Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 10th January 2024

1. ‘Most Indian cities are far from clean air target’ 

  • The Centre's ambitious attempt to improve air quality in some of India's most polluted cities suggests that a majority of Indian cities are far from making significant plug-progress. In 49 cities whose particulate matter numbers were consistently available a Airfor five years, 27 showed a decline in PM 2.5 considered the most dangerous rom grade of pollutant while only four had met or exceeded the targeted decline, according to an analysis by Respirer Living ced Sciences and Climate ce Trends, released early on Wednesday.
  • The stated goal of the 9,631-crore National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) is to reduce average particulate matter concentrations 40% by 2026 (compared to 2017) in 131 cities. When the programme was initiated, the aim was to cut pollution 20-40% by 2024 in these cities but this goal post was later shifted to 2026. 
  • While the deadline is still three years away, some of India's biggest cities are reporting marginal declines or even increasing pollution loads. Delhi, for instance, has seen average, annual PM 2.5 levels decline only 5.9%. Navi Mumbai, a suburb of Mumbai, has instead of a decline seen a 46% rise in PM 2.5 levels; 
  • Mumbai a 38.1% rise and Ujjain, a 46% rise. Jaipur and Visakhapatnam saw PM 2.5 increase 13% and 12% rise respectively and Pune 10%. Among the cities that showed a sharp decline in PM 2.5 from 2019-2023 were Varanasi, with a 72% average reduction in PM 2.5 levels and 69% reduction in PM 10 levels. 

2. Investor confidence Tamil Nadu must match its growth aspirations with action on the ground 

  • By getting industry leaders to commit to invest 6.64 lakh crore through 631 Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) signed over the course of the two-day Tamil Nadu Global Investors Meet (GIM 2024), the M.K. Stalin government seems intent on using job creation to steer the State on a growth trajectory. The projections of an additional 26.90 lakh jobs including 14.54 lakh through direct employment are meant to reinforce Tamil Nadu's reputation as an economic powerhouse. In sheer numbers, the success of the 2024 edition dwarfs the outcomes in 2019 and 2015. It has attracted investments in green energy, e-vehicles, non-leather footwear, automobiles, advanced electronic manufacturing, defense and aerospace and the time-tested Information Technology and digital services. Significantly, going beyond the developed Chennai and Coimbatore regions, these investments are distributed across the State, including deep down south. With the creation of support infrastructure in tier 2 and 3 cities and towns, this could pave the way for balanced regional development and partially prevent migration to urban centers that are bursting at the seams. Nine advanced nations had come in as partners and over 30 countries were participants in the conclave, whose global nature is what has inspired new en- trants such as Vietnam's EV leader WinFast to seize the opportunity to enter the Indian market from Tamil Nadu. That multinational and domestic groups including Hyundai, Tatas, Adani, Qualcomm and Saint Gobain are keen to expand their footprint shows a level of investor confidence in Tamil Nadu's economic and governance climate. 
  • Nonetheless, there is always a demonstrable gap between expressions of interest to invest and translating the MoUs into actionable reality. This has been the case with euphoria-generating investor conclaves in general due to multiple factors such as time and on-ground constraints. The aspiration to make Tamil Nadu a trillion dollar economy by 2030 needs to be matched with action; the release of a vision blueprint serves as a starting point. The Chief Minister's public guarantee to provide the investors access to his office and grant clearances for projects through a single window system, monitored by an Industries Minister-headed special committee, is a welcome demonstration of the government's commitment to its vision. A key challenge would be to ensure the potential investors have access to vast land parcels to set up their projects. In recent years, Tamil Nadu has encountered challenges in land acquisition for infrastructure projects. At the same time, transparently sharing details of all MoUs and a periodic update on their progress would further boost industry confidence. 

3. India, U.K. ink 2 deals during Rajnath's visit 

  • India and the United Kingdom on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a bilateral international cadet exchange programme and a Letter of Arrangement (LOA) on defense collaboration in research and development. These were signed after bilateral talks between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his British counterpart, Grant Shapps, in London. 
  • "Had an excellent meeting with UK Defence Minister, Grant Shapps. We reviewed the full range of India-UK defense relations. We had fruitful discussions on a wide range of issues pertaining to defense cooperation, security and also on enhancing defense industrial cooperation," Mr. Singh said on 'X' about his two-day visit. 
  • Mr. Shapps stressed that the relationship between the U.K. and India was not transactional, and both countries were natural partners with many commonalities and shared goals, the Ministry said. 
  • The LoA on R&D was signed between the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the U.K's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. "These documents will provide impetus to the people-to-people exchanges particularly among the youth, and a larger area of defense research collaboration between the two countries," the Ministry said. Mr. Singh began his London engagements by paying floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at his statue at Tavistock Square. 

4. Modi bolds roadshow with UAE President in Gujarat, opens global trade summit 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the Global Trade Show here on Tuesday. He held a three-km roadshow with UAB Presi dent Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and bilateral meetings with the Prest dent of Timor Leste José Ramos-Horta and Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi in Gandhinagar. He will open the Vibrant Gujarat Summit on Wednesday. 
  • The PM met the Timor Leste President at the Mahatma Mandir Convention Centre on Tuesday morning. The Centre is the venue for the Vibrant Summit. 
  • Ahmedabad on Monday evening. During the bilateral meeting, Mr. Modi offered assistance to Timor Leste in capacity building. human resource development, IT, fintech, energy and healthcare, traditional medicine and pharma. He invited Timor-Leste to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), a government statement said. Mr. Horta expressed "strong support for India's permanent membership of the UN Security Council", the statement said. 

5. Rapid rise in Web blocking orders, shows RTI reply

  • Wobatte bhock OME Amongst ober Ay hows a reply tss & Right is information (RTO application Bled by the mutazad activist 
  • My Kunsar obtained sta Ustics on website and on Time post blocking wonders cities under Section A of the information Technology Act 2001A the tu ton government houted ted wich ordering fork and in 2003 l October: This comes even as the the Batament of Telecommunt Callous (Pets in Decem ben trected Internet service providers iste to compile tatsu Protocol (IP) addresses of servers in India, to facilitate blocking them quickly data price The increase in blocking orders has wielded with a massive puck is internet ust, specifically since mobile data prices fell dramatically in 2016. The data reflect blocking orders seut to social media and content throws for specific pages profits and videos. 
  • He chart have the Wecked on state and women the If Ministry retired to provide a leak down of these statistics, eling the confidentiality clave in the rules 
  • Most of the web pages blocked are likely to be lo dividual posts, videos or prottles in 2022, the Union government said in response to a parliamentary query that 228 websites were blocked. When other orders, such as those sent directly to social media and online content providers are factored in the number for that year la 6.77 
  • Section GPA of the IT Act allows the Union government to block content ontine in the "Interest of sovereignty and Integrity Of India, defense of India, security of the state, Wiendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing inelle ment to the commission of any cognisable offense".
  • Servers need to be the waxed on immediate basis as and when required or in case they are not complying with the laws of the land or they are required to be blocked as per court orders), etc." the Dot said In Its December 20 order 
  • Two persons with expe: rience in how ISPs are run said these rules might be Impractical and difficult to Implement. "The scale of over secretary at Hie s dresses purchased in bulk hy data contre providers and welk de etica may love corporate security concerns om declared to lors, he said 
  • Another Industry expert with over a decade of espe ing technologies, where did not want to be named, said weliste Docking had the come much harder due to evolutions in the eиссур tion technologies used by k Welt browsers and hems, Increasingly blurring the level of visibility that Internet providers have on their users' activity, "A single IP address can be linked to thousands of websites," expert said. "Telecom operators are just dumb pipes," he added. 
  • If the Dof wanted more convenience in blocking websites, he suggested, they would have to collaborate with content delivery networks (CDN) who actually distribute much of the Internet's content, such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Cloudflare. 

6. A look at Project Tiger, 50 years 

  • In 1973, Project Tiger introduced India's tiger reserves, whose status has since rapidly ascended. From an administrative category constituted and administered by the forest bureaucracy, tiger reserves became a statutory category in 2006. Today, they are hailed worldwide as India's conservation success story, especially in this age of climate change. 
  • In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife (Protection) Act (WLPA), which introduced new spaces within notified forests called " National Parks", where the rights of forest-dwellers were removed and vested with the State government. It also created Wildlife Sanctuaries, where only some permitted rights could be exercised. Project Tiger was the result of this development. 
  • There were nine tiger reserves in 1973 over 9.15 sq. km; today there are 54 in IS States, occupying 78,135.966 sq. km. Critical Tiger Habitats (CTH) cover 42,913.37 sq. km, or 25% of the area under Nacional Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. As of 2022, the camera-trap method indicated there were 3,167-3,925 tigers in India. The government created the CThis to vouchsafe a part of India's forests for tiger-centric agendas. Beyond each CTH would be a Buffer Area-a mix of forest and non-forest land. But even though the lamer had an inclusive, people-oriented agenda, the overall fortress conservacion' approach to protecting tigers displaced people who had coexisted with tigers for generations. 
  • In 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appointed a five-member Tiger Task Force to crack the mystery of vanishing tigers despite spending huge money on them. They found the approach of using guns, guards, and fences not effective in protecting tigers, and that the increasing conflict between the forest/wildlife bureaucracy and those who coexist with the tigers was a recipe for disaster. The group asserted that "the protection of the tiger is inseparable from the protection of the forests it roams in. But the protection of these forests is itself inseparable from the fortunes of the people who, in India, inhabit forest areas. 
  • So, in September 2006, Parliament amended the WLPA to create the National 
  • Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and a tiger conservation plan. To ensure that CTHS remained inviolate; the Act only modified forest-dwellers use of the forest mostly tribal and planned to relocate them if required. Four months later, the government also enacted the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006, also known as the FRA. The FRA recognised all customary and traditional forest rights on forest land, including in tiger reserves. Under the Act, the habitation-level Gram Sabha was to democratically determine and demarcate the forest rights that the FRA recognised. The Gram Sabhas became the authority to protect, conserve, and manage forests, wildlife, and biodiversity within their customary and traditional boundaries. As a result, the FRA secured the livelihoods of at least 20 crore Indians in 1.79 lakh villages Importantly, the FRA introduced a "Critical Wildlife Habitat (CWH), like the GTH under WLPA, with one difference once a CWH had been notified, it couldn't be diverted for non-forest purposes. 
  • The government planned to notify the FRA Rules on January 1, 2009, and operationalise the Act. But on November 16, 2007, the NTCA gave the Chief Wildlife Wardens 13 days to submit a proposal to delineate CTHs of around 800-1,000 sq. km each. As a result, the government ended up notifying 26 tiger reserves in 12 States as per Section 38 (V) of the WLPA, without complying with its provisions. Of the 25,548.54 sq. km thus notified, 91.77% encompassed CTHs. And except for Similipal in Odisha, the CTHs had no Buffer Area (They were added in 2012 after the Supreme Court rapped the NTCA and set it a three-month deadline.) Today, India bears the brunt of this error. 
  • Originally, tiger reserves were to be created in a democratic process and "on the basis of scientific and objective criteria". The tiger conservation plan was similarly required to "ensure the agricultural, livelihood, development and other interests of the people living in tiger bearting forests or a tiger reserve The basis for the CTH is evidence of the irreversible damage to wildlife that human activities have wrought. With this in mind, the Indian government has a responsibility to ascertain whether forest-dwellers and tigers could reasonably coexist. If not, it needs to modify the forest-dwellers' rights accordingly and relocate them if necessary. Only then can a CTH be established without affecting "the rights of the Scheduled Tribes or such other forest dwellers''. Similarly, the Buffer Area outside the CTH is to promote human-animal coexistence while recognising the livelihood, developmental, social, and cultural rights of the local people. Its geographical limits are to be determined on the basis of objective criteria with inputs from the concerned Gram Sabha as well as an expert committee. The problem is that all of India's tiger reserves have been notified without meeting these requirements. The government hasn't obtained informed consent from forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribe communities and other traditional communities. The result: both tigers and forest dwellers have been trapped in a tough spot. 
  • Relocation and rehabilitation The WLPA only allows voluntary relocation on mutually agreed terms and conditions satisfying requirements in the las. Once the FRA recognises people's rights under it, the State acquires those rights according to the terms of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act 2013. No relocation can happen without the consent of the affected communities. The LARR also requires the rehabilitation package to provide financial compensation as well as secure Livelihoods to those relocated. 
  • Under the LARR, the government needs to compensate relocated people by paying them twice the market value of the land, the value of assets attached to the land including trees and plants, a subsistence allowance for a year, and a one-time financial assistance for relocation. It also needs to provide building materials, belongings, cattle, and a one-time resettlement allowance. Each family is to be provided land and a house. The resettlement plan abo includes the provision of alternative fuels, fodder, and non-timber forest produce resources on non-forest land, electric connections, roads, drainage and sanitation, safe drinking water, water for cattle, grazing land, ration shops, panchayat buildings, post offices, a seed-cum-fertilizer storage facility, basic Irrigation, burial or cremation ground, anpurwadis, schools, health centers, veterinary service centers, community center, places of worship, and separate land for tribal institutions. 
  • However, the Union and State governments have limited themselves to provisions in the 2008 Revised Guidelines for the Ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger 2008 and subsequent guidelines. This entails a compensation of 10 lakh-revised in April 2021 to 15 lakhs a cash or relocation/rehabilitation package. This is not a substitute for the total compensation, resettlement, and relocation as required by the lasc As of 2018, there were 2,808 villages in CTHs. The Union Environment Ministry stated in the Lok Sabha that as on July 12, 2019, there were 57,386 families in these CTHs, of which 42,398 remained inside 50 tiger reserves. 
  • Tiger reserves experience the most resistance to the recognition of forest rights In March 2017, the NTCA refused to recognise rights under FRA in the CTHs "in the absence of guidelines for notification of critical wildlife habitat". which the Environment Ministry was to issue. Both the WLPA and the FRA require forest-dwellers' rights to be recognised inside CTHs. The Environment Ministry issued the guidelines in January 2018 and NTCA withdrew the ban order two months later. 
  • The FRA provides for ID basic government public utilities (as described earlier), each of which can fell up to 75 trees over forest land smaller than one hectare. The Gram Sabha's consent is mandatory for such diversion of land. But on October 28, 2020, the Environment Ministry insisted that the National Board for Wildlife, a statutory body under WLPA, must issue a wildlife clearance if these diversions are from National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. The law, however, only requires such clearances for projects that also require environmental clearances, none of which these public utilities are. 
  • With further increase in tigers and tiger reserves, and tiger corridors to link them up, India's tiger terrain is set to become a hotspot for conflict. 
  • C.R. Bijoy examines natural resource conflicts and governance issues. 

7. Microsoft launches 'AI Odyssey' to skill 100,000 Indian developers 

  • Microsoft India has unveiled the 'AI Odyssey' initiative, which aims to train 100,000 Indian developers in the latest AI technologies. The month-long program is open to all AI enthusiasts, regardless of their background or experience in the industry. 
  • Emphasizing AI as the future of innovation, Microsoft underlines India's leadership in tech talent. Through programs like AI Odyssey, Microsoft is providing opportunities for developers to showcase their talent to create solutions for India's development and solve real-world problems." 
  • The first level of the course shows how Azure AI services can be used to build and deploy AI products and solutions for various use-cases.
  • Participants will have access to resources such as code samples and guides to develop their practical skills. In the second level, they will be tested through an online assessment with interactive laboratory tasks that will earn them the Microsoft Applied Skills Credential. 
  • The Microsoft Applied Skills Credential will help developers demonstrate their potential and creativity in the most in-demand AI skills and scenarios. 
  • After completing both the levels, participants will have a chance to win a VIP pass to attend the Microsoft AI Tour to be held in Bangalore on February 8, 2024. 

8. The first cyclone ‘Alvaro’ of the year 2024 caused devastation in Madagascar. 

  • Tropical Cyclone Alvaro made landfall in southwestern Madagascar on January 1, 2024, making it the first cyclone to hit Madagascar during the 2023–2024 season. According to the latest data, more than 17,200 people in Madagascar have been affected by Cyclone Alvaro. 
  • Cyclone Alvaro particularly affected provinces such as AtsimoAndrefana in south-western Madagascar. Tropical cyclones are those that develop in the areas between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer. 
  • Alvaro originated on December 31, 2023, marking the beginning of the 2023/24 southwest Indian Ocean cyclone season. By January 1, the storm intensified into a severe tropical storm, reaching its peak strength with sustained winds of 110 km/h (70 mph). Represa Project 
  • REPRESA (Resilience and Preparedness for Tropical Cyclones in Southern Africa), launched in July 2023, is an international project involving partners from Southern Africa, the UK and other European countries. 
  • It aims to improve community preparedness across Madagascar and Southern Africa, the areas most affected by tropical cyclones. 
  • The project, co-led by the University of Bristol (UoB) in the UK, Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) in Mozambique, and the Global Change Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) in South Africa, will run from June 2023 to the end of November 2026. 

9. Mamata Banerjee launches 'Yogashree' initiative for SC/ST students in West Bengal 

  • West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has recently launched a comprehensive social welfare scheme called "Yogashree". The initiative aims to provide free training modules for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) students in West Bengal, specifically targeting entrance and competitive examinations. 
  • This step has been taken ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, which shows the government's commitment towards educational empowerment. Yogashree scheme involves the establishment of fifty training centers across the state. 
  • These centers will provide free training for SC and ST students focusing on competitive examinations. Additionally, the 46 centers will provide equal opportunities for those wishing to secure government jobs and pursue a career in civil services. 
  • She also started a student internship program where 2500 students will get such internships. In conjunction with the Yogashree scheme, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has launched an antiragging toll-free number for students. 
  • Banerjee also discussed various ongoing social welfare schemes aimed at supporting students on the occasion. Initiatives like Kanyashree, Sabujashree and Student Credit Card Scheme were lauded for their positive impact on the educational landscape of West Bengal.
  • Mamata Banerjee stressed that the state is a leader in primary education, and both Jadavpur and Calcutta Universities have secured top positions as the two leading universities in the country. 

10. Country's first healthy and clean food street, 'Prasadam' inaugurated in Madhya Pradesh 

  • Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya has inaugurated the country's first healthy and clean food street, 'Prasadam' at Neelkanth Forest, Mahakal Lok in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. 
  • Spread over an area of 939 square meters with a total of 17 outlets, "Prasadam" provides convenient and culturally rich food options to the 1-1.5 lakh devotees visiting the Mahakaleshwar Temple every day. 
  • Prasadam will connect common citizens in every corner of the country with pure and safe local and traditional food. This effort will connect the common people and tourists with safe and healthy eating habits. The newly launched food street is designed to provide various amenities including children's play area, drinking water facility, CCTV surveillance, parking, public amenities and seating areas. Other tasks 
  • Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya and Dr. Mohan Yadav jointly launched ManHit App – an initiative for mental health. To empower consumers to deal with adulteration, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has released "The DART Book" to check common food adulterations at home with simple tests. 
  • A mobile food testing van called Food Safety on Wheels (FSW) was launched to travel from city to village. 
  • Additional 30 bedded wards, 3 Community Health Centers and 8 Primary Health Centers have also been inaugurated under the Emergency Covid Response Package under PM-ABHIIM 

11. Tamil Nadu receives investment proposals worth ₹6.64 lakh crore 

  • Tamil Nadu has attracted an impressive investment commitment to the tune of over ₹6,64,180 crore through 631 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs). 
  • It would generate nearly 27 lakh jobs across sectors at the conclusion of the first Global Investors Meet (GIM 2024) conducted by the DMK government at Chennai Trade Centre. 
  • A total of 26,90,657 jobs are expected to be generated from these investments that include direct employment for 14,54,712 persons and indirect employment for 12,35,945 persons. 
  • Some of the big-ticket investment proposals were made by Tata Power (₹70,800 crore), Adani Group (₹42,768 crore), Sembcorp (₹36,238 crore), Leap Green Energy Pvt. Ltd. (₹17,400 crore) and Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (₹17,000 crore). 
  • With this GIM, this government that espouses the ‘Dravidian model’ of governance has laid the foundation for Tamil Nadu’s growth for the next 20 years. 
  • The proposed investments would be across sectors such as advanced electronics manufacturing, green energy non-leather footwear, automobiles and e-vehicles, defence and aerospace, data centres, global capability centres, Information Technology and Digital Services. 
  • The TN government attain its ambitious target to make Tamil Nadu a $1 trillion economy by 2030 and play a key role in India’s economic growth. 
  • The Chief Minister also inaugurated TANFUND, which aims to bridge the gap between start-ups in Tamil Nadu and investment partners in India and across the world.

About Tamil Nadu 

  • Formation – 26 January 1950 
  • Capital – Chennai 
  • Chief Minister – M K Stalin 
  • Governor – R N Ravi 

12. India and Mauritius collaborate on Rs 20 crore small satellite project

  • The Union Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its nod to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) and the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council (MRIC). 
  • The agreement, which was inked on November 1, 2023, in Port Louis, Mauritius, lays the groundwork for the joint development of a small satellite. 
  • The MoU is set to establish a robust framework for cooperation, leveraging the MRIC’s Ground Station and involving the participation of Indian industries in the development of some of the satellite’s subsystems.
  • This partnership is expected to not only enhance industrial capabilities but also generate employment opportunities within India. 
  • The implementation of this MoU is projected to lead to the realisation of the joint small satellite within a 15-month period. The Government of India has earmarked an estimated Rs 20 crore for the development of the joint satellite, with no additional exchange of funds between the two parties involved. 
  • The roots of space cooperation between India and Mauritius trace back to the late 1980s when Isro established a ground station in Mauritius to provide tracking and telemetry support for its missions. 

Recently India signed MoUs with others countries 

  • India and Guyana signed MoU for Hydrocarbon Sector 
  • India and Malaysia sign an MoU for Cooperation in Broadcasting 
  • India and Italy signed Mobility and Migration Partnership Agreement 
  • India, Russia ink pacts on construction of future power generating units of Kudankulam nuclear plant, Tamil Nadu 
  • India provides $250 million Line of Credit to Kenya for agricultural modernisation 

13. Nitin Gadkari inaugurates and lays foundation stone of 12 National Highway projects in Kerala

  • Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has inaugurated and lays foundation stone of 12 National Highway projects with a total length of 105 km worth over Rs 1464 Crore in Kerala. 
  • The proposed projects aim to enhance seamless connectivity between Tamil Nadu and Kerala, ensuring swift and trouble-free transportation. 
  • This initiative holds the promise of reducing overall transportation costs. Furthermore, a focus on eliminating black spots on National Highways is anticipated to contribute to a significant decrease in road accidents. 
  • The undertaking is poised to generate substantial employment opportunities, both directly and indirectly, fostering socio-economic growth in Kerala. 
  • Additionally, the improved accessibility to Munnar is expected to boost tourism potential, while the construction of a high-level bridge will eliminate a 27 km detour during floods, streamlining travel and benefiting the export of key Kerala products. .

Nitin Gadkari In News 

  • Nitin Gadkari addresses 5th edition of India STEM Summit 2023 in New Delhi 
  • Nitin Gadkari launches India Jewellery Shopping Festival (IJSF) 2023 
  • Nitin Gadkari launches Bharat NCAP (New Car Assessment Programe) 
  • Nitin Gadkari inaugurates and lays foundation stone of 11 highway project worth Rs 5600 crore in Rajasthan 
  • Nitin Gadkari inaugurates four projects worth Rs 1450 Crore in Assam .

14. Indian Railways Electrifies 6,577 Route Kilometers in 2023 

  • Indian Railways has achieved 6,577 route kilometers electrification in the calendar year 2023. 
  • Till December 2023, 61,508 route Kms have been electrified, which is 93.83 percent of total Broad-Gauge route of 65,556 kms. 
  • With a vision of providing an eco-friendly, faster and energy-efficient mode of transportation, Indian Railways is marching ahead towards 100 per cent electrification of Broad-Gauge tracks. 
  • The Indian Railways has set a target to become the world’s largest green railway by 2030. 
  • So far, the Indian Railways has achieved 100 per cent railway electrification in at least 14 states/UTs. 
  • The push towards the electrification drive is aligned with the government’s efforts towards the Sustainable Development Goals endorsed by the United Nations. 

15. Dharmendra Pradhan attends inaugural ceremony of Kala Utsav 

  • Union Minister for Education and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan attended the inaugural ceremony of the Kala Utsav as the Guest of Honour. 
  • Minister of State for Education, Annpurna Devi also be present at the function as the Guest of Honour. 
  • The Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education, and National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) are going to organize Kala Utsav 2024 at National Bal Bhavan and the Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, New Delhi. 

Kala Utsav 2023 which will be held from 9-11 January 2024 will witness performances in 10 art forms: 

  1. Vocal Music – Classical; 
  2. Vocal Music – Traditional Folk; 
  3. Instrumental Music – Percussive; 
  4. Instrumental Music – Melodic; 
  5. Dance – Classical; 
  6. Dance – Folk; 
  7. Visual Arts (2-dimensional); 
  8. Visual Arts (3-dimensional); 
  9. Indigenous Toys and Games; and 
  10. Drama (Solo acting). 

  • Around 700 students from 36 States and Union Territories, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, and Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti will showcase their art forms in all these genres. 

16. Parshottam Rupala Lays Foundation Stone For Upgradation Of Paradip Fishing Harbour 

  • Union Minister Parshottam Rupala has laid the foundation stone for the upgradation of the Paradip Fishing Harbour in Odisha for Rs 108.91 crore. 
  • The modernization and upgradation of the Paradip Fishing Harbour (PFH) will improve its hygienic conditions and make it clean, pollution-free, and aesthetically pleasing.
  • PFH will be upgraded in 18 months by Paradip Port Authority using 100 per cent central assistance from the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) under the Sagarmala Scheme. 
  • Modernization of the fishing harbour will improve the lives of the thousands of fishermen and allied workers who depend on the harbour for their livelihood. 
  • PHF spread across 43 acres, is one of Odisha’s largest fishing harbours located on the right bank of the river Mahanadi, two kilometres upstream of the river mouth in Jagatsinghpur district. 
  • The harbour was initially built to oversee 370 numbers of 10-metre vessels, 80 numbers of 13-metre vessels, and 50 numbers of 15-metre vessels, as well as traditional watercraft. 
  • Now, approximately 640 numbers of 15-metre vessels and 100 numbers of 9-metre Gill Netter (FRP boats) use the harbour amenities. 

18. Seema Kumar takes charge as Member of Railway Board 

  • Seema Kumar has taken over the charge of the post of Member (Operations & Business Development), Railway Board.
  • Prior to this, Ms Seema Kumar was Additional Member (Tourism & Catering), Railway Board. 
  • She also held the additional charge of Additional Member (Traffic), Additional Member (Marketing & Business Development) and also of Chairman & Managing Director of IRCTC at various intervals. 
  • Seema Kumar joined Indian Railways Traffic Service (IRTS) in 1988. She is a Gold Medalist in M.Sc. (Physics) from Meerut University and an M. Tech. from IIT Delhi. 
  • She is the recipient of various prestigious awards like Platinum Award for Web based Citizen Services in the year 2009, Silver Award for e-Governance 2010-2011 under the category ‘Innovative Use of ICT by PSUs for Customer’s Benefits’ and National Tourism Award 2014-2015 for showcasing Cultural Heritage and Local Talent. 

Recent Appointment

  • Secretary of Railway Board – Aruna Nayar 
  • MD of NIVEA India – Geetika Mehta 
  • First woman DGP of Maharashtra – Rashmi Shukla (replace Rajnish Seth) 
  • CEO of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone – Ashwani Gupta 
  • CEO of Indian Olympic Association – Raghuram Iyer 

19. Gabriel Attal becomes France’s youngest PM 

  • French President Emmanuel Macron has named Gabriel Attal as the country’s new prime minister. 
  • Attal, the current education minister, will become the youngest person to occupy France’s second-highest office at 34 years old. 
  • It follows the apparently reluctant resignation of Elisabeth Borne, who said in a letter that she had been informed it was Macron’s wish. 

About France

  • Capital- Paris 
  • President- Emmanuel Macron 
  • Prime Minister- Gabriel Attal (replace Elisabeth Borne) 
  • Official language- French 

20. Newly Appointed Prime Minister & President 

  • Prime Minister of Bangladesh – Sheikh Hasina (5th term) 
  • President of Congo – Felix Tshisekedi (2nd term) 
  • President of Egypt – Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (3rd term) 
  • Prime Minister of Poland – Donald Tusk 
  • Prime Minister of Luxembourgish – Luc Frieden
  • Prime Minister of Spain – Pedro Sanchez (re-elected) 

21. Satish Kumar appoints as Member of (TRACTION & ROLLING STOCK), Railways Board 

  • Satish Kumar has appointed as Member of (Traction & Rolling Stock) in Railway Board in the Ministry of Railways. 
  • He is from the 1986 batch of Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers. Kumar joined Indian Railways in March 1988 and has a rich experience of 34 years. 
  • Before joining as MTRS, Railway Board, he worked as General Manager, North Central Railway, Prayagraj.
  • Earlier, Kumar had worked in Jhansi Division and BLW (Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi), NER, Gorkahpur, Patiala Locomotive Works in various capacities. He was trained in Total Quality Management, under UNDP programme in 1996 and has handled many projects in his career. 
  • He had also worked as Divisional Railway Manager, Lucknow Division of Northern Railway from April 2017 to April 2019. A large number of infrastructural works were accomplished during his tenure as DRM, Lucknow. 

22. PhonePe Appoints Ritesh Pai As CEO For International Payments Division

  • Walmart-owned fintech firm PhonePe has appointed Ritesh Pai as chief executive officer of its international payments business. 
  • His development aligns with India’s ambition to globalize the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), attracting interest from countries like Japan, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, France, and the United Kingdom. 
  • In his last role, as the president of products and solutions at TerraPay, he was responsible for launching and implementing payment products and solutions globally. 
  • Before that, he served as the senior group president and chief digital officer at Yes Bank, where he led the digital strategy and transformation for the bank and launched multiple successful partnerships with many of today’s leading fintech players. 

Recent Appointment in Banking & Insurance Sector 

  • Executive Director of SEBI – G Ram Mohan Rao (for 3 years) 
  • ‘Class C’ Director on Board of Directors of Federal Reserve Bank of New York – Rajiv Shah
  • MD & CEO of National Asset Reconstruction Company (NARCL) – P Santhosh (replace Natarajan Sundar) 
  • MD & CEO of Kotak Mahindra Bank – Ashok Vaswani (replace Dipak Gupta) 
  • Chairman of 16th Finance Commission – Arvind Panagariya (15th Finance Commission – N K Singh) 
  • Secretary of 16th Finance Commission – Ritvik Ranjanam Pandey 

23. Divyakriti Singh Becomes 1st Indian Woman Arjuna Awardee for Equestrian Sports 

  • 23-year-old Divyakriti Singh Rathore of Rajasthan received the prestigious Arjuna Award from President Droupadi Murmu for her remarkably outstanding stint in Equestrian sports. 
  • Singh, the first Indian female to receive the Arjuna in the Equestrian sport, has mastered the tricks of the sport after rigorous practice over the years. 
  • It was a proud moment not only for Divyakriti Singh but also for her home state of Rajasthan, as she stands as the sole representative to receive an Arjuna Award not only this year, but for the past five years. 
  • Ranked No. 1 in Asia and No. 14 worldwide in the Global Dressage Rankings by the International Equestrian Federation, Divyakriti also scored a gold in team dressage event held last year at the Asian Games in China Hangzhou.

24. Arjuna Awards 

  • Ojas Pravin Deotale (archery), Aditi Gopichand Swami (archery), Murali Sreeshankar (athletics), Parul Chaudhary (athletics), Mohammad Hussamuddin (boxing), R. Vaishali (chess), Mohammed Shami (cricket), Anush Agarwalla (equestrian), Divyakriti Singh (equestrian dressage), Diksha Dagar (golf), Krishan Bahadur Pathak (hockey), Sushila Chanu (hockey), Pawan Kumar (kabaddi), Ritu Negi (kabaddi), Nasreen (kho-kho), Pinki (lawn bowls), Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar (shooting), Esha Singh (shooting), Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu (squash), Ayhika Mukherjee (table tennis), Sunil Kumar (wrestling), Antim Panghal (wrestling), Naorem Roshibina Devi (wushu), Sheetal Devi (para archery), Illuri Ajay Kumar Reddy (blind cricket), Prachi Yadav (para canoeing). 

Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award for 2023 

  • Chirag Shetty and Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy (badminton). 

25. Dronacharya Award (regular category) for outstanding coaches 

  • Lalit Kumar (wrestling)
  • R.B. Ramesh (chess), 
  • Mahaveer Prasad Saini (para-athletics), 
  • Shivendra Singh (hockey), 
  • Ganesh Prabhakar Devrukhkar (mallakhamb). 

Dronacharya Award (life-time category) for outstanding coaches 

  • Jaskirat Singh Grewal (golf),
  • Bhaskaran E (kabaddi), 
  • Jayanta Kumar Pushilal (table tennis). 
  • Dhyan Chand Award for lifetime achievement 
  • Manjusha Kanwar (badminton), 
  • Vineet Kumar Sharma (hockey), 
  • Kavitha Selvaraj (kabaddi). 

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy 2023 

  • Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar (overall winner university); 
  • Lovely Professional University, Punjab (1st runner -up), 
  • Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra (2nd runner-up). 

27. 10 January – World Hindi Day 

  • World Hindi Day is celebrated every year on 10 January. 
  • The Hindi Diwas is used to spread awareness about the use of the Indian language as well as the ongoing issues with Hindi usage and promotion. 
  • Theme 2024 – Hindi–Bridging Traditional Knowledge and Artificial Intelligence 
  • It marks the day when Hindi was first spoken in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1949. 
  • Hindi speakers around the world began to celebrate the language and its culture, and the first World Hindi Day was celebrated in 2006. 
  • The day was celebrated for the first time under the instructions of former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. 
  • World Hindi Day is celebrated on January 10 every year, whereas, Hindi Diwas is celebrated on September 14. 

28. U.S. Designates Countries Including China, North Korea, Pakistan For Religious Freedom Violations 

  • The United States, led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, has identified several nations as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ due to severe violations of religious freedom. 
  • This decision aligns with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, emphasizing the commitment to advancing freedom of religion globally. 
  • China, North Korea, Pakistan, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Myanmar have been labeled as ‘Countries of Particular Concern.’ 
  • Algeria, Azerbaijan, the Central African Republic, Comoros, and Vietnam are placed on the ‘Special Watch List’ for tolerating severe religious freedom violations. 

29. Indian Navy’s P-8I Aircraft Reaches Guam For Exercise Sea Dragon 24 

  • The Indian Navy marked its presence in the Pacific, on January 9th, 2024, with the arrival of a P-8I aircraft at Guam, USA. 
  • This deployment signals the navy’s participation in the fourth edition of Ex Sea Dragon 24, an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) exercise spearheaded by the US Navy. 
  • Ex Sea Dragon 24 fosters collaboration and interoperability among the navies of the US, Australia, South Korea, Japan, and India. The exercise aims to refine coordination and communication through professional interactions both on the ground and in the air, as per the Indian Navy’s official statement. 

30. DRDO Launches Assault Rifle ‘Ugram’ For Indian Army 

  • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India, in a significant advancement, introduced ‘Ugram,’ an advanced 7.62 x 51 mm calibre assault rifle. 
  • ‘Ugram,’ meaning ‘ferocious’ in Sanskrit, aligns with the operational needs of India’s armed forces, paramilitary, and state police units. 
  • The rifle, notable for its effective range of 500 meters and lightweight design of under four kilograms, was developed at the DRDO’s Pune-based Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE). 
  • With a 20-round magazine capacity, Ugram offers versatility through its single and full-auto firing modes. Its design parallels the modern AK and AR type rifles, yet stands out with a distinctive rivet-free construction, enhancing its robustness and reliability in various combat scenarios. 

31. PFC Secures RBI Approval For IFSC Finance Company In GIFT City 

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) greenlights Power Finance Corporation (PFC) to establish a finance company within Gujarat’s GIFT City, an International Financial Services Centre (IFSC). 
  • The RBI issued a no objection letter on January 9, signaling approval for PFC’s venture into setting up a finance company at GIFT City. This move is anticipated to elevate PFC’s standing in the financial sector. 
  • Prior to this milestone, PFC had already entered into an initial agreement with the Gujarat government. The agreement focused on PFC providing comprehensive financial support for the state’s projects related to power generation, transmission, and distribution. 

32.India To Chair UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee And Host 46th Session In 2024 

  • In a historic milestone for India, the nation is set to chair the UNESCO World Heritage Committee and host its 46th session in New Delhi from July 21 to 31, 2024. 
  • The announcement was made by Vishal V Sharma, India’s Permanent Representative to UNESCO, on January 9, underlining the nation’s growing influence and commitment to global cultural and natural heritage conservation. 
  • The decision to hold the 46th session in India was confirmed during the 19th extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee in 2023.
  • This decision, stemming from a proposal by Indian authorities in consultation with the UNESCO Director-General, reflects the collaborative efforts between India and UNESCO in fostering global cooperation in education, arts, science, and culture to promote world peace. 

33.Piyush Goyal Inaugurates Indus Food 2024 In Greater Noida 

  • Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, and Textiles, Shri Piyush Goyal inaugurated ‘Indus Food 2024’ at India Exposition Mart, Greater Noida. 
  • Commending India’s diverse food industry, Goyal emphasized its global potential and underscored the need for technological innovation in the culinary landscape. 
  • Recognizing the rising global demand for Indian foods, Goyal highlighted India’s diverse agro-climatic zones, 158 food and agri Geographical Indications, and 708 unique food items under the One District One Product initiative. 
  • Acknowledging successful government initiatives like ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana,’ Goyal praised efforts to ensure food security, free food grains to 81 Crore people, and zero starvation deaths 

34.Gensol Engineering Allocates Rs 2,000 Crore For Gujarat EV Plant 

  • Gensol Engineering, a prominent player in the sustainable energy sector, has embarked on a significant venture by entering into a strategic partnership with the Government of Gujarat. 
  • The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was formalized as part of the investment promotion activities associated with the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2024, signifying a landmark agreement between the two entities. 
  • As a testament to its dedication to sustainable growth, Gensol Engineering has committed a substantial investment of Rs 2,000 crore for the establishment of an Electric Vehicle (EV) manufacturing plant in Gujarat. 
  • The proposed EV manufacturing plant is anticipated to be a catalyst for economic growth in the region. Gensol Engineering estimates that the project will generate approximately 1,500 jobs, providing a significant boost to employment opportunities in the area. 

35.Singapore’s Changi Airport Earns The Title Of World’s Best Airport For 2023 

  • Singapore’s Changi Airport has once again been crowned the World’s Best Airport for the year 2023, according to the prestigious awards presented by the air transport research firm, Skytrax.
  • After losing the title in the past two years to Qatar’s Hamad International Airport, Changi Airport reclaimed its status as the best in the world, marking the twelfth time it has received this coveted accolade. 
  • The annual Skytrax awards are a significant benchmark in the aviation industry, recognizing excellence in airport services and facilities. These accolades are based on customer satisfaction surveys from international air travelers, making them a true reflection of the passenger experience. 

36.Samir Kumar Sinha Assumes Role As DG (Acquisition) In Defence Ministry 

  • In a recent bureaucratic reshuffle, the Centre has announced several key appointments, signifying a strategic realignment of responsibilities. 
  • Among the notable changes, Senior IAS officer Samir Kumar Sinha has been appointed as Additional Secretary and Director General (Acquisition) in the Defence Ministry. 
  • Samir Kumar Sinha, a 1994-batch IAS officer from the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, has been entrusted with the crucial position of Additional Secretary and Director General (Acquisition) in the Defence Ministry. His extensive experience and background make him an apt choice for this vital role. 

37.Alexander Zverev-Led Germany Defeats Swiatek’s Poland In United Cup 

  • Germany beat top seeds Poland to clinch the United Cup on Sunday after Alexander Zverev and Laura Siegemund won the deciding mixed doubles tie over Hubert Hurkacz and Iga Swiatek. 
  • In a thrilling final showdown, Germany emerged victorious over top seeds Poland in the United Cup. The deciding moment came in the mixed doubles tie where the German duo, Alexander Zverev and Laura Siegemund, secured a hard-fought victory against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz and Iga Swiatek. 
  • With tension in the air, the German duo went on to win the doubles match 6-4, 5-7, 10-4, securing the United Cup title. The closely contested match showcased the skill and determination of both teams, with Germany ultimately prevailing in the crucial mixed doubles encounter. 

38.FIH And Viacom18 Ink Four-Year Media Rights Deal 

  • The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has sealed a significant media rights partnership with Viacom18, spanning the four-year period from 2023 to 2027. This exclusive agreement encompasses all FIH events, with the exception of the FIH Nations Cup. 
  • Fans can catch the action on Viacom18’s linear channels under the Network Sports18 umbrella. Additionally, matches will be accessible on the OTT platform JioCinema, providing viewers with flexibility and convenience. 
  • This comprehensive media rights deal ensures that hockey enthusiasts across India have access to an extensive array of FIH events, enhancing the sport’s visibility and popularity. The only exception to this coverage is the FIH Nations Cup, which falls outside the purview of the agreement. 

39.German Actor Christian Oliver Dies In Plane Crash 

  • German actor Christian Oliver, known for his roles in films like Speed Racer and Valkyrie, met an untimely demise in a plane crash in the Caribbean. 
  • The 51-year-old actor, whose real name was Christian Klepser, was accompanied by his two daughters, Madita, 10, and Annik, 12. The ill-fated flight was en route to St Lucia after departing from the nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). 
  • With a prolific career spanning over 60 movie and TV credits, he played a minor role in Tom Cruise’s film “Valkyrie.” During his early career, Oliver took on roles in the TV series “Saved by the Bell: The New Class” and the film “The Baby-Sitters Club.” 

40.Maestro Ustad Rashid Khan Passes Away At 55 

  • The Indian classical music world mourns the passing of Ustad Rashid Khan, a towering figure who left an indelible mark on the Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana and beyond. At just 55, this musical prodigy succumbed to complications arising from prostate cancer, leaving a legacy that resonates with profound beauty and innovative spirit. 
  • Born in Uttar Pradesh’s Badayun, Rashid Khan’s musical lineage ran deep. His initial training came from his maternal grand-uncle, Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan, laying the foundation for his exquisite vocal skills. Following his debut, Rashid Khan’s ascent was meteoric. 
  • He graced the prestigious ITC concert in Delhi at 12 and joined the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Calcutta at just 14, immersing himself further in the rich tapestry of Hindustani classical music. This dedication translated into mastery, with his renditions of Vilambit Khayal earning him widespread acclaim. 

41.Red Ant Chutney Of Odisha Receives Geographical Indication (GI) Tag 

  • In the heart of Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, a unique culinary tradition has thrived for centuries. Locally known as ‘Kai Chutney,’ this savoury delight is crafted using red weaver ants, scientifically identified as Oecophylla smaragdina. 
  • These ants, infamous for their painful sting, are harvested from the lush forests of Mayurbhanj, including the renowned Similipal forests, Asia’s second-largest biosphere. 
  • On January 2, 2024, the red ant chutney of Mayurbhanj received a significant accolade—the Geographical Indication (GI) tag. This recognition highlights the uniqueness and regional identity of the culinary creation, adding to its cultural and economic significance. 

42.EU Scientists Confirm 2023 As Hottest Year Ever Recorded 

  • The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) declared that the year gone by was the hottest on record, surpassing previous temperatures and potentially marking the warmest period in the last 100,000 years. 
  • The announcement sheds light on the alarming trajectory of global warming, with each passing month breaking climate records and raising concerns about the consequences for the planet. 
  • The global average temperature in 2023 was 1.48 degrees Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial period of 1850-1900. The rise in temperatures is a stark reminder of the challenges posed by climate change and the urgent need for global action.

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