Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 24 December 2021

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 24 December 2021


NITI Aayog launches Vernacular Innovation Program for innovators, entrepreneurs to reach innovative ecosystem in 22 languages

  • With an ambition to empower innovators and entrepreneurs across the country, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog has come up with a first of its kind Vernacular Innovation Program (VIP), which will enable innovators and entrepreneurs in India to have access to the innovation ecosystem in 22 scheduled languages by the Government of India.
  • To build the necessary capacity for the VIP, AIM has identified and will be training a Vernacular Task Force (VTF) in each of the 22 scheduled languages. Each task force comprises of vernacular language teachers, subject experts, technical writers, and the leadership of regional Atal Incubation Centers (AICs).
  • To get the program rolling, AIM NITI Aayog is launching a train-the-trainer program where it will collaborate with the Design Department of IIT Delhi to coach the VTF in design thinking and entrepreneurship and the adaptation of these subjects in the 22 languages and cultures. Furthermore, industry mentors have joined hands to lend design thinking expertise, and CSR sponsors have agreed to generously support the program. Upon training the task force over the period of December 2021 to April 2022, the ecosystem will be opened to vernacular innovators. 
  • Launching the VIP, Vice Chairman NITI Aayog Dr. Rajiv Kumar said, India derives its identity from the diverse social and cultural fabric with regional languages being one of the most prominent cultural assets.
  • “Vernacular Innovation Program strengthens the design and innovation capabilities of our communities, thereby assisting local entrepreneurs, artisans and innovators to seamlessly assimilate the knowledge cum technical materials that AIM will develop. This would assist India in building a strong local network of design experts and innovation practitioners,” he said.
  • Speaking during the launch, Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog said, the program will be a stepping stone in the journey of the Indian innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem which will cement the cognitive and design thinking attitude in young and aspiring minds.
  • “This one of its kind initiative by Atal Innovation Mission, will help in overcoming the barriers of language and empower innovators in the farthest areas of the country,” He said.
  • VIP is an initiative to lower the language barrier in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship such that will systematically decouple creative expressions and languages of transaction said Dr. ChintanVaishnav Mission Director AIM, NITI Aayog at the launch event of the program.
  • DrChintan further said, the struggle of not being able to expose one's idea or innovation to the world is quite important to address, especially in India with its great diversity of languages. The VIP has a national audience owing to the magnitude of the problem that vernacular innovators face.
  • Quoting the 2011 census, he said only 10.4% of Indians speak English, most as their second, third, or fourth language. Not surprisingly, only 0.02% of Indians spoke English as their first language. Ten years later these numbers are not likely to be very different. “Why shouldn’t we then create equal opportunity for the vernacular innovators who represent the staggering 90% of our population. After all, we know for sure that this excluded population, no matter which Indian language they speak, is at least as creative as the rest,” he stressed.
  • India may be the first nation in the world to launch such an initiative where an innovation ecosystem catering to 22 languages plus English is being built. By providing access to learning in one’s language and culture, AIM looks forward to enriching the local, regional, national and global innovation pipelines.


US to allow waiving of in-person interviews for H-1B, other visas through 2022

  • The United States will allow its consular officers to waive in-person interviews for H-1B and other certain non-immigrant visa applicants through next year to help reduce visa wait times, the State Department said.
  • “The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in profound reductions in the department’s visa processing capacity,” it said in a statement. “As global travel rebounds, we are taking these temporary steps to further our commitment to safely and efficiently reduce visa wait times while maintaining national security as our priority.”
  • The consular officers will now be temporarily authorised to waive in-person interviews for nearly a dozen visa categories, including Persons in Specialty Occupations (H-1B visas), visas for students, temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers, student exchange visitors, as well as athletes, artists, and entertainers.
  • The full list of visa categories in which the appointment now could be waived can be found here.
  • The state department also said it has extended indefinitely the authorisation to waive the in-person interview for applicants renewing a visa in the same visa class within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration.


HSBC's AMC acquires L&T Mutual Fund business for $425 million

  • L&T Housing Finance  announced selling L&T Investment Management (LTIM) to HSBC Asset Management (India) at $425 million. LTIM is the investment manager of the mutual fund business of L&T.
  • The divestment of the mutual fund business is in line with the strategic objective of L&T Finance Holdings of unlocking value from its subsidiaries to strengthen its balance sheet, it stated in a press release.
  • The data from the Association of Mutual Funds in India (Amfi) shows L&T Mutual Fund (MF) has average assets under management (AAUM) worth Rs 78,273.80 crore, while HSBC MF has AAUM of Rs 11,314.32 crore as in the July-September quarter.
  • DinanathDubhashi, managing director and chief executive officer, L&T Finance Holdings, said: “When seen alongside the recent capital raise, it provides us with enough ammunition to increase the pace of retailisation in our lending portfolio, which is one of our long-term goals.”
  • L&T Investment Management (LTIM) is the 12th largest asset management company (AMC) in India and offers a basket of equity, fixed-income, and hybrid schemes to retail and institutional investors.
  • This will be a third merger and acquisition in the Indian asset management space in 2021. Earlier in this year, Sundaram AMC had bought the assets of Principal Asset Management.
  • According to the industry participants, the deal was at Rs 338 crore.
  • In May this year, India’s leading investment platform, Groww, had announced it would acquire Indiabulls Mutual Fund at Rs 175 crores (including cash and cash equivalent of Rs 100 crore).

Sony Pictures Networks India, Zee Entertainment sign merger agreement

  • Sony Pictures Networks India Private Limited (SPNI) and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) on Wednesday announced that they have signed definitive agreements to merge ZEEL with and into SPNI and combine their linear networks, digital assets, production operations and program libraries. The agreements follow the conclusion of an exclusive negotiation period during which ZEEL and SPNI conducted mutual due diligence. After closing, the new combined company will be publicly listed in India. The closing of the transaction is subject to certain customary closing conditions, including regulatory, shareholder, and third party approvals.
  • Under the terms of the definitive agreements, SPNI will have cash balance of $1.5 bn at closing, including through infusion by the current shareholders of SPNI and the promoters (founders) of ZEEL, to enable the combined company to drive sharper content creation across platforms, strengthen its footprint in the rapidly evolving digital ecosystem, bid for media rights in the fast-growing sports landscape and pursue other growth opportunities.
  • PunitGoenka will lead the combined company as its managing director & CEO. The majority of the board of directors of the combined company will be nominated by the Sony Group and will include the current SPNI Managing Director and CEO, N P Singh. On closing, Singh will assume a broader executive position at SPE as chairman, Sony Pictures India (a division of SPE) reporting to Ravi Ahuja, SPE’s chairman of Global Television Studios and SPE Corporate Development.
  • While SPNI will own a 50.86 per cent stake in the merged entity, Zee’s founders will own 3.99 per cent, according to an exchange filing from Zee. The remaining 45.15 per cent will be with public shareholders as part of the definitive agreement.


DRDO successfully tests Pralay missile for second day in a row

  • India successfully tested the locally developed surface-to-surface missile Pralay, the second test of the conventional missile in two days, the defence ministry announced.
  • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) tested the missile from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast. It has a range of 150 to 500 kilometre, depending on payload, and can be launched from a mobile launcher. 
  • “In Thursday’s launch, the missile was tested for heavier payload and different range to prove the precision and lethality of the weapon,” the ministry said in a statement. 
  • The launch was monitored by range sensors and instruments, including telemetry, radar and electro-optic tracking systems deployed along India’s eastern coast and ships positioned near the impact point. 
  • The flight test met all the mission objectives, the ministry said. 
  • The twin flight tests came days after India tested an advanced variant of the Agni class of missiles from the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island test facility on December 18. 
  • The other variants of the Agni missiles developed by DRDO include the 700-km Pakistan-specific Agni-I, the 2,000-km range Agni-II, the 3,000-km range Agni-III, 4,000-km range Agni-IV and the 5,000-km range Agni-V missile. 
  • The Agni P test came a week after India successfully tested a new locally-developed anti-tank missile and concluded a series of tests of extended range rockets also developed indigenously, weapons that will be inducted into the armed forces shortly. 
  • The weapons successfully tested on December 11 were the helicopter launched stand-off anti-tank (SANT) missile and Pinaka extended range (ER) rocket systems. 


Indian team retain no 3 position in FIH men's ranking, women's slip to 9th spot

  • The Indian men's hockey have retained their third spot in the FIH hockey rankings behind Australia and Belgium who are ranked first and second respectively.
  • The Indian women's team on the other hand has slipped to the ninth spot of the FIH rankings whereas the Netherlands are at the numerouno spot.
  • The Indian men's team reached their best ever ranking of third-ever since the FIH rankings were introduced this year. The Olympics bronze medallist have retained their position with 2296.038 points after finishing a disappointing third in the Asian Champions Trophy losing to Japan in the semi-final and beating arch-rivals Pakistan to end up with a bronze medal.

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