Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 3rd April 2024

National News 

1. PTI joins Meta’s third-party fact-checking programme in India 

  • Press Trust of India (PTI) has joined Meta’s Third-Party Fact-Checking Partnership (3PFC) programme to identify, review and rate content as misinformation across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. 
  • Meta announced the onboarding of India’s leading news agency as it seeks to expand its third-party fact-checking network just as electioneering for the Lok Sabha polls has picked up. 
  • This collaboration will strengthen the fight against misinformation in India’s digital landscape and empower users to navigate the online world with greater confidence. 

2. Amid friction, India, U.S. plan high-level visits this month 

  • Amid concerns over a strain in the India U.S. relationship over comments ahead of the general election, two high-level visits are being planned by Delhi and Washington, sources confirmed to The Hindu. Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra is "likely" to visit the U.S. mid-April for consultations with the U.S. The State Department, and both sides are also trying to schedule a visit by U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to Delhi, the sources said. 
  • Mr. Sullivan was due to visit Delhi in February for an annual meeting of the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (ICET) launched last year during National Security Adviser Ajit Doval's visit to Washington. He was also due to address the Raisina Dialogue during the visit, but both engagements were canceled as he was asked to focus on West Asia amid growing tensions over the Israeli bombardment of Gaza at the time. 
  • Strategic partnership Sources said that the U.S. and India have been working on a "mutually agreeable date" for ICET discussions and that they "hope to have that finalized soon". While here, Mr. Sullivan is also expected to discuss a number of other issues in the India-U.S. strategic partnership. Planning for the visits came as India protested the U.S. State Department's refreezing of funds of the 
  • Options, however, U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum president Mukesh Aghi said that the consumers over the democratic processes in India came mainly from the "Left-leaning side of the ruling Democratic party, and would not have a long term impact on bilateral ties and position Congress party as well. This week, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishan kar also countered remarks by U.S. Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti's comments in an interview to news agency ANI about U.S. allegations that Indian government agents had plotted to assassinate Khalistan separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York, which he had called crossing a "red line". 
  • Peated reference to political developments in India. Last Tuesday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had summoned a senior U.S. diplomat and conveyed the government's "strong objections'' to the State Department spokes person's comments raising concern over the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. On Thursday, the MEA issued another strong missive after the State Department compounded its remarks, adding a statement of concern over there. 
  • "The U.S. Ambassador, obviously as an Ambassador, will say what is the thinking of his government, I will say what is the position of my government," Mr. Jaish ankar said at a press conference on Monday. "In this particular case [Pannun casel, there has been certain information provided to us that we are investigating. And it is something we are investigating because we believe our own national security interests are involved in that investigation," he said. 
  • "The fact is the U.S. and India are very much aligned, and ties are more cohesive on a daily basis as they cooperate on technology, investments coming through, as more U.S. companies look at making India a critical part of their secure supply chains," Mr. Aghi told The Hindu during a visit to Delhi this week. "I don't think we should take it in a negative way that U.S. President Biden didn't visit in January or NSA Jake Sullivan canceled his trip in February. I think they have urgent fires to deal with in an election year in Gaza, Ukraine, on the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, and that's the main reason [for the visits being put off]," he added, calling India a " comfort zone" for the U.S. 

International News 

3. Judith Suminwa becomes the first female Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo 

  • The Democratic Republic of Congo appointed Judith Suminwa Tuluka as the first female Prime Minister of an African country. FĂ©lix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, appointed. She took over the post of Prime Minister from Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde. 
  • She fulfilled an election promise and took an important step towards forming a new government after being re-elected late last year. 
  • Authorities face numerous challenges, including the worsening conflict and humanitarian crisis in the eastern regions and the management of Congo's vital mineral wealth. 
  • In his first term, Mr Tshisekedi promised to root out endemic corruption, rebuild the economy, tackle deep inequalities and curb eastern insecurity. Critics say he failed on all fronts. 
  • Former Planning Minister Judith Suminwa Tuluka will step into the role at a time of increasing violence in the country's mineral-rich east, bordering Rwanda. The longrunning conflict has displaced more than 7 million people, according to the United Nations, making it one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. 
  • Far from the country's capital, Kinshasa, eastern Congo has long been controlled by more than 120 armed groups seeking a share in the region's gold and other resources as they carry out mass killings. 

4.Sri Lankan media hits out at Modi, Jaishankar's Katchatheevu remarks 

  • The Sri Lankan government is yet to comment on the recent remarks by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Katchatheevu, but the island nation's media took a critical view of the development, while fishermen's associations urged Sri Lankan authorities to take up the issue of bottom trawling more vocally with the Indian government. 
  • The Colombo-based English newspaper Daily Mirror, in its editorial on Tuesday, noted: "Sadly, even the seemingly unflappable Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar has dropped all pretense of statesmanship and has joined hands with his premier to rouse communal feelings in the hope of gaining a few votes in Tamil Nadu." "Lanka desires to be left to its own devices away from India's internal politics," it said. 
  • The editorial was responding to Mr. Modi's claim and Mr. Jaishankar's subsequent media statement sought to back it up that the Congress party "callously gave away" Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka. 
  • In its editorial titled "Katchatheevu was not India's to 'give away", business newspaper Daily Financial Times termed their remarks "a distortion of the facts, a dog whistle to South Indian nationalism and a dangerous and unnecessary provocation of a friendly neighbor that could have serious repercussions". 
  • "The constant provocative claims on Sri Lankan territory, especially from the highest echelons of power in India, would only force our country to seek security guarantees elsewhere. Having learnt the art of diplomacy from Ashoka and strategy from Kautilya, it would be tragic for all concerned if Sri Lanka needs to apply the foreign policy theory of Rajaman dala to find 'friends' el- sewhere to protect itself against a 'near foe'," it observed. 
  • Meanwhile, the Indian leaders' reference to Katchatheevu in the context of frequent arrests of Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters has also drawn attention among those familiar with the complex and long-persisting fisheries conflict in the Palk Strait. 
  • Both, regional and national parties in India have often conflated the fisheries conflict and the ceding of Katchatheevu, located almost equidistant from the coasts of northern Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu. 
  • Politicians have suggested that had Katchatheevu re mained in India's territory, the fishermen from Tamil Nadu would not face arrest by Sri Lankan authorities. 
  • Leaders of fishermen's groups in northern Sri Lan ka said linking the two is sues was "insincere", Further, it distorts the persistent problem of Indian boats fishing along Sri Lanka's coastline, using the destructive bottom trawling method. The practice severely affected the livelihoods of northern Sri Lankan fisher folk. Annalingam Annarasa, northern coordinator of an island-wide federation of fishermen's organizations, said the remarks exposed the Indian leaders who "are simply politicizing" the issue at the cost of the livelihoods of fisher folk in both countries. "Instead of remaining silent, the Sri Lankan government should resist any attempt to link the resolved matter of Katchatheevu to the un resolved question of bottom-trawling by Indian fishermen in our seas. They must take necessary steps to solve the real problem," he told The Hindu. 

5.Romania and Bulgaria join European Schengen travel area 

  • Romania and Bulgaria have taken an important step in their integration with the European Union by partially joining the Schengen travel area. Under this, both the countries will get the benefit of ID-check-free facility for passengers coming by air or sea route, due to opposition from Austria, land border checks will continue. 
  • Land border checks have been halted due to protests from Austria over concerns of illegal migration. Travelers arriving by air or sea from both countries now have unrestricted access to the Schengen Area. 
  • EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the partial accession as a “major breakthrough” and a “historic moment” for European integration. 
  • The Schengen Area was established in 1985. Before the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, it comprised 23 of the 27 EU member states, along with Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. About 3.5 million people cross the internal border every day. 
  • Austria vetoed Romania and Bulgaria's entry into the Schengen area at the end of 2022 but allowed Croatia full entry. Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007, and Croatia in 2013. 
  • The lifting of border controls is expected to facilitate operations at Bulgaria's four international airports, which handled about 11 million passengers in 2023, according to official data. 
  • The eased rules are expected to have a positive impact on the tourism sector. Truck drivers are often stuck in queues several kilometers long at the borders of both Romania and Bulgaria. 
  • The International Carriers Association in Bulgaria estimates that delays cost the sector millions of euros each year. 

6.According to geological research, a new ocean will develop in the Afar Triangle of Africa 

  • According to recent geological findings, a new ocean may arise in the Afar Triangle of Africa in the next 5 to 10 million years. This phenomenon, occurring amidst the rich and diverse landscapes of the African continent, provides a unique glimpse of the dynamic processes that shape the Earth's geography. 
  • The Afar Triangle, located in the Horn of Africa, is a geological lowland where three tectonic plates, the Nubian, Somali and Arabian plates meet. It is part of the East African Rift System, which extends from the Afar region to East Africa. 
  • Ongoing fault extension in this region could potentially lead to the formation of a new ocean, tentatively named the "Alvar-Tide Atlantic Rift". This new reservoir of water will result in flooding of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden in the Afar region and the East African Rift Valley. 
  • In addition to its geological importance, the Afar Triangle has a rich paleogeological history, including the discovery of some early hominin fossil specimens. A series of tectonic movements have been occurring in the Afar region for many years. 
  • In the year 2005, a major fault extension was seen in the Ethiopian desert. As a result it is demonstrating the continuing tectonic separation of the African continent. 
  • One of the major factors driving the rifting process is believed to be a huge mass of extremely hot rocks rising from beneath East Africa. This plume can exert pressure on the upper layer, causing it to stretch and break.
  • Additionally magmatism in the area, particularly at the Erta Ale volcano, provides clues to the tectonic transition, with features that mimic a mid-ocean ridge. 
  • Magmatism is the formation and movement of magma beneath the Earth's surface. It contributes to various phenomena on Earth, such as filling tectonic cracks, forming mountains as well as helping to release heat from the Earth's core. 

State News 

7. 19 items including Bihu Dhol of Assam got GI tag 

  • Nineteen traditional products of Assam including Assamese Bihu Dhol and Jaapi have received the coveted Geographical Indication (GI) tag. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma lauded the achievement, recognizing its importance in preserving the rich cultural heritage of the state. 
  • Assamese Japi- Tokou is a traditional bamboo hat made of pat (palm leaves) and densely woven bamboo or cane. Sarathebari Metal Crafts: The ageold handicraft industry of Barpeta known for its bell-metal products. 
  • Panimeteca Craft (Water Hyacinth): This product prepared from Water Hyacinth has gained recognition. 
  • Mising tat (handloom): Handwoven fabric made by the Mising community that plays an important role in Assamese culture. 
  • Excellent Terracotta Creations of Asharikandi: Beautiful terracotta creations of Asharikandi which are intrinsic features of Assamese cultural heritage 
  • Apart from these items, thirteen GI-tagged products are specifically associated with the Bodo community. These include: Jotha, Gongona, Gamsa, Sifang, Serja, Khardavi, Kham, Gongar Dunjia, Thorka, Keradapini, Jwamgra, Dokhona and Eri silk are among the latest GI tagged commodities. These include both agricultural products and musical instruments. 
  • As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), India enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act in 1999 to register and protect GIs, which came into effect on 15 September 2003. India's first GI tag was given to Darjeeling tea. 

8.Paradip Port becomes top Indian port in cargo throughput in FY 2023-24 

  • Paradip Port Authority, Odisha has displaced Deendayal Port Authority, Kandla as India's top cargo-handling major port in 2023- 24. In 2023-24, Paradip Port handled 145.38 million metric tonnes (MMT) of cargo. 
  • Paradip Port has handled 10.02 million metric tonnes more cargo registering a growth of 7.4% compared to last year. Paradip Port has a capacity to handle 289 million metric tonnes. 
  • The port has achieved the highest ever coastal shipping traffic of 59.19 million metric tonnes during the financial year, an increase of 0.76 million metric tonnes or 1.30% over the previous year. 
  • Thermal coal coastal shipping has reached 43.97 million metric tons i.e. 4.02% as compared to the previous year's cargo handling. Thus, Paradip Port is emerging as the hub of coastal shipping in the country. 
  • Paradip Port has been able to increase its berth productivity to 33014 MT from 31050 MT in the last financial year, thus registering a growth of 6.33%. The berth productivity achieved by Paradip Port is the highest among all ports in the country.  
  • During the financial year, the port handled 21,665 rakes registering a growth of 7.65% over the previous financial year. During the financial year, the port handled 2710 vessels, registering a growth of 13.82% over the previous financial year. 
  • The port also aims to develop an exclusive berth to handle green ammonia/green hydrogen, making it a hydrogen hub port in the country. Paradip Port is the cheapest in terms of tariff among all the ports in the country. As part of its business development plan, Paradip Port has frozen its tariffs for cargo handling for three years starting 2022. 

Paradip Port 

  • Paradip Port was initially established in 1962 by the Government of Odisha. Paradip Port was declared a major port by the Government of India on 18 April 1966, becoming the 8th major port of India. 
  • Paradip Port is an autonomous body under the Major Ports Trust Act 1963, functioning under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways. It is governed by a Board of Trustees constituted by the Government of India. 

9.Maharashtra becomes men's and women's national Kho Kho champion in the 56th National Kho Kho Championship 2023-24 

  • Maharashtra team made a clean sweep in the 56th National Kho Kho Championship 2023-24. It won both the men's and women's titles held at the Karnail Singh Stadium and Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Delhi. 
  • The winning team received Rs 3 lakh in cash and a trophy. The runner-up received Rs 2 lakh in cash and a trophy. In the final match played at Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, Maharashtra men's team defeated the Indian Railways team. At the end of the stipulated time, both the teams remained tied at 32-32 points. 
  • In the third innings, Maharashtra defeated Indian Railways by 52 runs against 50. 
  • In the women's category, Maharashtra team captained by/ Sampada Maurya defeated Airport Authority of India team by 18-16 points. The final was played at Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, Delhi. 
  • The 56th National Kho Kho Championship 2023-24 was organized by Kho Kho Federation of India from 28 March to 1 April 2024 at Karnail Singh Stadium and Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, Delhi. 
  • In the men's category, 37 teams participated, divided into 8 groups. Similarly, 37 teams divided into 8 groups participated in the women's category. 

Kho Kho game 

  • It is considered to be the second most popular traditional sport in India after Kabaddi. The first Kho Kho competition was organized in 1914. The Indian Kho-Kho Federation organized the first national championship in 1959 in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. 
  • Kho Kho was included as a demonstration sport in the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics and the 3rd South Asian Federation Games held in Kolkata (Calcutta) in 1987. 
  • To popularize the game, 30 June is celebrated as National/International Kho-Kho Day. The Indian Kho Kho Federation was established in 1955. It is a body recognized by the Government of India. Its headquarters is in New Delhi. 

Banking and Financial News

10.Tata AIA unveils payment solution system on WhatsApp 

  • Tata AIA Life Insurance Co. Ltd. (Tata AIA), one of India’s leading life insurers, has launched a premium payment service on its WhatsApp platform marking the first-ever launch of its kind in the life insurance sector. 
  • Previously limited to UPI-based transactions, Tata AIA consumers can now use a wide range of payment methods within WhatsApp. 
  • Using WhatsApp, policyholders can now easily make renewal payments through credit card, debit card, and net banking options. Policyholders can now pay premium up to INR 1 crore, instead of the earlier limit of INR 2 lakh. 
  • In June 2023, Tata AIA introduced industry-first digital payment feature provides an instant premium payment facility through WhatsApp and UPI-enabled payment options.
  • There are 27 services offered by Tata AIA on WhatsApp for its consumers. These include soft copies of the Policy document, premium certificate, claims initiation and updates, renewal premium payments, contact information update, service request tracking, NEFT update, unit statement, and fund value updates. The Company also has an interactive service bot called TASHA that responds to consumer queries 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

11.Recent Facilities Launched in Banking & Insurance Sector 

  • 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 
  • Airtel Payments Bank partners with Noise and Mastercard to unveil ‘A New Way To Pay’ 
  • IndusInd Bank introduced Indus PayWear, a new wearable payment solution, available on Mastercard. 
  • Bank of Baroda launched BoB Earth Green Term Deposit Scheme with 7.15% interest 

12.PhonePe users can make UPI payments through NEOPAY terminals in UAE 

  • PhonePe app users traveling to the UAE can now pay using UPI at Mashreq's NEOPAY terminals, available across a wide range of retail stores, dining outlets as well as tourist and leisure attractions. 
  • All they need to do is scan the QR code for seamless and instant payment. These transactions are facilitated by the Unified Payment Interface (UPI). The debit from the account will be in INR, showing the currency exchange rate. 
  • Additionally, NRIs with UAE mobile numbers can also download the PhonePe app and link their existing NRE and NRO accounts to facilitate payments. It aims to enhance the ease and convenience of transactions for Indian expatriates in the UAE. 
  • This collaboration is facilitated through Mashreq's partnership with NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL). 
  • Through this partnership, Mashreq has enabled NEOPAY terminals to accept UPI apps as a payment instrument. 
  • This strategic alliance combines PhonePe's cutting-edge technology with Mashreq's commitment to incorporating best-in-class technology and innovation into its operations. 

PhonePe Group 

  • India's leading fintech company. Its flagship product, the PhonePe digital payments app, was launched in August 2016. In just 7 years, the company has grown rapidly to become India's leading consumer payments app with 520+ million registered users and a digital payment acceptance network of 38 million merchants. 
  • PhonePe also handles 230+ million daily transactions with an annual total payment value (TPV) of US$1.5 trillion. 
  • PhonePe Group has expanded into financial services (insurance, loans, wealth) as well as new consumer technology businesses (Pincode – hyperlocal e-commerce and Indus App Store – India's first localized app store). 
  • NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL) was incorporated on April 3, 2020 as a wholly owned subsidiary of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). 
  • As the international arm of NPCI, NIPL is dedicated to the deployment of NPCI's indigenous, successful real-time payments system – Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and card scheme – RuPay outside India. 

13.RBI will set up 'Digital India Trust Agency' to curb illegal loan apps 

  • RBI is planning to set up Digital India Trust Agency (DIGITA) to fight against cyber crime and curb illegal loan apps. This proposed agency would target the growth of illegal loan apps by verifying legitimate loan apps and creating a public registry. 
  • These joint efforts of RBI and the tech giants aim to create a safer and more transparent digital lending ecosystem for Indian consumers. 
  • DIGITA will serve as a central hub for vetting digital loan apps. This verification process will ensure that apps comply with regulations and operate ethically. 
  • Only verified apps will receive the “DIGITA-Approved” seal, making them easily identifiable to borrowers. Apps without DIGITA's verification may be penalized. Sources suggest that law enforcement may consider them unauthorized. 
  • This will be a major step towards tackling financial scams and protecting borrowers in the digital lending sector. 
  • A list of 442 legitimate loan apps has been shared with the IT Ministry for whitelisting on app stores like Google Play. With this collaboration, Google has removed more than 2,200 dubious lending apps in the last year. 
  • The search giant has updated its policy regarding the enforcement of loan apps on Play Store, and only those apps which are published by RBI regulated entities (REs) or working in partnership with REs are allowed. This policy change by Google comes at the request of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Department of Financial Services (DFS) under the Finance Ministry. 

Schemes & Comiitees News

14. E-commerce sites told to classify food items correctly 

  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on Tuesday directed all e-commerce food business operators (FBOs) to ensure the appropriate categorisation of food products being sold on their websites. 
  • In a written communication, the Authority noted instances of licensed "proprietary foods" which are dairy-based, cereal based, and malt-based beverage mixes being sold on e-commerce websites under the category of health or energy drinks. "The FSSAI has clarified that the term 'Health Drink' is not defined or standardized anywhere under the FSS Act 2006 or rules/regulations made thereunder. 
  • Therefore, the FSSAI has advised all e-commerce FBOs to promptly rectify this misclassification by removing or de-linking such drinks or beverages from the category of 'Health Drinks/ Energy Drinks' on their websites and place such products in the appropriate category as provided under the extant law," the regulator said. 

Appointment News

15.Sheyphali Sharan takes charge as Principal DG of PIB 

  • Sheyphali B. Sharan has assumed charge as the Principal Director General of the Press Information Bureau upon the superannuation of Manish Desai. 
  • Sharan is an officer of the 1990 batch of Indian Information Service. 
  • During an illustrious career spanning over three decades, she has held cadre portfolios of largely looking after media publicity work as Press Information Bureau officer for Ministries such as Finance, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. 
  • She has also served as the Spokesperson for Election Commission of India. 

Recent Appointment 

  • MD & CEO of Schaeffler India – Harsha Kadam 
  • CFO of Good Glamm Group – Kamal Lath 
  • Chairman of Automotive Tyre Manufacturers’ Association (ATMA) – Arnab Banerjee 
  • Judicial Member, Lokpal – Ritu Raj Awasthi 
  • Director in UPSC – Hansha Mishra 

16.Fincare merges with AU Small Finance Bank 

  • AU Small Finance Bank (AU SFB) amalgamated Fincare Small Finance Bank (Fincare SFB), marking the first such consolidation in the sector. 
  • In an all-stock merger deal first announced on October 29, 2023, where the shareholders of Fincare SFB received 579 equity shares in AU SFB for every 2,000 equity shares held in Fincare SFB, the merger received final approval from RBI on March 4, 2024, with the effective date of April 1, 2024. 
  • The merger is also expected to provide AU SFB with enhanced access to South India, significantly expanding its distribution network.
  • This increased presence will facilitate the distribution of the bank’s diverse range of products and services to a wider customer base, strengthening its market position in the region. 
  • AU SFB has a franchise with a combined base of about 1 crore customers, 43,500 employees, and a network of 2,350 physical touchpoints across 25 states and union territories, having a deposit base of Rs 89,854 crore and a balance sheet size of Rs 1,16,695 crore. 

About AU Small Finance Bank Limited 

  • Founded – 1996 
  • Founder – Sanjay Agarwal 
  • Headquarters – Jaipur, Rajasthan 
  • MD & CEO – Sanjay Agarwal 
  • Tagline – Chalo Aage Badhein 

17.Atul Mehra Joins Axis Capital as MD & CEO 

  • Axis Capital has appointed Atul Mehra as the new Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). 
  • Mehra will be overseeing both the investment banking and institutional equities businesses at Axis Capital. 
  • Atul Mehra is an experienced dealmaker with over 30 years of experience in the industry. He was previously the Joint MD at JM Financial. 

Recent Appointment in Banking & Insurance Sector 

  • CEO of Union Asset Management Company – Madhu Nair (replace G Pradeepkumar) 
  • Mortgage Business Head in HDFC Bank – Sumant Rampal 
  • ED at Union Bank of India – Pankaj Dwivedi 
  • CMD of New India Assurance Company – Girija Subramanian 
  • CMD of United India Insurance Company – Bhupesh Sushil Rahul 

18.Sanjay Nayar takes over as Assocham President 

  • Former KKR India Chief Executive Sanjay Nayar has assumed charge as President of industry chamber Assocham. 
  • He has replaced Ajay Singh, Co-Founder of low-cost airline SpiceJet, who has completed his tenure at the apex industry chamber. 
  • Nayar, who is now Founder and Chairman, Sorin Investment Fund, brings with him an experience of four decades in global financial and capital markets, including 25 years at Citi and nearly 14 at KKR, before retiring last year. 
  • He had established KKR India operations in 2009 after leaving Citigroup. 

19.About Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) 

  • ASSOCHAM is a non-governmental trade association and advocacy group. This organization represents the interests of trade and commerce in India. 
  • Established -1920 
  • Headquarters – New Delhi 
  • ASSOCHAM has more than 200 chambers and trade organizations across India. It has more than 450,000 members. Important day 

20.1-7 April – Prevention of Blindness Week 

  • The Indian government designates April 1 to April 7 as Prevention of Blindness Week.
  • This observance serves as a poignant call to individuals, emphasizing the importance of prudent lifestyle choices and regular eye examinations to mitigate the risk of eye ailments, including age-related macular degeneration. 
  • Jawaharlal Nehru and Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur founded the National Society for the Prevention of Blindness in 1960 under the Societies Registration Act of 1860. 
  • It is an entirely voluntary organization that accepts donations and contributions and actively collaborates with Sight Savers, Rotary International and other significant companies. 

Ranks & Reports News 

21.A reform window Ruoyant GST revenues create a chance to prioritize its overhaul 

  • The financial year 2023-24 appears to have ended on a high on the revenue front. Net direct tax collections rose 19.9% by mid-March to hit 97% of revised Budget targets, while the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has yielded a robust 20.18 lakh crore. 
  • Gross GST revenues in March, for transactions undertaken in February, crossed 1.78 lakh crore, the second highest tally since the rollout of the indirect tax six and a half years ago. The only month when collection stood higher was in April 2023, aided by year-end compliances. There is a good chance the same compliance effects will lift this month's tally past 2 lakh crore, marking a fresh high. Average monthly collections have grown 11.6% in 2023-24 to over 1.68 lakh crore. The growth may be lower than the previous year's 21.8% uptick but establishes a new normal for revenues that the coming year can build on. 
  • This should settle the Centre's con- cerns that the GST has not yielded expected re- turns. Central GST collections in 2023-24 have overshot revised estimates presented in the inte- rim Budget and the Finance Ministry may have to revise its 2024-25 targets when it presents the full Budget as those can now be achieved even if growth slips below 10%. 
  • Some of the increase in collections may well stem from tax demands raised for past years and tightening the screws on known evasion routes such as fake invoices and fraudulent input tax credits. Yet, an uptick in growth of net GST revenues, which the government has started revealing since last month, and the rise in gross collections from domestic transactions (17.6% compared with 13.6% in February) suggest economic activity has been busy in the last quarter of 2023-24. 
  • Perhaps, the only worry is the 5% decline in GST on goods imports during March, from an 8.5% rise in February, which may signal some cutbacks in discretionary consumption. Yet, the overall GST trajectory should give the next government comfort to focus on much-needed reforms to the tax. This must include retrieving the plan to rationalize its multiple rates from deep freeze, expanding it to excluded items such as electricity and petroleum products, and reducing high levies on key products such as cement and insurance. 
  • The GST Compensation Cess, now being used to repay the COVID-19 pandemic era borrowings made to recompense States, raked in 1.44 lakh crore last year, and it is likely possible to wind it down earlier than the extended March 2026 deadline. It is critical to resist the temptation to replace it with a new levy except for truly demerit goods such as tobacco. Taxing hybrid vehicles over 40%, for instance, makes no sense, either for India's green goals or boosting consumption and spurring private investments. 

Sports News 

22.Mirabai Chanu becomes the only Indian weightlifter to qualify for Paris Olympics 

  • Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Mirabai Chanu became the only Indian weightlifter to qualify for the Paris Olympics this year after successfully competing at the IWF World Cup in Phuket, Thailand. She lifted a total of 184 kg (81 kg in snatch + 103 kg in clean and jerk). 
  • The 29-year-old Tokyo Olympics silver medalist finished third (and 11th overall) in the women's 49kg Group B to book her place at the 2024 Paris Games. 
  • Chanu, who returned after a six month-long layoff due to injury, lifted a total of 184kg at the World Cup, which is the final and mandatory qualifier for Paris 2024. 
  • The 2017 world champion is currently ranked second in the women's 49kg Olympic Qualification Rankings (OQR) behind China's Jiang Huihua. The official announcement of qualification will come after the conclusion of the World Cup. The top 10 lifters from each weight category will qualify for the Paris Olympics. 
  • The Manipuri weightlifter last competed at the Hangzhou Asian Games in September-October last year, where she finished fourth after falling badly in her third and final clean and jerk attempt, resulting in a thigh injury. 
  • In Paris, Mirabai will have to survive some tough challenges from Chinese lifters Jiang Huihua (216 kg) and Hou Zihui (217 kg) and North Korea's Ri Song Gum – the world record holder with a total lift of 221 kg. 

Indian Polity News 

23.Sanjay Singh gets bail; no trace of money trail: SC 

  • Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh got bail from the Supreme Court on Tuesday in the Delhi liquor For policy case, as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) chose to make a tactical withdrawal rather than risk an order from the top court which may affect the al trial later on. 
  • After half a day of hearring, Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, appearing for the ED, told a three-judge Bench led by Justice Sanjiv Khanna that the Central agency had decided to concede in favor of granting bail to the Rajya Sabha MP, whose custody was no longer necessary. 
  • The turnaround came when Justice Khanna noted that Mr. Singh had been behind bars for six months with no headway made in recovering the proceeds of the alleged crime or any trace of the money trail leading to him. "We need to know if further custody is required or not," the Bench, including Justices Dipankar Datta and P.B. Varale, told the ED. 
  • The court pointed out that the accused-turned-approver Dinesh Arora had not implicated Mr. Singh until his 10th statement claiming that the MP had taken ₹2 crore in bribes. 

24.ED files PMLA case against Mahua Moitra 

  • The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has initiated a probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA) Act against Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra and businessman Darshan Hiranandani in connection with the cash-for-query allegations. 
  • The ED action is based on an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against the two, following a directive from the Lokpal. Earlier, the CBI had submitted a preliminary report to the Lokpal on its findings. The ED is already conducting a probe under Foreign Exchange Management Act in the matter

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