Endeavor Careers Choicest Blogs: Weekly Current Affairs: December 2021, Week 02

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

Afghan currency slides, prices surge as the economy worsens

The value of Afghanistan’s currency is tumbling, exacerbating an already severe economic crisis and deepening poverty in a country where more than half the population already doesn’t have enough to eat. The Afghani lost more than 11% of its value against the U.S. dollar in the space of a day earlier this week, before recouping somewhat. But the market remains volatile, and the devaluation is already impacting Afghans. Afghanistan’s economy was already troubled when the international community froze billions of dollars worth of Afghanistan’s assets abroad and stopped all international funding to the country after the Taliban assumed power in mid-August amid a chaotic U.S. and NATO troop withdrawal. The consequences have been dire for a country heavily dependent on foreign aid.

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Experts warn Afghanistan on the brink of total collapse

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Fitch downgrades Sri Lanka’s sovereign rating to ‘CC’

Fitch has downgraded Sri Lanka’s sovereign rating to ‘CC’ from ‘CCC’, saying there is an increased probability of a default in coming months in light of the country’s worsening external liquidity position underscored by a drop in foreign-exchange reserves. The New-York based rating agency said it will be difficult for the government to meet its external debt obligations in 2022 and 2023 in the absence of new external financing sources. “Obligations include two international sovereign bonds of USD 500 million due in January 2022 and USD 1 billion due in July 2022,” it said. Fitch said Sri Lanka’s foreign-exchange reserves have declined much faster than it expected, owing to a combination of a higher import bill and foreign-currency intervention by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

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Over 22,000 People were displaced in Malaysia floods, thousands flee homes

Over 22,000 people were evacuated throughout Malaysia as the country faces some of its worst floodings in years. The tropical Southeast Asian nation often sees stormy monsoon seasons at the end of the year, with seasonal flooding regularly causing mass evacuations. Heavy downpours have caused rivers to overflow, submerging many urban areas and cutting off major roads, stranding thousands of motorists. More than 5,000 people fled their homes in the country’s richest state of Selangor — which surrounds the capital Kuala Lumpur — with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob expressing surprise at the strong flooding there.

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Australia, Britain sign free trade agreement

Australia and Britain signed a free trade agreement on Friday that will eliminate almost all taxes on exports between the countries. The FTA was signed at a virtual ceremony by Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan in Adelaide and Britain’s Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan in London. Britain has aggressively pursued trade agreements after its departure from the European Union. It has touted the deal as its largest “from scratch” agreement to be finalised. Trevelyan said the deal showed what Britain can achieve “as an agile, independent sovereign trading nation.” “This is just the start as we get on the front foot and seize the seismic opportunities that await us on the world stage,” she said.

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Australia-UK sign ‘fantastic’ new free trade agreement

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United Arab Emirates threatens to pull out of $23 billion F-35, drone deal with U.S.

The United Arab Emirates is threatening to pull out of a multibillion-dollar deal to buy American-made F-35 aircraft, Reaper drones and other advanced munitions, U.S. officials said, in what would be a significant shake-up between two long-time partners increasingly at odds over China’s role in the Gulf. The Emirati government told U.S. officials that it intended to halt the deal because Abu Dhabi thought security requirements the U.S. had laid out to safeguard the high-tech weaponry from Chinese espionage were too onerous, and the country’s national sovereignty was in jeopardy, officials said.

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World coal power demand to hit new high after China, India, U.S. surge – IEA

Rising consumption in China, India and the United States could bring global coal-fired power demand to a new all-time high this year, undermining efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. The IEA said global power generation from coal was expected to reach 10,350 terawatt-hours in 2021, up 9%, driven by a rapid economic recovery that has “pushed up electricity demand much faster than low-carbon supplies can keep up.” Overall coal demand, including for industries such as cement and steel, is expected to grow 6% this year. Though it will not exceed the record consumption levels of 2013 and 2014, it could hit a new all-time high next year, the IEA report said.

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Omicron In UK: Surge Shows “Bigger Wave” Ahead; Alarm Sounded In London

Britain reported a surge in cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Saturday which government advisors said could be just the tip of the iceberg, and London’s mayor declared a “major incident” to help the city’s hospitals cope. The number of Omicron cases recorded across the country hit almost 25,000 as of 1800 GMT on Friday, up by more than 10,000 cases from 24 hours earlier, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said. The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said it was “almost certain” that hundreds of thousands of people were being infected with the variant every day and were not being picked up in the figures.

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2) Climate

2021 brought a wave of extreme weather disasters. Scientists say worse lies ahead.

“The weather of the past will not be the weather of the future,” said Stephanie Herring, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “As long as we are emitting greenhouse gases at a historically unprecedented rate, we should expect this change to continue.” Herring has closely tracked the link between extreme weather and climate change since 2012, when she edited the first “Explaining Extreme Events from a Climate Perspective” report for the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The annual survey of what is known as “attribution science” draws on weather records and sophisticated climate models to determine how much individual events were influenced by human emissions. Speaking to reporters at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting, Kristie Ebi, director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington in Seattle, pointed to research showing that more than a third of all heat wave deaths can now be linked to climate change.

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3) India  

Covid update

Omicron cases top 100, avoid non-essential travel: Health Ministry

The Health Ministry has flagged the rising threat of Omicron across the world. Lav Agrawal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry said that India so far has reported 101 cases of the Omicron variant across 11 states. “Omicron variant reported in 91 countries in the world. WHO has said that Omicron is spreading faster than the Delta variant in South Africa where Delta circulation was low. It’s likely Omicron will outpace Delta variant where community transmission occurs, as per the World Health Organization,” Agrawal added. “A new phase of the COVID19 pandemic is being experienced in Europe with a steep rise in cases,” Dr. VK Paul, Member-Health, NITI Aayog said. Giving an overall view of the situation in India, Agrawal said the new daily cases were recorded below 10,000 for the past 20 days. “The case positivity for the last 1 week was 0.65%. Currently, Kerala contributes 40.31% to the total number of active cases in the country,” he added.

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Omicron is five times more likely to reinfect than Delta, study says

The risk of reinfection with the Omicron coronavirus variant is more than five times higher and it has shown no sign of being milder than Delta, a study by Imperial College London showed, as cases soar across Europe and threaten year-end festivities. The results were based on UK Health Security Agency and National Health Service data on people who tested positive for COVID-19 in a PCR test in England between Nov. 29 and Dec. 11. The new findings could accelerate the imposition of tighter restrictions across a number of European countries in a bid to stem the new variant’s spread.

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Omicron driven third wave in India likely to peak in Feb: Covid Supermodel Panel

Daily COVID-19 caseload in India that is currently around 7,500 infections is expected to increase once the Omicron starts displacing Delta as the dominant variant, informed members of the National COVID-19 Supermodel Committee and predicted the third wave in India early year. Vidyasagar, who is also the head of the National COVID-19 Supermodel Committee, said that India will have Omicron’s third wave but it will be milder than the second wave. The panel’s other member, Maninda Agrawal, told ANI, “India is expected to report one lakh to two lakh cases per day which will be less than the second wave.” Elaborating on the record surge in COVID-19 infections, Agrawal said that the UK has high vaccine penetration (but mostly with mRNA vaccines), but low sero-prevalence. “India has both high seroprevalence which gives a lot of natural immunity, as well as high vaccine penetration.”

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 Other updates

ISRO signs agreement with Chinese firm Oppo for R&D, crucial navigation service

The Indian Space Research Organisation has signed an agreement with Chinese smart devices maker Oppo to strengthen the research and development of the NavIC messaging service. The NavIC system provides detailed regional navigation services covering the Indian mainland and an area up to 1,500 km beyond the Indian mainland. In addition to its primary function of providing PNT (position, navigation and timing) services, NavIC is also capable of broadcasting short messages. Under the agreement ISRO and Oppo India will exchange technical information of NavIC messaging services to build rapid, ready to use, end-to-end application-specific solutions by integrating NavIC messaging service with the mobile handset platform keeping in mind the need of Indian users.

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ISRO-Oppo India deal: Row erupts over Chinese firm’s collaboration with Indian space organisation

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Bill to delicense power distribution firms in a limbo

The Bill to amend the Electricity Act, 2003 to delicense power distribution is in a limbo, with the central government going slow on the legislation ahead of the upcoming assembly elections even after withdrawing most of the proposals that states found contentious. Sources in the government said the Bill is under consideration by the Prime Minister’s Office and is unlikely to be taken up by the Cabinet for discussion ahead of elections in states like Punjab and Uttar Pradesh early next year. Officials said based on the suggestions, comments and the representations received from states, associations and various stakeholders on the 2020 draft of the proposals, the power ministry has dropped the proposal of mandating states to provide direct subsidy to consumers, creation of an Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority and a single selection committee for the appointment of chairman and members to state electricity regulatory commissions.

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4) Economy

IMF’s Gita Gopinath Shares Her View On India & World Economy | Global Dialogues | CNBC-TV18

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Bloomberg poll raises India’s GDP growth forecast amid fewer Covid curbs

India’s economy is seen expanding a notch quicker than previously forecast in the current fiscal year ending March, according to a Bloomberg survey. Gross domestic product will likely expand 9.4% this fiscal, according to the median estimates of the latest survey. That’s faster than 9.3% forecast last month and is mainly due to an upward revision to the third- and fourth-quarter estimates to 6% and 5.8% from 5.8% and 5.3%, respectively. That coincides with economic activity picking up in Asia’s third-largest economy, which has shrugged off most curbs put in place to stem a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections. While there are no new strict restrictions in place to check the omicron variant, policy makers have retained an accommodative stance to support the recovery.

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CEOs expect 9-10% economic growth in current fiscal, says CII poll

Indian economy is all set for a strong rebound in the current fiscal posting a growth rate of 9-10 per cent, says a CEOs poll conducted among the members of the CII National Council. A large number of CEOs polled, however, appeared worried about the impact of the new COVID variant Omicron on services and the manufacturing sector. As regards growth, about 10 per cent of the CEOs polled believe that it could even exceed 10 per cent during 2021-22, the CII said in a release on Sunday.

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 5) Markets, Banking and Finance

RBI proposes new norms for the capital requirement for banks

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed to replace existing approaches for measuring minimum operational risk capital requirements of banks with a new Basel-III standardised approach. Operational risk’ refers to the risk of loss resulting from inadequate or failed internal processes, people and systems or from external events. The central bank on Wednesday issued the ‘Draft Master Direction on Minimum Capital Requirements for Operational Risk’ as part of the convergence of its regulations for banks with Basel-III standards. The RBI has sought comments on the draft by 31 January next year.

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RBI’s push towards card security likely to hit merchants, lenders: Report

The Reserve Bank of India’s plans to move towards card tokenisation is likely to hit a wide range of companies from major e-commerce firms and food delivery firms to lenders, while increasing the use of cash, said industry sources and bankers. RBI issued guidelines in March 2020 saying that merchants will not be allowed to save card information on their websites to boost data security. It issued fresh guidelines in September 2021 giving companies until the end of the year to comply with the regulations and offering them the option to tokenise. Tokenisation is a process by which card details are replaced by a unique code or token, generated by an algorithm, allowing online purchases to go through without exposing card details, in a bid to improve data security.

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Explained | What is Tokenisation & How will it benefit Credit Cardholders?

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6) Business

CCI suspends Amazon’s 2019 deal with Future; Rs 200 cr penalty imposed on Amazon

India’s antitrust body on Friday suspended Amazon.com’s 2019 deal with Future Group following a review of allegations that the U.S. e-commerce giant had concealed information while seeking regulatory approval. The unprecedented step taken by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) could have far-reaching consequences on Amazon’s legal battles with now-estranged partner Future. The U.S. firm has for months successfully used the terms of its toehold $200 million investment in 2019 to block Future’s attempt to sell retail assets to Reliance Industries for $3.4 billion. In a 57-page order, the CCI said it considers “it necessary to examine the combination (deal) afresh,” adding its approval from 2019 “shall remain in abeyance” until then.

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CCI suspends approval for Amazon-Future deal, imposes Rs 202 crore penalty on Amazon

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Retrospective tax: Cairn drops suits against Air India, Centre in US

UK’s Cairn Energy, renamed Capricorn Energy this week, has withdrawn arbitration enforcement suits in the US courts as part of its settlement with the Indian government in the retrospective tax case. Cairn Energy filed a “notice of voluntary dismissal” of its petition against India in the District of Columbia District Court on Wednesday, as per court filings. On the same day it filed a similar plea for dismissal of its petition against Air India in the New York Southern District Court. Both cases have been “terminated,” according to the PacerMonitor website that tracks federal court cases in the US. Cairn changed its stance after the government scrapped the retrospective tax law. The company said November 3 it had “entered into undertakings with the government of India” to participate in the scheme and would drop all litigation for the enforcement of arbitration award. The company expects to receive a refund of Rs 7,900 crore. The government had seized Cairn’s shares, dividends, and tax refunds to meet its tax demand.

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Tata Group doubles down on a business it had exited 23 years ago

The Tata Group plans to reclaim ground in the beauty business it exited 23 years ago, with the local market for cosmetics forecast to be worth $20 billion by 2025. Beauty products will be “a key focus for us” from now on along with footwear and underwear, Noel Tata, non-executive chairman of Trent Ltd., a Tata Group unit operating a chain of retail stores, said in an interview at his office in Mumbai. “Extended product line and experimentation with formats for these products are in the offing as we see these as growth areas in retail.” India’s cosmetics and beauty market is estimated to nearly double by 2025 from $11 billion in 2017, according to data from Statista, aided in good measure by online retailers led by Mumbai-based Nykaa that saw a blistering growth during the pandemic.

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7) Technology

In favour of a complete ban on cryptos: RBI to Central Board

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has conveyed to its central board that it favours a complete ban on cryptocurrencies, people familiar with deliberations at the central bank’s board meeting told ET. The RBI made a detailed presentation to the board highlighting “serious concerns” relating to macroeconomic and financial stability as well as exchange management, said one person. “The board was apprised of RBI’s stance on the matter.” The central bank also highlighted the challenge of regulating intangible assets that originate overseas. “Cryptocurrencies are a serious concern to RBI from a macroeconomic and financial stability standpoint,” RBI governor Shaktikanta Das has said previously. “As the central banker, we have serious concerns about it and we have flagged it many times.”

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Edtech Decacorn BYJU’s to take SPAC route for its $4 Bn IPO

The online education provider BYJU’s, India’s most valuable edtech unicorn, is in advanced discussions to go public through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) of Churchill Capital, a global strategic advisory firm. Citing people in the knowledge of this development, a Bloomberg report said that the start-up has held talks with several potential SPAC partners and is currently working on an agreement with Michael Klein’s Churchill Capital. As per the talks so far, BYJU’s plans to raise $4 Bn and would seek a valuation of about $48 billion, the report said. Currently, the edtech major is valued at $21 Bn.

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Indian Start-ups are becoming Unicorn one year faster in 2021

Having seen the launch of 55K+ start-ups to date, India is home to more than 38K+ active start-ups, making it the third-largest start-up ecosystem in the world after China and the US. The ecosystem which mostly began in the year 2007-2008 with the launch of Flipkart and Zomato later gained momentum in 2014-2015, crossing the $100 Bn mark in total funding in October 2021. With increasing cash inflow, it’s a no-brainer that India started seeing the rise of unicorns, start-ups with or more than $1 Bn valuation. Not only has the number of start-ups entering the celebrated unicorn club has increased, but also the time-taken to achieve this feat has also dropped drastically over the course of years. The start-ups which entered the unicorn club between 2012 and 2020 took an average of 7.5 years. For example, Zomato, BigBasket, IPO-bound Delhivery, and Lenskart have taken an average of 8 years. Here, interesting to note is that start-ups are taking an average time of only 6.6 years to become unicorns in 2021, meaning that the 2021 start-ups becoming unicorns one year faster than their peers.

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8) Politics

Over 8,600 arms were deposited in Manipur ahead of polls

Ahead of Manipur polls early next year, 8648 arms of various natures were deposited. An official in the state government told ET, “There are 25,300 licensed arms in Manipur and we are expecting these will be deposited. A separate notification asking the people to deposit the arms immediately in the nearest police stations is issued by respective Deputy Commissioners.” “Those who do not deposit arms and ammunition, the licensee is liable to be punished for violation of state government instructions under the relevant.

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Goa Assembly elections: Congress announces pre-poll alliance with Goa Forward Party

The Congress and the Goa Forward Party (GFP) announced a pre-poll alliance for the upcoming state Assembly elections due in February next year. Notably, the GFP had earlier shared power with the BJP in Goa, but withdrew its support in July 2019 after its all three MLAs, including party president Vijai Sardesai, who was then deputy chief minister in the Pramod Sawant-led government, were dropped from the cabinet. After the Assembly polls in 2017, the GFP, which had won three seats, had extended support for the formation of the then BJP-led state government under the leadership of Manohar Parrikar. But after Parrikar’s death in 2019, the alliance had soured and resulted in the Sardesai-led party withdrawing its support. In that election, the Congress had emerged as the single-largest party in Goa by winning 17 seats in the 40-member House, but could not come to power as the BJP, which bagged 13 seats, allied with some independents and regional parties to form the government.

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Ex-Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, BJP confirm alliance for upcoming assembly elections

Former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who recently floated a new political outfit, Punjab Lok Congress, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on December 17 announced their alliance for the upcoming assembly elections in the state. The seat-sharing pact would be decided later after discussing all the factors including winnability of the prospective candidates, Singh told reporters, with Union Minister and BJP’s Punjab in-charge Gajendra Singh Shekhawat by his side. The 117-seat Punjab assembly polls are expected to be held around February next year. The elections appear to be a four-cornered contest among the ruling Congress, the state’s prime opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the alliance of erstwhile-ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the newly-formed coalition of Punjab Lok Congress and BJP.

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Golden temple lynching: Sacrilege returns to Punjab centre stage

Six years after incidents of sacrilege and subsequent police firing at Behbal Kalan in Faridkot district where two anti-sacrilege protesters were killed in 2015 and were a prominent factor that led to a humiliating defeat of erstwhile SAD-BJP alliance in 2017 Punjab elections, the sacrilege saga came to centre-stage in poll-bound Punjab again after a man was beaten to death for an act of “desecration” in the holiest of Sikh shrines, Darbar Sahib (the Golden Temple). In a set of three tweets, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said “strongly condemned the most unfortunate and heinous act to attempt sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the sanctum sanctorum of Sri Harimandir Sahib during the path of Sri Rehras Sahib; and called up SGPC president and assured government’s full support and cooperation to get into the bottom of the case”. Akali Dal patron and five-time chief minister Parkash Singh Badal described “the heinous attempt to commit sacrilege at Sachkhand Shri Harmandar Sahib as deeply shocking and exceedingly painful”. Suspecting a “deep-rooted conspiracy”, Badal senior said that the crime was too “reprehensible for words and it has caused deep anguish and outrage in the minds of the Sikh masses all over the world”. He added that it was “unbelievable that such a painful and brazen crime could be committed at the holiest shrine of humanity by a single individual”. He said that “the whole conspiracy needs to be probed, exposed and those behind it be given exemplary punishment”.

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9) Sports

After Virat Kohli’s explosive press conference, BCCI leadership discusses response strategy

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) leadership group is exploring options to respond to Virat Kohli’s sensational comments on his India captaincy. The top brass of the board is not in agreement with Kohli’s claims from Wednesday’s press conference and is in a huddle to come up with a response strategy, considering the tricky situation in Indian cricket. BCCI is of course anguished but the board is in a very tricky situation, sources have said. On one hand, if they come out in open and say that Kohli’s claims are not true, it paints a bad picture about the skipper to the fans and other stakeholders of the sport. On the other hand, if they remain silent, it would appear that the board mistreated the captain. The BCCI top brass is in a huddle, working out a plan to respond to Kohli’s claims. However, the majority of the office bearers have denied the comments made by the Test captain ahead of the team’s departure for South Africa.

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BWF World Championships 2021 Final Highlights: Kidambi Srikanth loses in Title clash, takes home Silver

India’s Kidambi Srikanth lost 15-21, 20-22 to Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew in the men’s singles final of the BWF World Championships in Huelva, Spain on Sunday. Srikanth became the first Indian man to take home a silver medal from the competition, with the previous best result by an Indian man being a bronze medal — Prakash Padukone (1983), HS Prannoy (2019, Lakshya Sen (2021). During the final on Sunday, Srikanth took a 9-3 lead in the first game but Loh fought back to take the lead after the mid-game break before taking the game 21-15. The second game saw a neck and neck contest between the two before Loh prevailed 22-20. Earlier, the 28-year-old Srikanth became the first Indian male shuttler to reach the final of the tournament after defeating compatriot Lakshya Sen in the semi-finals on Saturday.

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10) Opinion

What Biden’s $2-trillion spending bill could mean for climate change

US President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats in Congress are rushing to enact a US$2-trillion budget bill that would boost US investments in technologies for fighting climate change to record levels. Scientists and environmentalists say that the investments, combined with tax credits and other incentives, could help to change the energy landscape over the coming decades. And by mostly focusing on financial rewards rather than punitive regulations — which can be overturned by courts and future administrations — advocates say that the agenda could build crucial political support among businesses and industries in the years to come. Academics and energy experts have been running various models to determine the likely impact of the legislation, and their results suggest that the spending bill and infrastructure bill combined could reduce annual US emissions by anywhere from the equivalent of 739 million to 1.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030. At the upper end, this would be enough to nearly meet Biden’s Glasgow pledge to curb US greenhouse-gas emissions by 50%, compared with 2005 emissions levels.

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Rise of Tamil Progressive Alliance in Sri Lankan politics

The Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA), which represents Tamils in Sri Lanka’s Central, Uva, Sabaragamuwa and Western Provinces, is emerging as a key political force representing the minority community and their demands in the island nation. Earlier this month TPA which was launched in 2015 has obtained legal recognition as a political party from the National Elections Commission of Sri Lanka. The party will carry the symbol of a “Torch Light” Leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance and MP Mano Ganesan has said that the Tamil people of the North, East, and South must live in peace with the Sinhalese community of the country. TPA has over 150 Local Government (LG) members in the LG councils in the Nuwara Eliya, Colombo, Kandy, Badulla, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Gampaha, and Matale districts of Sri Lanka.

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Challenges faced by a fintech company to reach out to their rural audience

The financial inclusion and mobile penetration achievements in India have catapulted the country into the age of fintech. The Indian financial sector made a significant impact by focussing on the availability of equal opportunities to access financial services through its policies and initiatives such as Pradhan Mantri Jan DhanYojana (PMJDY), Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), among others. Despite the policies, a large segment of the adult population still lacks access to formal financial services due to the overwhelming size of its people and the apparent disparity between the rural and the cities. Moreover, the accessibility of cost-effective and sustainable delivery mechanisms to rural areas further complicates the situation. Read to understand the challenges that the Indian fintech sector is facing are.

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11) Weekly special

Hong Kong’s comeback queen? City leader Carrie Lam on Talking Post with Yonden Lhatoo

After bearing the brunt of public anger and international criticism over the 2019 protests, Chief Executive Carrie Lam now says she is “steeled” to meet any challenges as she spearheads sweeping changes in Hong Kong. In the fifth episode of Talking Post with SCMP chief news editor Yonden Lhatoo, Lam addresses concerns about where she is taking Hong Kong and defends her contentious legacy. Lam also won’t reveal whether she will seek a second term, though she does not sound like someone who is bowing out.

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12) Did you know?

What is the Fed taper? An economist explains how the Federal Reserve withdraws stimulus from the economy

Tapering refers to the Federal Reserve policy of unwinding the massive purchases of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities it’s been making to shore up the economy during the pandemic. The unconventional monetary policy of buying assets is commonly known as quantitative easing. The Fed first adopted this policy during the 2008 financial crisis. The Fed again adopted this policy in March 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a national lockdown. By November 2021, the Fed had bought over US$4 trillion worth of Treasuries and other securities. Growing concerns among economists that rising inflation could harm the economy are likely a big part of what led the Fed to begin tapering. The reason the Fed has decided to accelerate the process is likely because it now believes inflation may be less transitory than it had hoped, at the same time that the labour market appears strong.

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With that, we come to an end for our Weekly Current Affairs December 2021 -Week 3. 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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