Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 27th March 2024


International News 

1. Luis Montenegro has been named the new Prime Minister of Portugal. 

  • Portugal's president has named Luis Montenegro, the head of the center-right Democratic Alliance (AD), as the country's new prime minister and invited him to form a minority government after eight years of socialist rule. 
  • The long-awaited results of the March 10 elections were published after votes from abroad were counted, and AD won 80 seats in the 230-member parliament, while the Socialist Party and the far-right Chega Party took 78 and 50 seats respectively. 
  • The 51-year-old lawyer and longtime lawmaker will replace Antonio Costa of the Socialist Party of Montenegro, who had been in office since 2015 and was forced to resign in November following corruption allegations. 
  • Far-right party Chega emerged as a political force after quadrupling its parliamentary representation – the first time a far-right party achieved 50 seats since the fall of the fascist dictatorship 50 years ago. 
  • Montenegro said it would present its cabinet of ministers to Rebelo de Sousa and the government would be sworn in on 2 April 2024. 
  • The AD coalition campaigned last year on a promise to boost Portugal's economy by cutting taxes after rising inflation and the cost of living. The country's economic growth slowed from 6.8 percent in 2022 to 2.3 percent in 2023. 
  • The party also promised to improve shaky public health services and issues in the education sector, where teachers and school staff have taken strike action over salaries. 

2.Sensing threat from China, India joins the race to mine sea patch 

  • Earlier this month, India applied to the International Seabed Authority (ISBA), Jamaica, for rights to explore two vast tracts in the Indian Ocean seabed that are not part of its jurisdiction. The application to explore one of these regions, a cobalt-rich crust long known as the Afanasy Nikitin Seamount (AN Seamount), is a gambit by India. 
  • Rights to the region have already been claimed by Sri Lanka under a separate set of laws, The Hindu has learnt, but India's application is part-motivated by reports of Chinese vessels undertaking reconnaissance in the same region, a highly placed official, who declined to be identified, confirmed to The Hindu. 
  • The AN Seamount is a structural feature (400 km-long and 150 km-wide) in the Central Indian Basin, located about 3,000 km off India's coast. 
  • From an oceanic depth of about 4,800 km, it rises to about 1,200 meters and is rich in deposits of cobalt, nickel, manganese, and copper. 

3.India supports Philippines' sovereignty, says Jaishankar; sparks Beijing response

  • India supports the Philippines's sovereignty, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said in Manila, in comments that sparked a response from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which called on "third countries" not to "Interfere". 
  • Mr. Jaishankar's visit to Manila on Tuesday, where he met Philippines President Bongbong Marcos and Foreign Minister Enrique Manalo, is part of a three-nation five-day tour to Singapore, the Philippines, and Malaysia. 
  • "I take this opportunity to firmly reiterate India's support to the Philippines for upholding its national sovereignty," said Mr. Jaish ankar, reading his opening statement to the media during a joint press conference after talks with Mr. Manalo. 
  • He said that the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) was the "the constitution of the seas" and all parties "must adhere to it in its entirety, both in letter and in spirit' ', in comments seen as aimed at China, whose Navy and Coast Guard have been frequently accused of violating sove. reign waters of other countries and claiming islands. China's actions have drawn protest from many Asian neighbors, including the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia in the South China Sea (SCS) region. 
  • The External Affairs Minister also visited the Indian Coast Guard pollution-control ship ICGS Samudra Pa heredar on Tuesday, which is on a port call in Manila until Thursday, and hailed maritime cooperation between the two countries. In a speech he gave on board the Indian ship docked at Manila's South Harbour, Mr. Jaishankar said that the ship's visit was "significant" because it highlighted "shared challenges" that India and Philippines face on oceanic pollution, illegal fishing, and protecting the environment in the region. He also underlined the need for "like-minded countries" in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance cooperation. 
  • Mr. Jaishankar's Manila visit came as tensions between the Philippines and Chinese navies rose to new levels over aggressive maritime moves by the Chinese Coast Guard against a Filipino ship meant to carry supplies to their troops aboard the BRP Sierra Madre ship in the Spratly Islands. On Monday, the Philippines Ministry of Foreign Affairs had summoned the Chinese envoy to protest the actions, including the Chinese Coast Guard ship's physical blocking of the Philippines ship, firing it with a water cannon that injured three of its soldiers. The Chinese Coast Guard, meanwhile, claimed that it was legitimately guarding "Chinese waters" from the "foreign vessel". 
  • Reacting sharply to Mr. Jaishankar's comments in Manila within hours, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on india and the Philippines to "respect China's territorial sovereignty". 
  • "Maritime disputes are issues between countries concerned. Third parties have no right to interfere whatsoever, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lin Jlan said. "We urge relevant parties to squarely face the facts and truth on the South China Sea issue, and respect China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and the efforts of regional countries to keep the South China Sea peaceful and stable," he added. 
  • India's External Affairs Ministry did not respond to requests for a response to the Chinese MFA's remarks. Apart from the current controversy, Beijing is understood to be watching India's sale of Brahmos missiles to the Philippines very closely, deliveries for which are expected to begin shortly. 
  • Deepening ties During talks with Mr. Manalo, Mr. Jaishankar said he discussed other areas of growing cooperation between the two countries, including trade and capacity building in digital infrastructure. They also spoke on issues concerning the Indo-Pacific, Myanmar, the Ukraine war, and cooperation in common for such as the UN and Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). He said he had briefed the Philippines Minister on Indian naval deployment in the Red Sea to counter threats from Houthi militia and piracy. He also highlighted rescue operations, including those where Indian naval personnel have helped Philippines nationals on board ships in distress, including the MV True Confidence and MV Lila Norfolk. 

State News 

4.Activist ends hunger strike demanding Statehood for Ladakh 

  • Climate activist Sonam Wangchuk on Tuesday ended his 21-day-long hunger strike in support of the demand for Statehood for Ladakh and its inclusion in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. He urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to "prove themselves as statesmen". 
  • "It was for 21 days. From tomorrow, women's groups will start their fast and will be followed by youth, then monks and so on," Mr. Wangchuk told The Hindu.
  • Hours ahead of calling off the fast, Mr. Wangchuk urged the leadership of the country to "deliver on their promises". 
  • "We need statesmen of integrity, farsightedness and wisdom and not just shortsighted characterless politicians. And I very much hope that PM Modi and Mr. Shah will soon prove that they are statesmen," Mr. Wangchuk said. He o reminded Mr. Modi of the promises the BJP made to the people of Ladakh. "PM Modi is a devotee of Lord Ram. He should follow his teaching of 'pran jaye par vachan na jaye' (one may lose their life, but must not break their promise)," he said. 
  • Mr. Wangchuk urged voters to "use their ballot power very carefully this time in the interest of the nation". 
  • "Citizens are the kingmakers. We can compel a government to change their ways or change the government if that doesn't work," he said. 

5. ‘Dol Jatra Festival’ celebrated in West Bengal 

  • According to the Bengali calendar, Dol Jatra, also known as Dol Purnima, is the last festival of the year. People embrace the spring season with open arms and celebrate this festival. 
  • Although Dol and Holi are the same festival, they are based on different Hindu mythological stories. While Bengali Dol focuses on Krishna and Radha, Holi is based on the story of Prahlad, the North Indian incarnation of Vishnu. 
  • In Vrindavan, Dola begins after the full moon night of the Bengali calendar month Phalgun. Dol Purnima, a Hindu swing festival, celebrates Radha and Krishna on the full moon night of Phalgun. 
  • Legend has it that it was on this day that Krishna first showed Radha how much he loved her by throwing "Phaag", a gulal-like powder color, on her face while she was playing on the swing with her "friends". 
  • It is celebrated during the Holi festival in the states of Bengal, Rajasthan, Assam, Tripura, Braj and Gujarat. This festival honors the divine couple, Radha and Krishna. Mostly celebrated by Gopal community. 
  • The event is celebrated in the Assamese region, especially in Barpeta Satra, by singing songs like "Faku Khele Korunamoy" by the 16th century Assamese poet Madhavdev. 

‘Ghoomar’ Holi of Bihar .

  • 'Ghoomar' Holi is played in Bangaon of Saharsa district in Bihar. In this ‘Ghoomar’ Holi, people celebrate with great pomp and show by riding on each other's shoulders. ‘Ghoomar’ Holi of Bangaon is as famous as Lathmar Holi of Braj. 
  • People from the entire village first gather near Lalit Bungalow situated in the village. After this everyone reaches Bhagwati courtyard and enjoys Holi. 
  • According to belief, the practice of this Holi has been going on in Bangaon since the time of Lord Shri Krishna. In the 18th century, the famous saint Baba named Laxmikant Gosai started celebrating this Holi. 

6. CPCRI, Karnataka launches new dwarf variety of coconut 'Kalpa Suvarna' 

  • Union Minister of State for Agriculture, Shobha Karandlaje released a new dwarf coconut variety named ‘Kalpa Suvarna’ developed by Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI) and two new hybrid varieties of cocoa VTL CH I and VTL CH II. According to K Balachandra Hebbar, Director of CPCRI, the 'Kalpa Suvarna' variety is ideal for tender coconut and copra production. 
  • This variety starts flowering 30-36 months after planting. Its fruits are large in size, oblong and green in color. The water content of its soft nut is 431 ml and the copra content is about 186 grams and the oil content is 64.5%. 
  • Under good management this variety produces 108 to 130 nuts per tree per year. It has been recommended for cultivation in Karnataka and Kerala. 
  • VTL CH I is high yielding and can be cultivated as intercrop in both arecanut and coconut plantations. It is suitable for the traditional Karnataka and Kerala belts and also for Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. 
  • VTL CH II is also high yielding. It is tolerant to black pod rot which is more prevalent in areas with high rainfall. It is suitable for Karnataka and Kerala. It will also be released for Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. The yield of both varieties is 1.5 kg to 2.5 kg dry beans per tree per year. 

Defence News 

7. Garuda Aerospace unveils border patrol surveillance drone Trishul 

  • Drone manufacturer Garuda Aerospace has launched border patrol surveillance drone, 'Trishul'. Garuda Aerospace Company gave information in this regard on 22 March 2024. Border Patrol surveillance drone Trishul can be used to monitor the movement of people, monitor natural disasters and assess traffic. 
  • According to Garuda Aerospace, the border patrol surveillance drone, Trishul, has been fitted with state-of-the-art equipment. Drone manufacturer Garuda Aerospace has so far trained more than 500 rural women on drone technology. 
  • So far, 446 drones have been distributed to women self-help groups in 20 states. It has played a major role in the economic empowerment of women through initiatives like 'NaMo Drone Didi Scheme' launched by PM Modi. 
  • NaMo Drone Didi Scheme aims to provide drones to 15,000 selected women SHGs to provide rental services to farmers for agricultural purposes. 

Garuda Aerospace 

  • Garuda Aerospace Private Limited is a drone startup company based in Chennai. It was founded in 2015 by young entrepreneur and Asian gold medalist swimmer Agnishwar Jayaprakash. 
  • Garuda has received approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India. 
  • Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni serves as its brand ambassador and shareholder. Garuda Aerospace was also the official drone partner of IPL team Chennai Super Kings for the year 2023. 

Schemes & Committees News 

8. Federal Bank in partnership with NPCI launches ‘Flash Pay’ for contactless payments 

  • In a strategic collaboration with National Payments Corporation of India NPCI), Federal Bank has introduced ‘Flash Pay’, a revolutionary RuPay smart key chain facilitating contactless NCMC (National Common Mobility Card) payments. 
  • This innovative solution enables users to tap and pay at metro stations and POS terminals, ensuring instant transactions with enhanced security. 
  • Users can easily make payments up to ₹5,000 without the need for a PIN, streamlining the payment process at various locations. For transactions above ₹5,000, PIN authentication is mandatory, ensuring enhanced security for high value purchases. 
  • A daily limit of ₹1 lakh has been established at any POS terminal, providing flexibility to users while ensuring prudent financial management. By eliminating the need for physical cards or cash, ‘Flash Pay’ increases convenience for users and speeds up transactions. 
  • Through the 'Flash Pay' device, users can make payments to millions of merchants with built-in security features like tokenization and encryption to ensure that transactions are secure. 

Award News 

9. French mathematician Michel Talagrand will be honored with the 'Abel Prize' 

  • The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has chosen Michel Talagrand, a French mathematician who says mathematics "gives you wings", for the Abel Prize. 72-yearold Mitchell has been chosen for his study of random events under probability theory. Mr Tallagrand, now retired, is the fifth Frenchman to win the award since its establishment in 2003. 
  • He spent a decade studying functional analysis before turning to probability, where he worked on understanding the Gaussian distribution or "bell curve". 
  • Abel Prize said that the weight of babies at birth, the test results students get in school and the age at which athletes retire are seemingly random events following a Gaussian distribution. 
  • In 1974, he was recruited by the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) before obtaining his PhD at Pierre and Marie Curie University. 
  • The prize, named after Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel, was created by the government of Norway, partly to compensate for the lack of a Nobel Prize for mathematics. The winner is chosen by a committee of five internationally recognized mathematicians and receives a check for 7.5 million kroner (£858,941). 
  • The award will be presented by King Harald V of Norway at a ceremony in Oslo on 21 May 2024. 

10. IndiGo named 'Airline of the Year' at Air Transport Awards 2024 

  • Budget airline IndiGo has been named 'Airline of the Year' at the Air Transport Awards 2024 held in Athens, Greece. IndiGo recently became India's first carrier to operate 2,000 daily flights and carry 100 million passengers in a year. 
  • Accepting the award, IndiGo CEO Peter Albers said, "The world is powered by our simple and successful philosophy: offer affordable fares, on-time flights, and deliver a courteous and hasslefree travel experience on our unrivaled network." 
  • The 2024 Air Transport Awards was organized in partnership with Hermes – Air Transport Organization and ATN – Air Transport News to recognize the contributions made to the aviation sector. 
  • Established in 2005, IndiGo is India's largest airline in terms of market share and operates a fleet of over 350 aircraft. The airline is currently operating around 2000 daily flights and connecting to over 85 domestic destinations and over 30 international destinations. 

Other awards 

  • Individual Award: Serkan Captain, TAV Airports 
  • Corporate Award: Bordeaux Airport 
  • Alliance of the Year: SkyTeam 
  • Manufacturer of the Year: Embraer 
  • Airport of the Year: IGA Istanbul Airport 
  • Airline of the Year: IndiGo 
  • Hermes Prize: Henrik Holloway, European Commission 
  • Katrina and George Iatro Lifetime Achievement Award: Nicholas E. Calio, President and CEO, A4A 
  • Leader of the Year: Dr. Eng. David Siccio, CEO, Cluj International Airport 

Science & Technology News 

11. Chris Brown becomes the first person to reach 'Nemo', the most remote point on Earth 

  • Britain's Chris Brown has become the first person in history to reach the inaccessible sea pole Point 'Nemo' in the Pacific Ocean. Point Nemo is located in the southern Pacific Ocean, east of New Zealand. 
  • Point Nemo is a fictional point in the South Pacific Ocean. This coordinate is located at 48°52.6′ south latitude and 123°23.6′ west longitude. 
  • The nearest landmass to the north is Dussey Island, part of the Pitcairn Islands, 2,688 km from Point Nemo. To the northeast of Point Nemo is the island of Motu Nui, part of Easter Island, and to the south is Maher Island, part of Antarctica. 
  • Brown's trip to Point Nemo is part of his larger ambition to visit all eight of Earth's inaccessible poles. Since beginning his quest in 2019, he has conquered five continental poles. 
  • In December 2021, Brown became the first person to reach the African Pole during a daring expedition to the Central African Republic. 
  • Hrvoje Lukatela, a CroatianCanadian survey engineer, calculated the point in the South Pacific Ocean in 1992 using a geospatial computer program. 
  • They named the area Point Nemo after the fictional Captain Nemo, created by author Jules Verne in 1992. Nemo is a Latin word meaning 'no man.' 
  • The concept was first introduced in 1920 by Canadian explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson to distinguish between the North Pole and the most difficult-to-reach location in the Arctic. 

12.DGCA defers deadline for implementing new pilot rest norms 

  • Following pressure from airlines, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday quietly put in abeyance its June 1 deadline for implementing revised duty norms for pilots that provided for enhanced rest. 
  • In the amended Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) uploaded on Tuesday, the DGCA said that airlines may continue to follow the older norms of 2019 till the regulator approves their internal schemes, complying with the revised rules notified on January 1. 
  • It has not defined any timeline within which the rules have to be implemented, in contrast to the earlier version of the same CAR. In that, the DGCA had said unequivocally that the rules will have to be implemented no later than June 1. 
  • Tuesday's move comes as a surprise as the regulator on multiple occasions had said that it would not succumb to "scaremongering" by airlines 
  • The Federation of Indian Airlines wrote to the DGCA in Feb. for postponement of the June 1 deadline. 
  • The Federation of Indian Airlines, representing Air India, IndiGo, and SpiceJet, wrote to the DGCA in February seeking post- ponement of the June 1 deadline on the ground that implementing new norms would require them to hire "15% to 25%" more pilots for which they needed eight to 10 months. Else, there would be cancellation of 15% to 20% flights in the peak summer travel season. 
  • In response, the DGCA reiterated that airlines must prepare to implement the rules from June 1. 
  • The rules provide for weekly rest of 48 hours for pilots instead of 36 hours. 

Books and Authors News

13.From A Car Shed To The Corner Room & Beyond authored by S Raman 

  • A book titled “From A Car Shed To The Corner Room & Beyond “ is written by S Raman. 
  • S Raman, who retired as CMD of Canara Bank, and as a wholetime Member of the board of SEBI, rose to the top, having started his career as a clerk with SBI. 
  • Within two years, he was selected as a direct recruit officer in Bank of India and rose meteorically to be an Executive Director in Union Bank and then as CMD of Canara. He hails from a middle-class Tamil family in Hyderabad. 

Recent Books 

  • The Man Who Lot India – Meghna Pant 
  • Conspiracy to oust me from the Presidency – Gotabaya Rajapaksa 
  • The Gems of Indian Art – Harish Khullar 
  • Doing Business in Uncertain Times – Ramesh Nair 
  • Goa 1961: The complete story of Nationalism and Integration – Valmiki Falero 
  • The Great Flap of 1942: How the Raj Panicked over a Japanese Non-invasion – Mukund Padmanabhan. 

Important day 

14. 26 March – Purple Day of Epilepsy 

  • World Purple Day, also known as Epilepsy Awareness Day is observed every year on 26 March. 
  • This day holds special significance as it aims to raise awareness about epilepsy, a neurological disorder characterised by recurrent seizures. 
  • World Purple Day traces its origins back to 2008 when Cassidy Megan, a young Canadian girl, initiated the idea to increase awareness about epilepsy. 

15. March 27 – World Theatre Day 

  • World Theatre Day is celebrated every year on March 27 to honour the art of theatre. 
  • Objective – To raise awareness about the role of theatre in our lives, and to promote its growth. 
  • The history of World Theatre Day dates back to 1962, when the first World Theatre Day was celebrated. 

Ranks & Reports News 

16. According to the report of Hurun Research Institute, Mumbai becomes the billionaire capital of Asia. 

  • In a historic turnaround, Mumbai has overtaken Beijing as Asia's billionaire capital, according to the latest report by Shanghai-based Hurun Research Institute. The Indian financial and entertainment capital has 92 billionaires, while the Chinese metropolis has 91 billionaires. Mumbai has secured its place as the third billionaire capital after New York (119) and London (97). The report says that 26 new billionaires will be created in Mumbai in 2024. 
  • Indian capital New Delhi joined the "top-10" list for the first time in ninth place with 57 billionaires, the report said. Hurun said that in 2024, 84 billionaires will be added in India and the total number will become 271. 
  • Leading the list of Indian billionaires was Mukesh Ambani with an estimated net worth of $115 billion, who retains the title of Asia's richest person. India's strong economy, growing at 7.5% in 2023, helped it add 94 billionaires, the country's highest number since 2013. 

Most billionaires 

  • Despite maintaining the top spot with 814 billionaires, China experienced a decline in ultra-rich individuals, with 155 fewer billionaires than in 2022. Struggles in China's real estate and renewable energy sectors, coupled with weak stock markets, contributed to a decline in the number of billionaires. 
  • The US saw significant wealth growth due to advances in artificial intelligence, leading figures like Nvidia's Jensen Huang to join the top 30 billionaires with a net worth of $48 billion. 
  • The Hurun Rich List includes 3,279 individuals from 73 countries, highlighting the global distribution of wealth. American billionaires account for 37% of the list, with the number of billionaires increasing by 5% and total wealth increasing by 9%. The report's rankings are based on individuals' shareholding in listed entities as of January 15. 

17.'Centre's work has emboldened women to report crimes’ 

  • Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani on Tuesday slammed Congress leader Jairam Ramesh over his comments criticizing the Centre's performance on women-related issues. 
  • In a series of posts on X, Ms. Irani cited the achievements of her government and said the Congress leader "glosses over NCRB [National Crime Records Bureau] data, blatantly ignoring the initiatives of the Modi government, which have emboldened women to boldly report crimes". 
  • On Monday, Mr. Ramesh listed the "massive failures" of the Ministry of Women and Child Development in the last 10 years, and said a new era of women's safety, prosperity, and development would begin when a Congress government "takes charge in June". He claimed that the Modi government's slogans of "nari shakti" remain empty words without real action. 
  • Lashing out at his criticism, Ms. Irani dubbed Jairam Ramesh the "courtier" of the Gandhis. "For far too long, the dynastic rulers masquerading as the rightful heirs of India have plundered its wealth. Even after their downfall, their courtiers continue to distort facts, manipulating figures to undermine the BJP government's efforts for women's welfare.” 

18.Employment scenario in India grim, says ILO report 

  • The share of those with secondary or higher education among the unemployed youth in India has almost doubled from 35.2% in 2000 to 65.7% in 2022, according to the India Employment Report 2024 released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Institute of Human Development (IHD) here on Tuesday. 
  • The report says that -youngsters account for almost 83% of the country's unemployed workforce. Employment and underemployment of the youth increased between 2000 and 2019 but declined during the pandemic years, the Study, released by Chief Economic Adviser V. Anan artha Nageswaran, said, adding that educated youngsters experienced much higher levels of unemployment in the country during the period. The Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR), Worker Population Ratio (WPR) and Unemployment Rate (UR) showed a long-term deterioration between 2000 and 2018, but witnessed an improvement after 2019, the study said. It added that the improvement coincides with periods of economic distress. "This improvement needs to be interpreted cautiously as jobs generated in the slowdown period raise questions about the drivers of these changes," the authors of the report said. 
  • The report said India's job story over the past two decades had seen some paradoxical improvements in labor market indicators, while the basic long-term feature of the employment situation in the country continued to be insufficient growth of the non-farm sectors and the ability of these sectors to absorb workers from agriculture. 

Obituary News 

19.Ramakrishna Mission president dies at 95 

  • Ramakrishna Mission president Swami Smaranananda passed away due to age related ailments on Tuesday night. He was 95.
  • Paying rich tributes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Smaranananda left an indelible mark on countless hearts and minds, and his compassion and wisdom will continue to inspire generations. 
  • Smaranananda became the 16th president of the order in 2017, the Mission said in a statement, "Srimat Swami Smarananandaji Maharaj, most revered President Maharaj of the Ramakrishna Math & Ramakrishna Mission, attained Mahasamadhi today at 8.14 p.m.," it said. 
  • The monk was admitted to Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratishthan on January 29 with an existing urinary tract infection. He later developed respiratory failure for which he was put on ventilator support.

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