Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 28th January 2024

National News 

1. Gyanvapi case raises a challenge to Places of Worship Act, 1991

  • Calls to hand over the Gyanvapi mosque to the Hindus have come even after appeals by the Anju man Intazamia Masjid in the Supreme Court to protect the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act of 1991 from becoming a dead letter. 
  • The 1991 Act provides a guarantee for the preservation of the religious character of places of public worship as they existed on August 15, 1947. 
  • In August 2023, the An Juman, Gynavapi mosque's managers, had argued in the apex court that the demand for a "scientific investigation" by the Archaea theological Survey of India n (ASI) of the mosque premises was merely "salami d tactics" and would defeat it the spirit of the 1991 Act. But a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. t Chandrachud had allowed the ASI survey using "noninvasive technology". 
  • The August 2023 judgment of the apex court did not directly deal with the mosque committee's two questions "what is the point of ordering this ASI survey and going into the history of what may have happened 500 years ago" and "Is the survey itself not a violation of the statement of objects of the Places of Worship Act?" 
  • Incidentally, the answer to these questions may be found in the Ram Janmabhoomi title dispute judgment authored by a five- judge Bench of the supreme Court in November 2019, The Constitution Bench in the Ramjanmabhumi verdict observed that the 1991 Act was an "affirmation" of the solemn duty of the state to preserve the equality of all faiths. The Act was a manifestation of an essential constitutional value. 
  • The judgment had highlighted the parliamentary intention behind the 1991 Act. It had reproduced excerpts of the government arguing in Lok Sabha on September 10, 1991 that the Places of Worship Act "which sought to prohibit the forcible conversion of places of worship was not to create new disputes and to rake up old controversies which had long been forgotten by the people." 
  • The five-judge Bench referred to how one of the parliamentarians, Malini Bhattacharya, had agreed with the cut-off date of August 15, 1947. "It is because on that date we are supposed to have emerged as a modern, democratic and sovereign State... From that date, we also distinguished ourselves as a state which has no official religion and which gives equal rights to all the different religious denominations". 

2.Minimal radioactive discharges from Indian nuclear plants: study 

  • By analysis of radiological data of 20 years 2000- 2020) from six nuclear power plants based in In- dia, researchers at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai have found that the radioactive discharges from the nuclear plants and the resultant potential environmental impact have been "minimal". "The findings hold potential significance for reinforcing India's commitment to advancing its nuclear power programme," the authors write. 
  • The period of study for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Station is from 2013 to 2020. The other six power plants studied are: Tarapur Atomic Power Station, Madras Atomic Power Station, Kaiga Generating Station, Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, Narora Atomic Power Station, and Kakrapar Atomic Power Station. The results were published recently in the journal Science of the Total Environment. 
  • While samples were collected and measured for a maximum radius of 30 km of each nuclear plant, the study found that the concentrations of fission products beyond 5 km radius was below the minimum detectable activity of the instruments used, implying that the monitored values were "insignificant". The study has therefore cussed only on the concentrations of fission products and neutron-activated nuclides values within 5 km of each nuclear plant. The gaseous waste that No reason to worry.
  • Minimal public doses underscore the safe operation of Indian nuclear power plants 
  • Radiological data of 20 years (2000-2020) from six Indian nuclear power plants were analyzed, for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Station, the data were from 2013 to 2020 discharge consists of fission product radionuclides -radioiodine, tritium, strontium -90, caesium-137-and activation products like cobalt-60 
  • The study focussed only on the concentrations of fission products and neutron-activated nuclides values within 5 km of each nuclear plant; the monitored values were "Insignificant beyond 5 km radius  is released to the atmosphere through stacks consisting of fission product noble gasses, Argon 41, radioiodine, particulate radionuclides-cobalt-60, strontium-90, caesium-137-and tritium. The liquid discharge consists of fission product radionuclides radioiodine, tritium, strontium 90, caesium-137 and activation products like cobalt-60. 
  • The radioactive discharges are carried out through dilution and dispersion and by "adhering to strict radiological and environmental regulatory regimes''. As per the study, average gross alpha activity in air particulates at all the seven nuclear plants was less than 0.1 megabecquerel (mBq) per cubic meter. "Though these gross values in air particulates appeared to be nearly the same across all the numbers. 
  • Fission product notile gasses, Argon 41, radioiodine, particulate radionuclides-co -cobalt strontium-50, 60, caesiune released as gaseous waste were studied and tritium 137. 
  • In air particulates, the average radionuclides and the average iodine-131 1 activity concentration were below ImBq per cubic meter. For caesium-137 and strontium-90, the average concentrations were below 10 mg per cubic meter. 
  • In rivers and lakes, caesium-137 and strontium-90 concentrations were below 5 million per liter, the concentration was less than 50 miles per liter in seawater near the nuclear plants clear power plants, the Narora atomic power station (NAPS) exhibited higher maximum values than the other nuclear plants. This was attributed to the higher atmospheric dust load at NAPS compared to the other sites," the authors wrote. In the case of specific marker, the average radionuclides (iodine-131, caesium-137, and strontium-90) in air particulates across all the seven sites and the average iodine-131 activity concentration was below 1 mBq per cubic meter, while in the case of caesium-137 and strontium-90, the average concentrations were three orders lower and below 10 microbec querel per cubic meter, they write. 
  • In the case of rivers and lakes, the concentration of caesium-137 and strontium-90 were below 5 mBq per liter, while the concentration was less than 50 megabecquerel per liter in sea water near the nuclear plants. In the case of sediments, caesium-137 concentration was maximum in the case of the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, while strontium-90 concentration in the sediments recorded a maximum in the Narora atomic power station sediments. "These values are within the statistical variation of values observed in natural sediments, and do not show any trend of deposition or accumulation of activity in the environment," they note. 
  • The higher levels of caesium-137 seen at the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station is "likely due to the accum- ulation of caesium-137 discharged to the water bodies through scavenging and sedimentation process and because of the hiểu distributions coefficient of the sediment at this site?" they write. 
  • The authors stress that tritium was frated "detectable above the window detectable activity in all the sites except in the Ker kudankulam Nuclear Power Station. In the case of the Kudankulam power plant, tritium was "not detected in any single time during the period of study, while its concentration was "the relatively higher at the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station. 
  • Though the total doses have been lower than the regulatory limits, the total dose at the Rajasthan atomic power station, Madras atomic station and Tarapur atomic power station have been relatively higher. This is because at both the Rajasthan and Madras power stations, the air-cooled reactor assemblies result in activation of matral argon to radioactive argon-41 before being released into the environment. The nuclear power plants constructed after the Rajasthan and Madras stations use carbon dioxide instead of air in the annulus space between the calandria tube and pressure tube. This results in reduced production and release of argon-41 by other power plants. 
  • Even though the total doses of Rajasthan, Madras and Tarapur power plants are below the regulatory mits and thus deemed to be safe to the public, efforts are being taken at a three sites to limit the dos es further so as to keep the doses as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA), they note. 

3.Cabinet approves Protocol for establishment of joint Economic and Trade Committee between India and Dominican Republic

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by PM Narendra Modi approved the proposal for signing of a protocol for establishment of Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) between the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic. 
  • Bilateral relations between India and the Dominican Republic have been friendly and continue to deepen in all spheres. At present, there is no bilateral institutional mechanism between India and Dominican Republic on trade and commerce. 
  • India primarily imports gold from the Dominican Republic and exports pharmaceuticals, marine products, motor vehicles, two and three-wheelers etc. to them. 
  • The establishment of JETCO will strengthen the economic ties between India and the Dominican Republic and shall play a pivotal role and provide a platform for discussions, exchange of information, knowledge and ideas which would in turn facilitate trade and industry. 
  • The Joint Committee will provide a platform for exchange of information between various authorities and their counterparts. This would help in facilitating trade of goods and services and consequentially help in better employment opportunities for professionals in both countries. 

About Dominican Republic 

  • Capital- Santo Domingo 
  • Currency- Dominican Peso 
  • Continent- North America 
  • Official language- Spanish 

4.Krutrim becomes India’s first $1 billion AI startup 

  • Ola Krutrim, the artificial intelligence (AI) startup founded by serial entrepreneur Bhavish Aggarwal, has achieved unicorn status following a successful funding round that secured $50 million from prominent investors, including Matrix Partners India. 
  • The company proudly announced its newfound status as the first Indian AI startup to reach a billion-dollar valuation, a remarkable feat achieved within a month of unveiling a large language model. 
  • The startup, aptly named Krutrim, translating to “artificial” in Sanskrit, is not only focusing on advancing AI language capabilities but is also delving into the development of data centres. The ultimate goal is to create servers and supercomputers tailored to the evolving needs of the AI ecosystem. 
  • Krutrim will be available in beta version for consumers in February 2024. Additionally, it will also be available as an API for enterprises and developers, seeking to create AI applications. 

5.Reliance Jio and OnePlus join hands to set up 5G innovation lab in India 

  • Telecom major Reliance Jio and Chinese smartphone company OnePlus have joined hands to set up a 5G innovation lab in India. 
  • The alliance between OnePlus and Jio aims to provide OnePlus and Jio True 5G users with differentiated features and an unparalleled network experience. 
  • To bolster these initiatives, both brands are excited to announce the establishment of a state-of-the-art 5G Innovation Lab. The lab will serve as a hub for testing and developing new technologies. 
  • 85 per cent of the entire 5G deployment in India has been made by Jio. 

6.Nirmala Sitharaman To Become 2nd FM To Present 6 Consecutive Union Budgets 

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will set a record by presenting the sixth Budget in a row — five annual Budgets and one interim — a feat achieved so far only by former Prime Minister Morarji Desai. 
  • With the presentation of the interim Budget on February 1, Ms Sitharaman will surpass the records of her predecessors like Manmohan Singh, Arun Jaitley, P. Chidambaram, and Yashwant Sinha, who had presented five budgets in a row. 
  • Desai, as Finance Minister, had presented five annual Budgets and one interim Budget between 1959-1964. 
  • Former Prime Minister Morarji Desai who holds the tag of presenting 10 Budgets — the maximum by any finance minister — had presented six of them, including one interim, in a row. 

7.63rd Central Geological Programming Board (CGPB) Meeting Convened In Bhopal 

  • The 63rd gathering of the Central Geological Programming Board (CGPB) took place in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. 
  • The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Shri V.L. Kantha Rao, Secretary, Ministry of Mines. Shri Sanjay Lohiya, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Mines,Shri Janardan Prasad, Director General, GSI,senior functionaries of different Ministries, State Directorates of Mining & Geology, PSUs, representatives from private mining industry, Mining associations and other stakeholders attended thecrucial
  • The proposed Annual Programme for the ensuing Field Season year 2024-25 was placed before the Board for discussion. 
  • During the ensuing year 2024-25 GSI has formulated about 1055 scientific programs for the year 2024-25, which include 392 Mineral Development projects (G2; G3; G4; and Offshore Explorations) that have the potential to generate auctionable mineral blocks in near future. 

8.India, France agree on surveillance.

  • India and France have agreed to intensify their cooperation in the southwest Indian Ocean, building on the "joint surveillance missions" carried out from French La Reunion in 2020 and 2022. 
  • The two countries also welcomed the progress in bilateral dialogue and identification of specific opportunities for using India "as a base" for the manufacture and export of defense equipment for friendly countries in the region, the joint statement issued at the end of French President Emmanuel Macron's visit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.
  • France is the first major Western military power with which India has conducted joint patrols with Indian Navy's P-81 maritime patrol aircraft deployed on the French island territory of La Reunion. 
  • "They also welcomed the extension of those interactions in India's maritime neighborhood. These interactions may contribute positively to the securitisation of strategic sea lanes of communication," the statement said. 

9. Congress launches Donate for Nyay' crowdfunding drive 

  • The Congress launched a crowdfunding campaign, Donate for Nyay', for the ongoing Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, under which people who donate will get a Rahul Gandhi-signed letter or merchandise in return. 
  • Congress treasurer Ajay Maken, along with general secretary (communication) Jairam Ramesh, launched the campaign at the All India Congress Committee headquarters. To mark the 6,713-km-long yatra, the party will receive donations in multiples of 67. Any person who donates 1670 or more will get a T-shirt signed by Mr. Gandhi as a gift. 
  • "Those who donate 67,000 or more will get a "Nyay Kit', which will contain a T-shirt, bag, band, badge and sticker," Mr. Maken said. "For anything that one donates, he or she will get a letter signed by Rahulji and a certificate of donation," he added. 
  • The Congress treasurer also said under the party's Donate for Desh' crowdfunding campaign launched on December 18 last year, 20 crore had been collected. Within two hours of launching the 'Donate for Nyay' campaign, 2 crore had been collected, he added. 
  • Asked about funds collected through the crowdfunding campaign being lower than expectations, Mr. Maken said, "We can't contest elections by raising money through our workers. If someone thinks we will get all our funding for the elections through this crowdfunding, he is wrong and this is something we did not intend." The idea is not to get money, but to motivate workers, he said. 
  • The yatra, which is on a two-day break from January 26 to 27, will restart from West Bengal's Jalpaiguri on Sunday. 

International News 

9.Jury orders Trump to pay $83 million for defamation 

  • A jury in New York ordered former U.S. President and 2024 candidate Donald Trump on Friday to pay $83.3 million to compensate the writer E. Jean Carroll, whom he was found to have sexually assaulted and defamed. 
  • The civil order, which prompted an audible gasp in the federal court, far exceeds the more than $10 million in damages for defamation that Ms. Carroll had sought. Mr. Trump lashed out almost immediately, calling the verdict "ridiculous" in a statement and promising to appeal.
  • The jury reached its decision after slightly less than three hours of deliberations. 
  • Mr. Trump had been in court earlier, but was not in court when the level of compensatory and punitive damages were read out by a court clerk. 
  • "This is a great victory for every woman who stands up when she's been knocked down, and a huge defeat for every bully who has tried to keep a woman down," Ms. Carroll said in a statement. 
  • A juror exchanged a smile with Ms. Carroll as the nine men and women left the courtroom after the judge encouraged them to protect their privacy. 
  • "It's clear to me... you paid attention," Judge Lewis Kaplan told the jury following the verdict. 
  • The order was comprised of $65 million in punitive damages after the jury found Mr. Trump acted maliciously in his many public comments about Ms. Carroll, $7.3 million in compensatory damages and $11 million for a reputational programme. 

Defence News 

10.Navy team helps bring fire under control on oil tanker hit by Houthi missile in Gulf of Aden 

  • A British oil tanker, m.v. Marlin Luanda, was hit by an anti-ship ballistic missile launched by the Iran Backed Houthi militants in the Gulf of Aden on Friday night, the U.S. Central Command said. 
  • The Indian Navy said it deployed a team from its guided missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam following a distress call to to augment the fire-fighting efforts on board the oil tanker, owned by London-based commodities group 
  • Trafigura. Based on a request from the master, a fire-fighting team from INS Visakhapatnam comprising 10 Indian naval personnel with specialist fire-fighting equipment embarked on m.v 
  • Marlin Luanda in the early hours of Saturday, the Indian Navy said. 
  • "After six hours of battling the fire along with the crew of m.v. Marlin Luanda, the Indian fire-fighting team has successfully brought the fire under control," it stated. 
  • The tanker had 22 Indians and one Bangladeshi among crew members and was sailing from Laconian Gulf in Greece to Singapore with Russian naphtha, when it sounded a distress call following the attack. 
  • A U.S. warship and a French warship also responded to the distress call but only the Indian Navy sent a fire-fighting team on board the vessel. "The team is currently monitoring the situation to rule out any possibility of re-ignition," the Indian Navy added. The Navy currently has around 12 warships deployed in the Arabian Sea close to the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy and maritime security operations. 
  • The Iran-backed group has been targeting merchant vessels on the key global trade route, which they say is in response to the Israeli offensive against Hamas in Gaza. Claiming responsibility for the attack, the Houthis said in a statement that they used "appropriate naval missiles; the strike direct.” 

11.Joint military exercise – SADA TANSEEQ between India & Saudi Arabia to be held in Rajasthan 

  • The inaugural edition of the Joint Military Exercise ‘SADA TANSEEQ’ between India and Saudi Arabia will be held from January 29 to February 10.
  • The exercise aims to enhance synergy, interoperability and jointmanship by learning and sharing best practices between the Armies of both nations. 
  • The joint exercise will focus on counter-terrorism operations under the United Nations Mandate. 
  • During the exercise, participants will engage in missions ranging from joint planning, operations, joint tactical drills, and will provide field commanders and troops an opportunity to interact with each other. 
  • Earlier in January, India and Saudi Arabia signed a bilateral agreement under which New Delhi has been allocated a quota of 1,75,025 pilgrims for the annual Haj pilgrimage in 2024. 

Recent Exercise 

  • Desert Knight Exercise between India, France, UAE – over Arabian Sea 
  • 11th edition of Khanjar Exercise between India-Kyrgyzstan – Bakloh, Himachal Pradesh 
  • 2nd edition of ‘Cyclone’ exercise between India and Egypt – Anshas, Egypt 
  • 1st edition of Navy Exercise ‘Ex-Ayutthaya’ between India & Thailand 
  • 1st edition of Military Exercise ‘Desert Cyclone’ between India & UAE – Rajasthan 

Business News 

12.Tata Group, Airbus team up to make helicopters 

  • The Tata Group and European aerospace company Airbus have signed an agreement to manufacture H125 civilian helicopters together in India. 
  • The partnership would include air and space tech, maritime tech, including underwater domain awareness, and equipment and systems related to land warfare. 
  • It also heavily focuses on cutting-edge technology, including robotics, artificial intelligence, cyber-defence, and autonomous vehicles and platforms. 
  • Also, in partnership with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), Airbus Helicopters will set up a final assembly line (FAL) for H125 civilian helicopters. This will be India’s first private helicopter manufacturing facility. 
  • The FAL will take 24 months to set up and deliveries of the first ‘made-in-India’ H125s are expected to commence in 2026. 
  • This announcement came as India and France adopted a joint defence production road map and an agreement on defence space partnership, following talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron. 

Economy News 

13.'Collaboration is a must for India to reach $5 tn in GDP’ 

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said initiatives of Customs department like Faceless Assessment and Single Window Clearance must evolve aiming to grow trade as every partner must collaborate to help India's GDP surpass $5 trillion by 2027-28. 
  • In a written message on 'International Customs Day 2024', Ms. Sitharaman said with a common purpose of ease of doing business for nation building, all stakeholders must come together and contribute to benefit the citizens. 
  • She said this year's theme of International Customs Day is Modi. 
  • "Every partner needs to collaborate to put India on course to becoming the third-largest economy by 2027-28, with a GDP surpassing $5 trillion," Ms. Sitharaman said. 
  • Many initiatives taken by Customs like Faceless Assessment, Direct Port Delivery, Single Window Clearance, AEO Scheme must evolve aiming to grow trade and business, the minister added. 
  • "Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partners with Purpose" resonates with the motto of 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas' given by Prime Minister Narendra 
  • Special focus on MSMEs, new start-ups and its inclusivity would align with the vision of the PM, H Ms. Sitharaman said. 

Important Day News 

14.26 January – International Day of Clean Energy 

  • International Day of Clean Energy is observed every year on January 26. 
  • This day serves as a reminder of the critical role clean energy plays in combating climate change, reducing carbon emissions, and ensuring a healthier planet for future generations.
  • Adopting clean energy is integral to the fight against climate change. For decades, science has shown that to limit climate change, we need to end our reliance on fossil fuels and invest in alternative sources of energy that are clean, sustainable, accessible, affordable, and reliable. 

15.27 January – International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust 

  • January 27th marks a solemn occasion recognised globally as the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. 
  • This day serves as a poignant reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust and the enduring need to fight against hatred, bigotry, and racism in all its forms. 
  • In November 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated January 27 as an “International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust”(Resolution 60/7). 
  • It reaffirmed that the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one-third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism, and prejudice. 
  • On January 27, 2006, the first worldwide International Holocaust Remembrance Day celebrated. 

Award News 

16.Foxconn CEO Young Liu honoured with Padma Bhushan 

  • In a remarkable recognition of his outstanding contributions to the technology industry, Young Liu, the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Foxconn, the Taiwanese multinational electronics contract manufacturer, has been bestowed with the prestigious Padma Bhushan award. 
  • Young Liu, a seasoned entrepreneur and innovator, boasts an impressive career spanning over four decades.
  • His entrepreneurial journey began in 1988 when he founded Young Micro Systems, a motherboard company. Subsequently, in 1995, he ventured into the realm of IC design, focusing on PC chipsets. In 1997, Liu established ITE Tech, known as ITeX, marking the third successful venture in his illustrious career. 
  • Foxconn, headquartered in Taiwan, stands as the world’s largest contract manufacturer, responsible for assembling approximately 70% of iPhones. 
  • The company has strategically diversified its production away from China in response to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and escalating geopolitical tensions. 
  • The Padma Bhushan Award is one of the highest civilian honours in India. This year, the President approved 132 Padma awards across various fields, including art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, and civil service. 

Sports News 

17.Virat Kohli wins ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year Award 2023 

  • Indian batting maestro Virat Kohli was crowned the ICC men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year 2023 for his excellent run in the format last year headlined by a phenomenal outing in the World Cup at home. 
  • This is the fourth such award for Kohli, who was the second most prolific run-scorer in ODIs last year behind compatriot Shubman Gill. 
  • The former India skipper finished the year with 1,377 runs which included six centuries and eight half-centuries. 
  • This is the seventh individual ICC award won by Kohli during his glittering career, and his fourth in the ODI category after previous wins in 2012, 2017 and 2018. 
  • He also won the Test award in 2018 while the years 2017 and 2018 saw him also win the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year. 

Others Awards 

  • ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year (Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy) – Pat Cummins (Australia) 
  • ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year (Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy) – Nat Sciver-Brunt (England) 
  • ICC Men’s Test Cricketer of the Year – Usman Khawaja (Australia) 
  • ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year – Virat Kohli (India) 
  • ICC Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year – Chamari Athapathth (Sri Lanka) 
  • ICC Men’sT20I Teams of the Year – Surya Kumar Yadav (India) 
  • ICC Women’sT20I Teams of the Year – Chamari Athapathth (Sri Lanka) 
  • ICC Umpire of the Year (David Shepherd Trophy) – Richard Illingworth (England) 
  • ICC Spirit of Cricket of the Year Award – Zimbabwe 
  • ICC Men’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year – Rachin Ravindra (New Zealand) 
  • ICC Women’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year – Phobe Litchfield (Australia)

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