Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 21st March 2024


National News 

1. Modi cancels visit to Bhutan due to inclement weather 

  • A day ahead of his planned departure, Prime Minister Narendra Modi put off his visit to Bhutan due to "inclement weather", an announcement made simultaneously by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Bhutanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday. The visit is being rescheduled, although no dates were given. With heavy rain and possible snowfall in Paro predicted to continue on Thursday, officials said the visit had to be postponed. "Due to ongoing inclement weather conditions over Paro airport, it has been decided to postpone the visit of the Prime Minis- ter to Bhutan on March 21 and 22, 2024. New dates are being worked out by the two sides through diplomatic channels," the statements said. 
  • Officials said the final decision was taken given Paro airport's particularly tricky "visual landing" requirements in the mountainous region, and impaired line of sight due to incessant rain, making the PM's flight risky. Officials said preparations had been completed for the visit before the unforeseen weather conditions. The itinerary had included a ceremonial welcome for Mr. Modi at the Tashichhodzong complex, an audience and a royal banquet hosted by the Bhutanese King on Thursday, followed by the inauguration of a 'Mother and Child Hospital' supported by Indian development funding. 

2. Centre notifies fact check unit to screen online content 

  • With the election, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on Wednesday notified the Press Information Bureau's Fact Check Unit as the designated body to flag misinformation about Central government departments to social media platforms. 
  • Under the IT Rules, 2021, social media platforms could lose the legal liability protections they enjoy for content posted by users, if they choose to zeep notified misinform on available online. 
  • Given the contentiousness of the idea, the Union government had held off. 
  • The unit will serve as the nodal agency to tackle 'fake news' related to the government. on formally notifying the Fact Check Unit as the tion was under way at the Bombay High Court challenging the provision Chais month, however, the court declined to extend an interim stay that had prohibited the government from enforcing the rules. 
  • The PIB Fact Check Unit has come under close scrutiny in the past, as it has sometimes disputed journalists' work by relying on denials from the Ministries they have written about. 
  • "Threat to free press' The Editors' Guild of India and comedian Kunal Kamra, who have challenged the IT Rules more broadly, on Wednesday approached the Supreme Court on the matter. 
  • "This [provision] could seriously threaten the free dependence of the press on the Indian internet," the Internet Freedom Foundation said last September on the IT Rules amendment that empowered the Fact Check Unit to be the arbiter of what information on the Union government was incorrect. 
  • The Fact Check Unit has in the past used its megaphone to dispute news reporting. Last week, the PIB Fact Check Unit declared that an Al Jazeera article calling the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 "anti-Muslim," was "fake". It then went on to present rejoinders to claims that the article was never made in the first place. 
  • The Fact Check Unit is run by three Joint Director rank officers of the Indian Information Service, which is tasked with managing the government's publicity operations. "The unit reports to the Principal Director General, PIB who functions as the Principal Spokesperson of the Government of India," the PIB says on its website.

International News 

3. Irish PM Leo Varadkar announces resignation 

  • Leo0 Varadkar on Wednesday announced that he was stepping down as Ireland's Prime Minister and leader of the Fine Gael party in the governing coalition, cit- ing "personal and politi- cal" reasons. Pundits called the move, just 10 weeks before Ireland held the European Parliament and local elections, a "political earthquake". The country must also hold a general election within a year. 
  • Deputy Prime Minister Micheal Martin, leader of the Fianna Fail coalition partner, said the announcement was "unexpected" but added that he expects the government to run its full term. 
  • An emotional Varadkar, 45, said he felt he was no longer the "best person" to lead the country. 
  • "I believe this government can be re-elected," Mr. Varadkar said in a statement read on the steps of Government Buildings in the Irish capital, surrounded by his Fine Gael Cabinet colleagues. 
  • "I believe a new Taoiseach (Prime Minister) will be better-placed than me to achieve that to renew and strengthen the top 1 team, to refocus our message and policies, and to drive implementation," he added. 
  • "I am resigning the presidency and leadership of Fine Gael and will resign as Taoiseach as soon as my successor is able to take up that office," Mr. Varadkar told reporters. 
  • Earlier this month, Mr. Varadkar was widely blamed for a twin defeat, including the biggest ever referendum loss by a go- vernment, on proposals to reform references to wo- men, the family and care in the Irish Constitution. 
  • Mr. Varadkar said his center-right Fine Gael party will have a leadership contest, and that he will remain as premier until the new leader is elected, after Parliament returns from recess next month. 

4. PM speaks to putin, Zelenskyy, calls for dialogue, diplomacy to end war 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and called for an "early end to the ongoing conflict". 
  • Mr. Modi first called Mr. Putin congratulated him on his victory in the recent election and followed it up with a call to Mr. Zelenskiy reiterated India's commitment to "do everything within its means to support a peaceful solution". 
  • Mr. Zelenskyy has called upon India to participate in the inaugural Peace Summit in Switzerland. 
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is also expected to visit India later this month. 
  • "An exchange of views was also held on a number of issues on the international agenda, in particular in the context of the situation around Ukraine. The mood for further coordination between India and multilateral formats, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS was confirmed," the Russian statement said. 
  • "Both sides noted with satisfaction that mutually beneficial ties in the trade, economic and investment fields, in the fields of energy and transport are progressively and dynamically developing in line with a particularly privileged stra- tegic partnership," it added. 
  • A statement from the Indian side added, "While discussing the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the PM reiterated India's consistent position in favor of dialogue and diplomacy as the way forward." 
  • Mr. Modi, in a statement on X, said, "Had a good conversation with President Zelenskyy on strengthening the India-Ukraine partnership. Conveyed India's consistent support for all efforts for peace and bringing an early end to the ongoing conflict. India will continue to provide humanitarian assistance guided by our people-centric approach." 
  • In his remarks, Mr. Zelenskyy said on X, "It will be important for us to see India attend the inaugural Peace Summit, which is currently being prepared in Switzerland. We discussed the development of our bilateral relations, which should include a meeting of our teams and a session of the intergovernmental commission on cooperation in New Delhi in the near future." 
  • Earlier, The Hindu had reported, citing diplomatic sources, that Mr. Kuleba is planning a visit to Delhi by the end of this month. 
  • India has maintained a neutral position on the war itself but has intensified trade, especially energy ties, with Russia against the backdrop of the war that started in February 2022. This relation had drawn criticism from Mr. Kuleba in 2022. 
  • Last week, National Security Adviser (Shojie Doval held a telephone conversation with Andriy Yermak, head of the office of the Ukrainian President. After the Modi-Zelenskyy conversation, the External Affairs Ministry, in a statement, said, "While discussing the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, the PM reiterated India's people-centric approach and called for dialogue and diplomacy as the way forward. He highlighted that India supports all efforts for an early and peaceful resolution of all issues between the Parties. He added that India would continue to do everything within its means to support a peaceful solution.`` 
  • Mr. Zelenskyy has not visited India since the war broke out and Mr. Putin too canceled traveling for the G-20 summit held here in September 2023 but Mr. Modi met Mr. Zelenskyy in Hiroshima during the last G-7 summit. Mr. Jaishankar visited Moscow in the last week of December 2023 when he met Mr. Putin. During that meeting, Mr. Putin extended an invitation to Mr. Modi to visit Moscow. 
  • Ukrainian sources have not revealed the details of Mr. Kuleba's planned visit so far, but there are indications that the visit will be aimed at activating a channel of communication with the goal to ensure dialogue over the stalemate in Ukraine. The coming months are expected to provide the Indian side to play a more active role in this case as Russia is the chair of BRICS this year and will host Indian interlocutors on multiple occasions when the events related to the BRICS will be hosted in various Russian cities. 

5. Australia hosts China FM, sees 'stability' in relations despite evident tensions 

  • China and Australia claimed to have stabilized long-strained relations after talks in Canberra on Wednesday, despite evident tensions over a high profile prisoner, trade and a new crackdown in Hong Kong. 
  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited lla for the first time since 2017, a trip designed to draw a line under disputes related to everything from the origins of COVID-19 to military deployments, The meeting was framed by warm words, with Mr. Wang saying the two sides had "broken the ice", and that "mutual trust" and "good momentum" were slowly building, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong praised renewed "stability" in rela Austrations and said it was crucial to recognise "how much progress we have made in a short period of time". 
  • Australia's relationship with China began unraveling in 2018, when Canberra excluded telecommunication 
  • Then in 2020, Australia called for an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19 an action China saw as politically motivated. 
  • Mr. Wang later told an Australia-Chi┼ća business council that common interests between the two countries far outweigh their differences.

6. 3rd summit for Democracy hosted by South Korea 

  • South Korea hosted the 3rd Summit for Democracy in Seoul in a hybrid format. 
  • The Summit for Democracy was started by American President Joe Biden in 2021 to address the emerging challenges to democracy from authoritarianism and defend and promote human rights. 
  • The Summit was opened by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who was joined by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

About South Korea 

  • Capital – Seoul 
  • Currency – South Korean Won 
  • Prime Minister – Han Duck-soo 
  • President – Yoon Seok-youl 

State News 

7. Maharashtra becomes the first state to buy land in Kashmir for tourism 

  • Maharashtra has decided to purchase 2.5 acres of land in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Maharashtra is the first state to purchase land in Jammu and Kashmir. Shinde government of Maharashtra will construct a guest house - Rajya Bhawan on this land at a cost of Rs 8.16 crore for its tourists visiting Jammu and Kashmir. 
  • The state government will build Maharashtra Bhawan in Budgam, central Kashmir, located in Srinagar. For this, a piece of land of 2.5 acres has been identified in Ichgam near Srinagar Airport. 
  • Maharashtra Bhawan will provide accommodation and other facilities to tourists and state officials visiting Jammu and Kashmir. This will be the first state building of any state in the valley. 
  • In June last year, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde visited Jammu and Kashmir. During this he met Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha. After this the process of purchasing land for Maharashtra Bhavan started. 
  • Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Ajit Pawar said during the budget speech that the state government will construct two Maharashtra Bhawans for tourists and devotees. One of these will be built in Srinagar while the other will be built in Ayodhya. Maharashtra government has earmarked Rs 77 crore for the construction of these two state buildings. 
  • The Modi government at the Center, in its second term, had abolished Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August 2019. Also, the state was divided into two parts, Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh. 
  • The Union Home Ministry had issued a notification in October 2020. It was said that any Indian citizen can leave the agricultural land in Jammu and Kashmir and buy another land. 
  • According to the Centre's data, 185 outsiders bought land in Jammu and Kashmir during 2020-22. 

8. India’s 1st Battery Energy storage GigaFactory to be launched in J&K 

  • GoodEnough Energy will start operations at India’s first battery energy storage gigafactory in the northern region of Jammu and Kashmir by October. 
  • The facility will help industry in cutting more than 5 million tons of carbon emissions in a year. 
  • GoodEnough has already spent 1.5 billion rupees ($18.07 million) on the 7 gigawatts per hour (GWH) facility and will spend 3 billion rupees by 2027 to raise capacity to 20 GWH. 
  • Battery energy storage projects are critical to India’s ambitious plan to expand its renewable energy capacity to 500 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, from 178 GW at present. 
  • India has set a 2070 goal for becoming net zero. 

9. Uttar Pradesh Police Force launches ‘Trinetra App 2.0’ 

  • In March 2024, Uttar Pradesh Police has launched the state-of-the-art digital platform Trinetra App 2.0 to help in investigation and crack down on criminals. Trinetra App 2.0 has been designed to help in crime prevention and investigation in the state. 
  • With over 9.32 lakh criminal records being digitized in the Trinetra database, frontline officers will now have the ability to rapidly identify suspects during security checks. Uttar Pradesh DGP Prashant Kumar along with ADG Law and Order Amitabh Yash launched Trinetra App 2.0 at DGP Headquarters. 
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions company Stack Technologies has launched AI powered Crime GPT Trinetra 2.0. This tool works in collaboration with the UP government and the Special Task Force. 
  • It is noteworthy that Stack was the first Indian startup, which had earlier created a database of more than 9 lakh criminals in collaboration with UP Police. 
  • Trinetra App 2.0 provides seamless access through Android and iOS mobile applications. Police personnel can input and access comprehensive crime-related information, including: crime history, FIR details, interrogation reports, audio recordings, etc. 
  • The app empowers law enforcement with facial recognition capabilities, enabling quick identification of suspects based on photographic data. 
  • The Crime GPT feature enables quick access to comprehensive information about criminals and criminal activities, streamlining investigation processes. Trinetra 2.0 also facilitates inclusion of seizure details and related documentation, allowing in-depth analysis through the Crime GPT feature. 

Defence News 

10. BEML conducts test-firing of indigenous 1,500 HP engine for main battle tanks. 

  • The maiden test-firing of India's first indigenously made 1,500 horsepower (HP) engine for Main Battle Tanks was successfully conducted at Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) engine division in Mysore complex on Wednesday in the presence of Union Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane. 
  • "The 1,500 HP engine represents a paradigm shift in military propulsion systems, possessing cutting edge features such as high power-to-weight ratio, operability in extreme conditions including high alti "Equipped with advanced technologies, the engine stands on par with the most advanced engines globally." 
  • Inaugurating the test cell, the Defence Secretary described the achievement as a transformative moment which will enhance the capabilities of the armed forces. Elaborating on the developmental cycle, the Ministry said that the project, initiated in August 2020, has been meticulously structured into five major milestones, ensuring timely completion and adherence standards. to quality tudes, sub-zero temperatures, and desert environments," the Defence Ministry 

Ranks & Reports News 

11. Fintech company Perfios became India's second unicorn startup of this year 

  • Bengaluru-based fintech firm Perfios has raised $80 million from Teachers Venture Growth at a valuation of over $1 billion, joining the ranks of unicorn startups. 
  • To boost the broader ecosystem, Perfios is the second startup to achieve unicorn status this year after Bhavish Aggarwal's AI venture Crutrim. The software-asa-service startup will also invest in a technology stack to manage customer services across banking, insurance and embedded commerce. 
  • The latest funding is an extension of its previous investment round launched in September 2023, in which it had raised $229 million from private equity firm Kedaraa Capital through a mix of primary fundraise and secondary sale. 
  • Based in Bengaluru, Parfios serves the banking, financial services and insurance sectors in 18 countries. The company's technology-driven software products and platforms help its BFSI customers simplify and enhance various processes such as underwriting, monitoring and onboarding. 
  • The startup was founded in 2008. Bessemer Venture Partners joined the company's cap table during a Series A round in 2017, while Warburg Pincus invested in the company in 2019 during a Series B funding. 

12. Finland became the happiest country in the world for the seventh consecutive year in the World Happiness Report-24 

  • In the United Nations sponsored annual 'World Happiness Report' released on 20 March 2024, 'Finland' has been considered the happiest country in the world. In this United Nations report, Finland has become the happiest country in the world for the seventh consecutive year. 
  • Other Nordic countries like Denmark, Iceland and Sweden also ranked in the top 10 happiest countries. At the bottom of the list is Afghanistan, which is facing a humanitarian crisis since the Taliban took control in 2020. 
  • Like last year, India is at 126th position in the happiness index. Factors such as marital status, social engagement and physical health also influence life satisfaction among older Indians. 
  • The United States and Germany dropped out of the top 20 happiest countries for the first time and ranked 23rd and 24th, respectively. Costa Rica and Kuwait entered the top 20 at 12th and 13th. 
  • The report outlines a shift in which the happiest countries no longer include any of the world's most populous countries. Only the Netherlands and Australia, both with populations of more than 15 million, are present in the top 10, while Canada and the UK, with populations of more than 30 million, are in the top 20. 

World Happiness Report-24 

  • The sharpest declines in happiness since 2006-10 were seen in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Jordan. The largest increases in happiness were recorded in the Eastern European countries Serbia, Bulgaria and Latvia. 
  • In North America, Australia and New Zealand, the well-being of people aged under 30 has declined since 2006–10. The elderly generation here is now happier than the youth. 
  • People of all ages in Western Europe reported similar levels of happiness. Happiness inequality has increased in every region except Europe, which the report called a "worrying trend". The latest report is the first to present separate rankings based on age categories. 
  • The World Happiness Report is an annual survey conducted by the United Nations. It ranks countries based on factors such as life satisfaction, GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity and corruption. 

13. World Meteorological Organization released Annual Climate Situation Report-23 

  • The World Meteorological Organization's annual 'State of the Climate' report showed that in 2023, the average global nearsurface temperature was 1.45 ± 0.12 degrees Celsius higher than the average temperature recorded between 1850 and 1900. 
  • This is the hottest year on record in the last 174 years. Globally, every month from June to December was record warm for the respective month. September 2023 was particularly notable, beating the previous global record for September by a large margin (0.46 to 0.54 °C). 
  • For India, 2023 was the second hottest year recorded in the country since 1901. Glaciers around the world have experienced their greatest loss of ice since the 1950s, primarily due to severe melting in western North America and Europe. 
  • In 2022, levels of the three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – are set to reach new heights. 
  • According to the integrated analysis of the data, ocean heat content is set to reach its highest level in 2023. Sea levels are rising due to the warming of the oceans and melting of glaciers and ice sheets. The rate of sea level rise over the past decade (2014–2023) was more than double the rate of the first decade of satellite measurements (1993–2002). 

Key facts 

  • Severe weather and climate events have had significant impacts on populated areas around the world, causing major floods, tropical cyclones, extreme heat, drought and associated wildfires. 
  • Tropical Cyclone Freddy caused major damage in Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi in February and March, and was one of the longest-lived tropical cyclones in the world. 
  • Tropical Cyclone Mocha in May was one of the most intense cyclones ever seen in the Bay of Bengal and caused the displacement of 1.7 million and severe food insecurity in the region from Sri Lanka to Myanmar and across India and Bangladesh. 
  • Canada's wildfire season was the worst on record. The total area burned nationally during the year was 14.9 million hectares, seven times the longterm average. 
  • The Greater Horn of Africa region, which has been experiencing prolonged drought, faced severe flooding in 2023, especially towards the end of the year. 1.8 million people were displaced in Ethiopia, Burundi, South Sudan, Tanzania due to floods. Climate-related finance flows worldwide reached approximately US$1.3 trillion in 2021/2022, almost double the level in 2019/2020. 

14. Consumption unequal, not as weak 

  • India's investment upturn is being led by private real estate outlays rather than public capex, while consumption growth, which has been weak, may be revised upwards in the forthcoming official GDP numbers, HSBC's research unit noted in a report on Wednesday, questioning the "dominant narrative" about the economy's growth drivers. 
  • While conceding that consumption growth is not equitable, with "top-of-the-pyramid" household spends rising faster than those at the bottom of for pyramid, HSBC Global Research's chief economist for India and Indonesia Pranjul Bhandari, asserted there were several reasons to believe consumption growth was not as slow as the national income estimates suggested. "Consumer goods imports, personal services, and non-housing personal loans have been rising quickly. We believe the private consumption data will be revised up in subsequent GDP revisions," she wrote. However, even consumer staples were weak and a broad revival in private investments remained elusive, the lender's research arm indicated. 
  • Stressing that the narrative of robust GDP being driven by public investment and early signs that private sector was opting to invest rather than consume, did not pass 'the smell test', Ms. Bhandari said higher consumption needed to kick in to spur confidence to invest. "In the French revolution parlance, is it true that the Indian economy is eating cake while not being able to afford bread," she asked. 
  • Despite the government ramping up capex, public sector firms were cutting back investments, leaving the overall public investment ratio below pre-pandemic levels, Ms. Bhandari said. "Instead, it is private investment that has risen, led by 'dwellings and structures'. This chimes well with the rise in house sales and housing loan growth.” 

Science & Technology News 

15. Vikram Sarabhai Space Center developed ‘SAKHI’ app for Gaganyaan crew 

  • Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC), an Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) facility at Thumba in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, has developed a multipurpose app ‘SAKHI’. 
  • The Space-Borne Assistant and Crew Interaction (SAKHI) Knowledge Hub will, among other things, monitor astronauts' health, help them stay connected to Earth and even alert them about their diet schedule. 
  • The space facility has successfully tested an engineering model of a custom-built, hand-held smart device featuring SAKHI. 
  • It is an indispensable assistant for the crew, providing instant access to digital platforms at all times while strapped to their space suits. Additionally, astronauts can use the app to maintain logs on missions in multiple formats, including voice records, text, and images. 
  • Gaganyaan Mission is India's ongoing project to send a 3-day manned mission to 400 km low Earth orbit (LEO) with a crew of 3 and return them safely to Earth. 
  • The first manned space flight is expected to take place in 2024. The success of the Gaganyaan mission will put India in an elite group of countries (US, Russia and China) with human space flight capability. 

16. India to host World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly 2024

  • Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnav launched the curtain raiser of the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly 2024 (WTSA 2024) and India Mobile Congress (IMC 2024). 
  • The prestigious WTSA event of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will be held in New Delhi from 15-24 October 2024.
  • Before this, the Global Standards Symposium (GSS 2024) on 14 October 2024 and the eighth edition of Asia's premier digital technology exhibition, IMC 2024 will be held at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi from 15-19 October 2024. 
  • WTSA 2024 is expected to attract over two thousand technology developers, industry leaders, academics and policy makers from 193 member countries as well as over 900 associate/sector members of ITU. 
  • It sets the telecommunications/ICT sector standardization agenda for the next four years at ITU. WTSA also composes ITU-S study groups (SGs) of standardization. India's participation in shaping the global agenda in emerging technologies like 6G, IoT, SATCOM, Quantum and AI is important. 

WTSA 2024 

  • The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is a specialized agency of the United Nations for telecommunications/ICT.
  • ITU's Telecommunications Standardization Bureau (TSB) convenes the World Telecommunications Standardization Assembly (WTSA) once every four (4) years to plan its standardization program for the next 4 years. 
  • The last WTSA-20 took place in Geneva, Switzerland from 1 to 9 March 2022. 

17. CCI dismisses pleas against Google's new Play Store fee policy 

  • Fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India on Wednesday dismissed four petitions of Indian app companies filed against Google's new Play Store billing policy to levy an 11% to 26% charge on in- app payments. 
  • Indian-origin app firms alleged that Google's Play Store payment policies are anti-competitive. However, the CCI made clear that nothing stated in this order shall be tantamount to a final expression of opinion on the merits of the case, and the Director General will conduct the investigation without being swayed in any manner whatsoever by the observations made herein. 
  • "The commission is of the view that the informants have failed to meet the necessary criteria for grant of interim relief as propounded by the Supreme Court... The informants have not been able to project any higher level of prima facie case warranting a positive direction as sought by the informants at the interim stage," the CCI said in its order. 
  • The complainants were Anupam Mittal's People Interactive India Pvt Ltd., Mebio Labs, the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF), and the Indian Digital Media Industry Foundation (IDMIF). The petitions were asking the regulator to restrain Google from collecting any fee for transactions involving paid downloads or in-app purchases on apps offering digital products/services. 

18. IIT Madras develops customisable ‘Electric Standing Wheelchair’ 

  • IIT Madras has developed an indigenous electric standing wheelchair called ‘NeoStand,’ claimed to be India’s most customizable wheelchair for the benefit of wheelchair users. 
  • The wheelchair was launched at the campus in the presence of Professor V Kamakoti, Director of IIT Madras, faculty, researchers, dignitaries, supporters of this project, and users of these rehabilitative devices. 
  • The NeoStand is a compact standing wheelchair equipped with navigation for its motorized standing mechanism. Users can easily switch from sitting to standing at the touch of a button. 
  • Tata Elxsi sponsored the journey of NeoStand under its corporate social responsibility initiative. The development and design were spearheaded by the TTK Center for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development (R2D2) at IIT Madras and NeoMotion, which took the lead in bringing this product to the marketplace. 

IITs in News 

  • Indian Navy & IIT Kharagpur signed a MoU to drive innovation through research partnership 
  • Max India’s subsidiary partners with IIT Delhi for senior citizen care 
  • MoRD partners with IIT Delhi to work collaboratively in Geospatial Technology and Artificial Intelligence 
  • NICDC joined hands with IIT Delhi to enhance development of greenfield smart cities 
  • AFMS signed MoU with IIT Roorkee to foster research in improving combat medical support & patient care of serving personnel 

19. Yes Bank partners with Indian Olympic Association for Paris Olympics 

  • Yes Bank has formed a strategic partnership with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to become the official banking partner for Team India at the Paris Olympics 2024. This collaboration aims to provide comprehensive support to India's Olympic athletes and their families. 
  • Yes Bank has launched 'Milkar Jitayenge' campaign to showcase unity and determination to achieve victory. This campaign embodies the spirit of collaboration between Yes Bank and the Indian Olympic Association to support Team India in its quest for success at the Paris Olympics. 
  • Yes Bank unveils 'Yes Glory Debit Card', specially designed for India's Olympic athletes. The Yes Glory Debit Card offers tailored benefits to athletes including advanced privileges and recognition. 
  • Yes Bank launches 'Yes Glory' savings account proposition, catering to the unique needs of champion athletes. Athletes and their family members enjoy a range of benefits and perks from the Yes Glory account. 
  • These benefits include a complimentary welcome on-board Taj voucher, free orthopaedic consultation and zero crosscurrency mark-up on international spends. 
  • Additionally, athletes will receive complimentary medical insurance coverage and access to an exclusive Yes Glory Gold Debit Card. This limited-edition card is designed specifically for athletes, offering enhanced privileges and recognition. In addition, athletes can enjoy free access to the international lounge. 

Banking News 

20. Airtel PB partners with Noise and Mastercard to unveil ‘A New Way To Pay’ 

  • Airtel Payments Bank has partnered with Noise, India’s premier wristwatch brand, and Mastercard, a worldwide payments technology business, to launch A New Way to Pay. 
  • The institutions have collaborated to create the Bank’s Airtel Payments Bank Smart Watch, which aims to revolutionise contactless payments by redefining and making them more accessible to a wider user base. 
  • These smartwatches, built by Noise and powered by Airtel Payments Bank, will improve Tap and Pay capabilities and the user experience by introducing the convenience of contactless payments via smart wearables. 
  • The new smartwatch is now available for purchase for INR 2,999. 
  • Customers with an Airtel Payments Bank savings account can purchase this smartwatch using the Airtel Thanks App. The Airtel Payments Bank Smart Watch allows customers to make daily payments ranging from INR 1 to INR 25,000. 

21. Recent Facilities Launched in Banking & Insurance Sector 

  • IndusInd Bank introduced Indus PayWear, a new wearable payment solution, available on Mastercard. 
  • Bank of Baroda launched BoB Earth Green Term Deposit Scheme with 7.15% interest 
  • Karnataka Vikas Grameena Bank launched a new loan scheme called ‘Vikas Spoorty’ 
  • Future Generali India Insurance launched a women’s health insurance plan “HEALTH POWHER” 
  • Kotak Life Insurance launched a non-linked participating product Kotak G.A.I.N Appointment 

22. Kumar Venkatasubramanian appoints as CEO of P&G India 

  • Leading FMCG maker P&G India has appointed Kumar Venkatasubramanian as CEO of the company, with effect from 1 May 2024. 
  • The current CEO, L V Vaidyanathan will leave the company to pursue personal interests after 28 years of service. 
  • Kumar is currently leading the P&G business in Australia and New Zealand as CEO.
  • Before the Australia role, Kumar was leading sales team in P&G India until 2020. 

Recent Appointment 

  • Governor of Telangana and LG of Puducherry – C. P. Radhakrishnan (additional charge) 
  • Government spokesperson –Sheyphali Sharan (replace Manish Desai) 
  • Director General of All India Radio (AIR) – Maushami Chakraborty (replace Vasudha Gupta) 
  • National PwD icon by EC – Para Archer Sheetal Devi 
  • Chairman of Prasar Bharati – Navneet Kumar Sehgal (replace A Surya Prakash) 
  • Chairman of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) – Rahul Singh (replace Nidhi Chiber) 

23. Vinay Kumar appointed Indian Ambassador to Russia 

  • Vinay Kumar, an Indian Foreign Service officer of the 1992 batch, has been named as the next Ambassador of India to Russia. 
  • Kumar currently holds the position of Ambassador of India to Myanmar. 
  • Russia, where elections were held recently, has been a longstanding partner of India, with diplomatic ties between the two countries serving as a cornerstone of India’s foreign policy. 

About Russia 

  • Capital – Moscow 
  • Currency – Rubel 
  • President – Vladimir Putin 

24. Kiren Rijiju gets additional charge after Pashupati Kumar Paras resigns from Union cabinet 

  • Union Minister Kiren Rijiju was given additional charge of Ministry of Food and Processing Industries following the resignation of Pashupati Kumar Paras from the Union Council of ministers. 
  • The minister accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of doing “injustice” with his Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party (RLJP) by excluding it from the seat-sharing deal with allies for the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar. 
  • Pashupati Kumar resigned after the BJP-led NDA announced its seat-sharing pact and gave five seats to the Chirag Paswan-led LJP (Ram Vilas), ignoring his faction’s claims. 
  • Pashupati Kumar joined the Cabinet as minister of food processing industries in July 2021 after a mid-term reshuffle of the Cabinet. 

25. Prabowo Subianto elected as new President of Indonesia 

  • Indonesia’s Prabowo Subianto has been elected as president of the world’s third-biggest democracy. 
  • Defence Minister Prabowo and his vice-presidential running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka received more than 96 million votes, commission chairman Hasyim Asy’ari said, roughly 58.6 percent of the total count and enough to secure a first-round majority. 
  • Anies Baswedan secured nearly 41 million votes, or 24.9 percent of the total count, while Ganjar Pranowo received 27 million votes, more than 16 percent. 
  • Prabowo, 72, was widely predicted to win the presidency on his third attempt. He will take over the presidency in October after a transition period. 

About Indonesia 

  • Capital – Jakarta 
  • Currency – Rupiah 
  • Official language – Indonesian 
  • President – Prabowo Subianto 

Newly Appointed Prime Minister & President 

  • PM of Palestinian – Mohammad Mustafa 
  • President of Pakistan – Asif Ali Zardari (14th) 
  • Prime Minister of Pakistan – Shehbaz Sharif (2nd term) 
  • President of Finland – Alexander Stubb 

26.Mustafa Suleyman is Al chief of Microsoft 

  • Microsoft has hired Mustafa Suleyman to head up its consumer artificial intelligence business, adding to its ranks an influential figure in the artificial intelligence world to cement its position at the forefront of the booming Al industry. 
  • Mr. Suleyman said in a post on Linkedin on Mon day that he'll become CEO of Microsoft Al, leading all of the company's consumer Al products and re search, including its generative At service Copilot as well as its Bing search engine and Edge browser. 
  • The hiring is likely to bolster Microsoft's lead position in the booming Al in 0the industry, as big tech companies battle for position to capitalize on demand for Al services, Microsoft has teamed up with ChatGPT maker OpenAl, investing billions of dollars into the San Francisco company, and recently partnered with France's Mistral. 
  • Prime Minister of Kazakhstan – Olzhas Bektenov 

27. Moushumi Chakraborty appointed Director General of All India Radio 

  • According to the information given by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Moushumi Chakraborty will replace Vasudha Gupta, the ministry issued the notification of her appointment on 16 March 2024. Moushumi Chakraborty is a 1991 batch Indian Information Service officer. 
  • Senior IIS officer Shefali B Sharan has been appointed as the new spokesperson of the government. Shefali B Sharan, a 1990-batch officer, will take over as Principal Director General of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) after the retirement of Manish Desai on March 31. 
  • The unprecedented growth achieved by All India Radio has made it one of the largest media organizations in the world. With a network of 262 radio stations, All India Radio today reaches almost the entire population and 92% of the total area of the country. 
  • AIR currently broadcasts in 23 languages and 146 dialects, catering to the needs of a socioeconomically and culturally diverse population. The Foreign Service Division's programs are broadcast in over 100 countries in 11 Indian and 16 foreign languages. 

All India Radio 

  • In India, the Radio Club of Bombay made the first broadcast in the country in June 1923. Indian Broadcasting Company (IBC) came into existence on July 23, 1927. In April 1930, the Indian Broadcasting Service, working under the Department of Industries and Labour, began operations on an experimental basis. 
  • In September 1935, Akashvani, a private radio station, was established in Mysore. On June 8, 1936, the Indian State Broadcasting Service was transformed into All India Radio. 
  • The Central News Organization (CNO) came into existence in August, 1937. In the same year, All India Radio came under the Department of Communications. After four years it came under the Information and Broadcasting Department. 
  • When India gained independence, there were six radio stations in India in Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Tiruchirappalli and Lucknow. At that time the coverage of All India Radio was only 2.5% area and 11% population. 

Important day 

28. 20 March – World Oral Health Day 

  • World Oral Health Day is celebrated every year on March 20. 
  • Objective – To spread awareness around oral health and its intricate link with your overall health. 
  • Theme 2024 – A Happy Mouth is A Happy Body 
  • World Oral Health Day was first celebrated September 12, 2007, on the birthday of FDI founder Dr Charles Godon. It was organised by the FDI World Dental Federation to raise global awareness around importance of oral health and hygiene. 
  • However, in 2013, the FDI decided to move the date to March 20 in order to avoid conflict with other events and to align with the international calendar. For the past decade, the day is being celebrated on March 20 to promote oral health education, prevention, and advocacy worldwide. 

29. 21 March – World Forestry Day 

  • World Forestry Day, also known as International Day of Forests, is celebrated on March 21 each year. 
  • The day aims to promote the sustainable management, conservation, and development of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations. 
  • Theme 2024 – Forests and innovation: new solutions for a better world. 
  • It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 to raise awareness about the importance of forests and trees. 

30. 21 March – World Poetry Day 

  • World Poetry Day is celebrated on every year on 21 March. 
  • This day is dedicated to poetry and the celebration of literature in all forms. 
  • It is a time to recognize the importance of poetry in society and to promote its usage as a means of expression and communication. 
  • Theme 2024 – Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

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