Weekly Current Affairs

Welcome to the Endeavor Editors’ Weekly Current Affairs Choicest Blog series. Get a weekly roundup – of news from business, economy, markets, policy, and more. A quick capsule format news summary and update to keep you abreast with all the latest current affairs.

1) International News and Global Economy

Zelensky vows to keep up the fight amid a new wave of Russian missile attacks

President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday that his only wish for Ukrainians for 2023 was victory and he resolved to stay the course. Russia launched more than 20 cruise missiles at Ukrainian targets on Saturday, killing at least one person in Kyiv, the capital, and injuring another 20 people in what one Ukrainian official described as “terror on New Year’s Eve”.

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Russia bombs Ukraine with 16 Iranian Kamikaze Drones | Seven drones damage Kyiv | Russia-Ukraine War

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North Korea’s Kim Jong Un orders new ICBM, bigger nuclear arsenal amid tension

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the “exponential” expansion of his country’s nuclear arsenal, the development of a more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, and the launch of its first spy satellite, state media reported on Sunday after he entered 2023 with another weapons’ firing following a record number of testing activities last year. Kim’s moves are in line with the broad direction of his nuclear weapons development program as he has repeatedly vowed to boost both the quality and quantity of his arsenal to cope with what he calls US hostility. Some experts say Kim’s push to produce more nukes and new weapons systems reflects his hopes to solidify his future negotiating power as he heads into prolonged tensions with the US and its allies.

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Myanmar court finds Suu Kyi guilty of corruption, sentences 7 yrs in prison

A court in military-ruled Myanmar convicted the country’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi of corruption Friday, sentencing her to seven years in prison in the last of a string of criminal cases against her, a legal official said. The court’s action leaves her with a total of 33 years to serve in prison after a series of politically tinged prosecutions since the army toppled her elected government in February 2021. The 77-year-old Suu Kyi has also been convicted of several other offenses, including illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, breaching the country’s official secrets act, sedition, and election fraud. Her previous convictions had landed her a total of 26 years imprisonment.

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Myanmar’s former leader Aung San Suu Kyi jailed for a further seven years – BBC News

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Pushpa Dahal ‘Prachanda’ appointed Nepal’s Prime Minister for the third time

President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Sunday appointed CPN-Maoist Centre chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ as the new Prime Minister of Nepal. Prachanda has been appointed as the Prime Minister of Nepal as per Article 76 Clause 2 of the Constitution, according to a statement issued by the President’s Office here. The President had called any member of the House of Representatives, who can garner a majority with support from two or more parties as stipulated in Article 76 clause 2 of the Constitution to submit a claim for the Prime Minister’s post. Prachanda, 68, had submitted the claim before the deadline given by the President expired at 5 pm on Sunday.

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Charting the global economy: China’s slump deepens into year-end

China’s Covid Zero policy may be ending, but the world’s second-largest economy is going to look worse before it gets better. Forecasters expect the gross domestic product to slow further before picking up in 2023. Chinese residents are increasingly pessimistic about the job market and their incomes, and housing is still broadly unaffordable. The slump in China carried over to Hong Kong, where exports plummeted in November by the most in nearly seven decades. In South Korea, semiconductor production fell last month by the most since the global financial crisis, speaking to weakening recovery momentum in a nation closely tied to the world economy.

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2) India

India, Cyprus ink defence cooperation agreement as Jaishankar visits Nicosia

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday met his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides here and discussed the full spectrum of bilateral relations and issues of mutual and global interests like the Ukraine conflict, as the two sides signed three agreements, including an MOU on defence and military cooperation. Jaishankar arrived here earlier in the day on his first official visit to Cyprus as the two countries celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations. During his visit, Jaishankar met his Cypriot counterpart Kasoulides and signed an agreement on defence and military cooperation, another Letter of Intent on immigration and mobility, as well as the agreement on Cyprus joining the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The two leaders also shared their vision for world peace, freedom, and democracy.

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GST collections in December grow 15% to Rs 1.49 lakh crore

GST collections for the month of December stood at over Rs 1.49 lakh crore, 15 percent higher than the year-ago period, the Finance Ministry said on Sunday.  In November, the collections were at nearly Rs 1.46 lakh crore, up 11 percent from the year-ago period. The collections had touched a record high of nearly Rs 1.68 lakh crore in April. The second-highest collection was Rs 1.52 lakh crore in October. Today, the ministry said the gross GST revenue collected during December 2022 was Rs 1,49,507 crore, of which Central GST is Rs 26,711 crore, State GST is Rs 33,357 crore, IGST is Rs 78,434 crore.

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India-Australia pact kicks in; zero duty for 96.4% of exported goods

The government has begun reaching out to exporters of apparel, chemicals, plastics, gems and jewelry, engineering goods, and technical textiles to take advantage of the duty concessions offered by the India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), which comes into force Thursday. Australia is offering zero-duty access to India from day one for about 96.4% of the products exported, including many that currently attract 4-5% customs duty in Australia, such as leather, textiles, gems, and jewelry. India’s textiles and apparel exports to Australia are expected to grow to $1.1 billion from $0.5 billion in the next three years.

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India’s unemployment rate rises to a 16-month high at 8.30% in December: CMIE

India’s unemployment rate in December increased to a 16-month high at 8.30 percent from 8.00 percent in the previous month, data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) showed on 1 January. The CMIE data further showed that the urban unemployment rate rose to 10.09 percent in December from 8.96 percent in the previous month, while the rural unemployment rate slipped to 7.44 percent from 7.55 percent. The unemployment rate had declined to 7.2 percent in the July-September quarter compared to 7.6 percent in the previous quarter, according to separate quarterly data compiled by the state-run National Statistical Office (NSO) and released in November.

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Ties with China ‘not normal’ as India will not agree to any attempt to change LAC unilaterally: Jaishankar

India will not agree to any attempt to change the Line of Actual Control (LAC) unilaterally by China, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said, as he underlined that New Delhi’s relations with Beijing are “not normal” and there would be no compromise on core issues. Addressing the Indian community in Cyprus on Friday during his first official visit to this Mediterranean country, Jaishankar, in a veiled attack on Pakistan, also said that terrorism cannot be used as a tool to force India to the negotiating table. Jaishankar said India has challenges on its borders, which intensified during the Covid period.

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Arunachal witnesses infra push along the border

Development of infrastructure, ranging from road construction to greenfield airport, took the centre stage in 2022 in Arunachal Pradesh, which was in the news recently following a clash between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Tawang sector of the northeastern state. During the year, the country “speeded up” the process of building adequate infrastructure, particularly border connectivity in the state, an official said, adding that the showpiece of which is the Arunachal Frontier Highway, one of the country’s “biggest and toughest” projects. The project will cost at least Rs 40,000 crore.

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3) Economy

Indian economy confronting strong headwinds amid global recessionary risks: RBI

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 29 December released the 26th issue of the Financial Stability Report (FSR) and said that with the global economy facing formidable headwinds with recessionary risks looming large, India is confronted with strong global headwinds. The central bank added that the interplay of multiple shocks has resulted in tightened financial conditions and heightened volatility in financial markets. The RBI’s FSR reflects the collective assessment of the Sub-Committee of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) on risks to financial stability and the resilience of the financial system. Through the FSR report, the RBI said, “The Indian economy is confronting strong global headwinds. Yet, sound macroeconomic fundamentals and healthy financial and non-financial sector balance sheets are providing strength and resilience and engendering financial system stability.”

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4) Markets, Banking, and Finance

RBI puts 3 options on the table for cryptos — regulate, ban or ‘let them implode’

One of the options before the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regarding crypto assets is to let them “implode”, the central bank has said in a report released this week, even though it acknowledges this comes with some risk. Overall, though, the RBI said one of the priorities under India’s G20 presidency is to develop a global framework on crypto assets which could include the possibility of banning unbacked crypto assets, ‘stable coins’, and decentralized finance altogether. In the December 2022 edition of its ‘Financial Stability Report’ — released Thursday evening — the RBI noted that several incidents in the recent past have underscored the risks of the crypto industry, which have lent the central bank some insights on the industry and the way forward.

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5) Business

Tata Motors completes Rs 725 cr acquisition of Ford’s Sanand plant

Tata Passenger Electric Mobility (TPEML), a subsidiary of Tata Motors, has completed the acquisition of Ford India’s vehicle manufacturing plant in Sanand for Rs 725.7 crore, according to an exchange notification. On August 7, TPEML and Ford India (FIPL) signed a unit transfer agreement for the acquisition of FIPL’s plant in Sanand, Gujarat, including entire land and buildings; vehicle manufacturing plant along with machinery and equipment situated therein; and the transfer of all eligible employees of FIPL’s vehicle manufacturing operations at Sanand, for a total consideration, exclusive of taxes, of Rs 725.7 crore.

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Adani Enterprises buys shares from NDTV founders at a 17% premium

The Gautam Adani-led Adani Enterprises on Friday said that it had acquired additional 17.6 million shares of media company New Delhi Television (NDTV), for Rs 342.65 apiece from the Roys, founders of the company, taking its total shareholding to nearly 65 percent. The acquisition — which is for a further 27.26 percent stake in NDTV – has been done through the indirect subsidiary RRPR Holding. The deal size works out to Rs 602 crore, based on a disclosure to stock exchanges by Adani Enterprises on Friday. It is at a nearly 17 percent premium to the open offer price of Rs 294 a share launched by the Adani group on November 22, which concluded on December 5.

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EV industry ends 2022 with one million unit sales; worries loom ahead

India’s electric vehicle (EV) industry has touched the milestone of one million unit sales in the calendar year 2022, accounting for 4.7 percent of overall automobile sales. According to data on the government’s Vahan website, about 1,003,000 EVs have been registered with regional transport offices till December 31. The numbers show a more than threefold increase from 332,000 units sold in 2021. The rise in sales was on the back of high individual buying and Business-to-Business (B2B) purchases by EV fleet operators. Adaptation of FAME II and building of charging infrastructure adding to the EV penetration in the country. Manufacturers such as Ola Electric, Ather Energy, and Tata Motors are the big gainers from the higher adoption of EVs.

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6) Technology

Australia overtakes El Salvador to become 4th largest crypto ATM hub

El Salvador, the first country to legalize Bitcoin, has been pushed down yet another spot in total crypto ATM installations as Australia records 216 ATMs stepping into the year 2023. As part of El Salvador’s drive to establish Bitcoin as a legal tender, President Nayib Bukele decided to install over 200 crypto ATMs across the country. While this move made El Salvador the third largest crypto ATM hub at the time after the United States and Canada in September 2021, Spain and Australia overtook the windows 10Central American country’s ATM count in 2022. On October 2022, Cointelegraph reported that Spain became the third-largest crypto ATM hub after installing 215 crypto ATMs. However, Spain continued its installation drive and is home to 226 crypto ATMs at the time of writing. El Salvador’s position as the fourth-largest crypto ATM hub was short-lived as Australia stepped up its game over the following months.

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7) Politics

CM Himanta Sarma announces merger of four districts; protests erupt in the state

Protests erupted in Assam after the state cabinet approved the decision to merge four new districts with the existing undivided ones. The protesters raised ‘go back’ slogans, and blocked the road in the districts of Biswanth and Bajali on Saturday. As per the official sources, Hojal will be merged with Nagaon, Biswanath with Sonitpur, Bajali with Barpeta, and Tamulpur with Baksa.

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Not just Karnataka, Maharashtra border with Telangana fuzzy too

Karnataka is not the only state with which Maharashtra has an unresolved border issue. For the past 50-odd years, there has been no clarity over who controls 13 villages sitting on the border of Maharashtra and Telangana. The last official consultation between the two states was way back in 1997 when Andhra Pradesh had not been bifurcated. Of the 13, residents of six villages – Parandoli, Kota, Nokewada (Maharajuguda), Bolapatar, Gouri, and Isapur – vote in both states, get ration cards, and other benefits from both. Their main complaint, however, is that they have not been given documents (pattas) for their lands. The 2011 census put the population of the 13 villages at 10,000. It has increased by around 3,000 since then. Also, a new village has come up – Mukkadamguda.

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8) Sports

Pele, king of ‘beautiful game,’ dies at 82

Pele, the Brazilian king of football who won a record three World Cups and became one of the most commanding sports figures of the past century, died Thursday. He was 82. Widely regarded as one of football’s greatest players, Pele spent nearly two decades enchanting fans and dazzling opponents as the game’s most prolific scorer with Brazilian club Santos and the Brazil national team.

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Cristiano Ronaldo becomes highest-paid footballer in history after Al-Nassr deal

Star striker Cristiano Ronaldo has joined the Saudi Arabian football club Al-Nassr on a two-year deal. The club announced the signing on Friday, as per ESPN. The 37-year-old will receive $75 million per year, making him the highest-paid footballer in history. Ronaldo and his former club Manchester United had agreed to terminate his deal last month after his controversial TV interview in which he fired shots at the club, its manager Erik Ten Hag and its owners, the Glazers family. Ronaldo criticized the club and said he has “no respect” for its manager Ten Hag.

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9) Opinion

Fintechs may find it tough to piece together the direct lending puzzle in 2023

Caught in a quandary in the past few months due to new lending norms introduced by the RBI, fintechs are relooking at the idea of direct lending, via an NBFC license, apart from their existing co-lending partnerships with Regulated Entities (REs).  The trend came into prominence in 2019 with many fintechs diverging from their initial plan of credit marketplaces, and hence seeking a licence. But, with tech coming into play, fintechs found their calling in new-age partnerships, including co-lending, PPIs, and FLDG arrangements, and the direct lending idea went on the back burner. It’s now in focus again as digital lenders look for a safety blanket, on-book/direct lending being one of them. This means that most fintechs, earlier focused on asset-light growth, will aim to get a license to lend and subsequently capitalize on their NBFCs.

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10) Weekly special

Fit To Lead | Shark Tank India & SUGAR Cosmetics’ Vineeta Singh: ‘Running a business is quite like running a marathon’

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With that, we come to the end of our Weekly Current Affairs January 2023 -Week 1. We hope you have liked it. Write your feedback in the comments below and let us know if there is anything else you would like us to cover.

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