Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC -19th February 2024

National News 

1.Ties across the sea Tolerance and pluralism are values that India shares with the UAE 

  • At first glance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's UAE visit last week, might have seemed like any other bilateral visit he has undertaken. But this visit, Mr. Modi's seventh to the UAE since 2014 indicates the government's desire to signal more about the salience and pro- minence of the Emirates, than it has with any of the other country in the Gulf region. The timing may have been related to an invitation to address the 'World Governments Summit' in Dubai and to inaugurate Abu Dhabi's first Hindu temple, but the 10 bilateral agreements signed need a closer look. The speed with which India and the UAE concluded the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2022 has been matched by last week's Bilateral Investment Trea- ty (BIT). This makes the UAE not only the first country the Modi government has signed these agreements with but also the only country that India has both a trade and an investment agree- ment with. The UAE is now India's third largest trading partner, India's second largest export destination, and fourth largest source of FDI. The inauguration of the Bharat Mart for Indian MSMEs is also expected to strengthen trade ties. A second raft of agreements dealt with technological ties including building digital infrastructure; R&D for energy security and trade focusing on green hydrogen and energy storage, and digital cross-payments. Third, the Agreement for an Intergovernmental Framework on the India-Middle East Economic Corridor paves the way for multilateral cooperation between the two countries, that also coordinate over the 12U2 initiative with the U.S. and Israel, and, from 2024, will cooperate within the BRICS framework, as the UAE is now a member. Finally, the discussions on the Israel-Gaza operations and the Red Sea attacks, indicate that in a region roiled by conflict, India considers the UAE to be a stable interlocutor. 
  • India-UAE ties are also built on a bedrock of history and cultural engagement that includes centuries-old maritime trade and a diaspora contributing about 18% of India's global remittances. While India's technological prowess and the UAE's positioning as a trade and industry hub bring complementarities, the changes in their polity and societies bring possible friction points. As the UAE, a theocratic monarchy, seeks to de- mocratise its governance and have a more pluralistic system, such as the decision on the temple in Abu Dhabi, it has expressed concern over the rise of majoritarian and sectarian forces in India. To that end, Mr. Modi's words in Abu Dhabi, where he rejoiced in the mutual values of tolerance and pluralism, and "shared heritage of humanity" may be the most significant bonds between the two countries separated by the Arabian Sea. 

2 What are IPCC's assessment reports? 

  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has produced six assessment reports, three special reports, and methodology reports that provide guidelines for estimating greenhouse gas emissions and removal. Three reports from the IPCC's sixth assessment cycle (ARG) were published in 2021-2022. These documents prepared by scientists from the 195 countries that are part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) examine the science, consequences, adaptation, and vulnerability as well as the mitigation aspects of climate change. Over the years, these reports have substantiated the fact that the planet is warming and that humans bear primary responsibility, 

What did the recent report say? 

  • The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) warned that the time to limit the rise of the world's average surface temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius from the pre-industrial era as agreed in the Paris Agreement is running out and that we are close to breaching adaptation limits. It also suggested some options and strategies to slow warming, and to adapt and build resilience in natural systems, in human-made systems, and in communities. 
  • After the AR6 synthesis report, the IPCC initiated its seventh cycle (AR7) by electing an IPCC bureau. In January 2024, bureau members met for the first time in Turkey to discuss budgeting issues, timelines for the various reports, and the work programme. Before this meeting. the co-chairs and rapporteurs of the Informal Group on Lessons Learned had produced a paper consolidating the learnings from the AR6 cycle and submissions from 66 of the 195 member 
  • There is hope for climate change, and together we can stop it. 
  • Countries regarding the types of reports, the need for special reports, and the value of 'full assessment reports. The paper also emphasized a recommendation by member countries to "ensure adequate input from the IPCC is available for the second global stocktake to be concluded in 2028". 
  • This paper, along with a report entitled 'Options for the Programme of Work in the Seventh Assessment Cycle' which discussed options for publication, including ways in which the reports could be clustered for production of any special or additional reports, and their pros and cons-fed into the discussions in Turkey. 

What is meant by 'global stocktake'? 

  • To assess the world's progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement, UNFCCC countries conduct a 'global stocktake (GST) every five years. The GST is a mechanism to measure collective progress, identify gaps, and chart a better course of climate action. 
  • The first GST started in 2022 and ended at the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the UNFCCC in 2023. The first GST text, to which member countries agreed to at the COP28 in Dubai last year, requested the IPCC to consider ways in which its work can be aligned with subsequent stocktakes. The second GST is due in 2028; and member countries have requested the IPCC to publish its AR7 assessment reports before so that countries could measure their progress against the state of the planet.

What will the AR7 cycle produce?

  • In Turkey, the Bureau agreed to produce the methodology reports, and a special report.The full assessment reports will include reports from three Working Groups (as in the previous assessment cycles) plus a synthesis report. This decision considered the time available for significant new literature to be published, time required to run climate models, time to engage with under-represented communities, and the stress imposed on the IPCC technical support unit and the authors. The two methodology reports will be on short-lived climate forcers (like methane) and on carbon removal. The bureau also decided to revise the technical guidelines on impacts and adaptation. While countries suggested producing special reports spanning 28 topics, the bureau decided it will produce only one, on climate change and cities. 
  • What is the timeline for reports? Several member countries also asked the bureau to ready the assessment reports by 2028 to coincide with the GST. But the bureau couldn't reach a consensus on the release date, partly due to its experience with authors and countries over the time required to review, finalize, and publish the approved texts. Each assessment report in the past has required at least four years from start to finish. 
  • Countries also said a shortened cycle could compromise the content as not enough new research papers may be published in the window and modeling efforts to understand the changes in climate to the full extent may also remain incomplete. Many member countries also said a constrained timeline would complicate engagements with individuals and institutions in under-represented countries. A decision on the timeline with respect to the assessment reports is pending and will be taken at the 61st session of the IPCC. However, the special and methodology reports will be published in 2027. 
  • Indu K. Murthy is a Principal Research Scientist heading the Climate, Environment and Sustainability Sector at CSTEP 

3.Misplaced priorities Free movement regime between India, Myanmar had more benefits than costs 

  • A nation is defined not by the borders that demarcate it but by the people who live in it. This is not just an abstract adage but a vision of nation-building and sustenance, especially for a country that emerged out of colonial rule. The idea of neighborly relations and borders was tied not just to the interest of national security for the post-colonial nation-state but also to the interests of the people in border areas and their imagined histories. When Home Minister Amit Shah announced that the "Free Movement Regime" (FMR) in place in Indian States bordering Myanmar from 2018 would be scrapped and that the India-Myanmar border be fenced, he was decidedly negating this idea. The ostensible reason for this demand and the need for fencing is because the porous border has served as a conduit for narcotics, besides helping insurgent groups in the north-east to establish bases within areas in Myanmar where the junta's writ is relatively non-existent or weak. But these reasons are not convincing in themselves. Most insurgent groups have weakened substantially and successive Indian governments have been able to neutralize their threats through force or peace efforts, ongoing or completed. Besides, the drug trade is enabled not only by the border's porosity but also by the relative lack of strong law enforcement with the cooperation of residents. 
  • That the demand to scrap the FMR has been most vociferously endorsed by one section of the currently conflict-prone Manipur but has also been fervently opposed by Nagaland and Mizoram should provide a hint about the sentiments of the people in these States. Myanmar is in the throes of a civil war with civilians from its western regions and States such as Sagain and Chin State seeking refugee and humanitarian relief in neighboring Mizoram and Manipur. The Mizos of Mizoram and the Kuki-Zo community in Manipur feel a kinship with the Chin community and have been organizing relief for the refugees. The opposition to the FMR has come from Meitei majoritarian forces in the Imphal valley who have raised the bogey of Chin refugees entering Manipur as a case of illegal migration. The institution of the FMR, as a formalized regime of the movement of citizens across the sparsely populated border to within 16 kilometers of it, for trade and commerce, was a nod to India's Act East policy. This was also an expression of the will of people of the region who share ethnic relations but are divided by colonially drawn boundaries. The re- versal of this regime and the humongous exercise of fencing a border situated in rugged mountains and forests is a case of misplaced priorities and needs reconsideration. 

4.AadiMahotsav – National Tribal Festival Concludes 

  • The annual “Aadi Mahotsav – National Tribal Festival,” inaugurated by Hon’ble President, Smt. Droupadi Murmu, concluded on 18th February 2024. 
  • Held at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, New Delhi, the 9-day festival organized by TRIFED showcased a vibrant tapestry of Tribal Entrepreneurship, Crafts, Culture, Cuisine, and Commerce. 
  • Approximately 1100 tribal artisans, artists, healers, chefs, and cultural troupes from 27 States and Union Territories showcased their work. 

5.Centre’s Proposal For Farmers Amidst Protest: 5-Year MSP Plan For Pulses, Maize, And Cotton 

  • A panel of Union ministers has proposed a five-year plan to purchase pulses, maize, and cotton at Minimum Support Prices (MSP) from farmers. 
  • Government agencies will buy pulses, maize, and cotton crops at MSP for five years through agreements with farmers. Entities like NCCF and NAFED will enter contracts with farmers growing specific crops to ensure MSP procurement. 
  • No restrictions are placed on the quantity purchased, enhancing farmer security and market stability. Furthermore, a dedicated portal will be established to facilitate transparent transactions. 

International News 

6.Japan’s 1,000-Year-Old Sominsai Festival Comes To An End 

  • The Sominsai festival, an ancient tradition deeply rooted in Japanese culture, has recently concluded its final celebration after a millennium-long legacy. 
  • Commencing on the seventh day of the Lunar New Year and spanning through the night, it was a spectacle of tradition and spirituality. 
  • At the heart of the festival was a display of fervor and tradition as hundreds of nude men engaged in spirited wrestling matches over wooden talismans. 

7.U Tirot Sing’s Bust Unveiled In Dhaka, Bangladesh 

  • U Tirot Sing Syiem, a revered freedom fighter from the Khasi community, was commemorated for his indomitable spirit and sacrifice as the Meghalaya government unveiled his life-size bust at the Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre (IGCC) in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • U Tirot Sing Syiem’s legacy is marked by his pivotal role in the fight against colonial oppression. On April 4, 1829, he initiated a daring attack on the British Garrison at Nongkhlaw, signaling a relentless resistance against foreign rule. 

Defence News 

8.Army upgrades firepower in Rajas Arunachal near LAC 

  • After strengthening defenses as well as firepower in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh, the Army has now beefed up its combat potential along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the rest of the State with the induction of its entire range of arsenal, from the latest firearms to M777 ultra light howitzers. 
  • The CH-47F(1) Chinook heavy-lift helicopters have become a "game changer" in terms of their ability to lift heavy loads, including the M777s, and reach remote posts that are air maintained. 
  • All helipads constructed or under construction in the past few years in Arunachal are to Chinook specifications. "All seven valleys have been connected with Chinook-specific helipads to ensure aerial connectivity," an Army source said. Between 2020 and 2023, nine helipads were constructed and six more are under construction in the Army's 3 Corps area. "Of these, five helipads of Chinook standards were constructed and three more are under construction in the districts of Lohit, Anjaw and Dibang," an officer said during a visit to the area last week. 
  • "The Chinook has been a game changer with the amount of loads it can carry across valleys especially given the uneven terrain and thick forest cover here," the officer explained. 
  • Adding to this, the M777 gives significant flexibility in employment options for long range fire power as it can be transported underslung the Chinook. The M777 weighs four tonnes. 
  • Last week, an Army unit operating the M777s and the 105-mm Indian field guns showcased a drill on the operation of the howitzers to a small group of journalists visiting the area near the LAC in eastern Arunachal Pradesh. 
  • In the past few years, a range of new generation equipment ranging from SIG-716 rifles, Negev light machine guns, and Sako TRG-42 sniper rifles, and a range of tactical drones have been inducted. "A range of new generation equipment has been inducted for augmentation and upgrading of communication infrastructure. This includes satellite terminals for remote and forward areas, and portable communication terminals for smooth and seamless communication to forward areas," another Army source stated. 
  • Another demonstration was of a platoon of Ghatak commandos of the Army in full combat gear being briefed before they embarked on a long-range patrol which can range from seven to 30 days. 
  • The Indian Air Force operates 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters procured from Boeing through the Foreign Military Sales programme of the U.S. government under a deal in September 2015. Talks are on for procuring seven additional Chinooks. 

Economy News 

9.India got 41st position in EIU's Democracy Index-2023 

  • The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)'s Democracy Index, released on 15 February 2024, highlights democracy trends globally in the year 2023. 
  • Norway, New Zealand and Iceland topped the index, while North Korea, Myanmar and Afghanistan took the bottom three spots. 
  • The global average index score fell from 5.29 last year to 5.23 in 2023, reaching its lowest level since 2006. 
  • India, the world's most populous country, recorded the biggest score improvement in this area in 2023. "It has been classified as a 'flawed democracy' with a very high score (7.18) and ranking (41st)," the India report said. 
  • North America, which includes the US and Canada, remains the top performer in the democracy index. However, the region's overall score fell from 8.37 in 2022 to 8.27 in 2023, leaving it behind Western Europe. 
  • This is the first time that North America has not been ranked as the world's highest scoring region following the Democracy Index. China is an 'authoritarian regime', scores very low (2.12) and ranks (148th) in the democracy index. 

Key facts 

  • Paraguay and Papua New Guinea were upgraded from "hybrid governance" to "flawed democracies" in 2023. Greece became a "full democracy", but Chile was reclassified as a "flawed democracy". Angola was upgraded to a "hybrid regime". 
  • Pakistan was transformed into an "authoritarian regime", Pakistan's score fell to 3.25, making Pakistan the only Asian nation to undergo such a major decline. 
  • Countries in the Sahel and West Africa were also among the worst performers in the 2023 index, as coups and conflicts spread across the region. 
  • The latest report, published on February 15, shows that less than 8% of the world's population lives in full democracies, and 39.4% are under authoritarian regimes – up from 36.9% in 2022. 
  • In the report titled "Age of Conflict", the London-based outlet's Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) classified 165 independent states and two territories as full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes or authoritarian regimes. 

Schemes and Committee News 

10.Odisha Govt Introduces ‘Swayam’ Scheme For Youth Empowerment 

  • In a significant move towards empowering the youth of Odisha, the state government has unveiled the ‘Swayam’ scheme aimed at providing interest-free loans to young entrepreneurs. 
  • This initiative, announced by Odisha Agriculture Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain, underscores the government’s commitment to fostering self-employment opportunities and economic growth. 
  • Under the ‘Swayam’ scheme, eligible rural and urban youth aged between 18-35 years will have access to interest-free loans of up to Rs 1 lakh. 

Banking News 

11.Pradeep Kumar Sinha to take over as Non-Executive Part-time Chairman of ICICI Bank 

  • Former Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha will take over as Non-Executive Part-time Chairman of ICICI Bank after G. C. Chaturvedi’s term ends on 30 June 2024. 
  • The Bank’s Board, has approved the appointment of Sinha as an Additional (Independent) Director for a period of five years, with immediate effect subject to the approval of shareholders. 
  • Sinha joined the Indian Administrative Service (Uttar Pradesh in 1977). 
  • He served as the Cabinet Secretary (from June 2015) for more than four years before moving to the Prime Minister’s Office. He retired from there in March 2021. 

About Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) Bank 

  • Founded – 1994 
  • Headquarters – Mumbai 
  • MD & CEO – Sandeep Bakhshi 
  • Tagline – Hum Hai Na Khayal Apka 
  • Recent Appointment in Banking & Insurance Sector 
  • Additional Director of Axis Bank – Pranam Wahi 
  • MD & CEO of SBI Capital Markets – Virendra Bansal (replace Rajay Kumar Sinha) 
  • President of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) – Ranjeet Kumar Agarwal (72nd) 
  • Vice President of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) – Charanjot Singh Nanda 
  • CEO of Sundaram Asset Management Company – Anand Radhakrishnan (replace Sunil Subramaniam) Important Day News 

12.Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti 2024 

  • February 19th marks the celebration of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti, the 394th birth anniversary of one of the most revered figures in Indian history. 
  • While the date varies according to the Hindu Tithi, as per the Gregorian calendar, this day is dedicated to commemorating the life and achievements of the great Maratha ruler, Shivaji Maharaj. 
  • The day is marked by various events, including processions, cultural programs, and ceremonies that highlight the life, achievements, and values of Shivaji Maharaj. 

13.World Whale Day 2024 

  • World Whale Day, observed on the third Sunday of February, is a pivotal event aimed at highlighting the critical importance of whale conservation. 
  • This year, the day falls on February 18, spotlighting the urgent need to protect these marine behemoths crucial for ecological equilibrium. 
  • Founded in 1980 by Greg Kauffman and the Pacific Whale Foundation, the initiative, initially centered on North Pacific humpback whales, has evolved into the Maui Whale Festival, celebrating broader successes in whale conservation. 

14.World Pangolin Day 2024 Observed On February 17th 

  • The Andhra Pradesh Forest Department, in collaboration with environmentalists, has launched an awareness campaign to commemorate World Pangolin Day on February 17, 2024. 
  • Highlighting the plight of the Indian Pangolin also known as the Thick-Tailed Pangolin or Scaly Anteater, this initiative underscores the urgent need for conservation efforts for one of the world’s most trafficked mammals. 

15.First 9 -day French Film Festival started in West Bengal 2024 

  • The inaugural edition of the Kolkata French Film Festival began on 16 February 2024 in Nandan, Kolkata, West Bengal. The festival, jointly organized by the Government of West Bengal and Alliance Franceis Do Bengale, will continue till 24 February 2024. 
  • Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor was the chief guest at the inauguration ceremony. The festival is divided into five volumes: French contemporary cinema, animation films, French new wave, Indian classics and French short movie night released in Cannes. 
  • The festival will feature 42 films, including 28 full -length films. The festival will begin with the film 'The Three Musaketors', while Estriques and Obelix and closing will be in the middle with the film. 
  • Satyajit Ray of Bengal was awarded the highest French decoration by French President, French President, 35 years ago, in his memory. 
  • The cinematic festival promises to unveil the climax of contemporary French films, paying homage to the period of French and Indian classics. 

16.'Nagi Bird Festival' 

  • Bihar Forest and Environment Department has started a three - day Nagi Bird Festival in Jamui from 17 February 2024. The Secretary of the Forest Department, Bandna Pisi said that after the successful international workshop on birds, the Bihar government is going to organize a Nagi festival in Jamui, Bihar. 
  • The purpose of the festival is to promote bird conservation and educate people about migratory birds and their houses. These birds will be known about their protection etc. Secondly, it will also create employment for ecosatisfaction locals. 

Books and Authors News 

17.Unveiling A Book Titled “Dabbling In Diplomacy” By Prof. S.D. Muni 

  • In his compelling work, “Dabbling in Diplomacy: Authorised & Otherwise, Recollections of a Non-Career Diplomat,” Professor S.D. Muni offers an unparalleled glimpse into the intricate web of South Asian geopolitics through the lens of an academic deeply entrenched in the region’s affairs. 
  • Having served as both a distinguished professor and a diplomat, Prof. Muni bridges the gap between scholarly research and real-world diplomacy, providing readers with a unique perspective on the subtleties of international relations in the South Asian context. 

Science and technology News 

18.ISRO Young Scientist Programme 2024 (YUVIKA): Empowering Future Space Explorers 

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) introduces the “Young Scientist Programme” “YUva VIgyani KAryakram” (YUVIKA) to foster the innate curiosity of children and youth towards space science. 
  • YUVIKA aims to impart fundamental knowledge on Space Science, Technology, and Applications, particularly targeting rural areas. 
  • The program aspires to ignite interest in STEM fields and nurture future talents in space exploration. Its objective is to provide basic knowledge on Space Science, Technology, and Applications, with a focus on emerging trends. 

19.NASA And JAXA Set To Launch World’s First Wooden Satellite 

  • In a groundbreaking collaboration between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the world’s first wooden satellite, dubbed the LignoSat probe, is poised for imminent launch. 
  • Developed by Kyoto University scientists in partnership with Sumitomo Forestry, this innovative initiative aims to revolutionize spaceflight operations by prioritizing sustainability. 
  • Constructed from wood sourced from magnolia trees, the LignoSat probe offers a biodegradable alternative to conventional spacecraft materials. 

20.India’s First Indigenous Spy Satellite By TASL Set For SpaceX Launch 

  • India is preparing to launch its first spy satellite developed by Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) aboard a SpaceX rocket in April. 
  • This satellite, designed for discreet information gathering, will bolster the country’s defense capabilities by providing real-time monitoring and ground control. 
  • Previously, Indian armed forces relied on foreign vendors for exact coordinates and timings. The indigenous spy satellite will end this dependency, ensuring sovereignty and security. 

Infrastructure and Energy News 

21.Karnataka boasts highest number of EV charging stations in India: BEE 

  • Karnataka tops the country in terms of public electric vehicle charging stations with 5,059, according to statistics from the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), under the Union Ministry of Power. 
  • Bengaluru Urban District has the most public charging stations with 4,281, which constitutes 85% of the charging infrastructure in the State. 
  • In 2017, Karnataka became the pioneer in India by introducing the first electric vehicle (EV) policy. 
  • At present, it leads in the number of public charging stations, with Maharashtra (3,079), Delhi (1,886), Kerala (958), Tamil Nadu (643), Uttar Pradesh (583), and Rajasthan (500) following suit. 
  • Meanwhile, in terms of the number of EVs, Uttar Pradesh is top with 7.45 lakh, followed by Maharashtra (4.15 lakh), and Karnataka (3.31 lakh). 
  • The State government, last year, in a bid to create a robust electric vehicle ecosystem in Karnataka, unveiled a revised draft EV policy (2023-28), which aims to attract ₹50,000 crore in investment while creating job opportunities for one lakh people. 
  • In Karnataka, the registered number of EVs has increased from 9,703 in 2020 to 33,306 in 2021, 95,892 in 2022, and 1.52 lakh in 2023. 

About Karnataka 

  • Capital – Bengaluru 
  • Chief Minister –Siddaramaiah 
  • Deputy Chief Minister – DK Shivakumar 
  • Governor – Thawar Chand Gehlot 

Ranks and Reports News 

22.UP Leads In Vehicle Sales Oct-Dec 2023; Maharashtra Follows: SIAM Report 

  • In the dynamic landscape of India’s automobile industry, the latest data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) for October-December 2023 reveals intriguing trends. 
  • Uttar Pradesh emerges as the frontrunner in vehicle sales during this period, with Maharashtra closely trailing behind. 
  • Maharashtra secures the second position with 6,88,192 units sold. It leads in passenger vehicle sales with 1,21,030 units sold. 

23.Henley Passport Index 2024: France Tops List; India At 85th 

  • The 2024 edition of the Henley Passport Index has been published, offering significant insights into global mobility and soft power. 
  • This index assesses nations based on passport strength, providing valuable insight into the global landscape of mobility and soft power. 
  • France secures the top spot on the Henley Passport Index, with its passport granting visa-free access to 194 countries. India slips one rank down to 85th place, despite an increase in visa-free access for its citizens to 62 countries. 

Sports News 

24.MS Dhoni Named Captain Of IPL’s Greatest All-Time Team 

  • The Indian Premier League (IPL), since its inception in 2008, has been a powerhouse of talent and excitement in the cricketing world. 
  • The selection panel comprises renowned cricketing figures including Wasim Akram, Matthew Hayden, Tom Moody, and Dale Steyn, whose expertise and experience bring invaluable insight to the decision-making process. 
  • The iconic Mahendra Singh Dhoni was unanimously chosen to lead this star-studded ensemble, bringing his unparalleled leadership and cricketing acumen to the fore. 

Summit and conference News 

25.Fisheries Department To Ink MoU With ONDC For Improved Fisherman Market Access 

  • Scheduled for February 19th, 2024, at Krishi Bhawan, New Delhi, an important MoU will be inked between the Department of Fisheries (GoI) and Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC). Its goal is to access broader markets, expanding reach and potential customer base. 
  • It will be the first formal collaboration between the Department of Fisheries and ONDC. Digital platform to be provided for fisherfolks, fish farmer producer organizations, entrepreneurs, SHGs, fishermen cooperatives, and other stakeholders. 

26.External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar Attends 60th Munich Security Conference In Germany 

  • External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar is currently participating in the 60th Munich Security Conference in Germany. 
  • During the conference, he is engaging in various discussions and meetings with global leaders to address bilateral cooperation and key global and regional concerns. 
  • The 60th Munich Security Conference, spanning three days, serves as a platform for high-level debates on the world’s most pressing security challenges. 

27. Prime Minister of Greece will be the chief guest at the 9th Raisina Dialogue 

  • Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic of Greece, will be the chief guest at the 9th Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi. The theme of Raisina Dialogue 2024 is – Chaturanga: Struggle, Competition, Cooperation, Creation. 
  • Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis will be on a two-day visit to India from 21 February 2024. He will also be accompanied by senior officials and a high-powered business delegation. 
  • This will be the first bilateral Head of State/Government level visit from Greece to India after 15 years. The last Prime Minister-level visit from Greece to India was in 2008. 
  • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi visited Athens on 25 August 2023. After which the relations between the two countries have gained momentum. The visit of Prime Minister Mitsotakis is expected to further strengthen and deepen the strategic partnership between India and Greece. There has been security, defence, shipping and maritime cooperation between the two countries. 
  • Several foreign ministers and deputy foreign ministers from European countries including Latvia, Romania, Estonia, Serbia and the Netherlands and neighbouring countries like Nepal, Vietnam as well as other ministers from other parts of the world are expected to attend the conference organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). 
  • During his visit to Athens last year, Mr Modi had strongly advocated for Greek businesses to invest in India, and the two leaders agreed to set a target of doubling bilateral trade by 2030. 

Raisina Dialogue 

  • This is the ninth edition of the Raisina Dialogue organized by the Observer Research Foundation (OFinance) and the Ministry of External Affairs since 2016. Previous editions have featured keynote addresses by the leaders of Denmark, Rwanda, Israel, the European Commission, Italy and others. 
  • The Raisina Dialogues were held in March 2023 in the presence of the Prime Minister of Italy and more than 30 foreign ministers. 

Obituary News 

28.Renowned Jain Monk Acharya Vidyasagar Maharaj Passed Away At 77 

  • Renowned Jain monk Acharya Vidyasagar Maharaj, aged 77, breathed his last on Sunday, February 18 at Chandragiri Teerth in Chhattisgarh’s Rajnandgaon district. 
  • The revered spiritual leader undertook ‘sallekhna,’ a Jain religious practice involving voluntary fasting unto death for spiritual purification. 
  • Acharya Vidyasagar Maharaj was born on October 10, 1946, in Sadalga, Karnataka. His early life was marked by a profound inclination towards spirituality, setting the stage for his remarkable journey.

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