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

Zelenskyy defiant as Russia unleashes ‘massive’ missile strike; U.S. sanctions Russian mercenary group

Russia launched what the head of Ukraine’s armed forces called “massive” missile strikes Thursday, as Moscow hurled 55 air and sea-based missiles at targets including the capital Kyiv. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country had “defeated” Russia’s attempt to intimidate it through the attacks. The attacks come after the U.S. and Germany’s momentous decision Wednesday to send battle tanks to Ukraine. Now, talk has turned to the possible supply of another firepower, namely fighter jets. Ukraine has made no secret that it would like to receive fighter jets, such as the U.S. F-16s, from its allies to help it fight Russia. An advisor to Ukraine’s defense ministry told CNBC on Thursday that Ukraine is determined to get fighter jets from its allies. Meanwhile, the Biden administration announced fresh sanctions targeting groups that support the Russian war effort, including paramilitary firm Wagner Group.

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Putin’s Su-35 shoots down Ukraine warplane; Heavy fighting in Donetsk’s Vuhledar

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Poland to send 60 modernized tanks to Ukraine in addition to Leopards

Poland will send an additional 60 tanks to Ukraine on top of the 14 German-made Leopard 2 tanks it has already pledged, the Polish prime minister said in an interview with Canadian television on Thursday. Warsaw, which has positioned itself as one of Kyiv’s staunchest allies, had pressed hard for Germany to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and to allow other countries to do so as well, a demand which Berlin agreed to on Wednesday. “Poland sent 250 tanks as the first country half a year ago or even more than that,” Mateusz Morawiecki told CTV News.

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Iran defense ministry’s ammunition depot hit by the blast: Report

Iran has in recent years reported a string of incidents and explosions near sensitive defense and nuclear sites in the province. Authorities blamed Israel for an April 2021 attack on the key Natanz nuclear enrichment site that affected the power supply to the facility and damaged a number of centrifuges. Authorities also said they foiled a plot by Israel’s Mossad spy agency in July to set off explosives at an unspecified “sensitive center” in Isfahan.

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Ahead of crucial talks, IMF spots PKR 2 trillion breaches in Pakistan’s budgetary estimates

Ahead of its crucial talks with the cash-strapped Pakistan government, the IMF has found an over PKR 2,000 billion breach in budgetary estimates for 2022-23 in its initial assessment that might result in escalating the budget deficit and primary deficit targets with a massive margin. Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials are scheduled to kick-start parleys from Tuesday for accomplishing the ninth review under the Extended Fund Facility during which the fiscal slippages and reconciliation of figures will be the major topic of discussion.

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Pakistani rupee plummets as markets adjust to the removal of unofficial controls

The Pakistani rupee fell 9.6% against the dollar on Thursday, central bank data showed – the biggest one-day drop in over two decades – in a slump that may persuade the International Monetary Fund to resume lending to the country. The drop comes a day after foreign exchange companies removed a cap on the exchange rate, a key demand of the IMF as part of a programme of economic reforms it has agreed on with the cash-strapped South Asian nation. The currency’s official value closed at 255.4 rupees against the dollar versus 230.9 on Wednesday, the central bank said. Facing an acute balance of payments crisis, Pakistan is desperate to secure external financing, with less than three weeks’ worth of import cover in its foreign exchange reserves, which fell $923 million to $3.68 billion in the latest data.

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Russia rules out annual talks with Japan on fishing near disputed islands

Russia said on Sunday it will not hold annual talks with Japan on renewing a pact that allows Japanese fishermen to operate near disputed islands, saying Japan has taken anti-Russian measures. The islands, off the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, are known in Russia as the Kurils and in Japan as the Northern Territories and have been at the core of decades of tension between the neighbors. “In the context of the anti-Russian measures taken by the Japanese government … the Russian side informed Tokyo that it could not agree on the holding of intergovernmental consultations on the implementation of this agreement,” the RIA state news agency reported, citing Russia’s foreign ministry. Japan, a major U.S. ally, imposed sanctions on dozens of Russian individuals and organizations soon after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year.

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2) India

EAM Jaishankar visits Sri Lanka with stronger ties, China in focus

India’s Foreign Minister S Jaishankar arrived in Colombo on Thursday, following India’s support for Sri Lanka’s $2.9 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan. India has informed the IMF that it supports Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring plan, as Colombo owes around $1 billion to India. India’s support for the loan leaves China as the last major creditor that has yet to agree to the debt restructuring plan for Sri Lanka. India’s visit is expected to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries, and may also include discussions on trade, investment, and regional security. However, Sri Lanka needs the support of both China and India, its two largest bilateral lenders, to strike a final agreement with the IMF on the loan that is necessary to assist the nation of over 22 million people to recover from its worst financial crisis in seven decades.

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Sukhoi-30, Mirage 2000 fighter planes crash in Morena; Two pilots rescued, 1 killed

In a tragic incident, Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi 30MKI and Mirage-2000 aircraft crashed in Madhya Pradesh’s Morena district during a routine training mission on Saturday early morning, killing a pilot and injuring two who ejected safely. “The aircraft was on a routine operational flying training mission. “One of the three pilots involved sustained fatal injuries. An inquiry has been ordered to determine the cause of the accident,” the IAF said. As per reports, there could be a possibility of a mid-air collision. However, it has not been confirmed by either the Indian Air Force or the local administration.

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India, Japan conclude 16-day air exercise

The inaugural edition of the 16-day bilateral air exercise between the Indian Air Force and the Japan Air Self-Defence Force has concluded in Japan. The exercise, ‘Veer Guardian 2023’, involved precise planning and skillful execution by both the air forces, the Indian Air Force said on Friday. The exercise concluded on Thursday. “The IAF and JASDF engaged in air combat maneuvering, interception, and air defence missions, both in visual and beyond visual range settings. Aircrew of the two participating air forces also flew in each other’s fighter aircraft to gain a deeper understanding of each other’s operating philosophies,” the IAF said.

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Netherlands emerging as key export destination for India amid jump in shipments of petro products

The Netherlands has emerged as India’s third largest export destination after the US and UAE during April-December this fiscal on account of a surge in the shipment of goods such as petroleum products, electronic items, chemicals, and aluminum goods. India’s trade surplus with the Netherlands has also increased from USD 1.5 billion in 2017 to USD 12.3 billion in 2022. The Netherlands has taken over major destinations such as the UK, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, and Germany, according to data from the commerce ministry. India’s exports to the Netherlands rose by about 69 percent to USD 13.67 billion during April-December 2022 as against USD 8.10 billion in the same period the previous year, the data showed.

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3) Economy

India’s GDP projected to “Remain Strong” at 5.8%, says UN Report

India’s GDP is projected to moderate to 5.8 percent in 2023 as higher interest rates and global economic slowdown weigh on investment and exports, the United Nations said on Wednesday, noting that the country’s economic growth is expected to remain “strong” even as prospects for other South Asian nations “are more challenging”. The World Economic Situation and Prospects 2023 report said the world output growth is projected to decelerate from an estimated three percent in 2022 to 1.9 percent in 2023, marking one of the lowest growth rates in recent decades as a “series of severe and mutually reinforcing shocks – the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and resulting food and energy crises, surging inflation, debt tightening, as well as the climate emergency – battered the world economy in 2022.”

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4) Markets, Banking, and Finance

Indian stock markets migrating to T+1 settlement cycle

Indian stock markets are embarking on a shorter settlement cycle or T+1 regime for the final list of large stocks from Friday, a move that will help reduce margin requirements for clients and boost retail investment. T+1 (trade plus one) means that market trade-related settlements will need to be cleared within one day of the actual transactions taking place. Earlier, trades on the Indian stock exchanges are settled two working days after the transaction is done (T+2). The stock exchanges — NSE and BSE — in November 2021 in a joint statement announced that they will implement the T+1 settlement cycle in a phased manner, starting February 25, 2022, with the bottom 100 stocks in terms of market value.

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5) Business

Adani Group stocks lose ?46,000 crores in market cap after Hindenburg alleges fraud

Shares of Adani Group companies were trading in the red zone on Wednesday following a report by Hindenburg Research that claimed that the Indian giant had participated in a clear stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme over decades. For two years, the forensic financial research firm had been conducting its investigation. According to the report, Gautam Adani, the founder and chairman of the Adani Group, has a net worth of about $120 billion, which he has increased by over $100 billion in the last three years primarily as a result of stock price growth in the group’s seven most important publicly traded companies, which have increased by an average of 819 percent during that time. The key listed Adani companies have also incurred significant debt, notably by pledging shares of their inflated stock as collateral for loans, placing the group’s overall financial situation at risk.

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Adani confident of FPO sailing through; Sebi, other bodies probing sell-off

Richest Asian Gautam Adani’s group on Sunday expressed confidence that the Rs 20,000 crore follow-on share sale of its flagship firm will sail through despite a massive hammering of the conglomerate’s stocks following a scathing report by a US-based short seller. Group CFO Jugeshinder Singh said no change in offering price or schedule is being considered due to temporary volatility in the market as the follow-on public offer (FPO) of Adani Enterprises Ltd is the best vehicle for strategic institutional investors to own a pie of the conglomerate’s fast expanding airports, mining, roads, new energy, and data center businesses. All seven Adani group companies’ stocks fell sharply over the last two trading sessions, wiping out Rs 10.7 lakh crore of investor wealth after Hindenburg Research alleged that the ports-to-energy-to-cement conglomerate had engaged in “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud” for decades. The sell-off is being looked into by market regulator SEBI and stock exchanges.

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Coffee Day hit with $3.2 million fine by SEBI, must pay in 45 days

Coffee Day Enterprises was fined ?26 crores ($3.2 million) by the markets watchdog for failing to recover dues from a sister concern, an order published on the regulator’s website showed on Tuesday. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) also asked Coffee Day to recover ? 3,535 crore from Mysore Amalgamated Coffee Estates Ltd and other connected entities. These funds were diverted from the company and its seven subsidiaries causing losses to the shareholders, it added.

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6) Technology

No news

7) Politics

Bharat Jodo Yatra: 5 Months & 4,000 km later, Rahul ends march with flag hoisting at Lal Chowk

Congress party’s ambitious Bharat Jodo Yatra came to the end of its nearly 5-month long run on Sunday in Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar. Rahul Gandhi unfurled the national flag at Lal Chowk in the city in the presence of sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and other party leaders and marked the end of the foot march that began on September 7. The Bharat Jodo Yatra’s J&K leg remained especially significant as it also met roadblocks with the party claiming an alleged security lapse at Banihal. Prominent leaders like PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah joined Gandhi, along with his sister Priyanka in Awantipora and Banihal.

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8) Sports

India vs England, ICC Women’s U19 T20 WC 2023: India Crowned World Champions

India has scripted history here in South Africa, as they became the inaugural champions of the ICC Women’s U19 T20 World Cup. Shafali Verma and her group of brave hearts left England shell-shocked in the final, as they bowled them out for a meek 68, before chasing the total down in 14 overs, losing only three wickets in the process. The Indians have been dominant right from the very first delivery till the last, as Grace Scrivens’ team never really stood a chance. The likes of Titas Sadhu, Parshavi Chopra, and Archana Devi starred with the ball, while despite losing the skipper and an in-form Shweta Sehrawat very early in the chase, Soumya Tiwari and Gongadi Trisha did exceptionally well to chase the target down with incredible ease. This also marks India’s first triumph at an ICC event in women’s cricket.

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2nd T20I: India edge past New Zealand in a low-scoring thriller, level series 1-1

Indian spinners reveled on a turning track before the batters made heavy weather of a small target to register a scrappy series-levelling win over New Zealand in the second T20 International in Lucknow on Sunday. The trio of Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, and Kuldeep Yadav impressed on a helping surface to limit a self-destructing New Zealand to 99 for eight, their lowest total against India in the shortest format. It should have been a straightforward run chase but the top order comprising Ishan Kishan (19 off 32), Shubman Gill (11 off 9) and Rahul Tripathi (13 off 18) had a tough time again in spin-friendly conditions. In the end, Hardik Pandya (15 not out off 20) and Suryakumar Yadav (26 not out off 31) took the team over the line with a ball to spare and six wickets in hand. The series decider will be played in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.

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Sabalenka beats Rybakina to win Australian Open

Aryna Sabalenka bludgeoned her way to a maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open with a 4-6 6-3 6-4 win over Kazakh 22nd seed Elena Rybakina on Saturday in a thrilling final between two of the most exciting power-hitters in the women’s game. An 11th straight win of the year also means the Belarusian will return to a career-high ranking of number two behind Iga Swiatek, reaping the rewards of her improved mental stability and service to emerge as a genuine threat in big tournaments. Rybakina went up 3-1 with a comfortable hold after fifth-seed Sabalenka dropped her huge serve with a double fault and sent a forehand long, but the Kazakh came under pressure and allowed her opponent to level the opening set at 4-4.

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Novak Djokovic wins record 10th Australian Open crown after decimating Stefanos Tsitsipas

From being deported last year to standing on the top step of the podium with the Norman Brooks Challenge Cup in his hands, Novak Djokovic completed a remarkable comeback to reign supreme once again at his favorite hunting ground. 15 years after winning his maiden crown at Melbourne Park, the Serb became the first man to win the Australian Open crown 10 times in his career. Novak Djokovic, the 4th seed, completed a stunning fortnight of tennis in Melbourne to take his Grand Slam tally to 22, equalling Rafael Nadal’s record for the most major titles won in men’s singles tennis. Roger Federer, who was the first man to achieve 20 Grand Slam titles retired last year, while Nadal is batting injury issues, which were evident in his 2nd-round exit in Melbourne.

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9) Opinion

Iranian drones programme’s success & what are the lessons for India

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Former SEBI chief explains why recession may not hit India hard

The Indian economy is shaping up in a positive way and all structural reforms are opening up now, former SEBI and LIC chairman G N Bajpai said on Sunday. He said the likely recession will impact the country very marginally. “A likely recession will impact India, but very marginally, because our exports are not that much affected. Indian economy is majorly driven by domestic factors,” he said at the second leg of the Business Today Golf event of the 2022-23 season. This comes after global consultancy firm EY announced its growth projection for India and estimated Indian economy will reach a GDP size of $26 trillion by 2047, the 100th year of India’s independence. The per capita income is expected to increase to $15,000, putting the country among the ranks of developed economies, said EY.

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Business Matters: Will global layoffs jolt India’s IT industry? | The Hindu

There has been a slew of layoff announcements in the Western corporate world these past months, gathering pace over recent weeks. The latest was Google’s announcement that would impact 18,000 of its employees. Crunchbase estimates that just in the first 20 days of this month, the US saw 46,000 jobs impacted by the announcements. It also said that last year, public and private tech firms laid off 107,000 people. The Indian sector too has seen some media news around this but not as much. The Hindu’s Business page in Saturday’s edition alone had 3 news articles to do with layoffs, for different reasons – Google, Wipro, and Swiggy. Let’s see what exactly is happening the world over and in India.

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10) Weekly special

This Startup Is Integrating Insurance With Businesses | Insurance Protection Made 100X Simpler?

Assurekit is building a unified infrastructure for anyone to be able to distribute insurance and financial protection through their own channel. Most businesses cover the upside of the customer, but we help them protect the downside so that they can avoid experiencing the downside that comes from the absence of financial protection. Assurekit is building a protection ecosystem, for companies that care about protecting customers. We make insurance and protection 10x simpler and more accessible to protect end customers against the risks. The vision is to simplify insurance distribution for both, buyers and sellers by unifying the backend infrastructure for insurance commerce to help everyone create, buy or distribute financial protection.

For details, visit here.

11) Did you know?

What is BharOS, the India-made OS?

The BharOS operating system is said to benefit one billion (100 crores) smartphone users in India by offering a more secure and private proposition. Watch the video to know more about the OS.

Watch the video here. 

With that, we come to the end of our Weekly Current Affairs January 2023 -Week 5. 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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