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Current Affairs 1 & 2 January 2023

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PM Modi virtually Inaugurates Rs 7,600 crore worth Railway projects in West BengalPM Modi virtually inaugurates ₹7,600-cr worth railway projects in West BengalNarendra Modi, Prime Minister (PM) of India, virtually inaugurated a railway project worth Rs 7600 crore in West Bengal. He dedicated 4 railway projects to the nation including Boinchi – Shaktigarh 3rd Line, Dankuni – Chandanpur 4th Line Project, Nimtita – New Farakka Double Line and Ambari Falakata – New Maynaguri – Gumanihat Doubling Project.

  • He also flagged off the 7th Vande Bharat Express from Howrah to New Jalpaiguri station and inaugurated the Joka-Taratala-stretch of the Purple Line of Kolkata Metro.
  • He also laid the foundation stone for the redevelopment of the New Jalpaiguri Railway Station.

About West Bengal:
Chief Minister– Mamata Banerjee
Governor– Dr. C.V. Ananda Bose
National Parks– Singalila National Park; Neora Valley National Park
Tiger Reserve– Buxa Tiger Reserve; Sundarban Tiger Reserve
>> Read Full News

Artpark-IISc Join Hands with Google to Launch AI-Powered Project Vaani  Artpark-IISc, Google to bring innovation to India’s diverse languagesARTPARK (Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Robotics Technology Park), a not-for-profit organisation backed by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore has collaborated with Google. to launchProject Vaani’, a pan-India inclusive language data initiative for open-sourcing datasets at ‘Google for India 2022’ event held in New Delhi.

  • This will amplify Government of India (GoI)’s Digital India efforts by including more diverse regional and local languages.

About Project Vaani:
i.Project Vaani aims to compile comprehensive datasets of transcribed text and spoken language from each district in India and are open-sourced via Vaani’s website.
ii.In future, they can also be accessed through other platforms like “Bhashini” of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for advancing research and innovation.
iii.Vaani joins the Bhāshā AI umbrella of Artpark and IISc’s Synthesizing Speech in Indian Languages (SYSPIN) and Recognizing Speech in Indian Languages (RESPIN) programmes, which encompass 9 languages (Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Bhojpuri, Kannada, Magadhi, Chhattisgarhi, and Maithili).
About ARTPARK (Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Robotics Technology Park):
Chairman Hub Governing Board – Govindan Rangarajan
Headquarters – IISc, Bengaluru, Karnataka
About Google:
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – Sundar Pichai
Headquarters – California, United States of America (USA)

Govt Approves PADMA as Self Regulatory body for the publisher 

The government of India(GoI) has approved the Print and Digital Media Association (PADMA) as a self-regulatory body for publishers of news and current affairs across India.
PADMA, an organisation with 47 digital news publishers, will look at grievances related to digital media news content on its platform.

  • The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) intimated the approval through an official order on 2nd December 2022.
  • The organisation will be headed by former High Court(HC) Judge Mool Chand Garg and have a part-time member of Prasar Bharati Ashok Kumar Tandon and journalist Manoj Kumar Mishra as members.
  • PADMA shall perform functions laid down in sub-rules (4) and (5) of rule 12 for the purpose of redressing grievances related to the code of ethics under the rules.
  • It will also ensure that the member publishers have agreed to adhere to the provisions of the rules, including furnishing the requisite information under rule 18.


UNSC adopts first-ever resolution on Myanmar, demanding end to violence and release of political prisoners

The United Nations Security Council(UNSC) adopted its first resolution on Myanmar in 74 years  to demand an end to violence and urge the military junta to release all political prisoners, including former leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

  • Myanmar has been in crisis since the army seized Suu Kyi’s elected government on Feb. 1, 2021, detaining her and other officials.
  • In the 15-member UNSC council for the Myanmar crisis, China, Russia and India denied the vote.  The remaining 12 members voted in favor.
  • The resolution urges the junta to release detained prisoners, including Suu Kyi and former Myanmar president Win Myint.

TB Research Funding Trends 2005-2021:  Funding for TB R&D Hits a Billion Dollars Worldwide in 2021

According to the Tuberculosis(TB) Research Funding Trends 2005-2021 released by  Treatment Action Group (TAG) and the Stop TB Partnership, for the first time in history, funding of TB Research and Development (R&D) hits a billion dollars worldwide in 2021.

  • The Stop TB Partnership is a Geneva(Switzerland) based United Nations(UN)-a hosted entity that aims to end the disease by 2030.
  • The report highlights that despite reaching the USD 1 billion mark, funding for TB R&D is a mere fraction of what’s needed to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goal of ending TB as a pandemic by 2030.


Punjab & Sind Bank Partners with SBI Card to Launch Co-branded Credit CardPunjab & Sind Bank, SBI Card launch co-brand credit cardsPunjab & Sind Bank (PSB), a public sector bank, has partnered with SBI Card to launch co-brand credit cards for the bank’s customers. This marks the entry of PSB into ‘credit cards’ as a new product segment under the bank’s portfolio.

  • Under the partnership, three card variants have been launched including, PSB SBI Card ELITE, PSB SBI Card PRIME, and PSB SimplySAVE SBI Card.

Key highlights:
i.The card was launched to cater for the spending needs of the customers of PSB with exclusive privileges.
ii.SBI Card ELITE and PSB SBI Card PRIME have been designed to offer lifestyle privileges and best in class experience to premium and mass premium customers, respectively.

  • PSB SBI Card ELITE will be offered at a joining fee of Rs. 4,999 plus taxes while PSB SBI Card PRIME will be offered at Rs. 2,999 plus taxes.

iii.PSB SimplySAVE SBI Card offers rewarding experience to value conscious customers through accelerated rewards and benefits on their spending. The card is offered at Rs. 499 plus taxes.
iv.Both PSB SBI Card ELITE and PSB SBI Card PRIME will be available on VISA platform and PSB SimplySAVE SBI Card on RuPay platform.

ADB Grants USD 100 million to SFL for Vehicle Loans to Women EntrepreneursShriram Finance gets $100 mn funding from ADB for inclusive financingAsian Development Bank (ADB) has sanctioned USD 100 million (about Rs 830 crore) External Commercial Borrowing (ECB), a five-year loan, under the lender’s social finance framework to Shriram Finance Limited (SFL), a part of Shriram Group to provide vehicle loans to women entrepreneurs.

  • The credit will be issued towards the purchase of new and used vehicles throughout India.

Key highlights:
i.The loan can be used for vehicle finance for commercial purposes for BS VI compliant vehicles and electric vehicles, especially for women entrepreneurs in under-developed states

  • This shall empower and promote the social and economic status of the underserved communities.

ii.Besides the ADB loan, Shriram Finance has also raised USD 250 million from US Development Finance Corporation and USD 475 million through a 144A Bond from the international market in 2022.
About Shriram Finance Limited (SFL):
In November 2022, Shriram Group’s entities – Shriram Transport Finance Company Limited, Shriram City Union Finance Limited and  Capital Limited merged to form  Shriram Finance Limited (SFL).
Chairman – Jugal Kishore Mohapatra
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra

IDBI Bank signs agreement to transfer schemes of IDBI Mutual Fund to LIC MFIDBI Bank signs pact to transfer mutual fund schemes to LIC MFThe IDBI Bank has signed a Scheme Transfer Agreement (STA) with LIC Mutual Fund(MF) for the transfer of Schemes of IDBI Mutual Funds(MF) to LIC MF to comply with regulations 7B of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Mutual fund Regulations.
LIC took over IDBI Bank, the sponsor of IDBI Mutual Fund, in January 2019.
LIC already has its own asset management company(AMC), LIC MF under SEBI Rules.

  • SEBI Rules restrict a single promoter to owning more than 10% stake in 2 asset management companies(AMCs) therefore, IDBI Bank-promoted IDBI MF had to be either sold or merged with LIC MF.
  • Since IDBI Bank, the parent of IDBI MF, is majority owned by LIC, the transfer is necessary.

Key Points: 
i.Following this proposed scheme acquisition transaction the like-to-like schemes will be merged and the unique schemes of IDBI MF will continue on a stand-alone basis with the acquiring entity.
ii.The merger is expected to be completed in this quarter.
About IDBI Bank Limited:
Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer (CEO)– Rakesh Sharma
Established in 1964
Headquarters– Mumbai, Maharashtra

Tata AIA Life introduces Emerging Opportunities Fund with Ulips

Tata AIA Life Insurance has established the Emerging Opportunity Fund with ULIP (unit-linked insurance plans), which is able to invest in mid-cap companies and rising market leaders with the potential to provide significant future growth.
The applications for ULIP plans with New Fund Offering (NFO) window was open till 31 December 2022.

  • Tata AIA’s ULIP offerings like Fortune Pro, Wealth Pro, Fortune Maxima, and Wealth Maxima can be used to invest in the Fund.
  • Additionally, the Fund will be attached to Tata AIA’s Param Rakshak Solutions.
  • Up to 30% of the fund’s total assets may be allocated to equity and equity-related investments that are not in the mid-cap range.

Note: The Emerging Opportunities Fund is to strengthen the client’s portfolio and potentially generate long-term wealth.


Bank of Baroda Wins EAG Laureate Award on Financial Security

Bank of Baroda, the second largest public sector bank in India after State Bank of India (SBI), won EAG Laureate award in the International Olympiad of Financial Security held at Sochi, Russia on 10 October 2022.

  • India is one of the nine members of the Eurasian group on combating money laundering and terrorism (EAG), a regional organisation similar to the  Financial Action Task Force (FATF).The EAG was established in 2004 and is currently an associate member of the FATF.
  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is the global anti- money laundering and anti- terrorist financing body.

Note – The initiative of EAG was first announced by the Russian Federation at the Plenary Meeting of the FATF in October 2003.       


IDBI Bank re-appoints Suresh Khatanhar as Deputy MD for a Year IDBI Bank re-appoints Suresh Khatanhar as deputy MD for a yearOn 28th December 2022, the Board of Directors of IDBI Bank Limited re-appointed Suresh Kishinchand Khatanhar as the Deputy Managing Director (DMD) of IDBI Bank for 1 year with effect from 15th January 2023, according to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s approval.
About Suresh Kishinchand Khatanhar:
i. Suresh Khatanhar started his banking career with Dena Bank and handled all HR-related work at the centralised HR department of the bank.
ii. Suresh Khatanhar joined IDBI Bank in 1997 from Dena Bank.

  • He joined IDBI Bank as a senior relationship manager. He served the organization in various capacities including as Chief General Manager (CGM) & head-internal audit, Chief Risk Officer and Chief Compliance Office.

iii. On 15th January 2020, the IDBI Bank Board appointed Suresh Khatanhar as DMD for a 3-year term.
iv. He has 37 years of experience in commercial banking, 25 of which he spent with IDBI Bank, where he was in charge of many different facets of commercial banking.
v. As a DMD, currently, he oversees Retail Banking, Priority Sector Lending, Structured Retail Advances, Credit cards, Third Party Distribution, Treasury, Centralised Operations, CMS & GBG, Corporate Communication, Retail Recovery, Audit, Legal and Compliance.
About IDBI Bank Limited:
IDBI Bank, one of the major state-owned banks in India, has more than 1,890 branches and 3,300 ATMs worldwide.
MD & Chief Executive Officer (CEO)- Rakesh Sharma
Headquarters- Mumbai, Maharashtra
Establishment- 1st July 1964    

Indian Army Appoints Lt Gen Arvind Walia as its New Engineer-in-Chief

Lieutenant (Lt) General (Gen) Arvind Walia, a 1986 batch officer and an alumnus of the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun has been appointed as the next Engineer-in-Chief of the Indian Army. He succeeds Lt Gen Harpal Singh who is superannuating on 31st December 2022.

  • Earlier,  Lt Gen Arvind Walia has commanded an independent squadron in the desert sector, a regiment in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), an Engineer Brigade along the western front and has also commanded the MEG & Centre in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
  • He was an instructor at the College of Defence Management in Secunderabad and the National Defence College in Delhi.
  • He has also held several other positions including Brigade Major of a Mountain Brigade, Director in Engineer-in-Chief’s Branch at the Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defence (MoD) (Army), Brig Q in a Strike Corps and Chief Engineer of a Command.


Adani group acquires 27.26% equity stake held by NDTV founders Roys for over Rs 600 crore Adani group acquires NDTV founders Roys' 27.26% equity stake for over ₹600 crorePrannoy Roy and Radhika Roy, founders of the news broadcaster New Delhi Television (NDTV) sold 27.26% of their equity in NDTV, sold 27.26% of their equity in New Delhi Television (NDTV) to Adani-controlled Radhika Roy Prannoy Roy (RRPR) Holding Private Limited at Rs 342.65 (USD 4.1426) per share.

  • Based on the price acquired by Adani Group, the Roys would have received Rs 602.30 crore from the sale of 1.75 crore shares.

Note: On December 23, Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy announced the sale of 27.26% out of their remaining 32.26% shareholding in the NDTV to the Adani Group.
Key Points:
i. The transfer of shares was done by way of inter-se transfer under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011.
ii. Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited, an indirect subsidiary of the corporation, owns an 8.27% equity share in NDTV, whereas RRPR (prior to the present acquisition) held a 29.18% equity share in NDTV.

  • After this acquisition, RRPR will own 56.45% of the company.

iii. On 30th December 2022, the transaction was finalised through the NSE’s (National Stock Exchange of India Ltd) block deal window, and the settlement is subject to exchange procedures and formalities.
iv. Adani Group indirectly acquired RRPR Holding Pvt Ltd in August 2022, which led to an open offer to buy a further 26% of NDTV.
About the New Delhi Television (NDTV):
Executive Co-Chairpersons- Dr Prannoy Roy & Radhika Roy
Headquarters- New Delhi, Delhi
Establishment- 1988
About the Adani Group:
Chairman- Gautam Adani
Managing Director (MD)- Rajesh Adani  
Headquarters- Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Establishment- 1988


Pritzker-Winning Japanese Architect Arata Isozaki Passed AwayArata Isozaki, Pritzker-winning Japanese architect, dies at 91Arata Isozaki, a Pritzker-Winning Japanese Architect, passed away at the age of 91 in Okinawa Island (Japanese Island). He was called a ‘post-modern giant’, who blended the culture and history of the East and the West in his designs.
About Arata Isozaki:
i. Arata Isozaki was born in Ōita, Island of Kyushu, Japan in 1931. He is known for his style that combines postmodernism and metabolism with technology.
ii. He started his career as an architect with an apprenticeship under the guidance of the 1987 Pritzker Prize Laureate Kenzo Tange.
iii. After the Allied occupation, in 1963, when Japan had reclaimed its independence, Arata Isozaki founded Arata Isozaki & Associates.
iv. His career started at a small scale, with numerous structures in his hometown and Fukuoka (Japan), swiftly spreading to Gunma, Osaka, and Tokyo in Japan.
v. His Significant works the Ōita Prefectural Library (1962-1966 Ōita), Expo ’70 Festival Plaza (1966-1970 Osaka), the Museum of Modern Art, Gunma (1971-1974), and Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art, Fukuoka (1972-1974).
vi. He emerged as an international leader in architecture in the 1980s, with his 1st overseas commission, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1981-1986 California, United States of America (USA)).
vii. With his 1st overseas commission, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1981-1986 California, United States of America (USA)), he became a recognised figure in architecture in the 1980s.

  • His other notable international works included over 100 completed projects.

viii. In reaction to the fast rate of urbanisation, Arata Isozaki created City in the Air (1962 Tokyo, Japan), a futuristic design for Shinjuku that featured elevated tiers of structures, housing, and transportation suspended above the ageing city below.
Awards and Recognition:
i. In 1979, Arata Isozaki was appointed to the 1st Pritzker Prize Jury and continued on as a member for 5 additional years.
ii. In 1986, he received the Royal Gold Medal for architecture.
iii. He was an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Arts (1994), the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1998), and a member of the Japan Arts Academy (2017).
iv. In 2019, Arata Isozaki won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, internationally the highest honour in the field.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mother Heeraben Passes Away

On 30th December 2022 Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s mother Heeraben passed away at the age of 100 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Mamata Banerjee, Pakistan’s PM Shehbaz Sharif, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) Chief Asaduddin Owaisi and others expressed condolences over the demise of PM Modi’s mother Heeraben.


Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore discusses his new book “The World” with Author Manu S. Pillai

Simon Sebag Montefiore, a British historian, discussed his recent book “The World: A Family History” in an interview with an Indian historian Manu S. Pillai. In the book, Simon Sebag Montefiore explores how people and families have played a role in the convergences and divergences in world history.

  • In an interview with historian Manu S. Pillai, he discusses why it is his most difficult yet most satisfying project.
  • The two-part book was originally published on 27th October 2022, published by Hachette India.


Assam Cabinet Grants Industry Status to the Tourism Sector in Assam

The Cabinet of Assam headed by Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chief Minister (CM) of Assam approved the proposal for the grant of industrial status to the tourism sector in Assam.
With industry status, restaurants, cafeterias, health clubs, spas and wellness centres among others are eligible for incentives under the industrial policy. This will encourage and boost private investment in the above areas of the tourism sector

  • With industry status, fresh investments in tourism infrastructures will contribute to rapid employment generation, public-private partnership and infrastructure development.
  • This aims for sustainable and environmentally friendly investment besides capital formation and the creation of gainful employment.


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Current Affairs Today (AffairsCloud Today)

S.noCurrent Affairs 1 & 2 January 2023
1PM Modi virtually Inaugurates Rs 7,600 crore worth Railway projects in West Bengal
2Artpark-IISc Join Hands with Google to Launch AI-Powered Project Vaani
3Govt Approves PADMA as Self Regulatory body for the publisher
4UNSC adopts first-ever resolution on Myanmar, demanding end to violence and release of political prisoners
5TB Research Funding Trends 2005-2021:  Funding for TB R&D Hits a Billion Dollars Worldwide in 2021
6Punjab & Sind Bank Partners with SBI Card to Launch Co-branded Credit Card
7ADB Grants USD 100 million to SFL for Vehicle Loans to Women Entrepreneurs
8IDBI Bank signs agreement to transfer schemes of IDBI Mutual Fund to LIC MF
9Tata AIA Life introduces Emerging Opportunities Fund with Ulips
10Bank of Baroda Wins EAG Laureate Award on Financial Security
11IDBI Bank re-appoints Suresh Khatanhar as Deputy MD for a Year
12Indian Army Appoints Lt Gen Arvind Walia as its New Engineer-in-Chief
13Adani group acquires 27.26% equity stake held by NDTV founders Roys for over Rs 600 crore
14Pritzker-Winning Japanese Architect Arata Isozaki Passed Away
15Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mother Heeraben Passes Away
16Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore discusses his new book “The World” with Author Manu S. Pillai
17Assam Cabinet Grants Industry Status to the Tourism Sector in Assam