Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 9th February 2024


1. 'India's Kaladan project in Myanmar in limbo as rebels control key town’ 

  • One of India's flagship connectivity projects that was aimed at enhancing road and maritime connection with Southeast Asia has faced a definite setback after an important town in Myanmar was captured recently by a rebel group, a senior figure of Myanmar's Opposition has stated. 
  • Speaking to The Hindu, the source said that the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project (KMTTP) has "almost died" after the rebel Arakan Army (AA) captured the Paletwa township near Mizoram border in January. 
  • "There is no way that of Mani any connectivity projects of the can take place in Rakhine liberation State right now as the AA mis proxy has established control in ming of almost all the major towns a faction and supply routes. As a result, the Kaladan project has almost died as Pa he ongo letwa is essential for this as in the project and Paletwa is no longer in control of the military junta," said the senior Opposition figure from Myanmar. 
  • KMTTP was aimed at connecting the port of Kol mo stated kata with the port of Sittwe in Rakhine or Arakan State ee Move which would then be con R) along nected to Mizoram by road or border. and the Kaladan river which flows by Paletwa. en Home But the restive province aced the has witnessed serious clashes between the Myanmar military and the rebel AA. The source said the AA has established control over Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw, Minbya, Thandwe, and major roads connecting these towns. AA has also captured Ann township which has Myanmar Ar my's Western Command headquarters. 
  • $500-million project Kaladan project, which was estimated to cost around $500 million and has been delayed for multiple reasons, including the Rohingya crisis that erupted in 2017. However while the Rohingya crisis is rooted in religious and ethnic differences between the junta in Naypyidaw and Muslim Rohingyas, the conflict between the AA and the Myanmar military junta is not based on religious differences but fuelled by a nationalist aspiration of the Buddhist Arakanese population of the region which has been demanding a confederated or independent status. The population of Rakhine State is divided among the Buddhist Arakanese, Ro hingyas and non-Rohingya Muslims, Christians, and other communities. 
  • The fight between the AA and the junta's forces took a crucial turn on January 15 when the rebel forces captured Paletwa. This move has also roused concern of a tripartite conflict involving the junta's fore se, the AA, and rebels of the Chin State as Paletwa has been traditionally a Chin-majority township. 
  • The Myanmar source said that the AA is in an advantageous position and it is a matter of time before they establish control over the entire State of Rakhine, an unprecedented situation.

2. Low Budget outlay hurting MGNREGS, says House panel 

  • A reduced budget at the outset of the financial year for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has a "cascading effect on various important aspects" of the programme and leaves a telling impact on its progress, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development said in its report tabled Thursday. 
  • The allocation should instead be based on the expenditure pattern of the previous years, said the committee, headed by DMK MP K. Kanimozhi. 
  • The committee pointed out that the budgetary allocation has been well below the demand made by the Rural Development Ministry each year. While conceding the Ministry's argument that it is a demand-driven programme and the budget is replenished accordingly, the committee said, "The pruning of funds at Budget Estimate (BE) stage itself does have a cascading effect on various important aspects such as timely release of wages, release of material share etc. The Committee feels that for smooth implementation of MGNREGS at ground level, shortage of funds is a big obstacle." In the Union Budget for 2024-25, an allocation of 186,000 crore has been made, which is at par with the Revised Estimate for the programme in the 2023-24 financial year. But actual expenditures till February I have already reached 288,000 crore. 
  • The committee, in its 100-page report, pointed out several other short-comings on the implementation of the programme, including the necessity to increase wages. 
  • The committee also flagged the delay in dispensing the wages, which is supposed to be compensated by a delay allowance as prescribed by the Act. 
  • The committee found that in 2022-23, the approved delay allowance amount was ₹93 lakh. However, only 159 lakh was paid. While 24 lakh had been approved till November 21 in the current financial year, only 2.5 lakh has been paid so far. 

3. Minor' water pollution offenses to be decriminalized 

  • The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Water Amendment (Pollution and Prevention) Bill, 2024. 
  • The Bill makes important changes to the Water (Pollution and Prevention) Act, 1974, such as decriminalizing certain violations deemed "minor" and replaces for the most part the penalties of imprisonment with fines ranging from ₹10,000 to 15 lakh. 
  • The amended version would apply to Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, and the Union Territories. 
  • It also empowers the Centre to frame rules to select the chairpersons of State pollution control boards and frame guidelines that States can follow for the grant, refusal or cancellation of consent by any State Board for establishing industries and new operating processes. 

4. We saved the economy from a crisis: govt. 

  • A s promised in her interim Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman laid a White Paper on the economy in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, outlining that the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance e's (UPA) 10 years in office created "an inheritance of loss for the country and the Narendra Modi-led NDA government "rescued the economy from a state of crisis, despair and paralysis". 
  • Coming two days before the 17th Lok Sabha is adjourned for the last time, the 47-page paper with a few pages of data annexures, sought to make a case that the present government had rejuvenated the economy from the UPA's policy stasis and misgovernance to infuse it with "dynamism and growth, and hope in the people". 
  • The paper attributed the few UPA years of high growth to reforms undertaken by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government. 

5. Launch next phase of Smart Cities Mission: panel 

  • A parliamentary committee has emphasized the need to launch the next phase of the Centre's flagship Smart Cities Mission with a thrust on Tier-2 cities located within 100 km of State capitals. 
  • The Standing Committee on Housing and Urban Affairs also cautioned that digital infrastructure created under the mission could be misused and hence there was a need to ensure right to privacy and securing of digital platforms from cyber attacks. 
  • The report on "Smart Cities Mission: An Evaluation" was presented in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. 
  • In its report, it said that the experience and expertise gained by Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) in urban development initiatives must be leveraged for the purpose. 

6. R&D spend - golden intervention or smoke and mirrors 

  • The announcement by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in the interim Budget, that "A corpus of rupees one lakh crore will be established with fifty-year interest free [loans]" to provide "long-term financing or refinancing with long tenors and low or nil interest rates [to] encourage the private sector to scale up research and innovation significantly in sunrise domains", is worth examining. 
  • The private sector's contribution to India's overall research and development expenditure as a fraction of GDP has been low. In 2020-21, the private sector industry contributed 36.4% of the national gross expenditure on R&D (GERD), with the Centre (43.7%), State governments (6.7%), higher education (8.8%), and public sector industry (4.4%) accounting for the rest. In the same year, the overall amount was 1.27 lakh crore, so 36.4% comes to about ₹46,366.66 crore. 
  • Some experts have invoked these figures alongside comparisons to the case in the world's extant science 'superpowers', such as the Germany, South Korea, and the United States, where the private sector contribution as a percentage of the national GERDs is 67%, 79% and 75%, respectively. 
  • There are questions worth asking here about why private sector contribution needs to lead its public sector counterpart and whether the split of the GERD contributions from government, private entities, and higher education in economically developed countries is some sort of benchmark. It is also notable that India's expenditure on R&D has been increasing in absolute terms, from more than 1.1 lakh crore in 2009-10 to 1.27 lakh crore in 2020-21, but as a fraction of GDP, it has been declining steadily in the same period, from an already sub-par 0.82% to around 0.6-4%. In the more technologically advanced countries, GERD accounts for at least 1% of GDP. Even Brazil (1.16%) and South Africa (0.83%) have a higher GERD-to-GDP ratio. 
  • The government needs to spell out, among other things, how it plans to select the beneficiaries of its 1 lakh crore corpus for private sector research and innovation. 
  • The question of the virtue of hiking the public sector's R&D contribution is important because it is rooted in India's development model and the purpose of technological innovation in it. For example, the post-war U.S. famously adopted Vannevar Bush's "free play of free intellects" model in which fundamental research was expected to spur technological growth. On the other hand, Japan, South Korea, and some other economies tread a "techno-nationalist" path from the late 20th century, focused "on building interconnectedness among universities, research institutes, companies and governments," as Moumita Koley and Ismael Rafols wrote in "National Research Foundation's chance to bridge India's science-society gap" (The Hindu, September 24, 2023). 
  • Innovation's purpose has expanded Today, the purpose of innovation has expanded from economic growth to include environmental justice and sustainability. Given widening income gaps, declining protections for environmental rights and resources, and increasing privatization of education, health care, and other public goods, there need be no implicit virtue in private-sector contributions to R&D leading the way, especially in the absence of policy and regulatory guard rails that keep growth equitable. Innovation happens over decades and is risk-laden, both of which the state is designed to steward better. In the same spirit, public sector R&D expenses need to increase especially at the State level, if only to improve the quality of research facilities at State universities that are in turn tied to the freedom researchers have to work on more locally relevant problems, Expenditure also needs to increase to the extent that, with suitable policies, it relieves the persistent bottleneck of research graduating from the lab bench to the factory floor. Innovation is of little value without this flow, and will be restricted to low-quality advancements. 
  • All this said, private sector contribution does need to increase considering the focus and incentives India has conferred on technological prowess in the last decade. And the availability of a corpus of 1 lakh crore and long-term low-interest loans is a lip-smacking prospect. 
  • But there is a catch: the question of whom the funds are for is very important. Both private sector investment in R&D and its sluggish increase span multiple domains, including telecommunications, health care, finance, transport, and space flight. They will all be making plans for this money. Ms. Sitharaman maintained a focus on "sunrise sectors", and even they number a dozen. By virtue of being "sunrise', almost all of them are resource-intensive, and we must also ask how much it will cost to keep them climate-friendly. As such, 1 lakh crore or a little over $2 billion is likely to be a pittance if innovation in any sunrise domain is to be meaningful beyond surpassing some fraction of the national GERD. For example, according to the Indian BioEconomy Report 2023, prepared by the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council, helping startups transition from bioeconomy research to biomanufacturing would require an infusion of $2 billion. 
  • With so many demands on the corpus, the government needs to define what it is expected to achieve, whether it will have domain-wise allocations and targets, and time frame; and how the government intends to select beneficiaries and whether the corpus will be replenished. It would be unfair to dismiss it at the outset, but the answers will mark the line between golden intervention and smoke and mirrors. 

7. Center to scrap Free Movement Regime with Myanmar, says Shah

  • The Union government has decided. to scrap the Free Movement Regime (FMRO along the Myanmar border for the sake of the country's internal security and to maintain the demographics of northeastern States, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Thursday. 
  • The Home Ministry has recommended the immediate suspension of the regime, which allowed tribal people living along the border on both sides to cross with few restrictions. 
  • "It is Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji's resolve to secure our borders. Since the Ministry of External Affairs is currently in the process of scrapping it, MHA has recommended the immediate suspension of the FMR," Mr. Shah posted on X. 
  • Under the FMR, any member of a hill tribe, who is a citizen of either India or Myanmar, and who resides within 16 km of the border on either side, can cross 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 1,643 km-long border. A 1968 government notification limited the free movement of people up to 40 km on either side of the border, which was further reduced to 16 km in 2004. The FMR's provisions were last revised in 2016.
  • In its 2011-12 annual report, the Home Ministry observed that the FMR makes the international border extremely porous, and the hilly and inhospitable terrain provides cover to the activities of various Indian Insurgent Groups (IIGs). 
  • The India-Myanmar border passes through the States of Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Nagaland 215 km, Manipur 398 km, and Mizoram (510 km) had initially planned to fence a 10 km stretch along the border at Moreh in Manipur in 2010 and 4.07 km of fencing had been put up till 2013-14 while the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was in power. The Home Ministry's latest annual report for 2022-23 says that 6.81 km of fencing has been completed, which means that the BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has added less than three km of fencing over a nine-year period. Out of 1,643 km, the demarcation of 1,472 km has been completed. 
  • On February 6, Mr. Shah had announced that a fence would be constructed along the entire 1,6-43- km border with Myanmar. "Out of the total border length, a 10-km stretch in Moreh, Manipur, has already been fenced. Furthermore, two pilot projects of fencing through a Hybrid Surveillance System (HSS) are under execution. They will fence a stretch of 1 km each in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. Additionally, fence works covering approximately 20 km in Manipur have also been approved, and the work will start soon," he added. 
  • "Several drawbacks Officials pointed out that the FMR had several drawbacks. "There is no standard document or border pass recognised by both the countries. Though Assam Rifles, a Central force, is deployed along the Myanmar border, the implementation of FMR through border passes is done by the State government officials. At other international borders, such as those with Bangladesh and Pakistan, the border check posts are manned by Bureau of Immigration officials under the MHA," one official said. The official added that though the FMRI allows each cross-border visit to last only two weeks, there is no mechanism to check when a person entered the country. "There are people who live in Myanmar but work in India during the day," the official added. Another official said that the terrain was such that, in some places, one part of a house falls in Myanmar and the other in India. 
  • The official added that the issue of streamlining the FMR has been discussed with Myanmar on several occasions, but that the neighboring country showed no urgency on the issue. 
  • Mr. Shah's announcement on the FMR comes soon after his February 3 meeting with Manipur CM N. Biren Singh in Delhi. The CM has often blamed the FMR for the ongoing ethnic violence in the State, though in fact, Manipur had suspended the regime in 2020 itself due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

8. Congress releases Black Paper' on ‘failures' of Modi government 

  • Hours before Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled a White Paper on the state of economy during the United Progressive Alliance years, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday released a "Black Paper '' to highlight the alleged failures of the Narendra Modi government. 
  • He described the past 10 years as a "period of injustice" (anyaykaal) and discrimination against non-BJP ruled States. 
  • Titled "10 saal anyay kaal", the 54-page document focuses on issues like unemployment, inflation, subversion of institutions, farmers' distress, and alleged injustices against wo men and minorities.
  • The 'Black Paper also alleged that India has become "electoral autocracy" and cited the V-Dem Institute, hitting out at the government over the Manipur issue and the border situation with China. 
  • "Whenever Prime Minister Modi presents his views in Parliament, he hides his failures. At the same time, when we speak about the failures of the government, it is not given importance. Therefore, we thought of bringing out a 'Black Paper' and telling the public about the failures of the government," Mr. Kharge said. 
  • Responding to Mr. Modi's charge that the Congress was creating a North-South divide, Mr. Kharge said those who falsely accuse others of promoting division and regionalism, do not even remember their own words. 
  • "Modiji, when you were the Chief Minister of Gujarat, you used to talk about the tax rights of Gujarat with the UPA government. Then you said that States should get 50% tax. You also said that people of Gujarat pay 248,600-crore tax and get only 2.5% back," Mr. Kharge said. 
  • "Non-BJP ruled States such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh are being discriminated against and neglected. They (Centre] don't re- lease funds and then say we have released the funds but it was not spent. They purposely stall work... this is a big conspiracy of the BJP," he added. 
  • Mr. Modi had promised two crore jobs every year and minimum support price to farmers but since they could not be fulfilled, Mr. Kharge claimed, he has made new promises as laws ag and the nation with str of the during Lok Sabha Condikunni governm "White nic vio and saic aries are in the being v States. 
  • "Modi guarantees''. "The Congress ensured the country's Independence and in 2024, it will take the country out of BJP's 'dark- ness of injustice," he said. The Congress accused the BJP of using the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on donors and forcing them to provide funds through the route of electoral bonds. 
  • "They are using this money to finish democracy. They made 411 MLAs cross over to their side," he alleged. 

9. According to the International Energy Agency report, China is the top country in the world in renewable energy capacity. 

  • According to the International Energy Agency (IEA)'s recent Renewable Energy 2023 report, global annual renewable capacity addition is projected to increase by nearly 50% to about 510 gigawatts (GW) in 2023, the fastest growth rate in two decades. This is the 22nd consecutive year that renewable capacity addition has set a new record. 
  • The largest increase was in China, by more than 360 GW, which commissioned as much solar PV in 2023 as the entire world did in 2022, while China's wind power grew by 66% year-on-year. China's renewable capacity between 2017- 2022 is 681 GW which will exceed 2000 GW by 2028. 
  • This is followed by Europe, United States with 190 and 156.6 GW respectively under the year 2017- 2022. Whereas by 2028, Europe will have 426.9 GW and USA will have 337.1 GW. 
  • India has developed 91.2 GW capacity between 2017-2022, which will grow to more than 202 GW by 2028. Which will double the cumulative installed capacity by 2022, making it the world's third largest market for renewable energy. 

Key facts 

  • Solar PV and onshore wind additions by 2028 in the United States, the European Union, India and Brazil are expected to more than double compared to the previous five years. 
  •  G20 countries account for about 90% of global renewable energy capacity. In the EU and Brazil, growth in rooftop solar PV is expected to exceed that of large-scale plants. 
  • Emerging economies dominate global biofuels expansion, led by Brazil, which is set to grow 30% faster than the previous five years. Brazil alone is expected to account for 40% of biofuels expansion by 2028. 
  • Globally, biofuels and renewable electricity used in EVs are projected to offset the equivalent of 4 million barrels of oil per day by 2028, more than 7% of projected oil demand for transportation. 
  • Renewable energy is projected to overtake coal as the largest source of electricity generation by 2025, with wind and solar PV becoming the dominant sources by 2028. 
  • Global renewable energy capacity is now forecast to grow by 7,300 GW over the period 2023–28. Solar PV and wind account for 95% of the expansion. 
  • Solar PV module prices to decline by nearly 50% in 2023 due to increase in manufacturing capacity. 
  • At the COP28 climate change conference in Dubai, more than 130 national governments, including the European Union, agreed to work together to triple the world's installed renewable energy capacity to at least 11,000 GW by 2030. 

10. Nima Sarikhani receives People's Choice Award for Wildlife Photographer of the Year 

  • UK photographer Nima Sarikhani has received the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award 2023. He received this honor for 'Ice Bed', a picture of a polar bear sleeping on ice. A record 75,000 people voted in its favour. 
  • He had searched for polar bears for 3 days on the Norwegian islands before taking the photo. In this picture the polar bear can be seen sleeping on a small iceberg. The photograph was described as "breathtaking and poignant" by Dr Douglas Gurr, director of the Natural History Museum. 
  • Each year a photography competition for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award is held by the Natural History Museum. 
  • The Natural History Museum has said that more than 50 thousand photographs were received for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award in 2023. From these, 100 photographs were selected as finalists by a panel of judges. 
  • Apart from Sarikhani, four other finalists were "highly commended". Fellow finalists for the award were The Happy Turtle by Tjahi Finkelstein, Starling Murmurs by Daniel Dănescu, Shared Parenting by Mark Boyd and Aurora Jellies by Audun Richardson. 
  • The five images will be displayed online and at the Natural History Museum in London until 30 June 2024. 

11 . Telangana State Aviation Academy and ISRO sign MoU for training of drone pilots 

  • Telangana State Aviation Academy has signed an MoU with ISRO's National Remote Sensing Center NRSC to receive advanced training for drone pilots on 7 February 2024 in Hyderabad. 
  • He also urged the Aviation Academy to build a special drone port on 20 acres of land in Hyderabad. ISRO Chairman Somnath has praised the Telangana government for the new initiative for the first time in the country. 
  • He said that NRSC will actively participate in sharing technology with aviation academy to train drone pilots. NRSC scientists and trainee drone pilots will receive training in drone piloting, drone data management and analysis and mapping for 15 days. 
  • Officials said the use of drones has increased in all sectors, especially in farming, as farmers use drones to spray fertilizers and pesticides and self-help groups have also chosen drones as a means of employment. 
  • Academy CEO SN Reddy, NRSC Director Prakash Chauhan signed the MoU in the presence of Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy and ISRO Chairman Somnath, among others. 
  • Lauding the innovative approach to drone training, ISRO chief S Somnath lauded the track record of excellence of the Telangana Aviation Academy, which has received the Best Aviation Award in the country 12 times. 

12. London is the slowest city according to TomTom Traffic Index 2023 

  • According to TomTom Traffic Index 2023, a recent report by TomTom, a company specializing in location technology, across the world, London tops the list of most congested roads, with a 10 km journey taking an average of 37 minutes and 20 seconds. 
  • The report looked at 387 cities in 55 countries, using data from more than 600 million car navigation systems to measure how traffic affected journey times, fuel costs and carbon emissions.
  • According to TomTom report, two Indian cities, Bengaluru and Pune, were among the ten worst cities in terms of traffic in 2023. Bengaluru was at sixth place with an average time of 28 minutes and 10 seconds for a 10 km journey and Pune was at seventh place with an average time of 27 minutes and 50 seconds. 
  • For a 10 km drive, Delhi was ranked 44th with an average travel time of 21 minutes and 40 seconds, while Mumbai was ranked 52nd with an average travel time of 21 minutes and 20 seconds. 

Top 10 cities 

  1. London, UK: 
  2. Dublin, Ireland: 
  3. Toronto, Canada: 
  4. Milan, Italy: 
  5. Lima, Peru: 
  6. Bengaluru, India: 
  7. Pune, India: 
  8. Bucharest, Romania: 
  9. Manila, Philippines: 
  10. Brussels, Belgium: 

13 . Noida Authority received ‘Water Warrior Award’ in the World Water Award 2023-24 

  • Noida Authority was honored with the 'Water Warrior' award for its water conservation efforts at the Water Digest World Water Awards 2023-24 jointly organized by the Central Government and UNESCO. The authority was recognized in two categories – Best Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) of the Year and Water Reuse Project. 
  • Noida Authority's Additional Chief Executive Officer Satish Pal and Deputy General Manager RP Singh received the award in Delhi. This award was presented by Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in Delhi. This year's event was organized by Water Digest, the country's leading water magazine. 
  • At present, Noida city has eight sewerage treatment plants-STPs which treat 260 MLD of water per day. Of this, 70-75 MLD is used for various purposes such as irrigation in green belt parks, golf courses, wetlands, construction activities, fire fighting, pond maintenance and road sprinkling. Other awards Water Management Initiative – Department of Public Health Engineering (PHE), Ladakh. 
  • 'Excellence in Digitalization' Category - Ferro Alloys and Minerals Division (FAMD) of Tata Steel. Enabled digitalization to track water consumption from the mine at Sukinda in Jajpur district of Odisha to the ferro chrome plant at Athagarh in Cuttack district of Odisha. World Water Awards 2023-24, Water Digest Water Awards were established in the year 2006. A premier global event celebrating innovation and excellence in water management, was successfully held for the 18th year in New Delhi on February 5, 2024. 

14. Fossil of flying dinosaur discovered in Scottish island 

  • Scientists announced the discovery of a new flying dinosaur fossil dating back 65 million years on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. The newly discovered species is called Sioptera evansae. Relatives of most of the newly discovered dinosaur species lived in present-day China. 
  • Sioptera is the first Darwinopteran pterosaur found in Scotland, and only the second pterosaur overall. The new pterosaur species is important for several reasons. First, it increases knowledge of the diversity and distribution of pterosaurs, which were the first vertebrates to develop powered flight. 
  • Pterosaurs were not dinosaurs, but were a separate branch of reptiles that co-existed with them. Pterosaurs ranged in size from as small as a sparrow to as large as a small plane, and had a variety of adaptations to different lifestyles and environments. 
  • It provides a glimpse of the life and environment of the Middle Jurassic period, a poorly understood time in the history of life on Earth. The Middle Jurassic, which spanned from about 174 to 163 million years ago, was a time of major change in the planet's climate, geography, and biodiversity. 
  • A study published in the Journal of Vertebrate describes this by researchers from the Natural History Museum in London, the University of Bristol, the University of Leicester and the University of Liverpool. The remains discovered include a partial skeleton of a single organism. 
  • The fossil belongs to a group of pterosaurs known as Darwinopterans, which are considered a transitional form between earlier and later pterosaurs. This included parts of the shoulders, wings, legs and spine. The dinosaur belongs to the Darwinoptera group of pterosaurs. 
  • It also suggests that pterosaurs survived into the latest Jurassic period alongside dinosaurs, which eventually evolved into modern birds. 

15. Two-day annual 'Dosmoche Mahotsav' started in Leh and Likir of Ladakh 

  • The two-day annual 'Dosmoche Mahotsav' has started with religious fervor from 7 February 2024 in Leh and Likir of Ladakh. Dosmoche is an annual Buddhist monastery festival in which sacred mask dances of various deities are performed by monks. 
  • Dosmoche Festival is the biggest annual prayer of Likir Math. Likir Monastery is one of the 16 major monasteries of Ladakh and belongs to Mahayana Buddhism. Dosmocha celebrated in Leh is organized by the villagers of Leh. 
  • Likir Dosmoche is a Buddhist festival held every year on the 12th Tibetan month. This festival is also known as the "Festival of the Scapegoat" and is the last celebration of the New Year. 
  • It was started by the royal families of Ladakh. The significance of Dosmoche festival is to eliminate evil. During the festival, there are specific times for certain rituals and idols are prepared from dough. 
  • In the ceremony, the idols are burnt or kept aside in solitude. By doing this it is believed that the evil spirits of the old year reside around the idol or move around with them. Other highlights are the decoration of the monastery, the enchanting music of the drums, the masked dance that puts on a drama and the unique rituals performed by the lamas. 

16. Mobile health initiative 'Kilkari' and mobile academy started in Maharashtra and Gujarat 

  • Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Prof. SP Singh Baghel and Dr. Bharti Praveen Pawar virtually launched Kilkari Program and Mobile Academy, a mobile health (m-health) initiative for beneficiaries with local content in Gujarat and Maharashtra on 7 February 2024. Did. 
  • The chirpy audio messages feature the voice of a fictional doctor character named Dr. Anita. Under this, information is given from the second trimester of pregnancy till the child is one year old. 
  • It is a centralized interactive voice response (IVR) based mobile health service that delivers free, weekly, time-appropriate 72 audio messages about pregnancy, delivery and child care directly to families' mobile phones. 
  • Also Mobile Academy is a free audio training course designed to expand and refresh the knowledge of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and improve their communication skills through their mobile phones. 


  • This service is free of cost for States/UTs and beneficiaries. This program service is integrated with the centralized Reproductive Child Health (RCH) portal of MoHFW and is the single source of information for this mHealth service. 
  • Kilkari is presently under implementation in 18 States/UTs namely Andhra Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh. 
  • Its six language versions are available in Hindi, Bhojpuri, Oriya, Assamese, Bengali and Telugu. 

17. Microsoft to train over 2 million people in India in generative AI skills by 2025 

  • Microsoft has announced an ambitious initiative to equip 2 million people in India with skills in artificial intelligence by 2025. 
  • Dubbed ADVANTA(I)GE INDIA, the program aims to accelerate India’s AI transformation and empower its workforce for the jobs of the future. 
  • The goal is to expand AI fluency nationwide for inclusive growth. 
  • The announcement comes as part of Microsoft’s broader Skills for Jobs initiative, aligned with its responsible AI principles. Training will be delivered through partnerships with government, nonprofits and businesses across India. 

The program has three main components: 

  1. Partnering with the national government and 10 states to train 500,000 students at rural vocational centers in basic and advanced AI skills. This expands an existing collaboration on digital and cybersecurity training. 
  2. Providing in-depth AI training for 100,000 young women through higher education institutions in smaller cities. This involves distributing Microsoft’s AI Trainer Toolkit and industry mentorships. 
  3. Raising AI career awareness for 400,000 students in remote, tribal areas through Microsoft’s TEALS, Farm Beats and AI Guidance for Schools initiatives. 

  • Additionally, Microsoft will help 250,000 government officers gain generative AI knowledge to deliver next-gen citizen services. It will also convene a summit for 2,500 nonprofits to leverage AI in their work, with LinkedIn. 

18. India, Türkiye & Qatar Named Guests of Honor at 2024 World Governments Summit in Dubai 

  • India, Türkiye, and Qatar have been declared the guests of honor at the 2024 World Governments Summit which set to take place in Dubai from February 12-14. 
  • The summit, themed ‘Shaping Future Governments,’ will see the participation of over 25 government and state heads from around the world. 
  • The delegations from Türkiye, India, and Qatar will be led by their respective leaders: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani. 
  • The guest countries will showcase their successful government experiences and best developmental practices during the summit, which will bring together thought leaders, experts, and representatives of over 85 international and regional organizations with 120 governmental delegations, and 4,000 attendees. 
  • The event is expected to draw over 4,000 attendees, including representatives from 85 international and regional organizations. 

19 . SBI partners with Flywire to modernize international education payments for students 

  • State Bank of India (SBI) has partnered with Flywire Corporation to revolutionize the landscape of international education payments for Indian students. 
  • This strategic partnership aims to simplify the traditionally complex payment process, offering students a seamless and fully digital experience. 
  • Integrated directly into SBI’s platform, Flywire’s technology would enable Indian students to complete their international education payments effortlessly in Indian rupees. 
  • The collaboration will also allow automatic capturing of relevant student information, ensuring accuracy and traceability in transactions. It aligns with the Reserve Bank of India’s Liberalized Remittance Scheme (LRS) guidelines, enhancing transparency and compliance. 

Recent MoUs Signed in Banking Sector 

  • ESAF Small Finance Bank and Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance Partner to Offer Life Insurance 
  • IREDA and Indian Overseas Bank ink pact to co-finance renewable energy projects 
  • Rural Development Ministry signs pact with SBI to facilitate loans for SHGs 
  • REC Limited and Bank of Baroda join hands to finance Power, Infra, and Logistics Projects 
  • NABARD and ADB jointly launch climate action initiative in India with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 

20. RBI repo rate unchanged at 6.5 percent 

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has kept repo rates unchanged at 6.5 percent. 
  • It has also decided to remain focused on the withdrawal of the accommodative stance. 
  • This is the sixth consecutive unchanged decision. 
  • RBI keeps the repo rate steady at 6.5% with five out of six members voting in favour of the rate decision Experts were also expecting the repo rate to remain steady at 6.5 percent
  • MPC also decided by a majority (5 out of 6 members) to remain focused on the withdrawal of accommodation to ensure the inflation progressively aligns with the target while supporting growth. 
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has maintained its inflation projection at 5.4% for 2023–2024. 
  • CPI inflation is predicted to be 4.5% for the upcoming fiscal year 2024–2025, with Q1 at 5%, Q2 at 4%, Q3 at 4.6%, and Q4 at 4.7%. 
  • Meanwhile, the RBI has projected the Indian economy to maintain a 7 per cent GDP growth rate in FY25. 
  • During the last MPC, for the fifth consecutive time, the RBI maintained the repo rate at 6.5 percent. The last adjustment occurred in February 2023, increasing the rate from 6.25 percent. 

RBI Current Policy Rate are as- 

  • Policy Repo Rate – 6.50% 
  • Standing Deposit Facility (SDF) – 6.25% 
  • Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) – 6.75% 
  • Bank Rate – 6.75% 
  • Reverse Repo Rate – 3.35% 
  • Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) – 4.50% 
  • Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) – 18% 

21. Venkatachalam H appointed as MD & CEO of Tata AIA Life 

  • Private life insurer, Tata AIA Life Insurance has appointed Venkatachalam H as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD) of the company. 
  • The appointment is subject to approval from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI). 
  • Venkatachalam will take over from the incumbent, Naveen Tahilyani, who will be moving to another role in the Tata Group and has been elevated as a Non-Executive Director of Tata AIA Life Insurance Company. 
  • Naveen Tahilyani has been serving as MD & CEO of the life insurance company since 2020. 

Recent Appointment in Banking & Insurance Sector 

  • Consumer lending and mortgages head of Bandhan Bank – Santosh Nair (Shantanu Sengupta) 
  • Non-executive chairman of AU Small Finance Bank – HR Khan (replace Raj Verma) 
  • Executive Director of Bank of Baroda – Sanjay Vinayak Mudaliar 
  • Executive Director of Indian Overseas Bank – Joydeep Dutta Roy 
  • MD & CEO of DCB Bank – Praveen Achuthan Kutty (replace Murali Natrajan) effect from 29/4/24 

22. Kazakhstan appoints Olzhas Bektenov as new Prime Minister 

  • Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has appointed Olzhas Bektenov, his chief of staff, as the new prime minister. 
  • Bektenov (43), previously headed the state anti-corruption agency and assumed the role of presidential administration head in April 2023. 
  • The swift approval from the ruling Amanat party-dominated parliament underscores the president’s firm grip on power. 

About Kazakhstan 

  • Capital –Astana 
  • Currency – Kazakhstani tenge 
  • Prime Minister – Olzhas Bektenov 
  • President – Kassym-Jomart Tokayev Newly 

Appointed Prime Minister & President 

  • Prime Minister of Yemen – Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak 
  • President of El Salvador – Nayib Bukele (2nd time) 
  • Sultan of Malaysia – Ibrahim Iskandar (17th)
  • President of Comoros -Azali Assoumani (4th time)
  • President of Guatemala – Bernardo Arevalo
  • President of Taiwan – William Lai 

23. SCA Stadium Renamed in Honor of Niranjan Shah 

  • The Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) stadium in Rajkot has been renamed as the Niranjan Shah Stadium. 
  • This change comes as a tribute to the former first-class cricketer and senior cricket administrator, Niranjan Shah, marking his immense contributions to the sport and the region. 
  • Niranjan Shah’s legacy in cricket extends beyond his playing days; from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, he represented Saurashtra in 12 first-class games, laying the groundwork for a lifelong association with cricket. 

24. Tata Trusts To Inaugurate India’s First Small Animal Hospital In Mumbai 

  • In a visionary collaboration with philanthropist Ratan Tata, Tata Trusts proudly announces the launch of the nation’s foremost Small Animal Hospital in Mahalaxmi, Mumbai. With a capacity exceeding 200 beds, the hospital pledges round-the-clock services aimed at safeguarding the well-being of pets. 
  • Spanning an impressive 98,000 square feet across five floors, this state-of-the-art facility epitomizes excellence in pet healthcare. Scheduled for inauguration in March 2024, the hospital is poised to revolutionize the landscape of pet healthcare. 

25.CM Himanta Biswa Sarma Inaugurates Construction Skill Training Centre In Assam 

  • In a collaborative effort between the Assam government and Larsen & Toubro (L&T), Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma inaugurated the Construction Skill Training Centre in Assam. 
  • This initiative aims to address unemployment by providing comprehensive training opportunities to the youth and enhancing their employability in the construction sector. 
  • The center is designed to cater to the needs of Assam’s youth by offering specialized training programs focused on skill enhancement and modern construction techniques. By equipping the youth with relevant skills, the initiative aims to empower them to secure gainful employment and contribute to the state’s economic growth. 

26.Himachal CM Announces BDO Office At Surani In ‘Sarkar Gaon Ke Dwar’ Program 

  • Chief Minister (CM) Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu recently spearheaded the ‘Sarkar Gaon Ke Dwar’ program at Amb-Pathiyar under the Jawalamukhi assembly constituency. 
  • The event served as a platform for the CM to engage with local residents and gain insight into their concerns, while also unveiling a series of transformative announcements aimed at propelling the region forward. 
  • The CM announced the establishment of the office of the Block Development Officer in Surani, a division of the Jal Shakti department in Jawalamukhi, and a subdivision in Majheen. 

27.IIT Madras To Spearhead Development Of India’s First Indigenous 155mm Smart Ammunition 

  • In a strategic partnership aimed at advancing India’s self-reliance in defence, Indian Institute of Technology Madras and Munitions India Limited have joined forces to pioneer the development of 155 Smart Ammunition. 
  • At the helm of this initiative is G. Rajesh, a distinguished faculty member from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at IIT Madras, along with his adept team of researchers. 
  • Munitions India Limited, the leading manufacturer and market leader in the defence sector, brings invaluable expertise to the table. Together, the collaborative effort aims to revolutionize the existing landscape by significantly reducing the Circular Error Probable (CEP) to a mere 10 meters. 

28.RBI To Introduce Offline Capability For E-Rupee Transactions 

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announces the introduction of offline functionality for e-rupee transactions to facilitate payments in areas with poor or limited internet connectivity. 
  • Offline functionality is to be added to CBDC-R (Retail) for transactions in areas with poor internet connectivity. Testing of multiple offline solutions, including proximity and non-proximity based, will also be conducted in various geographic locations 
  • Introduction of programmability-based use cases to expand transaction capabilities. Additional use cases such as defined benefit payments by government agencies and specified expenditures by corporates to be enabled. 

29.World Pulses Day 2024 

  • Every year on February 10th, the global community celebrates World Pulses Day, an occasion dedicated to recognizing the pivotal role of pulses in promoting food security, nutrition, and sustainable agricultural practices. 
  • This year’s theme, “Pulses: Nourishing Soils and People,” emphasizes the dual benefits of pulses for enhancing soil health and providing essential nutrients to humans. 
  • World Pulses Day finds its roots in the International Year of Pulses (IYP) 2016, an initiative led by the FAO to raise awareness about the benefits of pulses. 

30.International Day Of The Arabian Leopard 2024 

  • The United Nations General Assembly has marked February 10th as the International Day of the Arabian Leopard. 
  • his decision, formalized in resolution 77/295, highlights the critical status of the Arabian Leopard (Panthera pardus nimr), classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. 
  • The International Day of the Arabian Leopard aims to restore this species as a flagship for conservation, underscoring the essential role of biodiversity in maintaining the planet’s health and ecosystem resilience. 

31.Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda Launches Key Initiatives Under PMFBY 

  • Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Arjun Munda introduced several key initiatives under the Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) in New Delhi on 8th February 2024. These initiatives aim to benefit insured farmers and mitigate their risks. 
  • These initiatives comprise an integrated grievance redressal system, featuring a digital portal and call center, simplifying farmer complaints, concerns, and inquiries. 
  • The SARTHI Initiative, short for Sandbox for Agricultural and Rural Security, Technology, and Insurance, employs technology to provide diverse insurance products, covering health, life, property, agricultural tools, motor assets, and disaster risks. 

32.2nd DNPA Conclave & Digital Impact Awards 2024 

  • The second DNPA Conclave & Digital Impact Awards served as a pivotal platform for discussions on the revenue-sharing disparity between digital news publishers and major technology platforms. 
  • The Conclave focuses on the theme ‘Navigating Digital Transformations and Challenges in the Media Industry.’
  • Minister of State for MeitY, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, highlighted the urgent need to rectify the significant revenue-sharing gap between content creators and major technology platforms. 
  • Policymakers, industry experts, and stakeholders engaged in discussions on the evolving digital media landscape. Notable figures like Amitabh Kant discussed strategies to democratize the publisher-platform relationship and mitigate the influence of major technology platforms. 

33.India-Russia Sign Protocol On Nuclear Reactors Agreement 

  • India and Russia have strengthened their long-standing nuclear cooperation with the signing of a protocol amending the 2008 intergovernmental agreement. 
  • The agreement focuses on the construction of additional nuclear reactors at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project site and the development of Russia-designed nuclear power plants at new locations in India. 
  •  The Russian delegation inspected the ongoing construction of power units as part of the second and third stages of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, involving reactors 3 to 6. Discussions centered around the long-term cooperation between India and Russia in the nuclear energy sector. 

34.Pyarelal Sharma Honored With Lakshminarayana International Award 

  • Pyarelal Sharma, one-half of the legendary composer duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal, has been felicitated with the prestigious Lakshminarayana International Award. 
  • This honour was bestowed upon him as part of the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival, acknowledging his invaluable contributions to the Indian music industry. 
  • The Lakshminarayana International Award, named after the violin maestro Lakshminarayana, is presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the world of music. 

35.FIFA To Introduce Blue Cards And Sin-Bins 

  • The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is preparing to debut a new card, the blue card as part of trials involving sin bins in professional football. 
  • IFAB proposes the inclusion of blue cards alongside the traditional yellow and red cards. Blue cards will serve as a disciplinary measure for dissent and cynical fouls, resulting in players being temporarily sent to the sin-bin. 
  • Ifab, the governing body responsible for football’s laws, aims to bolster disciplinary measures with the introduction of blue cards. These measures target dissent and cynical fouls, emphasizing a zero-tolerance approach to unsportsmanlike behavior. 

36.NASA Discovers Super-Earth In The Habitable Zone 

  • NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has made a significant discovery—a super-Earth located in a habitable zone, offering tantalizing possibilities for the conditions conducive to life. 
  • This discovery sheds light on the diversity of planets in our universe and the potential for habitable worlds beyond our solar system. 
  • The newly discovered exoplanet, named TOI-715 b, is situated in a solar system 137 light-years away from Earth. In cosmic terms, this distance is relatively close, offering astronomers a valuable opportunity for detailed study. 

37.Google Rebrands Its Chatbot, Bard, As Gemini 

  • Alphabet’s Google has made significant strides in the realm of artificial intelligence (AI), recently rebranding its chatbot and introducing a new subscription plan. 
  • Formerly known as Bard, Google’s chatbot has undergone a transformation and is now dubbed Gemini. This rebranding effort coincides with the launch of a new subscription plan, offering users access to Google’s most advanced AI model, the Ultra 1.0, within the Gemini family. 
  • Gemini will seamlessly integrate with popular Google products like Gmail and Google Docs, offering users a cohesive AI experience across various platforms. This integration sets Google apart from its competitors and enhances user convenience. 

38.China Launches Qinling Station For Antarctic Scientific Study 

  • China has inaugurated its newest Antarctic research station, the Qinling facility, situated on Inexpressible Island in the Ross Sea 
  • This marks China’s fifth research station in Antarctica and signifies its commitment to advancing scientific exploration in the region. 
  • Its primary focus is on conducting diverse research activities encompassing biological oceanography, glaciology, marine ecology, and other scientific disciplines. 

39.AIIMS Launches IOncology.Ai For Early Cancer Detection 

  • In a landmark collaboration between AIIMS, New Delhi, and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Pune, the groundbreaking AI platform has been unveiled. 
  • This cutting-edge technology focuses on the early detection of cancer, particularly targeting breast and ovarian cancers, which are prevalent among women in India. 
  • Developed in collaboration with CDAC and the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, utilizes AI to reduce false negatives in manual cancer diagnosis.

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