Current Affairs February 2023 – Check Latest Top Stories
Current Affairs February 2023: The General Awareness section of any banking exam has long been ignored for the wrong reasons. This section, in fact, is the most qualifying section in the paper. With serious preparation, this section can uplift your overall marks. Along with the purpose of aiding you in scoring well in the general awareness section, this article by Embibe will help you in staying up-to-date with the ongoing events as well. This article on Current Affairs February 2019 can be referred to get an insight into Current Affairs for Banking exams like IBPS, SBI, RBI, SSC etc, General Awareness, and General Studies for all the competitive examinations as well as to enhance one’s knowledge of GK.
Uttarakhand Tableau Wins First Prize in Republic Day Parade 2023
The tableau of Uttarakhand based on the wildlife and religious theme has been awarded the top prize at this year’s Republic Day parade on Kartavya Path.
A total of 23 tableaux—17 from states and union territories and six from various ministries and departments depicting India’s vibrant cultural heritage and economic and social progress participated in the ceremonial parade.
‘Nari Shakti’ was predominantly the theme of the celebration on Republic Day this year.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was the chief guest at the ceremonial event.
Winners in Different Categories:
Gujarat’s tableau emerged as the numero uno in the popular choice segment.
Army’s Punjab Regiment has been adjudged the best marching contingent among the three services, while the Central Reserve Police Force’s (CRPF) marching contingent won the top prize among the CAPFs and other auxiliary forces.
Among the ministries and departments, the tableau of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (Eklavya Model Residential Schools) won the best prize.
The Central Public Works Department’s tableau on biodiversity conservation and the ‘Vande Bharatam’ dance group earned a special prize.
The IAF’s marching contingent emerged as the winner among the three services in the popular choice category.
Among the central ministries and departments, the tableau by the CAPF, the Ministry of Home Affairs, emerged as the best in the popular choice segment.
India’s First Model G-20 Summit Inaugurated
India’s G-20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant recently inaugurated India’s first Model G-20 Summit organised by Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini’s Indian Institute of Democratic Leadership.
The two-day Model G-20 Summit, which started on 30 January, was organised at the Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini’s Uttan campus near Mumbai to celebrate India’s presidency and take the idea of G-20 to the youth.
Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, President of ICCR and Vice Chairman of Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini, chaired the inaugural ceremony.
G-20 is an important forum because it accounts for 85 per cent of the global GDP.
G20 countries comprise developed and developing countries that have provided solutions to various global issues.
India has taken the G-20 presidency amidst global turmoil like Post COVID challenges, geopolitical crisis, debt crisis, climate crisis, and food and energy crisis.
India believes that every challenge brings an opportunity. Kant further reiterated India’s G-20 presidency seeks to advocate the oneness of all.
A total of 150 youngsters from across the country will participate in this two-day programme and get into the roles of delegates representing the G-20 countries. The best two delegates will be awarded a cash prize of 15,000 and 10,000 rupees.
Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini, the parent organisation of IIDL, is also the Secretariat of the G-20 Civil Society engagement group – Civil-20.
India’s First Cable Suspension Bridge “Bajrang Setu” Is Being Constructed at Rishikesh
In Uttarakhand, Asia’s second and country’s first cable suspension bridge, “Bajrang Setu”, is being constructed at Rishikesh.
This bridge is coming up next to the famous 90-year-old Laxman Jhula.
Laxman Jhula has been closed since last year when it was found that it wasn’t safe for pedestrians anymore. However, it will not be removed and will be preserved as a heritage.
Superintending Engineer of Public Works Department NPS Singh said that the construction of the new bridge would cost ₹67 crores, and all efforts are being made to complete it by July 2023.
Japan Is Planning to Flush Fukushima Wastewater into the Ocean
Science and Technology
Japan is expected to start flushing 1.25 million tonnes of wastewater from the embattled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean this year as part of a $76-billion project to decommission the facility.
What Was the Issue?
In March 2011, after a magnitude nine earthquake, a tsunami flooded the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma and damaged its diesel generators. The loss of power suspended the coolant supply to reactors at the facility; the tsunami also disabled backup systems.
The water that the Japanese government wanted to flush from the plant was used to cool the reactors, plus rainwater and groundwater. It contains radioactive isotopes from the damaged reactors and is thus itself radioactive.
Japan has said that it will release this water into the Pacific Ocean over the next 30 years.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which operates the Fukushima facility, has treated the water to remove most radioactive isotopes.
The Japanese government required the water to have 1/40th as much tritium as the permitted limit.
Why Is Japan Flushing Water Instead of Treating Water?
TEPCO, which operates the Fukushima facility, initially planned to treat the wastewater, but because of lacking enough room for the water tanks, it decided to release the water.
Also, because of tritium’s half-life (12-13 years), Japan cannot store water for longer than discharge.
Half-life is the time a radioactive material takes for its quantity to be halved through radioactive decay.
‘Innovation Bridge’ to Connect the US and Indian Defence Startups Launched
The United States and India concluded their US-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) meeting and decided to launch a new “Innovation Bridge”, which will connect both countries’ defence startups.
What Is the Initiative on iCET?
According to a White House statement, the US and India concluded their US-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) meeting and decided to launch a new “Innovation Bridge” that will connect both countries’ defence startups.
The meeting was inaugurated by the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his US counterpart Jake Sullivan and was attended from the US side by the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Director of the National Science Foundation, the Executive Secretary of the National Space Council, and senior officials from the Departments of State, Commerce, and Defense.
The Indian Ambassador to the United States, the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, the Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, the Secretary of the Department of Telecommunications, the Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, the Director General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, and senior officials from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the National Security Council were present.
Provisions under the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET)
Through a standing mechanism under iCET, the United States and India reaffirmed their commitment to working together to resolve issues related to regulatory barriers and business and talent mobility in both countries.
This came after the US-India Business Council hosted a roundtable on 30 January with US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
Other senior US and Indian officials brought together more than 40 CEOs, university presidents, and thought leaders from both countries to accelerate opportunities for increased technology cooperation.
Hon’ble President of India Droupadi Murmu conferred Jeevan Raksha Padak Awards to RPF/RPSF personnel in New Delhi.
Jaipal Singh, Head Constable/Northern Railway
Surendra Kumar, Constable/Northern Railway
Bhuda Ram Saini, Constable/7th BN/RPSF.
Jeevan Raksha Padak series of awards are given to an individual for a meritorious act in saving the life of a person.
The award is given in three categories: Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak, Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak and Jeevan Raksha Padak.
Anyone is eligible for these awards. This award can also be given posthumously.
Air Marshal A P Singh is the New Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force
Air Marshal A P Singh has recently been appointed as the new Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force
He succeeded Air Marshal Sandeep Singh, who retired on 31 January 2023.
Air Marshal A P Singh has served as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Central Air Command
He was commissioned into the fighter stream of the IAF on 21 December 1984
Air Marshal A P Singh is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Defence Services Staff College and National Defence College
He is a Qualified Flying Instructor and an Experimental Test Pilot with more than 4,900 hours of service flying on a variety of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft
Puma India Signs Harmanpreet Kaur as Brand Ambassador
PUMA India has announced the onboarding of India’s women’s cricket captain Harmanpreet Kaur as its brand ambassador.
According to the company, Kaur will endorse the brand’s footwear, apparel and accessories through multiple activities and campaigns throughout the year under the partnership.
Harmanpreet Kaur is the captain of the Indian women’s cricket team.
PM Modi Releases a Special ₹75 Coin to Mark 75 Successful Years of NCC
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently released a special day cover and a commemorative specially minted coin of ₹75 denomination on the occasion of 75 successful years of the National Cadet Corps (NCC)
NCC rally was recently organised on the occasion of 75 years commemoration at Cariappa Maidan, Delhi
The NCC was formed in 1948 on the recommendation of the H N Kunzru Committee-1946 under the National Cadet Corps Act, 1948
NCC is the largest uniformed youth organisation in the world
The motto of NCC is “Unity and Discipline”
Headquarters – New Delhi
Director General – Lt Gen Gurbirpal Singh
Indian Military Holds Joint Training exercise Trishakti Prahar in North Bengal
The Indian military recently concluded exercise Trishakti Prahar—a joint training exercise—which began in North Bengal on 21 January.
As per defence sources, the exercise aimed to practise battle preparedness of the security forces, using the latest weapons and equipment in a networked, integrated environment involving the Army, the Indian Air Force and CAPFs.
Swift mobilisation and deployment drills were practised throughout North Bengal as part of the exercise. All organisations, including the Civil Administration, Civil Defense Organisations, Police, and CAPFs, coordinated their efforts to ensure effective movement and rapid mobilisation.
The exercise demonstrated the joint application of ground and aerial assets in a networked environment, including the most modern fighter aircraft, helicopters, tanks, infantry combat vehicles, medium and field artillery guns, infantry mortars, and other New Generation Infantry weapons and equipment.
As part of the “Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan”, newly introduced weapons and equipment made in India participated in the exercise as well.
The “Integrated Fire Power Exercise” demonstrated the ability of the Indian Armed Forces to apply resources from the Indian Air Force, Airborne Special Forces, and Security Forces in a coordinated manner in a networked environment.
Visakhapatnam to be Andhra Pradesh’s New Capital
As the matter of developing Amaravati as the capital of Andhra Pradesh lies pending in the Supreme Court, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy recently reiterated that Visakhapatnam would become the capital of the state soon.
The announcement of a new capital for Andhra comes nine years after the state of Telangana was formed in 2014 and given Hyderabad as its capital.
The identity of the new capital for Andhra Pradesh has been the source of social, legal, economic, and political friction over the past several years.
In 2015, then-chief minister Chandrababu Naidu said Amaravati would be the capital, and for this, over 33,000 acres of land had been acquired from farmers around Amaravati.
Visakhapatnam is an important port city on the eastern coast of India. Visakhapatnam Port is one of 13 major ports in India and the only major port of Andhra Pradesh.
It is India’s third largest state-owned port by volume of cargo handled and the largest on the Eastern Coast.
It is located midway between the Chennai and Kolkata Ports on the Bay of Bengal. It is also a major industrial city with a rich cultural and spiritual heritage.
The Hindu god of courage, Visakha, inspired the name Visakhapatnam. It is bordered on the east by the Eastern Ghats and faces the Bay of Bengal.
Because of its scenic views and beautiful beaches, it is also known as the City of Destiny.
‘Jai Jai Maharashtra Majha’ Being Recognised as Maharashtra State Song
Maharashtra Cabinet recently cleared the decision to designate Jai Jai Maharashtra Majha as the state song, which will now be played along with the National Anthem at all government events from 19 February, the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
It is for the first time since the establishment of Maharashtra as a state in 1960 that the government has declared an official state song.
Significance of Song:
‘Jai Jai Maharashtra Majha, Garja Maharashtra Majha,’ which means ‘Glory to Maharashtra,’ was written by Raja Badhe and sung by Balladeer Krishnarao Sable, popularly known as Shaheer Sable.
The official state song of Maharashtra will be ‘Jai Jai Maharashtra Majha’: Sudhir Mungantiwar, the State Minister for Cultural Affairs said. In Maharashtra, this song will be played at official and ceremonial functions.
The government announced the decision to increase the amount of Maharashtra Bhushan prize to ₹25 lakhs from ₹10 lakhs.
It is the highest state government award conferred to a civilian for achievements in their respective field.
Presently, 12 other states have an official state song—Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Odisha, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand.
The Cabinet also cleared the guidelines to be followed while the state song is played.
The guidelines mandate that common citizens must remain in alert positions with exceptions made for children, pregnant women, the sick, divyang and senior citizens.
State board textbooks will also carry the state song from next year.
India Announces Support to Bhutan for 3rd International Internet Gateway
India recently announced its help for the development of Bhutan’s third international internet gateway.
According to the Embassy of India in Bhutan, the government will facilitate a concessional rate to reduce the cost of the gateway’s operations.
The Indian Prime Minister announced India’s preparations to launch a Bhutanese satellite into space and provide a third international internet gateway for Bhutan.
The Government of India will be facilitating a concessional rate to bring down the cost of operations of the gateway.
The getaway is expected to enhance redundancy, connect remote pockets of Bhutan, increase internet bandwidth and reduce the cost of internet connectivity for users.
“e-launch” of the Second Phase of the Rupay Card:
The first phase of the project was launched in August 2019 with 10,428 successful transactions of ₹36.52M.
The second phase anticipates empowering the banks to issue Rupay cards to Bhutanese citizens, which means that Bhutanese card holders can access the Rupay network in India.
The Government of India is contributing Nu 1.98 billion (₹198 crores) during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2018-2023) to support Bhutan’s digital transformation through several people-centric projects in education, e-governance, trade, and service delivery.
India Has Become the World’s Third-Largest Aviation Market
India has become the third-largest aviation market in the world and is growing rapidly, with the number of airports increasing to 147 from just 74 in 2014, President Droupadi Murmu said recently.
The UDAN Yojana has played an important role in this regard, UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) is the government’s ambitious regional air connectivity scheme, and UDAN flights have carried around 1.15 crore people over the last six years.
India’s aviation sector has become the third-largest domestic aviation market in the world in terms of handling domestic traffic.
India is currently the seventh-largest civil aviation market in the world and is expected to become the third-largest civil aviation market within the next ten years.
Domestic traffic contributes around 69% of the total airline traffic in South Asia, and India’s airport capacity is expected to handle 1 billion trips annually by 2023. The Indian aviation industry has recovered fully from the covid-19 pandemic shock, as indicated by the air traffic movement, which stood at 613,566 in the first quarter of FY 2022-23 compared to 300,405 in the same period last year, an increase of 104.24%.
About the Ministry of Civil Aviation:
The Ministry of Civil Aviation is responsible for formulating national policies and programmes or developing and regulating the Civil Aviation sector in the country.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation is responsible for administrating the Aircraft Act, 1934, Aircraft Rules, 1937 and various other legislations pertaining to the aviation sector in the country.
Shri Jyothiradithya M. Scindia is the Minister of Civil Aviation, and Gen (Dr) VK Singh (Retd.) is the Minister of State.
Yaya Tso to Become Ladakh’s First Biodiversity Heritage Site
Environment and Ecology
Yaya Tso has been proposed as Ladakh’s first biodiversity heritage site (BHS) because of its beautiful lake, known as a birds’ paradise and located at an elevation of 4,820 metres.
The Biodiversity Management Committee, the panchayat of Chumathang village, along with the SECURE Himalaya Project, recently resolved to declare Yaya Tso as Ladakh’s first BHS under the Biological Diversity Act.
Facts about the Yaya Tso Lake:
Lake Yaya Tso is known as a bird’s paradise for its beautiful lake located at an altitude of 4,820 metres in Ladakh.
It is a nesting habitat for a large number of birds and animals, such as the bar-headed goose, black-necked crane and brahminy duck
It is also one of the highest breeding sites of the black-necked crane in India.
What Is the Secure Himalaya Project?
The Global Environment Facility provided funding for the project, which began in 2017.
It supports the government’s efforts for the conservation of snow leopard and its habitat by developing and implementing a landscape-based approach for Himalayan ecosystems, and addresses key issues of habitat degradation, threatened livelihoods and illegal trade in wildlife.
Adani Group acquires Haifa port for $1.2 bn
The Adani Group recently acquired the strategic Israeli port of Haifa for USD 1.2 billion and vowed to transform the skyline of this Mediterranean city as part of its decision to invest more in the Jewish nation, including opening an artificial intelligence lab in Tel Aviv.
It is located in northern Israel, adjacent to the city of Haifa along the Mediterranean sea.
It is also located on the busy Suez Canal shipping route.
The Haifa port is one of the two biggest commercial ports in Israel.
It handles nearly half of the country’s container cargo and is also the nation’s principal port for passenger traffic and cruise ships.
The Port of Haifa was constructed in 1933 by the British. Since 1948, it has been rebuilt and developed by the Israeli government.
Suzuki to use cow dung for producing biogas to power CNG cars
India’s largest car manufacturer Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC), has announced that it will use cow dung to power its CNG cars.
Maruti currently sells 14 CNG models, including Alto, Alto K10, S-Presso, Celerio, Eeco, etc.
The company has approximately 70% share in India’s CNG car market.
SMC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian government agency National Dairy Development Board and Banas Dairy, Asia’s largest dairy manufacturer, to conduct verification of biogas.
The company has also invested in Fujisan Asagiri Biomass LLC, which generates electricity using biogas derived from cow dung in Japan.
Usman Khawaja bags the inaugural Shane Warne Men’s Test Player of the Year award
Usman Khawaja has won the inaugural Shane Warne Men’s Test Player of the Year award following a superb 12 months in Australian test Cricket.
Khawaja has been Australia’s leading run-scorer in the five-day format, accumulating 1020 runs at 78.46 during the voting period.
Last week, Khawaja was named in the ICC Test Team of the Year alongside Australian teammates Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon and Marnus Labuschagne.
This award is named in honour of the legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne, who passed away last March.
Coal India Ltd to Launch M-Sand Projects in Broader Schemes
Coal India Ltd (CIL) has envisaged processing the fragmented rock (known as Overburden Rocks (OB) for sand production in mines.
OB material contains about 60% sandstone by volume which is harnessed through crushing and processing of Overburden.
M sand is a form of artificial sand manufactured by crushing large hard stones, mainly rocks or granite, into fine particles, which are then washed and finely graded.
It is widely used as a substitute for river sand for construction purposes, mainly in the production of concrete and mortar mix.
National Gallery of Modern Art celebrates the 110th birth anniversary of Amrita Sher-Gil
The National Gallery of Modern Art celebrates the 110th birth anniversary of Amrita Sher-Gil.
She is one of the pioneers of the modern movement in Indian art.
She was influenced by the works of Paul Cézanne, Amedeo Modigliani, and Paul Gauguin.
Influenced in particular by wall paintings of Ajanta Caves, she attempted to fuse their aesthetic with European oil painting techniques.
Her famous works include “Group of Three Girls”, “Brahmacharis”, “Bride’s Toilet”, “Gypsy Girl”, “Young Girls”, and “Mother India”.
Ukraine’s Odesa in UNESCO’s World Heritage List
Recently, the World Heritage Committee decided to add the historic centre of Ukraine’s Black Sea port city of Odesa to its list of World Heritage sites.
This decision recognises the extraordinary universal value of the site and the duty of all humanity to protect it. The Historic Centre of Odesa has also been inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The List of World Heritage in Danger is designed to inform the international community of conditions that threaten the very characteristics for which a property was inscribed on the World Heritage List and to encourage corrective action.
As of 2023, the 52 properties are decided by the Committee to include on the List of World Heritage in danger.
India Raises Defence Budget
India recently proposed ₹5.94 trillion ($72.6 billion) in defence spending for the 2023-24 financial year, 13% up from the previous period’s initial estimates, aiming to add more fighter jets and roads along its tense border with China.
Total allocation: ₹5.93 lakh crore
Revenue allocation: ₹2.7 lakh crore
Capital expenditure: ₹1.62 lakh crore
Pension: ₹1.38 lakh crore
Civil: ₹22,612 crore
The non-salary revenue outlay has gone up by 44% from ₹62,431 crore the previous year to ₹90,000 crore in the Budget Estimates for 2023-24.
The fund allocated to the sector is for the following purposes:
Cater to the sustenance of weapon systems and platforms, including ships and aircraft, and their logistics;
Boost fleet serviceability; emergency procurement of critical ammunition and spares;
Procuring and hiring of niche capabilities to mitigate capability gaps wherever required;
Progress stocking of military reserves; and
Strengthening forward defences
Capex for defence: It received a nominal 7% increase compared with the 33% rise in the country’s overall capital expenditure commitment.
Capital expenditure for military modernisation also saw a 6.7% rise by ₹10,230 crore year-on-year to ₹1.62 lakh crore.
There was also a major hike in the allocation of defence pensions because of the revision of the ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) scheme.
The enhanced allocations will also cater to training aids and simulators for Agniveers and ensure they achieve the set training standards for induction in the defence forces
Australia to Replace Queen Elizabeth’s Image on Its Banknote
The Reserve Bank of Australia recently said that a new design would replace the image of Queen Elizabeth II on its A$5 banknote in order to honour and commemorate the history of its indigenous culture.
The death of Queen Elizabeth in 2022 has reignited debate in Australia about the country’s future as a constitutional monarchy.
Voters narrowly decided to keep the British monarch as the country’s head of state in a referendum in 1999.
According to an official statement, the federal government, which supports the reform, was consulted before Australia’s Central Bank decided.
According to the company, the Australian Parliament will still be visible on the reverse side of the note.
About $5 Banknote of Australia:
Despite the fact that the position is mostly ceremonial, King Charles III, who succeeded his mother as the monarch of the United Kingdom, also serves as the head of state of Australia, New Zealand, and 12 other Commonwealth nations other than the United Kingdom.
Australia announced in September 2022 that Queen Elizabeth would not necessarily replace King Charles on A$5 notes but could be replaced by Australian figures.
Authorities have stated that the Queen’s personality, rather than her position as monarch, influenced the decision to put her image on the A$5 Australian note.
Former PM Manmohan Singh Conferred Lifetime Achievement Honour in the UK
Awards and Recognitions
Former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh was recently conferred a Lifetime Achievement Honour by the India-UK Achievers Honours in London for his contribution to economic and political life.
The Honour, announced at an awards ceremony recently, will be handed over to Dr Singh in New Delhi by the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) UK at a later date.
The India-UK Achievers Honours by NISAU UK, in partnership with the British Council in India and the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT), celebrate the achievements of Indian students who studied at British universities and the Lifetime Achievement Honour is a nod to Dr Singh’s academic achievements at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
British Indian peer Lord Karan Bilimoria received the Living Legend Honour at the awards ceremony on 25 January.
Opposition Labour Party MP Virendra Sharma, another patron of NISAU UK, was also conferred the Living Legend Honour.
Among the Outstanding Achievers honoured included Bollywood actor Parineeti Chopra, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) spokesperson Raghav Chadha, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla and Indian women’s football team goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan.
Pallas’s Cat: Rare Species Discovered on Mount Everest for the First Time
For the first time, the mountains have witnessed the Pallas’s cat on Mount Everest, in the Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal.
This incident has been documented in a new paper which has been published in Cat News, according to a release by the Wildlife Conservation Society.
National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition are behind this ground-breaking discovery.
About Pallas’s Cat:
The Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul), also known as the manual, is a small wild cat with long and dense light grey fur.
Its rounded ears are set low on the sides of the head.
It has been recorded across a large area, albeit in widely spaced sites in the Caucasus, Iranian Plateau, Hindu Kush, parts of the Himalayas, Tibetan Plateau, Altai-Sayan region and South Siberian Mountains.
It finds shelter in rock crevices and burrows and preys foremost on lagomorphs and rodents.
The female gives birth to between two and six kittens in spring.
IUCN: Least concern
CITES: Appendix II
Sagarmatha National Park:
Sagarmatha is an exceptional area with dramatic mountains, glaciers and deep valleys, dominated by Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world (8,848 m) in the Solu-Khumbu district of Nepal.
The park is home to several rare species, such as the snow leopard and the red panda.
MP Govt Renames Bhopal’s Islam Nagar village as ‘Jagdishpur’ with Immediate Effect
The Madhya Pradesh government announced that Islam Nagar village, situated in the Bhopal district, has been renamed Jagdishpur.
In an official release, the MP administration declared the changes and mentioned the change in the name with immediate effect.
The Centre gave its no objection last year, the notification said. Islam Nagar is located at a distance of around 12 km from Bhopal and is famous for forts. According to several accounts, the name of Islam Nagar used to be Jagdishpur 308 years ago.
One account said in 1719, Islam Nagar became the capital of the Bhopal region after ruler Dost Mohammad Khan took control of the area. In 1715, Jagdishpur was renamed Islam Nagar.
Earlier, the Madhya Pradesh government changed the name of Hishangabad to Narmadapuram and Nasrullahganj to Bhairunda.
Meanwhile, Mughal Garden in Delhi University’s North Campus has been renamed as the ‘Gautam Buddha Centenary’ Garden.
India to be the Theme Country at the 2025 Madrid International Book Fair
India will be invited as the focal country at the Madrid International Book Fair in 2025, the Ambassador of Spain to the country, Jose Maria Ridao, said recently.
Spain is the theme country at the 46th International Kolkata Book Fair, which began on Monday, the 30th of Jan.
About Madrid International Book Fair:
The Fair began in 1933.
It ceased for a few years because of the Spanish Civil War.
The Madrid Book Fair is international in scope. Although it mainly features books from Spanish-speaking countries, the event promotes the literature of a guest country that may speak another language.
In 2018 the guest country was Romania; in 2019, it was the Dominican Republic.
The events scheduled for 2020 and 2021 were suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain.
Maru Mahotsav 2023
Maru Mahotsav, or the Jaisalmer Desert Festival, is celebrated in Rajasthan during the month of February every year.
This year the event has been organised from 2 to 5 February.
It is a four-day-long annual event.
Along the way, groups of artists performed folk dances like Kalbelia, Horse, Kachhi Ghodi, Gair, etc.
The centre of attraction in this cultural festival is Celebrities Night and events on the sandy dunes of Pokhran Khudi.
A bunch of popular personalities, including Milind Gaba, Aastha Gill, and Sawai Bhatt, will perform at the event.
The Ministry of Defence became the largest buyer of MSME goods in 2022
The Ministry of Defence emerged as the largest buyer through MSME sellers.
In 2022, the Ministry of Defence envisaged procurement of goods and services worth ₹16,747 crore from the MSME sector. This was 250% more than the purchases made in 2021.
Among the states, Uttar Pradesh procured the maximum. Uttar Pradesh procured goods and services worth ₹9,642 crore through GeM.
Follow-on Public Offer (FPO)
Adani group recently called off its FPO.
FPO, also known as a secondary offering, is the additional issuance of shares to investors after the initial public offering (IPO), i.e. stocks already listed on the stock exchange.
Purpose: To diversify equity base, raise additional capital for expansion or pay off debt.
Types of FPOs:
Dilutive FPO, i.e., issuance of additional fresh shares to the public to raise capital.
Non-Dilutive FPO, i.e., issuance of existing private shares by largest shareholders.
At-the-Market FPO, allows companies to raise funds on the current market price of the shares in real time.
It is a WhatsApp chatbot launched by the Delhi Commission for the Protection of Child Rights.
A chatbot is a computer program that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to understand customer questions and give responses to them.
It will enable communication between people and the child rights panel.
It aims to provide authentic information on various matters related to children and their rights and ensure confidentiality of the matters reported through it.
UNESCO to Soon Declare Visva-Bharati World’s First Living Heritage University
Founded by Rabindranath Tagore in 1921, Visva-Bharati University will soon get the ‘heritage’ tag from UNESCO to take the distinction of being the world’s first living heritage university.
About the University:
Visva-Bharati is a public central university and an Institution of National Importance located in Shantiniketan, West Bengal, India.
When founded in 1921 on 1,130 acres of land, it was named after Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore until the Visva-Bharati Society was registered as an organisation in May 1922. Rabindranath donated some of his property, including land and a bungalow, to the society.
Until Independence, it was a college, and the institution was given the status of a Central University in 1951 through a central Act.
Its first vice-chancellor was Rathindranath Tagore, the son of Rabindranath Tagore, and the second vice-chancellor was the grandfather of another Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen.
The President of India appoints the Vice-chancellor of the University.
Visva Bharati University is renowned for its cultural festivals called Poush Mela and the Basanta Utsab, which attract a number of artisans from all across the country.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialised agency of the United Nations aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, arts, science and culture
India is a founding member of the UNESCO
Headquarters: Paris, France
Founded: 16 November 1945, London, United Kingdom
G. Kishan Reddy Launched the Visit India Year – 2023 Initiative
Minister of Tourism G Kishan Reddy recently launched the Visit India Year – 2023 initiative and also unveiled its logo in New Delhi, kicking off the year of grand plans and activities for promoting tourism in the country.
More than one lakh foreign delegates will visit India this year, and they will be showcased the entire gamut of India’s culture, including monuments and festivals.
Each foreign delegate of G20 will be a brand ambassador of India’s culture, heritage and tourist destinations.
The Ministry is coordinating with Indian missions and other stakeholders to have a conducive environment for foreign visitors this year.
To give a visual representation of this important mission for the year, the Ministry flags the global campaign with the launch of the new Visit India Year 2023 logo, a microcosm of the countless stories India holds – from heritage to gastronomy to our art and our rich wildlife.
The logo design is inspired by our belief system of Atithi Devo Bhava; the ‘Visit India Year 2023’ logo is a thoughtfully-designed visual identity that is shaped like a grand namaste.
Tihar jail to get an AI-Powered Surveillance System
Tihar jail is installing artificial intelligence (AI)-powered CCTV cameras to monitor inmates and fight crime.
The premises will also have a real-time grievance redressal system and optical fibre network.
Tihar jail is the largest prison complex in South Asia.
About Reforms in Prison:
Installing artificial intelligence (AI)-powered CCTV cameras to detect movements in “dark spots”
In dark spots of prison, even jammers that help block 3G and 4G mobile phone signals cannot penetrate
A real-time grievance redressal system that will operate like police control rooms (PCR) to address the problems of inmates in real-time
Biometric attendance system to help manage all records of Jail
Use of Technology in Prison Reforms:
Tracking Prisoners and monitoring the health of Prisoners
Improving the safety of staff and detainees
Streamlining criminal justice systems
Digital skills training
Access to services and rehabilitation opportunities
Project ELLORA of Microsoft Research Helps Enabling Low Resource Languages
Technology and Culture
Microsoft researchers are working on a project that has been working toward creating digital ecosystems for Indian languages that do not have enough presence online,
The main goal of the Project is to impact underserved communities by enabling language technology by creating economic opportunities, building technological skills, enhancing education and preserving local languages and cultures for future generations.
The project aims to bring ‘rare’ Indian languages online
It is also known as Enabling Low Resource Languages, launched in 2015
It is a digital resource for Indian languages that do not have enough presence online
Some of the languages it is researching include Gondi, Mundari, and Idu Mishmi
About the Languages:
It is a South-Central Dravidian language spoken by the Gond tribes
It is spoken in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
It is written in Devanagari and Telugu scripts
It belongs to the Austroasiatic language family spoken by the Munda tribes
It is spoken in Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal
Scripts: Mundari bani
It is written in the Devanagari, Odia, Bengali, and Latin writing systems
It is spoken in Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet Autonomous Region, China.
It uses the Tibetan script and Idu Azobra script
It is also known as Sulikata, Midu, Mindri and Mithu
Vice President Inaugurates the 36th Surajkund International Crafts Mela
Art and Culture
The Vice President, Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar, recently inaugurated the 36th Surajkund International Crafts Mela at Faridabad, Haryana.
On this occasion, he urged everyone to consider locally produced handicraft items when looking for gifts for their friends and relatives.
He underscored that such an approach would not only help in the conservation of many unique art forms but also enhance the economic condition of our talented artisans and craftsmen.
About Surajkund Mela:
This fair is held every year in the month of February, organised by the Surajkund Mela Authority and Haryana Tourism in collaboration with the Union Ministries of Tourism, Textiles, Culture and External Affairs.
The aim is to promote the pool of skilled artisans who used indigenous technology but were suffering due to the cheaper machine-made imitations.
The North Eastern Region (NER) is the Theme State for the year 2023 as the NER is a very important stakeholder in India’s Look-East and Act-East Policy.
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is participating as a partner nation, which includes India, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
In 1987, the idea was implemented to transform the canvas of Surajkund and the seat of the 10th century Tomar chieftain, Surajpal, into a marvellous venue for India’s finest handloom and handicrafts fair.
In 2013, the Mela was elevated to the international level. Gradually, more and more countries participated in this fair.
Indian Army Launches ‘Operation Sadbhavana’
The Indian Army is organising multiple welfare activities, such as running schools and infrastructure development projects, as part of “Operation Sadbhavana” in the Union Territory of Ladakh.
The activities are aimed at helping children living in remote areas of Ladakh.
As part of ‘Operation SADBHAVANA’, the Indian Army is undertaking multiple welfare activities such as Army Goodwill Schools, Infra-development projects, education tours, etc., for the children living in remote areas of UT of Ladakh.
The Indian Army is presently running seven Army Goodwill Schools under ‘Operation SADBHAVANA’ in Ladakh Region. More than 2,200 Students are currently studying in these schools.
Operation SADBHAVANA (Goodwill) is a unique humane initiative undertaken by Indian Army and formalised in the 1990s in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir to address the aspirations of people affected by scrooge of terrorism.
A total of ₹8.82 crore has been earmarked for Ladakh, and the funds are being used for human resources, skill development, sports, healthcare, and education, among others.
UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum renames Al Minhad as ‘Hind City’
The Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum renamed the Al Minhad area and its surrounding areas as ‘Hind City’ recently.
The city includes four zones – Hind 1, Hind 2, Hind 3, and Hind 4, spread over an area of 83.9 km.
Hind City is connected via key roadways such as Emirates Road, Dubai-Al Ain Road, and Jebel Ali-Lehbab Road.
Earlier in 2010, Burj Dubai was renamed Burj Khalifa after Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi then.
Mohammed became vice president and ruler when his brother Maktoum passed away in 2006.
Saudi Arabia to Host Football’s 2027 Asian Cup
Saudi Arabia was confirmed as the host of football’s 2027 Asian Cup recently, an expected prelude for a World Cup bid as the oil-rich kingdom spends big on sports in an attempt to improve its image.
Teams are carefully chosen based on their skills and several other selection criteria. Teams are chosen by the AFC. The host of the tournament is selected through a bidding process. The 2023 host is Qatar. This was decided long back. Recently, the 2027 host was selected and it is Saudi Arabia.
Other countries that placed bids which are in the bid are India, Iran, Qatar, and Uzbekistan
Asian Cup Football Tournament 2027
Slogan: Forward for Asia
Host cities: Dammam, Riyadh, and Jeddah
The 2023 AFC Asian Cup will be the 18th edition of the AFC Asian Cup, the quadrennial international men’s football championship of Asia organised by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
It will involve 24 national teams after expansion in 2019, with Qatar as the defending champions.
Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), the premier CPSE under the Ministry of Coal, has introduced drone technology in coal mines by launching a web-based portal VIHANGAM along with a drone and ground control system.
There is a control station that flies the drone, and the system can be operated through the portal from anywhere. This pilot project is currently operational at the Bhubaneswari and Lingraj opencast mines of Talcher Coalfields.
In 2021, the Aviation Ministry permitted the CMPDI (Central Mine Planning and Design Institute) to use drone technology in the coal fields of India.
Apart from drone technology, the MCL also introduced a Robotic Nozzle Water Sprayer.
The robot is used in dust suppression and fire fighting. The robot can reach heights of 70 metres and spray water in the form of mist. It also has a rotating nozzle. Its tank capacity is 28 kilolitres.
Supreme Court Celebrated its Foundation Day for the First Time
The Supreme Court of India celebrated its foundation day for the first time on 4th February 2023.
Chief Justice of Singapore, Justice Sundaresh Menon, has been invited as the chief guest for the event and delivered a lecture on ‘Role of Judiciary in a Changing World’.
The programme, which is to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the establishment of the Supreme Court of India, will feature a welcome address by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and an address by CJI DY Chandrachud as well.
Justice Sundaresh Menon SC is a Singaporean judge who has been serving as the fourth Chief Justice of Singapore since 2012. Justice Menon is the first Singapore-born Chief Justice of Singapore.
The Supreme Court came into existence on 28th January 1950, two days after India became a republic on 26th January.
Azad Engineering Is India’s First Supplier of Parts for Nuclear Turbines
Azad Engineering Private Limited, a market leader in engineering with its headquarters in Hyderabad, has been approved as the first Indian business to provide crucial rotating parts for nuclear turbines.
The company has delivered its first set of critical parts.
These will be assembled on nuclear turbines manufactured in Belfort, France.
Azad Engineering, an end-to-end solution provider, noted that it expects to deepen its relationship as a preferred partner and continue to enjoy the flagship position with a new facility coming up over the next 18-24 months.
Powerful Earthquake Hits Southeast Turkey and Syria Today
A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southeast Turkey and Syria early Monday, 6th February, toppling buildings and sending panicked residents pouring outside on a cold winter night.
At least 195 people were killed in both countries, hundreds were injured, and the toll was expected to rise.
Rescue workers and residents frantically searched for survivors under the rubble of crushed buildings in multiple cities on both sides of the border.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centred about 33 kilometres (20 miles) from Gaziantep, a major city and provincial capital.
It was centred 18 kilometres (11 miles) deep, and a strong 6.7 aftershock rumbled about 10 minutes later.
India, France and UAE Announce Cooperation Initiatives under a Trilateral Framework
India, France and the UAE recently announced a formal trilateral cooperation initiative in the areas of defence, nuclear energy and technology.
The Foreign Ministers of the three countries held a telephonic meeting to adopt a roadmap for implementing this initiative.
A joint statement released by the three sides said the trilateral initiative would serve as a forum to promote the design and execution of cooperation projects in the fields of energy, with a focus on solar and nuclear energy.
The initiative follows the first meeting of the foreign ministers of India, France and the UAE on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York on 19 September 2022.
In this context, the three countries will explore the possibility of working with the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to pursue “concrete, actionable projects on clean energy, the environment, and biodiversity”.
India, France and the UAE will also use the trilateral initiative as a platform to promote cultural cooperation through joint projects, including heritage promotion and protection.
Other Areas of Defence Cooperation between India and France:
The three services of both countries have regular defence exercises, viz.,
Exercise Shakti (Army)
Exercise Varuna (Navy)
Exercise Garuda (Air Force)
India entered into a contract with a French firm to build six Scorpene submarines in India’s Malegaon dockyards through a technology-transfer arrangement in 2005.
Also, India and France signed the inter-government agreement in 2016, under which France agreed to provide 36 Rafale fighter jets at the cost of around ₹60,000 crore to India.
India Delivers Fifty Buses to Sri Lanka under the Economic Assistance Scheme
India recently delivered 50 more buses to Sri Lanka at the Presidential Secretariat premises as Sri Lanka celebrated its 75th Independence Day on 4 February.
High Commissioner of India Gopal Baglay handed over the buses to Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Commercial vehicle maker Ashok Leyland had bagged the contract for supplying 500 buses to the Sri Lanka Transport Board, of which 75 buses had already been delivered to the Island nation earlier this year.
The order is a part of a Line of Credit extended by the Export-Import Bank of India under the Economic Assistance Scheme of the Indian government.
IIT Madras Collaborates with ISRO to Develop an Astronaut Training Module
Science and Technology
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras recently announced a collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to curate a training module for the Indian Spaceflight Programme.
An MoU was signed between ISRO and IIT Madras for collaboration on the application of Extended Reality (XR) and other technologies in the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme.
This training module will be created based on Augmented Reality (AR)/ Virtual Reality (VR) / Mixed Reality (MR).
About the Collaboration:
As per the collaboration guidelines, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) would utilise the advanced technologies created at the eXperiential Technology Innovation Centre (XTIC) at IIT Madras in order to promote Research and Development (R&D) in the field of Extended Reality.
XR, to be sure, includes an amalgamation of AR, VR and MR solutions to simulate a physical object. Using XR technologies can help manufacturers and researchers visualise how an object would work in physical reality before it is built and applied.
Such solutions have been used in various fields, such as healthcare, aviation and other fields, where reaching a real-world usage space (such as oil fields, in mid-air flights, or in between critical surgeries) is difficult.
To create such platforms, companies typically develop a highly accurate digital replica of a product or an environment, typically called a ‘digital twin’, and use it to assess and validate products.
Indian Railways Launches WhatsApp Food Delivery Facility for Passengers
Passengers travelling in Indian Railways can now order food online through WhatsApp while undertaking a journey by using their PNR number.
Indian Railways has recently started WhatsApp communication for railway passengers to order food through e-catering services. “The Business WhatsApp number +91-8750001323 has been started for the purpose”.
Initially, two stage-implementation of e-catering services was planned through WhatsApp Communication. In the first phase, the Business WhatsApp number will send a message to the customer booking e-ticket for opting for e-catering services by clicking the link www.ecatering.irctc.co.in.
In the next phase of the services, WhatsApp number will be enabled to become an interactive two-way communication platform for the customer wherein an AI power chatbot will handle all queries of e-catering services for the passengers and will also book meals for them.
Approximately 50,000 meals are served daily to customers through IRCTC’s e-catering services enabled through its website and App.
Dr Peggy Mohan bags ‘Mathrubhumi Book of The Year’ Award
Books and Authors
Author Dr Peggy Mohan has bagged the ‘Mathrubhumi Book of The Year’ award at the fourth edition of the Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters (MBIFL 2023), which concluded recently.
MBIFL 2023, also known as ‘Ka’ in Malayalam, featured Nobel and Booker Prize winners, Jnanpith awardees, and over 400 names in creative fields, among others.
Her book ‘Wanderers, Kings and Merchants’, portraying the evolution of language as the outcome of migrations, won an award that carries ₹2 lakh as a cash prize and a sculpture.
Nobel Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah presented the award to Mohan at the valedictory ceremony of the four-day MBIFL 2023.
About the author:
The Trinidad-born author, also a linguist who earned a PhD in linguistics from the University of Michigan, USA, migrated to India and worked as a professor of Language Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia University, New Delhi.
India’s Largest Helicopter Manufacturing Facility to be Inaugurated in Karnataka’s Tumakuru
Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) helicopter factory in Karnataka’s Tumakuru recently.
The foundation stone of the facility, which is a dedicated new greenfield helicopter factory, was also laid by PM Modi in 2016.
The facility will enhance India’s capacity and ecosystem to build helicopters.
This helicopter factory is India’s largest helicopter manufacturing facility and will initially produce Light Utility Helicopters (LUH).
This facility will enable India to meet its entire requirement of helicopters indigenously and will attain the distinction of enabling self-reliance in helicopter design, development and manufacture in India.
The factory will have a manufacturing set-up of Industry 4.0 standards.
According to the PMO, over the next 20 years, HAL has plans to produce more than 1000 helicopters in the class of 3-15 tonnes from Tumakuru.
About Light Utility Helicopters (LUH):
LUH is an indigenously designed and developed 3-tonne class, single-engine multipurpose utility helicopter with a unique feature of high manoeuvrability.
The LUH is designed and developed as a replacement for Cheetah and Chetak helicopters which are being operated by the Indian Armed forces. It is a new generation helicopter incorporating the state of the art technology features like a Glass cockpit with Multi-Function Displays (MFD) powered by a single Turbo Shaft engine with sufficient power margin to cater to demanding high-altitude missions.
The helicopter is designed to be capable of flying at 220 kmph with a service ceiling of 6.5 km and a range of 350 km with a 500 kg payload.
About Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)
It was established as Hindustan Aircraft Limited in 1940 by Walchand Hirachand in Bangalore (now Bengaluru), Karnataka. It comes under the Ministry of Defence.
The name was changed to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited on 1 October 1964 after it was merged with Aeronautics India Limited by the Government of India.
Headquartered in Bengaluru.
Kerala Crowned Inaugural Champions of National Beach Soccer Championships
Kerala has won the National Beach Soccer Championship title by defeating Punjab 13-4 in the final held at Dumas Beach, Surat.
In the game played for third place, Delhi defeated Uttarakhand 3-1.
Kerala’s goalkeeper Santhosh Kasmeer was awarded the best goalkeeper of the tournament.
Rajasthan’s Amit Godara became the highest goalscorer with 27 goals.
The best player of the tournament was awarded to Kerala’s Siju S.
India Welcomes Congo to the International Solar Alliance
India has recently welcomed Congo into the International Solar Alliance.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs, the International Solar Alliance Framework Agreement was signed by Raymond Serge Bell, Ambassador of the Republic of Congo, in the presence of the Joint Secretary (Economic Diplomacy).
International Solar Alliance is a treaty-based intergovernmental organisation whose primary function is to promote solar development by reducing the cost of financing and technology.
It is the nodal agency to implement ‘One Sun, One World, One Grid’.
It was launched by the Prime Minister of India and the President of France on 30 November 2015 at the Conference of the Parties (COP-21) to the UNFCCC in France (Paris) along with 121 solar resource-rich nations.
Member-113 countries have signed this Framework Agreement.
Its Headquarters is in Gurugram, India.
Mrugng Monty Desai Appointed as Head Coach of Nepal Men’s Team
Mrugng Monty Desai, a high-performance coach from India, has been appointed as the head coach of Nepal men’s national cricket team, announced the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) recently.
Monty Desai will replace another former Indian cricketer Manoj Prabhakar, who resigned from his post in December 2022.
Nepal Cricket Association has signed a two-year deal with Monty Desai.
Monty has been the head coach of teams like the West Indies, Canada, and the UAE.
Monty has also served as the head coach of the Rajasthan Royals team in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Currently, the captain of the Nepal Cricket Team is Rohit Kumar Paudel
Grammy Award 2023
In recognition of the album “Divine Tides”, which he co-wrote with rock legend Stewart Copeland, artist Ricky Kej received his third Grammy Award.
This is undoubtedly a proud moment for India.
The Bengaluru-based Indian music producer and composer, who was up for Best Immersive Audio Album, won the award for “Divine Tides”. At the live event held at the Crypto.com venue in Los Angeles, USA, the outcome was revealed.
Ricky Kej, an Indian musician and environmentalist who was born on 5 August d1981, has been nominated for three Grammy Awards and has won two of them.
Kej has performed in over 30 nations, including Geneva and the UN’s New York and New York locations.
Kej was introduced as a UNHCR “Goodwill Ambassador” in December 2022.
Ricky is only the fourth Indian and youngest person from India to have won a Grammy Award.
Hillary Clinton Launches a Global Climate Fund in India
Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton announced the GCRF-Global Climate Resilience Fund in partnership with the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA).
GCRF will work to tackle challenges faced due to rising temperatures due to climate change.
SEWA is the single largest women worker’s Central trade union in India, founded in 1972 in Ahmedabad by Elaben Bhatt.
It has been working to improve the livelihoods of poor self-employed women workers from the informal economy through various initiatives using technology, technical training, etc.
Jupiter Becomes the Planet with Most Moons
Science and Technology
Astronomers recently discovered 12 new moons around Jupiter, increasing the total number of moons it has to 92 – the largest number any planet in our solar system has (Saturn has 83 moons).
The moons were discovered using telescopes in Hawaii and Chile in 2021 and 2022 and have been added to a list kept by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Centre (the size of these moons ranges from 1-3 km).
Upcoming missions to Jupiter include –
ESA’s spacecraft to Jupiter to study the planet and some of its biggest icy moons (in 2023)
NASA’s Europa Clipper to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa which could harbour an ocean beneath its frozen crust (in 2024).
NASA earlier launched Mission Lucy to explore Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids.
Apart from Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus has 27 confirmed moons, Neptune has 14, Mars has two, and Earth has one moon, while Venus and Mercury have no moons.
Save Wetlands Campaign Launched
Environment and Ecology
Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, launched the ‘Save Wetlands Campaign’ in the presence of the Chief Minister of Goa.
What Is the Save Wetlands Campaign?
The Save Wetlands Campaign is structured on a “whole of society” approach to wetlands conservation, enabling affirmative actions for wetlands conservation at all levels of society.
This campaign over the next year will include sensitising people to the value of wetlands, increasing the coverage of wetland mitras and building citizen partnerships for wetlands conservation.
sensitising people to the value of wetlands
increasing the coverage of wetland mitras
building citizen partnerships for wetlands conservation
World Wetlands Day:
It is observed on 2nd February every year to commemorate the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance in 1971. India has been a party to the Convention since 1982 and has so far declared 75 wetlands as Ramsar sites
The 2023 theme for World Wetlands Day is ‘Wetland Restoration’, which highlights the urgent need to prioritise wetland restoration
Yuva Sangam Portal Launched
Union Minister of Education, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Dharmendra Pradhan has launched the Yuva Sangam portal to strengthen people-to-people connections and build empathy between the youth of the North Eastern States and other States.
It is an initiative of the Ministry of Education.
Under the project, 1000 youth in the age group of 18 to 30 years (300 from the North East, 700 from other states) will be sent to youth exchange programs in the North East and other states of the country.
Through Yuva Sangam, the youth of the North East will get an opportunity to know the tradition, culture, tourist places, food, languages and diversity of the eight states of the country and the youth of other states of the country.
NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, NISAR
Science and Technology
An Earth-observation satellite jointly developed by NASA and ISRO that will help study Earth’s land and ice surfaces in greater detail is all set to be shipped to India as per the sources.
What Is the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) Satellite?
NISAR is a joint Earth-observing mission between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) with the goal of making global measurements of the causes and consequences of land surface changes using advanced radar imaging.
The mission is targeted to launch in 2024. NASA is providing the mission’s L-band synthetic aperture radar, a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers, a solid-state recorder and a payload data subsystem.
ISRO provides the spacecraft bus, the S-band radar, the launch vehicle and associated launch services.
The NASA-ISRO SAR (NISAR) Mission will measure Earth’s changing ecosystems, dynamic surfaces, and ice masses, providing information about biomass, natural hazards, sea level rise, and groundwater. It will support a host of other applications.
NISAR will observe Earth’s land and ice-covered surfaces globally with 12-day regularity on ascending and descending passes, sampling Earth on average every six days for a baseline 3-year mission.
What Is Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)?
It refers to a technique for producing fine-resolution images from a resolution-limited radar system.
It requires that the radar be moving in a straight line, either on an aeroplane or, as in the case of NISAR, orbiting in space.
Indore Becomes First Civic Body to Launch Green Bonds
Indore Municipal Corporation ranked top in cleanliness survey for six consecutive years, has become the country’s first civic body to launch green bonds, seeking to raise ₹244 crore for a 60-MW solar plant at its water pumping station.
The public issues of the green bonds will be open for subscription from 10-14 February, Pushyamitra Bhargav, mayor of Indore, and Divyank Singh, chief executive of the Indore Smart City Development Commission.
The issue will be listed on the National Stock Exchange.
What Is a Green Bond?
A green bond is a type of fixed-income instrument that is specifically earmarked to raise money for climate and environmental projects.
These bonds are typically asset-linked and backed by the issuing entity’s balance sheet, so they usually carry the same credit rating as their issuers’ other debt obligations.
Green bonds may come with tax incentives to enhance their attractiveness to some investors.
The phrase “green bond” is sometimes used interchangeably with “climate bonds” or “sustainable bonds”.
Green bonds are part of a larger trend in socially responsible and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing.
Types of Green Bonds:
Fixed Income Securities: Fixed Income Securities Commercial Paper Certificate of Deposit (CD), Zero Coupon Bond.
Government Bond Issuances: Treasury Bond (T-Bond), Municipal Bonds, Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) Treasury STRIPS.
ETFs and Mutual Funds.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Lays Foundation Stone for South India’s 1st Industrial Corridor Project
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of South India’s 1st Industrial Corridor Project to be implemented at Tumakuru, which is spread over 8500 acres of land under the Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor.
Krishnapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Tumakuru (Karnataka), and Ponneri (Tamil Nadu) have been identified as priority nodes under NICP’s (National Industrial Corridor Programme) Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC).
NICP aims to promote world-class manufacturing facilities and develop futuristic industrial cities in India.
The broad objective is to provide plug-and-play infrastructural facilities for setting up large-scale manufacturing units.
Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor was the first corridor taken up for development in 2011.
Subsequently, Amritsar- Kolkata, CBIC, Vizag-Chennai, East Coast, etc., were added.
Important Features of NICP
Land parcels are developed for immediate allotment to manufacturing units.
Statutory clearances, including environmental clearance, are being taken beforehand.
National Industrial Corridor Development and Implementation Trust (NICDIT) for unified development.
Wolf 1069 b
Astronomers have discovered an exoplanet Wolf 1069 b which is orbiting a red dwarf star Wolf 1069.
An exoplanet is any planet beyond our solar system.
Red dwarfs are stars with very low mass and are generally referred to as the coolest stars.
It is orbiting in its star’s habitable zone (Goldilocks zone), potentially making it a prime candidate for liquid water to exist on its surface.
It is tidally locked to its parent star, meaning one side is always in daylight, and the other is always in darkness.
Korean Cultural Centre India Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Diplomatic Ties Between India, South Korea
A group of 108 Buddhist monks from South Korea will walk over 1,100 kilometres in the next 43 days—from 9 February to 23 March—tracing the Buddha’s footsteps and life journey in India.
The walking pilgrimage will begin from Sarnath in Varanasi and culminate at Shravasti after traversing through Nepal.
Relations started with bilateral consular relations in 1962. In 1973, it was upgraded to diplomatic ties (Ambassador-level).
Sharing Kinship and Buddhist Connection according to “SamgukYusa”, written in the 13th century, a Princess from Ayodhya married King Kim-Suro of Gaya Confederacy, Korea and became Queen Hur (Heo) Hwang-ok in 48 AD.
Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), operationalised on 1 January 2010.
Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement was signed in 2011. In 2022, trade between the two nations reached an all-time high at USD 27.8 bn.
Target is to reach USD 50 bn by 2030. Also launched the ‘Korea Plus’ initiative to promote and facilitate Korean Investments in India.
Naval Variant of LCA Lands First Time on Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant
The Naval variant of India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) made its maiden landing on board the INS Vikrant, marking a milestone towards the Navy’s self-reliance plans.
This was followed by a landing and take-off by a twin-engine MiG-29K fighter jet (Russian origin).
INS Vikrant, India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier commissioned in Sept 2022, is currently in the process of getting operationalised.
In Jan 2020, DRDO demonstrated a successful landing of Naval LCA on INS Vikramaditya along the lines of which the DRDO is in the process of developing a Twin Engine Deck- Based Fighter (TEDBF) for INS Vikrant.
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2023
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2023 is being organised in Mumbai (Maharashtra) from 4 -12 February.
This festival was started in 1999 by Kala Ghoda Foundation.
It is named Kala Ghoda because it is held at a place in the South Mumbai area where there is a statue of a black horse.
Events and workshops under the festival are scattered across the precinct, the stretch beginning from the Kala Ghoda statue is where all the art installations are set up every year.
This time, the stretch boasts over 18 installations.
Recently an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck Turkiye, one of the most seismically active regions in the Mediterranean and the world.
Turkiye (the Turkish/Anatolian plate) sits between three major tectonic plates: African, Arabian and Eurasian.
The Anatolian Plate is a continental tectonic plate comprising most of the Anatolia (Asia Minor) peninsula (and the country of Turkey).
To the east, the East Anatolian Fault, a left lateral transform fault, forms a boundary with the Arabian Plate.
To the south and southwest is a convergent boundary with the African Plate.
The Anatolian plate is divided into three major fault zones: North Anatolian Fault Zone (NAFZ), East Anatolian Fault Zone (EAFZ), and South Eastern Anatolian Thrust Zone (SAT)
Collisions between the Arabian and African plates with Eurasia typically result in earthquakes.
PhonePe Launches India’s First Cross-Border UPI Payments Service
PhonePe has recently announced that it has launched a service that will allow the fintech firm’s Indian users travelling abroad to pay foreign merchants using Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
‘UPI international’ supports merchant outlets in UAE, Singapore, Mauritius, Nepal and Bhutan that have a local QR (quick response) code.
Walmart-backed PhonePe said users could make direct payments in a foreign currency from their Indian bank like they do with international debit cards.
PhonePe users can activate their UPI-linked bank account for the service at the merchant location, or before their international trip, via the PhonePe App.
It would require the customer to enter their UPI pin to activate the service.
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), in collaboration with NPCI International Payments Limited, plans to roll out UPI International to more countries this year. NPCI developed UPI.
PhonePe was founded in December 2015 and has emerged as India’s largest payment app. With 435 million registered users, one in four Indians is now on PhonePe.
India Ranks First In Milk Production In The World
According to production data from the Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT), India is the highest milk producer, i.e., ranking first in the world, contributing twenty-four per cent of global milk production in the year 2021-22.
The milk production of India has registered a fifty-one per cent increase during the last eight years, i.e., during the years 2014-15 and 2021-22 and increased to twenty-two crore tonnes in the year 2021-22.
This information was given by Shri Parshottam Rupala, Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, in a written reply in Lok Sabha recently.
About the National Programme for Dairy Development.
NPDD was launched in February 2014 by merging three existing schemes—Intensive Dairy Development Programme, Strengthening Infrastructure for Quality and Clean Milk Production and Assistance to Cooperatives.
Further, the National Programme for Dairy Development aims to enhance the quality of milk and milk products and increase the share of organised procurement, processing, value addition and marketing.
Various schemes supplement the efforts of states and union territories to promote and develop the animal husbandry and dairying sector across the country.
Rashtriya Gokul Mission (RGM)
National Programme for Dairy Development (NPDD)
Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF)
Supporting Dairy Cooperatives and Farmer Producer Organisations engaged in dairy activities (SDCFPO)
National Livestock Mission (NLM)
Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF)
Livestock Health and Disease Control Programme (LH and DCP)
Milk production in the country has increased from 146.31 million tonnes in 2014-15 to 221.1 million tonnes in 2021-22, i.e., an increment of 6.38 per cent per annum during the last 8 years.
The value of the output of milk is more than ₹9.32 lakh crore during 2021-22, which is higher than the agriculture produces and even more than the combined value of paddy and wheat.
Egg production in the country has increased from 78.48 billion in 2014-15 to 129.53 billion in 2021-22. Egg production in the country is growing at the rate of 8 per cent per annum.
Chandrayaan-3’s Likely Landing Sites Finalised
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has finalised the coordinates of three possible landing sites for its third lunar mission – Chandrayaan-3 – expected to be launched later this year.
All the probable landing sites are on the moon’s south polar region on the side facing the earth, senior scientists from the space agency said recently.
Landing sites are decided based on the local and global slope, illumination from the Sun, radio communication with the earth, and crater and boulder sizes.
The prime landing site lies between Manzius U and Boguslawsky M craters (southern pole region) on the moon.
It will be launched by Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk III from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
GSLV is a 3-stage rocket powered by a cryogenic engine
Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2.
Its primary objective is to put a lander and rover in the highlands near the south pole of the Moon in 2023.
It consists of Lander and Rover configurations.
About Lander and Rover:
Lander: Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment measures thermal conductivity and temperature; Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity measures seismicity around the landing site; Langmuir Probe estimates plasma density and variations.
Rover: Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) for deriving elemental composition in the vicinity of the landing site.
Chandrayaan-1 (2008): Successfully inserted into lunar orbit.
Chandrayaan-2 (2019): Successfully launched and inserted into lunar orbit in 2019, but its lander crash-landed on the moon’s surface due to a software glitch.
Other upcoming ISRO missions for 2023 include – Aditya-L1, India’s first dedicated scientific mission to study the sun, and Gaganyaan’s uncrewed ‘G1’ mission.
Indian Forces Seek Armed Predator Drones from the US
The Indian armed forces are seeking 18 armed Predator MQ 9A drones from the US, and electronic and spatial intelligence organisation NTRO will soon acquire eight Indian-manufactured medium altitude long endurance (MALE) drones for border surveillance and reconnaissance, according to people aware of the matter.
The Predator armed drones can fly up to 50,000 feet for up to 24 hours and carry an option of Hellfire air-to-ground missiles for high-value targets or air-to-air missiles to bring down aerial enemy targets.
Of these 18 drones from the US, six drones will be provided to each of the three services.
The Indian Navy already has two General Atomics-manufactured Sea Guardian (MQ 9B) drones for maritime domain awareness on lease from the US. Currently, the navy is the leading service in armed drone acquisition and deployment.
About Version MQ 9A Drones
The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper is an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, primarily for the United States Air Force.
Top speed: 482 km/h
Range: 1,850 km
Wingspan: 20 m
Weight: 2,223 kg
Unit cost: 16,900,000–16,900,000 USD (2013)
Engine type: Honeywell TPE331
Manufacturer: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
India Received the Highest-Ever Foreign Inward Remittances in a Single year
In 2021–2022, India received a total of US$ 89,127 million inward remittances from foreign, the largest amount ever in a single year, recently said the Union Minister of State for Finance, Mr Pankaj Chaudhary.
The Minister further stated that the value of the Indian Rupee is market-determined, and the RBI closely monitors the foreign exchange markets and intervenes only to maintain orderly market conditions by containing excessive volatility in the exchange rate without reference to any pre-determined target level or band.
The data on inward remittances for the past four years are as follows: US$ 80,185 million in 2020-21, US$ 83,195 million in 2019-20, US$ 76,396 million in 2018-19, and lastly, US$ 69,129 million in 2017-18.
Moreover, the highest share of five major countries in inward remittances to India through Authorised Dealer (ADs) banks are from the United States (23.4%), followed by United Arab Emirates (18%), United Kingdom (6.8%), Singapore (5.7%) and Saudi Arabia (5.1%).
NTPC Bags ‘ATD Best Awards 2023’ for the 6th Consecutive year
Awards and Recognitions
NTPC Limited, the country’s largest power generating company, has been honoured with ‘ATD Best Awards 2023’ by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), USA.
This is the sixth time that NTPC Limited has won this award for demonstrating enterprise success in the field of talent development.
NTPC has successfully created an ecosystem that empowers employees to enhance their skill sets.
About the Awards:
The ATD Best Awards recognises organisations that demonstrate enterprise through talent development.
The award includes small and large private, public, and not-for-profit organisations from across the globe.
The Association for Talent Development, USA, is the world’s largest association in the field of talent development, and ATD’s BEST AWARD is the most coveted recognition in Learning and Development.
The NTPC, which was earlier known as the National Thermal Power Corporation of India is owned by the Government of India. It was set up in 1975.
Headquarters: New Delhi
Chairman and Managing Director: Gurdeep Singh
TCS Named to World’s Most Admired Companies List by FORTUNE® Magazine
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has been named to FORTUNE® magazine’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies.
Regarded as a barometer of corporate reputation, the list is based on a survey of business executives, directors and analysts around the globe.
Companies are evaluated based on criteria such as innovation, social responsibility, quality of management, global competitiveness, talent management, and quality of products/services.
TCS CEO: Rajesh Gopinathan (Since Feb 2017)
TCS Headquarters: Mumbai
TCS Founders: Faqir Chand Kohli and J.R.D. Tata
TCS Founded: 1 April 1968
China Promotes Rice Bran as Staple Food Due to Food Shortage
China has started promoting Rice bran as the staple food amid the ongoing food shortage in the country.
Rice bran is one of the main byproducts in the process of rice milling.
It is the outer brown layer of brown rice and is separated during the milling process.
The bran fraction contains 14-18% oil.
Rice bran oil is a good source of unsaturated fats, vitamin E, and other important nutrients.
It is currently mostly used as animal feed.
Google Introduces AI Chatbot ‘Bard’ to Compete with Microsoft-Backed ChatGPT
Google has unveiled an experimental conversation AI service called “Bard” as it races to catch up with the wildly popular chatbot ChatGPT from the Microsoft-backed firm OpenAI.
According to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, the service will be initially opened up to “trusted testers” before making it more widely available to the public in the coming weeks.
Bard will compete directly with rival ChatGPT, an AI service created by OpenAI.
Bard is powered by LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), a large language model that was developed and released by Google in 2021.
Pichai said they would be initially releasing Bard on a “lightweight” version of LaMDA that would require significantly less computing power, enabling them to scale to more users and seek more feedback.
RBI Raises the Repo Rate by 25 Basis Points to 6.5% from 6.25%
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das-headed Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has recently raised the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.5 per cent from 6.25 per cent.
Repo Rate (RR) is the rate at which the central bank lends money to commercial banks or financial institutions, public or private, in India against government securities.
Das said that four MPC members voted in favour of the repo rate revision versus two members.
The central bank said that its policy stance remains focused on withdrawing accommodation.
The Current Policy Rates:
Standing Deposit Facility (SDF) rate: 6.25%
Marginal Standing Facility (MCF) rate: 6.75%
Repo Rate: 6.25%
Standing Deposit Facility Rate: 6.00%
MSF Rate: 6.50%
Bank Rate: 6.50%
Reverse Repo Rate: 3.35%
PM Modi Launches Special E20 Petrol for Clean Energy Push
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently opened the inaugural India Energy Week (IEW) in Bengaluru under the theme of Growth, Collaboration and Transition and launched the special 20% ethanol gasoline named E20 variant of petrol as part of the government’s push for clean energy adoption.
E20 or flex-fuel vehicles are an excellent way to reduce pollution without breaking the bank.
What is E20 Fuel?
The number “20” in “E20” refers to the percentage of ethanol in the gasoline blend.
Simply put, the higher the number, the higher the percentage of Ethanol in the gasoline.
India’s current ethanol-to-petroleum mix is 10%, the highest it has ever been.
Because it is made from biomass, ethanol does not require crude oil.
Ethanol is primarily produced from crops such as corn and sugarcane.
India already produces significant quantities of grain and sugarcane. It may allow automobiles to use a higher proportion of Ethanol.
What is ethanol blending, and how is it useful?
Ethanol is a biofuel, naturally produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts or by petrochemical processes like ethylene hydration.
In ethanol blending, a blended motor fuel containing ethyl alcohol derived from agricultural products is blended with petrol specifically.
Ethanol is high in oxygen content, allowing an engine to combust fuel more thoroughly.
Current status related to the utilisation of E20 Fuels in India:
India’s Creta, Venue, and Alcazar SUVs from Hyundai Motor are said to be capable of running on E20 gasoline as of the 2023 MY model year.
Tata Motors debuted two new turbocharged petrol engines at the Auto Expo 2023. (1.2-litre and 1.5-litre).
Tata has stated that its vehicles longer than 4 metres will soon be equipped with E20 fuel-compatible engines.
By April 2023, similar developments are planned for vehicles manufactured by Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki, Kia, and others.
Digital Payments Utsav
Electronics and Information Technology and Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw launched the ‘Digital Payments Utsav’ in New Delhi recently.
This Utsav is also going to be held in cities like Lucknow, Pune, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru on different days
The above cities were chosen because the Digital Economy Working Group Events are to be held in these cities
The Utsav will focus mainly on G20 and its working
During the Utsav, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will launch a QR code and a Coffee Table Book
The ministry will also launch the “Digital Payment Sandesh Yatra” during the Utsav with the objective of creating awareness of digital payments in the country
Also, the ministry will present the “Digi Dhan Awards” for the top-performing banks in the country
The ministry intends to increase access to digital payment methods as India is celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav and the G20 presidency.
The Utsav will highlight how digital payments empower street vendors and small merchants.
Myanmar, Russia Sign Pact on Developing Nuclear Power
Myanmar’s military-led government, working with Russia’s state atomic energy company, has inaugurated a nuclear power information centre as a step toward developing atomic power to fill energy shortages in the strife-torn Southeast Asian nation.
Myanmar state media reported recently that the head of the military government, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, met with Alexey Evgenievich Likhachev, director general of the Russian State Atomic Energy Corp., or Rosatom.
Disbalance of power in Asia.
The development is likely to ignite concerns that Myanmar’s military would like to develop a nuclear weapons capability.
There were suspicions a decade ago that North Korea was supplying nuclear arms technology to Myanmar, but there was no definitive evidence.
Present status of Myanmar Government:
The United States and other nations have imposed political and economic sanctions against the ruling generals, while Russia supplies the military with arms, including fighter aircraft that are sometimes used against civilians.
Russia maintains friendly relations with Myanmar, which is treated as a pariah state by many Western nations after its army ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2021 and violently suppressed opposition, killing thousands of civilians and leading to what some U.N. experts describe as a civil war.
Skye Air Launches India’s First Traffic Management System for Drone
Skye Air, a Gurugram-based drone solutions provider, recently launched a traffic management system for drones in India.
Launched in the presence of Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India Nitin Gadkari, the software will allow drone operators to plan routes, make flight plans and assess risks before running drone-based operations in the country.
The solution, called Skye UTM, is a first-of-its-kind for India.
Skye UTM has been built towards providing situational awareness, autonomous navigation, risk assessment, and traffic management to all drone/other aerial mobility operators across the airspace.
Emphasising new technologies in the construction, infra, and highway sector, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari informed that it is the right time for Indian drone startups to lead the industry.
These drones are going to be used across sectors, including construction, agriculture, healthcare, defence, infrastructure, surveying, real estate, and transport.
Drone companies will even monitor highways and road construction. There is a lot of research happening that will certainly help scale its usage.
The Ministry will soon invite participation from drone startups to be deployed for real-time monitoring, speeding up highway constructions, and checking fatal road accidents.
Operation Dost and India’s relief assistance to Turkey
India continues to send aid to the quake-ravaged Turkey as the 3rd batch of the NDRF team was dispatched on 8 February.
The assistance was sent on the Indian Airforce’s C17 aircraft from the Hindon airport in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad. NRDF teams, including sniffer dogs and vehicles for rescue operations, are being sent to Turkey.
The 6th flight carries more rescue teams, dog squads, and essential medicines.
As part of Operation Dost, the Indian Army set up a field hospital in Turkey’s Hatay province.
India has also sent a transport aircraft with medical supplies to Syria.
Operation Dost symbolises that India is a friend of Turkey, and the two must deepen their relations.
The NDRF was earlier sent to two similar international operations—the 2011 Japan triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown) and the 2015 Nepal earthquake.
What happened in Turkey?
The earthquake of magnitude 7.7 on the Richter scale ripped through Turkey and Syria on 6 February, followed by a series of aftershocks that caused huge devastation, loss of lives and damage to infrastructure in the two countries.
Books and Authors
Salman Rushdie’s latest book, “Victory City”, is a fictionalised telling of the story of Vijayanagara, one of the richest and most powerful kingdoms in medieval India.
Founded by Harihara I of the Sangama dynasty, Vijayanagara expanded from a strategic position on the banks of the Tungabhadra river with Hampi as its capital.
The kingdom reached its peak under Krishna Deva Raya (reign 1509-1529), a period in which it enjoyed military superiority over rival kingdoms such as the Bahmani Sultanate, the Golconda Sultanate, and the Gajapatis of Odisha.
Vijayanagara is a district in the Indian state of Karnataka, located in the Kalyana Karnataka region.
This district was carved out of Bellary district in 2020 to become the 31st district of the state, with Hosapete as district headquarters.
The economy of the kingdom was largely dependent on agriculture, and trade thrived in its many ports on either coast.
The empire’s principal exports were pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, myrobalan, tamarind timber, ana fistula, precious and semi-precious stones, pearls, musk, ambergris, rhubarb, aloe, cotton cloth and porcelain.
Vijayanagara’s capital Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site today, known for its sophisticated fortifications as well as innumerable temples and other architectural marvels.
Hazara Rama temple, the Krishna temple, and the Ugra Narasimha idol are all located at Vijayanagara.
Israeli Scientists Develop Sniffing Robot with Locust Antennae
A new sniffing robot equipped with a biological sensor that uses the antennae of locusts could help advance disease diagnosis and improve security checks.
Locusts have an acute sense of smell, which the researchers have managed to harness into their bio-hybrid robot, making it far more sensitive than existing electronic sniffers.
On the four-wheeled robot, the researchers placed the insect’s antenna between two electrodes that send electrical signals in response to a nearby odour. Each scent has a unique signature which, with machine learning, the robot’s electronic system can identify.
India and the EU have Announced Plans to Form a Trade and Technology Council
India and the European Union (EU) announced the formation of three working groups under the “Trade and Technology Council” which was set up to deepen strategic ties with the trade bloc.
India and the EU had in April last year agreed to establish a ‘Trade and Technology Council’ to tackle the challenges at the nexus of trade, trusted technology and security.
Such a council is the first for India with any of its partners and second for the EU, following the first one it has set up with the United States (US).
Indian-American Student Named “World’s Brightest” by Johns Hopkins for Second Consecutive year
Indian-American schoolgirl Natasha Perianayagam was named in the “world’s brightest” students list for the second consecutive year by the US-based Johns Hopkins Center For Talented Youth, based on the results of above-grade-level tests of over 15,000 students across 76 countries.
Her results in the verbal and quantitative sections of the test came up to the 90th percentile of an advanced standard-level performance, which put her up on the honours list.
She lives in New Jersey, and her parents are from Chennai, India.
NASA Has Selected Veteran Astronaut Joe Acaba as Chief of the Astronaut
NASA has selected veteran astronaut Joe Acaba as Chief of the Astronaut Office at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
As a result, Acaba will replace NASA astronaut Drew Feustel.
In his new role, Acaba will manage astronaut resources and operations.
Acaba spent 306 days in space, serving as a mission specialist on the space shuttle Discovery’s STS-119 mission and as a flight engineer aboard the ISS.
NASA’s Chief acts as the Chief of the NASA Astronaut Corps as well.
The NASA Astronaut Corps selects and trains the astronauts.
As of December 2022, there were 41 active astronauts.
Of these, 16 are women, and 25 are men.
In the history of NASA, the year 2000 had the highest number of astronauts.
There were 149 NASA astronauts in 2000.
Nearly 600 Sea Lions Die Due to Bird Flu Outbreak in Peru
Peru recently said that its 585 sea lions and 55,000 wild birds have died of the H5N1 bird flu virus in recent weeks, the latest report on the disease’s impacts.
According to the SENASA agricultural health agency, the disease is transmitted by migratory birds from North America.
According to the Sarnap Natural Area Conservation Agency, after discovering 55,000 dead birds in eight protected coastal areas, rangers found that all of them died due to bird flu.
In addition to this, 585 sea lions have also died in 7 protected marine areas.
Dead birds include pelicans, different types of gulls and penguins.
Bird flu, also known as avian influenza (AI), is a highly contagious viral disease that affects species of food-producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quail, guinea fowl, etc.), as well as domesticated birds and wild animals.
Avian influenza virus subtypes are A(H5N1), A(H7N9), A(H9N2) and A(H10N3).
Cow Hug Day is to be Celebrated on 14 Feb
The Animal Welfare Board of India recently appealed to all cow lovers to celebrate 14 February as “Cow Hug Day”, stating that this “will bring emotional richness” and “increase individual and collective happiness”.
We all know that the cow is the backbone of Indian culture and rural economy, sustains our life and represents cattle wealth and biodiversity.
It is known as ‘Kamdhenu’ and ‘Gaumata’ because of its nourishing nature like a mother, the giver of all providing riches to humanity”.
Animal Welfare Board of India is headquartered at Ballabgarh in Haryana.
It is a statutory advisory body advising the Government of India’s Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
Uttar Pradesh Government Launches Portal for ‘One Family, One ID’
The Uttar Pradesh government has finally launched the portal for the creation of ‘Family ID – One Family One Identity’ to identify families as a unit for implementing the ‘one job per family’ proposal.
According to a state government spokesman, all such families that are not eligible for the National Food Security Scheme will be able to avail of the ID, while the ration card ID of the families having it
will be considered as their family ID.
Its objective is to provide free or subsidised ration to those families who do not have ration cards and are not eligible for the National Food Security Scheme.
Through the portal, families can create their ID and can avail the benefits of the schemes.
For those who already have an ID, the family ID will be the same as the ration card ID.
About One ID:
For others, an ID will be generated through the portal, and all the families will get a unique identity.
It will create a comprehensive database of households in Uttar Pradesh.
This ID will also be useful for other purposes. For example, a family member can use the ID to determine caste and apply for a birth certificate.
The National Food Security Scheme, which provides free or subsidised ration to people living in Uttar Pradesh, can also be availed through the portal.
MobiKwik Becomes India’s First App to Support Credit Cards on UPI
MobiKwik, India’s leading fintech platform, has become one of the first fintech apps to support RuPay Credit Cards on UPI, bringing a new level of convenience to the millions of Indians who use UPI for their daily transactions.
With RuPay Credit Cards now linked directly to UPI IDs, MobiKwik’s customers can easily make payments to merchants by scanning the UPI QR code and using UPI PIN for payment authentication.
This facility will provide an easy and secure payment experience to MobiKwik customers.
It will also open up new opportunities for merchants to be part of the credit ecosystem, with the acceptance of credit cards using asset-light QR codes without the need for point-of-sale (POS) terminals.
RuPay credit cards are issued by all major banks (private and public sector) for both commercial and retail use.
The integration of RuPay Credit Card with UPI is in line with the vision of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and RBI.
RuPay Credit Card promotes credit card acceptance in India for merchants who are not part of the credit ecosystem.
The top UPI apps currently are PhonePe, Paytm, Google Pay, Amazon Pay and BHIM.
ISRO Launches New Rocket SSLV-D2 from Sriharikota
Science and Technology
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched the second edition of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV-D2) from the first launch pad of Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, recently.
The new rocket will attempt to put three satellites – ISRO’s EOS-07, US-based firm Antaris’ Janus-1, and Chennai-based space startup SpaceKidz’s AzaadiSAT-2 – into a 450 km circular orbit during its 15-minute flight.
According to ISRO, the SSLV caters to the launch of up to 500 kg satellites to low earth orbits on a ‘launch-on-demand’ basis.
The rocket provides low-cost access to space, offers low turn-around time and flexibility in accommodating multiple satellites, and demands minimal launch infrastructure.
The SSLV is a 34 m tall, 2 m diameter vehicle having a lift-off mass of 120 tonnes.
The rocket is configured with three solid propulsion stages and a velocity terminal module.
The first test flight of SSLV ended in partial failure on 9 August last year after the upper stage of the launch vehicle injected the satellite into a highly elliptical unstable orbit due to a shortfall in velocity.
The investigation into the failure also revealed a vibration disturbance for a short duration on the Equipment Bay (EB) deck during the second stage separation, according to ISRO.
It is the national space agency of India. established on 15 August 1969. It launches its space rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
Chairman: S Somnath
India to Organise 12th World Hindi Conference in Fiji
The Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, in partnership with the Government of Fiji, is organising the 12th World Hindi Conference from the 15th to 17th of February, 2023, in Fiji.
The first World Hindi Conference was held in 1975 in Nagpur, India. Since then, 11 such conferences have been organised in different parts of the world.
The main theme of the Conference is “Hindi: From Traditional Knowledge to Artificial Intelligence”.
The website and logo for the Conference were launched earlier in October 2022 in New Delhi by External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar.
Representatives from 50 countries are likely to participate in the World Hindi Conference.
The event will be used to promote Hindi as a global language.
The High Commissioner Gopal Baglay emphasised the importance of the Hindi language in bringing people from different nations closer.
The 11th World Hindi Conference was held in Mauritius in 2018.
About Hindi Diwas:
Every year 14 September is observed as Hindi Diwas in India.
On this day in 1949, the Constituent Assembly adopted Hindi as the official language of the country.
World Government Summit 2023 Begins in Dubai
The 10th edition of the World Government Summit 2023 began today, 13 February, in Dubai.
The Summit is being held under the theme of “Shaping Future Governments”.
It brings together global thought leaders, global experts, and decision-makers to share and contribute to the development of tools, policies, and models that will be critical in shaping future governments.
The Summit features 20 presidents, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi; President of the Republic of Türkiye, Recep Tayyip Erdogan; President of Senegal and Chairperson of the African Union, Macky Sall, among others.
This year’s edition brings together over 250 ministers from around the world, and over 10,000 delegates, including government officials, thought leaders, celebrities, and global experts.
The sessions and forums will be enriched by over 80 international, regional, and governmental organisations.
About the Summit:
The World Government Summit is a global forum held annually in Dubai that brings together leaders in government, business, technology, and civil society to discuss pressing issues facing humanity and to shape the future of governments worldwide.
The Summit aims to drive positive change and promote innovation in the public sector by exploring new ideas, technologies, and best practices in governance.
India-US Joint Military Exercise: TARKASH
The National Security Guard (NSG) and US Special Operations Forces (SOF) conducted the joint exercise named TARKASH, which will conclude on 14th February.
This is the sixth edition of the exercise.
The exercise by the National Security Guard (NSG) and US Special Operations Forces (SOF) is being held in Chennai.
For the first time, the Indo-US joint exercise has included a ‘Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) terror response’ in its drill.
During the course of the joint exercise, both forces also conducted joint mock counter-terrorism drills at multiple locations in Chennai to enhance interoperability and coordination between the two special forces.
The training provided an opportunity for both forces to gain proficiency and enhance skill sets for an effective CBRN terror response.
Subject matter experts in Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear warfare from the US Special Forces and the NSG exchanged valuable knowledge in handling CBRN threats in an urban counter-terrorism environment.
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
While there is no single, authoritative definition of a WMD in international law, the expression is usually understood to cover nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons.
According to the United States Department of Homeland Security, “A weapon of mass destruction is a nuclear, radiological, chemical, biological, or another device that is intended to harm a large number of people”.
13 New Governors Appointed in Various States of India
President Murmu appointed 13 new governors while accepting the resignations of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Ladakh Lieutenant Governor Radha Krishnan Mathur.
The appointment and powers of government can be derived from Part VI of the Indian constitution. Article 153 says that there shall be a Governor for each State. One person can be appointed as Governor for two or more States.
The term of the governor’s office is normally five years, but it can be terminated earlier.
Justice (Retd) S Abdul Nazeer appointed as Governor of Andhra Pradesh
Governor of Andhra Pradesh Biswa Bhusan Harichandan appointed as Governor of Chhattisgarh
Governor of Chhattisgarh Anusuiya Uikey appointed as Governor of Manipur
Governor of Manipur La Ganesan appointed as Governor of Nagaland
Governor of Bihar Phagu Chauhan appointed as Governor of Meghalaya
Governor of Himachal Pradesh Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar appointed as Governor of Bihar
Governor of Arunachal Pradesh appointed as Lt Governor of Ladakh
Lt General Kaiwalya Trivikram Parnaik appointed as Governor of Arunachal Pradesh
Gulab Chand Kataria as Governor of Assam
Ramesh Bais appointed as the new Governor of Maharashtra
Lakshman Prasad Acharya as Governor of Sikkim
CP Radhakrishnan as Governor of Jharkhand
Shiv Pratap Shukla as Governor of Himachal Pradesh
Khelo India Youth Games-2022: Maharashtra Finishes in First Position, Hosts Madhya Pradesh 3rd
Curtains came down on the Khelo India Youth Games 2022 in Madhya Pradesh (KIYG2022MP), India’s “Youth Olympics”, at the beautiful Upper Lake area of Madhya Pradesh’s state capital.
Maharashtra topped the medal tally by winning 161 medals, including 56 gold. Subsequently, Haryana stood second with 128 medals, including 41 gold.
Host Madhya Pradesh finished third with 96 medals, including 39 gold.
For the first time, water sports, namely Kayaking and Canoeing, Canoe Salam and Fencing, were part of this edition of the Khelo India Games.
Lithium Deposits Were Found for the First Time in India
The Union Ministry of Mines said that lithium reserves have been found for the first time in the country in Jammu and Kashmir.
The geological Survey of India has, for the first time, established Lithium-inferred resources of 5.9 million tonnes in the Salal-Haimana area of the Reasi District of Jammu and Kashmir.
Lithium is a non-ferrous metal and is one of the key components in EV batteries.
Currently, India is import-dependent on many minerals like lithium, nickel and cobalt.
Formula E Race
The top-tier motorsport series Formula E race will be taking place in India for the first time, providing a big boost to Indian motorsports.
Formula E stands for electric – with the entirety of racing cars powered by a battery.
It aspires to accelerate change towards an electric future, one race and one city at a time.
It is the first global sport to be certified with a net zero carbon footprint.
It is powered by a 250 kW battery.
They can reach speeds of up to 280 km/h. They promote sustainability and a greener world.
First Sundarban Bird Festival
Recently, 145 different bird species were sighted during the first Sundarban Bird Festival.
The first-ever festival was organised by the Sundarban Tiger Reserve (STR) division of the West Bengal Forest Department, where several teams visited different areas inside the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve.
The Bird Festival provides baseline data on Sundarbans’ bird species diversity.
The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) in 2021, recorded 428 bird species in the Sundarbans which is one-third of all the avian species (derived from birds) found in the country.
India Is Rated among the Top Five Accreditation Systems in the World
India’s national accreditation system under the Quality Council of India (QCI) has been ranked 5th in the world in the recent Global Quality Infrastructure Index (GQII) 2021.
The GQII ranks 184 economies on the basis of their quality infrastructure (QI)
GQII is an initiative on metrology, standardisation, accreditation, and related services, supported by Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany.
India’s overall QI system ranking continues to be in the Top 10 at the 10th position, with the standardisation system (under BIS) at 9th and the metrology system (under NPL-CSIR) at the 21st position in the world.
HAL hands over advanced light helicopters to Mauritius ahead of schedule
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) handed over the advanced light helicopter mark-3 (ALH-Mk3) to the Mauritius Police Force.
This order is in line with the Union government’s vision to boost defence exports to friendly foreign.
About ALH Mk3:
ALH Mk3 is a multi-role, multi-mission versatile helicopter in the 5.5-tonne category.
More than 335 ALH have been produced to date.
Logging a cumulative of more than 3,75,000 flying hours.
About relations with Mauritius :
India and Mauritius established diplomatic relations in 1948.
Mauritius maintained contacts with India through successive Dutch, French and British occupations. From the 1820s, Indian workers started coming to Mauritius to work on sugar plantations.
Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island nation, is known for its beaches, lagoons and reefs.
Mauritius remained a primarily plantation-based colony of the United Kingdom until its independence in 1968.
Mauritius adopted a new constitution, and independence was proclaimed on 12 March 1968. Mauritius achieved the status of a Republic 24 years later, on 12 March 1992.
Prime Minister- Pravind Jugnauth
Capital- Port Louis
Currency- Mauritian Rupee
India’s first frozen lake marathon is set to be held in Ladakh’s Pangong Tso
India’s first frozen lake marathon is set to be held on 20 February, with the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) tasked with executing a “proper action plan” for the event in Ladakh’s Pangong Tso.
About the Event:
The 21-kilometre marathon, with Lukung as its starting point, will end at Maan village.
Seventy-five selected athletes from India and abroad are participating in the run, allowing them to make a bid for a Guinness world record for the world’s highest “frozen-lake marathon”.
The marathon is being called the “Last Run” to highlight the issue of climate change.
It is being organised by the Adventure Sports Foundation of Ladakh (ASFL) in collaboration with the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council-Leh, the Tourism Department and the Leh district administration.
About Ladakh’s Pangong Tso Lake:
The lake is 5 kilometres wide and 134 kilometres long, with one-third of it lying in India and the other two-thirds in China.
It is the world’s highest saltwater lake.
The lake is also very deep and reaches a maximum depth of almost 328 feet.
It is also known to change colours, appearing blue, green, and red at different times
MeitY May soon integrate ChatGPT with WhatsApp for key government schemes
Even as the battle between Google and Microsoft over the future of Internet search intensifies, WhatsApp could soon become a major search engine on key government schemes for India’s estimated 150 million farmers.
Powered by the hugely sensational AI chatbot ChatGPT and an ambitious national-level program that aims to build vast datasets containing samples of Indian voices in several local languages through a crowdsourcing model.
How does it work?
The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) is currently building a WhatsApp-based chatbot that relies on information generated by ChatGPT to return appropriate responses to queries.
Essentially, voice memos could be used to make requests to the chatbot, which would then respond with a voice-based response produced by ChatGPT.
What is Bhashini?
Digital India BHASHINI is India’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) led language translation platform.
Bhashini aims to build a National Public Digital Platform for languages to develop services and products for citizens by leveraging the power of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.
What are the limitations?
ChatGPT is occasionally found to generate incorrect answers to queries.
This can potentially produce harmful instructions or biased content.
The chatbot’s knowledge is limited to events before 2021.
It is also unable to provide answers to country-specific questions.
It is only capable of providing generalised answers, unlike Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, which are more focused on giving specific answers to user queries
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is a chatbot powered by AI that can be used to ask queries.
This chatbot is designed in such a way that the replies to the queries are both technical and jargon-free.
It is a natural language processing (NLP) model that uses a large corpus of conversational data.
The microLED display technology
Apple’s shift to microLED display technology is reportedly under process.
Considered the next big transition in display technology, the microLEDs are self-illuminating diodes that have brighter and better colour reproduction than Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) display technology.
What is microLED?
The microLEDs are self-illuminating diodes that have brighter and better colour reproduction than Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) display technology.
Principle: The basis of microLED technology is sapphires, which can shine on their own forever.
A microLED screen is filled with such small but strong light.
The picture in a microLED screen is generated by several individual light-emitting diodes.
How does this technology work?
Each of these microLEDs is a semiconductor that receives electric signals.
Once these microLEDs are gathered, they form a module. Several modules are then combined to form screens.
The microLED displays are brighter, have better colour reproduction and provide better viewing angles.
The microLEDs are resolution-free, bezel-free, ratio-free, and even size-free.
They have limitless scalability, and the screen can be freely resized in any form for practical usage.
In addition to being self-emissive, microLEDs also individually produce red, green, and blue colours without needing the same backlighting or colour filters as conventional displays.
Delhi to house India’s first National Metro Rail Knowledge Centre
In New Delhi, the creation of the first National Metro Rail Knowledge Centre is underway.
GA Infra has been given a contract by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for the facility’s design and construction.
Near a projected cost of ₹460 million, the centre will be built under a public-private partnership (PPP) model and would be located at the Vishwavidyalaya Metro Station in Delhi.
The building is intended to serve as a hub for information and innovation for the Indian Metro train networks. It will give all parties involved a platform for dialogue and collaboration.
India’s metro rail sector has seen significant growth as a result of the opening of various new metro projects around the country.
The centre will additionally act as a hub for research and development activities. This will give the resources needed for future metro system growth in terms of construction, services, and technological advancements.
Angela Merkel receives Félix Houphouët-Boigny UNESCO Peace Prize in Ivory Coast
Awards and Recognitions
Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently received a UNESCO peace prize for her decision to welcome more than 1.2 million migrants to Germany despite resistance at home and among European partners.
Organisers said that Merkel showed political courage when Germany welcomed refugees in 2015-2016 who had fled conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea.
The 68-year-old centre-right politician, who led Germany for 16 years, has kept a relatively low profile since handing over to successor Olaf Scholz in December 2021.
What is Félix Houphouët-Boigny UNESCO Peace Prize?
The Félix Houphouët-Boigny UNESCO Peace Prize is intended to honour living individuals and active public or private bodies or institutions that have significantly contributed to promoting, seeking, safeguarding or maintaining peace in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitution of UNESCO.
The Prize was established in 1989 by a resolution supported by 120 countries and adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO at its 25th session.
It is in line with the philosophy of UNESCO’s founders who, in the preamble to the Organisation’s Constitution, solemnly declare that: “Since wars begin in the minds of men and women, it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace must be constructed”.
PM Modi inaugurates the first phase of the Delhi-Mumbai expressway
The first phase, i.e., 246 km Delhi – Dausa – Lalsot section of DME, reduces travel time from Delhi to Jaipur and boosts the entire region’s economic development.
DME will be ‘eight lanes’ of India’s longest greenfield expressway with a length of 1,386 km.
It will reduce the travel distance between Delhi and Mumbai by 12% and travel time by 50%, i.e., 12 hrs.
It will pass through six states—Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra and connect major cities.
It will have India’s first-ever animal overpasses (3) and underpasses (5) to facilitate the unrestricted movement of wildlife.
Russia supplied India with arms worth $13 billion in the past 5 years
Russia supplied India with around $13 billion of arms during the past five years. New Delhi has orders placed with Moscow for weapons and military equipment exceeding $10 billion, as per Russian state news agencies.
India is the world’s biggest buyer of Russian arms, accounting for around 20% of Moscow’s current order book.
Annual arms exports were about $14-15 billion, and the order book has remained steady at around $50 billion.
According to data firm Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India was the top importer of Russian arms from 2017 to 2021, and Russian equipment made up 46% of India’s arms imports.
Swayam tops other eLearning platforms
With 2.4 crores enrolling for courses which yield credits and over 26 lakhs having earned them, the government-run Swayam Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) has outperformed any other eLearning platform by a big margin.
Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) is an Indian Massive open online course platform.
SWAYAM is a programme initiated by the Government of India and designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy, viz., access, equity and quality.
Millet International Initiative for Research and Awareness (MIIRA)
India (during its G20 Presidency) is planning to propose the launch of a global initiative (MIIRA) to encourage the consumption and production of millets.
It will coordinate millet research programmes at the international level.
It is in line with the UN declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets and the Centre’s plan to make India a global hub for millets.
For MIIRA to take off, India will contribute the “seed money”, while each G20 member will later have to contribute to its budget in the form of a membership fee.
Shubman Gill and Grace Scrivens named ICC Men’s and Women’s Player of the Month
The International Cricket Council (ICC) today announced the winners of the ICC Player of the Month awards for January 2023, with England’s Grace Scrivens claiming the ICC Women’s Player of the Month and India’s Shubman Gill being crowned the ICC Men’s Player of the Month.
Gill was nominated with New Zealand’s Devon Conway and fellow countryman Mohammed Siraj for his outstanding performance in white-ball cricket in January.
Scrivens bagged the award after her all-round brilliance in the inaugural ICC U-19 Women’s T20 World Cup. Equally, the England captain excelled in her leadership role, guiding her side to the final, only to lose to eventual title winners India.
Journalist Dr Prasad bags Raja Ram Mohan Roy National Award
Veteran Journalist Dr A.B.K. Prasad has been chosen for the prestigious “Raja Ram Mohan Roy National Award” for excellence in Journalism 2020 for his outstanding contribution towards journalism.
Dr Anne Bhavani Koteswara Prasad, popularly known as ABK, has his journalistic career spread over 75 years and has the singular honour of being the editor of all the mainstream journals of Andhra Pradesh. He also served as the Chairman of the Official Language Commission during the period 2004 to 2009 in the united Andhra Pradesh.
The award was conferred by Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, Chairperson of the Press Council of India, and the award will be presented on 28 February at Deputy Speaker Hall, Constitution Club of India, Rafi Marg, New Delhi.
Indian Golfer Aditi Ashok won Kenya Ladies Open Title 2023
India’s Aditi Ashok won her fourth Ladies European Tour title at the Kenya Ladies Open 2023 golf tournament at Vipingo Ridge, Kenya.
Her first LET title comes after winning the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi in 2017.
She finished with a score of 12-under 280 at the Vipingo Ridges after shooting a final round of 67-70-69-74.
Aditi Ashok turned pro in 2016 and also represented India at Rio 2016 Olympics.
In the same year, Aditi Ashok won the Women’s India Open to become the first Indian to win a LET golf title. She also clinched the Qatar Open that year.
In 2021, Aditi Ashok narrowly missed out on becoming the first Indian golfer to win an Olympic medal after finishing fourth at Tokyo 2020.
Qualcomm announces the world’s first satellite-based two-way messaging solution
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. introduced the world’s first satellite-based two-way capable messaging solution for premium smartphones, called Snapdragon Satellite, at the CES 2023.
The company revealed that the Snapdragon Satellite will offer global connectivity using mobile messaging from around the world, beginning with devices based on the flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform.
Snapdragon 5G Modem-RF Systems power the latest two-way messaging service, and the operational Iridium satellite constellation supports it. Snapdragon Satellite will enable OEMs and other service offers to provide global coverage.
Govt launches app ‘Khanan Prahari’ and CMSMS to curb unauthorised mining
The Government of India has launched a mobile app, namely ‘Khanan Prahari’ and a web app Coal Mine Surveillance and Management System (CMSMS), for reporting unauthorised coal mining activities so that monitoring and taking suitable action on it can be done by concerned law and order enforcing authority.
What is ‘Khanan Prahari’ mobile app?
It is a mobile app of the Ministry of Coal to report illegal coal mining.
It is a tool for geo-tagged photographs of any illegal coal mining incident as well as information to any citizen from the location of the incident.
What is a CMSMS application?
CMSMS has been developed to take transparent action to curb illegal mining and the use of space technology as an e-governance initiative of the Government of India.
The objective of the CMSMS application was to detect citizens’ participation against illegal mining by receipt of citizen’s complaints through mobile app and take action on any kind of illegal coal mining activity being carried out within the leasehold boundaries of any Coal Mining Project in the Coalfield Areas.
PM Modi sets USD 5 billion in defence exports by 2024-25
Defence and Economy
As fighter jets, helicopters and various aircraft roared over Bengaluru to mark the inauguration of the five-day Aero India 2023, the biggest airshow in Asia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi set an ambitious target of USD 5 billion in defence exports by 2024-25.
Defence exports grew by 334% in the last five years and touched a record ₹13,000 crore in 2021-2022.
India is now exporting defence equipment to over 75 countries.
Major exported items are Personal Protective items, Offshore Patrol Vessels, ALH Helicopter, Coastal Surveillance Systems, etc.
Major initiatives that Government takes to boost defence exports:
74% FDI under automatic route.
Notified Open General Export License (OGEL), a one-time export licence, permits the industry to export specified items to specified destinations without seeking export authorisation.
Scheme for the promotion of defence exports to provide an opportunity for prospective exporters to get their product certified by the Government. Earmarking of 25% defence R&D Budget for industry-led R&D.
Red-tapism and a poor global impression of PSUs to deliver on time
Due to a lack of well-established processes and infrastructure, the domestic defence industry suffers from disadvantages in terms of less competitive prices and a lack of high technology
Absence of designing and development capabilities (especially in critical technologies)
Limited participation of the private sector and poor industry-academia-defence linkage
India’s first electric AC double-decker bus was inaugurated in Mumbai
The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) recently inaugurated the country’s first electric air-conditioned (AC) double-decker bus.
Commuters, however, may have to wait a few more days before they can avail of its services.
The newly launched electric double-decker bus will also be the world’s first – semi-low-floor, air-conditioned, electric double-decker with a wider door on the rear overhang and a rear staircase.
About the Bus:
The electric double-decker bus has a seating capacity of 73.
According to BEST officials, it is equipped with CCTV cameras and automatic doors, and it can be charged in 80 minutes.
Currently, the transport undertaking has 45 electric AC buses of various sizes, and this year 100 more wet-lease buses will be added to its fleet in phases.
Once all approvals have been secured, the bus will run between the Kurla bus station and the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC).
The tickets would be priced the same as previously, with a minimum rate of ₹6 payable for a distance of 5 kilometres.
It is equipped with CCTV cameras and automatic doors and can be charged in 80 minutes.
What is Switch Mobility?
Switch EiV 22 is India’s first electric double-decker air-conditioned bus, designed, developed, and manufactured in India with the help of Switch’s global electric bus expertise.
Switch EiV 22 is outfitted with cutting-edge technology, an ultra-modern design, the greatest level of safety, and best-in-class comfort.
Saudi Arabia’s first-ever Woman Astronaut to go on a space mission this year
The first-ever woman astronaut of Saudi Arabia will be going to space this year, the latest move by the kingdom to revamp its ultra-conservative image.
Saudi woman astronaut Rayyanah Barnawi will join fellow Saudi Ali Al-Qarni on a 10-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) this year.
Barnawi and Al-Qarni will fly to the ISS aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as part of a mission by the private space company Axiom Space.
About the mission:
As part of the ISS aboard, Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Al Qarni will fly to the ISS aboard a SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft as part of a mission by the private company Axiom Space.
The Ax-2 will be launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
About Axiom Space:
Axiom Space Inc. is a privately funded American space infrastructure developer headquartered in Houston, Texas.
Axiom Space carried out its first private astronaut mission to the ISS in April 2022, under which four private astronauts spent 17 days in orbit.
Women Empowerment in Arab:
Since 2017, Saudi women have been allowed to drive and travel abroad without a male guardian.
Besides, women’s proportion in the workforce has more than doubled since 2016, from 17% to 37%.
Astronaut Hazzaa al-Mansoori, an Arab Astronaut, spent eight days on the ISS.
Sultan al-Neyadi, an Arab Astronaut will also make a voyage to the space station in February this year.
“Sultan of Space”, Neyadi will become the first Arab astronaut, to spend six months in space when he blasts off for the ISS aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.
Egyptian President bestows Global Best M-GOV Awards on IIT Indore students
Awards and Recognitions
Students from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Indore, India, won AED 1 million by winning the gold medal at the World Government Summit in Dubai recently.
Niyati Totala and Neel Kalpeshkumar Parikh of The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Indore were awarded the prestigious medal by Egyptian President Abel Fattah Al-Sisi.
Why are these students awarded?
These students were the creators of the ‘Blockbill’ app.
Blockbill is a blockchain-based receipt generation app that generates digital receipts for all of its users’ transactions.
How is this App useful?
This app solves multiple problems, which aids the transition away from the production of thermal papers for printing receipts.
Thermal papers, which are ubiquitous and found in most retail locations, cannot be recycled because of the chemicals that are used to create them. Blockbill is conceptualised to solve this issue.
About the awards:
The “M-Gov Award” and the “GovTech Award” are annual awards organised by the UAE government as part of the World Government Summit.
These awards are designed to encourage pioneering students, researchers, government agencies and institutions, private sector companies and startups to develop innovative solutions using the latest technologies in order to address evolving local and global challenges and explore new opportunities for a better future for humanity.
Inclusive forum on carbon mitigation approaches
Environment and Ecology
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently launched the Inclusive Forum on Carbon Mitigation Approaches.
It aims to help improve the global impact of emissions reduction efforts around the world through better data and information sharing, evidence-based mutual learning and inclusive multilateral dialogue.
To take stock of mitigation policy instruments that countries use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and estimate the emissions.
To develop and apply a consistent methodology to assess the effects of mitigation policies and policy packages on emission reductions at the country level.
First meeting: Paris, France
It will help policymakers to showcase and discern good practices and adopt and adapt mitigation policies.
It will complement other international efforts on climate policy data, including in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Enhanced Transparency Framework.
A total of 133 countries around the world, representing around 91% of global GDP and covering around 83% of global emissions, have adopted net-zero carbon emissions targets.
NASA has released a picture of Mammatus clouds hovering over Nebraska, US.
Mammatus clouds generally appear in connection with substantial cumulonimbus clouds, but they have also been sighted to form on other cloud types, such as stratocumulus, altostratus and altocumulus.
Turbulence within cumulonimbus often leads to the formation of Mammatus clouds, particularly on the bottom of the projecting anvil, as it quickly descends to lower altitudes.
Their shapes can vary greatly, from a typical bulging shape to a more elongated tube dangling from the cloud above.
The inaugural WPL auction is all set to break new ground for Women’s cricket
Recently the Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2023 inaugural auction was held at the Jio World Centre in Mumbai
A total of 448 cricketers were auctioned, of which 269 players were Indian and 179 players from overseas
A total of 5 teams are included in the WPL 2023
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Indian batter Smriti Mandhana bagged a ₹3.4 crore bid from Royal Challengers Bangalore
Indian Women’s captain Harmanpreet Kaur bagged ₹1.8 crore and was notched up by Mumbai Indians
Deepti Sharma bagged ₹2.6 crore and was notched by UP Warriorz
Australian player Ashleigh Gardner is the highest-priced overseas player bagging ₹3.2 crore, and was notched up by Gujarat Giants
New Zealand declares a National State of Emergency
New Zealand has declared a National State of Emergency in response to cyclone Gabrielle
The information was intimated by the Minister of emergency management, Kieran McAnulty
It is learned that this is the third time in the history of New Zealand to declare an emergency of this kind
The release stated that both Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and the opposition leader were consulted, and the declaration was finalised recently
The National State of Emergency puts the Government in charge of any actions, as opposed to local authorities
This also allows the Government to help affected regions that are becoming overwhelmed
A National State of Emergency lasts seven days, just like a local state of emergency. It can be extended as needed
Noted painter Lalitha Lajmi passes away
Noted painter Lalitha Lajmi passed away recently at the age of 90
She was the sister of the late actor-filmmaker Guru Dutt
The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) shared the news of her demise
Born in Kolkata and hailing from an artistic family, Lajmi was very fond of classical dance and painting
She has held several exhibitions in international art galleries in Paris, London and the Netherlands
Lalita made a small appearance in the 2007 film Taare Zameen Par, starring Aamir Khan, in which she played an art teacher
Recently, the Prime Minister used the BIMARU term in the context of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh states
The BIMARU acronym has been used to refer to Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, to imply they have lagged in terms of economic growth, healthcare, and education
BIMARU means ‘sickly’ in Hindi. The term was used to highlight the backwardness, especially with regard to poor performance in demographic indicators and contribution to population explosion
These states had exceptionally high levels of mortality, morbidity, illiteracy, fertility, undernutrition, and social inequality and lagged in per capita income
Ashish Bose coined the term BIMARU in 1980 to pinpoint India’s demographic malady
A fine of ₹10 crores, life term: Uttarakhand’s new anti-cheating law
A day after a protest in Dehradun over paper leaks and scams in government recruitment tests turned violent, the Uttarakhand Governor recently gave his assent to an ordinance brought by the Pushkar Singh Dhami-led BJP government to prevent the use of unfair means in exams
The Uttarakhand Competitive Examination (Measures For Control and Prevention of Unfair Means in Recruitment) Ordinance, 2023, which has provisions of fines up to ₹10 crore and life imprisonment for the guilty, has been given the nod by the governor
There have been continuous agitations against multiple paper leaks in Uttarakhand since 2016
Provisions of the anti-cheating law:
Applicable to public examinations for recruitment to posts under the state government, autonomous bodies run by the government, and authorities, corporations, and institutions operated with state government grants.
If any examinee is caught cheating or causing another examinee to cheat in a competitive examination (online and offline) or to have indulged in unfair means, he/she shall be:
Punishable with three years imprisonment and a minimum fine of ₹5 lakh
If the fine is not paid, the examinee shall be jailed for another nine months
If any person, printing press, service provider contracted or ordered for examination, management for conducting an examination, or any person and organisation authorised to keep and transport the examination material, any employee of the examination authority, limited liability partnership, coaching centre, or any other institution has indulged in conspiracy or other unfair means, they shall be punished with a jail term of not less than 10 years, which may extend to life imprisonment.
An applicant found cheating will be:
Debarred for two to five years from the date of the chargesheet
And in case of conviction, from all competitive exams for ten years
All the properties earned using unfair means will be seized
The offences are cognisable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable
President’s Colour Award-2023
Awards and Recognitions
Union Home Minister Amit Shah visited Haryana recently to present the President’s Colour Award to the state police at a ceremony at the Haryana Police Academy in Karnal district’s Madhuban.
Shah, appearing on behalf of President Droupadi Murmu.
What is the President’s Colour Award?
The President’s Colour Award is the highest honour that can be bestowed upon any military unit of India.
It is also known as ′Nishaan′, an emblem that all unit officers wear on the left-hand sleeve of their uniform.
The President’s Colour Award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Haryana Police in serving the country and maintaining law and order. It is a unique honour conferred by the president on the armed forces that have rendered exceptional service to the country.
The award serves as a recognition of the sacrifices made by police personnel in the line of duty and a tribute to their unwavering commitment to serving and protecting people
A smaller replica of the flag will be given to all officers of the force for them to wear on their uniform.
Indian Navy was the first Indian Armed Force to be awarded the President Colour in 1951
New report by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)
Environment and Ecology
India, China, Bangladesh and the Netherlands face the highest threat of sea-level rise globally, according to a new report by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), released recently.
Threats of Sea level rise:
The countries most at risk from sea level rise globally are India, China, Bangladesh, and the Netherlands.
The report stated that several big cities in all continents are threatened by the rise in sea level.
These include Shanghai, Dhaka, Bangkok, Jakarta, Mumbai, Maputo, Lagos, Cairo, London, Copenhagen, New York, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires and Santiago.
If trends in urbanisation in exposed areas continue, this will exacerbate the impacts, with more challenges where energy, water and other services are constrained”, it reported.
The impacts of average sea-level rise are boosted by storm surges and tidal variations, as was the situation during the landfall of hurricane Sandy in New York and Cyclone Idai in Mozambique.
Melting of ice mass in Antarctica:
According to future estimates based on climate models and ocean-atmosphere physics, the WMO reported that the speed of melting of the largest global ice mass in Antarctica is uncertain.
Primary factors for sea level rise:
Loss of Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets
DHARA – Annual meeting of members of the River Cities Alliance (RCA)
DHARA, the annual meeting of the members of the River Cities Alliance (RCA), is being organised by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in association with the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA).
DHARA, which stands for Driving Holistic Action for Urban Rivers, is a platform to co-learn and discuss solutions for managing local water resources.
River Cities Alliance
River Cities Alliance (RCA) was launched in 2021 as a dedicated platform for river cities across India to discuss and exchange information for sustainable management of urban rivers.
It includes cities from both the Ganga basin and non-Ganga basin states.
River Cities Alliance is a first-of-its-kind Alliance in the world, symbolising the successful partnership of the two Ministries, i.e., the Ministry of Jal Shakti and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
The Alliance focuses on three broad themes- Networking, Capacity Building and Technical Support.
Mumbai leaves Delhi behind, ranks as the world’s second-most polluted city
Environment and Ecology
Mumbai has overtaken Delhi to become the world’s second-most polluted city in terms of the global Air Quality Index (AQI).
According to Switzerland-based air quality monitoring tech company IQAir, Sarajevo in Bosnia has been ranked as the world’s most polluted city for the period between 29 January and 8 February.
According to the AQI data on the IQAir website, Mumbai has an AQI of 163, which falls under the unhealthy category
Lahore is in the third position. Delhi is in the sixth spot with 155 US AQI, while Kolkata is in the 17th position with a US AQI of 135
Why Mumbai’s air quality is falling:
During the peak winter months of November 2022 to January 2023, air quality in India’s financial hub, Mumbai, has noticeably fallen due to various factors
Experts have blamed the dust due to roads and construction activities and smoke from vehicles for the high pollution levels in Mumbai
A 2020 study by NEERI and IIT-B has stated that road or construction dust is the main source of air pollution in Mumbai as there is a heavy concentration (about 71 per cent) of the particulate matter in Mumbai’s air
The remaining comes from industrial and power units, airports, and garbage dumps
What is IQAir?
IQAir, a Swiss air tracking index and a real-time worldwide air quality monitor, collaborates with UNEP and Greenpeace and measures air quality in India using data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)
The cities are categorised into ‘healthy’, ‘unhealthy’, and ‘hazardous’ as per US air quality index (AQI) standards, which are more stringent than in India
Top 10 most-polluted cities worldwide:
1. Lahore (Pakistan)
2. Mumbai (India)
3. Kabul (Afghanistan)
4. Kaohsiung (Taiwan)
5. Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)
6. Accra (Ghana)
7. Krakow (Poland)
8. Doha (Qatar)
9. Astana (Kazakhstan)
10. Santiago (Chile)
Indian Army officer develops tool to track troops and assets being used in Turkey relief operations
The Indian Army’s SANCHAR, a network-independent, real-time tracking and messaging module, is being used in Turkey, where Indian Army personnel have been deployed to provide relief to the local community.
The technology, which can be used by all defence and paramilitary forces in action to track team members and assets in war regions, was designed by an Army team that included Captain Karan Singh and Sub PG Sapre, according to officials.
Features of SANCHAR
SANCHAR is compatible with all map formats and GPS constellations
It has a compact size (12x12x5 cm) and is lightweight
The system has a communication range of 1.5-2 km and a battery life of six to seven hours
It is low cost as compared to its variables
Tata-owned Air India signs ‘Largest Deal in Aviation History’
Air India has signed a deal to buy about 500 new planes worth more than $100 billion at list prices, in what is said to be the single largest order by any airline in aviation history.
Air India is set to buy 250 Airbus planes, split between 210 single-aisle A320neos and 40 widebody A350s, and 220 Boeing aircraft, including 190 of its 737 MAX narrowbody jets, 20 787 widebodies and ten 777Xs.
Air India has also signed deals with engine makers CFM International and Rolls Royce and a joint venture between GE Aviation and Safran for the supply of engines.
The Tata Group, which currently operates Vistara and AirAsia India, apart from Air India and Air India Express, is also consolidating its operations under one brand.
United States President Joe Biden hailed Air India’s decision to purchase these aircraft from Boeing and called it a “historic agreement between Tata-owned airlines and Boeing”.
Real Madrid beat Al Hilal to win record fifth Club World Cup
Real Madrid has won the Club World Cup for a record-extending fifth time after beating Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal 5-3 in the final in Rabat, Morocco.
Vinicius Junior scored twice and helped Karim Benzema with a third, while Federico Valverde added two more for the European champions
Madrid last won the tournament in 2018. It also lifted the trophy in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Madrid also won three Intercontinental Cups in 1960, 1998 and 2002.
The FIFA Club World Cup is an international men’s association football competition organised by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the sport’s global governing body.
The competition was first contested in 2000 as the FIFA Club World Championship.
Marburg Virus Disease (MVD)
Equatorial Guinea has confirmed its first-ever outbreak of MVD.
Marburg virus is part of the filovirus family, including the Ebola virus.
Though caused by different viruses, the two diseases are clinically similar.
MVD is not an airborne disease.
MVD can spread through human-to-human transmission.
There are no authorised vaccines or drugs to treat Marburg, but rehydration treatment to alleviate symptoms can improve the chances of survival.
MVD was initially detected in 1967 in Marburg and Frankfurt (Germany); and in Belgrade (Serbia).
Sania Mirza appointed mentor of RCB’s women’s cricket team
Indian tennis player Sania Mirza has been appointed the mentor of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) women’s cricket team.
Sania featured in her last Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January.
Mirza retired from the sport after the Australian Open earlier this year, where she and her partner Rohan Bopanna finished runners-up in the mixed doubles event.
The RCB bought 18 players at the WPL auction, including top Indian star Smriti Mandhan and international players of acclaim, like Ellyese Perry, Megan Schutt and Sophie Devine.
The WPL schedule was announced on 14 February, as it was revealed the 22-match tournament would kick off on 4 March.
Nikos Christodoulides, elected as the next President of Cyprus
Former Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides has been elected as the eighth President.
Christodoulides, 49, won 51.9% of the vote, while his opponent Andreas Mavroyanis, 66, took 48.1%.
He was appointed Government Spokesperson in 2014 and Foreign Minister in 2018.
Christodoulides is supported by the Democratic Party, the Movement for Social Democracy and the Democratic Alignment.
About the Republic of Cyprus:
It is an island country in the eastern Mediterranean Sea
It gained its Independence from Britain in 1960
Garuda Aerospace unveils solar-powered drone SURAJ at Aero India 2023
Garuda Aerospace unveiled its latest solar-powered unmanned aerial J-Glider – SURAJ, at the Aero India 2023 show in Bengaluru.
Dr Satheesh Reddy, former DRDO Chairman and current Principal Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, unveiled the drone.
SURAJ is an ISR high-altitude drone designed specifically for surveillance operations, providing real-time information to the high command and protecting jawans on the ground.
The drone’s J-shaped wings are equipped with solar-powered cells that serve as its primary fuel source, while an auxiliary battery provides additional propulsion or decreased speed as required.
The drone will carry a versatile payload of high-resolution zoom cameras with thermal imagery with a maximum capacity of 10 kg.
It is claimed to have an endurance of 12 hours and can fly at an altitude of 3000 feet.
Four pilgrim centres selected under PRASHAD Scheme
The Union Government has identified four pilgrim centres for development under the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASHAD) Scheme.
The four Pilgrim Centers selected for the PRASHAD Scheme are:
Chamundeshwari temple in Mysuru,
Sri Madhwa Vana in Kunjaragiri in Udupi district,
Papnash temple in Bidar district and
Sri Renuka Yellamma temple in Saundatti in Belagavi district.
What is PRASHAD Scheme?
This Scheme was launched by the Government of India in the year 2014-2015 under the Ministry of Tourism.
The full form of the PRASAD scheme is the ‘Pilgrimage Rejuvenation And Spiritual Augmentation Drive’.
It focuses on developing and identifying pilgrimage sites across India to enrich the religious tourism experience.
This Scheme aims to integrate the pilgrimage destinations in a prioritised, planned, and sustainable manner to provide a complete religious tourism experience.
AICTE and BPRD jointly launch KAVACH-2023 to tackle cyber threats
Advancing India’s cyber-preparedness, KAVACH-2023, a national-level hackathon, was launched recently with the aim to identify innovative ideas and technological solutions for addressing the cyber security and cybercrime challenges of the 21st century.
This is launched to boost cyber-preparedness in the country.
It would identify innovative ideas and technological solutions for addressing the cyber security and cybercrime challenges of the 21st century.
This will help not only our Law enforcement agency but also the common citizens.
It would be inviting students from educational institutions across the country and registered startups.
According to officials, this would find robust, secure, and effective technological solutions for cyber security by using technical expertise and innovative skills.
The participants will get total price money worth ₹20 lakhs which would boost the cyber wall of the country
The hackathon will be a 36-hour-long event, during which youth from educational institutions across the country and registered startups will participate to find robust, secure and effective technological solutions for cyber security by using their technical expertise and innovative skills.
It will advance the blockage of cyber security crimes with robust system monitoring and safety provisions.
About AICTE and BPR&D:
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is a statutory body and a national-level technical education council under the Department of Higher Education. It was established in 1945, with its headquarters in New Delhi. Presently, it is chaired by TS Sitharam
Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), under the Ministry of Home Affairs, to promote a speedy and systematic study of police problems. It is headed by the Director General of Police, who is an IPS-level officer.
The First G20 Culture Group (CWG) meeting to be organised in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
The first G20 Culture Group (CWG) meeting is set to take place in Madhya Pradesh’s Khajuraho from 22 to 25 February.
Being organised by the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Group meeting will take forward the idea of ‘Culture for LiFE’- an environmentally conscious lifestyle as a campaign for sustainable living.
Moreover, the Ministry of Culture has developed a robust programme of cultural projects inspired by India’s G20 theme of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”.
Details of the Meeting:
The Culture Working group will have four meetings to be held in Khajuraho, Bhubaneshwar, and Hampi
The venue of the fourth and final meeting is yet to be decided
Meanwhile, Khajuraho will be hosting the meeting on the theme- “Protection and Restitution of Cultural Property”
The delegates will also visit the Western Group of Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They will also be taken to Panna Tiger Reserve. Further, over 125 delegates will be attending the meeting.
Four Priority Areas:
– Protection and Restitution of Cultural Property;
– Harnessing Living Heritage for a Sustainable Future;
– Promotion of Cultural and Creative Industries and Creative Economy;
– Leveraging Digital Technologies for the Protection and Promotion of Culture
Khajuraho- the ancient Indian city:
Khajuraho is an ancient city known for its majestic temples and elaborate sculptures.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, was constructed by the Chandela Dynasty between 950–1050 AD.
The meeting scheduled in Khajuraho will only further the beauty and significance of the place.
The aesthetic of the Nagara-style architecture, ornamented with intricate and detailed sculptures, acts like a window into the socio-cultural practices of the time.
According to historical records, there were 85 temples in the temple site in Khajuraho, covering 20 square km, in the 12th Century AD.
However, only 25 of these temples- scattered throughout a six square km area- have survived to date.
G20 India Presidency:
India assumed the G20 presidency on 1 December 2022, articulating the theme of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’.
The philosophy draws from the Maha Upanishad, an ancient Indian Sanskrit text, affirming the value of all life – human, animal, and plant – and their interconnectedness on the planet Earth and in the wider universe.
‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ aims to foster, celebrate, and incorporate the diversity of cultural traditions amongst the member states while striving towards holistic living and creating a pro-people planet.
India’s CWG will reflect the emergence of Culture as a prominent theme on the global stage. It will adopt ‘Culture’ to renew multilateral and multicultural cooperation at all levels and will aim to forward this ideal and inform future global cultural policies and initiatives.
Indo-Japan joint military exercise “EX DHARMA GUARDIAN” to commence at Camp Imazu in Shiga Province, Japan
The 4th edition of the joint military exercise, “EX DHARMA GUARDIAN”, between India and Japan is being conducted at Camp Imazu in Shiga province, Japan, from 16 February to 2 March.
This annual training event with Japan is crucial and significant in terms of security challenges faced by both nations in the backdrop of the current global situation.
The scope of this exercise covers platoon-level joint training on operations in jungle and semi-urban or urban terrain.
Who is participating from both sides:
Troops of the Garhwal Rifles Regiment of the Indian Army and an Infantry Regiment from the Middle Army of the Japan Ground Self Defence Force are participating in the exercise this year to share experiences gained during various operations to enhance interoperability in planning and execution.
What is Exercise Dharma Guardian?
It has been an annual joint military exercise between India and Japan since 2018.
It aims to share experiences gained during various Counter Terrorism Operations in respective Countries.
The exercise assumes immense significance in the context of the security challenges faced by both countries in the backdrop of the current global situation.
The scope of the exercise includes platoon-level joint training on operations in jungle and semi-urban/urban terrain.
About Indo-japan relations:
“Exercise Dharma Guardian” will further enhance the level of defence cooperation between the Indian Army and Japanese Ground Self Defence Forces, furthering the bilateral relations between the two nations.
With an eye on China, the Union Cabinet clears 7 ITBP battalions
The Union Cabinet recently approved the raising of seven new ITBP battalions to stop migration and boost tourism in villages bordering China to bolster the social and security framework along the China border.
This would entail the recruitment of 9,400 personnel for deployment in Arunachal Pradesh, where 47 new border outposts and 12 staging camps are under construction.
The outposts were sanctioned in January 2020. In all, there are 176 outposts of the ITBP along the 3,488-km China border.
India and China’s armies have been in a standoff in Ladakh since 2020.
The decision to raise additional battalions was taken, keeping an eye on the need for effective monitoring in the border areas, and the battalion and sector headquarters would be raised by 2025-26.
New ITBP battalions were last raised in 2011, and the present decision has been in the pipeline since 2014.
How will this benefit?
The decision will increase the strength of the ITBP from the current 88,000 to 97,000, making it the fourth-largest Central Armed Police Force (CAPF).
What is the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBPF)?
Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBPF) is a Central Armed Police Force functioning under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
The ITBP was raised on 24th October 1962 during the India-China War and is a border-guarding police force specialising in high-altitude operations.
Presently ITBP has been guarding the India-China border in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh state from the Karakoram pass in Jammu Kashmir to Jechap La in Arunachal Pradesh.
Indian-American Neal Mohan becomes New YouTube CEO
Neal Mohan, an Indian-American, will become the next CEO of Alphabet-owned YouTube following Susan Wojcicki’s announcement that she will be stepping down from her role as the head of the video-sharing platform.
Mohan played a pivotal role in the development of AdSense, a program that enables website owners to display Google ads and earn revenue based on clicks or impressions.
AdSense is now one of the most successful advertising platforms in the world.
YouTube is a global online video-sharing and social media platform headquartered in San Bruno, California.
It was launched on 14 February 2005 by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim.
It is owned by Google and is the second most visited website after Google Search.
Cabinet approves construction of Shinku La tunnel to provide all-weather connectivity in Ladakh
The Union Cabinet on 15 February approved the construction of the 4.1-km Shinkun La tunnel on the Nimu-Padam-Darcha road link to provide all-weather connectivity to the border areas of Ladakh.
The tunnel will be completed by December 2025 at the cost of ₹1,681 crore.
The Shinku La tunnel will be constructed over the Shinku La Pass at a height of 16,580 feet.
Shinku La is a mountain pass on the border of Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh.
It connects the Zanskar valley of Leh-Ladakh to Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh.
It is situated to the north of Rohtang Pass.
The length of the tunnel will be 4.1 km.
It will be built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) under Project Yojkar.
Government approves ₹4,800 crore Vibrant Villages Programme
The Cabinet approved the Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP) for the financial years 2022-23 to 2025-26.
The scheme was announced in the 2022-23 Budget.
Type: Centrally sponsored scheme
Allocation: ₹4,800 crore
The objective is to develop villages on the northern border, thus improving the quality of life of people living in identified villages.
The district administration will create vibrant Village Action Plans with the help of gram panchayats, and 100% saturation of Central and State schemes will be ensured.
The scheme will provide funds for the development of essential infrastructure and the creation of livelihood opportunities in 19 districts and 46 border blocks in four States and one Union Territory along the “northern land border of the country”
In the first phase, 663 villages will be covered. In total, 2,966 villages in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh are proposed to be covered.
A new beetle species has been discovered in India, according to a paper published in the New Zealand-based journal Zootaxa.
It is necrophagous, therefore, also called a keratin beetle
It belongs to the Trogidae family.
The beetles of this group are sometimes called hide beetles as they tend to cover their body under the soil and hide.
They are not photogenic; they are usually black or grey and encrusted in the dirt.
Their bumpy appearance is distinct, with short, dense setae all over the body.
The beetle is important for forensic science as it helps detect the time of death of an animal or human.
Recently, the State of Maharashtra witnessed a controversy surrounding Lavani dance, where the younger generation of women dancers was accused of vulgarising the traditional folk art form.
Derived from ‘Lavanya’ or beauty, Lavani is a traditional folk art form in which women dancers wearing nine-yard-long sarees in bright colours, make-up, and ghunghroos (ankle bells) perform on dholak beats on a stage before a live audience.
It attained popularity in the Peshwa era in the 18th century, with performances held in front of kings and for the entertainment of tired soldiers resting during breaks in fighting.
Lavani dance was generally performed by Dhangars or Shepherds living in and around Solapur – inspired by nature – the dance form contains tales of the birth of Biruba, their deity. Live performances continue to get huge responses from the public in rural Maharashtra.
A Lavani performance can be broadly categorised into two parts—the Nirguni Lavani, which deals with philosophy and Shringari Lavani, which deals with sensuality.
Lexi, India’s first AI-based Chatbot introduced in India
India recently launched its first AI-based chatbot named Lexi, powered by ChatGPT, which is a complex computer machine.
The chatbot was invented by the financial technology firm Velocity. Also, it is integrated into their in-house analytics tool.
This chatbot is designed to provide assistance to e-commerce founders with business insights in a simplified manner.
What are AI chatbots, and how do they function?
A chatbot, to put it simply, is computer software that imitates human conversations. With the use of Artificial intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP), these chatbots decode customers’ questions and generate automated responses.
These intelligent machines have been around for quite some time however lack a ‘human touch’.
ChatGPT has human-like answers, and this feature unlocks tremendous growth, which encouraged Google to create its own AI chatbot, Bard.
Microsoft recently partnered with ChatGPT’s parent company OpenAI to introduce a new version of Bing that has a chat option. The responses are quite similar to what ChatGPT provides.
Vivek Ramaswamy, an Indian American, is the CEO of Anti-Woke Inc.
The Republican is planning to contest in the 2024 US elections.
He is 37 years old, and his worth is USD 500 million.
He has been propagating socially responsible investments and “Wokeism”.
He is into ESG investments, that is, Environmental, Social and Governance investing. He has good connections with Republican politicians, farmers and businessmen.
Vivek was born and brought up in Ohio. His parents are from Kerala. Vivek graduated from Harvard as a biologist.
In 2015, his works on drug development appeared on the front cover of Forbes.
Karnataka Bank gets Digidhan Award
Karnataka Bank has been awarded ‘Prathista Puraskar’ under ‘Digidhan Awards 2021-22’ by the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology for achieving the target with the highest percentage in the BHIM-UPI transactions in the private sector bank category.
“Labelled as ‘KBL-NxT’, the bank is currently undertaking an accelerated digital drive under its transformation journey ‘KBL VIKAAS 2.0’.
This award is an ideal tribute to the founding fathers of this great institution as Karnataka Bank is stepping into the 100th year of its fruitful existence”.
Subhash Chandran’s Samudrashila gets Akbar Kakkattil Award
Writer Subhash Chandran’s novel Samudrashila has been chosen for the Akbar Kakkattil Award instituted by a trust in the memory of the short story writer and novelist from Kozhikode.
The award consisting of a purse of ₹50,000 and a sculpture, will be presented to Mr Subhash Chandran by writer M. Mukundan at an event on 17 February. M.K. Muneer, MLA, will deliver a commemorative lecture.
Dr Mahendra Kumar Mishra to receive International Mother Language Award 2023
An eminent linguist, Dr Mahendra Kumar Mishra, will be honoured with UNESCO’s International Mother Language Award 2023 for the promotion of the mother language in India.
Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina will present this award to Dr Mahendra Kumar Mishra at the International Mother Language Institute, Dhaka.
He is the first Indian to receive this prestigious award for the promotion of a language. He is also the recipient of the Odisha Sahitya Akademi award.
Paytm launched G20-theme QR Code to celebrate India’s G20 presidency
Paytm has launched a special G20-theme QR Code to celebrate India’s G20 presidency and the country’s leadership in mobile payments.
It was launched by Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw during the ‘Digital Payments Utsav’ 2023.
Under the ‘Digital Payments Utsav’, Paytm is organising a special drive wherein a branded vehicle will cover various localities across Delhi that have a heavy public presence.
The special commemorative QR Code features logos of MeitY’s ‘DigiDhan Mission’, along with those of the G20 2023 and the 75th year of India’s independence.
The First Nuclear Plant in North India
The construction of a new nuclear power plant in Gorakhpur, Haryana, was recently announced by the Union Minister for Science and Technology.
This will be the first nuclear power plant in North India. A total of 560 hectares of land will be used to construct the facility, which is capable of producing 2800 MW. In 2014, its foundation stone was laid.
Even though the building process has only started, by 2025, the first phase should be finished and the second by 2028. After the second phase is finished, the plant will be producing 2800 MW at full capacity.
Who is building this plant? Indian National Power Corporation Limited. All of the nuclear power stations in the nation are under the control of this public sector unit.
Cost of the project:
The project will be built at an estimated cost of ₹20,594 crore. This cost estimation was done in 2014. With increasing inflation, the cost would have now increased.
Manipur hosts the B20 Summit
The State of Manipur hosted the B20 conference in conjunction with the G20 meeting.
The conference’s focus was on sustainable development and growth.
It was consistent with the G20 summit’s overarching concept of “One Planet, One Family, One Future”.
About the B20 Conference:
The conference had attendees from over 23 nations.
The conference was attended by the Union Ministers of State for Trade, External Affairs, etc.
Business 20 refers to B20. It belongs to the G20’s involvement groups.
Manipur has 2.72 million residents. Manipur is one of the northeastern states regarded as the entryway to South East Asia. Additionally, India will use these states to carry out its ‘Act East’ strategy.
Manipur is one of the “Seven Sisters”, which will serve as a link between South East Asia and India.
After the India-Myanmar Asian Highway construction completes, it will only take 16–18 hours to travel from Bangkok to Manipur.
One Year of India-UAE CEPA
The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was signed by India and the UAE in 2022. The nations recently marked the anniversary of the agreement’s signing in 2023.
A free trade agreement is CEPA. India and the UAE signed the CEPA, which covers topics like intellectual property, MSME, digital commerce, non-tariff measures, agriculture, taxation, customs valuation, and trade in products.
On 18 February 2022, during a fictitious summit between Indian Prime Minister Modi and UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the two nations signed the pact.
Achievements using CEPA
Trade between the nations increased to USD 57.8 billion as a result of CEPA.
The value of trade between the nations was USD 45.3 billion before the pact.
Trade went up by 27.5%.
The first bilateral agreement that India inked with the Middle East or North Africa was the India-UAE CEPA.
The volume of Indian exports to the UAE increased by 19.32% between April 2022 and November 2022. The contract became effective in May 2022.
The main trade sectors were food security, energy, education, and health care.
World Pangolin Day: Data on Pangolin poaching in India
Environment & Wildlife
World Pangolin Day is observed on 18 February 2023. The third Saturday of February is the designated holiday each year.
The celebration’s primary goal is to raise awareness of the pangolin population reduction.
In Africa and Asia, pangolin populations are quickly declining. Their medical value is the main cause of the decline. Scales from pangolins have a number of therapeutic benefits.
IUCN: Critically Endangered
CITES: APPENDIX I: This appendix prohibits international trade
Wild Life Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I
Why are pangolins in such great demand on the global market?
Pangolin scales offer excellent therapeutic qualities. They are employed in the treatment of rheumatism, strokes, and back discomfort.
The significance of pangolin:
Pangolins are very important to balance the ecosystem. They are very important in the food chain. One pangolin consumes 70 million insects per year. They are considered natural pest controllers.
BEL and Israel Aerospace to form Joint Venture
A Memorandum of Understanding was recently inked at the Aero India Air Show by the Defence Ministry’s Bharat Electronics Limited and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
The deal states that BEL and IAI would create a joint venture. The country’s missile defence system will receive assistance from the joint venture.
About the Joint Venture:
The JV will manufacture interceptors, launchers, advanced phased array radar, etc.
The Joint Venture’s main area of concentration will be MRSAM.
Why is the focus on MRSAM?
MRSAM is an advanced air and missile defence system that protects against a variety of aerial attacks. It is used by the Indian Armed forces.
MRSAM, “Medium Range Surface To Air Missile”, was jointly developed by DRDO and IAI.
MoU to build LORA:
In addition to the JV, IAI will assist BEL in building the LORA weapon system under the terms of an Agreement that the nations also inked.
The Long Range Artillery System is LORA. A long-range sea-to-ground ballistic missile launcher is what it is. Moreover, it will help ground-to-ground systems.
It is capable of launching missiles with a variety of ranges, ranging from 90 km to 430 km.
“mPassport Police App”: Police verification for passport in just five days
To simplify and hasten the process of police verifying passport issuing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MEA) has recently released the “mPassport Police App”.
Amit Shah, the Union Home Minister, introduced the new digital services during the 76th Raising Day Parade of the Delhi Police.
Everyone in Delhi who applies for a passport won’t have to wait 15 days for police verification, according to Shah, who announced the services.
Kollam district won Swaraj Trophy 2021-22 for the State’s best District Panchayat
The Kollam district panchayat has recently been awarded the Swaraj Trophy as the State’s top district panchayat for the fiscal year 2021–2022.
The district has a cross-section of Kerala’s natural attributes. It is endowed with a long coastline, a major Laccadive Sea seaport and an inland lake.
The district panchayat of Kannur stood second in the rankings.
UNDP’s “Don’t Choose Extinction” climate campaign wins two Anthem Awards
The ‘Don’t Choose Extinction’ campaign, launched by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to raise awareness about the climate emergency, has won Gold and Silver in two different categories at the 2nd Annual Anthem Awards.
The International Academy of Digital Arts and Science (IADAS), which was established by the Webby Awards in 2021, made this announcement.
The Awards are meant to recognise individuals, businesses, and organisations that have had a positive societal effect via their activities.
Its objective is to establish a new standard for effective work that motivates others to take the initiative in their communities.
International Mother Language Day 2023
Days & Events
International Mother Language Day is celebrated on 21 February.
The primary goal of the day’s celebration is to raise the global literacy rate. The majority of people in the world—more than 40%—cannot acquire an education in their mother tongue.
Promoting education in the mother tongue is necessary, particularly in hilly areas with a large indigenous population. The day also focuses on the ethnic minority population.
This is emphasised by the UN’s International Mother Language Day. In addition to this, the day emphasises various international cultures.
Importance of the day:
The United Nations states that education in the mother tongue improves brain functions related to cognition. Thinking in your own language is usually simple.
It aids in inclusive development. Also, it helps to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. Even people in remote areas can be taught about the global crisis.
This day celebrates languages and multilingualism as powerful tools for social inclusion and international progress.
The theme of International Mother Language Day 2023:
“Multilingual education – a necessity to transform education”
History of International Mother Language Day:
The proposal to celebrate International Mother Language Day was initiated by UNESCO in 1999. The resolution was passed by the UNGA in 2002.
BVR Subrahmanyam appointed the new CEO of NITI Aayog
Person In News
The National Institution for Transforming India is a public policy think tank. The council has all the chief ministers of the state and Lieutenant Governors of UTs.
Apart from them, there are temporary members, such as four ex-officio members, a CEO, and three part-time members. All the temporary members, including the CEO, are appointed by the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently appointed BVR Subrahmanyam as the new CEO of NITI Ayog.
Why a new CEO?
Parameshwaran Iyer, the former CEO of NITI Aayog, has been named the Executive Director of the World Bank.
About BVR Subrahmanyam:
He served as the Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir. He was a 1987 IAS officer from the Chhattisgarh cadre
He served as the private secretary to then-prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh during his reign from 2004 to 2008
He was also kept in the loop during the entire bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir
INS Sumedha participated in IDEX and NAVDEX
The INS Sumedha is participating in the NAVDEX (Naval Defence Exhibition) and IDEX (International Defence Exhibition) being held in Abu Dhabi from 20 to 24 February.
The Naval Ship showcased the indigenous ship-building skills of India at the exhibitions.
It is a SARAYU class NOPV. NOPV means Naval Offshore Patrol Vessel.
The first INS Sumedha was built in Goa and joined the Navy in 2011.
The first IDEX was held in 1993. The exhibition is biennial and focuses mainly on defence technologies rather than defence products.
IDEX is held in Abu Dhabi, UAE and is one of the largest defence exhibitions in the Middle East.
India is trying to increase its defence exports. By 2025, India aims to achieve ₹35,000 crore in defence exports.
India is increasing its investment in the defence sector to reach its target.
Hwasong-15: North Korea’s Intercontinental ballistic missile
The HWASONG-15, the intercontinental ballistic missile, has recently been demonstrated by North Korea.
In 2017, the missile made its initial flight. HWASONG is capable of travelling to the US mainland.
It can travel 950 km downrange and 4,475 km in altitude.
HWASONG-15’s launch vehicle is enormous. It has large nine-axles on it.
The Transporter Erector Launcher is the common name for missile vehicles.
These vehicles have the ability to both carry and erect missiles for launch.
NEOM: Saudi’s Future Mega City
Saudi Arabia recently declared that one-fifth of the futuristic megacity known as the NEOM had been built.
The nation is investing USD 500 billion in the city’s construction. Clean energy will be used to power the city’s engineering projects.
There will not be any automobiles on the roads. The name NEOM is made up of the letters NEO and M. The Greek word NEO means “new” in English.
The letter M in the name stands for the Arabic word Mustakbal, which means the future. M Also stands for crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
Key Facts of NEOM
The proposal to construct the city was brought by crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman
The city is located on the Red Sea Coast and is larger than Kuwait or Israel. The city is spread around 26,500 square kilometres
There will be ten different regions in the city like the airport, bay, floating industrial complex, etc.
OXAGON: It is a floating industrial complex. It will house a desalination plant, a research centre, and a hydrogen plant
TROJENA: A skiing centre will be made
Agriculture: 6,500 hectares of farmlands will be created outside the city
The 2029 Asian Winter Games will be hosted by NEOM
India-Uzbekistan conduct Military Exercise DUSTLIK 2023
The fourth Edition of the DUSTLIK 2023 military exercise between India and Uzbekistan is being held in Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand.
The nations will share their expertise and train their troops in multi-domain operations during the exercise.
India’s GARHWAL Rifles from the Western Command participates in the exercise.
Uzbekistan, the North Western Military Command, participates in the exercise. The exercise is biennial or performed once every two years.
Why is DUSTLIK important?
Uzbekistan is important to India for connectivity to Iran and the Central Asian region. India is trying to expand its trade in the Central Asian region.
The conflicts in Afghanistan are a big hindrance, and to counter such security issues, India needs the support of other Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan.
Khalistan Tiger Force and Jammu and Kashmir Ghaznavi Force declared terrorist organisations
The Central Government banned two groups and declared an individual a terrorist for their subversive and anti-India activities.
The two organisations are the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), which seeks to resurrect terrorism in Punjab, and the Jammu and Kashmir Ghaznavi Force (JKGF), which was founded by cadres from terrorist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Saurashtra lifts Ranji Trophy, defeating Bengal
Recently, Saurashtra defeated Bengal by nine wickets in the finals to clinch its second Ranji Trophy 2022-23 title at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Saurashtra won their maiden Ranji Trophy in 2019-20.
In 2019–20, Saurashtra won the Ranji Trophy for the first time.
On the fourth day of the Ranji Trophy final at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata, inspirational skipper Jaydev Unadkat led by example with a six-wicket haul to lead Saurashtra to a commanding nine-wicket victory over Bengal.
This is Saurashtra’s second Ranji Trophy Crown in the last three seasons.
“OPERATION DOST” saves dozens of lives in quake hit Turkey
The Indian disaster relief team, comprising 99 personnel of the Indian Army Field Hospital and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), returned home on 20 February 2023 after putting in a stupendous effort to provide medical relief to disaster victims in Hatya Province of Turkey hit by an earthquake.
The effort has been applauded both at the National and International levels. The Indian Army Field Hospital has treated 3604 casualties, providing emergency medical care and performing four major surgeries, 63 minor surgeries, and 343 minor procedures, including 87 POP applications for fixing fractures.
In addition, the Indian Army Field Hospital provided Dental treatment to 242 patients, carrying out 283 precautionary X-rays on trauma victims. As many as 14 patients were admitted, and 97 patients were detained and treated.
1159 lab investigations were carried out on the cases reported for treatment. The Indian Army has provided replenishment to the Field Hospital in the form of Medical and Surgical bricks as well as Orthopaedic equipment.
The team has also set up a reception desk for receiving donations and distributing them to the needy.
Cross Dependency Initiative: 9 Indian states most vulnerable to climate risks
The Cross Dependency Initiative (XDI) is a business consultant specialising in climate risk analytics for companies, banks and regions. It released a report on “Gross Domestic Climate Risk”. According to the report, China, the US, and India will be the top 50 provinces facing the highest climate risk to their physical infrastructure by 2050.
It says nine Indian states are most vulnerable to climate risks. They are Punjab, UP, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, TN, Gujarat, Kerala, and Assam. Mumbai has the highest risk of all. Twenty-six provinces in China, nine in India, and five in the US are the most vulnerable of all.
Key findings of the report:
The most vulnerable states of China are in the eastern and southern parts of the country
Delta regions of the Yangtze and Pearl Rivers are also highly vulnerable
Other than the US, China, and India, other highly vulnerable countries are Pakistan, Brazil, and Indonesia
How was the report prepared?
Based on the information supplied by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Cross Dependency Initiative produced a high-emission scenario.
It fixed the rise in global temperature from pre-industrial levels to three degrees Celsius.
ISSF Shooting World Cup: India’s Rudrankksh Patil wins the gold medal
Sports and Games
Rudrankksh won gold in the 10-metre air rifle event at the ISSF Shooting World Cup. He defeated German Maximilian Ulbrich by a margin of 16-8.
Varun Tomar and Rhythm Sangwan also took home gold in the 10m Air Pistol.
About ISSF World Cup 2023:
It is a uniform system to qualify for the Olympics. The first world cup of 2023 was held in Jakarta.
The second, the current world cup of 2023, is being held in Cairo. The third will be held in Bhopal, India. Fourth at Lima, fifth at Baku, and sixth at Rio de Janeiro.
The current ISSF Shooting World Cup being held in Cairo is for rifles and pistols.
Ladakh sets Guinness record on Pangong Tso Lake
The Pangong Tso Marathon was recently introduced by the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council.
The marathon was the first of its kind in India. It was held on the frozen Pangong Tso Lake.
The marathon was organised at an altitude of 4,350 metres.
It makes the Guinness record for World’s Highest Frozen Lake Marathon. It is the first frozen lake marathon in India.
About the Marathon
The marathon included a 21 km long run. It began in Luking village.
The marathon was organised by the Council of Ladakh along with the Adventure Sports Foundation of Ladakh.
About Pangong Tso Lake
The lake has saline water and is completely frozen during winter. Researchers believe the lake was a part of the Indus River system in early times.
Today, however, the lake lies separated from the Indus River. Pangong Tso is the highest saltwater lake in the world.
First Semiconductor plant in India
The Vedanta group and the Foxconn of Taiwan have come together to build the first semiconductor manufacturing unit in Dholera, Gujarat.
The companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Gujarat Government. According to the MoU, they will invest ₹1,54,000 crore in this project.
The semiconductor plant will be built in the Dholera Special Investment Region in Ahmedabad. It is a greenfield industrial city.
The Dholera Special Investment Region Development Authority handles the land and the projects.
Significance of semiconductor plants:
Currently, India is importing most of the semiconductor materials from China. With this semiconductor plant, India will become self-reliant and can manufacture high-quality electronic products rather than depending on inexpensive, low-quality Chinese goods!
India and Singapore link digital payments UPI and PayNow
India’s mobile payment system is called UPI. In Singapore, PayNow is another mobile payment option.
The nations intend to connect these two mobile payment options. Shaktikanta Das, governor of the RBI, and Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, virtually inaugurated the linking recently.
The Linkage of UPI and PayNow was a part of the G20 priorities. One of the key focuses of the 2023 G20 summit is on cheaper, inclusive finance and transparent cross-border payments.
UPI-PayNow is India’s first cross-border, real-time system linkage and Singapore’s second. It is also the world’s first such linkage feature cloud-based infrastructure and participation by non-bank financial institutions.
Khajuraho to host first G20 Culture Working Group Meet
The first G20 Working Group (CWG) meeting on Culture began on 22 February at the UNESCO World Heritage site Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh. The Meeting is scheduled to be organised till 25 February.
Union Minister for Culture, Tourism and DoNER Shri G.K Reddy, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Dr Virendra Kumar and Minister of State for Culture Smt Meenakshi Lekhi inaugurated an exhibition titled “Re(ad)dress: Return of Treasures” at the Maharaja Chhatrasal Convention Centre (MCCC).
The meeting has more than 125 foreign delegates present.
United States returns looted artefacts to Yemen
The United States recently returned 77 artefacts to Yemen. These artefacts came from Dubai and were transported illegally into the US.
The returning items included carved stone heads, bronze bowls, and 11 pages from a Quran manuscript.
They are all from the first century BCE and are part of Yemen’s Minean tribal culture.
India and Seychelles sign agreement on maritime cooperation
The Information Fusion Centre (IFC) – Indian Ocean Region of India (IOR) and the RCOC (Regional Coordination Operations Centre) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding on maritime cooperation for the development, management, operation and maintenance of facilities on Assumption Island
India has a military base on the Assumption Island of Seychelles. The island in Seychelles is leased to India for the operation of a naval base and airstrip by the Indian navy.
The International Liaison Officers (ILO) meeting was hosted by the IFC-IOR. The US, UK, Singapore, Seychelles, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius, France, Italy, Australia, and Japan were among the 12 nations that took part. About the MoU
According to the MoU, the countries will work together and improve maritime safety in the Indian Ocean Region.
The safety provisions will be based on the SAGAR initiative – “Security and Growth for All in the Region”. With this, they will be able to correlate better and share information more compressedly.
Russia suspends START, the last Nuclear Treaty
The START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is a bilateral treaty signed between the US and the Soviet Union in 1991. It came into force in 1994.
Under the treaty, the countries agreed to bar 6,000 nuclear warheads and 1m600 ICBMs. More than 80% of the nuclear warheads were removed in 2001 with this treaty.
The treaty expired in 2009. THE NEW START Treaty was signed in 2010. This new treaty applies till 2026.
Russia has now withdrawn from the treaty
The reason why Russia has withdrawn from the treaty:
The tension between Russia and Ukraine is one of the primary causes. By providing funding for Ukraine’s war supplies, the US is assisting that nation.
More than US$ 3 billion have been funded so far by the US. Joe Biden announced an additional US$ 500 million during a recent trip to Ukraine.
Russia is suspending the START Treaty in response to the US actions.
Dharmendra Pradhan introduces “Jaadui Pitara,” Learning and Teaching Material
“Jaadui Pitara” is introduced by Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. “Jaadui Pitara,” a play-based learning tool for children ages three to eight, will be required to be used in at least 1,200 central government-run schools.
It was developed under the National Curriculum Framework. The material is easy to use and can be downloaded and printed on paper.
What is JAADUI PITARA?
It is a collection of worksheets, playbooks, puzzles, flashcards, posters, and storybooks.
The information concentrates on five main developmental activities: the development of literacy, good study habits, culture, cognition, socio-emotional development, and ethics.
The main objective is to “LEARN THROUGH PLAY”.
Railways to launch Guru Kripa Yatra with Bharat Gaurav Tourist Train from 5 April
Indian Railways is set to launch Guru Kripa Yatra from 5th April from Lucknow with its exclusive Bharat Gaurav Tourist Train.
The pilgrims will visit the five Holy Takhts as well as other important Sikhism shrines during the eleven-day holy tour.
The Railway Ministry said that passengers can board and deboard at Lucknow, Sitapur, Pilibhit and Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. The IRCTC will operate this train with nine sleeper class coaches, one AC-3 and one AC-2 Tier coach.
IRCTC offers the tour package across three categories, namely – Standard, Superior and Comfort, with a total capacity of 678 passengers.
In sleeper class, passengers have to pay around ₹24 thousand; for 3rd AC – ₹36 thousand; for 2nd AC, passengers have to pay around ₹48 thousand.
Uber Signed MoU with Tata Motors for 25000 EVs
TATA is one of the largest electric vehicle manufacturers in India. UBER recently signed a mega deal with TATA. According to the agreement, TATA will produce 25,000 Electric Vehicles (EVs) for UBER.
This means usage of Electric Vehicles is to increase in the country indirectly. UBER is a transportation company.
The usage of EVs in the country has been slow despite government efforts. However, with this deal, the manufacturing and the use of EVs will increase in the country.
Tata Motors will begin deliveries of XPRES-T EVs to Uber fleet partners in a phased manner starting this month, February 2023. The partnership will aid the electrification of Uber services across Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Ahmedabad
The alliance with Tata Motors will set the stage for a significant expansion of four-wheeler electric vehicles (EVs) on a mobility platform in India as Uber works to achieve its zero-emissions goal.
By 2040, Uber promises that all trips will be taken in zero-emission vehicles, on public transportation, or using micro-mobility.
Uber will rely on industry partnerships with EV manufacturers, fleets, and EV infra partners, among others, to advance the EV transition. Uber is committed to finding new, creative, and affordable ways to support drivers and fleets in going electric.
India-Guyana Air Service Agreement (ASA)
The Union Cabinet recently approved the Air Service Agreement signed between India and Guyana. India has Air Service Agreement with more than 116 countries.
The ASA covers several aspects, such as flight landing points, the number of flights operated between the countries, seat allotments, codeshare, etc. However, no air service shall have the option of an unlimited number of flight operations under the agreement.
Why is it important that Guyana and the Air Service Agreement?
India accounts for 40% of Guyana’s population. The agreement will allow the nations to provide air services to one another.
The agreement is necessary to increase global connectivity as India liberalises aviation. The agreement includes information about flight times and the operations of flights into and out of the country.
India-China hold WMCC meeting
The Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination meeting between China and India recently took place in Beijing, China. This is the 14th actual physical WMCC meeting, the 26th meeting overall, and the first since the Galwan standoff. The nations discussed the problems on the western border of the LAC. They also talked about withdrawing the military from the remaining areas. The meeting was at the secretary level.
Why did the meeting take place?
To restore normalcy to India’s and China’s bilateral relations
To restore peace along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)
UAE’s EDGE signs MoU with India’s HAL to explore business ties At the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), an aerospace company in India, and EDGE, the leading defence company in the UAE, signed a Memorandum of Understanding.
The Memorandum of Understanding is signed to evaluate the potential cooperative areas, such as the joint development of missile systems and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones).
Both companies will also look into the possibility of further knowledge exchange, using HAL’s tiny gas turbine engines on EDGE’s guided weapons and using EDGE’s GPS jamming and spoofing equipment on HAL’s platforms.
The two companies will also consider working together on mission computers, training programmes, and the use of additive manufacturing for metallic parts at their world-class facilities in the UAE and India.
SBI permits real-time Bhim payments with Singapore
The State Bank of India (SBI) announced cooperation with PayNow, for cross-border payments a day after a real-time payments system linkage was formed between India and Singapore utilising the UPI platform.
According to a statement from SBI, the capability is made available through the Bhim SBIPay mobile application.
The linkage would provide fund transfers from India to Singapore using registered mobile numbers and from Singapore to India using the UPI ID.
The G20‘s aims of promoting quicker, less expensive, and more transparent cross-border payments are closely aligned with the UPI-PayNow connectivity, representing an important milestone in building an infrastructure for cross-border payments between the two nations.
India and Sri Lanka review bilateral ties during the 7th Annual Defence Dialogue
The 7th Annual Defence Dialogue between India and Sri Lanka was held in New Delhi on 23 February 2023. It was co-chaired by Defence Secretary Shri Giridhar Aramane and his Sri Lankan counterpart General Kamal Gunaratne.
During the meeting, the ongoing defence cooperation activities between the two countries were reviewed, with both sides agreeing to increase the complexity of bilateral exercises.
In the context of training, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to avail maximum benefits from each other’s experience and capacities.
This Annual Defence Dialogue is the highest institutionalised interactive mechanism between both countries.
Its significance in chartering the future course of the relations between the Armed Forces of India and Sri Lanka was highlighted by the importance given to the talks by both sides.
The Armed Forces of both countries continue to seek bilateral cooperation in multiple fields, and increased engagements are a positive sign for the future of bilateral relations.
UK surpasses India as the world’s sixth-biggest equity market
The UK has surpassed India as the sixth-largest equity market in the world for the first time since May 2022 as a weaker pound increases the attraction of exporters, and concerns over the Adani-Hindenburg controversy are being felt throughout Indian markets.
How did the UK surpass India as the world’s sixth-biggest equity market?
Since US-based short-seller Hindenburg Research published a report against the conglomerate, India’s equity market has been dealing with a double whammy of a lower currency. Adani Group enterprises are experiencing a significant fallout from the stock tumble.
The company refuted the allegations made in the Hindenburg Research study from 24 January that it had inappropriately used offshore tax havens and had manipulated stock prices.
Concerns about its excessive debt levels were also raised in the report. Due to Hindenburg’s devastating assessment, the listed Adani equities saw a combined market capitalisation loss of an astounding $140 billion.
Central Excise Day 2023 observed on 24th February
Central Excise Day is observed to recognise and honour the contributions made by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) every year on 24 February.
Central Excise Day is observed to raise public awareness of the dedication and labour-intensiveness of CBIC.
The primary responsibility of CBIC is to prevent tampering with manufactured items.
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) is a branch of the Department of Revenue which reports to the Indian Government’s Ministry of Finance.
Its tasks include calculating policy-related levies and collections for Customs, Central Excise duties, CGST and IGST preventing smuggling, and managing issues relating to the above subjects as well as Narcotics to the extent that they fall under CBIC’s jurisdiction.
CBIC Chairman: Vivek Johri
CBIC Headquarters: New Delhi
CBIC Founded: 1 January 1964
Rajeev Raghuvanshi appointed new Drug Controller General of India
Rajeev Singh Raghuvanshi has recently been appointed the new Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).
Rajeev Singh Raghuvanshi is a former Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission secretary-cum-scientific director.
Rajeev Singh Raghuvanshi will supersede Dr PBN Prasad, who holds the position until 28 February 2023.
The order which was released stated that Raghuvanshi would continue to be the DGCI till 28 February 2025.
PM to inaugurate the ‘Barisu Kannada Dim Dimava’ cultural festival on 25th February
PM Shri Narendra Modi will inaugurate the ‘Barisu Kannada Dim Dimava’ cultural festival at Talkatora Stadium, Delhi, on 25th February. The Prime Minister will also address the gathering on occasion.
In line with the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’, the ‘Barisu Kannada Dim Dimava’ cultural festival is being organised to celebrate Karnataka’s culture, traditions and history.
The festival, being held under the aegis of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, will provide an opportunity for hundreds of artists to showcase Karnataka’s cultural heritage through dance, music, drama, and poetry.
IAF to participate in multi-national exercise ‘Cobra Warrior’ in UK
Recently, an Indian Air Force contingent comprising 145 Air Warriors departed the Air Force Station Jamnagar to participate in Exercise Cobra Warrior at the Waddington Air Force Base in the United Kingdom.
The exercise is scheduled from 6th to 24th March this year.
What is Exercise Cobra Warrior?
Exercise Cobra Warrior is a multilateral Air exercise in which Air Forces from Finland, Sweden, South Africa, the United States of America and Singapore would also be participating alongside the Royal Air Force and Indian Air Force.
This year IAF is participating in the exercise with five Mirage 2000 fighters, two C-17 Globemaster and an IL-78 mid-air refuelling aircraft.
Aim of Exercise:
The exercise is aimed at providing operational exposure and sharing best practices amongst the participating Air Forces, thereby enhancing combat capability and forging bonds of friendship.
Indian Air Force is the fourth largest in the world after the USA, China, and Russia.
IAF, or the Bharatiya Vayu Sena, was initially established as an auxiliary air force unit of the Royal Air Force of Britain.
The title Royal was given to the air force in honour of India’s aviation service during world war II.
The name Royal Air Force was kept until India had dominion status.
As the government transitioned to a republic in 1950, the prefix Royal was removed.
The President of India holds the rank of supreme commander or Commander-in-chief of the IAF.
The motto of the IAF is ‘Nabhah Sparsham Diptam’, which is taken from the Bhagavad Gita and means ‘Touch the sky with glory’.
MP’s Bhopal gets state’s first women and child-friendly police station
Madhya Pradesh’s first women and child-friendly police station is being set up in Jahangirabad, Bhopal.
The newly designed police station has all the basic requirements, such as a waiting room, reception window, feeding room and place for children.
The police station is, however, yet to be inaugurated.
The police station building has been re-designed from the victims and the visitors’ convenience point of view.
Amenities associated with the police station:
Separate Toilets for males and females
Shed, garden, and platform
Victim’s visitors’ room
Kerala becomes first state to use robotic scavengers to clean manholes
The Kerala government recently launched a robotic scavenger, Bandicoot, to clean sewages in this temple town, becoming the first state in the country to use robotic technology to clean all its commissioned manholes.
Bandicoot, developed by Kerala-based Genrobotics, is already in use in urban bodies across the country, phasing out the practice of sanitation workers physically entering the manholes.
Genrobotics has recently bagged the ‘Kerala Pride’ award at the Huddle Global 2022 conclave organised by the Kerala Startup Mission.
Objectives and functioning:
Bandicoot, “the world’s first robotic Scavenger”, was developed by Genrobotics in order to eliminate manual scavenging providing respite for workers engaged in manhole cleaning.
The major component of Bandicoot, i.e., the robotic Tron Unit, enters the manhole and removes sewage using robotic hands.
As per the company, this machine is waterproof and also has HD vision cameras and sensors that can detect harmful gases inside the manholes.
Danish Crown Prince, Princess arrives in India for a four-day visit
Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik André Henrik Christian and Crown Princess Mary Elizabeth arrived in India recently on a four-day visit.
It is the first visit to India from the Danish Royal family in two decades.
The two are visiting India at the invitation of Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Engagement during the visit:
Both are accompanied by Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Environment Minister Magnus Heunicke and Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities Lars Aagaard.
During the visit, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince will meet the Vice President and address the India-Denmark: Partners for Green and Sustainable Progress opening session.
Both will also travel to Agra and Chennai.
The Danish prince and princess will travel back on 2 March from Chennai.
India ranks 42 among 55 countries on the International IP Index
Index and Rankings
India ranks 42nd among 55 leading global economies on the International IP Index released by the U.S. Chambers of Commerce, according to which India is ripe to become a leader for emerging markets seeking to transform their economy through IP-driven innovation.
India has not only generous R&D and IP-based tax incentives but also has strong awareness-raising efforts regarding the negative impact of piracy and counterfeiting.
It is a global leader in targeted administrative incentives for creating and using IP assets for SMEs.
What is International IP Index:
The Index evaluates intellectual property rights across 55 global economies — from patent and copyright policies to commercialising IP assets and ratifying international treaties.
The United States earned the top score again, and 45 economies improved their overall score.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce: IP continues to be a massive economic driver for jobs and investment.
The global IP environment has improved over the last decade. Challenges remain as many economies still receive low grades on their protection of intellectual property rights.
New tools to combat IP infringement online helped strengthen protection for IP owners. However, many economies have historically struggled to provide adequate copyright protection as the growth and scale of online piracy have increased over the last decade.
Enforcement against physical IP-infringing goods has failed to keep pace with the increase in the volume of international trade in counterfeits over the last ten years.
IP-intensive goods and services were critical to the global response to COVID-19.
Despite the critical role IP played in response to the pandemic, some World Trade Organization (WTO) members continued to push a proposal to “waive” international IP commitments.
US Chambers of Commerce:
Founded: 22 April 1912
Northwest Washington, Washington, DC, United States
Founder: Charles Nagel
CEO: Suzanne P. Clark
IMF rolls out nine-point crypto assets action plan, advises against the legal tender status
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently laid out a nine-point action plan for how countries should treat crypto assets, with point number one a plea not to give cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin legal tender status.
IMF plan provides guidance for an appropriate policy response to crypto assets and operationalises principles outlined in Bali Fintech Agenda.
Agenda was launched by the IMF and World Bank in 2018 to harness opportunities for rapid advances in financial technology.
Cryptocurrency is a type of digital currency (For ex: Bitcoin, Ethereum) that uses cryptography for security and anticounterfeiting measures.
Control of each cryptocurrency works through distributed ledger technology called a blockchain.
What is IMF’S nine-point ACTION PLAN?
Do not grant crypto assets official currency or legal tender status.
Maintain the effectiveness of capital flow management measures.
Adopt unambiguous tax treatment of crypto assets. Establish legal certainty of crypto assets.
Enforce oversight requirements for all crypto market actors.
Joint monitoring framework across different domestic agencies and authorities.
Establish international collaborative arrangements.
Monitor the impact of crypto assets on the stability of the international monetary system. Strengthen global cooperation to develop digital infrastructures for cross-border payments and finance.
Status of cryptocurrency in India:
Currently, cryptocurrencies are not regulated in India.
In 2020, the Supreme Court declared an RBI circular (that prevented banks from dealing in cryptocurrencies) as unconstitutional.
In Budget 2022-23, the government proposed to levy a tax of 30% on the transfer of virtual assets, including NFTs and cryptocurrencies.
The government also floated the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, to facilitate a framework for the creation of official digital currency and to prohibit all private cryptocurrencies in India.
Poudel is set to become Nepal’s next president
The Nepali Congress’ senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel is set to become Nepal’s next president after eight political parties endorsed him, including the CPN-Maoist Centre of Prime Minister Prachanda, who sidelined his coalition partner K P Sharma Oli’s nominee to support his candidacy.
Poudel will vie against CPN-UML’s Subas Nembang in the 9 March presidential election, which may change the power equation in the Himalayan nation.
Poudel, 78, and Nemwang, 69, filed their candidacies recently. Poudel filed the nomination papers with the backing of eight political parties—Nepali Congress, CPN- Maoist Centre of Prime Minister Prachanda, CPN-Unified Socialist, Rastriya Janata Party, Loktantrik Samajwadi Party, Rastriya Janamorcha, Nagarik Unmukti Party and Janamat Party.
Centre approves name change for Aurangabad, Osmanabad
The Centre has recently approved renaming two Maharashtra cities—Aurangabad and Osmanabad.
Aurangabad will now be renamed as `Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar’ while Osmanabad will be called `Dharashiv’.
Aurangabad derives its name from the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, while Osmanabad was named for a 20th-century ruler of the princely state of Hyderabad.
Chhatrapati Sambhaji, who was the eldest son of warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was the second ruler of the Maratha state founded by his father. Sambhaji Maharaj was executed on Aurangzeb’s orders in 1689.
Dharashiv, the name of a cave complex near Osmanabad, dates back to the 8th century, as per some scholars.
Maharashtra govt to develop Veer Savarkar Garden, theme park, museum in Nashik
On the occasion of the death anniversary of Veer Savarkar, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation has recently proposed to develop the Veer Savarkar Garden, Theme Park, and Museum with their funds.
He was a Freedom fighter, politician, activist, and writer. Savarkar developed the Hindu nationalist political ideology of Hindutva while imprisoned at Ratnagiri.
Born 28 May 1883 in Bhagur, Nashik District.
Death 26 February 1966 at Bombay.
Due to the death anniversary of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the government has announced this project. The government will launch the Savarkar tourism circuit dedicated to the revolutionary freedom fighter and Hindutva icon, ‘Swatantryaveer’ Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
UNGA resolution on Ukraine war
India abstained on a UN resolution underscoring the need for just, lasting peace in Ukraine.
India questioned the effectiveness of the UN and Security Council in tackling contemporary challenges.
Resolutions adopted by UNGA on agenda items are considered to be recommendations and are not legally binding on the Member States.
Only resolutions that have the potential to be legally binding are those that are adopted by the Security Council.
National Stock Exchange launched India’s first municipal bond index- IBMX
National Stock Exchange (NSE) launched India’s first municipal bond index- IBMX- to track the performance of bonds issued by municipal corporations.
The Municipal bond market has seen a three-fold rise in fundraising since 2017 (from ₹2,342 crore in 2017 to ₹6,252 crore in 2022)
The index will have 28 municipal bonds, which were issued by ten issuers. Bonds in the index have a credit rating of the AA category.
Pink Bollworm-resistant GM cotton gets the green light for field trials in Haryana
Environment and Ecology
Within months of approving new field trials for an array of genetically engineered crops, including mustard, potatoes and rubber, in the country for the first time in 16 years, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has approved confined field trials for Pink Bollworm-resistant GM cotton in Hisar, Haryana.
What is Pink Bollworm?
It is one of the most destructive pests of cotton
Scientific name: Pectinophora gossypiella
Originally native to India, it is now recorded in nearly all the cotton-growing countries of the world
Pink Bollworm life cycle:
The adults are small moths about 3/8 inch long and are dark brown with markings on the forewing
The larval stage is the destructive and identifiable stage
The larvae have distinctive pink bands and can reach a length of ½ inches right before they pupate
Why is it a threat to Ecology?
Pink bollworms are major pests of cotton
Adults only last for two weeks, but females will lay 200 or more eggs
Adults lay eggs on cotton bolls; once hatched, the larvae eat the seeds and damage the fibres of the cotton, reducing the yield and quality
When the larvae mature, they cut out the boll, drop to the ground and cocoon near the soil surface
It also damages hibiscus, okra, and hollyhock plants.
SAG Awards 2023: Ke Huy Quan becomes the first Asian male to win the SAG Award
Awards and Recognitions
The 29th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards were held recently at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles to honour the year’s best acting performances, and actor Ke Huy Quan created history by winning the Best Supporting actor award for his role as Waymond Wang in the film ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’.
The win makes Quan the first Asian male to win a film acting award at the annual guild ceremony since its inception in 1994.
He’s also only the second Asian actor to win any individual SAG prize in either film or television, one year after Squid Game’s Lee Jung-jae won for male actor in a drama series, according to Variety.
What are Screen Actors Guild Awards?
Screen Actors Guild Awards are accolades given by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
The award was founded in 1952 to recognise outstanding performances in movies and prime-time television
First awarded: 1995; 28 years ago
Presented by: SAG-AFTRA
IAF develops an indigenous ‘Vayulink’ platform for jammer-proof communication
The Indian Air Force has developed an innovative solution that would help pilots deal with bad weather and provide them with jammer-proof uninterrupted communication with the base station.
What is Vayulink?
“Vayulink is an ad-hoc data link communication system, which, when installed in an aircraft, gives the position of other aircraft close by encrypted traffic data over a secured channel.
‘Vayulink’ uses the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS)
The advantage of the system is that it prevents fratricide when you are going into combat.
It means you are able to know where our ground forces are present.
This helps the pilots to get accurate and precise information about the weather. In particular, it also helps in providing accurate communication to aircraft flying over hills.
By this, mutual collision of fighter planes can also be prevented, which provides an accurate teaming system service. It also helps in setting real-time targets with the help of which multiple teams can attack the target simultaneously.
The indigenous jammer-proof communication platform ‘Vayulink’ is helpful to all three services of the country.
Scientists have discovered a new layer at Earth’s inner core
A team of researchers has found evidence of a new, distinct layer within our planet Earth’s inner core.
According to seismologists from the Australian National University (ANU), data gathered from seismic waves caused by earthquakes has shed new light on the deepest parts of the Earth’s inner core.
It is solid due to high pressure deep within the Earth that stops iron alloy from melting.
It is a crystallised structure within the inner core’s innermost region that is different from the outer layer.
First hypothesised about 20 years ago, it was identified through data gathered from seismic waves caused by earthquakes.
Four layers of Earth’s structures:
Crust: Topmost or outermost layer of Earth, which makes up 1% of Earth’s Volume. It has two parts—a thinner Oceanic Crust and a thicker Continental Crust.
Mantle: Solid/plastic layer of Earth which makes up about 84% of Earth’s Volume.
It is divided into two parts—Upper Mantle and Lower Mantle.
The uppermost mantle and crust constitute the lithosphere.
Outer core: Liquid portion of the core, composed of 80% iron along with nickel and some other lighter elements.
Inner core: Solid portion of the core, composed of Iron and nickel with the presence of heavy elements like gold, platinum, palladium, silver and tungsten.
What is the Significance of the ‘Fifth’ layer?
It provides information on past events on Earth that happened hundreds of millions to billions of years ago.
It provides a new way to probe Earth’s inner core and its centremost region.
It provides information about the evolution of the Earth’s magnetic field.
Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to begin the first synchronised vulture survey
Environment and Ecology
The Kerala Forest and Wildlife department, along with its counterparts in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, has organised the first synchronised vulture survey in select regions of the Western Ghats.
Synchronized Vulture Survey-2023 involved the Wildlife Conservation Foundation (an NGO) and forest departments of three states to survey vultures in
Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Nagarahole Tiger Reserve and all other forests in Karnataka.
Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS), Kerala.
Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu.
Why synchronised survey?
The synchronised survey is to avoid duplication of data when surveys are conducted at different time periods.
Nine species of vultures are found in India, with the Himalayas, Rajasthan, Gange Plain and the north side of the Indian subcontinent as the main geographic ranges.
Of 9, 3 species are migratory (cinereous, Griffon and Himalayan vultures).
Considered to be the most efficient scavengers, they have a unique and important ecological role, as they prevent the spread of diseases from rotting corpses.
Its population was dwindling due to exposure to the drug diclofenac, electrocution, illegal wildlife trade, and poaching, among other things.
About Vulture conservation initiatives:
Ban on veterinary use of Diclofenac in 2006.
‘Action Plan for Vulture Conservation’ prevents species extinction. In situ conservation programmes like promoting vulture restaurants, satellite tagging of vultures, etc.
Karnataka to get country’s first marina to promote Coastal Tourism
To promote coastal tourism in Karnataka, the country’s first marina will be constructed at Byndoor in the Udupi district.
The project has been initiated to promote coastal tourism in Karnataka.
The government will also seek permission from the Centre for the relaxation of the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) to take up beach tourism in coastal areas and pilgrim tourism.
This will not only help the development of tourism but also help people understand the rich history of the state.
According to the CM, the history of the greatest dynasties such as Ganga, Kadamba, Rashtrakoota, Chalukya and Hoysala will be collected from the Department of Archaeology and develop historic tourism.
The government has proposed to build a corridor of ancient temples like Madhukeshwara in Banavasi and Dattatreya in Ganagapura and promote ‘Yatra tourism’.
The government will develop the Benakal area while Anjanadri Hill is under development.
There is also a scheme to pay a monthly honorarium of ₹5,000 to the recognized tourist guides.
Karnataka is blessed with nature’s bounty. It has a 350 km coastal area, ten different weather zones, 400 km of the Western Ghats, a rich biodiversity with sunshine for 300 days, and several rivers.
Entrepreneur of the Year 2022: Sajjan Jindal
Union Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri honoured Indian industrialist Sajjan Jindal recently with the Best Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the year 2022.
At the same function, the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to KP Singh, Chairman of DLF Group.
KP Singh is especially known for setting up DLF City in Gurgaon.
Pratapaneni (Co-founder of MedGenome) was awarded in the startup category at the same event.
Sajjan Jindal is the Chairman and Managing Director of the JSW Group of Companies. It is because of his vision and foresight that the group has gained a distinct place in the business from steel to mining, energy, sports, infrastructure and software.
Siang unying festival
Siang Unying Festival is an important festival of the Adi community celebrated at Boleng, Arunachal Pradesh.
It is celebrated to mark the beginning of the Adi community’s new year, i.e., the arrival of the spring season, and to strengthen the bond among the community.
Adi constitutes a major group and inhabits the lower part of the Lower Dibang Valley district, especially the Roing and Dambuk areas. Adis are basically dependent on agriculture.
Both wet rice cultivation and shifting cultivation are practised. Padams, Milangs, Komkars, Minyongs and Pasis collectively call themselves Adi, meaning hill people.
Bisphenol A (BPA) can significantly shorten the breeding time of southern house mosquitoes (Culex quinquefasciatus) and thereby aid in its quick multiplication
Culex quinquefasciatus is a major carrier of the West Nile virus, Rift Valley fever virus and avian pox in tropical and subtropical countries.
What is BPA?
Bisphenol A is a chemical compound primarily used in the manufacturing of various plastics (softening plastics), paints and other products.
Impact on humans: It disrupts the endocrine system by interfering with the hormones and affects the brain and prostate gland of foetuses, infants and children.
The chemical can cause high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adults.
It can indirectly aid in the spread of vector-borne diseases in humans and animals.
MIT professor Hari Balakrishnan wins the 2023 Marconi Prize
Computer scientist Hari Balakrishnan has been awarded the 2023 Marconi Prize. Dr Balakrishnan is a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The Marconi Prize is a top honour for computer scientists and is awarded by the US-based Marconi Foundation. It is given to those “who have made a significant contribution to increasing digital inclusivity through advanced information and communications technology”.
Dr Balakrishnan has been cited “for fundamental contributions to wired and wireless networking, mobile sensing, and distributed systems”.
Dr Balakrishnan has previously won the Infosys Prize (2020) and the IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computers and Communications Award (2021).
Previous winners of the Marconi Prize include Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke.