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

In major defense build-up, Japan lifts restrictions, looks to acquire strike capabilities

The Japanese government approved on Friday ideas that have been under consideration since at least 1956, despite the deterioration of Japan’s relations with China and the growing threat that Japan perceives from its much larger neighbor. Japan had resisted acquiring strike capabilities to avoid going against its post-war constitution, which renounces the right and the means to wage war, and to avoid offending its neighbors. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated that Japan needed to stay on par with other countries’ advancements in missile technology at a press conference after the documents were made public.

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Japan unveils biggest military build-up since World War II | DW News

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EU adopts global minimum 15% tax on multinationals

The European Union on Thursday adopted a plan for a global minimum 15 percent tax on multinational businesses after leaders gave final approval following months of wrangling. The landmark agreement between nearly 140 countries is intended to stop governments racing to cut taxes to lure the world’s richest firms to their territory. The plan was drawn up under the guidance of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and already had the backing of Washington and several major EU economies. But the implementation of the minimum tax in the 27-nation European Union has already been delayed as member states raised objections or adopted blocking tactics. Most recently, this week Poland blocked the formal adoption of the measure while arguing about unrelated measures, such as sanctions on Russia. But at Thursday’s summit, such reticences were negotiated away, and the tax will now come into effect across the block at the end of next year.

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ECB slows rate hikes but pledges more to keep up inflation fight

The European Central Bank eased the pace of its interest rate hikes on Thursday but stressed significant tightening remained ahead and laid out plans to drain cash from the financial system as part of a dogged fight against runaway inflation. After being wrong-footed by sudden price rises, the ECB has been raising rates at an unprecedented pace. Inflation has soared since economies reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic, driven by supply bottlenecks and then surging energy costs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In a move shadowing similar steps this week by the Federal Reserve and Bank of England, it raised the rate it pays on bank deposits by 50 basis points to 2%, moving further away from a decade of ultra-easy policy.

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Fed hikes rates again and warns of more rises

The US central bank has hiked interest rates again and warned more rises will be necessary to rein in the rapid pace of price increases. Forecasts from the Federal Reserve showed the bank’s key interest rate could stand above 5% a year from now. But policymakers are moving more cautiously, following signs that the most severe inflation in decades may be beginning to ease. They agreed to lift the bank’s key interest rate by 0.5 percentage points. That pushed the target range for the Fed’s benchmark rate to 4.25% – 4.5% – the highest rate in 15 years. But it was a smaller increase than in recent announcements.

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Peru ministers resign after protest deaths as new government wobbles

Pressure rose on Peru’s fledgling government on Friday as two Cabinet members resigned following deadly protests that have rocked the country since former President Pedro Castillo’s removal from office and arrest last week. Castillo’s ouster has sparked angry protests, with demonstrators calling for early elections, the closure of Congress, a constituent assembly, and the resignation of new President Dina Boluarte. The protests continued Friday, with key roads blockaded and airports forced to close. At least 17 people have been killed in the protests so far, authorities have said, and at least five more have died of indirect consequences. The United Nations on Friday expressed “deep concern” over reports of deaths and detentions of minors involved in the demonstrations.

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Indian-Origin Leo Varadkar set to return as Ireland PM for the Second Time

Leo Varadkar takes over for the second time as Ireland’s prime minister this weekend, in a handover of power between the two main political partners in the three-party governing coalition. Varadkar, who is mixed race, openly gay, and is still one of Ireland’s youngest-ever leaders even in his second stint in the role, step up from deputy premier on Saturday. The rotation between 43-year-old Varadkar’s Fine Gael and current premier Micheal Martin’s Fianna Fail parties is unprecedented in Irish history. The center-right parties were forged from opposing sides in the Irish Civil War in the early 20th century. They agreed to the rotating premiership as part of a coalition with Ireland’s Greens following the 2020 elections.

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New COVID model predicts over 1 million deaths in China through 2023

China’s abrupt lifting of stringent COVID-19 restrictions could result in an explosion of cases and over a million deaths through 2023, according to new projections from the U.S.-based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). According to the group’s projections, cases in China would peak around April 1, when deaths would reach 322,000. About a third of China’s population will have been infected by then, IHME Director Christopher Murray said. China lifted some of the world’s toughest COVID restrictions in December after unprecedented public protests and is now experiencing a spike in infections, with fears COVID could sweep across its 1.4 billion population during next month’s Lunar New Year holiday.

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Suitcases of cash, luxury holidays, and secret accounts: Qatar bribery scandal rocks Europe

A globetrotting Italian union boss-turned-politician has emerged as the kingpin in a sprawling international investigation into allegations that Qatar and Morocco sought to bribe EU legislators to influence policy and used a network of non-governmental organizations to hide the corrupt dealings. Pier Antonio Panzeri, a Socialist member of the European Parliament between 2004 and 2019, is one of four people charged with corruption, money laundering, and being part of a criminal group after police seized €600,000 in cash at his residence in Brussels. The unprecedented bribery investigation has shaken the Brussels establishment to the core as it implicates legislators, non-governmental organizations, and foreign powers, prompting soul-searching in the European parliament.

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EU reaches deal on carbon border tax

The European Parliament and the Council of the EU have reached a provisional agreement on the introduction of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). They agreed to apply a carbon tax on imported commodities and electricity from October 1, 2023, pushing it back from the previously announced January 1, 2023. CBAM or the new carbon leakage tool, as it is also called, will cover iron and steel, cement, aluminum, fertilizers, and electricity, as proposed by the European Commission, and be extended to hydrogen, indirect emissions under certain conditions, certain precursors as well as some downstream products such as screws and bolts and similar articles of iron or steel, according to the European Parliament. The new regulation will be the first of its kind and is designed to be in full compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

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‘Carbon border tax’ is gaining ground. What is it?

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2) India

Bangladesh, Japan, and India plan joint infra, investment push in NE amid China’s Belt and Road

India, Japan, and Bangladesh are in discussions to coordinate connectivity efforts in Bangladesh and India’s northeastern states to attract regional value chains and manufacturing to the region over the next five years. In what bears major strategic importance vis-a-vis China, the plan involves adjusting tariffs, boosting connectivity, and jointly courting investment, particularly from Japanese enterprises, and binding India closer to countries on the Mekong river system such as Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. According to sources familiar with the proposal, the goal of such a joint collaboration is to lure investment toward Bangladesh and India’s northeastern states from current manufacturing hubs in Southeast Asian nations like Thailand.

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Amid border tensions with China, India successfully tests Agni V missile

India on Thursday successfully conducted night trials of the nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni V, which is capable of hitting targets beyond 5,000 kilometers with a very high level of accuracy. The test trials come amid recent border tensions with China, wherein Indian troops clashed with Chinese counterparts in Arunachal Pradesh. The missile test firing was conducted at around 5.30 pm from APJ Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast.

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India successfully launches nuclear-capable Agni-5 ballistic missile; Can strike up to 5000 KMs

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Brace for climate tariff walls, FM Nirmala Sitharaman cautions India Inc

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday cautioned Indian industry of impending cost to sectors such as steel from tariff walls being raised by developed economies and sought suggestions on how the government could help in the green transition of such sectors. Without naming the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), agreed upon by the European Union on Tuesday, Sitharaman said there were countries that wanted to fund their transition from not-so-green to green production of material for items like steel by raising tariff walls against countries that sent their products as a matter of normal export.

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AIIMS server attack: Delhi Police seeks information on China, Hong Kong-based IP address

The Delhi Police’s Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations unit has written to CBI seeking details from Interpol about the IP addresses of email IDs from China and Hong Kong in connection with its probe into the AIIMS server attack case. According to sources, the attack on the servers of AIIMS-Delhi is suspected to have originated from locations in China and Hong Kong. Further details have been sought which can be obtained from companies in China and Hong Kong. The All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi faced a cyber attack on November 23, paralyzing its servers. A case of extortion and cyber terrorism was registered by the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations (IFSO) unit of the Delhi Police on Nov 25.

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3) Economy

India all set to become USD 5 trn economy by FY25: Nitin Gadkari

India is the fastest-growing major economy in the world and is all set to achieve USD 5 trillion GDP by 2024-25, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Friday. Addressing an event organized by industry body FICCI, Gadkari said the central government is aiming to boost growth and employment to achieve sustainable development. The road transport and highways minister said India will play a key role in achieving global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2030. Gadkari noted that India needs to increase its exports and reduce imports.

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4) Markets, Banking, and Finance

RBI directs Razorpay to pause onboarding new merchants

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked several payment gateways, including Razorpay, which had received the regulator’s in-principle nod for a payment-aggregator license, to stop onboarding new merchants. RBI has also asked payment services provider Cashfree to stop self-onboarding services for its new merchants and step up checks, two people cited above said. Razorpay, Stripe, and Pine Labs were granted in-principle approvals for payment-aggregator licenses in July. In September, Cashfree also received an in-principle nod from the banking regulator for its payment-aggregator license.

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5) Business

Mukesh Ambani to take on ITC, Patanjali, Tata, and Adani with FMCG brand ‘Independence’

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance will rival FMCG food businesses of ITC, Tata Consumer Products Ltd, and Adani Wilmar with the launch of the brand ‘Independence’ for staples, processed foods, beverages, and other daily essentials, analysts said. Reliance Consumer Products Ltd (RCPL), the newly set up FMCG arm of Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd (RRVL) last week made a foray into staples with the launch of brand Independence in line with an announcement Ambani had made at the company’s annual shareholder meeting earlier this year. RRVL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). The launch is only in Gujarat, possibly on a pilot testing basis, and has indicated that products would be affordably priced. Post-development of the brand, it will be rolled out nationally.

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Ola enters CV space to take on Tatas and M&M, launch e-three-wheelers

Ola Electric is set to enter the commercial vehicle space with the launch of electric small commercial vehicles (eSCV) both on four-wheelers and three-wheelers. This will bring the firm head-on with the country’s two top commercial vehicle giants, Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra. The Tatas announced the launch electric Ace EV (four-wheel eSCV) this May, and are expected to make deliveries shortly. M&M is the dominant player in the three-wheeler eSCV segment with Mahindra Treo.

For details visit here.

Goldman Sachs to cut thousands of employees

Goldman Sachs Group Inc is planning to cut a couple of thousand employees to navigate a difficult economic environment. The Wall Street bank had 49,100 employees at the end of the third quarter this year, after adding significant numbers of staff during the pandemic. Headcount will remain above pre-pandemic levels, which stood at 38,300 at the end of 2019.

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6) Technology

Paytm announces ?850 crore share buyback

The board of Digital financial services firm One97 Communications (OCL), which owns the Paytm brand, on Tuesday, announced a ?850 crore share buyback scheme through the open market route to shore up its collapsing stock price. The maximum size of the buyback of equity shares from the open market route through the Indian stock exchanges is ?850 crores, excluding buyback tax, at a price not exceeding ?810 per share. The share buyback comes less than 13 months after the loss-making digital payments major’s disastrous listing, which saw its shares tank 75% of its IPO price.

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7) Politics

Maharashtra to have Lokayukta law soon said Devendra Fadnavis. What this means

The Maharashtra government has decided to have a Lokayukta law, much on the lines of the Indian government’s Lokpal legislation, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Sunday. The Lokayukta bill will also bring the chief minister and ministers under its ambit. Addressing a press conference on the eve of the winter session of the state legislature, deputy CM Fadnavis said a bill in this regard will be introduced.  The new (to be amended) law is important in terms of bringing “complete transparency” in the state, he said.

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8) Sports

Messi-led Argentina wins FIFA World Cup, defeats France 4-2 on penalties

Argentina on December 18 scripted history, as they bagged their third FIFA World Cup title with a 4-2 penalty shootout victory over France in the final of the flagship football event in Lusail, Qatar. Led by 35-year-old Lionel Messi, the Argentines emerged as the stronger contender in the first half of the match, as the captain bagged the first goal via a penalty kick in the 23rd minute. Striker Angela Di Maria further consolidated Argentina’s hold on the game, by scoring the second goal in the 36th minute. While Argentina was expected to sail through till the 80th minute, a twist in the tale came to the fore as France’s Kylian Mbappe scored back-to-back goals. The victory ends a 36-year wait for the Argentines to reclaim the World Cup title. The team had last won the tournament in 1986, led by a heroic performance.

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Kuldeep Yadav and Cheteshwar Pujara steal a show as India beat Bangladesh by 188 runs in First Test

Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav wrapped up Bangladesh’s tail to give India an emphatic 188-run win in the first test of the two-match series at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chattogram. India moved to the third spot in the ICC World Test Championship table with this win as Bangladesh succumbed to the brilliant blowing of India’s spinners losing their four wickets within an hour of the first session of the fifth day. The spin duo of Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav accounted for seven wickets to dismantle the hosts.

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Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek Named ITF World Champions For 2022

Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek were Thursday named world champions by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after a season in which they claimed two Grand Slam titles apiece. Nadal swept to the Australian Open and then backed it up with a 14th French Open, taking his majors total to a men’s record of 22. Swiatek, who inherited the world number one spot in March following the shock retirement of Ashleigh Barty, claimed a second French Open and then captured the US Open. Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova won the women’s doubles prize for the third time. The Czech pair won three Grand Slam titles, triumphing at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open.

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9) Opinion

Military, tactical & political meaning of Tawang clash

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The ‘Breakthrough’ in Nuclear Fusion Energy is no cause for celebration

On December 13, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced that the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory had reached a “milestone”: the achievement of “ignition” in nuclear fusion earlier in the month. That announcement was hailed by many as a step into a fossil fuel-free energy future. US Senate majority leader Charles Schumer, for example, claimed that we were “on the precipice of a future no longer reliant on fossil fuels but instead powered by new clean fusion energy”. But in truth, generating electrical power from fusion commercially or at an industrial scale is likely unattainable in any realistic sense, at least within the lifetimes of most readers of this article. At the same time, this experiment will contribute far more to US efforts to further develop its terrifyingly destructive nuclear weapons arsenal.

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Indian EV sector revs up for growth, major policy shifts in 2023

The Indian EV market, valued at $3.21 billion in 2022, is expected to grow to $113.99 billion by 2029, at a compound annual growth rate of 66.52%, according to a Fortune Business Insights report. Policy shifts, cost-effective battery production, and infrastructure growth will be the main levers for growth in 2023. And there are already signs of tailwinds in the sector. This year, the mobility sector raised $884.7 million in funding between January and November, across 62 deals. The biggest deal was Ola Electric’s $200 million raise from a clutch of investors, including Tekne Private Ventures, Alpine Opportunity Fund, and Edelweiss. Ather Energy’s was the second biggest round at $128 million. One of the key developments in the EV sector in 2023 is expected to be the implementation of new regulations, as well as more clarity on existing ones.

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Key reforms to spur India to reach the top spot in the global economy in coming decades: Tata’s N Chandrasekaran

Tata chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran on Friday called the Indian economy a bright spot in the global economy which otherwise is facing recessionary impulses, multidecade high inflation, and squeezing household income. He also highlighted key reforms which could contribute to the process. He said India’s economy is one of the fastest growing major economies and has the potential to gain a top spot in the global economy by 2047- a year that marks the 100 years of India’s independence. India’s economy jumped to the fifth position from the 10th spot bagging the title of the fifth largest economy.

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10) Weekly special

Raul Rebello on building lending businesses, Mahindra Finance’s role in providing credit

In this conversation with Shradha Sharma, CEO & Co-Founder at YourStory, Raul Rebello talks about Mahindra Finance’s recovery post-pandemic, the company’s plans with a customer and product diversification, and his bullish sentiment of growing consumer demand in this sector. Raul Rebello was at the helm of rural markets in Mahindra Finance after joining as the COO last year. Before joining Mahindra Finance, he was associated with Axis Bank as EVP & Head- Rural Lending & Financial Inclusion.

Watch video here.

11) Did you know?

‘Grammar’s greatest puzzle’: What was the Sanskrit problem in Panini’s ‘Ashtadhyayi’, now solved by an Indian student?

Ashtadhyayi delves deep into the language’s phonetics, syntax, and grammar. It also offers a ‘language machine’, where you can feed in the root and suffix of any Sanskrit word, and get grammatically correct words and sentences in return. To ensure this ‘machine’ was accurate, Panini wrote a set of 4,000 rules dictating its logic. But as scholars studied it, they found that two or more of the rules could apply at the same time, causing confusion. To resolve this, Panini had provided a ‘meta-rule’ (a rule governing rules), which had historically been interpreted as: ‘In the event of a conflict between two rules of equal strength, the rule that comes later in the serial order of the ‘Ashtadhyayi’ wins’.However, following this interpretation did not solve the machine’s problem. It kept producing exceptions, for which scholars had to keep writing additional rules.

For details visit here.

With that, we come to the end of our Weekly Current Affairs December 2022 -Week 3. 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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