Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 16th December 2023

 National News 

1.LS security breach 'mastermind' sent to seven-day police custody 

  • Lalit Jha, who surrendered at the Kartavya Path police post in Delhi on Thursday night, has been described by the Delhi police as the alleged "mastermind" behind the December 13 security breach in the Lok Sabha.
  • Jha, a teacher by profession, was produced in a city court on Friday and sent to police custody for seven days. The police had sought 15 days of custody, submitting that Jha had destroyed the phones of the other accused, and had "disclosed" the "motive" behind the group's actions. 
  • A police source said that, after uploading a video of the December 13 protest outside Parliament on Facebook and Instagram, Jha fled to Rajasthan carrying the phones of the other accused. He is said to have deleted all data from the phones and destroyed them. 
  • According to the first information report (FIR), the following items were recovered from the accused: four used gas canisters and one unused canister, all manufactured in China, and two partly torn and damaged pamphlets. One poster has "Jai Hind" written on it in English, a tricoloured image of a fist, and a Hindi slogan. The other pamphlet had a slogan in English on the recent Manipur violence, the FIR said 

2.Netflix stops streaming uncut Indian films globally 

  • Netflix has fully stopped streaming uncensored versions of Indian films around the world, according to a review of films released this year. 
  • The change in policy is significant for what was possibly the last streaming service in India that conti- nued to show versions of Indian films before they went through the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), which has increasingly been removing political references, particularly those that are disparaging to the dispensation in power, from films. Netflix has fully stopped streaming uncensored versions of Indian films around the world, according to a review of films released this year. 
  • The change in policy is significant for what was possibly the last streaming service in India that conti- nued to show versions of Indian films before they went through the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), which has increasingly been removing political references, particularly those that are disparaging to the dispensation in power, from films. 
  • On top of shielding the public from political references, it has also been applying censorship on references to prominent business personalities: the film Japan, for instance, has a scene mentioning "Ambani [and] Adani", which the CBFC removed. Netflix is streaming the version without the names mentioned. 
  • Netflix and other streaming services have reportedly been applying intense socio-political scrutiny on original series that they commission. 
  • These practices are likely aresult of the fear of online mobs and police action for any politically outspoken content: the Screenwriters Association said in a statement that streaming services and the film industry have forced writers, in signed agreements, to "indemnify producers if there is a socio-political back lash" to their work. Amazon Prime Video's head of originals, Aparna Purohit, had to face police summons after the 2021 political series Tandav, and had to issue an apology and received a stay on action against her in the Supreme Court But licensed content has escaped such similar scrutiny, as most films go through the censor board, which is run by the Union government. 
  • The Cinema-tograph Act and the IT Rules, 2021, which govern cinemas and streaming services, do not explicitly require streaming services to run the CBFC cut of a film online, but many OTT platforms do not take the risk of doing so. Netflix has been an exception. 

3.Karnataka wins legal Tel battle against Kerala over KSRTC' name 

  • Following a prolonged legal struggle, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation has secured legal ownership over its trademarks, including the acronym KSRTC. 
  • Both Karnataka and Kerala SRTCs have been using the acronym 'KSRTC' for many decades. However, Karnataka SRTC had registered the acronym and its logo with the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks. 
  • In a release on Friday, the KSRTC said the Madras High Court said there was no legal bar on the use of acronym 'KSRTC' by the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, and that the court had dismissed Kerala SRTC's claim for exclusive use of KSRTC acronym. 
  • "KSRTC had applied for a trademark certificate for use of 'KSRTC' acronym. The corporation got the certificate in 2013 with user data from 1.11.1973. Copyright was also obtained from the Registrar of CopyRights, for use of 'KSRTC' logo and 'Gandabherunda art'," the KSRTC said. 
  • State Road Transport Corporation challenged it," the release added. 
  • The Kerala SRTC too had obtained registration of trademarks in 2019 claiming prior use. 
  • The appeal was transferred to the Madras High Court after abolition of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board by the Central government. 
  • "The matter was posted before the High Court of Madras on December 12 and the court has dismissed the application filed by Kerala SRTC and the case is decided in favour of Karnataka SRTC. In view of the dismissal of the case, the Karnataka SRTC has no legal hurdle to use the name "KSRTC" in future also," the KSRTC release stated 

4.INTERPOL launched Operation Storm Makers II against human trafficking 

  • Recently Interpol conducted Operation Storm Makers II which exposed a growing network of fraud schemes using victims of human trafficking. 
  • It organized law enforcement agencies in 27 Asian and other countries to combat human trafficking and migrant smuggling. The operation resulted in the arrest of 281 individuals in various countries on charges including human trafficking, passport fraud, corruption, telecommunications fraud and sexual exploitation. 
  • Through this operation, 149 victims of human trafficking were rescued. According to Interpol, Telangana Police have registered the first case in India in which cyber fraud schemes were being conducted using human trafficking victims. 
  • In this, an accountant was lured to the Southeast Asian country and forced to participate in online fraud schemes under inhumane conditions. 
  • According to the information received, the accountant has been rescued after paying the ransom. 
  • The Interpol operation said this trend is extending beyond the South-East Asian region. 


  • Also known as the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO), it was established in the year 1923. India, which has been a member since 1949, is one of the oldest members of Interpol. Its headquarters is in Lyon, France. 

5.International Maritime Organization declared India as the leading country under 'Green Voyage-2050 Project 

  • India has been recognized as a lead country for the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Green Voyage-2050 project, an important step towards reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships. 
  • The Government of India has implemented all MARPOL regulations related to carbon emissions on Indian ships. Currently, the rules are primarily concerned with reducing carbon emissions through increased energy efficiency and progressively reducing (annual) carbon intensity. 
  • India has set up a National Center of Excellence for Green Ports and Shipping (NCOEGPS), the first such Center of Excellence in India. 

The following projects are selected 

  • Waste Heat Recovery System on Bulk Carriers: Ambuja Cements Limited. 
  • Greening the Inland Ghats: Directorate of Inland Water Transport (IWT) Assam/Assam IWT Development Society. 
  • Greening the Inland Ghats: Kochi Water Metro Limited. 
  • Making passenger wooden ferries green: Mumbai Port Authority 
  • Electric Hybrid Tug: Ocean Sparkle Ltd. 
  • GreenVoyage-2050 Project 
  • It is a partnership project launched in 2019 between the Government of Norway and IMO that aims to transform the shipping industry into a low-carbon future. 
  • The initial IMO strategy sets out a clear vision to reduce total annual GHG emissions by a minimum of 50% by 2050 relative to 2008 levels. 
  • The GreenVoyage-2050 project is underway in 12 countries: Azerbaijan, Belize, China, Cook Islands, Ecuador, Georgia, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Solomon Islands, South Africa and Sri Lanka. 
  • IMO was established after the United Nations Conference in Geneva in 1948 and came into existence in 1958. It is headquartered in London, United Kingdom. India joined IMO in 1959 

6.SC refuses to stay survey of Shahi Idgah 

  • The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay the Alla habad High Court order allowing a court-monitored survey of the Shahi Idgah adjoining the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple in Mathura. 
  • A Bench headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna said it should not be expected to order a stay on the strength of an oral plea. The Bench asked the Committee of Management Trust Shahi Masjid Idgah to challenge the High Court decision by filing a proper appeal "How can we stay an order which is not before us? You challenge the order, then we will see..." Justice Khanna told senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the committee 
  • The High Court had on Thursday allowed a court-monitored survey of the Shahi Idgah and agreed to the appointment of an advocate commissioner to oversee the survey of the mosque premises. 
  • The apex court went on further to defer to January 9 a case filed by the committee challenging another order of the High Court on May 26 order, transferring to itself all matters related to the dispute pending before a Mathura court.
  • On November 10, the top court had refused to stay the proceedings before the High Court on suits related to the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi Shahi Idgah dispute, saying It would be private for it to interfere with the High Court order without hearing both sides approved. 

7.SC asks Indian national named in Pannun plot to move Czech court 

  • The Supreme Court on Friday termed allegations of an Indian national about his arrest at Prague airport in June, his solitary confinement in a Czech prison, and the looming prospect of extradition in connection with charges of plotting to kill U.S.-based Khalistani activist Gurpat want Singh Pannun an "extremely sensitive matter for the Ministry of External Affairs, or for that matter, any Ministry of the government". 
  • A petition filed by a family member of the national, which came up before a Bench headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna, has urged the court to direct the Ministries of External Affairs and Home to intervene in the extradition proceedings pending before a court in Prague, Czech Republic, and ensure that their relative gets a "fair and trandy of individuals purportsparent trial". The identity of the person, represented by senior advocate C.A. Sundaram and Rohini Musa, have been kept anonymous in the petition. He has been identified simply as "Mr. X" in the causetitle of the case. Media reports named the individual as "Nikhil Gupta''.. 
  • "The circumstances surrounding his arrest were marked by irregularities, with no formal arrest warrant presented, and the apprehension executed by self-claimed U.S. agents rather than local Czech authorities. He has suffered over 100 days of solitary confinement. He found himself in the custoing to representing U.S. interests. He, a devout Hindu and vegetarian, was subjected to forced consumption of beef and pork during his detention in Czech custody, a direct violation of his religious beliefs. He was denied consular access, the right to contact his family in India, and the freedom to seek legal representation," the petition said. 
  • Mr. Sundaram said the case against his client's relative in Prague has transformed into a "diplomatic and political quagmire between India and the United States' '. He described the man as a "hapless victim caught in the crossfire". He pleaded for the court's intervention to "navigate this intricate web of international relations and secure his rights''. 
  • Justice Khanna advised Mr. Sundaram to approach the Prague court. "If there is any violation taking place... If you feel your rights have been breached, you have to go to the court concerned there," he told the senior lawyer. 
  • Mr. Sundaram said he was not at loggerheads with the idea of approaching the Czech court. However, he said that his client's relative was an Indian national and was well within his rights to expect the Indian government to safeguard his interests. 
  • Justice Khanna said the man had already approached the Delhi High Court and he was "capable of taking care". Mr. Sundaram insisted the man was not "capable of taking care" of the events happening around him in a foreign country. 
  • "This is an extremely sensitive matter for the MEA or for that matter any Ministry of the government. It is for them to decide... You have already gone to the High Court," Justice Khanna said. 

8.Virtual mobile number app Doosra told to hale operation 

  • The Dysartment of Whe comanikurkuse (INST) has issuest an oucher, eww virtually halting the operations of Roosna app completely 
  • Txosna sells secondary mobile numbers to users to hand out at shop or online platforms, where provkh ång a number is usundatory but say leave people open to spawn messages or calls.
  • The firm requires users to provide ID documents to buy a "virtual mobile number", just like a telecom firm would 
  • Describing the apps Adi tya Vucht, the founder, has said that it is useful for customers who are forced to give out their phone number for making a purchase, or for women who don't want to hand out contact information to strangers. Virtual numbers are used by firms like Amazon and Uber when delivery agents or drivers call customers. 
  • Doosra's product is a virtual SMS inbox that filters out spam messages, while only allowing some incoming calls. It is unclear why the DoT has ordered the firm's operations to stop. 
  • A spokesperson for Vodafone Idea Ltd said the hold on Doosra's services by the DoT was valid "until further orders". 

International News 

9.U.S., Israel discuss timetable to scale back war in Gaza

  • The U.S. and Israel have discussed a timetable for scaling back intense combat operations in the war against Hamas, even though they agree the overall fights will take months, an envoy said on Friday, amid growing American unease about the mounting death toll in Gaza. 
  • U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the besieged enclave's postwar future. 
  • In meetings with Israeli leaders on Thursday and Friday, Mr. Sullivan dis- cussed a timetable for winding down the intense combat phase of the war. 
  • Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant told Mr. Sulli- van that it would take months to destroy Hamas, but did not say whether his estimate referred to the current phase of heavy airstrikes and ground battles. including the transition from the high-intensity operations to more targeted operations." 
  • Austin's visit He said he discussed a timeline with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel's War Cabinet, and that such conversations would continue during an upcoming visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. 
  • Mr. Sullivan said on Friday that "there is no contradiction between saying the fight is going to take months and also saying that different phases will take place at different times over those months, The offensive, triggered by the unprecedented October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, has flattened much of northern Gaza and driven 80% of Gaza's population of 2.3 million from their homes. Displaced people have squeezed into shelters mainly in the south in a spiralling humanitarian crisis 

10.Hungary blocks EU aid for Ukraine despite consensus on bloc membership talks 

  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday blocked 50 billion euros ($55 billion) in EU aid for Ukraine, after the leader side-stepped his opposition to sister agreement to open talks with Ky iv on joining the bloc. 
  • A crunch summit in Brussels broke up after a day of wrangling as the De Hungarian authoritarian Aus leader refused to green light funding to help prop up Ukraine's government over the next four years. 
  • Mr. Orban called for un h of blocking all of the still-fro ven zen funds from the Euro tion pean Union for his heir country, before consider ople ing lifting his veto on further aid to Ukraine 
  • "This is a great opportunity for Hungary to make it clear that it should get what it deserves. Not half, then a quarter, but it must get the whole thing" Mr. Orban said. 
  • "So we want to be treated fairly, and now there is a good chance that we can assert this," he added. 
  • The wrangling injected a bitter note over the sun mit, a day after the leaders minus Hungary-made the historic decision to open talks with Ukraine on it one day joining the bloc. 
  • The second day of the stumamit was expected to turn to the lunaelli-Blanmas war in Gaza, and the search for a common EXU position on it. 
  • EU countries are divided between those barking calls for a ceasefire in Gaza - supported by the overwhelming majority of the UN General Assembly and those supporting the distance of Israel and the U.S. that a ceasefire would bind krael's hands as it tries to destroy Hamas. 
  • With the issue of grants to Ulnaine blocked by Han gary, the 25 other EU leaders have decided to hold a fresh meeting early next year to try to thrash out an agreement. 
  • The blockage from the Hungarian nationalist Russia's best friend. 

11.UK Government Considers Social Media Limits For Under-16s 

  • The UK government, led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, is contemplating additional measures to protect teenagers below the age of 16 from online dangers, despite the recent implementation of the Online Safety Act. 
  • The Online Safety Act, a landmark legislation mandating social media platforms to shield minors from harmful content or face substantial fines, marked a significant step toward ensuring online safety for children. 
  • In the coming year, the government plans to initiate a consultation to investigate the risks faced by children using social media. The emphasis, according to official statements, is on empowering parents to navigate their children’s online experiences rather than imposing strict regulations. 

12.China Launches Deepest Lab On Earth, More Than 2,000m Below Ground 

  • China has achieved a significant milestone in the field of physics with the operationalization of the world’s deepest and largest underground laboratory. According to a report, the physics laboratory, known as the Deep Underground and Ultra-low Radiation Background Facility for Frontier Physics Experiments (DURF), reaches an impressive depth of 2,400 meters. 
  • Jointly built by Tsinghua University and Yalong River Hydropower Development Company, Ltd., the facility provides unique testing conditions that are not available to scientists elsewhere. One of the primary objectives of DURF is to contribute significantly to the global search for dark matter—a mysterious form of matter that seems to defy interaction with light or the electromagnetic field. 

13.Pannun issue can cause 'serious damage' to ties if not addressed: U.S. lawmakers 

  • A group of influential U.S. Democratic lawmakers, who are supporters of the India-U.S. relationship, have said that bilateral ties could face "serious damage" if the U.S. attorney's allegations against an unnamed Indian official and Indian citizen Nikhil Gupta in a murder-for-hire plot were not addressed. 
  • The lawmakers described the allegations as "deeply concerning" as they stated that they top the safety of their Constitution. 
  • "We believe the U.S.-Indĩa partnership has made a meaningful impact on the lives of both of our people, but we are concerned that the actions outlined in the Indictment could, if not appropriately addressed. cause significant damage to this very consequential partnership," the members of the Congress said in a statement on Friday, after receiving a classified briefing on Wednesday the case on New Delhi has launched a probe into the matter, which the lawmakers welcomed. 
  • Friday's statement calls for government officials to also be held to account. "... It is critical that India fully investigate, hold those responsible, including Indian government officials, accountable, and provide assurances that this will not happen again," the statement said. 

14.A time-honoured connect that will help bridge the Gulf 

  • Onsan is the closest neighbour to India in the Arabian Gulf region. With key Omani ports abunting the coastline along the Arabian Sea as well as the Gulf of Omart leading into the Persian Gulf and towards the Gulf of Aden, Oman's location is of utmost strategic importance to India. Along with Saudi Arabia and the United Anab Emirates (UAE), Oman completes the trio of key strategic partners of India in the Gulf region. 
  • Oman is a crucial pillar of India's West Asia policy, with their muin-faceted engagement Increasingly taking on a more strategic shape in recent decades. The India Oman strategic partnership was signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singdr's visit to Oman in November 2008 and is based on twin pillars of mutual trust and shared interests. Oman was one of the few countries to have been invited by India to its G-20 presidency as a guest nation earlier this year Defence and security engagement form a key pillar of this strategic partnership and are governed by a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in 2005. Oman is the first Gulf country with which all the three wings of India's defence forces hold joint exercises. Since 2012-13, an Indian naval ship has remained on duty in the Gulf of Oman for anti-piracy operations. Oman has allowed overflights/transit by Indian military aircraft too, In recent years, both countries have cooperated in ensuring maritime security in the Indian Ocean region. 
  • During the Persian Gulf crisis in June 2019, the Indian Navy launched 'Operation Sankalp to ensure the safe passage of Indian flagged ships which most often operated off the coast of Oman. The Motu on Duqm Port during Mr. Modi's visit is a historic landmark in our security cooperation, providing basic facilities, Operational Turn Around and other logistics facilities to Indian naval ships operating in the region. Trade and commerce forms yet another Important pillar of engagement, Bilateral trade during FY 2022-23 reached $12.388 billion. There are over 6,000 India-Oman joint ventures in Oman, with an estimated investment of over $7.5 billion. 
  • India and Oman are looking forward to Increased mpgement in strategic areas such as space cooperation-an MoU on this was signed during Mr. Modi's visit. The possibility of an agreement on joint exploration of rare earth metals, vital to modern electronic equipment, could add strength to the partnership. The proposed India Middle East Europe Connectivity Corridor (IMEEC) infrastructure project to link India to Europe across West Asia could also see Oman playing an important role. There is a proposal from the South Asia Gas Enterprise (SAGE), a private consortium based in India, to lay a 1,400 km long deep-sea pipeline from Oman to India for the transfer of gas. With IMEEC 100 looking at similar undersea connectivity, there could be convergence on it with Oman in the future. 
  • The list of convergence and shared interests is thus long and limitless. As a part of its broader global outlook and its outreach in the extended neighbourhood, India is seeking deeper engagement and collaboration in West Asia, of which Oman is an important pillar. Security challenges in the region have a ripple effect in India and, therefore, any instability in the region has a direct bearing on the safety and security of millions of Indians working there, India's energy security and its steadily growing trade relations. Apart from being India's oldest strategic partner in the region and closest neighbour, Oman is an integral part of all important groupings in the region; the GCC, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League. Its ability to manage rival ideologies and power games in the region makes it vitally important to India. Both countries consider themselves as ambassadors of peace world. and enjoy goodwill across ideologies in the Oman is, therefore, India's gateway to West Asia. And with the ongoing Israel-Hamas war testing the region to its limits, the visit of Oman's Sultan is timely and very important for India and the region 

State News 

15.Tamilisai Soundararajan: Telangana To Decentralise Development Into Three Zones 

  • Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan recently announced the strategic division of Telangana into three zones, positioning Hyderabad as the central hub for this groundbreaking initiative. 
  • According to Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, the first zone will encompass the city within the Outer Ring Road (ORR), the second will extend from the ORR to the proposed Regional Ring Road (RRR), and the third will cover areas beyond the RRR. This zoning approach aims to distribute development efforts evenly, ensuring comprehensive growth across the entire state. 
  • As the state capital, Hyderabad plays a pivotal role in the decentralization initiative. Governor Tamilisai stressed its dual significance as an administrative hub and a crucial revenue source. This financial strength is attributed to the Congress-led governments’ meticulous development, transforming Hyderabad into a thriving metropolis. 

16.'Shar Amartala Torgya Mahotsav' organized in Arunachal Pradesh

  • Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu attended the annual Shar Amartala Torgya Festival at Thegtse Sangye Choi Long Monastery in Balemu, a small village between Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Bhutan in West Kameng district. 
  • This religious festival is being organized under the patronage and blessings of His Excellency Padmashri 14th Thegtse Rinpoche. Addressing a huge gathering of devotees from West Kameng, Tawang and Bhutan, Khandu expressed his gratitude to God for being able to attend the third celebration of the festival at Balemoo for the second time. Amartala (Balemu) is a place of utmost religious importance for the preservation of Buddhist culture 

17.Madhya Pradesh government will establish ‘PM College of Excellence’ in all the districts of the state.

  • Madhya Pradesh government will establish 'PM College of Excellence' in all the districts of the state. A decision to this effect was taken in the first cabinet meeting chaired by new Chief Minister Mohan Yadav in Bhopal. 
  • In Madhya Pradesh, the government will upgrade one college in every district out of the total 570 government colleges as "PM College of Excellence". More than Rs 460 crore will be spent on the development of these colleges. 
  • He said that they will follow the new education policy and they will have all the modern facilities so that all the courses can be taught there. We are starting with 52 colleges in the next session. Apart from this, degree and mark sheets of students in all government and private universities will be uploaded in DigiLocker. 

Other decisions 

  • The CM's first order was to ban loudspeakers violating decibel norms at religious places or other places. For this, ADG-CID has been appointed as the nodal officer at the police headquarters. 
  • This decision has been taken in accordance with the provisions of Madhya Pradesh Noise Control Act, Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules 2000 for religious and other places and the guidelines issued from time to time by the Supreme Court. 
  • The government has increased the tendu leaf collection rate from Rs 3,000 per bag to Rs 4,000 per bag. With this, more than 35 lakh tendu leaf collectors will get additional remuneration of Rs 162 crore. 
  • The CM also ordered a ban on unlicensed buying and selling of meat and fish in the open in urban areas. The Cabinet also decided to implement the 'Cyber Tehsil' system in all 55 districts from January 1, 2024. 
  • The Cabinet also decided to take action as per the provisions of sections 437, 438 and 439 of CrPC regarding cancellation of bail of habitual offenders and those committing serious crimes. 

18.CJI seeks report from He Allahabad HC on woman judge's plaint 

  • Chief Justice India Chandrachud has sought a report from the Allahabad High Court after a woman judre from Uttar Pradesh wrote an open letter to him, say ing she has suffered the "personal huuttiation" of being denied a fair hearing on her complaint of sexual harassment at workplace and has lost her will to live, The woman judge said she was sexually harassed by a district judge and his associates. 
  • She said, in the letter circulated on social media, that she had complained to the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court and Administrative Judge, but to no avail. The Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the High Court took six months and "a thousand emails" to even start an inquiry into her complaint filed in July. The woman judge called the inquiry "a farce and a sham" in which the witnesses were the subordinates of the district judge in question. Her plea to the ICC to transfer the district judge during the pendency of the inquiry was not allowed, She said the High Court, on the judicial side, had already gi ven a finding that the evidence in the case was tampered with. 
  • Dismissed in 8 seconds (She said the Supreme Court at least should have heard her case. However, the top court dismissed her case in "eight seconds". 
  • The case had come up before a Bench of Justices Hrishikesh Roy and San deep Mehta on December 13. The Bench had dismissed her petition, observing in its order that the ICC was "already in seisin of the case and a resolution is already passed which is pending approval of the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court" 
  • "I felt like my life, my dignity and my soul have been DISMISSED. It felt like a personal humiliation," the open letter read 
  • "The enquiry will now be conducted with the district judge in control of all c the witnesses. What justice will I give to others when I am myself hopeless? I have no will to live anymore. I have been rendered into a walking corpse in the last year-and-a-half," the letter said. 

Defence News 

19.MoD Seals Rs 5,336.25 Crore Deal With BEL For 10-Year Supply Of Electronic Fuzes 

  • The Ministry of Defence, in a significant development on December 15, 2023, sealed a landmark contract with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Pune. This groundbreaking agreement entails the procurement of Electronic Fuzes for the Indian Army over a 10-year period, amounting to a total cost of Rs 5,336.25 crore. 
  • This initiative aims to meet the long-term ammunition requirements of the Indian Army while reducing dependence on imports. The overarching goal is to build robust ammunition stocks, promote indigenous manufacturing, acquire critical technologies, and safeguard against supply chain disruptions. 
  • Electronic Fuzes provide sustained artillery firepower, a critical capability for military operations. The procurement of Electronic Fuzes is a strategic move to enhance the Indian Army’s operational capabilities, particularly in lethal engagements across various terrains, including high-altitude areas along the Northern Borders. 

20.India Successfully Flight Tests Indigenous High-Speed Flying-Wing UAV 

  • The Defence Ministry announced on Friday that the DRDO conducted a successful flight trial of the autonomous flying wing technology demonstrator (an indigenous high-speed flying-wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in Karnataka’s Chitradurga. 
  • With this achievement, India joins an elite club of countries that have mastered the controls for flying wing technology, showcasing a remarkable advancement in the nation’s technological readiness levels. 
  • The UAV, designed and developed by DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Establishment, marks a significant step leap in India’s aerospace capabilities. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh commended the DRDO, armed forces and the industry for the successful flight trial, emphasizing the strengthening of the armed forces through the indigenous development of critical technologies. 

Business News 

21.SBI Ventures Into Paper Packaging With ₹49.99 Crore Investment In Canpac Trends 

  • State Bank of India (SBI) has recently made a strategic move into the paper packaging industry by investing ₹49.99 crore in Canpac Trends Private Limited, an Ahmedabad-based company specializing in paper-based packaging solutions. 
  • In an exchange filing, SBI disclosed the execution of transaction documents to acquire 6.35% (3,70,644 shares) of Canpac Trends at ₹1,349 per share. The total investment amounts to ₹49.99 crore. 
  • SBI’s investment in Canpac Trends is driven by the objective of capital appreciation, emphasizing the potential growth and profitability of the paper packaging sector. The indicative period for the completion of the acquisition is set at three months from the date of executing the transaction documents. 

22.BEL Receives Orders Worth Rs.4878 Crores From Indian Army 

  • Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), a Navratna Defence Public Sector Undertaking, has recently clinched a significant order worth Rs.4,522 crore from the Indian Army
  • The project’s inclusion of various electronic and associated industries, especially MSMEs, underscores the collaborative and inclusive approach of the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ programme. BEL’s role as a catalyst in this initiative not only strengthens the defense sector but also boosts the indigenous manufacturing ecosystem. 
  • With the recent orders, BEL has cumulatively received contracts totaling Rs.23,176 crores (excluding taxes) in the current financial year 2023-24. This achievement underscores the company’s robust performance and its pivotal role in bolstering India’s defense capabilities and self-reliant goals. 

Economy News 

23.Trade Deficit Narrows To Nearly $21 Billion In November 

  • India’s economic landscape in November 2023 witnessed a decline in merchandise exports by 2.83%, totaling $33.90 billion, compared to $34.89 billion in the corresponding month the previous year.
  • This downturn, however, contributed to a positive trend in the trade deficit, which narrowed to $20.58 billion, as revealed by government data released by the Commerce Ministry. 
  • The overall merchandise trade scenario for April-November 2023 depicted a 6.51% contraction in exports, amounting to $278.80 billion. Imports experienced a 4.33% reduction, standing at $54.48 billion in November 2023. Import figures for the cumulative period of April-November 2023 recorded an 8.67% decrease, reaching $445.15 billion. 

24.Acceleration foretold If inflation is pertamed, there is risk to consumption and growth 

  • November's restingence in headline retail Inflation, while clearly not unexpected after the RBI just last week predicted a likely 'uptick', is a stark reminder of the risks volatile food prices pose. While the National Statistical Office's provisional reading of headline inflation shows the Consumer Price Index rose by 5.59% year on year to a three month high, from October's 4.87%, food price gains measured by the Consumer Food Price Index accelerated by a steep 209 basis points to 8.7% last month. Propelling the upsurge in food prices were cereals and vegetables, constituents of the 'food and beverages' subgroup, that logged 10.3% and 17.7% inflation, respectively, Cereals, that account for almost one-tenth of the CPI and logged double-digit inflation for a 15th straight month, also saw a month-on-month acceleration in inflation with rice, wheat, and the coarse cereal of jo war, a rural hinterland staple, all registering palpable sequential price gains. Vegetable prices were back on a boil with the year-on-year inflation rate surging by almost 15 percentage points from October's 2.8%. While price gains in the perishable tomato swung from two straight months of sizeable deflation to a more than 11% year-on-year rate of inflation last month, the extent of increase could be truly gauged from the fact that prices surged a steep 41% from the preceding month's levels, as per data aggregated on the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy's website, And the key masala essentials of ginger and garlic registered more than 100% rates of inflation for the seventh and third months, respectively. 
  • From the TOP or tomato, onion and potato triumvirate of India's most widely consumed vegetables, onion prices remained the biggest source of concern as year-on-year inflation ballooned to 86%, from October's 42% pace, and the sequential pace swelled to 48%. With reports that inclement weather and depleting groundwater are likely to cause a near 25% shortfall in onion output during the key rabi season, the outlook for prices of the nutrient-dense bulb moderating in the near future appears bleak, the government's move to impose a ban on its exports notwithstanding. Only potato prices, which continued to remain in deflationary territory, offered some respite. Pulses and sugar are other areas of concern, with the first witnessing more than 20% inflation and the sweetener also experiencing an uptick in the pace of price gains to 6.55%. With sugar production also expected to take a hit due to lower rainfall, the number of supply-related challenges policymakers face to rein in price gains is rising. With the RBI having opted to refrain from raising rates for now, the onus is squarely on the government to help temper inflation, or risk suffering an erosion in broader consumption and economic growth. 

Schemes and Committee News 

25.India launches ‘Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme’ for sustainable forest management 

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has launched the ‘Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme’. This voluntary national certification initiative aims to encourage sustainable forest management and agroforestry practices in India. 
  • This National Forest Certification Scheme provides voluntary third- party certification to promote sustainable forest management and agroforestry in the country. The scheme covers forest management certification, tree outside forest management certification and chain of custody certification. Contains 8 criteria, 69 indicators and 254 verifiers to ensure responsible forest management. 
  • The Indian Council of Forest and Wood Certification will oversee the scheme, acting as a multi- stakeholder advisory body. Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal, will serve as the operating agency of the scheme, managing its overall implementation. 
  • It will have representation from Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Indian Forest Survey, Indian Quality Council and other institutions. The National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies under the Indian Quality Council will accredit the certification bodies. 
  • The scheme focuses on agroforestry practices, promoting sustainable management beyond traditional forest areas. This ensures that wood and wood-based products in the supply chain follow sustainable practices from source to consumer. 

Banking News 

26.IDFC FIRST Bank, LIC Cards, And Mastercard Introduce Exclusive Co-Branded Credit Card 

  • In a significant partnership, IDFC FIRST Bank, LIC Cards, and Mastercard have joined forces to unveil an exclusive co-branded credit card tailored to address the ever-evolving financial requirements of the nation. The collaboration aims to cater to the diverse needs of over 27 crore policyholders across India. 
  • The newly launched credit cards come in two distinct variants – LIC Classic and LIC Select. These variants offer policyholders the opportunity to accumulate reward points with every LIC insurance premium payment, presenting a valuable avenue for savings. 
  • The co-branded credit card provides a lost card liability cover of up to Rs 50,000, offering enhanced security and peace of mind to users. Cardholders will benefit from a substantial personal accident insurance cover of up to Rs 5 lakh, ensuring financial protection in unforeseen circumstances. 

27.Surge In Deposits And Advances For Scheduled Banks To Over ₹2-Lakh Cr Each In December 1 Fortnight 

  • Deposits and advances of all scheduled banks witnessed a remarkable surge, each exceeding ₹2-lakh crore in the reporting fortnight concluding on December 1, 2023, as per the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Scheduled Banks’ Statement of Position in India. 
  • The increase is attributed to buoyant festival demand, particularly in urban areas, driven by strong consumer appliance demand in mid-and premium segments. Around 80% of consumer durable purchases utilized attractive consumer financing schemes with equated monthly installment (EMI) offers. The entry-level segment demand remained relatively subdued. 

Important Day News 

28.Vijay Diwas 2023 

  • Vijay Diwas, observed on December 16 every year, stands as a testament to the valor and sacrifice of the Indian armed forces during the 1971 war against Pakistan. This day holds deep historical significance as it marks India’s resounding victory, resulting in the creation of Bangladesh. 
  • On Vijay Diwas, India remembers the significant moment when General Niazi, along with 93,000 soldiers, surrendered before the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini of Bangladesh. This surrender is marked as one of the most substantial military surrenders post-World War II, signifying India’s triumph in the face of adversity. 
  • Vijay Diwas is a day of reflection and tribute, commemorating the sacrifices made by the Indian armed forces. The day holds immense cultural and political significance, emphasizing the strong ties between India and Bangladesh. India pays homage to the bravery and strength displayed by its armed forces during the war. 

Award News 

29.Rijul Maini Wins Miss India USA 2023 

  • The annual Miss India USA 2023 pageant was held in New Jersey. The pageant, now in its 41st year, witnessed contestants from over 25 states participating in three categories: Miss India USA, Mrs India USA, and Miss Teen India USA. 
  • Rijul Maini, a medical student and aspiring surgeon, clinched the prestigious title of Miss India USA 2023. Hailing from Michigan, Maini aims to serve as a role model for women, embodying intelligence, grace, and ambition. 
  • Sneha Nambiar from Massachusetts was declared Mrs India USA, showcasing the diversity of talent and accomplishments among married Indian-American women. 
  • Saloni Rammohan from Pennsylvania emerged victorious as Miss Teen India USA, representing the promising young talents within the Indian-American community. 

30.Dr. Srinivas Naik Dharavath Receives Visionary Leader Icon 2023 Award 

  • Real Vision Homes Pvt Ltd proudly announces the remarkable achievement of its esteemed Chairman, Dr. Srinivas Naik Dharavath, who has been honored with the Visionary Leader Icon Award of the Year 2023 by the Advocates Association For Social Responsibility And Awareness (AASRAA). 
  • The prestigious award was presented at the 5th National Summit held at the Constitution Club of India in New Delhi. With over two decades of experience in the real estate industry, Dr. Srinivas Naik Dharavath has transformed his passion for marketing into unparalleled success, making homeownership a reality for countless individuals.
  • AASRAA is a Non-Governmental Organization founded in 2010 by advocates nationwide. It focuses on consumer welfare through promotional activities, generating awareness, and assisting ignorant, illiterate, and helpless consumers in filing complaints in the appropriate forums to safeguard their rights. 

Science and technology News 

31.Ola’s Bhavish Aggarwal Unveils ‘Made For India’ Krutrim AI 

  • Krutrim SI Designs, the new artificial intelligence venture founded by Bhavish Aggrawal, co-founder of Ola, has introduced a family of multilingual AI models specifically tailored to address the distinctive requirements of the Indian ecosystem. 
  • Krutrim, which means ‘artificial’ in Sanskrit, comes in two sizes. The base model, Krutrim, is trained on an impressive 2 trillion tokens and unique datasets. Its larger counterpart, Krutrim Pro, is set to launch next quarter, boasts advanced problem-solving and task execution capabilities. 
  • Krutrim is a groundbreaking AI model capable of understanding and generating content in 22 Indian languages. The model’s training data includes over two trillion tokens for Indian languages, making it stand out in terms of its extensive linguistic understanding. 

32.KPIT Technologies launched sodium-ion battery technology 

  • KPIT Technologies introduced sodium ion battery technology, which aims to reduce costs by 25- 30% compared to lithium-ion batteries that are dominant in EVs. 
  • Sodium ion batteries provide extended lifespan with 80% capacity retention for 3000-6000 cycles and faster charging capability than lithium batteries. It targets diverse applications ranging from vehicles to grid storage. 
  • The company, collaborating with the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, aims to reduce India's battery import dependence using earth-abundant materials. 
  • The IISER Pune team, led by Dr. Satishchandra Ogle, has made significant contributions to material synthesis, characterization and battery testing. It has many use cases for automotive and mobility, especially for electric two-wheelers and three-wheelers and commercial vehicles.
  • KPIT started work on sodium-ion technology eight years ago. With most countries looking for alternatives to lithium, sodium-ion is becoming popular. Recently, Chinese automaker BYD launched a car powered by sodium-ion battery in Germany. 

Ranks and Reports News 

33.Tiryani block of Telangana got the top position in the first delta ranking of NITI Aayog's Aspirational Block Program. 

  • Tiriyani block of Kumaram Bheem Asifabad district of Telangana has topped the first Delta Ranking of NITI Aayog's Aspirational Block Program (ABP). The second place was given to Kaushambi block of Kaushambi district of Uttar Pradesh. 
  • The winners will be awarded prize money of Rs 1.5 crore for top rank and Rs 1 crore for second position in all regional categories.
  • Apart from ABP, ADP rankings for the month of October, 2023 were also announced in which Rayagada (Odisha) and Jamui (Bihar) secured the first and second ranks respectively. Awarded to top rankers in the thematic and overall categories of ADP. 

Aspirational Block Program (ABP) 

  • Was launched on January 7, 2023. ABP focuses on improving governance to enhance the quality of life of citizens in India's most difficultand relatively underdeveloped blocks. 500 blocks in 329 districts across 27 states and 4 union territories of India are part of this programme. 
  • In consultation with various stakeholders, 40 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were selected to measure the progress of the Block, grouped into 5 themes. The baseline data for the first quarter March 31, 2023 and June 30, 2023 of 500 aspirational blocks was obtained through the management information system of 11 ministries. 
  • The blocks have also been divided geographically into six zones and ranking has been given to two blocks from each zone- 
  • Zone 1 - Hills, North-Eastern States, Islands - Amri Block, West Karbi Anglong, Assam and Ngopa Block, Saitual Mizoram stood first and second respectively. 
  • In Zone 2, North Indian states – Harraiya Block, Basti, Uttar Pradesh and Virno Block, Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh secured the first and second positions. 
  • Zone 3 southern states – Muski Block, Raichur, Karnataka and Naranur, Adilabad, Telangana were declared top rankers. 
  • Zone 4 Western Indian states – Sironcha and Aheri blocks in Gadchiroli district, Maharashtra emerged as winners. 
  • Zone 5 Central India – Tirla block of Dhar district and Pati block of Barwani district, both winners in Madhya Pradesh. 
  • Zone 6 – Eastern India – Ramgarh in Andar, Siwan in Bihar and Dumka in Jharkhand remained at the top position. 

34.BCCI Likely To Launch IPL-Like T10 League In 2024: Report

  • The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is reportedly considering the introduction of a T10 format cricket league, aiming for a launch window between September and October 2024. 
  • This move aligns with the flourishing popularity and valuation of cricket leagues, particularly the Indian Premier League (IPL), which recently attained a decacorn status with a valuation of approximately $10.7 billion.
  • Under the guidance of BCCI Secretary Jay Shah, the blueprint for the proposed T10 league is currently in its early planning stages. Despite being in the preliminary phase, the initiative has garnered positive feedback from stakeholders and potential sponsors. The strategic choice of a T10 format is expected to play a pivotal role in further elevating the sport’s popularity in the country. 

Agreement News 

35.India-Korea Electronic Origin Data Exchange System (EODES) Launched For Swift Clearance Of Imported Goods 

  • Mr. Sanjay Kumar Agarwal, Chairman of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC), inaugurated the India-Korea Electronic Origin Data Exchange System (EODES) on December 6, 2023, in New Delhi. 
  • EODES aims to streamline the implementation of the India-Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) through the electronic exchange of origin information between the customs administrations of both nations, specifically for goods traded under CEPA. 
  • The system enables the electronic sharing of data fields in a Certificate of Origin (CoO) by the exporting customs administration with the importing customs immediately upon the issuance of the certificate. This electronic exchange expedites the clearance process for imported goods.

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