Welcome to the Endeavor Editors 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 April 2021 – Week 3
1. Current Affairs – International News & Global Economy
Explained: After US exit from Afghanistan.
The announcement by President Joe Biden that the US will withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, has sent tremors through the region’s fault lines. Unlike the Trump Administration, which made its troop withdrawal by May 1 conditional on Taliban taking steps to prevent al-Qaeda or any other group from sheltering in Afghanistan, and agreeing to dialogue on power-sharing with the Afghan government, the Biden plan has no strings attached. There are about 2,500-3,500 US troops in Afghanistan at present, plus a NATO force of under 8,000. A coordinated withdrawal is expected to begin soon. For details visit.
US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan: Impact on Afghanistan and India
US imposes sanctions on Russia over cyberattacks and poll meddling
The Biden administration imposed a series of new sanctions on Russia, including restrictions on buying new sovereign debt, in retaliation for alleged misconduct related to the SolarWinds hack and efforts to disrupt the US election. The Biden administration is also barring US financial institutions from participating in the primary market for new debt issued by the Russian central bank, Finance Ministry, and sovereign wealth fund. For details visit.
What to know about the U.S. sanctions against Russia
Russia amasses troops near U.S. ally Ukraine. But what is Putin’s goal?
Tens of thousands of Russian troops massing near the Ukrainian border, convoys of tanks, and a deadly escalation in the grinding trench war in eastern Ukraine. These storm clouds on Europe’s eastern flank are causing grave alarm in Washington and across the continent. “We’re now seeing the largest concentration of Russian forces on Ukraine’s borders since 2014,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said after flying to NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. “That is a deep concern not only to Ukraine but to the United States. Western officials and experts are now trying to decipher what Moscow might be planning: Is Putin testing Biden’s mettle or is he actually trying to spark a fresh military conflict on the fringes of Europe? For details visit.
Explained: Why France has asked its citizens to leave Pakistan
The French embassy in Pakistan has issued an advisory to its nationals asking them to temporarily leave the country following violent anti-France protests by a radical religious group, The Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP). Even though there are no reports of protesters targeting French citizens so far, the Embassy said that the move is “precautionary”. Strong anti-French sentiments have been simmering in Pakistan for months ever since French President Emmanuel Macron in October last year defended the publication of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad and pledged to fight “Islamist separatism”. For details visit.
Iran starts enriching uranium to 60% purity, its highest level ever
Iran began enriching uranium up to 60 percent purity, its highest level ever after an attack targeted its Natanz nuclear site, the country’s parliament speaker said. The comment by Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf did not elaborate on the amount Iran planned to enrich. However, it is likely to raise tensions even as Iran negotiates with world powers in Vienna over a way to allow the US back into the agreement and lift the crushing economic sanctions it faces. The announcement also marks a significant escalation after the sabotage that damaged centrifuges, an attack suspected of having been carried out by Israel. For details visit.
What is the Iran nuclear deal? – BBC News
BBC explains what the Iran nuclear deal is and whether its future will last.
China has given away millions in its digital yuan trials. This is how it works.
China is arguably leading the world in developing a national digital currency, a project it has been working on since 2014. China has already started real-world trials for digital currency in a number of cities including Shenzhen, Chengdu, and Suzhou. The digital yuan could increase competition in China’s mobile payments market which is dominated by Ant Group’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay. For details visit.
Why China’s new digital currency raises privacy concerns
As China moves closer to rolling out its new digital cash, there are concerns the government will track every transaction––not just of citizens but of foreign companies in the country.
Coinbase soars in market debut, valued near $100 billion
Coinbase made a rousing debut on Wall Street, with the digital currency exchange’s first trade of $381 giving it a market value of $100 billion. The company’s listing on a public stock exchange is seen by some as an inflection point for digital currencies, as Coinbase’s fortunes are closely tied to Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency. For details visit.
Coinbase IPO: Here’s what you need to know. For details visit
What Coinbase’s public debut means for Bitcoin and Crypto
The listing of Coinbase, the largest bitcoin exchange in the U.S., introduces a new way to invest in cryptocurrencies. WSJ explains how Coinbase is trying to distance itself from the risks of bitcoin to succeed on Wall Street.
Nomadland wins four awards at BAFTA 2021, Adarsh Gourav loses to Anthony Hopkins
The Frances McDormand-starrer Hollywood drama Nomadland was the big winner at the 74th British Academy for Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards held at Royal Albert Hall, winning four trophies. Indian actor Adarsh Gourav, who was nominated in the Best Actor category for his role in The White Tiger lost to the legendary Anthony Hopkins. The 83-year-old veteran Hopkins won for his role in The Father, surprising many who had expected the late Chadwick Boseman to walk away with the honor in the category, for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. For details visit.
2. Current Affairs – India & World
India, France sign agreement for cooperation on Gaganyaan mission
Space agencies of India and France signed an agreement for cooperation for the former’s first human space mission, Gaganyaan, a move that will enable Indian flight physicians to train at French facilities. French space agency CNES said under the agreement, equipment developed by it, tested, and still operating aboard the International Space Station (ISS) will be made available to Indian crews. CNES will train India’s flight physicians and CAPCOM mission control teams in France at the CADMOS center for the development of microgravity applications and space operations at CNES in Toulouse and at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany. The training of astronauts is a critical aspect of the human space mission project. For details visit.
India’s First Crewed Mission | ISRO Gaganyaan Vyommitra
Is India a space superpower? – BBC News
India has been reaching for the stars since the 1970s. Today, the country has become a premier destination for other nations and companies to launch satellites cheaply.
Nirav Modi’s extradition to India cleared by UK government
Scam-accused billionaire Nirav Modi’s extradition to India has been cleared by the British government. UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has signed the extradition order. Nirav Modi is a step closer to extradition but still has the option of legally challenging it within 28 days before the UK High Court. The process may take months or even years, as seen in the case of liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who went to court against his extradition order signed back in February 2019. For details visit.
UK court clears extradition of Nirav Modi, says he has a ‘case to answer in India’
What led to the biggest ever PNB scam and the series of events that transpired once it was unearthed.
Foreign vaccines on the fast track for Indian? masses
The government has revised regulations for foreign vaccines that have received emergency use authorization (EUA) from top regulators, including the World Health Organization. Under the clinical trial rules, a foreign company has to conduct a bridging study before it seeks authorization that determines if the vaccine is equally safe and effective among the Indian population as it is in the country where extensive human trials have been conducted. However, there are certain clauses, which, in case of an emergency, allow the regulator to authorize a foreign vaccine if it has been approved by another national regulator. The Indian government has basically invoked this provision of the clinical trial rules to allow foreign companies to export their vaccines. For details visit.
3. Current Affairs – Politics
Who is Sushil Chandra? All you need to know about the new Chief Election Commissioner
Sushil Chandra assumed charge as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) on 14th April. Chandra succeeded Sunil Arora, who demitted office a day before. Chandra was the chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes before he joined the poll panel. He will demit office on May 14, 2022. During this period, he will oversee assembly polls in Goa, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh. For details visit.
West Bengal Assembly Elections | Amid mounting COVID-19 cases, Election Commission imposes campaign curbs
The Election Commission has ordered curbs on campaigning for the last three phases of the eight-phase West Bengal elections, including extending the silence period before voting from 48 hours to 72 hours and barring all campaigning from 7 pm to 10 am, in view of the rising COVID-19 cases. For details visit.
The blood-stained election story of Bengal, in four charts
The recent violence in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district, which prompted the Election Commission of India (ECI) to impose curbs on political activity in the election-bound state, has once again put the spotlight on political violence in Bengal. Threats and physical attacks on rival party members have been a problem in the eastern state for many years now. Instead of declining, the violence has only intensified in recent years, data shows. For details visit.
4. Current Affairs – Markets, Banking, and Finance
March WPI inflation at 8-yr high; economists see it in double digits in May
Wholesale price index-based inflation, led by soaring prices of fuels and those of manufactured products, touched its highest point in more than eight years on March 21.
The rate rose to 7.4 percent in the month against 4.17 per in February and 2.51 percent in January, according to the data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The rate of price rise is expected to be in double digits in the near term, led by food and a low base of last year, economists cautioned. Economists have however ruled out scope for policy rate reduction to boost the economy. Higher wholesale inflation transmits to retail inflation with a lag, and this makes the job of monetary authorities difficult. The economy at the present juncture needs both fiscal and monetary support. For details visit.
Citi retreat highlights global banks’ struggle in China, India
Citigroup Inc.’s plan to exit its retail business in China and India underscores the frustrating battle for market share international banks face in two of Asia’s largest economies despite plowing in billions of dollars over the past decade. Increased rivalry from domestic lenders, especially in consumer financing, and fierce competition for top talent contributed to the challenges that overseas banks have often struggled to overcome. High capital and regulatory requirements also proved onerous. Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser said that the bank had decided it didn’t have the scale it needed to compete in China, India, and 11 other markets. For details visit.
Explained: Why CitiBank is selling its India business and who will be willing to buy. For details visit.
Four entities apply for universal bank, four others for SFB license
The RBI has released the names of the applicants under the guidelines for “on tap” licensing of universal banks and small finance banks (SFBs). Four entities — Repco Bank, Chaitanya India Fin Credit, UAE Exchange, and Financial Services, and Pankaj Vaish and others — have applied for a license to start a universal bank in the country. Those who have applied for a license for SFBs are VSoft Technologies, Calicut City Service Co-operative Bank, Akhil Kumar Gupta, and Dvara Kshetriya Gramin Financial Services. For details visit.
RBI debate on letting corporates own banks: pros & cons, controversy, fear & opportunity
With DHFL buy, Piramal Capital to bring retail loan share to 75% from 11%
Piramal Capital plans to rapidly scale up the share of its retail loan book and bring down wholesale lending, part of the reason why it is acquiring Dewan Housing Finance. Piramal’s total lending book as of now is around Rs 45,000 crore, in which retail is about Rs 5,000 crore, or just about 11 percent. According to Jairam Sridharan, CEO, Piramal Retail Finance, the plan is to bring up the retail portion to the mid-40 percent level by the end of this financial year. The DHFL acquisition is pending clearance by the Insolvency courts. For details visit.
5. Current Affairs – Business
Auto plants in Maharashtra scale down operations to align with guidelines
Maharashtra accounts for close to 20 percent of the total vehicle production and is home to manufacturers like Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Bajaj Auto, Force Motors, Mercedes Benz, and Volkswagen. It is also a critical auto parts hub for vehicle manufacturers outside Maharashtra. The lockdown is estimated to crimp monthly output by 30-40 percent. Officials at most firms said they have scaled-down operations and are complying with the “Break the Chain’ guidelines and adhering to safety protocols, distancing norms, and hygiene standards. For details visit.
What is the road ahead of the Auto Sector in India?
Facebook signs first deal to buy renewable energy from a local firm in India
Facebook has signed a deal to buy renewable energy in India from a local firm’s wind power project, the social media giant’s first such deal in the South Asian nation. The 32-megawatt wind power project, located in southern Karnataka state, is part of a larger portfolio of wind and solar projects that Facebook and Mumbai-based CleanMax are working together on for supplying renewable power into India’s electrical grid, they said in a joint statement. CleanMax will own and operate the projects, while Facebook will buy the power off the grid using environmental attribute certificates, or carbon credits. For details visit.
6. Current Affairs – Technology
Amazon launches $250 mn venture fund for Indian startups, entrepreneurs
E-commerce giant Amazon India has launched a $250 million Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund to invest in startups and entrepreneurs focusing on technology innovations in SMB (small and medium business) digitization, agriculture, and healthcare. The venture fund will invest in technology-led startups that are passionate about unlocking the possibilities of a digital India. The fund will specifically focus on encouraging the best ideas to digitize SMBs (small and medium businesses). It would drive technology-led innovation in agriculture to improve farmer productivity and enable them to bring the best of India’s farms to consumers. It would also enable universal and quality healthcare access for all using technology. For details visit.
Flipkart acquires 15-Year-Old OTA Cleartrip in distress sale
Ecommerce major Flipkart, announced a proposed acquisition of online travel aggregator Cleartrip. Flipkart will acquire 100% of Cleartrip’s shareholding, but the latter will continue to operate as a separate brand retaining all employees while working closely with. The amount of the acquisition hasn’t been disclosed, but reports this week suggested the deal will value the OTA at around $40 Mn. Reports had suggested that the acquisition by Flipkart would be a distress sale for the 15-year-old travel portal, considering the downturn in the travel and hospitality industry amid the Covid-19 pandemic. For details visit.
Zerodha rival 5paisa to raise over Rs 250 Cr through Equity Issue
Online discount broker 5paisa.com has approved a capital raise of Rs 250.87 Cr through a preferential issue of equity shares and warrants at Rs 500 per share, which is a premium of over 70% to the company’s share’s closing price of Rs 293 on the NSE. 5paisa.com has more than 1.3 Mn customers, 6.5 Mn mobile app users, and is one of the fastest-growing discount broking companies in India. The company offers broking, mutual funds, insurance, peer-to-peer lending, international stocks, gold investing, and margin funding as part of its product bouquet. For details visit.
Amazon Prime Music looks to replicate Spotify’s growth with Podcasts launch in India
Amazon Prime Music announced the launch of podcasts in India. The company is currently offering nine million podcast episodes at launch and will grow the catalog post-launch. The launch comes a week after Spotify expanded its original podcast lineup in India with the launch of five new titles. In India too, the podcast industry has witnessed significant growth, with more than 40 startups operating in this space and catering to 200 mn monthly active users (MAU). The lockdowns induced by Covid-19 further bolstered its growth and the segment saw the listenership rising by 30%, according to a KPMG report. For details visit.
Credflow raises $2.1 million in seed funding
Mumbai-based fintech startup Credflow, which offers cash flow management solutions for Indian small and medium enterprises (SMEs), has raised $2.1 million (or Rs15.2 crore) as part of its seed round of financing led by Stellaris Venture Partners, Omidyar Network India, and Flourish Ventures. According to the company, it will be investing the funds to further develop its platform, strengthen its tech capabilities and build new products, with a focus on expanding its customer base. Credflow is also looking to expand its team across tech, product, and marketing. For details visit.
Tech Mahindra to offer blockchain solution for BFSI firms
IT services major Tech Mahindra has partnered with Netherlands blockchain incubator Quantoz to launch ‘stablecoin-as-a- service’ offering for the banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) sector. The platform will help banks and financial institutions handle multiple functions such as loyalty management, remittances, ecosystem payments, and treasury management. Stablecoins refers to a type of cryptocurrencies whose value is tied to an outside asset, such as gold, silver, or the US dollar, in order to make the price more predictive and stable. For details visit.
Crypto Exchange CoinSwitch Kuber Sees 3.5X higher sign-Ups after IPL Ad Blitz
CoinSwitch Kuber is arguably the first cryptocurrency exchange to resort to mainstream ads to get users amid uncertainty over the future of crypto. Ashish Singhal, CEO, and co-founder at CoinSwitch said that since the launch of the ad campaign, the company’s CAC for performance marketing had come down. CoinSwitch Kuber claims to have over 4 Mn users in India and is targeting to cross 10 Mn users by the end of 2021. CoinSwitch Kuber is an associate sponsor for Disney+ Hotstar for the ongoing IPL 2021 season, and its TVCs will play throughout the tournament. Evidently, the aim is to bring crypto to the mainstream, since millions of tech-savvy youngsters watch the IPL, Ashish Singhal, CEO and cofounder at CoinSwitch said. For details visit.
7. Current Affairs – Climate
JPMorgan embarks on $2.5-trillion climate, sustainability effort
JPMorgan Chase & Co. set a goal to finance $2.5 trillion in initiatives that combat climate change and advance sustainable development over the next 10 years, while Citigroup Inc. said it would back $1 trillion of similar efforts by 2030. Combined with previous announcements by Bank of America Corp., the three largest U.S. lenders have all committed to backing more projects that advance a low-carbon economy amid calls by the White House for businesses to do more to curb pollution. Eliminating emissions has become a major talking point for bank executives this year as the finance industry attracted greater scrutiny for funding the world’s biggest emitters. For details visit.
8. Current Affairs – Sports
BCCI announces annual player contracts, three players retained in A+ contract list
India captain Virat Kohli, vice-captain Rohit Sharma, and fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah were retained in the A+ category list. Meanwhile, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Rishabh Pant, and Hardik Pandya were all placed under Grade A contract. For details visit.
Explained: Why FC Goa’s goalless draw on debut in ACL is seen as step forward for Indian football
FC Goa put on a sensational defensive display to hold Al Rayyan to a 0-0 draw in its AFC Champions League Group E opener at the Fatorda Stadium. Goa was expected to be the whipping boys of the group that comprises teams from countries that are either regular at the World Cup – Iran’s Persepolis and UAE’s Al Wahda – or are set to host it, in Al Rayyan’s case. The level of football most players play in these countries is of much higher quality than what the Indian Super League side is used to. They also have the experience and budget to remain competitive at this level. Hence, walking away with a draw is seen as a good result for Goa. For details visit.
How does an IPL franchise make money?
With the perfect mix of cricket, Bollywood, and big money, IPL is in a league of its own. Though the franchise is loved for its cricket, it thrives on its profits. But owning a franchise isn’t just all fun and games. It’s a business. How does the IPL business make money?
9. Current Affairs – Opinion
Zerodha Founder, Nithin Kamath in conversation with CRED founder Kunal Shah regarding “bootstrapped versus funded startups”
Widely credited as a disruptive force in the Indian Broking industry, Zerodha has become the largest broking firm in the country. Valued at over $1 billion, it now accounts for more than 15% of the daily exchange turnover with a client base of over 3 million.
Will RBI’s boost for Payments Banks, Wallets break the monopoly of Traditional Banks?
RBI has enabled a range of quasi banking functions for prepaid payment instruments (PPI) during the recent Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting. Coupled with the increased daily balance limit for payments banks, these guidelines can help offload the small value transaction burden away from large banks. It will also help to address retail banking needs and SME business use cases, say experts. RBI seems to have finally realized that the financial inclusion battle can’t be triumphed by the banks alone. With internet-enabled smartphones available in every alternate household nowadays, the banking infrastructure has to evolve to meet the needs of last-mile users. What does it mean for traditional banking monopolies? For details visit.
10. Current Affairs – Other Topics
The time has come for the appointment of a woman as Chief Justice of India: SC
The Supreme Court stated that the time has come when a woman should be Chief Justice of India and stressed there is no attitudinal change. SC said it always has the interest of women in mind and every collegium considers women for appointment as judges in higher judiciary. Not a single woman judge has figured in the list of 48 Chief Justice of India including the CJI designate NV Ramana, since it came into existence on January 26, 1950. The top court was hearing a plea of women lawyers’ body seeking consideration of “meritorious” lot among them for appointment as judges in high courts. For details visit.
With that, we come to an end for our Weekly Current Affairs April 2021 -week 3. Hope you have liked it. Write in your feedback in the comments below and let us know if anything else you would like us to cover.
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