Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 4th May 2024

National News 

1. India registers strong protest against China for illegal construction activities in 'Shaksgam Valley' of Karakoram 

  • India has lodged a strong protest with China against their illegal attempts to change facts regarding construction activities in the 'Shaksgam Valley or Trans Karakoram Tract' near Siachen Glacier. 
  • Briefing the media in New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said, "India considers the Shaksgam Valley as its territory and has never accepted the so-called ChinaPakistan Boundary Agreement of 1963, through which Pakistan attempted to illegally cede the region to "China." 
  • Border violations and unauthorized entries have been well recorded in all three sectors of the 3,488-km border that India officially shares with China. 

Shaksgam Valley 

  • The Shaksgam Valley, or Trans Karakoram Tract, is part of the Hunza-Gilgit region of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) and is a disputed territory claimed by India. 
  • It is bordered by Xinjiang province of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the north, the northern areas of PoK to the south and west, and the Siachen Glacier region to the east. Pakistan handed it over to China in 1963. 

2. Air India starts international travel for the first time with 'Airbus A350-900' on Delhi-Dubai route 

  • In a milestone, Air India commenced operations of its brand new Airbus A350-900 aircraft on the busy Delhi-Dubai route from 1 May 2024, marking the international debut of the flagship aircraft. With this, Air India becomes the only carrier to operate the A350 between India and Dubai. 
  • The aircraft painted in Air India's bold new livery was welcomed with pre-departure ceremonies at both the airports. To mark the occasion, guests were presented with A350 souvenirs. 
  • At Dubai International Airport, Mr. Satish Kumar Sivan, Consul General of India to Dubai, attended the ceremony along with Mr. Jamal Al Hai, Deputy CEO of Dubai Airports and Mr. Mohammed Abdullah Lengwi, Director General of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority. 
  • According to the company statement, Air India's A350-900 aircraft have a three-class cabin configuration with 316 seats, which include 28 private business suites, 24 premium economy seats and 264 economy seats. All seats are equipped with the latest technology and entertainment systems. 
  • The Airbus A350-900 is a long-range passenger aircraft that can accommodate 300-350 passengers in a three-class configuration. Its range is 15,000 kilometers. 
  • According to Airbus, the A350 is powered by two Trent XWB turbofan engines that are the result of very close collaboration between Airbus and the powerplant's manufacturer, RollsRoyce. 
  • Currently, Air India operates a total of 72 flights per week to Dubai from five Indian cities, including 32 flights from Delhi, strengthening its strong presence in the region. Air India had placed a historic order of 470 aircraft from both Airbus and Boeing, which will be delivered over the next five years. 
  • The induction of A350s into the Air India fleet as part of the airline's order began earlier this year. It consists of a total of 20 Airbus A350- 900 aircraft. 

3. India, Indonesia agree to enhance defence industry collaboration 

  • India and Indonesia on Friday agreed to enhance collaboration in areas of defence industry, maritime security and multilateral cooperation at the seventh India-Indonesia Joint Defence Cooperation Committee meeting held in New Delhi. It was chaired by Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane and Secretary-General of Indonesia’s Ministry of Defence Air Marshal Donny Ermawan Taufanto. 
  • During the meeting, both sides expressed satisfaction at the expanding scope of defence cooperation between the two countries. The progress made on various bilateral initiatives deliberated in meetings of working groups on defence cooperation and defence industries cooperation was also reviewed by the co-chairs, a Defence Ministry statement said. 
  • During the visit, Air Marshal Taufanto visited the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) headquarters in New Delhi as well as the TATA Advanced Systems and Larsen & Toubro defence facilities in Pune. “He also held deliberations with other Indian defence industry partners like Bharat Forge, Mahindra Defence and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited and discussed ways to enhance defence industrial capabilities by cooperation in research and joint production,” the statement said. 
  • Air Marshal Taufanto also called on CDS General Anil Chauhan. On his arrival in the national capital, the Indonesian military officer laid a wreath and paid homage to fallen heroes at the National War Memorial. 

4. India press freedom score fell over the last year: RSF 

  • India's score in the World Press Freedom Index fell over the last year, from 36.62 to 31.28, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF for Reporters sans Frontières), which puts together an annual index on the freedom enjoyed by journalists in 180 jurisdictions. India’s rank improved from 161 in 2023 to 159 in 2024, but this was because other countries had slipped in their rankings. The government has in the past dismissed international rankings of freedoms in India as misinformed and propaganda driven. 
  • Norway and Denmark topped the RSF table while Eritrea was at the bottom, with Syria just ahead of it. “Press freedom around the world is being threatened by the very people who should be its guarantors — political authorities,” the RSF said, noting that press freedoms fell by an average 7.6 points globally. 
  • The press freedom questionnaire covers categories — political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural context and security. Scores for India dropped (worsened) in all but the security indicator. 
  • “India’s media has fallen into an ‘uno cial state of emergency’ since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 and engineered a spectacular rapprochement between his party, the BJP, and the big families dominating the media,” the RSF country le on India said. Reference is also made to “Godi media” as mixing populism and pro-BJP propaganda. Indian journalists who are very critical of the government are subjected to harassment campaigns by BJP-backed trolls, the India country report says. 
  • “Yes, the elections context matters massively in India. I think this is one of the countries where there’s a perception of authorities participating in sort of mass disinformation and propaganda,” Rebecca Vincent, director of campaigns at RSF, said at a briefing organised by the Foreign Press Association in London, to launch the index. 

U.S. slips in ranking 

  • Ms. Vincent said that among the countries going to the polls this year, the U.S. was the most concerning in terms of press freedoms, including because of the global impact developments there had. 
  • “We saw the catastrophic elects globally of the rst the Trump presidency and his attitude towards media, who were labelled enemies of the state and treated as such on on the campaign trail,” she said. The U.S. press freedom score fell from 71.22 to 66.59 and its rank deteriorated from 45 to 55. 

State News 

5. Swell waves likely to strike coastal areas over weekend: INCOIS 

  • The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) on Friday alerted the coastal States of Goa, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, of the possibility of high-energy swell waves over the weekend. 
  • It also urged “total suspension of operational/recreational activities at beach/nearshore regions”on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Fishermen and coastal populations have been advised to be cautious about a possible surge of waves, such as gushing of sea water intermittently in the nearshore or beach regions, particularly in lowlying areas. 
  • Senior scientist and Group Director T. Balakrishnan Nair said high-period swells had started approximately 10,000 km away from the Indian coast on April 26 in the southern Atlantic Ocean. This had caused “high-energy swell propagation” towards the Indian coastal regions which is expected to hit the southern tip of India in the early hours of Saturday. 
  • These long-period swells combined with high tide conditions can cause coastal flooding in low-lying areas, he said. 
  • Small vessels should not be plying nearshore and boats may be anchored at a fair distance from each other to avoid damage, he added. 
  • Meanwhile, coastal communities in Kerala were advised to remain vigilant with State being put on red alert for high-energy swell waves. The phenomenon, known locally as ‘Kallakadal’ (rogue sea), is likely to last till 11.30 p.m. on Sunday. Low-lying areas could experience 0.5 metre to 1.7-metre high swell waves. 
  • The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) issued directions for suspending recreational activities along the beaches. Coastal residents have also been advised to temporarily evacuate if the need arises. This is the first instance of a red alert being issued for the State in connection with the Kallakadal phenomenon, KSDMA member secretary Sekhar Kuriakose said. 

Banking News

6. NPCI signs MoU with Bank of Namibia for the first time at international level to develop payment system similar to UPI 

  • NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL), the international division of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), has signed a contract with the Bank of Namibia to assist in building an instant payments system similar to India's Unified Payment Interface. 
  • This is UPI's first international contract. With the goal of achieving digital financial inclusion, NIPL will help Namibia implement a new digital payments service for person-to-person and merchant payment transactions in real-time. 
  • Bank of Namibia Governor Johannes Gwaxb said, “Our objective…is to achieve full interoperability of payment instruments by 2025, modernize the financial sector and ensure a secure and efficient national payments system. 
  • In January 2024, NPCI announced the launch of UPI-PayNow linkage, Singapore, In February 2024, it launched UPI services in France with Lyra and in the same month, UPI services in Sri Lanka and Mauritius. 


  • In the year 2016, NPCI launched UPI with 21 member banks. UPI is a system that powers multiple bank accounts, multiple banking features, seamless fund routing and merchant payments through a single mobile application (of any participating bank). 
  • Top UPI apps include PhonePe, Paytm, Google Pay, Amazon Pay and BHIM app. Currently UPI is the largest among the systems operated by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) including National Automated Clearing House (NACH), Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AePS), Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), RuPay etc. 

7. ICICI Bank joins top 5 companies of India with market cap of more than Rs 8 trillion 

  • ICICI Bank has crossed the Rs 8 trillion mark and registered its name among the top five companies of India in terms of market capitalisation. Shares of the private lender rose more than 5%. 
  • ICICI Bank has become the second bank in India to cross the market capitalization of Rs 8 trillion, following the footsteps of HDFC Bank. 
  • The exclusive club of India's top five companies by market capitalization is topped by Reliance Industries with Rs 19.8 trillion, followed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) with Rs 14 trillion. 
  • Among banks, HDFC Bank holds the top position with a market capitalization of Rs 11.6 trillion, while State Bank of India stands at Rs 7.4 trillion. 
  • Share price of ICICI Bank touched an all-time high of Rs 1,163 before closing with a significant gain of 4.72%. Analysts from renowned firms like CLSA and JP Morgan have set an ambitious target price of Rs 1,350 for shares of the bank. 
  • In the fourth quarter of the last financial year, the bank reported a 17% rise in net profit to Rs 10,708 crore due to strong loan growth and better asset quality. 
  • The bank's gross non-performing asset (NPA) ratio declined to 2.16% as of March 31, 2024, from 2.30% as of December 31, 2023, reflecting its commitment to maintaining a healthy balance sheet. ICICI Bank was established on 5 January 1994 in Mumbai, Maharashtra. 

8. RBI launches 'floating rate bonds' maturing in 2034 

  • The Government of India has introduced a Floating Rate Bond (FRB) maturing in 2034, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced 8% interest rate for the Floating Rate Savings Bond (FRSB) 2034. 
  • This bond offers a variable interest rate that resets every six months, reflecting market conditions. The interest rate is based on the average yield of recent auctions for short-term government debt (called Treasury bills). Basically, it moves with market conditions. 
  • This rate adjusts every six months. For the period April 30, 2024 to October 29, 2024, the interest rate is 8%. 
  • The 8% interest rate is derived from the average of the interest rates of the last three auctions of shortterm government debt, supplemented by a fixed additional amount of 0.98%. In which the minimum investment is Rs 1,000 and there is no maximum limit. 
  • Without the provision for cumulative interest payments, interest payments are made halfyearly on January 1 and July 1. 
  • Floating-rate bonds offer flexibility, adjusting their interest rates based on current market conditions, making them suitable for conservative investors seeking stable returns. 
  • These bonds are not listed or traded, and loans cannot be taken against them. Premature encashment with penalty is allowed for senior citizens after the minimum lock-in period, which may vary from four to six years depending on the age group. 

Sports News 

9. NADA India organizes ‘#PlayTrue campaign’ to create awareness about clean sports 

  • National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), India conducted the #PlayTrue campaign from April 15 to 30, 2024 with over 12,133 participants. Its objective was to promote awareness about the importance of clean sports and anti-doping practices in India. 
  • The #PlayTrue campaign highlights NADA India's commitment to equip athletes, coaches and the entire sports community with a deeper understanding of anti-doping rules, empowering them to become champions of clean sport in India. 
  • Through its interactive activities including #PlayTrue quiz, I am #PlayTrue Ambassador, #PlayTrue pledge and mascot drawing competition, NADA India engaged the participants, thereby promoting a culture of clean and ethical competition. 
  • The campaign included practical awareness sessions covering all aspects of anti-doping rules. Participants had the opportunity to learn about the consequences of doping in sports, understand supplements, and the role of law enforcement in anti-doping.
  • India has emerged as the country with the highest percentage of doping offenders, according to the 2022 testing data released by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) last month. 
  • The report revealed that out of 4,064 samples collected from Indian athletes (including urine, blood and athlete biological passports), 127 individuals tested positive for banned substances, which is 3.26 per cent of the sample size. 
  • After India, South Africa stands second with 80 doping failures (2.04 per cent of 4,169 samples tested). 

Ranks & Reports News 

10. World's deepest blue hole discovered in Mexico 

  • Researchers have discovered the world's deepest blue hole, named Tam Ja Blue Hole (TJBH), located in Mexico's Chetumal Gulf. It was initially thought to be the second deepest, but recent measurements have now recorded it at a depth of more than 1,380 feet (420 m) below mean sea level (mbSL), surpassing all other blue holes known to date. 
  • The revised depth of the Tam Ja' Blue Hole was revealed in an article published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science. The new measurement, which reached a quarter-mile below the ocean floor into the mesopelagic zone, or twilight zone, where sunlight is significantly reduced, was a surprise to the research team. 
  • A CBS report said the area is characterized by its minimal light access and high concentration of marine life. Its bottom is yet to be reached. This discovery is significant because previous methods using echo sounders were limited due to the unpredictable blue hole size and varying water density. 
  • This discovery puts Tam Ja far ahead of other known underwater sinkholes, such as the Sansha Yongle Blue Hole in the South China Sea, which measures approximately 301 mbsl, and the Dean Blue Hole in the Bahamas, measuring approximately 202 mbsl. 
  • According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), blue holes host diverse marine life, including coral, sponges, mollusks, sea turtles and sharks. 
  • Blue holes, also known as karst formations, are geological wonders formed by the gradual dissolution of a soluble bedrock such as limestone or gypsum. 
  • However, their exploration has been limited by challenging access conditions, as most blue holes consist of small openings under several hundred feet of water, making them inaccessible to automated submersibles. 

11. Organ donation hit by poor identification of brain death cases 

  • Poor identification and certification of brain stem death or brain death cases is keeping the rate of organ donations at low levels in India, despite the availability of many potential cases, the Union Health Ministry has said. 
  • Expressing concern over the rate of organ donations in the country remaining at less than one donor per million population in a year, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) asked health authorities in States/Union Territories to identify each potential brain death case admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and inquire whether the potential donor had pledged for organ donation. 
  • If not, hospital authorities should make family members aware of the opportunity to donate organs before the heart stops. Issuing a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) under the provisions of the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994, the DGHS said the doctor on duty in hospitals, with the help of the transplant coordinator, should make necessary inquiries after the brain death cases are certified by the competent authority. 
  • Requesting every hospital to facilitate and monitor the certification of brain death cases to ensure compliance with the THOTA Act and Rules, the Health Ministry asked hospitals to install ‘Required Request Display Boards’ at strategic locations conveying the message to the public that in the unfortunate event of brain death or cardiac arrest, donation of organs and tissues — like kidney, liver, heart, pancreas, eyes, skin and bones etc. — could save lives. 
  • Going by the transplant data, a total of 16,041 organs, mostly kidneys, were donated in 2022. Delhi topped the country with 3,818 donations.

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