Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 1st April 2024


National News

1.NTPC permanently closed Barauni Stage-I project 

  • State-owned power giant NTPC has permanently closed its Barauni Thermal Power Station Stage-I of 220 MW. 
  • The company acquired Barauni Thermal Power Station (720 MW) in Begusarai district, Bihar, from Bihar State Power Generation Company on December 15, 2018. 
  • Established in 1975, NTPC aims to become a 130 GW firm by 2032. 
  • Operation of NTPC Barauni Thermal Power Station Stage-I (2×110 MW) comprising of two Units (Unit 6 & 7) of 110 MW each (along with all Auxiliary systems except CHP, Switchyard, Ash Dyke and Township) shall be permanently discontinued w.e.f. 31st March 2024. 

International News 

2. Saudi Arabia will preside over the 69th session of the United Nations Forum on Women's Rights and Gender Equality 

  • The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) unanimously appointed Saudi Arabia as Chair of its 69th session in 2025. Saudi Ambassador to the United Nations Abdulaziz Alwasil was elected president. The President of the 68th session was Antonio Manuel Revilla Lagdamio of the Philippines. 
  • Ahead of the verdict, Amnesty International's Advocacy Deputy Director Sherine Tedros criticized Saudi Arabia for its notorious treatment of women. Saudi Arabia's disappointing record when it comes to protecting and promoting women's rights highlights the huge gap between the reality of women and girls in Saudi Arabia and the Commission's aspirations, Tedros said. 
  • The Saudi government website, "Saudi Vision 2030", states that its goal is "a strong, prosperous and stable Saudi Arabia that provides opportunities for all." Which focuses on the full participation of women at all levels and investing their energy according to their immense potential. 
  • In July 2010, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was formed by the United Nations General Assembly, which gathers at the United Nations Headquarters in New York for discussions during two-week sessions. The outcomes and recommendations of each session are transmitted to the Commission's parent body, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), for follow-up. 

3. Closing ceremony of International Millet Year 2023 held in Italy 

  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) organized the closing ceremony of the International Year of Millets (IYM) 2023 at the FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy on 29 March 2024. It was attended by respected dignitaries from different parts of the world including Smt. Maninder Kaur Dwivedi, Additional Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. 
  • Government of India underlined the importance of India's thriving millet ecosystem including various start-ups, industries, FPOs in promoting and adopting millets. 
  • Dr. Qu Dongyu, Director-General of FAO, in his opening remarks at the official closing ceremony, commended the international community for its commitment to advance millet-related initiatives and noted the important role of millets in achieving food security and nutrition for all. Following a proposal by India supported by over 70 countries, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets at its 75th session in March 2021. 
  • The event featured a series of insightful discussions and presentations highlighting the importance of millet in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and its emergence as a 'Global Superfood'. 

METOC Seminar ‘Meghyan 2024’ 

  • As part of the World Meteorological Day celebrations, a Metheoc (Meteorology and Oceanography) seminar _'Meghyaan-24'_ was conducted by the Naval Oceanography and Meteorology School (SNOM) and Indian Naval Meteorological Analysis Centre (INMAC) at Southern Naval Command, Kochi on 28 March 2024. 
  • The seminar was based on the theme _'At the Frontline of Climate Action' promulgated by WMO for the year 2024. INDRA (Indian Naval Dynamic Resource for Weather Analysis), an indigenous mobile application to disseminate weather information and forecasts empowering better and quicker decision making was also launched on the occasion. 
  • The application has been developed by BISAG (Bhaskaracharya National Institute of Space Applications and Geo-informatics) in coordination with the 

4. Russia veto on the orders of the United Nations Panel for monitoring North Korea sanctions 

  • Russia has vetoed the United Nations Expert Panel that is monitoring sanctions against North Korea. Prior to voting, Russia told the United Nations Security Council that the western countries are trying to "strangle North Korea". 
  • UNSC has imposed several sanctions on North Korea since 2006 on Pyongyang's nuclear weapon program. The United Nations monitoring panel has been an important means in monitoring compliance with panel sanctions and identifying violations. Its mandate is scheduled to end in late April without expansion. 
  • Moscow's decision to cancel the renewal of the panel came when the expert committee was said to have been investigating the alleged purchase of ballistic missiles such as North Korean weapons by Russia last week. 
  • Russian procurement allegedly violated the rules and restrictions imposed by the United Nations Security Council on North Korea. Apart from this, there is speculation about the recent missile launch that North Korea is testing them before sending these weapons to Russia for deployment in Ukraine. 
  • Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, used its veto power to prevent renewal of the panel. While 13 other countries voted for renewal, China did not participate in voting while Russia vetoed it. 
  • Ten non-established members were elected by the General Assembly for a two-year term- Algeria (2025), Ecuador (2024), Guyana (2025), Japan (2024), Malta (2024), Mozambic (2024), Republic of Korea (2025 ), Sierra Leone (2025), Slovenia (2025) and Switzerland (2024). 
  • Directorate of Naval Oceanography and Meteorology of the Indian Navy. 

State News 

4. A record 60 traditional products from across India granted GI tag 

  • Over 60 products from across India, including Banaras Thandai, have been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag. 
  • This is the first time that such a large number of products have been given the GI tag at one go, a senior official from the Geographical Indications Registry said, adding that more States were coming forward and filing applications to get a GI tag for their traditional products. 
  • Six traditional crafts from Assam Asharikandi terracotta craft, Pani Mete-ka craft, Sarthebari metal craft, Jaapi (bamboo head-gear), Mishing handloom products, and Bihu dhol -have bagged the GI tag. Thirteen other products from Assam have been given the tag, including the Bodo Dokhona, the traditional attire of Bodo women; and Bodo Eri silk, referred to as the fabric of peace or ahimsa (non-violence), which comes from the silkworm Samia ricini that feeds mostly on the leaves of the castor plant (Ricinus communis), and cassava. Bodo Jwmgra (a traditional scarf), Bodo Gamsa (traditional dress of Bodo men), Bodo Thorkha (a musical instrument), and Bodo Sifung (a long flute) are also on the list. 
  • Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, in a post on X, said it was a big win for Assam's heritage. "These products, deeply rooted in history, support nearly one lakh people directly," he said. 
  • The famous Banarasi Thandai, a drink made by blending milk with a mix of nuts, seeds and spices, also got the tag. Details in the GI filing mentioned that on any given evening, in the heart of the city, in areas such as Gaudaulia Chowk, Lahurabir, and the old lane of Pakka Mahal, traditional Banarasi Thandai shops attract large crowds. The drink was first introduced centuries ago as an offering to the Shri Kashi Vishwanath deity on the occasion of Mahashivaratri, Rangbhari Ekadasi, and Holi. The Banaras Tabla, Banaras Shehnai, Banaras Lal Bharwan Mirch, and Banarasi Lal Peda are among the products that walked away with GI tags in this region. 
  • The Tripura region se- cured two tags one for the Pachra-Rignai, which is a traditional dress worn on special occasions, and the other for the Matabari Peda, a sweet preparation. 
  • Meghalaya Garo Textile weaving, which is linked to socio-cultural and religious rituals, Meghalaya Lyrnai Pottery, and Meghalaya Chubitchi also secured the tag. 

5.Four killed as storm hits West Bengal's Jalpaiguri 

  • Four persons were killed and over 100 injured as a storm lasting for a few minutes wreaked havoc in parts of Jalpaiguri and other districts of north Bengal on Sunday. The deaths were reported in Jalpaiguri town due to the storm, which was accompanied by hailstorm and heavy rainfall. 
  • "Sad to know that sudden heavy rainfall and stormy winds brought disasters this afternoon in some Jalpaiguri-Maynaguri areas, with loss of human lives, injuries, house damages, etc. District and block administration, police, DMG and QRT teams swung into disaster management operations and provided relief," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said. 
  • Ms. Banerjee said that affected people were being shifted to safer places and the district administration would provide compensation to the next of kin in the case of deaths, and the injured as per rules and following the model code of conduct. 
  • The deceased were identified as Dijendra Narayan Sarkar, Anima Burman, Jagen Roy and Samar Roy, all residents of Jalpaiguri. Ms. Banerjee will also be visiting Jalpaiguri in the next few days. 
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi also offered his condolences to those who have lost their loved ones and said his "thoughts are with those affected by the storms in Jalpaiguri-Mayna guri areas of West Bengal". "Spoke to officials and asked them to ensure proper assistance to those impacted by the heavy rains," Mr. Modi said, adding that he "would also urge all @BJP4Bengal Karyakartas to assist those affected". 
  • Warning issued The districts of Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar, where the cyclone wreaked havoc, will be going to the polls in the first phase scheduled for April 19. 
  • The Regional Meteorological Centre at Alipore in Kolkata had predicted thunderstorms and lightning accompanied by gusty wind (30-40 km) per hour in districts of north Bengal on Sunday. The damage was caused because of the sudden intensity of the hailstorm and several people out in the open and streets suffered injuries. 
  • Meanwhile, in neighboring Assam, a sudden downpour accompanied by a storm wreaked havoc at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati, prompting authorities to briefly halt operations and divert six flights to other destinations, a senior official said. 
  • The storm uprooted a big tree at the Oil India complex outside the Adani Group-controlled facility and blocked a road, Chief Airport Officer (CAO) Utpal Baruah said, adding that when the rain and storm lashed the area, a portion of the roof was blown away in the forecourt area. 
  • "It was very old and could not withstand the impact. Due to this, the ceiling broke open and water started flowing inside. However, there was no injury and everything is under control," he said 

6. Genetic profiling of captive jumbos of Kerala to begin soon 

  • The genetic profiling of the 400-odd captive elephants of the State will begin shortly. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII), which is carrying out the profiling to add the details of the elephants to a national data-base, has provided the forensic kits to the Kerala Forest department. 
  • The department has entrusted assistant conservators (social forestry) in the districts with the responsibility of collecting blood and dung samples of the animals in their respective areas. An online training programme has also been planned for the forest officials on April 5 and 6 on sample collection, and updating the reports. The sample collection is expected to begin during the second week of April. 
  • Incidentally, the sample collection comes during the peak of the temple festival season of Kerala, when the captive elephants will be taken to different temples in the State for parading. 
  • With around 25 elephant deaths taking place in Kerala annually, the number of captive elephants in the State has reached an all-time low of 407. Kerala was once considered the home to the largest population of captive elephants. 
  • The profiling of the captive elephants has been completed in a few States. It is estimated that there are around 3,000 captive elephants in the country. 

7. The highest child marriage stopped in Bihar in the year 2022-23 

  • A recent study conducted in 265 districts of 17 states/union territories by the alliance of 161 civil society bodies, the alliance of civic social bodies, has revealed a recent study. A total of 59,364 child marriages were stopped in India in the year 2022-23. 
  • Of these, 26% of the girls whose marriages were stopped were between 10 and 14 years of age, while only 0.6% included girls aged 9 or less. 
  • The top four states where child marriage stopped were Bihar (31%), West Bengal (11%), Uttar Pradesh (11%), and Jharkhand (10%). 
  • In the top states where FIRs were lodged, including Assam (27%), Odisha (8%) and Maharashtra (6%) with West Bengal (32%) and Bihar (7%). 
  • Awareness programs were conducted, while legal intervention was made in 9,551 cases of child marriage. A research paper titled 'Educate to and Child Marriage' showed that 49,813 child marriages were stopped through parents' counseling. 
  • Registration of FIR in legal interventions, prohibitory orders by courts, child The research paper also highlighted the fact that the prevalence rate of child marriage is low in states with high female literacy rates. 
  • The research paper has been prepared by coalition calls, advocating the expansion of the Right to Education Act 2009 to provide free and compulsory education from class 9 to 12. 
  • Child Marriage Prohibition Act, 2006 defines a child as a male person under the age of twenty -one years or a woman under the age of eighteen. 
  • Any marriage among children below the legal age limit is considered invalid. The Act also provides for punishment for allowing child marriage between minors or conducting minors with adults. 

8. Vacom Satyagraha celebrated its centenary year on 30 March

  • March 30 is the 100th year of the historic Viakom Satyagraha, which is a milestone in the fight against untouchability in the history of Kerala. This challenged not only caste oppression but also social norms. 
  • The Vacom Satyagraha was a movement for the entry of temple of Dalit classes in Travancore (modern Kerala). The Vacom Satyagraha, a 603 -day non -violent movement, was organized for the right to visit backward communities through a public road near the Vaikom Mahadev Temple in Kottayam district of Kerala. 
  • The Satyagraha began on 30 March 1924 and ended on 23 November 1925. At the Kakinada meeting of the Congress party in 1923, TK Madhavan presented a report citing discrimination against Dalit caste people in Kerala. A committee of people from different castes was formed to fight untouchability in Kerala. 
  • The committee headed by K. Kelppan included TK Madhavan, Velayudh Menon, Kilakantan Nambuthiri and TR Krishnaswamy Iyer. 
  • There was a board in the Vaikom Mahadev Temple, which was prohibited from the entry of the people (Avarna) of the "lower caste". 
  • After the intervention of Mahatma Gandhi, an agreement was reached with Sethu Lakshmi Bai, the regent of the princely state of Travancore, who released all those arrested during the agitation and opened the north, south and west public roads leading to the Vaikom Mahadeva temple to all castes. 
  • But Regent refused to open the eastern road. In 1936, after the temple entry announcement, backward castes were allowed to reach the eastern road and enter the temple. On 1 April 2023, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin jointly launched the Vaikom Satyagraha Centenary celebrations. 

9. ‘Shigmotsav-2024’ started for tourists in Goa 

  • Shigmo Utsav is the spring festival in Goa which is celebrated with much pomp and grandeur by the Konkani diaspora of Goa. This festival takes place in the month of Phalgun, according to the Saka calendar of the Hindu community living in Goa. This festival is celebrated every year around March. This year it is being organized from 26 March-8 April 2024. 
  • Shigmotsav festival is celebrated with much pomp and enthusiasm for 14 days at 14 different places in Goa. There are two types of this festival, Dhaktoshigmo or Chhota Shigmo and Vadhloshigmo or Bada Shigmo. 
  • During the Shigmo festival, dances like Ghode-Morni (horse dance), Fugdi and Rommatamel grace the streets of Goa. The festival also hosts modern tableaux depicting Hindu mythology, which compete for prestigious awards. 
  • Shigmo's roots are deeply rooted in the history and tradition of Goa. The word "Shigmo" is believed to be derived from the Konkani words "Shishira" (meaning winter) and "Maas" (meaning month), symbolizing the arrival of spring and the end of the winter season. 
  • One of the most spectacular aspects of Shigmo are the grand parades and processions that take place during the festival. These parades are known as "Shigmo Parades" and include colorful floats, traditional Goan folk dances, music and elaborate costumes. 
  • During Shigmo, families prepare and share traditional Goan dishes like sanna (steamed rice cakes), vindaloo, zacuti and various sweets, adding a delightful culinary dimension to the festivities. 

Defence News 

10. Indian Air Force will start mega exercise 'Gagan Shakti' for 10 days from today 

  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) will showcase its strength and capability to conduct high-octane operations "in a realistic environment" during the upcoming 'Gagan Shakti-2024' exercise from April 1-10. 
  • The exercise will be conducted in different parts of the country, including both the western and northern fronts. However, fighter planes and helicopters flying from different parts of the country will attack dummy targets at the Pokhran Field Firing Range in Rajasthan. 
  • The Indian Army has facilitated extensive pan-India movement of approximately 10,000 IAF personnel and ammunition to validate the Operational Rail Mobilization Plan (ORMP) aspects of the IAF. 
  • The Indian Army is providing time tabled 12 passenger trains called 'Combined Express' with all facilities including food and bedding in Bengaluru, Chennai, Chandigarh, Delhi and Kanpur. 
  • 'Gagan Shakti' was last conducted in 2018 when the Indian Air Force flew over 11,000 sorties during the two-phase aerial exercise. 
  • It sought to test the Indian Air Force's preparedness for a two-front war with China and Pakistan. 

Other exercises

  • The latest exercises follow the Vayu Shakti-2024 exercise, which was held at the Pokhran Air-to-Ground Range near Jaisalmer on February 17. 
  • This year's Vayu Shakti was followed by the tri-service Bharat Shakti exercise, which was witnessed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Pokhran on March 12. A Tejas aircraft crashed near Jaisalmer minutes after taking part in a tri-service exercise, the first incident for a Tejas LCA Mk-1. 
  • Later this year, the Indian Air Force will host a mega exercise named 'Tarang Shakti' which is expected to bring together 12 global air forces. This will be the largest multinational air exercise to be conducted on Indian soil. 

Appointment News

11.Pankaj Dwivedi appointed as ED at Union Bank of India 

  • Pankaj Dwivedi has been appointed as the Executive Director of Union Bank of India (UBI). 
  • Following his appointment, the bank now has four Executive Directors (EDs). Besides Dwivedi, the other EDs are – Nitesh Ranjan, Ramasubramanian S and Sanjay Rudra. 
  • A Manimekhalai is helming the bank as MD & CEO. 
  • Prior to joining UBI, Dwivedi was General Manager in Punjab & Sind Bank (P&SB).
  • He has more than 31 years banking experience, having worked at P&SB branches, zonal office and various departments at head office. 

Recent Appointment in Banking & Insurance Sector 

  • CMD of New India Assurance Company – Girija Subramanian 
  • CMD of United India Insurance Company – Bhupesh Sushil Rahul 
  • MD & CEO of Bank of Maharashtra – Nidhu Saxena 
  • Chairman of Indian Bank Association (IBA) for 2023 24 – M V Rao 
  • Deputy Chairmen of IBA – Dinesh Kumar Khara, S L Jain and N Kamakodi 

12.Kamal Lath appoints as CFO of Good Glamm Group 

  • Leading beauty and personal care company, the Good Glamm Group, has appointed of Kamal Lath as Group Chief Financial Officer. 
  • As the newly-appointed Group CFO at Good Glamm Group, he will be at the forefront of our financial strategy and execution, playing a pivotal role in shaping the company’s next phase of growth. 
  • A Harvard Business School alumnus, he has held significant positions at various organizations including Case New Holland (CNH), L&T Mindtree, K12 Techno services (Orchids International Schools), and d.light, where he served as Global CFO. 

Recent Appointment 

  • Chairman of Automotive Tyre Manufacturers’ Association (ATMA) – Arnab Banerjee 
  • Judicial Member, Lokpal – Ritu Raj Awasthi 
  • Director in UPSC – Hansha Mishra 
  • Chairman of Surat Diamond Bourse – Govind Dholakia (replace Vallabh Lakhani) 
  • Chairperson of Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) – Mariam Mammen Mathew (replace Tanmay Maheshwari) 

13.HDFC Bank appoints Sumant Rampal as mortgage business head 

  • HDFC Bank has appointed Sumant Rampal as Group Head of Mortgage Business, in the place of Arvind Kapil. 
  • Sumant Rampal has been with the bank for over 24 years. He has worked in various business domains, such as corporate banking, emerging corporate groups and business banking verticals. 
  • Prior to the new role, he was the Group Head of Business Banking Working Capital, Rural Banking Group and Sustainability Livelihood Initiative. 

About HDFC Bank 

  • Founded – August 1994 
  • Founder – Hasmukhbhai Parekh 
  • Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra 
  • MD & CEO – Sashidhar Jagdishan 
  • Chairman – Atanu Chakraborty 
  • Tagline – We understand your world 

14.Schaeffler India re-appoints Harsha Kadam as MD & CEO 

  • Schaeffler India Ltd has re-appointed Harsha Kadam as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the company. 
  • According to stock exchange disclosure, Kadam’s new term will commence on October 1, 2024, and extend through September 30, 2027. 
  • Kadam has over three decades of expertise, spanning across domains including sales, manufacturing, product design and development, and business excellence. 
  • He joined Schaeffler India in 2018 as president of Industrial Business. He later took up the role of MD and CEO in 2019 for an initial five-year tenure. 

Recent Appointment 

  • President of Indian Steel Association (ISA) – Naveen Jindal 0(replace Dilip Oommen) 
  • Mumbai Municipal Commissioner – Bhushan Gagrani 
  • CEO of P&G India – Kumar Venkatasubramanian 
  • Governor of Telangana and LG of Puducherry – C. P. Radhakrishnan (additional charge) 
  • Government spokesperson –Sheyphali Sharan (replace Manish Desai) 

15.Union AMC appoints Madhu Nair as CEO 

  • Union Asset Management Company has appointed Madhu Nair as the Chief Executive Officer. 
  • He will replace G Pradeepkumar who tendered his resignation after 14 years of service. 
  • Nair comes with over 25 years of diverse experience across various market segments. He was instrumental in building up asset management companies such as HSBC, Invesco and Kotak, during his career span of two and a half decades. 

16. Joyshree Das Verma appointed to the post of President of FICCI Women's Organization 

  • Joyshree Das Verma takes over as the 41st National President of FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO), South East Asia's oldest women-led and women-centric business chamber for 2024-25. 
  • Verma ji will also replace Shivkumar. She has been appointed by Israel as its Honorary Consul for Northeast India. She has promoted relations between India and Israel in areas such as agriculture, water, IT, technology, health, innovation, tourism, trade and commerce. 
  • She is also the Director and CoPromoter of Kapro Management Solutions since 2010. Kapro Management Solutions is a privately held ISO certified company. She started his entrepreneurial journey in 2003 as a Business Partner of MAFOI Management Consultants Limited (now Randstad) in the Northeast. 
  • FLO was established in 1983 as a division of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the apex body of industry and commerce in India. 
  • Its head office is in New Delhi. As an all India organization for women, FLO has 19 chapters across India – Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kanpur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Mumbai, North East, Pune and Uttarakhand. 
  • Dr. Neeraj Mittal – Co-Chair of the Digital Innovation Board of the International Telecommunication Union Dr. Neeraj Mittal, Secretary, Department of Telecommunications, Government of India, led a high-level delegation to Geneva for a series of important meetings at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Headquarters from March 18-20, 2024. 
  • Additionally, Dr. Neeraj Mittal was unanimously elected as Co-Chair of the Digital Innovation Board of ITU, formed under the auspices of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Alliance for Digital Development. 
  • The Digital Innovation Board comprises Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Telecommunications/ICT from ITU's 23 member states spanning Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South America. 

Rajeev Kumar - BPR&D Head 

  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has appointed 1990 batch IPS Rajiv Kumar Sharma of Rajasthan cadre as the Director General of Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD). His tenure will last till his superannuation on June 30, 2026.Rajeev Kumar Sharma will replace Balaji Srivastava at the end of March.

Awards News

17.Meena Charanda honored with ‘International Culture Award’ 

  • Principal of Kalindi College (Delhi University), Professor Meena Charanda has been given the ‘International Culture Award’ for the year 2024.
  • Meena Charanda has been given this honor for her remarkable work in the field of education and social service. 
  • Charanda was given a memento, plaque, shield and citation from the university in the award. 

Recent Awards 

  • Times Power Icon 2024 Award by The Times Group – Vijay Jain 
  • Abel Prize 2024 – Michel Talagrand (for work in probability theory and stochastic processes). 
  • 29th Devi Shankar Awasthi Award 2023 – Nishant (for Kavita Pathak Aalochna) 
  • GEEF Global Environment Award 2024 – THDC India Limited 
  • Sangita Kalanidhi award 2024 – Thodur Madabusi Krishna 

Ranks & Reports News 

18. India's GEM became the third largest e-commerce platform in the world 

  • India's 'Government E-Market' (GEM) portal is the third largest ecommerce platform in the world for public purchases after Korea's on-line e-procurement system (KonePs) and Gebiz of Singapore. 
  • According to GEM CEO PK Singh, GEM concluded this financial year with a gross trading value of over Rs 4 lakh crore (GMV). This is about 100% higher than the GMV of the end of the last financial year. 
  • Launched in August 2016, the GEM registered a total of Rs 17,445 crore in 2018-19. In 2021-22 it gradually increased to about Rs 1.07 lakh crore. The order value (GMV) in the last financial year (FY23) was slightly more than Rs 2.01 lakh crore. 
  • On this, companies in both public and private sector can sell their products and services through GEM. In this, buyers can be government institutions including Gram Panchayat. 
  • Defense procurement is one of the major commercial activities of this forum. The assembly of the BrahMos missile is being done through the GEM in the form of a service contract. In the defense sector, supply from eggs to missile parts is being supplied through the portal. 
  • The portal has collaborated with over 520,000 general service centers (CSCs) and over 150,000 Indian post offices to connect remote places of the country for uninterrupted purchases. 

Government e-market (GEM) portal 

  • The GEM was launched in the year 2016 to facilitate the purchase of goods and services by several government departments and organizations. 
  • It is an online platform launched by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. 
  • The GEM is open to all government departments, public sector undertakings, autonomous bodies and other organizations. GEM provides a similar opportunity to grow and flourish to domestic businesses, especially small businesses, which are physically away from popular markets. 
  • GEM offers a wide range of objects and services. This includes rented office stationery, passenger vehicles, helicopter services, waste management and webcasting. 

19. Now, GST probe into big corporates, major MNCs needs 'written approval’ 

  • The Department of Revenue has asked the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) officials to seek a prior written nod of zonal Chief Commissioners before initiating any investigation in cases relating to big industrial houses and major multinational corporations (MNCs), as well as "sensitive matters or matters with national implications". 
  • The directive is part of a set of instructions issued on Saturday, titled "Guidelines for CGST field formations in maintaining ease of doing business while engaging in investigation with regular taxpayers'', which state that each investigation must be initiated only after the approval of the Principal Commissioner. 
  • The guidelines that were issued further specify 
  • The CGST field formations should collect details on the prevalent trade practices, the directive says situations where the "prior written approval of the zonal (Pr.) Chief Commissioner shall be required if in- vestigation is to be initiated and action to be taken in a case falling under '' four categories. 
  • Apart from large corporates and major MNCs, a written nod is also mandated for matters that are already before the GST Council and "of interpretation seeking to levy tax or duty" on any sector, commodity, or service for the first time, whether in Central Excise or GST. 
  • Tax experts were not yet clear about how a "big industrial house" and major MNC would be defined under these norms. 
  • In all these categories of cases, including "sensitive matters or matters with national implications", the CGST field formation con- cerned should also collect details on the prevalent trade practices and nature of transactions carried out, from stakeholders. 
  • "The implications/impact of such matters should be studied so as to have adequate justification for initiating investigation and taking action," the guidelines said. 
  • The framework was conveyed to officials after the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) discussed the need for CGST officials to follow a uniform procedure in undertaking enforcement activities, involving "regular taxpayers, which incorporates aspects related to the ease of doing business". 
  • Verify existing probes For all investigations, tax officials have been asked to ascertain if any inquiry has already been initiated on the same subject matter or with respect to the same taxpayer or GST Identification Number (GSTIN) by another investigating office or tax administration. 
  • "The position must be placed before the authority who is to approve initiation of investigation," the guidelines said. 
  • he directive will address industry concerns, said consulting firm KPMG's national head for indirect tax Abhishek Jain, while stressing that implementation will be key. "If followed, the new directive could contribute towards tax certainty and stability in our country's business landscape," he said. 

20. Compounding crises Water deficit worsens other adverse events for the poor 

  • There is only enough water to fill 23% of the holding capacity in all of South India's reservoirs, The Hindu reported last week based on an analysis of Central Water Commission data. This, according to the analysis, is nine percentage points lower than the rolling decadal average, speaking to the certainty and the magnitude of the impending crisis. The last time South India faced a summertime water crisis was in 2017. The crisis in the same region this year is poised to be different, and worse, for a few reasons. First, the monsoons are influenced by various factors; of these, El Niño events render them more erratic, even if isolating their influence thus is a simplification. 
  • There was an El Niño event in 2014-16 whereas this time there is an ongoing event and among the five strongest such events in recorded history. Second, after meteorologists recorded 2023 to be the warmest year on record, they also said they expected 2024 to be worse. A team led by the U.K. The Meteorological Office also predicted a 93% chance that every year until 2026 will be a record-breaker. Third, millions in India will be spending some additional time outdoors this summer to cast their votes in the general election.
  • Fourth, this crisis has happened before; yet, while (some) policies and forecasting have improved, preparedness and implementation of these policies on the ground have not. Other factors, including unplanned urban growth, over-extraction of groundwater, low water reuse efficiency, insufficient community involvement, and encroachment and/or degradation of catchment areas, persist. 
  • Climate change will impose a deadlier cost on low-and middle-income countries such as India by creating simultaneous crises. While the phenomenon changes the way weather events co-evolve, it also affects the frequency of their occurrence such that two events may develop a greater chance of transpiring together than they did before such as a drought and a disease outbreak, which in turn will worsen socio-economic conditions among marginalized groups. Any water crisis must be seen against this backdrop, where it is both a crisis in itself and a factor that compounds the effects of another. 
  • That a region's water situation becomes precarious after one year of deficient rain is a sign governments are not learning their lessons or are ignoring them, even if the deficit was considerable. No more information or context is necessary to understand this fact than what already exists. But governments and policy-makers seem to need reminding that this and future crises will neither be just about the water nor the fault of climate change. 

Sports News

21 .Sharfuddoula becomes Bangladesh’s first ICC Elite Umpire 

  • Bangladesh’s Sharfuddoula Ibne Shahid has become the first from his country to be inducted into the ICC Elite Panel of Umpires. 
  • While India’s Nitin Menon entered the top tier for an unprecedented fifth time. 
  • The 40-year-old is only the third Indian to be part of the elite panel after S Ravi and former India spinner S Venkataraghavan, who performed on-field duties in 33 and 73 Tests respectively. 

About International Cricket Council (ICC) 

  • The International Cricket Council is the global governing body of cricket. 
  • It was founded as the Imperial Cricket Conference in 1909 by representatives from Australia, England and South Africa. 
  • It was renamed as the International Cricket Conference in 1965, and took up its current name in 1987.
  • Formation – 15 June 1909 
  • Headquarters – Dubai, UAE 
  • Chairman – Greg Barclay (New Zealand) 
  • CEO – Geoff Allardice (Australia) 
  • Membership – 108 members 

Important day 

22. 1 April – Utkal Diwas 

  • On April 1, Odisha Day, also known as Utkala Divas, is celebrated to remember when Odisha became a state. 
  • People all over the state decorate their homes and public places with flags, banners, and flowers in the colours of the state flag. 
  • Utkal Divas is commemorated each year to commemorate the establishment of the state of Odisha on April 1, 1936. 
  • This significant day signifies the separation of Odisha from the combined Bihar and Orissa provinces during the British colonial era in India. 

23. 1 April – RBI Foundation Day 

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the nation’s central banking institution, is entering its 90th year on April 1st, 2024. 
  • The RBI was established on April 1, 1934, following recommendations from the Royal Commission on Indian Currency and Finance to maintain the country’s monetary stability.
  • Its operations commenced on April 1, 1935, with Sir Osborne Smith as the first Governor. 

About Reserve Bank of India (RBI) 

  • Founded – 1 April 1935  
  • RBI Nationalized  
  • 1 January 1949 
  • Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra 
  • RBI set up – Hilton Young Commission 
  • 1st Governor – Sir Osborne Smith (Australia) 
  • 1st Indian Governor – CD Deshmukh 
  • 25th Governor – Shaktikanta Das

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