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Monthly Current Affairs: January 2021 in English

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MONTHLY CURRENT AFFAIRS

Monthly Current Affairs: January 2021 in English

CURRENT AFFAIRS JANUARY 2021 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 November 2020. These current affairs questions are most important for upcoming exams of SSC.

Persons in News

Justice Hima Kohli has served as a judge of Delhi High Court and became the first woman Chief Justice of Telangana High Court.

  • Governor Dr Tamilesai Sounderarajan has administered the oath of office at a ceremonial programme in Hyderabad.
  • The present Chief Justice of Telangana high Court RS Chauhan has been appointed as Chief Justice of Jharkhand high court. 

Indian-American Dr Raj Iyer has taken over as the first Chief Information Officer of the US Army, after the Pentagon created the position in July 2020.

  • One of the highest ranking Indian-American civilians in the US Department of Defense, Iyer, serves as the principal advisor to the Secretary of the Army and directs representation of the secretary in matters relating to information management/information technology (IT).
  • Iyer will supervise an annual budget of USD 16 billion for the US Army's IT operations.

The UN Human Rights Council has elected Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations Office at Geneva, serve as its President for 2021.

  • UNHRC’s former President, Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger had completed her term on 31 December 2020
  • Ambassador Khan was elected through a secret ballot process through which all 47 members of the Geneva-based human rights body cast their vote to appoint its president for 2021
  • UNHRC HQs-Geneva, Switzerland

Kashmiri-origin Indian-American Sameera Fazili has been named as Deputy Director, National Economic Council.

  • The  National Economic Council coordinates the economic policy-making process and provides advice to the US president.
  • Fazili is currently the Economic Agency lead on the Biden-Harris Transition. She was earlier posted at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta where she served as the Director of Engagement for Community and Economic Development.
  • Fazili is the second Kashmiri-origin Indian-American appointed to a key position in the incoming Biden administration. 
  •  In December, Aisha Shah was named as Partnerships Manager at the White House Office of Digital Strategy.

US President-elect Joe Biden has named Vidur Sharma as Policy Advisor for Testing in COVID-19 Response Team

  • During the Obama administration, Sharma served as a health policy advisor on the Domestic Policy Council.
  • Sharma will be joining others dealing with the fight against coronavirus like Surgeon General-nominee Vivek Murthy.

India’s first voter Shyam Saran Negi (103) voted in the panchayat elections in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on January 17, 2021.

  • Negi was the first person in independent India to cast his vote in the 1952 General Elections. due to which he was made the brand ambassador of the 2019 parliamentary polls.

US-India Business Council (USIBC) has selected Biocon Executive Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw as one of its vice-chairs effective immediately.

  • US Chamber of Commerce's USIBC announced three vice-chairs to its 2021 Global Board of Directors. 
  • The two other business executives joining Shaw as vice-chairs are Amway CEO Milind Pant and Edward Knight who is the vice-chair at Nasdaq.

Filmmaker Pablo Cesar of Argentina has been named as the Chairman of the jury for 51st edition of International Film Festival of India 

  • The other jury members are Prasanna Vithanage of Sri Lanka, Abu Bakr Shawky of Austria, Priyadarshan of India and Rubaiyat Hossain of Bangladesh.
  • Priyadarshan is an Indian film director, screenwriter and producer. 
  • He has directed more than 95 films in various Indian languages, predominantly in Malayalam and Hindi. 

US President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Indian-American Vanita Gupta to be the associate attorney general.

  • He has formally announced appellate court Judge Merrick Garland as his nominee for the post of the US attorney general.
  • Besides Garland, Lisa Monaco, the homeland security adviser to former President Barack Obama, has been appointed to the post of deputy attorney general.

Khobragade has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat in Jakarta.

  • Khobragade, an IFS 1995 batch officer, is currently serving as a joint secretary in the external affairs ministry.
  • The 10 member countries of ASEAN are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Lloyd J. Austin has become the first Black secretary of defense, USA.

  • A West Point graduate who rose to the Army's elite ranks and marched through racial barriers in a 41-year career, won Senate confirmation 
  • The 93-2 vote gave President Joe Biden his second Cabinet member; Avril Haines was confirmed as the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence.

Indian development economist Jayati Ghosh is among 20 prominent personalities appointed by the United Nations to a high-level advisory board that will provide recommendations for the U.N. Secretary-General to respond to the current and future socio-economic challenges in the post-COVID-19 world.

  • The U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) announced that the 20 “prominent personalities, globally renowned for their intellectual leadership in economic and social fields, will form the second United Nations High-level Advisory Board (HLAB) on Economic and Social Affairs.

Flight Lieutenant Swati Rathore has created history by becoming the first woman pilot to lead flypast on Republic Day 2021. 

  • She is the pilot of the Mi-17 V5 with IAF flag in a formation of four choppers.
  • She participated in the flypast on the Air Force Day 2020 (October 8) 
  • The officer was also part of the rescue operation conducted by IAF during the 2018 Kerala floods.

The United States Senate on January 25, 2021 confirmed economist and former Federal Reserve Chairperson Janet Yellen as first woman Treasury Secretary of the United States.

  • She is the third cabinet member of the Biden Administration to be confirmed by the Senate.
  • The other two being Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (First African American)

Shubhdarshini Tripathi, the Deputy Director-General of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, has been appointed as India's next Ambassador to Kazakhstan

  • Ms Shubhdarshini Tripathi presently Deputy Director General, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Kazakhstan.
  • Tripathi is a 1994 batch Indian Foreign Service officer.

Antony J. Blinken was sworn in as the 71st U.S. Secretary of State on January 26, 2021

The Secretary of State, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, is the President's chief foreign affairs adviser.

Places in News

India’s longest road arch bridge named as ‘Wahrew Bridge’

  • Meghalaya CM Conrad K. Sangma has formally inaugurated India’s longest road arch bridge named as ‘Wahrew Bridge’ at Sohbar in East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya
  • The bridge has been constructed with an estimated cost of Rs 49.395 crore under Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) of the Ministry of Development of North East Region (DoNER).
  • It will connect Bholaganj & Sohbar to Nongjri, Meghalaya.
  • It will boost tourism in the State.

India's first Labour Movement Museum, showcasing the history of the world labour movement, would be launched in Kerala's houseboat tourism hub, Alappuzha.

  • The museum will feature a huge repository of documents and exhibits that shaped the labour movements across the continents and impacted Alappuzha, the cradle of the labour movement in the country.
  • The museum would be launched as part of the LDF government's second 100-day programme.

Kevadiya station will be India's first railway station to be certified as Green building by Indian Green Building Council

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has flagged off eight trains connecting different regions of the country to Kevadiya through video conferencing. These trains will facilitate seamless connectivity to the Statue of Unity.
  • The Prime Minister will also inaugurate several other projects related to the Railways sector in Gujarat during the event. 
  • These trains will connect Kevadiya to Varanasi, Dadar, Ahmedabad, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Rewa, Chennai and Pratapnagar.
  • These buildings have been designed aesthetically incorporating local features and modern passenger amenities. 
  • One of the new trains is the Jan Shatabdi Express between Ahmedabad and Kevadia which will have Vistadome coaches.

The Maitre Setu bridge over River Feni connecting South Tripura with Ramgarh of Bangladesh getting access to Chittagong seaport is all set to be opened in a couple of months after confirmation of schedule from the Prime Minister of India and Bangladesh.

  • The 1.9 kilometres long international standard bridge had begun in 2017 with the sanctioned cost of Rs 128.69 Cr and was scheduled to be completed in two years.
  • But the construction got delayed in two phases including nine months due to Covid-19 this year.

The world’s largest floating solar energy plant has been proposed to be constructed on the Omkareshwar Dam reservoir on the Narmada river in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh.

  • The energy capacity of this project is 600MW.
  • The project will begin power generation by the year 2022-23.
  • The estimated investment in this project stands at Rs 3,000 crore. And the International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank and the Power Grid have granted in-principle consent for providing aid for the project development.
  • Madhya Pradesh Power Management Company has agreed to purchase 400 MW power from the project.

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa laid the foundation stone for the ‘New Anubhava Mantapa’ in Basavakalyan, the place where 12th century poet-philosopher Basavanna lived for most of his life.

  • The project will showcase the 12th Century Anubhava Mantapa (often referred to as the “first Parliament of the world”) established by him in Basavakalyan, where philosophers and social reformers held debates.
  • The building will adopt the Kalyana Chalukya style of architecture.
  1. Basavanna was an Indian 12th-century statesman, philosopher, a poet and Lingayat saint in the Shiva-focussed Bhakti movement and a social reformer in Karnataka.
  2. Basavanna rejected gender or social discrimination, superstitions and rituals.
  3. He introduced new public institutions such as the Anubhava Mantapa (or, the “hall of spiritual experience”), which welcomed men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds to discuss spiritual and mundane questions of life, in open.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan  jointly launched a project to clean Bindu Sagar lake near Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar.

  • The project will be implemented by Indian Oil Corporation in collaboration with the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai Indian Oil Campus, Bhubaneswar.
  • Bindu Sagar is one of the holiest tanks of our country as it contains holy waters from all religious places of India. 
  • The lake is associated with the socio-cultural life of the people of Bhubaneswar.

National Affairs

India has been asked to Chair three important Committees of the United Nations Security Council, which includes Taliban Sanctions Committee, Counterterrorism Committee, and the Libyan Sanctions Committee.

  • The Taliban Sanctions Committee, also called the 1988 Sanctions Committee, has always been a high priority for India.
  • Chairing this Committee at this juncture will help keep the focus on the presence of terrorists and their sponsors, threatening the peace process in Afghanistan.
  • India will also chair the Counterterrorism Committee in 2022, which coincides with the 75th Anniversary of India's Independence.
  • The chairing of this Committee has a special resonance for India, which has not only been at the forefront of fighting terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism but has also been one of its biggest victims.

India will co-chair the IUCN-supported Asia Protected Areas Partnership (APAP) for a period of three years till November 2023. 

  • India will replace South Korea, which held the post for 3 years until November 2020.  
  • As a co-chair, India would be responsible to assist other Asian countries in managing their protected areas. The APAP is chaired by IUCN ( International Union for Conservation of Nature) Asia and co-chaired by an APAP nation member on a rotational basis.
  • The APAP was launched at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Australia in 2014, is chaired by IUCN Asia and co-chaired by an APAP country member.
  • It consists of 21 members from 17 countries including China, Japan, South Korea, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
  • India will replace South Korea which held this position for three years till November, 2020.

 India's first pollinator park has been recently opened in Uttarakhand

  • The country's first pollinator park with over 40 species of butterflies, honey bees, birds and insects has been developed over four acres at Nainital's Haldwani.
  • Developed by the research wing of the Uttarakhand Forest Department, the colourful park was inaugurated by renowned butterfly expert Peter Smetacek.
  • The objective behind developing the park is to conserve various pollinator species, create awareness among people in general about the importance of conservation of these species and to promote further research on various aspects of pollination.

India started its two-year term as a non-permanent member of the UNSC on 1st January, 2021. 

  • India has started its two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.      
  • India has become a non-permanent member of UNSC for the eighth time.
  • The other countries that have become non-permanent members in 2021 are Norway, Kenya, Ireland, and Mexico.
  • UNSC HQs- New York, USA
  • Five permanent members Russia, France, China and the US and UK
  • India will be the UNSC President in August 2021 and again for a month in 2022. The presidency of the council is rotated among each of the members for one month according to alphabetical order. 

Union Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' and Union Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani launched a virtual toy hackathon 'Toycathon 2021'

  • Toycathon 2021 is an inter-ministerial initiative organized by the Ministry of Education’s Innovation Cell with support from All India Council for Technical Education.
  • Ministry of Education, Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), Ministry of Textile, Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Ministry of MSME, Ministry of I&B, and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) have jointly launched Toycathon-2021 and Toycathon Portal.
  • This is a special kind of hackathon where students and teachers from schools and colleges, design experts, toy experts, and startups will get together to crowdsource ideas for developing toys and games that are based on Indian culture & ethos and local folklore & heroes

Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change Prakash Javadekar has released the Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) report of 146 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the country. 

  •  The minister also announced that from this year onwards ten best national parks, five coastal and marine parks and top five zoos in the country would be ranked and awarded every year.
  • Seventy percent of the global tiger population, 70 percent of asiatic lions and more than 60 percent of leopards'' population are present in India.
  • As per the MEE report, West Bengal's Jaldapara national park and Raiganj wildlife sanctuary, Himachal Pradesh's Sainj and Tirthan wildlife sanctuaries as well as the Great Himalayan national park have been declared as top-five national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India.

Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways & MSME Sh. Nitin Gadkari has launched an innovative new paint – India’s first cow dung paint developed by Khadi and Village Industries Commission.

  • The eco-friendly, non-toxic paint, called “Khadi Prakritik Paint” is a first-of-its-kind product, with antifungal, antibacterial properties.
  • It has been certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
  • Khadi Prakritik Paint is available in two forms – distemper paint and plastic emulsion paint.
  • The project was conceptualized by Chairman KVIC in March 2020, and later developed by Kumarappa National Handmade Paper Institute, Jaipur (a KVIC unit).

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has directed officials to develop the Chandrabhaga and Talsari beach with world-class amenities to attract more domestic and foreign tourists.

  • The Puri beach in the state has recently got the 'Blue Flag' certification. 
  • The Chief Minister told the officials to develop one kilometre area at Chandrabhaga in Puri-Konark beach. 
  • He also intended to develop an area of 2.4 kilometre at Talsari beach in Balasore district and to encourage construction of standard and budget hotels.

Gujarat Chief Minister has recently announced the tourism policy for 2021-25.

  • The new tourism policy seeks to make Gujarat a hub of “MICE” tourism.
  • The acronym “MICE” stands for “Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions”, and is essentially a version of business tourism that draws domestic and international tourists to a destination.
  • The policy aims to make Gujarat one of the top five MICE tourism destinations in the country.
  • To incentivise international events, the government has announced an assistance of Rs 5,000 to the event organiser per foreign participant staying overnight, subject to an upper limit of Rs 5 lakh.
  • For domestic events, the policy promises financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh per event, capped at three events per organiser per year.

Aviation service between Chandigarh and Hisar has been recently launched by the Chief Minister of Haryana at Chandigarh International Airport.

  • A private air taxi company has started this service. It is India’s first air taxi service. 
  • The distance from Chandigarh to Hisar will be covered by this aircraft in 45 minutes.
  • Aviation services will also begin from Hisar to Dehradun on January 18 and from Hisar to Dharamshala on January 23.
  • Aviation services have been launched under the Udan scheme. 
  • UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) scheme was launched in April 2017 under the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry has launched a month-long mass awareness campaign 'SAKSHAM' to spread awareness about green and clean energy. 

  • The pan-India campaign will focus on adoption of cleaner fuels. 
  • The Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Tarun Kapoor launched the campaign in New Delhi.
  • The campaign will spread awareness about seven key drivers that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently mentioned. 
  • They include moving towards a gas-based economy, cleaner use of fossil fuels, greater reliance on domestic sources to drive bio-fuels and increased use of electric vehicles.

The Ministry of Railways has recently approved the new Iron-ore Policy 2021 which will become effective from 10 February 2021.

  • The provisions of the new policy will be updated in the rake allotment system module by the Centre for Railway Information Systems.
  • New policy removes the provision for scrutiny of documentation by Railways.
  • It also removes the regulatory role of Executive Director Rake Movement of Railway Board (EDRM) office, Kolkata.

The Maharashtra government has renamed Nagpur’s Gorewada International Zoo as Balasaheb Thackeray Zoological Park.

  •  The zoological park, spread over 1,900 hectares, will be inaugurated on January 26 by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
  •  Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), had announced the setting up of the ‘international-standard’ bio park in August 2019. 
  • The Indian Railways has renamed one of its oldest trains, the Howrah-Kalka Mail, as the ‘Netaji Express’.
  • Howrah-Kalka Mail was started in the 19th Century as one of the early commercial passenger train services in India.

India has seen an exponential increase in the number of scientific publications over the last 10 years and is in the third position globally after China and the US.

  • Of the 13,045 patents in 2017-18, as many as 1,937 were by Indians.
  • The number of publications has increased exponentially over the last 10 years.
  • According to data from the US agency, the National Science Foundation (NSF), India is currently in third place, only behind China and the United States, with 1,35,788 scientific articles in the year 2018.

The Union Minister of Coal Pralhad Joshi has recently launched ‘Project Passion’–the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) of Coal India Ltd (CIL) and presented the Coal Minister’s Award for 2020.

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a resource Planning and Hospital Management system in Coal India Ltd (CIL). 
  • Western Coalfields Ltd  Union Coal Minister inaugurates new Coal Handling Plant (CHP) at Krishnashila Coal Project of Northern Coalfields Ltd  (NCL)
  • Northern Coalfields Ltd (NCL), Central Coalfields Ltd (CCL) and Western Coalfields Ltd (WCL) have received the Coal Minister’s Award 2020.
  • NCL has received the award for their performance in Coal production. CCL and WCL have been awarded for adopting best safety practices and sustainable mining respectively.

WIPRO has agreed to become a Knowledge Partner of the Madhya Pradesh Government.

  • MP Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chauhan held a video conference with Mr. Azim Premji of WIPRO.
  • WIPRO has planned for the establishment of a university in MP. It will also establish its Software Development Centre in Bhopal.
  • WIPRO is an Indian company based in Bengaluru and owned by Azim Premji. Its CEO is Thierry Delaporte.

Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, attended the first BTR (Bodoland Territorial Region) Accord Day celebration at Kokrajhar in Assam. 

  • The first BTR Accord Day was celebrated on January 24, 2021.
  • Shah assured the Bodo people on preserving the Bodo language and the culture & political rights of Bodo people.

Indian Sunderbans, which is part of the largest mangrove forest in the world, is home to 428 species of birds, a recent publication of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).

  • The Indian Sunderbans, which covers 4,200 sq km, comprises the Sunderban Tiger Reserve of 2,585 sq km — home to about 96 Royal Bengal Tigers (as per last census in 2020 ) — is also a world heritage site and a Ramsar Site. The publication has been compiled by three scientists — Kaliash Chandra, Director ZSI, Gopinathan Maheshwaran, head of the bird section of the ZSI and Amitava Majumdar.
  • The publication, “Birds of the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve”, released earlier this month by the ZSI, not only documents the avifauna of the Sunderbans, but also serves as comprehensive photographic field guide, with detailed distribution and locality data for all the species from the region.

Electronics, Information Technology and Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has launched virtual intelligence tool Tejas and 'Work from Anywhere' portal on the even of the celebrations of 25th year anniversary of National Informatics Centre Services Inc (NICSI)

  • NICSI is a public sector enterprise under the National Informatics Centre (NIC). 
  • The virtual intelligence tool that extracts critical information from data to make its meaningful information for policy decisions and improving efficiency in government services and citizen delivery .
  • He has also launched 'e-Auction India' to cater to electronic forward and reverse auction requirements of the government organisations serving online 24x7

In Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched ‘PANKH Abhiyan’ on 24 January, to mark the occasion of National Girl Child Day.

The scheme has been launched under the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ scheme for the empowerment and growth of the girl child.

‘PANKH stands for:

  •  ‘P’ – protection
  • ‘A’ – awareness of their rights
  • ‘N’ – nutrition
  • ‘K’ – knowledge
  • ‘H’ – health

 

The CM also announced scholarships worth Rs6.47 crore for 26,099 girls under Ladli Laxmi Yojana.

India's Observer Research Foundation (ORF) has been ranked 20th among 174 top think tanks worldwide, and eighth among non-US bodies.

  • The 2020 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program of the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, ranked ORF at 20th position, up from 27th previous year.
  • ORF moved up from the 118th position in the 2018 ranking and got featured at the 5th position on the ''Think Tank to Watch in 2020'' list.
  • The 2020 Top Think Tanks Worldwide list is topped by US, followed by Belgium
  • Other Indian think tanks in the list include Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) at 41st rank (unchanged from last year), while Centre for Civil Society (CCS) at 83rd (unchanged)

The Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has released ‘Marine MegaFauna Stranding Guidelines’ and ‘National Marine Turtle Action Plan’ 

  • The documents were released containing the ways and means to promote the inter-sectoral action for conservation.
  • These two documents highlight actions to be taken for handling stranded animals on shore, management actions for improved coordination, enhancing people’s participation, advance scientific research and exchange of information on marine mammals and marine turtles and their habitats.

The Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Commerce & Industry, and Railways Shri Piyush Goyal attended the 74th foundation day celebration of the Bureau of Indian Standards on 6th January 2021.

  • He inaugurated the Toy Testing facilities of BIS and launched Courses on Assaying & Hallmarking and Quality Control.
  • The Toy Testing facilities will help in increasing the manufacturing of Indigenous toys.  
  • Shri Goyal also unveiled the bust of Padma Shri Dr. Lal C Verman, the Founder Director of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
  • Director-General, Bureau of Indian Standards  -Pramod Kumar Tiwari

International Affairs

The Indo-French Year of the Environment was launched on 28th January 2021 by Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change and Barbara Pompili, the French Minister for Ecological Transition at Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, New Delhi.

  • The Indo-French Year of the Environment over the period 2021-2022 would be based on five main themes: environmental protection, climate change, biodiversity conservation, sustainable urban development, and the development of renewable energies and energy efficiency. 

Iran and six other nations lost their right to vote in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) because they have not paid their dues.

  • The other countries losing their UNGA voting rights are Niger, Libya, the Central African Republic, Congo, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.
  • UNGA President- Volkan Bozkir 

Pakistan has felicitated a team of 10 Nepali climbers for making history by becoming the first to scale in winter the world's second highest mountain K2, considered as the world's most dangerous and challenging peak.

  • K2 with its daunting 8,611 meters height is located in Gilgit-Baltistan side of the Karakoram range that straddles the Pakistan-China border.
  • It was the only among 8,000-meter high peaks that was never scaled in winter.

The United Nations recently released the report “International Migration 2020 Highlights”. 

  • According to the report, the Indian diaspora is the largest in the world.
  •  More than 18 million people from India were living outside India as of 2020.
  • The other countries with large diaspora are Mexico, China, Russia and Syria.
  • According to the report, India’s diaspora is distributed across a number of major countries such as UAE (3.5 million), Saudi Arabia (2.5 million) and US (2.7 million).

The US Congress has passed the 'Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act' which will expand the number of scholarships available to Pakistani women to receive higher education under a merit and needs-based programme.

  • The bill was passed by the US Senate by a voice vote on January 1. 
  • The bill now heads to the White House for US President Donald Trump to sign into law.
  • The bill requires the US Agency for International Development to award at least 50 per cent of scholarships under a Pakistan-based higher education scholarship programme to Pakistani women, from 2020 to 2022, across a range of academic disciplines and in accordance with existing eligibility criteria.
  • The bill also requires USAID to consult with and leverage investments by the Pakistani private sector and Pakistani diaspora in the United States to improve and expand access to education programmes in Pakistan.

Australia has changed one word in its national anthem to show the spirit of unity and to honour the indigenous people.

  • In the second line of the anthem, “For we are young and free” has been changed into “For we are one and free.”

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda has won a sixth term after a campaign marred by a crackdown on the opposition, an internet blackout and accusations of vote tampering and rigging.

  • He was first came to power in 1986
  • Museveni’s main rival, rapper-turned-lawmaker Bobi Wine, challenged the results, saying Museveni’s government had “fabricated” them.

The Indian government has supplied a consignment of two Mobile Harbour Cranes to Chabahar Port in Iran. 

  • The total contract value of the consignment is over USD 25 million under an agreement signed for the supply of 6 MHC.
  • The consignment of the cranes that arrived from Marghera Port in Italy was unloaded successfully at Chabahar Port on January 18, 2021 and also underwent trials run. 
  • This move is also a step towards India’s commitment to the infrastructure development of Shahid Beheshti Port of Chabahar.

Oman’s ruler Sultan Haitham bin Tariq  has recently announced a shake-up of the country’s constitution with changes that include the appointment of a crown prince for the first time and steps to boost government transparency.

  • The sultan’s decree also creates a committee to monitor and evaluate the performance of senior government officials. 
  • The basic law sets out mechanisms for the appointment of a crown prince and his duties. 
  • The report did not say who would become the new crown prince or provide other details.
  • Sultan Haitham came to power a year ago after the death of his predecessor Sultan Qaboos. 
  • Qaboos did not have a crown prince and named his preferred successor in a sealed envelope opened after his death.

Sports Affairs

Spain's Carolina Marin and Viktor Axelsen from Denmark have claimed Thailand Open badminton singles titles 

  • Marin, the reigning Olympic champion, smashed top seed Tai Tzu-ying for the second time.
  • Viktor Axelsen (Denmark) won the men's singles title by beating Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus (Denmark). 

Kho-Kho Federation of India and Ultimate Kho-Kho introduced the first-ever High-Performance Assessment Analysis and Evaluation Programme—'Rise in Sports Excellence’, for Indian Kho Kho players.

  • Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has inaugurated a kho-kho national coaching camp to pick the best players through a scientific evaluation programme.
  • Kho Kho Federation of India (KKFI) President Sudhanshu Mittal

India's badminton players Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, ranked World No. 10 in men's doubles, have roped in 2012 Olympic Games silver medalist Mathias Boe of Denmark to train them in the run up to the Olympic Games in Tokyo later this year. 

  • Satwiksairaj and Chirag are currently ninth in the Race to Tokyo with 16 pairs eligible.
  • During his tenure, Boe will also help the other doubles team supported under the TOPS i.e. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Ashwini Ponnappa and Ashwini Ponnappa-Sikki Reddy.

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has recently approved the appointment of Belarus’ Nikolai Snesarev as the middle and long-distance coach of the Indian athletics team, little less than two years after he quit the post.

  • The 72-year-old has been appointed till the end of September, a period which will include the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to take place in July-August.
  • He will be coaching 3000m steeplechase Avinash Sable, who has already qualified for the Olympics, and other middle and long-distance runners in their bid to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

Haryana's Amit Khatri proved he is the best among the country's under-20 crop by winning the 10000m with a mark of national record on the final day of the 18th National Federation Cup.

  • Haryana's Amit Khatri has won the 10000m race walk with a national record on the final day of the 18th National Federation Cup at the TT Nagar Stadium Bhopal.
  • The 17-year-old Amit clocked 40 minutes 40.97 seconds 
  • Amit marked his presence first in 2018 when he claimed the U16 5000m Race Walk National Record in 21:17.63

The 67th chess Grandmaster of India

  • Goa’s 14-year-old Leon Mendonca has become India’s 67th chess Grandmaster by winning the third and final norm at a tournament in Italy. 
  • Mendonca, who achieved the feat at 14 years, 9 months and 17 days, is the second GM from the coastal state.
  • The player achieved his first GM norm at the Rigo Chess GM Round Robin in October while the second came at the 1st Saturday event in Budapest in November and the final one at the Vergani Cup in Italy.

Union minister of Youth Affairs & Sports Mr Kiren Rijiju has launched the Assam Rifles Public School in Shillong as a Khelo India Sports School.

  • At present, 9 Sports Schools have been approved across the country, out of which 5 are managed by Defence & Paramilitary forces.
  • In the North-east region, Assam Rifles Public School is the first Sports School announced under Khelo India scheme.
  • Director-General of Assam Rifles   -Lt. Gen. Sukhdeep Sangwan

Sanjay Kapoor has been elected as the President of the All India Chess Federation (AICF) while Bharat Singh Chauhan retained the secretary's post in the polls held online.

  • Kapoor, representing Uttar Pradesh Chess Association, defeated incumbent PR Venketrama Raja in a close contest. Kapoor received 33 votes as against 31 of Raja.
  • Chauhan beat Ravindra Dongre.

Former India striker Abhishek Yadav has been appointed as the first deputy general secretary of All India Football Federation (AIFF) after the sports body decided to create a new post in its hierarchy. 

  • It is one of the rare instances when a former Indian team player has been appointed to a high-ranking position in the sport’s national federation.
  • The 40-year-old former international, who played with Bhaichung Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri, Mahesh Gawli and Climax Lawrence, has been serving as national team’s director since January 2018.
  • AIFF general secretary Kushal Das

Australia's Claire Polosak has become the first female match official in a men's Test match when she takes up the fourth umpire's role in the third Test between India and Australia. 

  • The 32-year-old from New South Wales has already earned the distinction of being the first woman on-field umpire in a men's ODI match in ICC's Division 2 league between Namibia and Oman played at the Windhoek in 2019.

Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia appointed as Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court.

  • Gauhati High Court has been functioning with Justice Nongmeikapam Kotiswar Singh as the Acting Chief Justice since September 20, 2020, following the retirement of the previous Chief Justice Ajai Lamba.
  • Justice Dhulia  was appointed as permanent judge of the Uttarakhand High Court on November 1, 2008.

Yasmeen Batool,  from Kargil  became the first woman to represent the Union Territory of Ladakh in the 2020 Khelo India Games held in Guwahati, Assam.

  • Archers Nusrat Rehman and Yasmeen Batool take part in the Khelo India Youth Games’ qualifying rounds in Guwahati.
  • The two young girls were wild-card entries in the Under-17 recurve event.

Jay Shah has been named as the official representative of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Board meetings. 

  • Shah is the Secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). 
  • He will replace BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, who was currently representing India at the ICC Board, but he suffered a heart condition recently.

Zanskar Winter Sports & Youth Festival 2021 is being organized from 18th to 30th January 2021 by the Dept. of Sports & Youth Services under the Khelo India banner in collaboration with the Ladakh Tourism Department.

  • After Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal convinced the Union Sports Minister Kirren Rijiju about the potential for various winter activities to promote tourism and economic activities in Zanskar, the tourism department of UT administration is conducting a festival.
  • The events including Chadar Trek in Zanskar river, meditation, yoga, ice skating,  Hockey, snow skiing, climbing, and traditional Archery are covered under this festival.

Schemes and Policies

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has announced the launch of  ‘Mukhyamantri Bagayat Vikas Mission’. (Horticulture Development Mission)

  • The aim is to accelerate agriculture, horticulture and promote farming of herbal plants.
  • It will also create employment opportunities through an increase in the export of such products.
  • Gujarat government has successfully organised Krishi Mahotsav, Sujalam Sufalam Abhiyan, Kisan Suryoday Yojana, provided Soil Health Cards, and implemented drip irrigation. 

In Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray formally launched the Agriculture Pump Power Connection Policy. 

  • The State Government has taken bold steps to make a radical change in the lives of farmers through the policy of agricultural pump power connection.
  • It aims to fulfil the main demands of farmers including providing electricity during day time and MSP for their agricultural production.
  • The Chief Minister also inaugurated Solar Energy Land Bank Portal, Krishi Urja Abhiyan Policy Web Portal, ACF App and Maha Krishi Abhiyan App.

The Assam government has re-launched an old scheme with the aim of providing self-employment avenues to around 200,000 young men of the state.

  • Called Redesigned Swami Vivekananda Assam Youth Empowerment (Re-SVAYEM), the scheme worth ₹1000 crore will provide ₹50,000 each as seed money to selected youth to start business ventures.
  • The scheme was part of the BJP-led government’s budget speech in 2017-18, but instead of benefitting 100,000 young men as planned it managed to get only around 7,000 beneficiaries due to lack of adequate support from banks.

The chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has launched ‘Chokher Alo’, scheme 

  • The scheme will ensure cataract operations for senior citizens and eye treatment for all for free. 
  • It is a scheme aimed at eyes-for-all by 2025. The government has set a target to operate for the cataract of 20 lakh senior citizens. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has released financial assistance of around Rs 2,691 crores to 6.1 lakh beneficiaries in Uttar Pradesh under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana - Gramin (PMAY-G) via video conferencing.

  • The assistance includes release of first installment to 5.30 lakh beneficiaries and second installment to 80,000 beneficiaries who have already availed first installment of assistance under PMAY-G. 
  • PMAY-G is a flagship programme of the government which was launched on November 20, 2016. So far 1.26 crore houses have already been built across the country under the scheme.

The TRS government in Telangana which hitherto opposed implementation of the Centre's Ayushman Bharat in the state has decided to link its Arogyasri Scheme with the flagship universal health insurance scheme of the BJP-led NDA government.

  • Chief secretary Somesh Kumar informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi that chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has taken a decision to dovetail Aarogyasri with Ayushman Bharat at a video-conference held by the PM with chief secretaries of all the states.
  • Telangana has, through Mission Bhagiratha scheme, has provided safe tap water to all households and the Centre has acknowledged that 98.5 per cent of the households in the state have been covered with potable tap water.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration has recently announced a new industrial developmental scheme with a total outlay of Rs 28,400 crore to encourage new investment and to take industrial development to the block level.

  • The Government of India has approved a new Industrial Developmental Scheme for Jammu and Kashmir.
  • This scheme is from the period of date of notification up to the year 2037 
  • The scheme will encourage new investment, substantial expansion and also nurture the existing industries in the Union territory. 
  • It will also provide employment to 4.5 lakh people besides leading to equitable, balanced and sustainable socio-economic development of the region.

'Launch Pad Scheme' has been started in Madhya Pradesh.

  • The scheme is launched for boys and girls coming out of child care institutions and having completed 18 years of age. 
  • Under the launch pad scheme, 52 districts of the state have been divided into 5 clusters. Five divisional headquarters are being started in Indore, Sagar, Gwalior, Jabalpur and Bhopal.
  • This innovation of Madhya Pradesh Government has also been approved by the Central Government and will be implemented in the current financial year

Karnataka, Agriculture Department, has launched 40 Krishi Sanjivani vans to help farmers in the testing of soil and water. It will also suggest measures for pest control to farmers.

  • It will also help farmers in adopting new farming techniques.
  • The vans will study the fertility of the soil, crops suitable for the soil and need of pest control.
  • It has been launched under the National Krishi Vikas Yojana.

The Central Government’s flagship crop insurance scheme - the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) has successfully completed 5 years of its operation.

  • Claims worth 90,000 crore rupees have so far been disbursed to farmers since the launch of the scheme on 13th January 2016.
  • The average sum insured per hectare has increased from ₹15,100 during the pre-PMFBY Schemes to ₹40,700 under PMFBY.

Awards and Recognition

Danish World War II drama Into The Darkness has won the Golden Peacock award at the closing ceremony of the 51st edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI).

  • The film is directed by Anders Refn and it depicts the emotional turmoil which the people of Denmark had to undergo, during the Nazi occupation of the country.
  • The Silver Peacock for the Best Director goes to Taiwanese Director, writer and producer Chen-Nien Ko, for her 2020 Mandarin drama film The Silent Forest.
  • The IFFI 51 Special Mention Award has been presented to Indian director Kripal Kalita for his Assamese film Bridge, which reflects life amidst hardships caused by annual floods in rural Assam. 

Odisha has won the Best State and the Best Civic Agency award at Janaagraha City Governance Awards.

  • The Awards have been instituted in the memory of Mr V Ramachandran, a doyen of decentralization, to recognize ground-breaking work in decentralization in urban context by institutions across government.
  • Gujarat won the Best State Election Commission and Kerala the Best State Finance Commission. 
  • Indore has won the Best Municipality category award for its PPP Based Integrated Solid Waste Management. 
  • The awards were conferred in a virtual ceremony by Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Mr Hardeep Singh Puri on January 12, 2021.

The Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development (SEED) Society and Dr. Rajendra Kumar Bhandari have been selected for the Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar for their excellent work in Disaster Management. 

  • Union Home Ministry announced the award every year on 23rd January, the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. 
  • The award carries a cash prize of 51 lakh rupees and a certificate in case of an institution and five lakh rupees and a certificate in case of an individual. 
  • Dr. Rajendra Kumar Bhandari is among the pioneers in India who laid the foundation of scientific studies on geo hazards in general and landslides in particular.
  •  Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development (SEED) 

Uttar Pradesh’s tableau in the Republic Day parade, showcasing the Ram temple at Ayodhya, has won the first prize.

  • The government will now bring the tableau from Delhi to Lucknow, driving it through various districts where it will be ceremoniously welcomed.
  • This was the second consecutive year when UP won a prize, having come second in the 2020 parade.

Bilkis dadi, the face of the Shaheen Bagh anti-CAA protests, and social activist and writer Harsh Mander of Karwan-e-Mohabbat were presented the Quaide Milleth Award for Probity in Political and Public Life at the India Islamic Cultural Centre, New Delhi.

  • Bilkis dadi , who was at the forefront of the Shaheen Bagh protests in Delhi against the CAA, has been named by the Time Magazine in its list of ‘100 Most Influential People of 2020’.
  • Quaide Milleth was the only person who opposed the idea of not forming Muslim political party henceforth proposed by Maulana Abul Kalam in the first Muslim conference. 
  • The conference was held in Lucknow after the partition of the subcontinent. He revived the Muslim League in Madras when it was province.

Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ''Nishank'' was honoured by the Hindi Writers Guild, Canada for his literary work.

  • Nishank was conferred with the "Sahitya Gaurav Samman" in the presence of the Governor through a virtual programme.
  • India's High Commissioner in Canada Ajay Bisaria

The 51st edition of the International Film Festival of India, Goa has conferred Biswajit Chatterjee with the Indian Personality of the Year Award.

  • He is veteran actor, producer, director and singer of Hindi and Bengali cinema.
  • The Award has been announced at the opening ceremony of the festival, by Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Shri Prakash Javadekar.
  • The award will be presented to him when National Film Awards are presented in March 2021.

Amresh Kumar Chaudhary has been awarded the prestigious 'Chief of Army Staff Commendation. 

  • The award has been conferred for his outstanding contribution to the Armed Forces during the critical period of the Covid-19 pandemic and its various operations.
  • Shri Amresh Kumar Chaudhary is currently working as Chief Controller in Mil Rail.
  • Mil Rail is responsible for overall coordination, strategic planning & execution of Railway Logistics support to Defence forces during peace & emergency situations.
  • Mil Rail works in close coordination with the Ministry of Defence for Railway operations pertaining to their requirements.

Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda has virtually received “SKOCH Challenger Award” conferred to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs for e-Governance for its IT-led initiatives and other transformational initiatives.

  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) has taken up several transformational initiatives recently.  
  • Beneficiary data is available online and 19 States/UTs are sending data using web services and 12 on National Scholarship Portal (NSP). 
  • Also Swasthya portal is one -stop solution presenting health and nutrition status of the tribal population in India. This is facilitating evidence-based policy making.

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

  • In the inaugural ceremony renowned santoor player Pt Satish Vyas was conferred upon the prestigious Tansen Samman.
  • Bhopal-based institution Abhinav Kala Parishad was honoured with Raja Mansingh Tomar award.

Indian stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane, was bestowed with the Mullagh Medal. 

  • He is the first recipient of the iconic medal which is named after former Australian skipper and cricketer Johnny Mullagh. 
  • Rahane scored 112 runs in the first innings and helped India reach a total of 326 runs in the first innings.
  • Mullagh was the first cricketer who led the famous 1868 Aboriginal cricket tour of England.

Dr Narendra Dabholkar Memorial Award for this year has been conferred upon Dravidar Kazhagam president K. Veeramani.

  • The award was instituted in the memory of the Maharashtra-based rationalist Dabholkar.
  • The U.S.-based Maharashtra Foundation had instituted the award in his memory.
  • Mr Veeramani has dedicated his whole life to propagate rationalism and served for the cause of social justice in society.
  • Dravidar Kazhagam (Dravidian Federation) is a social movement that was founded by E. V. Ramasamy, also called Thanthai Periyar.
  • Its original goals were to eradicate the ills of the existing caste system including untouchability and on a grander scale to obtain a "Dravida Nadu" from the Madras Presidency.

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

  • President Ram Nath Kovind virtually conferred the award to Meghalaya CEO F.R. Kharkongor at the National Voters' Day 
  • The award recognises the sustained and consistent IT application efforts in electoral activities being made by the Office of the CEO in the entire Enrolment to Elections (E2E) process and for leveraging technology for the benefit of all categories of voters, both general and persons with disabilities (PWDs).

Justice S Muralidhar took oath as the 32nd Chief Justice of Orissa High Court.

  • Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal administered the oath of office to the new chief justice in a simple ceremony at Raj Bhavan 
  • Justice Muralidhar succeeds Justice Mohammad Rafiq as the new chief justice of the Orissa High Court.
  • Muralidhar was appointed as an Additional Judge of Delhi High Court on May 29, 2006 and as Permanent Judge on August 29, 2007. 
  • Later, he was transferred to Punjab and Haryana High Court on March 6, 2020.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare inaugurated the 5th National Kayakalp Awards along with Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey through a video conference.

  • Public and Private Health Facilities have been felicitated with Kayakalp award for high standards of Sanitation and Hygiene. 
  • The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India launched a National Initiative 'Kayakalp' on 15th May 2015 to ensure hygiene, sanitation and cleanliness in Public Health Facilities in India
  • Those District Hospitals, Sub-divisional hospitals, Community Health Centres, Primary Health Centres and Health & Wellness Centres in the public healthcare system who have achieved high levels of cleanliness, hygiene and infection control were recognised and felicitated with awards.

Important Appointments

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

  • Prior to this, Swaminathan Janakiraman was the deputy managing director (Finance) at SBI and Ashwini Kumar Tewari was serving as MD & CEO of SBI Card, a subsidiary of SBI.
  • SBI is headed by a Chairman and four managing directors. Dinesh Kumar Khara is the current Chairman of the bank. 
  • The other two MDs of the bank are C.S. Setty and Ashwani Bhatia. The two posts were vacant since October 2020.

Justice Gita Mittal is also the first woman chairperson of Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) 

  • She had served as the first woman Chief Justice of Jammu & Kashmir High Court.
  • Justice Mittal succeeds former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Vikramajit Sen, whose tenure as BCCC chairperson has ended.
  • The board of directors of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has appointed Justice Gita Mittal, former Chief Justice of Jammu & Kashmir High Court, as the new chairperson of Broadcasting 

The government has appointed Siddhartha Mohanty, currently serving as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of LIC Housing Finance, as the MD of India’s largest insurer Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) from February 1 onwards.

  • He will serve as the MD of LIC till his superannuation on June 30, 2023.
  • Mohanty will be replacing TC Suseel Kumar, who is set to retire on January 31, 2021.
  • LIC has four MDs and one chairman. 
  • Currently, MR Kumar is serving as the chairman of the corporation and TC Suseel Kumar, Vipin Anand, Mukesh Kumar Gupta, and Raj Kumar are serving as the MDs of LIC.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been unanimously named Chairman of the Somnath Trust which manages the globally famous Somnath Temple in Gujarat’s Gir Somnath district.

  •  The post fell vacant in October 2020 after the demise of former Gujarat CM Keshubhai Patel.

 Prime Minister Modi has recently become the second PM to hold the post after the former Prime Minister Morarji Desai.

Major General Gautam Chauhan has taken charge as Additional Director General (Human Rights) in the Army headquarters in Delhi

  • The Army has created a new wing to handle human rights issues with an aim to bring more transparency and probity in the functioning of the 1.3-million strong force.The new ADG (Human Rights) will function under the Vice Chief of Army Staff.
  • India Army Vice Chief Lieutenant General SK Saini

Maharashtra Director-General of Police (DGP) Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, has been appointed as the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) Director-General by the central government.

  • Jaiswal was appointed DGP in February 2019. He will retire from the service on September 30, 2022.
  • The appointment committee of the cabinet has approved the proposal of the ministry of home affairs for appointment of Shri SK Jaiswal to the post of Director General of CISF

BSF DG- Rakesh Asthana

CRPF DG- A P Maheshwari

ITBP DG- S S Deswal 

The Supreme Court Collegium has recommended to appoint Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge Justice P. V. Sanjay Kumar as the Chief Justice of Manipur High Court.

The Supreme Court Collegium is presently headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde. Besides the Chief Justice Of India, Justices N. V. Ramana, R. F. Nariman, U. U. Lalit and A. M. Khanwilkar are part of the five-judge Collegium.

Soma Mondal has taken over as the new Chairman of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) with effect from January 01, 2021.

  • She is the first-ever women-head of the body.
  • She replaces Anil Kumar Chaudhary, who superannuated on 31 December 2020. 
  • She joined SAIL in 2017 as the director (commercial)

Former Eastern Railway general manager Suneet Sharma has been appointed the new Railway Board Chairman and CEO upon the completion of the term of incumbent V K Yadav. 

  • Suneet Sharma is a Special Class Railway Apprentice Officer of the 1978-batch. 
  • He has discharged responsibilities at various levels, including zonal railways, workshops and diesel loco sheds, in his over 34 years in the Indian Railways.
  • He is known for introducing various administrative reforms, including simplification of the procedure for establishing new benchmarks, in the Railways, according to the records.

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Kathleen Hicks to be his deputy defense secretary, making her the first woman to hold the position.

  • Hicks, who is leading the Biden's transition team at the Defense Department, is a former senior Pentagon official most recently at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington.
  • Earlier this month, Biden announced that he had picked retired General Lloyd Austin, who oversaw US forces in the Middle East under President Barack Obama, to be his defense secretary.

Lt Gen Tarun Kumar Aich took over as Director-General, National Cadet Corps. 

  • He is the 33rd Director-General of the country's premier youth organisation.
  • Aich has commanded his Battalion in the Siachen Glacier and in the intense counter-terrorism environment in the Kashmir Valley.
  • He has commanded a brigade in the Western Theatre, which is part of a Strike Corps, and then a Reorganised Army Plains Infantry Division in the desert sector.

Justice Pankaj Mithal was sworn in as the new Chief Justice of the common court of the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

  • Chief justice Mithal has been appointed in view of the retirement of chief justice Gita Mittal recently.

US President-elect Joe Biden has nominated former US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power as administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

  • Power will head the agency which oversees US foreign humanitarian and development aid
  • She served in the Obama-Biden administration from 2013 to 2017 as the 28th US Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
  • From 2009 to 2013, Power served on the National Security Council staff as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights.

Books and Authors 

Book- ‘India 2030: The Rise of a Rajasic Nation’ has been edited by Observer Research Foundation Vice President Gautam Chikermane.

  • The book has essays by 20 thought leaders on themes that will impact and influence India through the 2020s.
  • Experts who have contributed to the book include former Supreme Court Judge BN Srikrishna, former R&AW chief Vikram Sood, Vedic teacher David Frawley, and former CSIR director general RA Mashelkar.

Book- "Flying Blind: India''s Quest for Global Leadership" is written by Foreign affairs consultant Mohamed Zeeshan  

  • Publisher- Penguin Random House

The book, ‘Gazing Eastwards: Of Buddhist Monks and Revolutionaries in China’, by Romila Thapar.

  • Romila Thapar is an Indian historian whose principal area of study is ancient India. She is the author of several books including the popular volume, A History of India

The author, entrepreneur, and international speaker Prabhat Sinha discussed productivity principles in his newly launched book named “Innovate & Seize Your Success”.

  • The book  is out on Amazon worldwide as an eBook and paperback edition. 
  • The book has already secured Amazon No 1 Bestseller rank.
  •  The book is becoming popular in other countries like – USA, UK, Netherlands & Germany. There is also a plan to launch the Hindi edition of the book soon.

Book The Law of Emergency Powers: Comparative Common Law Perspectives authored by Dr. Abhishek Singhvi and Prof. Khagesh Gautam 

  • Justice N.V. Ramanna along with three leading judges of the Supreme Court of India:  Justice Surya Kant, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and  Justice D. Y. Chandrachud released the book on 23rd January, 2021. 

Goa CM Pramod Sawant released a book titled, ‘Manohar Parrikar- Off the Record’., written by senior journalist Waman Subha Prabhu.

  • The book is a collection of memories of Mr Prabhu who happened to be with late Parrikar during the journey of his life.

The Ministry of Railways has released a booklet of achievements of the Ministry of Railways in the year 2020 with the title “Building an Atma Nirbhar Bharat”.

  •  The booklet contains significant achievements and initiatives of Indian Railways in the year 2020.
  • The booklet is having Ministry of Railways Significant achievements and initiatives 
  • The Hindi & English version of the booklet is available on the Ministry of Railways’ website https://indianrailways.gov.in.

The book, titled Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code - Law and Practice, is authored by Akaant Kumar Mittal.

  • He is an advocate at the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the National Company Law Tribunal.
  • Justice Surya Kant of the Supreme Court of India wrote the foreword for the book.
  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India Chairperson Dr. MS Sahoo

Wajahat Habibullah wrote a book titled, “My Years with Rajiv: Triumph and Tragedy”

  • The book highlights the efforts of the Rajiv Gandhi government in dealing with Pakistan.
  • He has also mentioned the Babri Masjid issue, the Bofors, LTTE insurgency and the Shah Bano case in this book.
  • Wajahat Habibullah is India’s first Chief Information Commissioner and Rajiv Gandhi’s schoolmate from Doon.
  • He  is also a former chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities. 

The book, titled “India's 71-Year Test: The Journey to Triumph in Australia” is a Bradman Museum initiative, written by cricket writer R Kaushik

  • The book reflects on India’s first 12 tours to Australia 
  • Ravi Shastri launched this book at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
  • Dr Najma Heptulla has released a book 'Making of a General A Himalayan Echo'.
  • The book is the memoir of Lt Gen (Dr) Konsam Himalay Singh who has traced his journey from a small village in Manipur to becoming the first person from North East India to hold the rank of a Three Star General of the Indian Army.
  • He was commissioned in the Rajput Regiment in June 1978. He was awarded the Yudh Seva Medal for his role in the conflict.
  • After retirement, he was the Chairman of the Manipur Public Service Commission.

A coffee table book named “Modi India Calling – 2021” has been released on the occasion of 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. 

  • The book contains various photographs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi captured during his “107 overseas and bilateral visits”.
  • The book is the brainchild of Senior BJP leader Vijay Jolly. 
  • The book has been published by Maneesh Media and has 450 pages containing thousands of photographs of the PM Modi

Former chief election commissioner (CEC) S Y Quraishi has come out with his book titled “The Population Myth: Islam, Family Planning and Politics in India”.

  • The book will hit the stands on February 15, 2021.
  •  It has been published by HarperCollins India.
  • The book evaluates India’s demographics from a religious perspective and seeks to demolish two basic myths that ‘Islam is against family planning’ and ”Muslim rate of growth” is linked to capture political power.

Important Days and Themes

The Indian government has decided to celebrate January 23rd as 'Parakram Diwas' every year to commemorate the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and inspire the youth of the country with his spirit. 

  • This year is the 125th Birth Anniversary year of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
  • 'Parakram Diwas' will be celebrated at national and international level.
  • The centre has constituted a high-level committee under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to decide the programmes and to supervise and guide the commemoration.

To mark the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, West Bengal will observe January 23 as 'Desh Nayak Diwas”.

  • A national university will also be built in Netaji's memory.
  • "On January 23, a rally will be taken out from Shyambazar to Netaji Statue in Kolkata. A tableau will also be displayed on the theme based on Netaji's life on January 26.

The National Voters’ Day is celebrated on 25th January every year since 2011.

  • The Day is celebrated to mark the foundation day of Election Commission of India.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind is the Chief Guest at the national function being organized in New Delhi.

The theme for this year is Making Our Voters Empowered, Vigilant, Safe and Informed.

  • Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will launch the e-EPIC (Elector Photo Identity Cards) programme and distribute e-EPICs 

National Tourism Day is celebrated every year on 25 January. 

  • It was established by the Indian government to raise awareness of the importance of tourism for the growth of the country’s economy.
  • Annually on 27th September, The United Nation World Tourism Day is celebrated

The 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention was organized on 9th January 2021, despite the ongoing Covid pandemic. 

    • The Convention was held in virtual format.
    • Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention is the flagship event of the Ministry of External Affairs and provides an important platform to engage and connect with the overseas Indians.
  • The theme of 16th PBD Convention 2021 is “Contributing to Atma Nirbhar Bharat”.

The National Girl Child Day Week was celebrated from 21 to 26 January 2021. 

  • National Girl Child Day is celebrated every year on 24 January to highlight the issues related to girl children in India.
  • National Girl Child Day was started by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2008.

World Day of War Orphans is observed every year on January 6. 

  • The day enables the global Communities to recognize the plight of a particularly vulnerable group. 

National Youth Day (NYD) is observed on Swami Vivekananda's birth anniversary on January 12 every year.

    • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will address the valedictory function of the second National Youth Parliament Festival on 12th January 2021 via video conferencing.
  • The National Youth Festival is celebrated every year from 12th to 16th January. 

World Hindi Day is observed on 10th January.

  • The day is commemorated every year with the objective to promote use of Hindi language abroad.
  • On this day in 2006, the First World Hindi Conference was held in Nagpur with the aim to promote the language worldwide.

Army Day is celebrated on January 15 every year in India as it is on this historic day that General KM Cariappa became the first Indian to take charge of the Indian Army in 1949. 

  • He took over from General Sir Francis Robert Roy Bucher who was the last English commander of our nation's army.

The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways observes the National Road Safety Week every year in the second week of January.

    • However, in 2021, the Government has decided to observe National Road Safety Month instead of National Road Safety Week.
  • The Road Safety month is starting on January 18, 2021 and will conclude on February 17,2021. 
  • The theme of the road safety month this year is ‘Sadak Suraksha-Jeevan Raksha’.

The first-ever edition of "World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day"(World NTD Day) was launched on 30 January 2020.

 This initiative brings together various civil society organisations, community leaders, global health experts and policymakers working in the field of NTDs.

  • Neglected tropical diseases(NTDs) are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries.

The World Leprosy Day is observed every year on the last Sunday of January to spread awareness about the disease, the impact of discrimination and social stigma attached to it

Theme- Beat Leprosy, End Stigma and Advocate for Mental Well-Being 

  • Anti-Leprosy Day is observed every year in India on the Martyrdom Day of Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, remembers his selfless efforts and care for the people affected by leprosy.

Obituary

Former Arunachal Pradesh Governor Mata Prasad passed away following multi-organ failure at an age of 95 

  • Prasad served as minister in the Congress government in Uttar Pradesh in 1988- 89 and appointed as Governor of Arunachal Pradesh in 1993

Legendary classical musician Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan passed away recently.

  • Ut Ghulam Mustafa was one of the finest Hindustani classical vocalists and torchbearers of the Rampur Sahaswan gharana.
  • He was 89.
  • He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1991, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2003, Padma Bhushan in 2006 and Padma Vibhushan in 2018.

Shaibal Gupta(67), the renowned economist and founder of the Asia Development Research Institute (ADRI), passed away after a prolonged illness. 

The Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI) was established in 1991 as a registered body by a group of social scientists in Patna, Bihar.

India’s 1975 hockey World Cup-winning and 1972 Olympics bronze winning team member Michael Kondo (73) passed away due to age-related ailments. 

  • Kindo was a member of the team that won the lone World Cup for India in 1975 in Kuala Lumpur, beating arch rivals Pakistan in the final.
  • He was also in the team that won a bronze medal in the 1972 Olympics in Munich. 
  • He scored three goals in that edition of the Games.

Colonel (retd) Narendra Kumar (87), a legendary mountaineer who had spotted Pakistani activities around the Siachen glacier in 1984 that helped India secure it subsequently, passed away recently. 

  • India had launched 'Operation Meghdoot' in April 1984 to gain total control of the strategically-located glacier as well as nearby passes following Col Kumar's ground report about Pakistani activities.

Senior Congress leader Madhavsinh Solanki (94), who served as former Chief Minister of Gujarat, passed away.

  • He had also served as the former External Affairs Minister.
  • Madhavsinh Solanki became the Gujarat chief minister for a brief time in 1976. 

Pulitzer Prize winning author, Neil Sheehan(84) passed away recently due to complications from Parkinson's disease.

  • His book, ‘A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam’, won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.
  • Sheehan served as a war correspondent for United Press International and then the Times in the early days of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in the 1960s.
  • Sheehan was the first to obtain the Pentagon Papers, a massive history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam ordered up by the Defense Department.

Former Indian National Football team goalkeeper, Prasanta Dora has passed away.

  • He represented Mohammedan Sporting, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in domestic football.
  • He has also adjudged the Best Goalkeeper when Bengal lifted back-to-back Santosh Trophy titles in 1997-98 and 99. 
  • At the national level, Dora made five appearances in competitions such as SAFF Cup and SAF Games.

Ranking and Index

Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Kerala have been ranked as top five states in the NITI Aayog's second India Innovation Index.

  • The index, released by Aayog's vice chairman Rajiv Kumar and CEO Amitabh Kant, has been developed in the lines of Global Innovation Index.
  • Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar were ranked at the bottom of the index.
  • The India Innovation Index 2020, ranks the states and union territories based on their relative performance of supporting innovation, and aims to empower them to improve their innovation policies by highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.
  • The states and union territories have been divided into 17 ''major states'', 10 ''North-East and hill states'', and 9 ''city states and Union Territories'', for effectively comparing their performance.

India ranks 86th in Covid-19 performance among 98 countries evaluated by Sydney-based think-tank Lowy Institute, whose Covid-19 performance index was released on January 28.

  • The UK, which ranks better than India at 66, and the US, whose performance is among the worst five, rank poorly too, while China was not included in the study. Brazil ranks last.

The Economic Survey 2020-21 has noted that access to ‘bare necessities’ has improved across all states in the country in 2018 as compared to 2012. 

  • Inequalities in access to bare necessities like drinking water, sanitation, hygiene and housing conditions continue to exist between urban and rural India despite “widespread” improvements in each of these aspects, the Economic Survey for 2020-21 has shown, using a newly constructed “Bare Necessities Index”
  • The access is highest in states such as Kerala, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat while lowest in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tripura.
  • The BNI summarises 26 indicators on five dimensions — water, sanitation, housing, micro-environment, and other facilities — and has been created for all states for 2012 and 2018 using NSO data.
  •  The index classifies areas on three levels of access — high, medium, low — to bare necessities.

India’s ranking on the Corruption Perception Index– 2020 slipped from 80 to 86 even as its score decreased only by one point to 40 from 41 in 2019.

  • Transparency International has recently released the Corruption Perception Index 
  • New Zealand and Denmark were ranked first.
  • It uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero signifies the highest level of corruption and 100 is very clean.

India ranked seventh in Global Climate Risk Index 2021, released on 25 January by Bonn (Germany) based environmental think tank, Germanwatch.

  • The top six most vulnerable countries in the Climate Risk Index (CRI) 2021 ranking are Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Bahamas, Japan, Malawi and Afghanistan.
  • In terms of fatalities in 2019 and losses in million US dollars, India is ranked first. 
  • Global Climate Adaptation Summit (CAS) 2021 was held online on 25 and 26 January. The Netherlands hosted it.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has constructed a composite Digital Payments Index (DPI) with March 2018 as the base period to capture the extent of digitisation of payments across the country.

Conference and Summits

The Climate Adaptation Summit was hosted by the Netherlands government on January 25, 2021.

  • The summit was held online and was built on the advances of the UN Climate Action Summit.
  • The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in his addressed to the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021 stated that:
  • By the year 2030, India will target 450 gigawatt of renewable energy capacity.
  • India is promoting the LED lights and is also saving 38 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan,Union Minister of Health and Family welfare has inaugurated the 7th Edition of “MASCRADE 2021”- Movement against Smuggled & Counterfeit Trade organised by FICCI CASCADE (Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy)

  • The aim of MASCRADE 2021 is to foster a healthy discussion on newer and practical strategies to mitigate the challenges of counterfeiting and smuggling especially in a post COVID era. 
  • The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 was amended under Drugs & Cosmetics Amendment Act 2008.
  • Under this Act, if any drug is deemed to be adulterated or spurious, then the offender or liable person may face imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.
  • FICCI New President- Uday Shankar

The two day Summit was organized by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry. 

  • The Summit was organised as a follow up of the announcement made by the Prime Minister at the fourth Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, BIMSTEC Summit held in Kathmandu in August 2018 wherein India committed to host the BIMSTEC Startup Conclave.
  • The Summit marks the fifth anniversary of the Startup India initiative, launched by the Prime Minister on 16 January, 2016.

Agreements and MoUs 

The Union Cabinet has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Uzbekistan for cooperation in the field of Solar Energy.

  • The main area of work under the MoU is to identify research, demonstration and initiation of pilot projects between the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, India and the International Solar Energy Institute, Uzbekistan.
  • The research and cooperation will primarily focus in the areas of Solar Photovoltaic, Storage Technologies and Transfer of Technologies. Based on mutual agreement, both parties would work for implementation and deployment of pilot projects in International Solar Alliance (ISA) member countries.

An agreement was signed between CSIR and Ladakh UT to accelerate its development through S&T interventions.

  • The purpose is to establish a knowledge partnership between the Ladakh UT and CSIR, aimed at development in the areas such as bioresource utilization endemic to Ladakh, introduction of cash crops in the region and exploration of natural resources.
  • The broad areas of interest include industrial agriculture with a focus on commercialization of endemic & other high value medicinal, aromatic and nutraceutical plants/crops, bioprospection of endemic microbial and plant diversity.

The Framework for Strategic Partnership between the International Energy Agency (IEA) members and the Government of India was signed on 27th January, 2021 to strengthen mutual trust and cooperation & enhance global energy security, stability and sustainability.

  • This partnership will lead to an extensive exchange of knowledge and would be a stepping stone towards India becoming a full member of the IEA.
  • The MoU was signed by Mr. Sanjiv Nandan Sahai, Secretary (Power) from the Indian side and Dr.FatihBirol, IEA Executive Director from the IEA side.
  • IEA HQs - Paris, France

Madhya Pradesh and Kerala have signed a MoU for implementation of the Kerala Responsible Tourism initiative.

  • The Responsible Tourism initiative involves local communities and makes tourism a tool for rural development.
  • The two states signed a joint declaration under which Kerala will extend a series of services under a 16-point programme.
  • The MoUs were exchanged at a ceremony by Kerala's Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran and his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Usha Thakur.
  • Responsible Tourism is the "only tool for sustainable development of tourism" as it creates better places for people to live in and visit.

On the eve of India’s 72nd Republic Day, India and Bangladesh signed a MoU to design, make, and launch a satellite fabricated by students from both countries.

  • The Indian side was represented by the Chennai-based Space Kidz India (SKI), a private organization, which focuses on encouraging students to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, especially space science. 
  • The Bangladesh side was represented by Global Law Thinkers Society, a global youth organization.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee  have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the continuation of MoRTH Professorial Chair focusing on research and development, teaching and training in the area of development of highway infrastructure.

  • The government supports the enhancement of quality research through partnerships and mentorship programmes.
  • The collaboration of MoRTH with IIT-Roorkee will strengthen R&D activities in the Road Sector and the Chair professor is expected to provide leadership in conducting and coordinating research, development and teaching in the area of Development of Highway Infrastructure.

India and Singapore have recently signed the implementing agreement on submarine rescue support and cooperation between the two Navies. 

  • This was signed at the 5th Defence Ministers dialogue held virtually between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Singapore counterpart Dr. Ng Eng Hen.
  • The two Ministers also discussed the efforts of both countries in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and the role of the Armed Forces in the mitigation measures. 

An MoU was signed between the Indian Army and Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers to boost use of indigenous spare parts under Atma Nirbhar Bharat.

  • It was signed on the occasion of 25 Years of Army-Industry Partnership with Confederation of Indian Industry.
  • Collaboration between the Indian Army and industry started in 1995 with the indigenisation of spares and has progressed to major defence platforms and a wide range of weapons and equipment.
  • SIDM President Jayant D Patil 

WE HUB, India’s first state-led incubator to foster and promote women entrepreneurship set up by the Telangana Government, has announced its partnership with Gujarat Student Startup and Innovation Hub (i-Hub), to encourage and support startups in raising capital.

  • An MoU was inked between Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Industries and Information Technology Department, Telangana and Anju Sharma, Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Gujarat.

TRIFED and Indian Farm Forestry Development Co-operative Ltd (IFFDC) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on January 18, 2021 to work together for tribal livelihood generation. 

  • Shri Pravir Krishna, Managing Director, TRIFED and Shri S. P. Singh, Managing Director, IIFDC signed the MoU.
  • The two organizations have agreed to partner with each other to organise training programmes for tribal artisans in the area of entrepreneurship skill and business development.

India and Japan have signed an MoU to enhance cooperation in the field of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) via videoconferencing on 15 January 2021.

  • The MoU was signed between Union Minister for Communications, Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad and the Japanese Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Takeda Ryota.
  • Under the MoU, both countries will enhance mutual cooperation in the field of 5G technologies, telecom security, submarine optical fiber cable system to islands of India, spectrum management, smart cities, high altitude platform for broadband in unconnected areas, disaster management and public safety etc. 

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of India and the Government of Bhutan on Cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space.

  • This MoU shall enable India and Bhutan to pursue cooperation in potential interest areas, such as remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication and satellite based navigation; Space science and planetary exploration and application of space technology.
  • This MoU would lead to set up a Joint Working Group, drawing members from ISRO and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) of Bhutan, which will further work out the plan of action including the time-frame and the means of implementation.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Territory Administration has signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. NAFED.

  • The MoU is seen as a game changer for the Horticulture sector in the Union Territory. 
  • After signing of the MoU, NAFED will cover 5,500 Hectares at a cost of Rs 1,700 crore in the next five years with major focus on Apple, Walnut, Cherry, Pear and other significant horticulture products. 
  • NAFED will also set up 20 Farmer-Producer Organizations, one in each district, in the next three months. 
  • The NAFED will set up three cold storage clusters, one each in North Kashmir, South Kashmir and Kathua at a cost of Rs 500 crore, besides ensuring Geographical Indications tags (GI Tags) for all premium/niche horticulture produce, branding and marketing of fruit crops like Apple, Walnut, Cherry, Olive, Litchi etc. 

The Government of India, the Government of West Bengal and the World Bank have signed a $105 million project to improve the inland water transport infrastructure in Kolkata, West Bengal.

  • The West Bengal Inland Water Transport, Logistics and Spatial Development Project will facilitate passenger and freight movement across the Hooghly river; undertake spatial planning to improve accessibility in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area; enhance the quality of life of its residents; and contribute to the growth of the state’s logistics sector.
  • The agreement was signed by Dr. C S Mohapatra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India; Shri Rajdeep Dutta, Deputy Resident Commissioner, on behalf of the Government of West Bengal; and Mr Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, India on behalf of the World Bank.

Indian Air Force and Institute of Defence Studies and Research, Gujarat University have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which will enable the Officers of IAF to undertake Doctoral Research, Post-Graduate Programme and Post Graduate Diploma. 

  • These courses will cover various areas of interest that include Defence studies, Defence Management, National Security, Aerospace & Aviation Science and other areas of Defence Technology.

The Union Cabinet has recently approved a MoU on scientific and technical cooperation between India and UAE.

  • The MoU provides for sharing of knowledge, data and operational products for meteorological, seismological and oceanic services such as radar, satellite, tide gauges, seismic and meteorological stations.
  • The MoU provides for sharing of knowledge, data and operational products for meteorological, seismological and oceanic services such as radar, satellite, tide gauges, seismic and meteorological stations.

Defence Affairs

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has successfully fired DRDO’s Smart Anti Airfield Weapon (SAAW) from the Hawk-i aircraft off the coast of Odisha.

  • The SAAW is a precision strike weapon that can be used to target enemy airfield assets such as radars, bunkers, taxi tracks and runways. Indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s research centre Imarat, the weapon has a range of 100 km. 
  • It is the first smart weapon to be fired from an Indian Hawk Mk132 trainer aircraft.

Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and Indian Coast Guard conduct a joint military exercise ‘Exercise Kavach’ under the aegis of the Andaman and Nicobar Command.

  • It is scheduled to be held next week in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal.
  • The exercise aims to develop synergy between air and sea strikes, air defense, submarine and landing operations.
  • An Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) exercise has also been conducted between the three services.  
  • The armed forces had conducted a joint tri-service exercise, ‘Bull Strike’ from 3 November 2020 to 5 November 2020 under the Andaman and Nicobar Command.

The Operation Sard Hawa was launched by the Border Security Force in the western border of Rajasthan.

  •  The main purpose of the operation is to check the instances of infiltration due to dense fog in the region. The Operation has also been launched to enhance the security ahead of Republic Day. The operation is to run till January 27, 2021.
  • The operation was launched to keep a hawk’s eye in the international border.

The DRDO and the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) have joined hands to strengthen collaboration in the field of technical exchange and cooperation on sustainable geo-hazard management.

  • Both establishments have cooperated in the areas of mutual benefit, including conceptual planning of integrated avalanche and landslide protection schemes for all-weather connectivity in snowbound areas.
  • An MoU in this regard was signed by DRDO Chairman Dr Satieesh Reddy and MoRTH Secretary Giridhar Aramane. The initiative has ensured safety of road users.

Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), Delhi based DRDO laboratory, handed over Rakshita, a bike-based casualty transport emergency vehicle to Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) 

  • The bike ambulance will help in overcoming the problems faced by Indian security forces and emergency healthcare providers.
  • Rakshita is fitted with a customized reclining Casualty Evacuation Seat (CES), which can be fitted in and taken out as per requirement. 
  • The vital parameters of the patient can be monitored on the dashboard mounted LCD.
  • This bike ambulance is useful not only for the paramilitary and military forces but has potential civil applications too.

A 5 day air exercise “Ex-Desert Knight 21” between India and France started near Jodhpur, Rajasthan on January 20, 2021.

  • The Rafale jets of the two countries were engaged in complex maneuvers to enhance operational coordination
  • The exercise has provided operational exposure and will share best practices towards enhancing combat capability.

The Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah has laid the foundation stone of 97th Battalion of Rapid Action Force (RAF) at Bhadravati in Karnataka.

  • Rapid Action Force is the specialised force of CRPF to deal with riots and situations relating to public order  
  • Raised in 1992, RAF has made a distinct reputation owing to its courage, commitment, and professional efficacy.
  • CRPF Director General Dr. AP Maheshwari

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has recently unveiled the country’s first indigenously designed and developed Driverless Metro Car at the BEML (formerly known as Bharat Earth Movers Limited) manufacturing facility in Bengaluru.

  • According to BEML, state-of-the-art driverless metro cars, being manufactured at the company’s Bangalore Complex, are made up of a stainless-steel body with a capacity of carrying 2280 passengers in a six-cars Metro train-set.
  • BEML bagged a total order of 576 cars for Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA)’s MRS1 project and the supply is scheduled progressively up to January 2024.

The Cabinet has approved the export of Akash Missile System aiming to achieve the target of USD 5 billion of defence export and improve strategic relations with friendly foreign countries.

  • The Union Cabinet was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • Akash is the country's important missile with over 96 per cent indigenisation.
  • Akash is a Surface-to-Air Missile with a range of 25 Kms.
  • The missile was inducted in 2014 in Indian Air Force (IAF) and in 2015 in Indian Army.

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

  • The trial was conducted by Indian Navy to enhance its operational logistics capabilities and provide critical engineering stores to ships which are deployed more than 2000 km from the coast.
  • It reduces the requirement of ships to come close to the coast to collect spares and stores
  • Two DRDO laboratories i.e. Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL), Visakhapatnam and ADRDE, Agra were involved in the development of SAHAYAK-NG container 
  • SAHAYAK-NG is an advanced version of SAHAYAK Mk I. 

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

  • DRDO was established in 1958 with just 10 laboratories to enhance the research work in the Defence sector.
  • Dr G Satheesh Reddy – Secretary Department of Defence Research and Development (DDR&D) & Chairman DRDO.

The Indian Navy has signed a contract with the Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), to procure Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation Dazzlers (Laser Dazzlers). 

  • Initially, agreement has been signed for 20 Laser Dazzlers.
  • The Laser dazzler technology has been developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and would be manufactured by BEL, Pune plant.
  • It is the first time that this unique product is indigenously designed and developed for the Armed Forces.

Union Minister of Earth Sciences, Science and Technology and Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan has dedicated the Coastal Research Vessel (CRV) 'Sagar Anveshika' to the Nation at the Chennai Port Trust.

  • Sagar Anveshika was equipped with advanced navigation systems as well as research and exploration apparatus.
  • Apart from enhancing multi-disciplinary oceanographic research along the Indian coast, it would also deepen our understanding of the ocean and help harness its enormous potential.
  • The state-of-the-art vessel will transform our ocean research activities and boost our blue economy.

The second edition of the biennial pan-India coastal defense exercise 'Sea Vigil-21' has been started.

  • The inaugural edition of the exercise was conducted in January 2019.
  • The two-day biennial pan-India coastal defense exercise will be undertaken along the entire 7,516-kilometer-long coastline. 
  • The exercise will also include the Exclusive Economic Zone of the country and will involve all the 13 coastal states and Union Territories along with other maritime stakeholders.
  • The exercise is a build-up towards the major Theatre-level exercise TROPEX [Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercise] which the Indian Navy conducts every two years. 
  • SEA VIGIL and TROPEX together will cover the entire spectrum of maritime security challenges, including transition from peace to conflict. 

The Cabinet has approved procurement of 83 Light Combat Aircrafts (LCA) 'Tejas' from the Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

  • Light Combat Aircraft Mk-1A variant is an indigenously designed,  developed and manufactured state-of-the-art modern 4+ generation fighter aircraft. 
  • HAL is engaged in carrying out design, development, manufacture, repair and overhaul of aircraft, helicopter, engines and related systems like avionics, instruments and accessories primarily serving Indian defence programme. 

The Pune-based facility of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Army’s Mhow-based Infantry School have jointly developed India’s first indigenous 9mm machine pistol named ‘Asmi’.

  • It was developed in a record time of four months by Lt Col Prasad Bansod.
  • The pistol is likely to have a production cost lower than Rs 50,000 each and has export potential as well.
  • Machine pistols are primarily self-loading versions of pistols which are either fully automatic or can also fire bursts of bullets.
  • The Asmi machine pistol fires the in-service 9 mm ammunition and has an upper receiver made from aircraft-grade aluminum and lower receiver from carbon fibre.

Science and Technology

A Japanese Company and Kyoto University aims to launch the world’s first wooden satellite by 2023.

  • As more satellites are being launched by the countries globally, space junk is becoming an increasing problem. The collaborators will begin the experiment with different types of wood in extreme environments on Earth.
  • Nationalist politician Sadyr Japarov won a landslide victory in Kyrgyzstan’s presidential election, which was triggered by the collapse of the previous government.
  • Japarov has won almost 80% of the vote in the Central Asian nation, which is closely allied with Russia.
  • Kyrgyzstan has been in crisis since parliamentary elections last October.
  • The results of those elections were disputed, leading to protests and the resignation of then-President Sooronbay Jeenbekov.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has created a new world record by launching 143 satellites on a single rocket.  

  • The launch vehicle for the SpaceX record-breaking flight was the Falcon 9 rocket.
  • The 143 satellites launched include commercial and government CubeSats, microsats and 10 Starlink satellites. 
  • SpaceX has beaten the Indian space agency ISRO's record of deploying 104 satellites in a single launch in February 2017. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered the inaugural address at the National Metrology Conclave on 4th January 2021 through video conferencing 

  • National Metrology Conclave 2021 is being organised by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Physical Laboratory, CSIR-NPL New Delhi which is entering into its 75th year of inception.
  • The theme of the conclave is Metrology for the Inclusive Growth of the Nation.

Pakistan conducted a successful test flight of an indigenously developed guided multi-launch rocket system 

  • The Fatah-1 rocket system is “capable of delivering a conventional warhead up to a range of 140 km [nearly 87 miles]
  • A month earlier, Pakistan tested the Ghaznavi ballistic missile, which has a range of 290 kilometers (180 miles), just days after India tested its submarine-launched K-4 ballistic missile.
  • Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has announced that it will be adopting 100 Atal Tinkering Labs across the country to promote education in the field of STEM and Space education
  • ISRO will facilitate mentoring and coaching of students in cutting edge technologies. It includes technologies related to space as well.
  • Atal Tinkering Lab provides a makerspace where young minds can give shape to their ideas through hands on do-it-yourself mode; and learn innovation skills.

National Informatics Centre (NIC) along with Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), has jointly launched CollabCAD Software, a collaborative network, computer-enabled software system, providing a total engineering solution from 2D drafting & detailing to 3D product design for students and faculty of Engineering Graphics Curriculum.

  • National Informatics Centre (NIC), CBSE, and Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) have also jointly released a comprehensive e-book on CollabCAD 3D modeling.
  • This ebook 1.0 is ready for public release through the CollabCAD portal and will guide CAD students, beginners, and professionals in understanding and using CollabCAD Software. 
  • It is designed and authored by the CollabCAD Group of NIC, New Delhi.
  • This initiative aims to provide a great platform to students across the country to create and modify 3D digital designs with a free flow of creativity and imagination.

Finance and Economy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the launch of Rs 1,000-crore 'Startup India Seed Fund' to support startups and help budding entrepreneurs pursue innovative ideas.

  • This will help in setting up new startups and promote their growth.
  • The summit marked the fifth anniversary of the Startup India initiative launched by PM Modi in 2016.
  • While addressing 'Prarambh: The Startup India International Summit', the commerce and industry minister invited startups in India and the BIMSTEC nations to work together as partners and help take the world out of the dark period of the pandemic into a golden new era.

The government has approved the Rs 945-crore Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS) for the period 2021-25.

  • It will offer early-stage funding to startups for “proof of concept, prototype development, product trials, market entry and commercialization.
  • An Experts Advisory Committee (EAC) will be constituted by DPIIT, which will be responsible for the overall execution and monitoring of the Startup India Seed Fund Scheme.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled Economic Survey 2020-21 in the Parliament on January 29, 2021.  The survey is generally presented a day before the Union Budget.

This year, the survey is being presented earlier because the day-before-budget is a Sunday.

  • The Economic Survey 2020-21 has been dedicated to all the COVID-19 warriors, who have really helped in upholding India.
  • The real growth rate for (Financial Year)FY21 has been taken as -7.7% (MoSPI) in Economic Survey 2020-21 and the real growth rate for FY22 is assumed as 11.5 % based on IMF estimates.
  • The economy was witnessing a 'V-shaped' recovery
  • This year's economic survey is being delivered in an e-book format. The Finance Ministry has also launched an official Economic Survey app for smooth access to the document.

The pandemic has pull down India’s Gross Domestic Product by 7.7 per cent in 2020-21, as per the first advance estimate of GDP released by the National Statistical Office (NSO)

  • This will be the biggest annual contraction in records going back to 1952, according to Bloomberg.
  • The estimate by the NSO was close to the Reserve Bank of India’s estimate of 7.5 percent contraction. 
  • Economy trackers had estimated annual real GDP growth to be in the range of negative 6.5 to negative 9.9 percent.
  • Advance estimates are important as the Union Budget uses these numbers for assuming GDP growth rates at current prices for the next financial year, on the basis of which all crucial numbers such as the fiscal deficit and tax numbers will be calculated.

Portals and Apps

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Goa Government have jointly launched Shram Shakti, a National Migration Support Portal and Shram Saathi, a training manual for migrant workers at Goa.

  • To facilitate and support approximately 4 lacs migrants who come from different States to Goa, Chief Minister of Goa will also launch a dedicated Migration cell in Goa.  
  • MoTA has also sanctioned Tribal research Institute, Tribal Museum, Van Dhan Kendras and Tribal Lok Utsav in Goa. 

Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa launched Avalokana software to track government expenditures on 1,800 programmes.

  • The software will give constituency-wise detail about the Government grant and allocation on different development programmes.
  • The software will mainly track the expenditures on schemes related to Sustainable Development, Scheduled Caste, Tribal, etc.
  • It will bring transparency to the governance of the state. It will help the state government in release of funds based on the expenditure details provided by the software.
  • The Chief Minister has also launched the statistics on Development programmes for the year 2019-20.

Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan launched Global Pravasi Rishta portal & mobile App to connect with Indian Diaspora across the world.

  • The portal will act as a dynamic communication platform between our pravasis, the Ministry of External Affairs and missions abroad 
  • This portal and app will also assist during any crisis management and lend a helping hand to the NRIs and PIOs.
  • The rishta portal will enable communication with the diaspora on a real time basis and will have the ability to issue emergency alerts and advisories.

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has virtually launched a mobile application 'DigiNest', to give people digital access to the state government's directory, which can be synced with the smart phone with the click of a button.

  • The Chief Minister also rolled out an online Punjab Advertisement Release Order System to bring transparency and efficiency in the entire process of releasing State Government's advertisements and payments to media houses.
  • According to the Punjab Chief Minister's Office (CMO), the system would help streamline the process of issuance of advertisements and release of payments.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has inaugurated a 'Fire Park' and launched a dynamic online portal, 'AgnishamaSeva' of Odisha Fire Service.

  • The 'Fire Park' is a novel initiative to bring awareness on fire safety measures.
  • The park is located inside the premises of Odisha Fire and Disaster Academy in Bhubaneswar and will be opened to the public.
  • 16 fire related services are now available to the citizens on the online mode in the dynamic portal www.odishafshgscd.gov.in. 
  • He hoped that the fire service department would continue to put priority on the feedback mechanism under the 'Mo Sarkar' (my government) to ensure hassle-free and time bound services to the public.

The Ministry of Railways has launched a Freight Business Development Portal for promoting the freight business.

  • It is the first dedicated freight portal that will enable freight customers to track their consignments. 
  • It will also help customers in finding the nearest terminal and simplify the process of goods transportation.
  • The portal is designed to promote ease of doing business and to bring transparency in the transportation of goods.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has recently launched a mobile application ‘Satark Nagrik’ and Departmental Vigilance Officers Portal of J&K Anti- Corruption Bureau.

  • The mobile application will facilitate seamless flow of information about corruption and enable citizens to submit their grievances with ease and mobility.
  • A unique ID number will be allotted at the time of registration of grievance which later can be used to track the status of grievance.

The Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences, Health & Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan has dedicated an Innovation Portal, National Innovation Portal(NIP) to the nation. 

  • It is developed by National Innovation Foundation (NIF) – India, an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, to the nation, in New Delhi.
  • The National Innovation Portal(NIP)  is currently home to about 1.15 lakh innovations scouted from common people of the country, covering Engineering, Agriculture, Veterinary and Human Health. In terms of domain areas.

Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has addressed a webinar on the theme of Atma Nirbhar Bharat, Swatantra Bharat organized by a media organization Swarajya in collaboration with Vedanta.

Committee and Heads

Insurance regulator IRDAI has constituted a health insurance advisory committee to examine the availability of products, suggest approaches on the coverage of specific diseases.

  • The main aim of this panel is to develop a strategy on treatment protocol or rate structure towards improving affordability of the insurance.
  • The expert committee will be headed by IRDAI Chairperson, Subhash Chandra Khuntia and will have a Member (Non-Life) as the vice-chairperson. The committee, which has a term of one year.

The Centre has decided to form a committee to protect the language, culture and land of Ladakh.

  • The Committee will be headed by the Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy and will include elected representatives from Ladakh, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, central government, and the Ladakh administration.
  • The decision to form the Committee came after Union Home Minister Amit Shah met a 10-member delegation from Ladakh who expressed their views about the need to protect Ladakh's unique cultural identity. 

The central government has appointed former TRAI chief RS Sharma as the chairperson of an empowered committee for the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine.

  • The empowered committee comprises a team of ten members from the health ministry and UIDAI.
  • If needed, the panel has been given liberty to invite eminent persons and experts to ensure the smooth delivery of the vaccine through the Co-Win technology platform.

The Health and Family Welfare Ministry has recently formed a technical expert group to study the adverse findings from the National Family Health Survey-5.

  •  The Ministry has set up the technical committee of medicine and nutrition experts under the leadership of Joint Secretary Preeti Pant.
  • The expert group also includes State programme officers from Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Karnataka.
  • The factsheet of the 1st phase of National Family Health Survey-5 was released in December 2020.
  • The sheet covered 22 States/UTs and provided information on 131 indicators like family welfare, population, nutrition, reproductive and child health, etc.

Miscellaneous

Home Minister Amit Shah has released the inaugural issue of the National Police K-9 Journal in New Delhi.

  •  It is the first such publication in the country on the subject of Police Service K9s, Police Dogs. 
  • A police dog, also known as K-9 or K9 (a homophone of canine) 
  • This is a unique initiative that will further enrich the subjects related to Police Service Dog, K-9, PSK teams in the country.
  • The journal comprises different sections in Hindi and English. It is a biannual journal which will be released in April and October every year.
  • The police dog squad can act as a force multiplier to ensure the safety of society, much like the way drones or satellites are being used in the country.

The government has extended the benefit of the scheme for Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) to all export goods with effect from January 1.

  • The RoDTEP scheme will refund to exporters, the embedded central, state and local duties and taxes.
  • The refund will be credited in an exporter's ledger account with customs and is used to pay basic customs duty on imported goods.

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

  • IFSCA is headquartered at GIFT City, Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
  • IFSCA Chairman- Injeti Srinivas
  • The membership of IOSCO will provide a platform to IFSCA for the exchange of information at the global level and regional levels.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has recognised four tea producing sites spanning across three countries as the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). 

  • All the four sites chosen by the FAO are in the Asian continent and include two tea production sites from China- the world’s largest producer- and one each from South Korea and Japan, according to the information provided on the FAO website.
  • However, India which is the second-largest producer of the beverage and one of the biggest exporters of tea to several countries could not find a place in the chosen GIAHS sites. 

Zhong Shanshan, founder of bottled water company Nongfu Spring has overtaken Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani as the richest person in Asia, with a net worth of $77.8 billion.

  • The Bloomberg Billionaires Index showed that Zhong's net worth has surged $70.9 billion making him the richest man in Asian above both Mukesh Ambani and China's Jack Ma.
  • It has been one the fastest growth in wealth.
  • Two major factors behind the surge in his wealth are the mega listings of his vaccine manufacturing company Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co in April followed by that of his bottled water company Nongfu on the stock markets.

January 3 marks the birth anniversary of Savitribai Phule.

  • She is known for her contribution in the field of women's education, 
  • She is the first woman teacher and the first female educationist of India was also the first female poetess.
  • Phule fought against patriarchy and casteism and faced countless hardships in the process. 
  • She wrote a poem entitled 'Go, Get Education' which encouraged people to free themselves from oppression by educating themselves.

Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane has received a Guard of Honour at Republic of Korea Army Headquarters at Gyeryong.

  •  General Naravane visited the 30th Armoured Brigade and DMZ.
  • He discussed issues of bilateral defence cooperation with Chief of Staff of Korean Army
  • The Army chief visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) near the border with North Korea.The DMZ is a buffer zone that separates North and South Korea since the Korean war in the 1950s.

TRIFED (Tribal Cooperative Marketing Federation of India)  has tied up with Deen Dayal Antyodaya- National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM) to help boost livelihoods especially that of the SHG women, including those from tribal populations of the country.

  • TRIFED and DAY-NRLM, have entered into a (MoU) to cement this collaborative and cooperative effort.
  • The MoU was signed by Shri Pravir Krishna, Managing Director, TRIFED and Shri Nagendra Nath Sinha, Secretary of Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD).
  • TRIFED has been actively working on convergences with various ministries and organisations in the areas of Skill development and Tribal Livelihoods.

The 40th scientific expedition to Antarctica was flagged off from Goa on January 5, 2021, with 43 members onboard.

  • The chartered ice-class vessel MV Vasiliy Golovnin will make this journey in 30 days. 
  • The Antarctica expedition is procuring fuel from Indian Oil.
  • The unique feature of this supply is that the aviation fuel Jet A1 has been supplied in bulk and packed form to a non-aviation customer and is delivered to an ocean-going vessel for the first time.
  •  Till the last expedition, fuel was being obtained from outside the country.
  • After leaving behind a team of 40 members, it would return to India in April 2021. On return, it will also bring back the winter team of the preceding trip.
  • The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways is initiating an ambitious project Sagarmala Seaplane Services with potential airline operators.
  • The project execution and implementation would be through Sagarmala Development Company Ltd (SDCL), which is under the administrative control of the Ministry.
  • One such Seaplane Service is already in operation between Kevadia and Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on October 31, 2020.

The first batch of over 100 women disaster combatants and rescuers has been inducted in India's federal calamity force, the National Disaster Response Force.

  • An all-woman team of freshly trained NDRF personnel was recently deployed for contingency duties on the banks of the Ganga river in Uttar Pradesh's GarhMukteshwar town.
  • The force, since it was raised over a decade ago, was till now an all-male affair.
  • The female personnel who are joining are in the constabulary and sub-officer (Sub Inspector and Inspector) ranks.
  • NDRF Director General SN Pradhan 

The 3-day 'Hakki Habba' or bird festival jointly organised by the Forest Department and the Karnataka EcoTourism Development Board.

  • The festival aims to promote the rich biodiversity of the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple (BRT) Tiger Reserve near Mysuru.
  • The festival was started in 2015 by the Karnataka Forest Department, in a bid to create awareness about the environment and to attract more people to the cause of bird conservation. 
  • Recently, the Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife has approved the advisory for management of Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) in the country.
  • The  approval was given for including Caracal, a medium-sized wildcat into the list of critically endangered species for taking up conservation efforts with financial support under the centrally sponsored scheme Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitat.
  • In India, presence of these Cats has been reported from only three states which are Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

Arunachal Pradesh is likely to become India’s prime producer of vanadium.

  • India is a significant consumer of vanadium, but is not a primary producer of the strategic metal
  • Vanadium is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23. It is a hard, silvery-grey, malleable transition metal.
  • Vanadium is a high-value metal used in strengthening steel and titanium
  • China, which produces 57% of the world’s vanadium, consumed 44% of the metal in 2017

The Chief Minister of Manipur has inaugurated the virtual Cherry Blossom Festival at Mao in Senapati district, Manipur.

  • The virtual festival featured the picturesque landscape of Mao adorned with beautiful cherry trees, which are laden with pink flowers which have traditionally attracted visitors from across the world.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted people on the occasion of harvest festivals, which are celebrated in various parts of the country under different names
  • It goes by its standard all-India name, ‘Makar Sankranti’ in Odisha, Maharashtra-Goa, Andhra,Telangana, Kerala and most of the north India.
  • It is also called as Paush Parbon in Bengal,Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Uttarayan in Gujarat, Lohri in Punjab and Jammu, Maghi in Haryana and Himachal, Khichdi Parwa in parts of Bihar and Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.

Kanuma, the festival of cattle is celebrated on the third day of Sankranti festival in Telangana.

  • On the occasion, the people, especially in rural areas, worship cattle and agriculture tools.
  • Rural craftsmen and artisans who help farmers in their daily chores are specially honoured.

Google doodle celebrated Dr James Naismith, who invented the game of basketball in 1891, on January 15. 

On this day, the Canadian-American physical educator announced the new game and its original rules in the pages of “The Triangle,” a Springfield College school newspaper.

Tamil Nadu celebrated Thiruvalluvar Day on January 15, in the honour of the poet Thiruvalluvar. 

  • His exceptional contribution of 1330 kurals or couplets are translated into many Indian and international languages.
  •  He is also called a divine poet because of his couplets which is an inspiration to lead an exemplary life.
  •  Thiruvalluvar day is celebrated on the 2nd day of the Thai month.

The Delhi government’s Department of Art, Culture and Languages launched 450 artistes under its Street Theatre and Performing Arts Fellowship. The performers will present their art on the streets.

  • The scheme will give an opportunity to artists to showcase their craft.
  • The flagship scheme, which has been started by the Sahitya Kala Parishad under the Department of Arts, Culture and Languages, was launched at the Delhi Secretariat.

The traditional festival of Shakrain was celebrated in several parts of Dhaka.

  • On this occasion,the kite flying competition is followed by a winter cake festival, pithapuli in which rice cake pudding is eaten by people.
  • This is a centuries-old tradition in several parts of Bangladesh celebrated on the last day of the Bengali month of Paush.
  • The Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) organised the festival for the first time this year with the slogan ‘Let’s Fly a kite, Cherish Tradition’.

Nasscom in collaboration with Telangana AI Mission (T-AIM) has launched an 'Innovation Factory' series with the objective of sourcing best in class AI solutions in agritech.

  • The challenge gives a chance for innovators to assist the government of Telangana in helping farmers increase their income by working on three selected use-cases.
  • These include precision farming for improving yield; real-time price discovery and volume management and e-marketplaces; and farmer lending using farm/output backed credit risk assessment.

A geographical indication (GI) tag has been sought for the costliest mushrooms in India that grow in Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district.

  • Locally called Gucchi, or Morel, the mushroom, priced at over ₹20,000 a kg, is a forest produce collected by local farmers and tribals.
  • It is said to have medicinal and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • It is found in the temperate forests. It is a rare heirloom crop. Heirloom plant or heritage fruit is the one maintained by tribal populations.

A bird festival is being organised at the Mahananda wildlife sanctuary in West Bengal to provide an opportunity for enthusiasts to explore the forest and watch different birds from February 20 to 23.

  • Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is rich in fauna and has more than 300 species of birds.
  • The sanctuary has been designated as an 'important bird area' due to its critical role in the conservation of birds and their habitat.

Tripura, Manipur, and Meghalaya celebrate their Statehood Day on 21 January.

  • Under the North-Eastern Areas (Re-organisation) Act, 1971, Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya attained statehood on January 21, 1972.
  • In 1972, the political map of Northeast India underwent a major change.
  • The two Union Territories of Manipur and Tripura and the Sub-State of Meghalaya got statehood.

The Gujarat government has decided to rename the dragon fruit as ‘kamalam’.

  • The Dragon fruit is a cactus variety fruit. It is widely cultivated in South east Asia, United States, Australia, India, Caribbean islands and Mesoamerica.
  • The world’s largest producer and exporter of dragon fruit is Vietnam
  • It was brought to India in the 1990s, and is grown in Gujarat,  Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Kokborok Day, also called Tripuri language Day is observed on January 19 every year.

  • Tripura observed the 42nd anniversary of the recognition of Kokborok dialect as an official language of the state with a series of programs and colourful events.
  • Kokborok was recognised as an official language in 1979 but still it is not included in the 8th schedule. 

The species of the ant genus Ooceraea found in Kerala adds to the diversity of this rare genus.

  •  They differ from others of the same genus on the basis of the number of antennal segments.
  • One of them found in the Periyar Tiger Reserve of Kerala, has been named Ooceraea joshii, in honour of Prof. Amitabh Joshi, a distinguished evolutionary biologist from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India.

South Delhi Municipal Corporation has named a road connecting Andrews Ganj to Indira Gandhi Camp after late actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

A banner marking Sushant Singh Rajput Marg was placed on the road for inauguration.

Himachal Pradesh celebrated its golden jubilee statehood day on 25th January 2021.

  • It was on this day in 1971 Himachal Pradesh became the 18th state of India.
  • The statehood golden jubilee function held at historic Ridge ground in Shimla.
  • This is the same venue where former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi addressed a large gathering on January 25, 1971, to confer full statehood for Himachal Pradesh as the 18th state of the Union of India.
  • ‘Swarnim Rath Yatra’ has also been carried out to showcase the development journey of the hill state as a part of golden jubilee celebrations during the year.

The Supreme Court appointed conservationist Nandita Hazarika as Member of a Technical Committee to hear complaints by landowners against the action taken by the Nilgris Collector, which included “arbitrary variance in acreage of the elephant corridor.”

  • On October 14, the top court upheld the Tamil Nadu government’s authority to notify an ‘elephant corridor’ and protect the migratory path of the animals through the Nilgiri biosphere reserve, the largest protected forest area in India, spanning across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.
  • The corridor is situated in the ecologically fragile Sigur plateau.Sigur Plateau is a plateau in the north and east of Nilgiri District in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu.

Thaipusam is a festival celebrated by the Tamil devotees of Lord Kartikeya (Lord Murugan), the son of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati.

  •  It is celebrated in India (mostly in Tamil Nadu), Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and several other parts of the world. 
  • The festival is observed on the Pournami Tithi (Full Moon Day) in the Tamil month of Thai which concurs with the Makara month as per the Solar calendar followed in North India. 
  • The word Thaipusam consists of the words Thai and Pusam, where Pusam stands for Nakshatram.

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 

Kazakhstan

Nur Sultan 

Kazakhstani tenge

Russia

Moscow

RussianRuble

France

Paris

Euro, CFP Franc

Estonia

Tallinn

Euro

Italy

Rome

Euro

Netherlands

Amsterdam

Euro 

Japan

Tokyo

Yen

Thailand

Bangkok

Thai Baht

Uganda

Kampala 

Ugandan Shilling

Cuba

Havana

Cuban Peso, Cuban convertible peso

Singapore

Singapore City

Dollar

Iran

Tehran

Rial

Nepal

Kathmandu

Nepalese Rupee

Fiji

Suva

Fijian Dollar

Oman

Muscat

Omani Rial

Australia

Canberra

Australian Dollar

Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur 

Malaysian Ringgit

Argentina

Buenos Aires 

Argentine Peso

Norway

Oslo 

Norwegian krone

Bhutan

Thimphu

Bhutanese Ngultrum

 

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)
  • 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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