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

China’s 2022 growth seen as its lowest in 40 years

China’s economic growth for 2022 is expected to have been among its weakest in four decades after the twin crises of the pandemic and property woes, analysts said ahead of Tuesday’s GDP announcement. Ten experts interviewed by AFP forecast an average 2.7 percent year-on-year rise in the gross domestic product (GDP) for the world’s second-largest economy, a sharp plunge from China’s 2021 growth of more than 8 percent. It could also be China’s slowest pace since a 1.6 contraction in 1976 — the year Mao Zedong died — and excluding 2020 after the Covid-19 virus emerged in Wuhan in late 2019.

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Russia fires new waves of missiles at Ukraine and hits energy infrastructure

Russia launched fresh waves of missile attacks across Ukraine on Saturday, killing at least 20 people in a strike on an apartment block in the eastern city of Dnipro. A number of other cities, including Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa, were also hit. Much of Ukraine is now under an emergency blackout after missiles hit power infrastructure in several cities. Earlier, the UK said it would send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine to help the country’s defence. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the Challengers, the British army’s main battle tank, would help Kyiv’s forces “push Russian troops back.” Russia responded by saying that providing more weapons to Ukraine would lead to intensified Russian operations and more civilian casualties.

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68 Dead As Nepal Plane With 72 On Board Crashes Minutes Before Landing

At least 68 people died today in Nepal after a plane carrying about 72 people from the capital, Kathmandu, crashed in Pokhara this morning, news agency AFP said, quoting the police. There were 68 passengers and four crew members on board the plane that crashed between the old and new airports in the city, located in western Nepal. The twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft operated by Yeti Airlines was en route from Nepal’s capital Kathmandu. Nepal’s airline business has been plagued with concerns about safety and inadequate training of staff. The European Union has since 2013 put Nepal on the flight safety blacklist, ordering a blanket ban on all flights from the Himalayan country into its airspace after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) flagged safety concerns.

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Over 80,000 Israelis protest against Supreme Court reform

More than 80,000 Israeli protesters have rallied in Tel Aviv against plans by the new right-wing coalition government to overhaul the judiciary. The reforms would make it easier for parliament to overturn Supreme Court rulings, among other things. Protesters described Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed changes as an attack on democratic rule. It follows the instalment of the most religious and hardline government in Israeli history. Rallies were also held outside the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem and in the northern city of Haifa, local media reported. Critics say the reforms would cripple judicial independence, foster corruption, set back minority rights, and deprive Israel’s court system of credibility.

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Fukushima nuclear disaster: Japan to release radioactive water into the sea this year

Japan says it will release more than a million tonnes of water into the sea from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant this year. After treatment the levels of most radioactive particles meet the national standard, the operator said. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says the proposal is safe, but neighboring countries have voiced concern. The 2011 Fukushima disaster was the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Decommissioning has already started but could take four decades. The water is filtered for most radioactive isotopes, but the level of tritium is above the national standard, operator Tepco said. Experts say tritium is very difficult to remove from water and is only harmful to humans in large doses. However, neighboring countries and local fishermen oppose the proposal, which was approved by the Japanese government in 2021.

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Climate change: UAE names oil chief to lead COP28 talks

The head of one of the world’s biggest oil companies has been named to lead the COP28 global climate talks in Dubai later this year. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber is currently the chief executive officer of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. He is also the minister for industry and advanced technology for the COP28 hosts, the United Arab Emirates. Campaigners say he must stand down from his oil business role while president as it is a clear conflict of interest. They believe someone steeped in the oil industry may not push countries to rapidly reduce their production and use of fossil fuel, which scientists say is critical to avoiding dangerous climate change.

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California battles deadly storms with millions under a flood watch

Around 25 million people in California are under a flood watch this weekend as the latest parade of deadly storms drenches the state. Several waterways have flooded, at least 19 people have died, and thousands have been told to evacuate their homes. In Montecito, a town 84 miles (135km) northwest of Los Angeles, locals say the rain aggravates their trauma. Californians are used to extreme weather – wildfires, drought, and the threat of earthquakes, with many awaiting the “Big One” that so many experts predict. But the “storm parade” pummelling California is new.

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2) India

India’s Russian oil imports top 1 mn barrels a day in December

India’s import of crude oil from Russia increased further in December 2022, topping 1 million barrels per day for the first time ever as Moscow remained its top oil supper for the third month in a row, according to data from energy cargo tracker Vortexa. Russia, which made up for just 0.2 percent of all crude oil India imported in the year to March 31, 2022, supplied 1.19 million bpd in December. Russia, which in October 2022, for the first time, surpassed traditional sellers Iraq and Saudi Arabia to take the No.1 spot, now makes up for 25 percent of all oil imported by India.

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Entire Joshimath may sink, ISRO report shows

Frightening findings from a preliminary report show that the entire Joshimath town may sink, while Army’s helipad and the Narasimha temple are sensitive zones. The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) released satellite images of Joshimath and the preliminary report on land subsidence showed that the entire town may sink, IANS reported. Hyderabad-based NRSC has released satellite images of areas that are sinking. The pictures are taken from the Cartosat-2S satellite. The Uttarakhand government is conducting rescue operations in danger-prone areas on the basis of ISRO’s preliminary report. The government is shifting the people in these areas to safer places on priority.

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Centre earmarks Rs 2,000 crore to encourage states to scrap old vehicles

The Union government will give an additional Rs 2,000 crore to states under the Special Assistance for Capital Investment scheme to incentivize them to scrap old vehicles and also provide tax concessions to individuals for it. The government, in the 2022-23 Budget, had introduced the ‘Special Assistance to States for Capital Investment’ scheme with an outlay of Rs 1.05 lakh crore. Under the scheme, financial assistance is being provided to state governments in the form of a 50-year interest-free loan for capital projects. Now, the Centre has earmarked an additional Rs 2,000 crore under the scheme to encourage states to scrap condemned government vehicles or those vehicles which are older than 15 years, besides providing tax concessions to individuals for scrapping old vehicles.

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3) Economy

Trillions-to-Be: The CEA’s Is the Latest In a Long Line of Assertions on Indian Economy’s Growth

Chief economic advisor V. Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the Indian economy will be a $3 trillion one at current prices by the end of the 2022-23 fiscal year and is expected to be $7 trillion in the next seven years. It took India nearly 60 years to become a trillion-dollar economy in 2007. India’s GDP is currently $3.4 trillion.  The World Bank has estimated that India’s economic growth will slow to 6.6% in the financial year (April to March) 2023-24 from an expected 6.9% in the current fiscal. In its latest Global Economic Prospects report, it said the global economy and rising uncertainty will weigh on export and investment growth in India.

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Oct-Dec inflation 50 bps below RBI forecast, but Feb rate hike still likely

India’s headline retail inflation rate fell for the third month in a row in December, coming in at 5.72 percent – 18 basis points below the consensus estimate of 5.9 percent – the statistics ministry has said. More importantly, Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation averaged 6.1 percent in October-December, well below the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) forecast of 6.6 percent. In any other quarter, inflation undershooting the central bank’s forecasts by such a large margin would send the market’s hopes soaring. However, these are extraordinary times.

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4) Markets, Banking, and Finance

Hinduja Group’s Presence In Financial Sector Gives IIHL The Lead Over Torrent

The IIHL (Hinduja Group) and Torrent are in the final race for the Reliance Capital resolution process. IIHL, a part of Hinduja Group, is the highest bidder with a bid value of Rs 10,000 crores, which includes an upfront cash offer of Rs 9,000 crores. In comparison, the value of Torrent’s Resolution Plan is Rs 8640 crores, which the company bid at the Challenge Mechanism conducted by the COC on 21 December 2022. Hinduja is one of the leading conglomerates with a presence in multiple sectors of the economy, including Finance, Automobile, Oil & Chemical, IT, Media, Power, Healthcare, Trading, etc.

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Cabinet approves promotional incentives worth Rs 2,600 crore for Rupay debit cards, low value UPI transactions

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved promotional incentives for Rupay debit cards and low-value transactions of BHIM (UPI). Incentives worth Rs 2,600 crore have been approved for FY22-23 by the cabinet. The Cabinet has said that incentives will be given on the use of Rupay debit cards and BHIM UPI. There was a 7% growth in the total number of transactions compared with November when the total transactions stood at 730 crores, totaling a value of Rs 11,9 lakh crore – a month-on-month growth of 8%. Year-on-year, the number and value of transactions were up 71% and 55%, respectively.

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5) Business

Rapido to suspend all services in Maharashtra

The Bombay High Court has directed bike-taxi aggregator Rapido to suspend all its services in Maharashtra after the company failed to disclose material facts that it does not have a license to operate and has been operating illegally. The bike-taxi aggregator has agreed to shut all its services by 1 pm today. This includes 2-wheeler passenger service, 2-wheeler parcel service, and auto service. The ban will be in place till January 20. The Bombay High Court rapped the Maharashtra government for its uncertainty in framing a policy permitting bike taxis in the state and said it has to clarify its stand one way or the other.

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Kia CarenS wins Indian Car of the Year award 2023

Kia Carens has received the prestigious Indian Car of the Year (ICOTY) award for 2023. The MPV was announced as the winner at the 18th edition of ICOTY awards that concluded recently. Kia Carens was launched in India in February 2022 with a starting price of ?8.99 lahks (ex-showroom). It is offered in five trims, with the top model priced at ?16.99 lahks (ex-showroom). Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara and the Mahindra Scorpio-N were the first and second runner-up positions. While the Mercedes EQS 580 won the premium car award at ICOTY 2023.

For details, visit here.

6) Technology

UP emerges top gaming destination; tier 2-3 towns outpacing metros: MPL report

Uttar Pradesh has emerged as the top destination for mobile gamers, followed by Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Bihar, and West Bengal, according to India Mobile Gaming Report 2022 by gaming platform Mobile Premier League released on Sunday. Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Himachal Pradesh have seen the highest increase in mobile gamers in 2022 compared to 2021. Last year, India became the largest consumer of mobile games in the world, recording over 15 billion downloads, as per a report by Lumikai, a gaming-focused venture capital fund. India’s gaming market was worth USD 2.6 billion in the financial year 2022, and it will reach USD 8.6 billion by 2027 with a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27 percent.

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7) Politics

BSP to Fight Lok Sabha Polls, Assembly Elections Alone; Mayawati Rules Out Alliances

BSP chief Mayawati on Sunday ruled out an alliance with any party for the assembly polls in various states and the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Key states of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana would go for polls this year, besides states from the Northeast. Speaking to reporters here on her 67th birthday, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said, “I would like to make it clear that in the assembly elections of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and in the Lok Sabha elections, which will be held next year, the BSP will not forge a coalition with any party, and will contest the polls on its own strength.” Mayawati said it became necessary for her to make the announcement as the Congress and some other parties, as part of a “conspiracy,” are allegedly trying to create an impression that they would be forging an alliance with the BSP.

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8) Sports

Kohli, and Siraj shine as India break the record for largest win margin by runs, beat Sri Lanka by 317 in 3rd ODI

Team India broke the record for the largest victory (by runs) in ODIs as they defeated Sri Lanka by 317 runs in the third and final match of the series in Thiruvananthapuram. India broke New Zealand’s record (by 290 runs) to script history at the Greenfield Stadium. Opting to bat, India posted a mammoth score of 390/5 in fifty overs; the Sri Lanka run-chase ended in merely 22 overs, as the side could only reach 73. With the huge win over Sri Lanka, India clinched the three-match series 3-0, having beaten the islanders by 67 runs in the opening match in Guwahati, and by four wickets in the second game at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Team India will be next seen in action against New Zealand as the two sides meet for a three-match ODI series.

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9) Opinion

Where will Europe get its diesel from in 23 days’ time?

In just over three weeks, seaborne deliveries of diesel from the European Union’s single biggest external supplier will be all but banned. Who will step in to plug this enormous supply gap? And, will there be enough? Is the bloc sleepwalking into a fuel crisis? In 2021, more than half of all seaborne shipments into the EU and UK — which already has a ban in place — came from Russia. By December last year, that proportion had fallen to about 40%, partly thanks to increases from Saudi Arabia and India. Looking forward, there’s reason to believe the remaining Russian supplies can be covered by barrels from elsewhere. The most obvious place where Europe can get more diesel is the Middle East: it’s fairly close, particularly to countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea — assuming, of course, the Suez Canal doesn’t get blocked — and has huge new oil refineries coming online that will spew out millions of barrels of fuel. Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. has also already agreed on a deal to supply Germany.

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India iPhone breakthrough masks struggle to boost manufacturing

On paper, India’s chances of attracting global manufacturers look rosy. Apple Inc. began assembling its latest iPhone models in the South Asian nation in a significant break from its practice of reserving much of that for giant Chinese factories run by its main Taiwanese assemblers, a key win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” campaign. Among India’s advantages are rising geopolitical tensions between Western nations and China, and a growing friendship with the US, Australia, and Japan, which form part of the Quad, a grouping of democracies to counter Beijing’s economic and military ambitions. But experts warn that lasting gains to improve a sluggish manufacturing sector are still a ways off for India, a country of 1.4 billion people. Modi’s Make in India campaign, which aims to increase exports and create jobs, hasn’t quite panned out. Manufacturing accounts for 14% of the economy, a figure that’s barely budged in decades. And despite India’s massive demographic dividend, unemployment remains stubbornly high.

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Why’s the earth cracking in Joshimath, rising human-nature conflict, fragility, science, commonsense        

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10) Weekly special

Megatrends that will propel the growth of Web3 – Woodstock Fund’s investment thesis

With its recently unveiled Web3 investment thesis, Woodstock Fund, a pioneer windows 10 in Web3 investing in India, spells out the megatrends that propel the growth of Web3. As of 2022, the global number of holders or users of digital assets is around 300 million. With a greater focus on decentralization, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, Web 3.0 is expected to be an extension of Web 2.0 to further the motto of creating a space for users by users for increased interaction. The Woodstock Fund thesis reports that “even though the consensus seems to indicate that we are in a bear market and approaching recession, we are as committed to DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology, or Blockchain) and digital assets as we have always been. We strongly believe that this asset class continues to present an opportunity of a lifetime”.

For details, visit here.

With that, we come to the end of our Weekly Current Affairs January 2023 -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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