Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 3rd February 2024




1. To rein in rice prices, millers, traders told to declare stocks 

  • Worried over the increase in rice prices, the Centre has asked traders/wholesalers, retailers, big chain retailers and processors/ millers to declare their stock position of rice and paddy every Friday. 
  • Union Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra said the decision is to manage the overall food inflation and to prevent unscrupulous speculation. 
  • Traders and millers will have to declare the stocks of paddy and almost all categories of rice, such as broken rice, non-basmati white rice, parboiled rice and basmati rice, on the Ministry's designated portal, Mr. Chopra said. 
  • Further, to check inflationary trends, the Centre has decided to start retail sale of 'Bharat Rice' to general consumers. "In the first phase, 5 lakh tonnes of rice has been allocated for retail sale under 'Bharat Rice' brand through three agencies, NAFED, NCCF and Kendriya Bhandar. Retail price for sale of Bharat Rice to general consumers will be 29 per kilogram. Rice will be sold in five kg and 10 kg bags," he said. 
  • He said the retail prices had increased by 14.51% over the past year. "In an effort to curb the prices of rice, various steps have already been taken by the government," he said. Sufficient stock of good quality rice is available with the FCI, which is being offered to traders/wholesalers under open market sales scheme at a reserve price of ₹29/kg. 
  • He said the government's policy of curbs on certain varieties of rice will continue. 


2. Law panel suggests retaining criminal defamation provision. 

  • The 22nd Law Commission has recommended that criminal defamation should be retained within the scheme of criminal laws in India, the Law Ministry said on Friday. 
  • The panel submitted its report to the Ministry on Thursday. In its report, the Law Commission argued that the right to reputation is derived from Article 21 of the Constitution that guarantees the right to life and personal liberty and that is why it has to be protected. 
  • "Reputation is something which can't be seen and can only be earned. It's an asset which is built in a lifetime and destroyed in seconds. The whole jurisprudence around the law on criminal defamation has the essence of protecting one's reputation and its facets," it said. 
  • The matter was referred to the law panel by the Ministry in August 2017. Noting that it could be argued that criminal prosecution for defamatory statements stands opposed to the freedom of speech and expression, the law panel advised exercising caution. 
  • "Speech ought to be illegal only where it is meant to do substantial harm and when such harm materializes," the panel cautioned. 
  • Referring to the issue of punishment, it said the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita has added a provision of community service as an additional punishment. "This law gives a balancing approach, wherein it has safeguarded the interest of the victim and has also neutralized the scope of misuse by giving an alternate punishment of community service," it said. 


3. Navy foils piracy attempt off east Somalia, rescues 11 Iranians, 8 Pakistanis 

  • The Indian Navy foiled a piracy attempt on an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel off the east coast of Somalia on Friday and ensured the release of the crew of 11 Iranian and eight Pakistani nationals along with the s boat. "Information regarding piracy attempt on the fishing vessel FV Omaril was monitored on January 31. The Indian naval remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), undertaking surveillance in the area, successfully located FV Omaril, and INS Sharda, deployed for anti-piracy mission in the region, was diverted to intercept the boat," the Navy said in a statement on Friday. 
  • Seven pirates had boarded FV Omaril and taken the crew hostages, according to the Navy. "INS Sharda intercepted the vessel in early hours of February 2 and used her integral helicopter and boats to coerce the pirates for safe release of crew along with the vessel," it said. 
  • The ship also undertook "confirmatory boarding" on the vessel to sanitize it and check on the well-being of the crew, the Navy added. 
  • Seven incidents of hijacking of vessels on high seas by pirates have been reported during the last three years, and the Indian Navy has been proactively engaging with the regional and extra-regional navies and maritime forces, Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt informed Parliament on February 2. This does not include the latest incident. 


4. Population priorities: No survey can substitute the Census, yet to be conducted for this decade 

  • In what was an intriguing statement in her Interim Budget speech, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that a high-powered committee will be constituted to consider the challenges arising from "fast population growth and demographic changes". With the Union government repeatedly postponing the decennial Census - it has not been conducted for the first time in a decade since 1881 - there is no direct evidence to support this statement. It is evident that India is now the most populous country, but the Sample Registration System statistical report in 2020 and the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21) have shown that the total fertility rate (TFR) in India has fallen to 2 overall, with only a few States - Bihar (2.98), Meghalaya (2.91), Uttar Pradesh (2.35), Jharkhand (2.26) and Manipur (2.17) having a TFR above 2.1. Clearly, the high population growth of the kind seen in the 20th century has been largely arrested; the TFR fell from 5.7 in 1950 to 2 in 2020, albeit differentially across regions. The population share of the southern States, reduced to 21% in 2011 from 26% in 1951, largely a consequence of a rapid reduction in TFR due to better socio-economic outcomes and education, and despite higher migration to these States. While the surveys mentioned are robust and necessary, they are no substitute for the comprehensive Census; the continued delay in its implementation reflects poorly on the Union Home Ministry that is motivated by other priorities rather than executing a vital programme of Indian governance. 
  • The demographic shift in India and rising life expectancy have resulted in challenges and opportunities. The much touted demographic dividend - the relatively high proportion of the work- ing age population in the developing world is meaningful only if there are sufficient jobs and if they enjoy some degree of social security that will help them when they age. With high unemployment and the creation of non-farm jobs, which will increase productivity and cater to skilled employment, relatively slack in the last few years, there is the possibility of the country squandering this dividend. The "high-powered" committee will be performing a crucial role if it engages meaningfully in addressing questions related to jobs and social security and the challenges citizens face due to rapid urbanization and mechanization of work. However, if the committee focuses on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's pet bogies of looking at population issues through the lens of religion and immigration, it will only distract governance from making use of the fast eroding democratic dividend in the country. 


5. China's Grandmaster Wei Yi wins Wimbledon chess 'Tata Steel Masters 2024' 

  • Grandmaster Wei Yi of China emerged as the winner of Tata Steel Masters 2024 after defeating D Gukesh 1.5–0.5 in the tiebreak blitz final. This victory is the most important achievement in the chess career of the 24-year-old Chinese GM.
  • Whereas Anish Giri (Netherlands) and Nodirbek Abdusatorov (Uzbekistan) stood third and fourth respectively. Meanwhile, Leon Luke Mendonca won the 2024 Tata Steel Challengers and secured his ticket for the 2025 Tata Steel Masters. 
  • Wei Yi was a grandmaster at the age of 13 and the youngest player with a 2700 rating at the age of 15, now he has entered the world's top 10 with the opportunity to reach the highest peak. 
  • The 86th edition of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, which started in the year 1938, was held in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands from 13-28 January in the year 2024. Tata Steel holds an annual tournament, known as "Chess Wimbledon". 
  • Magnus Carlsen first played in the tournament in 2004, Carlsen holds the record for most wins in the tournament with eight. Anish Giri was the winner of the 85th edition in 2023. 


6. For the first time in India, CMFRI Kochi will develop fish meat in laboratory. 

  • ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi, Kerala has launched a pioneering initiative for the first time in India to develop laboratory-grown fish meat. 
  • The project aims to establish India's position in the field of cultured marine fish meat to meet the growing demand for seafood and reduce the excessive pressure on marine resources. 
  • For this, CMFRI has entered into a collaborative research agreement with Neat Meat Biotech, a start-up working towards developing meat, under the public-private partnership mode. 
  • CMFRI Director A Gopalakrishnan and Neat Meet Biotech Co-Founder and CEO Sandeep Sharma signed an MoU in this regard.
  • Cultured fish meat or lab-grown fish meat is produced by isolating specific cells from fish and growing them in a laboratory free of animal components. The final product will replicate the original taste, texture and nutritional properties of the fish. 
  • In the initial phase, the institute focuses on developing cell-based meat of high-value marine fishes such as king fish, pomfret and sear fish. 
  • As per the MoU, CMFRI will conduct research on preliminary cell line development of high value marine fish species. This involves isolating and growing fish cells for further research and development. 
  • Additionally, CMFRI will handle genetic, biochemical and analytical work related to the project. The institute is equipped with a cell culture laboratory with basic facilities, which provides a solid foundation for research in cellular biology. 
  • Neat Meet, with its expertise in cell culture technology, will lead the optimization of cell growth media, development of scaffolds or microcarriers for cell attachment and scaling up production through bioreactors. 


7. Under the Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat initiative, the Ministry of Education organized ‘Auroville Experience Tour’ in Puducherry 

  • Under the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, on the 150th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo, the Ministry of Education organized a week-long Educational-cumCultural Tour Program of Auroville under Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat (EBSB) in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry from 29 January to 2 February 2024. 
  • Auroville Foundation, an autonomous organization of the Ministry of Education, has organized this program. The thrust of this initiative will be to expose the youth to spirituality and the practical implementation of Sri Aurobindo's philosophy and integral education, Auroville is a unique experiment in this direction. 
  • Students attending Auroville explored the role of units in prosperity and the Pondicherry Ashram. His visit to Pondicherry Ashram offered the students a captivating glimpse of ashram life. 
  • Interesting interactions with the residents of the ashram provided valuable insights into the philosophy and organizational structure, including the unique education system and focus on physical education. 
  • Learned about the workings of four major units within Auroville that focus on wellness, paper, food products and probiotics. Union Minister of Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan has suggested to start Aurobindo Circuit. 

Auroville 

  • It is located in Viluppuram district and Puducherry of Tamil Nadu. It was founded by Mira Alfassa in the year 1968 in compliance with Sri Aurobindo's vision of new forms of individual and collective life. 
  • Auroville is envisioned as a universal city where men and women of all nations, all creeds can come. It was officially endorsed by UNESCO in the year 1966. 


8. Abhinav Bindra becomes torch bearer for 2024 Paris Olympics 

  • India's first individual gold medalist at the Olympic Games, Abhinav Bindra has been selected as the torch bearer for the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics to be held in the French capital from July 26 to August 11, 2024. The relay will include 10,000 torch bearers. 
  • Bindra won the gold medal in the men's 10 meter air rifle at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Paris 2024 Olympic torch relay will begin its journey in France on 8 May 2024 and the flame will reach Marseille before a 68-day journey across French regions. During this period it will cover 65 areas including five overseas areas. 
  • The torch bearers were selected through an elaborate process that began on June 1, 2023. Bindra is also a member of the Athletes Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). 
  • The torch will be lit near Olympia in Greece and will make its initial journey to the country where the ancient Olympics originated. After being lit in Olympia, Greece, the path of the Olympic flame will begin its journey across the ocean aboard the BelĂ©m, a luxurious three-masted ship that will cross the Mediterranean Sea from Athens to Marseille. 


9. 'Ungalai Thedi, Ungal Oril' scheme started in Tamil Nadu 

  • The Tamil Nadu government has released guidelines for the 'Ungalai Thedi, Ungala Oril' scheme announced by Chief Minister MK last year. Asked Stalin to improve the delivery of various services and expedite the implementation of schemes. 
  • As per the guidelines, collectors and senior district-level officials will spend 24 hours in a taluk on the fourth Wednesday of every month to review the functioning of various projects, inspect infrastructure and receive representations from the public. 
  • The first such visit to all the districts took place on Wednesday 31 January 2024. The officials inspected primary health centres, ration shops, cooperative societies, schools and government offices, among others, in the forenoon. 
  • A week before the scheduled tour of the taluka, a team of officials from various departments will be sent to all the firkas of the particular taluka to obtain representation from the public.
  • During the taluk tour, the Collector and other officials will visit facilities, bus stands and public toilets run by the Social Welfare Department. Before returning to the headquarters, the officers will inspect various villages and review the basic civic amenities and the implementation of the Chief Minister Breakfast Scheme. 
  • Collectors have been asked to prepare a calendar at the beginning of every year so that all the taluks of the districts are covered equally. Adequate publicity has been given to the scheme to ensure that maximum number of people utilize the opportunity to express their grievances. 


10.India Launches UPI Payments At Eiffel Tower In Paris 

  • India has officially introduced the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) at the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris, marking a significant step towards realizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of globalizing UPI. 
  • NPCI International Payments (NIPL) has partnered with French e-commerce and proximity payments company, Lyra, to facilitate the acceptance of UPI payments in France. 
  • The collaboration between India and France in the digital payments sector, initiated in July, allows the use of India’s UPI for retail payments in France. This groundbreaking agreement positions France as the pioneer in embracing UPI on the European continent. 


11.Uttar Pradesh’s Visionary Step – Centralized GIS Data Centre For Ayodhya Development 

  • The Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government is set to establish a cutting-edge Centralized GIS Data Centre in Ayodhya under the Ayodhya Development Authority (ADA). 
  • This initiative aligns with the Chief Minister’s vision to enhance the city’s infrastructure and efficiently manage the ongoing 141 projects worth Rs 30,977 crore, aimed at restoring Ayodhya’s historical grandeur. 
  • ADA has initiated the development process for the necessary software and hardware infrastructure required for the state-of-the-art GIS data centre integrated with Geographic Information System (GIS). 
  • The GIS data centre will facilitate the evaluation of operations of over 37 agencies involved in the 141 ongoing projects, allowing for streamlined project progress assessment. 


12.Uttarakhand Police Adopt Self-Balancing E-Scooters For Smart Patrols 

  • Director General Abhinav Kumar, overseeing police operations in Haridwar, inaugurated a novel approach to law enforcement by deploying self-balancing electric scooters, generously donated by Utkarsh Small Finance Bank. 
  • The introduction of self-balancing electric scooters marks a significant leap forward in police patrol strategies in Haridwar. 
  • These vehicles, equipped with cutting-edge technology, empower law enforcement officers to efficiently navigate through narrow streets and crowded areas, ensuring the safety of both tourists and local residents. 
  • Director General Abhinav Kumar emphasized the importance of adapting to eco-friendly alternatives to traditional policing methods, underscoring the environmental benefits of this initiative. 


13.Karnataka Clinches Nagesh Trophy Beating Andhra Pradesh 

  • Karnataka clinched the Nagesh Trophy, marking a significant milestone in the Men’s National T20 Cricket Tournament for the Blind 2023-24.
  • The thrilling final, held in Nagpur, saw Karnataka defeating Andhra Pradesh by nine wickets, ending a 20-year wait for a national title.
  • Andhra Pradesh, known for their dominant performance throughout the tournament, set a challenging target of 237/5 in their 20 overs. With in-form batters like T. Durga Rao and D. Venkateswara Rao at the helm, Andhra Pradesh displayed commendable skill, setting the stage for an intense finale.


14.India-US Seal $4B MQ-9B Armed Drone Deal 

  • India’s strategic collaboration with the United States in defense takes a significant leap forward with the procurement of MQ-9B armed drones. 
  • The MQ-9B, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., epitomizes the cutting-edge advancements in armed drone technology. 
  • Designed to provide unparalleled intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, the MQ-9B heralds a new era in modern warfare. 
  • India’s procurement plan includes acquiring a total of 31 MQ-9B drones. Among these, the Indian Navy will receive 15 MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones, while the Army and Air Force will each be equipped with eight MQ-9B SkyGuardian drones. 


15.Govt Offers ‘Bharat’ Rice At ₹29/Kg In Retail Market 

  • In response to escalating rice prices, the Government of India has unveiled the ‘Bharat’ brand rice, aiming to address market volatility and ensure affordability for consumers. 
  • The rice will be available in 5- and 10-kg packs at ₹29 per kg through cooperatives such as Nafed, NCCF, and Kendriya Bhandar. 
  • Consequently, the Essential Commodities Act has been invoked to compel traders to declare their rice stocks every Friday on a designated portal, starting February 9. This measure aims to gather data on rice stock positions to determine whether further interventions, such as stock limits, are necessary. 


16.Record-Breaking UPI Transactions Hit ₹18.4 Trillion In January: NPCI Data 

  • The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) reports a remarkable milestone in Unified Payment Interface (UPI) transactions for January, reaching a record ₹18.41 trillion. 
  • January’s UPI transactions showcase a 1.5% increase in volume, totaling 12.20 billion, and a 1% rise in value from December, emphasizing the consistent growth trend. 
  • The data reveals a substantial 52% surge in transaction volume and a significant 42% increase in transaction value compared to January of the previous financial year. 
  • Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) transactions witnessed a minor decline in value by 0.7% to ₹5.66 trillion in January. However, transaction count increased by 2% to 509 million, showcasing resilience. \


17.World Cancer Day 2024 

  • Cancer remains one of the most formidable health challenges of our time, affecting millions of people worldwide with its myriad forms and complexities. 
  • Recognized annually on February 4th, World Cancer Day aims to shed light on this critical issue, advocating for advances in research, prevention, and patient care. 
  • The ongoing theme for World Cancer Day from 2022 to 2024, “Close the Care Gap: Everyone Deserves Access To Cancer Care,” focuses on the disparities in cancer care across different communities and regions.
  • This year’s sub-theme, “Together, we challenge those in power,” emphasizes the importance of holding leaders accountable for investing the necessary resources to combat cancer effectively. 


18.International Day Of Human Fraternity 2024 

  • International Day of Human Fraternity serves as a powerful reminder of the beauty of unity and the strength found in diversity. 
  • Observed annually on February 4th, the day calls for global solidarity and mutual understanding, underscoring the importance of compassion, respect, and empathy in overcoming hatred and conflict. 
  • In 2024, this auspicious occasion falls on a Sunday, providing a moment for individuals around the world to pause and consider the value of togetherness in our increasingly interconnected global community. 


19.NCPCR Launches GHAR Portal For Child Restoration And Repatriation

  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development has pioneered the development of two pivotal portals: the Track Child Portal and the GHAR – GO Home and Re-Unite Portal. 
  • These platforms play a crucial role in tracking missing and found children, enhancing restoration and repatriation processes, and safeguarding the welfare of vulnerable minors under the purview of the Juvenile Justice system. 
  • The Track Child Portal, a flagship initiative of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, serves as a centralized hub for tracking missing and found children nationwide. 
  • Developed in collaboration with stakeholders such as the Ministry of Home Affairs, CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking & Network Systems), and various State Governments/UT Administrations, this platform empowers authorities and citizens alike to monitor the whereabouts of missing children effectively. 


20.Prime Minister Narendra Modi Inaugurates CLEA-CASGC 2024 Conference 

  • PM Modi kickstarted the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) – Commonwealth Attorneys and Solicitors General Conference (CASGC) 2024 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, focusing on Cross-Border Challenges in Justice Delivery. 
  • The conference, attended by international guests, aimed to address critical issues such as legal education, judicial transition, ethical dimensions of legal practice, and executive accountability. 
  • Echoing Indian philosophy on justice, PM Modi stressed the importance of citizen-centric justice, advocating for initiatives like Lok Adalats to ensure ease of access to justice for all. 
  • PM Modi also advocated for the inclusion of women in the legal profession and the modernization of legal systems to reflect present realities, including the abolition of colonial laws and leveraging technology for efficiency. 


21.Shri Pawan Kumar Assumes Charge As Chief Adviser (Cost) In Ministry Of Finance 

  • Consequent upon approval of Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), Shri Pawan Kumar, ICoAS, has assumed charge as Chief Adviser (Cost), Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, in Level-17 (Apex level) on 01/02/2024.
  • Shri Kumar is a 1992-batch officer of the Indian Cost Accounts Service under Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance. Prior to assuming the charge Shri Kumar was holding the charge of Additional Chief Adviser (Cost).
  • Shri Kumar is a qualified Cost Accountant and possesses a diverse work experience in various capacities at different Ministries/Departments and autonomous bodies like Tariff Commission, Delhi Development Authority, Director General of Trade Remedies, Department of Economic Affairs, Department of Public Enterprises etc. 


22.LK Advani To Be Awarded Bharat Ratna, Announced By PM Modi 

  • The Indian government has announced that LK Advani, one of the most prominent figures in Indian politics, will be conferred with the Bharat Ratna, the nation’s highest civilian award. 
  • The Bharat Ratna is a fitting recognition of LK Advani’s legacy as a statesman who has dedicated his life to the nation. The award celebrates his immense contributions and his role as a catalyst for political and social change in India. 
  • Born on November 8, 1927, in Karachi, LK Advani’s political journey is a saga of resilience, leadership, and profound influence on the Indian political landscape. Advani, a key architect of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been instrumental in shaping the party’s ideology and steering it to national prominence. 


23.Maha Gaurav 2024 Award Presented To Nikhil Wagh By Maharashtra Deputy CM Ajit Pawar 

  • Nikhil Mukund Wagh, who works as a Public Relations Officer at Goa Shipyard Limited, was recently given the “Maha Gaurav 2024” award. 
  • This award was handed to him by Shri Ajit Pawar, the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, during a ceremony at Kaneri Math in Kolhapur on Monday, January 29. 
  • Nikhil Wagh has done some impressive work in his career, especially when he was a journalist for Dainik Lokmat newspaper and ABP Mazha news channel before he started working at Goa Shipyard Limited, which is a part of the Ministry of Defence in India.

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