Economy

 The Government of India (GOI) has announced the third stimulus package of Rs. 900 Crore for the Mission COVID Suraksha- The Indian COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission.

  • The mission was introduced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as a part of 12 announcements made under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan 3.0.
  • The Finance Minister had allocated Rs 2.65 lakh crores under the fourth economic package. 
  • Of this, Rs 900 crores has been allocated to the Department of Biotechnology to accelerate development of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • This fund is to be used to implement Phase I of Mission COVID Suraksha which is to run for 12 months. 
  • The mission will be supported by India Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Ind-CEPI) and National Bio Pharma Mission
  • Ind-CEPI mission was launched in March 2019 at a cost of Rs 312 crores.
  • The main aim of the programme is to strengthen the development of vaccines for epidemics in India.

 The Union Cabinet has approved an expenditure of ₹22,810 crore for a wage subsidy via employee’s provident fund organization (EPFO) as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana.

  • Cabinet has approved an expenditure of ₹1,584 crore for the current financial year
  • The ministry will notify rules for the scheme soon, which is applicable for enterprises having up to 1000 employees and are creating new jobs. 
  • For the enterprises having more than 1000 workers, the reimbursement will be restricted to 12% of the employees contribution only.

 Bonds of Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC), the first Municipal Bond from the north Indian states listed on BSE.

  • LMC raised Rs 200 crore through Municipal Bonds on a private placement basis using the BSE bond platform.
  •  Lucknow has become the 9th city in the country to have raised municipal bonds, which has been incentivized by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India under the mission AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation).
  •  The bonds issue will ensure that the LMC will get ₹26 cr to subsidise its interest burden. This upfront incentive amount equates to reducing interest burden by 2% on the municipal corporation. 
  • It is the first municipal bond issue from North India and the first from Uttar Pradesh after the launch of the AMRUT scheme. 

 The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) obtained membership of International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS).

  • IAIS was established in 1994, the IAIS headquartered in Basel, Switzerland is a voluntary membership organization of insurance supervisors and regulators from more than 200 jurisdictions, constituting 97% of the world's insurance premiums.
  • It is the international standard-setting body responsible for developing and assisting in the implementation of principles, standards and other supporting material for the supervision of the insurance sector.

Bank of Baroda (BoB) has launched the Atmanirbhar Women Scheme as part of its Baroda Gold Loan.

  •  Under the scheme, the bank is offering loans at 0.50 percent concession for women.
  • The bank under the gold loan scheme is also offering agri-gold loan at 0.25 percent concession and for retail loan at 0.50 percent concession.
  •  The scheme was launched at BOB's Ramamurthy Nagar branch in Bengaluru and simultaneously in 18 branches coming under 18 zones in the country, virtually by Sanjiv Chadha, MD & CEO, Bank of Baroda.

Portals and Apps

 Amitabh Kant; CEO of NITI Aayog has virtually launched India's first digital asset management platform DigiBoxx.

  • Kant also signed up for an account to be the first user of an Indian digital file storage, sharing and management SaaS product that provides storage options for business as well as individual users.
  • The platform provides an easy and secure way to store all the files in one centralised location.
  • The launch of DigiBoxx comes just a few weeks after Google announced that it won’t be offering unlimited free photo uploads starting June 1, 2021.
  • The service is priced competitively, as the company is offering free 20GB cloud storage and 100GB space per month to those who pay just Rs 30.
  • CEO of DigiBoxx-Arnab Mitra

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath launched a mobile application “Mera Covid Kendra” that gives users the locations of free Covid test centres within a radius of five kilometres in the state.

  • it was an initiative of the state government to help people who want to get themselves tested for the virus
  •  all districts of Uttar Pradesh have free testing facilities, and rates have been fixed for tests done in private labs.

 Department of Posts and India Post Payments Bank have unveiled a new digital payment app DakPay.

  • The App is launched as part of its ongoing efforts to provide Digital Financial inclusion at the last mile across India.
  • DakPay is not just a digital payment app but a suite of digital financial and assisted banking services provided by India Post and IPPB through the trusted Postal network across the nation to cater to the financial needs  of various sections of the society.
  • This innovative service will not only give access to banking services and postal products online, but also is a unique concept where one can order and avail postal financial services at doorsteps.
  • Various services provided by Dakpay are:
  • Sending money (Domestic Money Transfers - DMT), Scan QR code and make payment for services/merchants digitally (Virtual debit card & with UPI), enabling cashless ecosystem through biometrics, providing interoperable banking services to the customers of ANY BANK (AePS) and Utility Bill Payment service.

 Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik  has recently launched ‘Pareshram’ Portal along with 22 online services of Labour and Employees State Insurance Department.

  • The Portal and the Online Services will be helpful in Ease of Doing Business and contribute significantly to industrial development of the State.
  • The portal will provide information about labour laws, he said it will be beneficial for industrial houses, commercial centres, small entrepreneurs and common people.
  • The portal will also offer 52 more services in future.  

Karnataka Government has recently inaugurated the ‘FRUITS’ (Farmer Registration and Unified Beneficiary Information System) portal.

  • The portal was integrated to the Bhoomi portal of the State for fetching and validating land details.
  • All financial institutions would be brought on to the portal so that at one place, all the data pertaining to the loans of the farmers would be available. 

The government of Odisha and UNICEF have launched a new career portal.

  • The portal can be accessed through the website www.odishacareerportal.com with the student login ID and password.
  • The portal will provide easy access to information on different careers and will give students an opportunity to interact with teachers. 

Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has recently launched E-Sampada, a new web portal and mobile app on Good Governance Day. 

  • The new application provides a single window for all the services including allotment for over one lakh government residential accommodations, office space allotment to government organisations in 45 office complexes in 28 cities and booking of 1,176 holiday home rooms. 
  • The portal provides online facility to users across India to lodge complaints, submit documents and appear for virtual hearing.

Committee and Heads

 Union Education Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank', has set up a task force to prepare a roadmap for imparting technical education in the mother tongue.

  • The task force set up under the chairmanship of Amit Khare; Secretary, Higher Education Department will take into consideration the suggestions made by various stakeholders and will submit a report in a month
  • The Minister said that no language will be imposed on any student but enabling provisions should be made so that bright students are not deprived of Technical Education due to lack of knowledge of English language.

 The UGC set up a seven-member committee, headed by Vice-Chancellor of Central University of Punjab R P Tiwari 

There are 40-odd central universities run by the Ministry of Education (MoE) and, collectively, all of them have about 1 to 1.25 lakh seats across different disciplines at the undergraduate level. 

The Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System has been launched online which is a step towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in India.

  • Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System is a first-of-its-kind participatory, countrywide initiative, in collaboration with world’s leading health journal The Lancet and the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University.
  • This is an initiative to develop a citizen’s roadmap to achieving UHC
  • The Commission will be led by four health and business leaders — Tarun Khanna, director of Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, executive chairperson of Biocon, Gagandeep Kang, professor at Christian Medical College, Vellore, and Vikram Patel, professor at Harvard Medical School.

Miscellaneous

 SEBI has launched SMARTs programme to strengthen investor education framework.

  • The Securities Market Trainers (SMARTs) programme is an initiative aimed at enhancing investor education and awareness.
  • The launch of SMARTs programme comes 

  • amid World Investor Week celebrated across the country from Nov 23 to Nov 29, 2020 under aegis of IOSCO and SEBI.

International Organization of Securities Commissions(IOSCO)  

  • HQ-Madrid Spain 
  • Secretary-General: Paul P. Andrews

 A type of burrowing frog discovered outside its natural habitat has been named after Bengaluru city.

  • It was discovered in 2018. The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has studied and confirmed the discovery.
  • The team of researchers named the frog species ‘Sphaerotheca Bangalore because they want to highlight the gap in the documentation of amphibians from non-forested areas and felt the need for restoring frog habitats in Karnataka’s capital. 
  • The frog was found in a barren tract of land near Rajankunte, on the outskirts of Bengaluru. 
  • The researchers found this species while documenting Amphibians in the Deccan Plateau parts of Karnataka.

 Kaavan, also known as “World’s Loneliest Elephant” left the Islamabad zoo to head to his retirement in a Cambodian Sanctuary.

  • Kaavan is to be transferred in a Russian jumbo jet that stopped for refuelling in New Delhi. The lengthy flight has ended at Siem Reap in North-western Cambodia.
  • Kaavan was the only Asian elephant in the Pakistan zoo while others were of the African variant. Kaavan’s mate Saheli from Sri Lanka passed away in 2012.
  • Famed singer and Oscar winning actress Cher held the campaign to transfer the elephant. 

 The Foreign Ministers of Nepal and China jointly certified the elevation of Mount Everest at 8,848.86 metres above sea level — 86 cm higher than what was recognised since 1954.

  •  In feet, the new elevation is about 29,031 ft, or about 3 ft higher than Nepal’s previous claim.
  • This was determined by the Survey of India in 1954, using instruments like theodolites and chains, with GPS still decades away.
  • The elevation of 8,848 m came to be accepted in all references worldwide — except by China. Mount Everest rises from the border between Nepal and China.
  • The devastating earthquake of April 2015 triggered a debate among scientists on whether it had affected the height of the mountain
  • The Nepal’s government subsequently declared that it would measure the mountain on its own, instead of continuing to follow the Survey of India findings of 1954.

 The central government has introduced a new digital platform called CO-WIN for COVID-19 vaccine delivery.

  • The new mobile app allowed people to register for the vaccine.
  • CO-WIN app is set to be available for smartphone users 
  • The platform will be used for recording vaccine data and will form a database of healthcare workers.
  • The app will have separate modules for administrator, registration, vaccination, beneficiary acknowledgement and reports.

The youth wing of Ladakh Buddhist Association has recently celebrated the 'Losar' festival. 

  • 'Losar' is celebrated to mark the beginning of the new year of the Buddhist community.
  • The festival started as a tradition during the supremacy of the ninth king of Tibet in the early 17th century when King Jamyang Namgyal decided to lead a war against the Baltistan forces in winter and ended up celebrating the festival in advance.
  • Since then, the Losar festival is celebrated in the 11th month of the Tibetan calendar.
  • Due to the coronavirus pandemic, LBA made a symbolic celebration which began with offering prayers followed by unfurling of the sacred Buddhist prayer flag 'Tarchen'. 

The Environment Ministry has released the Status of Leopard in India 2018 report.

  • According to this report, the population of Leopard has increased by 60 percent from 2014.
  • India now has 12,852 leopards as compared to the previous estimate of 7910 conducted 2014. 
  • The highest number of Leopards is in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
  • The States of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra recorded the highest leopard estimates at 3,421, 1,783 and 1,690 respectively.

 Gastrodia agnicellus, a newly discovered orchid has been named the ugliest orchid in the world.

  • It is found in a forest in Madagascar, it feeds on fungi. and has no leaves.
  • It is one of the 156 species named by the scientists of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 2020.
  • The flowers of this orchid are small, brown and ugly, and it depends upon the fungi for nutrition. It doesn’t have any leaves for the photosynthesis process.
  • Every year about 2000 plants are named by scientists.

 The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) has recently started a multilingual aquafarmer call center in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh

  • The initiative is first of its kind in the country. 
  • It will address the technical issues and impart knowledge about efficient farming methods round the clock.
  • The Call Centre will mainly cater to the Aqua Farmers of Andhra Pradesh. This is because the State of Andhra Pradesh is one of the major fish producing states in the country.

 The Assam cabinet has approved the Assam Official Language Amendment Bill for making Bodo (in Devanagari script) an associate official language of the state.

  • The development comes 11 months after signing of the third Bodo peace accord between the Centre, Assam government, four Bodo rebel groups and two Bodo organizations, which included declaring Bodo as associate official language as one of the clauses.
  • According to the Census 2011, there are around 14.16 lakh Bodo speakers in Assam (4.53% of the total population of the state).
  • The Bill is expected to be tabled in the next assembly session scheduled later this month. It would be the last session of the assembly before the polls expected in March-April next year.
  • The cabinet also approved setting up of the Bodo Kachari autonomous welfare council-another clause of the Bodo accord signed in January this year.

The scientists have discovered a new species called Portulaca lalji. It is a wild Sun Rose found in the Eastern Ghats.

  • The Portulaca lajii was discovered in the Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh. 
  • It has been named after Lal Ji Singh. He was an eminent botanist of the Botanical Survey of India. 
  • The species has been placed under the “Data Deficient” category of IUCN List of threatened species.
  • The morphological features of Portulaca lajii is different from other species of Portulaca genus.
  • The flowers of Portulaca lajii are reddish-pink in colour. These plants are found in rocky crevices at an altitude of 1,800 metres. They are classified under the Sun Rose category because they flower in bright sunshine.

Uttar Pradesh government has announced that the history of Sikh gurus will be included in the school curriculum of the state.

  • The government has also announced that 27 December will be celebrated as ‘Sahibzada Diwas’ in all schools across the state.
  • The day will be observed to mark the sacrifice of four ‘Sahibzada’ of Sikh guru Guru Gobind Singh and his mother.
  • Ajit Singh, Jujhar Singh, Jorawar Singh, and Fateh Singh were the sons of Guru Govind Singh. They are known as four ‘Sahibzada’.

The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) revived the Monpa handmade paper making unit in  Arunachal Pradesh. 

  • The Monpa handmade paper is a thousand-year-old heritage art that was almost driven to extinction.
  • The art became an integral part of local custom and culture in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. 
  • The unit was inaugurated by KVIC Chairman Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena 

STATIC 

Who is Who

Attorney General of India

K K Venugopal

Solicitor General of India

Tushar Mehta

Comptroller and Auditor General(CAG)

G C Murmu 

Chief of Army Staff

Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane

Chief of Air Staff 

Air Chief Marshal R K Singh Bhadauria

Chief of Naval Staff

Admiral Karambir Singh

Chief Election Commissioner 

Sunil Arora

National Human Rights Commission, Chairman

H.L. Dattu

(15th) Finance Commission, Chairman 

N. K. Singh

ISRO Chairman

K. Sivan

Chief Justice of India 

Sharad Arvind Bobde

Chief of  Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)

Samant Goel

Chief of Intelligence Bureau (IB)

Arvind Kumar

TRAI ( Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) Chairman

P D Vaghela

Central Vigilance Commissioner(CVC)

Sanjay Kothari

Chief Information Commissioner  (CIC)

Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor

Shaktikanta Das

Chief of National Technical Research Organization (NTRO)

Anil Dhasmana

National Security Advisor of India (NSA)

Ajit Doval

Chairman of SSC

Braj Raj Sharma

Chairman of UPSC

Pradeep Kumar Joshi 

Chairman of CBSE

Manoj Ahuja

Chairman UGC

D P Singh

DG, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)

Balram Bhargava

Lok Sabha Speaker

Om Birla

Chairman, NASSCOM

U. B. Pravin Rao

Director General, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)

Dr. A P Maheshwari

Director General, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)

Subodh Kumar Jaiswal

Director General, Indo-Tibetan Border Police(ITBP)

S S Deswal

Director General, Sashastra Seema Bal(SSB) 

Kumar Rajesh Chandra

President, Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FICCI)

Uday Shankar

Chairman, National Highway Authority Of India (NHAI)

Sukhbir Singh Sandhu

Chairman, Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs(CBIC)

M. Ajit Kumar

International Cricket Council (ICC) Chairman

Greg Barclay (New Zealand)

Chairman, National Medical Commission of India

Dr Suresh Chandra Sharma

Chairman, Banks Board Bureau

Bhanu Pratap Sharma

Chairman, DRDO

Dr G. Satheesh Reddy


Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman


Pramod C Mody

Chairman-Cycling Federation of India (CFI)

Onkar Singh

Director-General of UNESCO

Audrey Azoulay

Secretary General of NATO

Jens Stoltenberg

President of the European Council

Charles Michel

Head of World Health Organization

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Managing Director of IMF

Dr. Kristalina Georgieva

President of the World Bank

David Malpass

Secretary-General of the United Nations

António Guterres

Chairman of African union

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

Director General, International Labour Organisation

Guy Ryder

Country/ Capital/ Currency

Country 

Capital 

Currency 

Myanmar

Naypyidaw

Burmese Kyat

France

Paris

Euro, CFP Franc

Vietnam

Hanoi

Vietnamese dong

Israel

Jerusalem

New Shekel

Peru

Lima

Peruvian Sol

Madagascar

Antananarivo

Malagasy Ariary

Mauritius 

Port Louis

Mauritian Rupee

Singapore

Singapore City 

Dollar

Canada

Ottawa

Canadian Dollar

Austria 

Vienna

Euro

Uzbekistan

Tashkent

Uzbekistani soʻm

Qatar

Doha 

Qatari Riyal

Kuwait 

Kuwait City

Kuwaiti dinar (KWD)

 

 International Organizations and their HQs

Organizations 

HQs

World Health Organisation (WHO) 





Geneva, Switzerland 

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

International Telecommunication Union 

International Labour Organization

World Trade Organisation 

 

United Nations 



          New York (USA) 

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)

United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

 

Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

Vienna, Austria

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

 

World Bank , International Monetary Fund

Washington D.C.  USA 

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank  (AIIB) 

Beijing, China

New  Development Bank

Shanghai, China

Asian Development Bank

Manila (Philippines)

International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Lausanne, Switzerland

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

Brussels (Belgium)

South Asian Association for Regional Corporation (SAARC)

Kathmandu (Nepal) 

Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Jakarta, Indonesia 

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Nairobi (Kenya)

Chief Ministers and Governors 

State 

Chief Minister 

Governor 

Andhra Pradesh  

YS Jagan Mohan Reddy

Shri Biswa Bhusan Harichandan

Arunachal Pradesh 

Pema Khandu

B. D. Mishra

Assam

Sarbananda Sonowal

Jagdish Mukhi

Bihar

Nitish Kumar

Phagu Chauhan

Chhattisgarh

Bhupesh Baghel

Anusuiya Uikey

Goa

Pramod Sawant

Bhagat Singh Koshyari (additional)

Gujarat

Vijaybhai Rupani

Acharya Dev Vrat

Haryana

Manohar Lal Khattar 

Satyadeo Narain Arya

Himachal Pradesh

Jairam Thakur

Bandaru Dattatraya

Jharkhand

Hemant Soren

Droupadi Murmu

Karnataka

B. S. Yediyurappa

Vajubhai Vala

Kerala

Pinarayi Vijayan

Arif Mohammed Khan

Madhya Pradesh

Shivraj Singh Chouhan

Anandiben Patel  (additional)

Maharashtra

Uddhav Thackeray

Bhagat Singh Koshyari

Manipur

N. Biren Singh

Najma Heptulla

Meghalaya

Conrad Sangma

Satya Pal Malik

Mizoram

Pu Zoramthanga

P.S. Sreedharan Pillai

Nagaland

Neiphiu Rio

R. N. Ravi

Odisha

Naveen Patnaik

Ganeshi Lal

Punjab

Capt. Amarinder Singh

V.P. Singh Badnore

Rajasthan

Ashok Gehlot

Kalraj Mishra

Sikkim

Prem Singh Tamang

Ganga Prasad

Tamil Nadu

Edappadi K. Palaniswami

Banwarilal Purohit

Telangana

K Chandrasekhar Rao

Tamilisai Soundararajan

Tripura

Biplab Kumar Deb

Ramesh Bais

Uttar Pradesh

Yogi Aditya Nath

Anandiben Patel

Uttarakhand

Trivendra Singh Rawat

Baby Rani Maurya

West Bengal

Mamata Banerjee

Jagdeep Dhankhar

 

Union Territory 

  • Andaman and Nicobar Island   Admiral D K Joshi (Lieutenant Governor)
  • Delhi     Shri Anil Baijal  (Lieutenant Governor)
  • Jammu and Kashmir     Shri Manoj Sinha (Lieutenant Governor)
  • Puducherry       Dr. Kiran Bedi (Lieutenant Governor)
  • Ladakh     Shri Radha Krishna Mathur (Lieutenant Governor)
  • Chandigarh         Shri.V.P. Singh Badnore (Administrator)
  • Lakshadweep         Shri Dineshwar Sharma, IPS, (Administrator)
  • Dadra & Nagar Haveli & Daman -Diu Shri Praful Patel (Administrator)

Cabinet Ministers 

Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways 

Shri D.V. Sadananda Gowda

Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers 

Shri Narendra Singh Tomar

Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare

Ministry of Rural Development

Ministry of Panchayati Raj

Ministry of Food Processing Industries

Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad

Ministry of Law and Justice

Ministry of Communications

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology

Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot

Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani

Ministry of Women and Child Development

Ministry of Textiles

Dr. Harsh Vardhan



Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

Ministry of Science and Technology

Ministry of Earth Sciences

Shri Prakash Javadekar

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises

Shri Dharmendra Pradhan

Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas

Ministry of Steel

Shri Pralhad Joshi

Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs

Ministry of Coal and Mines

Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat

Ministry of Jal Shakti

Shri Giriraj Singh

Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries

Mahendra Nath Pandey

Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship

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