Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 8th February 2024

1. CDS urges industry to work on counter-space capabilities 

  • Calling upon industry to work on counter-space capabilities as a deterrent for safeguarding India's space assets, Chief of De- fence Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan emphasized that the government is encouraging all the stakeholders, including start-ups, for the development of a dependable space ecosystem within the country. 
  • "We probably had one start-up in 2014 which has grown to 204 start-ups in the space sector with 54 additions in 2023 itself. In 2023, we as a nation invested $123 million in the sector, bringing the total funding to $380.25 million," Gen. Chauhan said on Wednesday, addressing the three-day seminar and exhibition DEFEAT-2024, organized jointly by the Centre for Joint Warfare Studies and Satcom Industry Association-India (SIA-India). 
  • Underscoring that the Indian space economy is currently estimated to be around $8.4 billion, Gen. Chauhan said that the indigenous space economy is expected to grow to $44 billion by 2033. 
  • "The government initiatives like seed fund scheme, 0% GST regime, sharing of testing facilities, technology transfer has provided the rightful support to the private industry. This framework along with alignment of demands and funding support provide the right environment for the private sector to grow." 
  • Mentioning the government's major initiatives in the space domain towards strengthening the capabilities of the armed forces, the CDS referred to the 75 space-related challenges as part of Mission Space-2022 under the iDEX initiative. 
  • "Under this initiative, a total of five contracts have been signed and an additional four contracts are at various stages of documentation. In similar timelines, a feasibility study of 12 Make-I (Make In India) challenges is also being progressed," Gen. Chauhan added. 

2. Satellite-based toll collection may roll out before LS polls 

  • The government plans to implement satellite-based toll collection on highways before the Model Code of Conduct for the Lok Sabha election kicks in, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. 
  • "We are trying to implement satellite-based toll system very soon, perhaps before the Code of Conduct for the Lok Sabha election," Mr. Gadkari said. 
  • The technology, which has been under the government's consideration for the past three years, will allow barrier-free movement of vehicles and they will not be required to stop for toll payments, the Minister said. 
  • He explained that the photo of the registration plate of the vehicle will be captured and the toll amount will be debited based on the actual length of the highway traversed by the vehicle. 
  • This will replace the radio frequency identification-based FASTag system that was rolled out in 2016 and made mandatory from January 2021. 
  • A total of 8.13 crore FAS- Tags have been issued and a penetration of 98% has been achieved, according to the Minister. 
  • While the government is in a rush to implement the new toll collection system before the election, an offi- cial of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said on condition of ano- nymity that the concept for the technology being used was not yet finalised and was still in various stages of development. 
  • An official of the National Highways Authority of India, which will be imple-mmenting the technology, said it has been tested in Delhi and Gurugram and a trial will soon be conducted in Bengaluru too. This will involve every vehicle registering for the Global Navigation Satellite System of toll collection to be equipped with an on- board unit (OBU) that will be linked to a constellation of satellites. The OBU will also be linked with a wallet from which the toll amount will be deducted. 

3. Kuki-Zo delegation meets Home Ministry officials 

  • A nine-member delegation of Kuki-Zo groups met a team of officials from the Union Home Ministry on Wednesday, where they raised the scrapping of the Free Movement Regime (FMR) with Myanmar, and the January 24 Kangla Fort incident in Imphal when Arambai Tenggol, a radical Meitei group, administered oath to elected representatives to "protect the integrity of Manipur". 
  • The meeting that was led by A.K Mishra, Adviser, 
  • Northeast, Ministry of Home Affairs, and Intelligence Bureau officials, lasted three hours. 
  • The tribal delegation also raised the issue of continued power outages in the hill districts of Churachandpur and Pherzawl. 
  • The officials of the Ministry assured the delegation that their issues would be conveyed to the higher authorities. 
  • The tribal bodies have been seeking an appointment with Union Home Minister Amit Shah but no meeting has been scheduled yet. 
  • A delegate who Issues raised include scrapping of FMR, Kangla Fort incident and power outages in hill districts attended the meeting and said that the demand for a separate administration for the Kuki-Zo people still exists and that they would continue to press for it. 
  • The meeting comes days after Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh met Mr. Shah in Delhi on February 3. 
  • On Tuesday, Mr. Shah said that the government had decided to construct a fence along the 1,643-km border with Myanmar, effectively ending the FMR. 
  • Under the FMR, every member of the hill tribes, who is either a citizen of India or a citizen of Myanmar, residing within 16 km of either side of the border, can cross the border on the production of a border pass, usually valid for a year, and can stay up to two weeks per visit. 
  • India and Myanmar share an unfenced border and people on either side, including the Kuki-Zo people, have familial and ethnic ties that prompted the arrangement in the 1970s. 
  • The Free Movement Regime was last revised in 2016. 
  • Mr. Singh has on several occasions in the past attributed the ongoing ethnic violence in the State to the unregulated movement of people from across the border. 
  • Manipur has been affected by ethnic violence between the tribal Kuki-Zo people and the Meitei community since May 2023. 

4. Opposition uproar over coal mine project in Chhattisgarh 

  • Arguing that tree felling for a coal mine project in the Hasdeo-Arand area of Chhattisgarh would have detrimental effects on the region's flora, fauna, and tribal communities, the Opposition on Wednesday caused an uproar in the State Assembly. 
  • Leader of the Opposition Charan Das Mahant moved an adjournment motion notice seeking discussion on the issue and dissatisfied with the chair's decision to disallow the same, Congress MLAs stormed into the well of the House, leading to their automatic suspension. However, the Speaker revoked their suspension later. 
  • Moving the motion during the Zero Hour, Mr. Mahant highlighted that the Assembly had unanimously passed a private member resolution urging the Centre to cancel all coal blocks in the Hasdeo area in July 2022. He noted that despite the government's subsequent communication with the Centre regarding this, no action had been taken. 
  • Claiming that ahead of Chief Minister Vishnu Deo Sai's oath-taking ceremony, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests issued an order on December 11 last year to fell 15,307 trees on 91.3 hectares of forest land for the project, he wondered how could such an order be issued when the Assembly had already passed the aforementioned resolution. 
  • Former CM Bhupesh Baghel said the matter was a serious issue. 

5. Uttarakhand Assembly passes Uniform Civil Code 

  • The Uttarakhand Assembly passed the Uniform Civil Code on Wednesday, despite the Opposition's demand that the Bill be handed over to the House's select committee first. 
  • Terming it a "historic moment", Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said the Assembly had become the first legislature in Inde- pendent India to pass a Bill that imposes common rules for all communities except Scheduled Tribes on marriage, divorce, inheritances, and live-in relationships. 
  • In his final address before Speaker Ritu Khanduri Bhushan called for a voice vote on the UCC Bill, Mr. Dhami said that the legislation would end the injustice faced by women for centuries. Mentioning the Shah Bano and Saira Bano cases, the Chief Minister said that anti-social elements wanted to keep different communities divided for political benefits. Referencing B.R. Ambedkar, Mr. Dhami claimed that certain clauses mentioned in the Constitution were misused from time to time by certain anti-social, anti-national people. "Certain mistakes were made in the Indian Constitution which now need to be corrected. 
  • Nothing more than political propaganda, says AIMPLB rected," he said, listing other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Japan, the United States, Canada, Bangladesh and Indonesia that have implemented a uniform civil code. 
  • 'Not opposing' Congress MLAs said they were not opposing the UCC Bill, but claimed that its provisions need to be examined in detail so that any flaws can be removed before it is passed. Tilak Raj Behar, the Congress MLA from Kichcha, said that Article 44 of the Constitution, which is the basis of the Bill, refers to the UCC in the context of the whole country and not just one State. 
  • Pointing out a contradiction in the Bill, Adesh Singh Chauhan, the Congress MLA from Jaspur, said the Bill leaves the tribal population out of its ambit, even while claiming that it would apply to the whole of the State. 
  • The UCC is based on a draft submitted by a committee formed by the Uttarakhand government under the chairmanship of retired Supreme Court judge Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai. The Bill was one of the BJP's poll promises during the 2022 Assembly election campaign in Uttarakhand. 
  • Asaduddin Owaisi, president of All India Majlis-EIttehadul Muslimeen, said the Bill was nothing but a Hindu Code made applicable for all. "Firstly, Hindu undivided families have not been touched. Why? If you want a uniform law for succession and inheritance, why are Hindus kept out of it? Can a law be uniform if it doesn't apply to the majority of your State?" he asked. 
  • The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has dismissed the Bill as "mere eyewash and noth- ing more than political propaganda". "The Bill is inappropriate, unnecessary, and against diversity. Its real target is only Muslims as even the Scheduled Tribes have been exempted. It has been rushed to gain political advantage. This legislation, rushed through in a hurried manner, deals only with three aspects: the sphere of marriage and divorce in a cursory manner; and thereafter deals with succession laws; and finally live-in relationships, which undoubtedly will impinge on moral values of all the religions," S.Q.R. Ilyas, the spokesperson of the Board, said. 
  • One contentious aspect highlighted by the spokesperson was the equalization of inheritance rights between genders, which conflicts with the principles of Islamic law, clearly categorized by the Koran. 

6. Downloading child pornography is an offense 

  • Recently, the Madras High Court, in S. Harish vs Inspector of Police, quashed the judicial proceedings and held that downloading child pornography was not an offense under Section 67B of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000. The High Court categorically said that watching child pornography per se was not an offense as the accused had merely downloaded it onto his electronic gadget and had watched it in private. 
  • The High Court also referred to a case decided by the Kerala High Court where it had been held that watching pornography in private space was not an offense under Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). This case related to the quashing a criminal case registered against a youth in 2016 by the Aluva police as he had been watching pornographic material on his mobile phone on the roadside at night. 
  • In this case, after investigation, the police had filed the final report and cognisance had been taken by the High Court under Section 14(1) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 and Section 67B of the IT Act. Section 67B(b) of the IT Act says that 'whoever, creates text or digital images, collects, seeks, browses, downloads, advertises, promotes, exchanges or distributes material in any electronic form depicting children in obscene or indecent or sexually explicit manner' shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.... 
  • It is undisputed that two files pertaining to child pornography were downloaded and available on the mobile phone of the accused. The forensic science report also corroborated the presence of the two files. These facts are sufficient to attract the application of Section 67B(b) of the IT Act, but the High Court held that in order to constitute an offense, the accused must have published, transmitted, created material depicting children in sexually explicit act or conduct. 
  • The High Court did not reproduce Section 67B in its judgment for justification. Section 678 has five sub-clauses, from (a) to (e). While sub-clause is a former Indian Police Service officer (a) talks about publishing or transmitting material depicting children engaged in sexually explicit act or conduct, sub-clause (b) deals with acts including downloading of child pornography material. Sub-clause (c) talks about cultivating. enticing or inducing children to [an] online sexually explicit relationship. Sub-clause (d) talks about facilitating abuse of children online and sub-clause (e) talks about recording abuse/a sexually explicit act with children. 
  • Thus, the High Court reached its judgment without analyzing all of Section 67B, and reading into sub-clause (b), which clearly delineates the act of the accused. 
  • The High Court referred to a precedent, without mentioning details, Le., title or year, of that case, where the High Court of Kerala dealt with the scope of Section 292 of the IPC and held that watching an obscene photograph or obscene videos by a person by itself was not an offense. The ratio of this case does not apply to the cases of child pornography, particularly the one under consideration. 
  • A case decided by the High Court of Kerala in September 2023 (Aneesh vs State of Kerala) did not pertain to child pornography. While watching adult pornography in privacy has been held as not to be an offense under Section 292 of the IPC (both by the High Court of Kerala and the Supreme Court of India), downloading sexually explicit material pertaining to children is clearly an offense under the IT Act. In none of the cases so far has the constitutionality of Section 67B(b) been challenged and its vires held unconstitutional. 
  • The Madras High Court used its inherent powers under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to prevent misuse of the process of court and quashed the judicial proceedings. The Supreme Court has laid down certain guidelines in State of Haryana vs Bhajan Lal (1992) to exercise powers under Section 482 of the CrPC (or extraordinary powers under Article 226) including that such powers could be used where the allegations made in the first information report or the complaint, even if taken at face value and accepted in their entirety do not, prima facie, constitute an offense or make out a case against the accused. Therefore, under the given facts and circumstances of the case, the Madras High Court could not in its wisdom quash the judicial proceeding when an offence was clearly made out under Section 67B(b) of the IT Act. However, it is agreed that the police had wrongly applied Section 14 of the POCSO Act as there was no evidence pertaining to the use of any child or children for pornographic purposes by the accused himself. Also, Section 15 of the POCSO Act punishes storage or the possession of child pornographic material only if it is done with an intent to share or transmit, or display or distribute, or for commercial purpose. 
  • Remove the inconsistency It is important to mention here that Section 67 read with Sections 67A and 67B of the IT Act are a complete code and the given acts are exclusively punishable under this code. This section was amended in October 2009 and, inter alia, even seeking or downloading child pornography made a specific offense. The purpose of enacting special Acts such as the POCSO Act and making special provisions in the IT Act is to protect children from sexual exploitation and punish people involved in different forms of exploitation. 
  • The National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, under an agreement with the American National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, regularly gets geo-tagged Cyber Tipline reports to prosecute those who upload the child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) from anywhere in India. The use of the term CSAM is preferred because the term pornography implies consent which a child is not capable of giving. Therefore, it will be better if the term 'child pornography' is replaced with the term 'CSAM' in Indian laws. Similarly, the POCSO Act may also be amended and mere possession of CSAM be made a separate offense to remove inconsistency between the provisions of the POCSO Act and the IT Act. Finally, the State government must appeal against this judgment of the Madras High Court. Otherwise, it will set a bad precedent for the state. 

7. 390-year-old lamp post in Nalgonda unravels trade links of Telangana 

  • A newly-discovered 390-year-old Deepastambham (lamp post) on the edge of River Krishna in Nalgonda district of Telangana casts a fresh light on trade ties in the region in early medieval times. Archaeologists working in the area found the 20-foot tall pillar with hollows for lamps and a multilingual inscription in Mudimanikyam village of Nalgonda. 
  • "The pillar and a small flat roofed structure near it was found by Ashok Kumar of Public Research Institute for History, Archaeology & Heritage. It is on a slope from the village leading to the river bank. We have not found anything like this in the Krishna river valley. Nor are there records of similar structures," says Srinivasan who found the pillar along with Ashok Kumar. 
  • While Dwajasthambam (flag pole) is part of temple architecture, lamp posts are rare in the Deccan while they are common in temples in the west coast, including Goa. 
  • "Based on the inscription engraved on the lamp post near the ruined Śiva temple, the pillar can be dated to June 1635 and it is written in Telugu mixed with Tamil language. It is dedicated to Kasi Viswanatha and because of its height, it would have served as a lighthouse on the riverine trade route," said M. Munirathnam Reddy, Director (Epigraphy), Archaeological Survey of India who has studied the inscription. 
  • The village is about 180 kilometers from Hyderabad which was ruled by the Qutb Shahi rulers at that time. European travelers, including the French diamond trader Tavernier who made five trips to the Hyderabad kingdom in the same period, describe land trade routes. But make reference to riverine trade. 

8. A.P. presents 2.86 lakh crore interim Budget for 2024-25 

  • Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy on Wednesday presented an interim Budget of ₹2,86,389.27 crore for the financial year 2024-25. 
  • Presenting the Budget in the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Rajendranath Reddy said that the revenue expenditure was estimated at 2,30,110.41 crore and cap- ital expenditure 30,530.18 crore. 
  • Mr. Rajendranath Reddy said the government harnessed several path-breaking initiatives. The initiatives through Navaratnalu, manifesto schemes, and strategic interventions were in close alignment with the intent of Sustainable Development Goals. 
  • He said Andhra Pradesh secured 4th position in 2022-23 with growth of 16.2%. 

9. No discrimination in tax sharing with States: Finance Minister 

  • Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday sought to dismiss allegations that the Centre was not giving money to the States and termed the Karnataka government's charges about inadequate tax devolutions and discrimination in sharing Central taxes "patently wrong and mischievous". 
  • Speaking in response to the discussion on the interim Budget in the Lok Sabha, Ms. Sitharaman referred to the big debate stirred by Karnataka government representatives in the capital, which is also being supported by the Kerala government. Noting that even Tamil Nadu had voiced concerns, the Minister assured the House that the government had followed the Fifteenth Finance Commission's recommendations on tax sharing with States to "the last word". 
  • The Centre has, in fact, done more than what the Finance Commission asked it to do, including releasing an amount of 81,470 crore to States that had been lying unutilised since 1996, she asserted. Karnataka received 2,671 crore of that amount as well as 6,280 crore as a 50-year interest-free loan under the scheme to support capital expenditure by States the 15th Finance Commission, which began in 2020-21 and concluded in 2025-26. 
  • "Despite the exceptional circumstances arising from the pandemic which de- pressed Central revenues, Karnataka will be getting substantially more devolution during the first five years of the 15th FC period than in the 14th FC period," the Minister said. To "in-late its false claim of losses", the State government has "even included shortfalls for the next two financial years", Ms. Sitharaman said. 
  • Briefing media on Karnataka's charges earlier in Parliament, Ms. Sitharaman had pointed out that the State also received ₹6,196 crore of Central funding towards disaster relief so far during the award period governed by 
  • "Even according to these baseless figures asserted by the Karnataka government, the actual tax devolution percentage has increased since 2015-16, contradicting the claim of mistreatment by the Centre," she emphasized. 

10. WHO released Global Cancer Burden Report 

  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), released the Global Cancer Burden Report, the latest estimate of the global burden of cancer. 
  • WHO also published survey results from 115 countries. Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, causing an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018, or 1 in 6 deaths. 
  • In 2022, there will be an estimated 20 million new cancer cases and 9.7 million deaths. The estimated number of people who survived within 5 years after cancer diagnosis was 53.5 million. 

Key facts 

  • Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide, with 2.5 million new cases, accounting for 12.4% of total new cases. 
  • Female breast cancer ranks second (2.3 million cases, 11.6%), followed by colorectal cancer (1.9 million cases, 9.6%), prostate cancer (1.5 million cases, 7.3%), and colon cancer (970 000 cases, 4.9%). 
  • Lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer deaths (1.8 million deaths, 18.7% of total cancer deaths), followed by colorectal cancer (900,000 deaths, 9.3%), liver cancer (760,000 deaths, 7.8%), breast cancer. 
  • Among women, the most commonly diagnosed cancer and leading cause of death was breast cancer, while for men it was lung cancer. Breast cancer was the most common cancer in women in most countries (157 out of 185). 
  • Cervical cancer was the eighth most commonly diagnosed cancer globally and the ninth leading cause of cancer deaths, with 661,044 new cases and 348,186 deaths. 
  • More than 35 million new cancer cases are predicted in 2050, a 77% increase from the 20 million cases projected in 2022. 
  • Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervical and thyroid cancer are the most common in women. While tobacco, alcohol and obesity are the major factors behind the increasing incidence of cancer, air pollution is still the major driver of environmental risk factors. 

11. In Anti-Cheating Bill-24, paper leaking or tampering with answer sheets has been included in the category of crime. 

  • Lok Sabha passed a public examination (prevention of unfair means) Bill, 2024 to prevent government recruitment examination fraud including paper leaks. 
  • Currently, there is no specific concrete law to deal with improper methods adopted by various institutions involved in conducting public examinations by the central government and agencies. 
  • The Public Examination Bill introduced by Union Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh, in 2024 as a crime committed by a person, group of individuals or institutions, "leaking of question paper or answer key", "Unauthorized in public examination It also includes the manner directly or indirectly assisting the candidate and "tampering with a computer network or computer resource or computer system". 
  • It provides for a minimum of 5 to 10 years jail sentence and a minimum of Rs 1 crore fine for cooperating with the authorities in leaking test paper or tampering with answer sheets. Under this Bill, 2024, copying in the examination is considered a crime. 
  • In addition, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 1944 has made unfair examination practices a criminal offense. 
  • All offences under the Bill will be cognizable, non-bailable and noncompoundable, meaning the police will have the right to act on their own (and arrest suspects without a warrant), the accused will not be entitled to bail, and alleged offences cannot be settled through compromise. 
  • The Bill includes recruitment examinations conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Railway Recruitment Board (RRB), Banking Personnel Selection Institute (IBPS) and National Testing Agency (NTA). 

12. Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan started ‘Vidyanjali Scholarship Programme’ 

  • Union Minister of Education & Skill Development & Entrepreneurship Dharmendra Pradhan launched the EdCIL Vidyanjali Scholarship Program (VSP) on 6 February 2024 at VSP Rang Bhawan, All India Radio, New Delhi. 
  • It aims to revolutionize opportunities for quality education and access to higher education institutions. Under this initiative, there is a system to provide uninterrupted education facilities to the resourceless meritorious students from secondary to higher education. 
  • This program guarantees access to high quality learning systems. Towards an educated India, ensuring that no child is left behind. The event will strengthen the efforts of the government in promoting educational inclusivity and socio-economic upliftment in the country. 
  • On this occasion, Pradhan said that VSP is in line with the arrangements envisaged in NEP 2020. During the program, important MoUs were exchanged with five different groups in the field of education in the presence of the Union Minister. 
  • These groups are: Fiat India, HDFC Bank Ltd, Clearmedi Healthcare, Bharat Forge and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 
  • Under this initiative, schools are expected to connect with experienced professionals from various fields. These may mainly include the following: Indian expatriates, professional youth, retired teachers, retired government officials and retired professionals. 

Vidyanjali Program 

  • The Vidyanjali program was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Shiksha Parv in September 2021. Vidyanjali is a unique school volunteer management program of the Ministry of Education, Government of India under the Department of School Education and Literacy. The program provides opportunities for communities and organizations and volunteers to connect with schools located in urban and rural areas. 

13. Anurag Singh Thakur kicks off 1st BIMSTEC Aquatics Championships 

  • Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Singh Thakur kicked off BIMSTEC Aquatics Championships 2024 in New Delhi. 
  • The BIMSTEC Aquatics Championships is being held for the first time. 
  • The announcement for the same was made by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi during the 4th BIMSTEC Summit in 2018, where he announced the organizing of the BIMSTEC Youth Water Sports competition in India. 
  • The event was initially proposed for the year 2021, however, it was later postponed to 2024 due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic across the world. 
  • A total of 39 medals will be given out across three sporting events along with a total of 9 trophies that will be at stake. Over 500 personnel are expected at the events, including 268 athletes from various BIMSTEC member countries. 
  • BIMSTEC (The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) constitutes a unique link between South and South-East Asian countries with five members from South Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka) and two members from South-East Asia (Myanmar & Thailand). 

14.Iran announces visa-free travel for Indian nationals 

  • The Iranian government has approved a visa-free policy for Indian nationals. This policy will be only valid for tourism purposes. 
  • With this exemption, Indian citizens holding ordinary passports can enter Iran without a visa once every six months for a maximum stay of 15 days. 
  • In December, Iran approved a new visa-free programme for India and 32 other countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. 
  • If Indian citizens wish to stay for a longer period or make multiple entries within a six-month period or require other types of visas, it is mandatory to get necessary visas through the respective representations of Iran in India. 

About Iran 

  • Capital – Tehran 
  • Currency – Rial 
  • President – Ebrahim Raisi 

15. Aether Industries to commission 15 MW solar power plant in Gujarat 

  • Aether Industries will commission a 15 MW solar power project (Auto-Tracker Modules) under the Captive Power Producer (CPP) segment in the Bharuch district of Gujarat with an aim to become more sustainable. 
  • Earlier, in July 2023, Aether Industries had commissioned a 16 MW solar power project (Fixed Modules) under the CPP segment and this new solar power plant under CPP will add to its renewable energy sources and further move towards sustainability. 
  • The solar power farm will be in Gujarat’s Bharuch District and spread across 60 acres. 
  • The phase-wise commissioning of the solar power plant is set to begin as early as the next financial year starting April. 

About Gujarat 

  • Capital- Gandhinagar 
  • Chief Minister- Bhupendra Rajnikant Patel 
  • Governor- Acharya Devvrat 

16. India to be world’s biggest oil demand growth driver through 2030: IEA 

  • India will in seven years become the largest source of global oil demand growth as its domestic production shrinks 22 per cent, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). 
  • The two trends have major implications as India is already the world’s second largest net importer, said the agency in a report released at the India Energy Week in Goa. 
  • India’s crude imports reached 4.6 million b/d in 2023, increasing 36 per cent in a decade. 
  • India’s domestic production meets just 13 per cent of its needs. In 2023, domestic oil production averaged around 700 thousand b/d. 
  • Electric vehicles and advances in energy efficiency will result in the country avoiding 480 thousand b/d of extra demand in 2023-2030. 

17. 7 February – National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 

  • National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is observed every year on 7 February. 
  • National HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) was first observed in 1999. 
  • Theme 2024- Engage, Educate, Empower: Uniting to End HIV/AIDS in Black Communities 
  • This observance is a day to acknowledge how HIV disproportionately affects Black people.

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