Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 14th April 2024

National News 

1. Modi interacts with gaming influencers, says there is no need for regulation 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday released a video of his interaction with some online video gaming influencers, re-corded at his residence in March. Mr. Modi met Tirth Mehta, Animesh Agarwal, Anshu Bisht, Naman Mathur, Mithilesh Patankar, Ganesh Gangadhar, and Payal Dhare, all of whom go by different stage names online. 
  • The outreach to gamers comes as a record number of 1.85 crore 18-19 year olds are registering to vote in the general elections in the coming weeks. Gaming is among the most popular video categories on You-Tube in India. 
  • Mr. Modi played Raji, a multi-platform adventure game available on PC and gaming consoles, made in India. He also played Stumble Guys, a multiplayer survival royale game. On a virtual reality headset, he played Beat Saber, а rhythm game. 
  • The Prime Minister had a discussion with the influencers on their career choice. "We spend 6-7 hours on practice," an es ports gamer told him. 
  • Gaming vs gambling Mr. Modi discussed the distinction between gaming and gambling, something that video game developers have been keen on disambiguating over the last year. "We need to separate [real money] gaming and skill based [video] gaming," Mr. Agarwal, also known as 8 bit thug, told the Prime Minister. 
  • "There's no need for regulation," Mr. Modi said of the video gaming industry 

International News 

2. Kwatra meets U.S. officials, reviews Two progress of strategic partnership 

  • Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra has met the US. Deputy Secretary of Defence Kathleen Hicks and discussed the importance of expanding the scope of bilateral military engagements, the Pen taon said on Saturday: 
  • Mfr. Kwarra is in the US. for a series of meetings with senior officials of the US. government and interaction with industry leaders to advance bilateral cooperation in areas such as defense and technology. Ms. Hicks and Mr. Kwatra discussed priorities for strengthening the US-India defense partnership. including the implementation of the road map for the US-India Defence Industrial Cooperation, Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon said. 
  • The two officials underlined the historic momentum in the Major Defence Partnership in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific, an official statement said. 
  • They applauded the efforts by both countries to advance the co-production of fighter jet engines and armored vehicles, as well as the continued success of the India-US. Defense Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X) in promoting innovation and partnerships between US. and Indian researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors, it said. 
  • They also spoke about the importance of expanding the scope of india military engagнтели по strengthen cooperation across afli domains while highlighting the shared of forts to promote stability and security in the lindo Paciffe, Mr. Pabin said. 
  • They also discussed a range of regional security issues and committed to collaborating closely in support of a shared vision for a free and open Indo 
  • Bilateral cooperation Mr. Kwatra met senior officials of the US government and interacted with Industry leaders to advance bilateral cooperation in areas such as defence and technology in his trip 
  • He held meetings with Richard Verma, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, Kurt Campbell, Deputy Secretary of State, as well as other senior officials. 
  • He also held discussions with key officials at the National Security Council, the Department of Definice, the Depart of Comin Ma merve and the Depart of Energy. He mes regte sentatives of leading the tanks and dumber's of commence 
  • The win keeping with the tradition of repe Jar higlo-level exchanges berween the two countries and provided an opponent to further advance our growing and fumare-orient Pacific, the statement said ed partnership," the st ment issued by the Indian. 
  • Mr. Kwurra reviewed the progress made towards further consolidating the India-US. Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership, it said. "These discussions spanned the entire gamut of India-US. ties, growing defense and commercial ties, supply chain resilience and contemporary regional developments," it said. 
  • The Foreign Secretary was on a three-day official visit to Washington and left for New York on Friday. 

3. Entrepreneur and pilot, Gopichand Thotakura is aiming for a place in Indian space history 

  • Earlier this month, Jeff Be zos-owned Blue Origin an a nounced six crew 0members who would be part of a forthcoming commercial flight to space. Of interest to India is one participant, He Gopichand Thotakura, an Indian businessman and pilot, who is based in the United States. 
  • While an actual launch date has not been specified, a successful trip to space could make Mr. Tho takura the first Indian in space since Rakesh Shar ma, who in April 1984 became and remains the only Indian to have the honor, when he went aboard the Russian Soyuz T-II-spacecraft. 
  • In a media statement, Mr. Thotakura describes himself as the "first civilian Indian astronaut". In response to questions from The Hindu, he reasoned that he would be an astronaut because anyone who crosses the Karman Line, the boundary that separates Earth's atmosphere and outer space, and is at about 80 km above sea level is considered one. 
  • Given that the New She pard rocket (NS-25), the Blue Origin vehicle, climbs to a 100 km from earth's surface, stays in space long enough for the crew aboard to experience weightlessness and allows one to observe earth's cur- vature, it ticks all the boxes for a space trip. Rakesh Sharma, who spent a week in the Russian space station, fits the classical definition of an astronaut, however it is unclear if Mr. Thotakura would be described as one. 
  • Until 2021, these distinctions did not matter because all human spaceflight until then involved military personnel and astronauts who were trained as such and part of missions that involved either living in space or being part of test flights. 
  • The United States' Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which issues commercial space licenses and verifies launch or re-entry vehicles that carry humans, has since 2021 stopped designating spacefarers as "astronauts''. 
  • Russian astronauts are called 'cosmonauts', and Chinese ones 'taikonauts', and prospective Indians, are colloquially 'vyomanauts' or 'gaganauts', suggesting that countries are free to define space travelers in their own terms. S. Somnath, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), told The Hindu that were Mr. Thotukura's flight was successful and prior to the Gaganyaan missions, he would be the "... second Indian in space and technically, an astronaut." 
  • Mr. Thotakura, born in Vijayawada and schooled in Visakhapatnam, studied aeronautical engineering and trained to be a pilot in the United States. "I've always aspired to go to space. When I came to the U.S. in 2010, this meant either going via NASA or being a U.S. citizen and these were barriers for me. Blue Origin opened up opportunities," he said. 
  • Mr. Thotakura, who is the co-founder of Preserve Life Corp, an Atlanta-based health and wellness company, did not disclose how he bagged a seat on NS-25. "There was no real selection process or criteria. I was hell bent on getting aboard a manned mission. It is a desire to carry Indian blood (ethnicity) to space," he added. 

Defence News 

4. Defence Ministry issues 65,000cr tender to HAL for buying 97 LCA Mark 1A Fighter Jets 

  • The Defence Ministry has issued a tender to the public sector firm Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for purchasing made-in-India 97 LCA Mark 1A fighter jets expected to be worth over Rs 65,000 crore.
  • This is set to be the largest order for indigenous military hardware to be placed by the Indian government ever. 
  • The programme will help the IAF to replace its fleet of MiG21s, MiG-23s and MiG-27s which have been either phased out or are set to be phased out or are set to be phased out in near future. 
  • The last order for LCA Mark1A was for 83 aircraft and the first plane is poised to be delivered in a few weeks from now. LCA Mark 1A is the advanced version of Tejas aircraft. 
  • The LCA Mark 1A plane has more advanced avionics and radars than the initial 40 LCAs being supplied to the Air Force. 
  • The HAL is also set to bag deals for buying over 200 LCA Mark 2s and similar number of fifth generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft. 

5. ‘Dustlik 2024’ joint military exercise between India and Uzbekistan 

  • The 5th edition of the ‘Dustlik’ joint military exercise between India and Uzbekistan begins in Uzbekistan. 
  • The 14-day exercise will be conducted in Termez District of Uzbekistan from 15 to 28 April 2024. 
  • During the 14-day exercise, soldiers from the Indian Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of Uzbekistan will undergo comprehensive joint training sessions. 
  • The fourth edition of the joint military exercise between the two countries was held on February 20 last year at the Foreign Training Node, Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand. The training exercise focused on sharing best practices in subconventional operations under UN mandates. 
  • The inaugural edition of this exercise was held in Uzbekistan in November 2019. 

Recent Exercise 

  • Coastal Security Exercise ‘Sagar Kavach’ – Lakshadweep Islands 
  • 2nd edition of India-Mozambique-Tanzania Trilateral Exercise (IMT TRILAT 24) – Nacala, Mozambique. 
  • Exercise “TIGER TRIUMPH 2024” between India and USA – Eastern Seaboard 
  • 10th edition of Military Exercise LAMITIYE-2024 between India and Seychelles – Seychelles 
  • 5th edition of Military Exercise ‘Dharama Guardian’ between India and Japan – Mahajan Field Firing Ranges, Rajasthan 
  • 12th edition of MILAN Naval Exercise – Visakhapatnam 

Banking and Financial News 

6. BharatPe to launch ZeroPe app 

  • BharatPe co-founder and former Managing Director Ashneer Grover will launch a new app called ‘ZeroPe’, an app designed for medical loans. 
  • ZeroPe, currently in its testing phase, has been developed by Third Unicorn, according to its Google Playstore listing. 
  • The ZeroPe app is set to provide instant pre-approved medical loans of up to Rs 500,000 in collaboration with Delhi-based Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) Mukut Finvest. The service is exclusively available at partnered hospitals. 
  • Grover’s entry into this arena adds to a growing trend, with businesses like SaveIn, Qube Health, Arogya Finance, Neodocs, Fibe, Kenko, and Mykare Health already offering instant financing solutions for medical bills and elective treatments. 

Recent Facilities Launched in Banking & Insurance Sector 

  • Bandhan Mutual Fund launched Bandhan Innovation Fund 
  • Canara Bank unveiled a series of new products Canara UPI 123PAY ASI, Canara HRMS Mobile App for Staff, Canara Angel, Canara Heal 
  • Tata AIA unveils payment solution system on WhatsApp 
  • Axis Bank launches Digital US Dollar Fixed Deposits for NRIs at GIFT City 
  • Federal Bank launched a RuPay smart key chain called ‘Flash Pay’ for contactless NCMC payments 

Appointment News

7. India’s Jagjit Pavadia re-elected to International Narcotics Control Board 

  • A former Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, Jagjit Pavadia has been re-elected to the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). 
  • India scored the highest number of votes among all the elected members of the anti-narcotics body. 
  • Pavadia (70), who has already served as President of the Board from 2021 to 2022, has been re-elected for the term 2025-2030. 
  • Pavadia held several senior positions in the Indian Revenue Service for 35 years. 
  • She has been a member of the INCB since 2015, and also held the posts of Second Vice-President and Chair (2015, 2017 and 2020), Vice-Chair (2018) and member (2019 and 2023) of the Standing Committee on Estimates. 
  • In 2016, she served as the First Vice-President of the Board, and then President from 2021-2022. 

About International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) 

  • INCB was set up in 1968 by the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961. 
  • Headquarters – Vienna, Austria 
  • INCB has 13 members elected by the Economic and Social Council for a period of five years. 
  • 10 members are elected from a list of government nominees. 
  • The other 3 members are experts in medical, pharmacological, or pharmaceutical experience from a list nominated by WHO. 
  • INCB basically cooperates with the world governments to ensure that adequate supplies of drugs are available for medical and scientific uses. 

8. Former Pakistan PM Yousuf Raza Gillani elected Senate Chairman 

  • Senior Pakistan Peoples Party leader and former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani was elected unopposed as chairman of the Senate amidst protest from lawmakers from jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s party. 
  • Saidal Khan Nasir of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was elected as the deputy chairman. 
  • No one had filed nomination papers against the two candidates supported by the ruling alliance led by the PML-N. 
  • The Senate is the upper house of Pakistan’s bicameral Parliament. The senators are elected for six-and-a-half-year with half of the house up for election every three years. They are elected by the provincial and National Assemblies. 

Recent Appointment in Foreign 

  • Head of US-India Tax Forum -Tarun Bajaj
  • A member of World Bank economic advisory panel – Rakesh Mohan 
  • Director of Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of World Bank’s Global Environment Facility (GEF) – Geeta Batra 
  • Country Director for India in ADB – Mio Oka (replace Takeo Konishi) 
  • US Representative on WHO Board – Vivek Murthy 

9. Mary Kom steps down as Chef-de-Mission for Paris Olympics 

  • Olympic bronze medalist and six times World champion boxer C. Mary Kom stepped down as the Chef-de-Mission for the Indian contingent at the Paris Olympics citing “personal reasons”. 
  • Mary, who is also the chairperson of the IOA’s Athletes Commission, was named as the Chef-de-Mission in March 2024.
  • In March 2024, Mary was chosen as the chef de mission, winter Olympian Shiva Keshavan was named her deputy. 

10. Sachidananda Mohanty appointed as member of UGC 

  • Sachidananda Mohanty has been appointed as Member, University Grants Commission (UGC) for three years with immediate effect. 
  • Mohanty is the former Professor and Head of the Department of English, University of Hyderabad and former Vice Chancellor of Central University of Odisha. 
  • Winner of many national and international awards such as the Katha, British Council, Fulbright(twice), Charles Wallace and the Salzburg, he has published extensively in the field of British, American, gender, translation and post-colonial studies.
  • His books have appeared in Oxford, Sage, Routledge and Orient Ĺongman, among other notable publishing houses. 
  • He was a member of India’s Education Commission to the UNESCO and Governing Board member of Auroville Foundation. 

About University Grants Commission (UGC) 

  • UGC is a statutory body set up by the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Government of India. 
  • It is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education in India. 
  • A proposal to replace it with another new regulatory body called HECI is under consideration by the Govt of India. 
  • Founded- 1956 
  • Headquarters – New Delhi 
  • Chairman- M Jagadesh Kumar 

11. Anurag Kumar (IPS) appointed as Joint Director in CBI 

  • Senior IPS officer Anurag Kumar has been appointed as the Joint Director in Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). 
  • Kumar, a 2004 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre, is currently working in the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D). 
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved his appointment as the Joint Director (JD) in the CBI for a tenure upto February 24, 2027. 

Recent Appointment in Defence Sector 

  • Inspector General in SPG – Love Kumar 
  • DG of National Investigation Agency (NIA) -Sadanand Vasant Date (replace Dinkar Gupta) 
  • DG of Bureau of Police Research & Development – Rajeev Kumar Sharma (replace Balaji Srivastava) 
  • DG of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) – Piyush Anand (Atul Karwal) 
  • Additional DG of Special Protection Group (SPG) – S Suresh Awards 

12.Lokesh Muni honoured with American President’s Volunteer Award 2024 

  • Jain Acharya Lokesh Muni has become the first Indian monk to be honoured with the American President’s Gold Volunteer Service award in recognition of his contribution to the public good and humanity. 
  • Acharya Lokesh Muni is the founder of a non-governmental organisation, Ahimsa Vishwa Bharat and the World Peace Center in India. 
  • Jain Acharya Lokesh received the Presidential award, a Certificate of Honour, a Golden Shield, and a citation bearing the signature of American President Joe Biden.

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