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 military reforms respond to NATO’s expansion, Ukraine -chief of general staff

Russia’s new military reforms respond to possible NATO expansion and the use of Kyiv by the “collective West” to wage a hybrid war against Russia, the newly appointed general in charge of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine said. Valery Gerasimov, in his first public comments since his Jan. 11 appointment to the role, admitted also to problems with the mobilization of troops, after public criticism forced President Vladimir Putin to reprimand the military. The military reforms, announced mid-January, have been approved by Putin and can be adjusted to respond to threats to Russia’s security, Gerasimov told the news website Argumenty i Fakty in remarks published late Monday.

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Ukraine seeks several hundred tanks, Russia pegs new military plan to NATO threat, Putin woos allies

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Top Ukrainian officials quit in anti-corruption drive

Several senior Ukrainian officials have resigned as President Volodymyr Zelensky begins a shake-up of personnel across his government. A top adviser, four deputy ministers, and five regional governors left their posts on Tuesday. Their departures come as Ukraine launches a broad anti-corruption drive. Recently, authorities have seen bribery claims, reports of officials buying food at inflated prices, and one figure accused of living a lavish lifestyle. Senior aide Mykhailo Podolyak said Mr. Zelensky was responding to a “key public demand” that justice should apply to everyone.

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Seven dead in another California mass shooting

The US state of California is reeling from its third mass shooting in eight days after a man shot dead seven former co-workers south of San Francisco. The attacks took place in the coastal city of Half Moon Bay. The victims were all Chinese-American farm workers. Suspect Zhao Chunli, 67, was arrested after driving to a police station. It comes as the state mourns the death of 11 at Monterey Park – about six hours southeast of Half Moon Bay – during Lunar New Year celebrations. And just over a week ago, six people including a teenage mother and baby were killed at a property in Goshen, central California.

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State Bank of Pakistan’s forex reserves reach $4.34 billion, Islamabad left with three weeks of import cover

Pakistan’s foreign exchange crisis has “deepened significantly” as the forex held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has recently reached a low of USD 4.343 billion, which is enough to cover only three weeks of imports, Financial Post reported. The drop in foreign exchange was due to the repayment of USD 1 billion in commercial loans to two UAE-based banks. In addition, remittances in July-December 2022 period were recorded at USD 14.1 billion, which is USD 1.7 billion less than in the same period last year. On January 6, the forex reserves in the SBP touched the lowest mark of USD 4.343 billion. The weekly food inflation has increased by nearly 31 percent compared to last year, as per the news report. All these factors have increased the daily hardships of people in Pakistan who are struggling to survive without food and energy resources.

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2) India

Parakram Diwas | Prime Minister names 21 Andaman islands after Param Vir Chakra awardees

In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to give due honor and recognition to real-life heroes, the PM on Monday participated in a ceremony to name the 21 largest unnamed Andaman and Nicobar Islands after 21 Param Vir Chakra awardees via video conferencing. The move was taken on Parakram Diwas, also known as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Jayanti. The national event is to mark the birth anniversary of prominent Indian freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. PM Modi said that the “islands named today after Param Vir Chakra awardees will be the site of inspiration for generations to come.”

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Davos 2023: Key takeaways for India

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos concluded on Friday. The five-day session was held offline for the first time in three years. This year, thousands of public and private sector leaders attended the meeting in the Swiss town. Several leaders from India were present to present India’s standpoint in the global spectrum. In the World Economic Forum meeting, discussions revealed that while a global slowdown is expected to impact emerging markets, India will remain resilient.

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3) Economy

India’s services exports to cross USD 300 bn target for this fiscal: Piyush Goyal

The country’s services exports are doing “extremely well” and going by the current trend these outbound shipments would register about 20 percent growth in this fiscal and cross the USD 300 billion target despite global economic uncertainties, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has said. He said that on the merchandise front also, exports are so far registering healthy growth despite the world being under recession, huge inflationary pressure, and overstocking of various commodities. Goyal was here to participate in the inaugural session of the B20 India Inception Meeting here, organized by industry chamber CII.

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4) Markets, Banking, and Finance

AT1 bond setback: Carlyle, Advent supportive, says YES Bank MD & CEO

Carlyle Group and Advent International — which picked up a 9.99 percent stake each in YES Bank are “fully supportive” of the lender and there are no downside risks in terms of them exercising their warrant option, Prashant Kumar, MD & CEO, YES Bank, told a news channel on Monday. The High Court on Friday had set aside the lender’s erstwhile administrator’s decision to write off the additional tier 1 (AT1) bonds held by bondholders and retail investors when it was bailed out by fellow banks in a Reserve Bank of India-led scheme in 2020 after alleged misconduct by its founders led to a huge chunk of loans turning sour. “It appears that the administrator exceeded his powers and authority in writing off AT-1 bonds after the bank was reconstructed on March 13, 2020,” the court said in its order copy.

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Indian stock market set to shift to the world’s fastest settlement cycle

Shares of about 200 of India’s biggest listed companies are set to move to a faster settlement cycle, making the South Asian nation the second market after China to switch to the so-called T+1 system. This last step in the transition will be closely watched by foreign investors who have expressed concern over timezone differences and consequent trade-matching failures. Supporters of the move say faster settlement reduces counterparty risk and trading costs. The shift will boost operational efficiency as the rolling of funds and stocks will be faster, said Suresh Shukla, joint president at Kotak Securities Ltd.

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5) Business

UP Investors Summit 2023: Bengaluru entrepreneurs propose to invest Rs 25,000 cr

The Uttar Pradesh government has signed a series of Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) worth Rs 25,000 crore with 33 entrepreneurs during its roadshow held in Bengaluru on Monday. Team Uttar Pradesh kicked off its domestic roadshows in Mumbai and has so far held several of them including in Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad, attracting investment proposals worth thousands of crores of rupees. The team was touring the country under the guidance of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to make Uttar Pradesh the growth engine of a new India. It attracted investment proposals worth Rs 17 lakh crore. Uttar Pradesh Global Investors Summit 2023 is set to be held in Lucknow from February 10 to 12, and the administration is reaching out to other Indian states along with several countries, seeking investment opportunities and inviting them to participate in the event.

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GoMechanic taps Cars24, Spinny for a distress sale

Car repair and servicing startup GoMechanic has approached car-selling marketplaces Cars24 and Spinny among others for a potential sale. This comes a week after GoMechanic’s co-founder Amit Bhasin admitted to having laid off about 70 percent of its staff and misreporting financial performance during an ongoing funding deal. Now GoMechanic founders have sent proposals as a part of initial talks for a potential buyout to these unicorn companies, sources said. GoMechanic was last valued at $285 million and counts Sequoia Capital India, Tiger Global, Chiratae Ventures, Orios Ventures, and venture debt firm Stride Ventures among its prominent investors.

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GoMechanic founder admits to financial misreporting; firm lays off 70% of its staff

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Six more EV makers under the Govt’s lens for flouting FAME guidelines

The government has started a more extensive investigation of electric two-wheeler makers that have wrongfully claimed sops under the FAME II scheme. Now, another half a dozen companies are being investigated. Currently, the government is probing around 18 companies to ensure that the subsidies were rightly claimed, Financial Express stated in a report. The total amount of subsidy withheld has crossed INR 1,000 Cr, as per the report. The government has also onboarded accounting services firm EY for a financial audit of all companies that claim to be the beneficiaries of the FAME-II scheme. Last October, the Ministry of Heavy Industries sent notices to several electric vehicle (EV) makers, asking them to furnish documents to back their claims to avail of the benefits provided under the scheme. The ministry wanted to check if the components used in the vehicles being produced by EV makers were sourced largely locally. The scheme stipulates that at least 50% of the total value added to an EV should be done locally by EV companies to receive the subsidy, reducing the final price for the end customer.

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Easy Trip acquires 55% stake in cheQin through primary route

Easy Trip Planners Ltd, which operates EaseMyTrip.com, said on Tuesday it has acquired a 55% stake in cheQin for an undisclosed sum through the primary route. Through cheQin, travelers can negotiate with hoteliers in real-time. The company encourages travelers to pay directly at the hotel and maintains a customer-centric approach that allows them to stay at the most cost-effective hotels, transforming the entire hotel booking experience. On the other hand, the company uses the “cheQin” application to give hoteliers access to real-time booking requests as well as the ability to manage their own bookings, Easy Trip said in an exchange filing.

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6) Technology

Law commission urges MeitY to put online gaming rules on hold

Even as the Ministry of Electronics and Information and Technology (MeitY) has started the consultation process on draft online gaming rules, the Law Commission has reportedly urged the ministry to put the rules on hold until it comes out with a “comprehensive” report on the matter. The Commission kmspico has decided to conduct an in-depth study and analysis of the draft rules to produce the report, Business Standard reported. According to the report, the Commission is examining financial losses and addiction to online gaming among youngsters. Besides, it has also taken note of fraudulent malpractices in online gaming and is deliberating on the legal aspects of the sector. While MeitY is unlikely to put a hold on the process of framing the rules, it has invited the Commission to submit its inputs.

For details, visit here.

Big relief for Paytm, Allahabad HC stays Rs 1,081 Cr GST demand

In a big sigh of relief for fintech major Paytm, the Allahabad High Court (HC) has stayed the INR 1,081 Cr demand over a Goods and Services Tax (GST) dispute. The order was issued earlier this month by a bench of Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice JJ Munir on a plea filed by Paytm. The matter concerns whether the supply of mobile recharge coupons and Direct To Home (DTH) recharge vouchers to users in other states constitutes inter-state supply or intra-state supply. While Paytm contended that the matter related to inter-state supply, the Centre’s counsel claimed otherwise. The confusion led to the INR 1,081 Cr GST bill, which has now been stayed. The announcement comes as a sigh of relief for the fintech major, which has been surrounded by controversies in the recent past. Last week, Paytm Payments Bank reportedly received the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) final nod to operate as a Bharat Bill Payment Operating Unit (BBPOU).

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7) Politics

Maharashtra governor wants to be ‘discharged of responsibilities’, informs Modi

Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, in a surprise move, said he has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and informed him that he wants to be “discharged of all political responsibilities”. Koshyari’s recent remarks on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj dominated Maharashtra politics, with the opposition targeting the Eknath Shinde-led government. Koshyari recently said Shivaji Maharaj was a “hero of the past”, while BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi claimed the Maratha warrior king sought mercy from the Mughal empire. Remarks by the Maharashtra governor caused state-wide protests. In a show of strength, the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) constituents Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray group), NCP, Congress, and other parties took out a massive Halla Bol morcha in Mumbai in December against the Eknath Shinde-BJP alliance government demanding Koshyari’s removal.

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Congress demands Nagaland CM’s resignation over graft charges

With just over a month left for the state assembly polls, the Congress has accused the Neiphiu Rio-led Nagaland coalition government of siphoning public money and demanded the chief minister’s resignation on moral grounds following a probe of his allies. “CM Rio should’ve resigned on moral grounds as his govt siphons public money while CM Rio & his many allies face ED interrogation. Because of Rio govt, Ops Lotus could find its roots in Nagaland, it’ll be worse if they’re allowed to expand,” said Mahima Singh, the media coordinator of AICC on Monday addressing the media in the state capital.

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CEC:‘Deep fake’ narratives being served as fact, impacting polls

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar on Monday raised concerns over “deep fake narratives” becoming a common feature in elections worldwide with “disruptive elements” attempting to alter and mislead public perception by presenting “deep fakes as fact”. In his keynote address at the ECI’s two-day international conference on ‘Use of Technology & Elections Integrity’, the CEC underlined the impact of social media on the functioning of election management bodies and the need for the former to proactively check the spread of fake information. The CEC said there was no level playing field in platform search results with officially verified versions often not getting the same prominence as fake content.

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‘Judges don’t face elections…’: Kiren Rijiju amid a row over Collegium system

As the Centre-judiciary row continues, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday noted that judges did not have to contest elections or face scrutiny. The appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the high courts has become a major flashpoint between the Executive and the Judiciary in recent weeks, with Rijiju describing the collegium system to appoint judges as something “alien” to the Indian Constitution. The remarks, made during a Delhi Bar Association event, came less than a day after the Law Minister sought to support the views of a retired high court judge who said the Supreme Court “hijacked” the Constitution by deciding to appoint judges itself.

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8) Sports

Women’s IPL: Viacom18 bags media rights for Rs 951 cr for the next 5 years

The Viacom18 on Monday secured the Women’s Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights value for the 2023-2027 cycle for a total of Rs 951 crore. This means the per-match value will be close to Rs 7.09 crore for the next five years. “Women’s cricket has been on the up for a few years and the recently concluded bilateral series against Australia is a great testament to how popular women’s cricket has become in India,” BCCI president Roger Binny said in a release issued by the board. The five WIPL franchises will be unveiled on January 25 by the BCCI.

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India knocked out Hockey World Cup after shootout heartbreak against New Zealand

India was knocked out of the ongoing Hockey World Cup after the hosts endured a tough 4-5 defeat in the penalty shootout against New Zealand in the must-win crossover tie in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. After both teams finished 3-3 after full time with nothing to break the deadlock in shootouts, New Zealand held their nerves and outsmarted India in sudden death to bring an end to an instant classic and secure a place in the quarterfinal.

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Wrestlers’ protest against WFI chief called off: What happened in three days

Late on Friday night, the aggrieved grapplers called off their protest after getting assurances from the government that their grievances would be addressed, the first step of which was the stepping aside of under-fire WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. On Wednesday, the country’s top wrestlers, including Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia and world championship medallist Vinesh Phogat, staged a protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, leveling serious charges of sexual harassment against him, and coaches of the federation. On day 2 of the protest, three-time CWG medallist and BJP leader Babita Phogat came with a “message” from the government in the afternoon and assured the grapplers that their demands will be met after elite wrestlers insisted that WFI be disbanded.

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9) Opinion

China’s population declines for the first time in 50 years, the economy slows, Xi changes tack

China’s birth rate declines, population ages, GDP growth crawls and Xi Jinping changes policies and style. ThePrint Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta explains the 3 major emerging trends in China.

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Why are Andaman and Nicobar Islands a key Indian military asset?

The Island chain sits on the mouth of Malacca Straits and Ten Degree Channel, through which trillion-US dollars worth of trade passes to the southeast and north Asia, bisects Little Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands. The southernmost tip of the island chain is mere 237 kilometers from Banda Aceh of Indonesia and hence dominates the sea lanes to Sunda and Lombok Straits, the two ingress routes into the contested South China Sea. Given that the islands chain is a key strategic lever in the Indo-Pacific, the Modi government needs to dust up the 15-year plan to make a container terminal at Campbell Bay for the replenishment of cargo ships bound for the straits of Malacca. Today, the same cargo ships must wait at Colombo port for their turn to enter Malacca Straits. This was also the vision of India’s first Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat.

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British High Commissioner on India’s bid for a permanent seat at UNSC, China & more

British High Commissioner to India Alexander Ellis in conversation with ANI’s Smita Prakash spoke about India’s relation with the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and how India is emerging as a major world power in the coming years. He also spoke about India’s candidacy for a permanent seat in the UNSC & China.

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10) Weekly special

India’s most sought-after fintech: Razorpay’s formidable journey

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11) Did you know?

What does a white card in football mean?

The white card is a new initiative that has been introduced in football to promote fair play and sportsmanship. The exact purpose of the white card and the consequences of receiving one are yet to be announced. It is intended to be used as a warning to players, who engage in unsportsmanlike conduct on the field, such as dissent towards the officials, without warranting a yellow card.

For details, visit here.

With that, we come to the end of our Weekly Current Affairs January 2023 -Week 4. 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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