Current Affairs Choiciest Blogs September 4th Week

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.

Current Affairs September 2021 – Week 4

1. Current Affairs – International News and Global Economy

Quad to counter Af-Pak terror, ensure Indo-Pacific stability; launches cyber & high-tech initiatives

The first ever physically held Quad Summit comprising leaders of India, USA, Japan and Australia added heft to the group by launching projects in the fields of high-tech, cyber space and education while reaffirming their vaccine cooperation and deciding to coordinate positions to counter cross-border terror from Afghan territory and redouble efforts to ensure that the Quad is a force for regional peace, stability, security, and prosperity in what can be viewed as veiled message to China’s aggression. In his opening remarks, US President Joe Biden said the four democracies – the US, India, Australia and Japan – have come together to take on common challenges from Covid to climate. “We know how to get things done and are up to the challenge,” he said. The Australian Prime Minister said the Indo-Pacific region should be free from coercion and disputes should be solved in accordance with international law.

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Indo-Pacific QUAD alliance holds first in-person meeting | DW News

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PM Modi meets Australia’s Scott Morrison ahead of Quad Leaders’ Summit

Ahead of the Quad Leaders’ Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison in Washington. On September 15, both leaders also had a telephonic conversation, in which the two leaders reviewed the rapid progress in India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, including through the recent 2 2 Dialogue. Earlier on Thursday, PM Modi met five global CEOs for potential investment in India. Prime Minister held talks with Qualcomm CEO Cristiano R Amon and discussed several issues including electronics, and measures to strengthen the innovation ecosystem. These talks were part of series of meetings that Prime Minister Modi undertook with select heads of corporates that have the potential to invest significantly in India.

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India should have permanent seat in UN Security Council, says US President Biden

US President Joe Biden ‘strongly feels’ that India should have a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, said Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Friday. Addressing a special press conference after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Biden, Shringla said: “There was an appreciation of our presidency of the UN Security Council, especially on the Afghanistan issue.” Shringla also said that the two leaders acknowledge that the comprehensive global strategic partnerships between two countries are strongly anchored in a shared commitment to democratic values and common strategic interests.

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Why India deserves a Permanent Seat at the UN Security Council

New Delhi Times host @TarekFatah argues that the time has come for Bharat to have a Permanent Seat with Veto Power in the UN Security Council.

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Modi in US: India has set the ball rolling for the biggest reorganization of its military since independence

India’s long-delayed plans to overhaul its military are getting a new life as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government moves closer to the U.S. and its allies, which are strengthening defense cooperation against China. Modi, is taking steps to undertake the biggest reorganization of India’s military since independence in 1947. The moves to integrate army, air force and navy — which now operate with little coordination — come as the U.S. and U.K. work with Australia to put more nuclear-powered submarines in Asia-Pacific waters. A more unified Indian armed forces would make it easier for the country to link up with militaries from the U.S. and its allies in the event of a conflict. A key aspect of the AUKUS partnership announced last week by the U.S., Australia and U.K. involves interoperability in a range of defense areas — something India currently lacks within its own forces.

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To counter China, the Indian Military is undergoing a historic restructuring

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Evergrande misses payment deadline, EV unit warns of cash crunch

China Evergrande’s electric car unit warned on 23rd September that it faced an uncertain future unless it got a swift injection of cash, the clearest sign yet that the property developer’s liquidity crisis is worsening in other parts of its business. Evergrande owes $305 billion, has run short of cash and investors are worried a collapse could pose systemic risks to China’s financial system and reverberate around the world. The company missed a payment deadline on a dollar bond this week and its silence on the matter has left global investors wondering if they will have to swallow large losses when a 30-day grace period ends. China Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group, meanwhile, said without a strategic investment or the sale of assets its ability to pay staff and suppliers and mass produce vehicles would be hit.

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Is Evergrande financial crisis China’s Lehman moment with Xi Jinping’s hard turn to CCP dictatorship?

As Evergrande, China’s largest real estate company collapses, Shekhar Gupta explains what the crisis is and how politics of Xi Jinping’s ideological push is behind it.

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Explained: Everything you need to know about Germany Elections 2021

For 16 years, Chancellor Angela Merkel has headed a government led by her center-right Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU). Young voters cannot remember any other chancellor. Now the 67-year-old is stepping down and the CDU/CSU is struggling in the polls, with extensive squabbling about the future leadership. This feels like a pivotal election. In total, there are 47 parties taking part in the election this year. To win representation in parliament as a group, a party needs to pass the 5% threshold or have three directly elected candidates.

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2) India

Covid update

Covishield: UK recognises Covid jab after India outcry

The UK government has amended its foreign travel guidance to clarify that the Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine is an approved jab. But it is not clear whether people from India can travel to the UK without having to self-isolate for 10 days. The UK’s refusal to recognise Covishield had triggered a firestorm of protests in India. With more than 721 million doses administered so far, Covishield is India’s primary vaccine. Last week, the UK announced new rules – which will come into effect on 4 October – which mandate that travellers from a number of countries arriving in England do not have to self-isolate if they are fully vaccinated. India was not included in that list either. Foreign Minister S Jaishankar had taken up the matter “strongly” with his UK counterpart Liz Truss, according to India’s foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

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“No country managed to do what India did”: Supreme Court on Covid steps

No other country managed to do what India did in terms of its response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court said on Thursday, in rich praise for the government, as it reserved the order on a case involving the ? 50,000 compensation proposed for COVID-19 deaths. Justices Shah and AS Bopanna also appreciated India’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that drew intense scrutiny over thousands of deaths due to the lack of preparedness for the second wave and shortages of essentials like medical oxygen. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has recommended that ? 50,000 be given to the family of those who died of COVID-19, the centre had informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

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Other updates

Government will mandate ‘flex-fuel’ vehicles in the next 3-4 months, says Nitin Gadkari

Car makers will soon have to manufacture vehicles that run on multiple fuel configuration. “In the next 3 to 4 months, I will be issuing an order, mandating all vehicle manufacturers to power vehicles with flex engines (that can run on more than one fuel)” Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has said. Aimed at reducing the use of polluting fossil fuels and cutting down harmful emissions, such a move will also be cost-effective for consumers, who are hassled by the high petrol prices, the minister said, pointing out that a litre of bioethanol costs Rs 65 as against Rs 110 paid for petrol. The alternative fuel is also less polluting and saves forex. State-run oil marketing companies have already been ordered to offer bio-fuels at the same facilities as the one selling petrol and diesel.

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Rural demand expected to get Rs 10,700-cr boost from bumper crops: Report

Rural demand is expected to get around Rs 11,000-crore boost from the record kharif harvest along with the marginal hike in minimum support price, according to a report by Care Ratings. The agriculture ministry projects a good crop in the first advance estimates for the kharif season at over 150 million tonnes. Along with that, the government had also earlier increased the minimum support price (MSP) of all kharif crops by 1-5 per cent. The normal monsoons will also aid the farmers. In a note, CARE Ratings Chief Economist Madan Sabnavis on Friday said the net disposable income for farmers this season is expected to be higher by Rs 10,700 crore, up 5.3 per cent due to both higher production as well as higher prices.

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Assam’s eviction of illegal settlers could stir ethnic cauldron

Clashes broke out in Sipajhar in Assam’s Darrang district on September 23 as thousands protested the government’s ongoing eviction drive against ‘illegal encroachers’, leaving at least two people dead and several injured. The incident on September 23 revealed how ticklish the problem of illegal migration in Assam is. “The incident has acquired political colour, but the fact is that the eviction is legitimate. Of the 30,285 sq miles of the total land area of Assam, close to 20 percent is encroached by illegal Bangladeshi settlers, who now claim they are Indians,” says Shyamkanu Mahanta, a cultural and social activist from the state.

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3) Economy

Economy on sustained path of revival, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on September 24 said the Indian economy is on a sustained path of revival and cited rise in GST collections and direct taxes to support her assertion. She further said that the confidence in the Indian stock market is growing as retail and small investors are keenly investing money in the share market. “I can see very clearly signs of revival and good signs of revival. Otherwise, my revenue collection would not be where it is, both the GST and direct taxation,” said Sitharaman while replying to a question on whether the economy has returned to its pre-covid level. She said the half-yearly target has already been achieved in direct taxes.

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JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon Speaks on India’s Economic Growth, Fed Meet & More | Global Dialogues

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Direct tax collections for FY22 soar 47% on-year to Rs 6.45 lakh crore as of Sept 22

The government is reaping a bumper harvest from tax collections in the ongoing financial year ending March 2022. Direct tax collections for FY 22 have risen 47 percent on-year to Rs 6.45 lakh crore as of September 22, with net collections having risen 74 percent on-year to Rs 5.7 lakh crore and advance tax collections up by 65 percent to Rs 2.53 lakh crore. The cumulative advance tax collections for the first and second quarter of the FY22 stand at Rs. 2,53,353 crores as on 22.09.2021, against advance tax collections of Rs. 1,62,037 crores for the corresponding period FY21 showing a growth of 56 percent.

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4) Markets, Banking and Finance

Sensex crosses 60,000 for 1st time as dream run continues on D-Street

Indian equity markets have been on a dream run this year and there are no signs of the momentum fading as benchmark indices hit fresh record highs on 24th September. S&P BSE Sensex crossed 60,000 for the first time as investors remain optimistic about the future of the domestic stock markets. After crossing 50,000 for the first time in January, Sensex has raced to cross 60,000 in just eight months. This is far better than what experts had predicted earlier. Nifty, too, has gained steadily during the period. One of the major drivers behind the stellar stock market run this year are constant gains in banking, metal and IT stocks. Analysts expect the strong momentum to continue, given the positive sentiment arising from rapid economic recovery after the second Covid-19.

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Momentous Day for Indian Equities as Sensex hits 60,000

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RBI finalises New Securitisation guidelines

The RBI has announced revised guidelines for securitisation of standard assets. The final rules, however, differ considerably from the draft guidelines issued in June and stay away from material changes suggested for direct assignment of loans and residential mortgage-backed securities. The final guidelines define securitisation as a structure where a pool of assets is transferred by an originator to a special purpose entity and the cash flow from this pool of assets is used to service securitisation exposures of at least two different tranches, reflecting different degrees of credit risk. The rules, however, add that a pool consisting of a single asset will be also permitted for securitisation. This suggests that direct assignment of loans will continue to be seen as securitisation. Another key proposal to ensure listing of residential mortgage-backed-securities has also not been included in the final rules.

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RBI allows lenders to sell fraud loans to asset reconstruction companies

The Reserve Bank of India has allowed lenders to sell loans tagged as fraud to asset reconstruction companies (ARCs), potentially paving the way for focussed recovery efforts in loans worth trillions of rupees. According to data from RBI’s annual report, banks have reported frauds of ?3.95 trillion between FY19 and FY21. On Friday, RBI said, subject to conditions, banks can sell stressed loans in default for more than 60 days or classified as bad loan, including those tagged as fraudulent. Allowing the sale of such loans, RBI also said that transfer of these exposures to an ARC, however, does not absolve the lender from fixing the staff accountability as required under the extant instructions on frauds.

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5) Business

Zee to merge with Sony; Punit Goenka will be CEO & MD of combined entity

Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) has found a white knight in rival Sony with the latter agreeing to merge its India entertainment business with the beleaguered firm, thus creating India’s largest entertainment network with about $2 billion in revenues and 26 per cent viewership share. According to the indicative initial merger ratio, ZEEL shareholders will own approximately 47 per cent in the merged entity, while the promoters of Sony India will hold 53 per cent after the infusion of growth capital, it said in a statement. Analysts said the transaction would create a new media and entertainment giant in India with a turnover of up to Rs 15,000 crore. Lawyers said the transaction may hit a legal hurdle due to differential treatment of shareholders, with the Subhash Chandra family getting an additional 2.1 per cent shares from Sony promoters as non-compete fee.

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Know why Zee merged with Sony

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Make in India: Tata-Airbus sign ?20,000 crore deal for military aircraft

The Defence Ministry has inked a nearly ?20,000 crore contract with Airbus Defence and Space of Spain to procure 56 C-295 medium transport aircraft which will replace Avro-748 planes of the Indian Air Force. The long-pending procurement was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security two weeks back. “The clearance of the joint project between Airbus Defence and Tata advanced systems to build the C-295 is a great step forward in the opening up of aviation and avionics projects in India,” said Ratan Tata. Under the deal, 16 aircraft will be delivered in a flyaway condition by the Airbus Defence and Space within 48 months of signing the contract. The remaining 40 planes will be manufactured in India by a consortium of the Airbus Defence and Space and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) within 10 years of signing the contract, officials said.

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GOI seals Rs 22,000 crore deal with Tata, Airbus for purchase of 56 C295 military transport aircraft

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Hero Electric joins hands with Massive Mobility to set up 10,000 EV charging stations

Hero Electric said it has joined hands with EV start-up Massive Mobility to set up 10,000 charging stations across the country in next one year. The EV charging network, when up and running, would be open to all electric vehicles and will lead to for standardisation between manufacturers. Through this collaboration, Hero Electric looks to ramp up the charging infrastructure across the country to help drive and encourage adoption of electric mobility. The company aims to set up 10,000 stations with Massive Mobility and extra 10,000 on its own by next year end.

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6) Technology

“Dream come true,” says Girish Mathrubootham as FreshWorks becomes first Indian SaaS unicorn to list in the US

“Today is a dream come true for me — from humble beginnings in Trichy to ringing the bell at Nasdaq for the FreshWorks IPO. Thank you to our employees, customers, partners, and investors for believing in this dream,” said Girish Mathrubootham, Co-founder and CEO of Freshworks, after the Indian-origin unicorn became the first Indian B2B SaaS company to list on the US stock markets. On September 22, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) company officially became a publicly traded company, after debuting on the Nasdaq Global Select Market at a price well above its initial public offering (IPO) target range to raise $1.03 billion at a valuation of over $10 billion. According to a McKinsey report, Indian SaaS companies have the potential to unlock a $1 trillion opportunity over the next decade. Already, there are about 1,000 Indian SaaS companies that cumulatively employ nearly 40,000 people and generate about $3 billion in revenue.

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Freshworks Founder Girish Mathrubootham speaks on listing On NASDAQ | Halftime Report | CNBC-TV18

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E-commerce companies to log 23% rise in gross GMV at over $9 billion during festive sale this year: RedSeer

E-commerce platforms are expected to potentially clock over USD 9 billion gross GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) during the festive season this year as against USD 7.4 billion last year – a growth of 23 percent, consulting firm RedSeer said. For the full year, the overall online gross GMV is expected to touch USD 49-52 billion, which is around 37 percent higher than last year (USD 38.2 billion), primarily driven by strong consumer funnel expansion and the high adoption of online shopping post-COVID across the categories, RedSeer said in its eCommerce Festive Season Report. “The growth will be mostly driven by the accelerated online adoption which has been witnessed as an effect of COVID. Secondly, tier-II cities and beyond will continue to drive growth as they are 55-60 percent of the total shopper base this year, similar or higher than 57 percent in 2020 festive days,” Mrigank Gutgutia, Associate Partner at RedSeer, told reporters.

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7) Politics

Punjab Congress Crisis Highlights: Charanjit Singh Channi to be next Punjab Chief Minister, says Congress

Charanjit Singh Channi has been named as the new Chief Minister of Punjab. The outgoing Technical Education Minister is set to take over as next Chief Minister following Captain Amarinder Singh’s resignation. Amarinder Singh quit on Saturday following an escalation in the political crisis in the state, which stems from his tussle with Navjot Sidhu.

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Caste among the Sikhs, role it plays in Punjab politics & what a Dalit Sikh CM means

Punjab gets its’ first-ever Dalit chief minister in Charanjit Singh Channi. Shekhar Gupta reads between the lines of this surprise announcement. What is the history, geography, politics and significance of the existing caste system in Punjab as it sees a resurgence among Dalits and draws an Ambedkar connection.

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8) Sports

Explained: How Hamilton’s stranglehold on the F1 title is being challenged

Lewis Hamilton’s dominating five-year run at the apex of Formula One is being challenged for the first time. Nico Rosberg, who won the 2016 World Championship, was the last person to thwart the Brit. This time Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has put up a strong challenge for Hamilton’s throne. The Belgian-Dutch driver is 23-years-old – a year older what Hamilton was when he won his first world title with McLaren. This will also be the first time since 2012 that a car from another team is challenging for Mercedes’ crown. The youngster made his F1 debut in 2015, the year Hamilton won his third title. His season best so far was when finished third the past two years.

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9) Climate

Sri Lanka to cease building coal-fired plants, aims to be net-zero emitter by 2050

Sri Lanka will cease building new coal-fired power plants and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in an address to the United Nations International Energy Forum on Friday. Sri Lanka has set a target of achieving 70% of all its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2030. “Sri Lanka is happy to be a co-lead of the Energy Compact for No New Coal Power,” Rajapaksa said. Sri Lanka is the latest Asian country to pledge an end to building new coal-fired power, following similar moves by South Korea and Japan earlier this year. Asia accounts for a lion’s share of global coal consumption.

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Explained: What new WHO pollution norms mean for India

New air quality norms released by the World Health Organization on Wednesday are likely to ignite a fresh round of discussion on air pollution in India. These norms would make India appear worse than it already looked under the existing norms. Considering the current situation, even the older WHO norms were beyond India’s reach in the foreseeable future. The new standards are unlikely to be achieved for several years. Beyond that, the revised standards are an acknowledgment of the mounting scientific evidence that points to a much higher risk to human health from air pollution than was earlier known. The appropriate response, therefore, would be a more focused effort to mitigate these risks and prevent the loss of lives.

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WHO revises air pollution guidelines: Festival season, a wake-up call for states? | The Urban Debate

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UltraTech Cement joins RE100 initiative, aims 100% renewable energy usage by 2050

The country’s leading cement maker UltraTech Cement said it has joined the RE100 initiative and targets 100 percent renewable energy usage by 2050. The Aditya Birla group firm has announced its commitment to Climate Group’s RE100 initiative at Climate Week NYC 2021. RE100 is a global group of influential businesses committed to using 100 percent renewable electricity. Its purpose is to accelerate change towards zero-carbon grids at scale. The company has already set a target to scale up its green energy mix to 34 percent of its total power requirement by 2024, from the current levels of 13 percent. UltraTech Cement Managing Director Kailash Jhanwar said the company has made tremendous progress in scaling up the use of green energy in operations.

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10) Opinion

How agri-tech companies evolved during the pandemic & their impact on India’s agriculture

The pandemic acted as a catalyst in pushing all industry sectors, including the agri-tech sector, to innovate and come up with quick solutions to tide through the uncertainties created by the lockdowns. Different areas within the agricultural sector have experienced different impact, but overall, we can see a positive difference. As a result of various tech-enablements the agri industry in India is once again experiencing an irreversible evolution. As per Bain & Co, the agri-tech sector in India is expected to grow to a $30-35 billion market by 2025. Therefore, the agri-tech start-up segment has been garnering investors’ attention for some time. But it was still difficult to predict how quickly the adoption of technologies like digitization, supply chain innovations, big data, machine learning, AI, data analytics, IoT and the likes would happen. The pandemic hastened the tech adoption process and made it very clear for the investors.

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India better prepared to face challenges of US Fed taper, says D Subbarao

After eight years, the world is again faced with the prospect of a withdrawal of Quantitative Easing from the planet’s largest economy. Dr Duvvuri Subbarao, Ex RBI Governor and former Chief Economic Adviser to the government, gives his view on the latest round of monetary tightening in the US.

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Explained | How to judge a new AMC

The mutual fund industry is abuzz with new players joining the fray. Sumaira Abidi explains how investors should assess a new asset management company

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Historic or Symbolic? What Charanjit Channi Becoming Punjab CM Means for Dalits

Charanjit Channi, becoming the first Dalit chief minister of Punjab and the only Dalit chief minister in India presently, is no doubt significant. “Different parties have been promising different posts to Dalits, if they come to power. So, there was already a narrative in civil society of Punjab that no matter what the Dalit community in the state will be given recognition,” says Professor Ronki Ram of Panjab University. Congress, however, has gone a step further to appoint a Dalit CM, who also happens to be the first non-Jatt Sikh to be CM since Giani Zail Singh (1972-77), over four decades ago. “The proportion of Dalits is the highest in Punjab (31.9 percent according to the 2011 census) compared to other states. But it has never had a Dalit CM. The Congress Party by appointing a Dalit CM has sent a big signal which has national repercussions,” says Harjeshwar Pal Singh, political analyst and Assistant Professor History, Shri Guru Gobind Singh College, Chandigarh.

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11) Weekly special

Deep diving into boAt Lifestyle’s success playbook with Co-founder Aman Gupta

In just five years since its launch in 2016, boAt Lifestyle’s founders Aman Gupta and Sameer Mehta have led the audio tech brand from India to become profitable. Launched in 2016 by Aman Gupta and Sameer Mehta, audio tech and wearables brand boAt Lifestyle is already profitable. It also recently emerged as the 5th largest wearable brand globally, according to IDC’s latest Worldwide Quarterly Device Tracker report (4Q20). The brand almost tripled its earnings from sales to Rs 700.44 crore in FY20 from Rs 239.4 crore in FY19. Its profits went from Rs 9 crore in FY 2019 to Rs 48.5 crore in FY 2020. In the past year, boAt also doubled its employee strength and established a local R&D centre in Bengaluru, expanded into newer categories like smartwatches, besides launching over 20 new products in the audio category in FY21. Read the key takeaways as Aman Gupta shared boAt’s playbook of becoming a global iconic brand from India.

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12) Did you know?

What’s the world’s most widely used cryptocurrency?

If you think it’s Bitcoin, which accounts for about 70% of all the digital-asset world’s market value, you’re probably wrong. It is not bitcoin or ether, but tether which is the most traded cryptocurrency today. Commonly denominated as USDT, tether is a stable currency, which can be redeemed for a dollar. In other words, if one holds 100 USDT, they can redeem it for $100. Founded in 2014 by Brock Pierce, Reeve Collins, and Craig Sellars, tether is called a ‘stablecoin’ since it is pegged to the US dollar. The need for tether came in when it was difficult for exchanges and companies to hold sovereign currency. In order to hold fiat money (sovereign currency) on behalf of the user, the exchange needed to have a license. The need was aggravated by the need for traders to be able to easily move between crypto and fiat. And thus, tether was invented. Traders use tether as a substitute for dollars. It can easily be transferred between exchanges or people, instead of transferring money through banks. Tether is easy to buy and sell and is available at the place you buy your cryptocurrencies. Tether is also often used as a way to hold money on exchanges when traders feel the market is extremely volatile.

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With that, we come to an end for our Weekly Current Affairs September 2021 -Week 4. 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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