Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 12th December 2023


International News 

1.UN Peacekeeping Mission In Mali Officially Ends After 10 Years 

  • The United Nations has officially ended its decade-long peacekeeping mission in Mali after 10 years, responding to the government’s claim that the force was inadequate in addressing the escalating threat of violent extremism. 
  • This move marks the conclusion of the deadliest peacekeeping mission globally, with over 300 personnel casualties. The withdrawal comes as Mali grapples with persistent challenges from Islamic extremist insurgency since 2012. 
  • The UN mission in Mali has incurred a heavy toll, with more than 300 personnel losing their lives during the peacekeeping operation. The challenging terrain and persistent threat of violent extremism have contributed to the mission’s high casualty rate, making it the deadliest peacekeeping mission in the world 

2.China Unveils World’s First 4th-Generation Nuclear Reactor 

  • China has achieved a significant milestone in its quest to shift away from traditional coal-fired power plants and decrease its reliance on foreign technologies. 
  • Recently, the Shidao Bay nuclear power plant in eastern Shandong province commenced commercial operations, heralding the era of next-generation gas-cooled nuclear reactors. 
  • The Shidao Bay plant distinguishes itself by utilizing two high-temperature reactors cooled by gas, a departure from conventional pressurized water cooling systems. 
  • A noteworthy aspect of the Shidao Bay project is its emphasis on domestically developed technology. More than 90 percent of the plant’s equipment is of Chinese design, showcasing the nation’s capability to innovate and implement advanced nuclear solutions independently. 

3.Poland’s Parliament Elects Donald Tusk As Prime Minister 

  • In a historic vote on December 11, former EU leader Donald Tusk returned as Poland’s Prime Minister after nearly a decade, marking a significant shift Fromm eight years of stormy national conservative rule. 
  • Tusk’s leadership is expected to usher in a new-pro-European era, with promises to restore democratic standards and improve ties with European allies. 
  • The parliamentary vote in support of Tusk was 248-201 in the 460-seat lower house of parliament. Tusk’s leadership is anticipated to usher in a new era, with a focus on restoring democratic values and improving Poland’s relations with the EU. 

4.Draft climate deal fails to 'phase out' fossil fuel 

  • After a week of expectations that negotiators at the ongoing climate talks in Dubai might agree to a 'phase out' of fossil fuels, the phrase has been edited out, according to the latest draft made public late in the evening on Monday. However, the text has employed stronger language against coal, with a recommendation to rapidly phase down unabated coal," that countries such as India, Indonesia and China are major consumers of coal power and developing countries that could find objectionable. 
  • Observers of COP-28 say that even a mention of the need to do away with fossil fuels in the final text, which is expected today, would be a significant step towards bringing parity between coal, oil and gas, and the need to do away with them to keep temperature increase below 1.5°C by the end of the century. 
  • On fossil fuels, the text now exhorts countries to "reduce both consumption and production of fossil fuels, in a just, orderly and equitable manner so as to achieve net zero by, before, or around 2050 in keeping with the science." 
  • Burning of fossil fuel contributes nearly 80% of the greenhouse gas emissions of which coal makes up about 40% and oil and gas collectively constitute the rest. Humanity's best chance at keeping global temperature-increases below 1.5°C is by cutting emissions down to 43% of the 2019 levels by 2030. However, the reality is that emissions are increasing year on year and despite pledges by countries to spruce up their renewable energy infrastructure. "The latest Global Stocktake text on fossil fuels represents a significant regression from previous versions. It has dropped explicit language on the phasing out of fossil fuels, opting instead for a vague commitment to reduce both consumption and production' by 2050. This is a clear indication of the fossil fuel industry's lobbying power, influencing global policies to favour prolonged fossil fuel use," said Harjeet Singh, Head Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International. 
  • Others say that the venue of the conference, in a petrostate, has influenced the wording of the text. "On fossil fuels this text lays the ground for change. It is good to recognise this is the first COP where the word fossil fuel is included in the draft decision. This is the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era. It appears to be a compromise between Saudi Arabia who didn't want any mention of fossil fuels and the progressive countries who called for an outright fossil fuel phase out," said Mohamed Adow, Director Power-shift Africa. 

State News 

5.Bhajan Lal Sharma Newly Elected Chief Minister Of Rajasthan 

  • Bhajan Lal Sharma, a prominent figure in Rajasthan’s political landscape, is set to become the state’s next Chief Minister. At 56 years old, he brings a wealth of political experience and accomplishments to the position. 
  • Sharma’s electoral triumph, coupled with his extensive political background, reflects the BJP’s strategic choice for leadership. As he takes on the responsibilities of the state’s top office, all eyes will be on the new leadership to address the challenges and contribute to the development of Rajasthan. 
  • In addition to Bhajan Lal Sharma’s appointment, Diya Kumari and Premchand Bairwa have been named as his two deputies. The role of Speaker will be held by MLA Vasudev Devnani, who comes with prior experience as the state Education Minister. 

6.'Tribunals identified 32,381 persons as foreigners in Assam’ 

  • The Union government submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Monday stating that 32,381 people were "detected to be foreigners" by Foreigners Tribunals (FTs) in Assam since 1966. 
  • Replying to a question on the number of persons in Assam who were granted citizenship between the years 1966-1971 under Section 6A (2) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, the government said 17,861 persons registered with the Foreigners Regional Registra- tion Office (FRRO) till October 31 this year. The Centre said 3,34,966 cases were disposed of by 100 FTs operational in Assam till October 31, and 97,714 cases were pending. It said that till December 1,8,461 cases arising out of FTs were pending before the Gauhati High Court. 
  • Section 6A is a special provision inserted into the 1955 Act in furtherance of a 3,34,966 cases were disposed of by 100 FTs operational in Assam till October 31, the Centre says Memorandum of Settlement, called the 'Assam Accord', signed on August 15, 1985, by the then Rajiv Gandhi government with the leaders of the Assam Movement to preserve the Assamese culture. 
  • The government's affidavit said "it is not possible to collect accurate data of illegal migrants living in various parts of the country" as such foreign nationals enter the country in a "surreptitious and clandestine manner." 
  • The affidavit filed by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla said that due to the "non-cooperation" of the West Bengal government, the timely completion of fencing, a vital national security project, along the Bangladesh border had been pending. 

7.Harvest the Odisha story to ensure food security 

  • As the world's leaders are in a huddle for COP28, or the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (November 30 to December 12, 2023), in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, the worsening impact of the climate crisis paints a grim picture for the planet, peace and prosperity. Disasters are projected to increase to 560 per year, that is 1.5 per day, hunger and malnutrition are expected to grow by 20% if the climate change impact goes unchecked, and food. productivity is expected to decline by 21% due to global warming.
  • As the world witnesses a worsening global food crisis precipitated by the mounting climate crisis, spiralling conflicts and distressed livelihoods, Odisha's transformational journey is increasingly being cited as a model and a source of ideas for creating food security that is built around equity and sustainability. 
  • Odisha's story has three specific themes in the current scenario: how the State strengthened food security by transforming agriculture through a community-driven approach and built resilience to climate impact.
  • In the past two decades, Odisha has moved from importing rice from other States and making ends meet in the pre-2000s to, in 2022, producing 13.606 million tonnes of food grains, its highest production on record. 
  • There are two notable aspects: a majority of farmers are small/marginal, and productivity has increased despite a stable crop area. The average rice yield, which is Odisha's main crop, has tripled in two decades. In 2000-01, the average yield was 10.41 quintals per hectare, but by 2020-21, it had increased to 27.30 quintals per hectare. 
  • Kalahandi district was known as the "land of hunger," but has now been transformed into Odisha's rice bowl. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik shared this at the United Nations World Food Programme headquarters, where he addressed Odisha's commitment towards IAS is Development Commissioner and Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Odisha is Representative and Country Director, United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP), and a part of Team UN in India With climate change threatening global food productivity. 
  • Odisha's efforts in climate-proofing its agricultural system have resulted in a unique development model achieving the "Zero Hunger' goal of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2. 
  • The focus is on small and marginal farmers and increasing their income. This has directly contributed to strengthening their food security and creating resilient livelihoods. 
  • Implementing flagship schemes such as Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) and disseminating scientific crop management practices through conventional and digital extension have increased non-paddy crop cultivation, while paddy cultivation has decreased. Schemes such as the Odisha Millet Mission have also helped diversify crops and promote climate resilience. Due to its geographical location and physical conditions, Odisha is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This phenomenon can disrupt current growth strategies and exacerbate poverty, as it may lead to a loss of life, livelihoods, assets, and infrastructure. Odisha has proactively developed a comprehensive Climate Change Action Plan to address these concerns. 
  • This plan covers various sectors, including agriculture, coastal zone protection, energy, fisheries and animal resources, forests, health, industries, mining, transport, and urban and water resources. It was formulated by a team of experts from multiple departments and incorporates inputs from civil society. Various departments and agencies are responsible for implementing the activities identified in the plan, which are being monitored by a committee headed by the Chief Secretary, 
  • The approach towards climate resilience is being developed from the bottom up. The Crop Weather Watch Group conducts weekly meetings, sees field visits by officers, and has video conferences to monitor the crop programme. This helps the authorities to take necessary measures during adverse weather conditions such as cyclones, floods, and droughts, which are frequent in the State. 
  • Crop planning is done at the district level by officials of allied departments, considering the agro-climatic zone. Parmers are adopting climate-resilient cultivation practices that include integrated farming, zero-input-based nanad farming, non-paddy crops, better water management, water-saving devices, e-pest surveillance, and large-scale farm mechanisation with women-friendly drudgery-reducing farm implements. Training farmers in crop-specific techniques, including integrated nutrient and pest management, has boosted food grains production. 
  • The consistent improvement of the agricultural sector has made Odisha a surplus State for paddy production. It is the fourth most significant contributor to the paddy pool of the Food Corporation of India. According to the available statistics for 2020-21, Odisha produces 9% of the total rice in India and accounts for 4.22% of the total food-grain production of the country. The partnership between the United Nations World Food Programme and the Government of Odisha has seen innovation for pilots on improving food and nutrition security schemes, such as the application of biometric technology in the Targeted Public Distribution System in remote Rayagada district back in 2007, or rice fortification in Gajapati district, to name a few. In the State Ranking Index for the National Food Security Act by the Department of Food and Public Distribution, Government of India, for 2022, Odisha emerged as the top-ranked State in the entire country. The WFP collaborates with the Government of Odisha on its food security, livelihood and climate resilience initiatives. 
  • Odisha's transformative journey, from food grains scarcity to the generation of surplus, sustained efforts in climate-proofing its agricultural system, crop diversification, protection of the interest of the smallholders, and food and nutrition security for the vulnerable presents a unique development model for other States in the context of the challenges of global climate change. 

8.Praise for Kerala govt.'s Sabarimala road safety project 

  • A project for Sabarimala pilgrims during the Makaravilakku festival designed by the Kerala government's Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) that resulted in a 100% reduction in road pppfatalities was recognised among the top interventions from across the country for improving road safety. 
  • Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari inaugurated the 'Road Safety Good Practices in India' report brought out jointly by the World Bank and NGO Save-Life Foundation. The report could serve as a repository of road safety solutions that can be utilised by different stakeholders across the country. 
  • The annual pilgrimage season to visit Sabarimala temple from mid-November to end-January saw 16 deaths and 77 injuries in 2009-2010. As the temple can only be accessed by narrow roads on the hilly terrain of Pathanamthitta district, there would often be traffic congestion either due to road crashes or vehicle breakdowns. This would also further impact operations of emergency vehicles for rescue and relief efforts and servicing of 1 stranded vehicle. According to the MVD, nearly four crore pilgrims travelled in 1 80 lakh vehicles in e 2017-2018. 
  • So, the MVD identified 382 km of roads leading to Sabarimala for the Safe e Zone Project. The project resulted in 100% reduction in deaths or zero fatalities in 2020-2021. There was also a 90% reduction in injuries, which dropped from 77 to seven injuries during the 10-year period. 
  • On the ground The report identifies a slew of measures which resulted in the drastic impact. Key among them was deployment of personnel on the ground, which included 15 patrol teams of 45 officers from MVD with vehicles fitted with GPS, wireless, fire extinguishers, and safety devices. These measures ensured parking discipline and tended to vehicle pile-ups and crashes. They were also aided by three 24/7 control rooms with communication facilities. 
  • Ambulance services are also ensured to provide emergency medical care. Vehicles are also provided breakdown assistance with the support of 300 people in 90 mechanical teams along with three mobile repair units with sufficient spares, five cranes and 50 recovery vans. 
  • There were also awareness campaigns conducted among guruswamis and drivers with campaign material in six languages distributed at major check posts and toll booths. 
  • The Sabarimala project is among the 13 "good practices" compiled in the report that have either been implemented in the past or are currently under implementation across various States in the country. To gather these practices, all the stakeholders, including police, transport and health departments, of all States and Union Territories were contacted through questionnaires, which was followed by secondary research. 

Defence News 

9.India, Vietnam Armies Start 11-Day Hanoi Exercise 

  • The Indian and Vietnamese Armies have initiated an 11-day military exercise in Vietnam, commencing on December 11. This collaborative endeavor, named “VINBAX-23,” reflects the deepening strategic partnership between the two nations and is a response to shared concerns over China’s assertive actions in the South China Sea. 
  • The joint military exercise is part of an expanding strategic engagement between India and Vietnam, emphasizing their commitment to counterbalance China’s increasing aggression in the South China Sea. This collaboration aims to foster a collaborative partnership and enhance interoperability between the Indian and Vietnamese forces. 
  • The military exercise, VINBAX-23, spans from December 11 to 21 and is hosted in Hanoi. The Indian contingent consists of 45 personnel, including 39 from the Bengal Engineer Group’s engineer regiment and six from the Army Medical Corps. Correspondingly, Vietnam has deployed 45 personnel for the drill. 

Economy News 

10.Retail inflation is stable now: FM 

  • The country's consumer price inflation is now "stable" and within the official tolerance band of 2% to 6%, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman conveyed to the Lok Sabha on Monday, attributing it to weakening. price rise largely to a steady drop in core inflation.
  • "India's retail inflation has declined from an average of 7.1% in April-October 2022 to 5.4% in the corresponding period of 2023. Core inflation [that excludes food and energy costs] has declined from 5.1% in April 2023 to 4.3% in October 2023," the FM said in response to a question from MP Sushil Kumar Rinku on retail inflation. 
  • Nirmala Sitharaman says retail inflation is now stable and within the RBI's notified tolerance band of 2% to 6% Core inflation has declined from 5.1% in April 2023 to 4.3% in October 2023, FM says FM asserts inflation has been within acceptable limits since the introduction of the tolerance band in 2016. 
  • Temporary increases in inflation reined in by supply-side and demand stabilisation measures, she asserts "increasing steeply". Temporary increases in inflation "on a few occasions were caused by demand-supply mismatches arising out of global shocks and adverse weather conditions" and the government and the Reserve Bank of India had helped resolve such mismatches and reined in inflation through proactive supply side initiatives and effective demand stabilisation measures, she underlined. 
  • "Retail inflation is now stable and within the notified tolerance band of 2% to 6%," Ms. Sitharaman said, adding that the pace of price rise had been "mostly within acceptable limits" since the introduction of the tolerance band in 2016. steady dechend core inflation had been critical in weakening inflationary pressure in the Indian economy, she said. Ms. Sitharaman outlined some of the government's steps to restrain inflation such as easing food imports, preventing hoarding, extending the free food grain scheme, and raising LPG subsidy. 
  • November's retail inflation numbers will be released by the National Statistics Office on Tuesday and the RBI has indicated there may be a spike in inflation in November from the four month low of 4.87% in October due to an uptick in vegetable prices. 

11.Centre blames traders Pa for rise in onion price, says stir 'sponsored’ 

  • As farmers and traders continued in Maharashtra over the ban on onion exports, the Union Consumer Affairs Ministry said on Monday that the steps it had taken were bringing results, with the prices of the kitchen staple coming down in both retail and wholesale markets. 
  • Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh dubbed the protests by farmers as "sponsored" by traders and said no onion farmer would face loss as the Centre had stepped up procurement of the tial vegetable in tra and other States. He said a section of traders were trying to take the advantage of delay in harvest and timely invention helped in reducing the price. "The prices might have crossed ₹100 for a kg had the ment not intervened on time," he said. 
  • Buffer stock increased essential "The government took the Maharash decision taking into account delay in Kharif arrival, the quantity of onion exported and global situ kharif tion such as trade and non intertrade restrictions imposed by major suppliers such as Turkey, Egypt and Iran. To ensure that farmers are not adversely affected, the government is continuously procuring onions from the onions was prohibited from December 8 till March next year to ensure availability for domestic consumers at affordable prices. 
  • Stabilisation Fund," the senior official said. He added that as a message to the market, the Centre increased the buffer stock and directed the cooperative agencies to procure seven lakh tonnes of onion. 
  • As a result, the all-India average retail price for onion has been brought down from ₹59.9 per kg on November 17 to 156.8 per kg on December 8, the official claimed.
  • "The government is keeping a close watch on the onion crop availability and prices to take necessary measures in the interest of both the consumers and the farmers," he said. 

Schemes and Committee News 

12.PM SVANidhi Scheme Disbursed Rs 9,790 Cr Loans To Street Vendors

  • The PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) scheme, launched during the COVID-19 outbreak, has emerged as a crucial initiative in supporting urban street vendors. 
  • The scheme, designed as a micro-credit program, has disbursed an impressive total of Rs 9,790 crore in loans to beneficiaries, as disclosed by the government in the Rajya Sabha on Monday. 
  • The primary objective of the PM SVANidhi scheme is to provide collateral-free working capital loans to urban street vendors, with amounts reaching up to Rs 50,000. 
  • The number of street vendor beneficiaries has seen a steady increase, reaching 56,58,744 as of December 5, 2023. Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri noted that this number is continually rising, reflecting the scheme’s ongoing success in reaching and supporting a growing number of urban street vendors. 

13.U.K. PM Rishi Sunak defends his government's handling of pandemic, restaurant scheme 

  • Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended Britain's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday, telling an official inquiry he did not recognise testimony describing a dysfunctional government and saying his hospitality scheme was supported at the time. 
  • The inquiry is examining Britain's response to the pandemic which killed more than 2,30,000 people in the country. It has heard that the government of then-Prime Minister Воris Johnson was gripped by infighting and incompetence, and unable to make a decision. 
  • Mr. Sunak was a relatively unknown politician when he was promoted to Finance Minister on the eve of the pandemic, appearing to be sure-footed as he set out hundreds of billions of pounds of support to keep companies and livelihoods afloat. 
  • He has come under fire during the inquiry so far from other witnesses over his "Eat out to help out" subsidised meal scheme, which encouraged people to visit restaurants and pubs in August 2020. 
  • Some scientists have questioned whether Mr. Sunak's policy may have contributed to a wave of in- fections, but Mr. Sunak said scientists and other Ministers did not raise any objections during meetings in the month leading up to the scheme. 
  • He said that "Eat out to help out" took place within guidelines for the safe reopening of hospitality. 
  • "My primary concern was protecting millions of jobs of particularly vulnerable people who worked in this industry (hospitality)," Mr. Sunak told the inquiry. 

Banking News 

14.Bank Of India Launches Nari Shakti Savings Account For Women 

  • In a significant move towards women’s financial empowerment, Bank of India has recently introduced the Nari Shakti Savings Account. This exclusive savings bank product is designed to cater specifically to women aged 18 and above who possess an independent source of income, marking a progressive step in fostering economic independence for women. 
  • The Nari Shakti Savings Account is conceptualized as a robust financial savings tool, aiming to support working women with an independent income source. The primary objective is to empower women, enabling them to become self-reliant and experience a higher degree of financial freedom. 
  • In a commendable gesture, Bank of India has pledged to contribute Rs. 10/- to the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fund for every new Nari Shakti Account opened. This fund will be dedicated to the socio-economic development of underprivileged women and the girl child, reflecting the bank’s commitment to social responsibility 

Important Day News 

15.Universal Health Coverage Day 2023 

  • Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day, observed annually on December 12, serves as a global reminder of the essential need for a healthcare system that provides equitable and comprehensive health care with financial protection for all. 
  • The theme for UHC Day 2023, “Health For All: Time for Action,” underscores the urgency for leaders to implement policies ensuring equitable access to essential health services without financial hardship.
  • Established by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2012, the day emphasizes the importance of progressing towards universal health coverage as a vital international development priority 

16.International Day Of Neutrality 2023 

  • The International Day of Neutrality, observed annually on December 12, holds paramount significance in promoting global peace, sovereignty, and the resolution of conflicts through diplomatic means. 
  • Recognized by the United Nations, this day sheds light on the importance of countries adopting a neutral stance in international affairs to maintain impartiality and contribute to global security. 
  • Neutrality, as defined by the United Nations, is a legal status resulting from a nation’s decision to abstain from participating in wars between other states. It involves maintaining an impartial attitude towards belligerent parties, aiming to foster peace and avoid taking sides in conflicts. 

Award News 

17.Golden Globe Awards Nominations 2024 Uploading: 235010 of 235010 bytes uploaded.

  • The glitz and glamour of Hollywood took center stage on Monday morning as the nominees for the 81st annual Golden Globe Awards were revealed, setting the tone for the much-anticipated 2024 awards season. 
  • “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” emerged as the frontrunners, both earning significant attention with 10 and 8 nominations, respectively. 
  • In the television categories, HBO’s “Succession” led the pack with nine nominations for its final session. “The Bear” and “Only Murders in the Building” followed closely with five nods each. The article highlights the competitive races in both drama and comedy categories.
  • Netflix emerged as the leading media company with 28 nominations, showcasing its diverse lineup of series and movies, including “Maestro,” “The Crown” and “The Diplomat.” Warner Bros. Discovery closely trailed with 27 nominations, buoyed by recognition for “Barbie,” “Succession” and “Barry.” 

18.Veteran Actor Kabir Bedi Awarded Italy’s Civilian Honour ‘Order Of Merit’ 

  • Kabir Bedi was awarded the “Order of Merit of the Italian Republic” (Merito della Repubblica Italiana), the country’s highest honour awarded to civilians, at a private ceremony held in Mumbai. 
  • This award, the most prestigious Italian honorific one, ultimately recognizes his unconditional feeling and passionate dedication to Italy. The “Order of Merit of the Italian Republic” stands as a testament to Italy’s appreciation for those who have made outstanding contributions to society, embodying the nation’s values of merit and excellence. 
  • Established on March 3, 1951, the order is bestowed to individuals who have made significant contributions to various fields, including arts, literature, economy, public service, and social, philanthropic, and humanitarian activities. 

19.Indian Scientist Dr. Hemachandran Ravikumar Receives Karmaveer Chakra Medal-2023 

  • In a momentous ceremony on Nov 27, 2023, in New Delhi, Dr. Hemachandran Ravikumar was honored with the Karmaveer Chakra Medal and Rex Karmaveer Global Fellowship by ICONGO in collaboration with the United Nations, in recognition of his exceptional contributions to R&D in Physical & Bio-Science and Microbiological Studies. 
  • The Rex Karmaveer Chakra Medal, hailed as one of the most distinguished civilian honors, is reserved for individuals who have demonstrated exceptional contributions on a global scale towards the well-being of humanity. 
  • Dr. Hemachandran Ravikumar’s exemplary work in advancing scientific knowledge and promoting the understanding of Biological Sciences has rightfully earned him this esteemed accolade. 

20.Noted Hindi Writer Pushpa Bharati To Receive 33rd Vyas Samman 

  • The literary world is set to celebrate as the 33rd Vyas Samman, 2023, is announced to honor the accomplished Hindi writer Pushpa Bharati for her 2016 memoir, “Yaadein, Yaadein aur Yaadein.” This prestigious award is bestowed by the KK Birla Foundation, recognizing outstanding contributions to Hindi literature. 
  • Born in 1935 in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, Pushpa Bharati embarked on her literary journey, earning an MA in Hindi literature from Prayag University in 1955. With a career spanning decades, she has crafted a diverse body of work, earning critical acclaim for her unique writing style and language proficiency. 
  • Instituted in 1991, the Vyas Samman acknowledges exceptional Hindi literary works by Indian citizens published in the last 10 years. The award includes a cash prize of ₹4 lakh, a citation, and a plaque, recognizing the profound impact of the recipient’s contribution to the literary landscape. 

21.Travis Head Wins ICC Men’s Player Of Month Award For November 2023 

  • The cricket world witnessed outstanding performances in November 2023, with Australian batter Travis Head and spin maestro Nahida Akter earning the prestigious ICC Men’s and Women’s Player of the Month awards, respectively. 
  • In a thrilling display of cricket prowess, Travis Head played a pivotal role in Australia’s triumphant journey to their sixth ICC Cricket World Cup title. The highlight of his outstanding performance was an explosive century that not only earned him the Player of the Match award in the semi-final against South Africa but also significantly contributed to Australia’s victory in the blockbuster final against India in Ahmedabad. 
  • Travis Head’s outstanding Player of the Match performances in both the semi-final against South Africa and the final against India solidified his claim to the ICC Men’s Player of the Month award. His explosive batting, leadership on the field, and crucial contributions in high-stakes matches marked him as a standout player. 

Sports News 

22.Asad Shafiq Announces Retirement From All Forms Of Cricket 

  • Pakistan’s cricket fraternity bids farewell to one of its stalwarts as Asad Shafiq, the middle-order batter, announces his retirement from all forms of the game at the age of 37. 
  • Making his mark across all three formats, Asad Shafiq represented Pakistan in 77 Tests, 60 ODIs, and 10 T20Is. While his performances in white-ball cricket were moderate, Shafiq emerged as a shining star in the Test arena, showcasing his skills as one of Pakistan’s most dependable batters in varied conditions. 
  • Known for his composure and ability to navigate challenging situations, he played a pivotal role in stabilizing Pakistan’s middle order. His departure marks the end of an era for a batter who served as a reliable backbone for the team in the longest format. 

23.Kashvi Gautam becomes the most expensive uncapped player in the Women's Premier League, 2024 auction 

  • Rs 2 crore bought by Gujarat Giants during the 2024 WPL auction held in Mumbai, Maharashtra. All-rounder Kashvi Gautam became the most expensive uncapped cricketer in the history of the Women's Premier League (WPL) after being bought in 2017. 
  • The 20-year-old was part of the India A team during the recent series against England A in Mumbai and took three wickets in two matches. Delhi Capitals has paid Rs 2 crore for Australian all-rounder Annabel Sutherland. Sutherland, who has already played 22 T20 matches for Australia, has taken 10 wickets with her seam bowling and scored 97 runs. 
  • During this period, UP Warriors had paid Rs 1.30 crore for batsman Vrinda Dinesh in the auction. Vrinda Dinesh is another uncapped Indian player.
  • Excluding these players, a total of nine players were sold for Rs 30 lakh each. They were – Meghna Singh, Lauren Cheatle and Veda Krishnamurthy for Gujarat Giants, Kate Cross, Sabbineni Meghna, Simran Dil Bahadur and Sophie Molineux for Royal Challengers Bangalore, Danny Wyatt and Gauhar Sultana for UP Warriors. 
  • The Women's Premier League (WPL) auction ahead of the second season will see 165 players auctioned, which includes 104 Indian and 61 foreign players. 
  • Five franchises – Delhi Capitals, Gujarat Giants, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, UP Warriors – will try to seal the 30 available slots. 

24.India's Ashwini Ponnappa and Tanisha Crasto won the women's doubles title in Guwahati Mastersb Badminton Tournament 2023

  • India's Ashwini Ponnappa and Tanisha Crasto won the women's doubles title at the Guwahati Masters Badminton Championships 2023 on 10 December 2023. 
  • In the BWF Super 100 event, second seeded pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Tanisha Crasto won their second title by defeating Taipei's Tsung Shuo Yun and Yu Hsien Hu 21-13, 21-19. 
  • Earlier this year, the Indian badminton pair had won the AbuDhabi Masters Super 100 event. Ashwini Ponnappa and Tanisha Craston had also made it to the finals of the Syed Modi International Super 300 event in Lucknow last week, but the pair were defeated by Japan's Rin Iwanaga and Ki Nakanishi. 
  • Yonex-Sunrise Guwahati Masters 2023 took place on 05 – 10 December 2023 at Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium, Sarusajai Sports Complex, Guwahati, Assam, India. 

Guwahati Masters Winner 

  • Men's Singles: Yohannes Sot Marcelino (Indonesia) 
  • Women's Singles: Lalinrat Chaiwan (Thailand) 
  • Men's Doubles: Choong Jian/Muhammad Haikal (Malaysia) 
  • Women's Doubles: Ashwini Ponnappa/Tanisha Crasto (India) 
  • Mixed doubles: Hee Kai Terry/Tan Wei Han Jessica (Singapore) 

Indian polity News 

25.Giving Article 370 permanent status will undo efforts to fully integrate J&K with the Union’ 

  • The Supreme Court on Monday said an interpretation that Article 370 attained a permanent character after the dissolution of the J&K Constituent Assembly in 1957 would have undone over 70 years of "collaborative" work to integrate the State with the Union of India. 
  • A Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud held that Article 370 was intended to "enhance constitutional integration between the Union and the State of Jammu and Kashmir" and not cause any "disintegration". He said the abrogation of Article 370 only made Jammu and Kashmir on a par with the other States. The entirety of the Indian Constitution would now apply to Jammu and Kashmir. 
  • The argument by the petitioners that Jammu and Kashmir would perpetually retain its special status after the Constituent Assembly dissolved in 1957 without a positive recommendation on whether or not to abrogate Article 370 would only "lead to freezing of the integration contrary to the purpose of introducing the provision". 
  • "If the contention of the petitioners on the interpretation of Article 370 vis-à-vis the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly is accepted then Article 370 (3) would become redundant and the provision would lose its temporary character," the Chief Justice observed. Article 370 (3) allowed the President to issue a public notification, with the prior recommendation of the Constituent Assembly, declaring Article 370 inoperative.
  • The court has held that the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly was not binding on the President. "The President has the power to issue a notification declaring that Article 370 ceases to operate without the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly. The continuous exercise of power under Article 370(1) by the President indicates that the gradual process of constitutional integration was ongoing. The declaration issued by the President under Article 370(3) was a culmination of the process of integration and as such is a valid exercise of power," the Chief Justice said 

26.BJP springs a surprise, picks Mohan Yadav as new Madhya Pradesh CM 

  • Springing a major surprise, the BJP on Monday selected Ujjain-Dakshin (South) MLA Mohan Yadav as its Legislature Party leader and the next Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. 
  • Apart from Mr. Yadav, who hails from the Other Backward Classes (OBC), the new BJP government will have two Deputy Chief Ministers Malhargarh MLA Jagdish Devda, a Dalit, and Rewa MLA Rajendra Shukla, a Brahmin. 
  • The OBCS constitute about 52% of the State's population while there are nearly 17% people from the Scheduled Castes. 
  • Former Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has been chosen as the next Assembly Speaker. 
  • Set to become the 19th Chief Minister of the State, questions arise over the future of Shivraj Chouhan mar, Kailash Vijayvargiya and Prahlad Singh Patel, Madhya Pradesh BJP president V.D. Sharma said. 
  • Mr. Yadav's name was proposed by outgoing Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan at the BJP Legislature Party meet in Bhopal and supported by party leaders, including Mr. 

27.SC upholds repeal of J&K's special status 

  • The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Monday unanimously upheld the power of the President to abrogate special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution, leading to the reorganisation of the full fledged State to two Union Territories and the removal of its privileges. 
  • The five-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud confirmed that the President could "unilaterally issue a notification that Article 370 ceases to exist". 
  • The court held that the President had the power to do so "if special circumstances warrant a special solution". "The court cannot sit in appeal over the decision of the President 
  • When the Constituent Assembly was dissolved, it did not affect the President's power to declare it inoperative 
  • Jammu and Kashmir does not have any internal sovereignty different from other States and its status under Article 370 is only a form of asymmetric federalism 
  • From its historical context, it is clear that Article 370 is only a temporary provision 
  • The President, in exercise of power under Article 370(3), can unilaterally issue a notification that Article 370 ceases to exist 
  • on whether the special circumstances which led to the arrangement under Article 370 have ceased to exist," the CJI reasoned. 
  • The court said the President's decision in 2019 was the culmination of a "gradual and collaborative exercise" spread over the past 70 years between the Centre and the State to integrate Jammu and Kashmir with the Union 

Obituaries News 

28. DR Gao Yaojie, Renowed AIDS Activist Dies At 95 

  • Dr. Gao Yaojie, a trailblazing Chinese doctor and activist, passed away at the age of 95 in her home in the United States. Columbia University professor Andrew J. Nathan, who had legal power of attorney for Gao, confirmed her passing. 
  • As a roving gynecologist, Gao spent days on the road treating patients in remote villages. Her firsthand encounter with an HIV patient in 1996 exposed the disastrous consequences of blood banks using dirty needles and pooling leftover blood for transfusions. 
  • Gao rose to prominence as China’s most prominent AIDS activist, exposing blood-selling schemes that infected thousands with HIV. She was known for her fearless exposure of the AIDS virus epidemic in rural China during the 1990s. 

Agreement News 

29.Tata Power, Indian Oil Ink Deal For 500+ EV Charging Points At Pumps 

  • In a significant move towards bolstering the electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure in India, Tata Power EV Charging Solutions Ltd (TPEVCSL) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL). 
  • The collaboration aims to set up more than 500 EV charging points across the country, with a focus on creating a robust intercity charging network. The strategic collaboration between Tata Power and IOCL has a primary objective of building a reliable and expansive intercity charging network. 
  • By establishing EV charging points in major cities and along crucial highways, the partnership seeks to enhance the convenience and accessibility of charging infrastructure. The EV charging points will be strategically placed in key cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Pune, and Kochi.

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