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: Massive Russian strikes target energy grid – Zelensky

Russia has launched a “new massive strike” targeting Ukraine’s energy grid, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said. He added that the attacks were on a “very wide” scale, hitting regions in Ukraine’s west, center, south, and east. In an evening address, Mr. Zelensky said power had been restored in multiple areas where it had been cut off. In his video, Mr. Zelensky added that most of the Russian missiles and drones were being shot down, and such strikes would not stop a Ukrainian military advance. On Friday Mr. Zelensky accused Russia of planting mines at a hydroelectric dam in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, which is under the control of Moscow’s forces. He said that if the Kakhovka hydropower plant was destroyed, hundreds of thousands of people would be in danger of flooding. Russia has denied planning to blow up the dam and said Ukraine was firing missiles at it. The dam may provide Russia with one of the few remaining routes across the River Dnieper (called Dnipro by Ukrainians) in the partially occupied Kherson region. Thousands of civilians have been leaving the city of Kherson in recent days, as Ukrainian forces advance.

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Russian-installed authorities order evacuation of Kherson

Russian-installed authorities ordered all residents of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson to leave “immediately” on Saturday ahead of an expected advance by Ukrainian troops waging a counteroffensive to recapture one of the first urban areas Russia took after invading the country. In a post on the Telegram messaging service, the regional pro-Kremlin administration called on civilians to use boat crossings over a major river to move deeper into Russian-held territory, citing a tense situation on the front and the threat of shelling and alleged “terror attacks” by Kyiv. Kherson has been in Russian hands since the early days of the invasion in February. The city is the capital of a region of the same name, one of four that Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed last month and then put under Russian martial law.

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Putin’s men turn Kherson into a ‘fortress’; Russians order ‘evacuation’ as Ukrainian forces advance

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Explained | What makes Kherson, the Ukrainian city captured by Russia, significant?

Kherson is an important port city in the south of Ukraine. It has a population of around 290,000 and is situated on the Dnieper River that flows into the Black Sea.   The Black Sea holds immense geostrategic importance for Russia. Apart from Russia, five other countries that surround the important water body are North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) members Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania. Ukraine and Georgia are the two countries that want to join NATO.  Russia sees control over Black Sea ports as of strategic importance to dominate the water body that provides an important economic trade route to the Mediterranean Sea. It can also be seen as a security buffer zone from any threats that might arise in its south. Kherson is also home to the Kherson Shipyard which specializes in the construction of various types of vessels like merchant ships, tankers, container ships, icebreakers and Arctic supply ships, refrigerators, and so on.

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Xi Jinping secures historic third term as leader of China, breaks the traditional two-term limit

Xi Jinping, the Chinese President was re-elected as the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China on Sunday. He has set the record for being elected for his third five-year term, something only party founder Mao Zedong has managed to date. The 69-year-old was elected to the powerful Central Committee a day earlier by a once-in-a-five-year Congress. He was elected despite crossing the official retirement age of 68 and completing a 10-year tenure. Several senior leaders including the number two leader Premier Li Keqiang either retired or failed to make it to the Central Committee resulting in a major shakeup of China’s politics and government.

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Xi Jinping secures the third term as Chinese Communist Party leader | DW News

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Liz Truss resigns after six weeks as UK prime minister

Liz Truss said on Thursday she would resign as British prime minister, brought down just six weeks into the job by an economic program that roiled financial markets, pushed up living costs for voters, and enraged much of her own party. The Conservative Party, which holds a big majority in parliament and need not call a nationwide election for another two years, will elect a new leader by Oct. 28. That contest is likely to pit ex-finance minister Rishi Sunak against Penny Mordaunt, but could also see the return of former premier Boris Johnson, who was ousted in July when his ministers resigned en masse to force him out of power.

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Sunak declares candidacy to be new UK PM, says he wants to fix the economy

Indian-origin former chancellor Rishi Sunak on Sunday formally declared his candidacy to contest the Conservative Party leadership election to replace Liz Truss as British Prime Minister and fix the economy. The 42-year-old is the clear frontrunner as he raced ahead with the backing of at least 128 Tory members of Parliament, even as loyalists of his former boss Boris Johnson claimed he has the necessary 100 MPs needed to make it to the shortlist. While the former Tory leader and the prime minister is yet to officially declare his candidacy, the contest is shaping up as a three-way fight including third-placed Leader of the Commons Penny Mordaunt.

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Right-wing Meloni was sworn in as Italy’s first woman prime minister

Giorgia Meloni was sworn in as Italy’s first woman prime minister on Saturday alongside her cabinet team, giving the country its most right-wing government since World War Two. She takes office at an especially fraught moment, with Italy’s debt-laden economy once again heading into recession, firms buckling under the weight of soaring energy bills, and splits within her coalition over the war in Ukraine. Her government, the 12th this century, replaces a national unity administration piloted by former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, who was at the forefront of European Union efforts to sanction Russia after it invaded Ukraine in February.

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Pakistan, China to launch three new corridors besides CPEC: Report

Pakistan and China have decided to jointly launch three new projects in addition to the existing multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the all-weather allies seek to ramp up bilateral ties in various sectors, including agriculture, health, and science and technology. Launched in 2015, CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan with China’s Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of China’s ambitious multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). India has objected to CPEC as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The CPEC was launched in 2015 when President Xi visited Pakistan. Energy and infrastructure projects worth billions of dollars have been completed under the project which has been billed as a ‘game-changer’ by the senior officials of the two countries.

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2) India

ISRO launches 36 broadband satellites in its heaviest rocket from Sriharikota

In a big success, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) today launched 36 satellites in its heaviest rocket, LVM3. ISRO’s heaviest rocket blasted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday at 12:07 am to place 36 broadband communication satellites into the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for a UK-based OneWeb. OneWeb is a private satellite communications company, in which India’s Bharti Enterprises is a major investor and shareholder. ISRO’s heaviest vehicle, LMV3, is also dubbed as one of the heaviest for its ability to carry satellites up to 8,000 kg. The mission assumes significance as this was LVM3’s maiden commercial mission and also NewSpace India’s (NSIL) first with the said launch vehicle. NSIL is a central public sector enterprise under the Department of Space.

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ISRO lifts off the heaviest rocket to launch 36 satellites; Enters global commercial service

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Justice Chandrachud appointed the next CJI, to take oath on Nov 9

President Droupadi Murmu on Monday appointed Justice Dhanajaya Yeshwant Chandrachud as the 50th Chief Justice of India. Justice Chandrachud will succeed CJI U U Lalit, who is due to retire on November 8. Justice Chandrachud will have a relatively long tenure of two years and is due to retire on November 10, 2024 — this will be the CJI’s longest tenure in almost a decade. A Law graduate from Delhi University,  Justice Chandrachud took over as the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court on October 31, 2013, and was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court on May 13, 2016. During his tenure in SC, he penned crucial verdicts, including the landmark Constitution Bench rulings recognizing privacy as a fundamental right, decriminalizing homosexuality, and decriminalizing adultery, among others. A bench led by him had passed several directions to assuage miseries faced by people during the Covid-19 crisis, terming the brutal second wave of the pandemic last year as a “national crisis”. Recently, Justice Chandrachud was among the two judges of the SC Collegium who had objected to the method of “circulation” adopted for eliciting the views of its members on the appointment of judges to the top court.

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Justice DY Chandrachud named India’s next Chief Justice by CJI Lalit

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3) Economy

India’s economy doing well in comparison to global gloom, says economic review

Even as economic growth and rising inflation remain major concerns for India, with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman saying that these twin challenges would be in focus in the next Union Budget, the monthly economic review for September has said that country’s economic performance has been “impressive” in the first half of 2022-23. The Central government’s continuous thrust on capital expenditure promotes broad-based growth by facilitating private-sector capital formation. Significant pick-up in consumption has resulted in a more-than-proportionate jump in GST revenues, a more robust economic recovery could allow the collections to settle at an elevated level, proving the high revenue productivity of the broad-based consumption, the review further noted. A well-capitalized banking system has led to an upswing in credit disbursement to the retail, industry, and services segments.

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4) Markets, Banking, and Finance

RBI deputy governor bats for internationalization of Rupee, says risks unavoidable

T Rabi Sankar, one of the deputy governors at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on October 20 made a strong pitch for the internationalization of the Rupee, listing its advantages and saying the risks associated with the move are unavoidable. Elaborating on his point on Rupee internationalization, Sankar said India needs to calibrate its moves to the evolving size of our economy, particularly the size of the external sector and to the country’s appetite for risk in framing policy for external trade and capital flows. Internationalization of the Rupee refers to adopting full capital account convertibility. This will mean no restrictions on the amount of Rupee that can be converted into foreign currencies for transactions such as the purchase of assets.

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India’s forex reserves at 2-year low amid depreciating rupee    

India’s foreign exchange reserves during the week that ended on October 14 fell to an over two-year low of USD 528.367 billion, a drop of USD 4.5 billion from the previous week. In the preceding week, the country’s foreign exchange reserves were at USD 532.868 billion, RBI data showed. According to RBI’s data, India’s foreign currency assets, which are the biggest component of the forex reserves, declined by USD 2.828 billion to USD 468.668 billion during the week. The value of gold reserves dropped by USD 1.5 billion to USD 37.453 billion during the week. The reserves have been falling for months now because of RBI’s likely intervention in the market to defend the depreciating rupee against a surging US dollar. For the record, the Indian rupee has been weakening over the past few weeks to hit fresh new all-time lows as the US dollar strengthened against major global currencies. On Wednesday, the rupee breached the 83 mark for the first time in its history. So far this year, the rupee has depreciated around 11-12 percent, market data showed.

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5) Business

Tribe Capital to invest $2 billion in Indian startups over the next 2 years

US-headquartered venture capital firm Tribe Capital continues to be bullish on the Indian capital markets story. Over the next two years, it plans on deploying nearly $2 billion across Indian startups. “Currently, we have $1.5 billion Assets Under Management (AUM) of which 20% is in India. You will see us double down in our (portfolio) companies as they continue to raise more capital,” said Arjun Sethi, CEO, Co-founder, and Partner at Tribe Capital. He added, “You will see us invest large amounts in 5-10 companies over the next two years rather than back a large number of companies.” In India, Tribe Capital has invested in startups such as logistics enabler Shiprocket trucking platform BlackBuck, and financial services platform for Small and Medium Enterprises KhataBook. It continues to work on the commerce-enabler SaaS companies, across logistics, payments, digital ledger book providers, and others.

For details visit here.

Automakers to double spending on EVs, and batteries to $1.2 trillion by 2030

The world’s top automakers are planning to spend nearly $1.2 trillion through 2030 to develop and produce millions of electric vehicles, along with the batteries and raw materials to support that production, according to a Reuters analysis of public data and projections released by those companies. The EV investment figure, which has not previously been published, dwarfs previous investment estimates by Reuters and is more than twice the most recent calculation published just a year ago. Automakers have forecast plans to build 54 million battery electric vehicles in 2030, representing more than 50% of total vehicle production, according to the analysis. To support that unprecedented level of EVs, carmakers and their battery partners are planning to install 5.8 terawatt-hours of battery production capacity by 2030, according to data from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and the manufacturers.

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6) Technology

El Salvador becomes third largest crypto ATM hub

After the United States and Canada, Spain is the official home of the third-largest network of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency ATMs, as reported by Cointelegraph. El Salvador, which has 212 crypto ATMs, is presently in fourth place due to Spain, which has 215 crypto ATMs, having surpassed it by 3 crypto ATMs. Spain is confirmed to account for 0.6% of all crypto ATM installations worldwide, according to data from CoinATMRadar. Additionally, the information reveals that Spain is the top contributor to crypto ATM installations in Europe, accounting for 14.65% of all installations on the continent. Spain is followed by Switzerland (144 ATMs), Poland (142 ATMs), and Romania (141 ATMs) (135 ATMs).

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Meta-backed Meesho is beating Amazon, and Walmart in the race for Indian shoppers

An upstart e-commerce service is winning more new shoppers in India than Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart, posing a challenge to the U.S. retailing titans, which have plowed billions of dollars into the world’s biggest untapped digital market. Bengaluru-based Meesho is leading the burgeoning social-commerce sector, allowing users to sell items by sharing product listings with friends via Meta Platforms Inc.’s popular WhatsApp messaging service, along with Facebook and Instagram. Meta is also an investor in Meesho, with an undisclosed stake. Meesho’s goal is to be the online leader in the simpler goods, such as clothing and household items, often sold in unorganized retail, which accounts for as much as 85% of India’s shopping sector, Mr. Bansal said. The startup caters to the legions of consumers who are used to shopping in corner stores and are now turning to the internet.

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Competition Commission slaps ?1,338-crore penalty on Google for unfair practices

The Competition Commission on October 20 imposed a penalty of ?1,337.76 crores on Google for abusing its dominant position in multiple markets in the Android mobile device ecosystem. Besides, the fair trade regulator has directed the internet major to cease and desist from unfair business practices. In a release, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) said it has also directed Google to modify its conduct within a defined timeline. In April 2019, the regulator ordered a detailed probe into the matter following complaints by consumers of Android-based smartphones in the country. Android is an open-source, mobile operating system installed by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) of smartphones and tablets. The allegations of unfair business practices pertained to two agreements – The Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA) and Anti Fragmentation Agreement (AFA)—which were entered into by the OEMs of Android OS with Google.

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7) Politics

Modi Govt cancels FCRA license of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation for violation of foreign funding law

The Central government has canceled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) license of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF), a non-government organization associated with the Gandhi family, for alleged violations of the foreign funding law, the government sources said on Sunday. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) canceled the registration of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) based on recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate investigations into violation of various legal provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act. The committee formed by the MHA in July 2020 has pointed out its findings about the violations of various FCRA norms that have resulted in the cancellation of the registration of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, which was established in 1991, the officer privy to the development said.

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Centre decided to remove all obsolete, archaic laws: Law Minister Kiren Rijiju

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday announced that the Central government has decided to remove all obsolete and archaic laws of the Indian judiciary from the statute box stating that they have no relevance in today’s time. The Law Minister said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi desires to reduce the compliance burden of the people and wants a lesser government role in people’s lives. He further said that over 1500 laws have been removed and in the coming Winter Session of Parliament many more repealing acts will be introduced.

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Bihar caste dynamics make likely JDU-RJD merger look win-win for both

Speculations are rife about the merger of Janata Dal (United) and its alliance partner Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) since October 10 when Lalu Yadav’s party adopted a resolution, authorizing him and his son Tejashwi to change the name and symbol of the party. This resolution, passed in the RJD national executive, took even the party leaders by surprise. According to party leaders of both the RJD and JDU, this merger is likely to happen by this year-end or early next year, depending on the health condition of Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is currently in Singapore for treatment for kidney-related ailments. This unification will consolidate, at least theoretically, 50-65 percent of the total voters in favor of this new political entity. The RJD claims to have the complete support of voters belonging to Yadavs and Muslims, both of whom together account for at least 35-40 percent of the total voters of Bihar. Similarly, the JDU counts itself as a party that has a vote bank of 25-30 percent that comes from the Extremely backward castes (EBC) and the non—Yadav OBC community. The merger, if it happens, is likely to make the challenges for the BJP even greater in the state where it is focusing on forming a government on its own for the first time.

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8) Sports

King Kohli leads India to an epic win over Pakistan

Pakistan has the best-ranked T20 batsman playing for them, but at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, it was Virat Kohli who was in the spotlight, sealing off an empathetic win for India against their arch-rivals. King Kohli – as referred to by his ever-growing fanbase – scored a phenomenal 53-ball 82 (not out) to single-handedly drag India back into the game and start off their T20 World Cup campaign on the best possible note. After Pakistan recovered from a shaky start to post a 160 target for the boys in blue, Kohli stuck to the crease till the last ball to see the game through. He was aided by a dogged Hardik Pandya, who scored 40 runs after much of India’s top order collapsed.

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Novak Djokovic Takes 90th Career Title With Astana Open Victory

Novak Djokovic claimed the 90th title of his career and the fourth of 2022 with a dominant straight-sets victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the ATP final in Astana on Sunday. The 35-year-old Djokovic triumphed 6-3, 6-4 in 75 minutes to add to the trophies he won this season in Israel, Rome, and Wimbledon. It was the ninth consecutive match victory for the fourth seed, who guaranteed himself a spot at the 2022 ATP Finals as a result of the win.

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India’s home ministry will take a call on traveling to Pakistan for the 2023 Asia Cup, says the sports minister

India’s sports minister Anurag Thakur said on Thursday that the country’s home ministry will take a call on the men’s team traveling to Pakistan for the 2023 Asia Cup. Thakur also said he is “expecting” Pakistan to play the 2023 ODI World Cup in India. His comments come after the BCCI secretary, Jay Shah, who is also the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) president, suggested that next year’s Asia Cup would have to be played somewhere other than Pakistan, given India “can’t go there”. In reply, the PCB had put out a statement saying Shah’s comments were made “unilaterally” and raised the prospect of an “impact” on Pakistan’s participation in the 2023 World Cup.

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9) Opinion

Could the UK Kick Off the next Eurozone Crisis?

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Phase out English intelligently. But prepare Indian languages for the difficult task first

The only way of phasing out English is to prepare Indian languages for the difficult task of teaching and learning in higher education. This would require nothing short of a national mission: writing of high-quality textbooks, and technical dictionaries, translating reference material, augmenting e-libraries, and training teachers. The students too would have to be up-skilled; currently, most college students cannot write well in their own home language. This would not mean banishing English altogether. Currently, English is not only the repository of a lot of advanced research, but it is also an invaluable bridge to knowledge in all other languages. So, all the students should be given remedial courses in reading and comprehending English, rather than the current obsession with English speaking or the burden of English writing. Higher education must be multi-lingual: classroom teaching and basic readings in the Indian language, advanced reference material in English, and the option to use any language for examination.

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US-China tech rivalry will have spillover effects. India must hedge itself

Even as the Indian government is in the process of overhauling its legal framework for regulating technology, the geopolitical environment is becoming complex. On the one hand, the fight over leadership of high-end technology is becoming increasingly contentious and competitive. There is increasing competition for dominance between the US and China that will have spillover effects for countries like India. On the other, countries like India, parts of Africa, and regional blocs like the EU are increasingly recognizing areas of mutual cooperation, of learning from and adopting scalable and useful technology in cross-border payments, public health systems, and e-commerce. Countries like India will not only have to manage the challenges arising from increasing competition, but they will also have to make sure the spillover effects of such competition do not hinder cooperation. Lastly, both competition and cooperation can potentially increase or decrease domestic regulatory autonomy in areas like personal data protection.

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Launch of a missile from Arihant a milestone. But India’s nuclear triad isn’t complete yet

The latest missile firing certainly marks another milestone in India’s quest to strengthen its nuclear triad’s crucial sea leg, which is represented by the SSBN. It is considered the most survivable element of the triad in contrast to land and aircraft-based nuclear weapons as they cannot be anywhere near the SSBN capability to remain hidden. The Arihant is, in many ways, only the harbinger of progress on a long journey that will stretch up to the late 2020s when India will have four SSBNs, probably considered the ideal number that will meet the minimum operational commitments catering for long-term maintenance and unforeseen incidents. The Arihant, in its short life till now, reportedly experienced a mishap in 2018 due to human error that flooded its propulsion chamber and took nearly a year to repair.

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Is Nirmala Sitharaman wrong? Is the rupee weakening or $ strengthening? US inflation or global recession

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10) Weekly special

How Shiprocket Made Over 350 crores – India’s 106th Unicorn

ShipRocket co-founders Saahil Goel and Akshay Ghulati, in an interview with YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma, discuss plans to double down on an eCommerce platform play for emerging brands and sellers from India’s small towns. New Delhi-based Shiprocket, a product of Bigfoot Retail Solution Pvt. Ltd., is India’s logistics software, which offers automated shipping solutions. Using this, customers can ship anywhere in India and abroad using the best courier company and at discounted rates.

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11) Did you know?

What is viral spillover?

Viruses are some of the most abundant entities on earth, but they need to infect a host’s cell in order to replicate. According to the research, these virus/host relationships seem relatively stable within superkingdoms, the major groupings of organisms. However, below this rank, viruses may infect a new host from a reservoir host (in which it usually resides) by being able to transmit sustainably in a novel host – a process defined as ‘viral spillover’.

For details visit here.

With that, we come to the end of our Weekly Current Affairs October 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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