Weekly Current Affairs

Welcome to the Endeavor Editors’ Weekly Current Affairs Choicest Blog series. Get a weekly roundup – of news from business, economy, markets, policy, and more. A quick capsule format news summary and update to keep you abreast with all the latest current affairs.

1) International News and Global Economy

Russia’s war in Ukraine

All of Ukraine’s thermal and hydroelectric power stations have been damaged in the waves of Russian missile strikes targeting the country’s energy grid, Ukraine’s prime minister said Sunday.  Crews are scrambling to restore energy capabilities amid freezing temperatures as Moscow’s troops aim to knock them out, possibly forcing more Ukrainians to flee. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will join leaders of the Group of 7 nations, including US President Joe Biden, for a virtual meeting Monday, a senior administration official says. Meanwhile, fighting continues on the frontlines. Kyiv’s forces launched attacks over the weekend on occupied regions of Ukraine.

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China’s Xi calls for oil trade in yuan at Gulf summit in Riyadh

President Xi Jinping told Gulf Arab leaders on Friday that China would work to buy oil and gas in yuan, a move that would support Beijing’s goal to establish its currency internationally and weaken the U.S. dollar’s grip on world trade. Xi was speaking in Saudi Arabia where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hosted two “milestone” Arab summits with the Chinese leader which showcased the powerful prince’s regional heft as he courts partnerships beyond close historic ties with the West. Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and economic giant China both sent strong messages during Xi’s visit on “non-interference” at a time when Riyadh’s relationship with Washington has been tested over human rights, energy policy, and Russia.

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Greece Slams Turkey’s “North Korean Attitudes In NATO” After Erdogan’s Tayfun Missile Threat

President Erdogan has claimed Greece is scared that its capital Athens is within the reach of Turkey’s ballistic missiles. He also said that Ankara will not sit by idly if Greece continues to arm its islands in the Aegean. In October, Turkey test-fired a locally made, short-range ballistic missile Tayfun over the Black Sea. Watch the video to know about the latest conflict between Turkey & Greece over the Aegean Islands.

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Iran carries out second execution linked to the wave of popular protests

The Islamic Republic on Monday hanged a man in public who state media said had been convicted of killing two members of the security forces, the second execution in less than a week of people involved in protests against Iran’s ruling theocracy. Nationwide unrest erupted three months ago after the death while in detention of 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police enforcing the Islamic Republic’s mandatory dress code laws. The demonstrations have turned into a popular revolt by furious Iranians from all layers of society, posing one of the worst legitimacy challenges to the Shi’ite clerical elite since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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Kabul hotel attack ends as three gunmen killed; two foreigners injured

Armed men opened fire on Monday inside a hotel in central Kabul popular with Chinese nationals in an attack that ended when at least three gunmen were killed by security forces, the Taliban-run administration said. Two foreigners were injured while trying to escape by jumping from the hotel balcony, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter. Kabul’s Emergency Hospital, run by an Italian non-profit near the attacked hotel in the Shahr-e-Naw area, reported receiving 21 casualties – 18 injured and three dead on arrival. Taliban sources said the attack was carried out at Longan Hotel where Chinese and other foreigners usually stay.

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2) India

India, and China troops clash in Arunachal, “Minor Injuries” on both sides

Indian and Chinese troops briefly clashed at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Arunachal Pradesh last week before disengaging. The face-off on December 9 led to “minor injuries to a few personnel from both sides” and the two sides “immediately disengaged from the area”. The face-off took place at the Tawang Sector of Arunachal Pradesh. Chinese troops crossed the LAC, which was contested by Indian soldiers in a “firm and resolute manner”. This is the first reported clash between Indian and Chinese troops since skirmishes at Eastern Ladakh. The worst of these clashes broke out at Galwan Valley in June 2020, when 20 Indian soldiers died for the country and over 40 Chinese soldiers were killed or injured. The incident set off a series of confrontations between the two nations, including one at the South Bank of Pangong Lake.

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Energy conservation bill gets Rajya Sabha nod

The Rajya Sabha on Monday approved the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which empowers the Centre to specify a domestic carbon credit trading scheme and makes it mandatory for big power consumers to meet a portion of their energy needs from renewable sources. The Rajya Sabha on Monday approved the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which empowers the Centre to specify a domestic carbon credit trading scheme and makes it mandatory for big power consumers to meet a portion of their energy needs from renewable sources. The domestic carbon market scheme will be a key step in achieving India’s nationally determined contributions under the Paris climate pact, according to the power ministry, which had tabled the bill. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on August 8.

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3) Economy

World Bank upgrades India’s GDP growth forecast to 6.9%

The World Bank on Tuesday revised India’s 2022-23 GDP growth forecast upward to 6.9% from 6.5% estimated in October after factoring in “a strong outturn” in the second quarter of the current financial year. India is “well placed” to navigate global headwinds, it said. “The government’s focus on bolstering capital expenditure also supported domestic demand in the first half of FY 22/23. In addition, India overtook the UK to become the fifth largest economy in the world,” the multilateral bank said. “High-frequency indicators indicate continued robust growth of domestic demand at the start of Q3 FY22/23.” India grew 13.5% in the first quarter of 2022-23. This is the first report of any international institution to upwardly revise India’s economic performance, even as growth forecasts of major economies have been downgraded significantly.

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Fitch retains India growth forecast at 7 pc for this fiscal, cuts projections for next 2 years

Fitch Ratings on Tuesday retained India’s economic growth forecast at 7 percent for the current fiscal but cut projections for the next two financial years saying the country is not impervious to global developments. In its December edition of the Global Economic Outlook, Fitch projected India’s GDP to grow at 7 percent in the current fiscal, at a slower rate of 6.2 percent in 2023-24 and at 6.9 percent in 2024-25. In September, Fitch projected 7 percent growth for the current fiscal, followed by 6.7 percent in 2023-24 and 7.1 percent growth in 2024-25mGiven the stronger-than-expected outturn in the July-September quarter with GDP growth at 6.3 percent, Fitch forecasts growth at 7 percent in the financial year ending March 2023 (FY23).

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RBI MPC meet: Real GDP growth forecast for FY23 revised downwards to 6.8%

The Reserve Bank of India’s rate-setting panel has revised its forecast for real gross domestic product (GDP) growth downwards to 6.8%. In its last policy statement on September 30, the RBI’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) projected India’s GDP growth for the ongoing fiscal at 7%. “Even after this revision in our growth projections, India will still remain among the fastest-growing major economy,” Governor Das said. The biggest risks to the outlook remain global slowdown and tightening financial conditions. Das said MPC has forecast Q3 GDP growth at 4.4%, and Q4 at 4.2%, with risks evenly balanced. The first quarter of the next financial year is set to grow at 7.1 %.

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India’s retail inflation eases to 5.88 percent in November, drops within RBI’s tolerance band

India’s consumer price-based inflation eased to an 11-month low of 5.88 percent in November on an annual basis from 6.77 percent in October 2022. The number has dropped within RBI’s tolerance band of 2-6 percent after 10 months. Sequentially, the headline inflation contracted by 0.11 percent against a growth of 0.80 percent in the preceding month. The decline can be attributed to easing food prices which account for almost 40 percent of India’s CPI basket. Food inflation for November came in at 4.67 percent as against 7.01 percent a month before.

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India’s industrial production contracts 4% in October

India’s industrial production contracted by 4% on an annual basis, data released by the Ministry Of Statistics And Programme Implementation (MOSPI) showed Monday. The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) had grown 4.2% in October 2021 and by 3.1% in September 2022. IIP contracted to 129.6 in October from 133.5 in September. These Quick Estimates will undergo revision in subsequent releases as per the revision policy of IIP. The manufacturing sector saw a contraction of 5.6% while mining and electricity grew 2.5% and 1.2% each in October 2022. Among the IIP (use-based), capital goods, intermediate goods, consumer durables, and consumer non-durables contracted by 2.3%, 2.8%, 15.3%, and 13.4% each in October while primary goods and infrastructure/construction goods grew 2% and 1% each. Overall industrial production so far this fiscal, i.e., April-October 2022 has been 5.3% whereas growth of 20.5% was seen in the corresponding period of the previous year.

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4) Markets, Banking, and Finance

Reserve Bank of India raises repo rate by a smaller 35 bps as the fight against inflation continues amid growth woes

The Reserve Bank of India-led rate-setting panel on Wednesday raised the country’s policy rate by a modest 35 basis points in its last policy review of the calendar year, as the fight against inflation is not over yet while the central bank will also have to fuel the country’s economic output. The six-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) with a five-to-one majority increased the repo rate or the key rate at which the RBI lends short-term funds to commercial banks, to 6.25% from 5.9%. With this hike, the RBI has broken the 50-basis-point-hike trend that it opted for in each of the last three policy meetings. The key rate has now been raised by 225 (190 + 35) bps since May by the panel. The panel also decided to remain focused on the withdrawal of the accommodative stance.

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ESMA row: RBI guv says European regulators need to trust India’s credibility, strength

India is much different today than what it was earlier and the developed world needs to trust the credibility and strength of local regulators, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Wednesday. In comments that come in the wake of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and the UK derecognizing Indian clearing houses, Das said Indian market infrastructure complies with all the international standards. “I think, it is also necessary for regulators on the other side to appreciate the credibility, they must trust the credibility and strength of the Indian regulations. That is what we are trying to impress upon them,” Das told reporters here. India is much different today than what it was earlier and the developed world needs to trust the credibility and strength of local regulators, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Wednesday. In comments that come in the wake of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and the UK derecognizing Indian clearing houses, Das said Indian market infrastructure complies with all the international standards. “I think, it is also necessary for regulators on the other side to appreciate the credibility, they must trust the credibility and strength of the Indian regulations. That is what we are trying to impress upon them,” Das told reporters here.

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5) Business

Dalmia Bharat to acquire Jaypee Group’s cement assets for Rs 5,666 crore

The Jaypee Group on Monday said that a binding agreement had been signed to sell the group’s cement business to Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Ltd at an enterprise value of Rs 5,666 crore. The binding agreement has been signed by Jaiprakash Associates and Jaiprakash Power Ventures. The divestment includes cement plants with an aggregate capacity of 9.4 million tonnes, clinker assets with a capacity of 6.7 million tonnes, and a 280 MW capacity thermal power plant, the Jaypee Group companies said in a release.

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New norms put brakes on EV firms, battery companies

Electric vehicle (EV) and battery makers have been hit by recent rules on battery safety and local value addition as the shorter timeline to certify their products could affect short-term production as well as sales, according to multiple EV and battery makers. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways recently amended the AIS156 norms, a stringent testing, and certification standard, to ensure better safety following a spate of fire-related incidents involving EVs in the summer. In addition to the AIS156, the Ministry of Heavy Industries also introduced a new set of testing guidelines related to safety for availing of the FAME-II subsidy payout in November.

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November sees the highest sales in the history of the automobile industry in India

Registering a growth of 26% on an annual basis, auto retails in November 2022 clocked record high numbers, the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA) showed on Friday. Around 23.80 lakh units were sold in November this year, compared to 18.93 lakh units in November 2021 and 23.44 lakh units in November 2019, a pre-Covid year. All categories of automobiles saw growth in November, data shows. 2-wheelers, 3-wheelers, passenger vehicles (PVs), tractors, and commercial vehicles (CVs) each saw a growth of 24%, 80%, 21%, 57%, and 33% respectively. “November 2022 has clocked the highest retails in the history of the Indian automobile industry with March 2020 as an exception when retails were higher due to BS-4 to BS-6 transition,” said Manish Raj Singhania, President of FADA.

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6) Technology

Twitter to relaunch subscription service Twitter Blue today

Twitter Inc will relaunch a revamped version of its subscription service Twitter Blue on Monday at a higher price for Apple users, the company said in a tweet. The revamped service will allow subscribers to edit tweets, upload 1080p videos and get blue checkmark post account verification. Twitter did not explain why Apple users were being charged more than others on the web but there have been media reports that the company was looking for ways to offset fees charged in the Apple App Store.

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Coming soon: A wider mandate for UPI to facilitate investments

Unified Payments Interface (UPI), the popular tool to transfer the money instantaneously between bank accounts, is set to penetrate our lives more in the days to come. In his monetary policy review speech on December 7, Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das said the single-block-and-single debit functionality in UPI will now be enhanced to facilitate multiple debits. To be sure, UPI has been around since 2016 and is already used by investors. The governor’s announcement aims to make UPI friendlier. The enhancement to single-block-and-multiple debit functionality will allow a customer to block a certain amount of money in favor of a merchant and sign a payment mandate that allows the merchant to collect the money for specified purposes when required. An individual can now earmark money for an e-commerce merchant and after shopping, the e-commerce portal can debit the billed amount from the blocked money. This functionality will make the transfer of funds easier for e-commerce, bill payments, and investments in securities.

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7) Politics

Bhupendra Patel takes oath as Gujarat CM, 16 other ministers sworn-in

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Bhupendra Patel on Monday was sworn in as the chief minister of Gujarat for a second consecutive time in Gandhinagar. Governor Acharya Devvrat administered an oath to Patel as the 18th chief minister of the state. BJP swept the Gujarat Assembly election winning a whopping 156 seats, which is the highest number of seats any party has won after the formation of the state in the year 1960. The BJP’s seventh consecutive Assembly poll win in Gujarat is its biggest since the founding of this state in 1960. Patel was sworn in as the 17th Chief Minister of Gujarat on September 13, 2021. He was first elected as BJP legislative party leader on September 12, 2021. He began his political journey as a member of Memnagar municipality and got elected as MLA from the Ghatlodia constituency (Ahmedabad) in the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections.

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New Himachal CM takes charge Live Updates: Cabinet to be expanded in consultation with central leadership, says CM Sukhu

The Himachal Pradesh ministry will be expanded soon in consultation with the Congress high command and begin work on implementing pre-poll promises from its first Cabinet meeting, Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu said after assuming charge as the chief minister on Monday, news agency PTI reported. Sukhu told reporters all “guarantee schemes” would be implemented in the first Cabinet meeting. He also said a Transparency Act would be brought in to ensure zero tolerance towards corruption. Sukhu took oath as the 15th Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh on Sunday, along with Mukesh Agnihotri taking oath as the Deputy Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh.

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8) Sports

India beat Japan 2-1, putting one foot in the semifinals

India thwarted a late fightback from Japan to secure a 2-1 victory and virtually seal a semifinal spot in the FIH Hockey Women’s Nations Cup here on Monday. Salima Tete gave India a fifth-minute lead when she tackled two Japanese defenders with a change of direction inside the D before slotting the ball past Eika Nakamura with a cool-headed finish. Jharkhand teenager Beauty Dungdung then scored her first International goal at the senior level with a superb effort as she emerged through a resolute Japanese hustle to slot the ball in the 40th minute.

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9) Opinion

Why Is Russia Fighting so hard for Bakhmut? | Donetsk | Eastern Ukraine | Russia Ukraine War

Watch video:

PhonePe’s India flip comes with a billion-dollar tax googly

It wasn’t long ago that the Indian startup ecosystem was worried that some of the top new-age companies were shifting base to geographies such as Singapore, Dubai, and the US for faster fundraising and more favorable taxation norms.  Things, however, are starting to change, albeit slowly, at least for growth-stage fintech and consumer internet startups who now want to move back to India. PhonePe, the payments major that Walmart acquired as part of its acquisition of Flipkart, is the first major company to do this. It is shifting its registered headquarters from Singapore to India. PhonePe is also currently in the process of demerging from Flipkart and raising a new round of funding. The move back, however, comes with a significant catch. PhonePe’s shareholders must cough up about $1.2-1.3 billion in taxes as a part of the flip back to India. These investors are liable to pay long-term capital gains tax as a result of the move back to India. The long-term capital gains tax rate could be 20% with indexation, lawyers say.

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Who will write the next chapter of India’s fintech story?

The RBI, along with the National Payments Council of India, TPAPs, and banks, have been working to improve UPI and broaden its use cases regularly. Earlier this year, credit card transactions, cross-border bill payments, and ATM cash withdrawal functionalities were added to the bundle, along with UPI Lite – an internet-free payment method. “These initiatives build on UPI’s phenomenal success and together cover nearly all customer segments from low-value debit transactions to high-value credit and cross-border transactions,” said Sumit Gwalani, co-founder of the money management platform Fi Money. Building on this further, the RBI recently introduced the single-block-and-multiple-debit (SBMD) functionality while widening the scope of cross-border bill payments via UPI. “SBMD will greatly increase the convenience of making UPI payments for users while enhancing the efficiency and security of transactions from e-commerce to secondary market transactions,” Gwalani said.

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The latest amendment to Wildlife Protection Act continues the tendency to foster criminalization in the garb of conservation

Last week, the Rajya Sabha passed the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021. The Lok Sabha passed the Bill in the Monsoon Session. The wildlife protection law has protected several species of wild animals and plants by creating inviolate zones for carrying out conservation. The latest amendment invests in this conception of protected areas and species by adding to the list of protected species and augmenting the penal repercussions. While aspects of protecting species against wildlife trade in line with international standards have been scrutinized by civil society, MPs and the Parliamentary Standing Committee, the impact of the criminal legal framework fostered by the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) is less known.

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Showpiece Muslim democracy Indonesia bans sex outside marriage, live-ins, tightens contraception

Showpiece Muslim democracy bans sex outside marriage, live-ins, tightens abortion, contraception – watch ThePrint Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta decode Indonesia’s new criminal code, in episode 1126 of ‘Cut The Clutter’.

Watch video:

10) Weekly special

TikTok C.E.O. Shou Chew on China, the Algorithm, and More

How did TikTok become the app that every other company is chasing? Where will the social media company go next? TikTok C.E.O. Shou Chew discussed at the 2022 DealBook summit with Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times.

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With that, we come to the end of our Weekly Current Affairs December 2022 -Week 2. We 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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