Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 29th December 2023

National News 

1.Modi to inaugurate airport, redeveloped railway station in Ayodhya tomorrow 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate an airport and the redeveloped railway station in Ayodhya on Saturday. He will also flag off a new superfast train service called Amrit Bharat Express and launch projects estimated at 11,100 crore for the development of the pilgrim town The first phase of the airport, developed at a cost of 1,450 crore, includes a passenger terminal building spread over 6,500 sq. m, which has the capacity to handle 10 lakh passengers annually. The re-development of the railway station cost 240 crore and has resulted in a three-storey modern station equipped with lifts, escalators, food plazas, shops, cloak rooms, child care rooms, and waiting halls. At the station, the Prime Minister will flag off the Amrit Bharat Express. The train has coaches without air-conditioning and includes locomotives at both ends for better acceleration. The two trains to be flagged off are the Darbhanga-Ayodhya-Anand Vihar Terminal and the Malda Town-Sir M. Visvesvaraya Terminus (Bengaluru) Amrit Bharat expresses. The Prime Minister will also flag off six new Vande Bharat trains. Mr. Modi will lay the foundation stone for projects to revamp civic facilities and strengthen the city's cultural heritage. These projects include the conservation and beautification of four historical entrance gates in Ayodhya, the development The and beautification of tourist facilities from Naya Ghat to Laxman Ghat, and Th the construction of concrete ghats and a visitors' gallery for Deepotsav. The Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone for a greenfield township in Ayodhya, being developed at a cost of more than 2,180 crore, and the Vashishtha Kunj residential scheme, to be developed at a cost of about 300 crore. Mr. Modi will lay the foundation stone of the Lucknow-Ayodhya section of National Highway 27, including the strengthening and modification of the existing Ayodhya bypass, and construction work for the Municipal Corporation and the Ayodhya Development Authority office. 

2.Disabled staff to get quota in promotion with effect from 2016 

  • The Union government on Thursday issued an order paving the way for persons with disabilities to be considered for reservation in promotions up to the lowest rung of Group A posts in the Central government, with effect from June 30, 2016. June 30, 2016 is the day on which the Supreme Court had initially ruled that candidates with disabilities must be entitled to reservation in promotions irrespective of whether the positions were filled through reservation or not. Candidates with disabilities have been fighting for the benefit of reservation in promotions for more than a decade, with the matter passing between multiple Benches of the Supreme Court. After the court finally upheld the right to reservation in promotions in a 2021 order, the government had issued rules for the implementation of it. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said that consultations had been held with the Department of Legal Affairs following which it was decided to grant notional promotion to candidates with disabilities with effect from June 30, 2016. However, in the rules issued by the DoPT, it has been made clear that the candidates who become eligible for this promotion on a notional basis will not get any financial arrears. The Office Memorandum said, "No arrear will be admissible to them for the period from the date on which they get the benefit of notional promotion and the date on which they actually assume or have already assumed the charge of such promoted post.” 

3.Old and strong India and Russia seep keen on renewing ties in a changed world

  • The importance of External Affairs Minister S, Jaishankar's visit to Russia this week can be gleaned from the special effort New Delhi and Moscow have made to make the meetings successful and productive. For India, at the end of a year of of prolific pr diplomacy, a five-day visit would seem unusually long, particularly as the Kremlin leadership normally does not see high-level foreign visits at all in this period right before its holiday season. It is equally unusual for Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet lower ranking foreign officials, as he did while meeting Mr. Jaishankar. The warmth was significant given that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has skipped the annual leadership summit, an unbroken tradition from 2000-21, for two years now, leading to speculation about the health of the India-Russia relationship after the Ukraine war. While India took care not to criticise Russia, worries over the flagging of defence supplies, continued issues over paying Russia for imports in third currencies, and the general decline in other bilateral engagements have persisted. It is clear that a large part of Mr. Jaishankar's mission was to smooth over the perception of differences. The resultant agreements, pertaining to furthering collaboration in future Kudankulam nuclear power projects, fostering connectivity, trade and resuming talks for the Eurasian Economic Union-India free trade agreement, and joint military production indicate that bilateral relations are on track. So is multilateral cooperation, especially as Russia plans to host the expanded BRICS summit next year, and India and Russia continue to coordinate positions at the UN and SCO. Mr. Jaishankar's announcement that imports of Russian hydrocarbons will continue to rise despite the West's Rus- slan sanctions, indicated the strength of ties that continue "regardless of political fluctuations". 
  •  Mr. Jaishankar's affirmation that the annual leadership summit will be resumed in 2024, appeared to signify that both sides are working to eliminate any static in the relationship. His statement that the India-Russia relationship was the 'only constant in world politics' over the last six decades would not have gone unnoticed especial- ly in Washington and Beijing, given some of the friction in India-U.S. relations over the Pannun investigation, as well as U.S. President Joe Biden's decision not to accept Mr. Modi's invitation for Republic Day, while India-China relations have ended another year in impasse over the mil- itary standoff. It remains to be seen whether the bonhomie will yield concrete movement on the rupee-rouble payment mechanism, or on exped- iting the delayed delivery of S-400 air system units. However, the larger import of his visit, and his words that the "geopolitical and strategic conver- gence" between India and Russia in a multipolar world that is "rebalancing", will be watched most closely by votaries and critics of the relationship. 

4.History meet calls for scientific approach to past 

  • The 82nd annual Indian mad History Congress began at Kakatiya University in Wa rangal on Thursday in Telangana. 

5.Women account for 49% of Ayushman cards, says Ministry 

  • Women account for approximately 49% of the 28.45-crore Ayushman cards created and approximately 48% of total authorised hospital admissions, show data released by the Health Ministry. 
  • Ayushman cards are made under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri-Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM- JAY), which, the Ministry says, is the largest publicly funded health assurance scheme in the world and provides an annual health cover of 5 lakh for a family for secondary and tertiary-care hospitalisation. 
  • Currently, as per government figures, 55-crore individuals corresponding to 12-crore families are covered under the scheme and many States and Union Territories implementing ABPM-JAY have further expanded the beneficiary base at their own cost. 
  • Government data further revealed that as of December 20, approximately 28.45 crore Ayushman cards have been created since the inception of the scheme, out of which approximately 9.38 crore have been created during 2023. 
  • 55 crore individuals corresponding to 12 crore families are currently covered under the scheme 
  • Under the Ayushman scheme, a total of 6.11 crore hospital admissions amounting to ₹78,188 crore were authorised of which 1.7 crore hospitals admissions worth over ₹25,000 crore were authorised during 2023. 
  • The scheme also has a total of 26,901 hospitals, including 11,813 private ones, that have been em- panelled under the AB PM- JAY to provide healthcare services to beneficiaries. scheme 
  • Meanwhile, as per the data on the Ayushman Arogya Mandir portal, till date, 55.66 crore screenings have been done for hypertension and 48.44 crore for diabetes. 
  • Similarly, the Ayushman Arogya Mandir has done 32.8-crore screenings for oral cancer, 14.9 crore for cervical cancer and over 10.04 crore for breast cancer. "Further, as on 15th December, a total of 2.80 crore Yoga/wellness sessions have been conducted in operational Ayushman Arogya Mandir," the Health Ministry data noted. 

6.Qatar court drops death Pe penalty for eight Indians 

  • In the first major break- through in the case against eight former Indian naval personnel sentenced to death in Qatar, the Court of Appeals in Doha has commuted their sentences, the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed on Thursday. 
  • Vipul, India's Ambassador to Qatar, was in the court along with other officials and family members of the former naval officers as the verdict was announced, the Ministry said. All eight arrested last year were employees of the Dahra Global defence services company. 

7.Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai host over 20% of India’s crypto investments 

  • A report by crypto trading platform Coin Switch showed Delhi maintained its lead in India’s crypto adoption, followed by Bangalore and Mumbai. The parameter for this was in terms of value invested. 
  • According to the report, more than 20 percent of India’s total crypto investments are concentrated in the three major metropolitan areas: Delhi (9 percent), Bangalore (8 percent) and Mumbai (5 percent). 
  • Ghaziabad claimed the 10th position in the list of the top invested cities, replacing Patna. 
  • Around 75% of crypto investors are under 35 years old, while women make up 9% of India’s crypto investor base. 
  • Dogecoin, Bitcoin, and Ethereum were the most invested cryptocurrencies of the year. 

8.Union cabinet approves increase in copra MSP for upcoming 2024 season 

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for copra for the 2024 season. 
  • The MSP for fair average quality of milling copra and ball copra has been fixed at Rs 11,160 per quintal and Rs 12,000 per quintal for the 2024 season, respectively. 
  • The MSP for the 2024 season had been hiked by Rs 300 per quintal for milling copra and Rs 250 per quintal for ball copra over the previous season. 
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval for the MSPs for copra for the 2024 season. 
  • The central government had announced in the Union Budget of 2018-19, that MSPs of all the mandated crops will be fixed at a level of at least 1.5 times of all India weighted cost of production. 
  • Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the major producers of milling copra, whereas ball copra is produced predominantly in Karnataka. 
  • In the last ten years, the government has increased the MSP for milling copra and ball copra from Rs 5,250 per quintal and Rs 5,500 per quintal in 2014-15 to Rs 11,160 per quintal and Rs 12,000 per quintal in 2024-25, recording a rise of 113 percent and 118 percent, respectively. 
  • Ball/edible copra is used as a dry fruit and employed for religious purposes, whereas milling copra is used to extract oil. 

9.Cabinet approves opening of Consulate General of India in Auckland, New Zealand 

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has approved the proposal to open a Consulate General of India in Auckland, New Zealand. 
  • Opening of Consulate General of India in Auckland would help in increasing India’s diplomatic footprint and strengthen India’s diplomatic representation in view of India’s increasing global engagement. 
  • This will also help promote India’s strategic and commercial interests and better serve the welfare of the Indian community in Auckland. 
  • The Consulate is likely to be opened and fully operationalized within a time frame of 12 months. 

About New Zealand 

  • Capital – Wellington 
  • Currency – Dollar 
  • Prime Minister – Christopher Luxon 
  • Deputy Prime Minister – Carmel Sepuloni 

10.India pays in rupees for crude oil bought from UAE for the first time 

  • India has paid in rupee for the first time for crude oil purchased from the United Arab Emirates. India's first time payment in rupee is helping the world's third largest energy consumer take the local currency globally. 
  • India signed an agreement with the UAE in July to settle the rupee and soon after that Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) paid in Indian rupees for the purchase of one million barrels of crude oil from Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). 
  • This step is part of India's comprehensive efforts to diversify oil suppliers, cut transactions costs and establish the rupee as a viable trade disposal currency. 
  • The initiative is in line with the Reserve Bank of India's move on July 11, 2022, allowing importers to pay in rupees and receive exporters in local currency. 
  • In the financial year 2022-23 (April 2022 to March 2023), India spent $ 157.5 billion on import of 232.7 million tonnes of crude oil. Major suppliers include Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, with 58 percent of the total supply of West Asia. 
  • Some part of Russian oil imports has also been fixed in rupees. During the increase in Russian oil imports, the country's approach proved to be beneficial, saving billions of dollars. 

11.Reliance Jio and IIT Bombay collaborated for ‘Bharat GPT Program’ and ‘Smart TV Operating System’ 

  • Akash Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm is preparing to launch the 'Bharat GPT' program in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, which will also include the development of an operating system (OS) for smart TVs. 
  • The Bharat GPT programme, in collaboration with IIT Bombay, aims to use generative AI, taking inspiration from large language models such as ChatGPT. This initiative is in line with Jio's broader strategy to explore the transformative potential of artificial intelligence across various industries. 
  • Ambani announced Jio's plans to diversify its offerings across media, commerce, communications and devices. The company aims to create a strong ecosystem of growth in line with its vision of "Jio 2.0". 
  • Apart from the Bharat GPT programme, Ambani unveiled Jio's ambitious venture into television technology. The company will look to develop its own operating system (OS) for television and offer its product beyond telecommunications. 
  • Ambani expressed excitement about the launch of the 5G private network, with Jio planning to offer a 5G stack to enterprises of all sizes. 
  • Describing India as the "biggest innovation hub" for the next decade, Ambani expressed confidence of the country reaching a US$6 trillion economy by the end of the decade 

International News 

12.PPP nominated first Hindu woman for elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 

  • Pakistan People’s Party nominates Dr Saveera Parkash, to contest from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Buner district in the General Elections. 
  • The decision comes following the Pakistan Electoral Commission’s mandate of having at least 5% women candidates on general seats. 
  • Prakash, a member of the PPP women’s wing, will run for the PK-25 seat in the February 8 elections. 
  • Her father, Oam Parkash is a retired doctor and has been an active member of the PPP for over three decades. 
  • Saveera was also serving as the PPP women’s wing General Secretary in Buner. 

13.Ban on 'Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Power Plant' lifted 

  • Japan's Atomic Regulatory Authority (NRA) has lifted the operational ban on Tokyo Electric Power Company's 'Kashi-VajakiKariva power plant'. After this, work will start from this plant. 
  • But to resume, there is still a need for consent from local governments of Nigata Province, Kashivajaki city and Kariva village where it is located. In 2021, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) banned it due to failure to protect nuclear content and security violations, including wrong steps. 
  • The NRA decided to lift the ban citing reforms in the security management system. This atomic plant of 8,212 MW capacity is an off line since the Fukushima disaster. 
  • Japan, lacking resources, is eager to bring more nuclear power plants online to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG). 
  • The Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) forecast last week that Japan's LNG imports would decrease from the estimated 64 million tonnes to 58.5 million metric tonnes in the 2024/25 financial year this year. 

14.Increase in 'Zombie Dear Disease' cases in USA 

  • Researchers in the United States have warned that the Chronic Westing Disease (CWD) 'Zombie Dear Disease' can also spread to humans. No known case of CWD has been registered in humans so far. 
  • Experts have described CWD as a "slow -moving disaster" and advised governments to be prepared for the possibility of its transmission in humans. 
  • It was first detected in Yellowstone National Park in November 2023. The disease has been found in 800 samples of deer, elk and mouse. 
  • According to the Disease Control and Prevention Center, the disease has been reported in 31 states of the US. Cases have also been reported in three provinces of Canada and also in Norway, Finland, Sweden and South Korea. 
  • According to the US Geological Survey, the first case of zombie deer disease was discovered in Colorado in 1967. 
  • 'Zombie deer disease' disease confuses animals and dripping their saliva, it eats the brain of those animals and causes symptoms such as dementia, which eventually leads to death. There is no treatment or vaccine for it. Zombie dear disease 
  • 'Zombie Disease', also known as Chronic Westing Disease (CWD), is a infectious and malignant disease, a group of animals consisting of deer, alk, karibu, rendier and mousse. 
  • CWDs spread by prime - a set of protein that is almost indestructible and affects both animals and humans. They cause a type of rare progressive neurodynative disorder - which means it affects the nervous system and gradually deteriorates. 
  • Due to the pre -one of the disease, cells in the brain and spinal cord are twisted abnormally and start sticking to each other. 

15.Houthi attacks: a threat to global shipping? 

  • December 23, the crisis in the Red Sea reached Indian waters as Liberian-flagged merchant vessel Chem Pluto heading to Mangalore port was hit by a projectile about 271 miles from Porbandar in Gujarat, just outside the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This comes in the backdrop of a sharp rise in missile and drone attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi rebels in Yemen in the last couple of weeks following Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza. What is the latest on m.v. Chem Pluto? The vessel with 21 Indians and one 
  • The Vietnamese crew managed to sail on its power after the attack and reached Mumbai on Monday escorted by the Indian Coast Guard Ship (INGS) Vikram. Upon arrival, a Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal team carried out a preliminary assessment of Chem Pluto and analysis of the area of attack and debris found on the ship points towards a drone attack, the Navy said. "However, further forensic and technical analysis will be required to establish the vector of attack, including type and amount of explosive used," it stated. A joint investigation by various agencies is also underway. 
  • In another instance, on December 23, Gabon-flagged, Indian crewed vessel m. v. Sai Baba reported a drone attack in the Southern Red Sea and is now on its way to India. The twin attacks on m.v. Sai Baba and Norwegian-flagged m. v. 
  • BLAAMANEN, represents the 14th and 15th attacks on commercial shipping by Houthi militants since October 17, according to the U.S. Central Command. 
  • Recent data indicates a notable shift in transit passage in the Suez and Red Sea as Israel-flagged and owned ships Increasingly avoid transiting the Red Sea due to heightened security concerns, one official monitoring the situation said. "The avoidance of the Red Sea route has substantial implications, potentially adding one to two weeks to voyages, disrupting shipping schedules, and subsequently elevating fuel and insurance costs," the the official o said adding this strategic shift has implications for the revenue generated by the Suez Canal, as well as the operational dynamics of ports in Djibouti and the Gulf of Aden. 
  • What is being done to address this? To counter the attacks and protect the free flow of commerce in the Red Sea, on December 18, U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin announced the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian (OPS), an "important new multinational security initiative under the umbrella of Combined Maritime. 
  • Forces and the leadership of Task Force 153, which focuses on security in the Red Sea." Since the announcement of OPS, several companies in the last few days announced their decisions to review the rerouting From the Indian side, both the Navy and Coast Guard have increased their presence and surveillance in the region. Navy Chief Admiral R. Hari Kumar said, on December 26, that the Navy presently has four destroyers of Project 158 and 15A class deployed to counter piracy and drone attacks on merchant shipping Further, P81 long range patrol aircraft, Dorniers, Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, helicopters and Coast Guard ships are all deployed jointly to counter these threats, he stated. 
  • These attacks have prompted some shipping companies to reroute vessels, avoid the Red Sea and increase operational costs. 
  • India heightened its presence deploying various resources to counter potential threats on the region and monitor maritime activity 
  • However, uncertainties persist regarding potential future attacks, response strategies. and the broader implications for global trade and economies 
  • Maritime support ICGS Vikram escorting m.x. Chem Pluto to Mumbai on December 24 
  • Aden and since 2017 under Mission Based Deployments has deployed one capital warship each at all the critical maritime choke points into the 10k. Indian Navy's Information Fusion
  • Centre for Indian Ocean Region OPCIOR) located in Gurugram is actively monitoring the region and coordination In the back end to facilitate communication where required, like between the Navy and the company when m. v. Ruen was hijacked recently in the Gulf of Aden. We coordinate operational responses and assistance to vessels in the Indian Ocean Region, Captain Rohit Bajpal, Director IFC-10R said last week. "The international organisation had removed the high risk area that was there in the Gulf of Aden on January 1 this year and this is the first instance of actual piracy where a vessel has been hijacked.” 

16.Pegasus spyware found on journalists' phones after Apple alert, says Amnesty 

  • The founder editor of The Wire news website Siddharth Varadarajan and another journalist in India were targeted with Pegasus spyware this year, the Security Lab of Amnesty International announced on Thursday after testing their key devices. The journalists had received an alert from Apple that they were being targeted by "state-sponsored hacking", following which they provided their phones to the non-profit for testing. 
  • NSO Group, the Pegasus al spyware developer, sells its technology only to governments. India's Intelligence Bureau imported hardware from NSO Group in d. 2017, trade data show. 
  • Separately, The Washington Post reported that after the security alerts 
  • On October 30, Opposition MPs and journalists got alerts from Apple saying their phones were being targeted by 'state-sponsored attackers. In 2021, many of these individuals were reportedly targeted by the Pegasus spyware 
  • The Union government has not denied it bought or uses Pegasus. Trade data show that the Intelligence Bureau imported hardware in 2017 from the Pegasus maker, NSO Group, of Israel Pegasus, sold only to governments, allows attackers to extract data from even fully updated phones, and may give them access to real time mic and camera data from Apple went out in Oe tober, government officials put "pressure" on the tech giant to offer "alternative" explanations to the public on why these warnings were sent to Opposition leaders and journalists. Union Ministers and Apple had made a series of unsubstantiated statements 
  • when these alerts went out, such as that these messages had gone out in 150 countries, when no other countries' citizens or ruling party lawmakers had reported receiving a warning that week. State News 

17.Kerala CM launched new board for transparent Public Sector Recruitment 

  • Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has inaugurated an autonomous board established by the state government to recruit efficient and skilled candidates for Public Sector Units (PSUs) through a transparent selection process. 
  • The board aims to enhance the efficiency of public sector institutions in the state, he said during the inauguration of the Kerala Public Enterprises (Selection and Recruitment) Board, and its office at Vellayambalam. 
  • The recruitment of public sector undertakings under the Department of Industries and Commerce will be under the board’s purview in the first phase. 
  • Initial tasks include selection for various posts in 20 public institutions and appointing managing directors in 22 public sector institutions. 

About Kerala 

  • Capital – Thiruvananthapuram 
  • Chief Minister – Pinarayi Vijayan 
  • Governor – Arif Mohammad Khan 

18.Uttar Pradesh To Implement Green Hydrogen Policy To Promote Clean Energy 

  • Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh: In a push towards clean energy and tackling climate change, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed officials to implement the state’s Green Hydrogen Policy-2023. 
  • This policy aims to incentivize and boost the production and utilization of green hydrogen, a promising alternative to fossil fuels. 
  • The policy will focus on promoting green hydrogen production for diverse applications, including: 
  • Ammonia production: Green hydrogen can be combined with nitrogen to create sustainable ammonia for fertilizers and other industrial uses. 
  • Transportation: Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles offer a cleaner alternative to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. 
  • Power generation: Green hydrogen can be used in fuel cells to generate electricity without emissions 

Business News 

19.Tata Power Secures Rajasthan Transmission Project

  • Tata Power has emerged victorious in the bid for the Bikaner-III Neemrana-II Transmission project, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) established by PFC Consulting, a subsidiary of Power Finance Corporation. 
  • The estimated cost of the project is ₹1,544 crore, with a targeted commissioning period of 24 months from the date of the project SPV transfer. 
  • The transmission initiative will be executed on a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) basis and is designed to facilitate the evacuation of 7.7 GW of renewable energy from the Bikaner Complex in Rajasthan. 
  • The project involves the creation of a 340 km transmission corridor, connecting the Bikaner-III pooling station to the Neemrana II substation. 

Appointment News 

20.Nina Singh First Woman CISF Chief Rahul Rasgotra ITBP Chief

  • The central government has appointed Nina Singh as the first woman Director General of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), marking a significant milestone in the traditionally male-dominated realm of security forces. 
  • Currently serving as the Special DG of the CISF, her elevation to the top post is a testament to her exemplary career and leadership skills. This move underscores the government’s commitment to promoting gender diversity in crucial security positions. 
  • In another key appointment, Rahul Rasgotra, the Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), has been named the new Director General of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). 

21.UN chief appoints Sigrid Kaag as senior humanitarian coordinator for Gaza 

  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed Sigrid Kaag of the Netherlands as the senior humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator for Gaza. 
  • In this role, she will facilitate, coordinate, monitor, and verify humanitarian relief consignments to Gaza. 
  • She will also establish a United Nations mechanism to accelerate humanitarian relief consignments to Gaza through States which are not party to the conflict. 
  • In executing these functions, she will be supported by the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS). Ms. Kaag is expected to begin her assignment on 8 January 2024. 

About United Nations (UN) 

  • Founded – 24 October 1945 
  • Headquarters – New York, US 
  • Official languages – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian & Spanish 
  • Membership – 193 member states
  •  1st Secretary General – Trygve Halvdan Lie (Norway) 
  • 9th Secretary‑General – António Guterres (Portugal) 
  • Deputy Secretary-General – Amina J. Mohammed (Nigeria) 

22.Katie Moon appoints as ambassador of Mumbai Marathon 

  • Two-time pole vault world champion and Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Katie Moon has been roped in as event ambassador for the 19th edition of the Tata Mumbai Marathon. 
  • Promoted by Procam International, the Mumbai Marathon is a World Athletics Gold Label Race. 
  • Moon had clinched gold medal at the 2022 Eugene and 2023 Budapest World Athletics Championships. 

Recent Brand Ambassador 

  • Rishabh Pant – Iodex Ultra Gel+ 
  • Deepika Padukone – Bisleri (Campaign Name – #DrinkItUp) 
  • Kartik Aaryan – Brand Ambassador for Football by Sony Sports Network
  • Amrita Raichand – Health Ambassador for Salaam Bombay Foundation 
  • Sourav Ganguly – Tripura Tourism 

23.Atanu Chakraborty reappointed as Chairman of HDFC Bank 

  • HDFC Bank, the country's largest private lender, announced that Atanu Chakraborty's tenure as non-executive chairman has been extended by three years by the board. 
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been recommended by the board to reappoint Chakraborty as independent director and part-time non-executive chairman of the bank. According to HDFC Bank, RBI has approved the case for the next three-year tenure, starting from May 5, 2024 and ending on May 4, 2027. 
  • Atanu Chakraborty, a 1985 batch Gujarati IAS officer, retired as secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs in April 2020. In May 2021, he was appointed Chairman of HDFC Bank.
  • Atanu Chakraborty received a Bachelor of Engineering degree from NIT Kurukshetra, focusing on Electronics and Communications.
  • He graduated with a Master's degree in Business Administration from University in the United Kingdom and a Diploma in Business Finance from ICFAI, Hyderabad. 
  • Atanu Chakraborty has been a member of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in Gujarat cadre for 35 years. He has worked primarily in the areas of infrastructure, natural gas and petroleum, and finance and economic policy. 

HDFC bank 

  • HDFC Bank was established in 1994 by Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited or HDFC Limited. It started its banking operations in 1995. 
  • On 1 July 2023, HDFC Limited merged with HDFC Bank.
  • HDFC Bank is the largest private sector bank in India and the second largest commercial bank after State Bank of India. The bank has overseas branches in Dubai, London and Singapore. Its headquarters is in Mumbai. 

Award News 

24.Mr L P Hemanth K Srinivasulu Receives ‘Man Of The Year 2023’ Award From Home Minister Shri Amit Shah 

  • In a ceremony held on December 28, 2023, Mr. L.P. Hemanth K. Srinivasulu, the newly appointed Director of the Latin America and Caribbean Trade Council, was bestowed with the prestigious “Man of the Year-2023″ award. 
  • The honor, presented by Shri Amit Shah, the Home Minister of India, serves as a recognition of Mr. Hemanth’s outstanding contributions to trade diplomacy and global economic relations.
  • Mr. Hemanth’s journey to the helm of the Latin America and Caribbean Trade Council has been marked by a distinguished career in multinational corporations. Having lent his expertise to renowned entities such as Fannie Mae (USA), Wipro, Tech Mahindra, and ICBC (Canada), he has showcased versatility and leadership prowess in senior roles across various sectors. 

Science and technology News 

25.ISRO To Launch India’s First X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite On Jan 1, 2024 

  • Following the successes of the Chandrayaan-3 and Aditya-L1 missions, ISRO is gearing up for its latest venture – the XPoSat mission. 
  • Scheduled for launch on January 1, 2024, this mission marks India’s maiden foray into polarimetry, a field crucial for studying black holes and other celestial sources emitting X-rays. 
  • The mission’s trajectory involves placing XPoSat into a low earth orbit (LEO), a feat to be accomplished by India’s reliable Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). 
  • ISRO emphasizes the importance of understanding complex emission mechanisms from celestial sources like black holes, neutron stars, active galactic nuclei, and pulsar wind nebulae. 

26.China launches a Long March-11 carrier rocket into space 

  • China has successfully launched a Long March-11 carrier rocket into space, sending three satellites into planned orbit. 
  • The Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center launched the rocket from waters off the coast of Yangjiang, south China’s Guangdong Province. 
  • The satellites will be mainly used for space science and technology experiments. It was the 503rd mission of the Long March carrier rocket series. 

About China 

  • Capital – Beijing 
  • Currency – Yuan
  • President – Xi Jinping 

27.ISRO launched 'FEAST' software

  • A major unit of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC) has unveiled an unprecedented element analysis (FEA) software called FEAST (finite element analysis of structures). 
  • Developed to complete a variety of structures including rockets, aircraft, satellites and buildings, Feast is ready to bring revolutionary changes in the analysis of structural integrity and performance during the design and development phase of different products. 
  • With the onset of Feast, ISRO aims to provide an indigenous, adaptable and cost -effective solution to the Indian user base. 
  • The feast software works uninterrupted on both Windows and Linux operating systems and is designed to run on a system with minimal hardware configurations. 
  • Ready to meet the various requirements of users, Feast is available in three versions: academic (for students and educational institutions), premium (for small and medium level industries), and professional (for general mass applications ). 
  • To complete the software release, ISRO has made efforts to educate and familiarize potential users from FEA's basic principles through a dedicated book. This book titled 'Introduction to finite element analysis' is written by the Structural Analysis of the VSSC and the Liquid Propulsion System Center (LPSC). 

Sports News 

28.Suriya acquired ownership of Chennai in Indian Street Premier League 

  • National Award winner Suriya has joined the Indian Street Premier League (ISPL) as the owner of team Chennai. 
  • The ISPL is India’s first tennis ball T10 cricket tournament that will be played inside a stadium. 
  • The tournament will feature 19 high-intensity matches, boasting a line-up of six teams – Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, and Srinagar. 
  • Recently, Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Hrithik Roshan, and Ram Charan were announced as the team owners of Mumbai, Srinagar, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, respectively. 
  • The ISPL is scheduled to be held from March 2 to March 9 in Mumbai. 

Indian polity News 

29.Parliament repealed the Press and Book Registration Act, 1867 

  • Lok Sabha passed the Press, Periodicals Registration Bill, 2023, repealing the colonial-era law of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867. This bill has already been passed by the Rajya Sabha in August 2023. 

Main Features 

  • The Bill provides for registration of public news or comments on public news, newspapers, magazines and books. Journals do not include books or science-related and academic journals. 
  • The Act also provided for the cataloging of books. Books have been taken out of the scope of the Bill, as books as a subject are managed by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development. 
  • The Bill defines the role of the Registrar General of the Press of India, who is responsible for issuing certificates of registration for all periodicals.
  • Additionally, its duties include maintaining registers of periodicals, setting guidelines for periodical titles, verifying operating statistics and managing registration amendments, suspensions and cancellations. 
  • Apart from this, publication of any magazine is prohibited for persons convicted of terrorism or actions against state security. 
  • Printing of foreign magazines within India requires prior approval from the Central Government. 
  • Declarations related to printing presses can now be submitted online to the Press Registrar General, eliminating the need for declarations to be made before the District Magistrate.
  • The Press Registrar General has the power to suspend the registration of a magazine for a minimum of 30 days (extendable up to 180 days) for various reasons including furnishing of misleading information, interruption of publication or providing inappropriate annual returns. 
  • The Bill empowers the Registrar General to impose penalty for publication of unregistered newspapers and magazines or for failure to submit annual returns within the specified time limit. 
  • Failure to follow these instructions may result in imprisonment of up to six months. 

30.Third National Conference of Chief Secretaries started under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi

  • The third National Conference of Chief Secretaries has started in New Delhi under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from 27 to 29 December 2023. The main focus of the National Conference of Chief Secretaries this year will be 'Ease of Living'. The first conference was held in Dharamshala in June 2022, while the second was held in Delhi in January this year. 
  • In line with the Prime Minister's vision of translating the principle of cooperative federalism into practice, the National Conference of Chief Secretaries is organized to promote participatory governance and partnership between the Center and the States. 
  • The conference was attended by more than 200 delegates, including Chief Secretaries and other senior officials of the Central Government, States and Union Territories. 
  • This will lay the groundwork for collaborative action to achieve better quality of life for both rural and urban populations by strengthening the delivery mechanisms of government interventions. 
  • The five sub-themes that will be discussed at the conference are land and property, electricity, drinking water, health and school education, with special emphasis on easy access to welfare schemes and quality in service delivery. 
  • Best practices of States/UTs under each theme will also be presented at the conference so that States can replicate the success achieved in one State or maneuver as per their needs. 

Obituary News 

31.Former EU Commission President Jacques Delors dies at 98 

  • Jacques Delors, a former head of the EU Commission and key figure in the creation of the euro currency, has died at the age of 98. 
  • Delors, a Socialist, had a high-profile political career in France, where he served as finance minister under president Francois Mitterrand from 1981 to 1984. 
  • He headed up the European Commission from 1985 to 1995, a decade that saw major steps in the bloc’s integration. 
  • These included the completion of the common market, the Schengen accords for travel, the Erasmus programme for student exchanges, and the creation of the bloc’s single currency, the euro. 

Agreement News

32.Wardwizard Foods Inks MoU With Gujarat Govt To Expand Operations 

  • Wardwizard Foods and Beverages Limited recently witnessed a significant surge in its shares, rising by 9.98 per cent, following the company’s collaboration with the government of Gujarat. 
  • The MoU serves as a blueprint for Wardwizard’s ambitious plans to expand its operations within the state of Gujarat. 
  • The company is set to focus on the production of a diverse range of products, including ready-to-eat foods, mayonnaise sauce, frozen foods, and more. This expansion initiative is backed by a substantial investment of Rs 500 crore, signaling a significant commitment to the growth and development of the region’s food industry. 

33.GCC Inks Free Trade Deal With South Korea 

  • The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has taken a significant stride in strengthening economic ties with major Asian partners by signing its second free trade agreement (FTA) this year. 
  • As part of the newly established FTA, South Korea has committed to removing tariffs on nearly 90% of all items, including critical energy resources such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other petroleum products. 
  • On the other side, the Gulf states will reciprocate by scrapping tariffs on 76.4% of traded products and 4% of traded goods. This mutual reduction in trade barriers aims to stimulate economic activity and create a more conducive environment for bilateral commerce. 
  • Beyond the South Korea agreement, the GCC has been proactive in advancing its trade agenda. Earlier this year, the bloc signed an FTA with Pakistan, signaling a commitment to diversify its economic partnerships 

34.India and Malaysia sign an MoU for Cooperation in Broadcasting 

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has approved the MoU/Agreement to strengthen the cooperation in the field of broadcasting, exchange of news, and audio-visual programmes as well as significantly augment India’s friendly relations with Malaysia. 
  • With this, the total number of MoUs signed by Prasar Bharati with different countries has increased to 46. 
  • Prasar Bharati plays a very important role in nation-building and lays continuous focus on providing meaningful and accurate content to one and all, both within the country and abroad. 
  • These MoUs are going to be crucial in distribution of content in other countries, in developing partnerships with international broadcasters and exploring new strategies to address the demands of new technologies. 
  • The major benefit arising out of signing of MoUs are exchange of programmes in the areas of Culture, Education, Science, Technology, Sports, News and other fields on gratis/non-gratis basis. 

About Malaysia

  • Capital – Kuala Lumpur 
  • Currency – Ringgit 
  • Prime Minister – Anwar Ibrahim 

35.India and Italy signed Mobility and Migration Partnership Agreement 

  • The Union Cabinet has provided ex-post facto approval to the Ministry of External Affairs’ proposal to sign and ratify the Migration and Mobility Agreement between India and Italy. 
  • This agreement aims to strengthen ties between both cultures and promote mobility among students, skilled workers, business professionals, and young talent. 
  • This also includes a 12-month residency that may be granted to Indian students in Italy for work experience. 
  • This agreement was signed on November 2, 2023, by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Antonio Tajani. Now, Union cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the proposal to move ahead. 

Recently India signed MoUs with others countries 

  • India, Russia ink pacts on construction of future power generating units of Kudankulam nuclear plant, Tamil Nadu 
  • India provides $250 million Line of Credit to Kenya for agricultural modernisation 
  • India and US sign MoU to connect dynamic startup ecosystems 
  • India and UAE sign MoU to Strengthen Educational Ties 
  • India and Tanzania agree on 5-year roadmap for defence cooperation

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post