Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 27th December 2023

National News 

1.The outlook for 2024, for the world and India 

  • The war in Ukraine, though stalemated at present, could well become highly combustible as 2024 progresses. A Biden victory in the United States presidential election may well depend on the way the war in Ukraine turns, as a decisive defeat for Putin's Russia, (even though this appears unlikely at present), would boost his chances. 
  • Ukraine's Zelensky, conscious of the sagging support for Ukraine in Europe and elsewhere, could well attempt 'a last throw of the dice, and resort to desperate measures. Mr. Putin, for his part, may be tempted to go to extremes (not excluding resort to suboptimal nuclear weapons) to secure a victory in Ukraine.
  • CA heating up of the Middle East cauldron, caused by Hamas's unprovoked assault on Israel on October 7 this year, again has the potential to light a 'prairie fire' in 2024. This could signify many more countries in West Asia. The situation is not helped by the West's 'hypocrisy', which seeks to draw a fine distinction between the violence practiced by Hamas, and the 'precise targeting of so-called Hamas troublemakers by Israel and the western alliance. The situation is already accelerating changes in the geopolitics of West Asta, where battle lines are gradually shifting: Iran-Russia-China are already extending support to nations across West Asia, thus challenging the West's (essentially U.S.) leadership of the global strategic commons. It could have an impact well beyond West Asia as well. In this backdrop, the West would be well advised to act with care in other regions (such as the Indo-Pacific) to avoid upsetting the existing strategic balance. 
  • Keeping track of China, the region Sino-Indian relations will remain stalemated during much of 2024, with neither side displaying 
  • India's external relations in some other areas also merit attention in 2024. For instance, if the Russia-China axis becomes even stronger as 2024 progresses, with a concomitant weakening of Russia-India ties, it will have a direct impact on India's relations with, and accessibility to, Central Asia. India will need to avoid such a situation In its immediate neighborhood again, India may face an uncertain situation in 2024. Relations with Afghanistan, which have been virtually non-existent for some time, will remain much the same. Bangladesh, Nepal and the Maldives have recently come under pressure from China, and this has the potential of reducing their dependence on India is taking place on key issues of common concern Artificial Intelligence can be expected to play a larger and a key role this time, to enhance power dynamics of certain groups. 
  • A pronounced tilt in the case of certain parties to favor a regimented approach to issues and situations, and a bias towards increased centralisation of authority, leaving little or lesser room for maneuver at the State level, is becoming increasingly evident. 
  • An absence of any give or take, evident in the case of the expulsion of the Trinamool Congress Member of Parliament, Mahua Moitra, is a reflection of the current mood in Parliament, where most decisions are based on brute majority. Governors in many States also increasingly demonstrate palpable recalcitrance, aggravating the hiatus between the States and the Centre. All this leaves little slack for improvement in the situation. 
  • The nation may, hence, be approaching an inflection point in 2024. A test case will be how the nation deals with the situation deriving from the recent Supreme Court of India judgment upholding the power of the President of India to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution, together with the reasoning that Article 370 was 'a transitional provision 'due to war like conditions that prevailed in parts of the country'. It could well open a Pandora's box of contentious issues, providing additional ammunition for conflict. 
  • The Centre, for its part, needs to better comprehend the importance of improved Central-State relations, recognising that the Centre is stronger when the States are too; if both are together, they can deliver a better value proposition that neither can provide on its own. 
  • Inherently, all this involves a better understanding of newer forces at play and of the new realities of power. Whether this will happen in 2024, however, seems highly doubtful. 

2.Do shortened TB treatment plans offer the solution for India's TB burden? 

  • Tuberculosis is a dreadful disease with a high mortality and has consistently been a global health concern. India accounts for around 27% of TB cases worldwide-which is the world's highest country-wise TB burden thanks in part to its population of 1.3 billion. 
  • In the last decade, the National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP), along with the private sector, has successfully found and treated 17.14 million people with TB, including an estimated 1.4 million children. However, the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected TB care and has threatened to reverse the gains made in reducing India's burden. Additionally, the growing problem of drug-resistant TB also threatens the progress we have made in basic disease management. 
  • TB is curable but treatment is challenging. For drug-sensitive TB, a patient must take the medication for six months, and this is a long period for most people. The treatment also includes three or four drugs that can have side effects and are difficult to swallow at times. 
  • This is particularly difficult when the patients in question are children, who need to abide by a fixed drug regimen under the NTEP. The size and the taste of the tablet are not child-friendly. The NTEP presently recommends a daily dose of medicines under direct observation for six months, which can be tiring for families as well. 
  • It is not surprising that many pediatric as well as adult TB patients discontinue taking treatment due to its long duration and side effects. Sometimes, they feel better and assume that completing treatment is optional. This puts families and other people who are in close contact with a TB-affected person at risk of infection. Stopping treatment prematurely can also contribute to the TB bacteria becoming drug-resistant. 
  • The effort to make TB medicines easier to take is underway worldwide, as well as in India. Recent studies in adults who have TB in their lungs considered using a combination of new drugs and existing ones that are currently used for other diseases. The results of these studies are promising, showing that the length of time patients need to stay on their regimen can be reduced from six months to four months. 
  • The SHINE trial, conducted with 1,200 children from four countries (India, Zambia, Uganda, and South Africa), also found that based on the drugs available with the NTEP, children with non-severe TB can be effectively treated in four months instead of six. 
  • Shortening the duration for TB medication to cure the patient faster is transformational and also makes TB programme implementation more feasible 
  • Both studies had participants from India and their results have been included by the World Health Organization, in its TB treatment guidelines. However, India itself is yet to adopt the revised four-month treatment guidelines. There is, in fact, another study that reported recently that a two-month treatment course could be effective as well. 
  • With a growing political commitment to India's battle against TB, the Indian government must embrace innovation and new approaches to treating this disease. 
  • As it happens, the identification of safe and effective four-month and two-month regimens is the first significant advance in treating the most common form of TB in almost 40 years, and is a monumental achievement. It is also encouraging that more than 30 new chemical compounds that can fight the TB bacterium are in the pipeline. 
  • At this time, it is up to researchers to identify the best combinations of these new drugs that are highly efficacious, the least toxic, and can be easily implemented in programmatic settings. 
  • For this kind of research, a highly concerted effort needs to take place that involves both global and local researchers, funders, and regulatory authorities, with firm national and international political support. Costs are a determining factor but they can be mitigated as well. 
  • Global experience in costing has shown that the prices of newer drugs come down when there is political will and when community charters, funders, and the leaders of national programmes negotiate prices with drug manufacturers. Lower costs can in turn motivate the global adoption of newer, shorter duration, and less toxic drug combinations for diseases like TB. 
  • The theme for World Tuberculosis Day (March 24) in 2023 was "Yes, we can end TB", which reflects the worldwide desire to eliminate the disease by 2030. To (re)invigorate this fight, and to align with the vision of being "TB Free' ahead of the global target, India must consider active screening and case detection along with new guidelines for shorter TB treatment. Policymakers must also consider moving to a shorter treatment course for treating TB at the earliest. If we delay, we stand to lose the fight as well as millions of lives to an ultimately curable disease. 

3.A case of revanchism Courts should riot stray from the constitutional vision of secularism 

  • The judiciary should not be seen as legiti missing recurring, communally motivated attempts to change the status of places of worship In yet another order that may end up expediting the project of converting a mosque into a temple by indirect means, the Allahabad High Court has ruled that a set of suits filed in 1991 for a declaration that a part of the site of the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi as the property of Lord Vishweshwar is not barred by law. The court has decided, as it had done earlier on a 2022 suit by a group of Hindu worshippers, that the old suits are not barred by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which invalidates legal proceedings that may lead to altering the status of any place of worship as it stood on August 15, 1947. In what seems to be specious reasoning, the court has held that the Act is not applicable as the "religious character" of the structure is yet to be determined. In other words, instead of nipping the cunning piece of litigation in the bud, the court has allowed a full civil trial to decide whether the structure in the Gyanvapi compound is a mosque or a temple and stated that unless this status is determined based on evidence, it cannot be called a temple or a mosque. Such an approach may only end up driving modern society into a revanchist mindset seeking to avenge medieval depredations. 
  • In the case of the 2022 suits by women worshippers, the court had noted that the proceed- ings were aimed at asserting a right to worship the deities on the mosque precincts, and not to convert it into a temple. However, the 1991 suits explicitly seek a declaration that the main part of the site is a mosque and also want the mosque administrators to remove all their religious effects. Despite this explicit relief being sought, the court has chosen to treat it as a suit that is maintainable and not barred by the Places of Worship Act. The order has also upheld the order for a survey of the premises by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), but asked for the ASI survey done on the basis of the 2022 suits for the purpose of deciding the 1991 suits also. It has provided for a further survey, if necessary. What is disconcerting in the High Court order is that it claims that the dispute raised in the case is "of vital national importance". This is an astounding claim for a judicial institution to make while adjudicating litigation between two parties. The judiciary must stay committed to the constitutional vision of secularism and enforce the statutory bar on converting or reconverting the status of places of worship. 

4.Amit Shah Reveals Chandigarh Projects Worth 368 Crore Rupees 

  • In a significant development for the city of Chandigarh, Union Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurated nine projects with a total investment of 368 crore rupees. 
  • Additionally, he laid the foundation stone for three ambitious projects valued at 32 crore rupees. This marks a substantial commitment to the infrastructural and developmental growth of Chandigarh. 
  • Amit Shah also flagged off a fleet of Chandigarh Police cars, collectively valued at 3.75 crore rupees. Among them, a state-of-the-art police control vehicle named ‘Eagle‘ was introduced. This move aims to enhance the operational capabilities and efficiency of law enforcement in the city. 

5.Indian PM Crosses 2 Crore Subscribers, Leaving World Leaders In The Dust 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cemented his dominance in the digital realm, becoming the first world leader to surpass the 2 crore subscriber mark on YouTube. With over 4.5 billion views on his channel, Modi has left his global peers trailing far behind, highlighting his adeptness at utilizing social media for public engagement. 
  • Modi enjoys a commanding lead in both subscribers and views, with Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro a distant second at 64 lakh subscribers, less than a third of Modi’s total. 

6.Union Minister Anurag Singh Thakur Initiated ‘MY Bharat’ Campaign 

  • Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Singh Thakur, recently addressed the youth after the launch of the MY Bharat campaign, expressing confidence in India’s remarkable progress on the global stage. 
  • He emphasized the significant strides made across various sectors, attributing the success to the government’s initiatives. 
  • The minister commended the growth of India’s startup ecosystem, emphasizing that the country has surged to become the third-largest in the world, surpassing the United Kingdom. 
  • The minister also lauded the Make in India program for transforming India into the seventh-largest manufacturer of mobile phones globally. 

7.Gwalior Achieves Guinness Record With ‘Largest Tabla Ensemble’ At Tansen Festival 

  • Gwalior, often hailed as the City of Music, recently witnessed an extraordinary spectacle as 1500 tabla performers converged at the historic Karna Mahal of Gwalior Fort. 
  • The event, known as ‘Tabla Darbar,’ unfolded as part of the annual ‘Tansen Samaroh’ music festival at the iconic Karna Mahal of Gwalior Fort on the evening of December 25th, drawing attention and acclaim from distinguished guests, including Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Dr Mohan Yadav. 
  • A team of three from the Guinness Book of World Records was present to personally supervise and document this unprecedented ‘Tabla Darbar’ performance. The meticulous recording process added an official seal to the city’s musical achievement. 

8.Health Minister launched ‘MedTech Mitra’ to advance health Solution

  • Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has virtually launched MedTech Mitra – a strategic initiative to empower MedTech innovators and advance healthcare solutions. 
  • It will be a game-changer for Indian MedTech industry and facilitate indigenous development of affordable, quality MedTech devices and diagnostics. 
  • He said the medical devices sector is an integral constituent of India’s healthcare sector. He also said India is taking a holistic approach to health with a vision to transform the health landscape in the country by 2047. 

Mansukh Mandaviya in News 

  • Mansukh Mandaviya inaugurates Global Food Regulators Summit 2023 
  • Mansukh Mandaviya inaugurated National Food Safety & Standards Training Centre 
  • Mansukh Mandaviya and Ashwini Vaishnaw flagged off Jan Aushadhi train as part of the week-long celebrations to commemorate the scheme 

9.Bharat Electronics Secures ₹445 Cr Deal For UP Dial 112 Project 

  • Navratna DPSU Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has signed a contract for a value of Rs 445 Cr with the UP Government for next generation UP Dial 112 project. 
  • BEL will be providing comprehensive and state-of-art hardware, AI based software tools and Cyber Security solutions for the Dial 112 project, which is spread across the entire state of Uttar Pradesh. 
  • The company has also received additional orders worth Rs 233 Cr. these orders pertain to Communication Display Units, Thermal Imaging cameras, and other miscellaneous spares & services. 
  • BEL has cumulatively received orders worth Rs.26,613 Cr in the current financial year 2023-24. 

Recent MoU 

  • Ministry of Rural Development signed with JioMart to Self-Help Groups’ Products 
  • Tata Power ties up with Indian Oil to set up over 500 EV charging stations 
  • RITES signed pact with CFM Mozambique for 10 diesel locomotive supply 
  • THDC India inks pact to develop renewable energy projects in Karnataka 
  • IBM inks 3 pacts with IT Ministry on semiconductor, Al, Q-computing 

10.Attackers of merchant ivessels will be brought to justice soon: Rajnath 

  • "India's growing power has filled some forces with jealousy and hatred, and the perpetrators of the attacks on merchant vessels Chem Pluto and Sai Baba will soon be brought to justice," Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday. He was speaking at the commissioning of the P-15B class stealth guided missile destroyer INS Imphal, the first warship to be named after a city in Northeast India, at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai. 
  • "India plays the role of a net security provider in the entire Indian Ocean Region. We will ensure that maritime trade in this region touches greater heights. For this, together with our friendly countries, we will keep the sea lanes secure," he said. 
  • Mr. Singh said that with the Himalayas in the north and the hostile behavior of Pakistan in the west, most of India's goods trade came through the sea, which made it an "island country from the trade perspective". 
  • Navy chief Admiral R. Hari Kumar said the Navy had four destroyers of Project 15B and 15A class deployed to counter pirate and drone attacks. The P8I and Dornier aircraft, the Sea Guardian unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters, and Coast Guard ships were deployed to counter the threats. 
  • INS Imphal is the third of four indigenous Visakhapatnam class destroyers, designed by the Navy's Warship Design Bureau and built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd. 

11.India, Russia ink 'key' pacts related to 1 Kudankulam nuclear power plant 

  • In a major boost to their time-tested partnership, India and Russia on Tuesday signed some "very important" agreements related to the construction of the future power-generating units of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant. 
  • External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who is on a five-day visit to Russia, made the announcement after his "comprehensive and productive" meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov on the bilateral economic cooper e ation during which they witnessed signing of agreements on nuclear power d and in areas of medicines, pharmaceutical substances and medical devices. 
  • "Today, in my presence and that of Deputy Prime Minister Manturov, we signed some very important agreements pertaining to the future units of the Kudankulam nuclear project," he said addressing the Indian diaspora here. 
  • The Kudankulam nuclear power plant, India's largest, is being built in Tamil Nadu with the technical assistance of Russia. The construction began in March 2002. Since February 2016, the first power unit of the Kudankulam NPP has been steadily operating at its design capacity of 1,000 MW. The plant is expected to start operating at full capacity in 2027, according to Russian state media. 
  • Mr. Jaishankar noted the significant progress in trade, finance, connectivity, energy, civil aviation and nuclear domains. "Appreciated the greater focus on exploring new oppor- tunities. Discussed making our cooperation more balanced and sustainable in different dimensions," he said in a post on X. 
  • He described Russia as a "special partner" in a few areas such as defense, nuclear power and space. "Collaborations are done in areas of defense, space and nuclear [energy] with countries with which you have a high degree of trust," he added. 

12.Law of numbers The government should not use its majority to rush through legislation 

  • The 18-day winter session of Parliament that was adjourned sine die on December 21 marked a new low in India's parliamentary democracy as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party refused to engage with the Opposition, evaded executive accountability and passed a battery of Bills with far-reaching consequences for the country while a majority of the Opposition members remained suspended. In the final count, a total of 146 Members of Parliament (MP) from the Opposition bloc were suspended 46 of the Rajya Sabha, and 100 of the Lok Sabha, as they clamored for a statement by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on a breach of security that involved protesters gaining entry into the chamber of the Lok Sabha on December 13. The rift lingers, as Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge has written to Vice-President of India and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar, terming the suspension of Opposition MP as "predetermined and premeditated" by the government. The absence of any application of mind was evident, Mr. Kharge has written, recalling that an MP who was not even present in the Lok Sabha, was among those suspended. The Chairs of both the Houses could not ensure smooth conduct of the session. Attempts made by Mr. Dhankhar and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla lacked the requisite imprimatur of impartiality. 
  • It was in the absence of a majority of the Opposition members that the government passed new laws that rewrite the criminal code of the country, regulation of telecommunication and the appointment of the Election Commission of India. The common feature of these laws is an unprecedented increase in the power of the executive, and it is not a coincidence that they were passed without a meaningful parliamentary debate that took on board conflicting views. The government refused even the Opposition demand for a state- ment on the security breach, in a show of obstinacy that equates numerical majority with logical and moral infallibility. The government has blamed the Opposition for bringing the suspensions upon itself, and this position has been echoed by the Speaker and the Chairman. The case of the alleged mimicry of Mr. Dhankhar by an Opposition MP was a distraction that was con- venient for the ruling party. Mr. Dhankhar himself told the Rajya Sabha that the alleged mimicry was an insult to his community, a dismaying correlation to be made by anyone, let alone a legal luminary such as himself. It is another matter whether the Opposition should have invested so much time and effort in asking for a debate on the security breach by a few misguided youths. 
  • The effect, if not the objective, of it all was to derail parliamentary functioning and obtain a free pass for the executive. 

International News 

13.UK to introduce carbon import levy on certain products by 2027 

  • United Kingdom will implement a new carbon import levy on some products from 2027 to help to protect businesses against cheaper imports from countries with less strict climate policies. 
  • The planned carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) will apply to carbon-intensive products in the iron, steel, aluminium, fertiliser, hydrogen, ceramics, glass and cement sectors. 
  • The charge applied will depend on the amount of carbon emitted in the production of the imported good and any gap between the carbon price applied in the country of origin and the carbon price faced by UK producers. 
  • Britain, which has a target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050, launched an emissions trading system (ETS) in 2021 to charge power plants, factories and airlines for each tonne of carbon dioxide they emit as part of efforts to meet that goal. 

About United Kingdom (UK) 

  • Capital – London 
  • Currency – Pound sterling 
  • Prime Minister – Rishi Sunak 

14.India to Acquire Five Lithium Blocks in Argentina 

  • The Indian government is planning to enter into exploration and development agreements with the Argentina government for five lithium blocks that have been identified by Khanij Bidesh India (KABIL) in Catamarca province. 
  • The Centre will be investing around Rs 200 crore over the next five years for the purpose of exploring and developing these mines. 
  • This marks India’s second attempt at signing a foreign partnership for sourcing critical minerals after previously signing a memorandum of understanding with Australia’s Critical Minerals Facilitation Office (CMFO) in 2022. 
  • The 2022 agreement allowed India to explore five blocks, two for lithium and three for cobalt. 
  • Argentina boasts 21 percent of the world’s 98 million tonne lithium reserves, which makes it the second-largest lithium reserve after Bolivia, according to the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Lithium Statistics and Information 2023 report. 
  • These reserves are present in salt flats located in Salta, Catamarca and Jujuy provinces, which together form part of the Lithium Triangle. 

About Argentina 

  • Capital- Buenos Aires 
  • Currency- Argentine Peso 
  • President – Javier Milei 
  • National sport- Pato 

State News 

15.Telangana introduced Rs 5 lakh accident insurance for Gig Workers 

  • Telangana Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy has announced, government will provide Rs 5 lakh for accident insurance to gig workers such as those involved in food delivery, and driving cabs and autorickshaws. 
  • The government would also provide Rs 10 lakh health cover under the ‘Rajiv Arogyasri’ scheme. 
  • The state government will provide social security to workers in the unorganized sectors and will make a policy decision in this direction. 
  • Reddy promised that the state government would study the existing policy for gig workers in Rajasthan and introduce an effective law in the next state budget session. 

About Telangana 

  • Established – 2 June 2014 
  • Capital – Hyderabad 
  • Chief Minister – Revanth Reddy (replace K. Chandrashekar Rao) 
  • Deputy CM – Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka 
  • Governor – Tamilisai Soundararajan 
  • Speaker of Telangana Assembly – Gaddam Prasad Kumar 
  • Legislative Assembly Seats – 119 

16.UP CM inaugurated state’s first intra-district chopper service 

  • Marking the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has inaugurated UP’s first intra-district helicopter service from Bateshwar in Agra to Goverdhan in Mathura. 
  • Based on the private-public partnership (PPP), the helicopter service is to be run by a private player from Uttrakhand. A helicopter service will cover a distance of 65 km between Agra city and Mathura. 
  • CM Yogi Adityanath also unveiled a statue of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his birth anniversary in his native village Bateshwar in Agra district. 
  • UP CM also laid the foundation stone of projects worth ₹100 crore, which are aimed at bringing new life to Bateshwar, a historical village located amid the ravines of Chambal across the borders of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. 

About Uttar Pradesh 

  • Capital – Lucknow 
  • Chief Minister – Yogi Adityanath 
  • Governor – Anandiben Patel 

17.KSRTC Unveils ‘Namma Cargo’ Logistics In Karnataka 

  • Minister for Transport for Karnataka, Ramalinga Reddy inaugurated the initiative under the brand name “Namma Cargo,” introducing cargo services on KSRTC route buses. 
  • The launch event saw the deployment of 20 cargo trucks to kickstart the ‘Namma Cargo’ services in various districts across the state. 
  • Minister Reddy announced ambitious plans for the ‘Namma Cargo’ services, with a goal to induct 100 trucks within the first month of operation. Looking ahead, KSRTC aims to escalate the number of cargo trucks to 500 within a year. 

18.100 feet high 'Rafi Minar' will be established in Amritsar, Punjab

  • 24 December 2023 Year-long celebrations to commemorate the birth centenary of Mohammed Rafi begin in Mumbai, Maharashtra and the foundation has been laid for the construction of a 100-foot-tall 'Rafi Minar' at his birthplace in Amritsar. 
  • SSFASS and WMRWF will construct a 100 feet high 'Rafi Minar' in memory of Mohammed Rafi at his birthplace in Kotla Sultan Singh village near Amritsar. 
  • “Rafi Minar” will be made of steel and will be engraved with lyrics of 100 top songs of Rafi Sahab to remind the coming generations of his valuable contribution in enriching human life through his singing. 
  • The event was organized at Shanmukhananda Hall in collaboration with World of Mohammed Rafi Welfare Foundation (WMRWF) and Sri Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeeta Sabha (SSFASS). 
  • There will be 12 special concerts featuring only Mohammed Rafi's songs on the 24th of each calendar month in the centenary year. Popular 'Rafi Expert' singers from across India will be invited to perform and bring alive the memories of Rafi Sahab. 
  • These organizations are also renovating Mohammad Rafi's alma-mater, the Government Primary Urdu School, where he studied till Class IV before moving to another higher educational institution in the village. 
  • 'Shri Shanmukhanand Mohammed Rafi Centenary Memorial Award' has been instituted for a young musician, which will carry a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh, a trophy. 

Defence News 

19.Iranian Navy included sophisticated cruise missiles 'Talaiyah and Nasir' in its arsenal

  • Iran's Navy inducted domestically produced sophisticated cruise missiles 'Talaiyah and Nasir' into its arsenal. Both the Talaiyah and Nasser cruise missiles arrived at a naval base near the Indian Ocean in the southern Iranian port of Konark, about 1,400 kilometers (850 miles) southeast of the capital Tehran. 
  • Navy chief Admiral Shahram Irani said the Taliyah has a strike range of more than 1,000 kilometers (620 mi) and called it "completely smart". Irani said the cruise missile is capable of changing targets during travel. 
  • He said the Nasir has a strike range of 100 kilometers (62 mi) and can be installed on warships. 
  • Iran says it has a stockpile of a variety of missiles with a range of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), capable of reaching its arch-enemy Israel and US targets in the region. 

Business News

20.PLI Schemes Drew Rs 95,000 Cr Investments By September 2023: Centre 

  • The production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes introduced by the Indian government have emerged as a key driver for attracting investments and boosting manufacturing across various sectors. 
  • As of September this year, these initiatives have garnered an impressive Rs 95,000 crore in investment, marking a significant stride towards enhancing India’s manufacturing capabilities and exports. 
  • In the Union Budget 2021-22, the government allocated a substantial outlay of Rs 1.97 lakh crore for the PLI schemes, underscoring their strategic importance in fostering economic growth. 
  • Of the total electronics production worth USD 101 billion in 2022-23, smartphones constituted USD 44 billion, with USD 11.1 billion attributed to exports. 

Economy News 

21.Narrowing trade deficit cut India's CAD to 1% of GDP in Q2 

  • India's current account deficit (CAD) declined to $8.3 billion, which is 1% of the country's GDP in the second quarter of FY24 (July 2023-September 2023) owing to a "narrowing of merchandise trade deficit according to the RBI's latest data. 
  • The Q2 deficit is lower than $9.2 billion (1.1% of GDP) in QI (April 2023-June 2023) and $30.9 billion (3.8% of GDP) a year earlier. 
  • "Underlying the lower CAD on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis in Q2 FY24 was the narrowing of merchandise trade deficit to $61 billion from $78.3 billion in Q2 FY23," the RBI said 
  • Private transfer receipts rose to $28.1 bn, an increase of 2.6% year-on-year 
  • As per data, services exports grew by 4.2% on a y o-y basis on the back of rising exports of software, business and travel services. Net services receipts increased both sequentially and on a y-o-y basis. 
  • Net outgo on the primary income account, mainly reflecting payments of investment income, increased to $12.2 billion up from $11.8 billion a year earlier. 
  • Remittances rise Private transfer receipts, mainly remittances by Indians employed overseas, amounted to $28.1 billion, an increase of 2.6% from their levels during the corresponding period a year ago. In the financial account, net foreign direct investment witnessed an outflow of $0.3 billion as against $6.2 billion in Q2 FY23. Foreign portfolio investment recorded net inflow of $4.9 billion, lower than $6.5 billion during Q2 FY23. 
  • External commercial borrowings to India recorded net outflow of $1.8 billion in Q2 FY24 as com- pared with net outflow of $0.5 billion in Q2 FY23. Non-resident deposits recorded net inflow of $3.2 billion as compared with $2.5 billion in Q2 FY23 

22.'Fiscal deficit may breach 5.9% of GDP’ 

  • India's fiscal deficit may breach the 5.9% of GDP target for this year and could hit 6%, though tax collections have been buoyant and may offset a wide shortfall in disinvestment outcomes, due to the likelihood of revenue spending exceeding the Budget Estimate by about 2 lakh crore, India Ratings and Research said on Tuesday. 
  • The Centre has recently secured parliamentary approval for the first supplementary demand for grants this year, involving an additional cash outgo of 53,378 crore, lifting its total spending commitment for 2023-24 to 45.6 lakh crore, including about 35.6 lakh crore of revenue expenditure and ₹10.1 lakh crore of capital expenditure. 
  • "India Ratings believes, like in the past, there will be a second supplementary demand for grants, as a result of which the revenue expenditure is expected to increase to ₹37.1 lakh crore, over 2 lakh crore higher than budgeted for the year," its economists noted. 
  • In the first supplementary demand for grants, the government sought more funds for priority areas like food, fertilizer, and LPG subsidy. 

23.What does China's 2024 economic policy look like? 

  • The 2023 Chinese Central Economic Work Conference (CEWC) recently concluded, highlighting a stability-focused pathway for the nation's 2024 economy. Key directives include shifting from export-led to domestic demand-led growth, enhancing high-quality production, striving for tech self-reliance while cooperating with trade partners, and maintaining financial discipline. While echoing previous goals, this agenda emphasizes the need for structural reforms, necessitating a departure from entrenched Chinese party-state practices to shape the country's economic future. 
  • The first key area is dual circulation. As global demand has continued to decline amidst heightened sentiments of protectionism and 'de-risking', the country is now looking inwards to boost domestic consumption and only allow for a complementary relationship with International demand. Chinese President Xi Jinping has referred to this as the "New Pattern of Development," and is an ambitious structural reform for a country known as the world's manufacturing hub. 
  • China prioritizes "high-quality" economic growth focused on addressing the imbalance between development and people's increasing demands for a better life. This shift emphasizes domestic demand, specialized self-reliance, and sectors like high-tech and sustainable manufacturing. Agriculture receives attention for its contribution to GDP and growth, aligning with goals of rural revitalisation and food security, supported by the establishment of "agriculture innovation centers.” 
  • Japan respectively against China Although, the language of the CEWC readout has changed from "self-improvement" in high-technology in 2022 to "strength" in 2023. China maintains a "prudent monetary policy" and a "proactive fiscal policy," focusing on financial stability. The latter was also reiterated at the Central Financial Work Conference that took place just a month ago and has now become part of the implementational mandate of the newly established Central Finance Commission. Under 'proactive fiscal policy, in the past year, China has mobilized tools such as tax rebates for medium and small enterprises, as well as interest rate discounts for local governments. This is to enable them to alleviate some of the debt stress and continue to invest either in keeping employees on a regular payroll or in the unhindered development of infrastructure. 
  • Fiscal tools like tax rebates and interest rate discounts aid small enterprises and local governments in managing debt and sustaining infrastructure development. Efforts to ease local government debt include a special bond issuance for post-disaster recovery. However, the local authorities are warned to embrace frugality and stricter financial discipline due to escalating debt burdens, reaching around $60 trillion. The emphasis is on "fiscal sustainability rather than bailouts. Monetary policy aims for stabilized liquidity levels, avoiding infusion despite past promises of an economic boost. Economic challenges like currency depreciation, Income insecurity, rising unemployment, and capital outflows suggest injecting more liquidity won't Improve investment and borrowing sentiments. To address economic concerns, China aims to promote balanced trade to increase international demand. 
  • This move signals a willingness to open its market to key trade partners, potentially creating more balanced trade relations without favoring China excessively. This approach aligns with China's goal of "opening-up," supporting high-quality growth, focusing on self-reliance, especially in areas like technology and food security, amid ongoing US.-China geopolitical competition 

24.Are graduates facing unemployment? 

  • 1502, the famous engineer and salesman M Visvesvaraya pointed to the high prevalence of unemployment amongst the educated, pointing out that the educated men of this country...(are) suffering most front lack of Ninety years later, employment." The actions of those involved in the Parliament breach have bought the question of youth unemployment to the fore once more. While Rahul Gandhi holds the present government responsible for rising youth unemployment, official data seems to indicate the opposite. The unemployment rate, which hit a high of 6.1% in 2017-18, has reduced to 3.2% in 2022 21, according to the latest data from the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLPS) Even though unemployment rates are there exist significant disparities in the erience of unemployment. The experience highest rates of unemployment are faced by those who should uld face bright prospects in a growing economy, young highly educated workers. This is not a problem that has arisen recently but seems to be a structural feature of the Indian economy. The economy faces problems in generating employment for young graduates, with the situation exacerbating in recent years. 
  • This analysis looks at employment data from the 50th Round of the NSSO surveys covering the period 1993-94-to the PLPS surveys of 2022-23. Workers are classified according to the UPSS, which classifies individuals as employed or unemployed based on their labor force activity over the previous year. This analysis only focuses on individuals aged 18 to 65. 
  • Education and unemployment Figure 1 outlines the unemployment rates for the aggregate labor force of Individuals aged 18 to 65. Unemployment 
  • Percent high unemployment among estimated tidian youtly reveals structural challenges in job creation despite merrall declining unemployment rates. 
  • Figure 2 Unemployment of young greendust estates had always been low since the early 1990s, jumping to a historical high of 5.77% in 2017-18. By 2022-23, the unemployment rate showed signs of reducing, falling to 3.15% for this cohort. While unemployment rates are currently higher than in previous decades, it has shown a reduction compared to 2017-18. Individuals with higher education have always faced higher unemployment rates than the rest of the population, a situation that has characterized the Indian economy since the 1990s. Figure 2 outlines the unemployment rates for those with graduate degrees. From roughly 9% in the 1990s, the rate fell to 7.66% in 2011-12, before rising to 17% in 2017-18 and then 13% in 2022-23. Figure 3 shows the unemployment rate for young workers aged 18 to 29 with a graduate degree. From 1993-94 to 2004-05, almost a fifth to a quarter of all young individuals with graduate degrees faced long unemployment spells of 6 months or more. The rate dropped to 20% in 2011-12, before rising to a staggering 36% in 2017-18. The rate has been reduced by 2022-23 with 27% of young graduates facing long spells of unemployment. 
  • Earlier, these high rates of unemployment were concentrated amongst a relatively small section of the labor force. In 1993-94, only 5% of the labor force were graduates, as shown in Figure 4. However, with the expansion of higher education, the share of graduates in the labor force has risen to around 15% by 2022-23. Thus, overall unemployment rates remain low even though graduates face high unemployment because the share of educated workers in the labor force is low. As enrolment rates continue to rise, the share of graduates in the labor force 
  • Official data shows a decline in the national unemployment rate from 6.1% in 2017-18 to 3.2% in 2072-23. 
  • Despite a defined overalt unemployment rates, highly educated youth face disproportionate challenges in Securing employment. remaining a consistent structural issue in India's economy. 
  • The analysis spanning from 1993-04 to 2022-23 demonstrates that individuals with higher education face consistently higher. 
  • Figure & Share of graduates in the labor force unemployment rates, notably reaching 13% in 2022 23 for graduates will increase, leading to increases in the aggregate unemployment rate. The problems of young job-seekers are not an aberration, but a worrying feature of the Indian labor market. 
  • Young graduates aged 18 to 29 encountered particularly high unemployment rates, with around 36% facing long spells of unemployment in 2017-18, declining to 27% by 2022-23 but still higher than previous periods. 
  • The problem of youth unemployment Is a serious issue. Much more work is required to outline the exact factors causing unemployment amongst the highly educated-be it the inability of the education system to impart the requisite skills, or the inability of the growing economy to generate enough jobs for the increasing numbers of educated Job-seekers entering the labor force each year to ensure that the aspirations of the youth are not thwarted and the potential of the demographic dividend is properly harnessed. 

Appointment News 

25.Santosh Jha Assumes Role As India’s New Envoy To Sri Lanka 

  • India’s diplomatic ties with Sri Lanka have taken a new turn with the appointment of Santosh Jha as the country’s new High Commissioner. 
  • This development comes as Jha takes over the role from Gopal Baglay, who has been appointed as the next High Commissioner of India to Australia. 
  • Jha has previously served in Sri Lanka, holding the position of Counsellor at the High Commission from 2007 to 2010, where he played a crucial role in handling matters related to commercial and economic affairs. 

26.Vita Dani Makes History As First Indian On ITTF Governing Board 

  • Vita Dani, a prominent sports entrepreneur, has etched her name in history by becoming the first Indian to be appointed as a governing board member of the International Table Tennis Federation’s (ITTF) Foundation. 
  • The ITTF Foundation, established in 2018, aims to enhance the appeal of table tennis and attract a more diverse audience to the sport. 
  • ITTF and ITTF Foundation President Petra Sorling warmly welcomed Vita Dani to the ITTF family, acknowledging her passion for the sport’s growth and its potential as a catalyst for development. 

Banking and Financial News 

27.Recent Facilities Launched in Banking & Insurance Sector 

  • Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance launched U.L.I.P (Term with Unit Linked Insurance Plan) Product 
  • RBL Bank Introduces Electronic Bank Guarantee on NeSL Platform 
  • Reliance General Insurance unveils ‘Reliance Health Global’ 
  • IndusInd Bank introduces ‘Indus Solitaire Program’ for the Diamond Industry 
  • Canara HSBC Life Insurance launches ‘Alpha Wealth’ plan with option to alter premiums 

28.Ola Electric files IPO papers with Sebi; first by auto company in 20 years 

  • Electric two-wheeler company Ola Electric has filed preliminary papers with capital markets regulator SEBI to raise funds through an initial public offering (IPO)– the first issue by an automaker in the country in more than 20 years. 
  • The proposed IPO is a fresh issue of equity shares up to Rs 5,500 crore and an offer for sale (OFS) of 9.52 crore equity shares by promoters and investors, according to the draft red herring prospectus (DRHP). 
  • Proceeds from the fresh issue will be used for capital expenditure to be incurred by the subsidiary, OCT for the Ola Gigafactory project, payment of debt by subsidiary OET, investment into research and product development, expenditure for organic growth initiatives, and general corporate purposes. 

29.World Bank Approves $100 Mn For Skill Development In Sikkim 

  • The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a new project to support the state of Sikkim’s efforts to train, upskill, and provide jobs for 300,500 women and youth in high-growth and priority sectors. 
  • Sikkim has been one of the fastest-growing states in India. While over 40 percent of youth are currently engaged in agriculture, the state has a growing manufacturing and services industry.
  • To sustain growth, the state aims to skill its women and youth in jobs in non-farm sectors like renewable energy, information and technology (IT) services, tourism, hospitality and wellness care, and creative design. 
  • The $100 million Sikkim: Integrated Service Provision and Innovation for Reviving Economies (INSPIRES) Operation will establish an Employment and Entrepreneurship Promotion Facility, which will promote partnerships with private-sector firms, central agencies, and business associations. 
  • In addition, the project will provide staff trainings and build public procurement capacity across priority state departments. 

Recent Loan Approved by World Bank 

  • World Bank approved $300 million for Tamil Nadu to help 21 Urban Local Bodies 
  • World Bank approves $ 1.5 bn financing for India’s low-carbon transition 
  • World Bank approves $391 million for Assam, Tripura 
  • World Bank approves $150-million loan for Resilient Kerala programme 

30.$100 million loan agreement signed with ADB for Tripura Urban and Tourism Development Project

  • The Government of India signed an agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to take a loan of US$ 100 million for the 'Tripura Urban and Tourism Development Project' to improve urban services and tourism facilities in the northeastern state of Tripura. 
  • Among the signatories of the loan agreement for the Tripura Urban and Tourism Development Project were Ms. Juhi Mukherjee, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, and Mr. Nilay Mitash, ADB Officer-in-Charge. 
  • The project will upgrade urban water supply systems by installing 42 kilometers (km) of new transmission and distribution pipes, installing 4 new water treatment plants and improving 55 kilometers of storm water drains.
  • It will improve 21 km long urban roads with features that cater to the needs of the elderly, women, children and the disabled. 
  • To strengthen the delivery of urban services, the project will build the capacity of 12 urban local bodies on planning, operation and maintenance of infrastructure, financial management, gender equality and social inclusion and project management. ‘

Tripura Urban and Tourism Development Project’ 

  • This will also help the state government to update its building regulations incorporating spatial planning and green building principles to ensure climate and disaster resilience. 
  • Through this project, ADB will help upgrade tourist destinations such as Chaturdash Devta Temple, Kasba Kalibari and Neermahal Palace by improving facilities, rooms, landscaping and making them more visitor and gender-friendly destinations.
  • It will set up a digital museum and a new adventure park. A 10-year tourism business plan will be developed that will guide marketing, promotion and attract the private sector, while the state tourism policy will be updated. 

Asian Development Bank (ADB) 

  • It was established on 19 December 1966. There are total 68 members in ADB. India is a founding member of ADB. Of the total members, 49 member countries are from the Asia-Pacific region, while 19 members are from other regions. It is headquartered in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines 

Important Day News 

31.27 December – International Day of Epidemic Preparedness 

  • International Day of Epidemic Preparedness is observed every year on 27 December. 
  • This special day encourages everyone, including individuals, institutions, and governments, to participate in educational and awareness activities that suit their country’s needs. 
  • It emphasizes how crucial it is to prevent, prepare for and work together against outbreaks like diseases. 
  • The United Nations proclaimed on December 7, 2020, that December 27 would be the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness. 
  • The first-ever International Day of Epidemic Preparedness was organised on December 27, 2020, to show how important it is to be ready for and fight against epidemics. 

Ranks and Reports News 

32.PV Sindhu is the only Indian included in Forbes' list of highest paid female athletes - 2023

  • Badminton star PV Sindhu has made it to the Forbes list of highest-paid female athletes of 2023, where she tied with gymnast Simone Biles at 16th position with earnings of $7.1 million. 
  • The Forbes list is led by Polish tennis star Iga Swiatek who is worth $23.9 million. She won the French Open and finished the year as the world No. 1 ranked player. 
  • She is followed by China's freestyle skiing star Eileen Gu who is worth $22.1 million. Tennis player Coco Gauff is in third place with $21.7 million, while UK's Emma Raducanu ($15.2 million) and Japan's Naomi Osaka ($15 million) are in fourth and fifth place in the same game. 
  • Last year, Sindhu was ranked 12th with earnings of $7.1 million in a list which was led by Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka. Sindhu had entered the top 10 in the 2018 list with $8.5 million, placing her at 7th position. 

Miscellaneous News 

33.‘Word Of The Year’ (2023) By Different Dictionaries 

  • Oxford Dictionary: Rising to the top spot for Oxford is “Rizz”, a slang term referring to one’s natural charm, charisma, and ability to attract romantic partners. 
  • Merriam-Webster: Merriam-Webster champions “Authentic” as its Word of the Year. This choice highlights a yearning for genuineness and self-expression in a world increasingly saturated with artifice and digital filters. 
  • Collins Dictionary: For Collins Dictionary, the future reigns supreme. Their Word of the Year is “AI” (artificial intelligence), recognizing its transformative potential and its ever-growing influence on various aspects of our lives. 
  • Cambridge Dictionary and Interestingly, both Cambridge Dictionary and share the same Word of the Year: “Hallucinate”. 

Sports News 

34.Sony Sports Ropes In Kartik Aaryan As Brand Ambassador For Football 

  • Sony Sports Network (SSN) has kicked off a new era of football enthusiasm in India by appointing Bollywood heartthrob and Gen Z icon Kartik Aaryan as their official brand ambassador for the beautiful game. 
  • The primary objective is to bring football closer to a wider Indian audience and foster a passion for the sport across different generations. 
  • His popularity among the youth and broad appeal make him an ideal choice to connect with a diverse audience and ignite enthusiasm for the sport. 

35.Coca-Cola extends partnership with ICC till 2031 

  • Beverage major Coca-Cola has extended its partnership with the International Cricket Council (ICC) for eight years, encompassing ICC World events across all three formats, up until the end of 2031. 
  • This eight-year partnership as a Global Partner of the ICC confirmed the collaboration as one of the longest-ever associations formed by the ICC with a single brand, spanning a total timeline of 13 years (2019-2031). 
  • The partnership will see the Coca-Cola Company’s brands becoming exclusive non-alcoholic beverage partners. The agreement includes all men’s and women’s events at the pinnacle of the sport including the ICC Cricket World Cups, ICC T20 World Cups, and ICC Champions Trophies through to the end of 2031. 

About International Cricket Council (ICC) 

  • The International Cricket Council is the global governing body of cricket. 
  • It was founded as the Imperial Cricket Conference in 1909 by representatives from Australia, England and South Africa. 
  • It was renamed as the International Cricket Conference in 1965, and took up its current name in 1987. 
  • Formation – 15 June 1909 
  • Headquarters – Dubai, UAE 
  • Chairman – Greg Barclay (New Zealand) 
  • Deputy Chairman – Imran Khwaja (Singapore) 
  • CEO – Geoff Allardice (Australia) 
  • General Manager – Wasim Khan 
  • Membership – 108 members 

Obituary News 

36.Sculptor Dr. Uttam Pacharne Passed Away 

  • Renowned sculptor and former Chairman of Lalit Kala Akademi Dr Uttam Pacharne passed away at the age of 67. 
  • Born on June 2, 1956, at Chakhalewadi village in Ahmednagar, Pacharne topped the Art Teacher’s course Diploma in Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya, Pune, in 1976, and then did his course in Sculpture & Modelling from the prestigious Sir J. J. School of Art in Mumbai. 
  • He bagged the National Lalit Kala Akademi Award and Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar (1985), Junior National Award in memory of the late PM Indira Gandhi (1986), medals, honours and other accolades during his career of over four decades. 
  • He was appointed Chairman of the Lalit Kala Akademi (2018) for a 3-year term and was the President of the Bombay Art Society and other bodies in various capacities. 
  • Dr Pacharne’s big and small sculptures adorn different locations in India and abroad, including the White Tiger Regiment at Jhansi (1980), Swami Vivekananda statue, Mumbai (1981), standing Buddha and Dr B. R. Ambedkar statue, both in Dhule (2002), Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj statue in south Mumbai, (2003), Swatantrya Jyot at Andaman & Nicobar Islands (2004), freedom fighter Govindbhai Shroff in Aurangabad (2007), among many more.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post