Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 21st January 2024

1.Govt. suspends top SAIL, NMDC officials for 'corruption’ 

  • Acting on complaints of corruption, the government has suspended two directors of Steel Authority of India Lad (SAL) and one of National Mineral Development Corporation Ind. (NMDC. Another 26 by below-board-level officials e, including four Executive Directions of SAIL have also been suspended. 
  • In two separate exchange fillings, the companies were informed about the Steel Ministry's actions. 
  • SAIL also issued a statement. "Ministry of Steel Government of India, vide ins letter dated 19th January 2024, has placed VS. Chakravarthy, Director (Commercial), SAIL and A.K. Tulsiani, Director (Finance), SAIL, on suspension with immediate effect," the statement said. "The issue pertains to some investigations being carried out as per the directions of the Lokpal," the statement added. 
  • Further, complying with Steel Ministry's instruction, SAIL has also placed 26 below board level officials of the company on suspension with immediate effect. 
  • In the regulatory filing, SAIL also gave the names of some of the officials placed under suspension. 
  • These include four Executive Directors, S. K. Sharma (F&A), Vinod Gupta, ED (Commercial), Atul Mathur (Sales & ITD) and R. M. Suresh (Marketing Services). Though the company has not given any details of charges, it is believed that these officials favored some customers with low- er prices. It is also believed that officials undertook some overseas tours Commenting on the matter, SAIL Chairman Amarendu Prakash, said, "The company's business is being carried out as usual, and it is not going to impact its performance. We are dedicated to uphold the highest standards of corporate governance conduct." and ethical NMDC's statement said, "It has been informed by the Ministry of Steel, Govt. of India vide Order dated 19.01.2024 that the Competent Authority, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-rule 1 of Rule 20 of the Conduct, Discipline and Appeal Rules, 1978 of NMDC Ltd. has placed V. Suresh, Director (Commercial), NMDC Ltd. under suspension with immediate effect." 
  • Shares of both companies closed with gains on Saturday. 

2. Increased voting in Maoist areas reflects faith in democracy’ 

  • Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said higher voters' turnout in the Maoist-affected and backward tribal areas of Chhattisgarh reflected a belief in democracy. by those residing there. 
  • Inaugurating a two-day Orientation Programme for the Members of the Chhattisgarh Assembly at its premises here, Mr. Birla re- ferred to the unique challenges faced by the far- flung areas where people battle poverty and other difficulties, Maoism including. 
  • Speaking on the role of the legislators, Mr. Birla t said that success of people's representatives was measured by their faithful articulation of the issues of the people, but also noted that agreement and disagreement between the Treasury and the Opposition benches should be within the ambit of the dignity and decorum of the House. 
  • Describing the House [Parliament and Assemblies] as a temple of democracy, he said disrupting the proceedings of legislative bodies or entering the Well may yield short-term gains. He said the more an MLA sits in the Assembly, he is able to present his views in a better way and is able to represent his area better. "Considering the national and international scenario, present the issues related to the entire State," he said. 

3. World Vision India loses FCRA registration 

  • The Union Home Ministry has cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration of World Vision India (WVI), a non-governmental organization (NGO) that focuses on children's issues. The U.S.-based World Vision is one of the world's largest Christian voluntary groups with a presence in over 100 countries. It has been oprth erational in India for the past 70 years. 
  • According to the Minis try's order, the Indian NGO is no longer eligible to receive foreign donations, including from its parent organization, as its registration has been cancelled on account of "viola- tion of FCRA rules. 
  • The WVI had been registered under the FCRA since 1986, to receive money used to conduct "so- se ay gcial and educational" programmes. 
  • The NGO has signed agreements with several government departments in the past. In 2016, amid an uproar on social media, the Rajasthan government had to cancel a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the WVI on Integrated Child Development (ICDS). Services 
  • Suspended in 2022 The NGO's registration was first suspended in November 2022, a year after it applied for the renewal of its FCRA registration, which must be done every five years. The Ministry initially suspended the registration for 180 days for alleged non-compliance with the FCRA's provisions. The suspension was extended in May 2023. 
  • According to the WVI's latest financial statement for the year 2022-23, submitted to the Ministry on October 14, "the society (WVI) has submitted its detailed responses to the MHA for all matters raised by them alleging non-compliance by the society with the provisions of FCRA relating to the periods from 2012-13 to 2020-21. The society has also provided the required supporting documents for all the matters raised in the letters from the MHA." 
  • The financial statement added that WVI's operations had been significantly impacted due to the suspension, as it could not carry out any activities covered under FCRA after November 2022. "The society has closed all of its project offices working exclusively on FCRA projects and also terminated the contract with its employees working on FCRA projects in the month of May 2023," it said. 
  • "Considering the suspension, the society has not been able to access the funds or assets, and has not been able to settle its liabilities to employees and vendors (including ₹39.72 crore relating to the period from November 2022 to March 31, 2023). The society has applied for access to 25% of the funds to settle the liabilities before the Ministry which is pending disposal as of date," it added. 
  • In 2022, the WHO received around 170 crore in foreign donations from its partners in the U.S., Switzerland, and Germany, and others. It also received *8 lakh as a donation from the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany. 
  • Since 2011, the FCRA registrations of around 20,000 NGOs have been canceled on various grounds of violation of pro- visions. 
  • On January 10, the Ministry canceled the FCRA registration of the Centre for Policy Research (CPR), a leading public policy think tank in New Delhi. 

4. 'Govt. to soon fence border between India and Myanmar’ 

  • The Union government will soon fence the 1,643 km border between India and Myanmar, and will consider ending its free movement regime (FMR) agreement with the country, Home Minister Amit Shah said on Saturday. 
  • "I want to tell my friends in Assam that the Narendra Modi government has decided to fence India's open border along Myanmar just as we have fenced the country's border along Bangladesh," Mr. Shah said. 

5. IT Ministry issues draft road maps for critical tech sectors 

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has put out draft road maps for conducting indigenous research and development for cyber forensics, quantum computing technologies, mobile security, cryptography, and Internet of Things (IoT) security. 
  • The road maps, prepared by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), aim to m solve a series of issues in different time spans between now and 2047, the centenary of Indian independence. 
  • The cybersecurity road on map, for instance, seeks to develop "social media analytics'' by 2026, while "Dark Web forensics'' has until 2030 for completion. Detection of child exploitation and human trafficking wing is marked as ongoing efforts that will start in 2027 and continue beyond 2047. GPS and vehicle forensics will be completed by 2027 Me and 2029, respectively, while banking fraud and The road maps have been prepared by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing UPI payment forensics solutions have until 2029 and 2030, respectively. 
  • On the quantum computing side, the road map says that research and development efforts to develop quantum computers will carry on till 2034. The mobile security road map aims, on the other hand, to engage in fostering "enterprise-grade" security systems, creating an "indigenous system for secure [operating systems] and mobile device hardware." 
  • While these road maps envision activities that will stretch even beyond 2047, the cryptography road map which seeks to achieve domestic digital encryption development goals says goals for "asymmetric cryptography" and lot devices should be done by 2028-33, including "quantum-resistant cryptography." 

6. Iran launches satellite as regional tensions spike

  • Iran's Revolutionary Guards launched a re search satellite putting it into a higher orbit in a new milestone for its aerospace programme. The US has repeatedly warned Iran against such launches, saying the same technology can be used for ballistic missiles, including ones designed to deliver a nudear warhead. 
  • "The Soraya satellite was successfully launched with the Ghaem-100 satellite carrier of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps," the official news agency said. "This is the first time that Iran has successfully placed a satellite in orbits higher than 500 km," IRNA said. The satellite which weighs about 50 kg was put in orbit 750 km above Earth. 

7. Wetland 'nature tourism' gets a fillip 

  • Unicen government has embarked on a mission to рокове surism an ecologically sensitive wetlands, better known as Rame sar sines, such as the Chilika lake in Odisha and Sultanpur bird sanctuary in Haryana The focus of the initiative would be to shift these fragile wetlands from high-value tourism to nature tourism by directly supporting conservation action and letting local communities and economies take the lead. 
  • As of now, 16 Ramsar sites have been identified under the initiative and five of them have been taken up as a pilot project for skill development of the facilitators, tourism service providers, and stakeholders in and around these sites. 
  • These five wetlands are Sultanpur National Park (Haryana), Bhitarkanika Man-groves (Odisha), Chilika lake (Odisha), Sirpur (Madhya Pradesh) and Yashwant Sagar (Madhya Pradesh). The initiative to develop these sites has been taken by the Union Tourism Ministry and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change under the Amrit Dha rohar Capacity Building Scheme, 2023, 
  • The Amrit Dharohar initiative, part of the 2023-24 Badger announcement, was launched in June 2013 to promote unique conservation values of Ramsar sites in the country while generating employment opportunities and supporting local livelihoods. 
  • The scheme is being implemented in convergence with various Union government Ministries and agencies, State wetland authorities, and a network of formal and informal institutions and individuals. 
  • The aim is to enhance livelihood opportunities for local communities through harnessing the nature-tourism potential of such sites, 
  • The Tourism Ministry and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change are training facilitators, tourism service providers, stakeholders for strengthening of nature tourism at Ramsar sites in association with the State Tourism Department. 

8. Urbanization in Bhubaneswar impacts winter temperatures 

  • More than half of the world's population now resides in the cities and are thus vulnerable to urban climate change such as increased heat stress and extremes. Globally, cities contribute to more than 80% of the global GDP and 75% of all greenhouse gases/carbon emissions. Thus, they are both contributors to climate change and also potential agents for tackling it. However, their representation in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans is inadequate. Nevertheless, in recent times, the Inclusion of the Iith sustainable develop ment goal (SDG) exclusive ly focusing on cities and the formation of groups like the U-20 under the G-20 umbrella have acknowledged the need for city-level action plans. The ministerial meeting on urbanisation and climate change at COP-28 stressed the importance and role of cities in achieving climate change mitigation and adaptation targets. These initiatives show the importance attached to cities and their role in global affairs including climate change mitigation and adaptation. Bhubaneswar, a tier-II city in the eastern State of Odisha, is rapidly urbanizing in recent times. For example, the built-up area in the city increased by about 166% during the period 2004-2015, Studies using satellite-based observations showed a nighttime heat dome over the city with an elevated temperature (about 1C), Additional 
  • Smaller cities are warming up due to urbanization 
  • At COP-26, the importance and role of cities in achieving climate change mitigation and adaptation targets was highlighted 
  • The bulk up area in Bhutan War was increased by about 160% between 2004 and 2015 Satellite-based observations show about C Increase in nighttime temperature Almost 6% of the overall warning observed over The city is due to local activities/changes 
  • Bhubaneswar has warmed at a faster rate, with almost about 0.68C enhancement in the last two decades. Such warming is particularly higher in the newly urbanized areas in the periphery of the city, experiencing almost doubled warming over the same period. 
  • Local activities As part of a larger effort in implementing the cities digital twin at the School of Earth Ocean and Climate Sciences at IIT Bhubanes war, computer-based simu lations were carried out to mimic the Bhubaneswar urban growth and hence change in the microclimate and their relation to different factors such as climate change, city expansion, change in vegetation cover, etc. It was quantified that almost 60% of the overall warming observed over the city is due to local activities/changes. These studies were recently published in the journal Computational Urban Science. In addition to the warming due to climate change, there is additional warming due to the trapping of heat by the concrete and asphalt materials used to build the city. The decreased evapotranspiration due to the replacement of natural surfaces with artificial impervious surfaces is also contributing to the observed warming. The inclusion of a mi nimalistic 3-D structure of the city within these simulations for winter time showed enhanced warming of almost 0.4C in the eastern lowland regions of the city mostly as a consequence of topographical asymmetry. 
  • In addition to warming due to climate change, heat trapped by the concrete and asphalt materials has led to an increase in dly temperature. 
  • Decreased evapotranspiration due to tun Surfaces being repaired with artificial impervious surfaces also contributes to warming. 
  • Dispersion of heat from the city is reduced in the santern fringes due to drop in wind speed try asciut 02 es per second es are also expected to modify the dispersion characteristics of air pollution within the city. This the implementation of a digital twin for the city will help in the experimentation of different mitigation strategy is like cool roofs, highly reflective panenients, and bluegreen Infrastructure (water bodies and green spaces), Substantial changes associated with urban station even for such srol tier-11 city highlights the potential for local scale mitigation efforts to control the observed warming and their subsequent effects. 
  • Amplifying factors further reduce the wind speeds by about 0.2 meters per second, in the eastern fringes of the city, limiting dispersion of heat. In contrast, in the western region, the influence is nullified, possibly due to lower surface specific humidity affecting longwave radiation in a higher terrain setting. Both the terrain and local micro cii mate play a significant role in shaping winter urban surface temperatures, highlighting the complex interplay between urbanization and climate. Urban planning to mitigate or adapt to these changes require systematic scientific explorations. 
  • These changes are expected to further modify the spatial pattern, intensity, and duration of rainfall events with implication to urban floods. The ever increasing pops lation load and enhanced dependence of city te scarves will contirase in the future, amplifying the hovering clouds of vulnerability/danger over the cities in the absence of city specific science driven strategies. Thus, building climate-resilient smart cities is important to ensure the health, safety, and comfort of the ever-increasing urban population. Unlike the saturated big metro/mega cities, smaller cities have a larger scope for planned growth and expansion and, hence, the potential to shift their growth trajectory towards sustainability. Therefore, as the harbingers of future climate change, comprehensive city-scale climate action plans supported by sclerice to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of urbanization and climate change are the need of the hour. 

9. West Bengal CM inaugurates 47th International Kolkata Book Fair 

  • West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has inaugurated the 47th edition of the International Kolkata Book Fair. 
  • The United Kingdom is the theme country for this year’s fair, which has about 1,000 stalls and is scheduled to run from January 18 to January 31 at Salt Lake’s Central Park here. 
  • Nearly 20 countries were participating in this year’s book fair, which has become a big festival for Kolkata. 
  • This year marks the U.K. as the theme country for the fourth time at the International Kolkata Book Fair. The U.K. pavilion is designed to immerse visitors in the essence of British culture, highlighting its modern contributions to education, the English language, and the arts. 
  • A stall of The Hindu has also been put up at the fair after a gap of almost 15 years. Several special publications, including The Cholas, The Himalayas as well as The Hindu Book of Editorials are being displayed at the stall. 

About West Bengal 

  • Capital – Kolkata 
  • Chief Minister – Mamata Banerjee 
  • Governor – C V Ananda Bose 

10. Ministry of Tourism to organize “Bharat Parv” from 23-31 January 

  • The nine-day extravaganza, part of the Republic Day celebrations, is set to unfold from January 23rd to January 31, at the Lawns and Gyan Path in front of the historic Red Fort in Delhi. 
  • Since its inception in 2016, Bharat Parv has evolved into a grand celebration, bringing together the rich tapestry of India’s cultural heritage, citizen-centric initiatives, and vibrant traditions. 
  • The event promises a captivating blend of Republic Day Parade tableaux, dynamic cultural performances, engaging presentations, and a feast of delectable delicacies from every corner of the country. 
  • This year’s Bharat Parv showcases the participation of 26 Central Ministries and Departments, each highlighting citizen-centric schemes and government initiatives such as Mission Life, One District One Product, Viksit Bharat, Nari Shakti, and Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat. 
  • To enhance the cultural experience, thematic pavilions of more than 30 states and union territories have been set up, providing visitors with a glimpse of the diverse tourist attractions of the country. The event is not only a celebration of heritage but also a platform for local artisans to shine, with “Vocal for Local” being promoted through their participation in displaying and selling their products. 

11. Cabinet approves creation of posts for 16th Finance Commission 

  • The Cabinet has approved the creation of three officer-level posts for assisting the 16th Finance Commission, chaired by Arvind Panagariya. 
  • The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the creation of three posts at the level of Joint Secretary i.e. two posts of Joint Secretary and one post of Economic Adviser, for the 16th Finance Commission. 
  • The newly created posts are required to assist the Commission in carrying out its functions. All other posts in the commission have already been created as per the delegated powers. 
  • In December 2023, the government appointed the former vice chairman of Niti Aayog Panagariya as the chairman of the 16th Finance Commission. While, Ritvik Ranjanam Pandey was named as the Secretary to the Commission. 
  • The Commission would submit its report to the President by October 31, 2025. The report would be for five years commencing April 1, 2026. 
  • Besides suggesting tax devolution between the Centre and States and revenue augmentation measures, the Commission would review the present arrangements for financing disaster management initiatives with reference to the funds constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
  • The erstwhile 15th Finance Commission under N.K. Singh had recommended that States be given 41% of the divisible tax pool of the Centre during five-year period 2021-22 to 2025-26, which is at the same level as was recommended by the 14th Finance Commission. 
  • As for the Fifteenth finance commission, it was chaired by N.K. Singh and members included Shaktikanta Das, Ashok Lahiri, Ramesh Chand and Anoop Singh. About Finance Commission 
  • The Finance Commission was constituted in pursuance of Article 280 of the Constitution. 
  • The Finance Commission is a constitutional body that gives suggestions on Centre-State financial relations. 

12. Daljit Singh Chaudhary appointed Director General of SSB 

  • Senior IPS officer Daljit Singh Chaudhary has appointed as the Director General of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB). 
  • Chaudhary, a 1990 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, is presently working as Special Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). 
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved his appointment as the DG, SSB for a period up to November 30, 2025. 
  • The SSB guards India’s frontiers with Nepal and Bhutan. 

Recent Appointment in Defence Sector 

  • Vice Chief of the Naval Staff – Dinesh K. Tripathi 
  • DG of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) – Nina Singh (first woman Director) 
  • DG of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) – Rahul Rasgotra (replace Anish Dayal Singh) 
  • DG of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) – Anish Dayal Singh 
  • DG of the Fire Service – Vivek Srivastava 

13. Praveen Achuthan Kutty appointed as MD & CEO of DCB Bank 

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has approved the appointment of Praveen Achuthan Kutty as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of DCB Bank. 
  • The appointment is for a period of three years with effect from April 29, 2024, the bank said in a regulatory filing. The term of the bank’s MD & CEO Murali Natrajan ends on April 28, 2024. 
  • Praveen Achuthan Kutty has over 32 years of experience in all aspects of Retail & SME banking. 

Recent Appointment in Banking & Insurance Sector 

  • Deputy Governor of RBI – Michael Patra (1 year extension) 
  • CEO of PhonePe For International Payments Division – Ritesh Pai 
  • 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) 

14. President Murmu presented Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar 

  • President Droupadi Murmu has presented the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar to 19 children for their exceptional achievements. 
  • The children, comprising 9 boys and 10 girls, hail from 18 States and Union Territories, including two aspirational districts. 
  • The Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar, 2024 will be given in six categories — art and culture (7), bravery (1), innovation (1), science and technology (1), social service (4), and sports (5). 
  • The Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar, a government initiative, aims to recognize and celebrate the exceptional achievements of children aged 5 to 18 years. Each awardee will receive a medal and a certificate. 

Full List of winners

15. South Africa host ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup 2024 

  • South Africa is hosting the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup 2024. The World Cup started on 19 January and will conclude on 11 February. 
  • This 50-over tournament will feature 16 teams, with a total of 41 matches scheduled to be played. 
  • The initial phase of the tournament organizes the teams into four groups, each containing four teams. This will be followed by the Super Six stage, comprising two groups of six teams each. This stage will be crucial in determining which teams advance to the semifinals and ultimately compete in the final. 
  • The ICC U19 World Cup 2024 in India will be broadcast on Star Sports Network TV channels. The live streaming will be available on the Disney+ Hotstar app and website for free. 

About International Cricket Council (ICC) 

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

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