Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 21st May 2024

National News 

1.Supreme Court bans ED's arrest powers after taking cognizance of special court 

  • The Supreme Court ruled that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) loses the power to arrest an accused after a special court takes cognizance of a charge sheet filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). 
  • The decision significantly curtails the ED's power to arrest persons not detained during the investigation phase under the PMLA. 
  • After taking cognizance of the offense punishable under Section 4 of PMLA, the special court takes over the case. After taking cognizance, the ED and other officers named in Section 19 cannot exercise the power of arrest of the accused shown in the complaint,” a bench of judges AS Oka and Ujjwal Bhuyan said. 
  • The court said it cannot accept a situation where the accused is not arrested before lodging the complaint, but after the complaint is lodged and the person appears in compliance with the summons of the trial court, he is taken into custody and forced. 
  • Such a practice may violate the right to freedom guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It clarified that if the ED wants the custody of an accused who appears after the summons, the agency will have to seek the custody permission of the special court. 
  • The legal questions in the case stem from a Punjab and Haryana High Court order denying prearrest bail to several accused in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam involving revenue officials. 

2. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar receives first Stamp released 

  • Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar received the first stamp released commemorating the completion of 200 years of Indian Origin Tamils in Sri Lanka. 
  • Governor of the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka Senthil Thondaman presented the stamp to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. 
  • The stamp is a way to attain recognition for the community which has been neglected for decades. 
  • He thanked the Indian government as well as the Sri Lankan government for the assistance given to the IOT community. 

3. Student Enrollment Under SC Category Grows By 44 % 

  • The student enrollment under the Scheduled Caste category has grown by 44 per cent, from 46 lakh in 2014-15 to 66 lakh in 2021-22, according to a report of the National Commission for Backward Class. 
  • In the report, minority female student enrollment also witnessed over 42 per cent increase, from over 10 lakh in 2014-15 to 15 lakh in 2021-22. 
  • Female SC enrollment increased by 51 per cent, whereas that of ST students went up by 65.2 per cent. 
  • During the academic year 2020-21, a 27 per cent reservation for OBC students was implemented in Central Schools, resulting in over 34 thousand OBC children securing admissions. 
  • In Institutes of National Importance, there was a 71 per cent increase in OBC enrollment, with female OBC enrollment more than doubling. 

4. Conference on Administration of Criminal Justice held in Guwahati 

  • The Union Ministry of Law and Justice in association with the Assam Government has organized a two-day conference ‘India’s Progressive Path in the Administration of Criminal Justice System’ in Guwahati, Assam. 
  • The aim of the conference was to create awareness about the recent changes made by the government in repealing British-era criminal law and the enactment of new laws related to the criminal justice system in the country. 
  • The new legislations i.e. the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023; the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023, replace the earlier criminal laws namely, the Indian Penal Code 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. As notified, these new criminal laws are to take effect from 1st July 2024. 

International News 

5. Alexander Zverev and Iga Swiatek won men's and women's singles titles respectively at Italian Open 

  • The men's singles title of the Italian Open tennis tournament was won by Alexander Zverev, while the women's singles title was won by world number 1 player Iga Swiatek. It was the second Italian Open title for Alexander Zverev, while it was the third Italian title for Iga Swiatek. 
  • German Alexander Zverev defeated first-time Masters finalist Nicolas Jarry of Chile in straight sets 6-4, 7- 5 to win the 2024 Italian Open Masters 1000 title. 
  • This was Alexander Xaverz's third final at the Italian Open. This was Iga Swiatek's third Italian Open title in the last four years. 
  • The 81st Italian Open was held in Rome, the capital of Italy, from May 6 to 19, 2024. It is one of three Masters 1000 championships. Spain's Rafael Nadal has won the Italian Open title a record 10 times. 

Other winners 

  • Men's Doubles Winner - Marcel Granollers (Spain) and Horacio Zeballos (Argentina) defeated Mate Pavic (Croatia) and Marcelo Arevalo (El Salvador) in straight sets 6-2, 6- 2. Women's doubles – won by the Italian pair of Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini. 

State News 

6. Assam government launches disaster management platform ‘DRIMS’ developed with the help of UNICEF 

  • Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) has launched Disaster Reporting and Information Management System (DRIMS), a digital platform for online reporting of damage caused during various disasters, so that assistance distribution to the affected people can be done in less time. 
  • The platform, developed in collaboration with UNICEF, efficiently captures key impact indicators of damage during disasters, helping to quickly deliver relief and rehabilitation grants to affected beneficiaries. 
  • It also tracks damage to crops, loss of livestock, etc., thereby expediting recovery efforts after a disaster. 
  • After the launch of DRIMS, Assam Chief Secretary Ravi Kota also released the Handbook on Financial Assistance during Disasters. He also inaugurated the state level training program on incident response system for responders, which is being conducted by the National Institute of Disaster Management. 
  • The Disaster Assistance Handbook will empower people to understand their rights during and after disasters, enabling greater demand for and access to assistance, especially for children and women in affected communities. 
  • “What has impressed me most about this system is the efficiency of data validation and compilation, which helps save valuable time for field workers on the ground,” said Arjan de Vogt, UNICEF Deputy Representative for India Programs." 

7. ICMR distances itself from BHU's study on Covaxin 

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has distanced itself from a Banaras Hindu University (BHU) study for "incorrectly" associating it with an observational study on the side-effects of COVID-19 vaccine Covexin.
  • The ICMR said the recently published research paper titled "Long-term safety analysis of the BBV152 coronavirus vaccine in adolescents and adults: findings from a one-year prospective study in North India" was poorly designed with critical flaws, and asked why it should not take legal and administrative action for these lapses. 
  • In its letter to the researchers, the ICMR said it had not provided any financial or technical support for the research. ICMR Director-General Rajiv Bahl called the paper "poorly designed", and said it "incorrectly and misleadingly" acknowledges financial or technical support from the ICMR. "ICMR cannot be associated with this poorly designed study," the letter says. 
  • "We the authors would like to state that all communications received by us from ICMR are treated with utmost respect as confidential. We have already mailed the DG-ICMR with a copy to the Director, IMS. We do not wish to make any other statements as we are scientists and do not like getting involved in unnecessary public contro- versies," the authors of the paper informed The Hindu. 
  • In a press release on Monday, BHU noted that the "university has taken note of a study in connection with Covexin after-effects and a series of reactions in that regard". 
  • "We are aware of the communication made by the ICMR to the concerned individuals. The Institute of Medical Sciences is looking into the matter. It is also working on further strengthening and improving its research ecosystem," the BHU said. 
  • The ICMR has directed BHU to immediately remove the "acknowledgement to ICMR" for the study and publish an erratum. "We have also noticed that you have similarly acknowledged ICMR in similar previous papers without permission. Please explain why ICMR should not seek legal and administrative action against you," it noted. 
  • In its letter, the ICMR listed out critical flaws with the study and said that it did not have a control group of unvaccinated in- dividuals to prove that the side-effects were indeed associated with vaccination. Also it did not mention how frequently these adverse events were reported by the sample population to establish that they were associated with vaccination. It said the study tool was not consistent with the definition of "adverse events of special interest" that is globally accepted, and the responses of the participants were recorded one year after immunization without verification of any clinical records or physician examination. 

Appointment News

8. BARC appoints Dr Bikramjit Chaudhuri as chief of measurement science 

  • The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India has appointed Bikramjit Chaudhuri as Chief of Measurement Science and Analytics. 
  • He will succeed Dr. Derrick Grey, who is leaving the organization after a six-year stint. 
  • He comes in with a rich experience spanning over three decades in the areas of Statistics, Stochastic Modelling, Market Measurement, Consumer Segmentation, AI & ML, Demand Forecasting and Big Data Analytics. 
  • He was associated with the Datamatics Group of Companies as the Global Head of Data Science & Advanced Analytics, since 2016. Prior to Datamatics, Bikram has held multiple leadership roles across levels at KPMG, Nielsen and ZS Associates. 

9. Honeywell India appoints Atul Pai as MD 

  • Atul Pai has been appointed as the Managing Director of Honeywell Automation India Ltd (HAIL). 
  • He succeeds Ashish Gaikwad who is taking on a broader responsibility as India Leader for Industrial Automation, one of Honeywell International Inc’s strategic business groups. 
  • Atul brings more than two decades of Honeywell experience in various regional and global roles across Honeywell and its finance division. 

Recent Appointment 

  • President of CII for 2024-25 – Sanjiv Puri 
  • Vice President of CII for 2024-25 – R Mukundan 
  • President Designate of CII for 2024-25 – EY India 
  • President of Supreme Court Bar Association – Kapil Sibal 
  • Chairman of Tata Electronics – N. Chandrasekaran 

Sports News

10. India's Deepti broke the world record in the women's 400m event at the World Para Athletics Championships in Japan 

  • 20-year-old Deepti Jeevanji broke the world record in the women's 400m T20 and won her first gold medal at the World Para Athletics Championships in Kobe, Japan. 
  • Deepti clocked 55.07 seconds, breaking American Breanna Clark's earlier world record of 55.12 seconds, which she had set during last year's edition of the championships in Paris. The T20 classification is for athletes who are intellectually impaired. 
  • Turkey's Aysel Onder finished second with a timing of 55.19 seconds and Ecuador's Lizanshela Angulo finished third with a timing of 56.68 seconds. 
  • Earlier, the Indian team won its first medal at the World Para Athletics Championships in Kobe, Japan, with high jumper Nishad Kumar and 200m runner Preeti Pal winning silver and bronze medals. 

YAI Senior National Championship 2024 

  • The Yachting Association of India (YAI) Senior National Championships 2024 concluded after a tough competition at the Indian Naval Watermanship Training Center (INWTC) in Mumbai. The event is held from May 12-18. 
  • The Army and Navy teams dominated by securing the highest number of medals. 
  • The championship featured boats from all eight Olympic classes and 82 participants from 10 sailing clubs from across the country. 
  • A total of 94 races, including four medal races, determined the champion. Vice Admiral Sanjay J Singh, AVSM, NM presided over the closing ceremony and presented medals to the winners, encouraging the young sailors to excel in international events. 

11. Nikhat Zareen and Minakshi clinch Gold Medals at Elorda Cup 

  • In Boxing, Two-time world champions Nikhat Zareen and Minakshi won two gold medals for India in the 3rd Elorda Cup 2024. 
  • The Indian contingent finished the Elorda Cup with 12 medals—2 gold, 2 silver, and 8 bronze. The 3rd Elorda Cup was held in Kazakhstan’s capital city of Astana. 
  • Nikhat in the women’s 52 kg category, triumphed over Zhazira Urakbayeva of Kazakhstan with a 5-Nil victory, while Minakshi defeated another Uzbekistan boxer Rahmonova Saidahon, 4-1 in the women’s 48 kg event. 
  • Anamika in 50 kg lost in the final to the reigning world and Asian champion China’s Wu Yu 1-4. To settle for a silver medal. 

Banking & Finance News 

12. Bank of Maharashtra is the top PSU bank in business growth in FY 2024 

  • Bank of Maharashtra has emerged as the top demonstrator in public sector banks, which has shown impressive growth in total business and deposit. With the increase of 15.94% in total trading and 15.66% increase in deposits, it overtook competitors like State Bank of India. 
  • With a growth rate of 15.94 percent, the BOM has also surpassed State Bank of India (SBI), which has registered a 13.12 percent increase. However, SBI's total business is about 16.7 times more than BOM, which is Rs 79,52,784 crore as compared to BOM's Rs 4,74,411 crore. 
  • Similarly, with an increase of 15.66 percent in FY 2014, the BOM maintained its top position in terms of increase in deposits. This was followed by SBI (11.07 percent), Bank of India (11.05 percent) and Canara Bank (10.98 percent). 
  • Out of 12 public sector banks, only these four lenders could register a double-point increase in deposits in the financial year 2023-24. 

Other facts 

  • In terms of low -cost CASA deposits, Bank of Maharashtra topped the chart with an increase of 52.73 percent, followed by Central Bank of India at the end of March 2024 with a 50.02 percent increase. CASA helps banks to keep the cost of funds low. 
  • In terms of asset quality, Bank of Maharashtra and SBI recorded the lowest gross non-performing assets with 1.88 percent and 2.24 percent respectively by March 31, 2024. 
  • In terms of capital adequacy ratio, Bank of Maharashtra was a leader in PSB with 17.38 percent, followed by Indian Overseas Bank at 17.28 percent and Punjab & Sindh Bank at 17.16 percent at the end of FY 2024. 

Important day 

13. 20 May – World Refugee Day 

  • World Refugee Day is observed every year on 20 May. 
  • Objective – To raise the world’s consciousness about the plight of the refugees who have left their homes due to war, persecution, violence or due economic factors, etc. 
  • Theme 2024 – Hope Away from Home 
  • In 1975, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) passed a resolution to observe 20 May as African Refugee Day to pay tribute to the resilience of those who had been forcibly displaced in Africa due to conflict. 

14. 21 May – International Tea Day 

  • International Tea Day is celebrated every year on 21 May. 
  • Objective – To raise awareness regarding the working conditions of people in the tea industry. 
  • The International Tea Day was first initiated in 2005 by trade unions, small tea growers, and civil society organizations in Asia and Africa. 
  • The day was established with the goal of addressing the issues faced by tea workers, including living wages and fair prices for small tea producers. 

15. 21 May – World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development 

  • World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is observed every year on 21 May. 
  • Objective – To create a better understanding of the values of culture, tradition and education among people. 
  • The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development was first celebrated in 2002 
  • UNESCO leads the celebration of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development highlighting not only the richness of the world’s cultures, but also the essential role of intercultural dialogue for achieving peace and sustainable development. 
  • According to UNESCO data, the cultural and creative sector is one of the most powerful engines of development worldwide. 
  • It accounts for more than 48 million jobs globally –almost half of which are held by women – representing 6.2% of all existing employment and 3.1% of global GDP. 

16. 21 May – National Anti-Terrorism Day 

  • In India, the National Anti-Terrorism Day is observed on May 21 each year to commemorate the date when the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the sixth Prime Minister of India, was killed by a suicide bomber from the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) in Sriperumbudur, a village near Madras (now Chennai). 
  • Gandhi was sworn in on October 31, 1984 as the Prime Minister of India when he was 40 years old, after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. He became the youngest PM of India. 
  • The Anti-Terrorism Day in India was founded by the VP Singh government in the memory of Rajiv Gandhi and was intended to educate the people of India about the adverse impacts of terrorism and violence on society and the country. 
  • After Indira Gandhi’s assassination on October 31, 1984, Rajiv Gandhi became India’s PM. His tenure lasted from 1984-89. 
  • The official announcement of National Anti-Terrorism Day was made on 21 May 1991.

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