Central banks in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and South Africa launched a Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) Scheme on August 2, 2021.
The latest CBDC project was launched by stated countries with the aim of developing prototype shared platforms for cross-border transactions by using multiple CBDCs.
These new platforms would enable the financial institutions to transact directly with each other across CBDCs. It will eliminate the requirement for intermediaries and reduce the time and cost of transactions. The initiative, will also explore different technical, governance and operating designs. It will also publish its results in early 2022. This platform will also leapfrog the legacy payment arrangements and serve as the foundation for more efficient international settlement platform.
CBDC is the virtual format of a fiat currency in a particular nation or region. It is an electronic record or digital token of official currency. This currency is issued and regulated by its monetary authority.
Minister for Women and Child Development (WCD), Smriti Zubin Irani, chaired the National Conference, 2021. This conference was held on 30th and 31st of August at Kevadia, Gujarat.
WCD minister urged all the State governments to participate in the ongoing POSHAN MAAH events and to decide on their own the targets in order to develop Poshan Vatikas. She also requested the States to improve infrastructure of Anganwadi centres and saturate the supply of mobile phones and GMDs during the month.
While talking about Mission Vatsalya, WCD minister emphasised on the importance of recent amendments in Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act. This amendment will help in improving the accountability of DC/DMs and it will also facilitate into reintegration of vulnerable children into society.
State-owned Coal India Ltd. (CIL) has started the pilot project to replace Diesel with LNG on September 1, 2021.
This move is significant because, CIL (world’s largest coal miner) uses more than 4 lakh kilolitres of diesel per annum which amounts to the annual expense of Rs 3,500 crores. Operations of the dumpers will be significantly cheaper and cleaner because of LNG. LNG will replace the use of diesel by 30% to 40% and in turn reduce the fuel cost by 15%.
CIL has taken up the pilot project for retrofitting LPG kits in the two 100 tonne dumpers, in association with GAIL (India) Ltd. and BEML Ltd. Both of the dumpers are working at CIL subsidiary Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd. (MCL). For this project, CIL signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with GAIL and BEML on August 31, 2021.
Once the LNG kit is retrofitted and tested successfully, both the dumpers will be able to run on dual fuel systems, that is, on LNG as well as Diesel.
CIL is government-owned coal mining and refining corporation, under the ownership of Ministry of Coal. It is headquartered in Kolkata. It is the largest coal-producing company worldwide and a Maharatna public sector undertaking. CIL is also the fifth largest employer in India.
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, launched the Rural Enterprises Acceleration Programme called ‘Saath’ for Self Help Group (SHG) women on September 1, 2021.
This initiative was launched with the aim of transforming the lives of rural women associated with SHGs. It aims to accelerate livelihoods of rural women who are engaged in small works. Small works are those where they do not earn much profit and there is lack of knowledge about marketing, packaging and branding. This initiative is aimed at teaching women all skills and convert their small businesses into Higher Order Enterprises. It seeks to turn women into job-givers and produce further employment.
Under this initiative, workshops will be held for 5000 women initially. Out of 5000, 500 will be selected for intensive training and 100 will be selected for mentoring. Training will be provided to women across ten different sectors like Agriculture, Poultry, Animal Husbandry, handloom, Handicraft etc.
Saath initiative was launched in line with the Umeed scheme that enabled women to start their own business.
Twitter launched a long-promised “Super Follows” feature on September 1, 2021.
Twitter had been testing this Super Follows feature and it was launched officially with a small group of creators in North America. The option to follow participating creators will be made available to people globally using Twitter on Apple mobile devices soon.
The feature will be brought to smartphones powered by Android software as well as to the twitter.com website, reached through browsers.
Twitter will not take more than three percent of subscriptions as a transaction fee until a creator makes $50,000 at the platform. For amount above $50,000, Twitter’s share will increase to 20 percent. App store fees will be paid by creators selling the subscriptions and it can be as much as 30 percent of transactions.
As per a study of July 2021 titled “The Missing Piece of the Puzzle: Caste Discrimination and Stunting”, children from Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Muslim families are more prone to stunting.
This study is significant because earlier, emphasis was on conducting the research on links between child malnutrition, poverty and lack of access to resources.
CEDA study highlights five critical factors leading to stunting:
Child stunting has been associated with poverty because its root cause is chronic malnutrition. But, CEDA study categorised child stunting data into four social categories:
Children from upper Hindu castes reported lower average rate of stunting (26 per cent) while for other categories this number stand at 40 per cent (SC & ST), 36 per cent (OBCs) and 35 per cent (Upper Caste Muslim).
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has increased the allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to India in line with the existing quota of India in the fund.
SDR is neither a currency nor a claim on the IMF. It is a potential claim on freely usable currencies of the member countries. SDRs can be exchanged for these currencies among the members. It serves as the unit of account for IMF and other international organizations.
Currency value of the SDR is calculated by summing the values of SDR basket of currencies in U.S. dollars on the basis of market exchange rates. It is calculated daily (except on IMF holidays or when IMF is closed for business). The valuation basket of SDR is reviewed and adjusted every five years.
SDR basket comprises of U.S. dollar, Euro, Japanese yen, pound sterling and Chinese renminbi.
IMF is an organization comprising of 189 member countries. Each member is having representation on the IMF’s executive board in proportion of their financial importance. Thus, most powerful countries in global economy have the most voting power. IMF was conceived in July 1944 at a UN conference in Bretton Woods, United States.
The Indian Navy signed a contract with the Bharat Limited (BEL) for the supply of the first indigenous comprehensive Naval Anti Drone System (NADS).
The NADS has been developed by DRDO and manufactured by BEL. It is the first indigenously developed anti-drone system that will be inducted into the Indian Armed Forces.
NADS has the capability to detect and jam micro drones. It uses a laser-based kill mechanism in order to terminate targets. It will act as an effective all-encompassing counter the increased drone threat to strategic naval installations. It uses help of radar, electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors and radio frequency (RF) detectors in order to detect and jam micro drones.
This anti-drone system was first deployed to provide security cover for Republic Day Parade in 2021 as well as during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address from Red Fort. It was also deployed in Ahmedabad for the Modi-Trump roadshow.
Chief Minister of Punjab, Amarinder Singh, launched ‘Innovation Mission Punjab’ (IMPunjab) on September 1, 2021.
Punjab is an entrepreneurial State, having a strong footprint of entrepreneurs worldwide as well as in India. The state has a burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem comprising of 450 start-ups and 20 plus incubators.
The Department of Agriculture, Industries & Commerce, Mandi Board and Startup Punjab are the partners in this mission. They are providing over Rs. 30 crores in cash and kind. It also includes:
Mission stands on three pillars:
Indian Army contingent is set to participate in a two-week multination military exercise called ‘ZAPAD 2021’.
According to the defence ministry, a contingent of 200 personnel of the Indian Army will participate. Naga Battalion group will also be participating in the exercise and will feature an all Arms combined task force. The Indian contingent has gone through a strenuous training schedule which include conventional operations like mechanised, airborne & heliborne, counter-terrorism, combat conditioning and firing.
ZAPAD 2021 exercise will be organised with the aim of enhancing military and strategic ties amongst the participating nations and boosting anti-terror cooperation.
A separate exercise called KAZIND-21 also started on September 1, 2020. It is a 13-day military exercise between the militaries of India and Kazakhstan. It commenced at training Node Aisha Bibi, Kazakhstan. This year marked the fifth edition of the annual bilateral exercise between both the armies. 90 personnel from Bihar Regiment of the Indian Army are participating in the exercise.
Bangladeshi scientist, Dr Firdausi Qadri, won the Ramon Magsaysay Award.
She decided early on to pursue a career in medical research. She joined icddr,b in 1988 to focus her research on communicable diseases, immunology, vaccine development and clinical trials.
The most difficult assignments before her were in the fight against cholera and typhoid. These two major diseases are prevalent in Bangladesh as well as in Asian and African nations with limited access to adequate water, sanitation, medical treatment and education. Dr Qadri played a key role in development of a more affordable oral cholera vaccine (OCV) as well as typhoid conjugate vaccine (ViTCV) for infants, children and adults.
This institute was founded by her in 2014. It conducts biomedical research and runs training courses as well as a testing center. The institute has become a hub of scientific activity by local and visiting scientists in Bangladesh.
Ramon Magsaysay Award is the highest honour in Asia. It was established in April 1957 and is widely regarded as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Asia. The award is presented to individuals who have made extraordinary contributions in eradication of poverty and development of the society in Asia.
Other recipients of award in 2021 are-
The ambitious Draft Regional Plan-2041 (DRP-2041) was discussed by NCR Planning Board (NCRPB) on August 31, 2021. Though, its approval was deferred for now.
The DRP-2041 seeks to make National Capital Region (NCR) a smart region by improving connectivity among towns by bringing in bullet trains, helitaxi services, and smart roads to evolve it into an economically prosperous area comprising of citizen-centric harmonious infrastructure.
DRP-2041 emphasises on construction of multilevel parking complexes a mandatory requirement for city centres with high rise commercial complexes in order to make the region congestion free. It also recommends to park commercial vehicles at periphery in order to avoid congestion.
It recommends to make NCR future ready for sustainable development as the population NCR is expected to grow to around 7 crores by 2031 and 11 crores by 2041.
The NCRPB comprises of entire Delhi, eight districts of Uttar Pradesh, 14 districts of Haryana as well as two districts of Rajasthan. It covers an area of about 55,083 square kilometres. According to draft plan 57 per cent of the total areas of NCRPB will be urbanised by 2031 while 67 per cent by 2041.
Draft plan emphasises on the necessity of minimising journey times across NCR and limit travel times across the region under 30 minutes by bringing in superfast trains & helitaxi services and under 60 minutes by other trains and two to three hours by car.
Equitas Small Finance Bank (SFB) has launched a new initiative that enables Google Pay users to book fixed deposits (FDs) on Google Pay in just 2 minutes without opening a bank account.
Equitas SFB’s offers high FD returns as compared to other private lenders or public state lenders. Under RBI Scheduled Commercial Bank, deposits in Equitas are covered through a deposit guarantee up to Rs 5 lakhs per depositor. Customers get returns of up to 6.35% for an FD of one year.
The proceeds will automatically go to Google Pay user’s existing Google Pay linked bank account, on maturity. From the Equitas Bank Spot on Google Pay platform, Google Pay users can track their deposit, add new ones and place order for premature withdrawal.
If a Google Pay user go for premature withdrawal of deposits, proceeds will reach their bank account the same day.
This small finance bank was founded in 2016 as a microfinance lender. It became a scheduled bank in 2017. It is headquartered in Chennai, and is a subsidiary of holding company Equitas Holdings Ltd.