1. According to reports, a novel COVID-19 variation known as 'IHU' has been discovered by scientists and professionals in France.
● According to reports, the new version is more mutated than Omicron.
● Academics at the institute IHU Mediterranee Infection were the first to discover the B.1.640.2 or IHU variation, which has 46 mutations, more than Omicron.
● Nearly a dozen cases of this new variety have been identified near Marseilles, with links to Cameroon in Africa.
● In most regions of the world, however, the Omicron strain remains dominant.
● This new variant has the potential to pose a big concern, however no cases have been documented outside of France, and the World Health Organization has not classified it as a "variant under investigation" (WHO).
2. A total of 31 members make up the legislative standing committee tasked with studying "The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021," with only one woman among them.
● TMC MP Sushmita Dev is the only woman on the committee, which has a total of 31 members.
● The bill aims to raise the legal marriage age for women in India from 18 to 21 years old, bringing them in line with men.
● The "Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006" and seven personal laws, including the Indian Christian Marriage Act, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, the Special Marriage Act, the Hindu Marriage Act, and the Foreign Marriage Act, are all being amended by the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021.
3. State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, and HDFC Bank have been retained as Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs) by the Reserve Bank of India.
● Since September 4, 2017, these three banks have remained on the RBI's D-SIBs list.
● Domestic Systemically Important Banks are ones that would have a major economic impact if they failed.
● The D-SIBs banks are divided into five categories.
● Bucket 1, Bucket 2, Bucket 3, Bucket 4, and Bucket 5 are the names of the buckets.
● Bucket 5 is the most significant, followed by the rest in order of importance.
● Bucket 3 has State Bank of India, while Bucket 1 contains ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank.
● The list has been updated based on information gathered from banks as of March 31, 2021.
4. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has classified Airtel Payments Bank as a scheduled bank under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934's second schedule.
● Airtel Payments Bank can now make a case to the government.
● With 115 million subscribers, Airtel Payments Bank is one of the country's fastest-growing digital banks.
● It has a retail network of over 500,000 neighbourhood banking stations and offers a range of digital options through the Airtel Thanks app.
● In the third quarter of 2021, the bank became profitable.
5. Ganjam in Odisha has declared itself the first child marriage-free district in the state.
● In the two years between 2020 and 2021, the district administration was able to prevent 450 child weddings and video-record 48,383 marriages.
● The Ganjam administration designated it a child marriage-free district after verification.
● Sarpanchs and members of the task force committee had issued recommendations stating that no child marriages had occurred in their regions.
● Ganjam established a programme called Nirbhaya Kadhi (Fearless bud).
● If any girl aged 12 to 18 was missing from school for five days, all educational institute heads were ordered to notify the administration.
● In the last two years, over a lakh teenagers have received counselling.
6. Abdalla Hamdok, Sudan's Prime Minister, has announced his resignation on January 2, 2022.
● The decision comes after a military takeover in the country that resulted in political gridlock and widespread pro-democracy protests.
● From 2019 to 2022, the 66-year-old Hamdok served as Sudan's 15th Prime Minister.
● Mr Hamdok asked for a meeting to agree on a "national charter" and "create a roadmap" for the transition to be completed.
● Sudan's preparations to transition to democracy had been thrown off by the October coup, which came after a popular revolt drove the military to depose longstanding ruler Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist administration in April 2019.
7. Apple Inc.'s stock market value surpassed $3 trillion, making it the first firm in the world to accomplish so.
● Apple's market capitalization reached $182.86 per share, making it the first business in the world to reach the $3 trillion milestone.
● However, the share price fell below the mark soon after, and did not climb again until the market closed.
● In 2020, Apple will have surpassed $2 trillion in revenue, up from $1 trillion in 2018.
● Investors anticipate that consumers will continue to pay top money for iPhones, MacBooks, and services like Apple TV and Apple Music, as the world's most valuable firm surpassed the milestone.
● In China, the world’s largest smartphone market, Apple continued to lead for the second straight month, beating rivals such as Vivo and Xiaomi, recent data from CounterPoint Research showed.
8. With effect from January 1, 2022, France has assumed the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.
● The EU presidency will be held by the country for the following six months, until June 30, 2022.
● France is taking over the rotational presidency for the 13th time. "Recovery, strength, belonging" is France's motto as EU President.
● France will endeavour to put digitization and climate protection at the forefront of the continent's agenda.
● Every six months, the EU presidency is rotated among the 27-nation bloc's member nations.
● France will be replaced by the Czech Republic after the six-month presidency is completed.
9. With effect from January 3, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has nominated Deepak Kumar and Ajay Kumar Choudhary as new executive directors (EDs).
● Deepak Kumar was the head of RBI's information technology department before being promoted to ED, and Ajay Choudhary was the Chief General Manager-in-Charge, Department of Supervision.
● Kumar has worked in the RBI's central office departments for over three decades, in areas such as information technology, cyber security, payment systems, currency management, human resource management, banking supervision, and foreign exchange management, where he was responsible for policymaking and project management.
● Choudhary has worked in the Reserve Bank's Central Office and Regional Offices for the past three decades, in areas such as supervision, regulation, currency management, payments and settlements, and other sectors.
● He will look after the fintech department, risk monitoring department and inspection department.
10. Alka Mittal, the director of human resources at ONGC, has been named interim chairman and managing director (CMD) of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), India's largest oil and gas producer.
● She is the first woman to hold the position of CEO of Maharatna.
● Subhash Kumar, who retired on December 31, was replaced by her.
● He was also acting as the interim head of the department.
● Alka Mittal has been appointed for a six-month term, beginning January 1, 2022, and ending when a regular incumbent is appointed or until further order, whichever comes first.
11. Elon Musk, the creator and CEO of Tesla, has revealed that Indian-origin Ashok Elluswamy was the first person hired for his electric vehicle company's Autopilot team.
● Musk has been utilising social media to recruit individuals.
● Mr Elluswamy worked for Volkswagen Electronic Research Lab and WABCO Vehicle Control System before joining Tesla.
● Ashok Elluswamy graduated from the College of Engineering Guindy in Chennai with a bachelor's degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering and a master's degree in Robotics System Development from Carnegie Mellon University.
12. Vistara Airlines' Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has been replaced by Vinod Kannan.
● He took over as CEO from Leslie Thng, who served from July 16, 2017 to December 31, 2021.
● Deepak Rajawat has been promoted to Vistara's Chief Commercial officer, according to the company.
● Tata Sons Private Limited and Singapore Airlines have a 51:49 joint venture called Vistara.
● Kannan has worked for SIA for nearly two decades, holding many prominent roles in the airline's Singapore headquarters as well as overseas.
● He graduated from the National University of Singapore and the University of California, Los Angeles with a Master's degree in Business Administration.
13. Zishaan A Latif received the Ramnath Goenka Award for Photojournalism.
● The laborious battle for inclusion in the NRC, which was published in The Caravan in October 2019 and won him the award, was his photo essay.
● He documented the suffering of people whose identities were taken from the National Register of Citizens (NRC), giving a human face to an otherwise faceless human storey.
● A month after the NRC list was released, Latif travelled to four Assam districts to document people's fight to be included on the list.
14. Richard Leakey, a well-known Kenyan politician, conservationist, and fossil hunter, has died.
● The discovery of 'Turkana Boy' in 1984 is credited to the famed paleoanthropologist, and it led to important discoveries proving that humankind developed in Africa.
● Turkana boy is the most complete human ancestor Skeleton ever discovered.
● The study of human evolution through fossil and archeological evidence is known as paleoanthropology.
● Leakey is also recognised for spearheading anti-ivory initiatives in order to rescue the African elephant population.
15. Vijay Galani, a Bollywood film producer, has died.
● He was suffering from blood cancer and was seeking treatment in London.
● Suryavanshi (1992), Govinda and Manisha Koirala's Achanak (1998), Akshay Kumar's Ajnabee (2001), Paresh Rawal and Mallika
Sherawat's Bachke Rehna Re Baba (2005), and Salman Khan's Veer (2010).
● Vidyut Jammwal and Shruti Haasan's The Power was his most recent production (2021).
16. Mohammad Hafeez, a Pakistani all-rounder, has announced his retirement from international cricket on January 3, 2022, after an 18-year career.
● Hafeez, 41, announced his retirement from Test cricket in December 2018.
● He has represented Pakistan in 55 Tests, 218 One-Day Internationals, and 119 Twenty-20 Internationals, scoring 12,780 runs in all.
● "The Professor" is his moniker.