Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC -17th February 2024


1. North Korea tests new surface to-sea missile 'Padasuri-6' 

  • North Korean President Kim Jongun inspected the test of the new Padasuri-6 surface-to-sea missile and ordered tight security along the western maritime border. 
  • This is North Korea's fifth cruise missile test this year. Kim also ordered a strengthened defense posture in waters near South Korean border islands, which North Korea does not recognize, criticizing South Korea for its handling of the maritime border. 
  • The missile struck a target over water in the East Sea about 1400 seconds or 23 minutes and 20 seconds after launch. This provocative action was taken two days before the 82nd birthday of late former leader Kim Jong-il, father of current leader Kim Jongun. 
  • North Korea does not recognize the actual maritime boundary NLL in the Yellow Sea and has long demanded that the line be moved south because it was unilaterally drawn by the US-led UN command after the 1950-53 Korean War. 
  • The waters near the NLL have been a point of friction between the two Koreas, with three bloody naval skirmishes in 1999, 2002 and 2009. In March 2010, Pyongyang launched a torpedo attack on a South Korean warship in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 sailors, Yonhap news agency reported. 
  • North Korea's new surface-to-ship missile appears to be a successor to Russia's Kh-35 Uran cruise missiles, experts said. 
  • On January 24, 2024, North Korea test-fired a new strategic cruise missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, named Pulhwasl3-31, for the first time. 

2.Prime Minister Modi Virtually Unveils Mahabharata-Inspired Jyotisar Anubhav Kendra 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has virtually inaugurated the Jyotisar Anubhav Kendra, a museum and interpretation center inspired by the epic Mahabharata, from Rewari. 
  • While the project is still under completion, the opening of two out of its five planned galleries marks a promising start. 
  • This initiative, with an investment of approximately Rs 240 crore, is set to enhance the cultural and spiritual tourism landscape of Kurukshetra, Haryana. 

3. Prime Minister Modi To Unveil 125-Foot Statue Of Bir Lachit Borphukan In Assam 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to unveil a colossal 125-foot statue of Bir Lachit Borphukan in Lahdoigarh, Holongapar, Jorhat. 
  • This announcement was made by the Assam Chief Minister in a recent statement, highlighting a series of significant events planned for the first week of March this year, aimed at honoring the state’s rich history and cultural heritage 
  • The statue of Bir Lachit Borphukan, a general who is best known for his leadership in the 1671 Battle of Saraighat where he thwarted the Mughal invasion, is a project that symbolizes the valor and spirit of the Assamese people. 

4. US House Passes Quad Bill: All You Need To Know 

  • The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed the Quad bill aimed at enhancing cooperation between the US, Australia, India, and Japan. 
  • The bill mandates the establishment of a Quad Intra-Parliamentary Working Group to bolster joint efforts in various domains. 
  • This landmark legislation aims to bolster collaboration among the United States, Australia, India, and Japan. Its primary objective is to foster closer ties and facilitate strategic cooperation between these key nations. 

5. Greece Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage: A Landmark Decision 

  • Greece has made history by legalizing same-sex marriage and granting equal parental rights to same-sex couples, marking a significant shift in the country’s societal and legal landscape. 
  • The newly passed legislation not only recognizes same-sex marriages but also ensures equal parental rights for same-sex couples. 
  • This includes granting both parents in a same-sex union the same legal status as guardians, allowing them to make crucial decisions for their children and participate fully in their upbringing. 

6.Odisha CM Inaugurates Bagchi Sri Shankara Cancer Center In Bhubaneswar 

  • Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the Bagchi Sri Shankara Cancer Centre and Research Institute (BSCCRI) in Bhubaneswar. 
  • This state-of-the-art facility, established in collaboration with the Sri Shankara Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Bengaluru, represents a leap forward in making high-quality cancer treatment accessible and affordable to patients. 
  • The inauguration of BSCCRI is a milestone in Odisha’s healthcare landscape, with the government and philanthropic entities coming together to address the urgent need for advanced cancer treatment facilities in the region. 

7.Tourism Minister Reddy Lays Foundation Stone For Komuravelli Railway Station In Siddipet, Telangana 

  • G Kishan Reddy and Mohan Yadav laid the foundation stone for the Komuravelli Railway Station in Siddipet District, Telangana. 
  • The station aims to improve transportation to the renowned Komuravelli Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple, attracting millions of devotees annually. 
  • Komuravelli village hosts the famous Komuravelli Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple, a significant pilgrimage site. About 25 lakh devotees from four different states visit the temple town each year for darshan of the presiding deity. 

8. Himachal Pradesh Leads As India’s Most Welcoming Region In 2024 

  • In a recent announcement,, the popular online travel agency, unveiled its 12th Annual Traveller Review Awards 2024, highlighting the Most Welcoming Regions and Cities in India. 
  • Securing the top spot in the category of the ‘Most Welcoming Region in India’ is Himachal Pradesh, showcasing a remarkable jump from the 5th position in 2023. 
  • This recognition reflects the state’s commitment to providing a warm and hospitable environment for travelers. The rankings further feature Goa, Kerala, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand in the following positions. 

9. India Approves Acquisition Of Defence Equipment Worth Rs 84,560 Cr 

  • The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh, has approved various capital acquisition proposals amounting to Rs 84,560 crore on February 16, 2024. 
  • These approvals emphasize the procurement of equipment from Indian vendors to promote self-reliance in defence manufacturing. 
  • Approval was under Buy {Indian-Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured (IDDM)} category. It features seismic sensor and remote deactivation for enhanced safety. 

10. Visakhapatnam To Host 12th Edition Of MILAN Naval Exercise 

  • The 12th edition of the MILAN naval exercise is poised to set sail in the strategic port city of Visakhapatnam from February 19 to 27, marking a significant gathering of naval forces from over 50 countries. 
  • This year’s theme, “Forging Naval Alliances for a Secure Maritime Future,” underscores the exercise’s commitment to enhancing global maritime security through cooperation and strategic dialogue. 
  • MILAN 2023 seeks to bolster the safety of maritime trade, a vital artery of the global economy, through shared efforts and expertise. 

11. Global Tourism Resilience Day 2024 

  • The United Nations’ Global Tourism Resilience Day, celebrated for the first time on February 17, 2023, marks a significant step towards acknowledging and enhancing the resilience of the tourism industry. 
  • The latest UNWTO data reveals that international tourism experienced a significant uptick in 2023, with an estimated 975 million tourists traveling internationally between Jan and September, marking a 38% increase compared to 2022. 
  • This initiative aims to foster a tourism sector that can withstand both foreseen and unforeseen challenges, thereby ensuring its contribution to sustainable development and economic stability, especially in developing countries. 

12.MSME Minister Narayan Rane Launches Rs 20 Lakh Scheme Under CGTMSE For GST-Exempted Micro Units 

  • MSME Minister Narayan Rane launched a special scheme for informal micro enterprises (IMEs), exempted from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime. 
  • This scheme enables IMEs to access collateral-free loans up to Rs 20 lakh under the government’s Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE). 
  • The scheme, titled ‘Special Provision for Informal Micro Enterprises under Credit Guarantee Scheme,’ aims to provide credit support to micro or nano enterprises. 

13.Sikkim INSPIRES: World Bank’s Support For Skill Development 

  • The World Bank has approved a new project aimed at supporting the state of Sikkim in India. The project focuses on training, upskilling, and providing jobs for 300,500 women and youth in high-growth and priority sectors. 
  • The project aims to train and upskill 300,500 women and youth in Sikkim for employment opportunities in high-growth sectors. 
  • Priority sectors include renewable energy, information technology (IT) services, tourism, hospitality and wellness care, and creative design. 

14.India Achieves Global Digitalization Milestone As Third Largest Digital Economy 

  • India has cemented its position as the third-largest digitalized nation in the world, trailing only behind the technological powerhouses of the United States of America (USA) and China. 
  • This significant finding is part of the “State of India’s Digital Economy Report, 2024,” unveiled by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), a renowned Delhi-based think tank. 
  • The report paints a comprehensive picture of India’s digital landscape, comparing it favorably with some of the world’s most developed economies, yet highlighting areas for improvement in user-level digital engagement. 

15.City Union Bank Sweeps 7 Awards At 19th Banking Tech Conference 

  • In a triumphant display of technological prowess, City Union Bank, under the stewardship of Dr. N Kamakodi, claimed an impressive seven awards at the 19th Banking Technology Conference, Expo & Citations in 2023. 
  • In addition to the top honors, CUB also secured runner-up positions in the categories of Best Digital Engagement, Best IT Risk Management, and Best Technology Talent. 
  • City Union Bank’s impressive haul of awards demonstrates its position as a frontrunner in the industry, setting new standards for technological advancement in banking. 

16.CIAL, BPCL To Establish 1st Green Hydrogen Plant At Cochin Airport

  • The Cochin International Airport Ltd, renowned as the world’s 1st airport fully powered by solar energy with Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) will establish a Green Hydrogen plant within its premises. 
  • This collaboration between CIAL and BPCL marks a pivotal moment in the aviation sector’s journey towards sustainability. 
  • By combining their expertise and resources, they aim to create the world’s first Green Hydrogen plant and fueling station located within an airport setting. 

17.India And Colombia Sign MoU On Digital Cooperation 

  • India and Colombia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the field of Sharing Successful Digital Solutions Implemented at Population Scale for Digital Transformation. 
  • The agreement aims to foster digital transformation through the sharing of India’s open-sourced Digital Public Infrastructures (DPIs), particularly focusing on India Stack Solutions. 
  • The MoU aims to promote digital transformation, specifically leveraging India Stack Solutions, through capacity-building programs and exchange of best practices. 

18.Lebanese Judge Nawaf Salam Elected As ICJ’s New President 

  • Nawaf Salam was elected president of the ICJ in The Hague, succeeding US Judge Joan Donoghue. This significant milestone marks him as the first Lebanese and second Arab to hold this prestigious position for a three-year term. 
  • Salam’s journey with the ICJ began in 2018, and he currently holds the highest judicial position globally. His appointment highlights his remarkable trajectory within the field of international law. 
  • As the principal judicial body of the United Nations, the ICJ is responsible for adjudicating legal disputes between states and providing advisory opinions on legal questions referred to by UN organs and specialized agencies. 

19.India To Initiate Satellite Based Tolling On Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway 

  • In a development announced by India’s Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, the nation is set to embark on testing (Global navigation satellite system) GNSS-based toll collection on the Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway. 
  • The GNSS-based tolling system marks a departure from conventional toll collection methods, offering a seamless and efficient alternative. 
  • Unlike toll gates, which necessitate vehicles to halt for payment, GNSS technology enables precise positioning of vehicles, allowing tolls to be calculated based on the distance traveled on the highway. 

20.‘Udaan’ Actor Kavita Chaudhary Passes Away At 67 

  • Kavita Chaudhary, a veteran actor and creative force best known for her groundbreaking role in the television show “Udaan” and as the iconic Lalitaji in Surf commercials. 
  • Chaudhary passed away at the age of 67 due to cardiac arrest in Amritsar, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire generations.
  • Kavita Chaudhary’s journey in the world of Indian television was marked by her passion for storytelling and her commitment to portraying strong, independent women. Her most notable work, “Udaan,” aired in 1989, where she not only played the lead role of IPS officer Kalyani Singh but also took on the roles of writer and director. 

21.Iconic ‘Dum Pukht’ Chef Imtiaz Qureshi Passes Away At 93 

  • Chef Imtiaz Qureshi, who passed away at the age of 93. The Padma Shri awardee, often hailed as a “culinary genius,” was instrumental in bringing the ancient dum pukht cooking technique back to the forefront of Indian cuisine. 
  • Dum pukht, a slow-cooking method that originated in the royal kitchens of Awadh, became his signature style.
  • This technique involves cooking ingredients in a sealed pot (or ‘handi’), allowing the meats to cook in their own juices and spices to infuse deeply, creating flavors that are both delicate and profound. 

22. Ahead of polls, FCI plans to deliver E foodgrains in bags with PM's photo 

  • In the run up to the Lok Sabha election, the Union government is ensuring that the brand of Prime Minister Nareridra Modi is displayed conspicuously on food grain bags to be distributed under the Prad han Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) 
  • Under the PMGKAY, free food grains are to be provided to about 81.35 crore beneficiaries of Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Households (HH), The Central government has claimed that during the implementation of the PMCKAY in financial years 2020-21 and 2021-22, more than 75 crore benefit claires have received food grains. 
  • In a circular dated barns ary 12, 2004, the Food Corporation of India (PCI) wrote to all its 20 regional offices asking there to float tenders for procuring wo veri lattiated boys with an indicative logo of Me Mod, in order to distribute
  • According to a igal to in formation (ICT) reply provided to activist Ajay Bose by the PCY's storage section in the regional office of Jaipur, Rajasthan lias given a supply order of LU7 crore synthetic bags at the cost of ₹12.375 per bag 
  • Teriders in Rajasthan have been awarded to ve companies Rajasthan based Salasar Technotex vt Ltd., Rajasthan Plext the Packaging Led Alliance Polysacks Pvt Ltd, 
  • In Rajasthan alone, synthetic bags costing 13:29 crore have been ordered. 
  • While Rajasthan has awarded the contract at 212.375 per bag, Nagaland has awarded the contract to only one company Rajasthan Flexible Packaging at 19.30 per bag, stated the FC's regional office in Dimapur, in the RTI reply, The reply also stated that Nagaland had ordered a quantity of 329 bales, without elaborating on the number of bags contained in each bale "During the free grain distribution under the Gujarat-based Mor Techfab Pvt. Ltd., and Gujarat Blast Industries, 
  • PMCKAY that started in 2020 when the pandemic De began, unbranded 50 kg NE jute sacks were used to disburse grain. The branding of bags with faces of political figures has begun in 2024, ahead of the election," said an official in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. The official added that Kerala may shy away from placing orders to get for bags with the branding, for While Rajasthan and Na sa galand have issued supply orders, the PCI regional of a fice in Maharashtra stated in its RTI reply, "The tender is still under process in the Maharashtra region." The FCP's regional office in Delhi too said that the process is yet to be complete
  • Tamil Nadu has floated a tender for the supply of 1.14 crore bags. The Cr's regional office in Tamil Na du replied to the RTI query stating, "The tender for 10 kg woven laminated ration bags was floated on January 13, 2024 and the same is under process. The work order is yet to be issued 

23. UP.invokes ESMA, imposes six-month ban on protests 

  • The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), banning strikes by government employees in all State departments, corporations and authorities for a period of six months. "In exercise of the powers under sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Uttar Pradesh Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1966 (UP Act No. 30 of 1966), the State government prohibited strike for six months from the date of the notification," reads the notice issued by Additional Chief Secretary Devesh Chaturvedi. 

24. 1-T action on Congress bank accounts part of routine procedure 

  • The Income Tax department's action of freezing the Congress' main bank accounts was part of its "routine procedure" against defaulters, carried out in connection to claims for the tax assessment year 2018-19, according to sources close to the government. 
  • Alleging partisan politics, the Opposition party claimed that its accounts had been frozen on "flimsy grounds", 
  • According to the income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) order issued on Friday, Revenue Department representatives said they "do not claim to have issued any order or direction to the concerned bank (s) for freezing the transactions in the bank account (s), but only for a lien on the amount lying in the bank account(s) up to the outstanding tax demand", 
  • The freezing of its accounts "has affected all political activity of the party barely weeks before the general election is to be announced, Congress leader Ajay Maken said. 
  • However, sources close to the government said the freezing of accounts was only up to tu5 crore, adding that the Congress was free to do other banking activities. 
  • "The action was based on the assessment year 2018-19, wherein a claim of ₹103 crore was fint lodged, and later raised to 2105 crore, with interest added raising the claim to €135 crore," said a source. "What has happened is a routine procedure, something that every tax paying citizen has to face if they default on taxes," said the source. 
  • The VT Commission dismissed the cases in 2021-22, after which the Congress went to the ITAT in May 2023. 

25. Torpedoes, refueller aircraft in new deals cleared by DAC 

  • The Defence Acquisition Council (DАС) on Friday accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AON), the first step in the procurement process, for proposals worth 184,560 crore. 
  • The proposals include some long-pending deals such as for heavyweight torpedoes (HWT) for the Navy's Scorpene-class submarines and flight refueler aircraft (FRA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF)-be- ginning afresh. 
  • Other major deals include medium range maritime reconnaissance and multi-mission maritime air- craft for the Navy and the Coast Guard, new generation anti-tank mines, air defense tactical control radar, and software-defined radios. 
  • "Further, to keep the Indian naval ships one step ahead of the threats posed by the adversaries, the AoN under Buy (Indian) category has been accorded for procurement of active towed array sonar having capabilities to operate at low frequencies and various depths for longer detections of adversary submarines. The AoN has also been accorded for procurement of HWT for enhancing the attacking capabilities of Kalvari class submarines," the Defence Ministry said. "The DAC accorded AoN for procurement of FRA for enhancing the operational capabilities and the reach of the IAP." 
  • The DAC has accorded nod for procurement of torpedoes to enhance the attacking capabilities of Kalvari class submarines. 
  • Deals for HWTS, FRAS and towed-array sonars have been repeatedly delayed and the process now begins again. The delays were due to allegations of corruption and in the interim, the existing older generation. torpedoes have been customized to fire from the Scorpenes. With delays in their procurement, the IAP has been looking to lease aircraft for training purposes and keep the existing six IL-78. aircraft for operational tasks. 
  • The AoN for procurement of medium-range maritime reconnaissance and multi-mission maritime aircraft, has been granted by the DAC for strengthening the surveillance and interception capabilities of the Navy and the Coast Guard over the country's vast mark time area. 
  • The procurement of a new generation of anti-tank mines having seismic servsors and the provision of remote deactivation with additional safety features has been approved under Buy (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured category of Defence Acquisition 
  • Procedure CDA 200 The DAC has approved amendments in the DAP 2020 with respect to benchmarking and cost computation, payment schedule and procurement quantity, The DAC also cleared the AoN for sustainment support through repair renishment for 24 MH-60R multi-role helicopters procured by the Navy from the U.S. under the foreign military sale 

26. Use Chabahar port, India tells Central Asian countries 

  • India has urged Central Asian countries to use the port of Chabahar located on the southeast coast of Iran to enhance connectivity and trade with India and other countries in the world. 
  • Participating in the sixth Regional Dialogue of Secretaries of Security Councils/National Security Advisers on Afghanistan in Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, India's Deputy National Security Adviser Vikram Misri called for an "inclusive and representative" government in Afghanistan and said the approach towards the Taliban-ruled country should be based on consensus. 
  • During his interaction with delegates from Iran, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, Mr. Misri invited "Central Asian neighbors to utilize the Chabahar port as well as the Shahid Beheshti terminal at the port for maritime trade with India and other countries of the world," said a source privy to the discussion that focused on terrorism, drug trafficking apart from connectivity in the region. 
  • India has not recognised the Taliban outfit which came to power in August 2021 after the end of the U.S. occupation. Last November, the old embassy of Afghanistan that was being run by diplomats aligned with the old regime of President Ashraf Ghani shut down and the facilities have been taken over in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad by diplomats who did not leave India. 
  • The discussion at Bishkek came days after barely a fortnight after the head 1 of the Indian 'technical team' at Kabul participated in a discussion in Kabul with the stakeholders in Afghanistan that was chaired by the Taliban's Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttagi. India's participation at the regional discussion had raised eyebrows. On February 15, India high Ughted legitimate economic and security interests in Afghanistan and argued that New Delhi 'steadfast with its policy in support of peace, security and stability in Afghanistan! 
  • Immediate priorities "Our common immediate priorities include providing humanitarian assistance, ensuring formation of a truly inclusive and representative government, combating terrorism and drug trafficking and preserving the rights of wo men, children and the minorities," the Indian side stated in Bishkek. 

27. India must invest in fundamental research to develop reliable drugs 

  • Expectations are high that an agreement involving India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is close to fruition. However, a bone of contention relates to intellectual property rights, and has persisted as an issue since 2008. Switzerland and Norway, which are prominent members of EFTA, host several of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that are responsible for several of the drugs and therapeutics that underpin health care globally. The nature of the pharma industry it costs much to discover a useful effective drug and relatively little to make generic copies of it with demand that is far disproportionate to affordability, means that there is a constant tussle between the inventors and the generic-drug companies. Patenting, or an exclusive monopoly for a fixed number of years to originators and a reciprocal right by governments to issue directions for 'compulsory licensing, thereby selectively breaking such monopolies in the interest of public health, has brokered the peace and sustained the global pharma industry for decades. But new legal innovations such as data exclusivity continue to inveigle themselves in free trade negotiations. 
  • Under this provision, all the clinical-trial data that concerns the safety and efficacy of a drug generated by the originator firm becomes proprietary and out of bounds for a minimum period of six years. Permission to make a generic is possible if a country's regulator can rely on supplied clinical trial data to approve a drug. For this, generic makers usually rely on the originator's published data. The principle of data exclusivity is present among European countries as well as in agreements involving many developing countries. Were it to take effect in India, it could significantly hinder India's drug industry which is also a major exporter of affordable drugs. Indian officials have rejected data exclusivity as a point of negotiations in the FTA, though leaked drafts of the agreement suggest that it is alive. However, India's rise up the drug manufacturing chain in the last few decades means that it must invest in an ecosystem that can conduct ethical drug trials and make new molecules and therapeutics from scratch. The paradigm that drug development will always be expensive and confined to the West need not be permanent, as was seen in the development of several novel technology approaches to developing vaccines in India during the COVID-19 pandemic. But as preparation, India must invest substantially more in fundamental research to incubate the local drug industry into the future.

28. Ravichandran Ashwin becomes the second Indian bowler to join the elite 500 Test wickets club. 

  • Ravichandran Ashwin has registered his name in cricket history by becoming the second Indian bowler to take 500 wickets in Test matches. Ashwin became the first Indian to take the fastest 500 wickets by defeating Anil Kumble. 
  • Among Indian bowlers, only the great Anil Kumble has more Test wickets, taking a total of 619 wickets in more than 130 matches. Ashwin has made the record of being the fastest Indian to complete 500 wickets in his 98th Test match. 
  • Notably, only Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan has achieved 500 wickets in fewer matches (87), the record for the fastest wicket taker in the world. 
  • This feat was achieved on the second day of the third Test between India and England in Rajkot. 
  • The off-spinner achieved this feat by dismissing England opener Jack Crawley in the 14th over. He has become the ninth bowler from across the world to achieve this remarkable feat. 
  • With 800 wickets in 133 games, Sri Lanka's Muralitharan is the alltime leading wicket-taker in Tests. In Test cricket, India's Kapil Dev is at third place with 434 wickets and Harbhajan Singh is at fourth place with 417 wickets. 
  • Among the fastest 500 wicket takers, Anil Kumble is third with 105 matches and Shane Warne is fourth with 108 matches.

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