GK Update 17th & 18th January 2021

1. PM Modi launches Rs 1,000-crore ‘Startup India Seed Fund’

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched Rs 1,000-crore ‘Startup India Seed Fund’ on 16 January 2021, while addressing the ‘Prarambh: Startup India International Summit’ 2021. This initiative will help in setting up new startups and promote their growth.
  • The Startup India Seed Fund would support startups in need of initial capital to start and grow their business and help budding entrepreneurs pursue innovative ideas.
  • The government has been implementing the Fund of Fund Scheme to help startups raise equity capital. Going forward, the government will also help startups in raising debt capital.

2. PM Modi flags off 8 trains connecting Statue of Unity

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has flagged off eight trains connecting the Statue of Unity in Kevadiya, Gujarat with different regions of the country through video conferencing.
  • PM Modi informed that it was the first time in history that so many trains from different locations were flagged off for a common destination.
  • The eight trains flagged off will connect Kevadiya with Varanasi, Dadar, Ahmedabad, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Rewa, Chennai, and Pratapnagar.
  • PM also inaugurated other railway projects in Kevadiya, including Dabhoi-Chandid gauge converted broad gauge rail line, Chandod-Kevadiya new broad gauge rail line, Pratapnagar-Kevadiya newly electrified section, and new station buildings of Dabhoi Junction, Chandod and Kevadiya.

3. Petroleum Ministry launches ‘SAKSHAM’ campaign

  • The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has launched a month-long mass awareness campaign titled ‘SAKSHAM’ to spread awareness about green and clean energy.
  • The campaign has been organised by the Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA), to motivate consumers to switch to cleaner fuels and bring in behavioural change to use fossil fuel intelligently.
  • The campaign will spread awareness about seven key drivers that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently mentioned.
  • SAKSHAM stands for Sanrakshan Kshamata Mahotsav.
  • The pan-India campaign would include various activities such as cyclotron, farmer workshops, seminars, painting competition, CNG vehicle driving contest, etc to spread awareness among masses about the advantages of using clean fuels.
  • They include moving towards a gas-based economy, cleaner use of fossil fuels, greater reliance on domestic sources to drive biofuels and increased use of electric vehicles.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas: Dharmendra Pradhan.

4. US designates UAE, Bahrain as ‘Major Strategic Partners’

  • The United States has recently designated the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the “major strategic partners” of the country.
  • This has been announced before the formal transition of the president’s office from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. This announcement of “major strategic partners” was done by Kayleigh McEnany, the White House Press Secretary.
  • Designation as strategic partners will strengthen the existing partnership between the United States, the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Both the countries have been designated for their commitment to countering violent extremism across the region, exceptional security partnership, and exemplified by their hosting thousands of United States airmen, soldiers, marines, and sailors.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • President of UAE: Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
  • Capital of UAE: Abu Dhabi; Currency: United Arab Emirates dirham.
  • King of Bahrain: Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
  • Capital of Bahrain: Manama; Currency of Bahrain: Bahraini Dinar.

5. Pakistan Permits Dubai Royals to Hunt ‘Houbara bustard’

  • Pakistan has issued special permission to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the Dubai Ruler; the crown prince, and 5 members of the royal family for hunting houbara bustard during the 2020-21 hunting season.
  • After the permission, 11 members of the United Arab Emirates’ royal family reached the Panjgur district in Balochistan, Pakistan for hunting the highly vulnerable and internationally protected houbara bustard under Pakistan’s foreign ministry license.
  • The houbara bustard is a terrestrial bird found in parts of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. The Asian houbara (Chlamydotis macqueenii) and North African houbara (Chlamydotis undulata) are separate species.
  • After breeding in central Asia during spring, the Houbara bustards migrate south to spend the winter in Pakistan.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • President of Pakistan: Arif Alvi.
  • Prime Minister of Pakistan: Imran Khan.

6. Kerala Governor launches ‘One School One IAS’ scheme

  • Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan has inaugurated the ‘OneSchool One IAS’ scheme which has been rolled out under the Vedhik Erudite Foundations Scholarship Programme.
  • According to a notification released an institution considered by top academics and retired IAS and IPS officers in the state is conducting the programme which seeks to refute the general notion that the civil service is for the elite class only.
  • The programme will be providing free training to the students who are economically backward but are academically brilliant aspirants of civil service and other competitive exams.
  • The scheme is supported by sponsors, which expects an enrollment of 10,000 boys and girls across the state.
  • The beneficiaries of the programme will be selected by a panel which will be headed by the heads of the respective educational institutions.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • Kerala CM: Pinarayi Vijayan.
  • Kerala Governor: Arif Mohammad Khan.

7. CARE lowers Centre’s fiscal deficit projection to 7.8% of GDP

  • CARE Ratings has revised downwards its projection of the Centre’s fiscal deficit to 7.8 % of GDP during FY21 against its earlier estimate of 9-9.5 %.
  • The combined effect of lower revenues & higher expenditure is likely to push the fiscal deficit to 7.8% of GDP.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • Care Ratings HQ: Mumbai; CEO:Ajay Mahajan.

8. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw selected as one of USIBC vice-chair

  • The US-India Business Council (USIBC) has selected three top corporate leaders as the Vice-Chairs of 2021 Global Board of Directors of USIBC with immediate effect.
  • The three new appointees will now work with USIBC President Nisha Biswal and the Council’s policy directors, for strengthening US-India commercial relationship for the future.

The three newly appointed VCs are

  • Biocon Executive Chairperson: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw.
  • Amway CEO: Milind Pant.
  • Vice-chair at Nasdaq: Edward Knight.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • US-India Business Council Founded: 1975.
  • US-India Business Council Headquarters: Washington, D.C., United States.

9. Biswajit Chatterjee conferred ‘Indian Personality of the Year’ award at IFFI

  • Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar announced veteran actor, director and singer Biswajit Chatterjee as the recipient of the ‘Indian Personality of the Year’ award.
  • The 84-year-old actor is known for featuring in films like “Bees Saal Baad”, “Night In London” and “April Fool”.
  • Chatterjee started his career in the late 1950s and went on to work in films like “Biwi Aur Makan”, “Sagaai”, “Kohra” among others. In 1975, he directed and produced “Kahte Hain Mujhko Raja”, featuring himself along with Dharmendra, Hema Malini and Rekha.

10. NASA targets final test of ‘world’s most powerful rocket’

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is looking to carry out the eighth and final test in its “Green Run” test series.
  • This eighth stage termed “hot fire,” will bring to an end a series of tests which, NASA says, will gradually bring together the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) to life for the very first time.
  • The core stage of the SLS will form the backbone of what NASA says will be the “most powerful rocket in the world” and will power its next-generation human Moon Missions.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • The administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Jim Bridenstine.
  • Headquarters of NASA: Washington D.C., United States.

11. Ramchandra Guha’s latest book ‘The Commonwealth of Cricket’

  • Ramchandra Guha’s latest book ‘The Commonwealth of Cricket’ would be launching virtually in the Tata Literature Live (The Mumbai Lit fest) this month.
  • His latest book juxtaposes his life with his abiding love for the game & this conversation could not come at a better time with India and Australia in the midst of an enthralling test series.
  • In his upcoming book, ‘The commonwealth of cricket: The most subtle and sophisticated game known to mankind’, Guha has penned down his personal account of being intimately involved with the game starting from the time he was a child growing up in Dehradun to his days in college, from his encounters with the best Indian and foreign cricket players to becoming part of the BCCI.

12. NDRF Celebrates its 16th Raising Day

  • The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) celebrated its 16th Raising Day on 18th January.
  • National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), a specialized multi-skilled, humanitarian force of the country, came into existence on January 19th, 2006 has been playing a vital role in Disaster Management and Community awareness for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the country.

13. Legendary classical musician Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan passes away

  • Legendary Indian classical musician and Padma Vibhushan awardee Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan passed away.
  • He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1991, the Padma Bhusan in 2006, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2018. In 2003, he was also awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, which is the highest recognition given to practising Indian artists by the Sangeet Natak Akademi.

14. India’s first COVID-19 Vaccine recipient is Manish Kumar

  • Manish Kumar, a sanitation worker in Delhi, became the first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in India after PM Modi flagged off the nationwide vaccination drive on 16 January 2021.
  • Manish Kumar was given the injection at AIIMS in Delhi while Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan was also present.
  • PM Modi launched the nationwide vaccine drive via videoconferencing and congratulated the people of India on getting two Made in India vaccines.
  • India’s vaccination programme is based on a very important principle that those who are in need of the vaccine will get vaccinated first. Our doctors, nurses, medical & paramedical staff, sanitation workers in hospitals – be it private or hospital are entitled to get vaccinated. This will be done on priority.

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