Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 26th January 2024


National News 

1.Hindu temple existed at Gyanvapi mosque site: ASI survey report 

  • The western wall of the Gyanvapi mosque located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, is the remaining part of a pre-existing Hindu temple, says the ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey report of the structure prepared by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). 
  • The ASI report concluded that it can be said there existed a temple prior to the construction of the existing structure, that is the mosque. 
  • "The western wall of the Gyanvapi mosque existing structure is the remaining part of a pre-existing Hindu temple. This wall, made of stones and decorated with horizontal moldings, is formed by remaining parts of western chamber, western projections of the central chamber and western walls of the two chambers on its north and south. The central chamber attached to the wall still exists unchanged whereas modifications have been made to both the side chambers," the ASI report, a copy of which is with The Hindu, said. 
  • The Arabic-Persian inscription found inside a room mentions that the mosque was built in the 20th regal year of Aurang zeb (1676-77 CE). 

2.Why is there no snowfall in Kashmir? 

  • January is usually the month where Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are blanketed with snow. This winter has, however, seen these regions extremely dry. Places like Gulmarg and Pahalgam, known to be popular destinations for skiing, have been unable to offer avenues for the winter sport. Himachal Pradesh, a State famous for several mountain resorts, has witnessed dry slopes and valleys of brown grass. The Himalayan ranges of Uttarakhand have also reported minimal snowfall, with the first bout of snow in January at Auli, a popular hill resort, only reported on January 19. Records from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) that Himachal Pradesh has since 1901, registered its and its driest January with a 99,7% shortfall in January rain compared to what is normal. Until this year, the record for the driest January was 1996, which reported a 99.6% shortfall. 
  • What is the reason for the lack of snowfall? 
  • Snowfall requires adequate moisture as well as atmospheric temperatures to be zero degrees or less. Temperatures were fairly low since December. An analysis by the IMD in mid-January reported that maximum temperatures are running 5-8°C 'below normal' over the plains of north India since December 29. Minimum temperatures were also below 4 degrees Celsius at many stations of northwest India for most of January. This also resulted in a very dense fog persisting over the plains of northwest India. Several cities in the region reported zero visibility over the entire north-Indian plains from Armritsar to Dibrugarh across Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. While moisture and high aerosol loads contribute to fog, there were three major reasons behind the lack of snowfall-and Barren landı A deserted ski resort at Gulmarg, in Baramulla district on January consequently-intensifying cold waves over north India. These were a drastic fall in Western Disturbances (WDs) over northwest India; prevailing El Nino conditions; and the absence of a strong jet stream. 
  • How do these three factors influence snowfall? 
  • Western Disturbances are storms that originate in the mid-latitude regions and travel thousands of kilometers to bring rains to northern India. Such WDs in the winter dissipate fog and increase the sunshine incident on the ground raising temperatures. They also, when the temperatures are low, result in snowfall and water being available as snow melts. The melting glaciers contribute to the water available in the Ganga, Indus and Yamuna. On the other hand, they can also bring in hail, which is destructive to standing wheat crops. Usually, 5-7 WDs impact northwest India during December to January. But this winter there have been none. There were two WDs in this period, but their impact on mandalay confined to Gujarat, north Maharashtra,
  •  East Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. As Result of the lack of these rains, the Western Himalayan Region got 80% less rain than normal, Prevailing El Nino conditions over the equatorial Pacific Ocean, or warmer ocean temperatures may also have had a role to play. However, irrespective of El Nino, or the converse, La Nlim, the number of WDs in December and January have been on a decline. In the winter of 2022/23 (December and January), India reported its hottest ever December. 
  • The northwest region, which usually reports nearly a third of its rainfall during this season, saw an 83% rainfall deficit. 
  • In recent years, there has been a rise in these WIs in February and March that have caused flash floods, particularly in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, Last year for instance, saw record-breaking rain in February, Jo general, the traditional pattern of WDs have been disrupted since 2019, the last year we saw a conventional WD pattern. These Instances of extended dry periods and Intense wet spells are characteristic of global warming, as several meteorologists and climate scientists have been pointing out in recent years. 
  • What role do the jet streams play? 
  • Jet streams are powerful winds, ranging from 250-320 kmph, traveling at about 12 km above mean sea level. They are carriers of the western disturbances but the lack of moisture means that so far, they have been contributing to the subsidence of cold air thereby enhancing the cold over north India. The jet streams set in after the withdrawal of the monsoon are also able to draw in moisture from the Arabian Sea. In recent years, the jet stream has been shifting nortirwards. This, emerging research suggests, is a consequence of a warming in the Arctic seas that affects the natural gradient of temperature necessary to ensure the strength and direction of the jet streams. 

3.An exchange India's research institutes need top-level collaboration across the world 

  • While the Centre has announced the first set of recipients of a fellowship programme called Vaibhav (VAIshvik BHArtiya Vaigyanik), the premise of the initiative remains intriguing. Scientists of Indian origin, or of Indian ancestry, can apply to spend up to three months in a year, for three years, at a host research laboratory in India. In that period, these researchers are expected to begin a project or technology start-up, build long-term connections with the institute, collaborate with the host faculty and bring in new ideas to the field, in Indian university and research settings. As the programme gains momentum, officials say, new kinds of relationships could emerge: the Indian origin faculty could be encouraged to take on students, more associates and even supervise degrees that could lead to a genuine transfer of knowledge, innovation and work culture and perhaps optimistically, the non-resident Indian scientist even considering staying on in India. 
  • Vaibhav is not an original idea. During this government's tenure itself, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) conceived the VAJ- RA (Visiting Advanced Joint Research) Faculty Scheme with similar objectives. The differences in the two schemes are minor. Vaibhav is exclusively for the Indian diaspora, while VAJRA can include other nationalities too. VAJRA, though generous in the amount offered as fellowships, was restricted to one-year engagements, unlike Vaibhav which pays less but extends to three years. The DST, which is in charge of both schemes, says that nearly 70 international faculty have spent time in India as part of VAJRA, though there have been concerns over the effectiveness of the scheme. Currently, officials say, both schemes will continue. While facilitating exchange between Indian and foreign universities is welcome, there ought to be clarity on what India hopes to gain by specifically focusing on the Indian diaspora. Through the decades, much ink has been spilt on the problem of 'brain drain', where talented researchers went abroad for want of commensurate opportunities in India. While economics and individual proclivities heavily influence such decisions, short-term fellowships are useful in priming foreign faculty and researchers to the potential for science in India. They can also lay bare the challenges of the lack of funding for basic research, the lack of participation by private companies in core research and development and limits on academic freedom and trigger changes in policy. The tremendous competition for tenured jobs in American and European universities means that there is a vast pool of skilled scientific manpower, trained abroad, who can be brought back or retained in India. Realistic expectations must be the touchstone of such engagements. It remains to be seen if the presumption that scientists of Indian origin will be likely to stay back, indicated by the ethno-nationalist restriction, will bear fruit. 

4.Higher education enrolment rose by 19 lakh in 2021-22: govt. survey 

  • The total enrolment in higher education Increased to nearly 4.33 crore in 2021-22 from 4.14 crore in the previous academic session, with female enrolments in the science stream outnumbering male enrolments, according to the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2021-22. 
  • The survey released by the Ministry of Education on Thursday night pointed out that the overall female enrolment increased to 2.07 crore in 2021-22 from 2.01 crore in 2020-21. 
  • "The total enrolment in higher education increased to nearly 4.33 crore in 2021-22 from 4.14 crore in 2020-21. There was an increase of around 91 lakh in the enrolment from 3.42 crore in 2014-15," the AISHE report said. 
  • "The female enrolment increased to 2.07 crore in 2021-22 from 2.01 crore in 2020-21. There was an increase of around 50 lakh in the female enrolment from 1.57 crore (32%) in 2014-15." 
  • The report also said that female Ph.D. enrolment doubled to 0.99 lakh in 2021-22 from 0.48 lakh in 2014-15, the report said. 
  • "In 2021-22, out of the total enrolment at undergraduate, postgraduate, Ph.D. and M.Phil levels, 57.2 lakh students are enrolled in the science stream, with female students (29.8 lakh) outnumbering male students (27.4 lakh)," the report added. While the enrolment of ST students rose to 27.1 lakh in 2021-22 from 16.41 lakh in 2014-15 (an increase of 65.2%), the enrolment of ST students increased to 27.1 lakh in 2021-22 from 16.41 lakh in 2014-15 (an increase of 65.2%). 
  • The Ministry of Education has been conducting the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHIO since 2011, covering all higher educational institutions in the country.
  • The survey reported an increase of 45% in OBC student enrolment in 2021-22 (1.63 crore) from 2014-15 (1.13 crore). "As per response in AISHE 2021-22, 78.9% of the total students are enrolled in undergraduate level courses and 12.1% are enrolled in postgraduate courses. Among disciplines at undergraduate level, enrolment is highest in arts (34.2%), followed by science (14.8%), commerce (13.3%) and engineering & technology (11.8%)," the report said. 
  • "The total student enrolment in northeast States is 12.02 lakh in 2021-22 as compared to 9.36 lakh in 2014-15. The female enrolment in northeast States is 6.07 lakh in 2021-22, higher than the male enrolment of 5.95 lakh," it said. 

International News 

5.The world's tallest 721 feet Ram temple will be built in Perth, Australia. 

  • The world's tallest Ram temple will soon be built in Perth, Australia under the leadership of Shri Ram Vedic and Cultural Trust - the massive structure will be approximately 721 feet tall. The project, estimated to cost around ₹ 600 crore, will be spread over 150 acres. 
  • The International Sri Ram Vedic and Cultural Association (ISVACU) which is overseeing the project has envisioned the temple as a multifaceted center encompassing cultural, spiritual and community activities. 
  • The temple complex will have impressive elements such as a candle porch, Chitrakote Vatika and Panchavati Vatika gardens and a proposed Ram Niwas hotel. Cultural spaces like Sita Rasoi restaurant, Ramayana Sadan Library and Tulsidas Hall will be included in the comprehensive design. 
  • The temple will have spiritual spaces including a Yoga Court, a Meditation Court, a Veda Teaching Centre, a Research Center and a Museum. The temple will also include some technological aspects with areas like a technology garden. 
  • Environmental sustainability is set to take center stage by including a bio-sewage treatment plant and a solar power plant, ensuring a “zero carbon footprint”, the trust said. 

6.Cabinet Approved for India-Oman IT Cooperation MoU

  • The Union Cabinet, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the MoU between the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of India and the Ministry of Transport, Communications, and Information Technology of Oman. 
  • The MoU, inked on December 15 last year, aims to foster collaboration and cooperation in the field of Information Technology (IT). 
  • The comprehensive cooperation outlined in the MoU covers a spectrum of activities, including mutual support, sharing of technologies, information exchange, and investments in the IT sector. 
  • This move is anticipated to strengthen the ties between India and Oman, promoting bilateral collaboration in both government-to-government (G2G) and business-to-business (B2B) dimensions. 
  • The background of this collaboration is rooted in the mandate given to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to promote international cooperation in emerging and frontier areas of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) under bilateral and regional frameworks. 

Recently India signed MoUs with others countries 

  • India and Cuba signed an MoU on digital public infrastructure collaboration 
  • India and France to jointly fund science research projects 
  • India and Mauritius collaborate on Rs 20 crore small satellite project 
  • India and Guyana signed MoU for Hydrocarbon Sector 
  • India and Malaysia sign an MoU for Cooperation in Broadcasting 
  • India and Italy signed Mobility and Migration Partnership Agreement 

7.French President Macron begins India visit from Jaipur; joins PM for roadshow 

  • Slogans of Jai Shri Ram, large saffron flags, colorful folk dance teams of Rajasthan, along with a large number of people, greeted French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a "shob ha yatra (public procession) ar Hadi Chaupar on Thursday evening at the heart of the Old City of Jaipur. 
  • Rajasthan Governor Kal aj Mishra said Mr. Macron arrived at the airport here late afternoon, which was followed by the French President's visit to the Amber fort where he met with Indian students. 
  • "A captivating journey through India's history and heritage for our esteemed guest! President Emma nuel Macron of France kicked off his visit to India with a tour of Amber Fort in Jaipur. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fort stands as a symbol of India's architectural prowess and rich cultural tapestry," said official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Randhir Jaiswal, welcoming the French President, who will be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on Friday. 
  • Grand welcome: French President Emmanuel Macron with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a roadshow in Jaipur on Thursday, 
  • During the parade, the French Rafales will fly along with the Indian Rafales over Kartavya Path, a first for a foreign air force. In 2016, France was the first foreign marching contingent at the Republic Day parade. 
  • Mr. Modi met Mr. Macaroon at Jaipur's Jantar Mantar, the solar observatory built by Maharaja Sawal Jai Singh in the 18 century. Jantar Mantar of Jaipur is on the world heritage list of UNESCO which is headquartered in Paris. The two leaders then moved to the Hawa Mahal, an iconic landmark of the city and greeted admirers in an open vehicle. The two leaders also spirit some time drinking tea together In the Old City Gifts temple replica. 
  • The Prime Minister gifted a replica of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya that was inaugurated on January 22 Among those who welcomed Mr. Macron in Jaipur were External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Rajasthan's Deputy Chief Minister Diya Kumari, 
  • France, which has a history of relations with the Rajput royal families in present day Rajastharı, is expected to strengthen its cultural links with the important and strategically located western State. 

8.African country Cameroon starts the world's first malaria vaccine program for children. 

  • African country Cameroon has launched the world's first routine vaccination program against malaria for children on 22 January 2024 in collaboration with the global vaccine alliance, Gavi. 
  • Cameroon is providing Moscrix/RTS,S vaccine free of charge to all infants up to six months of age. Cameroon will be the first country to routinely administer the new malaria vaccine to children. 
  • Twenty more countries aim to start programs this year, according to Gavi, the global vaccine alliance. These include Burkina Faso, Liberia, Niger and Sierra Leone. 
  • Moscirix, the second malaria vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and approved by WHO in October 2023, may be a more practical solution. The Central African nation hopes to vaccinate about 250,000 children this year and next. 
  • In Africa, there are approximately 250 million cases of parasitic disease each year, including 600,000 deaths, mostly young children. 
  • No malaria vaccine prevents transmission, so other tools such as mosquito nets and insecticide sprays will still be important. The malaria parasite is mostly spread to people through infected mosquitoes and can cause symptoms including fever, headache and chills. 
  • There was a recent breakthrough, when Cape Verde became the first sub-Saharan African country in 50 years to be officially declared malaria-free by the global health body. 

Defence News 

9.Two BSF soldiers to receive gallantry medal posthumously 

  • Two Border Security Force (BSF) personnel who were killed in the line of duty in Congo in 2022 were awand ed the President's Medal for Gallantry posthumously on the eve of the 5th Be public Day 
  • Head constables Sanwa la Ram Vishnoi and Shishupal Singh were awarded the medal for their outstanding contribution in the prestigious task of peace-keeping as part of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo as members of the 15th Congo Contingent of BSF at the Moroccan Ra-rectional rapid Deployment Battalion Camp at Butembe, the Uns ion Home Ministry said on Thursday. Of the 277 gallantry awards, 19 have gone to persorumei deployed in areas affected by left-wing extremism and 133 to personnel from J&K, Seventy-two personnel of the J&K Police received gallantry medals, followed by 6S personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force, 26 from Chhattis garh, 23 from Jharkhand, 18 from Maharashtra, 15 from Odisha, eight from Delhi, and 21 from the total of L132 personnel of police, Home Gaard, Civil Defence get Gallantry and Service Medals. 
  • A total of 1132 personnel of Follicle, Fire Service. Home Guard and Civil Defence and Correctional Service have been awarded Gallantry and Service Me dalis. "The government has taken many steps to transform the entire award ecosystem of various awards In this regard, IS Gallantry/ Service Medals for Police, Fire Service, Home Guard & Civil Defence and Cor Service) have been rationalized and menged into following for medals - President's Medal for Gallantry (PMC Medal for Gallantry (GM President's Medal for Distinguished Service (FSMD Medal for Meritorious Service (MSM)" it said 
  • Of the 102 FSM, S4 have been awarded to Police Service, four to Fire Service and four to Civil Defence & Home Guard Service. Of the 753 MSM, 657 to Police Service, 32 to Fire Service, 27 to Civil Defence and Home Guard, and 27 to Correctional Service. 

10.NATO's largest military exercise 'Steadfast Defender 2024' begins after the Cold War 

  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has started 'Steadfast Defender 24', its biggest military exercise since the Cold War, on 24 January 2024. About 90,000 soldiers from the member countries are participating in this exercise which will run till May 2024. NATO did not name Russia in its announcement. 
  • The Baltic states, including Germany, Norway and Romania, which are seen as most at risk from a potential Russian attack, will be the location of the exercises. NATO spokesman Matthias Eichenlaub said the last exercises of similar scale were Exercise Reforger in 1988 during the Cold War with 125,000 participants and Exercise Trident Juncture in 2018 with 50,000 participants. 
  • U.S. Navy dock landing ship Gunston Hall (LSD 44) departed Norfolk, Virginia, United States, to begin her transit across the Atlantic in a series of operations. 
  • NATO said Steadfast Defender 24 will highlight the intergovernmental military organization's ability to rapidly deploy forces from North America and other parts of the alliance to strengthen the defense of Europe. 
  • More than 50 ships, from aircraft carriers to destroyers, are participating in the exercise, including more than 80 fighter jets, helicopters and drones. At least 1,100 combat vehicles have been deployed, including 133 tanks and 533 infantry fighting vehicles. 
  • The Steadfast Defender 24 comes amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine which will soon enter its second year. A top NATO document had identified Russia as the most significant and direct threat to the alliance's security. 

Important Day News 

11.22 January declared Ram Mandir Day in Canada 

  • The cities of Oakville and Brampton in Ontario, Canada have declared January 22, 2024, as "Ayodhya Ram Mandir Day" to honor the cultural and religious significance of the event. 
  • Oakville, Rob Burton and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown acknowledged the long-standing aspiration of the Hindu community and emphasized the cultural, religious and historical significance of the inauguration of the Ayodhya Ram temple on this date. 

Award News 

12.President's nod to gallantry awards for 80 military personnel ahead of R-Day 

  • President Droupadi Murmur has approved gallantry awards to 80 military personnel, Including 12 posthumous, on the eve of the 75th Republic Day. These Include six Kiru Chakras (three posthumous): 16 Shaurya Chakras (two posthumous); 53 Sena Medals (seven posthumous), one Nao Sena Medal and four Vayu Sena Medals. 
  • The six Kirti Chakras were awarded to Major Digvijay Singh from 21 Para (Special Forces). 


  • Deependra Vikram Basnet from 4 Sikh Regiment and Haviklar Pawan Kumar Ya day from 21 Mahar Kegi ment and posthumously to Captain Anshuman Singh from Army Medical Corps (AMC), Havildar Abdul Majid from 9 Para SF and Sepoy Pawan Kumar originally from Grenadiers and with the 55 Rashtriya Rifles in Jammu and Kashmir. 
  • "The President also approved 311 defense decorations to armed forces and other personnel," the Defence Ministry said. These Include 31 Param Vishisht Seva Medals (PVSM); four Uttam Yudh Seva Medals (UYSM); 61 All Special Service Medals: 10 Yudh Seva Medals; 46 Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty): 10 Nao Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty); 14 Vayu Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty) and 135 Vishisht Seva Medals. 
  • The President also approved 84 Mentioned-in Despatches to the armed forces personnel, including 10 posthumously. These include 68 from the Army 34 for Operation Raksh ak, 16 for Operation Snow Leopard, seven for Operation Meghdoot, three for Operation Sahayta, two for Operation Sidhra, three for Operation CAS evacuation, and three for miscellaneous operations. It also includes 16 from the Indian Air Force 15 for Operation Kaveri, and one for miscellaneous operations. the statement said. 
  • For the Coast Guard, the President's Tatrakshak Me dal (PTM) was bestowed on Inspector General Bhish am Sharma, and the Tatrakshak Medal (Gallantry) on Comdt. Sunil Dutt and Comdt. (JG) Saurabh. The Tatrakshak Medal was approved by personnel. 

Sports News 

13.For the second consecutive year, India's Suryakumar Yadav becomes 'ICC Men's T20I Cricketer of the Year' 

  • Suryakumar Yadav has won the ICC T20I Player of the Year award for the second consecutive year in recognition of his outstanding performances and consistent contribution. The International Cricket Council (ICC) hailed Yadav as "the backbone of India's middle order" in the T20 format, and emphasized his vital role in shaping victories for the national team. 
  • The ICC Awards 2023, organized by the International Cricket Council, represents the pinnacle of recognition for international cricket players. These prestigious awards celebrate the extraordinary talent and achievements of cricketers from around the world. 

Other Winner 

  • ICC Men's Test Cricketer of the Year 2023 - Usman Khawaja 
  • Rachael Hayhoe Flint Award for ICC Women's Cricketer of the Year 2023 - Nat Sciver-Brunt, England, won the award for the second consecutive year. 
  • ICC Women's ODI Cricket of the Year 2023 - Chamari Athapaththu, Sri Lanka 
  • ICC Men's T20I Cricketer of the Year 2023 – Suryakumar Yadav, India 
  • ICC Women's T20I Cricketer of the Year 2023 - Hayley Matthews, West Indies 
  • ICC Men's Associate Cricketer of the Year 2023 - Bas de Leede, Netherlands 
  • ICC Women's Associate Cricketer of the Year 2023 - Quintor Ebel, Kenya 
  • ICC Men's Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2023 - Rachin Ravindra, New Zealand ICC Women's Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2023 – Litchfield, Australia 
  • ICC Umpire of the Year 2023 - Richard Illingworth, England, received the David Shepherd Trophy for ICC Umpire of the Year for the third time.

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