Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC -1st March 2024


1.Union Minister Pralhad Joshi Unveils Coal Logistics Plan And Policy 

  • Union Minister For Coal, Mines, And Parliamentary Affairs, Pralhad Joshi, Announced The Launch Of The National Coal Logistics Plan And Policy, 2023 On February 29. 
  • The Policy Aims To Enhance Railway Utilization In Coal Transportation To Over 87 Percent By FY 2029-30, Anticipating A Surge In Coal Consumption From 980 Million Tons To 1.5 Billion Tons By 2030. 
  • Key Objectives Include Cost Savings, Reduced Environmental Impact, And Enhanced Efficiency In Coal Logistics. 

2.Cabinet Approval, Establishment Of International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA) 

  • The Union Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the establishment of the International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA) with its headquarters based in India. 
  • This landmark decision comes with a one-time budgetary support of Rs. 150 crore for a period of five years from 2023-24 to 2027-28. 
  • The International Big Cat Alliance focuses on conserving big cats, including Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Puma, Jaguar, and Cheetah. 

3. Sunil Bharti Mittal became the first Indian to receive knighthood from King Charles-III in Britain. 

  • Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises, has become the first Indian citizen to receive the knighthood of 'Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE)' by King Charles III of Britain. 
  • Previous Indian recipients of the honorary KBE include Ratan Tata (2009), Ravi Shankar (2001) and Jamshed Irani (1997), which was awarded by the late Queen Elizabeth II. The KBE is one of the highest civilian honors bestowed by the British Queen. It usually appears in the diplomatic service and foreign lists, but can also be awarded in an honorary capacity to Britons or foreign nationals based abroad. 
  • This title has been given to him for his contribution in strengthening trade relations between India and Britain. This award confers on Mr. Mittal the title of Knight Commander, the most prestigious award of the British Empire. 

Sunil Bharti Mittal 

  • Bharti Airtel Africa was successfully listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2019, and is a constituent of the FTSE100 index. Bharti Enterprises which owns Airtel, the country's second largest telecom company. 
  • Sunil successfully led the revival of OneWeb (now Eutelsat), and led a consortium with the UK Government and other strategic investors to provide satellite broadband services globally. 
  • Mittal, a member of the India-UK CEO Forum, has been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law from Newcastle University and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Leeds. 
  • He is also a member of the ViceChancellor's Advisory Board at the University of Cambridge. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honour, in 2007. 
  • He also served as a member of the Governing Body of the London Business School (LBS) and the India Advisory Group at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). 

4.PM Modi & PM Jugnauth Inaugurate Airstrip, Jetty In Agalega Island 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth jointly inaugurated significant infrastructure projects in Agalega Island, marking a milestone in bilateral cooperation between India and Mauritius. 
  • The newly constructed airstrip will enhance connectivity to Agalega Island, facilitating smoother transportation and promoting economic growth in the region. 
  • he inauguration of the St James Jetty provides crucial maritime infrastructure, facilitating trade and transportation between Agalega Island and the mainland. 

5.Ghana Parliament Passes Anti-LGBTQ Bill 

  • Ghana’s parliament has approved a controversial anti-LGBTQ bill, the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill, which awaits presidential assent. 
  • The bill aims to uphold traditional Ghanaian family values and regulate human sexual rights. It criminalizes identification with LGBTQ identities, imposing penalties of up to three years in prison. 
  • Individuals found promoting or supporting LGBTQ activities could face up to five years in prison under the proposed law. Ghana already prohibits gay sexual acts, carrying a maximum prison sentence of three years. 

6.‘Tawi Festival’ In Jammu To Kick Off On March 1, 2024, For Four Days 

  • Women Self-Help Groups (SHGs) under the umbrella of the Jammu & Kashmir Rural Livelihoods Mission (JKRLM) are poised to make a significant mark at the upcoming 4-day ‘Tawi Festival’ in Jammu. 
  • This endeavor aims to spotlight the rich tapestry of art forms and cultural heritage of the region while highlighting the skills and creativity of local artisans. 

7.DRDO Successfully Tests Very Short-Range Air Defence System (VSHORADS) 

  • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has conducted two successful flight tests of the Very Short-Range Air Defence System (VSHORADS) missile on February 28th and 29th, 2024. 
  • The tests, carried out from a ground-based portable launcher off the coast of Odisha, demonstrated the system’s capability to intercept and destroy high-speed unmanned aerial targets under various interception scenarios. 
  • The missile is propelled by a dual-thrust solid motor and is specifically designed to neutralize low-altitude aerial threats at short ranges. Its design, including the launcher, has been optimized for easy portability, enhancing its usability in various operational scenarios. 

8. Cabinet okays ₹75,000-crore 'free electricity' solar scheme 

  • The Union Cabinet approved a ₹75,021-crore package for the 'PM-Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana' (PM Free Electricity scheme) to promote rooftop solar (RTS) installations in India. 
  • The scheme envisages providing 300 units of "free electricity" every month to one crore households. However, it was not immediately clear how the scheme officially unveiled on Thursday would result in free electricity to one crore households. 
  • The Centre will fund, an accompanying press statement from the Union Power Ministry says, 60% of the cost for installing 2 kW (kilowatt) systems and 40% of the cost for systems of. 2-3 kW capacity. 
  • Systems of higher wattage will not be eligible for central subsidy.
  • "At current benchmark prices, this will mean ₹30,000 subsidy for 1 kW systems, ₹60,000 for 2 kW systems and ₹78,000 for 3 kW systems or higher," a press statement from the Ministry noted. 
  • As a next step, households will apply for subsidies through a Central portal and be able to select a suitable vendor for installing a rooftop solar system. The national portal will assist the households in their decision-making process by providing relevant information such as appropriate system sizes, benefits calculator, vendor rating, etc. 
  • For the remaining costs, households will be able to "access collateral-free low-interest loan products of around 7% at present for installation of residential RTS systems up to 3 kW," the release noted. This implies that minus the Central subsidy, the rest of the installation expenses have to be borne by the aspirant consumer. 
  • Power Minister R.K. Singh had explained the financing of the scheme differently in an interaction with reporters, as reported by The Hindu, on February 3. He had said that public sector units, affiliated to the Ministry, would be reaching out to "eligible" households and install the rooftop solar systems for free. 
  • Repaying loans The PSU, or its affiliated agency, would be responsible for taking out a loan to finance the component not funded by the Central subsidy. This loan would be repaid to the bank by consumers selling surplus power produced back to the grid. 
  • In his interaction, he said that "60% of the cost of installation will be subsidized by the Centre. For the rest, [a Central] public sector unit will take a loan [from a bank] and will repay from the cost of electricity [used by the house-hold] over and above the 300 units.” 

9. 1 March – Zero Discrimination Day 

  • Zero Discrimination Day is observed every year on March 1. 
  • Objective – To promote inclusion, equality, and peace and raise awareness about the impact of discrimination worldwide. 
  • Theme 2024 – To protect everyone’s health, protect everyone’s rights 
  • The day was first celebrated on March 1, 2014. Ten years ago, UNAIDS had launched its Zero Discrimination Campaign on ‘World AIDS Day’ in December 2013. 
  • UNAIDS is a joint United Nations program on Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). 

10. 1 March – World Seagrass Day 

  • World Seagrass Day is observed every year on March 1. 
  • This day is celebrated to raise awareness about seagrass and its important functions in the marine ecosystem. 
  • Theme 2024 – Healthy Seagrass, Healthy Planet 
  • On 23 May 2022, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared 1 March as World Seagrass Day. It is celebrated annually by UNGA. The UNEP was also invited to facilitate the observance of the day. In this way the first World Seagrass Day was organized in 2023. 

11. Don't segregate prisoners on basis of caste, religion: govt. 

  • The Union government has taken a serious view of some States discriminating against prisoners on the basis of their caste and religion and assigning them work accordingly. Saying that it was unconstitutional, the Union Home Ministry wrote to the Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories urging them to ensure that their Jail Manuals did not contain any discriminatory provisions. 
  • The Constitution of India prohibited any kind of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, and place of birth. 
  • The Model Prison Manual, 2016, prepared by the Ministry and circulated to all States and Union Territories in May 2016, explicitly prohibited caste and religion-based discrimination of prisoners in the management of the kitchen or cooking of food on a caste or religious basis. 
  • "The manual also provides that any special treatment to a group of prisoners belonging to a particular caste or religion is strictly prohibited. It further provides that no classification of prisoners shall be allowed on grounds of socio-economic status, caste or class... In case any such provision exists, immediate steps must be taken to amend/remove the discriminatory provision from the Manual/Act. It is reiterated that there should be no caste-based assignment of duties or work in the prisons," the Ministry said. 
  • Healthcare provisions Stating that the medical care of prisoners was one of the significant concerns of prison management, the Ministry said it had been sending advisories from time to time to ensure that due importance was given to the physical and mental well-being of inmates. 
  • Going by the provisions of the Model Prison Manual, 2016, periodic health check-up of prisoners should be conducted. 
  • Besides, health check-up or screening of prisoners for infectious diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and Hepatitis should be done.
  • A special health screening camp for women and transgender prisoners was also among the priorities. 
  • Data relating to the health-check camps should be updated on the e-Prisons portal implemented as part of the e-prisons project to create end-to-end information technology solutions for the automation of prison operations. The Ministry also stressed digitisation and availability of prisoner records on an electronic platform accessible to designated authorities enabling them to have direct access to information related to the prisoners. 

12. ZSI names a newly discovered sea slug after President Murmu 

  • The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has named a new marine species of head-shield sea slug with ruby red spot which was discovered from West Bengal and Odisha coast after President of India Droupadi Murmu. This species belonging to Melanochlamys genus was discovered from Digha of West Bengal coast and Udaipur of Odisha coast. The new species of head-shield sea slug, which is found nowhere else in the world, has been a posterior shield named Melanochlamys draupadi. Species of the genus Melanochlamys are characterized morphologically by a short, blunt and cylindrical body and a smooth dorsal surface with two dorsal equal or unequal shields, named the anterior cephalic and 
  • In a statement, Dhriti Banerjee, ZSI director, said, "The species was confirmed by examination of morphological, anatomical and molecular characteristics. It is a small invertebrate with a maximum length up to 7 mm, brownish black in color with a ruby red spot in the hind end, shell Inside the body, hermaphrodite, normally crawling on the intertidal zone, which left the crawl mark behind them in the sandy beaches." "Their reproduction apparently occurs between November and January. The locality was designated as Hospital Ghat, Old Digha, which is just 50 meters away from Marine Aquarium Regional Centre, Zoological Survey of India, Digha. The type specimens were deposited in Marine Aquarium and Regional Centre, Digha and Estuarine Biology and Regional Centre, Gopalpur," she said. 
  • According to ZSI, species of this group are generally distributed in temperate regions of the Indo-Pacific Oceanic realm but three species are truly tropical distributed, Melanochlamys papillata from the Gulf of Thailand, Melanochlamys bengalensis from West Bengal and Odisha coast and the present species. 
  • A paper published by ZSI researchers Prasad Chandra Tudu, Sheikh Sajan, Smrutirekha Acharya and Anil Mohapatra says live Melanochlamys draupadi animals continuously secrete transparent mucus to form a sheath that prevents sand grains from entering parapodia space. It crawls beneath smooth sand to form a moving capsule where the e body is rarely visible, the paper said. 

13. Armed forces likely to get non-functional upgrade benefit 

  • In a move to address one of the core anomalies of the es, Services with their civil counterparts in the govern s), ment, the Centre has decided to grant non-functional upgrade (NFU) benefit over which a legal battle has been going on for some time. 
  • "The government has taken a decision to inform the court in the next hearing that the armed forces will also be given NFU," an official source said. 
  • NFU entitles all officers of a batch who are not promoted to draw the salary and grade pay that the senior most officer of their batch would get after a certain period. The Sixth Pay Commission had granted NFU to most officers of Organised Group 'A' services but not the military. However, the Seventh Pay Commission (SPC) gave a 
  • Lieutenant-Colonels will get arrears of up to 216 lakh and Colonels around 28 lakh to 210 lakh mixed verdict on it and the (issue was referred to the anomalies committee following strong objections from the three Services. 
  • Once granted, the biggest beneficiaries of NFU would be officers in the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Lieutenant-Colonels who don't get empanelled to the next rank remain in the same pay bracket and their numbers are large due to the steep hierarchy, one official said, adding that NFU would be a morale booster. Post implementation, Lieutenant-Colonels are likely to get arrears of up to 16 lakh and Colonels around 8 lakh to 10 lakh, the source said. 

14. Lancet study shows obesity rates going up across world 

  • Obesity rates among children and adolescents worldwide increased four times from 1990 to 2022, while obesity rates among adults have more than doubled, a new study published in The Lancet has revealed. 
  • The total number of children, adolescents and adults worldwide living with obesity has surpassed one billion. In total, 159 million children and adolescents, and 879 million adults were obese in 2022. 
  • Along with the declining prevalence of people who are underweight since 1990, obesity has become the most common form of malnutrition in most countries, said the paper that analyzed global data estimates. 
  • The study was conducted by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC), in collaboration with the World Health Organization. Over 1,500 researchers in more than 190 countries analyzed weight and height measurements of over 220 million people aged five years or older. They reportedly looked at body mass index (BMI) to understand how obesity and underweight have changed worldwide from 1990 to 2022. 
  • Representatives from the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation were among the co-authors of the study in India. V. Mohan, Anjana Ranjit and Guha Pradeepa, who were also instrumental in the countrywide INdiab study, were co-authors. 
  • Coexisting conditions Dr. Mohan said that in In dia, both obesity and underweight continue to co-exist. "We have also seen, as part of the INdiab study, that both abdominal obesi- ty and generalized obesity are increasing in the population, with of course varia- tions in rural areas." 
  • As per The Lancet paper, in India, the obesity rate increased from 0.1% in 1990 to 3.1% in 2022 for girls, and 0.1% to 3.9%, for boys, 
  • In the prevalence of obesity category for girls and boys, India ranked 174th highest in the world in 2022. Among adults, the change was starker: in women, the obesity rate increased from 1.2% in 1990 to 9.8% in 2022 and in men from 0.5% to 5.4%. 

15. Cabinet nod for 24,420-cr. subsidy for P&K fertilizers 

  • The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) rates for the upcoming kharif season for Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers and the inclusion of three more fertilizer grades under the NBS scheme. 
  • The Centre said tentative budgetary requirements for the scheme would be about 24,420 crore. The subsidy on nitrogen has been fixed at 47.02 per kilogram, phosphatic (P) at 28.72 per kg (20.82 per kg in 2023 rabi season), potassic (K) at 2.38 per kg, and sulfur (S) at 1.89 per kg. The subsidy on nitrogen, potassic, fi and sulfur was the same in the 2023 rabi season too. 
  • The government said the decision would ensure the availability of fertilizers to farmers at subsidized, affordable and reasonable prices and rationalization of subsidy on P&K fertilizers in view of recent trends in the international prices of fertilizers and inputs. 

16.India Post Payments Bank Partners With Hindustan Zinc For CSR Financial Services

  •  India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) and Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL) signed an MoU to enhance financial inclusion in rural Rajasthan. 
  • The objective of this collaboration are to to provide easy access to opening bank accounts, pension products, savings, and investment schemes,. 
  • Furthermore it empower beneficiaries to become Individual Business Correspondents for IPPB services and promote government social welfare schemes and facilitate income-generating loans. 

17.MoSPI Signs MoU With ISRO On Urban Frame Survey Using Bhuvan 

  • NSSO and NRSC team up to digitize the Urban Frame Survey (UFS) using advanced Geo ICT tools via the Bhuvan Platform. 
  • The Objective is to facilitate the Urban Frame Survey (UFS) in a digital mode to enhance efficiency and accuracy in data collection and maintenance. 
  • The aim is to enhance the mobile application used for Geo-tagging NSSO Urban Frame Survey data, focusing on its development and improvement. 

18.NTPC Green Energy Ltd Partners With MAHAGENCO To Develop Renewable Energy Parks In Maharashtra 

  • NTPC Green Energy Limited (NGEL) partners with Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (MAHAGENCO) to develop Renewable Energy Parks in Maharashtra. 
  • The agreement underscores commitment to green energy initiatives and supports India’s energy transition goals. The objective of the Joint Venture is to create a company focused on building gigawatt-scale renewable energy parks in Maharashtra. 

19.Ministry Of Women And Child Development Organizes ‘Poshan Utsav: Celebrating Nutrition’ To Promote Good Nutrition Behavior 

  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development organized the Poshan Utsav at The Oberoi on 29th February 2024. 
  • The event aimed to promote good nutrition behavior and highlighted India’s ongoing efforts to combat malnutrition by promoting good nutrition practices. 
  • The event featured the release of the ‘Poshan Utsav Book’, conceptualized by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and curated by the Deendayal Research Institute (DRI). 

20.Telangana Government Introduces One-Time Scheme 

  • The Telangana state government has issued a directive for the adoption of the One Time Scheme (OTS) across all urban local bodies (ULBs), including the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). 
  • This initiative is geared towards alleviating the financial strain faced by property owners who are grappling with mounting arrears interest on property tax payments. 

21.Nagaland Govt Unveils Universal Life Insurance Plan 

  • The Nagaland government, under the leadership of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, has unveiled an initiative aimed at alleviating financial hardships caused by the untimely demise of a family’s primary earner. 
  • The primary objective of the CM’s Universal Life Insurance Scheme is to mitigate the effects of losing a family’s breadwinner on various aspects of life, including education, health, and socio-economic stability. 

22. Mauritius becomes the first country to join Jan Aushadhi Initiative 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth inaugurated development projects in Agaliga Island on 29 February 2024. The two leaders virtually inaugurated the new airstrip and St. James Jetty along with six community development projects on the island of Mauritius. 
  • Apart from this, Maldives has announced to join the Jan Aushadhi Initiative, Mauritius will be the first country to join the Jan Aushadhi Initiative. This will provide access to approximately 250 high quality generic medicines from India's Bureau of Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices. 
  • This follows the recent launch of UPI and RuPay card services in Mauritius by both the leaders on 12 February 2024. The Prime Minister informed that in the last 10 years, India has provided a line of credit of US$ 1,000 million as well as assistance worth US$ 400 million. 
  • These projects will strengthen air and sea connectivity. In his address, PM Modi described India's 'Neighborhood First Policy' as the foundation stone of Vision Sagar. As members of the Global South, India and Mauritius have shared priorities. 

Prime Minister Bharatiya Jan Aushadhi Project (PMBJP) 

  •  This project is a campaign started by the Department of Pharmaceuticals in the year 2008 under the name of ‘Jan Aushadhi Abhiyan’. In the year 2015-16, the campaign was revamped as PMBJP. 
  • Bureau of Pharma PSU of India (BPPI) is the implementing agency for this. Which works under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers. BPPI has also developed Jan Aushadhi Sugam Application. 
  • The government aims to increase the number of Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Jan Aushadhi Kendras (PMBJKs) to 10,500 by the end of March 2025. 

23. India’s rank remains unchanged at 42 in International IP Index 2024 

  • India ranks 42nd in the International IP Index for 2024, out of 55 countries evaluated. 
  • India’s overall score also remained unchanged at 38.64 percent according to the 12th edition of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center’s International IP Index. 
  • The Index evaluates the IP frameworks of the world’s top 55 economies, revealing significant improvements in 20 economies. 
  • While the United States is once again the world leader, there were notable advancements led by Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Nigeria. 
  • However, challenges persist, as 27 economies showed no change and eight, including Ecuador, experienced declines due to weak IP enforcement. 

Recent index 

  • Henley Passport Index 2024 – India at 85th; topped by Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and Spain, France 
  • Corruption perception index 2023 – India ranked 93rd; topped by Denmark 
  • Mercer’s Quality of Living City Index 2023 – Rank 1. Vienna (Austria), Rank 2. Zurich (Switzerland), Rank 3. Vancouver (Canada), Hyderabad (153rd), Pune (154th), Chennai (161st), Mumbai (164th), Kolkata (170th), New Delhi (172nd), Khartoum (Sudan) at the bottom-most position (241st spot). 
  • Climate Change Performance Index 2023 – India ranked 7th 
  • World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2023 – India ranked 49th; topped by US 

24. Daljit S Chaudhary appoints as Director of NSG 

  • The Centre has appointed 1990 batch IPS officer, Daljit Singh Chaudhary as the director general (DG) of the National Security Guard (NSG).
  • Chaudhary currently the DG of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), has been given the additional charge of eading the NSG. 
  • NSG also known as black cats, NSG is India’s counter-terrorism force. 
  • It is a federal counter-deployment force against terrorism and anti-hijacking operations. 
  • The force is trained to deal with specific situations and used only in exceptional circumstances as deemed by the government. 
  • NSG was extensively used during the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai. 

Recent Appointment in Defence Sector 

  • Vice Chief of the Army Staff – LG Upendra Dwivedi (replace LG MV Suchindra Kumar) 
  • DG of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) – Daljit Singh Chaudhary 
  • Chief Staff Officer at Eastern Naval Command HQ – Shantanu Jha 
  • Director General of Naval Operations (DGNO) – AN Pramod 
  • Commandant in Indian Naval Academy – Vice Admiral Vineet McCart 

25. 1 March – World Civil Defence Day 

  • World Civil Defence Day is observed every year on 1 March. 
  • This international event serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of being prepared for emergencies and disasters. 
  • World Civil Defence Day was first established in 1990 by the International Civil Defence Organisation (ICDO) to commemorate the anniversary of the adoption of the ICDO’s Constitution. 

26. Former Canada PM, Brian Mulroney passes away 

  • Canada’s 18th Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney passed away at the age of 84. 
  • Mulroney, who was a Conservative, led his party to a sweeping win in the 1984 Federal elections, capturing 211 out of 282 seats in the House of Commons. He bested then-PM Pierre Eliot Trudeau, the late father of the current incumbent. 
  • Born on March 20, 1939, in the town of Baie-Comeau in Quebec, Mulroney was PM for nearly nine years, after assuming the office in on September 17, 1984 and demitting it in June 25, 1993.

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