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

Russian forces ‘storm’ Sievierodonetsk amid eastern Ukraine bombardments

Russian and Ukrainian troops engaged in close-quarter combat in an eastern Ukraine city on May 29 as Moscow’s soldiers, supported by intense shelling, attempted to gain strategic footholds in the region while facing fierce Ukrainian resistance. Ukrainian regional officials reported that Russian forces were “storming” the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk, where the fighting has knocked out power and cellphone services and terrorized civilians who haven’t fled. Sievierodonetsk, a manufacturing center, has emerged as an epicenter of Russia’s quest to conquer Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region. Russia also stepped up its efforts to take nearby Lysychansk, where Ukrainian officials reported constant shelling.

For details visit here.

Ukraine War: Where is Russia making progress?

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The US issues sanctions targeting the North Korean weapons of mass destruction program

The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on two Russian banks, a North Korean company, and a person it accused of supporting North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction program, increasing pressure on Pyongyang over its renewed ballistic missile launches. The latest American move came a day after China and Russia vetoed a U.S.-led push to impose more United Nations sanctions on North Korea over its ballistic missile launches, publicly splitting the U.N. Security Council for the first time since it started punishing Pyongyang in 2006. The vetoes came despite what the United States says was the sixth test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by North Korea this year and signs that Pyongyang is preparing to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017.

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‘We don’t have food’: African leaders meet as crises grow

African leaders gathered for a summit Friday in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, to address growing humanitarian needs on the continent, which is also facing increased violent extremism, climate change challenges, and a run of military coups. Leaders called for increased mobilization to resolve a humanitarian crisis that has left millions displaced and more than 280 million suffering from malnourishment. For people in Djibo, a town in northern Burkina Faso near the border with Mali, any help can’t come soon enough. The city in the Sahel region — the large expanse below the Sahara Desert — has been besieged since February by jihadis who prevent people and goods from moving in or out and cut water supplies. Few truckers want to run the jihadist gauntlet. Residents are suffering from no food or water, animals are dying and the price of grain has spiked.

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‘Require adequate assurances on Sri Lanka’s debt sustainability restoration’: IMF

Since Sri Lanka’s public debt is assessed as “unsustainable,” the IMF has said that it requires “sufficient assurance” from the country that it will restore debt sustainability during the debt restructuring process, a media report quoted the global crisis lender as saying. The (IMF) team welcomes the appointment of financial and legal advisors to engage in a collaborative dialogue with their creditors. It is an important step towards restoring public debt sustainability, the EconomyNext website cited the International Monetary Fund as saying after the end of technical level negotiations between the crisis-hit country’s officials and the IMF team. Since Sri Lanka’s public debt is assessed as unsustainable, approval by the Executive Board of an IMF-supported program for the country would require adequate assurances that debt sustainability will be restored, the IMF said. The global lender’s comments come as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is also the finance minister, on Thursday said he would quickly prepare an economic reform program and seek approval from the IMF.

For details visit here.

WEF 2022: Ukraine conflict to climate change, here’s what happened at Davos

India was at the center of many dialogues on emerging issues ranging from crypto technologies to climate change. More than one hundred Indian delegates which included CEOs, unicorn founders, and political leaders were at Davos. “In terms of numbers and specifically when it comes to government, we have record numbers from India,” said Sriram Gutta, head of India agenda at the Forum. “We currently work with many states on diverse initiatives, including food innovation and Agri tech, advanced manufacturing and production, drones, and electric vehicles, among others.” The World Economic Forum (WEF) launched the India chapter of the Alliance of CEO Climate Action Leaders on Monday to supercharge India’s climate action and decarbonization efforts.”

For details visit here.

3 ‘R’s dominating Davos 2022 & 3 key questions around Russia, Putin, Ukraine

As Russia, Recession and Rates dominate the Davos World Economic Forum 2022, Shekhar Gupta analyses three questions around Russia, the Ukraine war, and Putin’s future. Where does Russia stand, Where will Russia be after the war and What is the future of Putin?

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2) India

8 billion rubles of Indian oil firms stuck in Russia

As much as 8 billion rubles (about Rs 1,000 crore) of dividend income belonging to Indian oil firms are stuck in Russia after the Putin administration clamped down on dollar repatriation. Indian state oil firms have invested $5.46 billion in buying stakes in four different assets in Russia. These include a 49.9 percent stake in the Vankorneft oil and gas field and another 29.9 percent in the TAAS-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha fields. They get dividends on profits made by the operating consortium from selling oil and gas produced from the fields. “We had been regularly getting our dividend income from the projects but since the war in Ukraine led to volatility in foreign exchange rates, the Russian government has put restrictions on repatriation of dollars from that country,” said Harish Madhav, Director (Finance), Oil India Ltd, which is one of the partners in the fields.

For details visit here.

US surpasses China as India’s biggest trading partner in FY22 at $119.42 bn

The US surpassed China to become India’s top trading partner in 2021-22, reflecting strengthening economic ties between the two countries. According to the data of the commerce ministry, in 2021-22, the bilateral trade between the US and India stood at USD 119.42 billion against USD 80.51 billion in 2020-21. Exports to the US increased to USD 76.11 billion in 2021-22 from USD 51.62 billion in the previous fiscal year, while imports rose to USD 43.31 billion as compared to about USD 29 billion in 2020-21. “In the coming years, the bilateral trade between India and the US will continue to grow. India has joined a US-led initiative to set up an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) and this move would help boost economic ties further,” Khan said.

For details visit here.

‘Moment of pride’: Wishes pour in as Geetanjali Shree’s ‘Tomb of Sand’ becomes the first Hindi novel to win International Booker Prize

As a matter of immense pride for the country, Indian author Geetanjali Shree’s translated Hindi Novel, Tomb of Sand, has won the prestigious International Booker Prize, becoming the first novel in any Indian language to receive this award. Originally published in Hindi as ‘Ret Samadhi‘, it is translated into English by Daisy Rockwell. The novel follows the journey of an 80-year-old woman who slips into a deep depression after the death of her husband but then resurfaces to gain a new lease on life.

For details visit here.

India is prepared for Monkeypox, no cases in the country yet: ICMR

With monkeypox cases being identified across the world, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) official on Friday said that India is prepared in view of increasing infections in the non-endemic countries, however, no cases have been reported in the country so far. In an interview with ANI, Dr. Aparna Mukherjee, Scientist E, ICMR said, “India is prepared for the infections as it is rapidly spreading in non-endemic countries like Europe, USA, and others. However, no cases have been reported in India so far.” She said, “Kids are more susceptible to the infection. The elderly people would be vaccinated with the smallpox vaccine. After the 1980s, people who did not get the smallpox vaccine that gives cross-immunity to fight against the infection, so the younger people will be more susceptible. The treatment is the same for both children and adults.”

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India faces wider coal shortages, worsening power outage risks: Report

India is expected to face a wider coal shortage during the quarter ending September over expectations of higher power demand, an internal power ministry presentation seen by Reuters showed, worsening risks of widespread power outages. The country expects local coal supply to fall 42.5 million tonnes short of demand in the September quarter, 15 percent higher than previously projected, due to higher growth in power demand and lower output from some mines. The grim forecast shows the extent of the fuel shortage in India, at a time when annual power demand is seen growing at the fastest rate in at least 38 years and global coal prices are trading at near-record levels due to a supply crunch resulting from the Russia-Ukraine crisis. India has stepped up pressure on utilities to increase imports in recent days, warning of cuts to the supply of domestically mined coal if power plants do not build up coal inventories through imports.

For details visit here.

Explained: Coal Shortage and Power Crisis in India | The Quint

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3) Economy

Edible oil prices to fall as Indonesia ships 200,000 tonnes of crude palm oil

Availability of edible oils in the country will improve and their prices may come down in the coming weeks as Indonesia has shipped 200,000 tonnes of crude palm oil to India, oil traders have said. Pradeep Chowdhry, managing director of Gemini Edibles and Fats, said prices of all types of edible oils have softened in the international markets in recent weeks but since the Indian rupee has depreciated, the consumers have not been able to get the benefit of softening of prices.  If edible oil prices cool off, it will bring some relief to the government as the country is in the midst of a record high inflation driven by rising prices of food and fuel. Food inflation in April was 8.38%, up from 7.68% in March. Increased supply is expected to bring down palm oil prices sequentially in the second half of 2022-23, said Pushan Sharma, director at Crisil Research.

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RBI warns of high wholesale prices feeding into retail inflation

The Reserve Bank warned on Friday that there is a risk of high wholesale price inflation (WPI) exerting pressure on retail inflation. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in its annual report that cost-push pressures from high industrial raw material prices, transportation costs and global logistics, and supply chain bottlenecks continue to have an impact on core inflation. “The substantial wedge between wholesale and retail price inflation amidst a sharp rise in manufactured products’ inflation poses the risk of a possible passthrough of input cost pressures to retail inflation with a lag, although slack in the economy is muting the pass-through,” the central bank stated. The situation in Ukraine, as well as the resulting surge in commodity prices, has clouded the forecast for inflation in India and the rest of the world, according to the report.

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Moody’s trims the 2022 growth forecast for India to 8.8%

Moody’s Investors Service has lowered the calendar 2022 growth forecast for India to 8.8% from 9.1% it projected in March, saying higher prices of crude oil, food and fertilizer will weigh on household finances and spending in the months ahead. The rating agency maintained its 2023 growth forecast for India at 5.4%. Moody’s also slashed the growth projection for G20 economies to 3.1% in 2022, down from the 5.9% growth registered in 2021 when the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis was in full swing. Strong credit growth, a large increase in investment intentions announced by the corporate sector, and high budget allocation to capital spending by the government indicate that the investment cycle is strengthening, Moody’s said in its report.

For details visit here.

4) Markets, Banking, and Finance

RBI’s red flag for NBFCs: Shadow banks face tighter supervision

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) intends to tighten the supervisory architecture for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) in view of the systemic risks emerging from their size and interconnectedness. “Higher risk appetite of NBFCs has…contributed overtime to their size, complexity, and interconnectedness, thus, making some of the entities systemically significant that pose potential threat to financial stability,” the RBI said in its annual report for FY22. “The balance sheet of NBFCs expanded in 2021-22, but asset quality in the sector deteriorated,” the report observed. Considering the significant share of funding absorbed by NBFCs at the system level, continued attention to their financial health is warranted from the viewpoint of financial stability, the report added.

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RBI to increase rates but hikes need not be endless, says Shaktikanta Das

Inflation is generalized, persistent, and is here to stay, but the Reserve Bank of India will not use excessively harsh measures to restrain prices, said Governor Shaktikanta Das. The Monetary Policy Committee will increase interest rates to contain inflation, but the objective is to ensure that the market doesn’t get any shocks and that growth revival is not derailed, he said. Further, rate hikes need not necessarily be endless as a recent reduction in fuel taxes and ban on exports of some commodities may have a positive impact in bringing down price pressures and the geopolitical situation may also turn helpful.

For details visit here.

On-tap license: Sachin Bansal, and five other applicants rejected by RBI

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday rejected applications for on-tap bank licenses of six firms —four of which applied for universal bank licenses and two for small finance banks. The applications rejected by the RBI include Flipkart founder Sachin Bansal’s Chaitanya India Fin Credit Private Limited which has applied for a universal bank license. Bansal is the managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) of Chaitanya India Fin. Last year, the Enforcement Directorate served a show-cause notice to Bansal for alleged violation of FDI policy. 11 entities had applied for on-tap bank licenses since the guidelines were released by the RBI.

For details visit here.

5) Business

Adani Ent to acquire a 50% stake in General Aeronautics

Adani Defence Systems and Technologies, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Adani Enterprise on Friday signed a definitive agreement to acquire a 50% stake in Bengaluru-based commercial drone maker General Aeronautics for cash consideration. The company will be leveraging its military drone and AI/ML capabilities and work with General Aeronautics to provide solutions for the domestic agricultural sector. General Aeronautics is an Agri solution provider that provides robotic drones and drone-based solutions for crop protection services, crop health, precision- farming, and yield monitoring using artificial intelligence and analytics for the agricultural sector.

For details visit here.

Coal India to import for the first time in years as power shortages loom

The government has asked state-run Coal India to aggregate and import coal for blending purposes by all power generation companies. The power ministry has sent letters informing states about the decision and has asked them to wait for price discovery by Coal India. The coal will be imported on behalf of power plants, many of which earlier complained that tendering and coal imports were not their core expertise. The decision comes at a time when most states are finding it difficult to float tenders, find suppliers and negotiate for coal imports. Uttar Pradesh has advised all its power plants against coal imports citing higher tariffs. Coal stocks at power stations registered a marginal increase to 22 million tonnes, adequate for eight days at the current rate of consumption. Power stations had 20 million tonnes as of May 20.

For details visit here.

6) Technology

PM Modi Lauds India’s 100 Unicorns milestone, says startups reflect the spirit of New India

In the monthly address – “Mann Ki Baat”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was all about India’s 100 unicorns, as he lauded the country’s startup ecosystem for achieving the milestone. Citing Inc42 data, he said that the country’s unicorns are valued at$330 Bn or INR 25 Lakh Crore. The Prime Minister added that the country’s unicorns have a faster average growth rate than the likes of the US, UK, and others.  Modi also said that India has already created 14 unicorns in 2022, having minted 44 unicorns last year. Talking about the nature of India’s unicorns, Modi said, “Another good thing [about India’s unicorns] is that our unicorns are diversifying.”  The PM said that India’s unicorns are working in diverse fields such as e-commerce, fintech, edtech, biotech, and so on.

For details visit here.

India’s Own Digital Currency to be introduced in Phased manner, RBI forms Innovation Hub

The Reserve Bank of India in its annual report released on Friday, May 27, said it was going to take the path of a “graded approach” towards the introduction of the Central Bank Digital Currency. It said that the design of the central digital coin needed to be in line with the objectives of its monetary policy, financial stability, and efficient operations of currency and payment systems. The RBI’s statement comes months after the time when it said it was in a position to start off with testing and running pilot projects of the CBDC. The Reserve Bank has been exploring the pros and cons of the introduction of CBDC in India, the central bank said. “Accordingly, the appropriate design elements of CBDCs that could be implemented with little, or no disruption are under examination,” it said.

For details visit here.

7) Politics

Behind Andhra district renaming row, deepening caste, regional faultlines

Carved out of the East Godavari district, Konaseema is among 13 new districts announced by the YSRCP government early last month. The state government issued a notification in this regard on May 18. However, the renaming proposal has been opposed by sections of other communities, especially Kapus and some Backward Classes (BCs) groups, who are demanding that the tourist region’s traditional name Konaseema should be retained. Apart from caste politics, there are also concerns being expressed by a section of local residents that renaming Konaseema would “take away the traditional identity of the region”. “The opposition is not against Dr. Ambedkar, but against erasing the identity of the region.

For details visit here.

BJP Announces 16 Candidates; Piyush Goyal from Maharashtra, Sitharaman from Karnataka

The BJP on Sunday announced 16 candidates for the June 10 Rajya Sabha polls, fielding Union ministers Piyush Goyal and Nirmala Sitharaman from Maharashtra and Karnataka respectively. Of the 16 candidates, six are from Uttar Pradesh. Former BJP MLA Radha Mohan Das Aggarwal who left his Gorakhpur Urban constituency for Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to contest in the recent assembly polls was among the candidates. From Uttar Pradesh, the party has also fielded former state unit chief Laxmikant Vajpayee, sitting Rajya Sabha MP Surendra Singh Nagar, and Bauburam Nishad, the chairperson of the UP Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation.

For details visit here.

Sidhu Moose Wala murder: Gang claiming responsibility led by Lawrence Bishnoi, infamous for high-profile hits

With Canada-based gangster Goldy Brar claiming responsibility for the murder of singer-politician Sidhu Moose Wala, sources in Delhi Police Special Cell say they will look into the role of those associated with Lawrence Bishnoi, whose gang Brar is a part of. Many such associates, police said, are already behind bars in and around Delhi. Senior officers also said they had been investigating Brar for allegedly planning several murders and attempted murders from Canada. They also said that Bishnoi and his gang have criminal records in Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Haryana, with Bishnoi, who is in a Rajasthan jail, still managing to run his gang from the inside.

For details visit here.

8) Sports

GT vs RR Live Score, IPL Final 2022: Hardik Pandya’s all-round show helps Gujarat Titans clinch title in the first season

Gujarat Titans beat Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets to clinch the title in their debut season at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. Gujarat captain Hardik Pandya produced a brilliant all-around performance as he picked up three wickets and scored 34 runs as well. Chasing a modest 131 for victory in their debut season, Gujarat depended on a 63-run third-wicket partnership between Shubman Gill, who made 45 not out, and Pandya to achieve their target with 11 balls to spare in Ahmedabad. Gill and Miller ensured the debutants get past the finish line in the end.

For details visit here.

Rafael Nadal To Face Novak Djokovic In French Open Quarters After Epic Last-16 Win

Rafael Nadal set up a blockbuster French Open quarter-final against world number one Novak Djokovic on Sunday when he defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime in a five-set fourth-round epic. Nadal, the 13-time champion at Roland Garros and holder of a record 21 Grand Slam titles, triumphed over the Canadian 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in a match that lasted four hours and 21 minutes. It was only the third time in his 17-year, 111-match career in Paris that Nadal had been stretched to five sets. Nadal and Djokovic will meet for the 10th time at Roland Garros and 59th time overall in a rivalry stretching back to 2006.

For details visit here.

9) Opinion

Why India bought into Quad & what Russia and China have got to do with it: Deepa Wadhwa & Tanvi Madan

In this edition, ThePrint’s Senior Consulting Editor Jyoti Malhotra spoke to the former Indian ambassador to Japan Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa, and the Director of India Projecta the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, Tanvi Madan, on the recently concluded Quad summit in Tokyo, on the importance of the Quad, why India continues to differ on Russia and why all Quad nations have one rising power in mind: China.

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Why do many in the US resist stricter gun laws?

A shooting at a Texas elementary school that killed 19 children and two adults Tuesday was the 27th school shooting in the US this year. It has also been 10 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in which 20 children had died. But despite a high rate of gun violence, the country’s politicians and voters continue resisting changes to their gun laws. As of 2021, as per a survey by the Pew Research Center, Republicans remain staunchly opposed to new gun regulations, arguing that the Second Amendment is sacrosanct and should not be infringed by virtually any legislation. The Second Amendment of the US Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The First Amendment is freedom of speech. Some of the strongest opposition to gun control comes from the powerful and influential National Rifle Association (NRA). After Sandy Hook, the association’s CEO Wayne LaPierre said that gun bans wouldn’t protect Americans, but gun-free school zones in fact attract killers. This ties in with the guns-for-protection idea, in which increasing gun sales, rather than restricting them, is seen as beneficial in countering mass shooters. He said that the NRA would help create a National School Shield Emergency Response Program to help. Interestingly, 77% of NRA members who own guns are Republicans or lean Republican (Pew Research Center).

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A tale of two summits: Quad under a Chinese shadow & Davos searching for a solution to Russia

Against the backdrop of deepening global frictions, this week saw the hosting of two key international events — the second in-person Quad Summit in Tokyo and the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Switzerland. Though the events were held in two different parts of the world, the attendees were largely concerned with the same idea: the geopolitical health of the world. The Quad Summit, held on 24 May, saw the meeting of four partners: India, the US, Japan, and Australia. Asserting that the Quad partnership is a “force for good”, the message from Tokyo was one of solidarity at a time when the world, still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, has been shaken by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Similarly, the WEF annual meeting, held from 22-26 May, was more political than ever. Compared to last year’s theme, ‘The Great Reset’, which was mainly concerned with post-pandemic economic recovery, this year’s theme was ‘History at a Turning Point’.

For details visit here.

From Metaverse to Drones: Here’s how 5G technology will change the game for Indian Startups

The soon-to-be-launched 5G services are set to massively transform the industrial and manufacturing scenario in India. Ports, airports, oil & gas explorers, and producers, among others, are keenly awaiting the rollout of 5G services as they embrace digitization. Not just large enterprises in manufacturing and infrastructure segments but startups at the other end of the spectrum are also set to derive a multitude of benefits from the next-generation telecom services. This technology will have a profound impact on new-age companies in a host of sectors, including transport and logistics, health services, insurance, education, and financial services.

For details visit here.

10) Weekly special

With 200 pc growth in FY21, Sequoia-backed educational gaming startup Skillmatics eyes international expansion

Skillmatics, a direct-to-consumer (D2C) educational games, and resource brand has registered around 200 percent growth in revenue in FY21. The California and Mumbai-based startup said it closed FY21 with a revenue of Rs 150 crore compared to Rs 50 crore revenue in 2020. While the US is its core market, the company said 15 percent of the total revenue comes from India. Skillmatics was launched in 2017 by Dhvanil Sheth and Devanshi Kejriwal. The startup develops educational products and games to enable children in building core skills through interactive games. From launching one product line initially, the startup now operates seven product lines and claims to have sold 5 million products till now.

For details visit here.

11) Did you know?

Why is it called the ‘Booker’?

The Booker Prize, from 1969 to 2001, was named simply after the Booker Group Limited – a British food wholesale operator that was its initial sponsor. The Man Group, an investment management firm based in the UK, began to sponsor the prize in 2002 and it thus came to be known as The Man Booker Prize. The Man Group ended its sponsorship in 2019. Crankstart, an American charitable foundation, has been the sponsor after that. The prize name has changed back to the ‘Booker’ since then.

Explained: The Booker Prize, one of the most coveted literary awards in the world

For details visit here.

With that, we come to an end of our Weekly Current Affairs May 2022 -Week 5. 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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