Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 24th May 2024


National News 

1. Karnataka mandates 33% reservation for women in govt contract jobs 

  • Aligning with the quota policy applied in permanent government positions, the Karnataka State government has now made it mandatory to provide 33% reservation for women in services and posts that are being outsourced by various government departments and organizations. 
  • This reservation is within the stipulated quota for SC/ST and other backward communities, ensuring women’s representation in outsourced jobs across various government departments and organizations. 
  • There are currently over 75,000 employees holding outsourced jobs in government departments. 
  • The government usually hires third party agencies to provide staff for Group C and Group D posts, such as drivers, data entry operators, and housekeeping staff. 

About Karnataka 

  • Capital – Bengaluru 
  • Chief Minister –Siddaramaiah 
  • Deputy Chief Minister – DK Shivakumar
  • Governor – Thawar Chand Gehlot 

International News

2. Second AI Summit held in Seoul, South Korea 

  • South Korean Prime Minister Han Duk-soo has inaugurated the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Global Forum in Seoul. The first global AI summit was held in the UK in November, and the next in-person gathering is scheduled to take place in France, possibly in 2025. 
  • The AI summit in Seoul, which is being co-hosted with Britain, discussed concerns such as job security, copyright and inequality, a day before 16 tech companies signed a voluntary agreement to develop AI safely. 
  • 14 companies, including Alphabet (Google) signed a separate pledge Google, Microsoft, OpenAI and six Korean companies will use methods such as watermarking to help identify AI. 
  • On the first day of the AI Summit, sixteen companies at the forefront of developing AI pledged to develop the technology safely at a time when regulators are struggling to deal with rapid innovation and emerging risks. 
  • The companies included US leaders Google, Meta, Microsoft and OpenAI, as well as companies from China, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates. They were endorsed by a broad declaration by the Group of Seven major economies (G7), the European Union, Singapore, Australia and South Korea in a virtual meeting. 

EU Artificial Intelligence Act 

  • EU ministers have unanimously given final approval to the Artificial Intelligence Act. This is a major new law that regulates the use of transformative technology in "high risk" situations such as law enforcement and employment. 
  • “This landmark law, the first of its kind in the world, would have addressed a global technological challenge,” Belgian Digitalization Minister Mathieu Michel said in a statement. 
  •  Some uses, such as Chinese-style social credit scoring, will be banned altogether. The AI Act imposes strict transparency obligations on high-risk AI systems. 
  • It limits the use of real-time biometric surveillance in public places by governments to cases of certain crimes, prevention of terrorist attacks, and the search for people suspected of the most serious crimes. 
  • The new law will come into force in 2026, with a ban on the use of artificial intelligence in social scoring, predictive policing and targeted scraping of facial images from the internet or CCTV footage to come into effect in six months once the new regulation comes into force. 
  • Obligations for general-purpose AI models will come into force after 12 months and rules for AI systems embedded in regulated products in 36 months. 
  • Fines range from 7.5 million euros ($8.2 million) or 1.5% of turnover to 35 million euros ($8.2 million) or 7% of global turnover, depending on the type of violations. 

State News

3. Eight killed, over 50 injured in boiler blast at Dombivli chemical plant 

  • Eight people were killed and over 50 injured in a boiler explosion at a chemical plant in the Dombivli Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) area, 40 km from Mumbai, on Thursday. 
  • Fire and Rescue Services officials said the explosion took place at the Amudan Chemical Company in Phase 2 of the MIDC, leading to a devastating fire around 1.40 p.m. 
  • "The blast took place due to a technical issue in the reactor. It caused drums containing chemicals to explode, further damaging other units. In the impact, windowpanes of nearby houses and shops were shattered,” Dombivli Chief Fire Officer Namdeo Chaudhary said. 
  • Personal fire and Rescue Services, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Target Disaster Response Force (TDRF), and doctors have been deployed at the site. 
  • Ravi Kumar, who was near the spot when the explosion took place, said local people had constantly demanded that such industries be relocated. "The residential areas are around 200 m from the MIDC and around 400 companies and mills operate in the area," he said. 
  • While those injured in the blast were taken to the nearest hospitals, a few workers were still stuck inside the unit and the rescuers have been unable to locate them. 
  • Chief Minister Eknath Shinde announced a compensation of ₹5 lakh to the king of each of the deceased and treatment expenses for the injured. 

4. ‘Saga Dawa Mahotsav’ organized in Sikkim 

  • Sikkim's Saga Dawa festival falls every year on the 15th day of the fourth month of the Northern Buddhist calendar. Saga Dawa is considered the most sacred Buddhist festival, commemorating the birth, enlightenment and Mahaparinirvana (passing) of Buddha Shakyamuni. This day is also known as the 'triple blessed occasion'. 
  • On this auspicious day, Governor Laxman Prasad Acharya extended hearty greetings to the people of Sikkim. This occasion marks the birth, enlightenment and attainment of Parinirvana of Shakyamuni Buddha. 
  • Saga Dawa holds great significance for the Buddhist community, and its observance in Sikkim underlines the deep spiritual and cultural heritage of the state. Mahayana Buddhist devotees gather at monasteries and light butter candles in memory of the Buddha, who is believed to pave the way for life for his followers. 
  • A huge procession parade of Mahayana monks and devotees through the streets of Gangtok starts from the Tsuk La Khang Monastery and is led by the monks through the streets of the city. Holy scriptures, called 'Kajur Granth', are read throughout the month, as well as the practice of giving donations to the needy. 

Buddha Purnima 

  • It is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. It is also known as Vesak. The contribution of Buddhism to world society was recognized on this day by the United Nations in the year 1999. Celebrated this year on 23 May. 
  • On this occasion, many devotees visit Mahabodhi Vihar, the world temple site located in Bodhgaya, Bihar. Bodhi Vihar is the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, was born Siddhartha Gautama in Lumbini around 563 BC and belonged to the Shakya dynasty. 
  • Buddha gave his first sermon in the village of Sarnath near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. 
  • He died in 483 BC at the age of 80 in the history of Uttar Pradesh. He is considered to be the eighth incarnation out of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Buddhism started in India about 2600 years ago. 
  • The main teaching fodder of Buddhism includes the core concepts of the Noble Noble Truth and the Eightfold Path. Branches of Buddhism: Mahayana (paganism), Hinayana, Theravada, Vajrayana (Tantric Buddhism), Zen. 

Defence News

5. BRO's Project Vijayak in Ladakh successfully used indigenous Rejupave road construction technology. 

  • In Ladakh, Project Vijayak of the Border Roads Organization (BRO) in Kargil has successfully used the indigenous Rejupave road construction technology. Developed by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Central Road Research Institute (CSIRCRRI) under the Ministry of Science and Technology. 
  • Rejupave was used to construct high altitude bituminous roads in low and sub-zero temperatures on the Dras-Umbala-Sanku Road, located in Dras, the second coldest inhabited place in the world. 
  • Rejupave, an innovative asphalt modifier derived from biomass and renewable resources, reduces heating requirements for bituminous mixtures and maintains their temperature during transit. 
  • This technology was earlier implemented by BRO to build the world's highest Sela road tunnel and the road section on the LGGDamteng-Yangste (LDY) road section near the China border of Arunachal Pradesh at 18,000 feet. 
  • BRO was conceived and established in the year 1960 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to coordinate rapid development of road construction in the northern and north-eastern border areas of the country. It functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence. 
  • It has brought wide variety in the scale of construction and development works, including airfields, construction projects, defense works and tunneling and is very popular among the public. 
  • Project Vijayak was launched by BRO in 2010. Project Vijayak, along with Project Himank is responsible for the construction and maintenance of critical road infrastructure in Ladakh. 
  • Project Beacon was launched in the 1960s. This is the oldest project of BRO. The project currently looks after the development and maintenance of road infrastructure in critical areas of Kashmir. 

6. Military Affairs Department seeks feedback from three services on Agnipath scheme 

  • As the Agnipath scheme for the recruitment of soldiers into the three Services completes two years, the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), headed by the Chief of Defence Staff, has sought feedback from the forces on the scheme. 
  • A meeting was held in this regard on Wednesday where the progress was reviewed at the highest level, it has been learnt. 
  • Monthly reports are being regularly sent by the units, formations, and regimental centers to the Army headquarters with marks, a source said. "Feedback is received from all units, compiled at various formations and sent to headquarters, along with an averaged-out quantified feedback. Marks are given out of 10 on various attributes," the source said. 
  • On June 14, 2022, the government announced the Agnipath scheme for recruitment of soldiers into the armed forces for four years, doing away with the earlier process. The overall intake has been capped at 1.75 lakh till 2026, and Agniveers on completion of four years will get an opportunity to join regular cadre and up to 25% would be selected through another recruitment process. 
  • The Agnipath scheme has become a major poll issue in the Lok Sabha election, with the Congress pledging to abolish the scheme and revert to the earlier manner of permanent recruitment if voted to power. 
  • Speaking at an event in March, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh defended the scheme and said the future of youth joining as Engineers would not be impacted. He added that the government was "open" to bringing any changes in the scheme "if required". 
  • To questions on the issue, an official source said the Army conducted regular reviews to ensure the efficacy and currency of its policies on human resources. Terming the scheme "transformational", the source added that regular feedback was obtained periodically to ensure error free implementation of the scheme. 
  • The Navy and the Air Force have already compiled the feedback which is ready to be sent to the DMA, sources confirmed. 

7. The first emergency medical response system for serving personnel of the Indian Air Force and their families has been inaugurated in Bengaluru. 

  • Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari inaugurated the Emergency Medical Response System (EMRS) at the Command Hospital Air Force Bangalore (CHAFB), Karnataka, on May 21, 2024. 
  • This system is designed to provide expert guidance and definitive care during medical emergencies for serving personnel of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and their families across the country.
  • EMRS is a first of its kind 24/7 telephonic medical helpline to serve IAF personnel and their families across India. 
  • The responding medical professional will provide immediate advice to the caller, as well as put them in touch with the IAF medical facility closest to the caller. 
  • The facility symbolizes the Indian Air Force's commitment towards incorporating technology to provide high quality healthcare in emergency situations. 

Exercise Cyber Security-2024 

  • Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan participated in 'Exercise Cyber Security - 2024' in New Delhi on May 22, 2024 and underlined the importance of strengthening India's cyber defense capabilities. 
  • The massive cyber defense exercise is being conducted by the Defense Cyber Agency from 20 to 24 May 2024. It aims to further develop the cyber defense capability of all cyber security organizations and promote synergy among all stakeholders. 
  • Exercise Cyber Security – 2024 aims to empower the participants by enhancing their cyber defense skills, techniques and capabilities; Share best practices, and work towards an integrated and strong cyber defense posture. 

Ranks & Reports News 

8. Indian stock market becomes the 5th largest stock market in the world with $5 trillion capitalization. 

  • India's market capitalization has increased to $5 trillion. This feat was achieved less than six months after crossing the $4 trillion mark, reflecting the country's strong economic resilience and investor confidence. 
  • Joining the exclusive league of countries with a $5 trillion market cap, India has become the 5th market after the US, China, Japan and Hong Kong. However, on a closing basis, India's market cap currently stands at $4.97 trillion on the BSE and $4.93 trillion on the NSE. 
  • On May 28, 2007, India reached $1 trillion for the first time. It took another 10 years for the Street to reach the next trillion. The $2 trillion milestone was reached on 16 May 2017. The next milestone was even faster as the $3 trillion mark was reached in four years on May 24, 2021. 
  • India now ranks as the secondlargest market in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index after China, with inflows of more than $8 billion into domestic equities in the first quarter of 2024. 

Indian stock market 

  • India's market capitalization saw an increase of more than 60% in March 2023 due to a rally in shares of small and medium-sized companies. This has been further boosted by the emergence of mega newly listed companies like Life Insurance Corporation (LIC). 
  • Additionally, the rise in market value of public sector undertaking (PSU) packs has strengthened India's position, with the country now having 100 stocks with an mcap of more than $10 billion. This has also attracted more investment from foreign investors, especially through exchange-traded funds (ETFs). 
  • India is expected to become the third largest economy by 2027, and the market capitalization is expected to reach $10 trillion by 2030 considering the last 15-20 year history and consistent market returns from new listings. 
  • The number of stocks with a $1 billion market cap in India has almost doubled to 500. India is also one of the markets among the major EM economies to have consistently delivered annualized returns of over 10% over the last 5-year/10-year/15-year/20-year period. 

Awards News

9. Jenny Erpneback to be honored with International Booker Award 2024 became the first German writer 

  • German writer Jenny Erpneback and translator Michael Hoffman won the International Booker Award for fiction for fiction for "Kairos", the story of a complicated love affair during the last years of East Germany. 
  • Ms. Erpneback is the first German winner of the International Booker Award, and Mr. Hoffman is the first German male translator to win after the award in his current form in 2016. The winner was announced at a ceremony held at Tate Modern, London. 
  • Erpenback's novel, describes a devastating relationship between a young woman and an old man in the East Berlin of the 1980s, in which the two lovers seem to be a symbol of East Germany's crushed idealism. 
  • The 57-year-old Erpneback was born and raised in Eastern Berlin, which was part of East Germany until the country disappeared in 1990 with German Reunion. 
  • This is her fourth novel, and is her third novel to be a part of the International Booker Award, one of which won the award in 2015, The Independent Foreign Fiction Award, and one listed for the International Booker in 2018. 
  • Last year's winner was another novel about communism and its legacy in Europe, Bulgarian writer Georgie Gospodinov's 'Time Shelter' and translated by Angela Rodel. 

International Booker Award 2024 

  • Booker McConel, a multinational company, established the Booker Award in 1968 at the Prix Goncourt equivalent in France. 
  • The Canadian broadcaster Ellenor Wattail, who presided over the five -member decisive panel. The book surpassed five other finalists selected out of 149 novels presented for the award. 
  • The award recognizes novels around the world that have been translated into English and published in UK or Ireland. The prize money is divided between 50,000 pounds ($ 64,000) writer and translator. 

10. Thiruvananthapuram Airport achieved Zero Waste to Landfill status 

  • Thiruvananthapuram International Airport was awarded the zero waste to landfill (ZWL) accolade by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII-ITC) Centre of Excellence. 
  • It is the first airport in India to receive this recognition, achieving 99.50% waste diversion from landfills. 
  • The award confirms the airport’s implementation of leading waste management practices. 

11. Srinivas Kulkarni honoured with 2024 Shaw Prize in astronomy 

  • Srinivas R. Kulkarni, an Indian-origin U.S. scientist and brother of Sudha Murty, has been awarded the prestigious Shaw Prize in Astronomy for 2024. 
  • Kulkarni, who serves as the George Ellery Hale Professor of Astronomy and Planetary Science at Caltech. 
  • Kulkarni has been awarded for his ground-breaking discoveries on millisecond pulsars, gamma-ray bursts, supernovae, and other transient astronomical phenomena. 
  • The Shaw Prize consists of three annual prizes: Astronomy, Life Science and Medicine, and Mathematical Sciences, each bearing a monetary award of USD 1.2 million. 
  • Hong Kong-based film and television personality and philanthropist Run Run Shaw (1907-2014) founded the Shaw Foundation Hong Kong and The Sir Run Run Shaw Charitable Trust. 

Recent Award 

  • 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

12. IOC launches ‘Let’s Move India’ Campaign to Inspire People to celebrate Athletes at Paris Olympics 

  • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has launched the ‘Let’s Move India’, an initiative to inspire people to celebrate the athletes participating in the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris. 
  • The move invites people from across the country to join the movement through a digital challenge on social media. 
  • Young people can take part in a series of regional school initiatives to coincide with Olympic Day on June 23. People are encouraged to recreate their favourite athlete celebrations or create their own, aiming to inspire and celebrate the Olympians heading to Paris 2024, who will be representing their 1.4 billion compatriots from July 26. 
  • The IOC has joined forces with Abhinav Bindra, India’s first individual Olympic gold medallist, and an IOC Athletes’ Commission member, and together, they will extend invitations to schools across the nation to join the movement, as part of the Olympic Values Education Programme. 

Important day

13. 24 May – National Brother’s Day 

  • National Brother’s Day is celebrated every year on 24 May to respect the special bond shared between brothers. 
  • National Brother’s Day traces its origins back to 2005, when C Daniel Rhodes from Alabama first organised the holiday. 
  • Initially named ‘National Brother’s Day,’ it was created to honour and recognise the contributions brothers make to their families. 

14. May 24 – International Day of the Markhor 

  • The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has proclaimed May 24 as the International Day of the Markhor. 
  • Objective – To raise awareness and promote the conservation of this iconic and ecologically significant species found across the mountainous regions of Central and South Asia.
  • The markhor (Capra falconeri) is an iconic and ecologically significant species found across the mountainous regions of Central and South Asia, including Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. 
  • The markhor was categorized as “near threatened” in 2014 and is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, and has been included in Appendix I to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora since 1992.

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