Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC -15th February 2024

1. Pension concerns "A hike in minimum pension will help the lower strata among the retired 

  • The recommendation of the Central Board of Trustees of the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) for a 0.1-percentage-point increase in provident fund (PF) deposits for 2023-24 should not be surprising, as it is in tune with what the EPFO did last year. However, the recommended rate of 8.25% is 0.4-percentage points lower than in 2018-19, a pre-election year like 2023-24. If cleared by the Union Finance Ministry, it will involve the transfer of a record 1,07,000 crore to EPF members. But the development has not pleased those with a longstanding demand for an increase in the minimum pension of 1,000. When in opposition, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had demanded that the pension be raised to ₹3,000 (the UPA government had proposed 1,000 a month). On coming to power in 2014, the BJP carried out faithfully, with effect from September 2014, what was finalised by its predecessor, benefitting approximately 20.5 lakh pensioners. Months ago, the Finance Ministry had rejected a proposal to double the minimum pension amount, citing a "huge rise" in the budgetary support needed under the Employees' Pension Scheme (EPS), 1995. There is one more component in the budgetary support which refers to the Central government's contribution at 1.16% of wages up to an amount of 15,000 a month. For FY 2024-25, the Ministry has projected 10,950 crore as budgetary support against the revised estimate of 9,760 croге for the current year. The Finance Ministry calculates that a 100% rise in the minimum pension would be more than the proportionate increase in the overall budgetary support as numerous pensioners had received much less than ₹1,000 as monthly pension till 2014. 
  • Describing the EPS as a "Defined Contribution-Defined Benefit" social security scheme, the government said in the Rajya Sabha that all benefits were paid out of accumulations through contributions, and as per the fund's valuation as on March 31, 2019, there was "an actuarial deficit." However, this argument has been virtually demolished in the EPFO's annual report (2022-23). Notwithstanding its reasons not to hike the minimum pension, the government must note that the difference between the minimum and original pension was about ₹970 crore for 2022-23. So, the doubling of the minimum pension is no strain. There are other key issues too such as equating the amount of spouse pension on a par with what a member-pensioner gets. In the case of higher PF pension, the rules have been framed after the 2022 Supreme Court judgment wherein most of the pre-2014 retirees would not be covered; there are around four lakh such applications for higher pension. A more expansive approach to PF pension matters will help senior citizens. 

2. BJP got 90% of all corporate donations in 2022-23: report 

  • The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received nearly 90% of corporate donations worth 1680.49 crore that five national parties together gathered in 2022-23, according to a report by election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). 
  • The report focuses on donations above ₹20,000 received by the national political parties in the 2022-23 financial year, as per details submitted by them to the Election Commission. 
  • These parties are the BJP, the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI (M)], and the National People's Party (NPP). 
  • The last date for submission of contribution re- ports for the parties was September 30, 2023. 
  • The total donations declared by the national parties for 2022-23 stood at ₹850.438 crore. The BJP received ₹719.85 crore and the Congress 279.92 crore. The donations declared by the BJP are more than five times the aggregate declared by the other parties together. 
  • The BSP declared that it did not receive any donations above 20,000 during this period. 
  • The total donations received by the national parties in 2022-23 increased by ₹91.70 crore, a rise of 12.09% from the previous financial year. 
  • The donations received by the BJP increased from 1614.62 crore in 2021-22 to 2719.85 crore in 2022-23. On the other hand, the donations to Congress decreased from 95.45 crore in 2021-22 to 279.92 crore in 2022-23. 
  • A total of 276.20 стоге was donated to the national parties from Delhi, followed by 160.50 crore from Gujarat and ₹96.27 crore from Maharashtra. 
  • Donations to the national parties made by the corporate or business sector amounted to ₹680.49 crore 80.01% of total donations out of which the BJP received 1610.49 crore, while the Congress got ₹55.62 crore. 
  • The BJP's ₹610.49 crore was more than eight times the total amount of ₹70 crore of corporate donations declared by all other national parties in 2022-23. 

3. Press Club urges govt. to revoke order on magazine 

  •  The Press Club of India on Wednesday expressed concern over the Union Infor- mation and Broadcasting Ministry's direction to the The Caravan magazine to take down a story it had published on the Army's alleged "torture and murder of civilians in Jammu". 
  • The story titled "Screams from the Army Post' has been taken down because of the Ministry's order issued under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act and the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, it said. 
  • "The actions of the MIB [Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) gravely infringes the freedom of the Press, which has seen a serious slide in the past few years," the Press Club further said. 

4. Kerala House requests Central govt. to amend wildlife Act to tackle human-animal conflict 

  • The Kerala Assembly on Wednesday adopted a unanimous resolution urging the Centre to suitably amend the Wildlife Protection Act to mitigate human wildlife conflicts. 
  • Forest Minister A.K. Saseendran tabled the resolution for discussion as per rule 118 of the Assembly's Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business. 
  • Members across the aisle supported the resolution aimed at eliminating wildlife that trespass on human habitations, imperiling the life and property of citizens, destroying crops and preying on livestock. UDF MLAs Manjilamkuzhi Ali, T. Siddique, Sunny Joseph and I.C. Balakrishnan suggested certain amendments. 
  • Wildlife intrusions in habitations about forests and lethal attacks on residents had impelled the government to request the Centre to make the law more contemporary. The resolution demanded that the Central law empowers Chief Forest Conservators to use lethal force to liquidate wild animals that trespass on residential localities and pose an imminent threat to human life. It also requested the Centre to initiate scientific and humane measures to control the wildlife population. 

5. Subianto wins first round of elections in Indonesia 

  • Indonesian Defence Minis ter Prabowo Subianto claimed victory in the first round of the archipelago's presidential election on Wednesday after preliminary results indicated that he was on course to be elected leader of Southeast Asia's biggest economy and the world's third largest democracy.
  • Official results are not due until next month but pollsters who collected a sample of votes at polling stations for previously reliable "quick counts" put Mr. Subianto on more than 55%, with most of the vote sample counted. 

6. The Centre must address grievances of farmers through talks 

  • Farmers from Punjab, in their thousands, have assembled at three points along the border with Haryana, where they have been stopped from marching to Delhi. The protesters are demanding legally guaranteed MSP for crops, debt waiver, cancellation of international agreements impacting the agriculture sector, and a minimum pension of ₹5,000 for farmers and agriculture labor. Some of these demands were raised during their earlier protest in 2021-22, which was called off after the BJP-led central government withdrew three controversial laws that had sought to reform the agriculture sector. The protest now is spearheaded by the SKM (non-political), a splinter group of the body that had led the earlier protest. The split signifies fissures in the interest groups across Haryana, Punjab and western U.P. and Rajasthan. There are at least three other strands of protests gathering strength. Farmers in western U.P. the Jewar airport project and Yamuna Expressway are up in arms. In Haryana's Sonipat, farmers are protesting land acquisition for power cables. The original SKM and several trade unions have called for a national rural and industrial strike on February 16, with overlapping and additional demands that include the repeal of four labor codes. 
  • The government has opened talks with the Punjab farmers, but a legal guarantee of MSP appears unlikely. The police in Haryana and Delhi have stopped the farmers more than 200 km away from Delhi as they are resolute that the farmers will not be allowed near the border of the national capital where they had laid siege in 2021-22. The MSP-based procurement by the FCI has been the bedrock of food security, but the case for its reform is strong. Surplus producers of grain have benefited from the MSP scheme, but the scheme bypasses subsistence farmers in poorer regions. This uneven geographical spread of procurement has also led to unsustainable farm practices in some areas, while farmers in other regions of the country are always on the edge of penury. All this calls for a revamping of the public support for farming, which is essential for reasons that include national food security. This can be achieved better through wide political consultation and by encouraging the beneficiaries of the current system to diversify production and increase productivity. The political undertones of the protest on Sabha election also the eve of the Lok cannot be overlooked. The farm sector needs a new model of public support. It cannot be left to the mercy of the market. The government should lead the efforts to create a national consensus on this question. 

7. PM inaugurates Abu Dhabi's - first Hindu stone temple 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday inaugurated Abu Dhabi's first Hindu stone temple, describing it as a symbol of the shared heritage of humanity and thanking the UAE for scripting a new and golden chapter of human history. 
  • Speaking at the inauguration of the temple built by the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), the Prime Minister profusely thanked the President of nd UAE, Sheikh Mohammad re Zayed Al Nahyan, for marking the grand temple in Abu Dhabi a reality and said he has not only won the hearts of Indians living in the Gulf nation but also of 140 crore Indians. 
  • "I hope that the BAPS Mandir will become a symbol of communal harmony and global unity for the whole world," Mr. Modi said, addressing a gathering that included UAE Tole. French Minister Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and spiritual leaders from all faiths. 
  • Recalling the consecration ceremony of the newly constructed Ram temple in Ayodhya last month, the Prime Minister said it was his good fortune to have witnessed the inauguration of the BAPS temple in Abu Dhabi. "Our immense pleasure in Ayodhya has been further enhanced by the wave of happiness received in Abu Dhabi today. It is my good fortune that I have been a witness to the grand Shri Ram temple first in Ayodhya, and then to this temple in Abu Dha bi," he said. 
  • The BAPS temple is built on a 27-acre site in Abu Menikah, near Al Rahba off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Highway, at a cost of around 2700 crore. 
  • He said the UAE, which till now was known for Burj Khalifa, Future Museum, Sheikh Zayed Mosque, and other hi-tech buildings, has now added another cultural chapter to its identity. 

8. MEA told to monitor organ transplantation process for foreigners 

  • Aimed at preventing any possible commercial dealings in organ or tissue transplantation sought by foreigners, Health Secretary Apurva Chandra, in a written communication, alerted the Ministry of External Affairs to possible violations of rules and asked support to establish systems for monitoring the process. 
  • The Health Ministry said foreign nationals were coming to India for various types of organ transplantation. They could be a prospective recipient or donor of organs and might be visiting on a medical or attendant visa. 
  • "A recent media report has highlighted that in some cases, the veracity of the documents to establish relationship between the donor and the recipient, their identity documents, proof of residence etc cannot be established confidently and the same may not be genuine," Mr. Chandra said in his letter to Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra. 
  • Listing out the provisions under the Transplantation of Human Organ and Tissues Act, 1994, the Ministry sought that these rules be disseminated to all embassies and missions of foreign countries in India and also to the government concerned, in case an embassy or a mission does not exist in India. It also requested that a nodal officer be identified for coordinating the process of organ donation and transplantation for foreigners. 

9. Wipro acquires Aggne for $66 mn to boost capabilities in insurance sector 

  • IT major Wipro has acquired a 60 per cent stake in US-based insurtech Aggne Global for $66 million to strengthen its competitive advantage in the insurance sector, particularly in the property and casualty (P&C) insurance space. 
  • Founded in 2019, Aggne is incorporated in the US and India, with offices in Tampa, Florida, and Hyderabad, India. 
  • The company has 230 employees based in India and the United States. 
  • With this investment, Wipro becomes a majority shareholder in Aggne, which brings to Wipro a unique set of capabilities and intellectual property (IP) in the P&C insurance space. 
  • ‘The combined capabilities of Wipro and Aggne will help deliver enhanced value, faster speed-to-market, and differentiated services to clients in the P&C sector. 

10. Former PM Alexander Stubb wins Finland Presidential election 

  • Former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb secured victory in Finland’s presidential runoff against ex-Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto. 
  • Stubb of the National Coalition Party secured 51.6% of the votes, while independent candidate Haavisto received 48.4%.
  • The former leader of the National Conservative Party’s bid for the office was prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

About Finland

  • Capital- Helsinki
  • Currency- Euro 
  • Prime Minister- Petteri Orpo 
  • President – Alexander Stubb 

Newly Appointed Prime Minister & President 

  • Prime Minister of Kazakhstan – Olzhas Bektenov 
  • Prime Minister of Yemen – Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak 
  • President of El Salvador – Nayib Bukele (2nd time) 
  • Sultan of Malaysia – Ibrahim Iskandar 

11. Defence Ministry Signs Rs 2,269 Crore Contract with BEL 

  • The Ministry of Defence has signed a contract with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) for the procurement of 11 Shakti Electronic Warfare Systems for the Indian Navy. 
  • The contract is worth 2,269 Crore Rupees. 
  • The Shakti EW System will be installed on-board capital warships of the Indian Navy. The project will generate employment of two and half lakh man-days over a period of four years with the participation of more than 155 industry partners including MSMEs, thus furthering the vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. 

About Shakti EW System 

  • The Shakti EW System is indigenously designed, developed and manufactured. 
  • The Shakti EW System is capable of accurately intercepting electronic emissions and implementing countermeasures in dense electromagnetic environment 

12. 15 February – World Hippo Day 

  • World Hippo Day is celebrated on 15 February every year. 
  • Objective – To raise awareness about the plight of hippos, which are one of the most endangered large mammals on the planet. 
  • Today, the hippo population is estimated to be between 115,000 and 130,000, with the decline being attributed to poaching, loss of access to fresh water, mechanised farming, and urbanisation. 
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed them as a vulnerable species in 2006 after establishing that the hippo population had declined by as much as 20% within the previous two decades. 

What is Hippo? 

  • Hippos are semiaquatic mammals, native to sub-Saharan Africa, and weigh up to 2,000 kg, making them the third-largest land mammal after elephants and rhinos. 
  • They are mostly found in rivers, lakes, and mangrove swamps, and have adapted to a semiaquatic lifestyle. 
  • Their diet consists mostly of leaves, roots, and stems, supported by a robust digestive system that is adapted to conserve nutrients. 

13. 15 February – International Childhood Cancer Day 

  • International Childhood Cancer Awareness Day is observed every year on 15 February. 
  • It is a global campaign aimed at raising awareness about childhood cancer and its difficulties. 
  • It also serves as a reminder of the need for better support for children, adolescents, and their families as they battle this devastating disease. 
  • This day was first established by Childhood Cancer International in 2002. 

14 .Supreme Court Declares Electoral Bonds Scheme Unconstitutional 

  • In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court ruled the electoral bonds scheme unconstitutional, citing it as arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. 
  • This verdict came following a batch of pleas challenging the legality of the scheme, which allowed for anonymous funding to political parties. 
  • A Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and also comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna, B.R. Gavai, J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Mishra has held that the non-disclosure of voluntary political contributions is violative of Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. 

15.16th Finance Commission Holds First Meeting Under Chairmanship Of Arvind Panagariya 

  • The 16th Finance Commission (FC) convened its inaugural session with Arvind Panagariya at the helm to deliberate upon its Terms of Reference (ToR). 
  • The commission aims to engage in comprehensive analytical endeavors and leverage expertise from prominent research institutions and think tanks specializing in fiscal federal relations. 
  • The 16th FC acknowledges the necessity for extensive consultations with diverse stakeholders, including state governments, local bodies, various ministries of the Government of India, and subject matter experts. 

16.The Epic Foundation Recently Unveiled The Milkyway Tablet 

  • The Epic Foundation has recently unveiled the Milkyway tablet, heralding a new era of ‘designed in India’ technology tailored for the educational needs of school children. 
  • The Milkyway tablet is the first product designed from the ground up in India to be fully repairable and upgradable, setting a benchmark for sustainability and innovation. 
  • The launch of the Milkyway tablet marks a pivotal moment in addressing the environmental impact of electronic waste and the cost barriers in educational technology. 

17.India In Talks For Full Membership With IEA 

  • India is engaged in discussions with ministers from member countries of the International Energy Agency (IEA) regarding its application to attain full membership in the Paris-based organization, comprising 31 nations. 
  • These talks acknowledge India’s strategic significance in addressing global energy and climate challenges, as highlighted during the IEA’s 2024 ministerial meeting held in Paris. 
  • The IEA, comprising 31 member countries and eight associates, has four countries, including India, seeking full membership. 

18.Saudi Arabia’s First Luxury Train ‘Dream Of The Desert’ Set To Launch First In The Middle East 

  • Saudi Arabia is preparing to introduce its first luxury train, named the Dream of the Desert. It will be the first luxury train in the Middle East, offering travelers a journey through Saudi Arabia. 
  • The 800-mile journey will begin in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, and wind its way northwest toward the border with Jordan. 
  • With its promise of luxury and cultural immersion, this new venture is positioned to become a classic in its own right. Reservations for the train’s first ride will open by late 2024, before its planned launch in 2025. 

19.Ministry Of Defence Achieves ₹1 Lakh Crore Total Order Value Milestone On Government E-Marketplace 

  • The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has achieved a significant milestone on the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal, recording procurement worth ₹1 lakh crore since the portal’s inception in 2016.
  • The MoD has executed over 5.47 lakh orders through GeM, ranging from general store items to critical defense acquisitions. 
  • Transactions worth approximately ₹45,800 crore have been awarded in the current fiscal year alone, demonstrating robust procurement activity. 20.Rajasthan Mukhyamantri Vishwakarma Pension Yojana 2024 
  • The Rajasthan government announced a special scheme for laborers and street vendors, named the Mukhyamantri Vishwakarma Pension Yojana. 
  • Under this scheme, eligible workers aged 60 or above will receive a monthly pension of Rs. 2,000. This pension aims to assist street vendors in meeting their daily needs without relying on others. 
  • The primary objective of launching the Mukhyamantri Vishwakarma Pension Yojana is to ensure the welfare of laborers and street vendors in Rajasthan. 

21.Union Minister Rupala Launches Updated AHIDF Scheme 

  • Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Shri Parshottam Rupala, unveiled the realigned Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) scheme and introduced a Radio Jingle for AHIDF in New Delhi. 
  • The Cabinet, in its meeting approved the realignment of AHIDF with a substantial outlay of ₹29,610 crore, significantly higher than the previous ₹15,000 crore. The realigned scheme will be in effect for an additional three-year period from March 31, 2023, until 2025-26. 
  • The realigned AHIDF scheme stands as a testament to the government’s commitment to bolstering the livestock sector and promoting rural livelihoods. 

22.Electronics & IT Ministry Hosts First Digital India Future SKILLS Summit In Guwahati 

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), in collaboration with the National Institute of Electronics and IT (NIELIT), is hosting the Future Skills Summit in Guwahati. 
  • The event, inaugurated by Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, aims to convene young Indians, thought leaders, industry experts, policymakers, educators, and technology enthusiasts to strategize on catalyzing future-ready talent for India and the world. 
  • Aligned with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to transform India into a global talent hub, the summit’s key objective is to craft a roadmap that harnesses emerging technologies and fosters partnerships with industry and academic institutes nationwide. 

23.Ministry Of Social Justice & Brahma Kumaris Launched NMBA Vehicle For Delhi-NCR 

  • Social Justice & Empowerment Ministry, with Brahma Kumaris, introduces NMBA Vehicle in Delhi-NCR, flagged off on 14th Feb to raise drug abuse awareness. 
  • This vehicle served as a platform for conducting NMBA awareness activities across Delhi-NCR, amplifying the reach and impact of the initiative. 
  • The Ministry had launched the Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan (NMBA) with the objective of creating awareness about the adverse effects of substance abuse, particularly among the youth. 

24.Mr. Sanjay Kumar Jain Assumes The Charge Of CMD/IRCTC 

  • Mr Sanjay Kumar Jain, an accomplished Indian Railway Traffic Services (IRTS) Officer of the 1990 batch, has assumed the pivotal role of Chairman & MD of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC). 
  • With a distinguished career spanning over three decades, Mr Jain brings to the table a wealth of experience and a proven track record of exemplary leadership in various key positions within the Ministry of Railways and public sector undertakings (PSUs). 

25.SBICAPS Appoints Virendra Bansal As The New MD And CEO 

  • In a significant move for SBI Capital Markets (SBICAPS), the investment banking arm of State Bank of India (SBI), Virendra Bansal has been appointed as the new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer. 
  • Bansal steps into the role, succeeding Rajay Kumar Sinha, who has moved on to serve as the Whole Time Member (Finance and Investment) at the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) for a three-year tenure starting January 2024. 
  • Bansal’s responsibilities spanned across key financial hubs, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, and Washington DC, showcasing his ability to manage and lead in diverse and dynamic environments. 

26.Havildar Varinder Singh Awarded Vishisht Seva Medal For Developing Multipurpose Octocopter 

  • Havildar Varinder Singh, a member of the Sikh Regiment in the Indian Army, has been honored with the prestigious Vishisht Seva Medal for his remarkable contribution to military technology. 
  • President Droupadi Murmu bestowed this accolade upon him in recognition of his outstanding efforts in developing a groundbreaking piece of equipment. 
  • Crafted by Singh, the Multipurpose Octocopter stands as a testament to innovation in drone technology. Unlike conventional drones limited to surveillance purposes, Singh’s creation offers unparalleled versatility. Capable of executing a myriad of tasks, it serves as more than just a reconnaissance tool. 

27.Union Sports Minister Anurag Singh Thakur Hands Over Chess Olympiad Torch To Budapest 

  • Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Singh Thakur handed over the Chess Olympiad Torch to Budapest, Hungary, the host city for the 45th edition of the Chess Olympiad. 
  • The ceremony, held at the Major Dhyanchand National Stadium in New Delhi, was not just a formal handover but also a celebration of chess as an intellectual sport deeply rooted in India’s heritage. 
  • The first Chess Olympiad Torch Relay was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi Stadium on 19th June 2022, marking a historic moment in the annals of chess. 

28.Indian Hammer Thrower Rachna Kumari Banned For 12 Years For Doping 

  • Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) and the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) have imposed significant suspensions on two athletes for anti-doping rule violations. 
  • Hammer thrower Rachna Kumari faces a 12-year suspension for her second anti-doping rule violation, marking a severe penalty that reflects the seriousness with which doping offenses are treated. 
  • Quarter-miler Nirmala Sheoran, another athlete with a history of doping violations, has been handed an eight-year suspension by NADA for her second offence.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post