Weekly Current Affairs

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

1) International News and Global Economy

Ukraine war: Six million without power as winter bites

Ukraine’s president says six million Ukrainian households are still without power after massive missile strikes hit the country this week. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that despite the attacks, almost all of the country’s critical infrastructure has been reconnected – including things such as water utilities, heat generation plants, hospitals, and emergency services. But ordinary people continue to face scheduled power cuts across every region of Ukraine, he said. There are fears that Russia’s targeting of Ukrainian infrastructure, coupled with snow and sub-zero temperatures, could cause a health crisis in the country.

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Russia Threatens to cut gas to Europe through Ukraine | Europe energy crisis | Ukraine War

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Greta Thunberg, 600 youths sue Sweden for climate inaction

A group of children and young adults including Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg filed a class action lawsuit against her native country for failing to take adequate measures to stop climate change. The lawsuit is part of an international wave of climate-related legal action. This comes after a high-profile case in the Netherlands, where the country’s highest court ruled in 2019 that the government had a legal obligation to take action on global warming. The suit involves Greta Thunberg and more than 600 others who claim that Sweden’s climate policies violate its constitution as well as the European Convention on Human Rights.

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US bans sale of Huawei, ZTE tech amid security fears

The US has banned the sale and import of new communications equipment from five Chinese companies, including Huawei and ZTE, amid concerns over national security. Other companies listed include Hikvision, Dahua, and Hytera, which make video surveillance equipment and two-way radio systems. It is the first time US regulators have taken such a move on security grounds. Hikvision said that its products present no security threat to the US. Huawei and others have previously denied supplying data to the Chinese government. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said its members had voted unanimously on Friday to adopt the new rules.

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U.S bans Chinese Telecom Huawei & ZTE, enlists it as National Security Threat | CNN News18

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China gathers India Ocean countries for forum, leaves India out

China earlier this week gathered 19 countries including all countries from South Asia except India to attend a first Indian Ocean-focused forum, the latest pointer to Beijing’s expanding influence in the strategic maritime region and key sea trade route. Ministerial officials and senior diplomats from Indonesia, Iran, Myanmar, Australia and eight African countries including South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania attended the first Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation (IORFDC) in the southwestern city of Kunming on November 21. India wasn’t invited to the table, according to officials. The forum was Beijing’s latest effort to reach out to countries dotting the IOR.

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2) India

Heavy security and prohibitory orders continue at the clash site on Assam-Meghalaya Border

Heavy security was deployed, and prohibitory orders remained in force at the disputed area along the Assam-Meghalaya border, where six people were killed following violent clashes, even as travel restrictions between the two states continued for the sixth consecutive day on Sunday, officials said. An advisory was issued by the Assam Police, asking people to avoid traveling to the neighboring state following the incident on Tuesday. Violence had broken out at Mukroh village near the disputed border between the two states in West Karbi Anglong district in the early hours of Tuesday after a truck allegedly laden with illegally felled timber was intercepted by forest guards from Assam. On Saturday, members of various social organizations in Meghalaya burnt effigies of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma among others, in protest against the border violence.

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Modi govt moves with Arunachal Frontier Highway, among India’s ‘toughest’ projects yet, China in mind

After seven decades of dithering on establishing border connectivity in the Northeast, India has initiated a massive infrastructure building, the showpiece of which is the Arunachal Frontier Highway, one of the country’s biggest and toughest projects. While sources in the defence establishment and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) refused to get into specific timelines for the project, they said that this is a “strategic project which is being sped up”. Work on the project has already started in certain sections with state-of-art equipment deployed to fast-track the whole process, they added. The project, which was objected to by China in the past, is a 2,000-km-long road that follows the McMahon Line. The road will begin from Mago in Arunachal Pradesh, adjacent to Bhutan, and pass through Tawang, Upper Subansiri, Tuting, Mechuka, Upper Siang, Debang Valley, Desali, Chaglagam, Kibithu, Dong, before ending at Vijayanagar near the Myanmar border.

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‘Historic Milestone in Bilateral Ties’: Jaishankar on the successful launch of PSLV-C54 carrying Bhutan’s satellite

With the successful launch of the final Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) mission of 2022, India and Bhutan achieved a ‘historic milestone’, said External affairs minister Dr. S Jaishankar on Saturday. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the PSLV-C54 rocket today. The PSLV-C54/EOS-06 mission carried nine satellites, including the primary payload an earth observation satellite along with eight other co-passenger satellites. One of the passenger satellites that rode piggyback on the 44.4-meter tall rocket is India Bhutan Sat — ISRO Nano Satellite 2 for Bhutan (INS-2B). Speaking through a televised address to the ISRO scientists at the Mission Control Centre, Jaishankar said India and Bhutan must harness space technology and its applications towards improving the lives of the people.

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Three top priorities for India as G20 president

India’s G20 presidency, with its emphasis on the needs and claims of the global South, has to deliver a G20 development deal that addresses the concerns of weak and poor nations with no seat at the table. The global economy’s slump has to be arrested through concerted moves by the G20, which has demonstrated crisis-fighting skills in the past. As India takes over leadership of the G20, it has to reckon with what Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi has labeled as “a time when the world is simultaneously grappling with geopolitical tensions, economic slowdown, rising food and energy prices, and the long-term ill-effects of the pandemic”. Extreme polarisation between Russia and the West, intensifying rivalry between China and the United States, and the huge gulf between the G7 sub-group and the remaining emerging economies in the G20 about developmental and environmental priorities pose existential challenges to multilateralism.

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What is the carbon border tax, which India opposed at COP27?

The BASIC group, comprising India, China, Brazil, and South Africa, said in a statement that “unilateral measures and discriminatory practices, such as carbon border taxes, that could result in market distortion and aggravate the trust deficit amongst Parties, must be avoided.” The carbon border tax involves imposing an import duty on a product manufactured in a country with more lax climate rules than the one buying it. A group of countries including India has opposed the carbon border taxes policy at the COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, saying it could “result in market distortion”. The BASIC group, comprising India, China, Brazil, and South Africa, said in a joint statement dated November 15, “Unilateral measures and discriminatory practices, such as carbon border taxes, that could result in market distortion and aggravate the trust deficit amongst Parties, must be avoided. BASIC countries call for a united solidarity response by developing countries to any unfair shifting of responsibilities from developed to developing countries.” The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism is a plan from the European Union (EU) to tax carbon-intensive products, such as iron and steel, cement, fertilizer, aluminum, and electricity generation, from 2026. Put simply, the carbon border tax involves imposing an import duty on a product manufactured in a country with more lax climate rules than the one buying it.

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3) Economy

India to grow at ‘moderately brisk rate’, inflation to ease: FinMin report

India is well placed to grow at a “moderately brisk rate” in the coming years on the back of macroeconomic stability, despite the global monetary tightening, a finance ministry report said on Thursday. It further said inflationary pressures will ease in the coming months with the arrival of Kharif crops and at the same time, job opportunities will increase with improvement in business prospects. The ‘Monthly Economic Review for October 2022’ also cautioned that the US monetary tightening is a “future risk” that could lead to a dip in stock prices, weaker currencies, and higher bond yields, resulting in higher borrowing costs for many governments around the world. It said a rapid deterioration in global growth prospects, high inflation, and worsening financial conditions have increased fears of an impending global recession.

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4) Markets, Banking, and Finance

SEBI to issue regulations for finfluencers: How do the steps come into play?

A set of regulations for financial influencers, or finfluencers, who offer unauthorized financial assistance on social media platforms like Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook is being developed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi). Owing to a dearth of guidelines and rules, influencers tend to furnish their followers and subscribers with a set of financial recommendations on many social media channels without a licence. Mr. Sharan Hegde, Finance Creator, Finance With Sharan said “The guidelines are welcomed as it will bring immense clarity in what fin-fluencers can talk about. While the creative process remains uninterrupted, it will surely help in identifying and strengthening the reliability of the content. With SEBI coming into the picture, branded content driven by influencers will no longer just be a promotional tool, it will progress to become a more awareness-driven and holistic channel of marketing.

For details visit here.

SEBI working on rules to govern Financial Influencers on social media | Business 360 | CNBC-TV18

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IRDAI gives final approval to Go Digit General Insurance for listing

Insurance regulator IRDAI on November 25 gave final approval to Fairfax-backed Go Digit General Insurance Ltd for listing on stock exchanges, BSE, and NSE, according to CNBC-TV18. Go Digit General Insurance Ltd had August filed preliminary papers with markets regulator Sebi to garner funds through an initial public offering (IPO).  Cricketer Virat Kohli and his wife actor Anushka Sharma are among the investors in the firm. However, the Securities and Exchange Board of India had kept “abeyance” of the proposed initial share sale without clarifying the reason. Proceeds from the fresh issuance will be utilized for the augmentation of the company’s capital base and maintenance of solvency levels and general corporate purposes. Go Digit offers motor insurance, health insurance, travel insurance, property insurance, marine insurance, liability insurance, and other insurance products, to meet the needs of the customers.

For details visit here.

5) Business

Penguin scraps $2.2bn deal to buy the rival publisher

Publishing giant Penguin Random House has scrapped a $2.2bn (£1.9bn) planned takeover of rival Simon & Schuster. Last month, a US court blocked the deal, saying it could “substantially” weaken competition in the industry. Penguin’s parent company Bertelsmann said Paramount Global, the owner of Simon & Schuster, decided not to appeal the ruling. The proposed deal would have cemented Penguin Random House’s position as the world’s largest book publisher.

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Tatas to acquire Bisleri for up to ?7,000 crores: Report

Tata Consumer Products Ltd will buy Bisleri International for up to ?7000 crores, the Economic Times newspaper reported on Thursday, citing the packaged water maker’s chairman Ramesh Chauhan. The Tata Group houses its consumer business under Tata Consumer Products Ltd (TCPL) which also sells packaged mineral water under the brand Himalayan and with brands such as Tata Copper Plus Water and Tata Gluco in the hydration segment. According to industry observers, if the deal is finalized, it would provide the Tata group FMCG arm a larger play into the fast-growing bottled water segment.

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Amazon to pull down shutters in food-delivery business in India on Dec 29

Amazon India decided to shut its food delivery business on December 29 this year, according to a letter sent by the e-commerce giant to its restaurant partners. This follows its recent decision to shut down its edtech offering in India from August 2023. Amazon announced its entry into online food delivery in India in May 2020, at a time the country was still going through the lockdown to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. The service was initially launched in areas with select pin codes in Bengaluru. In March 2021, the service was available across 62 pin codes covering key localities in Bengaluru. The company was learnt to be mulling and scaling it up to other cities.

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6) Technology

What is Digital Rupee? How is it different from Cryptocurrency?

The Reserve Bank of India is set to launch the pilot of its central bank digital currency (CBDC), which it categorizes as legal tender in a digital form. Commonly known as the digital rupee, it will be exchangeable at par with existing currencies and will be considered acceptable for payments and a safe store of value. Also being called the e? or the digital rupee, CBDC issued by the RBI is aimed at creating an additional option to use money and isn’t very different from the currently-issued banknotes; only the digital rupee is expected to be transacted digitally and facilitate ease of use. The digital rupee is the RBI’s accepted version of cryptocurrencies, which the central bank has dismissed repeatedly and called a serious challenge to the stability of the financial system of the country. Being an electronic form of sovereign currency, the CDBC is being touted as safer than private cryptocurrencies, and here’s how the both will differ.

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Can RBI’s Digital Rupee initiative help India beat the USA’s SWIFT Network dominance?

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The collapse of FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto con, how it soared & why it vaporized

The downfall of FTX has taken the crypto world by storm. In this episode Editor-in-Chief of ThePrint Shekhar Gupta explains how FTX soared, why it vaporized & Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire.

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500 mn users, including from India, at risk in WhatsApp data breach: Report

WhatsApp data of nearly half a billion users from 84 countries around the world, including India, could have been breached and put up for sale online, according to a report by Cybernews. The report said it investigated a data sample — after a post on a “well-known hacking community forum” claimed to be selling an up-to-date database of 487 million WhatsApp users — and found that the claim was likely true, meaning 25% of the total 2 billion monthly active users worldwide could be at risk. Leaked phone numbers could be used for any number of reasons, including marketing and phishing. This isn’t the first time Meta and its online platforms have found themselves in the middle of a data security issue. Last year, information about more than 500 million users of Facebook, another Meta-owned company, was offered online for free. In 2019, data from 419 million Facebook and 49 million Instagram users were exposed. In the same year, it faced another breach leaving the data of 267 million users exposed.

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Jio to introduce a short video format platform; plans to take on Meta’s reels

Jio is planning to introduce a rival to Meta’s reels feature. The telco giant is now getting an India-based short video format app called Platform. This app is expected to do exactly the same as Facebook’s and Instagram’s reels work. As per a press release, Rolling Stones India, Creativeland Asia, and Jio Platforms Limited have partnered to launch ‘Platform’, a short video app for entertainers. The press release states that the app is aimed at “star entertainers, with an ecosystem built for organic growth and steady monetization.” The Platform app will be all about creators, singers, actors, musicians, dancers, comedians, fashion designers, and everyone who wants to become a cultural influencer.

For details visit here.

Amazon to wind down online learning vertical in India as demand falters post-pandemic

Amazon will be winding down its online learning vertical, Amazon Academy, in India in a phased manner starting next year as demand for e-learning falters with schools, colleges, and physical tuition centers reopening post the pandemic. Amazon Academy’s existing batch will be completing its test preparation module by August 2023, post which the company has decided to shut down operations, Amazon said in a statement on November 24. The company also said that the decision will not have any impact on its existing customers and services. While Amazon did not disclose the reason behind shutting its online learning platform, a report in the news portal ET Prime said that the move was a part of Amazon’s ongoing cost-cutting measures.

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Meta introduces more privacy features for minors on Facebook and Instagram

Meta is taking new steps to make teens feel safer on Facebook. The company is making changes to the default privacy settings for teens’ Facebook accounts, limiting the ability of “suspicious” adults to message teens on Instagram and Facebook. The more private settings will be enabled by default for anyone under the age of 16 who signs up for the platform while for teens who already have accounts, Facebook will display a prompt encouraging them to use these settings.

For details visit here.

7) Politics

SC questions the‘ lightning speed’ appointment of Arun Goel as Election Commissioner

The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned the Centre on Arun Goel’s appointment as Election Commissioner and said his name was finalized at “lightning speed”. A five-judge Constitution bench led by Justice KM Joseph while hearing petitions seeking reforms in the appointment of Election Commissioners observed that Goel’s file was cleared within just 24 hours. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, said that Goel was working as a secretary under the government till Friday. He then took voluntary retirement and was appointed as Election Commissioner the next day.

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Bureaucratic rejig: Manoj Kumar Sahoo appointed Deputy Election Commissioner

Senior bureaucrat Manoj Kumar Sahoo has been appointed as Deputy Election Commissioner as part of a senior-level bureaucratic reshuffle effected on Saturday by the Centre. Sahoo is a 2006 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram, and Union Territories (AGMUT) cadre. Sahoo has been appointed to the post for an overall tenure of seven years up to December 16, 2023, a Personnel Ministry order said.

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Karnataka mulling over implementing uniform civil code says CM Bommai

During a Constitution Day program at Karnataka’s Vidhana Soudha, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said Saturday that his government was studying various aspects of a uniform civil code (UCC). “As far as the BJP is concerned, we feel the UCC is desirable. The UCC has been part of the BJP’s manifesto at the national level for a long time now. There are already committees formed by different state governments to implement it. We are also looking into it and studying various aspects and then we will take a call,” he told reporters.

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8) Sports

T20 World Cup 2024 to be played in an entirely different format: Report

The 2024 edition of the ICC men’s T20 World Cup in West Indies and USA will be played in a new format as compared to the previous two tournaments, with 20 participating teams being divided into four groups of five sides each. As per ESPNCricinfo, with this, the first round that used to take before the Super 12 stage in 2021 and 2022 editions will now be done away with. The top two teams from each group will advance to the Super Eight stage, where all the teams will get divided into two groups of four each. The top two teams of these two groups will qualify for the semifinal. Following this, the final will take place. In the previous two editions of the tournament in 2021 and 2022, the first round featured eight teams that came into the tournament through qualification and teams that finished between ninth and 12th position in previous T20 WC.

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Messi joins the elite list of players to score at Four World Cups after netting against Saudi Arabia

Lionel Messi has joined Pelé, Uwe Seeler, Miroslav Klose, and Cristiano Ronaldo as players to have scored at four FIFA World Cups. Argentina forward scored from the spot to give the South Americans the lead during their group opener against Saudi Arabia. The Paris Saint-Germain star led his team to the final in 2014 but fell short against Germany, following an injury-time goal from Mario Gotze. Argentina was crowned South American champions at the 2021 Copa America, but are yet to win the World Cup since 1986.

For details visit here.

9) Opinion

This one country doesn’t have an inflation problem

This video helps you to be more knowledgeable about inflation by looking at countries, most notably Switzerland, that have bucked the global trend in 2022 by reporting tame inflation numbers. We look into what Switzerland did right and what other countries can learn from them.

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Pak Army Chief’s record – and why it’s so relevant to India

Pakistan named Lieutenant-General Asim Munir as the head of the country’s nuclear-armed military, the most powerful institution in a nation seldom far from its next crisis. The appointment could have a crucial bearing on the future of Pakistan’s fragile democracy, and whether relations with India are allowed to improve. During the 75 years since the independence and formation of Pakistan out of the Partition of India, the army has seized power three times and directly ruled the Islamic republic for more than three decades, fighting three wars with India along the way.  Even when a civilian government holds power, Pakistan’s generals retain a dominant influence over security matters and foreign affairs.

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What India’s draft digital privacy law says — and how it compares with data protection laws elsewhere

The new Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 released on Friday (November 18) is focused on personal data, as compared to an earlier unwieldy draft. The reworked version of the legislation incorporates hefty penalties for non-compliance, but which are capped without any link to the turnover of the entity in question. It has also relaxed rules on cross-border data flows that could bring relief to the big tech companies, alongside a provision for easier compliance requirements for start-ups. There could be two potentially significant red flags: a near blanket exemption for government agencies from complying with some of the more onerous requirements under the Bill, and a dilution of the remit of the proposed Data Protection Board, which is mandated to oversee the provisions of the proposed legislation.

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Opinion | Iran’s Democratic Revolution: A reality that cannot be denied anymore

More than sixty days have passed since the beginning of the Iranian people’s uprising. Anyone who is familiar with Iran’s contemporary history knows that this is the last stage of the 100-year history of Iranians’ struggle for freedom, equality, and democracy. Throughout these 100 years, Iranians have faced oppression from the Pahlavi family’s dictatorship, followed by the ruling theocracy, the latter being assisted by Western policies of appeasement. But Iranians have never given up demanding freedom and equality, despite the very heavy cost. About 40 years ago, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI/MEK) started a nationwide resistance against the mullahs, and today, we are witnessing its final phase pervading throughout Iran.

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We face a “Very Difficult” Economic Situation– A matter of “Great Concern”: PMEAC Member Rakesh Mohan

In an interview to discuss the state of the economy – focusing specifically on growth, investment, unemployment, poverty, inflation and the state of the rupee, a member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) says that India faces “a very difficult situation” which he adds is “a matter of great concern”. Rakesh Mohan, who is also a former deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), says it’s hard to say with precision or conviction what would be the GDP growth rate this year because of the impact that the enormous international uncertainty may have on India. The uncertainty, he added, is more than it has been for the last four-five decades. However, Mohan believes that if Quarter 2 growth, which will be released in the next few days, is between 6.1 and 6.3%, then growth this year should be somewhere between 6.5 and 7%. However, if Q2 growth is lower than 6.1%, overall growth for the year could fall below 6.5%.

Watch video here.

10) Weekly special

How Has the Indian Economy Done Vis-à-vis Other Nations Over the Past 30 Years?

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11) Did you know?

What is a leap second that scientists have agreed to scrap?

Scientists and government representatives from across the world have decided to scrap the practice of adding ‘leap seconds’ to official clocks by 2035  The ad-hoc time adjustment is done to ensure Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is in sync with Earth’s rotation on its axis. However, the time-keeping alteration has caused difficulties for tech companies. Scientists have agreed to scrap the leap second at the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) in Paris on November 18, Nature reported.

For details visit here.

With that, we come to the end of our Weekly Current Affairs November 2022 -Week 4. We 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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