Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 26th April 2024

National News 

1. Indian passport after UAE became the world's second cheapest passport 

  • According to a study by the Australian firm Compare The Market AU, the Indian passport is the second cheapest passport globally after the United Arab Emirates, providing 62 countries visa-free. 
  • India's passport, priced at US $ 18.07 for a 10 -year validity, while UAE is US $ 17.70 for validity of 5 years. In terms of cost per year, India had the cheapest passport costing US $ 1.81 per year. South Africa and Kenya were second and third respectively. 
  • The study found Mexico the most expensive passport, priced at US $ 231.05 for 10 years. The US $ 225.78 was slightly cheaper for a 10 -year - old passport in Australia. 
  • Indian passports provide economic benefits, their visa-free access is limited, unlike countries such as Australia, the United States and Canada, despite their passport power, charges relatively more fees. 
  • Indian passport is the entrance to the world, which symbolizes the aspirations and identity of millions of Indian citizens. This is a symbol of the opportunity and a sense of global citizenship, with its deep blue cover adorned with the national symbol. 
  • Compare the Market AU studied the cost-effectiveness of the year to the cost and validity of various countries and also studied their value in terms of the number of countries where it provides visafree access. 

2. New test for special learning disabilities in adults on anvil 

  • The Union government is expected to roll out a new test to diagnose specific learning disabilities (SLDs) in adults in India by the end of the year, government officials have said, adding that the test is being designed by the National Institute for the Empowerment of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (NIE- PID) in Telangana's Secunderabad. 
  • This comes even as the Supreme Court is in the middle of hearing a writ petition by a former Jawaharlal Nehru University student challenging the absence of such diagnostic methods for testing SLDs in adults, which prevented them from getting disability certificates. 
  • Getting a certificate is imperative in order to claim benefits under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016, which provides for reservation in government or higher education institutions receiving government aid (5%), and in government jobs (4%). 
  • But when SLDs were introduced in the list of disabilities in 2016, it invariably left out people who were adults at the time because the nature of the disorder requires diagnosis at an early age. 
  • Senior officials in the Union Social Justice Ministry said that the new test is being developed by NIEPID and should be ready for a phased rollout by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities by the end of the year after it has been run against global standards for validation. 
  • While the top court was hearing the matter, the Ministry issued a notification on March 12 revising the guidelines for assessing the extent of the specified disabilities. 
  • The certification requirements for SLDs included a clinical assessment, an IQ assessment and an SLD assessment. The SLD assessment can be done using the NIMHANS battery test or the Grade Level of Assessment Devices (GLAD). This certification begins at the age of 8, followed by repeat certifications once in Class 10, and then in Class 12. 
  • The certificate issued after the final assessment at the age of 18 or above will be valid for lifetime. 

3. Modi thanks Italian PM for invitation to G-7 meeting in June 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke on Thursday to Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, thanking her for an invitation to the G-7 meeting in June, if he is re-elected. The invitation for India to be a special invitee at the G-7 summit's outreach sessions, due to be held June 13-15, was received earlier this week, sources said. 
  • Among the invitations New Delhi has received straight after election results are out in June are those for the Prime Minister of External Affairs Minister to attend the Ukraine peace conference to be held on June 15-16 in Lucerne, Switzerland, as well as for the External Affairs Minister to travel to the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod for the BRICS Foreign Ministers meeting on June 10-11. However, both the Ministry of External Affairs and diplomatic sources said a final response on all three invitations could only be expected after the results are announced. 
  • "PM [Modi] extended his greetings to PM Meloni and the people of Italy on the occasion of the 79th anniversary of Liberation Day," a release by the PM's Office said. "[PM Modi] thanked PM Meloni for the invite to the G-7 summit outreach sessions to be held in June 2024 in Puglia, Italy," it added. 

4. Center allows export of 2,000 tonnes of onions 

  • In a surprise move, the Union government on Thursday partially relaxed the indefinite ban on onion exports again, paving the way for the "immediate" export of 2,000 tonnes of white onions, primarily grown in Gujarat, from three designated ports. 
  • A notification issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said that exports of white onions would be permitted only after Gujarat's Horticulture Commissioner certifies the item and quantity being exported. 
  • While previous relaxations to the ban specified the countries where shipments could go and man dated that such exports be channeled through the National Cooperative Exports Limited (NCEL), the latest notification sets no such conditions. It only stipulates that the exports must be routed through the Gujarati ports of Mundra and Pipavav, or Nhava Sheva in Mumbai. 
  • Incidentally, horticulture exporters are learnt to have written to the Commerce Ministry and the DGFT on April 13 to ascertain if any relaxation is in the offing for white onion exports, citing reports of ongoing procurement of export quality white onions at one of Gujarat's Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs).
  • Gujarat is the predominant producer and exporter of white onions in the country, with districts like Bhavnagar and Amreli which go to the polls on May 7 accounting for a large part of the produce. 
  • The latest relaxation has triggered some disquiet among onion farmers from neighboring States such as Maharashtra who grow red onions. "Don't farmers outside Gujarat also deserve export opportunities now that [domestic] wholesale prices for red onions have cooled," asked a farmers' representative from Nashik. 
  • Ajit Shah, president of the Horticulture Produce Exporters' Association or HPEA, said that the order is a step forward and suggested that the same relaxations must be offered for red onions as well. International News 

5. First Ocean Decade Conference 2024 held in Barcelona, Spain 

  • The first Ocean Decade Conference was held in Barcelona, Spain in the second week of April 2024. It was organized by the Government of Spain in collaboration with UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. 
  • The theme of the Ocean Decade Conference 2024 in Barcelona was: Providing the science needed to create the oceans we want. 
  • The Ocean Decade Conference was attended by more than 1,500 participants from 124 countries and more than 3,000 online viewers and was the culmination of Ocean Decade Week. 
  • The Indian delegation led by Earth Sciences Secretary M Ravichandran has called for setting up region specific ocean observation centers for better forecasting and understanding of the deep-sea ecosystem.
  • The first Ocean Decade Coastal Cities Conference will be hosted by the city of Chengdu, China in 2025. In January 2021, the United Nations launched the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021- 2030). 
  • The objective of the Ocean Decade initiative was to provide a framework for stakeholders such as governments, research institutions, NGOs, business communities, etc. around the world to engage and collaborate in the formulation of science-based policies. 

6. Stability in Maldives India should not allow Muizzu's win to affect ties between the two countries 

  • There are several important messages from the win by Maldives President Mohammad Muizzu's party, the PNC, in this week's parliamentary elections, The PNC's "super-majority" over 70 of 93 Members of Parliament or People's Majlis, including allies and independents also eases Mr. Muizzu's path to passing laws and even making constitutional amendments. The opposition in the Majlis, led by the former ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), that was perceived as "pro-India" won just 12 seats, while parties floated by the former Presidents, Abdullah Yameen and Mohammad Nasheed drew a blank. 
  • Mr. Muizzu will be in the spotlight for how he wields the near-absolute power, in a country which has seen authoritarian rule for decades. The results also indicate widespread approval by Maldivians of decisions he has made since he was elected in November 2023 including his international visits to China, Turkey and the UAE, and receiving U.S. senior officials, while keeping a relative distance from India. During his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December, he insisted on a total withdrawal of Indian troops maintaining aircraft for humanitarian operations in the archipelago, which he has now enforced. 
  • He has also scrapped a hydrography agreement with India, while strengthening ties with China, to "rebalance" and end dependence on any foreign power. Meanwhile, Maldivian leaders and commentators have expressed concern over majoritarian trends in India. Derogatory comments about Mr. Modi by Maldivian Ministers have added to the unease in India. Indian tourist figures have also dropped. With the Maldivian results in, and the Indian election results in June, New Delhi and Male have an occasion to try and mend their frayed ties. 
  • Relations have been traditionally good, and should not oscillate with changes in each government. Unfortunately, this has been the trajectory for the past decade. Mr. Muizzu's statement that rather than "pro-India" or "pro-China", he intends to build a "pro-Maldives" policy must be tested against his actions while giving him time to prove that none of those actions is to the detriment of India's security or regional peace. Given Maldives's economic troubles and development needs, its challenges with climate change, and its geographical allure for the U.S. and China, it is only a matter of time that the relative comfort of stronger ties with India and its policy of sustainable financing and support, becomes apparent to Male. To be truly successful, a mutual policy of "Neighbourhood first" can only be voluntary and based on mutual trust and interests. 

State News 

7. SJVN inaugurates country's first multi-purpose green hydrogen project in Himachal Pradesh 

  • SJVN Limited has achieved a significant milestone with the inauguration of India's first multipurpose (combined heat and power) Green Hydrogen Pilot Project at SJVN's 1,500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Power Station (NJHPS) at Jhakri, Himachal Pradesh. 
  • Green hydrogen produced from the project will be used for the High Velocity Oxygen Fuel (HVOF) coating facility to meet the combustion fuel requirements of NJHPS. Apart from this, it will also generate electricity through its fuel cell of 25 kW capacity. 
  • The nation's first multi-purpose (combined thermal and power) green hydrogen production plant has been inaugurated by Smt. Geeta Kapoor, Chairman and Managing Director, on April 24, 2024. 
  • The state-of-the-art Green Hydrogen Pilot Project is set to produce 14 kg of green hydrogen per day during 8 hours of operation. The produced hydrogen will be stored at a pressure of 30 bar in six storage tanks with a total storage capacity of 12 m3. 
  • The project will produce hydrogen using alkaline electrolyzer of 20 Nm3/hr capacity, powered by renewable energy supplied from SJVN's 1.31 MW solar power plant at Wadhal, Shimla. 
  • During her visit, the SJVN Chairperson also inaugurated the first-of-its-kind centralized operations of 1,500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Power Station (NJHPS) and 412 MW Rampur Hydro Power Station (Rampur HPS), which was built by remotely operating Unit- 2 of Rampur. 
  • Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN Limited) is an Indian public sector undertaking involved in hydroelectric power generation and transmission. 

Defence News 

8. Indian Air Force successfully tested air-to-surface ballistic missile 'ROCKS' in Andaman.

  • The Indian Air Force achieved a milestone by successfully testfiring the air-launched ballistic missile, ROCKS or Crystal Maze 2, which is capable of hitting targets at ranges of more than 250 kilometres. 
  • The test, conducted by Su-30 MKI fighter jet in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, reflects India's commitment to enhance defense capabilities. The Israeli-origin missile is designed to attack highvalue targets and is effective in GPS-denied environments. 
  • Preparations for the trials were carried out in the area under the tri-service Andaman and Nicobar Command under the leadership of an Air Force officer. 
  • Crystal Maze 2 is an extended stand-off range air-to-surface missile designed to attack highvalue stationary and moving targets, including long-range radar and air defense systems. 
  • It is particularly effective in GPSdenied environments, similar to the conditions faced by India during the Kargil war, and can even penetrate areas protected by air defense systems. 

Appointment News 

9. Papua New Guinea appoints 'Colonel Edison Napyo' as its first defense advisor to India 

  • Papua New Guinea (PNG) has appointed 'Colonel Edison Napyo' as its first defense advisor to India. Colonel Edison Napyo replaced Commodore Philip Polewara as the acting Chief of PNG's Defense Forces in India. 
  • India and Papua New Guinea formalized diplomatic relations in 1976. The island nation opened a High Commission in India in 2006, 10 years after opening a High Commission in Papua New Guinea. Both countries are working together in international forums including the Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations Organization. 
  • During the Corona epidemic, India had sent 1 lakh 31 thousand doses to Papua New Guinea. India opened its first High Commission in the island country of Papua New Guinea 28 years ago in 1996. 
  • Narendra Modi is the first Prime Minister to visit Papua New Guinea, after President Pranab Mukherjee visited the country in 2016. PM Modi attended the 3rd conference of FIPIC in PNG. During this time, PM Modi had also announced a 12- point action plan for the countries of Indo-Pacific. 
  • India will make PNG a center of IT and cyber security. India will help in setting up small and medium industries. Under Sagar Amrit Scholarship, scholarship will be provided to 1000 students in the next five years. 
  • Professor Naima Khatoon – first woman Vice Chancellor of AMU Breaking a century-old tradition, President Draupadi Murmu has appointed Professor Naima Khatoon as the first woman Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). 
  • Khatoon's appointment is being seen as a message to the Muslim world, indicating the government's commitment towards inclusive leadership. 
  • The founder of the university was Begum Sultan Jahan of Bhopal. Naima Khatoon After completing her high school in Odisha, she came to Aligarh in 1977. 
  • A brilliant student, she completed her PhD in Psychology from AMU and was appointed lecturer in the same department in 1988. She moved up, becoming a professor in 2006 and later serving as the principal of the Women's College in 2014. 
  • The university has not had a fulltime vice-chancellor since the tenure of his predecessor Tariq Mansoor ended in April 2023. 

Banking News 

10. RBI bans Kotak Mahindra from adding new customers online 

  • Leading private sector Indian bank Kotak Mahindra has been ordered by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to stop adding new customers through its online and mobile banking channels. 
  • RBI issued its directive on 24 April 2024. RBI has also asked Kotak Mahindra Bank to stop issuing new credit cards due to concerns about the bank's technology platform. 
  • RBI has the power to supervise commercial banks under the Banking Regulation Act 1949. During the supervision of Kotak Mahindra's information technology (IT) platform in 2022 and 2023, RBI found serious deficiencies in the bank's IT inventory management, patch and change management, user access management, vendor risk management, data security, etc. 
  • The RBI was not happy with the steps taken by the bank to address the shortcomings of its IT platform. Deficiencies in the Bank's IT infrastructure affected the Bank's service delivery. There are frequent interruptions in the bank's online and digital banking channels, causing inconvenience to customers. 
  • RBI also said that once Kotak Mahindra fixes the deficiencies in its IT systems, RBI can lift the ban on Kotak Mahindra Bank. 
  • Kotak Mahindra Bank is a technology-driven bank that relies primarily on online and mobile channels to onboard new customers. The ban will seriously impact the bank's ability to grow customer business. 
  • Kotak Mahindra is a private sector bank which started its banking operations in 2003. Kotak Mahindra Finance Limited was the first NBFC in India to receive a license from the RBI to convert into a bank. 

Important day 

11. 25 April – International Girls in ICT Day 

  • International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated every year on the last day Thursday of April. This year, it falls on 25 April 2024. 
  • The main goal behind observing International Girls in ICT Day is to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the ICT sector.
  • Theme 2024 – Leadership 
  • The history of International Girls in ICT Day dates back to 2014, when the International Telecommunication Union’s Plenipotentiary Resolution 70 was passed. 
  • The resolution was initiated to encourage girls and young women worldwide to consider studies and careers in ICT. 

12. 25 April – International Delegate’s Day 

  • International Delegate’s Day is observed every year on 25 April. 
  • Objective – To raise awareness of the role of the representatives and delegates of the Member States to UN. 
  • It marks the anniversary of the first day of the San Francisco Conference, also known as the United Nations Conference on International Organization. 

13. 26 April – World Intellectual Property Day 

  • The World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) is celebrated on 26 April 2024 every year. 
  • The day is dedicated to promoting the role of intellectual property (IP) in stimulating innovation and creativity. 
  • This day is an opportunity to raise awareness about the need for a balanced approach to intellectual property protection that takes into account the rights of creators and copyright holders, as well as the public interest. 
  • Theme 2024 – IP and the SDGs: Building Our Common Future with Innovation and Creativity 

Obituary News 

14. Yakshagana exponent Subrahmanya Dhareshwar passed away 

  • Yakshagana thespian Subrahmanya Dhareshwar (67), who had earned the fame of ‘Bhagavata Shrestha’ for his scintillating voice, passed away. 
  • Dhareshwar had served as the main singer for 28 years in Perdoor Mela alone and before that he had started his journey in Amriteshwari Mela. 
  • Dhareshwar entertained the art lovers with his melodious voice for 45 years, is known for his experiments in the Yakshagana singing.

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