Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 19th December 2023

National News 

1.Implementation Of Anand Marriage Act In Jammu And Kashmir 

  • The Jammu and Kashmir administration has taken a significant step towards fulfilling a long-standing demand of the Sikh community by implementing the Anand Marriage Act. 
  • This act provides statutory recognition to Sikh marriage rituals, allowing Sikh couples to register their marriages under specific regulations instead of the Hindu Marriage Act. 
  • The set of regulations, titled ‘Jammu and Kashmir Anand Marriage Registration Rules, 2023,’ outlines the procedures for registering “Anand marriages.” 
  • According to a government notification issued on November 30, tehsildars within their respective territorial jurisdictions will serve as registrars for such marriages. 

2.Parliament Passes Post Office Bill, 2023, Replacing 125-Year-Old Indian Post Office Act, 1898 

  • The Indian Parliament recently approved the Post Office Bill, 2023, marking a significant overhaul of the 125-year-old Indian Post Office Act, 1898. The new legislation aims to modernize and consolidate the legal framework governing post offices in India. 
  • The Bill grants post office employees the authority to open, detain, or intercept any item during transmission in the interest of national security or public safety. However, this power is subject to specific conditions. 
  • While providing immunity for post office employees from liability in delivering services, the Bill includes conditions. Officers are exempt unless they act fraudulently or willfully cause loss, delay, or misdelivery of services. 

3.NHAI Launched ERS Mobile App For Swift Emergency Response 

  • In tandem with the Computer Aided Dispatch System, NHAI has unveiled the NHAI ERS (Emergency Response System) Mobile Application. Functioning as a cohesive platform, this application facilitates the smooth relay of dispatch-related information to on-road units. 
  • Leveraging mobile technology, NHAI aims to enhance communication and coordination during emergency situations, ultimately bolstering the efficiency of emergency response teams. This mobile application represents a progressive step towards a more connected and responsive emergency infrastructure. 

4. Omnibus Telecom Bill in Lok Sabha, legislation to streamline regulation 

  • The Telecommunications Bill, 2023, introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday, proposes the first comprehensive rewrite of telecommunications law in 138 years, consolidating spectrum rules, right of way, dispute resolution between service providers and the Department of Telecommunications or local governments, and other aspects of telecom regulation into one fresh statute. The Bill will replace the Telegraph Act, 1885. Previous changes have been enabled by other laws and incremental amendments to the Act. Instead of licensing, the Bill refers only to "authorisations" that will have to be obtained by telecom operators and other providers of telecom services, which have been defined as "transmission of any messages, by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems, whether or not subjected to rearrangement, computation or other processes". This wide definition could potentially include within its ambit a range of Internet-based communications services. 
  • The law folds in many of the amendments and structures that telecom regulation and administration have accumulated in the decades since the Telegraph Act was passed. 

5. Far fewer CAG audits of Centre tabled in Parliament 

  • In 2023, only 18 audits of the Union government, prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), were tabled in Parliament. Audits tabled in Parliament have been decreasing for some years now. 
  • On average, 22 reports were tabled each year between 2019 and 2023, compared with 40 tablets between 2014 and 2018. The number of reports tabled peaked in 2015 at 53, but in four of the past six years, 20 or fewer reports were tabled. The decline coincides with a reduction in staff strength and budget cuts for the CAG. In 2023-24, allocation to the Indian Audit and Accounts Department formed 0.13% of the Union Budget. 

6. PM Modi guarantees to make E India third largest economic superpower in his third term 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday vowed to make India the third largest economy of the world in his third straight term. 
  • "When Kashi develops, U.P. develops, and when U.P. develops, India develops," Mr. Modi said, while inaugurating and laying foundation stones of several development projects estimated to be worth over 19,000 crore, including projects related to the Railways, electricity, roads, drinking water supply, and ghats in the Ganga river. "It is Modi's guarantee to make our country the third largest economic superpower in the third term," the PM said, speaking at the Barki gram sabha in Sewapuri block. 
  • Stressing that, for him, only four castes existed, the PM said that when youth, farmers, the poor, and women become strong, India itself would become stronger. "Development of women, youth, farmers, and the poor is necessary for me. For Modi, these are the four castes. If these four castes become strong, the country will become strong," he said. 
  • Mr. Modi reiterated that the Purvanchal region had been neglected. "The region of Purvanchal remained neglected for decades, but with the blessings of Mahadev, Modi is engaged in your service," he said. 
  • Earlier, Mr. Modi flagged off the second Vande Bharati train connecting Varanasi and New Delhi. 

7. The hollowing out of the anti-defection law 

  • It is highly unlikely that political defections as well as India's anti-defection law will ever not be a part of public discourse. The Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly, Rahul Narwekar, is currently juggling his responsibilities of presiding over the Assembly's winter session alongside hearing the disqualification petitions against the rival factions of the Shiv Sena. 
  • The anti-defection law, found under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, was enacted to curb frequent floor-crossing by legislators. It provides for the disqualification of elected legislators from the legislature in instances where they voluntarily switch parties or vote against the party's direction. But when two-thirds of elected members of a party agree to "merge" with another party, they become exempt from disqualification. Before 2003, there was a provision where, if as a result of a split in the original party, one-third of the members of the legislature moved out of the party, they were exempt from disqualification. However, given its excessive misuse, the provision was omitted by the 91st Amendment to the Constitution. 
  • The years following the implementation of the Tenth Schedule have exposed the chinks in its armour. Political defections have persisted and, more worryingly, gone unpunished or undetected. Owing to the deft use of the exemptions under the Tenth Schedule, political parties have caused democratically elected State governments to fall. In the last 10 years alone, group defections have caused the unraveling of State governments in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Karnataka, and Arunachal Pradesh. 
  • In the splits that occurred in the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), a group in each of these parties mustered the required two-thirds majority of legislators in the legislature party, 
  • Is a Senior Resident Fellow at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and leads Charkha, Vidhi's Constitutional Law Centre 
  • Is Milon K. Banerji Fellow at Vidhi and works with Charkha 
  • They are authors of Vidhi's recently published report titled 'Anatomy of India's Anti-Defection Law: Identifying Problems, Suggesting Solutions' 
  • The merger exception should be deleted from the Tenth Schedule and formed a separate faction. The splitting factions of the Shiv Sena and the NCP neither merged with an existing political party nor established a new one. Instead, each of them claimed to be the original political party themselves, and then forged alliances with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form or join the ruling government. With the split exception gone, the only protection available to group defectors is that of a merger. However, there was no merger between any two parties in Maharashtra. Needless to say, this will be a concern which factions of both the Shiv Sena and the NCP will have to contend with in the disqualification hearings. 
  • A brief survey by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, of disqualification petitions filed under the Tenth Schedule before the Speaker of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly (1990-2008), revealed another practice which can be loosely termed as "splits followed by mergers". 
  • In this trend , an elected legislator (or a group of legislators) would separate from the political party they belonged to, and avail themselves of the exemption given to splits between political parties by forming a group of one-third MLAs of the legislature party. After that, the entire group of splitting legislators would merge with another party. Given that they would merge in full, they would meet the threshold of two-third of the MLAs required to effectuate a merger with another party. From disqualification petitions surveyed in the U.P., several occurrences of splits followed by mergers emerged. In 2003, U.P. MLA Rajendra Singh Rana from the Bahujan Samaj Party, along with 36 MLAs, split to form the Loktantrik Bahujan Dal (LBD). In the same year, these 37 MLAs of the LBD merged with the Samajwadi Party (SP). Similarly, another U.P. MLA, Rajaram Pandey, defected thrice between the Janata Dal, the Lok Janshakti Party, and the Samata Party, to ultimately move to the SP. In many such instances, through a combined use of both these exceptions, MLAs could jump ship more than once, blatantly mocking the anti-defection law. This trend was also visible in the Haryana Assembly 0989-2011). Some of these splits and mergers happened in quick succession, and sometimes within the same day. For instance, a group comprising Kartar Singh Bhadana and 16 other MLAs split from the Haryana Vikas Party on August 13, 1999, and merged with the Haryana Lok Dal Rashtriya in just three days. 
  • Splitting and merging MLAs were exempted from disqualification under the Tenth Schedule to protect instances of principled defections, especially where MLAs found themselves at odds with the Ideology of their original party. However, the practical use of these exceptions belies this expectation, with mergers being engineered strategically to bring down elected governments. The very provisions of the anti-defection law have become a potent tool in the hands of political parties to defeat the object of the law. The way in which the merger provision has come to be used also fuels speculation. In Karnataka, for instance, Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy predicted the downfall of the incumbent Congress government spurred by the exit of 50-60 MLAS. Irrespective of the veracity of these claims, such speculation is not conducive for the seamless working of a representative democracy. No provision of law should be a fallback option for parties in the Opposition to upend democratically elected governments. The merger exception should be deleted from the Tenth Schedule. That should be the first step towards ridding the Tenth Schedule of its ailments, after which other steps should follow. 

8. OBC representation in AIIMS faculty low, says House panel 

  • Less than 19% of the faculty at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi belong to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), as against the mandated 27% reservation for the community, show data presented in the Lok Sabha recently. 
  • The report noted that the lack of OBC representation is prevalent in top management and non-faculty positions as well. The committee observed that there is a considerable backlog of vacancies under the OBC category. 
  • The Health Ministry had said that the situation is due to unavailability of reserved category candidates for senior faculty positions, such as professor, additional professor and associate professor. 
  • Senior faculty posts in super-specialty departments are particularly hard to fill, with offers from corporate hospitals or foreign institutions holding more attraction than a position at the Centralised recruitment The committee acknowledged that efforts were being made to fill the vacancies, but pushed for recruitment in a mission mode to hire people for these reserved posts in both faculty and non-faculty cadres. 
  • C"A centralized system' may also be devised and implemented to fill all the vacant posts in non-faculty cadre as adopted for recruitment of nursing officers through a Nursing Officers Recruitment Common Entrance Test (NORCET) for all AIIMS so that eligible candidates from OBC category can get the opportunities of employment at the earliest and all institutes can function to their fullest capacity," it said. 

9. Foreign tourist visits up but still below pre-pandemic levels 

  • There has been a significant increase in the number of foreign tourists visiting India in 2023 with a footfall of 7.24 million till October 31 compared with 6.44 million for the corresponding period in 2022. 
  • This is an increase of 55.6%, the Union Tourism Ministry informed the Lok Sabha on Monday. 
  • The numbers though were still below the pre- pandemic levels. 
  • In 2018 and 2019, India saw 10.56 million and 10.93 mil- lion foreign tourist arrivals, respectively, which dipped to 2.74 million in 2020 and further to 1.52 million in 2021, majorly due to the COVID-induced lockdown. 
  • There was a sharp increase in foreign footfall in 2022 as the pandemic waned. The year witnessed a foreign tourist arrival of 6.44 million, a massive jump of 321.5%, Union Tourism Minister G. Kishen Reddy said in reply to a question by a BJP member from Karnataka, S. Muniswamy. 
  • Mr. Reddy said a total of 5,294.11 crore had been sanctioned under the Swadesh Darshan 2 scheme for and the development of tourism destinations across the country, while 1,629.17 crore had been sanctioned under the Prasad scheme. 
  • Financial assistance Swadesh Darshan 2 is the flagship scheme of the Ministry of Tourism which provides financial assistance to the State governments and Union Territories and Central agencies for the development of tourism infrastructure at various destinations. 
  • The Prasad (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation And Spiritual Augmentation Drive) scheme focuses on developing and identifying pilgrimage sites across India to promote religious tourism. 
  • It aims to integrate pilgrimage destinations in a prioritized, planned and sustainable manner to provide a complete religious tourism experience. 
  • The growth of domestic tourism hugely depends on pilgrimage tourism. 

10. Piyush Goyal released Logistics Ease Across Different State (LEADS) 2023 

  • Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, and Textiles, Piyush Goyal has released the “Logistics Ease Across Different State (LEADS) 2023” report in New Delhi. 
  • The 5th edition of the LEADS annual exercise – LEADS 2023 report, provides insights into improvement of logistics performance at State/UT level. 
  • This report, signalling a positive shift in States’ performance across the key pillars – Logistics Infrastructure, Logistics Services and Operating and Regulatory Environment, empowers the State/UT Governments by providing region-specific insights for informed decision-making and comprehensive growth.
  • This report is based on a pan-India primary survey, conducted between May and July 2023, covering over 7,300 responses across 36 States/UTs. 
  • Additionally, over 750 stakeholder consultations, facilitated by National, Regional, and State Associations, significantly contributed to this comprehensive evaluation 

Performance highlights from LEADS 2023 

Coastal Group 

  • Achievers- Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu 
  • Fast Movers- Kerala, Maharashtra 
  • Aspirers- Goa, Odisha, West Bengal 

Landlocked Group 

  • Achievers- Haryana, Punjab, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh 
  • Fast Movers- Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand 
  • Aspirers- Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand 

North-East Group 

  • Achievers- Assam, Sikkim, Tripura 
  • Fast Movers- Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland 
  • Aspirers- Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram 

Union Territories 

  • Achievers- Chandigarh, Delhi 
  • Fast Movers- Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshadweep, Puducherry 
  • Aspirers- Daman & Diu/ Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh 
  • The latest edition builds strengthening objectivity and precision in assessment by considering a wider spectrum of state initiatives, including the adoption of PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan for project planning, aligning State Logistics Policies with National Logistics Policy, besides developing City Logistics plans, etc. 

11. Legislative decline Dental of legislative debate furthers democratic backsliding in India 

  • Both the security breach in Parliament last week featuring a theatrical attempt by individuals to highlight an issue of public Importance unemployment and the Union government's response have been deeply problematic. The government's stymieing of any debate over this issue in Parliament and the Chair's recourse to an unprecedented high number of suspensions of Opposition legislators following their demand for a statement in the Houses and a debate, have been in line with its disregard for deliberative democracy. As many as 78 Opposition Members of Parliament were suspended on Monday. Fourteen more were suspended earlier, 92 in total, and nearly matching the 94 suspensions overall since 2014 prior to this session. Unlike in the two Lok Sabhas (2004-14), when even ruling party legislators, including rebels, were suspended for unruliness, only Opposition members have been subject to suspension, which includes those for far less severe offenses since 2014. 
  • The hallmark of a functioning democracy is deliberation, wherein elected legislators debate and discuss issues of public import and seek solutions to issues that affect citizens. A thorough deliberation involves not just televised speeches from Parliament but also debates, the utilization of parliamentary and standing committees to delve into the issue and for Bills and legislation to be discussed threadbare before consideration. Instead, over the course of recent parliamentary sessions during the National Democratic Alliance's tenure, there have been multiple attempts at browbeating the Opposition, getting Bills passed without adequate discussion, disallowing amendments on merit, and under-utilizing standing and parliamentary committees while trying hard to play to the gallery. Legislative business and parliamentary work have been given short shrift, while theatrics by legislators in both the Treasury and Opposition benches, and one-upmanship through the use of suspensions, have dominated proceedings. It is no wonder that such actions have compelled global democracy reports by research institutions such as V-Dem Institute to characterize India's democracy as an "electoral autocracy". Worse, the use of the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to indiscriminately target dissenters, such as the protesters who threw canisters and raised slogans in Parliament last week, has also fallen into the recent pattern of a deliberate equation of dissent with terror. Again, this has led the U.S.-based Freedom House, that measures civil and political liberties, to declare India as "partially free". The recent actions by the government only contribute further to the backsliding of democracy in India, making these developments a matter of serious concern. 

International News 

12.President Sisi Secures Third Term Amid Economic Challenges 

  • Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has clinched a third term, garnering 89.6% of the vote in the nation’s latest election, held from December 10-12. Despite economic hardships and regional tensions, Sisi’s victory was anticipated, given the limited opposition. 
  • Egypt faces a severe economic crisis marked by a 36.4% annual inflation rate, impacting household budgets. Even before the crisis, about two-thirds of the population lived on or below the poverty line. The victory comes amid heightened regional tensions stemming from the Israel-Hamas war in neighboring Gaza, adding to the challenges faced by Sisi’s administration. 

State News 

13. International Geeta Mahotsav-2023 started in Kurukshetra, Haryana 

  • International Gita Mahotsav – 2023 is being organized from 7th December to 24th December 2023 in Kurukshetra, Haryana, the birthplace of ‘Shrimadbhagvadgita’. This year Assam is the partner state in the International Gita Mahotsav. 
  • The main program was inaugurated by Vice President Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar with Geeta Yagya and puja at Brahma Sarovar. After this he also inaugurated a three-day international Geeta seminar at Kurukshetra University. 
  • Just as the Constitution of India is considered to be the Gita of the government system, similarly individuals consider the Gita to be a constitution that provides guiding principles for life. 
  • Geeta enthusiasts, scholars and researchers from India and abroad will participate in this seminar. He will present his research paper on the topic of world peace and harmony inspired by the teachings of Srimad Bhagavad Gita. 
  • Haryana Government has been organizing Geeta Mahotsav at international level in Kurukshetra since 2016. In 2019, the festival was celebrated outside the country in Mauritius and London. It took place in Canada in September 2022. \

Economy News 

14.ICRA Upgrades FY24 GDP Growth Forecast To 6.5% 

  • Domestic rating agency ICRA has adjusted its GDP growth projection for the fiscal year 2024, increasing it to 6.5% from the previous estimate of 6.2%. This update, however, remains below the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) more optimistic 7% GDP growth forecast for the current fiscal year. 
  • The agency highlights the continued stability of global commodity prices in the ongoing quarter, attributing it to concerns about growing demand from China, ample supplies for commodities like crude oil, and the normalization of supply chains. 

Important Days News 

15.Goa Liberation Day 2023 

  • Goa Liberation Day 2023, celebrated annually on December 19, holds special significance as it commemorates the liberation of the state from Portuguese colonial rule. The year 2023 marks the 62nd anniversary of this momentous occasion, highlighting the resilience and determination of the people of Goa in their quest for freedom. 
  • Goa, with a cultural and religious identity distinct from the rest of India, remained under Portuguese rule for about 451 years. Despite India gaining independence from British rule in 1947, the Portuguese refused to relinquish control over Goa. The Indian government engaged in diplomatic discussions, but when negotiations failed, it resorted to the military option to liberate the region. 

Ranks & Reports News 

16.India Tops Global Remittance Charts With $125 Billion In 2023: World Bank Report 

  • The World Bank’s latest report reveals India’s leading position in global remittances, reaching $125 billion in 2023. Apart from India, the top five remittance recipient countries include Mexico (USD 67 billion), China (USD 50 billion), the Philippines (USD 40 billion), and Egypt (USD 24 billion). 
  • While remittances to low- and middle-income countries grew by 3.8%, challenges include declines in the Middle East and North Africa. The report sheds light on the sustained growth in remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in 2023, albeit at a slower pace compared to previous years. 

Awards News 

17.Indian Armed Forces Officers Awarded ‘Golden Owl’ At DSCSC Sri Lanka 

  •  In a remarkable display of excellence, three officers from the Indian Armed Forces, undergoing the prestigious Command and Staff Course at Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) in Sri Lanka, have been honored with the coveted ‘Golden Owl’ award for their outstanding performance. 
  • Wing Commander Sumeet Mahajan, Major Rohit, and Lieutenant Commander Sunny Sharma, representing the Air Force, Army, and Navy wings respectively, demonstrated unparalleled excellence by securing the top positions among foreign student officers. 
  • The ‘Golden Owl’ award holds great significance as it symbolizes the pinnacle of success for military officers attending the DSCSC course. It not only commends the recipients for their prowess in joint operations and higher command but also acknowledges their ability to excel among their international peers. 

18. Israeli film ‘Children of Nobody’ won Best film award at KIFF Festival 

  • Israeli film ‘Children of Nobody’ directed by Erez Tadmor, has won the Best Film award under International Competition in Innovation Moving Images at the 29th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF). 
  • The prize distribution and closing ceremony were held at Rabindra Sadan. 219 films from 39 countries were screened at 23 locations across Kolkata. 
  • The Best Director award was bagged by Carlos Daniel Malave. Anjan Dutta’s ‘Chalchitro Ekhon’ bagged the Special Jury Award. 
  • Director duo Sharmistha Maity and Rajdeep Paul’s ‘Mon Potongo’ was awarded best film under Bengali Panorama category. 
  • For the best film ‘Royal Bengal Tiger Trophy’ 51 lakh rupees were given as an award. 
  • Apart from these Hiralal Memorial Trophy, Netpack Award were also given. The best short film and documentary were also awarded with Royal Bengal Tiger Trophy. 

Agreements News

19.India And ADB Ink $250M Loan For Industrial Corridor Development 

  • The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently solidified their collaboration with the signing of a $250 million policy-based loan on December 15, 2023. 
  • This financial support, part of the Industrial Corridor Development Programme (Subprogramme 2), aims to enhance manufacturing competitiveness, fortify national supply chains, and integrate with global value chains. 
  • The programme’s impact is anticipated to extend to various sectors, including agribusiness, automotives, electronics, food and beverages, heavy machinery, pharmaceuticals, and textiles. By creating jobs in industrial nodes, it is expected to contribute significantly to poverty alleviation in the corridor states. 

20.IIT Kanpur Collaborated With Indian Navy To Promote Technology Development

  • The Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IITK) and the Indian Navy have joined hands in a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed at the Naval Headquarters. 
  • This collaborative initiative aims to propel technology development, foster innovative solutions and engage in joint Research and Development (R&D) endeavors. 
  • The MoU serves as a comprehensive framework, laying the groundwork for both entities to intensify capacity building efforts. The collaboration envisions tackling real-world challenges faced by the Indian Navy through the exchange of faculty and guest lectures. 

21.NSDC And Saudi Arabia Govt Join Hands To Safeguard Indian Laborers’ Rights 

  • The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has recently inked a MoU with the government of Saudi Arabia, marking a significant step towards protecting the rights of skilled labourers from India. This collaboration aims to enhance transparency and ensure the well-being of Indian workers employed in Saudi Arabia. 
  • NSDC CEO Ved Mani Tiwari mentioned that NSDC is currently collaborating with 13 countries. Additionally, plans are underway to establish 30 skill international centres in the near future, further bolstering the mission’s global reach. 
  • The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), founded on July 31, 2008, operates as a not-for-profit public limited company according to the Companies Act, 1956. Its primary objective is to act as a catalyst in fostering the establishment of substantial, high-quality, and financially sustainable vocational institutions. 

Appointments News

22.Reuven Azar Appointed As Israel’s New Ambassador To India 

  • In a significant diplomatic development, the Israeli government, on December 17, gave its nod to the appointment of Reuven Azar as the new Ambassador to India. 
  • Reuven Azar holds a graduate and post-graduate degree in International Relations from the Hebrew University, showcasing his academic prowess. 
  • Mr. Azar, currently serving as the Ambassador of Israel to Romania, will also take on the role of the non-resident Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Bhutan. 
  • His appointment is part of a broader initiative by the Israeli government to designate 21 new Heads of Missions. The seasoned diplomat brings a wealth of experience to his new role, having served in various key positions over nearly three decades. 

Sports News 

23.Zinc Football Academy Achieves AIFF’s Elite 3-Star Rating 

  • In just over 6 years since its inception, Zinc Football Academy, a CSR initiative of Hindustan Zinc, has been awarded the prestigious ‘Elite 3-star’ rating by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). 
  • This recognition firmly places Zinc Football among the best youth development academies in India, marking a historic moment in the academy’s journey. 
  • Zinc Football Academy’s program operates on a full-scholarship model, demonstrating its commitment to fostering and nurturing young footballing talent. 
  • The Elite 3-star rating opens new doors for Zinc Football Academy, allowing it to participate in the prestigious AIFF Youth League alongside the youth teams of ISL and I-League clubs. 

24.Mitchell Starc Overtakes Cummins And Gets Record ₹24.75 Crore By KKR 

  • Mitchell Starc marks a remarkable return to the IPL, securing a spot with Kolkata Knight Riders for the 2024 season after the franchise successfully bid ₹24.75 crore for the Australian pace bowler. 
  • The bidding war intensified as Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals vied for his services, reaching ₹9.6 crore. However, Kolkata Knight Riders and Gujarat Titans entered the fray, driving the price beyond ₹10 crore and eventually crossing the ₹20 crore thresholds. 
  • Mitchell Starc previously featured in two IPL seasons in 2014 and 2015, representing Royal Challengers Bangalore. The 33-year-old, who recently played a pivotal role in Australia’s ICC World Cup victory, is set to make a significant impact in the upcoming IPL season with Kolkata Knight Riders. 

25.Haryana Dominates Medal Tally With 40 Gold, 39 Silver And 26 Bronze In Inaugural Khelo India Para Games

  • The Khelo India Para Games 2023 concluded on December 17 in New Delhi, showcasing the remarkable talents of para athletes from across the country. 
  • The inaugural edition of the event saw Haryana clinched the top spot, securing a total of 105 medals, including 40 gold, 39 silver and 26 bronze. The competition, which began on December 10, featured around 1,450 para athletes representing 32 states and Union Territories. 
  • Haryana emerged as the overall winner of Khelo India Para Games 2023. The state’s athletes secured an impressive medal haul, with 40 gold, 39 silver and 26 bronze medals. Among the standout performances was Pranav Soorma’s exceptional achievement in the club throw event, where he not only won gold but also set a new Asian record with an impressive throw of 33.54 meters.

26.Sourav Kothari clinched maiden Senior National Snooker title 

  • Sourav Kothari of Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) won his maiden Senior National 15-Red snooker title, beating Paras Gupta of Uttar Pradesh 6-2 in the final. 
  • Kothari beat Md Hussain Khan (RSPB) 5-0 in the semifinals and prevailed over Gupta 58-46, 72-34, 0-64, 59-25, 61-54, 21-57, 64-8, 64-25 in the final. 
  • He had defeated his PSPB colleague Advani in the round of 32. 
  • Kothari is a former national billiards champion, and last month finished runner-up to Advani in the IBSF world billiards final in Doha. 

27. Bangladesh won the Under-19 Asia Cup 2023 

  • Bangladesh won the Under-19 Asia Cup 2023 after defeating the UAE by 195 runs in Dubai. 
  • Wicketkeeper-batter Ashiqur Rahman Shibli continued his splendid run with a second century in five matches. 
  • Opening the batting, Ashiqur smashed 12 fours and one six in his knock of 129 (149 balls) as Bangladesh posted 282/8 after hosts UAE opted to field. 
  • In reply, UAE surrendered meekly to fold up for 87 in 24.5 overs as Bangladesh clinched the eight-nation tournament with five wins from as many games. 

Miscellaneous News 

28. India's first winter Arctic expedition begins; Raman Research Institute team to hold study 

  • The Raman Research Institute (RRI) here is participating in the first winter Indian expedition to the Arctic region. 
  • Monday, the day when Earth Sciences Minister Kiren Rijiju flagged off the expedition, that its researchers would examine the characterisation of the radio frequency environment in the Svalbard region of the Arctic in Norway. The survey will help astronomers assess the suitability of this uniquely located region for carrying out precision astronomy measurements. 
  • India has been running its own research station, Himadri, in Svalbard since 2008. The winter expedition is a bid to maintain a year-long presence at the station. 
  • A team of four scientists will embark on the journey on Tuesday to India's research station in Alesund town on the Brog ger peninsula, where research institutes from 10 countries have laboratories. 
  • The RRI team was selected as the first batch of scientists who will conduct experiments spanning as- tronomy, climate change and atmospheric science. 
  • Girish B.S., from the Electronics Engineering Group at the RRI, has been designated as the team leader for this batch. 
  • The institute said the survey of the radio frequency environment had never been done before at the site and could potentially open avenues for deploying low-frequency radio tele telescopes in the region. 
  • The month-long scientific expedition is being funded by the Earth Sciences Ministry. The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, Goa, is the nodal agency spearheading the expedition, which will go on till January 15. 
  • For nearly a decade now, engineers and scientists at the RRI have been working on the development of the shaped antenna measurement of the background radio spectrum (SARAS) series of experiments. SARAS aims to study the faint cosmological signal from hydrogen, commonly referred to as the 21-cm signal, emerging from the cosmic dawn and the epoch of reionization. Cosmic dawn denotes the period when the first stars and galaxies were born in the universe. These are the two vital phases that the universe underwent during its early stages of evolution several billions of years ago. These periods in cosmic history Bin are not well understood due to a lack of observations. 
  • Sensitive electronic instruments will be used to study the incoming radio signals in the frequency range of 5-500 megahertz (MHz) at the accessible sites in the vicinity of Himadri. 

Indian polity 

29. A blow for the rights of the legislature, in law making 

  • On a landmark judgment delivered on November 10, 2023, in the State of Punjab vs Principal Secretary to the Governor of Punjab and Another, the Chief Justice of India (CJ), D.Y. Chandrachud, gave a creative interpretation to Article 200 of the Constitution of India which relates to the options before a Governor when a Bill, after being passed by the State Legislature, is presented to him for his assent. The new interpretation relates to the real meaning of the first provision to Article 200 which says that the Governor may send the Bill back to the Assembly with a request for reconsideration of the Bill as a whole or certain provisions thereof. 
  • It further says that if the Assembly after such reconsideration passes the Bill with or without the amendments, the Governor shall not withhold assent from the Bill. There has been a considerable amount of confusion about the meaning of Article 200 and this proviso. Most of the commentators of the Constitution, like D.D. Basu and others, have held the view that the Governor's power to withhold assent under this Article has a finality about it, and once assent is withheld, the Bill dies a natural death. They were also of the view that the option of sending the Bill back to the Assembly for reconsideration under the first provision is discretionary and not mandatory. Thus, there was a presumption that the Governor's power to withhold assent from a Bill is absolute. 
  • But the CJI by linking the withholding of assent with the sending of the Bill back to the Assembly for reconsideration has virtually knocked out the option of withholding assent. The judgment says that if the Governor decides to withhold assent, he has to send it back to the Assembly immediately for reconsideration, in which case he has no other option except to give assent. Needless to say that through his judgment, the CJI, in a far-sighted approach, has protected the rights of the legislature in the matter of law making, and in fact the entire constitutional system from the depredations of unelected Governors. 
  • Nevertheless, the woes of State governments are not over yet. It has been common practice by some Governors not to take any decision on the Bills sent to them for assent. They have been sitting on Bills for two or three years, virtually negating the legislative exercises of the State. The Supreme Court of India has in the Punjab case said emphatically that Governors cannot delay the decision on the Bills. Thus, the decision of the top court has brought greater clarity to Article 200 and Governors will have to quickly take a decision on the Bills.
  •  On Bills for the President's consideration But there is still an area which can be exploited by the Governors to frustrate the law-making exercise of State governments. Reserving a Bill for the consideration of the President is an absolute option still available to a Governor. 
  • The crucial question is on what kinds of Bills a Governor can send to the President for his consideration. The second provision to Article 200 mentions one kind of Bills which are mandatorily to be reserved for the consideration of the President. These are Bills which derogate from the powers of the High 
  • Court in such a way as to endanger the constitutionally designed position of that court. So, the Constitution requires the Governor to send all such Bills for the consideration of the President. Since consideration by the President means consideration by the Union government, the officials of the Home Ministry will in effect decide the fate of such Bills.
  • The Constitution in fact does not refer to any category of Bills apart from the Bills mentioned above which can be sent to the President for his assent. Therefore, taking a surface view, the Governor can use his discretion to send any Bill to the President. In fact that is precisely what the Governor of Kerala, Arif Mohammed Khan, did the other day. He did not act on eight Bills that were with him for over two years. When the Supreme Court took up the Kerala government's petition challenging the Governor's inaction, he gave his assent to one Bill and sent the seven Bills to the President for his consideration. The Court, it is learned, is going to examine this issue namely, what Bills can be reserved for the consideration of the President. The Tamil Nadu Governor sent 10 Bills for reconsideration by the Assembly after many complaints by the State government. The Assembly after reconsideration sent the Bills to the Governor without accepting any amendments. But in a strange act the Governor sent all those Bills to the President for his consideration which is patently against the Constitution. Article 200 (First proviso) requires him to give his assent to the Bills. 
  • So, the question of crucial importance in the present political context is whether a Governor can reserve Bills for the consideration of the President at his discretion. The Constitution is silent on this. It makes only an indirect reference to the reserving of Bills for the consideration of the President in two places. Article 213 deals with the ordinance-making power of Governors. Under this provision, in certain cases, the Governor can promulgate an ordinance only with instruction from the President. Under clause (b) of the above Article, the Governor can promulgate an ordinance only with instructions from the President in a case where he would have deemed it necessary to reserve a Bill containing the same provisions as in the ordinance. The words "deemed it necessary" indicate the making of judgment by the Governor in terms of the constitutional scheme of the power of legislative division. In other words, the Governor cannot act on his whims while deeming it necessary to reserve the Bills. 
  • The second place where the Constitution makes an indirect reference to the President's assent to a State Bill is in Article 254. Under clause (2) of this Article, a State law on an item in the Concurrent List will prevail in that State even when it contains a provision repugnant to the provisions of an existing central law if it has been reserved for the consideration of the President and has received his assent. This would mean that a Bill on a Concurrent subject can be or needs to be sent to the President for assent only if it contains provisions repugnant to an existing central law. But it does not indicate that every Bill on a concurrent subject should be sent to the President for assent. 
  • In fact the President has no jurisdiction to scrutinize and give assent to a Bill exclusively on a subject in the State List because of the federal scheme of legislative division. Therefore, it would seem that if the Governor sends a Bill on the State's matter to the President, it would be an abdication of the constitutional duty of a Governor. 
  • So, from the above analysis, it can be concluded that a Governor cannot send to the President for assent Bills which are exclusively on the State subject. 
  • Also, he cannot send Bills on concurrent subjects if they do not contain provisions repugnant to the central law. If the Governor thinks that a Bill contains unconstitutional provisions, the only option for him is to send it back to the Assembly for reconsideration. A Governor is not personally responsible for lidity government.

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