Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 28th December 2023

National News 

1.Gujarat is the top state in the country in rooftop solar capacity 

  • The cumulative installed capacity in rooftop solar power sector in the country has crossed 10 GW and Gujarat has emerged as the leader in this sector with a contribution of 30 per cent of the total capacity. 
  • Of the cumulative capacity of 10.4 GW till November this year, Gujarat's share was 3.2 GW, followed by Maharashtra at 1.9 GW and Rajasthan at 1.1 GW. 
  • Some other states, such as Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra and the Union Territory of Delhi are rapidly promoting rooftop solar. In contrast, states such as Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh continue to discourage their high-paying C&I consumers from shifting to rooftop solar-based solutions. 
  • According to information provided by the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of RTS installations during this period is approximately 46 percent. 
  • Cumulative roof top solar (RTS) installed capacity increased from 1.8 GW by March 31, 2019, to 10.4 GW by November 30, 2023. 
  • MNRE launched its Rooftop Solar Program Phase-II in August 2019 with a target of achieving 40 GW capacity in the RTS segment. Its financial outlay is ₹11,814 crore, which includes ₹6,600 crore of Central Financial Assistance (CFA) and ₹4,985 crore of incentives to distribution companies. 
  • The program envisaged installation of 4 GW RTS capacity in the residential sector by providing CFA. It has been extended till 31.03.2026. Against the allocated capacity, a total capacity of 2.65 GW has been installed so far in the residential sector. 

2.The quest for happiness' in the Viksit Bharat odyssey 

  • Bharat has now been formally bunched. The idea of making India a developed nation by 20-47, the 100th year of its independence, sounds exciting. This goal looks achievable, given the pace with which the country is moving ahead. This moment also gives us an opportunity to assess the idea of development intended. The focus and priorities in the choice of development planning are crucial and complex. In Viksit Bharat, economic development is overemphasized. But post-developmentalists argue that this is a Earo-centric notion of development which reflects the interests of its practitioners) 
  • The aspects included in Viksit Bharat are structural rural transformation, organizing labor markets, increasing competitiveness; improving financial and social inclusion, governance reforms, and seizing opportunities in the Green Revolution. Aspiring to claim the title of being the world's largest economy will not fulfill every desire and ambition this country holds dear. The need for material development can be accepted, but this will be one of many things India will aspire for by 2047. Critics of development have consistently raised concerns about the conventional models of economic growth, challenging the contentious notions surrounding modernity and progress. The current idea of Viksit Bharat needs to be reimagined to assess what other aspects of development would assume importance for India 
  • "Happiness' has become a goal. Instead of Viksit Bharat, the theme ought to be 'Happy India-Developed India' (Khushhal Bharat-Viksit Bharat). Happiness ought to be the central pursuit in this journey. Without achieving happiness development has no meaning. tronically, the nations have developed, bur people are not happy, Rich nations are not essentially happy nations. Wealthy nations have only performed on GDP and per capita income but have failed miserably in the context of social and psychological well-being indicators. This development scheme conveniently overlooks. 
  • G.S. Baipai is Vice-Chancellor, National Law University Delhi mental health and wellness. The World Happiness Report 2023 shows many developed nations have poor happiness markers. Some nations have attained both in a balanced way. India's case is also crucial because it is ranked 126 out of 137 countries despite being the fifth-largest economy. The curious question would be whether India will have a better rank in the happiness index in the years to come. 
  • The need to include social indicators for development becomes more pertinent as GDP estimates fail to consider life's human and social aspects. The European Commission's focus is also moving beyond GDP, shifting to a measurement of economic performance and social progress. Specific indices already developed could make the agenda for Viksit Bharat@2047 more inclusive and comprehensive. For instance, a weightage to the Human Development Index, which consists of life expectancy, educational attainment, and income level, could be considered. Further, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development in 1970 created a Social. 
  • Development and the Viksit Bharat agenda will remain a dream if we fail to imagine how to rise in the happiness index. Happiness measures have already become the goals of public policy in many countries. Happiness is no longer a subjective matter. 
  • A Development Index with 16 core indicators could be another inclusion. 
  • Similarly, the World Bank's Environmentally the Sustainable Development Division has developed a 'Green Index' that measures a nation's wealth by incorporating three components: produced assets, natural resources and human resources. An International Human Suffering Index also measures the country on different parameters of human suffering. In conceiving a national vision for development, indices such as the Global Innovation Index, Rule of Law Index, Poverty Index, Corruption Perceptions Index, Gender Equality Index, and World Press Freedom Index will be pretty significant to give effect to the idea of a happy India. revisiting the pursuit of a developed India as Happy-India will be pivotal in Viksit Bharat's journey. 

3.Only 23 crore COVID-19 booster doses provided’ 

  • A COTE COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across the country as on December 21 this year, show data released by the Health Ministry on Wednesday. However, only 22.88 стоге precautionary or booster doses have been administered across the country among the eligible adult population.
  • The data also showed that over 97% of eligible citizens received the first dose of the vaccine, while over 90% received a second dose. 
  • Despite the recent increase in the number of people in- fected with the JN.1 COVID variant, the Health Ministry has ruled out the need for any additional booster or precautionary doses to be administered to the general public. 
  • It has, however, issued a recent alert to the States asking them to step up testing and surveillance in preparation for any further surge in cases. 
  • With the administration of 200 crore COVID vaccine doses across the country on 17th July 2022, India achieved a significant milestone of administering over 100 crore doses of COVID vaccines to its eligible adult population in just nine months and another set of 100 crore vaccine doses have been administered in the next nine months, depicting sustainability," said the Ministry. 

4.UGC releases draft norms on recognition of colleges in India 

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has published the draft guidelines on recognition of colleges. The higher education regulatory authority has sought comments from the public on the new guidelines titled the "UGC (Recognition of Colleges under Clause (f) of Section 2 of the UGC Act) Regulations, 2023". 
  • The proposed guidelines will be applicable to colleges as defined under the UGC Act. The draft guidelines set conditions for UGC recognition of a college and states that it should be affiliated to a university in accordance with the provisions of UGC (Affiliation of Colleges by Universities) Regulations. 
  • The college should comply with all the provisions of the UGC Act and Rules and offer programmes of study leading to the award of degrees or diplomas of not less than one academic year and for which the minimum qualification for admission is a Bachelor's degree. 
  • For recognition, a college should furnish documents related to the year of establishment, affiliation certificate issued by the university and approval of the statutory/regulatory body with an undertaking that the college complies with all UGC provisions. 
  • "All existing colleges shall have to obtain UGC recognition under Section 2(f) within three years from the date of notification of these regulations. The colleges established/ affiliated after the notification of these regulations shall have to obtain UGC recognition under Section 2(f) within three years of their establishment/affiliation," the draft states, The responsibility of verification of the documents is with the universities., "If at any time, the information provided by the applicant college is found to be incorrect, the UGC may remove the name of the college from the list...," the draft further states. 
  • The UGC may also decide on physical or virtual verification of a college or constitute teams for such verification at any stage of application. "Failing to rectify the deficiencies pointed out after such verification, the Commission may take necessary action for withdrawal of the recognition granted to the College under Section 2(f) of the UGC Act, 1956," it added. 

5.UGC reissues notice that M.Phil. is not a degree course 

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has reiterated through a public notice on Tuesday that Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) degree courses are no longer recognised. 
  • Citing fresh applications of certain universities inviting students for M.Phil. courses, UGC Secretary Manish R. Joshi said the UGC's Minimum Standards and Procedures for Award of Ph.D. Degree Regulations of 2022 had clearly stated that higher educational institutions shall not offer M.Phil. programmes. 
  • The notification was published in the Gazette on November 7, 2022. The UGC, however, pointed out that M.Phil. courses, which started prior to it will not be affected as the students can complete the courses. 

6.Jaishankar meets Putin, says he is confident of return of annual summits 

  • Hailing India-Russia rela- tions as "very steady" and "very strong", External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said on Wednesday that he was "confident" that the annual India-Russia leadership summit, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin have skipped for two years, would be held in 2024. 
  • "We will be glad to see our friend, Mr. Prime Mi- nister Modi in Russia," Mr. Putin told Mr. Jaishankar at a meeting in Moscow on Wednesday evening, official news agencies reported, adding that the Russian President discussed the situation in Ukraine in some detail with the Minister. 
  • The meeting came after discussions with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Tuesday's Inter-governmental Commission talks with Deputy Trade Minister Denis Manturovhi. 
  • The meetings have yielded a number of agreements on trade, connectivity, nuclear energy, military technology, and arms supplies. 
  • Both sides say the visit has been marked by strong assertions on the impoгtance of the bilateral relationship in a year where ties appeared to flag. "India-Russia relations remain very steady, remain very strong, they are based on our strategic convergence, on our geopolitical.interests, and because they are mutually beneficial," Mr. Jaishankar said, addressing the media after his talks with Mr. Lavrov. 

7.MHA Declares Muslim League Jammu Kashmir (Masarat Alam Faction) Unlawful Under UAPA 

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has designated the Muslim League Jammu Kashmir (Masarat Alam faction) as an “unlawful association” for a five-year period under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). 
  • The Ministry revealed that the outfit had been actively raising funds through various sources, including Pakistan and its proxy organizations, to perpetrate unlawful activities. 
  • The organization’s objectives included seeking the freedom of Jammu and Kashmir from India, aspiring to merge the region with Pakistan, and establish Islamic rule. 

8.Ayodhya Train Station Renamed As Ayodhya Dham 

  • The Ayodhya railway junction in Uttar Pradesh has been officially renamed as Ayodhya Dham junction. 
  • The redeveloped station is set to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi on December 30 in Ayodhya, before the highly anticipated consecration ceremony at the Ram temple on January 22. 
  • The Ayodhya Dham Railway Station is undergoing development in three phases. The first phase has been successfully completed. 
  • The station, with a total cost of ₹430 crore, is designed to accommodate up to 100,000 passengers. Its architecture blends modern solutions with the aesthetics of traditional Indian temple architecture. 
  • This station stands out for its well-planned facilities that go beyond typical railway stations, with special attention to services like the Infant Care Room for babies and a dedicated sick room for first aid. The station also has a passenger facilities desk, tourist information centre, and the country’s largest concourse. 
  • The first floor will host the country’s largest concourse once all three phases are complete, covering an impressive 7,200 square metres. You will find additional facilities like a food plaza, waiting hall, toilets, drinking water stations, escalators, lifts, staff rooms, shops, waiting rooms, and an entry footbridge. 
  • The middle floor includes various facilities such as retiring rooms, dormitories, lodging rooms, and spaces for station staff. 

About Uttar Pradesh 

  • Capital – Lucknow 
  • Chief Minister – Yogi Adityanath 
  • Governor – Anandiben Patel 

9.TCIL pays Rs 14.20 crore dividend to the Government for FY 2022-23 

  • Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd (TCIL) has paid a dividend of Rs 14.20 crore to the government for Financial Year 2022-23. 
  • Since its inception, the TCIL has been a consistently profit-making Company. It has so far paid dividend of Rs 294.19 crore to the Government till FY 2022-23. 
  • The dividend is on Government’s initial investment in equity of Rs 0.3 Crore. Rs16 crore was further infused during 2015-16. The group and standalone net worth of the company are Rs 1,712.00 crore and Rs 618.56 crore respectively as on 31st March 2023. 
  • In FY 2022-23, the TCIL achieved a revenue growth of 25 per cent over previous year with total Standalone revenue and profit after tax of Rs 2,001.7 crore and Rs 35.50 crore respectively. 
  • Established in August, 1978, TCIL is a Mini Ratna Category – I Status Company under the Department of Telecommunications of the Ministry of Communications. Government of India holds 100 per cent of its share capital. 
  • It is a prime engineering and consultancy company which undertakes projects in all field of Telecommunications, IT and Civil construction in India and abroad. The TCIL has executed projects in over 70 countries across globe. 
  • The Company is also executing high value Government of India prestigious projects of Rural ICT for Department of Posts, NFS for Defence, Navy Network, Bharatnet Project for APSFL, Telangana Fiber, BBNL VSAT, Indian Coast Guard, MHA, CCTV Surveillance Projects for State Police, Smart Cities, Railways, e-education and e-Health Projects, etc. 
  • Chairman & Managing Director of TCIL Shri Sanjeev Kumar 

International News 

10.Pakistan Successfully Tests Advanced Rocket System Fatah-II 

  • Pakistan’s military successfully conducted a flight test of the indigenously developed guided multi-launch rocket system Fatah-II , showcasing a significant advancement in its missile capabilities. 
  • With a 400-kilometer range, Fatah-II significantly expands Pakistan’s strike capabilities compared to the previous Fatah-1 system (250 kilometers). This enhances strategic deterrence and provides greater operational flexibility. 
  • The system features “state-of-the-art avionics, sophisticated navigation system, and unique flight trajectory,” according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), ensuring high accuracy in hitting designated targets. 
  • The successful test underlines Pakistan’s growing self-reliance in defense technology. Fatah-II represents the culmination of years of research and development by Pakistani scientists and engineers. 

State News 

11.Ammonia leak from pipeline triggers scare at night; 52 admitted to hospital in Chennai 

  • After an oil spill triggered by the recent cyclone, Ennore in north Chennai was in for another shock as hundreds of residents woke up with burning eyes and faces and difficulty breathing after ammonia gas leaked from an underwater supply pipeline to a fertilizer plant on Tuesday night. M.E. Selvam of Periyakuppam said that around 10.30 p.m., people returning home from nearby industrial units could not take the beach road where the pipeline is located.
  • Hundreds of residents came out of their homes and were moved to safer places. A total of 52 people were hospitalized. Teams from the police and fire services rushed to the spot to evacuate people. Residents of Chinnakuppam, Eranavur, and Nettukuppam too complained of uneasiness. 
  • After the industrial accident, the Tamil Nadu government ordered a temporary shutdown of Coromandel International Ltd., the fertilizer plant. State Environment Minister Siva V. Meyyanathan said the unit had been directed to shut down until further orders. 
  • The company, in a statement, said that as part of a routine operation, it noticed the abnormality at 11.30 p.m. in the ammonia unloading subsea pipeline near the shoreside outside the plant. The ammonia system facility was isolated and the situation was brought to normalcy. 

12.Ayodhya Airport To Be Renamed Maharishi Valmiki Airport 

  • Ayodhya, the holy city in Uttar Pradesh, is all set to get its first international airport, marking a significant development in its pilgrimage and tourism potential. 
  • The airport currently boasts the lengthy name “Maryada Purushottam Shri Ram International Airport.” 
  • The Yogi Adityanath government is reportedly considering renaming it “Maharishi Valmiki Airport,” honoring the revered poet who authored the epic Ramayana. 
  • The proposed name change aligns with the religious significance of the city and pays homage to Maharishi Valmiki, whose Ramayana immortalized the story of Lord Rama. 

13.Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama inaugurates International Sangha Forum in Bodhgaya 

  • Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama inaugurated the three-day International Sangha Forum (ISF) 2023 on the theme 'Bridging Traditions, Embracing Modernity - A Dialogue on Buddha's Teachings in Today's World' in Bodhgaya, Bihar. 
  • Addressing the gathering, the Dalai Lama said, "Compassion must be cultivated in everyone, regardless of whether they practice Buddhism in the Pali or Sanskrit traditions. We must follow the practices of the Bodhisattva for our own sake and for world peace. 
  • Because of bodhichitta, the Buddha became enlightened. We should also make bodhichitta our primary practice and not harm others. More than 2,000 monks from Buddhist traditions from different countries have participated in the event held at the International Convention Center Bodh Gaya. 
  • During the conference, monks, nuns and bhikkhu scholars from various Buddhist traditions discussed the finer aspects of the Vinaya rules and the role of Buddhism in the 21st century. 
  • The primary focus of the conference is to develop ongoing dialogue and collaboration among practitioners of the Pali traditions from Southeast and South Asian countries such as India, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Indonesia. 
  • The conference will identify and highlight the benefits of studies and practices that are common to all traditions as well as develop an appreciation and understanding of the strengths found within those traditions. 

14.According to the information given in Rajya Sabha, 10 black tigers are found in Simlipal Tiger Reserve of Odisha 

  • The Government of India informed the Rajya Sabha that there are 10 black tigers (melanistic tigers) in India, all of which are found exclusively in the Simlipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha. As per the 2022 cycle of All India Tiger Estimation, the presence of 16 tigers was recorded in STR, of which 10 were melanistic tigers. 
  • The black tiger is a rare variation of the Bengal tiger and is not a distinct species or geographical subspecies. 
  • The color and pattern of the coat or stripes on its body is dark, similar to that of wild cats, which is caused by a mutation in the transmembrane aminopeptidase Q (Taqpep) gene. The unusually dark or black coat in such tigers is also called pseudo-melanistic or artificial coloring. 
  • Similipal Tiger Reserve was officially selected for the Tiger Reserve in the year 1956, which was brought under Project Tiger in the year 1973. The Government of India declared it a biosphere reserve in June 1994. 
  • This biosphere reserve is part of UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves. It is part of the Simlipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh Elephant Reserve, known as the Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve. 

Business News 

15.Israel Grants Intel $3.2 Billion For $25 Billion Chip Plant Amid Ongoing Conflict 

  • Israel’s government has approved a substantial $3.2 billion grant for Intel Corp.’s ambitious plan to construct a $25 billion chip plant in southern Israel. 
  • This marks the largest investment ever made by a company in Israel, showcasing significant support amid the ongoing conflict with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
  • The chosen site for the expansion, Kiryat Gat, is located 42 km (26 miles) from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The move in Israel is part of Intel’s broader efforts, complementing ongoing and planned manufacturing investments in both Europe and the United States. 

Economy News 

16.Center hikes copra MSP by ₹250-₹300 per quintal for 2024 

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), which met here on Wednesday, has decided to increase the minimum support price (MSP) for copra for 2024. The new MSP for milling copra will be 11,160 a quintal, an increase of ₹300 from the 2023 season. 
  • The new MSP for ball copra will be 12,000 per quintal an increase of *250 per quintal. The rate will be effective from next year. Briefing reporters after the meeting, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Tha- kur said that though copra prices had fallen globally, the Narendra Modi government had decided to provide an MSP of at least 50% higher than the production cost. "Accordingly, the copra MSP has been increased by 250-₹300 per quintal for 2024 season," Mr. Thakur said. According to a government release, the new rates would ensure a margin of 51.84% for C milling copra, and 63.26% for ball copra. 
  • Milling copra is used to extract oil, while ball/edible copra is consumed as a dry fruit and used for religious purposes. 
  • Kerala and Tamil Nadu are major producers of milling copra, whereas ball copra is produced predominantly in Karnataka. 
  • In 2023, the government procured over 1.33 lakh metric tonnes of copra at a cost of ₹1,493 crore, the release said. 

17.CEBR Forecasts India As Third-Largest Economy By 2032, Global Economic Leader By Century’s End 

  • The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has recently released a groundbreaking report projecting India’s trajectory as the preeminent global economic superpower by the close of the century. 
  • This trajectory positions India to become the world’s third-largest economy by 2032, outpacing economic stalwarts like Japan and Germany. 
  • According to the latest World Economic League Table by CEBR, India’s GDP is poised to exceed that of China by a staggering 90% and surpass that of the United States by 30%. This monumental shift is anticipated to materialize post-2080. 

Banking News 

18.Current account gap narrows to 1% of GDP at $8.3 bn in Q2FY24: RBI 

  • India’s current account deficit declined sharply to 1 percent of the GDP or $8.3 billion in the second quarter of this financial year, mainly due to lower merchandise trade deficit and growth in services exports, according to RBI data. 
  • The current account deficit (CAD) was 3.8 percent of GDP or $30.9 billion in the July-September quarter in 2022-23. 
  • CAD was $9.2 billion or 1.1 percent of GDP in the first quarter (April-June) of the current financial year 2023-24. 
  • Underlying the lower current account deficit on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis in Q2:2023-24 was the narrowing of merchandise trade deficit to $61.0 billion from $78.3 billion in Q2:2022-23. 
  • Services exports grew by 4.2 percent on a y-o-y basis on the back of rising exports of software, business, and travel services. 
  • Net services receipts increased both sequentially and, on a y-o-y basis. 

Science and technology News 

19.Reliance Jio And IIT Bombay Collaborate For Bharat GPT Program And Smart TV Operating System 

  • In a strategic partnership, Reliance Jio Infocomm, under the leadership of Chairman Akash Ambani, is set to launch the ‘Bharat GPT’ program in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay. 
  • Ambani revealed the company’s comprehensive plans, including the development of an operating system (OS) for smart TVs, signaling the evolution of Jio’s vision into “Jio 2.0.” 
  • Reliance Jio is actively working with IIT Bombay on the Bharat GPT program. The company is in the advanced stages of creating its own operating system for smart TVs. The company aims to build a robust ecosystem of development in line with its vision of “Jio 2.0.” 

20.Will SLIM revolutionize lunar landings? 

  • At 11:21 pm IST on December 25, Japan's Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) spacecraft entered into orbit around the moon after a month-long Journey, and ahead of its planned moon-landing attempt on January 19. If the attempt succeeds, Japan will become only the fifth country to soft land a robotic craft on the natural satellite, months after India succeeded with its Chandrayaan mission in August Perhaps more importantly, SLIM's success or failure will also affect the upcoming Chandrayaan 4 mission. 
  • What is SLIM? 
  • SLIM is a spacecraft built and launched lry the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on September 7, 2023, from the Tanegashima spaceport. It welgdied only 590 kg at launch, which is almost one-sevendi of Chandrayaan 3, which weighed 3,900 kg at launch. Of course, the latter mission also carried a larger suite of instruments. fSLIM was launched together with XRISM, a next-generation X-ray spас telescope, onboard an H2A rocket. JAXA had planned to launch SLIM and XRISM together, so delays in readying XIISM pushed SLIM's launch date from 2021 to 2023 On December 25, SLIM entered into an elliptical orbit around the moon over three minutes or so. Its apogee darthest point) in this orbit is 4,000 km and perigee (closest point) is 600 km above the lunar surface. 
  • Notably, JAXA launched SLIM only two weeks after the surface component of India's Chandrayaan 3 mission succeeded and Russia's Lama 25 spacecraft failed, SLJM will also mark the second Japanese attempt this year to soft land on the moon the HAKUTO-R MI lander, built by Japanese company ispace, crashed in late April after its engines shut down too soon during the landing. 
  • SLIM is lighter because it carries much less fiel. Of Chandrayaan 3's 3.9 tonnes, the propulsion module alone weighed 2.1 tonnes. This is why the mission was launched on July 14 and could reach the moon less than a month later.
  • A diagram illustrating SLIMM's path from the earth to the moon, spanning four months JAMA transfer orbit. 
  • On the other hand, SLIM took four months because it followed a longer but more fuel-thrifty route based on weak stability boundary theory. 
  • Once it was launched into an orbit around the earth, SLIM swung around the planet multiple times, building up its kinetic energy with each swing. Once it was traveling fast enough, it shot up towards the moon's orbit. Chandrayaan-3 followed a qualitatively similar path until 
  • Once it got close to the moon, Chandrayaan-3 applied its brakes - which consume fuel in space-so that it could slow down enough to be captured by the moon's weaker gravity. But once SLIM got near the moon, instead of slowing down and being captured by the moon's gravity, it allowed itself to be deflected in the moon's direction even as it shot past lunar orbit, deeper into space (see image above). This deflection is the result of the combined forces exerted by the earth and the moon. Physicisty worked it out in the late 1980s for another JAXA mission, called 'Hiten'. 
  • SLIM was subsequently on a larger, more loopy path that was designed to bring it back near the moon in December after it had slowed down further. This event happened on Christmas Day, followed by orbital capture the next day. 
  • By sacrificing some time, SLIM could be more fuel-efficient. 
  • All this said SLIM's standout feature is its reputation as the "moon sniper"-а title derived from what it will do on the moon on January 19: It will try to land within 100 meters of its chosen landing site. This is an unusually tight limit given the history of moon-landing missions. For example, the 'Vikram' lander of Chandrayaan-3 was designed to descend in an elliptical area that was 4 km long downrange and 2.5 km wide cross-range, and it eventually landed at a spot 350 meters away from a predetermined one. (Downrange means in the direction of the craft's motion and cross-range means to either side. In effect, these distances specify how much the craft's path can deviate in these two directions.) NASA's hulking 'Curiosity' rover was tasked with landing at the center of a 20 km x 7 km ellipse in Gale Crater on Mars on August 6, 2012, and it landed 2.4 km away. The most precise moon-landing in history was China's Chang'e 3 spacecraft: it landed 89 metres away from its chosen spot in the Mare Imbrium plain on the moon on December 14, 2013. However, it was still allowed to land anywhere inside an ellipse of 6 km x 6 km. 
  • SLIM, in effect, set the record on January 19 for attempting to soft-land with the smallest ever area tolerance on the moon. The chosen site is near the Shioli Crater, at 13.3 S and 25.2° E. Just as the "Vikram Binder of the Chandrayaan-3 mission used data from the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter to help guide its descent, SLIM will use data from JAXA'S SELENE orbiter, ended in 2009. 
  • Its lower mass-only 120 kg excluding fuel-will help in this endeavor by rendering it more maneuverable while its small size will be a test of its economical design. 
  • Just before it lands, SLIM will deploy two small rovers called Lunar Excursion Vehicle (LEV) 1 and 2. LEVI, LEV2, and SLIM will together study the lunar surface near the landing point, collect temperature and radiation reading, and attempt to study the moon's mantle 
  • Scientists are interested in the moon's South Pole region at large because parts of some of the craters here are always in shadow, allowing the temperature there to drop very low as well as sparing them the effects of sunlight and diurnal temperature variations. 
  • We already know these parts contain water-ice, and a lunar surface mission could potentially explore these sites and attempt to extract water. 
  • When the Indian Space Research Organization successfully executed its Chandrayaan-3 mission by soft landing a robotic craft on the moon's surface, on August 23, it also concluded the second phase of its lunar exploration programme. 
  • The first mission of its third phase is the Lunar Polar Exploration (LUPEX) mission, a.k.a. Chandrayaan 4. LUPEX will be an Indian-Japan joint enterprise (however, while JAXA has approved LUPEX, India is yet to) with an earliest launch date in 2006. It will explore an area closer to the moon's south pole than Chandrayaan-3 did-and makes all the difference. 
  • The terrain near either of the moon's poles is rocky, pocked with several craters, and full of steep slopes. 
  • Axiomatically, if there is a suitable landing spot for a (relatively) large landing module or rover, its downrange and cross-range limits will be lower than they were for Chandrayaan-3. The craft will have to land as close to the site as possible, if not at the site itself. The technologies JAXA will test with SLIM, but especially a feature-matching algorithm and navigation systems, will be crucial for this aspect of LUPEX. For now, JAXA is expected to provide the launch vehicle and the lunar rover while India will provide the lander module. The landing site is yet to be filed; to compare, the 'Vikram' lander landed 600 km from the South Pole. 

Sports News 

21.Indian Olympic Association forms three-member ad hoc committee to run affairs of suspended WFI 

  • The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has constituted a three-member ad hoc committee to run the day-to-day affairs of the WFI after the Sports Ministry suspended the wrestling national body for not following the provisions of its own constitution while taking decisions. 
  • Wushu Association of India president Bhupinder Singh Bajwa will be the chairman of the panel with hockey Olympian M. M. Somaya and former international shuttler Manjusha Kanwar being the other two members. 
  • The Sports Ministry suspended the WFI, three days after it elected new office bearers with Brij Bhushan Singh loyalist Sanjay Singh as president, and also asked IOA to constitute an ad-hoc panel to manage the affairs of the sports body. 
  • Bajwa was also one of the members of the ad hoc committee formed by the IOA in April to run the affairs of WFI and to conduct its elections. After repeated delays due to court cases, elections were finally held on December 21 with Brij Bhushan’s close aide Mr. Sanjay winning the presidential poll. 

Recent Committees 

  • IRDAI forms panel to simplify insurance policy wordings; chaired by -L Viswanathan 
  • One Nation, One Election Committee; chaired by – Ram Nath Kovind 
  • SEBI reconstitutes panel on alternative investment policy; chaired by – N R Narayana Murthy 
  • Government sets up high power committee to review DRDO; chaired by – Prof K Vijay Raghavan 
  • Government forms new panel to review all official data; chaired by – Pronab Sen 

22.Sharvaanica becomes champion in two formats at Asian Youth Chess 

  • Eight-year-old A.S. Sharvaanica has become the champion in two formats of the Asian Youth Chess Championships at Al Ain in the UAE. 
  • She secured gold in the U-8 rapid and blitz categories, and silver in the U-8 classical category. 
  • The 25th Asian Youth Chess Championships witnessed the participation across age groups of 42 players from 21 countries. 

Agreement News 

23.India, Russia Sign Deals For Kudankulam Nuclear Plant Units 

  • In a significant development affirming the enduring partnership between India and Russia, crucial agreements were signed marking a major stride in the construction of future power-generating units at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant. 
  • The Kudankulam nuclear power plant, India’s largest, has been under construction in Tamil Nadu since March 2002 with technical assistance from Russia. 
  • The initial phase became operational in February 2016, operating at its designed capacity of 1,000 MW. Plans project the plant to reach full capacity by 2027. 
  • Jaishankar shared that negotiating teams from both nations would meet by the end of January to commence in-person discussions on a free trade agreement between India and the Eurasian Economic Zone. 

Obituary News 

24.Tamil Superstar And Politician Vijayakanth Passes Away At 71 

  • Tamil Nadu mourns the passing of beloved actor and politician Vijayakanth, fondly called “Captain,” who breathed his last today at the age of 71. 
  • Born Vijayaraj in 1952, Vijayakanth’s film career began in 1979 with “Iniukum Ilamai.” He rose to fame through films like “Senthoora Poove,” “Pulan Visaranai,” “Chatriyan,” “Captain Prabhakaran,” “Chinna Gounder,” and “Ramana,” among others. 
  • His rugged persona and portrayal of strong characters resonated deeply with audiences, particularly in rural areas, earning him the nickname “Karuppu MGR,” referencing MGR, another iconic Tamil actor-politician. 
  • His dedication to cinema was recognized with the prestigious Kalaimamani award in 2001 and the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for his performance in “Ramana” (2002). 

25.Parasite Actor Lee Sun-Kyun Passed Away At 48 

  • South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, widely recognized for his role in the Oscar-winning film Parasite, has been found dead in an apparent suicide in central Seoul. 
  • Born in Seoul, South Korea, on March 2, 1975, Lee Sun-kyun left an indelible mark as an actor and manager, earning acclaim for his roles in films like Parasite (2019) and A Hard Day (2014). 
  • Affectionately dubbed “The Voice” by fans, he earned this nickname due to his distinctive deep voice. In Korea, he was widely acclaimed for his roles in the thriller Helpless (2012), the romantic comedy All About My Wife (2012), and the crime/black comedy A Hard Day (2014)

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