Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 7th April 2024


National News 

1. BEML, BEL join hands to develop indigenous train control management system 

  • Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has signed an MoU to jointly develop an indigenous Train Control Management System (i-TCMS), aimed at what they called “revolutionising” rail communication technology in the country. 
  • The primary objective of this partnership is to identify potential areas of cooperation between BEML and BEL, with a focus on exploring the joint development of high-value products and solutions tailored to the requirements of Indian Railways and Metro systems. 
  • Currently, Train Control Management Systems (TCMS) are predominantly supplied by propulsion suppliers, leading to dependency on imported technology. 
  • In line with the “Make in India” initiative, the collaboration aims to develop TCMS indigenously to meet the future needs of rail projects in the country. 

Recent MoU 

  • Mahindra Aerostructures inks $100-million supply contract with Airbus group 
  • IOCL, Panasonic Energy ink pact for lithium-ion cell JV 
  • HPCL and Tata Join Forces to Build Nationwide EV Charging Network 
  • NHPC inks pct with JBIC for 20 billion for developing 300 MW solar project in Bikaner, Rajasthan. 
  • Tech Mahindra collaborates with IBM to drive digital adoption 

2.India to stop importing urea by end of 2025 

  • According to the Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, Mansukh Mandaviya, India will stop importing urea by the end of 2025 due to an increase in local production capacity with the commissioning of new fertilizer plants. 
  • India is a big importer of Urea and meets around 30% of its 35 million tonnes of annual urea requirement from imports. 
  • The urea production in the country increased from 225.08 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 to 284.95 lakh tonnes in 2022-23. 
  • In 2022-23, the total import of Urea was 75.8 lakh tonnes, which is around 30% of the domestic demand. The main sources of urea imports are Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. 

3.Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port registers record cargo handling in 2023-24 

  • In its 154-year history, Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port (Kolkata) including Kolkata Dock System (KDS) and Haldia Dock Complex (HDC), achieved a milestone in the just-concluded financial year 2023-24 by handling 66.4 million tonnes of cargo. 
  • It marked a 1.11 per cent increase from the previous record of 65.66 million tonnes moved in 2022-23. 
  • The complex handled 49.54 million tonne in 2023-24, marking its highest cargo volume ever since its inception and surpassing the previous record of 48.608 million tonne in 2022-23, representing an increase of 1.91 per cent. 
  • Meanwhile, Kolkata Dock System managed 16.856 million tonne of cargo in 2023-24 compared to 17.052 million tonne in 2022-23. 
  • The port’s robust financial performance in 2023-24, achieving a net surplus of Rs 501.73 crores as well, a significant 65 per cent growth over the previous year’s net surplus of Rs 304.07 crores, marking a remarkable accomplishment. 
  • Haldia Dock Complex registered growth in respect of POL (Product), Other Liquid, Vegetable Oil, Iron Ore, Other Coal Coke, Finished Fertilizer, Container TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent), while Kolkata Dock System registered growth in respect of finished fertilizer, timber, other coal / coke, pulses and peas, container (both TEUs and tonnage) during 2023-24 vis-a-vis 2022-23. 

International News 

4.UAE’s Masdar to host World Future Energy Summit

  • Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company PJSC – Masdar, the UAE’s clean energy powerhouse, will host the World Future Energy Summit (WFES). 
  • Taking place from April 16 to 18 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), WFES is the world’s leading business event for future energy, clean technology and sustainability, with a packed programme of events, activations, discussions and forums. 
  • The Masdar Pavilion at WFES will act as a hub for innovation, collaboration and knowledge sharing, with its theatre featuring an engaging programme of panels and presentations, including forums by Masdar’s global strategic initiatives, Y4S (Youth 4 Sustainability) and WiSER (Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy). 

5.Influenza A H5N1 detected in dairy cows in 6 states in the U.S. 

  • Avian influenza (bird flu) is a highly contagious viral infection that primarily affects birds. An emerging new lineage of avian influenza has been spreading across the globe since late 2020, carried by migratory birds following specific routes. This panzootic has a significant effect on the avian population with disastrous consequences to the ecology and significant economic loss affecting poultry across the world. In rare instances, the virus can infect mammals from birds causing spillovers, and in recent years, several such instances of spillovers spanning over 200 species have been noted, the most recent being polar bears in Antarctica. Close contact with infected animals could mean the virus could spill over infecting humans and this comes with a significantly large fatality rate. In late March 2024, a multistate outbreak of H5N1 in dairy cows was detected in the U.S. In what started as a mystery disease affecting dairy herds in Texas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (US- DA) detected the highly pathogenic strain of the virus in herds across the states of Texas and Kansas. The affected animals displayed symptoms including loss of appetite, low grade fever, and reduced lactation. This marked the first time H5N1 had been detected in cattle, raising concerns about potential 
  • H5N1 outbreak in symptoms including loss of a and reduced lactation, SPECI 
  • This is the first time that H5N1 It raises concerns about potential transmission routes and the broader impact on the dairy and meat industry. To date, H5N1 has been detected in over 12 herds from six states Texas, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, Idaho and Ohio. 
  • In Texas, other animals in proximity to the affected farms-wild birds and cats also showed signs of illness and have tested positive for the virus. The exact extent of the spread of H5N1 in cows has not yet been ascertained since cattle are not routinely tested for avian influenza and the symptoms have been relatively mild, leaving possibilities that there may be other undetected infected herds. The initial detections in late March in Texas, Kansas, and Michigan have yet to show a definitive pattern of transmission. Given the pace of the spread of infection across herds, the transmission of the virus within cattle has not yet been ruled out. Investigations are ongoing to determine the exact source of the spread to cows. 
  • In April 2024, a human infection of H5N1 was reported from Texas. The infected individual had contact with cows presumed to be infected with the virus. Fortunately, the patient had mild illness, with symptoms like eye redness, and has recovered after being treated with antivirals. Following this case, the CDC has reiterated that the risk of infections for humans remains low, although people with prolonged or close exposure to H5N1-infected animals reported from Texas. 
  • In general, the risk of infections for humans remains low, but farm workers are at a higher risk of getting infected HSN1 infections in humans can range from mild symptoms to severe illness and even death.
  • So far, 500 sporadic human HSN1 cases have been reported from over 20 countries, with a rase-fatality ratio of 53% such that farm workers are at a higher risk. This is the second case of human H5N1 infection reported from the U.S. A previous case was reported in 2022 from Colorado. Human H5N1 infections are rare but have been sporadically reported in several countries. 
  • H5N1 infections in humans can range from mild symptoms of eye infections to severe illness including pneumonia and death. Since 2003, more than 800 sporadic human H5N1 cases have been reported to the World Health Organization from over 20 countries, with a case-fatality ratio of 53%. In January 2024, concerns about H5N1 avian influenza rose in Southeast Asia when Cambodia reported two human cases, with tragically one resulting in death. 
  • Researchers sequenced the HSNI virus from both the infected Texas cows and the human case and found that both viruses were longed to clade of H5N1, with the human strain having one minor mutation potentially linked to adaptation in mammals. However, this change has not led to increased transmissibility among humans, and the overall public health risk remains low according to the CDC. Since late 2021, H5N1 clade has circulated in wild birds in the U.S. 
  • Globally, 2023 also saw potential spillover events with HSNI linked to the deaths of seals in Russia and infections in marine mammals in Peru. Early in 2023, dead seals in Russia and infected marine mammals in Peru suggested H5NI might jump from birds to mammals. Additionally, the U.K. reported deaths of other animals including otters and foxes due to H5N1. These incidents underscore the need for further research to understand how H5NI might evolve and potentially adapt to different species. In summary, while the current risk of H5N1 transmission to humans is considered low, a combined approach of disease surveillance and monitoring the virus's genetic makeup (genomic surveillance) will be crucial for managing the outbreak. 
  • (Bani Jolly is a senior scientist at Karkinos Healthcare and Vinod Scaria is a senior consultant at Vishwanath Cancer Care Foundation) 

State News 

6.Kerala researchers working to dispel myths around bats

  • Myth, superstition, and zoonotic diseases such COVID-19 and the Nipah virus infection, have created a negative impression of bats. The fallout is that these nocturnal, flying mammals are losing their habitat and their numbers are falling. On a clear-the-air campaign for bats, a team from Kerala is on a mission to train the next generation of bat researchers and to create awareness of the species' diversity and ecosystem functions. 
  • The Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment and the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Peechi, Thrissur, have recently organized training programmes on bat taxonomy, acoustics and biogeography. 
  • The campaign originated from the pressing need to address the challenges posed by emerging zoonotic diseases and the ongoing threats faced by bat populations, including habitat loss and the cutting down of fruit bat roosts, Peroth Balakrishnan,head of the Department of Wildlife Biology at KFRI, said, "The programme served as a platform to equip researchers with the necessary skills and knowledge to tackle these challenges head on. We conducted such a campaign last year too. We are proud to continue fostering passionate young individuals dedicated to bat research and conservation." 
  • Sreehari Raman, Assistant Professor at the Kerala Agricultural University, who was part of the programme stressed the significance of taxonomy training in bat conservation, stating, "Taxonomy forms the foundation of bat research and conservation efforts. Proper identification and classification of bat species are essential for implementing effective conservation strategies and understanding their ecological roles." 
  • A specialist from Thailand offered a session on bat taxonomy. Pipat Soisook, research lecturer and curator of mammals, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Natural History Museum in Thailand, emphasized the need for collaboration among South Asian researchers on bats. "Many bat species overlap in the South Asian region, making collaboration among researchers imperative. By sharing data, resources, and expertise, we can enhance our understanding of these creatures and work towards their conservation," he said. 
  • Modern tools Rohit Chakravarty from the Nature Conservation Foundation and Bat Conservation International shared insights into bat acoustics and monitoring techniques, emphasizing the importance of employing modern tools for studying these nocturnal creatures. The programme also delved into the topics such as biodiversity genomics, social structure, and mating systems in bats, with sessions led by Balaji Chattopadhyay and Kritika M. Garg from Ashoka University. Baheerathan Murugavel, a research associate at IISER Mohali, offered insights on the use of telemetry techniques for studying the movement ecology of bats. 
  • Dr. Peroth, along with wildlife biologist Nithin Divakar, discussed citizen science and participatory approaches in bat conservation, highlighting the role of community engagement in monitoring and conserving bat species. Parvathy Venugopal, 
  • Survey Officer, National Bat Monitoring Programme of the Bat Conservation Trust, U.K., shared the story of U.K's longest- running citizen science programme and the potential lessons that could be drawn from it. 
  • The programme was supported by the Conservation Leadership Programme and Bat Conservation international. 

7. All-weather road gives a strategic fillip to Ladakh 

  • The latest feat of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in Ladakh, connect Ing Himachal Pradesh and Leh through the Nimu-Padam-Darcha road, has come as a shot in the arm for security forces stationed in the region, and added significantly to India's strategic depth in the hostile neighborhood. 
  • The BRO's breakthrough, achieved on March 27, has paved the way to open up the far-off Zanskar Valley for the safest ordnance depot, away from the prying eyes of China and Pakistan, officials privy to the development told The Hindu. 
  • The Nimu-Padam-Darcha road allows surface movement from Leh to La haul-Spiti through the world's highest tunnel at Shinku La Pass at 16,580 feet, which is under construction. 
  • "It will be the first all weather road connecting Ladakh to the rest of the country," an official said. The tunnel is likely to be completed by 2025. 
  • Maintaining logistics in the absence of all-weather roads to the region, especially during Ladakh's harsh winters, has always been a concern to security strategists. At present, security forces stock ration and ammunition months in advance to maintain a vigil on the borders. China, on the other hand, has already developed all-weather road networks close to the Line of Actual Control. 
  • Once the Shinkula tunnel is thrown open in western Ladakh's Zanskar Valley, the mobilization of troops to Ladakh will be much fas ter and less exposed than the current routes passing close to the northern and eastern areas, surrounded by Pakistan and China. "It will make defense preparedness much safer,"
  • However, there are murmurs of discontentment among local people. "On one hand, I am happy to learn that BRO India has connected the strategic Nimu-Padam-Darcha road in Ladakh recently. However, I am really concerned that it might change the landscape of Zanskar, the land of rich culture and heritage," climate activist Sonam Wang chuk said in a post on X. 
  • Advocate Mustafa Haji, a social activist from Kargil, said the construction of four lanes on the Kargil Zanskar section is "completely needless, unless it is part of a bigger plan". 
  • "Not to mention the number of trees that will have to be cut in the SurValley for this project," Mr. Haji pointed out. 

8. Climate activist and Leh Apex Body call off march to border 

  • Climate activist Sonam Wangchuk and the Leh Apex Body (LAB) decided to call off the border march on Sunday, as the Ladakh Lieutenant-Governor's administration stepped up measures to block the proposed event from going forward. 
  • "In view of the (recent) developments and the fact that the whole nation now knows about the reality of our pasture lands at the borders, the leaders of the apex body today decided to call off the Pashmina March on 7th April. The ongoing peaceful fast will however continue. We thank all the leaders and people who came here from different parts of the country," the LAB and Mr. Wangchuk said in a joint statement on Saturday. 
  • They said the purpose of the 'Pashmina March' was to highlight the plight of the Changpa nomadic tribes who are losing thousands of square kilometers of their land "due to Chinese incursion in the north and our own corporates in the south". 
  • "This purpose seems already fulfilled even before the march began due to the suppression attempts and overreaction of the government," the statement read. In the past 24 hours, the L-G administration has imposed Section 144 of the CrPC in Leh to disallow any assembly without permission, curtailed Internet speed, and rounded up supporters of Mr. Wangchuk. "Under these circumstances, chances of violence are very high, which could then be used to label this peaceful movement anti-national," it added. 
  • Earlier in the day, Mr. Wangchuk, spearheading a peaceful struggle for Ladakh's Statehood and inclusion in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, termed the situation in Leh ``grim and fearful". 
  • "Leh is being turned into a war zone with disproportionate force, barricades, and smoke grenades. There is a lot of fear. The situation could go out of control," said Mr. Wangchuk, who recently completed a 21-day protest fast. 
  • He accused the Lieutenant-Governor's administration of forcing youth and activists, including singers, to "sign bonds or face arrests". "There have only been peaceful protests in the past 32 days in Leh. The move to impose Section 144 is only if there is fear of bloodshed. We have been peaceful all along," he said. 
  • The activist expressed his resentment with the latest government circulars that have directions for teargas shells and smoke grenades to be allotted to security forces in riot gear to stop the march. 

9. States offer thousands of hectares of degraded' forest land for green credits 

  • Weeks after the Union Environment Ministry announced the rules for its Green Credit Programme (GCP), 10 States have identified parcels of degraded forest land, totalling about 3,853 hectares, that will be available for individuals, groups, public and private sector units to earn and potentially trade credits. green 
  • A perusal of public documents by The Hindu suggests that Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh alone account for up to 40% of the forest land made available. Under the scheme, a tree could be worth one 'green credit. 
  • These green credits can then be used by companies which have diverted forest land for non-forest purposes and razed thousands of trees to offset some of their obligations under India's compensatory afforestation laws. 
  • Registered and approved entities can pay to finance afforestation projects in specific tracts of degraded forest and wasteland. The actual afforestation will be carried out by State forest departments. 
  • Two years after planting and following an evaluation by the International Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), an autonomous body of the Environment Ministry each planted 
  • These laws oblige any industry or institution that is permitted to raze forest and use that land for non forestry purposes, to provide an equivalent amount of non-forest land to forest authorities and pay them to afforest that land. 

10. Karnataka to get drought relief soon

  • Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that the Union government had written to the Election Commission on March 28 seeking permission to hold a meeting of the high-level committee to clear several proposals for disaster relief, including drought relief for Karnataka. 
  • Conceding that this could be construed as a "delay", she said it was not intentional and the "processes had taken time". 
  • "The government will clear disaster relief once the meeting is held," she said at a press conference organized by the BJP in Bengaluru on Saturday. 
  • Interestingly, the Karnataka government knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court seeking drought relief for the State on March 23. 
  • The Tamil Nadu government has also moved the top court over the delay in disaster relief funds from the Union government. 
  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah, speaking at an election rally in Karnataka recently, had alleged that the State had delayed submitting its proposal by three months. Mr. Shah's statement had been strongly countered by the State government. 
  • While conceding that the "delay in such matters is completely avoidable", Ms. Sitharaman said the financial relief in times of disasters was to be provided by the State governments. 
  • "There is no concept of an interim relief or financial relief in times of disasters under the Disaster Management Act, 2005", she said. 

Defence News

11.Army inducted ‘Akashteer’ Systems to enhance air defence postue 

  • The Army has started the induction of control and reporting systems under ‘Project Akashdeep’ to bolster its air defence capabilities. 
  • The deployment of the systems began with flagging off of the first batch of Control Centres from BEL Ghaziabad. 
  • Developed by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), the project is aimed at significantly enhancing the operational efficiency and integration of the Army’s air defence mechanisms. 
  • The Akashteer Project is a cutting-edge initiative designed to automate air defence control and reporting processes by digitising the entire process. 

Appointment News

12.Meenesh Shah elected as Chairman of NCDFI 

  • The National Cooperative Dairy Federation of India Ltd. (NCDFI) elected Meenesh Shah as the Chairman. 
  • The election process was conducted by Praveen Chaudhary, IAS, the District Collector of Anand, who served as the Returning Officer. 
  • Prior to the Board elections, the NCDFI General Body had elected eight directors to the Board in an unopposed process on April 04, 2024. 
  • This included Dr Meenesh Shah, Jharkhand Milk Federation, Dr. Mangal Jit Rai, Sikkim Milk Union, Shamalbhai B. Patel, Gujarat Milk Federation, Randhir Singh, Haryana Milk Federation, K. S. Mani, Kerala Milk Federation, Balachandra L. Jarakiholi, Karnataka Milk Federation, Narinder Singh Shergill, Punjab Milk Federation and Sameer Kumar Parida, West Assam Milk Union. 

About NCDFI 

  • NCDFI is a national-level apex dairy cooperative registered on December 7, 1970 and is governed under the provisions of the Multi State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Act, 2023. 
  • It has 20 Regular Members, 14 Associate Members and the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) as its Institutional Member. 

Recent Appointment

  • DG of Electronics & Mechanical Engineers – J S Sidana 
  • CMD of Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. – Santosh Kumar Jha 
  • Chief Business Officer of Perfios – Sridhar Narayan 
  • President of Assocham – Sanjay Nayar (replace Ajay Singh) 
  • Principal DG of the Press Information Bureau – Sheyphali Sharan (Manish Desai) 

13.Love Kumar appointed as Inspector General in SPG 

  • Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Love Kumar has been appointed as Inspector General in Special Protection Group (SPG). 
  • Kumar is a 2004-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre. He has been appointed to the post for a period of two years with effect from the date of assumption of post or till further orders, whichever is earlier. Currently, he is posted as DIG in the same group. 
  • Further, Umesh Chander Datta (IPS) has also been appointed as IG in SPG for a period of two years from the date of assumption of the charge of the post. Till the further order whichever is earlier. 

Recent Appointment in Defence Sector 

  • 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 
  • Head of Parliament security – Anurag Agarwal Awards 

14.SJVN honoured with 15th Vishwakarma Awards 2024 

  • SJVN Limited has won two prestigious awards at the 15th CIDC Vishwakarma Awards 2024, instituted by the Construction Industry Development Council. 
  • SJVN has been conferred with ‘Achievement Award for Creating Social Development & Impact’ and ‘CIDC Partners in Progress Trophy’. 
  • These awards demonstrate SJVN’s commitment to driving positive change through innovative and concrete CSR initiatives. 

About SJVN Limited 

  • SJVN Limited is a Schedule-‘A’ Mini Ratna Category-I under the control of the Ministry of Power. It is a public sector undertaking. 
  • SJVN was earlier known as ‘Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam’. It is an Indian public sector undertaking involved in hydropower generation and transmission. 
  • SJVN is as a joint venture of the Government of India and the Government of Himachal Pradesh. 
  • Established – 24 May 1988 
  • Chairperson and Managing Director – Geeta Kapur 

Recent Awards 

  • SKOCH ESG Award 2024 in Renewable Energy Financing Category – REC Limited 
  • International Culture Award 2024 – Meena Charanda 
  • Times Power Icon 2024 Award by The Times Group – Vijay Jain 
  • Abel Prize 2024 – Michel Talagrand (for work in probability theory and stochastic processes). 
  • 29th Devi Shankar Awasthi Award 2023 – Nishant (for Kavita Pathak Aalochna) 

Sports News

15.Bilquis Mir became India’s First Female Jury Member at Paris Olympics 

  • Bilquis Mir from Jammu and Kashmir is set to create history as the first woman from India to serve as a jury member at this year’s Summer Olympics in Paris, scheduled from July 26 to August 11. 
  • Bilquis Mir, water sports promoter, developer, athlete, jury member of Indian Kayaking and Canoeing association has been nominated as the member of the jury to officiate at the Paris Olympics games. 
  • She is the first person from India to be appointed as a jury member at the Paris Olympics. 
  • Bilquis, who also served a jury member at the previous year’s Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, said she started her journey in 1998 as a canoeist from Kashmir and subsequently represented the country. 

Important day 

16. 6 April 2024 – National Handmade Day 

  • National Handmade Day is celebrated every year on the first Saturday in April. This year falls on April 6. 
  • It is a day dedicated to honoring, celebrating, and recognizing the skill and dedication of people who create handmade goods. The day also serves as a reminder of the importance of small businesses and their contributions to the economy.
  • Theme 2024 – Buy a Handmade Product
  • National Handmade Day was first established in 2017 by Amy Bierstadt, the founder of the website From Scratch Farm, which provides creative content and tips on making handmade crafts at home. In 2018, the government officially proclaimed National Handmade Day, solidifying its recognition as an annual celebration. 

17. 6 April – International Day of Sport for Development and Peace 

  • The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) is celebrated annually on April 6. 
  • Objective – To recognize the importance of sports and physical activity in our personal lives and communities around the world. 
  • Theme 2024 – Sport for the Promotion of Peaceful and Inclusive Societies
  • On August 23, 2013, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted Resolution 67/296, declaring April 6 as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. 
  • On September 18, 2013, the resolution report was released. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) contributed to the foundation of this special day. 

18. 6 April – National Library Day 

  • National Library Day is celebrated every year on April 6th. 
  • On this day, people come together to celebrate the crucial roles that libraries and librarians play in our society. It’s also the day to reflect on the importance of reading and how essential it is to make books accessible and affordable for every reader. 
  • Libraries aren’t a new concept — it dates back millennia. The first systematically organized library was founded in the 7th century B.C. by Assyrian ruler Ashurbanipal in Nineveh, in contemporary Iraq. It contained approximately 30,000 cuneiform tablets sorted by subject.

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