Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 1st December 2023

National News 

1.India's reputation as a principled power is at stake after the indictment 

  • There will probably be repercussions beyond the borders of the US and India from the Department of Justice's 15-page indictment against an Indian national who was allegedly ordered by an Indian government official to attempt an assassination plot against US-based Khalistan separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. The indictment is predicated on correspondence between the accused and two men in the United States who were reportedly hired to assassinate Mr. Pannun. The men include Nikhil Gupta, an alleged guns and narcotics dealer, whose serving seat is recognized but his name is undisclosed. 
  • The story's twist—which hasn't been publicized in the US or Canada yet—is that the two men who were stationed in the US were employed by US law enforcement, indicating that US agents have been monitoring the case since at least May.Since then, discussions have taken place between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joseph Biden, as well as other senior officials. 
  • The claims throw doubt on the extent of the sharing between the two nations and whether the Modi administration has been dishonest about its knowledge, having been incensed by claims of a similar nature made by Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau. The government should be more transparent if it has approved the targeting of Sikh separatists who are listed as terrorists under India's UAPA. This would indicate a significant shift in Indian policy. 
  • In addition to serious inefficiency and "rogue" personnel, the Ministry of External Affairs has declared that this is not "government policy" and that high officials were unaware of the "plots." However, the government must provide proof if the accusations made by the United States and Canada are false and Indian officials are not connected to the schemes.. 
  • Regardless, the way the public discourse surrounding this issue has been handled, particularly India's response to Canada's stance against the US, seems disjointed. It is noteworthy that the government has now established a high-level inquiry committee to investigate the U.S.'s charges, regardless of the reasons behind its previous responses. A lot depends on how it turns out. First off, the outcome may have an effect on India-US relations because the White House is counting on India's complete cooperation. India must also question why the United States, which is understandably laying a lot of attention on the plot, is reluctant to extradite a man accused of terrorism to India. 
  • Second, India's relationships with all of its "Five Eyes" intelligence partner nations will be immediately impacted by the accusations made by the United States and Canada. These relationships must not be eclipsed by this single case. Ultimately, what is at stake is India's standing as a reliable and trustworthy power that has gained recognition across the globe for its wisdom and moral stance on similar matters in the past. As such, New Delhi needs to make very careful decisions about what to do next in this instance. 

2.Bharat Coking Coal Ltd Starts 5.0 MTPA Madhuband Washery Operations 

  • Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL), a key player under the Ministry of Coal, has achieved a significant milestone with the initiation of commercial operations at its state-of-the-art 5.0 MTPA Madhuband Washery. 
  • The washery was formally inaugurated by Union Minister of Coal, Mines, and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Pralhad Joshi, marking a momentous occasion for the coal and steel sectors in India. 
  • In addition to import substitution, the Madhuband Washery contributes to the growth of the economy by ensuring a consistent supply of quality washed coking coal to the steel sector. The efficient utilization of limited coking coal reserves through advanced washing processes not only enhances resource utilization but also fosters sustainability in the coal mining and steel production sectors. 

3.Amplifi 2.0: Urban Affairs Ministry’s Data Initiative For Indian Cities 

  • The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in India has embarked on a groundbreaking initiative to centralise and streamline raw data from cities across the country. 
  • Launched as the Amplifi 2.0 (Assessment and Monitoring Platform for Liveable, Inclusive and Future-ready urban India) portal, this endeavour aims to facilitate data-driven policy-making, empower academics, researchers, and engage stakeholders in the urban development process. 
  • The Amplifi 2.0 portal is designed to encompass data from over 4,000 Urban Local Bodies eventually. It already provides a wealth of information, covering diverse aspects such as total diesel consumption, water quality testing, annual healthcare expenditure, slum population statistics, and road accident fatalities. 

4.Union Home Minister Amit Shah Approves ₹1,658 Crore Recovery And Reconstruction Plan For Joshimath 

  • Joshimath, a town in Uttarakhand, faced severe challenges due to landslides and ground subsidence. The high-level central committee, led by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, approved a comprehensive recovery and reconstruction (R&R) plan amounting to ₹1,658.17 crore to address the aftermath of these natural disasters. 
  • The National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) will contribute ₹1079.96 crore through the Recovery and Reconstruction window. The state will provide ₹126.41 crore from its State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and an additional ₹451.80 crore from the state budget. 

5.Blood+: India’s First On-Demand Blood Platform 

  • has unveiled its groundbreaking healthcare software and logistics platform, Blood+. This innovation aims to revolutionise blood management and delivery, addressing the alarming issue of blood wastage in healthcare facilities across the country. 
  • The platform’s mission is to ensure that hospitals have steady access to blood, ultimately reducing wastage significantly. Blod+ has set new industry standards by significantly reducing the average sourcing time for blood. 
  • Blod+ surpasses industry norms, reducing the average sourcing time for blood from 6 hours to an average of 2 hours and 7 minutes. This remarkable improvement ensures that critical patients receive timely access to blood, potentially saving countless lives. 

6.Air Marshal Makarand Ranade Assumes Role Of Director General (Inspection And Safety) At Air HQ New Delhi 

  • Air Marshal Makarand Ranade took over the esteemed position of Director General (Inspection and Safety) [DG (I&S)] at Air HQ New Delhi on December 1, 2023, succeeding the accomplished Air Marshal Sanjeev Kapoor, who retired after more than 38 years of distinguished service. 
  • An alumnus of National Defence College, New Delhi, and College Interarmée de Defense in Paris, France, Air Marshal Ranade’s illustrious career in the Indian Air Force spans over 36 years. His wealth of experience, leadership acumen, and dedication to service position him as a key figure in upholding the safety and operational standards of the Indian Air Force. 

7.Arshia Sattar Conferred With French Honour 

  • Renowned author and translator Arshia Sattar has added another feather to her cap, being honoured with the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government. 
  • The prestigious award was presented by Thierry Mathou, the ambassador of France to India, in a ceremony held at the Consulate General of France in Bengaluru on November 28. 
  • Arshia Sattar, aged 63 and based in Bengaluru, has made significant contributions to Indian literature and mythology. Notable among her works are translations of epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, as well as tales from Kathasaritsagara. Her literary prowess extends to creating engaging books for children, with “The Mahabharata for Children” earning her the Sahitya Akademi Prize for Children’s Literature in 2022. 

International News 

8.Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford, dies at 100 

  • Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the diplomat with the thick glasses and gravelly voice who dominated foreign policy as the U.S. extricated itself from Vietnam and broke down barriers with China, died on Wednesday, his consulting firm said. He was 100. 
  • With his gruff yet commanding presence and behind-the-scenes manipulation of power, Kissinger exerted uncommon influence on global affairs under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, earning both vilification and the Nobel Peace Prize. Decades later, his name still provoked impassioned debate over foreign policy landmarks long past. 
  • Kissinger's power grew during the turmoil of Watergate, when the politically attuned diplomat assumed a role akin to co-president to the weakened Nixon. 
  • "No doubt my vanity was piqued," Kissinger later wrote of his expanding influence. "But the dominant emotion was a premonition of catastrophe." 
  • A Jew who fled Nazi Germany with his family in his Henry Kissingerteens, Kissinger cultivated the reputation of respected statesman, giving speeches, offering advice to Republicans and Democrats alike and managing a global consulting business. He turned up in President Donald Trump's White House on multiple occasions. But Nixon-era documents and tapes, as they trickled out over the years, brought revelations in Kissinger's own words that sometimes cast him in a harsh light. 
  • Controversial policies Never without his detractors, Kissinger after he left government was dogged by critics who argued that he should be called to account for his policies on Southeast Asia and support of repressive regimes 
  • For eight restless years first as National Security Adviser, later as Secretary of State, and for a time in the middle holding both titles Kissinger ranged across the breadth of major foreign policy issues. He conducted the first "shuttle diplomacy" in the quest for West Asian peace. 
  • He used secret channels to pursue ties between the U.S. and China, ending decades of isolation and mutual hostility. 
  • He initiated the Paris negotiations that ultimately provided a face-saving means a "decent inter- val," he called it to get the U.S. out of a costly war in Vietnam. Two years later, Saigon fell to the commu- nists. And he pursued a policy of detente with the Soviet Union. 
  • Asked during a CBS interview in the leadup to his 100th birthday about those who view his conduct of foreign policy over the years as a kind of "criminality," Kissinger was nothing but dismissive. 
  • "That's a reflection of their ignorance," he said. "It wasn't conceived that way. It wasn't conducted that way.” 

9.Kissinger, Nixon 'helped' Pakistan in 1971, documents from U.S. Archive reveal 

  • A day after the war broke out between India and Pakistan in December 1971, U.S. President Richard Nixon and National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, broke the U.S. arms ban on Pakistan and ensured that Islamabad received air support from third countries such as Jordan. 
  • The information was part of a bunch of documents that were declassified earlier but were circulated by the National Security Archive of the U.S. on Thursday to mark Kissinger's death. The documents have shed renewed light on the crucial 13 days in the first fortnight of December 1971 and has revealed that Nixon-Kissinger duo was worried about India launching an all-out war against Pakistan. 
  • The National Security Archive of the U.S. circulated a bunch of documents to mark Kissinger's demise 
  • A cable of December 4, a day after the war started, shows that the U.S. administration had come to believe that the war was started with India attacking Pakistan and that President Yahya Khan had sent an urgent appeal for military help from Washington DC. 
  • In the course of the conversation, Kissinger is quoted as saying: "We have had an urgent appeal from Yahya. Says his military supplies have been cut off in very bad shape." 
  • Kissinger then asked Nixon: "Would we help through Iran?" Iran was at that time ruled by the Shah and was favourably disposed towards the U.S. But so were a few other countries such as Jordan that had strong military ties with Pakistan at that time. 
  • In response, Nixon said, "I like the idea. The main thing is to keep India from crumbling them up." The revelation has added the conversations that took place during those fateful days in the U.S. when a part of the esta- blishment led by several leading Americans, including U.S. envoy to Dhaka Archer Blood, had rebelled against the Nixon White House as the news of the genocidal violence by the Pakistani military in Dhaka and other parts of East Pakistan became known. 
  • Nixon was of the opinion that the Indian side was getting a lot of support from within the U.S. bureaucracy, especially in the U.S. State Department, and wanted to crack down on the bureaucracy and was reassured on December 4 that Jordan had sent 17 fighter jets to Pakistan. 
  • The document indicates that the additional aircraft were flown from third countries to Pakistan to ensure that Islamabad could defend itself if Indira Gandhi chose to turn the focus of the Indian war machine towards West Pakistan. 
  • The documents from the Archives included the famous "Blood Telegram", the message from U.S. Consul-General Archer Blood in Dhaka. 
  • The message did not mince words and was signed by a large number of American officials stationed in the U.S. consulate in Dhaka and called out the U.S. silence in the face of the genocidal attack as "bankruptcy". 

10.2023 will be hottest year ever recorded, says UN body 

  • This year is set to be the hottest ever recorded, the UN said on Thursday, demanding urgent action to rein in global warming and stem the havoc following in its wake. 
  • The UN's World Meteorological Organization warned that 2023 had shattered a whole host of clinels mate records, with extreme weather leaving "a trail of devastation and despair". 
  • "It's a deafening cacophony of broken records," said WMO chief Petteri Taalas. "Greenhouse gas levels are record high. Global temperatures are record-high. Sea level rise is record high. Antarctic sea ice is record low.” 

Defence News 

11.Chinese military values ties with Indian forces: official 

  • The Chennai Bench of the tribunal had allowed the project in the area around the Periyar Tiger Reserve near the reservoir. 
  • Tamil Nadu had submitted that the project was located in the area leased to Tamil Nadu. 

12. 2.23 lakh crore to buy 97 Tejas jets, 156 Prachand helicopters 

  • In a major move to enhance the combat capabilities of the armed forces significantly, the Un son government on Thursday accorded initial approval to defence acquisition projects estimated at 2.23 lakh crore that included procurement of 97 Tejas light combat aircraft and 156 Prachand combat helicopters. 
  • The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, cleared the projects at a time India is locked in a military stand-off with China at a number of friction points in eastern Ladakh for over three years. 
  • The Defence Ministry said 98% of the total procurement will be sourced from domestic industries and that the move will give a substantial boost to the Indian defence industry in achieving the goal of aatma nirbharta (self-reliance). 
  • The DAC also approved a proposal of the Indian Air Force to upgrade its Su-30 fighter fleet by state-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. It further accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AON) or initial approval for procurement of two types of anti-tank munitions name. 
  • The top body on procurement of military hardware also cleared acquisition and integration of automatic target tracker (ATT) and digital basaltic computer (DBC) for T-90 tanks besides approving another proposal to buy medium range anti-ship missiles (MRASHM) for the Navy. 
  • The MARSHAM is a light-weight surface-to-surface missile which will be a primary offensive weapon aboard various Indian naval ship. 
  • "The DAC accorded SoNs for procurement of Light Combat Helicopter for Indian Air Force and Indian Army and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk-1A for IAF from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) under Buy (Indian-IDDM) category," the Ministry said. Though it did not mention the specific numbers, official sources said 97 Tejas light combat aircraft Ju (Mark (A) are being procured for the IAF and 156 light combat helicopters (LCH) are being procured for the Army and the IAF. In February 2021, the Defence Ministry sealed a 148,000-crore deal with the HAL for procurement of 83 Tejas MK-1A jets for IAF. With the additional fleet, the number of Te jas aircraft being procured by the IAF would go up to 180. 

13.India Bolsters Naval Strength With $5 Billion Aircraft Carrier To Counter China 

  • India is set to reinforce its naval capabilities with the addition of a $5 billion aircraft carrier, signalling its strategic response to China’s expanding naval influence in the Indian Ocean region. 
  • The Defense Acquisition Council is expected to greenlight the acquisition of a second indigenous aircraft carrier, costing nearly 400 billion rupees ($4.8 billion). 
  • The new aircraft carrier is designed to accommodate a fleet of at least 28 fighter jets and helicopters, with a displacement of 45,000 tons. Notably, the carrier will be equipped with French Rafale jets, showcasing India’s commitment to advanced military technology. 

14.Three Anti-Submarine Warfare Ships For Indian Navy Launched At Cochin Shipyard

  • On 30th November 2023, the Cochin Shipyard marked a significant milestone with the simultaneous launch of the first three ships in a series of eight Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) shallow water crafts commissioned by the Indian Navy. 
  • The vessels, named INS Mahe, INS Malva and INS Mangrol, were unveiled in a ceremony attended by distinguished naval officials and their spouses. 
  • Each Mahe class vessel measures 78 metres in length, 11.36 metres in width, with a draught of 2.7 metres. They have a displacement of 896 tonnes and can achieve speeds of up to 25 knots (approximately 45 km/h). 
  • With an endurance of 1,800 nautical miles, these vessels are specifically designed to accommodate indigenously-developed sonars for underwater surveillance. The crew composition includes 57 personnel, including seven naval officers. 

15.Navy gets ready for its biggest naval exercise amid ocean engagements 

  • As the Indian Navy looks to mark Navy Day on December 4, it is also gearing up to host its largest multilat- eral exercise early next year. The next edition of "Exercise Milan" is scheduled for February 2024, and is expected to see the participation of over 50 countries, defence sources said while noting that this reflects the significant expansion of the Navy's engagements as well as capacity to assist countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as the first responder and Preferred Security Partner. 
  • "Presence and operational reach by the Indian Navy through Mission Based Deployments and other operational engagements has steadily enhanced. There are 17 multilateral and 20 bilateral exercises that the Navy conducts annually which exemplifies India's commitment to maintaining strong defence ties," a defence source said. "These exercises are crucial for honing operational capabilities, sharing best practices, building mutual trust, fostering interoperability, strengthening diplomatic ties, and enhancing maritime security. 
  • They not only demonstrate India's naval prowess but also contribute to the shared goal of ensuring a secure and stable maritime environment." Exercise Milan is a biennial multilateral naval exercise which began in 1995, and has since significantly expanded in scope and scale to become the largest exercise held by India. The mid-planning conference of Milan-24 was held in October. The last edition of Milan, which is held off Visakhapatnam, saw participation from over 40 countries. 
  • In addition, since July 2022, the Indian Navy has joined the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Force (CMF), a U.S.-led multinational naval partnership that aims to promote security, stability, and prosperity across international waters in IOR. "Indian naval ships and aircraft are being deployed for CMF led operations on regular basis," sources noted and earlier this month India announced its decision to be come a full member of the grouping. 
  • This year, the Navy Day is will be held at the Sindhudurg Fort on the western seaboard, built in 1660 by Chhatrapati Shivaji. The operational demonstration will witness participation of 20 warships along with 40 aircraft such as MiG 29K and LCA Navy along with combat beach reconnais sance and assault demo by the Marine Commandos. This is the first time that the Navy will be organising a mega event which is not taking place at any major naval station is observed as Navy Day to commemorate the Navy's daring attack on the Kara- chi harbour during the 1971 India-Pakistan War under 'Operation Trident'. 
  • India has also significantly expanded assistance in capacity building to countries in the region. This includes giving platforms, regular training as well as Training Teams (MTT) overseas to facilitate capacity development. "Recent- ly, MTT from Indian Naval Work up teams undertook operational sea checks of ships of two friendly countries Sri Lanka and South Africa at Trincomalee and Cape Town respectively where they worked alongside the ship's crew to achieve very high standards of operational readiness as well as safety compliance," a defence source said. 
  • Similarly, INS Nireekshak conducted mix gas diving training for Sri Lankan Navy personnel in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, both in 2022 and 2023. 
  • To date, Indian Navy has trained over 15,000 personnel from over 40 countries from the IOR, the first source stated. 

Business News 

16.Dismay over addition of colour image of Dhanvantari to NMC's logo 

  • After the Union Health Ministry directed the renaming of the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres to Ayushman Arogya Mandir with the tagline Arogyam Parmam Dhanam (health is the greatest wealth) early this week, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has joined the rebranding process by modifying its logo with a colour image of Dhanvantari and the word 'Bharat' above it. The Puranas say Dhanvantari, an avatar of Vishnu, is the physician of the devas (gods) and the god of Ayurveda.
  • The Ministry's moves have evoked dismay among doctors, leaders, and the people who question why the Department of Health and Family Welfare, with its budget allocation of approximately 2% of the total Union government expenditure for 2023-24, was undertaking the renaming exercise for 1.16 lakh Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres across India. The Centre, in its communication to the States and Union Territories, has said that the funds proposed for renaming existing health centres is ₹3,000 a facility. 
  • Speaking to The Hindu, a senior official of the NMC maintained that the logo had not been changed. "Only the central picture, which was previously black and white, is now coloured," he said. 
  • The Ayushman Bharat centres are aimed at providing a comprehensive package of services for all ages; the project receives 60% funding from the Centre and 40% from the States.
  • Senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader tioned the move in a post on social media. "Centre wants to rename Kudumba Arogya Kendram (Family Health Centre) of Kerala with its Hindi brand name Ayushman Arogya Mandir because 25 lakh of Central funds have been used for these primary health centres with asset value of around icrore each. Ultra gal m nationalism at its worst!," Mr. Isaac posted. The Kerala chapter of the Indian Medical Association has written to the NMC that the new logo was "not acceptable to the modern medical fraternity" . "NMC is trying to divert attention from the incompetent handling of core issues affecting the profession," Right to Information activist K.V. Babu said. 
  • The NMC is the 33-member regulatory body that governs the field of medical education in the country. 

17.Foxconn’s $1.5 Billion Investment Sparks Technological Boom In India 

  • In a significant move that signals a shift away from China, Foxconn Technology, a major Apple supplier, has unveiled plans to invest more than $1.5 billion in India. This substantial infusion aims to cater to Foxconn’s operational needs and marks a pivotal moment in the tech industry. 
  • The $1.541 billion investment is channelled through a Foxconn subsidiary named Hon Hai Technology India Mega Development. This subsidiary, registered in Maharashtra since 2015, will allocate an equivalent amount in Indian rupees for an undisclosed construction project, vital for meeting Foxconn’s operational requirements. 

Economy News 

18.GDP surges 7.6% in Q2, Pon goes past RBI forecast 

  • Despite a tangible growth downturn in the farm and services sectors as well as consumer spending, India's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at a higher-than-expected 7.6% in the July-Septemefit ber 2023 quarter, as per initial estimates from the National Statistical Office. 
  • The second quarter (Q2) growth was slightly lower than the 7.8% rise in the previous quarter, but well over the central bank's projected uptick of 6.5%. Growth in the Gross Value Added (GVA) rk in the economy eased of slight to 7.4% in the second quarter of 2023-24, GDP surges 7.6% in Q2, Pon goes past RBI forecast
  • Growth is likely to moderate in the second half of the year from 7.6% in Q1. But the GVA growth in the farm sector skidded sharply to just 1.2% from 3.5% in Q1 while it more than halved for services sectors such as trade, hotels and transport from 9.2% in Q1 to 4.3%. 
  • Construction push The first half of 2023-24 has thus provisionally recorded a 7.7% growth in GDP, with the GVA rising 7.6%, led by a 10.5% growth in construction and 9.3% uptick in manufacturing. 
  • While growth is expected to moderate in the second half of the year, economists ex- pect the strong first half numbers to lift the full year performance by 0.1% to 0.2% over current projections. The RBI and the government expect GDP to grow 6.5% this year. "Considering that the RBI expects Q3 and Q4 GDP growth at 6% and 5.7% respectively, the annual growth is estimated at 6.7%," said EY India chief policy  

19.Cabinet Approves Terms For 16th Finance Commission 

  • Recently, the Union Cabinet greenlit the terms of reference for the Sixteenth Finance Commission (SFC). The SFC is slated to submit its comprehensive report by October 31, 2025, covering a five-year period set to take effect on April 1, 2026. The terms of reference also include a notable clause concerning the disaster management fund. 
  • The terms of reference, as released by the Cabinet, predominantly encompass constitutionally mandated provisions including the distribution of net proceeds of taxes between the Central government and the states, principles governing grants-in-aid of state revenues from the Consolidated Fund of India, and measures to supplement resources for panchayats and municipalities in the states. 

20.Output Of Core Industries Grew By 12.1% In October 2023 

  • In October 2023, the combined Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) exhibited a robust growth of 12.1%, marking a substantial increase from the corresponding month in 2022. 
  • The positive momentum was reflected across all eight core industries, namely Cement, Coal, Crude Oil, Electricity, Fertilisers, Natural Gas, Refinery Products, and Steel. These industries collectively contribute 40.27% to the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). 
  • The final growth rate for the Index of Eight Core Industries in July 2023 has been revised to 8.5%. The cumulative growth rate for the period of April to October 2023-24 stands at 8.6% (provisional), showcasing a positive trend compared to the corresponding period in the previous year. 

21.India’s Fiscal Deficit Reaches 45% Of FY24 Target In 7 Months 

  • In the first seven months of the financial year 2023-24, India’s fiscal deficit has reached a significant milestone, standing at 45% of the annual target of Rs 17.87 trillion. This analysis delves into the key figures and trends shaping the country’s fiscal health. 
  • During the period from April to October, the fiscal deficit amounted to Rs 8.04 trillion, reflecting a notable increase from Rs 7.57 trillion in the corresponding timeframe of the previous fiscal year. 
  • The current fiscal deficit of 45% closely aligns with the same period last year, where the deficit was 45.6% of the budget estimates for 2022-23. The government’s fiscal planning remains pivotal in managing economic stability. 

22. Improving the capability of the Indian state 

  • The Indian state is a paradox of too big and yet too small. Try setting up a business or building a house in an urban area, and you will quickly realize how the thicket of the licenses, permits, clearances, and permissions can make life Impossible. Even as an ordinary citizen, one can never be sure to be on the right side of the law and the circuitous regulations. The same time, the Weberian state in India is too small. In the G-20 group, the country has the smallest number of civil servants per capita. The public sector share in total employment in India (at 5.77%) is half the corresponding figures for Indonesia and China, and just about a third of that in the United Kingdom. With approximately 1,600 per million, the number of central government personnel in India pales in comparison to 7,500 in the United States. Similarly, the per capita number of doctors, teachers, town planners, police, judges, firefighters, inspectors for food and drugs, and regulators is the lowest even among countries at a similar stage of development.
  • The Indian state is relatively small on the other metrics, such as the tax GDP ratio and public expenditure GDP ratio. Be it public goods provisions, welfare payments, or the justice system, it is a story of scarcity rather than surplus. Due to an inadequate state capability, governments at the Centre and States end up outsourcing services that are better provided by the public sector, such as primary health.
  • Both sides to the debate are missing something fundamental, True, the Indian state is 'people-thin' but 'process-thick'. The main problem, however, is the perverse incentives created by public institutions and the skill gap among officials. These factors have eroded the ability of the political executive and civil services to make and implement sound policies. A recent book, State Capability in India, by T. V. Somanathan and Gulzar Natarajan, two Indian Administrative Service (LAS) officers, suggests various theasures to improve things without fiscal and political consequences.
  • For instance, there is an extreme concentration of policy making and Ram Singh is Director, Delhi School of Economics and Director, Delhi School of Public Policy and Governance Perverse Incentives created by public institutions and the skill gap among officials have eroded the ability to form and Implement sound policies Implementation powers within departments.
  • Moreover, restrictions on the frontline personnel to decide on implementation-related Issues foster a culture of mistrust and lack of accountability for poor implementation. The vicious cycle wherein poor delegation and a deficient state capability feed each other can be broken by delegating financial and administrative powers to the frontline functionaries, with clearly defined processes for using them. 
  • The technocratic gap The top policymakers exhibit a lack of technocratic skills to govern an increasingly complex economy. In the absence of adequate capability to deal with economic, financial, contract and other technical matters, the Centre and the States hire consultancy firms. According to media reports, the central government paid over 1500 crore in the last five years to outsource crucial tasks to the big five consultancy firms, Le., PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, the KPMG and McKinsey.
  • There is a need to augment the strength of professional staff with market watchdogs, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The first has just about 800 professionals, whereas its counterpart in the U.S., the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, has more than 4,500 experts to govern the corporates. Similarly, the professional staff strength of the RBI, less than 7,000, is tiny when compared to the US Federal Reserve which is assisted by 22,000 odd professionals.
  • The solution lies in moderate pay raises by the future Pay Commission and a reduction in the upper age limit for government jobs. Moreover, high economic growth that throws up many lucrative jobs in the private sector will make government jobs less appealing for those who are money minded. Put together, these meastres can reduce corruption and increase the chances of socially driven individuals joining the Government.

Schemes and Committee News 

23.Loss and Drainage Fund cleared on Day One of COP-28 summit 

  • In the first day of the 28th Conference of Parties or COP-28 here on Thursday, member countries agreed to make operational a Loss and Damage (L&D) Fund meant to compensate countries already dealing with climate change. 
  • To be based at the World Bank but managed by an independent secretariat, the Fund bas received commitments worth near ly $250 million from coun tries, though billions of dollars are still needed to meet its purpose. 
  • The Fund was first announced at the conclusion of COP-27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, last year, but it has taken five separate meetings since then, through "transitional committees", to get to a position where countries could unanimously agree on a text that was then passed by COP-28 President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber. The demand for such a Fund is nearly three decades old. 
  • The UAE, the host coun try, and Germany made a financial commitment of $100 million each; the U.S. $17 million, the U.K. approximately $50.6 million, and Japan $10 million for the Fund. The European Union committed $145 mil lion, over and above the German contribution. 
  • Several delegates said that an agreement to kick-start the fund on the first day of the COP was a "positive" start and set a "good momentum" on the tenor of discussions in the days ahead. "Countries must build on this and generate enough momentum in the days ahead. We must keep our eyes on the prize [of taking concrete steps to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius)," said Simon Steill, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 
  • Representatives, includ ing heads of states, from nearly 160 countries have confirmed attendance at the World Climate Action Summit on Friday and will make statements. 
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived here on Thursday. The World Bank will be the "interim host of the Fund for a period of four years. All developing countries are eligible to apply for and every country has been "invited" to contri- bute to the Fund. Pay ments are voluntary and a certain percentage has been set apart for a category of countries called the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Develop ing States. 
  • 8.3% of the GDP due to die than mate change. The Fund, as itstands now, does not polls specify how often it will be predireplenished. 
  • Harjeet Singh of the C mate Action Network In ternational has been at the forefront of demanding an LAD Fund for years. In a statement, be said, "Amid this historic decision to op erationalise the Loss and Damage Fund within a year of its establishment, addressing underlying core cerns becomes critical The absence of a defined replenishment cycle raises serious questions about the fund's long-term sustainability" 
  • Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav thanked the UN Presidency for facil itating the kick-starting of the Fund. "India has given key inputs during the tran sitional committee meetings and we thank the pre sidency for facilitating this," he said. 

24.PM Inaugurates 10,000th Jan Aushadhi Kendra At AIIMS Deoghar 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked a significant milestone in the healthcare sector by inaugurating the 10,000th Jan Aushadhi Kendras at AIIMS, Deoghar. This event also witnessed the launch of an ambitious program aimed at increasing the number of Jan Aushadhi Kendras in the country from 10,000 to 25,000. 
  • Additionally, the Prime Minister unveiled the Pradhan Mantri Mahila Kisan Drone Kendra, reflecting a holistic approach to healthcare and agricultural prosperity. Launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilisers, PMBJP aims to make quality generic medicines available at affordable prices. 

Appointment News 

25. In blow to Kerala govt., SC nixes reappointment F of Kannur University V-C 

  • Accusing the Kerala government of "unwarranted interference", the Supreme Court on Thursday quashed the reappointment of Gopinath Ravindran as the Vice-Chancellor of Kannur University.
  •  A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, in a judgment, set aside a decision of the Kerala High Court, which had upheld the validity of a November 23, 2021 notification reappointing to Mr. Ravindran. 
  • The judgement, authored by Justice J.B. Pardiwala for the Bench, said though the notification was issued in the Chancellor's name, "the decision stood vitiated by unwarranted interference" in the reappointment and the resultant abdication/surrender of his statutory powers by the Chancellor/Governor. 
  • Justice Pardiwala read out in court a press release 
  • Thursday that he accepts the Supreme Court's decision to set aside his reappointment as the Vice-Chancellor of Kannur University. Speaking to media persons, he said the reappointment was not made at his request and refuted the claim that it was made for political gains. He said with the Supreme Court cancelling the reappointment, there was no need for him to resign and that he would not file a revision petition. 
  • Issued by Raj Bhavan saying that the Chief Minister and the Higher Education Minister had started the reappointment process. 
  • Revealing that he had obtained a leave extension from Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia University, Mr. Ravindran said he could "return to work" at his discretion and that he was planning to return to the national capital on Friday. the notification reappointing the respondent No. 4 (Ravindran) to the post of Vice-Chancellor was issued by the Chancellor, yet the decision stood vitiated by the influence of extraneous considerations or to put it in other words by the unwarranted intervention iv of the State government," the court concluded. 
  • The court made it clear that it was the Chancellor who was conferred with the competence under the Kannur University Act, 1996 to appoint or reap-point a Vice-Chancellor. "No other person can interfere with the functioning of the statutory authority and if any decision is taken by a statutory authority at the behest or on a suggestion of a person who has no statutory role to play, the same would be patently illegal," Justice Pardiwala wrote. 
  • The court held that the Chancellor was not just a titular head under the 1996 Act. "In the selection of the Vice-Chancellor, he is the sole judge and his opinion is final in all respects. Any interference amounts to dictation from political superior," the court said. 

Banking News

26.RBI Fines Bank Of America, N.A., HDFC Bank 

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) took regulatory action on Thursday, imposing penalties on Bank of America, N.A. and HDFC Bank Ltd. for violations of specific norms.
  • The penalties are based on deficiencies in regulatory compliance and are not intended to pass judgement on the validity of transactions or agreements between entities and their customers. 
  • The RBI has imposed a penalty of Rs. 10,000 on Bank of America, N.A. for violating the reporting requirements under the liberalised Remittances Scheme of FEMA 1999. This action comes as a consequence of non-compliance with the Reserve Bank of India’s instructions, indicating a lapse in adherence to regulatory guidelines. 

Important Day News

27. Worlds AIDS Day 2023 

  • December 1, marked as the World AIDS Day 2023 which is observed annually since 1988, serves as a crucial occasion to raise awareness about HIV/ AIDS, commemorate those who have lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses and show solidarity with people living with HIV. 
  • The theme for World AIDS Day 2023, “Let Communities Lead!.” This theme emphasises the collective strength and influence of communities in driving initiatives related to HIV awareness, prevention and healthcare. 
  • In August 1988, James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, public information officers for the AIDS Global Program of the World Health Organization, initiated World AIDS Day to address the devastating HIV/ AIDS pandemic. 
  • With an estimated 90,000 to 150,000 individuals HIV-positive in 1988, they proposed the idea to Dr. Johnathan Mann, Director of the AIDS Global Program, who approved it for December 1. 

Award News 

28.Odisha Pavilion Bags Award At IITF-2023 

  • The India International Trade Fair (IITF-2023) concluded on a triumphant note on November 27 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Among the standout highlights was the Odisha Pavilion, which clinched the prestigious gold medal for “Excellence in Display” in the State Pavilion category. 
  • The Odisha Pavilion, a focal point since the inception of the trade fair, maintained its silver streak by securing the coveted gold medal. The Director of Information and Public Relations Dept, Saroj Kumar Samal, received the award on behalf of Odisha. 
  • The Pavilion, under the direction of Suryaranjan Mohanty and Additional Director Santosh Das, showcased the State’s unwavering commitment to women’s empowerment and their role in economic prosperity. It featured a diverse array of tribal art, artefacts, and products. 

29.HDFC Life’s ‘Insure India’ Campaign Sets Guinness World Record 

  • HDFC Life, a leading life insurance provider, proudly announced its achievement of a new Guinness World Records title. The accolade was earned through the creation of the largest online selfie mosaic, a remarkable compilation of 19,097 photos contributed by individuals as part of the ‘Insure India’ campaign. 
  • The insurer emphasised the persistently low life insurance penetration in India and identified a crucial need for greater recognition of its importance and increased adoption. In response to this gap, HDFC Life launched the ‘Insure India’ campaign with the aim of raising awareness about the significance of life insurance among the Indian population. 
  • The ‘Insure India’ campaign embodies the concept of shared responsibility, involving employees, partners, and customers in driving positive change. The overarching goal is to ensure the protection and financial well-being of every Indian through the comprehensive range of life insurance products and services offered by HDFC Life. 

30.Suganthy Sundararaj Honoured With PRSI National Award For Healthcare Contributions 

  • Suganthy Sundararaj, Regional Head of PR at Apollo Hospitals, was honoured with the PRSI National Award for outstanding contributions to the Public Relations Society of India (PRSI) and the public relations industry. 
  • The PRSI National Award acknowledges Suganthy Sundararaj’s extensive and impactful career, emphasising her pivotal role in advancing the field of public relations within the healthcare sector.
  • Suganthy Sundararaj’s journey in the public relations landscape spans over four decades, during which she has played a crucial role in executing the PR mandate for Apollo Hospitals. 
  • The award ceremony took place at the International Public Relations Festival in New Delhi, a gathering that serves as a platform for seasoned professionals and young minds in the PR space to foster knowledge exchange. 

31.NTPC Bongaigaon Secures Double Victory At Greentech Environment Award 2023

  • NTPC Bongaigaon, a key player in the power generation sector, has recently garnered significant acclaim for its exemplary contributions to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Environment Protection. 
  • The power station proudly received two prestigious awards from the Greentech Foundation, underscoring its commitment to sustainable practices and social responsibility. 
  • The first trophy was bestowed upon the power station in the Environment Protection Category at the 22nd Annual Greentech Environment Award 2023. The second accolade came in the Rural Development Category at the 10th Annual Greentech CSR India Awards. 
  • The Greentech Environment Awards are a hallmark for acknowledging responsible and innovative practices that champion sustainability, minimise environmental impact, and create lasting benefits for society. 

Science and Technology News 

32.India set to launch X-ray Polarimeter Satellite, says ISRO 

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation has announced a plan to launch its first X-ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat) to investigate the polarisation of intense X-ray sources. 
  • In a recent update on its website, the ISRO said that while space-based X-ray astronomy had been established in India focusing on imaging, time-domain studies, and spectroscopy, the XPoSat mission marked a major value addi- tion. This research, supplementing traditional time and frequency domain studies, introduced a novel dimension to X-ray astronomy, generating anticipation and excitement within the scientific community. The satellite will be launched by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The date has not been revealed. 
  • The XPoSat is designed for observation from a low earth orbit (non-sun synchronous orbit of 650-km altitude, low inclination of approximately six degrees) and will carry two scientific payloads. With these two payloads, the mission is capable of simultaneous studies of temporal, spectral, and polarisation features of the bright X-ray sources. 
  • The mission objectives include the measurement of X-ray polarisation in the energy band of 8-30 keV emanating from X-ray sources and long-term spectral and temporal studies of cosmic X-ray sources in the energy band of 0.8-15 keV. 
  • The mission life is expected to be approximately five years. 
  • The primary payload, POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays), is designed to measure polarimetry parameters, specifically the degree and angle of polarisation, in the medium X-ray energy range of 8-30 keV photons originating from astronomical sources. The payload was developed by the Ra- man Research Institute, Bengaluru, with support from ISRO centres. 
  • The secondary payload is the XSPECT (X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing) payload, which will provide spectroscopic information within the energy range of 0.8-15 keV. 
  • The payload was developed by the U.R. Rao Satellite Centre, ISRO.

Sports News 

33.West Indies Shane Dowrich Announces International Retirement 

  • Shane Dowrich, the seasoned wicketkeeper-batsman, has announced his retirement from international cricket and subsequently withdrawn from the West Indies squad set to face England in the upcoming ODI series. 
  • Making his Test debut against Australia in 2015, Dowrich represented the West Indies in 35 Test matches. His significant contribution with the bat in the longer format includes 1570 runs. As a wicketkeeper, Dowrich showcased his skills by recording 85 catches and five stumpings during his Test career. 
  • Despite a limited presence in ODIs, Dowrich’s sole appearance in the format came against Bangladesh in 2019, and he was poised to add to that tally in the scheduled series against England. His last appearance for the West Indies was in a Test match against New Zealand in December 2020. 

Obituary News

34.R Subbalakshmi Dies At 87: Popular Malayalam Actress And Musician No More 

  • Veteran actor R. Subbalakshmi, renowned for her remarkable contributions to Malayalam cinema, bid farewell to the mortal world at the age of 87. 
  • Subbalakshmi’s journey in the entertainment industry began as a dedicated employee of All India Radio. Her passion for music and the arts led her to also serve as a music instructor at Jawahar Bal Bhavan, showcasing her multifaceted talents early in her career.
  • Her breakthrough role in the film “Kalyanaraman” catapulted her to fame, making her a household name. Over the course of her illustrious career, she graced the screens in approximately 75 films, leaving an enduring impact on Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi cinema.

Miscellaneous News 

35. For the first time, Kerala to host transplant games

  • Receiving an organ transplant is a gift of life. Ome is so thankful for that chance at life that he/she forgets to celebrate or even live that precious life happily.
  • "An organ transplant, when done at the appropriate time, is not a mere extension of life. It is curative and helps the recipient lead a normal life. Yet, most transplant recipients lead very protected lives which can end up being se dentary and not healthy at all Not just the public, seven many in the medical fraternity are sceptical if a transplant recipient can lead a normal life," points. It is to showcase the success of organ transplantation in improving the quality of life and spread the message of organ donation , that for the first time, Execution Director, Kerala State Kerala is organizing Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (K- SOTTO), Kerala's organ donation regulatory body. Plant games, a competitive sporting event for organ transplant recipients and donors.
  • Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (K- SOTTO), Kerala's organ donation regulatory body.
  • The World Transplant Games Federation (WTGF), a worldwide organization with representation from more than 70 countries, has been celebrating the success organ transplantation and the gift of life through competitive sporting events for transplant recipients since 1978. Our oldest participant is a 74-year-old who received a kidney 34 years ago and is leading a healthy life," says Joe Joseph, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at Lisie Hospital and one of the key, organizers of the event.
  • "This event is to honors and celebrate the courage and determination of or gan recipients and the self- lessness of donors and to tell the world that both organ recipients and donors can enjoy normal, physically active lives," Dr. Joseph says.
  • The one-day event, hosted by the Heart Care Foundation, supported by many government and NGO partners, will be held at Kochi on December 9.
  • A total of 10 events have been planned, including bowling, badminton, dart, chess, carrom, basketball shoot-out, table tennis, swimming, 200-m race, and five-km race walk.

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