Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 11th December 2023


National News 

1.PM Inaugurates First Indian Art, Architecture & Design Biennale 2023 At Red Fort, Delhi 

  • The Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, inaugurated the first Indian Art, Architecture & Design Biennale (IAADB) 2023 at the iconic Red Fort. The event also marked the launch of the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Centre for Design’ and the student Biennale, Samunnati. 
  • During the inaugural ceremony, Shri Modi unveiled the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Centre for Design‘ and explored the exhibition, emphasizing the Red Fort’s historical importance. The establishment of cultural spaces in five major cities namely Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Varanasi was highlighted as a historic step to enrich these cities culturally. 
  • The Prime Minister positioned IAADB as a crucial step towards institutionalizing global cultural initiatives in India. He mentioned upcoming events like the International Museum Expo and the Festival of Libraries in 2023, aiming to establish India’s presence alongside renowned global initiatives. 

2.Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Inaugurates ‘Krishnaveni Sangeetha Neerajanam’ In Vijayawada 

  • Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, inaugurated the Krishnaveni Sangeetha Neerajanam at Tummalapalli Kalakshetram in Vijayawada. 
  • The festival promises a three-day classical music extravaganza featuring performances by renowned musicians, an exhibition and sale of regional cuisine, local handicrafts, and handlooms. 
  • During the inauguration, Minister Sitharaman highlighted the rich legacy of Telugu culture and the significant contributions of the Telugu language to classical traditions. 
  • She commended the efforts to organize the grand music festival in Andhra Pradesh, emphasizing the need to revive the glorious traditions and introduce them to the younger generation. 

3.Vishnu Deo Sai chosen as new Chhattisgarh CM 

  • The Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday chose Vishnu Deo Sai, a party veteran and former Union Minister, as the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh. He will be the central Indian State's fourth Chief Minister, and the first tribal leader to hold the post. He is also the first to hail from a region beyond the Other Backward Class-dominated central plains in Chhattis garh's 23-year-old history. 
  • Mr. Sai, elected from Kunkuri, a reserved constituency in the hilly northern tribal belt of Sarguja from where the BJP won all 14 seats in the recent election, was unanimously chosen as the BJP's Legislature Party leader at a meeting held in the party headquarters at Raipur, He later met Chhattisgarh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan as the Chief Minister-designate and was handed the letter appointing him Chief Minister. The swearing in ceremony is likely to be held later this week. In his first interaction with the media, Mr. Sat said his priority would be to fulfill the series of polls of everyone. As the CM of Chhattisgarh, I shall fulfill 'Modi's guarantees given to the people by our party. In the last five years, 18 lakh people did not benefit from Awas Yojana Housing scheme) and my top priority will be to ensure all of them get it. All those who are corrupt will be punished. We won all the 14 Surguja seats because of Congress's failure and the Modi guarantees, Modi ji's preserice (in campaigning! made a huge difference? promises labeled "Modi ki Guarantee. Among others, he said 18 lakh homes would be built for the poor. "I thank all the MLAs who have shown faith in me. I will work with complete honesty and try to live up to the expectations 
  • The party also announced that there would be two Deputy Chief Ministers and three-time former Chief Minister Kaman Singh will be the Speaker 

4.International investment conference will be organized for the first time in India 

  • India will host the 27th International Investment Conference of the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies from 11-14 December 2023 at the India International Convention and Expo Centre-Yashobhoomi, New Delhi. 
  • The National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of the Government of India and the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies-WAIPA are organizing this conference. 
  • Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, Shri Piyush Goyal will deliver the keynote address on the role of trade and investment in Decade of Action on 13 December 2023.
  • This conference will be the biggest ever international investment conference under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. The International Investment Conference is being organized for the first time in India. 
  • More than one thousand participants, 50 Investment Promotion Agencies-IPAs and various multilateral agencies will participate in this conference. 
  • It will showcase the best of India's offering in services, technology and products through various technologies including virtual reality, augmented reality, interactive touch screens and projection mapping. 
  • Major sessions included the meeting of the 'IPAs of G20 Countries' and the IPAs of the G20 Compendium on Sustainable FDI, the meeting of the World Investment for Development Alliance (WIDA), a coalition of 13 multilateral organizations including UNCTAD, WEF, WBG, UNESCAP and IPA.
  • The World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies was created as a non-governmental organization in Geneva in 1995. Its mission is to empower and support investment promotion agencies in the important work they do to grow their economies. 

5.First Indian Art, Architecture and Design Festival

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first Biennial Art Festival of Indian Art, Architecture and Design at the Red Fort in New Delhi. On this occasion he unveiled seven research publications. 
  • The Prime Minister also inaugurated the Self-reliant India Center for Design. This biennial arts festival is being organized in line with the Prime Minister's vision to develop a major global cultural initiative in the country. 
  • It is designed to initiate holistic conversations between artists, architects, designers, photographers, collectors, art professionals and the public. 

International News 

6.Switzerland, Norway Ministers arriving for dialogue on trade 

  • As trade Ministers from Switzerland and Norway visit Delhi this week, officials say they remain optimistic of reaching an agreement on a trade pact with Nordic countries in the next few months, though several outstanding issues remain and Indian trade negotiators are busy trying to close free trade agreements with the U.K. and Australia. 
  • Talks about the Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) and a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between india, and the four European countries which make up the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), outside the European Union (EU) Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland began 15 years ago, and despite 20 rounds of negotiations, they have not yet been closed, with attempts to sign an agreement before the general election due in India in early 2024. 
  • Sources said this week would be a "critical moment" in whether the India-EFTA negotiations can find a breakthrough. The four-nation grouping has already signed 30 free trade agreements (FTAs) with other countries, and has ongoing negotiations with India, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Kosovo and the South American MERCOSUR. 
  • The two-day visit of Norwegian Trade Minister Jan Christian Vestre and Swiss State Secretary for Economic Affairs Helene Budliger Artieda on Tuesday follows a visit by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Secretary (West) Sanjay Verma to Switzerland and Liechtenstein for Foreign Office Consultations on December 7 and 8 where the India-EFTA TEPA and BIT were discussed. 
  • "Both sides appreciated the ongoing discussions on India-EFTA TEPA and Bilateral Investment Treaty between India and Switzerland," the MEA said. 
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi also met with President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset on the sidelines of the COP-28 climate summit in Dubai on December 1. 
  • The Officials declined to comment on where the logjam in talks is present. However, they said cutting down trade tariffs, mobility of services and opening market access for companies on both sides remain unresolved. 
  • "Regarding trade in goods, India applies high tariffs on many of the EFTA countries' exports. We obviously look for a substantial reduction of trade barriers, particularly for such high-value-added products as machine tools, advanced chemicals and pharmaceuticals, Swiss chocolate, Norwegian and Icelandic fish, and so on," Ms. Artieda told PTI in an interview earlier this year.
  • Meanwhile, diplomatic sources said India's relatively small pool of skilled trade negotiators comprising officials in the Commerce and Industries Ministry and the MEA have been stretched thin with other negotiations which are still dragging on. The India-U.K. FTA talks, which were earlier meant to be "completed by Deepavali" in 2022, are still not ready for signing, although officials have been meeting regularly to resolve issues on tariffs, Rules of Origin, and market access for the U.K. legal and financial service firms to India. India-EU talks over a comprehensive Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) is also moving slowly, though the EU Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojcie chowski, who led a delegation to Delhi last week, said he was hopeful of an agreement in 2024. 
  • In addition, despite signing an Early Harvest Agreement more than a year ago, the India-Australia Comprehensive Economic and Commercial Agreement (CECA) has still not been signed. U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is due for a bilateral visit to India and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is due to travel to India for the Quad summit in 2024, and officials say they are trying to complete the agreements before 

7.Milei sworn in as Argentina braces for economic reforms 

  • Javier Milei was sworn in on Sunday as Argentina's President, as the country steels itself for harsh spending cuts and economic reforms aimed at curbing rampant inflation. 
  • "I swear to God and my country... to carry out with loyalty and patriotism the imposition of the President of the Argentine nation," he said as he took the oath of office. 
  • The 53-year-old libertarian economist has vowed there will be no "half-measures" as he tackles decades of overspending, debt and convoluted currency controls in Latin America's economy. third-biggest 
  • Thousands lined the streets outside Congress, waving the country's flag and chanting Mr. Milei's rallying cry of "freedom!" 
  • The event brings together a diverse handful of world leaders, including Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Hungary's Viktor Orban, the only EU leader who has maintained close ties to Russia. 
  • Mr. Milei will give his first speech as President from the steps of Congress. He will later swear in a cabinet of nine Ministers, a major slimdown from the current 18. 
  • He has said his first set of measures will be pre- sented to Congress in a matter of days 

8.Centre rejects 'fake, fabricated report by U.S. news portal 

  • The External Affairs Ministry on Sunday "strongly denied that a written order was issued in April to deal with the threat of Khalistani sympathizers in Western countries. 
  • The remarks by spokesperson Arindam Bagchi came after The Intercept, a U.S.-based online news outlet, reported that the official order was signed by Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra and listed several pro-Khalistani figures, including Hardeep Singh Nijjar who was killed in an incident in Canada on June 18. 
  • "We strongly assert that such reports are fake and completely fabricated. There is no such memo," Mr. Bagchi said in response to the report that indicated India's growing impatience with Khalistani figures in Western countries. 
  • "Concrete measures shall be adopted to hold the suspects accountable," the publication had reported. In response, Mr. Bagchi said without naming the news outlet, "This is part No order issued to deal with the threat of Khalistan sympathizers in the Western countries, " the Ministry says of a sustained disinformation campaign against India. The outlet in question is known for propagating fake narratives peddled by Pakistani intelligence. The posts of the authors confirm this linkage. Those who amplify such fake news only do so at the cost of their own credibility." 
  • The news by the portal comes ahead of the scheduled visit to India by FBI chief Christopher Wray, who is expected to take up the case featuring Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. 
  • The U.S. Justice Department said in November that they had arrested a man who allegedly was working to assassinate Mr. Pannun, a spokesperson for the Khalistan movement based in New York and Canada. The case came in the backdrop of the India-Canada tensions over the death of Nijjar. 

9. USA vetoes UN Security Council resolution on ceasefire in Gaza 

  • The United States has used its veto power on the proposal for a ceasefire in the Gaza war in the United Nations Security Council. US Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Robert Wood vetoed the resolution at the UN Headquarters in New York on December 8, 2023. 
  • Recently UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter. Its purpose was to alert the UN Security Council about the potential threat of Israel's actions in Gaza.
  • The United Nations has warned that half of Gaza's population is starving and nine out of ten people there go without food every day as Israeli bombardment of the territory continues. Hamas officials in Gaza say Israel has killed more than 17,700 people in its retaliatory campaign, including more than 7,000 children. Article 99 of the United Nations Charter 
  • Article 99 is a provision within the United Nations Charter that serves as the constitution of the United Nations. It empowers the Secretary-General to draw the attention of the Security Council to potential threats to international peace and security. 
  • Article 99 is considered discretionary. It was signed in San Francisco on June 26, 1945 and came into force on October 24, 1945. 

10.Key COP document calls for progress in adapting to climate change by 2030 

  • By 2025, all countries must have in place a detailed plan to adapt to the current and future impacts of climate change in their territory, and must demonstrate progress in implementing such a plan by 2030, the draft of a key climate document released on Sunday said. A final version is expected to be part of the agreement when the United Nations COP-28 climate summit concludes in Dubai on Tuesday. 
  • Much of the focus at the annual talks is on "mitigation", getting countries to commit to time-bound plans to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions, reflected in the emphasis on the Global Stocktake process. However, there is an equally important process under way on "adaptation". Global temperatures have already risen 1.1 degrees Celsius since preindustrial times and brought in their wake an acceleration in climate-related disasters, exhaustive scientific investigations show. "Adaptation" refers to the adjustments in ecological, social or economic systems that countries must make in response to these, and other anticipated climate effects. 
  • These actions are country-specific and can range from building flood defenses, setting up early warning systems for cyclones, switching to drought-resistant crops, teredesigning government policies, according to the A climate division. 

State News 

11.Uttar Pradesh Delegation Heads To Davos For World Economic Forum 

  • A high-level delegation from the Uttar Pradesh government is set to participate in the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland, scheduled from January 15 to 19. 
  • The delegation aims to showcase the state’s strides towards becoming a trillion-dollar economy and transforming metropolitan towns into focal points across various sectors. 
  • With a focus on propelling Uttar Pradesh into the league of trillion-dollar economies within the next five years, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s vision drives the state’s multifaceted approach. The delegation will shed light on the strategic development of metropolitan towns, emphasizing their role as hubs across diverse sectors. 

12.'Cauvery basin lost nearly 12,850 sq. km of green cover’ 

  • Natural vegetation on nearly 12,850 sq. km of land in the Cauvery basin was lost in the 50 years from 1965 to 2016, stated a paper published by scientists and researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru. Karnataka has lost much more than any other State in the basin. It accounts for three-fourths of the lost cover, while Tamil Nadu's share is around one-fifth, the study added. 
  • Pointing out that natural-vegetation cover went down by around 46% all these years, the paper, authored by T.V. Ramachandra, Vinay S., Bharath S., and Bharath H. Aithal, stated that the quantum of reduction of dense vegetation was 35% (6,123 sq. km) and that of degraded vegetation, 63% (6,727 sq. km). 
  • Areas that suffered adverse changes in the extent of forest cover include the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park and the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. In respect of the Bannerghatta National Park, the moist deciduous forest area, which was about 50% in 1973, stood at 28.5% in 2015 due to "anthropogenic pressure" on the National Park and its environs. 

Defence News 

13.Indian Army Organizes Table-Top Exercise To Empower ASEAN Women Officers 

  • In a significant step towards fostering gender inclusivity and strengthening the capabilities of women military personnel in peacekeeping operations, the Indian Army recently conducted a table-top exercise (TTX) for women officers from the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). 
  • This exercise, held at the Manekshaw Centre in New Delhi from December 4 to 8, is part of the ongoing joint military training initiatives between India and ASEAN member states. The initiative is spearheaded by the Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping (CUNPK). 
  • The table-top exercise serves as a follow-up to the collaborative efforts between India and ASEAN to enhance the preparedness and proficiency of women officers in peacekeeping missions. 
  • The exercise stands as a landmark initiative, explicitly designed to promote gender inclusivity and elevate the capabilities of women military personnel operating in peacekeeping environments. 

14.Indian Naval Ship Sumedha Makes Inaugural Arrival At Port Lamu, Kenya 

  • As part of its ongoing long-range deployment to Africa, the Indian Naval Ship Sumedha made a historic arrival at Port Lamu, Kenya on 09 December 2023. 
  • This visit is significant as it marks the first port call by any Indian Naval Ship at the recently developed port in Kenya, showcasing the growing maritime collaboration between India and Kenya. 
  • During the port call, personnel from both the Indian Navy and the Kenyan Navy will engage in a wide range of professional interactions. This includes deck visits, where naval officers and sailors will have the opportunity to share insights and experiences, fostering a deeper understanding of maritime operations. 
  • Additionally, there will be sporting exchanges to strengthen camaraderie and build lasting friendships between the two navies. The visit aims to enhance cooperation and exchange best practices between the Indian and Kenyan navies. 

15.Indian Navy Conducts Bi-Annual ‘Prasthan’ Exercise Off Mumbai Coast 

  • The Indian Navy, in collaboration with various defense, state, and civil agencies, recently concluded a comprehensive two-phased exercise named ‘Prasthan‘ in the Offshore Development Area off the Mumbai coast. 
  • This exercise, conducted every six months, is pivotal in validating and refining measures and procedures aimed at addressing various contingencies that may arise in oil production platforms. 
  • The first phase of the exercise focused on simulating security emergencies, including potential terrorist attacks and bomb threats involving Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). 
  • The second phase of the exercise focused on responding to contingencies such as fires on the oil platform and assisting a disabled vessel in the offshore development area. 

16.Indian Army Organizes ‘Honour Run’ In Delhi To Commemorate Kargil War Victory 

  • In a tribute to the historic military triumph during the Kargil War, the Indian Army orchestrated the ‘Honour Run – Indian Army Veteran’s Half Marathon’ in Delhi on December 10, 2023. 
  • The event, conducted under the theme ‘Honour Run,’ aimed to foster a stronger connection between the Indian Army, veterans, and the public, especially the youth. 
  • Participants from diverse backgrounds paid homage to the bravehearts, showcasing the nation’s caliber, potential, and energy. Over 14,000 individuals, including serving personnel, veterans, NCC cadets, families of army personnel, and citizens of varying age groups, actively took part in the event. 

Economy News 

17.Calibrating a strategy for India's future growth 

  • Inda's growth in 202304 projected by the Reserve Bank of while the tomational Monetary Pund (MF and the World Bank have pepeda 6.3%. With a gro6% in the fest two quarwes of 20s, and a becad-based recovery in the second quarter, toda in Mely to realise the scorre pelected growth of in this focal year in the med wem, the IMF tus prolected an anal growth of KTV to 2028-29 growth many needs to Ne collared in view of the changing global conditions 
  • There is a movement towards deglobaliation Many ongering geopolitical conflicts such as the Russian Likradne war and the brae Hamas war have created a climate of sanctions, leading as breaks in supply chains as well as disruptions in tnternational sendements due to non-access to systems such as SWIFT for the sanctioned covaneries. World real GDP growth has also fallen. leading to reduced demand for global exports Many countries including India want to resduce their dependence on imported petroleum due to supply uncertainties and price volatility 
  • In India's case, exports experienced a sharp acceleration in the share of GDP during 2003-04 to 2008-09 This peaked at 25% in 2004. In 202225, a was 22.8%, having fallen to a trough of 18.7% in 2019-20 and 2000-21. The erstwhile export led growth strategy may not be available to India any more. It has to evolve its own future growth strategy. 
  • Investment rate in medium term India will have to rely relatively more on domestic growth drivers. To achieve and sastain a 7% plas real growth in particular, domestic savings will be critical. We estimate the nominal sarving rate in 2022-23 to be about 29%. Ome area of concern relates to the recently noted fill in the household sector's savings in financial assets which declined to 5.1% of GDP in 2022-23 from an average of 7.8% during the pre-COVID-19 period of 2015-16 to 2019-20-a fall of 2.7% points. This fall consisted of 2.2% points of increase in change in gross household financial liabilities and 0.5% points fall in change in gross household financial assets. These changes may be temporary post-COVID-19 responses. 
  • However, if these trends persist, it will pose significant risk to India's growth potential since it is the surpas household sector financial savtip that become available to the government and the corporate sector to draw resources from to meet their investment demand in excess of their own suavinex 
  • Savings are converted into gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) by adding net capital inflows and deducting change in stocks, valuabies, and discrepancies. The estimated nominal investment rate, that is GFCF relative to GDP was 29.2% in 20022-23. However, the deflator of capital goods is lower than that of all goods. The movement of the relative deflator of capital goods is somewhat volatile. Using the five-year average of the relative magnitude of the two deflators, the nominal investment rate of nearly 29% would provide a real investment rate of about 30%. This needs to be increased by 2% points to provide investible resources amounting to 35% of GDP, enabling a growth of 7% at an Incremental Capital-Output Ratio 000R) of 5, which was its value in 2022-23. If the ICOR is lowes, achievable growth would be higher. 
  • next three decades with a large potentially employable population seeking jobs in the presence of progressively more labor-saving innovations and technologies. According to United Nations population projections, the share of India's working age population is projected to peak at 68.9% in 2030 while its overall dependency ratio would be at its lowest at 31.2%. 
  • These patterns call for increased allocation of resources for training and skilling India's growing working age population. 
  • Employment growth is critically dependent on GDP growth and the structure of output. The growth rate of the working age population is projected to progressively fall from 1.2% in 2023-24 to 0% in 2048-49. In 2022-23, according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), the worker population ratio, showing the number of employed persons in the population above 15 years of age, increased to 51.8% from 44.1% in 2017-18, depicting an average increase of 15% points per year. Going forward, non-agricultural growth will have to be high enough to absorb labor released from agriculture which is estimated at 48.8% in 2022-23 by the PLPS. I should also be able to absorb the labor-substituting l'impact of new technology. 
  • Pacilitating absorption of productivity enhancing technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AD and Generative At would add to overall growth India has committed to certain targets to reduce carbon emissions in view of global climate concerns. In the COP36 Summit, in 2021, India had committed to reducing total carbon emissions by one billion tonnes between 200 to 2030 and achieving the target of net nero emissions by 2070 India's own initiatives include the Green Grids Initiative (GGT) and One Sun Dee World One Grid (OSOWOG). It is also placing an emphasis on the use of electric vehicles and ethanol based and hydrogen fuels to reduce the potential growth rate. This adverse impact can be minimized by emphasizing service sector growth which is relatively climate friendly.
  • Adhering to the facial responsibility target is also critical to sustain growth. In recent years, there has been considerable slippage in achieving the fiscal responsibility targets. To sustain growth close to its potential, it is important to ensure the the combined fiscal deficit and debt to GDP ratios are brought down to 6% and 60%, respectively, so that the burden of interest payments relative to revenue receipts is kept within acceptable Imins This would enable achieving a balance or surplus on the reverase account of the central and State governments, which in turn would reduce government dissavings and augment the overall savings rate of the economy. 
  • In the next two years, a growth rate of 6.9% seems feasible. This represents, partially, a recovery from the low growth rate in the COVID-19 period. Over the medium term, India's growth performance will be adversely affected by many factors, both domestic and external Raising the savings and investment rates, improving the skill acquisition of the young entrants to the labor market and adopting a technology mix which is employment friendly are issues on which the country must focus to achieve a growth rate of 7% to 75% 

18.Freebie politics will take a toll on economy: Dhankhar 

  • T he politics of so called freebies for which "we see a mad race" distort expenditure priorities, Vice-Presi- dent Jagdeep Dhankhar said on Sunday. He was speaking at an event organised by the National Hu- man Rights Commission to mark the 75th Human Rights Day. He said there was a need to empower hu- man minds and human re- sources and not just people's pockets. 
  • Cautious about the up- surge in freebie politics, Mr. Dhankar said that this would undermine the basic framework of macroeconomic stability. "Empowerment of pocket through fiscal grants only increases dependence," he said, encouraging the NHRC to catalyse a healthy national debate on freebie politics and come up with a paper on the issue. 
  • The Vice-President expressed concern over the "pernicious narratives and external calibrations" by individuals gauging India's progress from air-conditioned and closed chambers, detached from the "index of hope, optimism, and confidence" fostered by government policies. 
  • 'Free from corruption' Mr. Dhankar said that it pained him to see India being treated unfairly by some global entities. He urged India's critics to delve deep into the nation's performance on human rights and not merely scratch the surface. 
  • He also said that he wanted "such entities" to take note of "India's governance model that is free from corruption, favoritism, nepotism". "It's dictated by transparency, accountability and merit," he said. 
  • Terming corruption the greatest danger to human rights, Mr. Dhankhar added that the long-time bane of corruption in India had now been contained. 
  • He also highlighted the positive changes taking place in India in the advancement of human rights, asserting its position as a "role model" for the world. Referring to transparency and accountable governance as a "game-changer" for the promotion of human rights, especially for vulnerable sections of society, the Vice President said that the use of technology in service delivery had also played an instrumental role in fortifying this advancement. 
  • Mr. Dhankhar termed the Union government's scheme to provide gas connections to poor households as a "transformative revolution". He also praised the massive infrastructural growth as quintessential for the "proliferation and empowerment of human rights''. 
  • Recognising the appointment of a tribal woman as the President of India as a testament to human rights, the VicePresident concluded by emphasizing that human rights were a collective endeavour. 

Schemes and Committee News 

19.Telangana government launches ‘Mahalakshmi Yojana’ and ‘Rajiv Aarogyasri Health Scheme’ 

  • Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy launched two schemes as part of Congress' six election 'guarantees', 'Mahalakshmi Yojana' for free bus travel for women and 'Rajiv Aarogyasri Swasthya Yojana', a health insurance of Rs 10 lakh for the poor. '. 
  • Under the Mahalakshmi Scheme of Telangana, girls, women and transgender persons of all ages, who are natives of Telangana, will be provided free travel in State Road Transport Corporation buses. 
  • The fees for these tours will be reimbursed by the Telangana government. As far as travel in interstate buses is concerned, the facility of free travel will be applicable till the state border. Travel in City Ordinary and Metro Express buses operating in Hyderabad is free. 
  • Several women, including top Indian boxer Nikath Zareen, traveled in a TSRTC bus after the launch of the scheme. Nikhat Zareen thanked the government for the incentive of Rs 2 crore and said it would help in preparation for the Paris Olympics. 
  • Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy launched two schemes as part of Congress' six election 'guarantees', 'Mahalakshmi Yojana' for free bus travel.

20.21.15 lakh applications received under PM Vishwakarma Scheme, says Skill Ministry 
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  • The PM Vishwakarma Scheme, launched by the Centre on September 17, has received over 21 lakh applications in two-and-a-half months, data from the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) show. The scheme, aimed at supporting and providing skill-upgrade training to artisans and craftspeople, was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 
  • The highest number of applications had come from Karnataka (6.28 lakh), followed by West Bengal (4.04 lakh), Assam (1.83 lakh), Uttar Pradesh (1.53 lakh) and Andhra Pradesh (1.21 lakh). In contrast, 15 States including Haryana, Kerala, Chhattis garh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and northeastern States have sent fewer than 10,000 applications each. 
  • Atul Kumar Tewari, Seso offers financial assistance and creates avenues of market linkage for persons working in 18 trades and crafts. These include carpenter, boat-maker, armorer, blacksmith, hammer and tool kit maker, locksmith, goldsmith, potter, sculptor, cobbler, mason, basket-maker, doll and toy-maker, barber, garland maker, washerman, tailor, and fishing net-maker. 
  • Cretary, MSDE, told The Hindu that of 21.15 lakh ap- plications seeking training received till December 1, 9.13 lakh (43%) were from tailors (darzi). "Another 4.72 lakh applications, or 22%, were from masons [mistril, 1.86 lakh [9%] were from carpenters [suthar], and 4% each from basket-makers and barbers [naai)," said Mr. Tewari. 
  • "We have also received 4,013 applications for the trade of armorers. It was thought that this was an ancient and redundant profession but it seems armorers are in demand for making movie costumes," Mr. Tewari added. 
  • The Vishwakarma Scheme provides formal training for upgrade and modernisation of traditional skills amid a changing economic landscape. 
  • Mr. Tewari further added that while lakhs of persons have applied across the country, they are being vetted at three levels by village committees and district and State levels. 
  • "As of December 1, 17,758 candidates are ready to undergo training from 21 States. The target is to cover six lakh beneficiaries in FY 2023-24, Mr. Tewari said. Of these, Karnataka has verified 7,924 candidates, followed by Assam (4,980), Andhra Pradesh (2,737), Uttar Pradesh (1,033). "After the applicants are thoroughly ver red, they will attend basic training of five to seven days and advanced training of 15 days with a stipend of ₹500 per day that will expose them to mod ern tools, latest technologies, design elements, and digital and financial skills," Mr. Tewari said. 
  • The budget envisaged for the scheme from financial year 2023-24 to 2027-28 is 13,000 crore. While 4.04 lakh candidates have applied from West Bengal, the State has not put in place village, district-and State-level committees for vetting candidates yet, officials said. 
  • Lucknow-based Jai Kumar Tiwari, one of the master trainers, who is also on the training panel of Department of Housing and Urban Planning in Uttar Pradesh, told The Hindu that he will train some of the early batches of Vish wakarma applicants at Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh. later this month. 

Banking News 

21.REC Signs 200M Euro Loan With German Bank KfW For Distribution Sector Reforms 

  • REC Limited, a prominent Maharatna Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under the Ministry of Power, achieved a significant milestone by signing a 200 million Euro loan agreement with the German bank KfW.
  • This agreement, marking REC’s sixth line of credit under the Indo-German Development Cooperation, emphasizes the corporation’s commitment to strengthening the distribution infrastructure of DISCOMs in alignment with the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) of the Government of India. 
  • The RDSS scheme aims to achieve this by providing result-linked financial assistance to DISCOMs, contingent upon meeting pre-qualifying criteria and achieving specified minimum benchmarks. 

Important Day News

22.International Mountain Day 2023 

  • Every year on December 11, we celebrate International Mountain Day to remind ourselves of the incredible importance of mountains in our lives. This year, the theme is “Restoring Mountain Ecosystems.” 
  • This special day, designated by the United Nations, encourages us to think about how we can protect these natural wonders and ensure a better future for our planet. 
  • Mountains cover about 27% of the Earth’s land, and they are like nature’s treasure chests. They are home to 15% of the world’s population! Not only that, but they also host around half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, which means they’re like a haven for various plants and animals.

23.9 December - International Anti- Corruption Day 2023 

  • Every year December 9 is celebrated across the world as International Anti-Corruption Day. The theme of the year 2023, 'UNCAC at 20: Uniting the World Against Corruption', symbolizes global solidarity. 
  • Its objective is to spread awareness against corruption. International Anti-Corruption Day was established on October 31, 2003 after the United Nations passed a resolution. 

24.International Human Rights Day 2023 celebrated on 10 December 

  • Human Rights Day is celebrated every year on 10 December by the international community. It commemorates the day when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. 
  • The theme of the year 2023 is: Freedom, equality and justice for all. 10 December 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This historic document sets out the inalienable rights to which everyone is entitled as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. 
  • This declaration was promulgated by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948. Available in over 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world. 
  • In the year 1950, the General Assembly passed resolution 423 (V) to adopt 10 December as Human Rights Day. UNGA had announced to celebrate it every year in December 1993. 
  • The Government of India constituted the National Human Rights Commission on 12 October 1993 and this law came into force from 28 September 1993. 

Award News 

25.Nikhil Dey Named ‘2023 International Anti-Corruption Champion’ By The US Government 

  • Indian social activist Nikhil Dey has been honored as an International Anti-Corruption Champion by the US government for 2023. For the past 35 years, Nikhil Dey has been a stalwart advocate for policy reforms aimed at empowering workers in India. 
  • Dey is the co-founder of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), a Rajasthan-based organization at the forefront of transparency and anti-corruption movements in India. 
  • The US State Department acknowledged his efforts in bringing official corruption to light, specifically instances such as the underpayment of workers on official projects. Dey’s work has centered on building empowerment campaigns for peasants and workers, targeting corruption in the delivery of essential government services. 

26.Italy won the ‘Admiral Cup 2023’ sailing regatta organized at the Indian Naval Academy. 

  • The 12th edition of the 'Admiral's Cup' Sailing Regatta concluded on 08 December 2023 at Ettikulam Beach, Ezhimala, Indian Naval Academy (INA), Kerala. Team Italy, represented by Midshipman Avalon Antonio and Midshipman Creati Carlo Leonardo, won the Admiral Cup-23. 
  • Team India, represented by Midshipman PPK Reddy and Cadet GY Reddy, stood runner-up and Cadet Beckman Carl from the United Kingdom and Cadet Heinz Anton from Germany jointly stood third. 
  • Russia's Seaman Gorkunov Petr stood first in the individual standings in the men's category ,followed by Italy's Midshipman Avalon Antonio and India's Midshipman PPK Reddy in the second and third positions respectively. 
  • Officer Cadet Lucy Bell of the United Kingdom stood first in the individual standings in the women's category, followed by Cadet Sangla Elma Salsdila of Indonesia and Cadet Janhvi Singh of India at the second and third positions respectively. 
  • The Chief Guest of the valedictory function, Vice Admiral Puneet K Bahal, Commandant, INA presented the 'Admiral's Cup', Runner Up Trophy and individual awards to the winners. The Admiral Cup saw competitive sailing races in Laser Radial boats on race days scheduled from 05 to 08 Dec 23. 
  • The event has become very popular since its launch in 2010. This edition of the Admiral Cup Sailing Regatta 2023 saw participation from 20 countries and Indian teams from the Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala and National Defense Academy, Khadakwasla 

Books and Authors News 

27.Ram Nath Kovind Launches Book ‘Naye Bharat Ka Samveda’ On PM Modi 

  • Former President Shri Ramnath Kovind graced the launch of ‘Naye Bharat ka Samaveda,’ a seminal collection spotlighting Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s impactful speeches, delving deep into the core essence and values embedded in our nation’s Constitution. 

Science and technology News 

28.Can ChatGPT, the chatbot developed by OpenAI, replace human therapists?

  • A fire on X (formerly Twiner) in September for comparing her conversation with CharGPT as therapy, despite admitting she had never experienced therapy beskore. Lillian Weng's X bio said she worked on Al safety at the start-up behind the viral chatbot while the company website noted she worked on Applied Al Research a had a quite emocional, personal conversation set CharGPT in voi mode talking about cress red the beboere tur the a percusy it? Try it especially if you usually just use it as a productivity tool," she posted on X on September 2 Just a day earlier, OpenAl said it had upgraded CharGPT with voice and image capabilities, allowing users to chat with it, share photos, and listen to responses. The voice mode feature is now open to all users. OpenAl suggested that people could use this upgrade to settle family dinner table debates or even have a bedtime story read to them. 
  • Als. Weng was criticized for seemingly promoting ChatGPT as a tool capable of providing therapeutic services, especially after admitting that she was not qualified to comment on the therapy experience. Others accused her of coming under the ELIZA effect. 
  • A day later, Ms. Weng posted that people's interactions with Al models differed and that her statements were ber personal opinion 
  • Even so, the OpenAl employee is far from the only person who has turned to CharGPT-the world's fastest growing consumer app earlier this year to find solutions for their mental health challenges or even just a "warm" listener. 
  • What is the ELIZA effect? ELIZA effect is the phenomenon in which people think computer programs or similar systems have become capable of human emotions or functions because of the way they respond to user input. It is named after a 1960s computer program which also responded to users, albeit with very basic sentences that echoed their original words. This program was credited to MIT professor Joseph Weinenhum. 
  • A user who receives responses from CharGPT may believe that they are having a meaningful or mutually beneficial interaction that is somehow comparable to a human conversation, rather than seeing ChaeGPT as a large language model simply generating data. This is an example to ELIZA effect
  • ChatGPT: free and available 24x7 Sanskrit", 29, a journalist based in Mumbai, goes to human-led) therapy but has also reached out to CharGPT to get help with life challenges, even though she is aware this is not recommended and knows the chatbot generates incorтест answers at times. I only book therapy when I need clarity, or things are getting out of hand in terms of anxiety, or there is a new pattern I am noticing, because therapy is expensive, and usually when you are anxious it arises [in] the middle of the night or at some weird hour and you want to quickly calm yourself down," she said. She explained that her anxiety was usually driven by not knowing something or having misleading information. ChatGPT helped her find the certainty she needed in order to calm down "Therapists can't be available at the break of dawn," she pointed out. Sanskriti noticed that when entering questions into the chatbot that would better suit a human therapist, ChatGPT did provide counsel, along with a disclaimer encouraging her to seek the services of a qualified professional. 
  • "Is ChatGPT comparable to human therapy? Of course not," Sanskriti said. "1 would say CharGPT really helps, but I think there's a lot of communication with a human therapist. You don't have to use certain formats to write to a human therapist). With CharGPT, you need to know the commands, you need to νίκησαν how CharGPT will respond The Hindu tried out the free CharGPT version with the voice mode, where users could choose from friendly male, female, and gender neutral voices in order to get spoken answers. After complaining via the ChatGPT app that the user was suffering from a cold, a voice named "Ember" was sympathetic and suggested home remedies such as warm soup before offering to help with more specific Knocking at the digital door. 
  • Many people worldwide turn to the internet to seek out health information privately, according to Jim Downs, historian and author of the book Maladies of Empire: How Colonialism, Slavery, and War Transformed Medicine. "Web-MD and other online resources, like ChatGIPIT, allow for an anonymity that many patients desire to avoid the stigma of being labeled unhealthy or sick.
  • Historically, patients have feared clinicians pathologizing their behavior, bodies, and, even, their identities" Mr. Downs said However, Al chatbots may not be ready to bridge this doctor patient divide Researchers have claimed that Al chatbots largely generate results which favor India's privileged castes and economic classes while possibly excluding marginalized communities, reported Reuters in September. In the healthcare sector, CharGPT was shown to generate false results claiming there were physiological differences in Black people's bodies when compared to other races per a study in the Digital Medicine journal. Looking back, Mr. Downs explained fields such as epidemiology (the study of diseases and how they affect groups of people) largely emerged from slavery or colonialism, with doctors studying the spread of diseases in subjugated populations such as Indians under British rule in the 19th century. "This same pattern applies to the birth of psychology as a field. It emerged from specific historical case studies that articulated Indian and other people of color throughout the world as inferior to white Europeans," Mr. Downs said. 
  • He pointed to scholar Sunil Bhatia's book Decolonizing Psychology, which explores how early psychology was based on unscientific ideas of white supremacy over colonized Indians. Mr. DownS stressed on the importance of including multiple cultures and complex identities when recognising health conditions even ode "There were to be suspicious of Al generated understandings of health and illness because they may propagate Eurocentric understandings of medicine that fail to recognise the cultural specificity of the people of India and in other cultures around the world," be said. 
  • A stop-gap arrangement? Sanskriti noted that matching with the right (human) therapist is a process of trial and error, but insisted that finding one is still important. 
  • "I feel I am more at ease when I'm talking to a therapist because it's a more free-flowing conversation. Her insights are deeper. It also comes from the previous sessions," she said, explaining how her therapist was able to identify triggers or link certain anecdotes to her childhood, which CharGPT cannot do. 
  • On the other hand, Sanskriti recalled how CharGPT helped her when she was facing a medical emergency at home. The chatbot answered some of her healthcare doubts, which let her decide what kind of specialists to contact and what her next step should be. Her therapist would not have been qualified or even permitted to help in this area "It is not layered, it is not insightful. But I feel sometimes ChatGPT manages to ease my anxiety for that very moment," Sanskriti admitted. 

Ranks and Report News 

29.Novak Djokovic remains number 1 in ATP rankings for a record eighth time 

  • Novak Djokovic secured the year- end 2023 No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for the eighth time. Djokovic won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments – the Australian Open in January, the French Open in June and the US Open in September – giving him a total of 24 Grand Slam wins. 
  • Novak took over the top ranking from Carlos Alcaraz, a 36-year-old Serbian player. Alcaraz finished 2023 at No. 2 after the two men repeatedly swapped No. 1 spots this year. 
  • Djokovic finished 2021 at the age of 34 before surpassing his own record as the oldest player to reach the ATP top spot at the end of the season. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have each been ranked No. 1 five times, as has Jimmy Connors. 
  • This is the first time since 2000 that two young men, 20-year-old Marat Safin and 19-year-old Lleyton Hewitt, have made the year-end top 10 at such a young age. 
  • Daniil Medvedev regained the year- end No. 3 spot for the second time in three years. The United States is the country with the most men in the top 20. 
  • Iga Swiatek won the WTA Finals last month and achieved the WTA year-end No. 1 ranking for the second consecutive year. Swiatek, who won the fourth major championship of her career at the French Open, became the Australian Open champion and the US Open. 

30.Startup Funding: India Slips To 4th Spot In Global Ranking After Dismal 2023 

  • India, once a powerhouse in the global startup ecosystem, has experienced a significant downturn in its funding trajectory, slipping to the fourth position in the global ranking among the highest-funded geographies in 2023. This decline comes after securing the third spot in both 2021 and 2022. 
  • After consecutively holding the third position, India finds itself behind the US, the UK, and China in 2023, receiving a meager $7 billion in total funding by December 5, according to data from Tracxn. 
  • In the third quarter of 2023, India further slipped to the fifth position among the highest-funded countries, lagging behind the US, the UK, China, and France. Q3 witnessed a substantial 30% drop from Q2 2023 and a staggering 54% drop compared to Q3 2022 

31.Tiriyani Block Clinched Top Spot In NITI Aayog’s Inaugural Delta Rankings 

  • In a significant milestone for the Aspirational Blocks Programme (ABP), Tiriyani Block of Kumuram Bheem Asifabad district, Telangana, has secured the top position in the first delta rankings announced by NITI Aayog. 
  • The rankings were determined based on the performance of blocks and progress achieved in the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) during the month. 
  • In addition to ABP, the event also announced the Achievers of Development Programme (ADP) rankings for October 2023. Rayagada in Odisha and Jamui in Bihar secured the first and second ranks, respectively, in this initiative 

32.ITC becomes world’s 3rd most valuable tobacco company after London-based BAT sinks 

  • In a significant market shift, ITC Ltd has emerged as the third most valuable tobacco company globally, overtaking British American Tobacco (BAT). The transition follows a sell-off in BAT shares, underscoring ITC’s dynamic business diversification. 
  • As of the latest trading day, ITC boasts a market capitalization of $68.6 billion, outperforming BAT, which stands at $64.9 billion. ITC’s stock has experienced a remarkable upward trend, gaining 34.7% in one year and an impressive 125.5% in three years. 
  • ITC’s diversification from tobacco to FMCG, hotels, papers, and agri-products has fueled investor confidence. The tobacco business now constitutes only 37% of ITC’s gross revenue but remains a significant contributor, constituting 78% of the company’s profit before tax. 

33.India’s Remarkable Climb To 7th Place In Global Climate Performance Index 

  • In a major leap towards sustainable practices, India has clinched the 7th position in the latest edition of the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI). The announcement, made during the COP-28 in Dubai, solidifies India’s status as a top performer for the fifth consecutive year. 
  • India’s exceptional ascent is primarily attributed to its outstanding performance in renewable energy, surpassing other developing nations. This achievement is particularly notable, considering the comparative evaluation within the same timeframe. 
  • India shines in the greenhouse gas emissions category, boasting low emission levels and minimal travel-related impact. The focus on the food sector, a crucial component of the CCPI, significantly contributes to India’s remarkable standing. 

34.PM Modi Retains Title Of World’s Most Popular Leader With 76% Approval: Morning Consult Survey 

  • In a recent survey conducted by US-based consultancy firm ‘Morning Consult,’ Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has secured the top position as the world’s most popular leader, boasting an impressive approval rating of 76%. This notable achievement places him more than 10 percentage points ahead of the next leader in the rankings. 
  • Modi has consistently held the top position, maintaining a 76% approval rating in the September survey. This trend aligns with his previous rankings in April (76%) and February (78%). 

Rank - Leader Approval - Rating (%) 

  • 1 Prime Minister Narendra Modi 76 
  • 2 President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Mexico) 66 
  • 3 President Alain Berset (Switzerland) 58 
  • 4 President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Brazil) 49 
  • 7 President Joe Biden (United States) 40 

Indian polity News 

35.Supreme Court Upholds Abrogation Of Article 370: Key Judgement Highlights 

  • The Supreme Court’s landmark decision on December 11, 2023, upheld the Union Government’s 2019 move to abrogate the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) under Article 370 of the Constitution.
  •  The judgment, delivered by a Constitution bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, addressed key constitutional questions and outlined significant conclusions. 
  • The Supreme Court validated the Union Government’s decision to revoke the special status of J&K under Article 370, emphasizing that the state had no internal sovereignty. The court clarified that the concurrence of the State Government was not necessary, and Article 370 was deemed a temporary provision. 

36.Cash seizures from entities linked to Sahu over 350 cr 
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  • Income tax authorities estimate that cash seizures from entities owned by Congress Rajya Sabha MP Dhiraj Sahu is likely to top 350 crore. The cash has been seized by the Income Tax Department from distillery units in Odisha. 
  • Simultaneous counting of cash in Titlagarh, Sambalpur, and Balangir came to an end on Sunday. The highest cash seizure was made in Sudapada locality of Balangir town, where 176 bags containing currency notes of different denominations were traced. 
  • "We have so far counted 270 crore in the Balangir branch of the State Bank of India," Bhagat Behera, Regional Manager of SBI, said on Sunday afternoon. The counting of cash finally ended in the evening, taking the count to ₹305 crore, SBI sources said. 
  • In Titlagarh, 11 crore in currency notes were counted while the figure in Sambalpur branch was 37.5 crore. A SBI employee said, "We have never seen such volume of cash in our life. Generally, a branch deals cash worth 1 or 2 crore. After a point, the volume of cash did not excite us. They appeared to be just pieces of paper." This is probably the highest cash seizure by the department in a single case.
  • Cong. seeks answer Meanwhile, the Congress has sought clarification from Mr. Sahu over the cash seizures. "It is a collective business of his joint family. That family has been in business for over 100 years. Only he can give information about where he got such a huge amount of money. Since he is associated with the Congress and is an MP, the party has sought clarification from him," the party's Jharkhand in-charge, Avinash Pandey, told media persons in Ranchi. 

Summit and confrence News 

37.Invest India To Host 27th World Investment Conference, New Delhi

  • Invest India, the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of the Government of India, is set to host the 27th World Investment Conference (WIC) from December 11-14, 2023. 
  • The event, under the aegis of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), promises to be a groundbreaking platform for global investment promotion and innovation stakeholders. 
  • This year’s conference will delve into the theme of “Empowering Investors: IPAs Pioneering Future Growth.” The focus is on discussing investment policies and trends, providing a unique opportunity for collaboration, trade, investments, and knowledge sharing. 

Obituary News 

38.Former West Indies Batter Joe Solomon Dies At 93 

  • Joe Solomon, the former West Indies and Guyana cricket player, has passed away at the age of 93. Solomon was a big part of West Indies cricket in the late 1950s and 1960s, and he’s remembered for his amazing performances on the field. 
  • Joe Solomon started playing cricket when he was 26, which is a bit later than most players. He made a spectacular entrance into the game by scoring three centuries in his first matches: 114 not out against Jamaica, 108 against Barbados, and 121 against the touring Pakistan team. 
  • One of Solomon’s most memorable moments was in the historic tied Test against Australia in 1960 at the Gabba. In a super close finish, Australia needed six runs off the last eight balls with three wickets in hand. It looked like they would win, but Solomon’s accurate throw caught a player out of his crease, resulting in the first-ever tied Test. 

39.Veteran Kannada Actor Leelavathi Passes Away At 86.

  • In a poignant moment for fans and the film fraternity, the revered Kannada actor Leelavathi has passed away at the age of 86. The seasoned artist, known for her versatile performances, left an indelible mark on the Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu film industries. 
  • Leelavathi, with a career spanning over 600 films, embarked on her cinematic journey with her debut in “Bhakta Prahlada” in 1958. Stepping into the Kannada film industry as a leading lady in “Mangalya Yoga” the same year, she quickly established herself as a prominent figure.

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