Current Affairs for BANK, IBPS Exams - 29 December 2020
Current Affairs for BANK, IBPS Exams - 29 December 2020
PM flags off India’s first autopilot train
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday inaugurated India’s first automated, driverless train on Delhi Metro’s Magenta Line even as he outlined his government’s plans to extend Metro services to over 25 cities by 2025.
At an online event, he also launched the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) — which allows users to pay for travel, toll charges and retail shopping, and permits them to withdraw money at the same time — for Delhi Metro’s Airport Express Line.
“The inauguration of the first driverless Metro train shows how fast India is moving towards smart systems,” Modi said via video-conferencing. “When our government was formed in 2014, only five cities had metro services. And today, 18 cities have Metro services. By 2025, we will take this service to more than 25 cities.”
In 2014, just 248km of Metro lines were operational in the country, but now the network was spread across over 700km, Modi said. “By the year 2025, we are trying to expand it to 1,700km. These are not just figures; they are a proof of ease of living in the lives of millions of Indians,” he added.
Modi also emphasised the importance of “Make in India” — a reference to his government’s flagship initiative to promote domestic manufacturing — in expanding metro services, saying this would reduce costs and generate employment.
Mahakumbh 2021 to be of shorter format of 48 days
The state government’s announcement of curtailing the otherwise 120 days long Mahakumbh to a 48-day fair in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic is getting mixed response.
Saint fraternity and apex body of Akhadas-the Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad has welcomed the decision. They have, however, urged the state government to ensure all the preparations and facilities be made in a grand way as is done for a full-fledged Kumbh fair.
A section of priests, traders, hoteliers, tour operators and vendor associations are unhappy as an abridged Mahakumbh will have a direct impact on their livelihood.
Akhada Parishad general secretary Mahant Hari Giri Maharaj pointed out that two months ago they had made it clear to the state government that the decision of holding Mahakumbh in a grand or restricted manner is taken in accordance with the Covid-19 situation and the same will be acceptable to Akhadas.
“It is a global pandemic never seen before and affecting normal life everywhere. We understand the concerns. State government has been apprised to take the final decision on this issue in mid-February prior to the first royal bath (Shahi Snaan) falling on the occasion of Mahashivratri on March 11,” said Akhada Parishad general secretary Hari Giri.
Beijing ramps up epidemic prevention measures as locally transmitted cases surge
Beijing has ramped up its epidemic prevention measures as the Chinese capital reported seven new locally transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The seven patients, who live in the Shunyi district, are all close contacts of earlier reported cases, according to the Beijing municipal health commission. The city also reported one imported asymptomatic case of COVID-19 on Monday.
Beijing has conducted nucleic acid tests for over 1.37 million people in key areas related to COVID-19 infections in Shunyi and Chaoyang districts, the local government said, and anti-epidemic measures at airports and customs will be strengthened in an effort to curb the latest cases. State media quoting authorities said that the situation for epidemic prevention and control in Beijing is complex.
The local authorities in the worst affected Shunyi district said that the district has upgraded its emergency response level to the top level. It will test all its residents to screen out potential COVID-19 infections.
Mainland China reported 27 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, up from 21 cases a day earlier. The National Health Commission said in its daily online bulletin that 12 of the new cases were imported infections originating from abroad. The 15 locally transmitted cases came from the northeastern province of Liaoning and the capital city of Beijing.
Govt to lift ban on onion exports from January 1
The union government will lift the ban on export of all varieties of onion from January 1 next year, a notification from the directorate general of foreign trade said Monday, as the supply crunch eases with good winter harvests and brisk imports.
“The export of all varieties of onions, as described above, has been made free from 01.02.2021,” the notification said.
On September 15, the government had banned the export of all varieties as a precautionary step since domestic supplies showed signs of depleting due to a bad winter crop and exports.
In the April-July period, the export of onions rose by an unusual 30%, causing prices to show signs of firming up.
Prices had jumped 30% at the wholesale level in that period, while retail prices had soared to Rs80-100 per kg in most urban centres of the country.
According to official trade data, the country exported $328 million worth of fresh onions and $ 112 million worth of dried onions in 2019-20. Between April and July 2020, exports of onions to neighbouring Bangladesh soared 157.7%.
“Onion prices have remained elevated during the festive season. The full year onion output will still likely drop by at least 10% due to weather-related damage to both the winter and summer crop. But good winter harvests have eased the supply crunch now,” said Abhishek Agrawal of Comtrade, a commodities trading firm.
Alibaba’s $10 billion buyback plan fails to halt stock slide as regulatory concerns mount
Alibaba shares slumped 9% to their lowest since June on Monday, as the firm’s upsized $10 billion buyback programme failed to ease concerns about a regulatory crackdown on co-founder Jack Ma’s e-commerce and financial empire.
A sharp sell-off over two sessions has knocked almost $116 billion off the tech giant’s Hong Kong-listed shares.
The downward spiral intensified when Chinese regulators announced on Thursday the launch of an antitrust investigation into Alibaba and said they would summon its Ant Group affiliate to meet. Alibaba’s U.S. shares sank more than 15% during the day.
“The antitrust investigation into Alibaba has yet to specify the penalties, which is worrying investors a lot,” said Zhang Zihua, chief investment officer of Beijing Yunyi Asset, adding a probe outcome could “greatly change” the company valuations.
Putting investors more on edge was news over the weekend that China’s central bank had asked Ant to shake up its lending and other consumer finance operations.
“The new regulations are hurting big internet platforms, so you see Tencent and other tech companies are also seeing their share prices going down,” said Li Chengdong, a Beijing-based tech analyst.
“Alibaba now is the target of the regulators so the reaction is stronger.”
::Science and Technology::
New Population of Blue Whale Found In Western Indian Ocean
Scientists have found evidence of a previously undiscovered population of blue whales living in the western Indian Ocean based on an analysis of sound recordings from the region, an advance which sheds light on the global distribution of the largest animals to have ever lived on the Earth.
While these highly endangered mammals are found around the globe in all oceans, and sing very low-pitched and recognizable songs, the researchers, including those from the New England Aquarium in the US, said every blue whale population has its own unique song.
In a recently published study in the journal Endangered Species Research, the scientists analyzed recordings from the Arabian Sea coast of Oman, and as far south as Madagascar, and found a blue whale song that had never been described.
Based on the analysis, the researchers believe they have discovered. What is likely a previously unrecognized population of blue whales in the western Indian Ocean?
"It was quite remarkable to find a whale song in your data that was completely unique, never before reported, and recognize it as a blue whale," said study co-author Salvatore Cerchio from the New England Aquarium.
Australia vs India, 2nd Test: Ajinkya Rahane-Inspired India Trump Australia to Level Series in Melbourne
India beat Australia by eight wickets in the second Test in Melbourne
Ajinkya Rahane hit 112 and 27 not out, was named Man of the Match
India 326 and 70 for 2 beat Australia 195 and 200 to level series 1-1