Welcome to the Endeavor Editors 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 March 2021 – Week 4
1. Current Affairs – International News & Global Economy
Suez Canal: Stranded container ship Ever Given refloated
The stranded container ship blocking the Suez Canal was re-floated on March 29 and is currently being secured. The same was confirmed by maritime traffic tracking sites Vesselfinder and myshiptracking. The stern of the boat has moved away from the canal’s western bank, according to both sites. The breakthrough came after intensive efforts to push and pull the ship with 10 tugboats and vacuum up sand with several dredgers at spring tide.
The crisis held up $9 billion in global trade each day, bringing disruption to the vital waterway. For details visit.
The significant & shocking history of the Suez Canal
China signs a 25-Year deal with Iran in challenge to the U.S.
China and Iran signed an overarching deal aimed at charting the course of their economic, political, and trade relations over the next 25 years, Iranian state TV reported, in a challenge to the Biden administration. A draft copy of the outlines of the accord that surfaced on media last year showed plans for long-term supply of Iranian crude to China as well as investment in oil, gas, petrochemical, renewables, and nuclear energy infrastructure. For details visit.
Myanmar: Dozens killed as army opens fire on protesters during ‘deadliest day’
Witnesses and sources told BBC Burmese of protester deaths in the cities and townships of Magway, Mogok, Kyaukpadaung, and Mayangone. Deaths were also reported on the streets of the second-largest city Mandalay, as protesters carried the flag of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of Myanmar’s detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and gave their now traditional anti-authoritarian three-finger salute. The latest deaths would take the number killed in the suppression of protests in Myanmar since the 1 February coup to more than 400. The military seized control of the South East Asian country after an election which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won by a landslide. For details visit.
Threat of another lost summer stirs cash-crunch fears for Airlines
The latest setbacks to the return of air travel are stoking concern that a cash crunch is about to bear down on the airline industry. A second summer lost to the coronavirus crisis would likely trigger a spate of airline failures and bankruptcy filings, alongside a repeat of 2020’s bailouts, job cuts, and jetliner deferrals and cancellations, according to consultants IBA Group. In just the past week, the optimism that took the Bloomberg World Airlines Index to the highest since the start of the pandemic has evaporated. For details visit.
Can the airline sector recover? | CNBC Reports
2. Current Affairs – Indian Economy
As Covid-19 cases in India surge, govt lays out a five-fold strategy. All you need to know
Union Health Ministry held a high-level meeting with authorities of all states, districts, and union territories that are most affected by rising cases and rising mortality because of COVID-19. These states are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Punjab, and Bihar. A five-fold strategy was laid out for adoption by the States and Union Territories for effective containment and management of the COVID pandemic. For details visit.
No digital tax if goods, services sold via Indian arm of foreign e-commerce players
In a bid to provide a level-playing field, the government has decided not to levy a 2% digital service tax if goods and services are sold through the Indian arm of foreign e-commerce players. The amendment to Finance Bill 2021 clarifies that offshore e-commerce platforms don’t have to pay a 2% equalization levy if they have a permanent establishment or they pay any income tax here. For details visit.
Equalization levy: Objective, Budget proposal, and impact
Former CBDT member Akhilesh Ranjan, who was instrumental in the introduction of the equalization levy in 2016, explains in detail the objective of the levy and why it is needed.
Biden’s trade representative initiates retaliatory action against India’s Equalisation Levy on e-commerce players
United States Trade Representative (USTR) has initiated the process to retaliate against India and 5 other countries for levying a digital service tax on foreign companies that have impacted US enterprises. The 5 other countries include Austria, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. India had imposed a 2 percent equalization levy on sales of products and services by e-commerce companies in Budget 2020.? For details visit.
India will keep its strategic and economic interests in mind while sourcing crude oil: Dharmendra Pradhan
Speaking at Times Network India Economic Conclave, petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that India, keeping its strategic and economic interests in mind will source crude oil from any country that offers cheaper and favorable terms. The Indian government is working on diversifying the country’s energy basket with crude oil supplies from non-Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) sources, after the Opec-plus grouping’s decision to retain supply curbs. For details visit.
Chief Economic Adviser says LIC IPO could fetch Rs 1 lakh crore
Speaking at a virtual conference by Jana Small Finance Bank, Chief Economic Adviser KV Subramanian said the disinvestment target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore for 2021-22 is actually a carryover of the Rs 2.10 lakh crore target set for the current fiscal ending March 31. “BPCL privatization and LIC listing itself were important contributors. There are estimates suggesting Rs 75,000-80,000 crore or even higher can just come from the privatization of BPCL itself. LIC IPO could bring in Rs 1 lakh crore approximately” he said. For details visit.
Monsoon likely to be ‘normal’ in India this year
The monsoon in India is likely to be close to normal this year because of the absence of El Nino or La Nina weather patterns during the four months, according to Accuweather, America’s leading weather forecasting media company. The monsoon season is extremely crucial in India for its agricultural sector. Not only do the rains directly irrigate fields but also fill reservoirs for winter crops. Millions, in the absence of irrigation facilities in different parts of India, still depend on rains. Not to forget, the degree of rain also affects the food prices here. For details visit.
3. Current Affairs – Politics
Assembly Elections 2021 Highlights
Polling is underway for 47 seats in Assam and 30 seats in West Bengal in the first phase of assembly elections on March 27. Assam is voting in three phases and West Bengal in eight phases. The votes will be counted on May 2. 72.14% and 79.79% voter turnout has been recorded in the first phase of Assam and West Bengal election, respectively. West Bengal is arguably the biggest election prize that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been eyeing in recent times. The state is witnessing the most high-stakes battle with two-time chief minister Mamata Banerjee facing a tough challenge from the BJP amid a series of defections from her Trinamool Congress to the saffron party and corruption investigations against her party leaders, including her nephew Abhishek Banerjee. For details visit.
BJP leaves CAA out of its Assam manifesto, 2 days after promising it in Bengal
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) might have promised to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in West Bengal, but the law has found no mention in its manifesto for Assam released by party president J.P. Nadda. The Assam BJP chief Dass said: “We are concentrating on Assam civilization and it’s there in our manifesto. CAA is not an issue for Assam. But our stand on the matter is quite clear that it is central legislation. As far as illegal immigrants are concerned, I have clearly told my workers that not a single infiltrator should enter Assam” . For details visit.
Explained: Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021
The Bihar legislature witnessed pandemonium inside and outside the Assembly as Opposition parties opposed the government’s attempt to pass the Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021. The bill allows arrest without warrants and places officers of the force beyond courts unless sanctioned by the govt. The Opposition has termed the Bill “draconian and unconstitutional” and an attempt by the government to enforce “Police Raj” in the State. The joint Opposition statement said the Bill will “effectively transform the police force into an armed militia to throttle the voice of the people, academics, activists, journalists, political opposition and those who would dare to speak the truth”. For details visit.
Explained: What do political consultants like Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC really do?
In recent years, India’s election campaigns have undergone a process of ‘professionalization’ as witnessed by the growing role of political consultancy firms in the affairs of electoral and party politics. Prashant Kishor, the so-called ‘master strategist’ behind BJP’s victory in the 2014 General Elections, and his organizations (CAG & I-PAC) are paradigmatic examples of this ‘professionalization of politics’.
Read about the breakdown of what happens behind the scenes at political consultancy firms hired by parties like the DMK, TMC, and the AIADMK. For details visit.
Unboxing with Prashant Kishor | What it takes to plan, execute and win an election
What does it take to plan, execute and win an election? Poll strategist Prashant Kishor explains.
4. Current Affairs – Markets, Banking, and Finance
Banks’ NPAs declined to Rs 5.70 lakh crore at December-end, says Anurag Thakur
Non-performing assets of banks declined to Rs 5.70 lakh crore in December 2020 and the recovered amount stood at Rs 2.74 lakh crore following a slew of measures taken by the government, Union Minister Anurag Singh Thakur told Rajya Sabha. Under the present regime, banking has vastly improved, from phone banking to digital banking, which has resulted in transparency and accountability, he noted. In reply to a supplementary question, Thakur said 7 out of 12 public sector banks have taken up on priority efforts to introduce digital banking and added that this will result in competition with the private sector banks and benefit consumers. For details visit.
NBFCs move court against RBI’s? current? account? rules
As many as 14 non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) have moved various high courts against the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) norms on current account opening. Last year, RBI revised norms for opening current accounts to strengthen credit discipline. Kerala high court, one of the courts hearing the multiple pleas, directed RBI to reconsider the policy. The regulator, in its reply, said the policy cannot be reversed. The court has neither put a stay nor come out with a final ruling on the matter. Instead, it has directed the NBFCs to take it up with the respective lending banks. For details visit.
Rajya Sabha passes bill to establish a Development Finance Institution for long-term infra projects
The Rajya Shabha on Friday passed the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development Bill, paving the way for the creation of a development finance institution (DFI) that will help fund long-term infrastructure projects in the country. The DFI will be initially wholly owned by the government, but its stake will be reduced to 26% later. The Union budget has allocated Rs 20,000 crores to capitalize the DFI, which is expected to create a lending portfolio of at least Rs 5 trillion in about three years. For details visit.
5. Current Affairs – Business
Automakers veer towards mid-size SUVs as sales soar
Companies have been encouraged by the shift in customer preference towards mid-size sport-utility vehicles (SUVs), as evidenced by the resounding success of Hyundai Motor India Ltd and Kia Motors India. Automakers in India are lining up a slew of such SUVs for launch over the next year to score gains in this fast-growing segment that has overshadowed sedan sales for the past few years. For details visit.
Dream Sports raises $400 million in secondary investment
Dream Sports, the Indian sports technology company, which owns the leading fantasy sports platform Dream11, has completed a $400 million secondary investment round led by TCV, D1 Capital Partners, and Falcon Edge. Dream Sports said this is the largest investment in the Indian sports tech ecosystem to date and a testimony to its growing market potential. For details visit.
Why Centre wants cryptocurrency holdings mandatorily disclosed in RoC filings
The corporate affairs ministry has announced companies will have to disclose any holding or dealings in cryptocurrencies or virtual currencies in their financial statements filed with the Registrar of Companies (RoC). Experts have noted the corporate affairs ministry may just be seeking disclosures from companies to get a record of the usage of cryptocurrencies after reports that some startups were paying some employees part of their salaries in cryptocurrencies. For details visit.
Reliance Industries-Saudi Aramco deal likely if crude oil averages $65
Reliance had in August 2019 announced talks for the sale of a 20 percent stake in the oil-to-chemical unit (O2C) business, which comprises its twin oil refineries at Jamnagar in Gujarat and petrochemical assets, to the world’s largest oil exporter. The deal was to conclude by March 2020 but has been delayed for reasons not disclosed by either company. The research firm Jefferies says a fall in crude oil price and Aramco’s USD 75 billion annual dividend commitment may have delayed it. For details visit.
Adani Transmission to acquire Warora-Kurnool Transmission for Rs 3,370 Crore
Adani Transmission Ltd. said it has entered into a pact with Essel Infraprojects to acquire Warora-Kurnool Transmission Ltd. (WKTL) for an enterprise value of Rs 3,370 crore. This will lead to the enhanced scale of operations for Adani Transmission and it will enjoy substantial benefits in terms of cost optimization and shared resources and will also fortify its position of being the largest private sector transmission company in the country. For details visit.
SEBI eases norms for public listing of startups
Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on March 25 announced measures that will make it easier for startups to go public on the Innovators Growth Platform or IGP. The norms will also give early-stage investors in startups an easier way to exit. For details visit.
SEBI’s new rules on Startups, Delisting, ESG: Here’s all you should know
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has announced key changes in the rules for the listing of startups while bringing in more transparency in the disclosure requirements for listed entities with a focus on the all-important ESG—environment, social, and governance—parameters. It has also enhanced the delisting process and given retail investors more power in terms of access to information.
6. Current Affairs – Policy
Loan Moratorium cannot be extended, says Supreme Court
The Supreme Court refused to extend the six-month loan moratorium period offered by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) last year, saying that it is a ‘policy decision’ on the part of the Centre and RBI. On March 27, the RBI had announced a moratorium on loan installments due between March 1 and May 31 and subsequently extended it by three months till August 31, 2020. For details visit.
NPCI caps market share for UPI apps at 30% of overall payment volumes
The National Payments Corporation of India has set out new guidelines for digital payment apps limiting their share in the overall volume of transactions on the unified payment interface at 30% in a bid to enforce parity in the country’s fast-growing digital payments industry. The new rules, effective from the quarter beginning January 2021, also provide existing players with dominant market shares with a window of two years for compliance, in order to minimize friction for customers, NPCI said. For details visit.
NPCI announces 30% Cap for Third-Party UPI Apps like Google Pay, PhonePe | Startup Street
Coal mining norms to ?be eased further
India seeks to further liberalize its coal mining regime to ensure greater participation of all stakeholders, by allowing bidders to submit preferences for future mine auctions. The so-called ‘rolling auction’ mechanism announced by the minister will ensure that coal blocks are always available for auction. Besides, as part of the Centre’s plan to usher in structural reforms in the coal sector, state-run Coal India Ltd is looking to merge e-auction windows to move toward a ‘one price for one coal grade’ system. The moves assume significance considering that India has the world’s fourth-largest reserves and is the second-largest producer of coal. For details visit.
Decoding new MMDR Act as Modi govt pushes long-awaited mining reforms in India
Parliament has passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021. Why it is crucial and how it aims to reverse the mining industry as being corrupt, polluting, and grossly under-performing in India.
HDFC, PNB, SBI among top banks to make it to TRAI’s list of defaulters over new SMS regulations
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a list of defaulters including top banks like HDFC Bank, State Bank of India, Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd, and Life Insurance Corporation of India among other entities who have failed to comply with the new regulations to check spam and filter unsolicited messages. The new regulations, or the Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulations (TCCCPR), were introduced in July 2018 to curb the menace of unsolicited commercial messages. The regulations entirely came into force on February 28, 2019. For details visit.
7. Current Affairs – Sports
Bizarre dead-ball rule denies Rishabh Pant and Team India a boundary
Another bizarre rule of cricket created controversy in the ongoing second ODI between India and England when the Men in Blue and Rishabh Pant were not given a boundary due after bowler Tom Curran appealed for LBW at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune. While the rule was correctly implemented by the umpires, Pant found himself in an unfortunate position as despite hitting a boundary, he wasn’t awarded a single run for it. For details visit.
8. Current Affairs – Opinion
Tata’s victory in the Supreme Court is Cyrus Mistry’s loss outside it too
The Supreme Court judgment on the legality of Cyrus Mistry’s ouster from the Tata group concludes his four-year-old legal battle of attrition against Ratan Tata that wound its way through the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) before finally coming up before the country’s highest court. The court’s unequivocal ruling that the actions of the board in sacking Mistry in October 2016 did not amount to the oppression of minority shareholders, nor mismanagement, give the Tata group a clear edge in future negotiations on the issue. For details visit.
Experts discuss Supreme Court verdict in Tata Vs Mistry case
How rising Iran Oil exports create problems for the U.S. and OPEC
As global oil demand recovers from pandemic lockdowns, the U.S. and OPEC have a problem in common – increasing crude oil exports by Iran in defiance of U.S. sanctions.
How will their response impact global oil markets?
9. Current Affairs – Other Topics
Curbs by India, World’s biggest vaccine export, to hit poorest nations
After the country shipped or donated more than 60 million doses of Covid vaccine, India’s exports have slowed to a trickle. Growing criticism of the speed of its own immunization campaign and a fivefold increase in new virus infections over the past month spurred the change, according to government officials familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified as the decision has not been publicly announced. Expansion of India’s immunization campaign to include everyone aged over 45 beginning April 1 also contributed to the curbs. For details visit.
With that, we come to an end for our Weekly Current Affairs March 2021 -week 4. Hope you have liked it. Write in your feedback in the comments below and let us know if anything else you would like us to cover.
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