Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 31st March 2024


National News 

1. 250 rescued from cyber 10 fraud centres abroad: MEA 

  • The Union government is "collaborating closely with dian, Cambodian authorities and has rescued about 250 Indians from Cambodia, who had been lured there by cyber fraud and fake online recruitment scams, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Saturday. About 75 of them have returned to India over the past three months. 
  • The return of the Indians comes as investigating agencies launched a nationwide operation against agents many of them believed to be linked to companies in China that operate in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to recruit We job seekers across South Asia and South East Asia on the promise of working in the information technology industry there. Once they go abroad, the recruits are instead forced to work in cyber fraud centres, and coerced into med defrauding others over the vil-telephone and online. 
  • "Our Embassy in Cambodia has been promptly responding to complaints from Indian nationals who were lured with employment opportunities to that country but were forced to undertake illegal cyber work," the MEA said in a statement on Saturday. "We are also working with Cambodian authorities and with agencies in India to crack down on those responsible for these fraudulent schemes," it added. 
  • A nationwide hunt against agents involved in such scams has revealed some insights Into their operations The statement followed reports that the MEA has been coordinating with the Home Ministry and law enforcement agencies to help bring back about 300 of those who have reached out to the Indian Embassy in Phnom Penh. 
  • In January this year, the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (14C) and the Home Ministry had said that about half of the 5,000 calls received on the Asia are recruited by agents operating in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and India other schemes Job seekers from across South Asia and South East invest in fraudulent cryptocurrency trading and MHA says they get over 2,000 calls a day about such scams involving firms In Cambodia and Myanmar. 
  • They are promised IT Jobs but once there, are forced to work in cyber fraud centres. 
  • They then work over the phone and through social media and get people. 
  • Over the past year, arrests have been made in many States, including Odisha, Punjab and Kerala cybercrime helplines on an average day relate to such scams involving companies based in Cambodia and Myanmar, linked mainly to Chinese apps. 
  • Caution advised The MEA and the Indian Embassy have issued several advisories warning job-seekers against accepting such job offers. "All Indian nationals who are travelling to jobs in Cambodia and the South East Asia region are advised that there are many fake agents operating in the region, who along with the agents in India, are luring people to scam companies, involved especially in cyber crimes," said one such advisory, counselling the job- seekers to only go through authorised agents approved by the MEA. 
  • MEA cautions people against accepting job offers from South East Asia region, asking them to go through authorised agents. 
  • Over the past year, police in several Indian States, including Odisha, Punjab, and Kerala, have made arrests in such cases. Officials conceded that there were likely to be many more victims across South East Asia, but said that they were working mainly with those who have reached out to Indian embassies abroad, and those whom the local police officials in those countries have managed to rescue. 

2. CAA Rules silent on fate of rejected applicants 

  • As applications start coming in through the online citizenship portal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), some potential applicants are worried about their fate if rejected. The law's Rules, notified earlier this month, are silent regarding any review process for applications rejected by the empowered committees, which have the final authority to accord citizenship under the Act. 
  • Some potential applicants, including lakhs of people from the Matua community of West Bengal, entered the country decades ago and have been living as Indian citizens for many years. However, if their submitted documents now fail the scrutiny of the empowered committee, or if there is an adverse security clearance report about them, their applications for Indian citizenship under the CAA could be rejected. 
  • "If an application is rejected, people may end up in detention centres," warned Mamata Bala Thakur, a Trinamool Congress parliamentarian who hails from a Hindu community that migrated from Bangladesh. 
  • The parent law, the Citizenship Act, 1955, says that the applicant may file a review application before the Central government within 30 days and "the decision of the Central government on such review shall be final." 
  • According to Aman Wadud, an Assam-based lawyer who has worked extensively on citizenship cases in the State, "the review of the rejection is to be done by the same authority, the empowered committee (as per Section 15 A of the Act). In case the review is rejected, a writ petition can be filed before the High Court". 
  • The ambiguity around the rejection of applications poses concerns, particularly for the Matua community in West Bengal, which stands to benefit from the CAA's provision of fast-tracked citizenship. 

State News 

3. Temperature crosses 40 degree Celsius mark in Kerala 

  • For the first time since 2019, mercury crossed the 40 degrees Celsius mark in Kerala with Palakkad recording the season's highest temperature on Friday and Saturday. 
  • The temperatures recorded at the meteorological station in Palakkad were 40.4 degrees Celsius and 40 degree Celsius, res- pectively, on Saturday and Friday. The station had earlier recorded 40.2 degree Celsius and 40.8 degree Celsius în 2019 (on March 28 and 29, respectively). Vellanikkara in Thrissur was another station that recorded 40.4 degree Celsius in 2019. 
  • Meanwhile, large parts of the State continue to simmer in the heat as summer thundershowers remain elusive, especially in central and northern Kerala. The summer rain is around 69% deficient in Kerala with the State netting only 10.1 mm of rainfall so far against the average of 32.4 mm during the period from March 1 to 30. 
  • Adding to the woes of the public, the humidity level in the atmosphere is also ruling high. 
  • Though some thunder showers are expected in southern districts by next week, a widespread shower is unlikely across the State, say India Meteorological Department (IMD) sources. 

Defence News 

4. LCA Tejas MK-1A completes maiden flight in Bengaluru 

  • The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has successfully completed the first flight of indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mark 1A fighter jet in Bengaluru. 
  • The aircraft was airborne for 15 minutes during its first flight. 
  • The fighter aircraft is likely to be deployed at Nal airbase in Rajasthan’s Bikaner near the Pakistan border where it can take care of the western adversary. 
  • LCA Mk-1A is an advanced variant of the LCA Mk-1, and it has advanced electronic radar, superior warfare capabilities, and improved maintenance features. 

5. India-Mozambique-Tanzania Trilateral Exercise concludes at Mozambique 

  • The second edition of India-Mozambique-Tanzania Trilateral Exercise (IMT TRILAT 24) concluded at Nacala, Mozambique. 
  • The week-long exercise underscores the importance of enhanced maritime cooperation and interoperability between the Navies of India, Mozambique, and Tanzania. 
  • INS Tir and Sujata participated in IMT TRILAT 24 through a series of joint exercises, training sessions and collaborative activities, providing invaluable opportunities for all three Navies to exchange knowledge, enhance capabilities and bolster maritime security in the region. 

Recent Exercise 

  • 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 
  • Indian Air Force Conduct Exercise Vayu Shakti-2024 – Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. 

Appointment News 

6. Arnab Banerjee elected as Chairman of ATMA 

  • MD & CEO of CEAT Ltd, Arnab Banerjee has been elected as the new Chairman of Automotive Tyre Manufacturers’ Association (ATMA). 
  • Arnab Banerjee joined CEAT in 2005 as the Vice President-Sales and Marketing. 

About ATMA 

  • ATMA is the national industry body for the automotive tyre sector in India. 
  • Established -1975 
  • ATMA is amongst the most active national industry bodies in the country representing ₹90,000 crore ($11 bn) automotive tyre industry. 
  • Eight large tyre companies comprising a mix of Indian and International tyre majors and representing over 90 per cent of production of tyres in India are members of the Association. 
  • ATMA members include Apollo Tyres, Bridgestone India, Ceat, Continental India, Goodyear India, JK Tyre & Industries, MRF and TVS Tyres. 

Recent Appointment 

  • 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) 
  • President of Indian Steel Association (ISA) – Naveen Jindal (replace Dilip Oommen) 
  • Mumbai Municipal Commissioner – Bhushan Gagrani 

Business News 

7. Fish otolith ornaments make market debut 

  • Arnaments from fish otoliths, named 'Sea gems', have made a market debut, thanks to efforts of a group of enthusiastic fisherwomen in Vizhinjam, trained by scientists from Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). 
  • The otolith ornaments crafted by fisherwomen under self-help group Sea Gems Mahila Sahrudam Group recently went on display at Kerala Arts and Crafts Village showroom in Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram. 
  • Fish otoliths are biomineralized ear stones that help fish hear and provide a sense of balance. Otoliths are Important in fish studies as they have species-specific shapes and grow throughout their life. 
  • This is the first time ornaments from fish otoliths, known to the Romans and Egyptians as lucky stones and which continue to be used in countries like Brazil, are being produced and sold in an organised and sustainable manner in India, said CMFRI sources. Sameena Naseer, who heads the Sea Gems MHG, said that CMFRI scientists Abdussamad and Surya S. explained the group, all drawn from the coastal community in Vizhinjam, about otoliths and their unique qualities. 
  • A score of fishermen expressed their desire to be trained and brought together for a training programme. 
  • "The results have been a pleasant surprise. The fact that these ornaments are from a unique raw material makes it all the better", she said. 
  • T.U. Sreeprasad, CEO of Crafts Village, said that the idea is unique because it has come out of a research institute in support of fisherwomen 

Ranks & Report News 

8. Many countries yet to fully implement steps to prevent misuse of virtual assets, says FATF 

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, has found that many countries are yet to fully implement its requirements aimed at preventing mis-use of virtual assets and virtual asset service providers (VASPs). 
  • Virtual assets (crypto assets) refer to "any digital representation of value that can be digitally traded, transferred or used for payment". The FATF plenary had in February 2023 agreed on a road map to strengthen the implementation of its standards on virtual assets and VASPs. Recently, it carried out a survey on the current levels of implementation and has now published a paper on the "Recommendation 15 by FATF Members and Jurisdictions with Materially Important VASP Activity". 
  • "Following a 12-month process to collect and evaluate information, the FATF is publishing a table which sets out the status of implementation of Recommendation 15 by FATF members and other jurisdictions with the most materially important VASP activity. This table is based on the work of the FATF's Virtual Assets Contact Group members as well as the extensive input by the FATF Global Network of FATF members and FATF- Style regional bodies," it has said. 
  • The FATF also had consultations with representatives of the private sector, 
  • Virtual assets refer to 'any digital representation of value that can be used for payment' besides the virtual assets and VASP community. The study, which involves 58 FATF and non-jurisdictions, found that India has already conducted a risk assessment covering virtual assets and VASPS. 
  • Although it has explicitly prohibited the use of virtual assets and VASPs, it is compliant on issues such as enactment of legislation/regulation requiring VASPs to be registered or licensed and application of Anti-money Laundering/ Counter-Terrorism Financing measures. 
  • India, a member country, has conducted a supervisory inspection or included VASPs in its current inspection plan; has taken enforcement action or other supervisory action against VASPs; and has passed or enacted the tra- vel rule for VASPs. The FATF is yet to evaluate and rate India's performance with respect to the revised standards on virtual assets and VASPs. The countries which have explicitly prohibited the use of virtual assets and VASPs are China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, while it is in progress in Seychelles and Indonesia. 
  • "The table includes all FATF members plus 20 jurisdictions with materially important VASP activity. These jurisdictions were identified based on two criteria: trading volume and user base, based on open source datasets from January to December 2022 and cross-checked against data from blockchain analytics companies," said the FATF. 
  • It added: "It is important to note that large-scale trend data related to virtual assets is difficult to obtain, incomplete, and may change rapidly. This table provides a snapshot in time of jurisdictions that are identified as having materially important VASP activities as well as jurisdictions that are FATF members." Listing the reasons for issuing the table, the FATF said as virtual assets were inherently international and borderless, any failure to regulate VASPs in one jurisdiction could have serious global implications. 

9. Green groups seek ban on infra projects in Himalayas 

  • More than 60 environmental and social organisations in the country have demanded a complete ban on all mega infrastructure projects, such as those related to the railways, dams, hydro projects and four-lane highways, in the Himalayas, and have urged for referendums and public consultations to be made compulsory for all development projects. 
  • The organisations, jointly leading the "People for Himalaya" campaign, issued a five-point charter of demand for all political parties for the Lok Sabha polls. They called for a complete moratorium on all mega infrastructure projects along with a comprehensive multidisciplinary review of the impacts of the existing projects. 
  • The organisations demanded that democratic decision-making through referendums and public consultations be made compulsory for large infrastructure projects. 
  • They also called for the strengthening of the Environment Impact Assessment Notification-1994, the scrapping of the EIA-2020 amendments and FCA-2023 amendments, and free prior informed consent of gram sabhas for all development projects. 

Science & Technology News 

10.Facing pressure from Google, NCPCR, Ullu drops adult content 

  • Pressure has been mounting on the adult streaming platform Ullu on its content, with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) asking the government to act against the firm. Separately, the Digital Publisher Content Grievance Council (DPCGC) has issued a rebuke of the streaming service's catalogue. The DPCGC is a streaming self-regulatory body, and Ullu is a member. 
  • Under notice from Google, the Android version of the app has been cleansed of much of the content it has built its business on. Google's action was revealed to the NCPCR in a reply obtained by The Hindu. 
  • As streaming platforms find their content increasingly restricted against political and religious themes often due to self-imposed restraints the government has set its sights on smaller players who put out mature content intended for adults. Eighteen such sites and apps were blocked earlier this month for "obscene and vulgar content". 
  • These sites include "Hot Shots VIPL] Mojflix, MoodX, and Uncut Adda". While there is no explicit ban on pornography in India, many international websites offering such content have been ordered offline by the Uttarakhand 
  • The Ullu app has been cleansed of much of the content it has built its business on. 
  • High Court, in a suo motu 2018 judgement that the government and Internet providers continue to comply with. 
  • The DPCGC was established under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. 
  • From all the appeals that DPCGC's grievance redressal board has heard and issued orders on, only one outcome has been published on its website a June 2023 order against Ullu finding the firm had a "solitary aim" to "depict sexual contents," and to take down some content that fit this description. The board is headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice A.K. Sikri did not respond to a message seeking comment. Last year, though, the firm defended itself to the DPCGC saying that it "offers a wide variety of genres from drama, horror, suspense, thriller to comedy and beyond which targets audience[s] above eighteen years of age," and that it has safeguards to prevent minors from viewing its content, according to Justice Sikri's summary of arguments by Priyannka Chaurasiya, a lawyer for the firm. 
  • Google told the NCPCR that it found no inappropriate content featuring children on Ullu, indicating that the commission's concern was around such content being accessible to minors, and not featuring them. The IT Rules have mandatory provisions for streaming services to provide age-restricting features for mature content, and most streaming providers are in compliance with this requirement. 
  • An advisory by Justice Sikri in December 2023 to streaming services, previously unreported, "strongly advises the platforms to undertake suitable measures to ensure that all the content on their respective platforms must comply with the test of obscenity and pornography as enumerated under the various laws of the land." The advisory does not name Ullu. 
  • Ullu had set itself apart from rival adult streaming outfits by abstaining from depicting graphic nudity or other acts that could trigger immediate back- lash from authorities. 

11. India’s first Artificial Intelligence based Film ‘IRAH’ trailer launched 

  • The trailer and song launch of the first Hindi film on this subject, “IRAH,” took place in Mumbai. 
  • The movie features Rohit Bose Roy, Rajesh Sharma, Karishma Kotak, and Rakshith Bhandarry in prominent roles. 
  • The movie is Produced by Big Films Media and directed by Sam Bhattacharjee. The film is set to release nationwide in theaters on April 4th through Iamplex Digital Theatrical Distribution. 
  • The trailer of the film “IRAH” showcases the misuse of AI technology, shedding light on its negative aspects. 

12. IIM Mumbai and Starburst collaborate to boost aerospace, defence startups 

  • The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Mumbai has partnered with Europe’s Starburst, in a bid to boost the aerospace, new space, and defence (ASD) industry in India. 
  • The partnership aims to strengthen India’s position as a hub for ASD innovation on the global stage, as well as offer a conducive environment for innovation and entrepreneurship. 
  • This strategic collaboration between IIM Mumbai and Starburst signifies a crucial step towards nurturing and empowering the burgeoning ASD startup ecosystem in India. 

IITs in News 

  • IIT Madras hosts the 6th Shaastra Rapid FIDE Rated Chess Tournament 
  • Starburst Accelerator SARL partners with IIT Madras to establish €100 million startup hub 
  • IIT Madras develops customisable ‘Electric Standing Wheelchair’ 
  • Indian Navy & IIT Kharagpur signed a MoU to drive innovation through research partnership 
  • Max India’s subsidiary partners with IIT Delhi for senior citizen care 

13.IT Act change yet to aid MSMES 

  • An intervention in the Un-kon Budget last year to ensure timely payments to micro and small-scale manufacturing and service units is yet to help them and even hurting some. 
  • Section 43 b (h) of the Income Tax Act says payments due to UDYAN-regis Red micro-and small scale industries would be allowed as deduction only if the actual payment was made within the time stip-Hated in the MSME Act. 
  • Otherwise, the payment would be taxed as income. 
  • If a micro or small-scale unit had a written agreement with a medium- or large-scale industry for supply of components, spares, or any other product or service, the payment should be made by the buyer within 45 days. If there was no agreement, the payment should be made within 15 days. 
  • However, the risk for micro units was that the buyers would prefer to source from suppliers who were not UDYAN-registered, said B. Kandavel, organising secretary of the Federation of Tamil Nadu Power Looms Associations. For instance, weavers in Tamil Nadu supplying textile products to large buyers got paid once in three months or so. Buyers are now either reducing payment as the credit period has dropped or are preferring unregistered suppliers, he said. 
  • Still, MSMEs would be nefit in the long run as they Nico would get payments on time, asserted Anil Bhardwaj, secretary general of G the Federation of Indian Micro, and Small & Medium Enterprises. 
  • The intervention will aid MSMEs though it will take time for the system to settle down and may also temporarily affect the working Re capital of buyers, said V. Thirugnanam, president, Coimbatore District Small Inc Industries Association. 

Awards News

14. Vijay Jain bagged prestigious Times Power Icon 2024 Award 

  • Managing Director of Star Estate, Vijay Jain has been awarded the prestigious Times Power Icon 2024 Award. 
  • The award ceremony, held recently in Noida, was organized by The Times Group. 

About Star Estate

  • Founded in 2012 as the fastest-growing Real Estate enterprise, Star Estate offers a wide range of consulting services in residential, commercial and retail verticals and more. 
  • Star Estate aims to inspire the world by demonstrating that it is possible to provide long-term and sustainable benefits to consumers, entrepreneurs, suppliers, shareholders, and the community all at the same time. 

Recent Awards 

  • 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 
  • PV Narasimha Rao Memorial Award – Ratan Tata 
  • Diana Memorial Award – Uday Bhatia & Manasi Gupta 

15.Four receive Bharat LS Ratna posthumously 

  • President Droupadi Murmur on Saturday conferred the Bharat Ratna on former Prime Ministers P.V, Narasimha Rao and Chaudhary Charan Singh; former Bihar Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur; and agronomist Dr. M.S. Swaminathan. All four awards were presented posthumously at a brief ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. 
  • The late Rao's award was received by his son, P.V. Prabhakar Rao, while Singh's award was received by his grandson, Jayant Chaudhary. Dr. Swaminathan's daughter, Nitya Rao, received the award for her father, and Thakur's was received by his son, Ram Nath Thakur. 
  • Ms. Murmu is likely to visit Mr. Advani, the other award this year, at his residence to honour him as his mobility is restricted because of frail health. 

Important Day 

16. 30 March – International Day of Zero Waste 

  • International Day of Zero Waste is celebrated every year on March 30th. 
  • This day aims to raise awareness about reducing waste and promoting zero-waste initiatives to achieve sustainable development. 
  • On 14 December 2022, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution at its seventy-seventh session to proclaim 30 March as International Day of Zero Waste, to be observed annually. 
  • Promoting zero-waste initiatives through this international day can help advance all the goals and targets in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including Sustainable Development Goal 11 and Sustainable Development Goal 12. 
  • These goals address all forms of waste, including food loss and waste, natural resource extraction and electronic waste. 

Obituary News 

17. Ex-MLA Mukhtar Ansari laid to rest in Ghazipur amid heavy security 

  • Mukhtar Ansari was laid to rest at the Kali Bagh burial ground in Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh, on Saturday amid heavy security. 
  • The former MLA, who had been in jail since 2005, suffered a cardiac arrest on Thursday: While his family alleged that he had been poisoned in jail, Opposition leaders have sought a high-level investigation into his death. 
  • The body was brought to the family's ancestral burial ground at Yusufpur in Mohammadabad, roughly a kilometre from the Ansaris residence, on Saturday morning. A sea of supporters accompanied the body in procession to the burial ground. 
  • The district police faced difficulty in managing the crowd that tried to force its way into the burial ground where entry was restricted. Security personnel, including from the paramilitary, were deployed in thousands around the An dence and the ebu saris' residence, a rial ground. 
  • Plea to supporters Earlier, the family requested supporters to pray for the deceased. In a post on X on Friday, Suhaib Ansari, MLA and nephew of the deceased, said: "My younger uncle Mr. Mukhtar Ansari Sahib passed away last night. Tomorrow at 10 a.m. he will be buried in the Kalibagh graveyard of Yusufpur Mohammadabad (Ghazipur). You all are requested to pray for the forgiveness of the deceased.`` 
  • Mukhtar Ansari, a five-time former MLA, died on Thursday night within hours of his admission to the Rani Durgawati Medical College in Banda district. 
  • "Around 8.25 p.m., convicted/undertrial prisoner Mukhtar Ansari, son of Subhanullah, aged 63, was brought by jail staff to the emergency department at the Rani Durgawati Medical College in an unconscious state. The patient was treated by a team of nine doctors and given all possible medical facilities, but despite all the attempts for recovery, the patient died due to cardiac arrest," reads the medical bulletin from the hospital. 
  • On March 26, he was admitted to the same hospital after he complained of abdominal pain and later discharged. His family had alleged that he was being "poisoned". 
  • Mr. Ansari faced more than five dozen cases and had been languishing in jail since 2005. Opposition leaders in the State have demanded a high-level investigation into the death, with Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav calling for an investigation under the supervision of a Supreme Court judge, and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati pushing for a high-level probe.

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