Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC -29th February 2024


1. Amit Shah Inaugurates Swaminarayan Institute of Medical Science and Research in Gujarat 

  • Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah, along with Gujarat Chief Minister Shri Bhupendra Patel and other dignitaries, inaugurated the ‘Swaminarayan Institute of Medical Science and Research’ at the Shri Swaminarayan Vishwamangal Gurukul in Kalol, Gandhinagar, Gujarat. 
  • This significant development marks a pivotal moment in the advancement of medical education and healthcare services in the region. 

2. Indian Hockey CEO Elena Norman resigns 

  • Elena Norman, who came to India as a marketing consultant and became the CEO of Hockey India, resigned due to the ongoing court case and internal federation politics. Her 13-year tenure ended controversially. 
  • In the toxic, political and patriarchal world of Indian sports administration, it was an Australian woman who broke stereotypes, challenged the status quo and played an influential role in the revival of a dying sport. 
  • Norman said that it was becoming 'suffocating' for him to continue working at the Federation. Hockey India president and former captain Dilip Tirkey also told the federation's board in an email that Norman stepped down due to 'unpaid salaries and a difficult working environment'. 
  • This comes soon after India women's team head coach Janneke Schopman resigned, claiming she felt disrespected at the federation. 
  • Although Tirkey did not disclose it, Norman told the Press Trust of India that the ongoing power struggle in Indian hockey between president and general secretary Bholanath Singh was one of the reasons for his stepping down. 
  • The timing of his resignation is also interesting as the Delhi High Court is currently hearing a petition filed by former India captain Aslam Sher Khan. The case related to the administrative issues of Hockey India under former chiefs Narinder Batra and Norman and the court had ordered a forensic audit of Hockey India's accounts. The next hearing is to be held in April. 

3. Education Minister launches SWAYAM Plus platform 

  • In alignment with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, the Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has announced the launch of the SWAYAM Plus platform, operated by IIT-Madras. 
  • This initiative aims to provide industry-relevant courses to enhance the employability of learners, including working professionals. 

4. India got 18 medals in the Asian Track Cycling Championship 2024 held in New Delhi.

  • India finished its campaign at the Asian Track Cycling Championships 2024 with a total of 18 medals - 9 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze, which concluded on 26 February 2024. The competition was held from 21 to 26 February 2024 at Indira Gandhi Sports Complex, New Delhi.
  • Malaysia finished on top with 37 medals at the Asian Track Cycling Championships 2024. Whereas Japan got 24 medals and Korea got 23 medals and got second and third place respectively in this competition. 
  • In this, 500 riders from 18 countries competed in New Delhi. It was the 43rd edition of the 'Asian Track Cycling Championships' and also the 30th Junior and 12th Para Asian Track Cycling Championships held simultaneously. 
  • The championship was also the final qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Olympics. India's 20-member junior and para teams performed well. 
  • Of these, eight gold medals and four silver were won by paracyclists. Sarita Kumari, Nia Sebastian, Sabina Kumari and Zaina Mohammed Ali Peerkhan won the gold medal for India in the junior women's team sprint with a timing of 53.383 seconds. 
  • India's top cyclists ended their campaign at the competition without winning any medals. The final day ended with a stellar performance by India's Harshita Jakhar to win a historic bronze medal in the women's junior madison event. 

5. Peru declares dengue health emergency 

  • Peru has declared a health emergency in response to the escalating cases of dengue fever across the nation. 
  • Health Minister Cesar Vasquez announced on Monday that over 31,000 cases of dengue have been reported within the first eight weeks of 2024, resulting in 32 fatalities. The emergency declaration will encompass 20 out of Peru’s 25 regions. 

6. Acharya Lokesh Muni to be Honored as ‘Global Jain Peace Ambassador’

  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is set to confer the esteemed title of ‘Global Jain Peace Ambassador’ upon Acharya Lokesh Muni. 
  • The ceremony, scheduled to take place in Karnataka, will be organized by the Jain pilgrim center, Navagraha Tirtha Kshetra, in Hubli Varur. Acharya Dr. Lokesh Muni, the founder of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti and the World Peace Center, is a multifaceted personality known for his profound impact in various domains. 

7. Bengali Translation Wins Prestigious Romain Rolland Book Prize 2024

  • The recipient of this year’s Romain Rolland Book Prize is Pankaj Kumar Chatterjee for his remarkable translation of Jean-Daniel Baltassat’s “Le Divan de Staline” into Bengali, titled “Staliner Divan.” 
  • Published by New Bharat Sahitya Kutir, Kolkata, Chatterjee’s translation stood out for its linguistic prowess and fidelity to the original text. This marks the second time that a Bengali translation has been honoured with this prestigious award. 

8. PM Modi unveils India’s first hydrogen fuel cell ferry 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has flagged off India’s first indigenously built hydrogen fuel cell ferry boat in virtual mode. 
  • The vessel has been built at the Cochin Shipyard. 
  • The pilot vessel is a 24-metre catamaran which can carry 50 passengers with fully air-conditioned passenger space. It will make urban mobility smooth and easy. 
  • The hydrogen fuel vessel has fully home-grown technology and it can be replicated in other parts of the country for urban mobility application, according to CSL. 

PM Modi in News 

  • PM Modi inaugurated ‘Bharat Tex 2024’ in New Delhi 
  • PM Modi laid the foundation stone for Sikkim’s first railway station at Rangpo. 
  • PM Modi inaugurates India’s longest cable-stayed bridge Sudarshan Setu 
  • PM Modi inaugurated and dedicated to the nation two central institutions in Telangana and five in Andhra Pradesh. 
  • PM Modi lays foundation stone of Kalki Dham temple in UP 

9. Arkaja Das appointed as Director in Women & Child Development Ministry 

  • The Central Government has approved the appointment of Arkaja Das (IPoS) as Director in the Ministry of Women & Child Development. 
  • Das has been appointed under the Central Staffing Scheme with effect from 1 March 2024 and for a period up to 26 October 2027. 
  • Das is an Indian Postal Service (IPoS) officer of 2010-batch. Presently, she is posted as Deputy Secretary in the same Ministry. 

Recent Appointment 

  • New Lokpal of country – Justice AM Khanwilkar 
  • Director (Operations) of NTPC – Ravindra Kumar 
  • Director in Heavy Industries Ministry – Sureshwar Bonal 
  • Secretary in Ministry of Steel – Nitin Jain 
  • Director in Department of School Education & Literacy – Sunil Sharma 

10. RIL signs deal with Disney to merge Viacom18 and Star India 

  • Reliance Industries (RIL) has unveiled a significant merger deal with Viacom18 Media and The Walt Disney Company, aimed at forming a joint venture (JV) that will integrate the operations of Viacom18 and Star India. This strategic move is poised to reshape the landscape of the Indian entertainment and sports industry. 
  • RIL, Viacom18 Media, and Disney sign binding definitive agreements for the merger. 
  • Viacom18’s media business to be merged into Star India through a court-approved scheme of arrangement. 
  • RIL commits to investing Rs 11,500 crore (approximately US$ 1.4 billion) into the JV to support its growth strategy. 

11. A book title “Basic Structure and Republic” Released by Governor P. S. Sreedharan Pillai 

  • In a notable event at the Durbar Hall (Old) of Raj Bhavan, Governor Shri P. S. Sreedharan Pillai unveiled his latest literary contribution, “Basic Structure and Republic,” marking his 212th publication. 
  • The ceremony was adorned by the gracious presence of His Gracious H. G. Mar Joseph Perumthottam, Archbishop of Changanacherry, Kerala, and Shri. Subhash Shirodkar, Minister for Water Resource Development, Co-Operation, and Provedoria, highlighting the significance of the occasion. 

12. PayU names Renu Sud Karnad as chairperson and independent director 

  • PayU Payments Private Ltd, a prominent fintech arm of the global consumer internet group Prosus, has announced the appointment of Renu Sud Karnad as the chairperson and independent director. 
  • The addition of Karnad, a distinguished director at HDFC Bank, underscores PayU’s commitment to leveraging experienced leadership to navigate the evolving fintech landscape. 

13. 29 February – Rare Disease Day 

  • Rare Disease Day is observed on 29 February. 
  • Objective – To create awareness on the rare diseases that exist and how they can affect the daily lives of the patients. 
  • The theme for 2024, “Share Your Colours,” emphasizes collaboration and support. 
  • Rare Disease Day was first observed in 2008 by EURORDIS and the Council of National Alliances to raise awareness about rare diseases. 
  • It falls on the last day of February, but in leap years like 2024, it is observed on February 29th. 

14. IIT Madras Introduces ‘Investor Information & Analytics Platform’ for Startups 

  • Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar and Prof. Thillai Rajan A of IIT Madras inaugurated the ‘Investor Information and Analytics Platform,’ developed by CREST. 
  • This platform serves as a centralized hub for startups to access investors, government schemes, and other crucial components of the startup ecosystem. 

15. India’s Weightage Surges on MSCI Global Standard Index 

  • India’s weightage in the MSCI Global Standard (Emerging Markets) index has reached a historic high of 18.2% following MSCI’s February review. 
  • This surge, nearly doubling since November 2020, is attributed to various factors such as standardized foreign ownership limits, sustained domestic equity rally, and relative underperformance of other emerging markets, particularly China. 

16. Korean President to visit India this year: envoy 

  • South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is expected to visit India this year and the two countries are hopeful of concluding ongoing negotiations to upgrade the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) existing between the two countries, said South Korean envoy Chang Jae-bok Wednesday. said on 
  • "During the last round of talks on CEPA upgrade held in January in Delhi, negotiators on both sides have committed to conclude talks within this year. Possibly before the visit by our President, we hope to conclude the negotiations," Mr. Chang said in a press interaction. 
  • On the possible timing of the Mr. Yoon's state visit, the South Korean Ambassador to India stated, "We will have an in-depth discussion on it after the election, but hopefully the visit will happen within this year." 
  • The existing CEPA was made in 2009 and it became effective in 2010. 
  • Negotiations between the Ministry of Commerce of Korea and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India, for an upgraded CEPA were held in 2016 and 2017 but halted during the pandemic. On the ease of doing business, Mr. Chang told press persons, "We wish Indian authorities would work harder to make the business environment more friendly to Korean businesses." He said the South Korean President had raised the issue of more friendly conditions and doing business in India during the bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "We hope India will respond positively," Mr. Chang remarked. 
  • External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar is scheduled to pay bilateral visits to South Korea and Japan from March 5 to 8. 
  • In Seoul on March 5 and 6, he will co-chair the 10th India-Republic of Korea Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) with his counterpart Cho Tae-yul. During the visit, Mr. Jaishankar is also expected to meet Korean dignitaries, heads of think tanks and members of the Indian community. 
  • Mr. Chang said there will be discussions on defense, defense production and also economic cooperation. The Minister will also discuss regional and global issues, he stated. 
  • On the 2+2 dialogue at the Vice Minister level that has been at the planning stage for a long, Mr. Chang said that efforts are still on. Talks may first start at the Joint Secretary level and then upgrade to the Vice Minister level, he said. 
  • He added, "We are going to launch Korea space administration very soon and we are looking to cooperate with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in low orbit satellites 

17. PM Modi inaugurates country's first indigenous hydrogen fuel cell ferry 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off India's first indigenously built hydrogen fuel cell ferry boat in virtual mode here on Wednesday. 
  • The vessel has been built at the Cochin Shipyard. The pilot vessel is a 24-meter catamaran which can carry 50 passengers. It also has a fully air conditioned space for passengers. It will make urban mobility smooth and easy, according to a release issued by the Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL). 
  • Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu to mark the laying of the foundation stone for a 17,300-crore project in the district. The vessel built at the CSL underscores the pioneering step for embracing clean energy solutions and aligning with the nation's net-zero commitments, he said. 
  • The hydrogen fuel vessel has fully home-grown technology and it can be replicated in other parts of the country for urban mobility application, according to the CSL. 
  • Mr. Modi also said that the various rail projects launched on Wednesday will further boost connectivity between south Tamil Nadu and Kerala. 

18. Nepal-India official dialogue silent on landmark Pancheshwar project 

  • More than a month after India and Nepal signed the agreement on long-term power sharing, the two sides have not managed to make any forward movement on the stalled negotiations over the landmark Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP). 
  • On Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra met his Nepali counterpart Sewa Lamsal here. A press note issued on this meeting mentioned the two sides discussed "multifaceted tlon", but it did not include any reference to the PMP, which is by far the biggest bilateral power project conceived between the two sides. 
  • Ms. Lama's visit to Delhi took place just days after Nepal's Foreign Minister N.P. Saud visited New Delhi to take part in the annual Raisina Dialogue. Subsequently, Mr. Saud also visited the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Ms. Lamsal, who met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, is scheduled to participate in the 8th Asia Economic Dialogue 2024 being organized by the External Affairs Ministry and the Pune In cooperaternational Centre on Thursday. 
  • "During the meeting, the two Foreign Secretaries held discussions on the entire range of multifaceted cooperation between India and Nepal and also followed up on the 7th India-Nepal Joint Commission Meeting which was co-chaired by the External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and the Foreign Minister of Nepal H.E.M.P. Saud in Kathmandu last month," the Ministry said in the press note. 
  • Meeting, the two Ministers witnessed the exchange of an agreement between the two governments on long-term electricity trade. The agreement aims to increase export of Nepali power to India to the level of 10,000 MW over a period of 10 years. However, the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project is aimed at generating around 6,480 MW energy (to be divided equally between two sides), along with water for irrigation of 1,30,000 hectares of land in Nepal and 2,40,000 hectares of In- dian territory, respectively. The two sides were expected to iron out differences over the detailed project report (DPR) but the necessary discussion within the team of experts under the Governing Body of the Pancheshwar Development Authority has not been held till now. 
  • It is understood that the project is stalled because the Indian and the Nepali sides are unable to come to a consensus on sharing of benefits. While electricity is divided equally, India gets the lion's share of irrigation and flood control benefits. On the other hand, Kathmandu feels water is 'white gold' and India should pay Nepal for it. India cannot accept this claim as it challenges India's understanding of other water-based treaties, including the Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan. A seasoned observer said that India should find a way to compensate the Nepalese in a satisfactory manner. 
  • However, the discussion to kickstart the Pancheshwar project will require political courage and bureaucratic foresight on both sides, which is yet to emerge 

19. Lives and livelihoods: India must have protocols in place to protein emigrants from conflicts 

  • In its first such confirmation, the government has conceded that Indians have been recruited by the Russian Army and positioned Inside the Ukrainian border in land now under Russian control. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) says a "few" Indian nationals had signed up for support jobs, as military helpers and loaders, something the government actively discourages. It said that the Indian Embassy had pressed Russia for their "early discharge", and denied accusations by the families that Indian officials had not been responsive. Despite evidence that do zens of Indians have joined the war, lured by online advertisements and middlemen promising lucrative jobs, the government failed to make any statement, but spoke only after a series of reports in The Hindu, that included news of the death of a man from Surat who was hit by a Ukrainian drone-operated missile. An early acceptance of the problem, and more awareness drives against those duping Indians may have deterred others from signing up and facing harm. The government must also investigate the networks of unscrupulous recruiters who charge high fees from Indians seeking jobs abroad without fully explaining the nature of work. The truth is that even after awareness of their menial roles in a war zone, they have few options. Having spent their family's savings or availed of loans, the meri cannot return without earning some of it back. 
  • The government must review its procedures for countries in conflict, updating the list of 18 "Emigration Check Required" countries, so that the contracts of Indians traveling abroad for such work are vetted more thoroughly, they are advised better and also provided protection. Given that Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh face similar issues, it may help to seek more regional cooperation in thwarting the networks that mar- ket unsafe employment opportunities. The MEA's pleas to "stay away from conflict are clearly insufficient. It is equally disturbing that the government has green-lighted recruitment drives to other conflict zones, including, more recently, Israel, for Indian construction and elder- care workers to replace Palestinians who have been denied entry to the country since October 7. More broadly, the numerous cases of Indians traveling to dangerous zones internationally, or even undertaking arduous journeys as illegal immigrants, reflect the deep economic distress and job shortages in India. While there are few quick fixes to such entrenched economic issues, the government must evince more empathy for the situation may find themselves in, putting more comprehensive protocols in place for emigrants, and support structures for those in peril.

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