Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 23rd June 2024

 National News

 Times Of India No. 1 news brand in country 

  • Times of India is the most trusted major news media brand in India, according to a 47-country survey conducted by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ), Oxford University. 
  • The survey, released as part of Digital News Report 2024, an annual publication by the institute, found TOI had a trust score of 71. TOI had also topped the survey in 2021 and 2022. 
  • The most trusted brand in the UK, BBC News, had a trust score of 62 and the most trusted paper in that country, Financial Times, scored 57. 
  • Similarly, in the US, local TV news had the highest trust score of 62 while New York Times (50), Wall Street Journal (49), CNN (48) and Washington Post (46) scored much lower.


Sudhakararao Papa appointed as Director (Enterprise) at BSNL 

  •  Sudhakararao Papa has been appointed as the Director (Enterprise) of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). 
  •  Presently, he is serving as Chief General Manager (Chennai Telecom District Circle) in the same organization. 
  •  Papa has been selected for the post of Director (Enterprises) of BSNL Limited from a list of 11 candidates. 

Recent Appointment 

  •  Chairman of Global Wind Energy Council India (GWEC India) – Girish Tanti 
  •  President of the Asian Association of Hair Restoration Surgeons – Dr Kapil Dua 
  • Principal Secretary to PM – Dr PK Mishra (reappointment) 
  •  National Security Advisor – Ajit Doval (reappointment) 
  • Advisors to the Prime Minister – Amit Khare and Tarun Kapoor (reappointment)
  •  MD and CEO of SBICAP Ventures Limited – Prem Prabhakar 

Girija Subramanian appoints as CMD of New India Assurance Company 

  •  The government has appointed Girija Subramanian as chairman and managing director (CMD) of the largest general insurer, New India Assurance. 
  •  Subramanian holds a bachelor’s degree in statistics. She is a fellow member of the Insurance Institute of India and also an associate member of the Chartered Insurance Institute, London. 
  •  She is a fellow member of the Insurance Institute of India and also an associate member of the Chartered Insurance Institute, London. 

Recent Appointment in Banking & Insurance Sector 

  • Non-executive Independent Director of Paytm – Neeraj Arora 
  •  MD and CEO of Dhanlaxmi Bank – Ajith Kumar KK 
  •  DG of ESIC – Kamal Kishore Soan 
  •  MD & CEO of PNB MetLife India Insurance – Sameer Bansal (replace Ashish Srivastava) 
  •  CEO of Asirvad Micro Finance Limited – Satish Nair 
  •  Independent Director of Cashfree Payments – Abhaya Hota 

Centre appoints Atul Kumar Chaudhary as Secretary, TRAI 

  •  The government has appointed Atul Kumar Chaudhary, as the new Secretary, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). 
  •  He replaced V Raghunandan who retired on May 31. 
  •  Chaudhary is a graduate from IIT-Rookkee and did his Master Diploma in Public Policy & Administration from IIPA Delhi.
  •   He has worked in various capacities in Personnel, HR, Administration, Licencing, Vigilance wing of BSNL and Department of Telecommunications (DoT). 


2024 Copa America football tournament begins in USA 

  •  The 48th edition of the Copa America football tournament kick off in the United States. 
  • This is the second time in the 108-year history of the Copa America Cup that the event is being held outside South America. 
  •  In 2016, the United States hosted the Copa America Cup. 

Most successful teams in the Copa America 

  •  Argentina and Uruguay jointly share the honour of being the most successful countries in the Copa America Cup. Both countries have won the trophy fifteen times each. 
  •  Brazil has won the tournament 14 times. 
  •  Argentina are the defending champions. They defeated the host, Brazil, in the final of the 2021 Copa America. 

Important day 

21 June – World Music Day 

World Music Day is observed every year on June 21.

  •  The day celebrates music in all its forms, encompassing classical, contemporary, traditional, and experimental genres. 
  •  By providing an inclusive space for artists to share their talents, World Music Day underscores the importance of self-expression and creativity, reminding us of the profound impact music has on bringing people together. 
  •  The concept of World Music Day originated in France in 1981, when Jack Lang, the French Ministry of Culture, along with music composer Maurice Fleuret, and a radio producer and music journalist, proposed the idea of dedicating a day to music. 
  •  The first FĂȘte de la Musique took place in Paris in 1982, with over 1,000 musicians performing throughout the city. 

21 June – World Hydrography Day 

  •  World Hydrography Day is celebrated every year on 21 June. 
  •  Objective – To raise awareness about the significance of hydrography and the invaluable contributions made by hydrographers worldwide. 
  •  Theme 2024 – Hydrographic Information – Enhancing Safety, Efficiency and Sustainability in Marine Activities 


Former Indian pacer David Johnson dies 

  •  Former India pacer David Johnson passed away at the age of 52 after falling from a balcony in Bengaluru. 
  •  The right-arm fast bowler from Karnataka was born on October 16, 1971, in the Arasikere region. 
  • He represented India in international cricket in the mid-1990s. He made his Test debut for India against Australia in October 1996 and featured in a total of two Test matches. 
  •  The highlight of Johnson’s career was clocking at 157.8 kmph during the Test match against Australia. 
  •  His domestic career for Karnataka spanned 39 First-Class matches as he enjoyed immense success in the domestic circuit. 
  •  He recorded his best match figures of 10 for 152 against Kerela in 1995-96 Ranji Trophy season. His performance in the domestic set-up for Karnataka paved his way to the national side. 

Programme to fast-track traveler immigration launched at IGI airport 

  •  Union Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurated the Fast Track Immigration Trusted Traveller Programme (FTI-TTP) at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on Saturday. 
  • The initiative, designed for faster, smoother and safer immigration clearance, is likely to ease congestion at immigration counters. Other than New 
  • Delhi, the initiative was launched in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kochi and Ahmedabad airports in the first phase. 
  •  The Union Home Ministry said the programme would run on e-gates or automated border gates that would minimize human intervention in the immigration clearance process and would be implemented in two phases. In the first phase, Indian citizens and OCI cardholders will be covered, and foreign travelers will be included in the second phase. 
  •  The FTI-TTP will be implemented through an online portal and the Bureau of Immigration will be the nodal agency. To enroll in the scheme, the applicant has to register online on the portal with details and documents. 
  • Under the process, as soon as the registered passenger reaches the e-gate, he/she will scan his/her boarding pass issued by the airlines at the e-gates to get the details of his/her flight. 
  • The passport will be scanned and biometrics of the passenger will be authenticated at the e-gates. Once the identity of the passenger is established and biometric authentication is done, the e-gate will open and immigration clearance will be deemed to have been granted. 

Stringent regulations could hinder growth of Al in India: experts 

  • As India grapples with the regulatory landscape for artificial intelligence (AI), a sector which has seen rapid development in recent years, experts opine that strict regulations could stifle the country's burgeoning Al-driven economy. 
  •  Currently, India does not have specific laws directly addressing generative Al, such as deep fakes. It has instead introduced a series of advisories and guidelines to encourage the responsible development and implementation of Al technologies. 
  •  After a "deep fake" video clip of actor Rashmika Mandanna went viral on social media platforms last year, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) asked social media intermediaries to take such content down within 36 hours, a requirement outlined in the IT Rules, 2021. 
  •  In December last year, the Delhi High Court asked the Centre to respond to a public interest litigation (PIL) plea against the unregulated use of Al and deep fakes. 
  •  Deepfake videos utilize Al to swap the likeness of a person in an existing video with someone else's. Recently, concerns have grown around deep face technology, as it can produce highly realistic fake videos that may be mis-used for spreading misinformation, creating fake news, or generating false narratives. 
  • The petition said while technological development was happening by leaps and bounds, the law was moving at a snail's pace. 
  •  While the High Court is scheduled to hear the petition in July, the Meity on March 1 issued an advisory saying that all generative Al products, such as large language models on the lines of ChatGPT and Google's Gemini, would have to be made available "with [the] explicit permission of the Government of India" if they are "under-testing/ unreliable". 
  • However, after the advisory came under criticism from experts for being ambiguous, on March 15, 2024, Meity issued a fresh advisory, dropping the requirement of obtaining "explicit permission" from the government. 
  • The latest advisory said under-tested or unreliable Al products should be labeled with a disclaimer indicating that outputs generated by such products may be unreliable. Jaijit Bhattacharya, president, Centre for Digital Economy Policy Research (C-DEP), said the advisory is, largely, about following the extant regulations, with an additional qualifier that all Al-generated content that can potentially cause disinformation should be clearly labeled as Al generated. "This advisory does not really hinder the industry," he said. 
  •  Mishi Choudhary, founder of Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), suggested the government "should be ready to update existing laws to protect public interest and [guard against] future harm associated with the technology". 

New Delhi, Dhaka to begin talks on comprehensive economic ties 

  •  India and Bangladesh on Saturday agreed to begin a dialogue on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement, paving the way for broader economic ties between the two neighboring economies.
  •   In his welcome remarks at Hyderabad House, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the two sides would intensify connectivity and energy collaboration. He said trade between the two countries was being conducted in the Indian currency. 
  • "Between Akhaura and Agartala, the sixth India-Bangladesh cross-border rail link has been started. Cargo facility for India's northeastern States has been started through the Khulna-Mongla Port. Both units of the 1,320-MW Maitree Thermal Power Plant have started generating electricity. Trade in Indian rupee has started between the two countries," Mr. Modi said. 
  •  Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived here on Fri- day on a two-day visit, the first state visit by a foreign leader since Mr. Modi took charge for the third term on June 9. 
  •  The two sides signed multiple MoUs covering maritime cooperation and economy, rail connectivity, oceanography, health and disaster management and others. 
  •  Elaborating on the MoU on railway connectivity exchanged on Saturday, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said that apart from the six existing crossborder railway links between the countries, the document focuses on "transit that they afford between different parts of India through the territory of Bangladesh". 
  • "The connectivity essentially strengthens a very large part of economic infrastructure within Bangladesh. It's effectively a connectivity paradigm that benefits both the countries, both the societies, both the economies, very extensively," said Mr. Kwatra explained that "sub-regional transit that Bangladesh would get to Bhutan and Nepal would be further expanded and strengthened".
  •  It is understood that India will attempt to run a train service in the near future that will connect the northeastern States such as Tripura with West Bengal through the territory of Bangladesh. 
  •  Team on Teesta Welcoming the leader of Bangladesh, Mr. Modi announced that India would open an Assistant High Commission in Rangpur in the northern part of the country. 
  •  Rangpur, which is strategically located between West Bengal and Assam, is also important as it is nurtured by the waters of the Teesta, which is a matter of protracted negotiation between India and Bangladesh. 
  •  During the event in Hyderabad House, Mr. Modi announced that a technical team from India would soon visit Bangladesh to discuss "conservation and management of the Teesta river". 
  •  Against the backdrop of stalled negotiations on the sharing of the waters of the Teesta, Bangladesh came up with the project to conserve Teesta and subsequently, the project drew interest from New Delhi. 
  •  The project is also likely to feature on the agenda. when Ms. Hasina visits China next month, as China too has displayed interest in the project. 
  •  Mr. Modi also announced that India will start issuing e-medical visas to deal with the surging demand for medical visas from Bangladesh. The two sides also signed an MoU on launching small satellites. Ms. Hasina said she discussed "politics, security, trade, connectivity, sharing of water from common rivers, energy, regional and multilateral cooperation". She described her visit as "incomparable" as this is her second visit to India within a span of 10 days. She had attended the swearing-in ceremony of Mr. Modi on June 9. 

Southern Railway suspends loco pilots for 46-hour 'rest'; acting on orders, says union 

  •  In an unprecedented move, the Southern Railway has suspended at least 29 loco pilots and assistant loco pilots, and initiated disciplinary action against many others for taking a 46-hour break from duty. 
  •  Trade unions say the action was taken after the loco pilots availed of the mandatory 16-hour rest on return from an outstation trip, along with their weekly off or periodical rest of 30 hours.
  •   After several protests and representations demanding implementation of the rest schedule as per rules went unheeded, the loco pilots launched a protest on June 1 by availing headquarters rest (16 hours), along with their weekly off (30 hours). 
  •  Though a majority of the suspensions were revoked in a few days pending disciplinary action, the All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) said the agitation would be intensified and soon spread to other zones of the Indian Railways. 
  •  The suspension of loco pilots comes at a time when there are thousands of vacancies in the safety categories, especially loco pilots, which forced the railways to notify recruitment of 18,799 posts of assistant loco pilots, more so, against the backdrop of increasing train accidents. 
  • AILRSA central organizing secretary V. Balachandran said, "We are entitled to headquarters rest (16 hours) and periodical rest four times a month.” 

Erred in not crediting ICMR as co-inventor of Covaxin, admits Bharat Biotech 

  •  Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL), the manufacturer of India's first indigenous Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin, said it had made an "inadvertent mistake" in not including scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) as 'co-inventors' in patent applications filed in India and abroad to protect the intellectual property rights around the vaccine. 
  •  It would include their names in fresh filings for patent purposes, the Hyderabad-based firm said in a statement late on Saturday. 
  •  "BBIL has great respect for ICMR and is thankful to ICMR for their continuous support on various projects. Therefore, as soon as this inadvertent mistake was noticed, BILL has already started the process to rectify it by including ICMR as co-owner of the patent applications for Covid-19 vaccine. Necessary legal documents are being prepared for it and BBIL will file those documents in the Patent office as soon as those are ready and signed," the company said. 
  • Response after report The statement came on the day The Hindu reported, 
  • ICMR's role in the development of Covexin was widely publicized by the government. 
  • citing patent-linked documents, of the ICMR being uncredited as inventors. 
  •  This was despite a statement by the Health Ministry in Parliament that the intellectual property rights of Covexin were "jointly owned" by ICMR and BBIL. Other than that, ICMR's role in the development of vaccines was widely publicized by the government as well as ICMR's own leadership through multiple channels during the pandemic. 
  • By way of explanation, the company, in its press statement, said like other pharmaceutical companies working on Covid vaccines, it was faced with multiple challenges and "all organizations were in a rush" to develop vaccines and file the appropriate patents, prior to competitor or data being published in journals.
  •   Bharat Biotech said it did not have "access" to its own agreement with ICMR that governed the terms of engagement between both entities regarding Covexin as this was a "confidential document''.
  •   The Hindu reached out to BBIL to clarify this point but did not get a response till the time of going to press. 
  • "Bharat Biotech's Covid vaccine application was filed in above circumstances and since BBIL-ICMR agreement copy, being a confidential document, was not accessible. Hence ICMR was not included in the original application. Though this was purely unintentional, such mistakes are not uncommon for the Patent office therefore Patent Law provides provisions to rectify such mistakes," the statement said. A day earlier, BBIL gave a different explanation to The Hindu on omitting ICMR's name. BBIL had filed a patent for the "process" governing the manufacture of Covexin. Moreover, the development of Covexin was "fully funded" by Bharat Biotech and the ICMR had provided the strain and conducted clinical trials, a spokesperson reasoned in an email.

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