Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 13th January 2024


1. India's longest sea bridge inaugurated 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Atal Setu, India's longest sea bridge, on Friday 
  • Also known as the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, the six-lane Atal Bihari Vaj payee Sewri-Nhava Sheva Atal Setu will reduce the two-hour journey between Mumbai and Navi Mumbai to a 20-minute ride. 
  • Unveiling the bridge, the Prime Minister said: "The inauguration of Atal Setu shows India's infrastructural prowess and underscores the country's trajectory towards a 'Viksit Bharat." Of the total length of 21.8 km, 16.5 km is over the Arabian Sea. 
  • The bridge, built with Japanese assistance, will open for public commute from Saturday. 
  • The Prime Minister also laid the foundation stone for multiple development projects worth more than 12,700 crore in Navi Mum- bai, in sectors including road and rail connectivity, drinking water, gems and jewellery, and women empowerment. 
  • Jibe at Uddhav Referring to the projects, Mr. Modi took a dig at Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray and said, "Most of these projects were initiated when there was a double-engine government in the State. People had no hopes from the pre- vious government which had the habit of delaying development projects for years and commissioning them at an even higher cost. In 2016, I guaranteed the people that the country will move towards progress and here I am with the living proof Talking about under his government, he said. "Uran Kharkopar railway line, started three decades ago, was fast tracked by the double engine go verament, and the first phase was dedicated to the nation today. Similarly, the first phase of Navi Mumbai Metro Project was completed after a long delay. Atal Setu was in planning.
  • kopment work under his government, Mr. Modi said, "Earlier, maltinsillion crore scams were part of discussion, today, the dis for five to six decades cushions revolve around the completion of projects worth thousands of crores. We had Bhupen Hazarika Setu and Bogibeel Bridge in the northeast, Atal Tunnel and Chenab Bridge, multiple expressways, modern railway stations, eastern and western freight corridor, Vande Bharat, Amrit Bharat, and Namo Bharat trains, and the inauguration of new 
  • "Our vision is to airports. The Nilwande Dam project, which started five decades ago, was completed to prove the ease of mobility of citizens by strengthening urban transport infrastructure and connectivity. Atal Setu will provide faster connectivity to the Mumbai International Airport and Navi Mumbai International Airport and will also reduce the travel time from Mumbai to Pune, Goa and South in dia. It will also improve connectivity between Mumbai Port and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Terminus." he added. 

2. Science Ministry team visits Hawaii to take stock of telescope project 

  • In a signal of renewed enthusiasm for a global scientific project, an official delegation from the Department of Science and Technology visited Mauna Kea, an inactive volcano on the island of Hawaii in the U.S., to discuss "challenges" to the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project, a press release said. 
  • The TMT has been conceived as a 30-meter diameter primary-mirror optical and infrared telescope that will enable observations into deep space. It is proposed as a joint collaboration involving institutions in the U.S., Japan, China, Canada, and India. Indian participation in the project was approved by the Union Cabinet in 2014. 
  • India expects to be a major contributor to the project and will provide hardware worth $200 million. 
  • Mauna Kea hosts multiple telescopes. However, upcoming projects have invited local opposition on the grounds that building telescopes violates religious and cultural customs, with many of these projects having been imposed upon the region without addressing the concerns of inhabitants. 
  • Though permits for constructing the TMT were available, the Supreme Court of Hawaii invalidated them in 2015. Permissions were restored in 2018, though construction is yet to begin because of continued local opposition. There are plans to construct the TMT at an alternate site, with the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM) on La Palma in Spain's Canary Islands seen as the next best choice. 
  • In 2020, Ashutosh Sharma, the then-Secretary of the DST, told The Hindu, "We would like the project to move to an alternate site if all the procedures and permits there are in place. The difficulty is that even if construction [in Mauna Kea] where to go ahead, there could be future agitations." However, it is not clear whether India's views have changed. 
  • "The Mauna Kea site is the world's best for astronomy. Discussions are on to see how best the project can go forward with consensus and support of the local people. Hopefully, a decision on the site should be firm in the next two years," Annapurni Subramaniam, director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIAP), told The Hindu. 

3. Enhance compensation for hit-and-run victims: SC 

  • The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre to consider amending the Motor Vehicles Act to enhance the compensation granted to victims of hit-and-run accidents. 
  • The Motor Vehicles Act allows the victims to be paid a compensation of ₹2 lakh in case of death and ₹50,000 for injuries caused during hit-and-run accidents. 
  • "We direct the Central Government to consider whether the compensation amounts can be gradually enhanced annually. The Central Government shall take an appropriate decision on this issue within eight weeks from today," a Bench ordered. 

4. Possible debris of IAF A aircraft located in Bay of Bengal after 7 years 

  • Almost seven years after an Indian Air Force (IAF) An-32 transport aircraft with 29 personnel on board went missing over the Bay of Bengal while going to Port Blair from Chennai, debris possibly of the aircraft has been located by an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) on the sea bed approximately 140 nautical miles from the Chennai coast, the IAF said on Friday.
  • The An-32 medium transport aircraft (registration K-2743) took off on a routine courier flight from Chennai to Port Blair on july 22, 2016 at 8.30 am with 29 personnel but never reached the destination. 
  • A massive search-and- rescue effort by ships and aircraft over several days could not locate any missing personnel or aircraft defaris The National Institute of ocean Technology (ICT), which functions under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, had recently deployed the ADV with deep-sea exploration capability at the last known location of the missing An-32, the LAF said in a statement 
  • "This search was conducted at a depth of 3,400 using multiple payloads, including a multibeam SONAR (Sound Navigation and Ranging), synthetic aperture SONAR and high resolution photography. Analysis of search images had indicated the presence of debris of a crashed aircraft on the sea bed approximately 140 nautical miles, approximately 310 km, from the Chennai 
  • The search images were scrutinized and found to be conforming with an An-32 aircraft, the LAF said, adding that this discovery at the probabile crash site, with no other recorded history of any other missing aircraft report in the same area, pointed to the debris as possibly belonging to the crashed An-32 
  • As part of the search efforts then, the IAF had Blown over 300 sorties and more than 1,000 hours over the area of interest in addition to efforts by the Navy and other agencies. 
  • An underwater search too was carried out by two research vessels, Samunåra Ratnakar of the Geological Survey of India and Sagar Nidhi of the NIOT, and a remotely operated vehicle which scanned up to depths of 3.5 km but without success. 

5. Census records 27% increase in waterbirds at Kaziranga 

  • The Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve, known as the safest address of the greater one horned rhinoceros, has recorded a 27% increase in the number of resident and winter migratory waterbirds. 
  • The fifth waterbird census conducted through the citizen scientist initiative from January 9-10 across the 1,302 sq. km wildlife preserve revealed the pre- sence of 84,839 birds, which was 18,063 more than the number recorded in 2021-22. 
  • This, park officials said, places Kaziranga among the top five habitats of wa-terbirds in the country. 
  • The census was conducted simultaneously across 115 water bodies in three divisions of the reserve Eastern Assam Wildlife, Nagaon Wildlife, and Biswanath Wildlife. The exercise was launched by Environment and Forest Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary on January 9. 
  • Forest officials said 108 enumerators and 354 volunteers and Forest officials and staff were engaged in the survey. While 37,606 birds across 155 species were recorded in the Eastern Assam Wildlife Division, 12,002 birds acro82 82 species were spotted in the Biswanath Wildlife Division. 
  • "This time, we decided to carry out the census in major wetlands adjoining and within the reserve. The Kaziranga-Hukuma Beel in Biswanath recorded 3,049 birds, while the Joysagar Doloni in Kaliabor recorded 1,765 birds, highlighting their conservation and protection," Kaziranga's field director, Sonali Ghosh said. 

6. 'Vibrant Gujarat summit attracted investments worth ₹26.33 lakh crore’ 

  • The 10th edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit concluded on Friday with Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for 41,299 projects, with potential investment proposals worth ₹26.33 lakh crore, being signed during the mega event. 
  • On the concluding day, Gujarat-based Torrent Group announced investments of ₹47,350 crore in various projects, including around 4,500 MW renewable energy projects, the development of a solar park in North Gujarat, ramping up power distribution network in Gujarat and setting up hydrogen manufacturing facilities in the State. 
  • Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel posted on X that the summit attracted huge investments in sectors like green hydrogen and re- newable power. According to the Chief Minister, if the MoUs signed at the previous summit (scheduled for 2022 but postponed due to pandemic) were added up, a total of 98,540 agreements with investment proposals worth more than *45 lakh crore were inked in 2022 and 2024. 
  • As per details registered on the all official investor facilitation portal, MoUs for a total of 98,540 projects with proposed investments of 45.20 lakh crore were inked during the period between the conclusion of the 9th and 10th editions of the summit. 
  • Among the sectors with the highest number of investment proposals are urban development, minerals, petrochemicals. chemicals, 
  • Among the other sectors for which MoUs were signed between ibrant 10-12 Jan GUJARAT 2024 Gateway to the Future110 Global Summit 
  • February 1, 2019, and January 12, 2024, (9th and 10th editions), were environment, forest and climate change, rural development and urban housing, education, engineering and auto, health care, pharma and tourism. 
  • The summit, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 10, saw the participation of more than 61,000 delegates from over 140 countries, said Additional Chief Secretary of Gujarat Industries and Mines department, S.J. Haider, while giving a presentation during the valedictory ceremony. 
  • UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the chief guest at the inaugural event. He had joined Mr. Modi for a roadshow from the airport to the State capital Gandhinagar on January 9. The event also saw the participation of Presidents of three countries Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, Jose Ramos-Horta of Timor-Leste and Petr Pavel of the Czech Republic. 

7. Retail inflation rose to 5.7% in December 

  • India's retail inflation ac- celerated to a four-month high of 5.7% in December 2023, from 5.55% a month earlier, led by an uptick in food prices that rose 9.5% nationally and breached the 10% mark for urban consumers, hitting 10.42%. 
  • Although rural India's consumers faced a slightly lower rise in food prices at just under 9%, they faced higher overall inflation at nearly 6%, compared to 5.5% faced by their urban peers în December. 
  • While price rise hardened in December, the average consumer price inflation for October-to-December the quarter has been 5.4%, moderately lower than the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) projection of 5.6%. 
  • Yet, hopes of an interest cut on the horizon remain bleak, as the RBI expects an average price rise of 5.2% for the first half of Slight uptick 
  • India's retail inflation increased to a four-month high of 5.7% in December 2023, from 5.55% a month earlier, influenced by increase in food prices 2024 before easing to its 4% target between July and September. 
  • Within the food basket, inflation picked up in pulses (20.73%), vegetables (27.6%), fruits (11.14%), and sugar (7.14%) in December .

8. India, Saudi Arabia discuss defense ties, joint training

  • India and Saudi Arabia discussed ways to enhance navy-to-navy cooperation, joint training, and opportunities for joint ventures in defense production, as Admiral Fahad Abdullah S Al-Ghofaily, Chief of Staff, Royal Saudi Naval Forces, held discussion with top military brass on his fourday visit. 
  • On Thursday, he held talks with Navy chief Admiral R. Hari Kumar and jo Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan. 
  •  "Discussions held on mutual strategic interests, bilateral defense cooperation, joint ventures in defense production and technology collaboration and military training," the Integrated Defence Staff said. 
  • The two discussed collaborative mechanisms and measures to further strengthen Navy-to-Navy cooperation, the Navy said in a statement. "The extant visit by the Chief of Staff, Royal Saudi Naval Forces, is aimed to increase naval cooperation between the two navies and has renewed the sense of commitment of two friendly maritime neighbors to address shared maritime challenges in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)," it stated. 
  • Earlier on Thursday, he was received with a ceremonial Guard of Honour at the South Block lawns. 9. Focus on best practices as global meet on pulses returns to India 
  • About 800 representatives of governments, as well as commercial and non-profit organisations involved in the production and processing of pulses, will attend the Global Pulse Convention to be held here in February. Jointly organised by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED) and the Global Pulse Confederation (GPC), the conference will see experts in the field sharing their views and experiences with various state policymakers. Union Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said that pulses production has increased in India and the government is keen to learn and share practices globally. "It's a tricky task to keep the balance between the interest of the domestic farmers and the consumers. Despite the weather differences, we managed to keep the prices reasonably low," Mr. Singh said, addressing a press conference on the event to be held between February 14 and 17. He added that India's lentil production this year will be the highest globally.
  • The 2023 convention was held in Sydney. Organizers said that more than 40 countries will participate in the conference this year that India has done tremendously well to enhance its domestic production. 
  • Iyengar said that the convention would amplify the message of pulses as smart crops. 
  • "Pulses are vital in the development of sustainable food systems and key players when it comes to food security and nutrition in India. The time and place of GPC's New Delhi convention this year couldn't be more apt as we look at bringing the global pulses industry together to connect and collaborate," Mr. Iyengar said, adding 'Superfood' Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Iyengar said that India was the biggest producer and consumer of pulses worldwide, adding that the GPC was bringing the global industry to India. 
  • "This conference is being held in India after 18 years. We are hoping to dispense some knowledge to the Indian industry and at the same time learn the best practices here," he said, adding that pulses contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • "We feel that pulses help in diversifying the production, as they can be grown in arid conditions with less water. It is a superfood in a way, as it is nutritious and healthy. It gives nitrogen to the soil. It's ideally suited for Indian consumption," he said. 

10.Karnataka govt. launches 'Yuva Nidhi' scheme 

  • Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday launched the "Yuva Nidhi scheme, the fifth and final poll guarantee of the Congress government which provides financial assistance for educated unemployed youth of the State. He said the idea behind the five schemes were premised on the concept of universal basic income, prevailing in European countries. 
  • Every month, the Chief Minister said, around 1.5 crore families in the State get 15,000 to 16,000 under the five guarantee schemes. "In European countries, this amount is referred to as universal basic income. We have implemented a similar principle here," he said, launching the scheme with Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar Shivamogga in High unemployment The rate of unemployment has grown at an alarming rate since 2014, he said. 
  • "The unemployment rate was 5.5% in 2014. Now it stands at 10.5%. Hence, we have come up with 'Yuva Nidhi' to help the youth. The scheme offers financial assistance, besides training programmes to develop skills and seek jobs. We will also hold job fairs so that youth get jobs in India and abroad," Mr. Siddaramaiah said. 
  • The scheme offers financial aid and training to graduates and diploma holders, who are yet to get a job, for a maximum of two years. The government has promised ₹3,000 per month to degree holders and 1,500 per month to diploma holders who were unable to get a job in the past six months and are not pursuing higher studies. 

11. Robust revenues Strong direct tax receipts create a fiscal cushion and room for more reform 

  • With under a quarter left in the financial year 2023-24, the government has met nearly 81% of its direct tax collection target. At ₹14.7 lakh crore, direct tax in flows net of refunds, as of January 10, were 19.4% higher than a year ago. Economists believe the exchequer's net direct tax kitty will end up surpassing the Budget estimate of ₹17.2 lakh crore by about a lakh crore if not more, with the full-year growth settling at around 18%, With Goods and Services Tax inflows also likely to beat the Budget math and non-tax revenues bolstered by a generous dividend from the central bank, overall revenues are likely to go beyond Budget hopes despite a relatively tepid intake from excise duties. 
  • Within direct taxes, corporate taxes have grown 12.4% while personal income taxes have yielded 27.3% higher revenues and this dichotomy may persist in coming years with the number of income-tax returns filed this assessment year hitting record levels (8.2 crore by December 31). The healthy revenue uptick and appreciable widening of the tax filing base offers some comfort for the government's fiscal consolidation hopes going forward, amid apprehensions that this year's deficit target of 5.9% of GDP may be missed by a small margin. It also creates room for the Centre to undertake more reforms in taxation with a focus on simplifying it further for corporates and individuals. 
  • For instance, the multiple withholding tax rates for firms, that often lead to disputes, can be minimized to a handful of lower rates, if not one. Tax deduction and collection at source (TDS and TCS) rates, including the much debated levy to track overseas spends, may be brought down a few notches the taxman can continue to derive intelligence from them, irrespective of the rates. The new exemption-less personal income tax regime with lower rates and paperwork is gaining traction. Yet, the government can mull some mechanisms to nudge people into better life choices aligned with public policy goals that can also deepen financial markets and strengthen macro-fundamentals encouraging retirement savings and health insurance, for in- stance. 
  • The 18% GST levy on health insurance must also be reconsidered, even as a broader rationalisation of GST rates is awaited, as it entails significant costs for lower and middle-income households who face a real risk of slipping into poverty in the aftermath of a health-care crisis for a single member. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has signaled the Interim Budget 2024-25 will have no spectacular moves, so a repeat of the 2019 pre-election exercise that re-jigged income-tax slabs may be unlikely. But the revenue buoyancy must enthuse policymakers to keep more reform options on the table for the new government to consider. 

12. India got 80th position in Henley Passport Index-2024 

  • According to the latest Henley Passport Index, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Spain have the world's most powerful passports starting in 2024, allowing visa-free entry to 194 global destinations. The ranking is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). 
  • India's passport is ranked 80th on the list, allowing citizens to travel to 62 countries without a visa. India shares its current rank with Uzbekistan while neighboring Pakistan is at 101st. 
  • Japan and Singapore have consistently dominated the No. 1 spot for the past five years. However, this quarter's rankings show that European countries are making headway. 
  • Finland and Sweden share second place with South Korea, offering visa-free access to 193 destinations. Austria, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands come in third place, offering passport holders access to 192 destinations. 
  • Christian H Kelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and creator of the Passport Index, highlighted the growing global mobility gap between countries. Despite an overall trend towards increased travel freedom over the past two decades, the disparity between the top and bottom of the index has reached an all-time high. 
  • Afghanistan is at the bottom of the list, with access to only 28 countries. Syria ranks second lowest with visa-free access to 29 destinations, followed by Iraq with 31 and Pakistan with 34. 

13. Navy gets first indigenous Starliner drone ‘Drishti 10’ 

  • Indian Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar unveiled the first indigenously built 'Drishti 10' Starliner Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) at a ceremony held at Adani Aerospace Park in Hyderabad on 10 January 2024. 
  • The UAV is set to be flown from Hyderabad to Porbandar, where it will be officially inducted into the Navy's maritime operations. 
  • The Drishti 10 Starliner unmanned aerial vehicle is an advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform developed by Adani Defense and Aerospace in collaboration with Israeli defense firm Elbit Systems. 
  • The Drishti 10 Starliner boasts an impressive 36 hours of endurance and a substantial payload capacity of 450 kg. 
  • It stands out as the only allweather military platform certified with NATO's STANAG 4671 (Standardized Annex 4671) for airworthiness, allowing it to operate in both isolated and isolated airspace. 
  • The Drishti 10 Starliner drone is 70% indigenous, representing a significant achievement in India's defense manufacturing capabilities. Operating at an altitude of 30,000 feet, the Drishti 10 Starliner is an all-weather platform ensuring its usefulness in a variety of conditions. 
  • Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is developing a male UAV named Tapas. Apart from this, possible acquisition of 31 MQ-9B from America is in the process. 

14. Chief Minister Shri Bhupendra Patel inaugurated the International Kite Festival 2024 in Ahmedabad 

  • Gujarat Chief Minister Shri Bhupendra Patel has inaugurated the 33rd International Kite Festival2024 in Ahmedabad by flying a tricolor balloon in the sky. International Kite Festival-2024 is being held from 7 to 14 January at Vallabh Sadan, Sabarmati Riverfront, Ahmedabad. 
  • Additionally, a live performance titled 'Gujarat Means Growth' and 'Gujarat Vikas No Patang' was presented by the Department of Youth Services, Sports and Culture. 
  • 153 international kiteboarders from 55 countries including Argentina, Japan, USA, Australia, Germany and many other countries, 68 national kiteboarders from 12 states and 865 kiteboarders from 23 cities of Gujarat are participating. 
  • The Chief Minister highlighted the Prime Minister's visionary concept of 5T encompassing talent, tradition, tourism, trade and technology. Chief Minister Shri Bhupendra Patel said the Prime Minister outlined a specific vision for the comprehensive advancement of Gujarat, with emphasis on the use of 5T i.e. talent, tradition, tourism, trade and technology. 
  • Addressing the kite industry in Gujarat, the Chief Minister noted the cumulative growth of kite business in the state. Gujarat has emerged as the largest kite producing market in the country, capturing 40 per cent market share. 
  • Apart from kites, various trades like door manufacturing, spinners, glue strips, and delicacies like Talsankali and Undhiyu are also associated with this thriving industry today. 
  • In 2007, the then Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi envisioned Dhordo in Gujarat as the hub of global tourism and today Dhordo in Kutch has been awarded the Best Tourism Village Award by the World Tourism Organization UNWTO. 
  • According to tradition, this year also Kite Festival is being organized in various cities and tourist places. Festivities are scheduled for Vadodara on January 8, Ektanagar and Dwarka on January 9, Surat and Rajkot on January 10, Dhordo and Vadnagar on January 11 and Nadabet on January 12. 

15. Bharat Electronics Limited launches state-of-the-art auditorium 'Abhigyan' in Ghaziabad 

  • Defense Secretary Shri Giridhar Armane inaugurated the state-ofthe-art Auditorium 'Abhigyan' at the Central Research Laboratory (CRL) of Defense Public Service Unit (DPSU) Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh on January 10, 2024. 
  • Abhigyan Auditorium comprises of excellent acoustics, smart interface, a large interactive data wall and three cameras with extensive facilities for live feed. There are also two high resolution displays for simultaneous presentation and display. 
  • The auditorium has a seating capacity of 250 people and will be used for product demos, seminars, hackathons, technical talks and lectures. It will provide support to domestic start-ups and incubators with the objective of providing cutting-edge technology/products to the Armed Forces. 
  • Defense Secretary said that as efforts are being made towards jointness of the three Services, BEL can play an important role in ensuring that equipment/systems are provided to the Armed Forces and the Indian Coast Guard in an integrated manner. 

16.International Camel Festival Kicked Off In Bikaner, Rajasthan 

  • The three-day International Camel Festival kicked off with great fervor in the culturally rich district of Bikaner, Rajasthan. 
  • On the inaugural day of the festival, the streets came alive with the vibrant hues of decorated camels, traditional robes, and women adorned in colorful costumes. 
  • The Heritage Walk, starting from Rampuriya Haveli, saw the enthusiastic participation of folk artists, adding a touch of authenticity to the cultural fiesta. Local folk artists mesmerized the onlookers with traditional songs, Rammats, and captivating dances, offering a glimpse into the rich local culture. 

17. Shanghai’s NDB Commits $500 Million Loan For Gujarat’s Infrastructure Development 

  • The Shanghai-based New Development Bank (NDB) inked an agreement during the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, pledging a substantial $500 million loan to the Gujarat government. This financial infusion is earmarked for the Mukhayamantri Gram Sadak Yojana, a pivotal project in the state. 
  • The allocated funds will facilitate the construction of approximately 1,200 kilometers of roads, a critical initiative for enhancing connectivity and accessibility across the state. 
  • Beyond the financial support, NDB is poised to contribute knowledge and expertise. The focus extends to reinforcing the rural road network through the adoption of cutting-edge technology, environmentally conscious practices, and the implementation of safer road designs. 

18.DRDO Achieves Success In Akash-NG Missile Flight Test

  • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) achieved a significant milestone with the successful flight test of the New Generation AKASH (AKASH-NG) missile. 
  • The test, conducted at the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur off the coast of Odisha, showcased the system’s capability to intercept high-speed unmanned aerial targets at very low altitudes. 
  • The flight test targeted a high-speed unmanned aerial vehicle flying at a low altitude. The AKASH-NG missile system, comprising the missile with an indigenously developed Radio  Frequency Seeker, Launcher, Multi-Function Radar, and Command, Control, and Communication system, successfully intercepted and destroyed the designated target. 

19.Joint Exercise ‘Sahyog Kaijin’ Between Indian And Japanese Coast Guards 

  • The Indian and Japanese Coast Guards have recently conducted a successful joint exercise named ‘Sahyog Kaijin’ off the coast of Chennai. 
  • This exercise is a part of the ongoing collaboration between the two countries under the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) signed in 2006. 
  • The joint exercise, which commenced on January 8, focused on enhancing interoperability and sharing best practices in maritime law enforcement, search and rescue operations, and pollution response at sea. 
  • The exercise underscores the strong maritime cooperation between India and Japan and aids in further strengthening their ties and mutual understanding. 

20.India’s Outward FDI Plummeted To $2.25 Billion In December 2023: RBI Data 

  • India witnessed a sharp decline in its outward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) commitments, dropping to $2.25 billion in December 2023, as revealed by data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). 
  • Equity commitments witnessed a notable decline, falling to $646.7 million in December 2023 from $1.38 billion in December 2022 and significantly lower than the $1.09 billion recorded in November 2023. 
  • Debt commitments decreased to $625.91 million in December 2023, down from $1.15 billion a year ago. However, it showed an increase from $190.05 million in November 2023. 
  • Guarantees for overseas units saw a substantial decline to $978.19 million in December 2023 from $1.58 billion in December 2022. This was also a notable decrease compared to the $2.72 billion recorded in November 2023, according to RBI data. 

21.NPCI Launches UPI-PayNow Linkage For Cross-Border Remittances Between India And Singapore 

  • The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has introduced the UPI-PayNow linkage, facilitating direct remittances between India and Singapore. 
  • This collaboration, a result of close coordination between the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), aims to enhance financial inclusion and convenience in cross-border transactions. 
  • Third-party applications and additional banks, including Bank of Baroda, HDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, and more, are expected to be integrated into the UPI-PayNow linkage soon. 
  • UPI users in India can send remittances to PayNow users in Singapore using their mobile numbers or virtual payment addresses, fostering seamless cross-border transactions. 

22.Government Approves 1-Year Extension For RBI Deputy Governor Michael Patra 

  • The Indian government has recently announced the extension of the tenure of Michael Debabrata Patra as the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for an additional year. 
  • This marks the second time the government has decided to prolong his tenure, showcasing confidence in his leadership and expertise in steering critical departments within the RBI. 
  • The decision to extend MD Patra’s term was officially approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC). According to a notification from the ACC’s Secretariat, the re-appointment is effective from January 15, 2024, or until further orders, whichever comes earlier. 

23.NICMAR Hyderabad Achieves Platinum Certification Under IGBC Green Campus Rating 

  • The National Institute of Construction Management and Research (NICMAR), located in Hyderabad, has recently been awarded the prestigious Platinum certification by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) under its Green Campus Rating program. 
  • This accomplishment highlights NICMAR Hyderabad’s commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices in its campus operations and infrastructure. 
  • NICMAR Hyderabad, situated in the serene locality of Shamirpet, offers a unique blend of cultural heritage and modern educational approaches. 
  • The institute boasts state-of-the-art infrastructure, including well-equipped classrooms, a richly stocked library, comfortable accommodation facilities, and extensive learning resources. 

24.Savita Kanswal Posthumously Honored With Tenzing Norgay Award 

  • In a heart-touching ceremony, President Draupadi Murmu posthumously conferred the prestigious Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award upon Savita Kanswal. 
  • Savita Kanswal made history by becoming the first Indian woman mountaineer to conquer both Mount Everest (8848 m) and Mount Makalu (8485 m) within an astonishing span of 16 days. This remarkable feat showcased not only her physical prowess but also her unwavering determination to achieve greatness at the young age of 25. 
  • The promising journey of Savita took a tragic turn when she met an untimely demise on October 4, 2022. While attempting to climb Draupadi Ka Danda peak as a member of the team sent by the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Savita was struck by an avalanche. 

25.Manish Jain’s Appointment As Country Managing Director For Experian India 

  • Experian, a global leader in information services, has appointed Manish Jain as the Country Managing Director for its operations in India. 
  • Jain boasts an illustrious career spanning over two and a half decades in the financial services and technology sectors. Before joining Experian, Jain was the Co-Founder and CEO of Excelrate, a strategy execution company focused on banking and financial services industries (BFSI). 
  • He has over 12 years of leadership experience in the credit bureau industry, where he played a vital role in driving growth and establishing himself as a thought leader. His career also includes key positions in notable companies such as TransUnion, 3i Infotech, Indosoft International, and ACC Limited. 

26.IIT Madras To Establish New Campus In Kandy, Sri Lanka 

  • The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras), a leading engineering institute in India, is set to expand its horizons by establishing a new campus in Kandy, Sri Lanka. 
  • The proposal for the new campus was announced as part of the Budget 2024 by Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremasinghe, who also serves as the Finance Minister. 
  • The campus will be situated in Kandy, Sri Lanka, a city known for its rich cultural and historical significance. This initiative aims to provide Sri Lankan students with the opportunity to pursue higher education locally at an affordable price, enhancing the educational landscape in Sri Lanka. 

27.Security Agreement Signed Between Ukraine And Britain In Kyiv 

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak signed an unprecedented security agreement between their nations in Kyiv. 
  • The accord, as described by Zelenskiy, holds immense importance for Ukraine’s security and signifies a robust alliance with the United Kingdom. 
  • The signed security accord is poised to remain in effect until Ukraine becomes a member of NATO, marking a strategic commitment between the two nations. Zelenskiy emphasized the historical significance of the agreement, underlining its potential impact on Ukraine’s defense capabilities. 
  • President Zelenskiy expressed newfound optimism regarding Ukraine’s prospects of securing financial aid from the United States. His positive outlook, compared to the previous month, indicates growing confidence in international support for Ukraine amidst the ongoing conflict. 

28.Tim Southee Achieves Historic Milestone In T20 Internationals 

  • New Zealand’s veteran pace bowler Tim Southee has created history by becoming the first bowler to take 150 wickets in T20 Internationals. 
  • In the match held in Auckland on January 12, 2024, Southee’s impressive bowling figures were 4-25. His performance was instrumental in New Zealand’s 46-run win over Pakistan. 
  • Tim Southee, aged 35, has had a remarkable career in T20 Internationals. He is the most successful bowler in this format with 151 wickets, surpassing other prominent cricketers like Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan (140 wickets) and Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan (130 wickets). 

29.Mitsubishi Heavy Launches H-IIA Rocket Carrying Japan’s Spy Satellite 

  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has achieved a significant milestone in space exploration and national security with the successful launch of an H-IIA rocket carrying Japan’s Information-Gathering Satellite “Optical-8”. 
  • The launch occurred on January 12, 2024, at 1:44 pm local time from the Tanegashima Space Center. The H-IIA rocket, a flagship launch vehicle of Japan, was used for this mission. 
  • The payload was the “Optical-8”, an information-gathering (reconnaissance) satellite. This launch was the 48th for the H-IIA rocket since its inception in 2001, further solidifying its reliability with a high success rate.

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