Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 31st May 2024

National News 

1. Railways to construct canopy bridges across track in Assam gibbon habitat 

  • The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has ear-marked funds to construct canopy bridges for India's only ape to move across a railway track bifurcating its prime habitat in eastern 
  • Assam. A 1.65-km-long track set to be doubled and electrified divides the 2,098.62-hectare Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary in Jorhat district. The sanctuary has the largest concentration of the Hoolock gibbon, one of 20 species of apes on earth. 
  • The gibbon, known for its vocalization, spends much of its time on the upper canopy of tall trees, mostly the hollong (Dipte rocarpus macrocarpus). The fragmentation of the forest along the track has disturbed the arboreal nature of the ape, putting it at risk while crossing the track. 
  • "We decided to install canopy bridges inside the sanctuary to facilitate the installation in a gibbon sanctuary in movement of the gibbons across the track. The decision was made in consultation with the Assam State Forest Department, Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and other stakeholders," NFR spokesperson Sabya Sachi De said. 
  • These canopy bridges, designed by the WII in consultation with the NFR, will be constructed at identified points to facilitate easy movement of the arboreal species between the two halves of the sanctuary partitioned by the Mariani- Dibrugarh railway track. 
  • "The ends of the canopy bridges, as well as the knots, will be secured and clamped or tightened using appropriate and high grade fastening materials and techniques. As a fail safe mechanism, safety nets will be installed below the main twin-rope bridge to save the species accidentally falling off the bridge," Mr. De said. 
  • The canopy rope bridges will be installed in such a way that lianas and creepers can be guided along them to make the bridges look as natural as possible, railway officials said. 
  • The NFR had undertaken efforts in the past to build an artificial canopy bridge while the State Forest Department and As sam-based biodiversity conservation organization Aaranyak had erected a natural canopy bridge in a part of the sanctuary frequented by the gibbons. 
  • The gibbons did not use the artificial bridge but used the natural canopy. 

2. NHAI launches initiative to attract the UAE’s investments for India’s highway expansion 

  • The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has launched an initiative to monetize its infrastructure, seeking investments from the UAE to sustain and enhance India’s expanding national highway network. 
  • NHAI’s delegation is conducting high-level meetings and roadshows in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to attract foreign investment via NHAI Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InVITs). 
  • At a Dubai roadshow with the Consulate General of India and SBICAPS UAE, Yadav highlighted India’s highway expansion from 70,000 to 140,000 kilometres in a decade, driven by significant government investment. 

3. Mines Ministry organizes Workshop on Granites and Marble Mining 

  • Ministry of Mines organized a workshop on Granite and Marble mining in Bengaluru. 
  • V L Kantha Rao addressed the inaugural session of workshop. Additional Chief Secretary & Development Commissioner, Government of Karnataka, Dr. Shalini Rajneesh delivered the keynote address on the occasion. 
  • This initiative, driven by data collected from central agencies, aims to enhance transparency and efficiency in the mining sector. 

4.Sourav Ganguly became Chief Guest for Supply Chain Conference 2024 

  • Sourav Ganguly, ex-BCCI President, has been named the Chief Guest for the International Procurement and Supply Chain Conference in Mumbai, 2024. 
  • The conference will host 400+ delegates, focusing on “India Tomorrow: Economic Supremacy” to enhance India’s economy. 
  • The prestigious IPSC Awards 2024 will be presented, recognizing excellence in supply chain management. 

5. Armed Forces Medical Services & IIT Hyderabad ink MoU for Collaborative Research and Training 

  • The Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) has signed an MoU with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad to collaborate on research and training. 
  • The MoU aims to foster innovation and research in developing novel medical devices and addressing health issues specific to soldiers serving in varied terrains. 
  • IIT Hyderabad, with its departments of Biotechnology, Biomedical Engineering, and Bioinformatics, will provide the necessary technical expertise to tackle the diverse medical challenges faced by the Armed Forces. 
  • Additionally, the MoU will facilitate student exchange programs, short-term courses for undergraduates, and faculty exchange initiatives. 

6. Government raises Retirement & Death Gratuity Limits to 25 Lakh 

  • The maximum limit of retirement gratuity and death gratuity has been revised by the government from 20 lakh to 25 lakh rupees. 
  • Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions has issued an official memorandum in this regard. The revised limit will come into effect from 1st January 2024. 

What is gratuity? 

  • Gratuity is a defined benefit plan given by the employer to the employee for rendering services continuously for five years or more. 
  • According to the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, an employee can receive gratuity if he has rendered continuous service for at least five years with an organisation. 
  • This gratuity is payable to the employee: a) On his superannuation, or b) On his retirement or resignation. 
  • However, there is an exception where the condition of working continuously for five years with an organisation is not applicable. 

International News 

7. Japan built the world's first wooden satellite 'Lignosat' 

  • Japanese researchers have built a small wooden satellite called 'Lignosat' for the first time in the world which is expected to be sent into space on a SpaceX rocket to be launched from the United States in September. 
  • This innovative project aims to reduce space debris by burning completely upon re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. 
  • "Lignosat", a blend of the words ligno, a prefix meaning wood, and satellite, is the result of nearly four years of development efforts carried out by a team from Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry Company. 
  • According to the team, wooden satellites are considered better for the environment when burned upon re-entering the Earth's atmosphere at the end of their operation, compared to traditional satellites made of metals, as they can form alumina particles, which can adversely affect weather and communications. 
  • Lignosat is a 10-centimetre cube made of 4 to 5.5 millimetre thick magnolia wood panels, with a frame partly made of aluminium. It has solar panels on some sides and weighs about 1 kilogram. 
  • It is built on the basis of traditional Japanese technology in which no screws or adhesive materials are used. The team said that it has confirmed the durability of the wooden material even in the harsh environment of outer space. 
  • The satellite will be handed over to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on June 4, 2024. It will be launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

8. Trump becomes first ex-U.S. President to be convicted of felony 

  • Donald Trump became the first former American President to be convicted of felony crimes on Thursday as a New York jury found him guilty of all 34 charges in a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election through a hush money payment to a porn actor who said the two had sex. 
  • Judge Juan M. Merchant set sentencing for July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where GOP leaders, who remained resolute in their support in the aftermath of the verdict, are expected to formally make Mr. Trump their nominee. 
  • The verdict is a stunning legal reckoning for Mr. Trump and exposes him to potential prison time. Mr. Trump said on Friday that he will appeal the verdict. 
  • The falsifying business Donald Trump records charges carry up to four years behind bars, though Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg would not say on Thursday whether prosecutors intend to imprison him. 
  • The conviction and even imprisonment will not bar Mr. Trump from continuing his White House pursuit. 

State News 

9. Form panel to survey Assam reserve forest, says NGT 

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to constitute a three-member committee to survey a part of a reserve forest on the Assam-Nagaland border allegedly diverted for the establishment of an Assam police commando battalion. 
  • The NGT also issued notices to the Environment Ministry, the Assam government, the Assam Forest Department, and two others to file counter-affidavits within four weeks. This followed the hearing of a petition by eastern Assam-based environmental activist Rohit Choudhury. 
  • The petition also cited documents to show the forest land was used for non-forestry activities without the prior permission of the Union government, in contravention of law. 

Defence News 

10. Indian Air Force reached Alaska to participate in multinational exercise 'Red Flag-24’ 

  • A contingent of the Indian Air Force arrived at the Eielson Air Force Base of the US Air Force in Alaska, United States to participate in the upcoming edition of the multinational exercise Red Flag 24. 
  • The Indian Air Force said that, supported by its IL-78 air-to-air refueller and C-17 transport aircraft, the IAF Rafale fighter jets undertook a transatlantic flight, halting at Greece and Portugal. 
  • Ex-Red Flag is a two-week advanced air combat training exercise aimed at integrating airmen in a multinational environment. 
  • Earlier, the India-US Joint Working Group working under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) held an important two-day meeting in New Delhi in the early weeks of May to promote defense cooperation between the two countries. 
  • The main objective of this conference was to overcome challenges through partnership and cooperative research in line with the objectives set by the DTTI mechanism established in 2012. 

Other exercises between India and America: 

  • Exercise Tiger Triumph (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Exercise) 
  • Exercise Vajra Prahar (Special Forces Exercise) 
  • Cope India (Air Force). 
  • Malabar Exercise (quadrilateral naval exercise of India, US, Japan and Australia). 
  • Red Flag (US multilateral air exercise). 

Indian-origin artist Anish Kapoor tops 'Hurun India Art List 2024' 

  • London-based Indian-origin artist Anish Kapoor has topped the Hurun India Art List of the most successful Indian living artists released by the Hurun Research Institute for the sixth consecutive year. 
  • The list ranks the top 50 living Indian artists according to the sales of their works sold at public auctions till January 1, 2024. 
  • Art Baroda artist-teacher Ghulam Mohammed Sheikh is in second place, whose 2015 canvas Arch Kashmir was sold for Rs 21 crore last year. 
  • The third spot on the list is held by Delhi-based Arpita Singh, who retained her position as the most successful female artist. 
  • The oldest artist on the list is 98- year-old Krishen Khanna at the fifth spot, whose works have earned a total of Rs 18 crore from sales. 
  • The youngest is 27-year-old Raghav Babbar from London, who is in eighth place with sales of Rs 12 crore. 
  • The entry point for the top 10 artists increased from Rs 1.99 crore in 2021 to Rs 7.70 crore in 2024, reflecting an increase of approximately 287 per cent," Anas Rahman Junaid, managing director and chief researcher, Hurun Report India, said in a release. 
  • According to the report, "works by India's most successful artists recorded sales of Rs 301 crore", reflecting a 19 per cent year-onyear increase. 
  • The threshold for an artist to enter the top 25 in the Hurun India Art List has increased from Rs 35 lakh in 2021 to Rs 1.9 crore in 2024, an increase of 443 per cent. 

Sports News 

11. Praggnanandhaa defeats world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen for the first time in the classical event of Norway Chess 2024 

  • In chess, Praggnanandhaa defeated Magnus Carlsen for the first time in a classical event. The 18-year-old Indian talent defeated the world No. 1 player with white pieces in the third round of Norway Chess 2024. Praggnanandhaa took the lead early and eventually converted it to victory. With this win, Prag now takes the solo lead in the event with 5.5 points. 
  • Classical chess, also known as slow chess, gives players a considerable amount of time to make their moves, usually at least an hour. 
  • Praggnanandhaa secured a comfortable 3–0 win against Carlsen, who made a risky first move which Carlsen attacked. With this win, Praggnanandhaa has overtaken Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana and is now second in the standings. 
  • Norway Chess has offered prize money of US$160,000 for the Open and Women's categories. From May 27 to June 7, six players will compete against each other twice in classical chess. 
  • Muhammad Wasim becomes the first UAE cricketer to be selected ICC Player of the Month UAE captain and opening batsman Muhammad Wasim has been named the ICC Men's Player of the Month for his remarkable runscoring exploits that led the UAE to victory in the ACC Premier Cup. 
  • The opening batsman scored 269 runs at an average of 44.83 during the month, which included a brilliant century off 56 balls in the final match against the hosts. With an impressive strike rate of 182.99, Wasim's explosive batting was evident throughout the UAE campaign, which included quick innings against Bahrain, Oman and Cambodia. 
  • West Indies captain Hayley Matthews has been named ICC Women's Player of the Month for her exceptional all-round performance, which led West Indies to success in ODI and T20 series in Pakistan. ICC is headquartered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. ICC was established on 15 June 1909. 

Banking and Financial News

12. South Korea launches its First Space Agency 

  • South Korea plans to make a Mars landing by 2045 and spend 100 trillion won ($72.6 billion) until then on space exploration, President Yoon Suk Yeol said at the launch of the country’s first space agency. 
  • The Korea Aerospace Administration (KASA) will lead the country’s “space economy,” with hundreds of businesses and enterprises working to catapult South Korea into the ranks of the world’s top five space powers. 
  • The country’s first lunar lander is planned for 2032. South Korea plans at least three more space launches by 2027 and has plans to launch military satellites 
  • South Korea became the seventh country to own an indigenous space launch vehicle and satellite development technology with the launch of the Nuri rocket in May last year that put a commercial grade satellite in orbit. 
  • The agency is aimed at streamlining policy and development functions shared among different government ministries and will bring under its structure the aerospace research institute that developed the Nuri and its precursor space launch vehicles. 
  • In January, Japan became the fifth country to place a lander on the moon. Last year, India became the fourth nation to land on the moon, after Russia failed in an attempt the same month. 

Ranks & Report News 

13. S&P Global Ratings raises India's outlook on economy from stable to positive after 10 years 

  • S&P Global Ratings has revised India's outlook on the economy to positive from stable. The agency expects broad continuity in economic reforms and fiscal policies regardless of the election outcome. 
  • With effect from 26 September 2014, the agency raised India's outlook on the economy to 'stable' from 'negative'. After a gap of 10 years, the outlook has been upgraded to positive. However, the agency maintained the sovereign rating at BBB 0minus, citing weaknesses in the fiscal setting. 
  • In the past, S&P had a positive outlook on India between mid-2004 and mid-2006. In both cases, the actual rating upgrade occurred within six months. 
  • S&P Global Ratings will upgrade India's sovereign rating by the end of 2026, as the rating agency is confident of the South Asian nation's macro drivers as well as the ebb and flow of economic and political cycles. 
  • India's fiscal health is probably the "key weakness" in S&P's rating profile and improvement in it would be key to an upgrade. India aims to reduce its fiscal deficit to 4.50 percent of GDP by the end of 2025/26, from an expected 5.8 percent in 2023/24. 
  • In a statement, S&P Global Ratings said, "The positive outlook reflects our view that continued policy stability, deeper economic reforms and higher infrastructure investment will sustain long-term growth prospects. 
  • Fitch Ratings, Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's (S&P) are the three major international credit rating agencies that control nearly 95% of the global rating business. 
  • In India, there are a total of six credit rating agencies registered under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), which include CRISIL, ICRA, CARE, SMERA, Fitch India and Brickwork Ratings etc. 

Appointment News

14. Dr. Emmanuel Souberon has been elected as the new Director General of the World Organization for Animal Health 

  • 28 May 2024 During its 91st General Session, the World Organization for Animal Health elected its new Director-General, Dr. Emmanuel Souberon, for a 5-year term (2024- 2029). 
  • Following the “One Country, One Vote” rule, through a secret ballot, WOAH delegates elected Dr. Souberon to lead the organization into its next chapter. She becomes the 8th Director General of WOAH. 
  • Dr. Soubeyron's election brings to an end the successful 8-year tenure of his predecessor, Dr. Monique Aloit, at the organization. Dr. Eloit has left an important legacy by fostering global collaboration to combat animal diseases. 
  • Promoting innovation, WOAH has also implemented data-driven programs such as the Observatory, a monitoring mechanism for the implementation of WOAH standards, and ANIMUSE, the global database on animal antimicrobial use. 
  • WOAH celebrates 100th anniversary. Founded in 1924 as the Office International des Epizooties (OIE), in May 2003 we adopted the common name World Organization for Animal Health. Its headquarters is in Paris, France. 
  • India becomes the Chairman of the Colombo Process for the year 2024- 26 for the first time India took over the chairmanship of the Colombo Process for 2024-26, the first time since its establishment in 2003. The Colombo Process is a regional consultation forum involving 12 member states in Asia. 
  • India seeks to promote safe, orderly and legal migration. The Colombo Process is a regional consultation process of migrant worker origin countries in South and Southeast Asia. It serves as a platform for exchange of best practices on overseas employment. 
  • All 12 member countries of the Colombo Consultation include Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. 
  • It is a platform to manage foreign employment and contractual labor for Asian countries. 

15. Shah Rukh Khan appoints brand ambassador of Muthoot Pappachan Group 

  • Muthoot Pappachan Group (MPG), popularly known as Muthoot Blue, has roped in Shah Rukh Khan as its brand ambassador. 
  • This strategic collaboration represents a significant milestone for MPG, reinforcing its brand presence, and a new way of connecting with a diverse audience across the country. 
  • Muthoot Pappachan Group is the promoter of leading NBFCs including Muthoot FinCorp Limited (flagship Company of the Group), Muthoot Microfin Limited, Muthoot Capital Services Limited and Muthoot Housing Finance Company Limited. 
  • Chairman of the Muthoot Pappachan Group – Thomas John 

Recent Brand Ambassador 

  • Kareena Kapoor Khan – UNICEF India National Ambassador 
  • MS Dhoni – French carmaker Citroen 
  • Sanjana Sanghi – SPACE India 
  • Neeraj Chopra – Eveready Batteries 
  • Nayanthar – Slice (the popular mango-flavored drink)
  • Neeraj Chopra – BPCL’s Speed Petrol Variant 

16. IRDAI approves Sandeep Batra as ICICI Prudential Board chairman 

  • The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has approved the appointment of Sandeep Batra, as Chairman of the Board of Directors of ICICI Prudential. 
  • The appointment of Batra will be effective from June 30, 2024. 
  • Batra has been associated with ICICI group since September 2000 and is currently an Executive Director on the Board of ICICI Bank since July 2018, incharge of Corporate Centre. 
  • Batra has also served as Executive Director, CFO at ICICI Prudential life and Group Compliance officer at ICICI Bank. 
  • He is a Chartered Accountant and Company Secretary by qualification. 

Recent Appointment in Banking & Insurance Sector 

  • MD & CEO of NARCL – P Santhosh (replace N Sundar) 
  • Part-time Chairman of ICICI Bank – Pradeep Kumar Sinha (replace G. C. Chaturvedi) 
  • CRO of Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services – Mahesh Rajaraman (replace Mallika Mittal) 
  • MD & CEO of IndiaFirst Life Insurance – Rushabh Gandhi (replace R.M. Vishakha) 
  • Advisor of Mizuho Bank India – Sanjay Nayar 

Awards News

17. PFC receives CSR Champion Award 2024 

  • Power Finance Corporation Limited (PFC) has been honoured with the Corporate Social Responsibility award in the Non-Fossil Fuel (NF) business category at the Outlook Planet Sustainability Summit & Awards 2024 held in Goa. 
  • PFC’s Chairperson & Managing Director (CMD) Parminder Chopra received the award from the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances’ Secretary V Srinivas in presence of officials from Department of Public Enterprises, IIT Goa and Outlook. 
  • The Outlook Planet Sustainability Summit & Awards 2024 brought together senior government policymakers and top management of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) to discuss and showcase exemplary initiatives in sustainability. 

Recent Award 

  • UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award – Major Radhika Sen 
  • Economic Times HR World Future Ready Organization Award 2024-25 – NHPC 
  • UK’s Women’s Empowerment Award – Arti (from UP) 
  • Shaw Prize 2024 in astronomy – Srinivas R. Kulkarni 
  • International Booker Prize 2024 – Jenny Erpenbeck and Michael Hofmann (Kairos) 
  • ATD BEST Award 2024 for Talent Development – NTPC Ltd (3rd Rank) Important day 

18. 31 May – World No-Tobacco Day 

  • World No-Tobacco Day is observed every year on 31 May. 
  • Objective – To raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco use and advocate for effective policies to reduce consumption. 
  • Theme 2024 – Protecting Children from Tobacco Industry Interference 
  • In 1987, Member States of the World Health Organization designated 31 May as World No Tobacco Day. This was done to draw attention to the global tobacco epidemic, and the preventable death and disease it causes. 

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