Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 11th January 2024


1. IISc develops warm vaccine for COVID-19 

  • The PIA heat-tolerant vaccine developed by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) researchers is said to be effective against all current strains of SARS-CoV-2 besides having the potential to be quickly adapted for future variants as well. 
  • According to IISc-Bengaluru, since the beginning of the pandemic, Prof. Raghavan Varadarajan from Molecular Biophysics Unit (MBU) and collabora- tors have been working on developing a heat-tolerant vaccine that can offer protection against different strains of SARS-CoV-2. In a study published in Vaccines, they report the design of a synthetic antigen that can be manufactured as a potential COVID-19 vaccine candidate. They showed that their vaccine is effective against all current strains of SARS-CoV-2, and can be quickly adapted for future variants. 
  • According to IISc., while current vaccines are proven to be effective against most SARS-CoV-2 strains, their efficacy has declined due to rapid mutation by the virus. 

2. After a record 1,111 NGOS ggot FCRA nod in 2023, 30 got clearance in Jan. 

  • A Taiwan-headquartered Buddhist monastic order in Delari hi has been granted clearance under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010, enabling the organization to receive foreign funds. 
  • The Fo Guang Shan Cultural and Educational f Centre has received FCRA registration for its "religious, cultural, economic, educational and social" programme. 
  • The Fo Guang Shan mo- nastic order originated in Taiwan in the 1960s and the Delhi center was established in 2008. 
  • "It is a Buddhist religious trust. Presently, we are imparting training to 50 children to become novice monks. We had ap- plied for FCRA registration in 2016 as well, but it was rejected. Now that the FCRA registration has been granted in the second attempt, it will help us in getting foreign funds," said Junu Jigmeth, managing trustee of the cultural center. 
  • In all, 30 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and associations have been granted FCRA registration in the first month of the year. 
  • Last year, a record number of 1,111 NGOs were granted permission to receive foreign donations, the highest since 2014. 
  • Registration under FCRA is mandatory to receive foreign donations. The NGO must have a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme to get registered. Ministry data show 3,294 associations were granted fresh registration from 2014 to 2023. 
  • The Ministry informed the Lok Sabha on December 19 that of the 1,615 applications received for re- gistration under the FCRA in 2021 and 2022, 722 were granted clearance while 225 applications were rejected. "The refusal of these applications was due to not fulfilling the eligibility criteria in accordance with the provisions of the FCRA, 2010 and rules made thereunder," the Ministry said. 
  • It added that a total of 13,520 associations received foreign contributions worth ₹55,741.51 crore across the financial years 2019-2020, 2020-21, and 2021-22. As of January 10, there were 16,987 FCRA-registered NGOs active in the country. 
  • The FCRA registrations of nearly 6,000 NGOs had become inoperative from January 1, 2022, as the Ministry refused to renew their application or the NGOs did not apply for one. 

3. Under new deal, each State can field tableau once in three years 

  • With repeated Westover Des empeing over rejection of tablemax for the Republic Day parade year after year, the De Race Ministry has proposed a plan for the States and Union Territories to showcase their display by rotation, official sources. 
  • Approximately 15 tableaux from the States and Union Territories are selected for the parade every year. So everyone cannot be accommodated. Under an agreement now, every State and Union Territory will get an opportunity within three years. This is to ensure equitable distribution, an official source in the know said. 
  • Discussions were held three or four times with the Resident Commissioners of various States and Union Territories at a meeting chaired by the De- fence Secretary. A memorandum of understanding has been proposed. A draft agreement was then circulated and 28 States have signed it so far," a second source said. 
  • "To fast-track the participation of tableaux year-wise, willingness of States and UT's was sought in advance for the next three years for their participation in Republic Day Parades 2024, 2025 and 2026. In response, most of the States/UTs conveyed their willingness for all the three years," the first source said. 
  • To encourage new and fresh talent, the Culture Ministry empanelled 30 agencies for design and fabrication of tableaux through an open selection process. The States and Union Territories were advised to engage these agencies following an appropriate procedure, the first source added. 
  • After four rounds of meetings, 16 States and Union Territories Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Ladakh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh - were selected for the 2024 parade. The States that could not get an opportunity were invited to showcase their tableaux at the Bharat Parv at the Red Fort from January 23 to 31," the second source said. "The list shows that the tableaus of non-BJP ruled States of Jharkhand, Odisha, And hra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Meghalaya have been selected by the Expert Committee for RDP-2024. On the other hand, States such as Uttarakhand and Goa have not been selected" 
  • So far, 28 States, including Karnataka, are signatories to the Mol. In accordance with the Mou, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Jammu and Kashmir, Goa, Assam and Uttarakhand will take part in the Bharat Parv at Red Fort, sources stated. 
  • An expert committee comprising artists and Pad ma awardees was set up this year as well, based on recommendations of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, the source said. "The committee finalizes the theme and aesthetics. The government, Minister or Secretary is not in the picture," the source added. second 
  • Last month, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann hit out at the Union government over the non-inclusion of the Stater's tableau this year alleging discrimination against the State. The Centre denied the allegation. He said the tableau depicts the contributions of freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh and Lala Lajpat Rai On Wednesday, Karnataka Chief Minister Sidda JAID Khan Ramaiah alleged that despite sending seven proposals for this year's parade, the Centre rejected all of them. "This is an insult to seven crore Kan nadigas. It's unfortunate the BJP MPs in Karnataka are not questioning this in justice. The Centre must correct this mistake and al-n low Karnataka's tableau to participate in the prestigious Republic Day parade," he said. 
  • Karnataka has displayed its tableau in the Republic day parade every year from 2015 to 2023, one defence official stated 
  • The Defence Ministry has stated in Parliament that there is a system for selection of tableaux for the parade under which the Ministry invites proposals for tableaux from all States/UTs and Ministries. 

4. Armed UAVs in the hands of non-state actors pose a challenge, says Navy chief

  • Stating that autonomous systems were becoming a preferred choice in the order of battle for countries across the globe, Navy chief Admiral R. Hari Kumar said on Wednesday that recent (maritime) incidents in the northern Arabian Sea "amply demonstrate the challenges posed by such systems when they fall in the hands of non- state actors and terrorists". 
  • He was speaking at the unveiling event of the first Drishti-10 starliner Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) manufactured by Adani Defence and Aerospace for the Navy in Hyderabad. It is an indigenously built version of the Hermes-900 UAV of Eld. bit Systems of Israel and has over 70% indigenous content, according to the Adani group. The Army and Navy have contracted two Hermes-900s each under emergency procurement last year. 
  • To questions on the attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, Admiral Kumar said that there were 35 drone attacks in the past 40 to 42 days, on ships and the target was Israel-owned vessels or those linked to Israel, and mainly in the Red Sea, north Arabian Sea, and central Arabian Sea. He further said that the Indian Navy had collected samples of debris from three vessels (which were attacked) and was examining them forensically to identify the origin of the attack. 
  • Director General, Army Aviation, Lt. Gen. A. K. Suri said the Army was looking to receive the Drishti-10s in the next two or three months. 

5. Chhattisgarh govt. launches scheme for Ayodhya visit 

  • With less than a fortnight to go for the consecration ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, the Vishnu Deo Sai government in Chhattisgarh has approved its Ram Lala Darshan (Ayodhya Dham) Yojana. 
  • Under the scheme, 20,000 eligible residents of the State would be taken to the holy city for pilgrimage every year. 
  • The launch of the scheme was one of the promises made by the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the Assembly election late last year, and the decision paving the way for its launch was taken at a Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday.
  • "The wish of the people of Chhattisgarh to see Ram Lala will be fulfilled now," the Chief Minister's Office wrote about the new scheme in a post on X.

6. A manifesto for justice that has sprung from crises 

  • The manifesto is aimed at the general election 2004 but also at various local to national Institutions and processes. On the economy, it takes on the serious crisis of unemployment, especially among the youth, priority attention to small manufacturing, crafts, value added produce from agriculture, forestry, Ifstheries, and pastoralism, and the extension of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to urban areas. To make these vabile, it asks that all goods and services that can be produced through Sandmade and salaring, should be reserved for these. 
  • Such examples will remain limited in their reach as Ining as macroeconomic policies and budgets are kacased on large industry controlled by big corporations and agences, political power. The mindless demands curbs no the essenen black economy, reduction in the ratio of highest and lowest salaries, great wealth and inheritance taxation of the rich, and basic income and persian for all workers. 
  • Noting both the increasing authoritarian tendencies ches of the state, and the unfinished tank of decentralization, the manifests anks for mail devolution of financial and legal powers to village and urban amenities, faller implementation of panchayat laws, a comprehensive land on accountability of minute agencies mandatory public audits, and reviving the independence of institutions such as the Election Commission and the media. Remarking also on the illegitimate crackdown on peaceful dissent, the manifesto seeks the repeal of repeatedly misused laws like Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and The National Security Act. Expressing concern about inter-faith and Inter-ethnic conflicts, hate speech, and vulnerabilities of minorities, the manifesto asks for forums of dialogue and restoring co-existence, and for priority in all public and private Institutions to the most marginalized sections (women, Dalits, Adivasis, religious and sexual minorities, persons with disability). It seeks to reserve 6% of GDP for education, based on mother tongue, activity-based, culturally and ecologically rooted learning. It notes the need for community health processes based on multiple systems, priority to preventing ill-health through adequate nutrition, safe water, and other determinants of a healthy life, and for all this, 3% of the GDP. 
  • The manifesto urges a national land and water policy that protects important ecological functions (such as water and soil), effective community-led conservation of wildlife and biodiversity, and collective rights to natural resources by extending a law such as the Forest Rights Act to other ecosystems. It urges complete conversion of India's farming to organic. 
  • The climate crisis, already bearing down as tens of millions of Indians in the form of erratic weather, extreme heat, and the dryitat up of water sources including glaciers, needs much greater priority than given so far. This includes Peter allocation for helping communities adapt to these impacts.
  • The Vikalp Sangam Manifesto is infused with these notions of direct and accountable democracy, economic self-reliance, ecological responsibility and socio-cultural equality. Member-organizations of the Vikalp Sangam will continue promoting these through advocacy and ground action. 

7. U.K. to send advanced naval groups RJ for training with Indian forces 

  • The U.K. Navy will send its Littoral Response Group to the Indian Ocean region later this year, with plans for its Carrier Strike Group to visit India in 2025. Both will operate and train with Indian forces, U.K. Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has announced. 
  • He said this as he held discussions with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh who is on a two-day visit to the U.K. This is the first visit by an Indian Defence Minister to the U.K. after over two decades.
  • "The two nations also discussed future cooperation in defense from joint exercises to knowledge sharing and instructor exchanges. These steps build on the comprehensive strategic partnership envisaged in the 2030 India-U.K. roadmap, announced in 2021," the U.K. The High Commission said in a statement on Wednesday. 
  • Deployment of the U.K.'s most advanced naval capabilities marks a decisive step in bolstering the U.K.-India security ties, it stated. 
  • The U.K. and India will also embark on more complex exercises between their respective militaries, building up to a landmark joint exercise to be conducted before the end of 2030, supporting shared goals of "protecting critical trade routes and upholding the international rules based system", the statement said. 
  • Collaboration with industry is also key in the strategic defense partnership between the U.K. and India, with the two nations working together on electric propulsion systems that will power our future fleets, and cooperating on the development of complex weapons, it said.
  • The two nations are "solidifying an agreement on logistics exchange, allowing for the provision of logistic support, supplies and services between the U.K. and Indian armed forces, for joint training, joint exercises, authorized port visits and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations", the statement added. 
  • The two sides also 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. 

8. SC report exposes severe gaps in accessibility Arm for disabled persons across courts in India 

  • More than half of the district court complexes in the country do not have ramps, only 25.2% have wheelchairs, and just 5.1% have tactile paving to assist persons with visual disabilities in navigating the court building, said a recent report by the Centre for Research and Planning of the Supreme Court. 
  • The first-of-its-kind report, released on December 15, sheds light on the glaring inadequacies in the infrastructure of district courts across India, raising serious concerns about the impediments faced by people with disabilities in accessing justice. 
  • The report said that while accessible toilets for people with disabilities hold Fundamental Importance, only 30.4% of court complexes have separate disabled-friendly toilets, It highlighted that only 5.1% of district courts have tactile paving to assist persons with visual disabilities in navigating the court building. 
  • "Inclusivity and accessibility to justice can be ensured to persons with visual impairment by giving them instructions that are accessible to the tactile or port said in a brat, the supreme Court in September allowed a lawyer with hearing disabilities to argue virtually with the help of a The Delhi High Court too last year engaged the services of a sign language interpreter to enable a petitioner to understand the proceedings. 
  • While these may be positive signs, as per the report, sign language interpreters who could be engaged to assist persons with hearing disabilities in accessing court proceedings are available in only 2.8% districts in India. 
  • Infrastructure lacunae The report revealed that out of a total sanctioned strength of 25,081 judges in the district judiciary, there are 20,831 courtrooms highlighting an infrastructure gap of 4,250 courts. 
  • As per information received from the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, 35 courts in the district judiciary of the two Union Territories are functioning on an ad hoc arrangement in rented accommodation or otherwise. 
  • The report said when courts function in private rented buildings or in stop gap arrangements, they not only face the challenge of non-availability of amenities but also of a secure work environment due to which all the stakeholders face inconvenience. 

9. Denmark launches ‘Green Fuels Alliance India’ to promote sustainable energy cooperation at GIM 2024 

  • Denmark has announced its Green Fuels Alliance India (GFAI) initiative to promote collaborative efforts with India in the sustainable energy solutions sector and advance their joint global goal towards carbon neutrality. 
  • Led by the Danish Embassy in India and the Consulate General of Denmark, the new alliance is a strategic initiative that is set to play a key role in advancing the green fuels sector, including green hydrogen, by fostering innovation, collaboration and partnerships between Danish industries. 
  • At the Global Investors Meet (GIM) 2024, Denmark unveiled the Green Fuels Alliance India (GFAI), a key initiative under the Green Strategic Partnership (GSP) signed between India and Denmark in 2020. Green Fuels Alliance India 
  • Nine leading Danish organizations have already committed to the GFAI initiative as founding members, including Maersk, Topso, Umwelt Energy, Mash Mex, European Sustainable Solutions, Novozymes, Danfoss, BRDR, Christensen and Hydrogen. 
  • GFAI Advisory Board members include the India Hydrogen Alliance, the Energy Consortium at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, the Danish Energy Agency and State of Green. 
  • Denmark has topped the global climate performance rankings by 2024 and is on track to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. This initiative promotes India's efforts to achieve net zero emissions by 2070. 

10. 27th National Youth Festival will be organized in Nashik, Maharashtra 

  • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will inaugurate the 27th National Youth Festival in Nashik, Maharashtra on 12 January 2024 and address the youth of the country. CM Eknath Shinde and Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur unveiled Shekru (Indian giant squirrel) as the mascot of the National Youth Festival. 
  • This year, National Youth Day will be celebrated by all the field organizations of the Department of Youth Affairs in districts across India in collaboration with several government departments. 
  • 'My Bharat' volunteers across the country in collaboration with NSS units, NYKS and several educational institutions will coordinate their energies to carry out volunteer activities for India. 
  • Youth clubs will also bring their vibrant energy to the festival, ensuring a truly inclusive atmosphere. More than 88,000 volunteers will participate in the campaign. Road safety awareness programs will be organized in major cities and 750 district headquarters of the country.
  • The 26th National Youth Festival was held in Hubli-Dharwad, Karnataka from 2 to 16 January 2023. Birth anniversary of swami vivekananda 
  • 12 January 2024 is the 161st birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and is celebrated as National Youth Day. The Department of Youth Affairs is preparing for the National Youth Day with a unique and comprehensive approach to include and empower every corner of the youth demographic of the country. 
  • Swami Vivekananda was born on January 12, 1863 and his childhood name was Narendra Nath Dutt. He was a chief disciple and monk of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He introduced the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world. 
  • The National Youth Festival started in 1995 as a major activity under the program of National Integration Camp (NIC). The Government of India, in collaboration with one of the states and institutions like Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) and National Service Scheme (NSS), conducts this program every year.

11. Assam launches country's first 100% electric bike taxi service 'Baayu' 

  • Assam Government launched 'Baayu', an app-based 100% electric and decentralized bike taxi service, an innovative and visionary sustainable mobility initiative of the state government-run Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC). 
  • Baayu, the initiative has been launched by Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) in collaboration with Bikoji Ecotech Pvt. Ltd. The app-based electric bike taxi service was flagged off by Assam Transport Minister Parimal Suklabaidya in Guwahati. 

  • “Baayu – Clean Air Movement” is supported by NITI Aayog's Zero Pollution Mobility Campaign. Assam has become the first state in India to now have the country's first app-based 100% electric and decentralized bike taxi service. 
  • Baayu (an app based electric bike taxi service) is launching bike taxi services by ASTC in collaboration with Bikoji Ecotech, an Assam based startup, ushering in a new era of eco-friendly transportation solutions to be integrated with ONDC . 
  • Baayu aims to create 5,000 livelihood opportunities for driver partners in Assam by supporting electric vehicles, technology platform, insurance, training, skill development and operating licenses in line with the Assam Aggregator Rules 2022. 
  • This initiative will save an astonishing 29,000 tonnes of carbon. Annual Emissions A press release said BiU is set to save Rs 73 crore annually on fuel costs. 

12. Hanumangarhi Laddus of Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh gets GI tag 

  • Ahead of the Ram temple consecration ceremony, the famous Hanumangarhi laddu of Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh has received the coveted Geographical Indication (GI) tag. The application for GI tag was accepted by the GI Registry in Chennai. 
  • In Hanumangarhi temple, handmade laddus made of gram flour and desi ghee are prepared for offering to Lord Hanuman. About 200 Ayodhya residents are engaged in making these laddus, 20-25 quintals of laddus are prepared daily. 
  • The application was filed by Halwai Kalyan Samiti of Ayodhya under the category of food items. GI certification is a global certification of goods that they are a unique representation of a specific culture, society or craft. 
  • Recently Jalesar Metal Craft of UP has joined this exclusive club. The huge metal bell weighing 2,100 kg, which will be donated to the Ayodhya Ram temple, is from Jalesar Metal Craft in Etah district. 
  • As a promoter of GI crafts, Rajni Kant has traveled to international events in Indonesia, Singapore, Germany, Israel, Abu Dhabi and Turkey. He also received the National Intellectual Property Award in 2017, the Samay Udyog Award for Best Social Entrepreneur in 2012 and the Lokmat Samman in 2018. 

13.New Republic Day Pact Allows States One Tableau Every Three Years 

  • Official sources reveal that the Defence Ministry has proposed a rollover plan to give every State and Union Territory (UT) an opportunity to showcase their tableaux within a three-year cycle. 
  • Approximately 15 tableaux are selected for the Republic Day parade each year, making it challenging to accommodate every State annually. The proposed plan aims at ensuring equitable distribution and fair representation for all. 
  • To expedite the participation process, States and UTs were approached in advance for their willingness to participate in the Republic Day Parade for the next three years (2024, 2025, and 2026). Most States/UTs have expressed their willingness for all three years, demonstrating a positive response to the proposed plan. 

14.South Korea Bans Trade Of Dog Meat In New Law 

  • South Korea’s parliament made history by passing a groundbreaking bill that bans the eating and selling of dog meat. This move marks the end of a centuries-old practice that has been increasingly criticized in the face of growing support for animal welfare. 
  • Proposed by the ruling party and enjoying rare bipartisan support, the bill passed with an overwhelming majority of 208 votes and two abstentions in the single-chamber parliament. 
  • The legislation aims to “eradicate the consumption of dogs” and will take effect after a three-year grace period. The breeding and slaughtering of dogs for human consumption will be punishable by up to three years in prison or a fine of 30 million won ($22,800). Notably, the bill does not stipulate penalties for individuals consuming dog meat. 

15.Chhattisgarh Launches “Ramlala Darshan” Scheme: Free Pilgrimage To Ayodhya Dham 

  • Chhattisgarh Government will launch the Ramlala Darshan Scheme, a pilgrimage to the newly built Ram Temple at Ayodhya. The decision was made during a state cabinet meeting held in Raipur. 
  • To fulfill Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s guarantee, the state will send around 20,000 residents to Ayodhya for darshan of Shri Ramlala every year. 
  • It is Open to Chhattisgarh residents aged 18-75 who pass a health exam. Disabled people can go with one family member. Chhattisgarh Tourism Board, funded by Tourism Department, will manage. District committees under District Collectors will select beneficiaries. 

16.Maharashtra Creates New Safe Haven For Endangered Canids And Diverse Wildlife 

  • The Maharashtra government has established a crucial new wildlife habitat in Sangli district, aptly named the Atpadi Conservation Reserve. 
  • Spanning a compact 9.48 sq. km, this reserve prioritizes the protection of the endangered ‘canid’ family, including wild dogs, wolves, jackals, and foxes. 
  • Strategically located, Atpadi bridges the gap between the Maini Conservation Area and the Madhok Bird Sanctuary, fostering a safe wildlife corridor. 
  • This diverse sanctuary boasts three distinct forest types – semi-evergreen, moist deciduous, and dry deciduous. Its rich flora and fauna encompass 35 tree species, 15 shrubs, 14 vines, 116 herbs, and even a parasitic plant, creating a vibrant ecological tapestry. 

17.National Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2024 

  • National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, observed annually on January 11, serves as a poignant reminder of the need to address this global crisis and bring an end to the suffering endured by victims. 
  • This year, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day falls on a Thursday, January 11. The annual observance serves as a rallying point for individuals, communities, and organizations to come together, share information, and take collective action against human trafficking. 
  • Human trafficking encompasses forced labor, criminal activities, sexual exploitation, organ removal, and smuggling. Despite our progress, slavery persists in the shadows. In 2007, the United States Senate declared January 11 as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. President Barack Obama further dedicated the entire month of January 2010 to raise awareness about this deeply rooted issue. 

18.DPIIT Organises Startup India Innovation Week 2024 From 10th-18th January 2024 

  • The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, is set to orchestrate the Startup India Innovation Week 2024, spanning from January 10th to January 18th. 
  • This week-long initiative seeks to unite startups, entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, and stakeholders to celebrate and advance the Indian Startup Ecosystem, culminating in the National Startup Day on January 16th, 2024. 
  • Awards will be distributed acknowledging outstanding startups and ecosystem enablers with potential for significant impact on employment generation, wealth creation, and societal progress. 

19.Street Vendors Get A Boost: PAiSA Dashboard & PM SVANidhi Portal Launched 

  • Union Minister Hardeep S. Puri emphasized the importance of strong grievance redressal committees under the Street Vendors Act 2014, aiming to swiftly resolve disputes among vendors. He further unveiled two key initiatives to empower street vendors: 
  • PAiSA Dashboard: This online platform provides real-time updates on the progress of the PM SVANidhi Mission scheme. Vendors can track loan applications, disbursements, and repayments at their fingertips, fostering transparency and accountability. 
  • PM SVANidhi Mission Monitoring Portal: This dedicated portal offers comprehensive data and insights on the scheme’s nationwide implementation. Stakeholders, including government officials, lenders, and street vendor associations, can access valuable information to monitor progress, identify challenges, and ensure effective execution. 

20.Global Job Market Faces Headwinds As Unemployment Expected To Rise In 2024 

  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) warns of a slight increase in global unemployment this year, with the rate projected to reach 5.2%, up from 5.1% in 2023. 
  • This modest rise, outlined in the ILO’s “World Employment and Social Outlook Trends: 2024” report, is primarily driven by job losses in advanced economies. 
  • While a post-pandemic growth spurt initially boosted employment, labor productivity growth has stagnated at pre-pandemic levels. This uneven recovery exposes vulnerabilities and threatens social justice. 

21.Six Nations Top Global Passport Ranking, With Access To 194 Destinations 

  • France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and Spain share the top spot in the quarterly ranking of the world’s most powerful passports. Enjoying visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to an impressive 194 destinations, this marks a historic high since the inception of the Henley Passport Index 19 years ago. 
  • Japan and Singapore, holding the top position for the past five years, now see a triumphant rise for Europe. Finland and Sweden, tied with South Korea, secure the second spot with easy access to 193 destinations. 
  • Following closely, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, and the Netherlands claim the third position, providing access to 192 destinations. 
  • The fourth position is collectively held by Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, with access to 193 destinations. Greece, Malta, and Switzerland secure the fifth spot. 

22.Maldives And China Sign 20 Agreements For Diverse Cooperation 

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu recently held significant talks, culminating in the signing of 20 key agreements that span various areas of cooperation. 
  • The leaders announced the elevation of bilateral ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership, demonstrating the mutual commitment to enhancing diplomatic relations between the two nations. 
  • Twenty key agreements were signed, encompassing various sectors such as tourism cooperation, disaster risk reduction, blue economy, and investments in the digital economy. The agreements also included a commitment from China to provide grant assistance to the Maldives, with specific details undisclosed. 

23.Scientists From Mauritius And Bangladesh Join India’s 43rd Antarctic Expedition 

  • This December, India’s 43rd Antarctic expedition, led by the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, welcomed scientists from Mauritius and Bangladesh onboard, marking a significant step in international polar research collaboration. 
  • This initiative stems from the maiden Colombo Security Conclave (CSC) Oceanographers and Hydrographers conference held in 2022, which laid the groundwork for scientific partnerships among member nations. 
  • The scientists joining the Antarctic expedition will spend 3-4 months actively engaged in collaborative research across various polar science disciplines. Their focus will lie on gaining insights into polar logistics and addressing the unique challenges posed by the harsh environment of the Antarctic. 

24.Senthil Pandian C Appointed As India’s WTO Ambassador 

  • The Indian government has named IAS officer Senthil Pandian C as the ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva. 
  • This appointment follows the conclusion of Brajendra Navnit’s term as India’s ambassador to the WTO on March 31, 2024. 
  • Senthil Pandian C is currently serving as the commissioner of excise in Uttar Pradesh. His extensive experience in administrative roles within the Indian bureaucracy positions him well to represent the country’s interests on the global trade stage 

25.Tshering Tobgay Re-Elected As Bhutan’s Prime Minister 

  • Bhutanese voters have overwhelmingly chosen Tshering Tobgay as their Prime Minister for a second term. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), led by Mr. Tobgay, secured a landslide victory, winning nearly two-thirds of the seats in the recent election, as announced by the election commission on January 10. 
  • Tshering Tobgay, a former Prime Minister who previously held office from 2013 to 2018, has promised to strengthen ties with India, Bhutan’s key trading partner. 
  • A 58-year-old former civil servant, Tshering Tobgay is a passionate conservation advocate holding degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and public administration from Harvard. He played a pivotal role as the leader of the Opposition when Bhutan’s first parliament was established in 2008. 

26. Wings India To Be Held At Hyderabad’s Begumpet Airport

  • Hyderabad’s Begumpet Airport will host the aviation extravaganza, Wings India 2024 from January 18 to 21, marking the country’s most significant civil aviation event. 
  • It is organized by the Airports Authority of India in collaboration with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, this four-day extravaganza is anticipated to be Asia’s largest congregation. 
  • This dedicated period aims to offer the public an immersive experience, showcasing the latest technologies and advancements within the aviation industry. 

27. 2023 Recorded Hottest Year Ever As Earth Nears Critical 1.5C Limit 

  • Last year was the planet’s hottest on record by a substantial margin and likely the world’s warmest in the last 100,000 years, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). 
  • Scientists had widely expected the milestone after climate records were repeatedly broken. Since June, every month has been the world’s hottest on record compared with the corresponding month in previous years. 
  • C3S confirmed 2023 as the hottest year in global temperature records going back to 1850. When checked against paleoclimatic data records from sources such as tree rings and air bubbles in glaciers, Buontempo said it was “very likely” the warmest year in the last 100,000 years. 
  • On average, in 2023 the planet was 1.48 degrees Celsius warmer than in the 1850-1900 pre-industrial period, when humans began burning fossil fuels on an industrial scale, pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 
  • Countries agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement to try to prevent global warming surpassing 1.5C (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), to avoid its most severe consequences. 
  • It was also the first year in which every day was more than 1C hotter than pre-industrial times. For the first time, two days – both of them in November – were 2C warmer than in the pre-industrial period. 

28. World Bank Keeps India’s FY25 GDP Growth Estimate Unchanged At 6.4% 

  • The World Bank kept its FY25 economic growth projection for India unchanged at 6.4 percent, mainly on account of strong domestic demand, rising public infrastructure spending and strong private-sector credit growth. 
  • However, it projected that the private consumption growth might taper off due to high food inflation and diminishing pent-up demand. 
  • In its biannual ‘Global Economic Prospects’ report, the World Bank said India was likely to maintain the fastest growth rate among the world’s largest economies, but its post-pandemic recovery was expected to slow, with estimated growth of 6.3 percent in FY24, before recovering gradually to 6.5 percent in FY26. 
  • The Washington-based organisation forecast that the world economy will expand 2.4 percent this year. That would be down from 2.6 percent growth in 2023, 3 percent in 2022 and 6.2 percent in 2021, which reflected the robust recovery from the pandemic recession of 2020. 

Updated GDP List 

  • India Ratings – 6.7% (FY24) 
  • Goldman Sachs – 6.2% (FY24)
  • Fitch Rating – 6.9% (FY24), 6.5% (FY25) 
  • IMF – 6.3% (FY24), 6.3% (FY25) 
  • ICRA –6.5% (FY24)
  • Kotak Mahindra Bank – 6.8% (FY24) 
  • Citigroup – 6.7% 
  • DBS – 6.8% 
  • ADB –6.7% (FY24), 6.7% (FY25) 
  • Morgan Stanley – 6.9%(FY24) 
  • RBI –7% (FY24) 
  • Nomura – 6.7% (FY24) 

29.FIH and Viacom18 Ink Four-Year Media Rights Deal 

  • The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has signed a major media rights agreement with Viacom18. 
  • This agreement runs for a four-year cycle (2023-2027) and includes all FIH events, except the FIH Nations Cup. 
  • As part of the partnership, Viacom18 will broadcast and stream the upcoming FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers, the first ever FIH Hockey5s World Cup, the FIH Hockey Pro League, and the 2026 FIH Hockey World Cup on Sports18 and JioCinema, respectively. 

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