Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 16th May 2024


National News 

1. India set up its pavilion for the first time at the World Green Hydrogen Summit in Netherlands

  • India has set up its pavilion for the first time at the World Hydrogen Summit 2024, which is currently underway in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The pavilion was inaugurated by Renewable Energy Secretary Bhupinder S Bhalla. This shows the country's progress in the field of green hydrogen. 
  • India launched its National Green Hydrogen Mission in January last year with the aim of achieving green hydrogen production capacity of five million metric tons by the end of 2030. 
  • The World Hydrogen Summit 2024 is being held in Rotterdam, Netherlands from 13-15 May 2024. 15,000 delegates from across the world are participating in the summit. 
  • The World Hydrogen Summit and Exhibition is organized by the Sustainable Energy Council in partnership with the Government of the Netherlands, the Province of Zuid-Holland, the City of Rotterdam and the Port of Rotterdam. 
  • The 2024 World Hydrogen Summit & Exhibition is the largest global green hydrogen event that seeks to promote the use of green hydrogen technology and green hydrogenbased fuels in the world. 
  • The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the National Hydrogen Mission on 4 January 2022. The Government of India has approved an outlay of Rs 19,744 crore for the mission. 
  • The first element in the periodic table is hydrogen. It is the smallest and lightest element of the periodic table. Depending on the production method used to produce hydrogen, the color of hydrogen can be green, brown, blue, or gray. 

2. AIIMS New Delhi signed MoU with University of Bolton Institute of Medicine 

  • AIIMS New Delhi has signed an MoU with the University of Bolton Institute of Medicine to collaborate in the field of medical research, innovation and education. 
  • The MoU was signed through a virtual event by executives from both institutions. 
  • The partnership will encompass various initiatives such as staff and student exchange, educational conferences and collaborative degree programmes. 

Recent MoU 

  • Mahindra & Mahindra sign MoU with MSDE for ‘Drone Didi’ Pilot Project 
  • NHPC Limited to collaborate with Ocean Sun for implementation of Floating Solar Energy Technology 
  • Mines Ministry inks MoU with Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation for knowledge support on critical minerals 
  • NTPC inks pact with RINL for supply of limestone 
  • NGEL and ITL sign MoU for Renewable Energy Ventures 
  • CleanMax teams up with Apple to drive renewable energy adoption in India 

3. India records highest number of Internet shutdowns in 2023 

  • India witnessed the highest number of Internet shutdowns in the world in 2023, a record it has held for the sixth straight year, according to a report released on Wednesday. 
  • The Internet was snapped 116 times in the country last year, the Keep It On coalition, a grouping of civil society bodies that advocates against Internet blockades, said. 
  • Officials in India continue to impose Internet shutdown orders over communal tension, violence, exams, and other reasons. This has drawn condemnation from civil society in India and around the world, especially in Manipur, where footage documenting atrocities committed during the ethnic violence have gone viral several weeks after the incidents actually took place. 
  • More of these shutdown orders are being applied 
  • The report says that Internet was snapped 116 times in the country last year regionally rather than locally. 
  • The Internet was shut down across Punjab during the manhunt for pro Khalistan preacher Amritpal Singh, and multiple times across Manipur during the ongoing ethnic violence in the State. 
  • "The impacts [of the Internet shutdown in Manipur] were severe, particularly for women, as the shutdowns made it more difficult to document rampant atrocities, including murder, rape, arson, and other gender-based violence, and thereby hold perpetrators accountable," the report said. 
  • With 37 orders, Myanmar recorded the second-highest number of Internet shutdowns, followed by Iran (34), Palestine (16), and Ukraine (8). 

4. India overtakes Australia, Japan and Singapore in data center capacity 

  • India has become the country with the highest data center capacity in the Asia-Pacific region, surpassing major countries like Australia, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Singapore, and Korea. 
  • The country is expected to record the highest capacity addition of 850 MW during the 2024-2026 period, higher than major APAC countries. 
  • In 2023, there was an addition of 255 MW of new supply, resulting in a total stock of approximately 1,030 MW by the end of the year. 

5. Sela Tunnel recognized as India’s highest tunnel by International Book of Honour 

  • Sela Tunnel, constructed by BRO India, is officially recognised as the highest tunnel in the country by the International Book of Honour, 
  • The 2.598 Km long tunnel is situated at an altitude of 13000 ft on the Tezpur-Tawang Road. 
  • Situated at an altitude of 13,000 feet, the strategically important Sela Tunnel will ensure all-weather connectivity to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. 

About Arunachal Pradesh 

  • Capital – Itanagar 
  • Chief Minister – Pema Khandu 
  • Governor – LG (Retd) Kaiwalya Trivikram Parnaik 

6.‘Operation Sadbhavana’: Army’s support for North Sikkim’s communities 

  • The Indian Army’s Trishakti Corps under Operation Sadbhavana provided essential aid and healthcare to North Sikkim’s Naga and Rangrang villages post-GLOF. 
  • Over 150 villagers received medical attention, and youths participated in educational sessions linked to the Agniveer Scheme for empowerment. 
  • These efforts, rooted in compassion, highlight the Army’s commitment to fostering community development and strengthening bonds with border populations, ensuring sustained harmony and solidarity in the region. 

Other Operations in News 

  • Operation Bambi Bucket – To extinguish the forest fire near Nainital in Uttarakhand 
  • Operation True Promise – Iran launches against Israel 
  • Operation Ajay – To evacuate Indians from Israel 
  • Operation Kaveri – To evacuate Indians from Sudan 
  • Operation Karuna – To help Myanmar affected by cyclone Mocha 

7. India registers record export at USD 778 Billion in 2023-24 

  • India registered record exports in financial year 2023-24 at USD 778 billion, according to the commerce ministry. 
  • In the financial year 2022-23, the combined value of exported goods and services stood at USD 776.3 billion. 
  • In 2023-24, services exports increased from USD 325.3 billion to USD 341.1 billion, while merchandise exports marginally declined from USD 451.1 billion to USD 437.1 billion. 
  • China, Russia, Iraq, UAE, and Singapore are among the countries where India’s exports in the just-concluded financial year have risen substantially, though with a low base. 
  • The other countries in the Top 10 list are the UK, Australia, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, and South Africa. 
  • Meanwhile, there was a decline in overall imports from USD 898.0 billion in 2022-23 to USD 853.8 billion in 2023-24. 
  • Moreover, the trade deficit showed significant improvement, shrinking from USD 121.6 billion in 2022-23 to USD 75.6 billion in 2023-24. 

8. PhonePe partners with LankaPay for UPI Payments 

  • PhonePe has partnered with LankaPay to allow its users to pay using UPI across Sri Lanka. 
  • PhonePe app users travelling to Sri Lanka can make payments using UPI across LankaPay QR merchants. 
  • The transactions will be facilitated by the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and LankaPay National Payment Network. 
  • Users can scan LankaQR code to make secure and quick payments without carrying cash or calculating currency conversions. The amount will be debited in INR, showing the currency exchange rate. 
  • The collaboration with LankaPay offers unparalleled convenience to Indian tourists who can now use a familiar and secure payment method while travelling and paying across LankaQR merchant points. 

Recent MoUs Signed in Banking Sector 

  • Aurm partnered with Tata AIG General Insurance to provide comprehensive insurance coverage to its customers for their valuables. 
  • South Indian Bank and Northern Arc Capital join hands to set new benchmarks in the financial sector 
  • Infibeam’s CCAvenue partners with Shivalik SFB to improve merchant access 
  • Tata Motors partners with South Indian Bank for commercial vehicle finance 
  • NABARD & RBI Developed Innovation Hub to fasten digital Agri lending 

International News 

9. A devastating flood of cold lava in Sumatra island of Indonesia took the lives of many people. 

  • Heavy rains on Indonesia's Sumatra island last week caused flash floods and torrents of cooled lava and mud gushed down the slopes of a volcano, killing several people and leaving some others missing. 
  • The disaster occurred after monsoon rains and a flow of cooled lava from Mount Marapi caused a significant landslide, which flooded and devastated mountain villages in four districts of West Sumatra province. The death toll stood at 41, while more than a dozen people were missing. 
  • National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Abdul Muhari said people were swept away and more than 100 houses and structures were submerged in the floods. Rescue operations were launched, but were hampered as roads were also destroyed, further complicating the already challenging task of locating and assisting those affected by the disaster. 
  • Cooled lava, also known as 'Lahar' in the local language, is a mixture of volcanic material and pebbles that flows down the slopes of a volcano during rainfall. Cooled lava can reach temperatures between 0°C and 100°C, but usually remains below 50°C. When moving, the 'ripple' resembles a swirling mixture of wet concrete and collects debris as it moves. 
  • Indonesia suffers from frequent landslides and floods during the rainy season. In 2022, about 24,000 people were forced to flee their homes, while two children died in floods on the island of Sumatra. 
  • A volcanic eruption on 5 December killed 23 hikers, while a flash flood in February wreaked havoc on many homes in Tanah Datar. Just last month, prolonged volcanic activity covered the sky with massive ash clouds, reaching heights of up to 2 km. 

10. Maiden Indian Pavilion set up at the World Hydrogen Energy Summit 

  • India has set up its maiden pavilion at the World Hydrogen Summit and Exhibition 2024. 
  • The Pavilion was set up by the Union Ministry of New & Renewable Energy and inaugurated by the Secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Bhupinder Singh Bhalla. 
  • The World Hydrogen Summit 2024 was held in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The Summit was attended by 15,000 delegates from around the world. 

11. China becomes India's largest trading partner in FY24 by surpassing USA 

  • According to data from economic think tank Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI), China has emerged as India's largest trading partner in the financial year 2023- 24, overtaking the United States. 
  • UAE becomes India's third largest trading partner with total trade of $83.6 billion in 2023-24. Other major trading partners include Russia ($65.7 billion), Saudi Arabia ($43.4 billion), and Singapore ($35.6 billion). 
  • GTRI data shows that India's bilateral trade with China stood at $118.4 billion in FY2024, as imports grew 3.24 per cent to $101.7 billion and exports grew 8.7 per cent to $16.67 billion in FY24 compared to FY23. 
  • Healthy growth in exports has been recorded in key sectors with China – iron ore, cotton yarn/fabrics/madeups, handloom, spices, fruits and vegetables, plastics and linoleum. 
  • India-US two-way trade fell to $118.3 billion in fiscal year 2014 after a 1.32 percent decline in exports. compared to $77.5 billion in the previous fiscal year. 
  • Meanwhile, imports also declined by 20 percent to $40.8 billion. 
  • The US was India's top trading partner during FY22 and FY23 after China was the top bilateral trading partner in FY21. Before China, the UAE was the country's largest trading partner. 
  • During the past five years, Russia's trade figures showed dramatic growth, with exports increasing by 78.3 percent. 
  • GTRI Founder Ajay Srivastava said that from FY 2019 to FY 2024, there were significant changes in India's trade dynamics with its top 15 trading partners. 

Defence News 

11.Indian Air Force tested indigenous mobile hospital 'BHISHM' in Agra for the first time 

  • The Indian Air Force has tested the state-of-the-art indigenous mobile hospital BHISHM Cube for airdrop in Agra. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said, this innovative technology is a huge leap in providing quick and comprehensive medical assistance during emergencies anywhere. 
  • This is the first time that the Indian Air Force has tested this portable hospital. The Cube is a part of a broader initiative called Project Bhishm– India Health Initiative for Cooperation, Cooperation and Friendship, which is designed to treat 200 casualties. 
  • These cubes are strong, waterproof, and lightweight, designed for a variety of configurations, making them ideal for a variety of emergency scenarios. 
  • It also integrates Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics to facilitate efficient management in the field. The entire unit consists of 72 easily transportable components that can be easily transported by hand, bicycle or even by drone. 
  • The Ad Cube stands out with its ability to be deployed in under an astonishing 12 minutes. Life-saving equipment is packed in "minicubes" placed in "ArogyaMaatri Cube Cages". 
  • Under 'Project BHISHM', India is set to provide critical medical supplies to developing countries facing natural disasters or humanitarian emergencies. The deployment in Sri Lanka and Myanmar reflects India's commitment to global humanitarian efforts. 

12. Army set to receive next batch of shoulder-fired Igla-S air defense systems 

  • The Army is all set to begin receiving another set of Russian Igla-S very short range air defense systems (VSHORAD) by the end of May or early next month, filling a critical void in its air defense requirements which has been repeatedly delayed. 
  • In another development, multiple sources confirmed that the payments issue between India and Russia that has held up critical payments for defense deals as well as payments has been resolved. 
  • The Igla-S systems were contracted last year under the fourth tranche of The Igla-S system. 
  • Emergency Procurements (EP) are being assembled by Adani Defence Systems And Technologies Limited (ADSTL) in India under technology transfer from Rosoboronexport, multiple official sources confirmed. 
  • The Army is also set to receive the first of two Israeli Hermes-900 Medium Altitude Long Endurance 
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) assembled by. ADSTL in Hyderabad next month. 
  • Last year, the Army contracted 48 Igla-S launchers, 100 missiles, 48 night sights, and one missile testing station under a ₹260 crore contract and deliveries are set to begin by end of this May, a source said. 
  • The missile will be imported and some parts like sights, launcher, and battery will be assembled/manufactured here by Adani defense, another source in the know said. 
  • A VSHORAD is the soldier's last line of defense against enemy combat air-craft, helicopters and UAVs in the multilayered air defense network. 

13. 'Indian forces helping Kuki militants in Myanmar’ 

  • The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) on Wednesday accused the Indian security forces of helping the "Kuki militant groups" to wage war against the "Meitei revolutionary groups" in Myanmar. 
  • The statement comes a day after The Hindu reported a chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency where the central agency alleged that the "China-Myanmar module" of NSCN-IM, the Naga out-fit that signed a framework agreement with the Union government in 2015, helped two banned Meitei outfits to infiltrate Manipur to fuel ethnic violence and destabilize the State. 
  • NSCN alleged that, "Indian Security Forces were extending logistics and material support to KNA(B) (Kuki National Army-Bangladesh) to wage war against the Meitei revolutionary groups.” Appointment 

14. Andrei Belousov appointed as new defence minister of Russia 

  • President Vladimir Putin has nominated economist Andrei Belousov to replace long-serving defence minister Sergei Shoigu. 
  • For the first time in 12 years, Russia has a new minister of defence. 
  • He was appointed minister for economic development in 2012; the following year, he became an aide to Mr Putin. 
  • He was also a key backer of the VAT increase from 18 to 20% in 2019. 

About Russia 

  • Capital – Moscow 
  • Currency – Rubel 
  • President – Vladimir Putin (5th time) 
  • Prime Minister – Mikhail Mishustin 

Recent Appointment in Foreign 

  • UN Resident Coordinator in Indonesia – Gita Sabharwal (India) 
  • MD of International Monetary Fund – Kristalina Georgieva (2nd time) 
  • Pakistan’s Senate Chairman – Yousuf Raza Gillani 
  • Pakistan’s Senate Deputy Chairman – Saidal Khan Nasir 
  • Member in International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) – India’s Jagjit Pavadia (3rd time) 

15. Lawrence Wong sworn in as Singapore's fourth Prime Minister 

  • Singapore's Deputy Leader Lawrence Wong has been sworn in as the country's fourth Prime Minister on 15 May 2024. Mr Wong, a 51-year-old American-trained economist, will replace Lee Hsien Loong, 72, who stepped down after two decades at the helm. 
  • Lee's resignation marks the end of the family dynasty led by his father Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first charismatic leader who built the colonial trading outpost into a business-friendly, prosperous country during his 31 years in office. 
  • Wong, a civil servant turned politician, came to prominence coordinating the successful fight against COVID-19 in the small country of about six million people. Lee will remain as a senior minister, a path taken by all former prime ministers. 
  • Since becoming an independent nation in 1965, Singapore has had only three prime ministers – all from the ruling People's Action Party. 
  • The mild-mannered Wong was chosen by his peers to succeed 72- year-old Lee in April 2022, among the "4G", or fourth generation of leaders in Singapore's political jargon. 

Sports News

16. Shyamnikhil of Tamil Nadu becomes India's 85th Chess Grandmaster 

  • Tamil Nadu's P Shyamnikhil has etched his name in the annals of Indian chess history by becoming the country's 85th Grandmaster (GM). R Vaishali is the 84th Indian GM. 
  • The 31-year-old chess player who started his journey at the age of eight has finally achieved the coveted third and final GM norm at the prestigious 2024 Dubai Police Masters Chess Tournament. 
  • Before the start of the Dubai event, Shyamnikhil needed just one win and eight draws to clinch the coveted GM title. He had accumulated the required 2500 ELO rating points and achieved two GM benchmarks in 2012. 
  • Born in Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu in 1992, Shyamnikhil won the International Master (IM) title in 2011 and achieved his first GM norm at the Mumbai Mayor's Cup in the same year. 
  • The Grandmaster and International Master titles are among the highest awards in the chess world, awarded by the respected World Chess Federation (FIDE). 
  • To become a GM, a male player must earn at least a 2500 FIDE Elo rating and attain three Grandmaster norms in international competitions, while women must attain a 2300 Elo rating and three Female Grandmaster norms. 
  • Manuel Aron was the first Indian chess player to receive the International Master title in 1961. Jayshree Khadikar was the first Indian woman to receive the Women's International Master in 1979. 
  • In 1988, the country's first Vishwanathan Anand and the first Indian woman Koneru Humpy are Grandmasters. Koneru Humpy is also the youngest female player in the world to become a female GM at the age of 15. There are three women GMs – Hampi, Dronavalli Harika and R Vaishali. 

17. Abha Khatua Sets National Record Winning Gold In Women’s Shot Put 

  • Abha Khatua has set a national record and won gold medal in Women’s Shot Put with a massive throw of 18.41 metres at National Federation Cup Athletics Competition in Bhubaneswar. 
  • While Uttar Pradesh’s Kiran Baliyan finished second and Delhi’s Srishti Vig stood at third position. 
  • Representing Maharashtra at the event, Abha was the joint record holder of 18.06 metres with Manpreet Kaur before this event. 
  • Abha was the joint record holder of 18.06 metres with Manpreet Kaur before this event. 

Important day 

18. 15 May – International Day of Families 

  • International Day of Families is celebrated every year on May 15th. 
  • Objective – To raise awareness about the significance of families and the challenges they confront. 
  • The day also celebrates the diversity of families and promotes inclusivity. 
  • Theme 2024 – Families and Climate Change 
  • This year marks the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Families. 

19. Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd celebrates 250th Foundation Day 

  • Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) celebrated its 250th Foundation Day on55 14 May 2024. 
  • To mark the day, a series of events were organised in Mumbai, presided over by Defence Secretary Shri Giridhar Aramane. 
  • These included the inauguration of adjacent land acquired from the Mumbai Port Authority (MPA) and; the launch of a prototype of an indigenous midget submarine. 

About MDL 

  • The Mazagaon Dock Limited started its journey as a dry dock in 1774, constructed in Mazagaon, Mumbai. In 1934, the company was incorporated as a private limited company. It was nationalized and taken over by the government of India in 1960. 
  • It is a premier naval shipyard under the Union Ministry of Defence. 
  • It was accorded Mini-Ratna 1 status by the government of India in 2006. 

Awards News

20. Manika Batra becomes the first Indian woman to break into the top 25 in the world women's table tennis singles rankings. 

  • India's top female table tennis player Manika Batra became the first Indian female paddler to break into the top 25 of the world women's singles rankings. She reached a career-best ranking of 24th after her success at the Saudi Smash last week. 
  • Her achievement mirrors that of Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, who reached the same rank in 2019, the highest singles ranking achieved by an Indian. In 2022, Manika Batra reached world No. 4 in the women's doubles rankings with Archana Kamath – the best by any Indian table tennis player in any category. 
  • Not only she secure her status as India's top-ranked player once again by overtaking Sreeja Akula, but at the age of 25, Manika also etched her name in history as the first Indian woman to break into the top 25 singles rankings. 
  • Manika Batra Manika, the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist in the individual and team categories, jumped 15 places after her race in Jeddah. Manika defeated world No. 2 and Olympic medalist Wang Manyu of China in the Saudi Smash tournament. 
  • Next, she defeated world No. 14 Nina Mittelham to book her place in the quarterfinals. Manika Batra became the first Indian singles table tennis player to reach the quarterfinals of a WTT Grand Smash event. Lost in the final against Hina Hayata of Japan. 
  • In the men's singles rankings, Achanta Sharath Kamal retained his position as the highest-ranked Indian at number 40. In women's doubles, Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee are at 13th place. In mixed doubles, the pair of Manika and Sathiyan is at 24th position. 

21. Chandrakant Satija honored with Global Excellence Award 2024 

  • Chandrakant Satija wins the Global Excellence Award 2024 for being the “Most Trusted Admission Consultant in Vidarbha Region”. 
  • He is the founder and CEO of Chandra Admission Consultants. 
  • The award was presented to him by the famous Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty Kundra. He was adjudged as the Most Trusted Admissions Consultant in Vidarbha Region. 

Recent Awards 

  • PSU Samarpan Award – Hemant Khatri (CMD of Hindustan Shipyard Limited) 
  • Global Pride of Sindhi Award 2024 – Pawan Sindhi (Social worker) 
  • Best Employer’ 2023 by Kincentric – DBS Bank India 
  • Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize 2024 – Bhavi Mehta (for The Book Beautiful) 
  • UNESCO’s Guillermo Cano World Press Prize 2024 – All Palestinian journalists 

Sports News

22. Sunil Chhetri announces retirement from International Football 

  • India Captain Sunil Chhetri will be retiring from international football after the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifier against Kuwait on June 6. 
  • The 39-year-old striker has been capped 145 times by India, scoring 94 goals in a career spanning 20 years. 
  • Chhetri, who made his debut in 2005. He will leave the scene as India’s all-time top scorer and most-capped player. He is also third in the list of goal scorers among active players behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. 

Recently Retired Players 

  • Colin Munro (New Zealand) – International Cricket 
  • Bismah Maroof (Pakistan) – International Cricket 
  • Saurav Ghosal (India) – Professional Squash 
  • Kento Momota (Japan) – International badminton 
  • Umpire Marais Erasmus (South Africa) – ICC Elite Panel of Umpires. 
  • Shahbaz Nadeem (Jharkhand, India) – International Cricket 

Important day 

23. 16 May – International Day of Living Together in Peace 

  • The International Day of Living Together in Peace is observed on 16 May every year. 
  • The United Nations General Assembly established this day to support the international community’s efforts to promote peace, unity, and solidarity. 
  • In 1997, “the General-Assembly proclaimed by its resolution 52/15 the year 2000 as the International Year for a Culture of Peace. 
  • In 1998, it proclaimed the period 2001-2010 as the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for Children of the World. 

24. 16 May – International Day of Light 

  • International Day of Light is observed every year on May 16. 
  • Objective – To highlight the importance of light and its various applications in science, culture, art, education, and sustainable development. 
  • In the year 1960, Physicist and Engineer Theodore Maiman conducted the first successful operation of the laser. To commemorate the special day, International Day of Light came to be observed every year on May 16. 
  • In 2015, the United Nations observed International Day of Light to raise awareness about light science and light-based technologies and applications. 
  • Following this, in 2016, UNESCO adopted the resolution to celebrate International Day of Light every year. 
  • The first International Day of Light was observed in 2018. 

25. 16 May – National Dengue Day 

  • National Dengue Day is observed every year on May 16. 
  • Objective – To spread awareness about the disease and ways to prevent it. 
  • Theme 2024 – Dengue Prevention: Our Responsibility for a Safer Tomorrow. 
  • Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection. it spreads from mosquitoes to humans and is more common in tropical and subtropical regions. 
  • High fever, headache, body ache, joint and muscle pain, nausea and rash are common symptoms of dengue. 

Ranks & Reports News 

26. United Nations releases World Wildlife Crime Report-2015-21 

  • The third edition of the UN's World Wildlife Crime Report states that with all-out efforts and monitoring, ivory and rhino horn trafficking has seen a decline globally, however, there has been no apparent reduction in wildlife trafficking. 
  • According to this report released in Vienna, Austria, efforts like closing Chinese markets and cracking down on organized crime groups have helped. In terms of mass markets, rhinoceros, pangolins and elephants were the top three traded wildlife species. 
  • Among the plants, cedar, rosewood and agarwood were in high demand. For example, in the case of some plants and animals such as orchids, the rarity of the species is a driving force behind trade. 
  • The report recorded the seizure of wild animal and plant species in 162 countries during the period 2015- 2021. These included 4,000 plant and animal species and 3,250 of them were protected under CITES. 
  • It is an important part of achieving the CITES Strategic Vision, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 
  • India has also seen incidents of wildlife seizures at airports, ports and land borders, especially in states like Mizoram and Manipur. According to the Trafficking in India Report 2022-23, the Revenue Intelligence Department seized 1,652 mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians species in 2022-23. 
  • CITES, the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime or ICCWC, Interpol, the World Customs Organization and the World Bank Group, as well as UNODC, have worked together. 

Banking News 

27. HDFC Bank and Visa launch India's first premier virtual credit card 'Pixel Play' 

  • HDFC Bank in partnership with Visa has launched Pixel Play, the country's first virtual credit card, offering personalized benefits and seamless digital management through the Payzapp mobile app. 
  • It has two different variants, Pixel Play and Pixel Go. While PIXEL Play will enable users to create their own cards with personalized benefits, PIXEL Go is designed for beginners who want to build their credit score. Membership fee will be ₹500 plus taxes on both credit cards. 
  • 'PIXEL' marks HDFC Bank's debut in an end-to-end mobile app-based customizable credit card range. With streamlined digital management and a host of features including card control, rewards and EMI dashboard, HDFC Bank sets a new benchmark for seamless banking experiences. 
  • This 100% digital offering eliminates the need for extensive documentation or communication. Additionally, users enjoy the flexibility of choosing their preferred billing cycle date and can convert purchases into EMIs while easily managing repayments through PayZapp. 
  • HDFC Bank became the first bank in India to cross 2 crore credit cards in circulation in January 2024. Having pioneered the credit card business in 2001, HDFC Bank's rapid growth underlines its position as a leader in the banking industry. 

Obituary News 

28. India's Colonel Vaibhav Anil Kale martyred in Gaza 

  • Former Indian Army officer, Colonel (Retd) Vaibhav Anil Kale died after his vehicle was attacked in Rafah, Gaza on 13 May 2024. Vaibhav Anil Kale was currently serving in the United Nations as a staff member of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (DSS) in Gaza. 
  • According to the world body's statement, Vaibhav joined the United Nations as Security Services Coordinator and was posted in Gaza a month ago. Kale was from the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles Regiment of the Indian Army and had taken retirement two years ago to join the United Nations. 
  • 46 year old Vaibhav Kale was born in Maharashtra. He joined the Indian Army in 1998 and was deployed at various locations such as the Siachen Glaciers and the Northeast. 
  • He was the deputy commander of the Rashtriya Rifles, the elite counter-terrorism branch of the Indian Army. 
  • Kale retired prematurely from the Indian Army in 2022. Two months ago, he joined the United Nations as Security Coordination Officer in the UN DSS. 

29. Alice Munro, the first Canadian writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, passes away 

  • Canadian author and Nobel laureate Alice Munro died at her home in Ontario at the age of 92. She wrote short stories for over 60 years, often focusing on life in rural Canada. 
  • She was often compared to Russian writer Anton Chekhov for the insight and compassion found in his stories. Munro received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013. 
  • The Nobel Committee called Munro "a master of the contemporary short story." Her first major success came in 1968, when his short story collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, about life in the suburbs of western Ontario, won Canada's highest literary honour, the Governor General's Award. 
  • This was the first of three Governor General's Awards he won in his lifetime. In 2009, Munro won the Man Booker Prize International Award for lifetime achievement. His last story collection, Dear Life, was published in 2012. It consisted of a collection of partly autobiographical stories. 
  • Born Alice Ann Laidlaw in Ontario on July 10, 1931, Munro began writing as a teenager and published her first story, "The Dimensions of a Shadow", in 1950.

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