Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 21st December 2023

National News

1.Govt Suggests ‘Decriminalizing Medical Negligence’ In New Criminal Law Bill 

  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah has announced a significant amendment to the criminal law bill that will exempt doctors from criminal prosecution in cases of death due to medical negligence. 
  • As per the existing legal framework, the death of patients under a doctor’s care is categorized as criminal negligence under Section 304A of the Indian Penal Code. 
  • This section stipulates that anyone causing the death of a person through a rash or negligent act may face imprisonment for up to two years, a fine, or both. 
  • The proposed amendment aims to protect doctors from unwarranted criminal prosecution, fostering a more supportive environment for medical practitioners. 

State News 

2.U.P. Police Launches WhatsApp Channels For Districts 

  • The Uttar Pradesh Police has taken a significant step towards enhancing public outreach and transparency by becoming one of the first in the country to launch WhatsApp Channels for its headquarters and all district units. 
  • One of the primary objectives of launching WhatsApp Channels is to enhance transparency in the functioning of the police force. By providing real-time updates on actions taken and sharing authentic information, the Uttar Pradesh Police aims to build trust and confidence among the public. 
  • With the ability to add an unlimited number of members to a channel, this feature provides an effective platform for disseminating information to the masses. The Uttar Pradesh Police is set to leverage this functionality to its full potential. 

3.International Gita Mahotsav Commences In Kurukshetra, Haryana 

  • Kurukshetra, a sacred town resonating with cultural heritage and spiritual significance, witnessed a grand spectacle as it hosted the inauguration of the International Gita Mahotsav – 2023. 
  • The auspicious event kicked off with the enchanting Gita Aarti and worship of the holy scripture at Brahma Sarovar. 
  • The International Gita Mahotsav promises a holistic experience with global Gita recitations involving 18,000 students. The event also features an International Gita Seminar, a saints’ conference, aarti at the Brahma Sarovar, Deepotsav, and cultural programs at 164 locations within a 48-km radius. 

Economy News 

4.India’s Net FDI Hits 21-Month High At $5.9 Billion In October 2023 

  • In October 2023, India experienced a surge in net foreign direct investment (FDI), reaching a 21- month high at $5.9 billion. This upswing was attributed to robust gross inflows and a decrease in repatriation. 
  • Mauritius, Singapore, Cyprus, and Japan emerged as major contributors, accounting for over four-fifths of the total FDI inflows in October 2023. 
  • Approximately four-fifths of gross inward FDI equity flows were directed towards manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade, electricity and other energy sectors, and the financial services sector. 

5.Robust Fiscal Management: Centre And States Maintain Sub-7% GDP Fiscal Deficit 

  • In the first half of the fiscal year 2023-24 (H1Fy24), the combined fiscal scenario of the Centre and the States in India has remained resilient, with the gross fiscal deficit (GFD) staying below 7% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 
  • The study reveals that the Centre and States have effectively managed their finances, containing the GFD within seven percent of the GDP in both Q1 and Q2 of 2023-24. This achievement is attributed to improved revenue mobilization, showcasing a sustained economic recovery, strengthened tax governance, and enhanced corporate profitability. 
  • Looking ahead, the RBI anticipates buoyant tax collections in the second half of the fiscal year. However, a potential uptick in government expenditure might lead to a GFD of 8.2% and 11.9% of GDP in Q3 and Q4, respectively. The study emphasizes the need for a balance between revenue and expenditure. 

6.India’s Total Debt Surges To Rs 205 Trillion In September Quarter: Report

  • According to a comprehensive report compiled from data sourced from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Clearing Corporation of India, and the Securities and Exchange Board of India, India’s total debt has witnessed a significant uptick in the September quarter. 
  • The total outstanding bonds traded in the market surged to USD 2.47 trillion (Rs 205 lakh crore), marking an increase from the USD 2.34 trillion (Rs 200 lakh crore) reported in the March quarter of the previous fiscal year. 
  • The central government’s debt holds the lion’s share at 46.04%, underscoring its significant role in the country’s debt landscape. State governments contribute 24.4% to the total debt, equivalent to USD 604 billion (Rs 50.18 lakh crore). 
  • Treasury bills, worth USD 111 billion (Rs 9.25 lakh crore), constitute 4.51% of the total debt. Corporate bonds command a 21.52% share, totaling USD 531 billion (Rs 44.16 lakh crore) in the second quarter of the current fiscal year. 

7.RBI Forecasts Economic Trajectory: 7.1% FY24 GDP Growth And 6% In FY25 

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has released projections for India’s economic performance, utilizing its Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) model. 
  • The forecast indicates a real GDP growth of 7.1% for the fiscal year 2023-24, surpassing the previous estimate of 7%, and a subsequent slowdown to 6% in the following fiscal year, 2024-25. 
  • The repo rate is anticipated to remain steady at 6.5% throughout most of FY25. This aligns with the RBI’s dual focus on aligning inflation with the 4% target and supporting economic growth. 

Banking News 

8. Challenges For Banks Exiting AIF Units: Limited Options In Absence Of Secondary Market

  • Regulated entities like banks and NBFCs face a daunting task as they consider exiting their investments in alternative investment funds (AIFs). The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has mandated a 30-day window for these entities to evaluate and liquidate their AIF portfolios to address concerns about the disguised evergreening of loan exposures. 
  • The RBI’s circular aims to prevent the misuse of AIF structures, specifically addressing concerns about financial institutions engaging in evergreening disguised as AIF investments. Experts argue that the guidelines may discourage regulated entities from genuine diversification of risk through AIF investments. 

9.RBI Facilitates Card-On-File Tokenisation Directly At Issuer Bank Level 

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced on December 20 a pivotal decision to enable Card-on-File Tokenisation (CoFT) directly through card-issuing banks or institutions. 
  • This marks a shift from the previous method where a Card-on-File (CoF) token could only be generated through a merchant’s application or webpage. 
  • The direct enablement of CoFT at the issuer bank level is poised to significantly enhance user experience, providing cardholders with a seamless and secure means of managing tokens across various e-commerce applications. 

10.RBI Ends Year-Long Wait, Grants Six Payment Aggregator Licences 

  • After more than a year of anticipation, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has finally given its approval for at least six payment aggregator licences, signaling the end of the ban on entities such as RazorPay and Cashfree Payments from onboarding new merchants. 
  • The latest nod for payment aggregator licenses has been granted to Razorpay, Cashfree Payments, Open Financial, EnKash, Google Pay, and Paymate India. 
  • Paytm and PayU India are still awaiting their final approvals, according to industry sources. Prior to the temporary restrictions, Razorpay, PayU India, and Cashfree accounted for 70-80% of new merchant onboarding. These entities had initially received their in-principal licenses from July 2022 onwards. 

Important Days News 

11.World Basketball Day 2023 

  • World Basketball Day is an annual celebration held on December 21, commemorating the invention of basketball by Dr. James Naismith in 1891. 
  • World Basketball Day recognizes the sport’s role in international trade, peace, and diplomacy, fostering an environment of collaboration, physical activity, and interdependence. 
  • The annual celebration highlights Naismith’s impact on players, fans, and communities worldwide. It promotes cooperation, teamwork, and communication, emphasizing how these traits contribute to harmony and understanding. 

Ranks & Reports News 

12.Tamil Nadu Retains ‘Achiever’ Status In Logistics Infra Rankings Of States 

  • Tamil Nadu has once again secured the coveted ‘Achiever’ status among coastal states in the Logistics Ease Across Different States (LEADS) 2023 rankings, affirming its position as a logistic powerhouse in India. 
  • The state’s remarkable performance in the export-import ecosystem has earned accolades, marking the second consecutive time it has achieved this prestigious status. 
  • Tamil Nadu’s exceptional performance in the logistics and infrastructure domain has been a result of various state-led initiatives. 
  • The state has focused on enhancing first and last-mile connectivity, developing multi-modal logistics parks (MMLPs) and significantly improving various logistics infrastructure components. The achievement reflects the effectiveness of Tamil Nadu’s strategic planning and execution in building a robust logistics ecosystem. 

Awards News 

13.Poonam Khetrapal Singh Honored With Bhutan’s National Order Of Merit 

  • Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the Regional Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Southeast Asia, has been honored with Bhutan’s National Order of Merit (NOM) Gold Medal. 
  • Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, a retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, played a pivotal role as the WHO Regional Director in supporting transformative healthcare leadership in Bhutan. 
  • Her efforts were instrumental in Bhutan achieving significant milestones in public health, notably becoming one of the first countries to eliminate measles in 2017 and rubella in 2023, ahead of schedule. 
  • The prestigious award was presented by Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the Druk Gyalpo (dragon king) of Bhutan, during the celebration of Bhutan’s 116th National Day on December 17, 2023, in Thimphu, Bhutan. 

14. Lt. Vice Admiral Benoy Roy Chowdhury Posthumously Honored With ‘Vir Chakra’ 

  • In a poignant ceremony held at INS Shivaji, the esteemed Training establishment of the Indian Navy, the original ‘Vir Chakra‘ was posthumously awarded to Late Vice Admiral Benoy Roy Chowdhury. 
  • Vice Admiral Benoy Roy Chowdhury’s valor and contributions to the Indian Navy’s legacy are deeply rooted in the 1971 Indo-Pak War. The ‘Vir Chakra’ stands as a testament to acts of gallantry on the battlefield, whether on land, in the air, or at sea. 
  • Vice Admiral Dinesh Prabhakar, AVSM, NM, VSM (Retd), currently holding the position of Distinguished Chair Marine Engineering at INS Shivaji, received the ‘Vir Chakra’ on behalf of the Indian Navy. 

15. ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 Moon Mission Earns Leif Erikson Lunar Prize

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has once again soared to new heights by clinching the prestigious Leif Erikson Lunar Prize. The focal point of this recognition is ISRO’s groundbreaking Chandrayaan-3 mission, a venture that has significantly deepened our understanding of celestial mysteries. 
  • The Leif Erikson Lunar Prize was received on ISRO’s behalf by Ambassador Balasubramanian Shyam, underscoring the international acclaim for India’s growing prowess in space exploration. 
  • Named after the iconic Norse explorer Leif Erikson, the Leif Erikson Lunar Prize is awarded by the Exploration Museum in Husavik, Iceland. This prestigious award is reserved for individuals and organizations that have made significant strides in the field of lunar exploration. 

16. NTPC Kanti Receives FICCI Water Award 2023 For Industrial Water Use Efficiency 

  • In a notable achievement, NTPC Kanti has been bestowed with the 11th Edition of FICCI Water Award 2023 under the “Industrial Water Use Efficiency” category. 
  • One of the key aspects contributing to NTPC Kanti’s success is its robust wastewater treatment system. By implementing cutting-edge technologies, the power plant treats wastewater to meet stringent quality standards.
  • The reuse of treated water not only demonstrates environmental responsibility but also contributes significantly to reducing the plant’s overall water footprint. 
  • The prestigious accolade was presented during the inaugural event of the 9th Edition of India Industry Water Conclave held at FICCI Federation House in New Delhi. 

Agreements News 

17.Aditya Birla Sun Life And IDFC First Bank Collaborate On Financial Solutions 

  • In a strategic move to broaden their service offerings and strengthen their market presence, Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance and IDFC First Bank have joined forces through a bancassurance partnership. 
  • This collaboration aims to provide comprehensive insurance solutions to the bank’s extensive customer base by leveraging the robust distribution network of IDFC First Bank. 
  • Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance is geared to offer a diverse range of products and services tailored to different life stages. The partnership aims to cater to the evolving financial needs of customers through a well-rounded approach. 

Sports News 

18. Maharashtra Bags Women’s And AAI Wins Men’s Title Events In Guwahati 

  • Maharashtra emerged victorious in the women’s team event at the 75th Inter State-Inter Zonal Badminton Championship held in Guwahati. The championship, organized by the Badminton Association of India, witnessed Maharashtra’s women’s team clinching the title with a commanding 3-0 victory. 
  • The Airport Authority of India (AAI) showcased exceptional prowess in the men’s team event, securing the championship title by overpowering Karnataka with a resounding 3-0 win. The dominant performance by the AAI team demonstrated their skill and strategic play on the badminton court. 

Science & Technology News 

19.Noma Added To WHO List Of Neglected Tropical Diseases

  • Noma, also known as cancrum oris or gangrenous stomatitis, has recently been added to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). This move aims to elevate awareness, stimulate research, secure finding and intensify efforts to combat this rare yet severe infection. 
  • Noma is a rapid and severe infection that primarily affects the soft and hard tissues of the face and mouth. It starts as a small ulcer, often following illnesses like measles and progresses swiftly, causing extensive tissue damage and potentially leading to death in up to 90% of cases. 
  • Noma primarily targets children aged 2 to 6 years old, especially those living in extreme poverty. Lack of access to adequate food, clean water, sanitation and healthcare facilities contributes to its prevalence, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America. 

Miscellaneous News

20. ICAI Reveals New Logo For Chartered Accountants Of India 

  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India recently revealed a new logo that encapsulates its commitment to an India-first approach and its role as a trusted partner in nation-building. 
  • The new logo features the letters ‘CA’ in a vibrant blue, symbolizing creativity, innovativeness, knowledge, integrity, trust, truth, stability, and depth. 
  • Complementing this, an upside-down tricolour tick mark, traditionally used by Chartered Accountants during audits, has been incorporated. This element is intended to symbolize the wisdom and value contributed by accounting professionals. 
  • This logo allows Indian Chartered Accountants to proudly identify themselves as ‘CA India.’ Its introduction on the global stage is expected to create international recognition, providing a distinct identity to Indian Chartered Accountants. 

21.Transition Of National Academy Of Indian Railways Assets To Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya 

  • In a landmark decision, the Ministry of Railways has issued a directive for the handover of all assets from the National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR), located in Vadodara, to Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya (GSV). 
  • This directive comes in alignment with the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bolster the newly envisioned Central university. The move is poised to impact the esteemed legacy of NAIR, a pivotal training facility for railway officers over several decades. 
  • To ensure a smooth transition and ongoing collaboration, the Railway Board emphasized that all future annual training calendars of NAIR and Central Training Institutes (CTIs) should be coordinated with GSV. 
  • Furthermore, GSV will be accorded preference for the utilization of these facilities, indicating a paradigm shift in the dynamics of training programs for railway officers

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