Endeavor Careers Choicest Blogs: August 2021, Week 03: Weekly Current Affairs

Welcome to the Endeavor Editors’ Weekly  Current Affairs Choicest Blog series. Get a  weekly roundup – on 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.

 Current Affairs August 2021 – Week 3

1) International News and Global Economy

‘White hat’ hacker returns most of $600 mn crypto tokens taken: Poly Network

Hackers behind one of the biggest ever digital coin heists have now returned nearly all of the $610 million-plus they stole, Poly Network, the cryptocurrency platform targeted earlier this week by the attack, said. The platform, which was little known before the heist, declared the hacker on Twitter as a “white hat,” referring to ethical hackers who generally aim to expose cyber vulnerabilities, upon the return of the funds. Poly Network, which facilitates peer-to-peer token transactions, added that the tokens were transferred to a multi-signature wallet controlled by both the platform and the hacker. A person claiming to have perpetrated the hack said Poly Network offered him a $500,000 bounty to return the stolen assets and promised that he would not be accountable for the incident, according to digital messages shared on Twitter by Tom Robinson, chief scientist and co-founder of Elliptic, a crypto tracking firm.

For details visit. 

Hacker who stole from Poly Network could be allowed to keep $500K

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Taliban take Kandahar, Herat in major Afghanistan offensive

The Taliban captured two major Afghan cities, the country’s second and third-largest after Kabul, and a strategic provincial capital on 12th August, further squeezing the embattled government just weeks before the end of the American military mission in Afghanistan. The seizure of Kandahar and Herat marks the biggest prizes yet for the Taliban, who have taken 12 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals as part of a week-long blitz. The capture of the city of Ghazni, meanwhile, cuts off a crucial highway linking the Afghan capital, Kabul, with the country’s southern provinces, all part of an insurgent push some 20 years after U.S. and NATO troops invaded and ousted the Taliban government. While Kabul itself isn’t directly under threat yet, the losses and the battles elsewhere further tighten the grip of a resurgent Taliban, who are estimated to now hold over two-thirds of the country and continue to press their offensive.

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Taliban takeover: US sending 3,000 troops for partial Afghan embassy evacuation

Just weeks before the U.S. is scheduled to end its war in Afghanistan, the Biden administration is rushing 3,000 fresh troops to the Kabul airport to help with a partial evacuation of the U.S. Embassy. The move highlights the stunning speed of a Taliban takeover of much of the country, including their capture of Kandahar, the second-largest city and the birthplace of the Taliban movement. The State Department said the embassy will continue functioning, but the dramatic decision to bring in thousands of additional U.S. troops is a sign of waning confidence in the Afghan government’s ability to hold off the Taliban surge.

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Taliban seizes 3 cities in 24 hours as US sends troops to evacuate Kabul embassy

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China preparing to recognize Taliban if Kabul falls, says report

China is prepared to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan if the terrorist group manages to overpower the democratically elected government in Kabul. New Chinese military and intelligence assessments of the current situation in Afghanistan have prompted them to prepare to formalize their ties with the terrorist group, according to the American publication citing intelligence sources familiar with the Chinese assessments. The sudden withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan presents Beijing with both opportunity and challenge. The first is because China can partially fill a power vacuum vacated by the West, and the second is because the Taliban is an organization with historical ties to Islamic terrorist groups.

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Japan rain: Nearly two million residents told to seek shelter

Highest-level rain warnings have been issued in a number of prefectures, including Fukuoka and Hiroshima of Japan. More than 150 troops, police, and firefighters have been sent to help with rescue operations in the area. The west of the country is worst affected but heavy downpours are expected across the country in the coming days. In total, non-compulsory evacuation warnings are now in place for more than 1.8 million people across seven prefectures, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.

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Australian Foreign & Defence Ministers expected in India for maiden 2 + 2 dialogue

Australia eyeing to counter-balance China is working on an ambitious diplomatic plan to expand its geopolitical outreach which could see Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton travel to India in the coming weeks for the first-ever 2+2 Ministerial (Foreign & Defence Minister) dialogue. This comes close on the heels of former PM Tony Abbott’s India trip as Canberra and New Delhi seek to give momentum to their strategic partnership to ensure a stable Indo-Pacific region amid China’s aggression. The decision on the 2 + 2 also coincided with a new report that suggested that Australia has the opportunity to become a major supplier of critical minerals to India, supporting jobs, supply chains, and innovation in both countries. A new report released, Unlocking Australia-India Critical Minerals Partnership Potential, identifies areas where Australia can enhance trade, investment, and research partnerships with India across the critical minerals supply chain.

For details visit. 

2) India  

Covid update

COVID-19: Has the Third Wave in India begun?| NewsMo

The researchers at IIT Hyderabad and Kanpur seem to believe so. They are the same experts who had accurately predicted the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to them, the third wave is already upon us, and  may reach its peak in October. Here’s what these researchers say on this.

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Other updates

PM Narendra Modi launches vehicle scrappage policy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 13 launched the Voluntary Vehicle Fleet Modernization Programme, or the automobile scrappage policy. During a virtual address at the Investor Summit in Gujarat, the Prime Minister said the vehicle scrappage policy will bring in investments of around Rs 10,000 crore. He also said that Alang in Gujarat can become a hub for vehicle scrapping. PM Modi said the current method of scrapping of materials is not productive. Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari said that according to an estimate, with increased sale of automobiles due to the launch of the vehicle scrappage policy, the government will get a profit of Rs 30,000- 40,000 crore in GST.

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Prime Minister Modi Launches The Voluntary Automotive Scrappage Policy In India | The News

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Petrol Price Cut By ? 3 in Tamil Nadu at Cost of ? 1,160 Crore to State

In a big relief for people in Tamil Nadu, the state government today said it would reduce petrol price by ? 3 per litre. Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan, while presenting the state budget today, said petrol price has been cut by ? 3 and because of this, the state will incur a cost of ? 1,160 crore a year. This was the first budget presented by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government of Chief Minister MK Stalin after the party swept the assembly election in April this year. Opposition parties including the Congress have been criticising runaway fuel prices. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in June said the government was making taxes on petrol and diesel a means to “loot” people.

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Explained: What is the Delhi government’s ‘faceless’ transport initiative?

The Delhi government has launched an ambitious “faceless” initiative by locking down four Regional Transport Offices (RTO), the one-stop destination for all transport department services ranging from driving licenses to transfer of ownership of vehicles. The guidelines developed by the Delhi government say that Aadhaar-based verification will be relied upon in dispensing the services online. A separate provision for those not having or willing to share their Aadhaar details has also been kept.

For details visit. 

3) Economy

Economy recovering well, set to register remarkable growth: Goyal

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said India’s economy is recovering well and poised to register a remarkable growth. At the annual conclave of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), he also said almost 1 billion vaccines are likely to be administered by October. Goyal said India is trying to enter into far more balanced, equitable and reciprocal free trade agreements, and work with like-minded countries who share the values of democracy, transparency and rule of law with India. He assured the industry that the government will protect their interests in free trade agreements (FTAs) and these pacts would be finalized after holding detailed discussions with all the stakeholders.

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FTAs with EU, UK won’t throw kind of challenges faced with some Asian countries, says Jaishankar

Free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations being currently pursued by India with the UK and the EU were less challenging than ones with some Asian countries as they were the country’s “complementary partners”, Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar has said. “In case of RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), when we looked at the import surges that were likely and the fact that it was involving a supply chain with weak rules of origin…there were risks,” the Minister said taking a dig at China by mentioning economies that were not entirely transparent in their dealings. India exited the RCEP talks, that included the 10-member ASEAN, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, as it realised that it could lead to cheap goods from China flowing into the country, through other member countries because of inadequate rules to check such diversions.

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4) Markets, Banking, and Finance

India recovery not yet at the point for pulling back liquidity: Nirmala Sitharaman

The Indian economy has not reached the level where the central bank can begin pulling back liquidity as Asia’s third-largest economy is still recovering from the shock of two major waves of coronavirus, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. She said while India will take measures to contain inflation, growth will be a priority in the current environment. India’s inflation has been above the RBI’s tolerance band of 6% for the last two months, which prompted the central bank to raise its inflation forecast even as it held its key rates at record lows earlier this month. To counter the economic fallout of the pandemic, the central bank has pumped in massive amounts of liquidity through various measures like open market operations over the last year, leaving the banking system with an average surplus of around 6 trillion Indian rupees ($80.8 billion).

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MPC actions suggest RBI’s ‘easy regime’ reaching its limit: Crisil

Crisil said the RBI has been tolerant of inflation and has stayed accommodative to support growth given the deep hit suffered by the economy. “But it appears to be reaching the end of tether as inflation naggingly ascends. If this pressure continues and systemically important central banks, especially the Fed, begins normalizing, the RBI will start to roll back accommodation,” said Crisil. Crisil expects the RBI to make a more definitive statement by this fiscal end, and raise rates by around 25 basis points (bps). “While inflation will be the key driver of this decision, other factors such as the strength of recovery (mainly domestic demand) and policy normalization by other major central banks will also matter,” the rating agency added.

For details visit. 

Blockbuster week with Rs 14,000 crore mop-up in IPOs

The IPO frenzy on Dalal Street continued with four offers together this week trying to mobilize about 14,600 crore, making it one of the busiest weeks for IPOs in several years. The previous week saw 3,614 crore, while during the week of July 12-16, 9,375 crore was raised from just one IPO — Zomato, data from exchanges and merchant bankers showed. During the current week, Nuvoco Vista Corp is raising 5,000 crore through its IPO, which is the first such offer from a cement company in the last one and half decades. Nuvoco Vista is the fifth largest cement company in India and the biggest in eastern India. Along with Nuvoco, three other IPOs are also open now. The IPO for CarTrade is for a tech-enable auto listing company while for Chemplast Sanmar, a specialty chemical company, it’s the second coming to be publicly listed after being delisted about 10 years ago. The IPO for Aptus Value Housing is for a mortgage finance company serving mid- and low-income segments.

For details visit. 

The Record Highs Of Retail Ownership & New-Age IPO Frenzy | Mad About Markets | CNBC-TV18

The show “Mad About Markets’, brings in exactly what you need to know about what is going on in the markets in a simpler way. Indian retail shareholders have pumped in a record amount of money into the stock markets in the last 12 months even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, second wave and more economic problems. This year also seems to be breaking all the records when in terms of IPOs.

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Travel platform ixigo files for Rs 1,600-crore IPO

Travel booking app ixigo is looking to raise Rs 750 crore through a primary fundraise and Rs 850 crore via an offer for sale (OFS) from existing investors as part of its initial public offering, according to the company’s draft red herring prospectus (DRHP) filed with the capital markets regulator. While Le Travenues Technology Ltd, the company that operates the online ticketing platform will see existing investors Micromax and Elevation Capital (formerly Saif Partners) exit partially through an OFS, its other older investor MakeMyTrip has already exited the company through a secondary sale clocking, 8x returns on its $4.8 million investment. Launched in 2007, ixigo has a user base of more than 250 million. Earlier this year, it acquired Bengaluru-based online train discovery and booking platform Confirmtkt for an undisclosed amount. Last week, the company said it has acquired AbhiBus, a Hyderabad-based bus ticketing and aggregation platform on a slump sale basis.

For details visit. 

In a 1st, LIC looks to split mega IPO into 2 offerings

The initial public offering (IPO) for life insurance behemoth LIC, through which the government is planning to mobilize about Rs 1 lakh crore, could be split into two consecutive offerings with a gap of a few months since it’s believed that the market may not have the capacity to absorb the entire issue of such mammoth size in one go. If this plan fructifies, this will be the first of its kind move. Among the options being talked about for LIC is that of cornerstone investors, marquee asset managers who could put in large funds ahead of the IPO.

For details visit. 

5) Business

Voda Idea to SC: ‘Travesty of justice’ if correction of errors in AGR calculation not allowed

Vodafone Idea (Vi) said it is a “travesty of justice” and “inconceivable” that the Supreme Court (SC) has not allowed “errors” in adjusted gross revenue (AGR) calculations to be corrected, a ruling which will cost the cash-strapped telco around Rs 25,000 crore and force it to “go under”. Vi’s review petition was filed within weeks of SC rejecting its earlier appeal to look into alleged arithmetical errors made by the DoT, thus confirming the AGR dues at Rs 58,254 crore, of which it has paid Rs 7,854 crore. Vi had said there was double counting by the telecom department and some of the payments made were not included. The telco’s own calculations put the AGR dues at Rs 21,533 crore, which was disallowed by the top court. The company said if arithmetical mistakes are not allowed to be corrected, then it will have to shut shop, leaving nearly 280 million subscribers, some 20,000 direct and indirect employees, banks and retailers high and dry, with even the government getting hurt in the process.

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India among top 4 markets for 5G devices sans network support; 40 mn shipments likely in 2021

India is nowhere close to launching 5G services but has already become the fourth largest market for smartphones supporting the next gen technology in terms of shipments, say market research firms. As per IDC, India trailed China, USA, and Japan in terms of 5G smartphone shipments at the lowest average selling price at $410. This, even as Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are piloting 5G networks and auction of supporting airwaves isn’t until early 2022. IDC expects India to reach around 40 million 5G smartphone shipments, which is around 24% of the total, by end of 2021, up from around 3.5 million in 2020. Counterpoint Research expects around 32 million 5G smartphones, or around 19% of the total, while CyberMedia Research (CMR) expects that to be around 25-30 million.

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6) Technology

OnMobile Global acquires gaming technology firm rob0

Technology company OnMobile Global said it has acquired a 100 percent stake in gaming technology firm rob0 for an undisclosed amount through its Canada based arm. The company has earlier acquired a 25 percent equity stake in rob0 in May 2020. The company said that investment by OnMobile is the second major step towards the creation of its cloud gaming platform Onmo after the acquisition of Appland AB, Sweden in October 2018.

For details visit. 

India attracts $2 billion in fintech investment in H1 of 2021: Report

India almost matched its total fintech investment in 2020, with $2 billion in investment in the first half of 2021, according to KPMG’s Pulse of Fintech, a bi-annual report on fintech investment trends. “Dry powder cash reserves, increasing diversification in hubs and subsectors, and strong activity across the world contributed to the record start to 2021,” the report said. “Fintech valuations remained very high in H1’21 as investors continued to see the space as attractive and well-performing. This likely drove the explosion of unicorn births in the first half of 2021,” it added.

For details visit. 

7) Politics

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma invites ULFA (I) chief Paresh Barua for peace talks

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday appealed to ULFA (I) chief Paresh Barua to come to the negotiating table. Speaking at the state function to mark the 75th Independence Day, the chief minister said that Assam is celebrating the occasion without any bandh called by militant groups, including ULFA, for the first time in decades. The ULFA (I), which had been calling for Assam Bandh on Independence Day and Republic Day for several decades, refrained from the practice for the first time this year. The outfit has also declared a unilateral ceasefire since May this year in view of the pandemic situation. The chief minister had earlier urged Barua to come for peace talks after assuming power in May this year.

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Assam passes Cattle Preservation Bill

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Friday that his government does not want to curb anybody’s right to consume beef through Cattle Preservation Bill, but wants to ensure that it isn’t consumed in areas which are predominantly inhabited by the Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and other non-beef eating communities, or within a radius of 5 km of a temple or a monastery. The Assam assembly passed the Bill with a voice vote.

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Return of the big C as clamour for caste census grows and 127th Constitution Amendment Bill passes

As we are entering the election mode in run up to UP elections in 2022, Shekhar Gupta explains the rising clamour for a caste census, 127th Constitution Amendment Bill and demand for increasing OBC reservations.

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Modi govt’s insurance bill & why it helps reverse a most toxic aspect of our political economy

With the passing of the amendment in the Parliament, Modi government has undone one of Indira era’s toxic nationalisations in 1972, that of General Insurance. Shekhar Gupta explains the new General Insurance Business Nationalisation Amendment Bill, 2021 that was passed amid opposition uproar and how it turns the clock back in a disastrous era of state controls.

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8) Sports

It’s official: Lionel Messi signs two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain

Argentine football star Lionel Messi finally signed a two-year deal with French League club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) after flying to Paris to finalise his transfer. During his time at Barcelona, Messi won six Ballon d’Or titles in a sign of his status as one of the greatest of all-time. Messi became the most desired free agent last year after his Barcelona contract expired. He agreed to play for the Catalan club on pay cut but the Spanish league’s financial regulations ended his association with the club he joined as a 13-year-old. “I am excited to begin a new chapter of my career at Paris Saint-Germain. Everything about the club matches my football ambitions,” Messi said in a statement.

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Explained: What are ‘fan tokens’, the cryptocurrency in Messi’s multi-million PSG package?

Lionel Messi’s signing on fee at Paris St Germain includes some of the French club’s cryptocurrency “fan tokens”, in the latest big name endorsement of new digital assets. Fan Tokens are a type of NFT (non-fungible token) which is a digital-only asset. Like Bitcoin and similar digital currencies, fan tokens are volatile assets and their value can drastically change overnight. Fans can purchase said crypto tokens with real-world money to gain access to exclusive content and augmented-reality games. Among other rewards and perks, the fan token holders also get to vote on mostly minor decisions related to their clubs. These fan tokens are created by a crypto platform called Socios. According to the Socios website, fan tokens “give you the status of a true influencer. Step up and help your team take the right decisions by voting on all their official polls…”

For details visit. 

Neeraj Chopra jumps 14 places to second in world rankings after Olympic gold

India’s Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra gained a whopping 14 places to occupy the second spot in the men’s javelin throw world rankings after his historic gold in the Tokyo Games. The 23-year-old Chopra, who sent the spear to 87.58m to clinch India’s maiden Olympics athletics medal on Saturday, was at a lowly 16 before the Tokyo Games with an average performance score of 1224. But in the latest rankings issued by World Athletics, Chopra found himself at the second spot with 1315 average performance score behind German Johannes Vetter (1396), who finished a lowly ninth in the Olympics final after coming into the Games as the gold medal contender.

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Explained: Will Namibian runner Mboma’s silver medal in 200m at Tokyo force a rule change?

Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah scorched the track to win gold in the women’s 200 m to make it a double, following victory in the 100m. The athlete who finished second also made news. Namibia’s Christine Mboma had switched from the 400 m to the 200 m just before the Olympics because certain regulations. In 2019, World Athletics introduced what is called ‘Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sex Development – DSD).’ These regulations required women athletes to have testosterone levels below five nanomoles per liter if they wanted to participate in events between the 400 m and a mile in international competition. Mboma was told by the national Olympic committee that she would not be able to compete in the 400 m in the first week of July. Mboma’s silver medal-winning performance may raise questions about the science behind the rules.

For details visit. 

9) Opinion

Electricity Amendment Bill 2021: Why are states like West Bengal opposing it?

The central government is facing opposition to the Electricity Amendment Bill 2021 even before it is introduced in Parliament. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written to the Prime Minister requesting that the Bill not be brought before Parliament claiming it was “anti-people” and would promote crony capitalism. The Amendment is bringing in provisions to de-license power distribution allowing private sector players to enter the sector and compete with state-owned power distribution companies (discoms). The move would allow consumers to choose between power distribution companies. States have highlighted concerns that allowing the entry of private players could lead to “cherry-picking”, with private players providing power to only commercial and industrial consumers and not residential and agricultural consumers.

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Explained: What’s driving up the Sensex?

The benchmark Sensex crossed the 55,000 mark and hit a record high on sustained buying support by retail investors and mutual funds in intra-day trading on 13th August. The Sensex rallied 593.31 points to end at a fresh lifetime high of 55,437. The NSE Nifty Index also soared 164.70 points to record 16,529 even as experts cautioned retail investors to be extra vigilant and advised against putting money in stocks when valuations are high. The market rally is supported by the ample liquidity in the system and hopes of a sustained economic recovery, analysts said. If the fund flow to the stock market continues, the rally will get further momentum. While concerns over global growth due to the recent rise in cases of the delta variant in different parts of the world continue to persist, many analysts said the underlying strength of the domestic market remains intact.

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The Afghan military was built over 20 years. How did it collapse so quickly?

While the future of Afghanistan seems more and more uncertain, one thing is becoming exceedingly clear: The United States’ 20-year endeavor to rebuild Afghanistan’s military into a robust and independent fighting force has failed, and that failure is now playing out in real time as the country slips into Taliban control. How the Afghan military came to disintegrate first became apparent not last week but months ago in an accumulation of losses that started even before President Joe Biden’s announcement that the United States would withdraw by September 11.

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Why Nykaa’s IPO is a watershed moment for women entrepreneurs in India

As omnichannel beauty retailer Nykaa heads for an IPO, Founder Falguni Nayar is raising the bar for women entrepreneurs and showing that women-led businesses are venture-fundable, profitable, and can create value. It certainly isn’t the first startup to go public this year. Zomato had a stellar opening in the market and several others, including insurance-tech platform PolicyBazaar and fintech major Paytm, are in the IPO line. The Nykaa IPO will be ground-breaking for multiple reasons: It is the first woman-led startup heading for an IPO. It is one of the few Indian women-founded startups to touch unicorn status. It is one of the first profitable startups to be listed in the public markets. It will draw more investor attention to women-led startups and attract many more women to tech entrepreneurship.

For details visit. 

How bad is the semiconductor chip shortage likely to get?

Almost a year after Covid-19 began to limit semiconductor chip production, many companies are facing peak shortages as demand for cars and consumer electronics – two industries that remain badly hit – are seeing a surge in overall demand. At present, there are a handful of manufacturers leading the semiconductor space. These include Intel Inc, Nvidia Corp, Samsung and Qualcomm Technologies inc – all these brands have significantly ramped up production but continue to fall short of meeting the demands in what they have unequivocally expressed is an unprecedented situation, worse than anything they have experienced in the past or were prepared to experience. According to Reuters, the Chief Financial Officer of Stellantis has stated that the automotive industry is set to face disruption caused by the shortage, until 2022. However, several reports predict that the issue isn’t likely to be resolved until the end of 2023. For the Indian car market, this would mean that prolonged waiting periods will be the norm for some time to come.

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India at 75: Skilling overdrive needed to cash in on demographic dividend

India has a skilling paradox, which has flummoxed employers for years. It has a burgeoning young population, yet companies struggle to find employable talent. India risks squandering the demographic advantage due to its ever-widening skills gap. Experts say skilling today is largely misaligned to the market due to the dynamic nature of skills. Pandemic-driven digitalisation has accelerated the pace of new skills emerging and some older skills becoming obsolete. “The biggest demographic challenge is raising the productivity of our regions, sectors, firms and individuals. All four are connected,” says Manish Sabharwal, chairman, Teamlease Services.

For details visit. 

With that, we come to an end for our Weekly Current Affairs August 2021 -week 3. 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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