Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 7th January 2024

1. New digital tools set to save Kashmiri script from disuse 

  • For centuries, the Kashmiri language has survived only through oral traditions; by 2013, those who could write the script fell to just 5%. This year, two tech giants, Microsoft and Google, will infuse a new lease of life into the language, whose rich literature continues to remain accessible only to a small section of people. 
  • As most adult Kashmiris, Azar Nazir, 40, a poet and resident of Srinagar, can only transliterate Kashmiri words into English; he cannot write in his mother tongue. "When I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, the Kashmiri language was neither taught in schools nor preferred at homes. Like many, I have the handicap of not being able to read and write in Kashmiri," Mr. Nazir said. 
  • Linguists in the Kashmir Valley are hoping for a turnaround this year, thanks to the giants of Silicon Valley. Microsoft India's MS Translator software has now included the Kashmiri language. In November 2023, an online campaign was on to get Kashmiri included in Google Translate as well; this demand has also been accepted and is likely to be rolled out in the next six months. 
  • The initiatives are likely to benefit 70 lakh Kashmiri speakers living in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, including those in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). 
  • "In the 1970s, it was Radio Kashmir and the J&K Cultural Academy that played a key role in enhancing the prospects of the Kashmiri language, giving it a fillip. Besides, singers like Ghulam Ahmad Sofi and Abdul Rashid Hafiz ensured that the language survives through folk music. We are thankful to Microsoft and Google for taking up the initiative to include the Kashmiri language for translation, though it's still in process," Amin Bhat, playwright and president of the Adbee Markaz Kamraz (AMK) told The Hindu. 

2. Aditya-L1 reaches destination, in halo orbit around L1 point 

  • The search Organisation (ISRO) has placed the Aditya-L1 spacecraft in a halo orbit around the Lagrangian point (L1). 
  • India's maiden solar mission, Aditya-L1, reached the Li point on Saturday, 127 days after it was launched on September 2, 2023. 

Firing maneuver 

  • After a 1.5-million-km journey, the spacecraft was placed in orbit following a firing maneuver carried out by scientists and engineers at the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru. ISRO Chairman S. Somanath told press persons that the halo orbit insertion process was carried out as intended. 
  • "Today's event was to place the Aditya L-1 in the precise halo orbit. The spacecraft was moving towards the halo orbit, but we had to make some corrections to put it in the right place. If we do not do the correction today, there could have been a possibility that it could escape from this point [L1]. But we would not have allowed that to happen as there are some contingencies in place, but I am only telling mathematically it can escape," he said 

3. Govt. amends drugs rules to raise quality 

  • Aimed at ensuring robust quality control for pharma and biopharmaceutical products, the Union Health Ministry on Saturday notified revised rules under Schedule M of the Drugs and Rules, 1945. 
  • Cosmetics Schedule M prescribes the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for pharmaceutical products. 

4. Indians should prepare for a bigger role in international arena 

  • Imutans should prepare theanseibres to play a bigger role in the international wasse of his wical and coolisational responsibility, Union Minister for External Affairs S. Jaishankar said here on Saturday. He was delivering the third P. Farameswa ram memorial lecture on the "Role of Bharat in Shaping a Just World Order & Perspective for the Immediate Future" organized 
  • "Our neighbors trust us, the region beyond today has respect for us. Much of the world today looks at how India is progressing. They look at our achievements. 
  • The world is actually getting ready for us. It is we who have to make that effort to prepare for a bigger role. And we must do it with a sense of historical and civilisational responsibility," he said. "A big part of Viksit Bharat is also about discovering our own strengths," Mr. Jaishankar said. 
  • "Viksit Bharat, Atmanirbhar Bharat or the Bharat that can shape the world can only forge ahead if we always remember who we are," the Minister said. 

5. 'Telcos aim to garner an extra 100 from subscribers' wallets in 2024’ 

  • Indian telecom companies are eyeing higher average revenue per user (ARPU) this year to fetch an additional 100 per subscriber this year, reckons Peeyush Vaish, TMT (Technology, Media, and Telecommunications) Industry lead at Deloitte India. 
  • To enhance ARPUs, telcos may discontinue some existing base tariff plans and introduce new and rebundled products, he says. "Telcos got smarter, cut down bottom plans of ₹40- *50 earlier and were able to push up their ARPUs between 120 and 200 on average. Tariffs may gradually see an upward shift as they may continue to kill base plans expecting to get another ₹100," Mr. Vaish 
  • ARPU between ₹270-300 over the next three years to realize their investments in building 5G networks. Currently ARPUs in India range between 140-200 compared with global average of 1600-850 while it is 580 in China, as per industry experts observed. 
  • Telcos are currently enjoying an ARPU of about ₹200, although 5G has not yet started touching their toplines. 
  • Mr. Vaish believes the "Government seems serious about BSNL's revival, as it is heavily investing in it. If the governance is right, the market direction is properly set and leadership is strengthened, the turnaround of BSNL will be quick." He believes there is "ample space" for more telecom operators in India 

6. Over 10,000 cases of trafficking recorded in 5 years, but convictions remain at a dismal low 

  • India recorded as many as 10,659 cases of human trafficking between 2018 and 2022 The data tabled by the Union Home Ministry in response to a question from Manish Tewart in the Lok Sabha on December 5 reveal that an average of 2,000 cases were recorded every year, with 2022 registering the highest of 2,250. 
  • In response to another question on the same day by Omprakash Bhupalsinh, aka Pawan Rajenimbalkar, the Ministry revealed details of the number of persons arrested, chargesh eeted, convicted and acquitted for human trafficking between 2018 and 2022. In these five years, 26,840 persons an average of 5,000 persons a year were arrested. 
  • The number of persons chargesheeted stands at 19,821, with an average of 3,500-4,000 persons a year. The number of those convicted, however, re mains low 1,031 in five years, just 4.8% of the ar rests, The number of accused who have been acquitted in the five years stands at 4,936, 
  • Kaushik Gupta, an advocate practicing in the cal Gina High Court and ber of the anti batheking consortium Tafteesh that despite the high number ofاليه persons charges , the low conviction rate indicated poor investigation, "These chargedr eets do not stand before Bengal the court during the trial and thus the acquinal is wille high and convictions are low" he said, Victims turn: States .ing hostile during the trial reply process is another reason, the The said 
  • States durs destine memos, Anda akan Telangana have become wweبريزة and destine Gon noted Va The Maharastra registered the highest number of cas s-1,392-in the past five years, followed by Telangana (1,301) and Andhra Pradesh (987)
  • "When it comes to trafficking, some are source States auctor and N Maharashtra and Karnataka are destinations . The Ministry, in te , has also puiited our steps taken to combat trafficking. These include upgrading the infrastructure of district anti-human trafficking units and strengthening intelligence and surveillance mechanisms to identify gangs and gather information their modus operandi 

7. Govt. to announce quality norms for 2,500 items soon 

  • Union Commerce, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal said on Saturday that the Centre will soon bring Quality Control Orders (QCO) for nearly 2,500 items. 
  • Addressing a meeting on the 77th foundation day of the Bureau of Indian al Standards (BIS), he pointed out that there had been only 14 QCOs for 106 products till 2014 but this increased to 156 QCOs for n 672 products by 2024. Around 90% of the QCOs came in the past few years of the Narendra Modi government, he said. "QCOs are being processed in nearly 2,500 more items which reflects our commitment towards quality by providing high standards goods and services," he said. 

Prime Minister's vision 

  • Recalling that nine years ago, the Prime Minister had put forth the vision of 'zero defect, zero effect' to ensure the making of high-quality products that are sustainable, eco-friendly and have zero climate impact, Mr. Goyal said that this vision is being adopted and it has made consumers quality conscious. 
  • "Quality is king. But better quality is probably the emperor," the Minister said, adding that quality is cost-effective which in turn helps the industry and Piyush Goyal said that 90% of the present QCOs came during Modi's regime. 
  • "Quality is a common factor and it is necessary. Good quality is non-negotiable and the awareness generated by BIS wherein consumers, industry, exporters or importers, all understand its benefits," he added. 
  • The Union Minister urged the young generation to become the ambassadors of quality and said the youngsters can promote e-learning, and can upgrade performance as- sessment, review, and analysis of knowledge for holistic development (PARAKH) initiatives in colleges and universities. 
  • He said that after studying the gap analysis, a comprehensive network of state-of-the-art modern labs was set up to facilitate BIS and industry. "BIS recently agreed to invest ₹40 crore to set up 21 labs for cotton testing," he said and asked the industry to come forward with areas for which testing is required. 

8. AC firms may invest 3,820 ct. in Sri City’ 

  • Sri City, an integrated business city at Tada, near Chennai, is now considered as the 'Cool Capital of India,' with seven air conditioning manufacturers having set up units and started operations there, said a top official. 
  • These key players in heating, ventilation and air conditioning solutions have committed to invest 3,820 crore over a period of time and provide jobs to more than 9,300 people. 
  • Daikin Airconditioning India has set up a manufacturing facility costing 1,000 crore. The unit will provide 3,000 jobs. 
  • "The commitment of all these companies to India's Atma Nirbhar strategy and 'Make in India' ambition are commendable," said Sri City founder-MD Ravindra Sannareddy. 
  • According to him, major players such as Blue Star, Amber, Epack Durable, Havells, IAPL Group (Mitsubishi Electric) and Thermax have set up shop, boosting domestic production and reducing import reliance. 
  • It is estimated by 2027, almost 50% of air-conditioners produced in India will originate from Sri City, Mr. Sannareddy said. 

9. NHAI collaborates with NRSC to develop ‘Green Cover Index’ 

  • The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has inked a MoU with ISRO’s National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) to develop and report a ‘Green Cover Index’ for the extensive network of the Indian National Highways. 
  • NHAI’s collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) satellite centre data will take three years to map the entire highway network, promoting environmental awareness and sustainable development. 

The tech-enabled Green Cover Index 

  • The NRSC will undertake a comprehensive pan-India estimation of green cover, referred to as the ‘Green Cover Index’ for National Highways using high-resolution satellite imagery. 
  • The index will witness the use of emerging technologies to enhance in-situ data collection, supplement plantation management, and monitoring, including performance audits conducted by NHAI. 
  • Besides, the innovative approach promises to be a robust and reliable mechanism, providing a time-saving and cost-effective solution to generate a macro-level estimate along national highways. 

Recent MoU 

  • TGL and Flipkart sign MoU for supply chain decarbonization 
  • Bharat Electronics Secures ₹445 Cr Deal For UP Dial 112 Project 
  • Ministry of Rural Development signed with JioMart to Self-Help Groups’ Products 
  • Tata Power ties up with Indian Oil to set up over 500 EV charging stations 
  • RITES signed pact with CFM Mozambique for 10 diesel locomotive supply 

10. REC limited signs with RVN to finance multi-modal. 

  • REC Limited, a Maharatna Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under the Ministry of Power, has signed a MoU with Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) to extend financial support of up to Rs. 35,000 crore for infrastructure projects over the next five years. 
  • The agreement encompasses a wide spectrum of projects, including multi-modal logistics hubs, rail infrastructure, road development, port facilities, and metro projects that RVNL is venturing into. 
  • REC Limited, established in 1969, is a “Maharatna” Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) that operates under the Ministry of Power. 
  • REC has traditionally focused on the power infrastructure sector, covering generation, transmission, distribution, renewable energy, and emerging technologies like electric vehicles, battery storage, and green hydrogen. 
  • Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), classified as a “Schedule ‘A’ Navratna” CPSE under the Ministry of Railways, plays a crucial role in fulfilling around 30 percent of Indian Railways’ infrastructure needs. 
  • Beyond railway projects, RVNL has ventured into road development, port facilities, irrigation, and metro projects, often interconnected with railway infrastructure. 

11. UP distributed loans over Rs 6 lakh crore to boost MSME sector 

  • The Yogi government has distributed loans totaling Rs 6,55,684 crore in the last six and a half years to boost the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector in Uttar Pradesh. 
  • The sector has provided employment to 2.5 crore youths during the period. The government has been providing loans to aspiring entrepreneurs every year, with the amount exceeding the target each time. 
  • The MSME sector, which was dying of neglect during the previous governments, got a fresh lease of life when Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took over in 2017 and launched various initiatives such as the One District, One Product (ODOP) scheme, Mukhyamantri Gramodyog Rojgar Yojana, Mukhyamantri Yuva Swarojgar Yojana and Vishwakarma Shram Samman Yojana among others. 
  • The objective of the Yogi government behind these schemes is to make the state’s youth, women, and small businesses self-reliant, which has so far benefited scores of artisans, craftsmen, and small entrepreneurs in the state 
  • In the financial year 2017-18, the Yogi government set a target of providing a loan of Rs 31,330 crores to the MSME sector but distributed Rs 46,594 crores, which was 149 percent of the target. Similarly, in the financial year 2018-19, against the target of Rs 41,402 crores, the government disbursed loans of Rs 57,809 crores, up 140 percent. 

About Uttar Pradesh 

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

12. Ayodhya to host International Kite Festival ahead of Ram Temple consecration 

  • Ahead of the Ram Temple consecration ceremony scheduled for January 22, the Uttar Pradesh government will host an International Kite Festival here. 
  • The Ayodhya Development Authority (ADA) has initiated preparations for the festival, which is likely to take place between January 19 and 21, providing renowned kite flyers from both within the country and around the world with an opportunity to showcase their art. 
  • To organize this festival on a grand scale, inspiration is being taken from various kite festivals being held in the country and abroad. 
  • A visitors’ area would be designed with seating arrangements for 750 people along with a VVIP lounge to accommodate 50 special invitees to the event. 

13. EAM Jaishankar to represent India at Uganda NAM Summit in January 2024 

  • India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar will represent India at the upcoming Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Uganda’s capital Kampala January 2024. 
  • Scheduled from January 17 to 20, 2024, the 19th edition of the NAM summit will be preceded by a crucial foreign ministerial meeting from January 15. 
  •  Additionally, the African country will host the Third South Summits and G77 meeting from January 21 to 23. 
  • At the 2019 NAM summit in Azerbaijan, and the 2016 NAM Venezuela summits, India was represented at the Vice President level. 
  • Uganda will be the chair of the NAM grouping from 2024-2027. The African country was chosen to host the 19th Non-Aligned Movement Summit on October 19, 2019, during the meeting held in Baku, Azerbaijan. 
  • The membership of NAM today comprises 53 countries from Africa, 40 from Asia, 26 from Latin America and the Caribbean, and one from Europe (Belarus). 
  • There are 18 countries and 10 international organizations that are Observers at NAM. The grouping is 2nd only to the UN in terms of membership of countries, making it one of the largest groupings on the planet. 

About Uganda 

  • Capital – Kampala 
  • Currency – Ugandan shilling 
  • Official languages- Swahili, English 
  • Prime minister– Robinah Nabbanja 
  • President – Yoweri Museveni

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