Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 24th January 2024

National News 

1.The truth about India's booming toy exports 

  • India's toy industry is minuscule. Yet, it figures prominently in the policy discourse be it the bygone era of the "permit license raj", or the ongoing 'Make in India' regime. Between 2014-15 and 2022-23, toy exports Increased by 239% and imports declined by 52%, turning India into a net exporter, as reported in a recent official press release. An unpublished case study by the Indian Institute of Management Lucknow (IIM-L), sponsored by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), reportedly credits the export success to various promotional efforts under the aegis of 'Make in India', initiated since October 2014. We examine the official statistics to analyze the possible reasons for the reported success, as the case study is unavailable in the public domain. 
  • The table (columns 2 and 3) shows net exports (exports minus imports) of toys under HS code 9503 and total toys (HS codes 9503-9504-9505) respectively. The trade balance was negative 1,500 crore in 2014-15, which turned positive from 2020-21 after a gap of 23 years. The turnaround in the labor-intensive industry, at a time when such industries are not doing too well, Is indeed credible. 
  • How has it happened? In principle, there could be two reasons, the first being protectionism: A rise in import duties could reduce the demand for toys. The imposition of non-tariff barriers can shrink supply, raise prices and thus reduce demand. Alternatively, investment upswing could expand capacity and augment labor productivity to boost competitiveness and exports, What does the evidence show? 
  • In February 2020, customs duty on toys (HS code 9503) was tripled from 20% to 60%. Since January 2021, non-tariff barriers (NBTs), namely, quality control order (QCO), and mandatory sample testing of each import consignment was imposed, restricting imports. Hence, in 2020-21, imports fell and the net exports turned positive. Moreover, as this was the COVID-19 pandemic times, with disrupted supply chains globally, imports were adversely affected. As the global supply chain was restored in 2022-23, net exports were reduced to ₹1,319 crore, from 21,614 crore in the previous year (for all toys) as exports moderated and imports spiked. The dip in net exports is steeper (31%) for toys under HS code 9503 despite the high import duty, while this dip is more moderate (18%) for all toys. 
  • Hence, not surprisingly, the government further raised the basic customs duty to 70% in March 2023, from 60%, to stem the renewed rise in imports. 
  • Could the turnaround in the toy trade during the last three years be on account of improving domestic productive capabilities? To answer the question, we have analyzed the data from the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) for 2014-15 to 2019-20. In 2015-16 (the latest available figures combined for the organized and unorganized sectors), the factory or organized sector accounted for 1% of the total number of the factories and enterprises, employed 20% of workers, used 63% of fixed capital, and produced 
  • 77% of the value of output ("India's Toy Industry: Production and Trade since 2000", by Abhishek Anand, R. Nagaraj, Naveen Thomas, Economic and Political Weekly, May 6, 2023), 
  • During six years since 2014-15, the ASI data in real terms show there is hardly a steady rise in fixed capital per worker and gross value of output. More seriously, labor productivity has steadily declined from 27.5 lakh per worker in 2014-15 to 25 lakh in 2019-20 (more recent data unavailable). Moreover, export growth during pre-and post-2014-15 are not different. Therefore, it is hard to believe that India turning into a net toys exporter could be on account of improved domestic supply and its competitiveness. Hence, it can be safely inferred that India's turnaround in the toy trade since 2020-21 is the outcome of rising protectionism. Protectionism for a limited period as per the infant industry argument-may enable the domestic industry to make adequate investments, allow for "learning by doing and enhance productivity to compete globally. Such protectionism needs to be complemented with Investment policies, and provision of localized, industry/cluster-specific public infrastructure to stimulate a virtuous circle of expanding domestic capabilities to face international competition. In the absence of these pre-conditions, there is a real apprehension of the demand for protectionism getting entrenched in the industry, culminating in what Anne Krueger famously contended: "rent-seeking". India has enough experience with such policy failures. 
  • In short, the toy industry has turned net exporter since 2020-21. 'Make in India' policies made it possible, claims an officially sponsored research. Published industry and trade data do not bear out such a proposition. Rising tariff and non-tariff barriers have made it possible. Perhaps the IIM-L's study uses different evidence to buttress its contention. Considering the divergent findings, the report should be made public in the interest of meaningful policy review and dialogue. 

2.Indian Stock Market Surpasses Hong Kong To Become 4th Biggest Equity Market Globally 

  • The Indian stock market has pipped Hong Kong to become the fourth-highest equity market globally. 
  • The combined value of shares listed on Indian exchanges reached USD 4.33 trillion, versus USD 4.29 trillion for Hong Kong, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 
  • That makes India the fourth-biggest equity market globally. Its value crossed $4 trillion for the first time on Dec 5, with about half of that coming in the past four years. 
  • The top three stock markets are the U.S., China, and Japan. 
  • Currently, the US is the world’s biggest market with a mcap of $50.86 trillion, followed by China with a mcap of $8.44 trillion and Japan at $6.36 trillion. 

3.India’s First Self-Made Aircraft Seat Unveiled At Wings India 2024 

  • In a significant milestone for the Indian aviation industry, Timetooth, a Bengaluru-based engineering company, has unveiled India’s first-ever domestically manufactured aircraft passenger seat at the Wings India 2024 event. 
  • This groundbreaking development marks a departure from the industry norm, where 100% of aircraft seats used by India’s registered air travel companies are imported. 
  • Timetooth, in collaboration with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and with support from Indian airline companies took the initiative to launch India’s first indigenous aircraft passenger seat. 

4.Petroleum Ministry Approves ONGC’s Green Energy Unit 

  • The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has granted approval for the formation of a subsidiary company by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC), dedicated to the green energy and gas sector. 
  • The newly approved subsidiary, tentatively named “ONGC Green Limited,” is slated to be a wholly-owned entity of ONGC. However, the proposed name is subject to the approval of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India. 
  • The subsidiary is envisioned to engage in various aspects of the energy sector’s value chain, focusing on green hydrogen, hydrogen blending, renewable energy (solar, wind, and hybrid), biofuels, biogas, and liquefied natural gas (LNG). 

5.India Aids Afghanistan With 40,000 Liters Of Malathion Against Locust Threat 

  • In a remarkable display of goodwill and humanitarian assistance, the Indian government has stepped forward to aid the Afghan people in confronting the locust menace. 
  • The generous support comes in the form of 40,000 litres of Malathion, an environmentally friendly pesticide known for its efficacy in arid regions and minimal water usage. 
  • Malathion has proven to be a crucial tool in locust control, making it an ideal choice for combating the infestation in Afghanistan. Its effectiveness in arid regions aligns with the country’s climate, and its minimal water usage addresses environmental concerns. 

6.Central government launches 'Anuvadini' app for multilingual education 

  • The central government has launched ‘Anuvadini’ app, an artificial intelligence-based platform to promote multilingualism in education. The initiative aims to make study material available in digital form for all school and higher education courses, exclusively in Indian languages listed in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution. 
  • Anuvadini: Voice and Document AI Translation Tool that includes multiple features and functionalities seeks to bridge this gap that arises due to language barriers. 
  • The tool provides support for 22 regional Indian and foreign languages, helping to break language barriers and unite India and the world under the principles of Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat and One Earth, One Family, One Future! 
  • The move is in line with the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which emphasizes the importance of studying in one's mother tongue. 
  • The University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the School Education Department have been directed to ensure availability of study material in regional languages.
  • Educational regulators including UGC, AICTE, NCERT, NIOS, IGNOU and institutes like IITs, CUs and NITs are mandated to make study material accessible in Indian languages within the next three years. 
  • Higher and Technical Education Minister Chandrakant Patil highlighted the two-year effort in translating engineering, medical, law, undergraduate, postgraduate and skills course content using the ‘Anuvadini’ app. 

7.President of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis, visited India. 

  • President of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Dennis Francis, has arrived in New Delhi on 23 January 2024 on a fiveday visit to India. During the visit, Mr Francis will hold talks with External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar on various multilateral issues of mutual interest. 
  • He also paid tribute by visiting the mausoleum of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat. Mr Francis will also attend the Republic Day parade in Maharashtra as a state guest. 
  • Mr Francis will also attend a roundtable on digital public infrastructure. 
  • He will also deliver a lecture on multilateralism and peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability at the Indian Global Council. Mr. Francis will also visit Jaipur and Mumbai. In Mumbai he will lay a wreath at the Mumbai terror attacks memorial. 
  • Later he will present his views on multilateralism at the Observer Research Foundation event at the National Stock Exchange. Mr Francis, who hails from Trinidad and Tobago, was elected last year as president of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, which runs until this September. 

8.Oscars: film set in India nominated for best documentary 

  • "To Kill a Tiger", set in a small Indian village, was on Tuesday nominated for the Best Documentary feature at the 2024 Academy Awards. A Canadian production, To Kill a Tiger, is directed by Delhi-born Nisha Pahuja, an Emmynominated filmmaker based in Toronto. It had its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival 2022 where it won the Amplify Voices Award for Best Canadian Feature Film. 
  • The film follows Ranjit's battle to find justice for his 13-year-old daughter who was abducted and sexually assaulted by three men. 
  • "Ranjit goes to the police, and the men are arrested. But Ranjit's relief is short-lived, as the villagers and their leaders launch a sustained campaign to force the family to drop the charges," according to the website of the film. 
  • The Academy Awards will be held on March 10. 

9.Delhi CEO's office clarifies on note about election date 

  • As an internal note circulated by the office of Delhi's Chief Electoral Officer mentioning April 16 as the tentative "poll date" to help officials schedule various activities "in the build-up" to the Lok Sabha election raised eyebrows, the CEO's office on Tuesday clarified that the date was "only for reference purpose" for election officials. 
  • The actual schedule for the election shall be announced by the EC at an appropriate time, according to a statement issued by the CEO's office. 

10.SII, CEPI joins global network to boost production of vaccines 

  • The Serum Institute of India (SII) will join a growing CEPI network of vaccine producers in the Global South to support more rapid, agile, and equitable responses to future public health disease outbreaks.. CEPI Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations is an innovative global partnership working to accelerate the development of vaccines and other biological counter- measures against epidemic and pandemic threats. 
  • CEPI has articulated an aspirational goal: vaccines should be ready for initial authorisation and manufacturing at scale within 100 days of recognition of a pandemic pathogen, when appropriate. 
  • The idea is to combine the process of delivering a vaccine within 100 days with improved surveillance providing earlier detection and warning, and swift use of interventions such as testing, contact tracing and social distanc- ing to suppress disease transmission. According to CEPI, this would give the world a better chance of containing and controlling future pathogenic threats and averting the type of catastrophic global public health and socio-economic impacts COVID-19. 
  • The manufacturing network will focus on vaccine makers in the Global South near areas at high risk of outbreaks caused by deadly viral threats like Lassa Fever, Nipah, Disease X, and other pathogens with epidemic or pandemic potential prioritized by CEPL. The Global South broadly comprises Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia (excluding Israel, Japan, and South Korea), and Oceania (excluding Australia Zealand). and New To prepare, CEPI is investing up to $30 million to build upon SIRI's proven track record of rapid response to outbreaks of infectious diseases, expanding the company's existing ability to supply vaccines in the face of epidemic and pandemic threats, as per a press release. 

11.Ladakh's territorial control should be till Gilgit-Baltistan: outfits 

  • Ladakh's main socio-political groupings, Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), have asked the Centre to extend Ladakh's territorial control up to Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and ensure internal stability by granting Statehood with guarantees of the Sixth Schedule to fight the threat from China. 
  • In a fresh memorandum submitted to the Union Home Ministry this month, the LAH and KDA have given detailed reasons for seeking Statehood and special status under the Sixth Schedule for the region, which was carved out as a Union Territory from the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019. 
  • It highlighted that Ladakh holds a significant position for strategic location vis-a-vis China and Pakistan. "Empowering the locals will foster stability. The understanding of the locals of the harsh terrain and the geography of Ladakh has always proved helpful in the military and logistic operations," it said. 
  • The two socio-political amalgams underlined that the territory of Ladakh extends to Gilgit-Baltistan.
  • "Attempts should be made to include this area into Ladakh as well and just like the UT of J&K, seats should be reserved for the same," it said. 
  • Ladakh, which is run by two hill councils from Leh and Kargil, has demanded a full-fledged legislature. It said granting legislative powers in the form of a legislature to the locals will enable effective governance and development and foster the federal structure of India. 
  • The memorandum also highlighted Ladakh's ecologically fragile and sensitive areas. It also seeks an increase in Lok Sabha seats from one to two, besides allocating one seat in Rajya Sabha. 

International News 

12.Maldives rules out research by Chinese vessel in its waters 

  • Chinese research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 03 will not be carrying out research in Maldivian waters, but will arrive for a port call, the Government of Maldives said on Tuesday. 
  • Reports of the Chinese vessel heading to the Maldives have drawn considerable attention in India, especially in the wake of Sri Lanka announcing a one-year moratorium on foreign research vessels calling at the island's ports, after India voiced concern over visits by a Chinese vessel. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said a diplomatic request was made by Rough sailing 
  • The Chinese vessel's visit is the latest source of tension amid strained Maldives-India ties 
  • The research vessel is expected to reach Maldives early February 
  • It had sought clearance from Colombo last year from the Government of China to the Government of Maldives for "necessary clearances to make a port call, for rotation of personnel and replenishment". 
  • However, Sri Lanka in December announced a year-long moratorium on foreign research vessels conducting any research while in the Maldivian waters," the Ministry said in a statement, which Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer shared on social media platform X… 

13.The Doomsday Clock: A Symbol Of Humanity’s Peril 

  • The Doomsday Clock, created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, symbolizes humanity’s proximity to global catastrophes from technology and environmental issues. Recently, the Doomsday Clock, has drawn significant attention due to its alarming setting close to midnight. 
  • The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947, two years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Initially, the clock was a symbol of nuclear threat. It has since evolved to encompass a broader range of dangers, including climate change, emerging technologies, and biological hazards. 

14.North Korea conducts test of underwater nuclear weapons system 

  • North Korea has conducted a test of its underwater nuclear weapons system in a protest against joint military drills by South Korea, the United States, and Japan. 
  • The test of the “Haeil-5-23” system, a name North Korea has given to its nuclear-capable underwater attack drones, was carried out by the defence ministry’s think tank in the waters off its east coast. 
  • Dubbed “Haeil”, which means tsunami, the new drone system was first reportedly tested in March 2023. it was intended to make sneak attacks in enemy waters and destroy naval strike groups and major operational ports by creating a large radioactive wave through an underwater explosion. 

About North Korea 

  • Capital – Pyongyang 
  • Currency – won 
  • President – Kim Jong-un 

Defence News 

15.Iran’s Military Receives Advanced Homegrown Drones 

  • The Iranian army marked a significant milestone in its defense capabilities as it formally received a substantial number of domestically developed reconnaissance and combat drones in a ceremony held on January 23, 2024. 
  • The event, attended by the Iranian Army’s Chief Commander Abdolrahim Mousavi and Defense Minister Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani, showcased the latest advancements in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology. 
  • The delivered UAVs encompass a diverse range of capabilities, including the multipurpose Ababil-4 and Ababil-5, Arash, Bavar, and Karrar jet-powered target drones. Each drone is tailored to specific mission profiles, highlighting the versatility of Iran’s indigenous drone technology. 

16.Second joint exercise 'Cyclone' between Indian and Egyptian armies started in Egypt 

  • The second edition of the joint special forces exercise ‘Cyclone’ between India and Egypt is being conducted from 22 January to 1 February 2024 at Anshas, Egypt. The first edition of the exercise was held in India last year. 
  • The Indian contingent is being represented by soldiers of the Parachute Regiment (Special Forces) and the Egyptian contingent of 25 personnel is being represented by the Egyptian Commando Squadron and the Egyptian Airborne Platoon. 
  • The objective of the exercise is to familiarize both sides with each other's operating procedures in the backdrop of special operations in desert/semi-desert areas under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. 
  • The exercise will involve planning and implementation of special operations in the sub-traditional sector and will be conducted in three phases. While the first phase will include military exhibitions and tactical interactions, the second phase will focus on training on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Counter IEDs and Combat First Aid. 
  • The third and final phase will involve joint tactical exercises based on built-up area combat and hostage rescue scenarios. 

17.U.S., Britain launch second round of military strikes 

  • The United States and Britain launched a second round of joint military strikes on Yemen's Houthis on Tuesday over their attacks on Red Sea shipping, as the Iran-backed rebels vowed to hit back. 
  • The latest raids, heard by residents of the rebel held capital Sanaa around midnight, hit eight Houthi targets, a joint U.S.-U.K. statement said, while the Houthis listed 18 strikes across their territory. 
  • A senior U.S. military official said the strikes were carried out using a combination of precision-guided munitions from U.S. and British aircraft, and Tomahawk cruise missiles. 
  • U.S. and British forces carried out a first wave of strikes against the rebel group earlier this month, and the United States launched further air raids against missiles that Washington said posed imminent threats to both civilian and military vessels. 
  • But the Houthis have continued their attacks on shipping - just one part of a growing crisis in West Asia linked to the Israel-Hamas war, which has raised fears of a broader war directly involving Iran. 
  • The Houthis remained defiant, with military spokesperson Yahya Saree promising a response. 
  • "These attacks will not go unanswered and unpunished," he wrote on X, listing 18 strikes in Sanaa, Hodeida, Taez and Al-Bayda provinces. 

Economy News 

18.Union Budget Of India 

  • In accordance with Article 112 of the Constitution of India, the government is mandated to present the Union Budget at the Parliament before the commencement of each financial year. This budget outlines the projected receivables and payables for the upcoming fiscal year, running from April 1st to March 31st. 
  • The Union Budget plays a pivotal role in shaping the economic trajectory of India, aiming for rapid and balanced growth, social justice, and equality. The following key objectives underscore its significance: 
  • The budget dictates changes in direct and indirect taxes, including alterations to income tax rates and tax brackets, shaping the financial landscape of the country. For instance, the income tax slab for the fiscal year 2020-21 is determined by the budget. 

Schemes and Committee News 

19.Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar will inaugurate the 'Hamara Samvidhan, Hamara Samman' campaign 

  • Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar will inaugurate the All India Campaign 'Hamara Samvidhan, Hamara Samman' to commemorate the 75th year of the Republic of India in New Delhi on January 24, 2024. 
  • The year-long campaign, under the aegis of the Ministry of Law and Justice, aims to reaffirm our collective commitment to the principles enshrined in the Constitution of India and celebrate the shared values that bind the nation. 
  • Sabko Nyay-Har Ghar Nyay , Nav Bharat – Nav Sankalp and Vidhi Jagriti Abhiyan will be the major topics covered during the campaign. During the inauguration ceremony, ‘Nyaya Setu’ will be launched to provide an integrated legal system for legal information, legal advice and legal aid. 
  • Nyay Setu aims to enhance and expand the reach of legal services to the last mile. It will provide an integrated legal interface for legal information, legal advice and legal assistance. 
  • In this program, the achievement booklet of Access to Justice Scheme, direction 'Designing innovative solutions for holistic access to justice' will also be released. 

'Hamara Samvidhan, Hamara Samman' 

  • Disha Scheme – Under this, Tele Law Program has connected more than 67 lakh citizens for prelitigation advice through the use of Tele-Law Citizens Mobile App and 2.5 lakh Common Service Centers located in 36 States and Union Territories of the country. 
  • Sabko Nyay-Har Ghar Nyay – Under this, Nyaya Sahayak will spread awareness about various citizencentric legal services to the public at their doorstep in aspirational blocks and districts. 
  • Nyay Seva Mela – This will serve as a platform for individuals to get guidance, information and support on various legal as well as other services and schemes of the government. 
  • Nav Bharat Nav Sankalp – Under this, the public is to be encouraged to adopt the resolutions of Panch Prana by reading the Panch Pran Pratigya. Citizens will get an opportunity to showcase their talent and creativity by participating in Panch Pran Rangotsav (Poster Making Competition) and Panch Pran Anubhav (Reel/Video Making Competition). 
  • Vidhi Jagruti Abhiyaan – Under this, students are to be involved in spreading the message of Panch Pran in the villages adopted by law colleges under Pro Bono Club Scheme. It also aims to touch the weaker sections of the society through village law consciousness, deprived class respect and women participation initiative. 

20.Annul seat leaving bond policy for PG students’ 

  • A National Medical Commission (NMC) committee has decided to review and do away with the 'seat leaving bond policy' in medical colleges/institutions for postgraduate (PG) medical students, while introducing a provision to consider debarring the students who opt to leave the course from taking admission in their State for the following one year. The commission has written to the officials concerned in all State governments on the matter, and also sought an action taken report. 

21.Telangana To Unveil Gruha Jyothi Scheme In February 

  • The Chief Minister of Telangana, Revanth Reddy, has taken significant strides to expedite the implementation of various welfare schemes, including the much-anticipated Gruha Jyothi Scheme. 
  • Minister Komatireddy Venkat Reddy announced that the Gruha Jyothi Scheme’s free electricity component will be set in motion from the beginning of February. 
  • As a part of this scheme, every household possessing a Below Poverty Line (BPL) card will receive 200 units of electricity free of charge starting February. For households with electricity consumption within the 200-unit threshold, there will be no electricity charges. 

Appointment News 

22.Tarun Khulbe appoints as CEO of Jindal Stainless 

  • Tarun Khulbe has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Jindal Stainless Ltd. 
  • He has been serving as the Whole Time Director of the company since May 2018. He will continue to hold the post besides that of the CEO. 
  • Khulbe has around 35 years of industry experience in business development, supply chain management, people practices, and IT enablement. 
  • Khulbe joined JSL as a general manager for the cold rolling mills at Hisar, Haryana, in October 2004. Part of O P Jindal Group, Jindal Stainless is India’s largest stainless-steel manufacturer. 

Recent Appointment 

  • CEO of PepsiCo India – Jagrut Kotecha (replace Ahmed El Sheikh) 
  • As a member of the UPSC – Sheel Vardhan Singh 
  • MD of Bangalore Metro – Maheshwar Rao 
  • MD of Experian India – Manish Jain 
  • Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution – Bharat Harbanslal Khera 

Important Day News 

23.International Day Of Education 2024 

  • Celebrated on January 24th each year, the International Day of Education is a pivotal occasion to underscore the importance of education for all. 
  • In 2024, this day will be observed under the theme “Learning for Lasting Peace,” emphasizing the transformative nature of education in promoting peace and understanding. 
  • The United Nations General Assembly declared January 24th as the International Day of Education in 2018, recognizing the fundamental role education plays in fostering peace, development, and intercultural understanding. 

24.24 January – National Girl Child Day 

  • National Girl Child Day is observed every year on 24 January. 
  • Objective- To raise awareness of the difficulties that girls in Indian society endure. 
  • The day promotes equal opportunities in education, healthcare, and nutrition while raising awareness of the injustices that girls face. 
  • Every year on January 24, people celebrate National Girl Child Day, which commemorates the inaugural anniversary of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Scheme (Save the Girl Child, Educate the Girl Child) on January 22, 2015. 
  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development launched this day in 2008. 

Award News 

25.Former Bihar CM Karpoori Thakur will be honored with Bharat Ratna 

  • Rashtrapati Bhavan announced on 23 January 2024 that former Bihar Chief Minister late Karpoori Thakur will be honored with the prestigious Bharat Ratna. Thakur, who is lovingly known as 'Jannayak', held the post of Chief Minister from December 1970 to June 1971 and then from December 1977 to April 1979. The socialist leader died on 17 February 1988. 
  • Born on 24 January 1924, Thakur was imprisoned during the Quit India Movement against British rule. He won the election for the first time in 1952 and has not lost a single election in his career since then. 
  • Karpoori Thakur paved the way for reservation for backward castes in government services in Bihar in 1978, a step that prepared a way for the implementation of the Mandal Commission report in 1990. 
  • The award not only respects his remarkable contribution, but also inspires us to continue his mission to create a more just and equitable society. 
  • The Center's recognition for the state's first non-Congress Chief Minister fulfills the long-standing demand of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Janata Dal United. 
  • Last time, in the year 2019, former President of the country Pranab Mukherjee, social worker Nanaji Deshmukh and singer and musician Bhupen Hazar was given Bharat Ratna. Bharat Ratna 
  • Bharat Ratna was started on 2 January 1954 by the then President Dr. Rajendra Prasad. In 1954, the first Bharat Ratna C. Rajagopalachari, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and CV Raman were given, at that time only the living person was given this honor. 
  • In 1955, the provision of honoring posthumously was also added to it. In 2013, for the first time, it was decided to give Bharat Ratna to those who earned names in the field of sports and in this episode, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar was elected for this honor.
  • Those who get Bharat Ratna get only one certificate and one medal from the Government of India. No money is given with this honor. The number of annual awards in a particular year is limited to maximum three. 
  • The government gives them place in the warrant of presidency. Warrant of presidency is used to give preference in government programs. 

26.Actress Alia Bhatt becomes the first Indian woman to be honored at Saudi Arabia's 'Joy Awards' 

  • Actress-producer Alia Bhatt became the first Indian woman to be honored at the Joy Awards 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on 20 January 2024. She was awarded the Honorary Entertainment Makers Award at the Joy Awards ceremony 2024. 
  • Before Alia Bhatt, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan have been honored at the Joy Awards for their work and contribution to the entertainment business. 
  • Superstar Salman Khan, who was invited as a special guest by Saudi advisor Turki Alalshaikh to attend the ceremony, presented Egyptian actor Essaad Younis with the Lifetime Achievement honor at the Joy Awards. 
  • The awards ceremony was attended by many internationally acclaimed celebrities such as Sir Anthony Hopkins, Kevin Costner, Martin Lawrence, Eva Longoria, John Cena, Georgina Rodriguez and Zack Snyder. 
  • The July 2023 hit Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani and Alia's Hollywood debut Heart of Stone, also starring Gal Gadot and Jamie Dornan, were also appreciated by fans. 
  • This year she also attended the Met Gala and made headlines again with her appearance at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Last year, Alia was honored with the National Award for her film 'Gangubai Kathiawadi'. 

27.ICC Awards 2023: Rohit Sharma Named Captain Of ICC ODI Team Of The Year 

  • The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced five ICC Teams of the Year across formats for men and women as part of the ICC Awards 2023. Six Indians were featured in the ICC Men’s ODI team of the year with Rohit Sharma named as the captain of the 11-member team. 
  • The announcement of the five teams – the ICC Men’s and Women’s T20I Teams of the Year, the ICC Men’s and Women’s ODI Teams of the Year and the ICC Men’s Test Team of the Year – were made in a staggered manner over Monday and Tuesday and feature players from 11 teams selected based on international performances through the calendar year. 

28.Ravi Shastri received lifetime achievement award 

  • World Cup-winning former India all-rounder and ex-head coach Ravi Shastri has received the prestigious lifetime achievement award in the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) Awards in Hyderabad. 
  • While Shubman Gill received the Polly Umrigar Award for the best men’s cricketer of the year for 2023. Jasprit Bumrah won the honour in 2019, a year after making his Test debut. 
  • Gill scored 2154 runs in international cricket, most by any batter in 2023. He hit 7 hundred, including an ODI double-hundred and his maiden T20I century. 
  • Ravi Shastri played 80 Tests and 150 ODIs for India, scoring 6938 runs in international cricket, including 15 hundreds. He picked 280 wickets for India at the highest level. The left-arm spinner was part of India’s World Cup triumph in 1983 and the 1985 Champions of Champions triumph. 
  • The BCCI Awards ceremony was held for the first time since 2019 after having seen multiple delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Recent Awards 

  • 4th Wings India Awards in the Civil Aviation Sector – Bangalore & Delhi Airports 
  • Best Airline of the Year award – Vistara 
  • SCOPE Eminence Award in category of Women Empowerment for the period of 2019-20 – Engineers India Limited 
  • Assam Baibhav Award by Assam government – Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi 
  • Environment Officer Award by VSI – Deepa Bhandare 

29.PM meets recipients of national children's awards in New Delhi 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday interacted with recipients of the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar (PM National Children's Awards) and engaged in a freewheeling conversation with them on issues ranging from sports to solar power. 
  • Mr. Modi presented souvenirs to each awardee at his official residence in the national capital, following which the children shared details of their achievements due to which they have been selected for the award, an official statement said. 
  • The children also asked him several questions. Responding to one of them, the Prime Minister spoke about his interest in music of all kinds and how it helps him in meditation. 
  • On being asked about the launch on Monday of 'Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana', a scheme to install rooftop solar systems on one crore houses, Mr. Modi spoke about how people will benefit from this scheme. 
  • He also discussed with the children the signifi- cance of the day and told them about 'Parakram Diwas', which is the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. 
  • The Centre confers the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar award on children aged between five and 18 for their exceptional achievements. Each awardee is given a medal and a certificate. 

Science and technology News 

30.Iran launches 'Sorayya' satellite into 750 km orbit 

  • Iran launched the 'Sorayya' satellite into a 750 km (460 mi) orbit with a three-stage Qom 100 rocket. 
  • "This is the first time that Iran has successfully placed a satellite into orbits higher than 500 kilometers (310 mi)," Iran said. The launch was part of Iran's civilian space program as well as the space program of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the report said. 
  • Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards have developed the Qom 100 rocket. It is a three-stage solidfuel satellite launcher which is the first launcher of its kind for Iran. 
  • Iran has not always had success in its satellite launches and has had several failed attempts in the past. In April 2020, it was successful in launching the country's first military satellite Noor-1. 
  • The USA, in particular, has been vocal in its criticism of the space program and saying that Iran could use the same technology for ballistic missiles that could potentially carry nuclear warheads. Iran denies this, saying it has no ambitions to develop a nuclear weapons capability and that its rocket launches are only for civilian or defense purposes. 

31.Vaibhav Fellows to build Tong-term research synergy 

  • The Department of Science and Technology (DST) on Tuesday announced the first batch of Fellows of the Vaibhav scheme meant to attract Indian-origin scientists based abroad for short term collaboration. 
  • Twenty-two scientists, mostly based in North American and European Institutes such as the California Institute of Technology, the University of Oxford, the University of Michigan, the University of Geneva, the University of Waterloo, Canada, and the University of Oslo, will spend anywhere from a month or two annually for a maximum of three years 
  • Indian scientists based abroad will spend time in premier institutions In the country at Indian institutes such as the Indian Institute of Science, the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institutes of Science, Education and Research, and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. 
  • Two "distinguished fellowships" were offered to the senior professors Arogyaswami Paulraj (Stanford University) and Jitendra Malik (University of California, Berkeley). Those selected will get a stipend of 24 lakh a month and accommodation. 
  • The host Institutions will get a research grant to enable them to host the fellows. The fellows are expected to begin a project, technology start-up, within three years along with the host Institute, build long-term research connections with the institute, collaborate with the host faculty and bring in new ideas to the field in Indian universities and research settings. 
  • The scheme, first set in motion in June 2023 and credited to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call to involve the Indian diaspora more closely to further India's development, bears striking similarities to another scheme, called Visiting Advanced Joint Research Faculty (Vajra) scheme, initiated in 2018. 

32.Japan achieved a historic soft moon landing with SLIM Mission 

  • Japan has become the 5th country to achieve a soft moon landing with the successful deployment of the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) spacecraft. 
  • The mission, led by Japan’s space agency JAXA, marks a significant leap in precision landing technology with potential applications for future lunar exploration. 
  • Japan’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (Slim) spacecraft successfully touched down on the lunar surface on Friday, making Japan the fifth nation to achieve a soft landing on the Moon. 
  • The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has confirmed the landing of the spacecraft equipped with a variety of instruments, including a camera, a laser altimeter, and a magnetometer, which will be used to study the Moon’s geology, environment, and resources 
  • However, Slim’s solar panel had failed to generate power, which could shorten its activity on the moon, the Japanese space agency said. 
  • Slim attempted to land within 100 metres (328 feet) of its target, versus the conventional accuracy of several kilometres.

About Japan 

  • Capital – Tokyo 
  • Currency – Yen 
  • Prime Minister – Fumio Kishida 

Sports News

33.Tai Tzu Ying becomes the winner in the women's singles category of India Open 2024 

  • Chinese Taipei's great player Tai Tzu Ying won against defending Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei of China in the India Open 2024 women's singles. 
  • After facing defeat in the Malaysian Open final, Tai Tzu Ying bounced back with determination and won the India Open 2024 women's singles title. Her opponent in the final was none other than the current Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei of China. 
  • The badminton icon, who had decided to retire after the 2024 season, dominated the tournament by not losing a single set. 
  • Yonex Sunrise India Open 2024 took place from 16 – 21 January 2024 at the KD Jadhav Indoor Stadium in New Delhi, India for prize money USD 850,000. It is the second event of the 2024 BWF World Tour. 
  • It is organized by the Badminton Association of India with the official approval of the Badminton World Federation (BWF). Japan has the highest representation in this tournament with 22 players. The pair of Satwik-Chirag were runners-up in men's doubles. 
  • The pair of Satwik-Chirag has been the champion of India Open Badminton 2022. Satwik-Chirag had previously reached the final of the Malaysia Open – a BWF Super 1000 tournament – in January 2024. 

Other winners 

  • Men's Singles – Xi Yu Qi, China 
  • Men's Doubles – Seo Seung Jae, Kang Min Hyuk (South Korea) 
  • Runner up – Satwiksairaj, Chiragshetty 
  • Women's Doubles – Mayu Matsumoto, Wakana Nagahara (Japan) 
  • Mixed category - Dechapol Puawaranukroh, Sapsiri Teerattanachai (Thailand) 

34.Madrid to host Spanish F1 GP from 2026 

  • Madrid will become the new host of the Spanish Grand Prix starting from 2026. 
  • This decade-long commitment will see the heart of Spain’s capital transformed into a thrilling F1 racing venue, with the action set to unfold around IFEMA Madrid’s exhibition center. 
  • The announcement heralds a fresh era for the prestigious event, which has been traditionally held at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona since 1991. 
  • The transition will see Madrid hosting the Grand Prix for 10 years, from 2026 to 2035, introducing a brand-new circuit to the world of Formula 1. 
  • The new circuit in Madrid, designed around the IFEMA exhibition centre, will feature a mix of street and non-street sections, spanning 5.47 kilometres with 20 corners. 
  • It promises a thrilling and challenging experience for the drivers, with a qualifying lap time projected at 1 minute and 32 seconds. This innovative circuit layout is currently pending FIA homologation and final design specifications.

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