Current Affairs November 2021 – Week 2

Welcome to the Endeavor Editors’ Weekly Current Affairs Choicest Blog series. Get a weekly roundup – on 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

Ahead of Xi-Biden meet, China asks US not to support ‘Taiwan independence’

Ahead of the virtual summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Joe Biden next week, Beijing on Saturday asked Washington to stop support for Taiwan’s independence, and said the two countries should meet halfway to repair the bilateral ties. Xi and Biden have so far had two lengthy phone conversations this year as part of an effort to ensure stability in one of the world’s most consequential and fraught relationships. Ahead of the Xi-Biden meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said China and the US should meet each other halfway to ensure a successful virtual summit between their two leaders and bring bilateral ties back to the right track. On Taiwan, which China claims as part of its mainland, Wang said that the history and the reality have proved that “Taiwan independence” is the biggest threat to the peace and stability of the region. Any support to “Taiwan independence” will damage regional peace and eventually cause damage to itself, Wang said. He urged the US to state its opposition to any “Taiwan independence” moves clearly and firmly uphold the commitments made in the three China-US joint communique.

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How Taiwan became the biggest risk for a U.S.-China clash

With the U.S. in the middle, China and Taiwan have avoided war for more than seven decades. But that balance is getting harder to maintain as Beijing becomes more assertive in its desire for unification.

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Ethiopian Civil War sparks rancorous debate over immigration to Israel

With Tigrayan rebel forces pressing southward toward the capital, Addis Ababa, where the Ethiopian government has declared a state of emergency, Ethiopian-Israelis are growing nervous about the safety of their relatives. They are pressuring the Israeli government to extricate thousands of them from the dangers of the civil war and to end the yearlong trauma of split families once and for all. But the fate of the remnants of the community has become bogged down in rancorous disagreements over the urgency of the situation in Ethiopia, the legitimacy of their claims, the numbers of those eligible for Israeli citizenship and accusations of racism.

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Why is Ethiopia still at war with itself? – BBC Africa

When on 4 November 2020 Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive against regional forces in Tigray after an army base was seized by the rebels, he vowed the fighting would be over in weeks. A year on and the conflict has not only escalated but it has spread across several regions. Ethiopia has now declared a nationwide state of emergency and asked citizens to pick up arms to defend Addis Ababa as rebel forces press south toward the capital. BBC Africa explains why Ethiopia is still at war with itself.

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Blinken condemns Cuba for ‘intimidation’ ahead of planned protests

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned what he called “intimidation tactics” by the Cuban government ahead of Monday’s planned protest march in Cuba and vowed that the United States would pursue measures seeking “accountability” for the crackdown. Opposition groups have called the march to demand greater political freedoms and the release of jailed activists, following street protests in July, the largest in decades. Cuba’s communist government has banned the demonstration, saying it is part of a destabilization campaign by the United States. Blinken urged U.S. partners to echo Washington’s support for the demonstrators and pledged that the United States “will continue to pursue measures that both support the Cuban people and promote accountability for the Cuban regime’s repression.”

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Pfizer’s pill is the latest COVID treatment to show promise. Here are some more

Pfizer says its antiviral COVID treatment Paxlovid cuts the chance of ending up in hospital or dying by 89 per cent. What differentiates this from other medicines we have used since the start of the pandemic is it provides the opportunity for patients to be treated at home, with a combination of a capsule and a pill. The phase 2/3 trial data on which those hospitalisation rates are based have yet to be independently verified. Nor has the treatment been approved by any country for use outside a clinical trial. The company said the results were so promising it was recommended no new patients needed to be enrolled into the study. And the company was recommended to submit the data to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use approval. Before the drug could be used in Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) would need to assess its efficacy and safety.

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2) Climate

Nations reach climate agreement after India forces compromise on coal use

Almost 200 nations accepted a compromise deal Saturday aimed at keeping a key global warming target alive, but it contained a last-minute change that watered down crucial language about coal. Several countries, including small island states, said they were deeply disappointed by the change promoted by India to “phase down,” rather than “phase out” coal power, the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Nation after nation had complained after two weeks of U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, about how the deal did not go far or fast enough. But they said it was better than nothing and provided incremental progress, if not success. In the end, the summit broke ground by singling out coal, however weakly, by setting the rules for international trading of carbon credits, and by telling big polluters to come back next year with improved pledges for cutting emissions.

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COP26: World leaders from nearly 200 nations reach climate agreement

Nearly 200 nations reached a climate agreement on Saturday at COP26 with an unprecedented reference to the role of fossil fuels in the climate crisis, even after an 11th-hour objection from India that watered down the language around reducing the use of coal.

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ISA, UNFCCC ink pact to fight climate change

International Solar Alliance and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change inked pact at COP26 conference in Glasgow to fight climate change. “The International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at COP26 to collaborate and support the Parties in the implementation of ambitious national action in line with global efforts,” an ISA statement said. As part of the agreement, the two institutions will jointly organise a set of activities with the UN Climate Change secretariat to facilitate the implementation of mitigation action in the energy sector, facilitate the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions and Long-term Low Emission Development Strategies.

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 3) India  

Covid update

India sees decline in daily new COVID-19 infections; active caseload drops to lowest in 522 days

India saw a decline in daily new COVID-19 infections and the active caseload has now dropped to its lowest in 522 days, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informed on Sunday (November 14, 2021) morning. “Sustained and collaborative efforts by the Centre and the States/UTs continue the trend of less than 50,000 Daily New Cases that is being reported for 140 consecutive days now,” the health ministry said in a statement.

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COVID-19 vaccine: Mumbai administers first dose to 100 pc beneficiaries

Mumbai has achieved a 100 per cent COVID-19 vaccine first dose target with all eligible beneficiaries above the age of 18 getting covered, possibly making it the first city in the country to do so, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said. “Mumbai has administered the first dose of the COVID-9 vaccine to 100 per cent of the eligible population. Mumbai is probably the first city in the country to achieve this mark,” he said.

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Other updates

25 states, UTs so far reduced VAT on petrol, diesel: Ministry

Following the decision of the Government of India to reduce central excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 5 and Rs 10 respectively, 25 states and Union Territories have also undertaken a commensurate reduction of VAT on Petrol and Diesel so far to give relief to consumers, informed the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. However, as per the ministry, 11 States and UTs which have not undertaken any reduction in VAT in Petrol and Diesel are Maharashtra, NCT of Delhi, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

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Govt wants ONGC to identify areas for involving private sector: Oil Secretary

The government is pushing the public sector behemoth ONGC to involve private sector companies and service providers wherever possible to help raise oil and gas production, Petroleum Secretary Tarun Kapoor said. Kapoor’s comments came days after the second-highest ranked official in his ministry asked Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to give away a 60 per cent stake plus operating control in India’s largest oil and gas producing fields of Mumbai High and Bassein to foreign companies. Amar Nath, additional secretary (exploration) in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, on October 28 wrote a 3-page letter to ONGC Chairman and Managing Director Subhash Kumar, saying productivity of the Mumbai High and Bassein & Satellite (B&S) offshore assets under state-owned firm was low, and international partners should be invited and given 60 per cent participating interest (PI) and operatorship. This is the second time since April that Nath, who is part of the ONGC management as the longest-serving government nominee director on its board and often considered a potential candidate to replace Kumar next year, has written an official letter, painting a poor picture of the company’s performance.

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Flex-fuel engines to be made mandatory in coming days: Nitin Gadkari

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has stressed on the use of ethanol in vehicles as a cost-effective and pollution-free substitute to other fuels and said flex-fuel engines will be made mandatory in the coming days. The flex-fuel, or flexible fuel, is an alternative fuel made with combination gasoline, methanol or ethanol. Speaking at an event of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank here, Gadkari mentioned a Russian technology through which the calorific value of petrol and ethanol can be equalised. A higher blending of ethanol in petrol will help cut India its oil import bill and also benefit sugarcane farmers as well as sugar mills.

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Bringing petroleum products under GST regime to cut taxes on petrol, diesel: Nitin Gadkari

Bringing petrol, diesel and other petroleum products under the single national GST regime will reduce taxes on these products and increase the revenue of both the Centre and states, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will definitely try to bring petrol and diesel under GST if she gets the support of the state governments, said Gadkari while addressing the Times Now Summit virtually. The GST Council on September 17 had decided to continue keeping petrol and diesel out of the GST purview, as subsuming the current excise duty and VAT (value-added tax) into one national rate will impact revenues. Including petrol and diesel under GST will have resulted in a reduction in near record-high rates. Sitharaman, after the GST Council meeting in Lucknow, had said the Council discussed the issue only because the Kerala High Court had asked it to do so but felt it was not the right time to include petroleum products under GST.

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It is an emergency situation, immediate measures required: SC on air pollution in Delhi-NCR

Terming the rise in air pollution in Delhi-NCR an “emergency” situation, the Supreme Court has suggested clamping a lockdown in the national capital as it asked the Centre and the Delhi government to take immediate measures to improve the air quality. A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said there are other reasons for pollution such as vehicular emissions, firecrackers and dust, and singling out stubble burning is not the solution. The apex court also expressed concern that schools in the national capital have opened and children are being exposed to severe pollution conditions. The Supreme Court had earlier raised concern over the worsening air quality in Delhi-NCR and appointed a one-man panel of Justice (retd) Lokur to monitor the steps taken by the neighbouring states to prevent stubble burning while brushing aside objections from the Centre, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

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Arguments for & against ?12000 Cr Char Dham Road expansion project

The Supreme Court has reserved its decision on the widening of roads that are part of the Char Dham project in Uttarakhand. The Centre, citing the Chinese build-up on the other side, has appealed for widening the road, which, it said, are feeder roads for the border areas and are of great strategic importance. It has also sought an amendment to the top court’s order of September 2020, in which the judges kept the Char Dham roads limited to 5.5 meters. The Centre has argued that the roads should be widened up to 7 meters. However, the petitioner-NGO had opposed the road-widening, citing the felling of trees in the wildlife-rich area that’s leading to increased instances of landslides. The road expansion project was challenged by an NGO in 2018 for its potential impact on Himalayan ecology due to felling trees, cutting hills and dumping muck (excavated material) after which the supreme court formed a high-powered committee (HP) under environmentalist Ravi Chopra to examine the issue.

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What’s the controversy surrounding Char Dham road?

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 4) Economy

Indian companies’ inflation concerns to test RBI’s easy policy

A clutch of Indian companies has turned increasingly vocal about their inflation concerns, setting the stage for rising prices that could test the central bank’s resolve to keep borrowing costs lower for longer to support the economy. While several central banks have responded to price pressures by raising interest rates, the Reserve Bank of India has stuck with its inflation-is-transitory narrative as it sees the headline number edging lower on higher food output after a bountiful monsoon. The expected food price-led moderation in India’s inflation was cited by Governor Shaktikanta Das as reason enough to continue with the easy monetary policy to support what he called a “delicately poised” economic recovery. The RBI’s rate-panel is scheduled to meet early next month to review policy settings.

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Indian economy to grow at double-digits this fiscal: CEA

Indian economy is expected to see double-digit growth in 2021-22and between 6.5-7% in the next financial year, outgoing chief economic advisor, V Subramanian said. The CEA says that he doesn’t expect commodity inflation will taper the V-shaped recovery going forward. He said inflation is 4.5% and global inflation is high due to global policies that have only focused on-demand in contrast to India’s policies that are clearly focused on enhancing supply.

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5) Markets, Banking and Finance

Elon Musk sells $6.9 billion in Tesla shares after Twitter poll; price drops 15% over the week

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sold more than $6.9 billion worth of shares in the electric carmaker this week, according to regulatory filings released Friday. The 50-year-old South African billionaire sold more than 5.1 million Tesla shares, of which about 4.2 million were held in a trust. His massive disposal hit Tesla’s share price, which slumped 15.4 per cent over the week. Tesla last month became the latest US tech giant to hit $1 trillion in market value. Musk’s selloff came days after he created a Twitter poll — in which millions voted — asking whether he should sell 10 per cent of his huge stake in the electric carmaker.

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Musk sells $1.1 billion Tesla Stock to meet taxes

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PM Modi launches two consumer-centric RBI initiatives

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched two customer-centric initiatives of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) with a view to providing opportunities to retail investors to participate in the government securities market and contribute towards nation-building. The two initiatives of RBI — retail direct scheme and integrated ombudsman scheme — will also promote financial inclusion, he said. The Prime Minister, while launching two innovative, customer-centric initiatives, said these schemes would expand the scope for investment and improve the customer grievance redressal mechanism. The retail direct scheme, he said, would provide access to small investors to earn assured returns by investing in securities and it will also help the government to garner funds for nation-building. On the Reserve Bank-Integrated Ombudsman Scheme (RB-IOS), he said, it is aimed at further improving the grievance redress mechanism for resolving customer complaints against entities regulated by the central bank.

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Should retail investors buy Indian govt bonds?

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Banks want more provisions included as statutory capital

Banks have urged the sector regulator, Reserve Bank of India, to relax norms and allow more of the provision made towards unidentified losses to be reckoned as statutory capital. At present, because of the regulatory cap, only provisions to the extent of 1.25% of the credit risk-weighted assets are considered as tier II capital. If rules are relaxed, more funds can be freed up and made available for banks at a time when recovery is firming up and credit is expected to pick up. “There is a uniform view among banks that due to increased provision burden, the regulatory cap of 1.25% can be removed. We have also approached RBI to either remove the cap or increase eligible percentage so banks will benefit from the additional provisions made by them,” said an executive aware of developments.

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RBI asks banks not to standardise bad loans on just getting interest payments

In a significant move, the Reserve Bank tightened the norms for recognition of dud assets and directed lenders not to standardise an NPA account after getting only interest payment as well as to mandatorily mention the due dates along with details of interest and principal amounts. The monetary authority has from time to time been issuing new/revised norms on dud asset classification as system-wide NPAs began to balloon. It has been observed that some lending institutions upgrade accounts classified as NPAs to standard accounts on payment of only interest overdue, partial overdue, etc. To avoid any ambiguity in this regard, it is clarified that loan accounts classified as NPAs may be upgraded as a standard account only if the entire arrears of interest and principal are paid by the borrower, the apex bank said in the revised notification this evening. Lenders have also been asked to specifically mention in the loan agreements the exact due date of a loan and the breakup of the principal and interest, among others, instead of giving a description of the due dates, which leaves scope for interpretation.

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Loan collections for non-bank lenders surpass pre-second wave levels: ICRA

Collection efficiencies for securitised retail pools originated by Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFC)s and Housing Finance Companies (HFC)s improved significantly during the September quarter on the back of continued decline in fresh Covid-19 infections, rating agency ICRA said on Wednesday. Collection efficiency including overdue collection for the most affected asset classes, that is microfinance and SME loans, reached close to 100% for September 2021 from a low of 80% seen in May 2021, the rating agency said in a note. ICRA has also observed that with the resumption of normalcy in business and operational activities, the collections performance of retail pools securitised post the first wave, especially for the more affected unsecured lending sector remained robust and better than the pools originated prior to the same.

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From BYJU’s To MyGlammm — Over $1.7 Bn Mn raised by Indian Start-ups this week

After a major dip in the investment last week, the Indian start-up ecosystem has managed to mop $1.7 Bn in the second week of November. This week’s investment is 940% higher than the first week of November when start-ups raised $171 Mn across 15 deals. This week’s investment is also 27% higher than the last week of October’s investment when the start-up ecosystem raised $1.4 Bn across 56 deals. Last week’s drop in funding can be attributed to Diwali, one of the major festivals celebrated countrywide. In terms of the public markets, Vijay Shekhar Sharma-led Paytm went for the country’s largest biggest IPO worth INR 18,300 Cr and got a moderate response in the three days of the offer. The week’s biggest funding was raised by EdTech decacorn BYJU’s which raised $1.2 Bn in a term loan B (TLB) funding round.

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6) Business

Globally institutional investors placing greater emphasis on companies’ ESG performance: Survey

A significant percentage of investors around the world are paying more attention to companies’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance when making investment decisions and may divest from firms with poor environmental track records, says a survey. According to the 2021 EY Global Institutional Investor Survey, 74 per cent of institutional investors are now more likely to “divest” based on poor ESG performance, than before the COVID-19 pandemic. The report, now in its sixth year, canvasses the views of 320 institutional investors across 19 countries, including 15 respondents from India.

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Toyota says to develop alternative fuels with other Japanese vehicle makers

Toyota Motor Corp said it will partner with four other Japanese vehicle makers to explore the viability of alternative green fuels for internal combustion engine cars, including hydrogen and synthetic fuels derived from biomass. Converting internal combustion engines to green fuels such as hydrogen is technologically difficult, but doing so would allow the companies to support decades-old existing supply chains employing hundreds of thousands of workers that they may otherwise have to drop as they switch to building electric vehicles (EV). Toyota plans for 15 EV models by 2025 and is investing $13.5 billion over the next decade to expand battery production capacity. At the same, time, however, it is continuing to develop vehicles powered by hydrogen.

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 Indian Oil Corp, NTPC in pact for the renewable energy business

Indian Oil Corporation and have signed a memorandum of understanding to together explore and collaborate in the renewable energy sector, the two public sector companies said in a joint statement. IOC and NTPC plan to jointly build generation and storage of renewable energy or other cleaner forms of energy, including gas-based power, primarily to cater for the former’s refineries and other installations. IOC plans to meet 85% of the power requirement for new projects in its refineries primarily from renewable sources in the near future.

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Adani to invest $70 bn in renewable energy, produce the cheapest hydrogen

Billionaire Gautam Adani said his logistics-to-energy conglomerate will invest USD 70 billion over the next decade to become the world’s largest renewable energy company and produce the cheapest hydrogen on the Earth. Adani Green Energy Ltd (AGEL), the world’s largest solar power developer, is targeting 45 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030 and will invest USD 20 billion to develop a 2 GW per year solar manufacturing capacity by 2022-23. Adani Transmission Ltd (ATL), India’s largest private sector power transmission and retail distribution company is looking to increase the share of renewable power procurement from the current 3 per cent to 30 per cent by FY 2023 and to 70 per cent by FY 2030.

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7) Technology

Airtel Payments Bank to double business correspondent network to 1 million in a year

Airtel Payments Bank (APB), which turned profitable in the September quarter, plans to double its countrywide business correspondents (BCs) network and also drive monetisation through a combination of transactions and interest-based income besides boosting revenues from cash management services in the B2B space. Analysts expect the upcoming expansion to further widen APB’s total distribution reach, which is already twice that of the total ATMs and bank branches in the country, and in turn, consolidate its leadership in the remittances market. Bharti Airtel managing director Gopal Vittal had recently said that the “growth of e-commerce is slated to boost demand for cash management” from the telco’s payments banking arm,” and that whopping “$100 billion in cash is digitised monthly (at an industry level) with cash management charges estimated at between 0.5%-1% of the collections amount”. Airtel, though, declined to comment on the telco upgrading its payments bank licence to that of a small finance bank in future to enter the lending business and attract larger deposits.

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Paytm IPO made nearly 350 employees millionaires

With One97 Communications, the parent company of fintech start-up Paytm’s $2.5 billion IPO, nearly 350 of its former and current employees will reportedly become millionaires with a net worth of Rs 1 crore each. According to a Reuters report, some of these employees joined Paytm seven or 10 years back when it had just 1,000 employees. At present, Paytm has more than 10,000 employees. Digital payments and financial services firm Paytm has fixed an offer price of Rs 2,150 apiece for its initial share sale. The shares of Paytm are expected to list on bourses on November 18, according to the final prospectus filed by the company with the Registrar of Companies on Friday. Paytm had priced its shares in a price band of Rs 2,080-2,150 per share, valuing the company at Rs 1.39 lakh crore at the upper end of the price band.

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 PM chairs meeting on cryptocurrency; concerns raised over money laundering, terror financing risks

Amid concerns over misleading claims of huge returns on cryptocurrency investment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting on the way forward on the issue, with government sources asserting that such unregulated markets cannot be allowed to become avenues for “money laundering and terror financing”. It was strongly felt in the meeting that attempts to mislead the youth through over-promising and non-transparent advertising should be stopped, the sources said, signalling that strong regulatory steps are in the offing. The government will continue to proactively engage with experts and other stakeholders, sources added, noting that since the issue cuts across geographical borders, it was felt that it will also require global partnerships and collective strategies. The meeting on the way forward for cryptocurrency and related issues was a very comprehensive one.

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8) Politics

UP Elections 2022: Congress to go solo, contest all 403 seats, announces Priyanka Gandhi

The Congress will contest all 403 seats in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh polls on its own and emerge victorious in the electoral battle, party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said on Sunday. Ruling out an alliance with any political party, she said the leaders of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (SP) were nowhere to be seen even when the 2017 Unnao rape case and the Hathras gangrape-and-murder case in 2020 rocked the country, adding that only the Congress was fighting for the people. Addressing the party cadre at the Pratigya Sammelan – Lakshya 2022 in Anoopshahr here, the Congress general secretary stressed on the importance of the Uttar Pradesh polls for the party, calling it a ”do-or-die” situation.

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Forty-six DNLA militants come overground in Assam

Forty-six militants of Dimasa National Liberation Army (DNLA) came overground in Assam on Saturday as part of the ongoing peace talks with the outfit, a senior police officer said. The group, mostly active in Dima Hasao district, had declared a unilateral ceasefire for three months on September 7 as a “goodwill gesture and as a positive response to the call for peace” by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. The DNLA was formed in early 2019 with the purported aim to establish a “sovereign and independent Dimasa nation”.

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9) Sports

T20 World Cup: Australia beat New Zealand by eight wickets in final

Australia powered to an eight-wicket victory over New Zealand to win the Men’s T20 World Cup for the first time. Mitchell Marsh plundered a ferocious 77 not out from 50 balls as Australia overhauled what appeared to be a challenging 173 with seven deliveries to spare in Dubai. The all-rounder shared a dominant stand of 92 with opener David Warner and continued to attack after the opener was bowled for 53 from 38 balls. Marsh was dropped on 68 but at that stage, only 15 runs were needed from 19 balls, the highest chase in a Men’s T20 World Cup final a near certainty. After Glenn Maxwell hit the winning runs, Marsh was mobbed by his teammates and dropped to his knees, overcome with emotion having produced his finest Twenty20 innings on the biggest stage. Having won five 50-over World cups, Australia has now completed the white-ball set and will have home advantage when they defend the title next year.

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Laxman will be the next NCA head, confirms BCCI official

Former India batter VVS Laxman will be the next head of the National Cricket Academy (NCA), a senior BCCI official confirmed. Laxman will take over from his former batting colleague Rahul Dravid, who was recently appointed as chief coach of the Indian team following the end of Ravi Shastri’s tenure, as reported by PTI on October 26. Laxman has already quit from his role as a mentor of the IPL team Sunrisers Hyderabad and will also not be part of any commentary panel or write columns for newspapers to avoid conflict of interest clause violation. It is understood that Laxman’s appointment will come into effect before the BCCI’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), scheduled to be held in Kolkata on December 4.

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India honours its sporting best at dazzling National awards ceremony

Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, India opener Shikhar Dhawan, veteran woman cricketer Mithali Raj and history-making Paralympic stars shared the spotlight as an unprecedented 12 sportspersons were presented with India’s highest sporting honour — the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna — by President Ram Nath Kovind. In a glittering function organised at the Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhawan here, the President also bestowed 35 sportspersons with the Arjuna award as he recognised the country’s unparalleled Olympic and Paralympic performances this year.

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Rohit Sharma to lead India in T20I series against New Zealand; Kohli, Bumrah rested

Rohit Sharma has been named captain for the upcoming three-match T20I series against New Zealand starting later this month. However, the team will be without the likes of Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, who has been rested for the T20Is. The new-look team also has IPL’s highest run-getter Ruturaj Gaikwad and top wicket-taker Harshal Patel in the squad of 16 along with Venkatesh Iyer, who is seen as a potential all-round replacement for the injury-ravaged Hardik Pandya.

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Mitrabha Guha becomes India’s 72nd Grand Master

Kolkata-based player Mitrabha Guha has become India’s 72nd chess, Grand Master, by bagging his third and final GM norm during a tournament in Serbia. The 20-year old Guha achieved the GM title after securing the final norm at the ongoing GM Third Saturday Mix 220 tourney in Novi Sad, Serbia. The Indian, who beat GM Nikola Sedlak of Serbia in the ninth round on Monday, has so far scored seven points with six wins, two draws and a loss to Russian GM Vladimir Zakhartsov in the seventh round.

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Tribunal sets aside I-T order denying charitable entity status to BCCI

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) may continue to get tax exemption as an income tax tribunal has ruled that the Board can’t be denied registration as the charitable entities after it amends its memorandum of association (MoA) to undertake Indian Premier League (IPL) and other commercial activities. The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT), Mumbai held denial of registration for BCCI as a charitable institution by the tax authorities as legally misconceived. It rejected the tax authorities’ argument that IPL is a money-making exercise in the garb of cricket promotion.

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10) Opinion

Biggest fight at Glasgow: Who has the most historical responsibility for climate change?

One of the biggest fights at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, is over whether — and how — the world’s wealthiest nations, which are disproportionately responsible for global warming to date, should compensate poorer nations for the damage caused by rising temperatures. Rich countries, including the US, Canada, Japan and much of Western Europe, account for just 12% of the global population today but are responsible for 50% of all the planet-warming greenhouse gases released from fossil fuels and industry over the past 170 years. At the summit, Sonam Wangdi, who chairs a bloc of 47 nations known as the Least Developed Countries, pointed out that his home country of Bhutan bears little responsibility for global warming, as it absorbs more carbon dioxide in its vast forests than is emitted by its cars and homes. Nonetheless, Bhutan faces severe risks from rising temperatures, with melting glaciers in the Himalayas already creating flash floods and mudslides that have devastated villages. Historical responsibility is not the only way to look at issues of justice and fairness. Another key metric is emissions per person. So, for instance, India as a whole produced about 7% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions this year, roughly the same proportion as the European Union and about half that of the United States. But India has far more people than both of those producers combined and is much poorer, with hundreds of millions of people lacking reliable access to electricity. As a result, its emissions per person are far lower today.

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Afghanistan could face severe food crisis in harsh winter

With winter approaching, Afghanistan is on the brink of massive food shortages. Ninety-five per cent of the people don’t have enough food and more than half of Afghanistan’s 39 million people do not have enough to eat & are “marching to starvation”, according to reports. This means that nearly 23 million Afghans are looking at a severe winter and starvation, while 3.2 million children under five could suffer acute malnutrition. If the weather is as bad as experts are predicting this winter, the expectation is that large numbers will be threatened with acute hunger and widespread famine. Due to long-standing economic and security challenges, major droughts, and floods in recent years, hunger in Afghanistan has increased substantially. But with the takeover of the Taliban, the situation has become extremely challenging.

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China’s production cuts paving the way for accelerated growth of the Indian steel industry

As China undergoes stringent production cuts, its share of the world’s steel market is dropping paving the way for accelerated growth of the Indian steel industry, said Tata Steel’s managing director TVNarendran in an interaction with ET. “The forecast is that Chinese consumption will stay flat and consumption outside China will grow; the growth in consumption will be driven more by markets outside China, and I’m more positive about this industry in India,” Narendran said. The company has plans to grow its capacity by at least 35-40 million tonnes by 2030 and is considering setting up ‘more scrap-based facilities’ in the coming years with a capacity of at least a billion tonnes by 2025.

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Evergrande saga may shorten the length of the ongoing steel upcycle: ICRA

The Evergrande crisis may potentially shorten the length of the ongoing steel upcycle going forward, giving limited visibility beyond FY2023 in the baseline scenario, said rating agency ICRA in a press note on Wednesday. “With the Chinese property sector accounting for around 15% of global steel demand, the Evergrande saga may potentially shorten the length of the ongoing steel upcycle going forward,” the rating agency noted. China accounts for around 55% of the global steel demand. “The ongoing readjustment away from a property driven model of growth in China is likely to have an adverse impact on the steel industry for an extended period,”, said Jayanta Roy, Senior Vice-President Corporate Sector Ratings, ICRA. While China led the first leg of the recovery in global steel markets till the early part of CY2021, going forward ICRA believes that the sustenance of the upcycle in the second leg would hinge on the healthy demand momentum continuing outside of China in ICRA’s opinion.

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 11) Weekly special

Paytm IPO Mission is to change fate of India, not just to make Money: CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma

Listen in to Paytm’s Founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma and President and Group CFO talk about the company’s plans post the IPO.

Watch video:

12) Did you know?

How is Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) different from crypto?

A CBDC is the virtual form of a government’s fiat currency and is issued and regulated by local authorities. It is run on a digital ledger system, which may or may not be blockchain-based. In fact, crypto has long aspired to act as digital currency, but it is increasingly seen as assets for investment or tokens for performing transactions on blockchains. CBDCs, in contrast, is meant to be used as a digital currency. For instance, the digital currency equivalent of INR can be used as legal tender to make payments, and transactions will be recorded on a digital ledger.

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With that, we come to an end for our Weekly Current Affairs November 2021 -Week 2. 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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