Current Affairs January 2023 – Check Latest Top Stories
Current Affairs January 2023: Current Affairs is one of the most crucial parts of the preparation for any competitive exams. It is important to know events happening all around the globe on daily basis. It will give a student an edge over other candidates if their General Awareness is strong.
Refer to this article on Current Affairs January to prepare for the General Awareness section of the upcoming Bank Exams, SSC, Insurance, Railways, UPSC, Police/Defence, Medical, All India Jobs, State Gov Jobs, Teaching and Engineering. You should prepare well for this section to improve your overall marks on the paper.
New British Indian Army Memorial to be Built in Scotland
A new British Indian Army Memorial, commemorating the sacrifice of millions of Indian soldiers who fought alongside the British during the two World Wars, is to be built in the Scottish city of Glasgow after the local council approved the plans.
Glasgow City Council cleared the planning application recently, subject to conditions, paving the way for finalising the designs for the memorial to be built near Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
It is intended to honour the special link between Scotland and Force K6, an all-Muslim Punjabi regiment that escaped from Dunkirk during World War II, and made its way to Scotland.
It also aims to represent the key values of “selfless commitment and respect for others” that was epitomised by local campaigner Isobel Harling, who was honoured with the British Empire Medal (BEM) for tirelessly looking after the Force K6 graves in Kingussie in the Scottish Highlands for more than 70 years.
About the Building:
The memorial will feature a chattri (an elevated, dome-shaped pavilion) and pillars, which will be carved creating a South Asian design, and include benches so people can sit and reflect amid new cherry trees to be planted.
Pelé, Brazil World Cup Winner and Football Legend, Dies Aged 82
Person in News
Football has lost its king. Pelé, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, passed away on December 29th in São Paulo, Brazil at 82 years old, losing a long battle against cancer that had spread to several organs in his body.
The only men’s football player to have won three FIFA World Cup titles (1958, 1962, and 1970), the Brazilian was one of the most prominent sporting figures of the 20th century. His talent turned the Brazilian Selecao and its yellow shirt into global brands.
About Pele and His Career:
In 1956, he began playing for Santos, the team that launched him into stardom.
In the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, he became the youngest-ever world champion at 17 years old, scoring in the final.
In his career, Pele scored 1,283 goals.
He became one of the first global icons of the 20th century.
Pele was named “Athlete of the Century” by the International Olympic Committee, co-“Football Player of the Century” by world soccer body FIFA, and a “national treasure” by Brazil’s government.
In 1999, he was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee and was included in the Time list of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.
In 2000, he voted as World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football
He was a politician—Brazil’s Extraordinary Minister for Sport, a wealthy businessman, and an ambassador for UNESCO and the United Nations.
Tata Steel, TuTr Hyperloop Join Hands to Develop Hyperloop Technology
Tata Steel and TuTr Hyperloop signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) at IIT Madras recently, to jointly work on the development and deployment of Hyperloop technology at scale.
The main research areas will focus on design and materials selection challenges.
Hyperloop is a future option for a high-speed, low-cost, sustainable transport system for passengers and cargo.
The hyperloop system has critical elements such as tubes, pods, propulsion systems, and tracks.
Autonomous, levitated pods travel through a network of evacuated tubes.
It promises 10x more energy efficient than road transport and aviation, uses 2-3x less space than rail and road, and enables shorter travel duration than aviation.
About Tata Steel:
Tata Steel group is among the top global steel companies with an annual crude steel capacity of 34 million tonnes per annum.
It is one of the world’s most geographically diversified steel producers, with operations and commercial presence across the world.
The group recorded a consolidated turnover of US $ 32.83 billion in the financial year ending March 31, 2022.
About TuTr Hyperloop:
TuTr Hyperloop is a deeptech startup that is focused on developing hyperloop technologies.
Its endeavour is to provide customers with fast and reliable ‘on-demand’ transportation that is both affordable and greener in comparison with other modes of transport.
Currently, India’s (and Asia’s) first hyperloop test track is under implementation at the Discovery campus of IIT Madras.
Check out the Highlights of the Economic Survey 2022-23 by clicking on the link given below: Economic Survey 2022-23
MoHUA Launches ‘City Finance Rankings-2022’ and ‘City Beauty Competition’
The Central government on Wednesday launched two major initiatives aimed at incentivising urban local bodies for improving cities’ public infrastructure and strengthening them on the basis of key financial parameters.
The City Finance Rankings 2022 and City Beauty Competition are the two initiatives which were launched by Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Puri.
About City Finance Rankings:
City Finance Rankings has been launched to evaluate, recognise, and reward urban local bodies on the basis of their strength across key financial parameters, the City Beauty.
Competition aims to encourage and recognise the transformational efforts made by cities and wards in India to create beautiful, innovative, and inclusive public spaces.
City Finance Rankings aim to motivate city and state officials and decision makers, to implement municipal finance reforms.
‘City Beauty Competition’:
The ‘City Beauty Competition’ aims to encourage and recognise the transformational efforts made by cities and wards in India to create beautiful, innovative, and inclusive public spaces.
The participating urban local bodies will be evaluated on 15 indicators across three key municipal finance assessment parameters, like resource mobilisation, expenditure performance, and fiscal governance.
The cities will be ranked at the national level on the basis of their scores under any one of the following four population categories: above 40 lakh, between 10-40 lakh, 1 lakh to 10 lakh, and less than one lakh.
The top three cities in each population category will be recognised and rewarded at the national level as well as within each state and state cluster.
Wards and public places of cities would be judged against the five broad pillars (i) accessibility (ii) amenities (iii) activities (iv) aesthetics, and (v) ecology.
The City Beauty Competition would felicitate most beautiful wards and beautiful public places at the city level.
While selected wards would be felicitated at the city and State levels, at the City level, most beautiful public places in cities, viz., waterfronts, green spaces, tourist/heritage spaces, and market/commercial places would be awarded first at the State and then shortlisted for award at the National level.
It is hoped that healthy competition amongst wards and cities would encourage urban local bodies to improve their basic infrastructure, and also make the urban spaces beautiful, sustainable and inclusive.
World-Class Kayaking-Canoeing Academy to be Set Up in Tehri, Uttarakhand
Union Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy RK Singh said, a world-class Kayaking-Canoeing Academy is to be set up at Tehri in Uttarakhand, while speaking at the inauguration of the National Championship “Tehri Water Sports Cup” at Tehri Lake recently.
The aim behind establishing this academy is to promote the water sports in the country and encourage the youth to take up the same.
Other Water Sports in Uttarakhand
There are immense possibilities for the hydropower projects in the mountains, and the central and state governments are working together to take them forward.
State Chief Minister Pushkar Singh highlighted that it is the first time that a national-level sports competition is being organised at Tehri Lake.
New sports policy has been implemented in the state and the government has announced the re-introduction of sports quota in jobs.
Maharashtra Became the First State in the Country to Pass the Lokayukta Bill
Maharashtra assembly recently passed the Lokayukta Bill 2022, which brings the Chief Minister and council of ministers under the ambit of the anti-corruption ombudsman.
About the Bill:
The Lokyuktas were set up in several states while Maharashtra was one of the first states to establish an anti-corruption body through an Act in 1971.
Maharashtra’s new bill empowers the Lokayukta to investigate both the Chief Minister and the council of ministers.
Maharashtra Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta Act, 1971, is currently in force in the state and under the existing law, the anti-corruption ombudsman could only recommend action against government officials.
Under Maharashtra’s new bill, bureaucrats will also fall under the Lokayukta’s ambit.
Who is Lokayukta?
The Lokayukta is an authority at state level which deals with corruption and mal-admistration complaints made by the general public.
This authority is constituted for a quicker redressal of public grievances.
The concept of Lokayukta traces back to the ombudsman in Scandinavian countries.
The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 seeks to provide for the establishment of Lokayukta for States to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.
Functions of Lokayukta:
Lokayukta may investigate any action taken by the public servant if it is referred by the state government.
It is tasked with speedy redressal of public grievances.
The complaint will not be taken up if there is any alternate remedy.
The procedure of investigation, etc, is the same as that of the Lokpal.
The Lokayukta and Uplokayukta will present a consolidated report of their functions to the Governor.
How will Lokayukta be appointed?
The selection committee for the appointment of the Lokayukta Chairperson and Members will consist of the Chief Minister, the Deputy Chief Minister, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the Speaker of the Legislative Council, the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and the Council, and a judge nominated by the Chief Justice or Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court.
1. Brijesh Damani Wins National Billiards Championship
Asian Games silver medallist Brijesh Damani won his maiden National Billiards Championship as he got the better of his fellow PSPB player Dhruv Sitwala in Indore.
So far, Brijesh has bagged six international medals, including a silver at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010.
2. IIT Roorkee, AIIMS Delhi Develop SwasthGarbh App for Pregnant Women
Under the Prime Minister Swasth Bharat Mission, researchers at IIT Roorkee have developed a new application for pregnant women called ‘SwasthGarbh’.
The new app is designed to provide antenatal care and real-time medical support to pregnant women.
While there are a lot of apps to help women during pregnancy, most of these provide only pregnancy-related information and lack the involvement of professional clinicians.
In contrast, SwasthGarbh is the first pregnancy app that gives users access to a doctor when needed.
3. Indian Oil to Undertake TB Elimination Project in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh
Indian Oil Corp. Ltd. has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Central TB Division (CTD) under the Union Health Ministry and the states of Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to undertake intensified tuberculosis (TB) elimination project, as part of its CSR activities.
According to the World Health Organisation 26% of Tuberculosis (TB) cases in the world in 2020 was reported from India.
Within India, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh share the highest burden of TB cases among large states in India.
The Indian Government has set a target to eliminate TB in India by 2025.
4. Indian Scientist Honoured as One of Europe’s Top Talents in Biology
An Indian scientist has been chosen to join the prestigious European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) Young Investigator network, recognising her as one of the top talents in biology in Europe.
Dr Mahima Swamy, who hails from Bengaluru, is one of the University of Dundee’s most revered experts within their School of Life Sciences, where she heads a research group that investigates immune responses in the intestine.
5. President Biden Signs Largest Budget in United States History
President Joe Biden has recently signed a $1.7 trillion government spending bill for the upcoming fiscal year, marking the largest budget in United States history.
The legislation, will provide funding for a wide range of federal programs and agencies, including education, healthcare, defence, and infrastructure.
The budget also includes a significant increase in defence spending, with $740 billion allocated for the military.
This includes funding for modernising the military’s weapons systems and increasing the size of the armed forces.
It is expected to have a significant impact on the economy and the lives of Americans across the country.
6. TN Government Sets Up Nilgiri Tahr Conservation Project
Tamil Nadu is set to implement Project Nilgiri Tahr, aimed at developing a better understanding of its population.
The project, to be set up at a cost of ₹25.1 crore, will be implemented during the 2022-27 period.
Nilgiri Tahr is the only mountain ungulate (animal with hooves) in southern India amongst the 12 species present in India.
Nilgiri Tahr is also the state animal of Tamil Nadu.
It is endemic to the Western ghats and locally known as ‘Varaiaadu’.
IUCN status: Endangered.
India’s First Underwater Metro Services to Begin in Kolkata by December 2023
India’s first underwater metro service, the East-West Metro Corridor project, is expected to be completed by December 2023, as per the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC).
The Kolkata Metro, which is the first metro railway in the country, started its journey in 1984.
The East-West Metro Corridor project, which is India’s first underwater metro service, is expected to be completed by December 2023.
The underwater metro, which will run through the Hooghly River, will connect the cities of Kolkata and Howrah.
Two German-made tunnel boring machines (TBMs) – named Prerna and Rachna – were deployed for the process.
Of the total 16.55 km length of the project, 9.30 km length between Sector V and Sealdah is operational. The remaining 7.25 km length is likely to be operational by December 2023.
The first metro rail system in India was also started in Kolkata from Dum Dum to Tollygunge in 1984.
The first metro rail system in the world was started in London on 10 January 1863.
It costs about ₹120 crores per kilometre to build the tunnel, but the manufacturing cost of the tunnel underwater, which is deep in the Hooghly River, costs increased to around ₹157 crores per kilometre.
Indian Science Congress-2023
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will address the 108th Indian Science Congress (ISC) on 3rd January 2023 via video conferencing.
It will be organised at Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University (RTMNU), Maharashtra.
Last year it was organised at the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), GKVK Campus, Bangalore, and Karnataka in January 2022.
The focal theme of this year’s ISC is “Science and Technology for Sustainable Development with Women Empowerment”.
It will witness discussions on issues of sustainable development, women empowerment and the role of science and technology in achieving this.
About Science Congress and its Rationale:
The Indian Science Congress was first held in 1914.
The website of the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA), which organises the annual event, said that the association was formed with certain goals.
The objectives include advancing and promoting the cause of science in India, holding an annual congress at a suitable place in India and publishing proceedings, journals, transactions and other publications, along with securing and managing funds and endowments for the promotion of science, among others.
Children’s Science Congress
Farmer’s Science Congress
Tribal Science Congress
India Assumed Chairmanship of Wassenaar Arrangement on 1st January 2023
India assumed chairmanship of the plenary of the Wassenaar Arrangement for a year on 1st January 2023, just five years after joining the 42-member voluntary export control regime that monitors transfers of conventional weapons and dual-use goods.
This decision was taken in last year’s meeting held in Vienna.
Ireland’s ambassador Eoin O’Leary handed over the chairmanship to India’s ambassador Jaideep Mazumdar, who is the permanent representative to the UN and international organisations in Vienna.
India joined the Wassenaar Arrangement in December 2017 as its 42nd participating state.
About Wassenaar Arrangement:
The body is a multilateral export control regime that promotes transparency and greater responsibility in the transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies through regular information exchanges among its members.
The regime is aimed at tracking such transfers and preventing “destabilising accumulations” of conventional arms and dual-use goods.
The Benefit of India Assuming Chairmanship:
The plenary of the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) is the main decision-making body that operates on consensus.
As the incoming chair of the body, India “remains ready and committed to work in close cooperation with other members to further the WA goal of contributing to regional and international security and stability”.
India’s Main Focus:
India Can Bolster Anti-Terrorism Efforts
Prevent Arms Diversion to Terrorists
Strong Anti-Proliferation Framework
The democratisation of space and Defense Technologies
Wassenaar Arrangement’s Secretariat is in Vienna, Austria.
10th Edition of Dhaka Lit Fest
Art and Culture
Over 500 speakers, performers, and thinkers representing five continents will participate in the four-day event of the 10th edition of Dhaka Lit Fest, which is all set to take place on 5 – 8 January 2023.
It is popularly known as the Festival of Ideas.
The four-day event has over 175 sessions, as well as a diverse mix of conversations and dialogues, sessions on science and technology, activities for children and young adults, film screenings, and theatrical, music, and cultural performances.
The 10th edition of the Dhaka Lit Fest is set to feature Nobel Prize-winning author and internationally acclaimed prize-winning speakers; winners of the Booker and International Booker, Neustadt International, PEN/Pinter, Prix Médicis, Academy Award, Windham-Campbell Prize, Albert Medal, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, Aga Khan Award, and others.
About Dhaka Lit Fest:
Dhaka Lit Fest began in 2011 with the commitment to promote Dhaka and Bangladeshi literature and culture to the world. Over 30,000 people participated in the ninth Dhaka Lit Fest, last held in 2019.
Sadaf Saaz, Ahsan Akbar and Kazi Anis Ahmed are the directors of the Dhaka Lit Fest (DLF).
DLF has been a popular annual event in the winter calendar of Bangladesh.
India Gets Its First IVF Mobile Unit for Animals
Science and Technology
India yesterday got its first In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) mobile unit for animals in Gujarat’s Amreli.
The mobile IVF lab was inaugurated by union minister Purushottam Rupala.
According to the minister, the IVF mobile van was “dedicated in a joint venture of the Government of India and Amar Dairy”.
This is India’s first IVF mobile unit. With the help of this unit, the work of providing IVF technology to the cattle rearers of Amreli has started.
The unit was donated by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and will allow veterinarians to perform IVF procedures on animals in remote and underserved areas of the country.
About Mobile Unit:
The IVF mobile unit is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, including an incubator, micromanipulators, and a microscope.
It is also staffed by a team of experienced veterinarians and technicians who are trained in the latest IVF techniques.
Planning is to deploy the IVF mobile unit to various locations around the country, including national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and other areas where animals are in need of fertility services.
It will allow veterinarians to provide much-needed fertility treatments to animals in areas where access to specialised care is limited.
The IVF mobile unit is also expected to be a valuable resource for conservation efforts, as it will allow researchers to breed and reintroduce endangered species back into the wild.
It will help to improve the health and well-being of animals in India.
Centre to Roll Out a New Integrated Food Security Scheme Starting 1 January 2023
The government is set to roll out the centre’s new integrated food security scheme from 1 January 2023.
As per the decision made by the cabinet, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the new scheme would provide free food grains to 81.35 crore beneficiaries under NFSA for the year 2023.
The scheme would also ensure effective and uniform implementation of the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
What Are the Features of This Scheme?
The Department of Food and Public Distribution’s two current food subsidy programmes will be merged into a single integrated programme.
Food Subsidy to FCI for NFSA
Food Subsidy for decentralised procurement states, dealing with procurement, allocation and delivery of free foodgrains to the states under NFSA
Free food grains will simultaneously guarantee that mobility under the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ (ONORC) is implemented consistently across the nation and will reinforce this platform based on personal preference.
For 2023, the Central Government would pay a food subsidy of more than ₹2 lakh crores.
The Rationale of the Scheme:
The scheme has been launched with the objective of fulfilling the government’s duty of ensuring access to food and nutritional security for everyone.
The cabinet decided to launch a new Central Sector scheme to fulfil the vision of One Nation – One Price – One Ration.
67% of the population, i.e., 81.35 crore persons, is the most vulnerable population. It will be covered under NFSA.
Under the scheme, the Government of India will provide free food grains to all NFSA beneficiaries, i.e., Antyodaya Ann Yojana (AAY) households and Priority Household (PHH) persons for the next year through the widespread network of 5.33 lakhs Fair Price Shops across the country.
In terms of accessibility, affordability, and availability of food grains for the poor, the judgement would reinforce the NFSA 2013 requirements.
The Ministry of Rural Development Launches Prajjwala Challenge
With an aim to invite ideas, solutions and actions that can transform the rural economy, the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) has launched the Prajjwala Challenge.
It is one of the platforms where ideas are invited from individuals, Social Enterprises, Startups, the Private Sector, Civil Society, Community Based Organisations, Academic Institutions, Incubation centres, Investors, etc., having the potential to transform the rural economy.
What Is the Prajjwala Challenge?
The Prajjwala Challenge was launched by the Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, Shri Shailesh Kumar Singh in New Delhi.
The Mission is looking for ideas and solutions around Innovative Technology Solutions, Inclusive Growth, Value Chain Interventions, Enhanced Women Entrepreneurship, Cost-effective Solutions, Sustainability, place-based employment, localised models, etc.
The Broad Contours Fall into the Following Categories:
Focus on Women and Marginalised section of the community
Cost Effective solutions
Multi-sectoral ideas and solutions, etc.
DAY-NRLM is one of the flagship poverty alleviation programs of the Ministry of Rural Development, which aims at creating efficient and effective institutional platforms for the rural poor, enabling them to increase household income through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial services.
Lula Was Sworn in as Brazil’s President
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been sworn in as the new president of Brazil – the third time he has held the country’s highest office.
The veteran left-wing politician, known widely as Lula, also led the country between 2003 and 2010 and defeated Jair Bolsonaro in October’s poll.
Benjamin Netanyahu Was Sworn in as Israel’s Prime Minister for a Sixth Term
Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel’s prime minister for a sixth time, leading the Jewish state’s most right-wing government to date.
Netanyahu, 73, already Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister has the support of 63 lawmakers in the 120-member Knesset (Israeli parliament).
India’s Koneru Humpy Wins Silver Medal at ‘World Blitz Championships’
Koneru Humpy won silver at the Fide World Blitz Chess Championships, becoming the first Indian woman to win a medal at the prestigious tournament. This year it was held in Kazakhstan’s capital Almaty.
Koneru Humpy beats China’s Zhongyi Tan to win the silver medal.
After Viswanathan Anand, she is the second Indian to win a medal at World Blitz.
This was Humpy’s first medal at World Blitz, as per Chessbase India.
The International Chess governing body FIDE organises the World Rapid and Blitz chess championship at the end of the year.
Chhattisgarh: ‘Nijaat’ Campaign Selected for the International IACP Award 2022
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the US-based international organisation, has selected the anti-drug and illicit liquor campaign ‘Nijaat’ of Chhattisgarh police for ‘Leadership in Crime Prevention’ in the institutional category.
The campaign was launched by the Chhattisgarh police under the leadership of the IPS officer Santosh Kumar Singh who pioneered the drive with intensified efforts in districts of Korea, Rajnandgaon and presently continuing in Korba.
Nijaat Abhiyan includes strict action against illegal drug dealers, intensive public awareness and rehabilitation of the addicts.
Croatia Adopts Euro, Enters Borderless Europe Club
Croatia on 1st January 2023, switched to the euro and entered Europe’s borderless zone – two steps Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic called a “historic moment” for his country that joined the European Union nearly a decade ago.
At midnight, the Balkan nation bid farewell to its kuna currency and became the 20th member of the eurozone.
It is also now the 27th nation in the passport-free Schengen zone, the world’s largest, which enables more than 400 million people to move freely around its members.
Aung San Suu Kyi Was Jailed for Another Seven Years
The ousted leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been sentenced to a further seven years in prison for alleged corruption.
A Myanmar military court has sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi to a further seven years in prison, taking her overall jail time to 33 years.
Her previous convictions had landed her a total of 26 years imprisonment.
Suu Kyi was detained on Feb. 1, 2021, when the military seized power from her elected government.
Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese politician, diplomat, author, and a 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate who served as State Counsellor of Myanmar and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2016 to 2021.
Cristiano Ronaldo Joins Saudi Arabian Club Al Nassr
Portugal Football captain Cristiano Ronaldo has joined the Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr on a contract until 2025.
The club said it would inspire their league, nation, and future generations, boys and girls, to be the best version of themselves.
The 37-year-old Ronaldo said he is eager to experience a new football league in a different country.
The Portugal captain was free after leaving Manchester United following a controversial interview in which he had criticised the club.
Launch of Utkarsh 2.0 – Reserve Bank of India’s Medium-term Strategy Framework
The Reserve Bank of India’s Medium-term Strategy Framework for the period 2023-2025 – ‘Utkarsh 2.0’ was launched recently by Shri Shaktikanta Das, Governor, RBI.
The first strategy framework (Utkarsh 2022) covering the period 2019-2022 was launched in July 2019.
It became a medium-term strategy document guiding the Bank’s progress towards the realisation of the identified milestones.
It will be based on AI and Machine learning driven tools for data analysis and information creation.
What is Utkarsh 2.0?
Utkarsh 2.0 harnesses the strengths of Utkarsh 2022 by retaining the six Vision statements as well as Core Purpose, Values, and Mission statements.
Collectively, they create a strategic guiding path.
The Vision in Utkarsh 2.0 that will guide the Reserve Bank of India over the period 2023-25 are
Excellence in the performance of its functions
The strengthened trust of citizens and Institutions in the RBI
Enhanced relevance and significance in national and global roles
Transparent, accountable and ethics-driven internal governance
Best-in-class and environment-friendly digital and physical infrastructure and
Innovative, dynamic and skilled human resources
The strategy framework will also make the Bank a listening-oriented, transparent organisation equipped with best-in-class and environment-friendly digital and physical infrastructure.
Utkarsh 2.0, the Strategy Framework being put in place for the period 2023-25, sets out the priorities, activities, and desired outcomes under each of the objectives of the Bank for the period between 2023 and 2025.
Remote Electronic Voting Machine
Inclusive Democracy and Polity
The Election Commission (EC) has developed a prototype of a remote electronic voting machine (RVM) for domestic migrant voters. The move is aimed at increasing voters’ participation.
Political parties have been invited to witness the demonstration of the RVM on January 16. The new RVM prototype will enable a voter, who is listed in constituencies, to exercise voting rights from a single machine.
The remote e-voting machine will be a standalone device that doesn’t need connectivity to operate.
How Does This RVM Work?
The RVMs will have the same security system and voting experience as the EVM, with the modification of an electronic ballot display with candidates and symbols instead of a fixed ballot paper sheet.
When the voter scans his/her constituency card in the presence of the Presiding Officer at the station, their respective constituency and candidate list will appear on the RVM display.
As for counting the votes, the electronic system will also count and store the votes for each candidate in a constituency.
According to the EC, the voters’ inability to vote due to internal migration is a vital issue that needs to be addressed.
This invention would improve voter turnout and ensure the participation of migrants in elections. If implemented correctly, migrant voters need not travel to their home district to exercise their voting rights.
There was only a 67.4 per cent of voter turnout in the general elections in 2019, and over 30 crore electors did not exercise their voting rights.
This machine can lead to ensure participative elections and Inclusive Democracy.
Election Commission’s ‘Mission-929’ to Take Voter Turnout in Tripura to Over 90%
Polity and Governance
The Election Commission (EC) is focusing on 929 polling booths across Tripura, setting a target of 92 per cent voter turnout in the assembly elections due early this year.
These booths recorded a voter turnout of less than 89 per cent, which was the average across 3,328 booths in the 2018 assembly poll.
To turnaround the relatively low voting percentage in these booths, the EC has launched ‘Mission-929’. Apart from an awareness campaign, poll officials will visit senior citizens and persons with disability and appeal to them to cast their votes.
The Election commission plans to launch an awareness campaign, and poll officials will visit senior citizens and persons with disability and appeal to them to cast their votes.
The ECI will make requisite arrangements such as ramps and wheelchairs, and separate queues will be arranged at every polling station to felicitate senior citizens and persons with disability.
The ECI is also working on Mission ‘Zero Poll Violence’ to make the assembly elections peaceful. This will also ensure that voters can cast their votes peacefully in the assembly elections to be held in 2023.
Unemployment Rate in India Reached a 16-month High of 8.3%
The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) recently stated that the unemployment rate in India rose to 8.30% in December, the highest level in 16 months, from 8.00% in November.
The urban unemployment rate @10.09%
Rural unemployment rate @7.44%
Five states with the highest unemployment rates in December:
Five States with the lowest Unemployment Rates in December:
What Is CMIE?
CMIE, or Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, is a leading business information company.
It was established in 1976 initially as an independent think tank.
CMIE is a privately owned and professionally managed company headquartered in Mumbai.
Mahesh Vyas, Managing Director of CMIE, came alongside a significant increase in the labour participation rate, which reached 40.48% in December, the highest in 12 months.
Blockchain to Be Used to Push Farm Exports
India’s natural farming could soon get a technological push through blockchain, as the government plans to use the technology across all export-driven crops to increase the country’s food shipments and incentivise farmers to take up chemical-free processes.
The Niti Aayog has launched a pilot project in collaboration with the Himachal Pradesh government on apple farming to ensure quality products while also monitoring the produce across the entire storage and supply chain.
How Will This Technology Work?
Blockchain is a distributed or decentralised ledger technology.
It consists of a series of blocks, where each block contains details of transactions executed over the network, hash (address) of the previous block, timestamp, etc.
Data and transactions stored in blocks are secured against tampering using cryptography and validated and verified through consensus across Blockchain network nodes.
Blockchain will help remove redundant processes, ensuring quality control and monitoring produce across the entire storage and supply chain.
IoT sensors will be used to generate crop data and its storage, distribution of grown crops to food processing companies, and supply of processed food to wholesalers and retailers and its storage.
India ranks second in fruits and vegetable production in the world, after China, but its share in the global fruits and vegetable market is just 1%.
Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award
Awards and Recognitions
Guyana’s President Mohamed Irfaan Ali, US-based businessman Darshan Singh Dhaliwal, and DSB Group CEO Piyush Gupta are among 21 recipients of the 17th Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA), announced recently.
Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award is the highest honour conferred on overseas Indians during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, which will be held between January 8 and 10 in Indore.
According to a statement issued by the MEA on Monday, the PSBA is conferred by the President of India as part of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention on Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) or organisations established and run by NRIs or PIOs in recognition of their outstanding achievements — both in India and abroad.
Some Important Recipients of the Award this Year:
Guyana’s President, Mohamed Irfaan Ali
US-based businessman Darshan Singh Dhaliwal
DSB Group CEO Piyush Gupta
Poland-based businessman Amit Kailash Chandra Lath
FedEx Corporation CEO Rajesh Subramaniam
Indian-Australian economist Chennupati Jagadish
Kannam Ambalam, associate professor at Ethiopia-based Wollega University
Reena Vinod Pushkarna, an Israel-based chef
SAIME Initiative for Mangrove Restoration in Sundarbans
Environment and Ecology
A new initiative of sustainable shrimp cultivation provides hope for mangrove restoration in Sundarbans. For several years, environmentalists and experts have expressed concerns over unsustainable aquaculture, particularly shrimp collection, after cleaning large tracts of mangrove forests in Sunderbans.
What Is the SAIME Initiative?
Under the Sustainable Aquaculture In Mangrove Ecosystem (SAIME) initiative, farmers have taken up the cultivation of shrimp at 30 hectares in West Bengal.
Additionally, they are restoring mangroves.
The mangrove ecosystem is integrated with shrimp cultivation, but the mangrove ecosystem was excluded when fisheries were expanded inwards.
About Sundarbans Delta:
The Sundarbans hosts the largest mangrove forests in the world, lying on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers on the Bay of Bengal.
The mangrove ecosystem is a very specialised environment occurring between the land and the sea in the tropical and subtropical regions.
It is home to many rare and globally threatened wildlife species, such as estuarine crocodiles, water monitor lizards, Gangetic dolphins and olive ridley turtles.
40% of Sundarbans lies in India and the rest in Bangladesh. Sundarbans was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987 (India) and 1997 (Bangladesh).
Sundarbans Wetland, India, was recognised as the ‘Wetland of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention in January 2019.
Koustav Chatterjee became India’s 78th Grandmaster in MPL 59th National Senior Chess Championship in New Delhi recently.
Koustav hailing from Kolkata, becomes West Bengal’s tenth Grandmaster.
Koustav earned his first GM norm in October 2021 at a Grandmasters’ chess tournament in Bangladesh.
GrandMaster is the highest title apart from World Champion awarded to Chess players by the International Chess Federation FIDE. India’s 1st Chess GrandMaster was won by Viswanathan Anand at the age of 14 in 1988.
BARC veteran Dinesh Kumar Shukla takes over as AERB chairman
Dinesh Kumar Shukla, an internationally-acclaimed expert in the field of nuclear safety and former Executive Director of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), has taken over as the Chairman of the body.
He will have a tenure of three years.
The mission of the AERB is to ensure the use of ionising radiation and nuclear energy in India does not cause undue risk to the health of people and the environment.
The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board was constituted on 15 November 1983.
Hyderabad will be the first city with 100% sewerage facilities by May
Minister of Municipal Administration and Urban Development, IT and Industries of Telangana, K. T. Rama Rao, recently said that Hyderabad would be the first city in India to have hundred per cent sewerage facilities by next April-May.
Thirty-one new Sewage treatment plants (STPs) are being built in the city with an investment of ₹3,866 crores.
DEXA-BCCI’s New Selection Criteria For Indian Men’s Team
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to make Dexa and the Yo-Yo Test mandatory for selection in the national team.
DEXA, or Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry, is an imaging technique used to measure bone density.
The test is used to assess whether a fracture in the bone is possible.
There are two sorts of beams produced by the scan: high energy and low energy. Bone density is determined by counting the number of X-rays released after each beam passes through the bone.
If Indian cricketers want to pass the Yo-Yo Test, they must run 2 kilometres in 8 minutes and 30 seconds. For fast bowlers, the requirement is even stricter – 2 kilometres in 8 minutes and 15 seconds.
Government launches ‘Prahari’ app for BSF Jawans
The government launched the Border Security Force (BSF) mobile app ‘Prahari’. This app is a great example of proactive governance.
With the app, BSF soldiers can get personal and service-related information, housing, Ayushman-CAPF and leave-related information on their mobiles.
Soldiers can also get information on various welfare schemes through this app.
UP Government Signs an MOU of ₹18,590 crores with UAE-Based Company
The Uttar Pradesh government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) worth ₹18,590 crores (approximately $2.5 billion) with a United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based company.
The MoU, which was signed during a recent visit by a delegation from the UAE to Uttar Pradesh, aims to bring investments and new technologies to the state.
The specific details of the agreement, including the name of the UAE company and the sectors in which the investments will be made, have not been disclosed.
The MOU is expected to create new job opportunities and boost economic growth in the state. Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, said that the agreement would help the state “leapfrog into a new era of development and prosperity”.
World Braille Day 2023
Days and Events
Marked on 4 January, the day recognises and honours the life and work of Louis Braille, the inventor of the Braille system of reading and writing for blind and visually impaired people.
The United Nations General Assembly established it in 2019, serving as the opening ceremony for Braille Literacy Month.
What is Braille?
According to the United Nations, Braille is a tactile representation of alphabetic and numerical symbols using six dots to represent each letter and number, and even musical, mathematical and scientific symbols. Braille is used by blind and partially sighted people to read.
Braille is considered important in terms of education, freedom of expression and opinion, as well as social inclusion, as reflected in article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
World Braille Day aims to increase public awareness of the value of braille as a form of communication for the blind and partially sighted.
Ministry of Defence signs up with other Ministries to award degrees to Agniveers
At an event, the Defence Ministry, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, and the three Services (Indian Army, Navy and Air Force) signed and exchanged Memorandums of Understanding (MoU)/Agreements with various stakeholders to facilitate the continued education of Agniveers while serving in the Armed Forces, and the award of appropriate skill certificates in accordance with their expertise and experience.
What is Kaushal Pranam Patra?
Under the MoUs with the National Institute of Open Schooling and the Indira Gandhi National Open University, Agniveers will be awarded suitable Class 12 certificates and Bachelor’s degrees, respectively.
The job roles and skill sets of the Agniveers have been mapped to National Occupational Standards in coordination with the National Skill Development Corporation and Sector Skill Councils.
Based on these qualifications, Agniveers will receive market-ready and industry-accepted “Kaushal Praman Patra” certificates upon exiting the armed forces.
Upon completion of two years with the necessary credits, Agniveers can earn a Bachelor’s degree from IGNOU or an Agniveer diploma.
About First Batch of Agniveer:
The first batch of Agniveers recruited under the new Agnipath scheme has just begun training. Under the Agnipath scheme announced on 15 June 2022, soldiers, sailors and airmen would only be recruited through the scheme for a period of four years, from among which 25% would be taken for Permanent Commission after fresh selection. Candidates between the age group of 17.5 to 21 years are eligible to apply for the scheme.
NTPC Begins India’s First Green Hydrogen Blending Operation in the PNG Network
State-owned power generator NTPC Ltd. has commissioned the country’s first green hydrogen blending project.
Green hydrogen blending has been started in piped natural gas (PNG) network of NTPC Kawas township, Surat.
The project is a joint effort of NTPC and Gujarat Gas Limited (GGL).
This feat has been achieved only by a few countries like the UK, Germany, and Australia.
This would bring India to the centre stage of the global hydrogen economy.
Green hydrogen blending operation marks a significant milestone in India’s efforts to transition to a low-carbon economy.
It is also expected to boost the country’s domestic green hydrogen production capabilities, as well as create new job opportunities in the renewable energy sector.
NTPC Limited (formerly National Thermal Power Corporation Limited) is a state-owned Indian electricity generation company headquartered in New Delhi, India.
It is the largest power generation company in India, with an installed capacity of 66,358 MW.
In another step towards digitalisation, Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud recently announced the launch of the electronic Supreme Court Reports (e-SCR) project to provide free access to its about 34,000 judgements to lawyers, law students and the common public.
These verdicts will be available on the apex court website, its mobile app and on the judgement portal of the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG).
About the e-SCR project:
The e-SCR project will showcase replica soft copies of SCRs, which would be available in PDF format.
The entire gamut of judgments of the Supreme Court, from its inception in 1950, would now be available in the digital repository.
The Court has also worked with the National Informatics Center (NIC) to generate metadata on the large repository of files to enable functions like free text search, search within a search, case type, etc.
South Asian Black Carbon Aerosols
Environment and Ecology
Black carbon aerosols have indirectly affected the mass gain of the Tibetan Plateau glaciers by changing long-range water vapour transport from the South Asian monsoon region, a study has found.
The South Asia region adjacent to the Tibetan Plateau has the world’s highest levels of black carbon emission.
What Is Black Carbon:
Black carbon is a short-lived climate pollutant with a lifetime of only days to weeks after release in the atmosphere.
Black carbon is formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, wood, and other fuels.
Rapid melting of Glaciers
Formation of Asian Brown Cloud: it is a man-made cloud of carbon emissions, dust, and other pollutants that causes less sunlight, less rain, and an inverse warming effect
The increasing number of Glacial lakes
Changes in Snow Albedo effects
Major impact on Livelihood
Respiratory and cardiovascular health impacts on humans
World’s Longest Luxury River Cruise – ‘Ganga Vilas’ to be Launched on 13th January
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off the world’s longest luxury river cruise – ‘Ganga Vilas’ – from Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi to Dibrugarh in Assam on 13 January.
The cruise will cover 3,200 kilometres in 50 days.
Passing through the rivers of India and Bangladesh, the cruise will cover 27 different river systems and will stop at over 50 tourist sites, including world heritage.
In Bangladesh, it will cover an 1100 kilometres route before entering India again.
About the cruise:
Ganga Vilas is built with a unique design and a futuristic vision.
It blends cultural and modern amenities with minimalistic designs.
These have been furnished with numerous amenities such as a bathroom with shower, convertible beds, French balcony, LED TV, safe, smoke detectors, life vest, and sprinklers.
The river cruise will be operated by private players Antara Luxury River Cruises and JM Baxi River Cruises, along with the governmental partnership from the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI).
Ganga Vilas, the luxury river cruise vessel, has 18 cabins/suites and all other associated facilities.
India takes over leadership of the Asian Pacific Postal Union
India will take over the leadership of the Asian Pacific Postal Union (APPU), having its Headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, from this month.
Following the successful elections held during the 13th APPU Congress held in Bangkok during August–September 2022, Dr Vinaya Prakash Singh, erstwhile Member (Personnel), Postal Services Board, will take over the charge of Secretary General of the Union for the tenure of 4 years.
This is the first time an Indian is leading an international organisation in the postal sector.
What Is the Asian Pacific Postal Union (APPU)?
Asian Pacific Postal Union (APPU) is an intergovernmental organisation of 32 member countries of the Asian-Pacific region.
APPU is the only Restricted Union of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in the region, which is a specialised agency of the United Nations.
The goal of APPU is to extend, facilitate and improve postal relations between member countries and to promote cooperation in the field of postal services.
The Asia Pacific region generates around half of the global mail volume and has around one-third of the global postal human resource.
China becomes the first country in Asia and second in the world to launch Hydrogen powered trains
China’s CRRC Corporation Ltd. recently unveiled its first hydrogen urban train, which happens to be Asia’s first hydrogen train.
The hydrogen train gets a top speed of 160 km/h, and the operational range without refuelling is 600 km (the record of 1175 km was set this September by the Coradia iLint serial train of Alstom in Germany).
On the other hand, India is also moving fast to make its first-ever indigenous Hydrogen trains.
As per various statements given by Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, India will most likely get its first hydrogen train by 2023.
About Chinese Hydrogen Train:
The Hydrogen train was developed on the basis of the Fuxing high-speed platform and included four cars with it. CRRC also introduced such a shunting locomotive in 2021, and hydrogen trams were produced earlier in the mid-2010s.
The train will also get Digital solutions from the CRRC, including GoA2 automation, component monitoring sensors and 5G data transmission equipment.
It is expected that the operation of the train will reduce CO2 emissions compared to diesel traction by 10 tons per year.
What Are Hydrails?
All rail vehicles running on hydrogen fuel are called hydrails. This train has been tested in Germany since 2018. Henri Popart-Lafarge, CEO of Alstom, says that only 1 kg of hydrogen is equivalent to about 4.5 kg of diesel.
Hydrogen as a Fuel:
Hydrogen has been looked at as a potent replacement for fossil fuels in the transportation industry.
Fuel cells of smaller sizes are also being developed for their utilisation in cars. Although, the technology is still in its nascent stage for a mass-market product.
The challenge of transporting hydrogen and its retail is a challenge which still needs to be ironed out.
Noted Rabindra Sangeet exponent Sumitra Sen dies in Kolkata
Eminent Rabindra Sangeet exponent Sumitra Sen died recently in Kolkata. She was 89 and was suffering from bronchopneumonia.
Her memorable songs that entertained Rabindra Sangeet lovers for over four decades include
‘Megh Bolechhe Jabo Jabo’,
‘Tomari Jharnatalar Nirjone’,
‘Sakhi Bhabona Kahare Bole’ and
‘Achhe Dukho Achhe Mrityu’.
BSE has appointed Sundararaman Ramamurthy as MD, CEO Today.
BSE Ltd. recently had said that Sundararaman Ramamurthy would be the Managing Director and chief executive officer (CEO) of the exchange effective 4th January.
He has been appointed for a tenure of five years.
The top position at the bourse has been vacant since July after Ashishkumar Chauhan resigned to join the National Stock Exchange (NSE).
Captain Shiva Chauhan becomes the first women officer to be operationally deployed in Siachen
Captain Shiva Chouhan of the Indian Army’s Fire and Fury Corps became the first woman officer to get operationally deployed at the world’s highest battlefield, Siachen, after a month’s arduous training at Siachen Battle School along with other personnel.
Recently, the Fire and Fury Corps announced that officer Chauhan had been deployed to the Kumar Post after completing “arduous training”.
Uttarakhand govt abolishes the system of revenue police
The Uttarakhand government recently abolished the system of revenue police in the state.
The revenue villages will be brought under the regular policing system now, which means law and order in 1,800 revenue villages will be handled by the state police.
The decision came months after allegations were levelled against local revenue police in the Ankita Bhandari murder case.
This system was introduced by the British in the hilly state 150 years back.
Under the system, the civil officials/patwari of the Revenue department had the power to investigate and arrest the offenders just like the police.
EC Appoints Maithili Thakur As Bihar’s State Icon
Folk singer Maithili Thakur was recently appointed the state icon for Bihar by the Election Commission.
Thakur, trained in Indian classical and folk music, was recently selected for the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar of the Sangeet Natak Akademi for her contribution to the folk music of Bihar for 2021.
A senior official of the state election commission said that the singer would create awareness among the voters for their participation in the electoral process.
Odisha Wins World Habitat Awards 2023 for Jaga Mission
Recently, Odisha won the ‘World Habitat Award’ for its ambitious initiative- Jaga Mission.
It aims at transforming the slums into liveable habitats with all necessary civic infrastructure and services at par with the better-off areas within the same urban local body and to continuously improve the standard of the infrastructure and services and access to livelihood opportunities.
World Habitat Award?
This award is given by World Habitat, in partnership with United Nations Habitat, every year, in recognition of innovative, outstanding, and revolutionary ideas, projects, and programmes from across the world in the field of housing.
What is the Jaga Mission?
Odisha Liveable Habitat Mission (OLHM)- JAGA is a society under the Housing and Urban Development Department, Government of Odisha.
The slum land titling mission was being executed in collaboration with Tata Trusts and Norman Foster Foundation.
The Odisha government rolled out this first-of-its-kind project on 7 May 2018.
This mission was also awarded the ‘India Geospatial Excellence Award’ for technological innovation in transforming the lives of the urban poor.
President launched National Campaign on ‘RISE-Rising India through Spiritual Empowerment’
The President of India, Smt Droupadi Murmu, graced the launch of the National Campaign on ‘RISE-Rising India through Spiritual Empowerment’, organised by Brahma Kumaris at Mount Abu, Rajasthan recently.
Details of RISE:
Indian citizens are intended to be spiritually empowered via the national campaign “RISE- Rising India Through Spiritual Empowerment”.
This will contribute to realising the vision of a “Golden India”.
According to Brahma Kumaris, personal development results in global transformation.
The path of a million modifications will set off a chain reaction that, in the end, will result in rebuilding the nation.
1st All India Annual State Ministers Conference on Water
The “1st All India Annual State Ministers Conference on Water’’ is being organised by the Ministry of Jal Shakti with the theme “Water Vision@2047” in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, on the 5th and 6th of this month.
The primary objective of this two-day Conference is to gather inputs for the vision India@2047 as the water sector will play a significant role in achieving the heights India strives to reach in the coming years.
It will share the initiatives and schemes of the Ministry of Jal Shakti with all water stakeholders of the States.
The Conference will have five thematic sessions
Water Security in Water Deficit, Water Surplus and Hilly Regions
Water Use Efficiency, including Reuse of Waste Water/ Grey Water
Climate Change Resilient Water Infrastructure
Ethiopia Releases an Atlas to Map Livestock Disease
Science and Technology
Ethiopia has recently released the first edition of an atlas to map a parasitic disease affecting livestock in the country and the vector behind it.
It aims to establish a reference for the distribution of tsetse flies and African animal trypanosomiasis (AAT) in western Ethiopia.
AAT is a major livestock disease constraining sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural production.
It is caused by the parasitic protozoa trypanosomes, which are transmitted by the bite of tsetse flies — an African blood-sucking fly.
Countries Covered in AAT Project:
The project spans from August 2021–August 2025 and houses African countries, including South Africa, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, Senegal, Sudan, Chad, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Winter Heat Wave in Europe
Environment and Ecology
Several parts of Europe witnessed an unprecedented winter heat wave over New Year’s weekend. Experts said that temperatures increased 10 to 20 degrees Celsius above normal.
Seven European countries, including Poland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia, recorded their hottest January weather ever.
This extreme warm spell experienced by Europe is because of the formation of a heat dome over the region.
What Is a Heat Dome?
A heat dome occurs when an area of high-pressure traps warm air over a region (like a lid on a pot) for an extended period of time.
The longer that air remains trapped, the more the sun works to heat the air, producing warmer conditions with every passing day.
Heat domes generally stay for a few days, but sometimes they can extend for weeks, which might cause deadly heat waves.
When this warm air sinks, it gets drier and further raises the temperature of the area.
Connection of Heat Dome with Jet Streams:
The formation of a heat dome is related to the behaviour of the jet stream.
Jet Stream is an area of fast-moving air high in the atmosphere which has a wave-like pattern that keeps moving from north to south and then north again.
When these waves get bigger and elongated, they move slowly and sometimes can become stationary.
This is when a high-pressure system gets stuck and leads to the occurrence of a heat dome.
What Are Some Previous Instances of Heat Domes?
In 2021, a heat dome formed over western Canada and the US, causing deadly heat waves.
Another heat dome settled over the US in September 2022 and raised temperatures which fuelled wildfires and stressed the power grid.
The 36th Strategic Dialogue Between India and France
India and France held the 36th Strategic Dialogue today, 5th January, in New Delhi.
The two sides were having discussions on wide-ranging bilateral and global issues.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval led the Indian delegation, while the Diplomatic Advisor to the French President, Mr Emmanuel Bonne, led the French delegation. Mr Bonne has also called on other Indian dignitaries.
The last edition of the Strategic Dialogue was held in November 2021 in Paris.
Amit Shah lays the foundation stone of the Central Detective Training Institute (CDTI) at Devanahalli, Karnataka
Union Home and Cooperation Minister Shri Amit Shah recently laid the foundation stone of the Central Detective Training Institute (CDTI) at Devanahalli in Karnataka and inaugurated the residential and administrative complexes of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
This will be the 6th CDTI of the Bureau of Police Research and Development under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in the country.
The first CDTI was set up in Calcutta in 1958. Others are at Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Ghaziabad.
18th National Jamboree of the Bharat Scouts and Guides in Rajasthan
The President of India, Smt Droupadi Murmu, recently graced the inauguration of the 18th National Jamboree of the Bharat Scouts and Guides at Pali, Rajasthan.
Rajasthan is hosting Jamboree after 66 years. Over 35,000 scouts and guides from all over the country are participating in this 7-day mega-event.
The first National Scout and Guide Jamboree was held in Andhra Pradesh in 1951. The last one was held in Mysore.
Theme: Progress with Peace.
The Jamboree is a National level gathering of the Scouts and Guides conducted once in 4 years or to mark special occasions.
Neem shows antibacterial, antifungal, and other versatile properties, but these properties do not exempt the neem trees from being attacked by pests and diseases.
The disease posing a threat to the neem trees has been identified as twig blight and dieback disease in Telangana, and it has reappeared in the state this year on a massive scale.
The dieback disease was first reported in the country during the 1990s near Dehradun in Uttarakhand, while it was first noticed in Telangana in 2019.
The dieback disease is mainly caused by the ‘fungi Phomopsis azadirachtae’.
Rani Velu Nachiyar
Rani Velu Nachiyar, also known as Veeramangai (brave woman in the Tamil language), was a daughter of King Chellamuthu Vijayaragunatha Setupathy of Ramanathapuram.
She became the queen of Sivaganga state (in present-day Tamil Nadu) from 1780-1790.
She built an army of women called Udaiyaal.
She was the first queen to wage war against the East India Company.
She formed an alliance with Hyder Ali against the British in 1780.
European Space Agency (ESA) will announce the first astronaut or astronauts with a physical disability soon under ESA’s “parastronaut project”.
This could be used as an example to show that ‘disability is not a limitation’.
Goa introduces Blue Cab service at Manohar International Airport from 5th January
The Goa government recently announced the introduction of the Blue Cab service at the Manohar International Airport in the state from 5th January.
The Blue Cabs will be operated by trained and licensed drivers and will feature GPS tracking and panic buttons for the safety of passengers.
The cabs will run on electric power, reducing carbon emissions and contributing to a cleaner environment.
World Day of War Orphans 2023
Days and Events
World Day for War Orphans is observed every year on 6 January.
The focus of the day highlights the plight and challenges faced by orphans who have lost their parents as a result of wars and conflicts.
These children are subjected to hardships that are more than just physical neglect after losing their caregivers.
It is a very significant event to note that the aftermath of war is not just harsh on a single part of society.
The first orphanage in the world to support widows and orphans of war was established by the Romans in 400 A.D. Children whose parents were killed in military service were cared for until the age of eighteen.
‘SOS Enfants en Detresse’, a French organisation, adopted the World Day for War Orphans.
The aim was to work towards bringing a sense of normalcy to the lives of children affected by wars.
It is commemorated on 6 January every year.
The day is marked by several awareness programmes, working to give people a better understanding of the struggles of orphaned children in the aftermath of war.
Perhaps the most significant reason the day is marked is to highlight the debilitating aftereffects of war.
The focus is especially shifted to orphans and their plight. Children who have no direct part in the war often end up suffering the most.
The day is marked to understand the full impact of how destructive wars can be and the weight of loss it brings along.
The day is also commemorated to give a platform to the war orphans and let them know their voices are heard.
World Day for War Orphans gives these children a chance to narrate their stories to the world. More than that, it is a chance to hear their needs.
World Day for War Orphans is a chance to raise awareness about the poor conditions orphans are often forced to live in.
Varanasi Cantt Railway Station Achieves a 5-Star Rating
The Varanasi Cantt railway station has become one of the ‘Eat Right’ stations after being awarded a five-star ‘Eat Right Station’ certification for providing high-quality, nutritious food to passengers.
What Is an Eat Right Station?
The “Eat Right Station” certification is awarded by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to the railway stations that set benchmarks (as per the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006) in providing safe and wholesome food to passengers.
FSSAI is an autonomous statutory body established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
The station is awarded a certificate upon a conclusion of an FSSAI-empanelled third-party audit agency with ratings from one to five.
“The five-star rating indicates full compliance by the station to ensure safe and hygienic food is available to passengers.
Which are the Other Stations?
The other railway stations with Star certification include Anand Vihar Terminal Railway Station (Delhi), Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Mumbai), Mumbai Central Railway Station, Vadodara Railway Station, Chandigarh Railway Station and Bhopal Railway Station.
Other prominent Eat Right stations are Igatpuri Station in Maharashtra, Mysore City Station in Mysore, Jaipur Railway Station, Gwalior Station, Durgapur Station, Kolkata Railway Station and Bhubaneswar Station.
India Hosts the Youth 20 (Y20) Summit for the First Time
Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Shri Anurag Singh Thakur today, 6 January, launched the themes of the Y20 summit, logo and website in the Curtain raiser event of Y20 Summit India at Akashwani Rang Bhawan New Delhi.
The Y20 Summit India is being organised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry and the National Institution for Transforming India.
What Is the Y20 Summit?
The Y20 Summit, also known as the G20 Youth Summit, is an international forum for young leaders from G20 countries to come together and discuss global issues and challenges.
The summit, which is held in conjunction with the G20 Summit, provides a platform for young people to engage with government officials and policymakers and to share their ideas and recommendations on how to address these issues.
For the next eight months, there will be Pre summits on the five Y20 (Youth 20) themes along with various discussions and seminars at different Universities across states in India in a run-up to the final Youth-20 Summit.
India’s G-20 Presidency:
For India, the G20 Presidency also marks the beginning of “Amritkaal”, the 25-year period beginning from the 75th anniversary of its independence on 15 August 2022, leading up to the centenary of its independence, towards a futuristic, prosperous, inclusive and developed society, distinguished by a human-centric approach at its core.
India is playing a significant role in finding workable solutions at the international level to ensure holistic well-being embodying the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.
World’s Biggest ‘Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium’ Built in India
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik recently inaugurated one of the largest hockey stadiums in India in Rourkela ahead of the Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023.
The facility was built by the Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO).
Built at an estimated cost of ₹261 crores, the stadium, located in Sundargarh district, has been christened as Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium Complex.
It has been built on 50 acres in a record 15 months with a seating capacity of 20,000.
The stadium also has practice centres adjacent to it with certified turfs and lighting.
About the 2023 Men’s FIH Hockey World Cup:
The 2023 Men’s FIH Hockey World Cup will be the 15th edition of the Men’s FIH Hockey World Cup, the quadrennial world championship for men’s national field hockey teams organised by the International Hockey Federation
Dates: Friday, 13 January 2023 – Sunday, 29 January 2023
Teams: 16 (from 5 confederations)
Venue(s): Kalinga Stadium; Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium
Mascot: “Olly” promotes awareness for Olive Ridley Turtles
India’s first match against Spain is arranged to be played at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium on 13 January.
India will have a match against England at the same venue after two days.
Features of the stadium:
Apart from the main turf, it has a practice turf close to the main stadium. It also has
dressing and changing room,
connecting tunnel and five-star accommodation,
There are 250 rooms, which can accommodate 400 players.
There are six entry and exit points for those visiting the stadium. Also, there is a huge parking space for two and four-wheeler vehicles. Initially, the National Hockey Stadium of Lahore was the biggest stadium in the world.
Hydro Tourism to be Started in Ladakh
In Ladakh, the Tourism Department is adding another feather to its cap with plans to start Hydro tourism. The Ladakh Tourism department, in collaboration with National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, NHPC, is planning aquatic sports to begin Hydro tourism at the world’s highest hydropower project on the Indus river, near Alchi in Leh.
Aquatic sports like Kayaking, Jet Skiing, Motorboating, Ice Skating during winter, and boating during the summer season will be rolled out in a phased manner.
Similarly, the tourism department is also introducing border tourism in cooperation with the Fire and Fury Corps of the Indian Army.
The department has also planned to develop infrastructure along the river for tourist attractions such as camping sites and souvenir shops.
This can also help local entrepreneurs to showcase and sell their products. Also, floating cafeterias will be set up where tourists can get a taste of the local Ladakhi delicacies onboard.
World’s First Palm-Leaf Manuscript Museum Built in Kerala
A treasure house of both obscure and celebrated tales of the erstwhile Travancore kingdom that became Asia’s first to defeat any European power on Indian soil, the recently opened Palm leaf Manuscript Museum in the Kerala capital has further brightened the state’s cultural and academic space.
About the Museum:
This museum has brightened the state’s cultural and academic space. Accordingly, the museum is a storehouse of curious nuggets of administrative, socio-cultural and economic facets of the Travancore kingdom, which spanned over a period of 650 years till the end of the 19th century.
The museum accounts of the famous Battle of Colachel wherein the Travancore king Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma (1729-58) defeated the Dutch East India Company at Colachel. This 1741 victory ended Dutch expansion in India, and Travancore, under Marthanda Varma, became Asia’s first state to defeat any European power.
The museum has around 187 manuscripts in the record.
The old age stories are entirely based on primary sources, which are documents written on cured and treated palm leaves assigned to the corners of the records rooms.
In the first phase, the historical material was chosen after carefully sieving from a huge stock of 1.5 crore palm-leaf stored records from across the state.
Galleries of the Museum include:
‘History of Writing’
‘Land and people’
‘War and Peace’
‘Education and Health’
‘Art and Culture’
The First-ever “National Genome Editing and Training Centre” Inaugurated at Mohali
Science and Technology
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science and Technology Dr Jitendra Singh inaugurated the “National Genome Editing and Training Centre” at National Agri-food Biotechnology Institute (NABI) Mohali, Punjab.
NGETC is a one-roof state-of-the-art facility that will serve as a national platform to cater to the regional needs to adapt different genome editing methods, including CRISPR-Cas mediated genome modification.
This quantum jump in the number of startups must equally and proportionally reflect in Agri and biotech as well because this area is yet to be fully explored and taken advantage of by Indian entrepreneurs and youth.
Jaydev Unadkat Becomes the First Bowler to Secure a First-Over Hat-Trick in Ranji Trophy
Saurashtra pace veteran Jaydev Unadkat became the first-ever bowler to clinch a hat-trick in the first over of a Ranji Trophy match.
The bowler did so in Saurashtra’s Elite – Group B match against Delhi at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot.
Captain Unadkat was the highest wicket-taker in the Vijay Hazare Trophy last month. He bagged 19 wickets in 10 matches.
Unadkat has played 96 first-class matches so far in which he has taken 353 wickets.
Assam Government Announces Recipients of Assam State Civilian Awards
The recipients of the Assam State Civilian awards, “Asom Baibhav,” “Asom Sourav,” and “Asom Gourav” awards for the years 2022–2023, have just been revealed by the Assam government.
People who have made important contributions to the state and its citizens are honoured and recognised through these awards.
Asom Baibhav- Dr Tapan Saikia- ₹5 lakhs
Asom Sourav awarded to five people-Krishna Roy, Gilbert Sangma, Dr Binoy Kumar Saikia, and two others- ₹4 lakhs each
Asom Gourav awarded to 15 people- Debajit Barman, Rustom Basumatary, Manje La, and ten others- ₹3 lakhs each
Cape Verde Becomes the First Country to Name a National Stadium in Honour of Pele
African Portuguese-speaking country Cape Verde became the first country responding to the call made by FIFA chief Gianni Infantino to name a stadium after a former Footballer Pele.
The stadium to be renamed after him is the 15,000-seater Estadio Nacional de Cabo Verde which opened in 2014.
The three-time FIFA World Cup winner, Pele scored over 1000 goals in his career and is regarded by many as the greatest footballer of all time.
Fourth Edition of the International Education Awards 2022, held at Gurgaon
The fourth edition of the International Education Awards 2022 was held at the Hyatt Regency, Gurgaon, on 30 December 2022
The award was organised by Kiteskraft Productions.
The award is conferred to identify, encourage and recognize educators for their contributions to education. The award recognizes the personalities who have caused a positive change in the methods of learning.
Kiteskraft Productions awarded around 170 plus educators across the country for their innovative and visionary approaches in the education sector.
India Identifies Two Lithium Mines and One Copper Mine in Argentina
India has identified two lithium mines and one copper mine in Argentina for a possible acquisition or long-term lease.
Argentina, Chile and Bolivia form the Lithium Triangle.
Lithium is found in cedemine rock formation and in brine form, which is called ‘salar’ in Latin America.
The other alternative is its liquid form.
In South America, it is generally extracted from salt flats by pumping brine into ponds and processing lithium salts that crystallise once the water has evaporated.
Australia is the top lithium producer globally.
17th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas-2023
Days and Events
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Sports and Youth Affairs Anurag Thakur has invited the overseas Indian youth to innovate and invest in India, saying that there is immense investment potential in India.
Being organised in partnership with the Madhya Pradesh government, the 17th PBD convention, started on 8 January, is being covered in a span of three days, with a special programme scheduled on each day.
Zaneta Mascarenhas, Member of Parliament of Australia, was the Guest of Honour at the event.
“Diaspora: Reliable partners for India’s progress in Amrit Kaal”.
What Is Pravasi Bharatiya Divas?
9 January commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to India in 1915. To mark this day, the tradition of celebrating Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) started in 2003.
The first PBD Convention was organised on 9 January 2003 to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community to the development of India.
Since 2015, under a revised format, PBD Convention has been organised once every two years.
16 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Conventions have been organised till date. 16th PBD was conducted in a virtual setting with the theme “Contributing to Aatmanirbhar Bharat”, in 2021 during the pandemic.
The 17th PBD Convention is being held from 8 – 10 January 2023 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The theme of the 17th PBD is “Diaspora: Reliable Partners for India’s Progress in Amrit Kaal”.
India and Japan to Hold Joint Exercise to Promote Air Defence Cooperation
India and Japan are set to hold a joint air exercise, ‘Veer Guardian-2023’ at Hyakuri Air Base, Japan, from 12 to 26 January to promote air defence cooperation.
The Joint Exercise, which will continue till 26 January, aims to promote Air Defence cooperation between the countries.
The Indian contingent participating in the air exercise will include four Su-30 MKI, two C-17 and one IL-78 aircraft, while the JASDF will be participating with four F-2 and four F-15 aircraft.
Other exercises by both countries:
Exercise DHARMA GUARDIAN-2022: In February-March last year, both countries participated in Exercise DHARMA GUARDIAN-2022, an annual exercise between l.Indian Army and the Japanese Ground Self Defence Force at Foreign Training Node, Belgaum.
JIMEX– In the past, India and Japan have held several joint exercises.
In September 2022, the navies of both countries took part in the sixth edition of the Japan-India Maritime Exercise (JIMEX) in the Bay of Bengal.
The JIMEX series of exercises started in 2012 with a special focus on maritime security cooperation between both countries.
Kerala Becomes Country’s First Fully Digital Banking State
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan recently declared Kerala the first State to enable digital banking in all eligible accounts.
The State now has at least one product in 3.76 crore accounts enabled digitally, according to the State-Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC).
In 2021, Thrissur became the first district in the State to implement digital banking under the ‘‘Expanding and Deepening of Digital Payments Ecosystem’ scheme of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
The CM also said that the Kerala Fibre Optic Network (K-FON) project of the state government, which was almost 90% completed, will reduce the digital divide.
KFON is a radical public-funded project adopted to ensure high-speed Internet access to an entire state.
Accordingly, the project will ensure internet facilities for everyone in the state.
For this, a 17,155 km-long optic fibre cable network has been laid in the state.
Once the project gets completed, the internet will be available to everyone in the state either for a reasonable price or for free-of-cost.
Royal Navy Ship on Permanent Deployment in Indo-Pacific Makes First Port Call in India
The Royal Navy’s offshore patrol vessel, HMS Tamar, sailed to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on 6 January 2023 as part of its permanent deployment in the Indo-Pacific.
India is the first Port of call for the ship and underlines the United Kingdom’s and India’s intent to collaborate in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and wider Indo-Pacific., as per the U.K. High Commission.
What is a ‘Port of call’:
When the ship leaves the port of origin, it may halt at a port in between before reaching its final destination port. This halt port or intermediate stop is called the port of call.
Also called a port of refuge, a port of call is usually not a part of a ship’s itinerary.
The vessel may “call” the said intermediate port and need a stopover due to various reasons, like:
Cargo operations (cleaning, repairs, or maintenance)
Stock up supplies (fuel, food, etc.)
Load and unload cargo
Bad weather conditions
The ship’s visit to India is an opportunity to strengthen the shared maritime domain awareness effort further.
The Indo-Pacific will drive future growth and prosperity for the world.
It is imperative that it remains free and open to all in support of trade, shared security and values.
About HMS TAMAR:
The HMS Tamar is an offshore patrol vessel of the Royal Navy.
It is part of the River class of patrol vessels, which are designed for use in coastal and offshore waters.
The HMS Tamar is equipped with a variety of sensors and systems to allow it to perform a range of duties, including surveillance, enforcement of maritime law, and search and rescue operations.
It is capable of operating in a variety of weather conditions and has a top speed of around 25 knots.
The HMS Tamar was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 2019 and is based at HMNB Portsmouth.
Bangalore and Delhi in Top 10 Best-Performing Global Airports of 2022
Index and Rankings
The travel and aviation sector returned to normalcy last year after the restrictions and regulations imposed due to the COVID-19 outbreak got eased.
This also resulted in airlines and airports struggling to keep up with the overwhelming and sudden surge of passengers.
However, amid such challenges being faced globally, several airlines and airports stood out and excelled, according to the latest reports released by Cirium Aviation Analytics.
Along with the above analytics, Cirium also released a list of the most punctual airlines globally, wherein Azul Airlines surfaced as “the global leader”.
It is a Brazilian carrier based in Barueri, a suburb of São Paulo.
This airline is counted among the top three airlines in Brazil, which started operations in late 2008.
It has since become the fastest-growing airline in the country and has won many awards for its services.
The top 10 Rankings for best-performing global airports of 2022, according to Cirium’s report, are as follows –
1. Tokyo, Japan – (HND) Haneda Airport
2. Bengaluru, India – (BLR) Kempegowda International Airport
3. Salt Lake City, USA – (SLC) Salt Lake City International Airport
4. Detroit, USA – (DTW) Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
5. Philadelphia, USA – (PHL) Philadelphia International Airport
6. USA – (MSP) Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
7. Delhi, India – (DEL) Indira Gandhi International Airport
8. Seattle, USA – (SEA) Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
9. Bogotá, Colombia – (BOG) El Dorado International Airport
10. North Carolina, USA – (CLT) Charlotte Douglas International Airport
PM Launched Aspirational Block Programme
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched the government’s Aspirational Block Programme (ABP), which aims to improve the performance of blocks lagging on various development parameters.
The ABP was launched during the second National Conference of Chief Secretaries, which was held on 7 January.
What Is the Aspirational Block Programme?
The Aspirational Blocks Programme is on the lines of the Aspirational District Programme, launched in 2018, and it covers 112 districts across the country.
This new programme aims to improve the performance of blocks lagging on various development parameters.
This will enable holistic development in those areas that require added assistance.
The programme will cover 500 districts across 31 states and Union Territories initially.
Over half of these blocks are in 6 states—Uttar Pradesh (68 blocks), Bihar (61), Madhya Pradesh (42), Jharkhand (34), Odisha (29) and West Bengal (29).
What Is ADP-Aspirational District Programme?
Launched in 2018, the ADP aims to quickly and effectively transform (the socio-economic status of) 112 most under-developed districts across the country, with a vision of a New India.
The focus is to improve India’s ranking under the Human Development Index (HDI) and to localise Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), leading to the progress of the nation.
The districts have been identified by NITI Aayog based upon composite indicators from – Health and Nutrition (30%), Education (30%), Agriculture and Water Resources (20%), Financial Inclusion and Skill Development (10%), Basic Infrastructure (10%), which have an impact on HDI.
Kerala beedi factory worker becomes a judge in the US
Indian-origin attorney in Texas Surendran K Pattel sworn in as the judge of 240th Judicial District Court in Texas’ Fort Bend County, The Week magazine reported.
Born to daily wagers in Kasaragod, the 51-year-old grew up in Kerala.
He worked during his time in school and college to support the family.
According to the report, Surendran K. Patel worked as a labourer and rolled beedis to make money while still in his teen years.
India becomes the world’s 3rd largest auto market
For the first time, India surpassed Japan in auto sales last year and became the third-largest auto market in the world.
The country’s sales of new vehicles totalled at least 4.25 million units, topping the 4.2 million sold in Japan.
China continued to lead the global auto market, with 26.27 million vehicles sold. The US remained second at 15.4 million vehicles.
Hyderabad to host first-ever ABB FIA Formula E World Championship race in India
The first-ever ABB FIA Formula E World Championship race in India will be held in Hyderabad on 11 February.
Private firm Ace Nxt Gen is the official promoter of the Formula E Race in India.
The firm is working in partnership with Formula E and the Telangana government.
This will be the fourth race of season 9 of Formula E, with the first three being held in Mexico City and Riyadh (second and third).
It will see the participation of 11 teams with 22 cars, including some of the top racing companies. The track is about 2.8 kilometres long.
Museum dedicated to the life of Chandrasekhar Azad to be built in U.P.’s Unnao
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak has said that a museum dedicated to the life of freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad will be built in the state’s Unnao district so that people can take inspiration from it.
The museum will be located in Badarka village, which is also Azad’s native place.
Badarka holds a lot of significance when we talk about Chandrashekhar Azad, as this is the native village of the freedom fighter’s father.
Azad, who was born on 23 July 1906, was a prominent revolutionary in the freedom struggle.
On 27 February 1931, in an encounter in Prayagraj, he killed three policemen of the British empire and shot himself when the last bullet was left with him.
CJI Chandrachud to be conferred with ‘Award for Global Leadership’
Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud has been selected for the “Award for Global Leadership” by the Harvard Law School Centre in recognition of his lifetime service to the legal profession in the country and around the world.
Dhananjaya Yashwant Chandrachud is an Indian judge who is currently serving as the 50th Chief Justice of India.
He is the former ex-officio executive chairman of the National Legal Services Authority whilst being J1 of the Supreme court of India.
He is also the former chief justice of Allahabad High Court and former judge of Bombay High Court.
India deploys a women-only platoon of peacekeepers to the UN Mission in Abyei
India recently deployed a women-only platoon of peacekeepers to the UN Mission in Abyei on the border of Sudan and South Sudan as part of the Indian Battalion in the United Nations Interim Security Force, Abyei (UNISFA).
The action indicates India’s intention to increase the proportion of women in peacekeeping contingents substantially.
The International Kite Festival kicked off in Ahmedabad
The International Kite Festival kicked off in Ahmedabad on 8 January with great zeal and enthusiasm.
Organised by Gujarat Tourism at Sabarmati Riverfront, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel inaugurated the festival, which is being held after a gap of two years.
This time the festival is being organised on the G20 theme of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’.
New dwarf boa found in Ecuadoran Amazon
Scientists have discovered a new species of dwarf boa in the Ecuadoran Amazon and named it after an Indigenous activist.
Up to 20 centimetres (7.8 inches) long and with skin colouring similar to those of the boa constrictor — the previously unknown snake was named Tropidophis cacuangoae.
The name honours early 20th-century Indigenous rights activist Dolores Cacuango.
The species is unusual for having a “vestigial pelvis” characteristic of primitive snakes.
Purple Fest: India’s First Festival of Inclusion
India’s first-of-its-kind inclusivity, ‘Purple Fest: Celebrating Diversity’, took place in a glorious ceremony in Goa recently.
The festival was aimed at showcasing how we can come together to create a welcoming and inclusive world for everyone.
It was the first-ever Purple Fest, which brought together people with disabilities from across the country.
It was hosted by the Goa State Commission for Persons with Disabilities in association with the Directorate of Social Welfare and Entertainment Society of Goa.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
World Hindi Day 2023
Days and Events
“हिन्दी हैं हम, वतन है हिन्दोस्तां हमारा”
Vishwa Hindi Diwas, also known as World Hindi Day, is observed on January 10. The purpose of the day is to promote the language.
Additionally, January 10 is the anniversary of the language’s first use in the UN General Assembly.
This day is different and from National Hindi Day celebrated on September 14th every year.
The Constituent assembly of India adopted and recognised Hindi as one of the official languages of India in 1949.
First observed in 2006 on Manmohan Singh’s orders as Prime Minister, Vishwa Hindi Diwas. The date of January 10 was chosen since it was on that day in 1949 that Hindi was first spoken in the UN General Assembly.
In 1975, then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi established the World Hindi Conference with the goal of bringing together Hindi scholars, writers, and laureates who have contributed to the growth of the language and value their efforts.
The Ministry of External Affairs organises a number of events worldwide to raise awareness about Hindi on the occasion of World Hindi Day.
Every year on January 10, the celebration emphasises on fostering a love for the language as well as raising awareness of Hindi as an international language.
Hindi is spoken mostly in the northern half of India but you’ll be surprised to know that in countries like Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana, Suriname, Nepal, Trindad, and Tobago Hindi also recognise Hindi and it is spoken by the locals.
Hindi is the most spoken language globally after English and Mandarin Chinese.
It is spoken by 600 million people across the world.
The Indian Navy has signed an agreement with Sagar Defence Engineering Pvt. Ltd for armed autonomous boat swarms under ‘SPRINT’, an initiative to promote the development of niche defence technologies by domestic companies.
This is the 50th contract under ‘SPRINT’, which aims at the development of 75 indigenous technologies by the industry for the Navy.
What is ‘SPRINT’?
‘SPRINT’ stands for Supporting Pole-vaulting In R&D through Innovations for Defence Excellence (IdeX), Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO) and Technology Development Acceleration Cell (TDAC).
It was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last July.
It will transform Navy from a ‘Buyer’s Navy’ to a ‘Builder’s Navy.
The platform will be able to conduct a range of navy and security tasks including high-speed interdiction; surveillance; constabulary operations; Command, Control, Communications, Computers (C4) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR); and low-intensity maritime operations.
IISER Pune’s New Material Removes Pollutants from Water
Environment and Ecology
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune came up with a custom-designed unique molecular sponge-like material—macro/microporous ionic organic framework—which can swiftly clean polluted water by soaking up sinister contaminants.
What are the Contamination Found in Water?
It has been identified that various organic (organic dyes, antibiotics, pesticides, etc.) as well as inorganic toxic pollutants such as iodides, and oxo-pollutants like perrhenate that are carcinogenic in freshwater sources and can pose a direct threat to humanity and living organisms.
How does this New Technology Work?
Commonly utilised sorbent materials often trap these pollutants through ion-exchange strategy to purify water but suffer from poor kinetics and specificity.
To mitigate this issue, IISER has prepared a newly engineered material called viologen-unit grafted organic-framework (iVOFm).
The material employs amalgamation of electrostatics driven ion-exchange combined with nanometer-sized macropores and specific binding sites for the targeted pollutants.
The size and number of tunable macropores along with the strong electrostatic interaction of iVOFm can quickly remove various toxic pollutants from water.
The fast pollutant trapping capacity is attributed to faster diffusion of pollutants through the ordered interconnected presence of macropores in the material.
This cationic compound is adaptable for sequestering various pollutants and is a possible solution to the water pollution problem.
About Fast Diffusion:
This material features inherent cationic nature and macroporosity to allow fast diffusion of pollutants.
When tested for a wide array of water pollutants, it showed an ultrafast capture of all the pollutants—both organic and inorganic—with over 93% removal in just 30 seconds.
Pooja Mehta from Ahmedabad Creates World Record at the World Powerlifting Competition, Russia
Ms. Pooja Ajaykumar Mehta from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, became the first from our country – India as, a winner of two Gold Medals, and she also broke the world record in dead weight lifting.
She lifted a total weight of 240 kg, winning the first position in dead weight lifting.
It is also to be noted that in this world completion, the following three candidates had also participated from India
1. Shaktisinh Solanki
2. Dushyant Goswami
3. Vishal Thakkar
All three candidates won Gold Medal and were awarded trophies for Best Team India.
Past Winner Who Holds This World Record:
In one of the categories, Shawver Brittney from the USA had a world record of 120 Kgs in the past. But, now, Pooja Mehta has broken the world record in the first attempt in dead weight lifting with 126 kg.
Again, Pooja could break her own record of 126 kg as per the new world record by lifting 140 kilograms, winning the trophy for India.
India Provides 75 Buses to Sri Lanka as Part of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ Policy
International Relations, Diplomacy
India has handed 75 passenger buses to Sri Lanka as part of its assistance towards strengthening public transport infrastructure in the cash-strapped country.
In a similar move, India handed 125 SUVs to the Sri Lanka Police under a line of credit in December to support the island nation and help it address the serious mobility restriction issues faced by the police, due to the non-availability of vehicles.
A total of 500 buses will be supplied to Sri Lanka through Indian assistance.
As part of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, India has extended multi-pronged assistance to Sri Lanka to help the country tide over its worst economic and humanitarian crisis since its independence from Great Britain in 1948.
In May last year, the Sri Lankan government declared a debt default on over $51 billion in the foreign loan, a first in the country’s history.
While in January, India announced a $900 million loan to Sri Lanka to build up its depleted foreign reserves as the financial crisis began to unfold.
Gujarat’s Harappan Necropolis Reveals Death Rituals of 5,000 Years Ago
History and Culture
Excavations at one of the biggest necropolises of the Harappan era in Gujarat have shown what history has repeatedly demonstrated around the world ancient humans buried the dead with afterlife items like personal artefacts, sacred animals, and pots of food and water.
Excavations at Juna Khatiya village (Kutch district) found rows of graves with skeletal remains, ceramic pots, beaded jewellery, animal bones, etc.
These are from 3,200 BCE to 2,600 BCE, (pre-urban Harappan) predating several other Harappan sites in the state.
Other sites like Dholavira have a cemetery in and around the town, but no major habitation has been discovered here.
Site demonstrates transition from earth-mound burials to stone graves. Pottery have features and style similar to those excavated from early Harappan sites in Sindh and Balochistan.
Pebbles of local rock, basalt, etc., were used for construction, and clay was used to bind them together.
Burial Rituals of Indus Valley Civilisation Facts:
Most common burial method was placing body with head towards north in a simple pit or brick chamber.
Grave goods including food, pottery, tools, and ornaments can be found along with the body.
Lothal provides evidence of burial of pairs of male and female together.
Army’s Rightsizing Plan
Roping in veterans with expertise in specific areas for its training institutions on contractual basis, cross-skilling technical trades, outsourcing several services at its static units—these are part of the Army’s planned manpower optimisation exercise aimed at sharpening its tooth-to-tail ratio (the number of military personnel it takes to supply and support a combat soldier).
Why This Exercise?
This exercise is aimed at sharpening its tooth-to-tail ratio (number of military personnel it takes to supply and support a combat soldier).
The Army’s rightsizing plan was first recommended by Shekatkar committee with a focus on creation of a leaner force and sharpening of its combat edge amid changing dynamics of modern warfare.
Training Institutes Associated:
Category A training institutions include the Dehradun-based Indian Military Academy, the Army War College and the Infantry School in Mhow, among others. Category B training institutions include various regimental centres.
It is also being discussed if National Cadet Corps (NCC) training can be handed over to veterans on a contractual basis.
UP Government Launches “UP Global City” Campaign
Ahead of the upcoming Global Investors’ Summit and G-20 Summit, the Uttar Pradesh government has launched a statewide 100-day ‘UP Global City’ campaign.
The move aims to transform the lifestyle of urban bodies of the state on a par with global standards.
The campaign was launched by state Urban Development and Energy Minister Arvind Kumar Sharma.
The 100-day ‘UP Global City’ campaign has been launched in all the 762 urban bodies. The campaign will focus on urban facilities, improving air quality, better cleanliness and beautification. It also aims at proper disposal of garbage.
Paytm Payments Bank Appoints Surinder Chawla as the New MD and CEO
Paytm Payments Bank Limited (PPBL) recently appointed veteran banker Surinder Chawla as its new Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), after the approval from RBI, for the term of three years.
Chawla will succeed Paytm Payment Bank’s last CEO Satish Kumar Gupta who retired in October 2022, with Deependra Singh Rathore serving as the interim CEO.
Prior to Paytm, Chawla was associated with RBL Bank as Head–Branch Banking and focused on expanding the CASA base, fee revenue, and cross-selling across channels.
Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi Released a Book ‘Chief Minister’s Diary No.1’
Former Chief Justice of India and member of the Rajya Sabha Ranjan Gogoi recently released a book ‘Chief Minister’s Diary No.1’ containing the account of events of the first year in the office of Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Ranjan Gogoi is presently a member of the Rajya Sabha.
He served as the 46th Chief Justice of India for 13 months from 2018 to 2019.
First Kashmiri Jhanpith Awardee, Rehman Rahi Dies
Professor Rehman Rahi, renowned poet and Kashmir’s first Jnanpith awardee, took his last breath in the early hours on Monday at his residence in the Nowshera area of Kashmir.
At the time of his death, the globally acclaimed poet was 98 years old.
Rahi published multiple books of poetry and translated the writings of some of the world’s most famous poets into Kashmiri.
In 2007, he got the top literary honour in the country, the Jnanpith award, for his collection ‘Siyah Rood Jaeren Manz’ (In Black Drizzle).
In addition, he received the Padma Shri award in 2000 for his contributions. Rahi earned the Sahitya Akademi Award for his book of poems ‘Nawroz-i-Saba’ in 1961.
Recently, the Union Home Minister inaugurated a 122-foot-tall statue of a Polo player astride a Manipur Pony in Imphal.
It is believed that Sagol Kangjei, the modern-day Polo game originated in Manipur.
The Manipur Pony is one of five recognised equine breeds of India, and has a powerful cultural significance for Manipuri society.
The Lai-Haraoba festival of the state depicts the life and times of Khori-phaba, the polo-playing god of sports.
The origins of polo in Manipur are associated mythologically with Marjing, the God of the Chenglei tribe, to whom a structure similar to the ancient polo stick along and a ball are still offered in worship.
Parshuram Kund Festival-Kumbh of Northeast
Parshuram Kund Mela is an annual religious fair which is celebrated near Parshuram Kund, which is based at nearly three miles from the north-eastern portion of Tezu, Arunachal Pradesh which is the district headquarters of the district of Lohit in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
It is believed that a dip in the holy water of Parshuram Kund washes away all the sins.
Parashuram Kund is situated within the Kamlang Reserve Forest area.
This place on the Lohit River carries a strong mythological link with the legend of Parshurama, a Hindu sage.
According to the legend, sage Parsurama washed away his sin of matricide in the waters of the Lohit river at Bramhakund.
New Species of Migratory Birds Sighted in Tripura
New species of migratory birds from Siberia and Europe were sighted at Sukhsagar lake in Tripura’s Gomati district this year, according to an ornithologist.
The birds which were sighted for the first time this year are Ruff, found in Europe, Oriental pratincole, and Common Crane from Siberia in Russia.
“Three new species of birds from Siberia and Europe have been sighted in Sukhsagar lake. The flow of migratory birds this year into the lake is also amazing”, Dipankar Sinha, an ornithologist and member of the state Biodiversity Board, said.
The tiny town of Joshimath in Uttarakhand is on edge with 610 of a total of 4,500 buildings developing cracks. Authorities have declared it a landslide-subsidence zone, evacuating residents after they were deemed unfit for habitation.
The United States Geological Survey describes land subsidence as a gradual settling or sudden sinking of the Earth’s surface due to the removal or displacement of subsurface earth materials. According to the American body, subsidence is a global problem, and in the United States more than 17,000 square miles in 45 states have been directly affected by subsidence.
Subsidence is most often caused by the removal of water, oil, natural gas, or mineral resources out of the ground by pumping, fracking, or mining activities.
This feature can also be caused by natural events such as earthquakes, soil compaction, erosion and sinkhole formation.
In India, the main cause of subsidence is the unregulated pumping of groundwater and the rapid pace of urbanisation.
Earth’s Ozone Layer Is Slowly Recovering, UN Report
Environment and Ecology
The Earth’s protective ozone layer is expected to recover within four decades, according to a United Nations-backed panel of experts.
The conclusion, released every four years, is in line with the Montreal Protocol of 1987, which forbade the manufacturing and consumption of substances that deplete the ozone layer of the Earth.
Significance of Ozone Layer:
The ozone layer in the upper atmosphere protects the Earth from the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, which is linked to skin cancer, eye cataracts, compromised immune systems and agricultural land damage.
Reasons for Ozone Depletion:
The ozone layer started to thin out in the 1970s. The main reasons for depletion were attributed to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were frequently found in spray cans, refrigerators, foam insulation and air conditioners.
Subsequently, the discovery of a hole in the ozone layer was announced by scientists in May 1985.
Two years later, the Montreal Protocol was ratified by 46 countries, who pledged to phase out these dangerous substances gradually.
Defence Ministry Approves Capital Procurement Proposals Worth ₹4,276 cr
The Union defence ministry recently approved capital procurement proposals, including that of Helina anti-tank guided missiles, worth ₹4,276 crores.
The procurement proposals have been approved to strengthen the combat capabilities of the armed forces along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China amid skirmishes with the neighbouring country.
The procurement proposals were cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
The capital acquisition clearance decision comes when India is locked in a stand-off with China in Eastern Ladakh.
There were three proposals – two for the Army and the third for the Indian Navy.
The defence ministry said the DAC accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for three capital acquisition proposals, amounting to ₹4,276 crores.
The proposals are under the Buy (Indian-IDDM) category.
Importance of the weapons:
Due to the recent developments along the northern borders, there is a need to focus on effective Air Defence (AD) weapon systems.
Weapons which are man-portable and can be deployed quickly in rugged terrain and maritime domain are highly required for the army.
The DAC has also accorded AoN for procurement of the VSHORAD (IR Homing) missile system under design and development by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Govt Issues Quality Standards for USB Type-C Chargers, Digital TV Receptacles
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has published standards for USB Type C receptacles, plug and cables, which is aimed at providing common charging solutions for smartphones and other electronic devices sold in the country.
BIS also published standards for digital television receivers with built-in satellite tuners and video surveillance security systems.
It aims to provide common charging solutions for various electronic devices sold in the country by March 2025.
USB, i.e., Universal Serial Bus (an industry standard), is used for connecting a wide variety of devices to a processor.
What Are the Types of USBs?
USB-A is a flat and rectangular shape.
USB-B has multiple designs, but the common shape is a square.
USB-C is a smaller rectangle with rounded corners.
In the EU, by 2024, all mobile phones, tablets and cameras will be sold with USB Type-C charging ports.
What Is the Need for a Common Charger?
It will reduce the number of chargers per consumer, thus reducing e-waste in India (as of 2021, 5 million tonnes of e-waste generated in India)
A step towards LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) that nurtures a global network of individuals, i.e., ‘Pro-Planet People’ (P3)
Ease out the technological ‘lock-in’ effect, whereby a consumer becomes dependent on a single manufacturer
Govt Introduces a New System to Measure and Grade Performance of Hospitals Empanelled under AB PM-JAY
The National Health Authority (NHA) has recently introduced a new system to measure and grade hospital performance under the flagship scheme Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY).
The new model aims at shifting the focus of measuring the performance of hospitals from the volume of services provided to the value of healthcare services.
Here, the payment will be outcome-based, and providers will be rewarded according to the quality of the treatment delivered.
The Health Ministry said that the new model with the reward system would consequently reduce the effects of the disease in the population in the long term.
A New System to Measure and Grade Hospital Performance:
Under value-based care, the performance of AB PM-JAY empanelled hospitals will be measured based on five performance indicators:
Hospital Readmission Rate
The extent of Out-of-Pocket Expenditure
Improvement In-patient’s Health-Related Quality of Life
The performance of the hospitals based on the above indicators will also be made available on a public dashboard. With this, the beneficiaries can take informed decisions.
Significance of National Health Authority:
NHA is the apex body for the implementation of AB PM-JAY. NHA is also entrusted with the role of building technological infrastructure and implementation of the “National Digital Health Mission” to create a National Digital Health Ecosystem.
Further, NHA has made a provision to incentivise best-performing hospitals that provide quality care to patients.
The measures implemented by NHA include standardising the cost of treatment under the PM-JAY scheme and also adding advanced treatment procedures.
AB PM-JAY: World’s Largest Health Assurance Scheme
The AB PM-JAY is the world’s largest health assurance scheme, fully funded by the Government. The Ministry of Finance has informed that, so far, more than 2.7 crore individuals have availed of free treatment under the scheme. Over ten crore poor and vulnerable families have insurance coverage under the scheme.
AB PM-JAY scheme was launched in 2018. It was a paradigm shift from sectoral intervention to more comprehensive and need-based service delivery of secondary and tertiary care.
The scheme offers a sum insured of ₹5 lakhs per family for secondary care as well as tertiary care. Under PMJAY, cashless and paperless access to services is provided to the beneficiaries.
Global Investors Summit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually inaugurated today the 7th edition of ‘Invest Madhya Pradesh-Global Investors Summit’, a flagship event of the state government, in Indore.
Addressing global investors, the PM shed light on the increasing confidence of global institutions and experts in India’s growth.
The theme of the two-day summit is ‘Madhya Pradesh-The Future Ready State’.
A total of 447 international delegates from 84 countries, 401 international buyers, more than 5,000 industrialists and representatives of various international industry associations, and representatives of all G20 countries became part of the event.
Key Objectives of the Event:
The key objectives of the event are – showcasing the industrial ecosystem of the state, promoting the state policies, consulting with industrial organisations to formulate industry-friendly policies, collaboration opportunities, promoting export potential and buyer-seller meets and vendor development.
Village Defence Committees- Arming the Civilians
Following two terrorist acts in Dhangri village in the Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir that killed seven, calls were made to revive Village Defence Committees (VDCs)
The authorities responded to the calls and handed self-loading rifles (SLRs) to villagers in the Jammu region and started training villagers to defend themselves.
These villagers are being trained and armed under the banner of Village Defence Guards (VDGs), a new name for what was earlier called VDCs.
What Are VDGs?
The Village Defence Committees (VDCs) were set up in the 1990s to arm villagers for self-defence purposes in the J&K region.
In 2020, the policy of Village Defence Committees was revamped, and Village Defence Groups were introduced, members of whom are called Village Defence Guards (VDGs).
Based on an assessment by law enforcement agencies, a group of armed civilians belonging to the ‘more vulnerable areas’, not more than 15 in number in each group, who shall be designated as VDGs, shall be formed.
Each group will be called the ‘Village Defence Group’ and shall be headed by a retired officer of the Army/Central Para Military Force (CPMF)/J&K Police.
All VDGs are eligible for monthly remuneration.
The VDGs also function under the supervision of the district superintendent of police(SP)/Senior superintendent of police(SSP).
Aim and Objectives of VDGs:
The aim of VDGs is to organise a small group of volunteer armed civilians in the identified villages along the borders as well as in-depth areas of the Jammu division, with a view to instilling a sense of self-protection and ensuring the safety and security of such villages.
VDGs shall be charged with the responsibility of protecting community installations and infrastructural facilities within the defined areas of their village.
VDCs’ Contribution to the Fight Against Militants:
During the peak of militancy in most parts of the Jammu division, especially areas falling in Chenab Valley and Pir Panjal regions, the hills of Udhampur, and Reasi and Kathua districts, the VDCs played a significant role in combating militancy.
They were the most-feared armed groups among militants in areas where poor road networks delayed the arrival of security forces.
The villagers, well-versed in the local topography, averted many militant attacks and helped in their capture and killings.
What Controversies Did the VDCs Get into?
Along with the successes, the VDCs also faced allegations of human rights violations and other crimes, including murder, rape and extortion.
As per official figures placed on the floor of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly in 2016, 27,924 civilians were serving in 4,248 VDCs across the state.
There were 221 FIRs against them, including 23 cases of murders, seven cases of rape, rioting (15), NDPS Act (3) and 169 other cases.
‘RRR’ creates history as ‘Naatu Naatu’ bags Golden Globe for Best Original Song
The ‘RRR’ phenomenon refuses to subside. SS Rajamouli’s period epic has bagged the coveted Golden Globe for Best Original Song for the viral track ‘Naatu Naatu’.
MM Keeravani, the composer of the song, went on stage to receive the award. He dedicated the award to Rajamouli and the two leads, Ram Charan and NTR Jr.
A Golden Globe Award is one of the awards given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) every year to honour great work in movies and TV from the previous year.
AR Rahman was the first Indian to win the prestigious Golden Globe award for best original music composition for Slumdog Millionaire.
MARS Awards 2022 Winners Announced
Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany, announced the winners of the Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit (MARS) Awards 2022, announced in partnership with the African Union (Scientific Technical Research Commission).
It is to recognise African Researchers for their valuable research work and contribution to empowering women and youth in STEM in Africa with a special focus on Scientific Research in Infectious Diseases and Cancer Research.
Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano
Hawaiian volcano Kilauea erupted again recently. Kilauea volcano is an active shield volcano (erupts magma of low viscosity and hence less steep) located on the Hawaiian island.
Hawaii, USA, is a group of 8 volcanic islands in the central Pacific Ocean stretching in a crescent from Kure Island in the west to Hawaii in the east.
Volcanoes make up 51% of Hawaii Island landmass.
Greece’s last King Constantine II, has died aged 82
Former King Constantine II, a cousin of Britain’s King Charles III, ruled Greece before the country became a republic in 1974.
Greek media reported he died of a stroke.
Apart from a 12-year republican interlude between 1922 to 1935, the family of Constantine has been ruling in Greece since 1863.
Constantine was born on June 2, 1940, in Athens to Prince Paul, younger brother to King George II and heir presumptive to the throne, and Princess Frederica of Hanover.
Before Constantine’s first birthday, the royal family was forced to flee Greece during the German invasion of World War II.
The Kashmir Files’ shortlisted for Oscars, 2023
Bollywood movie ‘The Kashmir Files’ has been shortlisted for the prestigious film festival Oscars, 2023, filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri said recently.
Directed by Vivek Agnihotri, ‘The Kashmir Files’ revolves around the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in the year 1990 following systematic killings of people from the community by Pakistan-backed terrorists.
The film was released in theatres in March of last year.
Indian-American Space Expert AC Charania Named NASA’s New Chief Technologist
An Indian-American aerospace industry expert has been appointed as NASA’s new chief technologist to serve as principal advisor to Administrator Bill Nelson on technology policy and programmes at the space agency’s headquarters.
AC Charania joined the space agency in his new role on 3 January. He replaces another Indian-American scientist Bhavya Lal, who served as acting chief technologist prior to the former’s appointment.
AC Charania will oversee technology engagement with other government agencies, the private sector, and external stakeholders while also coordinating NASA’s agency-wide technology investments with mission priorities across six mission directorates.
National Youth Day 2023
Days and Events
National Youth Day is being celebrated on 12 January to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.
In 1984, the Indian government declared Swamiji’s birth anniversary as National Youth Day, and since 1985, it has been celebrated to honour and recognise Vivekananda’s teachings.
The theme of National Youth Day 2023 is “Viksit Yuva-Viksit Bharat”.
In India, National Youth Day is celebrated to promote awareness of people’s rights and to provide information about them. Keeping the ideals of Swami Vivekananda alive and motivating young people is the main objective of the celebration.
About Swami Vivekananda:
The pre-monastic name of Swami Vivekananda was Narendra Nath Dutta. He was born on 12 January 1863 in Kolkata and died on 4 July 1902.
His father’s name was Vishwanath Dutta, and his mother’s name was Bhuvaneshwari Devi.
He became a disciple of Saint Ramakrishna Paramahamsa after being introduced to him by one of his English professors in 1881 at Dakshineshwar’s Kali Temple.
The Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga were introduced to the Western World by him.
Vivekananda is best known for his speech at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893, when he began his speech by saying, “Sisters and brothers of America…” and introduced the culture of India, its importance, Hinduism, etc.
Henley Passport Index-2023
Rank and Indexes
For the fifth straight year, the Japanese passport is the most powerful among all passports in the world, as it allows visa-free access to as many as 193 countries, according to Henley Passport Index 2023.
India, on the other hand, improved its position by two spots from last year and is currently ranked 85th on the index.
A holder of an Indian passport can travel visa-free to 59 countries (60 in 2022); Mauritanian and Uzbekistan passports are as powerful as that of India.
What Is Henley Passport Index?
Invented nearly 20 years ago by Dr Christian H Kaelin, Chairman, Henley & Partners, the index is based on exclusive and official data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
It is the original ranking of all the passports according to the number of destinations their holders can visit without a prior visa.
Passports of these countries hold the top 10 spots on the Henley Index:
Visa-free travel to (out of 227 destinations)
Singapore, South Korea
Finland, Italy, Luxembourg
Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden
France, Ireland, Portugal, United Kingdom
Belgium, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United States
Australia, Canada, Greece, Malta
India, Mauritania, Uzbekistan
Passports of these countries hold the bottom 10 spots on the Henley Index:
Visa-free travel to (out of 227 destinations)
Nepal, Palestinian Territory
Bangladesh, Kosovo, Libya
Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Sudan
Global Economic Prospects Report by World Bank
Report and Indexes
The World Bank slashed its 2023 growth forecasts recently to levels teetering on the brink of recession for many countries as the impact of central bank rate hikes intensifies, Russia’s war in Ukraine continues, and the world’s major economic engines sputter.
The flagship report (issued twice a year) examines global economic developments and prospects, focusing on emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs).
Key Highlights of the Report:
Projections Global GDP Growth: 1.7% in 2023 – third-weakest pace since 1993, overshadowed only by 2009 and 2020 global recessions.
India is expected to grow at 6.6% in 2023.
What Are the Mentioned Reasons for the Slowdown?
Elevated Inflation, Higher interest rates, reduced investment and disruptions caused by the Russia-Ukraine war. Any additional adverse shocks could push the global economy into recession.
Recession is a significant, pervasive, and persistent decline in economic activity – at least for two consecutive quarters of negative GDP for most analyses.
East Asia and Pacific: Growth is expected to increase to 4.3% in 2023 and to 4.9% in 2024
Europe and Central Asia: Growth is expected to slow to 0.1% in 2023 before increasing to 2.8% in 2024
Latin America and the Caribbean: Growth is projected to slow to 1.3% in 2023 before recovering to 2.4% in 2024
Middle East and North Africa: Growth is expected to slow to 3.5% in 2023 and 2.7% in 2024
South Asia: Growth is projected to slow to 5.5% in 2023 before picking up to 5.8% in 2024
Sub-Saharan Africa: Growth is expected to be at 3.6% in 2023 and rise to 3.9% in 2024
Levels and Trends in Child Mortality: UN Report 2022
Report and Indexes
An estimated 5 million children died before their fifth birthday, and another 2.1 million children and youth aged between 5–24 years lost their lives in 2021, according to the latest estimates released by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME).
It is based on the latest estimates released by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME).
Major Outcomes of the Report:
The global under-5 mortality rate has fallen by 50% since the start of the century.
An estimated 5 million children died before their fifth birthday, and another 2.1 million children and youth aged between 5 and 24 lost their lives in 2021.
More than 80% of under-five deaths and about 70% of all deaths among 5–24-year-olds occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.
India’s Highest Telescope Chandra Captures Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) That Last Came to Earth 50,000 Years Ago
Science and Technology
The Himalayan Chandra Telescope on the foothills of Mount Saraswati in Ladakh’s Hanle has captured the first images of a newly discovered comet named Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) that last arrived in the skies above Earth about 60,000 years ago.
At the time, Neanderthals, our ancient ancestors, roamed the planet.
Comets are frozen leftovers from the formation of the solar system (4.6 billion years ago) composed of dust, rock, and ice.
When a comet’s orbit brings it close to the Sun, it heats up and spews dust and gases (forming a tail) into a giant glowing head larger than most planets.
Billions of comets are orbiting our Sun in the Kuiper Belt (called short-period comets) and even more distant Oort Cloud (called long-period comets).
National Road Safety Week 2023
Days and events
The National Road Safety Week is being celebrated in India beginning from 11 January until 17 January. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has organised this awareness week with the aim of encouraging road safety practices among people.
This event involves activities including workshops, seminars, and free fatigue checks of truck drivers and educating them about road safety.
The World Road Statistics 2018 ranked India first in terms of road fatalities across 199 countries.
The Central and State governments in India have come together in an effort to decrease road fatalities.
The first National Road Safety Week was introduced by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and observed in 1989. This year marks the 34th National Road Safety Week.
The number of people killed in car accidents in 2016 was 1.50 lakh, with the figure falling to 1.47 lakh in 2017. However, the following year, in 2018, it grew to 1.49 lakh, as per the Indian Ministry of Road Transport and Highways report.
The theme for this year has not been released yet. The 2022 year’s theme for National Road Safety Week was “Sadak Suraksha – Jeevan Raksha”.
According to reports, road accidents killed thousands despite COVID-19-induced restrictions and national lockdown.
As a result, National Road Safety Week is critical in informing people about how to avoid such road accidents and the unfortunate consequences of disregarding safety measures on the road.
14th Edition of the World Spice Congress (WSC) to be held in Mumbai
India is known as the ‘Spice Bowl’ of the world. It produces a number of quality, rare and medicinal spices.
With an aim to open up newer opportunities to promote the international trade of Indian spices, the 14th edition of the World Spice Congress (WSC) is to be held in Mumbai from 16-18 February 2023.
What Is the World Spice Congress?
It was planned and conceived in 1990 as a forum for discussion and interaction between the importers and exporters of spices.
Since its inception, it has been organised under the leadership of the Spices Board, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.
VISION 2030: S-P-I-C-E-S (Sustainability, Productivity, Innovation, Collaboration, Excellence and Safety).
Maharashtra has been chosen as a venue because it is one of the leading states producing spices
It is the largest producer of turmeric in India
Maharashtra produces two GI-tagged turmeric varieties and one GI-tagged chilli variety
Coastal areas of Maharashtra are also known for the production of GI-tagged Kokum
Spices Board was constituted on 26th February 1987 under the Spices Board Act 1986 with the merger of the erstwhile Cardamom Board (1968) and Spices Export Promotion Council (1960)
It functions under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry
Adar Poonawalla gets Patangrao Kadam award
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis lauded vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India and its CEO Adar Poonwalla for their contribution to the fight against COVID-19.
Adar Poonawalla was carrying forward the legacy of his father, Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, as SII has manufactured 160 vaccines.
Dr Patangrao Kadam was a leader who created 190 institutes to provide quality education and created quality human resources.
India, Panama sign MoU to enhance cooperation in training of diplomats
India and Panama have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance cooperation in the training of diplomats.
The agreement would allow diplomats from both countries to continue benefiting from the exchange of knowledge and experiences in their respective fields of diplomatic academics.
Panama is the southernmost nation in Central America.
The country is known for the Panama Canal, a man-made waterway that opened in 1914.
This canal passes through the country, connecting the Caribbean Sea (Atlantic) with the Pacific Ocean.
Delhi High court approves old pension scheme for Central Paramilitary forces
In a move that is set to benefit Central Paramilitary Forces (CAPF), the Delhi High court on Wednesday said the old pension scheme will be made available to the CAPF as they are a part of the armed forces.
Old pension schemeretirees can choose between 50% of their last drawn basic salary and a dearness allowance or their average pay over the previous ten months. Workers must serve ten years.
Old pension scheme workers are exempt from pension contributions. Government jobs guaranteed retirement and family pensions.
Government employees in this New Pension scheme contribute 10% of their base pay, while businesses may contribute up to 14%.
Private sector employees are also permitted to actively engage in the NPS, although some rules have been altered.
US fund to help restore Paigah Tombs in Hyderabad
The necropolis of noblemen dating from the Asaf Jahi era, known as Paigah Tombs Complex in Hyderabad, is set to be restored with funding from the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.
It is located 4 km southeast of Charminar. Paigah Tombs are 200-year-old tombs belonging to the nobility of the Paigah family.
Paigahs were the influential families in the Princely State of Hyderabad.
Currently, US Consulate Hyderabad is located in Paigah Palace located at Chiran Fort Lane, Begumpet. From the palace, the Consulate covers three states, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha.
Amul MD R S Sodhi resigns, Jayen Mehta takes over as interim chief
RS Sodhi resigned as the Managing Director of the 7Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which owns the brand Amul.
Jayenbhai Mehta will succeed RS Sodhi as the new Managing Director of the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (GCMMF).
Jayen Mehta will remain the head of the Amul brand for an interim period.
Anand Milk Union Limited (AMUL) is an Indian dairy state government cooperative society based in Anand, Gujarat. Formed in 1946, it is a cooperative brand managed by Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF).
Turtle excluder device
The US and India are developing a technique for Indian fishermen in order to export shrimps for American consumers from India.
An area that was banned by the US because of the concerns around turtles, in the areas where wild-caught shrimp was being fished in India.
To stop the extinction of turtles in the water, a turtle excluder device has also been designed with the technical support of the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) from the US. And now, that design has also been accepted between the two countries as a collaborative effort between India and the United States.
The trials of that machine will ensure that the turtle excluder device will minimise the impact of fishing on the sea turtle population.
Tripura Launches ‘Saharsh’ Initiative in all Govt, Govt-Aided Schools.
To encourage social and emotional learning, the Tripura government introduced a special education programme titled ‘Saharsh’ on Saturday.
What Is the ‘Saharsh’ initiative?
The ‘Saharsh’ was launched in August last year in 40 schools of the state on a pilot basis. It will be extended to all government and aided schools of the state from the second week of January.
This programme is an effort to encourage social and emotional learning, introducing a special education programme – ‘Saharsh’.
Launched in pilot mode in Aug 2022 in 40 schools, now it will be extended to all Government and aided schools of the state.
It aimed at empowering children to learn with happiness.
Tripura currently ranks in the Grade-I category in the Performance Grading Index.
Rare White Tufted Royal Butterfly Found in Kannur
Environment and Ecology
A team of butterfly observers and researchers have found White Tufted Royal Butterfly, a rare butterfly species, at Kalliyad in Kannur.
According to researcher and butterfly observer V.C. Balakrishnan, the butterfly is protected under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act.
The species was spotted in Agasthyakoodam in 2017 and in the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary in 2018.
Facts About Butterflies:
Butterflies are insects from the order Lepidoptera of phylum Arthropoda, which also includes moths.
Adult butterflies have large, often brightly coloured wings and conspicuous, fluttering flight.
Recently, a Himalayan butterfly known as Golden Birdwing (Troides aeacus) has been discovered as India’s largest butterfly after 88 years.
The butterfly acts as an indicator and pollinator species.
An indicator species provides information on the overall condition of the ecosystem and of other species in that ecosystem.
They reflect the quality and changes in environmental conditions as well as aspects of community composition.
WEF Published Global Risks Report 2023
Reports and Indexes
The World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland released the 18th edition of the Global Risk Report 2023 based on the 2022-2023 Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) that reveals the cost of living crisis, food supply crisis, energy supply crisis, rising inflation and cyberattacks on critical infrastructure are the major risks, the world is witnessing currently.
Key Findings of the Report:
The top five risks for India are Digital inequality, Geopolitical contest for resources, Cost-of-living crisis, Debt crises, Natural disasters and Extreme weather events over the short and medium term.
The cost of living will dominate global risks in the next two years, while climate action failure dominates the next decade.
Economic aftereffects of COVID-19 and the Ukraine war resulted in rising inflation, rapid normalisation of monetary policies, low-growth, low-investment era.
Technology such as AI, quantum computing and biotechnology, etc., will exacerbate inequalities and the digital divide.
Only 34% of climate finance is currently allocated to climate adaptation worldwide.
What Does the Report Recommend?
Investing in multi-domain, cross-sector risk preparedness. Improving risk identification and foresight.
Re-building and strengthening global risk preparedness cooperation.
Digital India Land Record Modernization Programme
The Union government has informed the Supreme Court that significant progress has been made in the computerisation of land ownership records.
As per the Management Information System of Digital India land Records Modernisation Programme (DILRMP), out of 6,56,793 villages, Cadastral Maps have been Geo-referenced in 2,31,026 villages (35.17%), and 1,17,38,272 number of maps have been digitised.
What Is Digital India Land Record Modernization Programme:
The Digital India Land Record Modernization Programme (DILRMP), previously known as the National Land Record Modernization Programme (NLRMP), was launched in 2008 by the Government of India.
The purpose was to digitise and modernise land records and develop a centralised land record management system.
The official records of land, mapped and unmapped, will enable the government to give the landowners access to basic facilities and rights.
The DILRMP is the amalgamation of two projects: Computerisation of Land Records (CLR) and Strengthening of Revenue Administration and Updating of Land Records (SRA & ULR).
Major Objective of the Programme:
Attempts to build upon the commonalities that exist in the arena of land records in various states to develop an appropriate Integrated Land Information Management System (ILIMS) across the country.
The ILIMS integrates all the processes and land records databases with the banks, financial institutions, circle rates, Registration Offices and other sectors.
Major Components of the Programme:
Computerisation of land records, Survey/re-survey, Computerisation of Registration.
ICG Ship ‘Kamla Devi’, Last Vessel of FPV Series, Commissioned
Indian Coast Guard ship Kamla Devi, the last in a series of five Fast Patrol Vessels (FPV), was commissioned in Kolkata on Thursday.
The vessel, built indigenously by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata, has been named after Kamla Devi Chattopadhyay, an eminent social reformer and freedom activist.
The vessel is 48.9 metres long and 7.5 metres wide, with a displacement of 308 tonnes.
It is capable of achieving the maximum speed of 34 knots, is powered with MTU 4000 series engines and is propelled by three 71S type III Kamewa waterjets of Rolls Royce.
The ship is capable of undertaking multifaceted tasks such as surveillance, interdiction, search and rescue and medical evacuation.
This ship will patrol the seas and undertake anti-smuggling, anti-poaching and search and rescue operations when required.
UK, Japan signed a Defence Pact Allowing Reciprocal Troop Deployment
The UK and Japan recently signed a defence pact, which will permit the deployment of troops in each other’s countries and increase security cooperation.
The move comes as Britain is undertaking a ‘tilt’ towards the Indo-Pacific in its foreign and security policy.
What Is a Reciprocal Access Agreement?
The agreement would allow both forces to plan and deliver larger-scale, more complex military exercises and deployments.
It is one of the most significant treaties between the countries since 1902, when the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Alliance was signed.
The move comes as Britain is undertaking a ‘tilt’ towards the Indo-Pacific in its foreign and security policy.
Recently Japan’s F-X fighter jet program was merged with the UK and Italy’s ‘Tempest’ program to create the Global Combat Air Programme.
What Is India’s Reciprocal Exchange of Troops Agreements?
India is fast inking reciprocal military logistics pacts with like-minded countries to extend its strategic and naval operational reach in the entire Indian Ocean region (IOR) and beyond.
The mutual logistics support arrangement (MLSA) with Australia will help us extend the reach of our warships in southern IOR as well as the Western Pacific region for India.
The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) was inked with the US in 2016, with France in 2018 and later on with Japan in 2020.
India US Trade Policy Forum (TPF)
13th India and United States TPF recently concluded in Washington.
TPF is a platform for continuous engagement between two countries in the area of trade and to further bilateral trade and investment relations.
TPF is co-chaired by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on the Indian side and USTR on the American side.
US highlighted the creation of a new TPF Working Group on Resilient Trade that’ll provide a structured framework for trade-focused bilateral discussion of issues of mutual interest, including trade facilitation, labour, environment, and good regulatory practices.
Also, it emphasises finding solutions to several WTO disputes between both nations.
Godavari Estuary in Andhra Pradesh Has Become Prime Habitat for Indian Skimmer
As per the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), the Godavari estuary in Andhra Pradesh has become a prime and safe habitat for the Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis).
The Indian skimmer grows to a length of 40-43 cm.
It has black upper parts, a white forehead, collar and lower parts, a long, thick, deep orange bill with a yellow tip and a longer lower mandible.
In flight, it has a white trailing edge to the wing and a short forked tail with blackish central feathers.
It breeds colonially on large, exposed sand-bars and islands.
The Godavari estuary is situated at the place where the 1330 km long Godavari meets the Bay of Bengal on the east coast of India in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Beypore Boat Included in Swadesh Darshan Project
The Kerala Tourism department is likely to highlight Beypore ‘Uru’ in the detailed project report (DPR) to be submitted to the Centre for the Swadesh Darshan project.
Beypore and Kumarakom are the only two tourism destinations from Kerala to be included in the second phase of the project.
Beypore boat is a wooden dhow (ship/sailing boat/sailing vessel) handcrafted by skilled artisans and carpenters in Beypore, Kerala.
Beypore boat is a symbol of Kerala’s trade relations and friendship with the Gulf countries.
Swadesh Darshan Scheme was first launched in 2014-15 by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture for the integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits.
Swadesh Darshan 2.0 moves away from theme-based tourist circuits and focuses on reviving destination tourism.
The govt. has identified 15 States under this scheme to be promoted as part of India’s new domestic tourism policy.
Indian Peacekeepers Deployed with UNMISS Honoured with UN Medals for Exemplary Service
Over 1,000 Indian peacekeepers serving with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have been honoured with the prestigious UN medals at an award ceremony where the parade was led for the first time by a woman officer of the Indian Army.
At a special award ceremony in Upper Nile, 1,171 peacekeepers from India deployed with the UN mission in South Sudan were honoured with UN medals for their exemplary service.
UN peacekeeping began in 1948 when the UN Security Council authorised the deployment of UN military observers in the Middle East.
As of June 2022, 2370 Indian military personnel are deployed with UNMISS, the second highest after Rwanda (2637).
Last week, India deployed the largest platoon of women peacekeepers to the United Nations Interim Security Force, Abyei (UNISFA), heralding New Delhi’s intent of increasing the number of women in peacekeeping contingents significantly
India deployed the first-ever all-women’s contingent in Liberia in 2007.
Former Cricketer MS Dhoni, Garuda Aerospace Launch Surveillance Drone Named Droni
Former India cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and drone market Garuda Aerospace have launched a surveillance drone named ‘Droni.’ Dhoni is an ambassador-cum-investor in the low-cost drone manufacturer. Dhoni unveiled the camera drone called Droni at The Global Drone Expo in Chennai last year.
Droni is a battery-operated quadcopter surveillance drone.
Garuda Aerospace recently became the first-ever drone company in India to get dual DGCA approvals for both drone manufacturing type certificate and RTPO.
MS Dhoni and Garuda had also launched a short film, ‘Kheton Ke Kaptan’, aimed at encouraging youth and farmers to lead in their respective farms.
Solar-Powered Reactor Converts Plastic and Greenhouse Gases into Sustainable Fuels
Researchers from the University of Cambridge developed a first-of-its-kind system that can simultaneously convert plastic waste and greenhouse gases into two chemical products by drawing energy from the sun.
In a solar-powered reactor, carbon dioxide (CO2) and plastics are converted into sustainable fuels and valuable products used in various industries.
The reactor uses a light absorber based on perovskite – a promising alternative to silicon for next-generation solar cells.
Polyethylene (Polythene) terephthalate is a condensation polymer of ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid.
The by-product of the reaction is water, so it is an example of condensation or step-growth polymerization.
PET Plastic is a thermoplastic synthetic substance which is malleable under heat and can be placed into nearly any shape.
India’s First Centre of Excellence of Online Gaming to be Set Up in Meghalaya
The Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajeev Chandrasekhar recently announced that India’s first Centre of Excellence (CoE) of online gaming would be set up in Shillong, Meghalaya, by March 2023.
The CoE will be set up under Digital India Startup Hub through the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI).
The STPI was set up in 1991 as an autonomous society in the field of Science and Technology under the MeitY.
Scope of Online Gaming Industry:
India has one of the largest markets for the gaming business. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Sequoia India report suggest that the Indian mobile gaming industry will be worth $5 Billion in 2025.
Draft Amendments to the IT Rules 2021:
MeitY has recently circulated draft amendments to the IT Rules 2021 in relation to online gaming for public consultation.
According to the draft amendments, online games will be mandated to register and can legally operate in the country only after government clearance.
Geospatial Hackathon Launched
Science and Technology
The Union Minister of Science and Technology recently launched a Geospatial Hackathon to promote Innovation and Start-Ups in India’s Geospatial ecosystem.
This Hackathon is launched by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Ministry of Science and Technology in partnership with IIIT Hyderabad and Microsoft.
The Geospatial Hackathon will conclude on March 10, 2023, with two sets of hackathon challenges to determine four winners for the “best solutions” to the geospatial select problem statements: the Research challenge and the Start-Ups challenge.
The aim of this hackathon is to promote partnerships not only among the public and private geospatial sectors but also to strengthen our country’s geospatial Start-Up ecosystem.
Research Challenge: The Research Challenge is specific to the problem statements that were given by DST (Survey of India). DST (Survey of India) proposes a Geospatial Data Processing, Solution development, and Servicing Challenge to foster the adoption of geospatial technologies and promote innovation in India’s Geospatial ecosystem.
Start-up Challenge: The Startup Challenge allows the participants to work on problems of their choice and solve them using geospatial technologies.
Rajasthan Becomes the First State to Implement Blindness Control Policy
Rajasthan has recently become the first State to implement a policy to control blindness, with the objective of ensuring the “right to sight”.
The policy will also entail a drive for public awareness as well as technical improvement activities related to the cure of blindness.
The Rajasthan Government has released the policy with the aim of bringing light to the lives of more than three lakh people suffering from visual impairment in the State of Rajasthan.
In 2020, the blindness rate in the country was 1.1%, and work would be done to bring it down to 0.3% through the implementation of this policy.
How Does This Policy Work?
Under this policy, the Government will run Keratoplasty centres and Eye Banks at all the government medical colleges.
The government will also provide financial help to the NGOs and other private organisations working towards collecting corneas.
The government will also carry out a campaign for eye donation on an extensive level along with private institutions.
Special training will also be imparted to eye experts, eye surgeons, postgraduate students, counsellors working for eye donation and eye assistants.
Rajnath Singh Launches ‘Soul of Steel’ Alpine Challenge to Promote Tourism in Border Areas
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently kick-started the ‘Soul of Steel’ alpine challenge, an initiative to promote tourism in border areas, at an event in Dehradun coinciding with Veterans Day.
What Is the ‘Soul of Steel’ Alpine Challenge?
The ‘Soul of Steel’ expedition will test one’s high-altitude endurance and adventure in Uttarakhand’s Garhwal Himalayas.
It will initially have 12 Indian participants plus six international teams between the age group of 18 and 30 years.
The challenge will be spread across three months.
It is being organised by CLAW Global, an entity comprising a group of veterans.
The Indian Army is supporting the adventure challenge.
It is based on the lines of the ‘Ironman triathlon’, a long-distance triathlon held in Europe which tests an individual’s physical capabilities.
Participants will be selected through a detailed screening and training model through traditional and modern standards.
The initiative is aimed at enabling life skill training and youth development.
It is also expected to boost the global promotion of adventure tourism in Uttarakhand.
Sweden Finds Rare Earth Mineral Deposit
About the Findings:
Swedish state-owned mining company LKAB recently announced that it had found more than one million tonnes of rare earth oxides in the northern area of the country. This is the largest known deposit in Europe.
Currently, no rare earth metals are mined in Europe, and it mostly imports them from other regions.
According to the BBC report, 98% of rare earth metals used by the European Union were sent by China.
What Are Rare Earth Elements?
Rare earth elements or rare earth metals are a set of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table — the 15 lanthanides, plus scandium and yttrium, which tend to occur in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides, and have similar chemical properties.
Despite their classification, most of these elements are not really “rare”. One of the rare earth materials, promethium, is radioactive.
Uses of Rare Earth Elements:
These elements are important in technologies of consumer electronics, computers and networks, communications, clean energy, advanced transportation, healthcare, environmental mitigation and national defence, among others.
Scandium is used in televisions and fluorescent lamps, and yttrium is used in drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.
Rare earth elements are used in space shuttle components, jet engine turbines and drones; eg., Cerium is essential to NASA’s Space Shuttle Programme.
Archaeological Survey Discovers Two 1200-Year-Old Miniature Stupas At Nalanda
Art and Culture
Patna circle of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered two 1200-year-old miniature votive stupas during landscaping activities near Sarai Tila mound within the premises of ‘Nalanda Mahavihara’, a world heritage site in Nalanda district in the state.
The stupas, carved from stone, depict Buddha figures.
These two votive stupas (offered in fulfilment of a vow) were discovered by ASI officials recently. These, carved from stone depicting Buddha figures, must be around 1200 years old.
What Are Stupas?
A Stupa is a hemispherical structure which symbolises the burial mound of Buddha. It rose to prominence after the advent of Buddhism and peaked during Ashoka’s reign. Stupas evolved as Chorten in Tibet and pagodas in East Asia.
What Is a Votive Stupa?
The form of the stupa, with its distinctive domelike drum, originates in eight cylindrical structures in which the Buddha’s relics were placed after his death.
Votive stupas were offered in fulfilment of a vow. Beginning in the 7th century CE in India, small miniature terracotta stupas became popular as votive offerings.
About Nalanda University:
Nalanda University (427 CE to 1197 CE) stands out as the most ancient university of the Indian Subcontinent.
It engaged in the organised transmission of knowledge over an uninterrupted period of 800 years.
It was the leading centre for the teaching of Mahayana Buddhism, but other topics were also taught there. It was destroyed in 12th CE by Bakhtiyar Khilji.
Captain Surbhi Jakhmola, the first woman officer posted on foreign assignment at BRO
Captain Surbhi Jakhmola of the Indian Army’s 117 Engineer Regiment will be the first woman officer to be posted on a foreign assignment at the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
The officer will be sent to Bhutan as part of Project Dantak.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is an executive road construction force in India that supports the Indian armed forces.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) builds and maintains road networks along India’s borders and in friendly neighbouring countries.
BRO was established on 7 May 1960.
DG-Director General Border Roads Organization is Lt Gen Rajeev Chowdhary.
Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel wins Miss Universe 2022
Miss Universe 2022 was the 71st Miss Universe pageant, held at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, on 14 January 2023.
Harnaaz Sandhu of India crowned R’Bonney Gabriel of the United States as Miss Universe 2022. It is the United States’ first victory in 10 years and the ninth victory of the country – the most by any country in the pageant’s history.
From India, Diviti Rai of Karnataka represented the country.
The top 3 Miss Universe 2022 Pageants were from the USA, Venezuela and Dominican Republic.
This was the first edition of the pageant to be held under the ownership of Thailand-based JKN Global Group.
This marks the first time in a 70-year history to have an all-female presenting panel.
Yuki Bhambri, Saketh Myneni wins Bangkok Open tennis title
In Tennis, the top-seeded Indian team of Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni came from behind to win the Bangkok Open title, as they beat Christopher Rungkat and Akira Santillan at Nonthaburi, Thailand, recently.
Playing their seventh final together, the Indians beat the Indonesian-Australian combo 2-6, 7-6, 14-12 in an exciting and close final that lasted one hour and 50 minutes.
They will next compete in the Australian Open-the season’s first Grand Slam, where they have been given a wild card entry.
India made history during the third ODI against Sri Lanka in international cricket
The Indian Cricket Team on Sunday registered a World Record when they defeated Sri Lanka in the 3rd ODI by 317 runs.
The Indian team outplayed Sri Lanka in both departments at the Greenfield International Stadium, Thiruvananthapuram.
Kohli hits his third century in four ODIs and breaks Tendulkar’s record of most home hundreds.
List of highest victories by runs in ODIs-
317 – India vs Sri Lanka, 2023
290 – New Zealand vs Ireland, 2008
275 – Australia vs Afghanistan, 2015
272 – South Africa vs Zimbabwe, 2010
257 – India vs Bermuda, 2007
EU inaugurates first mainland satellite launch port
European officials and Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf inaugurated the EU’s first mainland orbital launch complex recently during a visit to Sweden by members of the European Commission, which is the 27-nation bloc’s executive arm.
The new facility at Esrange Space Center near the city of Kiruna should complement the EU’s current launching capabilities in French Guiana.
The European Union is looking to boost its ability to launch small satellites into space with a new launchpad in arctic Sweden.
The total number of satellites could reach 100,000 by 2040 as compared to the current 5,000 operational satellites.
HELINA to be deployed at LAC
The Indian Army has decided that it will deploy the anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) HELINA at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) against the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China.
The HELINA missile is also called Dhruvastra. Earlier it was known as the Nag Missile.
The HELINA or Dhruvastra missile made in India travels at a speed of 230 metres per second or 828 kilometres per hour.
It is 6 feet one inch in length. Its diameter is 7.9 inches. With an 8 kg warhead, it is one of the most dangerous anti-tank missiles in the world.
Kerala’s Kollam Becomes the First Constitution Literate District in India
In a remarkable achievement, Kollam has become the first constitution-literate district in the country.
This feat was achieved through The Citizen, a Constitution literacy campaign jointly launched by the Kollam district panchayat, District Planning Committee and Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA).
About the Campaign:
As part of the campaign, around 16.3 lakh people in the district above the age of 10 have been educated on various aspects of the Constitution and the strenuous process involved 2,200 trainers called ‘senators’.
The senators visited schools, offices, auto stands and tribal councils to spread awareness.
A 63-year-old woman from Kollam district hardly knew that liberty of expression or equality of status was her right. Once enlightened, she does not doubt where to place the Preamble of the Constitution of India.
In her modest two-room house in Kollam, the preamble shares a wall with the gods.
21st Edition of Naval Exercise VARUNA between India and France Begins
The 21st Edition of the Bilateral Naval Exercise between India and France- Exercise VARUNA commenced on the Western Seaboard on Monday.
The exercise will be conducted until the 20th of this month and will witness advanced air defence exercises, tactical manoeuvres, surface firings, replenishment, and other maritime operations.
This exercise provides an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices.
The exercise facilitates operational-level interaction between the two navies to foster mutual cooperation for good order at sea, underscoring the shared commitment of both nations to security, safety and freedom of the global maritime commons.
This edition of the exercise will witness the participation of indigenous guided missile stealth destroyer INS Chennai, guided missile frigate INS Teg, maritime patrol aircraft P-8I and Dornier, integral helicopters and MiG29K fighter aircraft
The French Navy will be represented by the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, frigates FS Forbin and Provence, support vessel FS Marne and maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique.
While the bilateral exercise between the two navies was initiated in 1993, it was christened as ‘VARUNA’ in 2001 and has become a hallmark of India – France’s strategic bilateral relationship.
Doppler Weather Radar Network to Cover the Entire Country by 2025
With the improvement in the forecast of extreme weather events, disaster-related mortalities have been reduced to single digits, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said recently.
The minister affirmed the relevance of the increased number of doppler radars and also announced that by 2025, the entire country will be covered by the doppler radars.
The number of doppler radars in the country has increased from 15 in 2013 to 37 in 2023, and the minister informed that India would add 25 more radars in the next two to three years
The Union Minister dedicated 4 Doppler Weather Radar Systems to the Western Himalayan States of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
What Is Doppler Radar?
A Doppler radar is a specialised radar that uses the Doppler effect to produce velocity data about objects at a distance.
These radar systems can provide information regarding the movement of targets as well as their position.
Doppler radars help forecasters to observe rainfall and the advance of cloud formations over a region and subsequently monitor thunderstorms and lightning in real-time.
How Does This Radar Work?
Radars are a beam of energy, called radio waves, emitted from an antenna. As they strike objects in the atmosphere, the energy is scattered in all directions, with some of the energy reflected directly back to the radar.
Weather-Related Casualties Data:
According to the Annual Statement on Climate of India 2022 issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the country reported the highest number of human casualties due to extreme weather events in three years.
The year 2022 saw 2,227 extreme weather-related deaths in India.
As per the earlier reports from the weather department, the number of casualties was 1,750 in 2021 and 1,338 in 2020.
Initiatives Launched under Voice of Global South Summit
The honourable PM of India recently inaugurated a virtual event, “Voice of the Global South Summit”. India hosted the summit in a bid to articulate the views of the developing countries regarding the effects of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
The event has planned eight ministerial sessions, including finance, energy, education, foreign affairs, and commerce.
The session had a representation of the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Energy / Petroleum Ministers from Algeria, Bahrain, Belarus, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Namibia, Somalia, Syria, Vanuatu, and Venezuela and the Deputy Minister of Azerbaijan.
It was held under the theme – ‘Unity of Voice, Unity of Purpose’ – which essentially envisages bringing together countries of the global south and sharing their perspectives and priorities on a common platform across a whole range of issues.
What Is Global North and Global South?
Global North refers loosely to countries like the US, Canada, Europe, Russia, Australia and New Zealand.
Global South includes countries in Asia, Africa and South America.
Initiatives Launched under the Summit:
Aarogya Maitri project– to provide medical supplies to any developing country hit by natural disasters or humanitarian crises
Global South Science and Technology initiative- will be launched to share expertise in areas such as space technology and nuclear energy
Global South Centre of Excellence- will be established for research on development solutions or best practices to be implemented in other countries of the Global South
Global-South Young Diplomats Forum- to connect youthful officers of foreign ministries.
Global-South Scholarships- for students from developing countries to pursue higher education in India.
The Centre Puts Neelakurinji on the List of Protected Plants
Environment and Ecology
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) has listed Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana) under Schedule III of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, including it on the list of protected plants.
Those who uproot or destroy the plant will invite a fine of ₹25,000 and three years imprisonment. The cultivation of Neelakurinji and its possession is not allowed, according to the order.
What Is Neelakuruj?
Neelakuruj is scientifically known as Strobilanthus Kunsthaus.
It is a shrub that grows in the shola forests of the Western Ghats in South India.
The plant is named after the famous Kunthi River, which flows through Kerala’s Silent Valley National Park, where the plant occurs abundantly.
It is found at an altitude of 1,300-2,400 metres.
This flower blooms once in 12 years as the pollination of flowers needs a longer period.
It is mainly found in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.
About Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972:
This act was enacted for the protection of plants and animal species.
Also, this act established schedules of protected plant and animal species; hunting or harvesting of these species was largely outlawed.
Vidisha Becomes the First-Ever District in the Country for on-Ground Deployment of Innovative 5G Use Cases
Vidisha, an aspirational district of Madhya Pradesh, became the first-ever district in India for the on-ground deployment of innovative 5G use cases offered by startups – a joint initiative by Vidisha District Administration and Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT), Department of Telecommunications (DoT) under the guidance of Additional Secretary (Telecom) and Administrator USOF.
Department of Telecommunications, Under Telecom Startups and MSMEs Mission (TSuM) and 5G Vertical Engagement Partnership Program (VEPP), have been facilitating collaborations of Digital Communication Tech – startups and SMEs to potential user communities, viz., State governments, Smart cities, etc.
5G Use Cases Include Superceuticals:
5G/4G Enabled smart health kiosk
Ambupod: 5G/4G Enabled Auto Ambulance
Dvara- Surabhi: For Unique Biometric muzzle identity of cattle
India, Egypt to Hold First-Ever Exercises with Special Forces
India and Egypt are set to hold the first-ever military exercises involving the special forces in Udaipur, Jaipur and Jodhpur.
Egypt’s Ambassador to India, Wael Hamed, said: “We are expanding our defence cooperation not only to joint exercises of air forces and naval but also in special forces”.
These exercises are aimed at enhancing defence cooperation between the two countries and the exchange of best practices.
The focus is to strengthen the bond between the two countries and, at the same time, nurture new connections. Egypt is India’s valued partner and has a pivotal role in maintaining peace and stability in the Arab world and Africa.
Pashu Sakhi Project
The ‘doctor didis’ (friends of the animals) are creating social capital in rural Jharkhand under the Pashu Sakhi project.
Pashu Sakhi is a Community Animal care Service Provider (CASP) which will enable the last mile coverage in rural areas where clinical services for livestock are not available on time or are expensive to afford for the rural poor.
The project was conceived under the National Rural Livelihood Mission, to build a line of community resource persons.
The World Bank funds it.
The Pashu Sakhi model under JOHAR had been selected by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Food Policy Research Institute as one of the top eight global best practice models for farmer service delivery.
Doctor Didis (or Pashu Sakhi) of around 1,000 women in all 24 districts of Jharkhand have been recruited since October 2013, praised recently at the global level for the last mile of livestock management.
Gangasagar Mela is known as the world’s second-largest human congregation at the confluence of the holy Ganga and the Bay of Bengal after Kumbh. The event is organised every year during Makar Sankranti.
The mela was held at Sagar Island (West Bengal) recently. The West Bengal government has demanded National Mela status for Gangasagar mela.
Saltie Census 2023: Counting Saltwater Crocodiles
The population of saltwater crocodiles has gone up in Bhitarkanika National Park, with the annual census putting the headcount at 1,793.
The authorities of Bhitarkanika, home to the largest population of estuarine crocodiles, had carried out the enumeration drive from 10 to 12 January in all the creeks and rivers within the park and its nearby areas.
Of the 1,793 crocodiles, 20 are albinos. The 2022 census had pegged the crocodile count at 1,784.
Techniques used for the census: Spotlights at night, GPS, and Photographic Interpretation to measure the length and age of the crocodiles
Veteran Actor Aparna Sen Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
Veteran actor-director Aparna Sen was honoured with the lifetime achievement award at the opening ceremony of the 15th edition of the Jaipur International Film Festival (JIFF 2023) held recently in Jaipur.
Her films are known for making a mark as feminist-centric and inclusive, with a focus on gender stereotypes.
In 1961, Aparna Sen made her film debut in Satyajit Ray’s Teen Kanya.
Writer K Venu Received Federal Bank Literary Award 2023
Recently, a noted writer K Venu bagged the first-ever Federal Bank Literary Award 2022 for his autobiography ‘Oranweshananthinte Katha’.
The award was presented by the chairman and independent director of the Federal Bank, Balagopal Chandrasekhar.
It was presented at an event held as part of the ongoing sixth edition Kerala Literature Festival, Kozhikode beach.
‘Oranweshananthinte Katha’ was chosen by a panel comprising writer and literary critic K C Narayanan, Sunil P Ilayidom and P K Rajashekharan from the ten works which were shortlisted for the award.
‘RRR’ Wins Critics Choice Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Song for ‘Naatu Naatu’
S.S. Rajamouli’s RRR continued its winning streak as the global blockbuster won two trophies — Best Foreign Language Film and Best Song for “Naatu Naatu” — at the Critics Choice Awards (CCA).
The Telugu magnum opus, headlined by Ram Charan and Jr NTR, was nominated in five categories at the CCA — Best Picture, Best Director (Rajamouli), Best Foreign Language film, Best Visual Effects (V. Srinivas Mohan) and Best Song (‘Naatu Naatu’).
In the Best Foreign Language Film, RRR was competing against films such as All Quiet on the Western Front, Argentina 1985, Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, Close and Decision to Leave.
The Critics Choice Awards (CCA) are an annual awards show that honours outstanding artistic and technical achievements in the film industry. The awards are presented by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), which are made up of over 250 television, radio, and online critics from across the United States.
James Webb Telescope Discovers its First Earth-Sized Exoplanet
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently announced that the James Webb Space Telescope had discovered its first new exoplanet. Researchers have labelled the planet LHS 475 b, roughly the same size as Earth.
Located just 41 light-years away, the planet orbits very close to a red dwarf star and completes a full orbit in just two days.
Exoplanets are planets that orbit other stars and are beyond our solar system.
Exoplanets come in a host of different sizes. They can be gas giants bigger than Jupiter or as small and rocky as Earth.
They are also known to have different kinds of temperatures, from boiling to cold.
Years Ancient City Discovered Beneath Guatemala’s Rainforest
History and Culture
Researchers have discovered the ruins of a large Mayan town hiding beneath the rainforest in Guatemala while surveying the region from the air.
The remains of the sprawling Mayan settlement have been discovered using laser technology.
This study uses airborne Lidar data to demonstrate how complex societies organised their infrastructure to reflect their socioeconomic organisation and political power.
The imaging was able to shed new light on the area – which has been studied in the past for its Mayan ruins.
What Is Mayan Civilisation?
The Maya are probably the best-known of the classical civilisations of Mesoamerica.
Originating in the Yucatán peninsula around 2600 B.C., they rose to prominence around A.D. 250 in present-day southern Mexico, Guatemala, northern Belize and western Honduras.
The Maya developed astronomy, calendrical systems and hieroglyphic writing based on the inherited inventions and ideas of earlier civilisations.
The Maya were noted as well for elaborate and highly decorated ceremonial architecture, including temple-pyramids, palaces and observatories, all built without metal tools.
They were also skilled farmers, clearing large sections of tropical rainforest and, where the groundwater was scarce, building sizable underground reservoirs for the storage of rainwater.
About Yucatan Peninsula:
The Yucatan Peninsula is Mexico’s southeastern projection, extending into the Atlantic Ocean.
It separates the Gulf of Mexico to the north and west and the Caribbean Sea to the east.
What is LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging)?
It is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth.
These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system—generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.
The discovery was made using an aerial survey with LiDAR technology. In a nutshell, lasers were beamed down from the plane and the reflected light constructed an image of the landscape.
Sri Lanka and the US Conducting Joint Military Exercises
Sri Lanka and the US are conducting week-long joint military exercises starting today to prepare for disaster relief and maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific amid China’s increasing military manoeuvring in the strategic region.
The exercise commenced today, 19 January, and will end on 26 January.
This is the fifth CARAT/MAREX exercise between the US and Sri Lanka, and this year includes participants from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Maldives National Defence Force.
The exercise will be held for one week. It has been organised to enhance the US and partner navies’ abilities to work together in response to traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges.
The exercise will also focus on building relationships through sports, cultural, and information exchanges.
The Exercise Is Being Organised to Promote:
Regional security cooperation
Maintain and strengthen maritime partnerships, and
Enhance maritime interoperability
What Is CARAT/MAREX?
CARAT/MAREX Sri Lanka is a bilateral exercise between Sri Lanka and the US designed to promote regional security cooperation, maintain and strengthen maritime partnerships, and enhance maritime interoperability.
First-Ever Military Tattoo and Tribal Dance Festival
Important Days and Events
The first-ever military tattoo and tribal dance festival will be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi on 23–24 January as part of Republic Day celebrations and to mark the 126th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
A military tattoo is a performance of music or a display of the armed forces.
The two-day festival ‘Aadi Shaurya – Parv Parakram Ka’ will showcase the prowess of the Indian armed forces and the beauty of tribal culture.
The objective is to celebrate together the bravery of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, embrace the true spirit of India and renew the commitment to building a strong and prosperous ‘New India’.
The Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs jointly organise the event, with Indian Coast Guard being the coordinating agency.
The program will include a Military Tattoo (Paramotor Gliding, Hot Air Balloon, Horse Show, Motorcycle Display, Air Warrior Drill, Navy Band) and an hour of traditional dance performances (Khukuri Dance, Gatka, Mallakhamb, Kalaripayattu, Thangta) by tribal artists from across the country.
The grand finale will include a performance by famous singer Kailash Kher.
IL 38 Aircraft of Indian Navy to Fly for the First and Last Time over Kartavya Path on Republic Day
For the first and last time, the Navy’s vintage IL38 will fly overhead Kartavya Path—earlier known as Rajpath—as part of a 50 aircraft-strong flypast on Republic Day.
About IL 38 Aircraft:
The Indian Navy aircraft IL 38 was decommissioned on 17 January 2022 after completing 44 years of service to the nation.
The IL 38 is a formidable air asset and was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1977. It was an all-weather with long endurance and substantial operating range aircraft.
About Republic Day flypast:
The Republic Day flypast will see the modern Rafale fighter jets as well as the vintage Dakota, which was the first major transport aircraft inducted into the Indian Air Force (in 1946) and participated in the wars with Pakistan in 1947-48 and 1971.
No single-engine fighter jet is participating in the flypast.
The IAF’s marching contingent in the Republic Day parade will be led by Squadron Leader Sindhu Reddy.
The theme of the IAF’s tableau this year is the Indian Air Force: Power Beyond Boundaries, which will have the airborne early warning and control aircraft Netra, LCA Tejas MK II, the LCH Prachand, the Airbus C-295 aircraft among the elements displayed.
Global Fire Power Index- Military Rankings
Index and Rankings
The recently released Global Firepower Index ranks the countries based on their potential military strength.
India is ranked fourth in the index.
The Global Firepower Index ranked 145 countries. The countries were evaluated based on prolonged offensive and defensive military campaigns.
India’s rival on the subcontinent, Pakistan, ranked No. 7, breaking into the top 10 again from No. 9 in the previous year.
Since 2006 GlobalFirepower (GFP) has provided a unique analytical display of data concerning 145 modern military powers.
The GFP ranking is based on each nation’s potential war-making capability across the land, sea, and air fought by conventional means.
The results incorporate values related to manpower, equipment, natural resources, finances, and geography represented by 60+ individual factors used in formulating the finalised GFP ranks – which provide an interesting glimpse into an increasingly volatile global landscape where war seems all but an inevitability.
New to 2023 are Belize, Benin, and Senegal.
List of the Top Ten Countries on the Global Power Index 2023:
US, Russia, China, India, UK, South Korea, Pakistan, Japan, France, and Italy.
A Global Power Index rating of 0.000 is the perfect score, which no country has so far attained.
The smaller the score value, the more powerful the fighting capability, even if only on paper.
The GPI does not take into account nuclear capabilities. The ranking is purely in terms of conventional capabilities.
The joint venture between India and Russia, Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL), has started producing AK-203 Kalashnikov assault rifles at Korwa in Uttar Pradesh, according to Alexander Mikheev, Director General of Rosoboronexport of Russia.
Last week, Army Chief Gen. Manoj Pande said the first batch of 5,000 rifles would be delivered to the Army by March.
What Are AK-203 Assault Rifles?
India is the first country to start producing the AK-200-series assault rifles of the world-famous brand.
Korwa Ordnance Factory in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, has produced the first batch of 7.62 mm Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifles.
The first lot of 5,000 AK-203 rifles, out of the total of 6,01,427 to be manufactured over a period of 10 years for ₹5,124 crores.
Who Developed These Rifles:
India and Russia signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) in February 2019 for the production of AK 203 assault rifles.
For this, a Joint venture was formed between Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) on the Indian side and Rosoboron Exports and Concern Kalashnikov on the Russian side.
Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited fully complies with the government of India’s Made in India initiative and DAP (Defence Acquisition Procedure) 2020.
It plans to ensure 100 per cent localisation of the production of AK-203 rifles in India.
The move will lend greater firepower to the Indian armed forces.
In Madhya Pradesh, more than 300 intellectuals from India and abroad released the Bhopal Declaration after discussing the G-20 agenda in the two-day meeting of Think-20 under G20 in Bhopal.
Key highlights of the Bhopal Declaration
Appeal to all stakeholders to focus more on inclusive development care for the welfare of every section of society in comparison to GDP.
Encourage a model of development led by women.
Bridge the gap between North and South, and Promote traditional medicine systems like AYUSH.
It is a rare species of duck (locally known as Sadangman) that was recently sighted in Loktak lake (Manipur) after a gap of over 90 years.
Loktak lake is famous for Keibul Lamjao National Park and Sangai, the dancing deer.
Greater Scaup is a migratory bird widely distributed across Arctic and Subarctic regions, where it mainly nests in coastal tundra habitats.
It belongs to the family of Anatidae.
IUCN status: Least Concern.
India Registers Ten New Livestock Breeds
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has registered ten new breeds of livestock species, including cattle, buffalo, goat and pig, in the last one year.
The registration was done by the ICAR-National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR).
The process involves the identification and surveying of these breeds through visits to the native areas.
This has taken the total number of indigenous breeds to 212.
The ten new breeds include:
Three new cattle breeds (Kathani, Sanchori, Masilum)
One buffalo breed (Purnathadi)
Three goat breeds (Sojat, Karauli, Gujari) and
Three pig breeds (Banda, Manipuri Black, Wak Chambil)
Since 2010, this is the third highest increase in registration of indigenous breeds, after 15 new breeds in 2018-19 and 13 new breeds in 2019-20 were recorded.
In 2010, there were only 129 indigenous breeds registered, called ‘extant breeds’.
Centre Appoints Pankaj Kumar Singh as Deputy National Security Advisor
Pankaj Kumar Singh, the former director general of the Border Security Force (BSF), was recently appointed as the deputy national security advisor (Dy NSA) of India, according to an order issued by the Centre.
The 1988-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Rajasthan cadre, who headed the BSF till 31 December last year before he retired, has been appointed as Dy NSA on a re-employment contract of two years, the order said.
In his new role as Dy NSA, he will assist NSA Ajit Doval in creating and implementing the country’s national security strategies, including assessing threats posed by terrorism, data security, cyber threats, the readiness of concerned agencies and cooperation between different organisations dealing with security issues.
J&K Becomes the First Indian UT to Shift to e-Governance Mode Completely
Leading the digital transformation in governance, Jammu and Kashmir has become the first union territory (UT) in India to have entirely shifted to a digital mode of administration.
It means that all governance and administrative services in the state are now ‘only’ available digitally.
According to the state administration’s guidelines, no service will be unavailable, and applicants won’t need to go to a government office.
The UT administration constituted a ‘Coordination Cell’ for monitoring the progress of the implementation of online services in Jammu and Kashmir.
UNGA Adopts Resolution on ‘Education for Democracy’ Co-Sponsored by India
Recently, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution titled “Education for Democracy” that reaffirms the right of everyone to education.
The resolution, which was co-sponsored by India, recognises that “education for all” contributes to the strengthening of democracy.
The resolution will recognise the importance of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.
This is not the first time the United Nations General Assembly has adopted an education resolution.
Earlier in 2015, a similar resolution was passed in the General Assembly, encouraging all UN entities to use education to promote peace, human rights and democracy.
The purpose of the resolution was to encourage member states to integrate Education for Democracy into their education standards.
Indian Army Organises Sainya Ranakshetram 2.0
The Indian Army, under the aegis of HQ Army Training Command (ARTRAC), organised the second edition of Hackathon aptly named “SAINYA RANAKSHETRAM 2.0” from October 2022 to January 2023
The prize winners of the event were felicitated by Gen Manoj Pande, Chief of the Army Staff, during a virtual function on 17 January 2023.
The major aim is to seek solutions to operational cyber challenges and jump-start and telescope the development time for innovative solutions in the field of Cyber Security.
It also aims to provide a platform to identify indigenous talent in niche domains and enhance the standard of training in domains of-
Security Software Coding
Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations (EMSO)
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning (AI/ML)
Activities to be held under “Sainya Ranakshetram”:
Secure Software Coding
ESMO: Customised Indian Army-Specific Stack for Wi-Fi 6
Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning: NLP Processing and Decoding of Radio Intercepts
Cyber Deterrence: Capture the Flag (CTF)
Uttar Pradesh Tops Charts for Mobile Gaming in India
According to the India Mobile Gaming Report 2022 published by the gaming platform Mobile Premier League (MPL), Uttar Pradesh (UP) has emerged as the top destination for mobile gamers, followed by Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Bihar, and West Bengal.
The most famous games for the players included Ludo Dice, Snakes and Ladders, Carrom, Fruit Dart, Block Puzzle and Poker, among the top played games.
The report claimed that Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Ghaziabad and Allahabad in UP comprised a total of 36% of the total games in the state. 2022 was the second year, with Lucknow being one of the top cities and also outpacing all metros.
A report from Lumika reveals that India became the world’s largest consumer of mobile games last year. With over 15 billion downloads, the gaming market in India had a value of $2.6 billion in the fiscal year 2022, and with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27%, it would expand to $8.6 billion by 2027.
ISRO Is Pushing Venus Mission ‘Shukrayaan’ to 2031
Science and Technology
Recently authorities of the space science programme said that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is yet to receive approval from the Indian government for the Venus mission and that the mission could, as a result, be postponed to 2031.
ISRO’s Venus mission, called Shukrayaan I, was expected to be launched in December 2024.
The idea was born in 2012; five years later, ISRO commenced preliminary studies after the Department of Space received a 23% hike in the 2017-2018 budget.
What Is Shukrayaan I?
The Shukrayaan I mission will be an orbiter mission, also called the Venus Mission.
Its scientific payloads currently include a high-resolution synthetic aperture radar and a ground-penetrating radar.
The mission is expected to study Venus’s geological and volcanic activity, emissions on the ground, wind speed, cloud cover, and other planetary characteristics from an elliptical orbit.
Optimal launch windows from Earth to Venus occur once every 19 months.
Venus is often called “Earth’s twin” because they’re similar in size and structure, but Venus has extreme surface heat and a dense, toxic atmosphere.
It rotates very slowly on its axis – one day on Venus lasts 243 Earth days.
Unlike the other planets in our solar system, Venus spins clockwise on its axis.
PARAKH-India’s First National Assessment Regulator Notified
The National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) has notified India’s first national assessment regulator, PARAKH, which will work on setting norms, standards and guidelines for student assessment and evaluation for all recognised school boards in the country.
The regulator aims to set up assessment guidelines for all boards to help remove disparities in scores of students enrolled with different state boards.
What Is PARAKH?
PARAKH has been launched as part of the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP)-2020, which envisaged a standard-setting body to advise school boards regarding new assessment patterns and the latest research and promote collaborations between them.
It will act as a constituent unit of the NCERT.
It will also be tasked with holding periodic learning outcomes tests like the National Achievement Survey (NAS) and State Achievement Surveys.
It will work on three major assessment areas: large-scale assessments, school-based assessments, and examination reforms.
Uniform Norms and Guidelines
Enhance Assessment Pattern
Reduce Disparity in Evaluation
Benchmark Assessment as envisaged by the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020
Removes Disparity in College Admission
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Released the State Finance Report 2022-23
Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released the Report titled “State Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2022-23”, an annual publication that provides information, analysis and an assessment of the finances of State governments for 2022-23 against the backdrop of actual and revised/provisional accounts for 2020-21 and 2021-22, respectively.
The theme of this year’s Report is “Capital Formation in India – The Role of States”.
Key Findings of Report:
The State’s Gross fiscal deficit (GFD) is budgeted to decline to 3.4 per cent of GDP in 2022-23 from 4.1 per cent in 2020-21.
GFD is an excess of total expenditure, including loans net of recovery over revenue receipts (including external grants) and non-debt capital receipts.
States’ debt is budgeted to ease to 29.5 per cent of GDP in 2022-23 as against 31.1 per cent in 2020-21.
In 2022-23, states have budgeted higher capital outlay than in the previous three years.
Increase allocations of capital expenditure for sectors like health, education, etc.
Create a capex buffer fund during good times to smoothen and maintain expenditure quality and flow through the economic cycle.
Strengthen timely devolution mechanisms to local bodies through State Finance Commissions.
Encourage and facilitate higher inter-state trade and business
Indian Scientists Make a Unique Discovery on Mars
Science and Technology
A team of Indian scientists have found the first evidence of the presence of solitary waves around Mars.
These solitary waves are distinct electric field fluctuations in the Martian magnetosphere that control particle energization, plasma loss, and transport through wave-particle interactions.
With the help of high-resolution electric field data recorded by the Langmuir Probe and Waves instrument on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft of NASA, researchers identified the solitary waves.
What Are Solitary Waves?
Solitary waves are distinct electric field fluctuations (bipolar or monopolar) that follow constant amplitude-phase relations.
Their shape and size are less affected during their propagation.
The magnitude and duration of these pulses are found to be 1-25 millivolts/metre and 0.2–1.7 milliseconds, respectively.
These pulses are dominantly seen in the dawn and afternoon dusk sectors at an altitude of 1000–3500 km around Mars.
Through simulations, it is found that the spatial extent of these structures is very small (30-330 metres). As these waves are known to be responsible for the plasma energisation and its transport in Earth’s magnetosphere
What Is the MAVEN Spacecraft?
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, which launched in 2013
It is the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere
The goal of this spacecraft is to determine the role that loss of atmospheric gas to space played in changing the Martian climate through time
India Ranked Second-Largest Tourist Market for Singapore in 2022
India was ranked the second-largest tourist market for Singapore in 2022, behind Indonesia, with 686,000 Indian arrivals, according to recent data provided by the country’s tourism authority.
Tourists from Indonesia, India and Australia were among the top spenders in the first nine months of 2022, with spending of 8.96 billion Singapore dollars (SGD), as reported by Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
Singapore is a small island city-state located in Southeast Asia, consisting of one main island and 63 smaller islets. It is bordered by Malaysia to the north and Indonesia to the south. The official languages are English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil.
Russia Becomes India’s Fourth-Largest Trading Partner
Russia has become India’s fourth-largest trading partner, with imports from the country spiking five-fold to $32.9 billion during the April-December period, according to a report in The Times of India.
Two main contributors to India’s higher imports from Russia are crude oil and fertilisers.
After the Russia-Ukraine war broke out, the West slapped sanctions on Moscow, limiting its trade opportunities.
The fertiliser imports from Russia increased by 371 per cent to a record 2.15 million tonnes in the first six months of the year that started on 1 April.
Sri Lanka to Release Stamp to Honour Jawaharlal Nehru on Its Independence Day
As part of its 75th National Independence Day celebrations, Sri Lanka has decided to release a commemorative stamp that includes a portrait of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, according to a press release issued by the President’s Media Division of Sri Lanka.
The country, which is in the grip of a financial crisis, will commemorate its 75th anniversary of independence on 4 February 2023.
The theme of this year’s Independence day celebration will be “Namo Namo Matha – A Step towards a Century”.
The UN Designates Pakistan’s Abdul Rehman Makki as a Global Terrorist
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) listed Pakistan-based terrorist Abdul Rehman Makki as a global terrorist under its ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee recently.
The development came months after China put a hold on India and the United States’ joint bid to name the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader a global terrorist.
Abdul Rehman Makki is the brother-in-law of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed, who, with the help of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Pakistan deep state planned and orchestrated the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Mexico Imposes One of the World’s Strictest Anti-Smoking Laws
One of the World’s strictest anti-tobacco laws has been imposed in Mexico, setting in force a total ban on smoking in public places, including hotels, beaches and parks.
The new law, which is part of the country’s General Law for Tobacco Control reform, came into force recently.
It will also see a total ban on the promotion, advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products.
The sale and use of e-cigarettes and vapes are also due to face new restrictions.
Bhavin Rabari of the Oscar-nominated Gujarati film Chhello Show bags International Press Academy (IPA) Award
Bhavin Rabari, the lead child actor in Pan Nalin’s Oscar-nominated Gujarati film Chhello Show (The Last Film Show), bagged the International Press Academy (IPA) award in the ‘Best Breakthrough Performance’ category at the 27th Satellite Awards held in the United States recently.
The film is the first Indian film to be shortlisted for the Oscars in the ‘Best International Feature Film’ category after 21 years.
The film has also bagged top honours in other international festivals like Tribeca, Busan, Mill Valley, and Seminci.
Rabari, 13, the child actor who played the character of the protagonist named Samay, is among the youngest recipients of the prestigious award, joining the list of former recipients such as Edward Norton, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Russel Crowe, and Hale Berry.
ASER Report 2022 Released
Reports and Indexes
The NGO Pratham has recently issued the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2022.
It examines the effects of the closures of schools in 2020 and 2021, as well as the return of students to the classroom in 2022.
Despite the pandemic-related school shut down, the total enrollment counts grew from 97.2% in 2018 to 98.4% in 2022.
The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) released on 19 January revealed that almost all (98.4%) students in the age bracket of 6-14 years are now enrolled in schools.
This national survey sheds light on learning outcomes in schools and is led by the Pratham Foundation.
It was last conducted at this scale in 2018, which marks the survey’s return after four years.
The overall enrollment rate for students aged 6 to 14 rose from 97.2% in 2018 to 98.4% in 2022.
Additionally, the percentage of kids in this age range (3 to 16) who are not actively enrolled decreased to 1.6% from 2.8% in 2018, the lowest level ever.
From 65.6% in 2018 to 72.9% in 2022, children enrolled in government schools saw a dramatic increase, reversing another pattern of a continuous decline in student enrolments recorded since 2006.
First Global Tourism Investors’ Summit
Under its G20 presidency, India will be organising the country’s first Global Tourism Summit in New Delhi from 10–12 April 2023, with the Ministry of Tourism being the organiser and leading the event.
All G-20 member countries will be invited to participate in the summit.
CII is the Industry Partner for this event.
The conference aims to bring together global businesses, think tanks and policymakers to understand and explore tourism business opportunities in India.
In this regard, the Ministry of Tourism organised a roadshow in Chandigarh on 17 January 2023.
The event focused on promoting India as an investment destination for travel, tourism and hospitality by identifying state-specific investment potential and discussing ways to promote sustainable tourism.
‘Spot Bellied Eagle Owl’ spotted in Seshachalam Forest of Andhra Pradesh for the First Time
A wildlife team recently stumbled upon a ‘Spot Bellied Eagle Owl’ (Bubo Nipalensis) for the first time in the Seshachalam forest and for the third time in Andhra Pradesh.
The bird’s habitat, found on large trees in thick forests, is spread across the Indian subcontinent. But it was sighted only twice in the State earlier, and both times it was at Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR).
The bold predatory bird, measuring 20-25 inches in length and weighing between 1.5 kg and 2 kg, feeds on small rodents and lizards. “The bird makes a strange scream similar to humans and it is hence called the ‘Ghost of the Forest’ in India and ‘Devil Bird’ in Sri Lanka”.
Scientific name: Bubo nipalensis
Spot Bellied Eagle Owl is also known as the forest eagle owl
They are large, very powerful and bold predatory birds
It measures about 50 to 65 cm in length and weighs 1500 to 1700 grams
It is a forest-inhabiting species found in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam
These species occur in altitudes from 300 to 3000 metres
IUCN Status: Least Concern
Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule IV
CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora): Appendix II
About Seshachalam Hills:
The Seshachalam Hills are a part of the Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh
They are a group of seven hills: Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrishabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri
Seshachalam was designated as a Biosphere Reserve in the year 2010
It has large reserves of red sandalwood
Hyderabad to host India’s first Fourth Industrial Revolution Centre on Healthcare, Life Sciences
Hyderabad will host a World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR), the first thematic centre in India to focus on life sciences and healthcare.
Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) will be set up in collaboration with World Economic Forum (WEF), an autonomous organisation (HQ: Geneva, Switzerland).
About the centre:
The centre will be an autonomous, non-profit organisation focusing on policy and governance for healthcare and life sciences.
C4IR Telangana is the 18th centre to join the Forum’s Fourth Industrial Revolution Network, which spans four continents.
The centre will help Telangana become an important node in the global network and consolidate its leadership position globally.
About Fourth Industrial Revolution:
The Fourth Industrial Revolution represents a fundamental change in the way we live, work and relate to one another.
It is a new chapter in human development, enabled by extraordinary technological advances commensurate with those of the first, second and third industrial revolutions.
Industry 4.0 builds upon Industry 3.0, which was largely based on the use of electronics and information technology
Job Loss (due to automation), Increased inequalities, Privacy and Security concerns, etc.
The first industrial revolution used water and steam power to mechanise production (the 1800s).
The second used electric power to create mass production (the early 1900s).
The third used electronics and information technology to automate production (the late 1900s).
India Funded the Hi-Impact Community Development Project (HICDP) Scheme of Maldives
In a bid to strengthen ties, India and Maldives recently signed pacts on development projects as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited the island country and held talks with the top leadership in the country.
In an attempt to strengthen ties, India and Maldives signed pacts on development projects and held talks with the top leadership in the country.
About the pact:
The pact included grant assistance of 100 million Rufiyaa (currency of Maldives) for the High Impact Community Development Project (HICDP) scheme.
A number of socio-economic development projects are planned to be implemented, like the development of a sports complex in Gahdhoo and academic collaboration between Maldives National University and Cochin University of Science and Technology.
Two sea ambulances were also granted from India to the Ministry of Defence of Maldives.
The Maldivian Foreign Minister said the two sea ambulances procured under the HICDP scheme would greatly enhance the capacity of the emergency medical services.
Jaishankar also visited Noonu Mandhoo pre-school.
India will send 10,000 school books to be distributed to 260 schools in this country.
Rare Dinosaur Fossil Discovered in Central India
At least 250 fossilised eggs and over 90 nesting sites of the dinosaur Titanosaurus, dating back about 67 million years, have been discovered in central India by scientists from Delhi University, according to experts involved in the excavation.
Indian researchers found these rare cases of fossilised dinosaur eggs from a new site in the Narmada Valley.
The findings of the study were published in the journal PLOS ONE on 18 January 2023.
The discovery suggests that Titanosaurs—one of the largest dinosaurs to have roamed the Earth—displayed a notable reproductive trait unique to modern-day birds.
The egg has two yolks; this feature can be seen in birds, suggesting they share similar reproductive traits.
The eggs were found to measure 15–17 centimetres in diameter.
They were found during field investigations in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh between 2017 and 2020.
They are found in Lameta exposure (a sedimentary rock formation known for its dinosaur fossils).
The eggs belonged to six species, suggesting a higher diversity of these extinct giants in India.
Krishna Vavilala: Indian-American awarded with MLK Grand Parade Special award
As the United States commemorated the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Indian-American Krishna Vavilala received the MLK Grande Parade Special Award for his contributions to connecting the Indian diaspora with mainstream America.
Vavilala, 86, a longtime Houston resident and the founder and chairman of the Foundation of India Studies (FIS), has previously led several MLK Grande Parades.
He also dressed as Mahatma Gandhi with the sole purpose of bringing the Indian community closer to the Black community, based on nonviolent principles that both Gandhi and MLK Jr. had followed.
British Indian entrepreneur conferred Freedom of City of London honour
Manish Tiwari, a British Indian entrepreneur, has been awarded the Freedom of the City of London honour for his contributions to the financial hub of the UK capital.
The award ceremony was held at the Chamberlain’s Court in the iconic Guildhall in London. Tiwari is the founder of an ethnic minority focussed marketing agency named Here and Now 365.
Recently, Manish Tiwari read the “Declaration of a Freeman” and also signed the ‘Freeman’s Declaration Book’.
The honour is steeped in history.
It also gave him the recognition of “Freeman”, the right to trade in the Square Mile or the financial heart of London.
Tiwari is the founder of an ethnic minority focussed marketing agency named Here and Now 365.
Earlier, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, was honoured with this award. Along with him, the other prominent recipients include
South African leader Nelson Mandela and
Microsoft founder Bill Gates
Rohit Sharma breaks MS Dhoni’s record of most sixes in ODIs in India.
After the series against Sri Lanka, Indian captain Rohit Sharma did not get big runs in the first ODI against New Zealand, but he registered his name in the record book.
He now holds the record for most sixes in ODIs on Indian soil.
The record for most sixes in ODIs on Indian soil was held by former India captain MS Dhoni. Dhoni had hit 123 sixes at home.
Before coming down against New Zealand, Rohit also had 123 sixes. Yesterday Rohit overtook Dhoni by hitting two sixes on his way to innings of 34 runs.
Rohit reached the new feat by smashing a Henry Shipley delivery over extra cover into the gallery.
Rohit’s number of sixes on Indian soil in the ODI format is now 125. Yuvraj Singh is third on this list with 71 sixes.
Most sixes in ODIs in India:
1. Rohit Sharma – 125
2. MS Dhoni – 123
3. Yuvraj Singh – 71
CGI has been titled a Top Employer 2023 in India
CGI has been certified as a Top Employer 2023 in India third year in a row for its positive workplace culture, learning and development, leadership development, career and succession management, and workforce planning.
CGI is one of the leading consultancy service providers in the country.
The title was conferred for its positive workplace culture, learning and development, leadership development, career and succession management, etc.
The firm was founded in 1976. It is among the world’s largest independent IT and business consulting services firms. The company employs over 18,000 professionals in India and has expertise with more than 300 clients around the globe.
Recently, the Ministry of Shipping, Waterways, and Ports has launched ‘Bharat Pravah-India along its Shores’, an initiative to highlight the significance and imagery of rivers, ports, and shipping in everyday life through a series of nationwide events.
Kochi, Vizhinjam in Kerala and Galathea Bay ports in Andaman Nicobar Islands have made some headway in the direction of becoming full-fledged transhipment hubs.
Bharat Pravah will serve as a common platform to bring together stakeholders from different walks for the purpose of creating a larger vision of shipping, rivers, seas and people.
It will highlight the challenges, policy issues and future goals relating to the maritime sector.
MeitY launches a new tech system to monitor air quality
Recently, the Technology for Air Quality Monitoring System – AI-AQMS v1.0 was launched by MeitY.
The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Kolkata, has developed an outdoor air quality monitoring station to monitor environmental pollutants.
It includes parameters like PM 1.0, PM 2.5, PM 10.0, SO2, NO2, CO, O2, ambient temperature, relative humidity, etc., for continuous air quality analysis of the environment.
India’s first 3x platform wind turbine generators (WTG) were installed in Karnataka
In Gadag, Karnataka, ReNew Power erected India’s first 3x platform wind turbine generators (WTGs).
The new wind turbine generators will be used in the country’s first “Round the Clock” renewable energy project, which will combine wind, solar, and battery energy storage technology (BESS).
This project will generate enough energy to power over one million Indian households annually.
New Goa Manohar International Airport wins best sustainable greenfield airport award
GMR Goa International Airport (GGIAL), a subsidiary of GMR Airports Infrastructure, has won the ‘Best Sustainable Greenfield Airport’ award under aviation sustainability and environment at ASSOCHAM’s 14th International Conference-cum-Awards for Civil Aviation 2023.
The award was presented for “excellent initiatives” taken by GGIAL in implementing sustainability as one of the core concepts.
The criteria of awards are contribution, innovativeness, applicability, relevance and impact potential in their respective areas.
The jury evaluated the participants on various parameters and innovative thought processes.
International Tourism Fair FITUR 2023 kicks off in Madrid
King Felipe and Queen Letizia inaugurated the 43rd edition of the International Tourism Fair, Fitur 2023, on 18 January, which is being held in IFEMA Madrid. The exhibition witnessed an expected attendance, similar to the pre-Covid-19 pandemic, thus aiming to consolidate the recovery of the sector worldwide.
This year’s Fitur motto is “Citizens of the World. We Are tourism”, and its focus is on a healthy and sustainable future.
This year it is Guatemala that will show a varied tourist offer. With destinations like Guatemala Std and natural enclaves like Lake Atitlán – one of the country’s most visited attractions.
Jnanpith awardee Nilmani Phookan dies
Jnanpith awardee and eminent Assamese litterateur Nilmani Phookan died on 19 January following prolonged old-age-related problems.
He was 90.
He is the third recipient of the Jnanpith award in Assam after Birendranath Bhattacharya and Mamoni (Indira) Raisom Goswami.
He received the Sahitya Akademi award in 1981 for his book of poems ‘Kobita’, the Padma Shri in 1990 and the Sahitya Akademi fellowship in 2002.
Aruna Miller becomes Maryland’s first Indian-American Lieutenant Governor
Aruna Miller has scripted history by becoming the first Indian-American politician to be sworn in as the Lieutenant Governor in the state of Maryland, adjoining the US capital.
Her father, a mechanical engineer, was the first to arrive in the US in the late 1960s as a student before he brought the rest of his family, and she arrived in the country in 1972 as a 7-year-old.
The Lieutenant Governor is the state’s highest official following the Governor and assumes the role when the Governor is out of state or incapacitated.
Miller is the state’s first and the country’s only current Black chief executive.
The newly sworn-in Lt Governor took her oath on the Bhagwat Gita.
“India is calling. Blood is calling to blood. Get up, we have no time to lose. Take up your arms! we shall carve our way through the enemy’s ranks, or if God wills, we shall die a martyr’s death. And in our last sleep, we shall kiss the road that will bring our Army to Delhi”
Today 23 January 2023, marks Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s 126th birth anniversary.
Owing to the legendary freedom fighter’s extraordinary grit and insurmountable contribution to the Indian freedom struggle, Netaji’s birthday is also observed as Parakram Diwas.
He was born on 23 January 1897 in Cuttack, Odisha.
23 January 2023 is the occasion of the 126th birth anniversary of Netaji. This day is also referred to as the Parakram Diwas and is celebrated to honour the life of Subhas Chandra Bose.
About Subhas Chandra Bose:
In 1921, Bose joined the nationalist movement led by Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress.
He followed Jawaharlal Nehru to leadership in a group within the Congress which was less keen on constitutional reform and more open to socialism.
Bose became the Congress president in 1938.
Bose had founded the Azad Hind Fauj, also called the Indian National Army (INA), which attacked the Britishers from the eastern side of then-undivided India.
What Is Parakram Diwas?
This day is celebrated on 23 January every year.
It is celebrated on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Netaji was one of the prominent heroes and leaders of India’s Independence struggle.
He fought for independence throughout his life.
It is celebrated to commemorate the legendary freedom fighter’s extraordinary contribution to the Indian freedom struggle.
Netaji’s Birthday was designated as Parakram Diwas in 2021.
It is celebrated to develop a sense of patriotism in the hearts of Indian citizens.
It is also celebrated to encourage youngsters to act with courage when faced with any challenges.
IAF to Conduct Annual Command-Level Exercise in the Eastern Sector after 2 years
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to conduct an annual command-level exercise in the eastern sector in the first week of February.
Exercise Poorvi Akash—the annual command-level exercise of the IAF’s Eastern Air Command—is being conducted after a gap of two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
About Exercise Poorvi Akash:
The exercise will involve the activation of the Command’s fighters, helicopters and transport assets towards a routine practice of aerial drills, including joint exercises.
The exercise planned to be held in the next few days also comes at a time when the Indian Air Force has deployed and activated the S-400 air defence squadron in the area, which can take on any enemy aircraft or missile from a distance of up to 400 km.
The exercise would see major combat assets of the Air Force, including the Rafale and Su-30 fighter jets, activated along with the transport and other aircraft.
The IAF recently moved a squadron of drones from other bases to the northeast to augment its capabilities of monitoring adversary activities along the Sikkim and the Siliguri Corridor sector.
Eastern Air Command:
Headquartered in Shillong, the Eastern Air Command is one of the five operational commands of the Indian Air Force and controls air operations in the eastern sector.
Its area of responsibility includes a 6300 km-long international boundary with China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Hindustani Vocalist Prabha Atre Conferred with Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia Lifetime Achievement Award
Awards and Recognitions
Hindustani vocalist Padma Vibhushan Dr Prabha Atre was recently conferred with the Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia Lifetime Achievement Award at the hands of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde felicitated Dr Atre at a function at Ram Ganesh Gadkari Rangayatan in Thane.
Mr Shinde presented Dr Atre with a citation and ₹1 lakh at the programme, during which a symphony of 90 flautists was performed to mark her 90th birthday.
About Dr Prabha Atre:
Prabha Atre was born on 13 September 1932.
She is an Indian classical vocalist from the Kirana Gharana.
She has been awarded all three of the Padma Awards by the Government of India.
Who Was Hariprasad Chaurasia?
Hariprasad Chaurasia was born on 1 July 1938. He is an Indian music director and classical flautist who plays the bansuri in the Hindustani classical tradition. He has received the highest recognition of Padma Bhushan (1992) and Padma Vibhushan (2000).
Pune to Have India’s Deepest Metro Station
The Pune Metro is all set to complete work on the country’s deepest underground metro station in the city by next month and make it operational by the end of March.
The Civil Court Interchange station is 33.1 metres deep (108.59 feet) and will be the deepest metro station in the country.
The station also has the speciality of having its roof at a height of 95 feet and the natural light of the sun falling on the floor of the underground station.
Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (Maha-Metro) is implementing the Pune Metro rail project.
The design of the station will adhere to the green norms and the Indian Green Building Council rankings. Once the routes and stations are ready, people from PCMC can travel 22 km to Vanaz within 31 minutes.
The First Indo-Egypt Joint Military Exercise Begins in Rajasthan
The first joint exercise between the special forces of the Indian and the Egyptian Army, ‘Exercise Cyclone–I’, started recently at Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
‘Cyclone–I’ is the first exercise of its kind, bringing the special forces of both nations on a common platform.
The exercise aims to bolster defence cooperation between the two countries and focus on sharing professional skills and interoperability of special forces in desert terrain while undertaking counter-terrorism, reconnaissance, raids and other special operations.
The participants will also undertake joint planning and drills for Special Forces operations in mechanised warfare settings and surgical strikes on terrorist camps/hideouts including sniping of High-Value Targets.
The 14-day-long exercise, carried out in the deserts of Rajasthan, engages both the contingents to advance special forces skills such as Sniping, Combat Free Fall, Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Designation, sharing of information on weapons, equipment, innovations, tactics, techniques and procedures.
India and Egypt, two of the world’s oldest civilisations, have enjoyed a history of close contact from ancient times.
Egypt has traditionally been one of India’s most important trading partners in the African continent.
The India-Egypt Bilateral Trade Agreement has been in operation since March 1978 and is based on the Most Favoured Nation clause.
Women Get into Command Roles in the Indian Army
The Army has begun the process for the selection of women officers for command postings in the rank of Colonel, which has so far been the domain of male officers.
As many as 108 women officers in the Army have recently been cleared for the rank of Colonel (selection grade) by a special selection board, making them eligible to command units and troops in their respective arms and services for the first time.
In the recent move, the Army has decided that Women officers in many streams of the Army, including the Army Air Defence, Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Army Ordnance Corps, and Intelligence Corps, are selected for command postings.
What Exactly Does Commanding a Unit Mean?
Once promoted to a Colonel, an officer is eligible to command troops directly in the Army, which is an acknowledgement of the leadership qualities of the officer.
It is considered a coveted appointment because in no other rank, including higher ranks like Brigadier or Major General, does an officer interact directly with troops on the ground.
Women’s Inclusion in the Indian Army:
Women were inducted into the Army as early as 1992.
Women officers who were inducted into the Army were inducted as Short Service Commission (SSC) officers in 1992 and did not have the choice to opt for a permanent commission.
JAG and Army Education Corps were exceptions; in 2008, a permanent commission was opened for them.
For other arms and services, women could not become permanent cadres and had to retire much before completing the mandatory service period to become a Colonel.
With the landmark Supreme Court judgement of February 2020, the permanent commission was granted to women officers with retrospective effect.
This opened the doors for their further growth and promotions in the Army, which has been, of late, opening leadership and higher management courses for women.
Challenges for Women being in a Combat Role:
Morale and Cohesion
Abuse by Enemy
Which other Armies Allow Women to Serve or Command Units?
All major countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, and Israel, allow women in command positions of their national armed forces.
Centre to Set Up a Floating Jetty on the Northern Bank of Brahmaputra
The Centre will set up a modern floating jetty on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra river in Assam’s Sonitpur district to facilitate the movement of cargo and passengers via waterways, Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal recently announced.
The union government has prepared a plan to build such a facility at the historic Biswanath ghat
The aim of this plan is to ease the movement of cargo and passengers via waterways.
The new jetty will help to boost the local economy. The facility will help farmers and traders to transport and export their produce via waterways.
Accordingly, the Centre’s ‘Act East’ policy has done wonders for the economic revival of the region in the global trade map.
The main aim is to re-energise India’s traditional routes of trade via the Brahmaputra river.
Once the floating jetty is built, it will facilitate the docking of three ships simultaneously.
Ex-SC judge AK Sikri appointed Administrator of Shooting World Cup 2023
The Delhi High Court has appointed former Supreme Court judge Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri as an administrator to oversee the utilisation of funds for the upcoming International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup scheduled to be held in India in March in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
ASMI Machine Pistol
The Indian Army has recently raised a tender to indigenously source 5,000 numbers 9×19 mm machine pistols as an ‘Emergency Procurement’ via the Fast Track Procedure (FTP) of the Defence Acquisition Procedure, 2020 (DAP 2020).
ASMI (meaning pride/ self-respect) is India’s first indigenous 9mm machine pistol.
Developed jointly by DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and Indian Army.
It weighs under 2kg and can fire at a range of 100 metres.
It has an 8-inch barrel and 33 rounds of high-capacity magazine load.
It would cost around Rs 50,000 per unit.
The 3D printing process was used to design and prototype the pistol’s various parts, including its trigger components.
It is set to replace the 9mm pistols in the Indian defence forces.
Kunlavut, An Seyoung emerge champions at India Open
Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn and Korea’s An Seyoung emerged champions at the India Open after stunning wins over two-time world champions Viktor Axelsen and Akane Yamaguchi in their men’s and women’s singles finals recently.
The India Open is an annual badminton event which has been held in India since 2008 and is a BWF World Tour Super 750 international badminton tournament.
Its first three editions were designated as Grand Prix Gold events. In 2011, it was upgraded to the BWF Superseries tournament.
Location: New Delhi, India
Venue: K. D. Jadhav Indoor Hall (2023)
Prize money: US$850,000 (2023)
Founded: 1973; 50 years ago
Most titles (female): 3; Liliyana Natsir
Most titles (male): 3; Tontowi Ahmad
Praveen Sharma was Appointed the Director of the National Health Authority
Praveen Sharma (IDSE) has recently been appointed as Director of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s National Health Authority (Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission).
Praveen is an officer of the Indian Defence Service of Engineers from the 2005 batch.
He has been appointed to the post under the Central Staffing Scheme for a period of five years.
Mukesh Ambani Ranked Number Two Globally on Brand Guardianship Index 2023
On the Brand Guardianship Index 2023, billionaire Mukesh Ambani rated first among Indians and second internationally, surpassing Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Google’s Sundar Pichai.
Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, topped the global list.
The Brand Guardianship Index, developed by Brand Finance, a leading worldwide independent brand consultant, is a global acknowledgement of CEOs who are creating long-term company value by balancing the requirements of all stakeholders – employees, investors, and society.
13th Amendment (13A) to Sri Lanka’s Constitution
The Indian Minister of External Affairs reiterated that full implementation of the 13A is “critical” for achieving reconciliation with the minority Tamil community.
13A, brought in after the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement of 1987, provides for the devolution of power to the Tamil community.
Sri Lanka has a long history of failed negotiations to end the Tamil claim of discrimination by allowing some form of political autonomy.
13A will facilitate unity among all the communities in Sri Lanka so that they can live as one.
Kerala’s Wayanad becomes the first district in the country to provide basic documents to all tribal people
Kerala’s Wayanad becomes the first district in the country to provide basic documents to all tribal people.
The Akshaya Big Campaign for Document Digitisation (ABCD) campaign provided Aadhaar cards, ration cards, birth/death certificates, etc.
These documents are digitised and saved in DigiLocker accounts. Digitalising the documents through DigiLocker will help the beneficiaries easily retrieve the documents if in case they are lost or damaged.
India-supported resolution ‘Education for Democracy’ at UNGA
India-supported resolution ‘Education for Democracy’ was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) recently; the Assembly adopted the resolution with unanimous consent and without a vote.
The resolution encouraged member states to integrate education for democracy into their education standards and curriculum. It also asked member states to close digital divides.
Education for democracy focuses primarily on democratic rights and responsibilities and education for active participation in relation to the civic, political, social, economic, legal and cultural spheres of society.
Recently, the district of Kollam (Kerala) has become the country’s first constitution-literate district.
Hakku Patra or Title Deeds
Recently, the Prime Minister of India symbolically distributed Hakku Patra (land title deeds) to five families of the Banjara (Lambani) community, a nomadic Scheduled Caste group, at an event organised by the state Revenue Department in Karnataka.
A title deed is a property ownership document, and the bearer of the document owns the land.
The title deeds enable owners to avail of bank loans with the documentation.
The government will also grant them the right to buy or sell land on which the title deed has been granted.
National Girl Child Day 2023
Days and Event
National Girl Child Day 2023 is being observed today, 24 January 2023. National Girl Child Day is celebrated every year in order to raise awareness about the gender inequality faced by girls in India.
National Girl Child Day aims to work towards eliminating the barriers faced by women and girls when it comes to education, health, work and other aspects of life.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development introduced National Girl Child Day in 2008. Since then, this day is being observed in India annually.
The theme for National Girl Child Day is the same every year.
The theme is to challenge the way girls and women are treated in the country and work towards providing a better life and better opportunities for them.
National Girl Child Day is a significant day in India. The main focus of the day is to change society’s attitude and view towards girl child education, decreasing female foeticide.
Initiatives such as Save the Girl Child, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, CBSE Udaan Scheme, Free or subsidised education for girl children and reservations have been carried out in honour of creating awareness of the disparities faced by women and to provide them with equal opportunities as their male counterparts.
Exercise AMPHEX 2023
The Indian Navy recently carried out a six-day-long mega military exercise along with the Army and the IAF near Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh.
The “largest” biennial tri-services amphibious exercise AMPHEX 2023, was conducted from 17 to 22 January.
The joint operations conducted during the exercise saw participation by a large number of troops from the Indian Army, amphibious warships from the Indian Navy and aircraft from the Indian Air Force.
The exercise included complex activities in all domains that demonstrated and validated the high level of preparedness and excellent coordination between the three services to undertake a full spectrum of amphibious operations.
The exercise took place amid growing concerns over China’s increasing military forays into the Indian Ocean, a region considered the backyard of the Indian Navy.
UNESCO Dedicates 2023 as International Day of Education to Afghan Girls and Women
Days and Events
UNESCO has decided to dedicate the International Day of Education on 24 January 2024 to Afghan girls and women.
Director general Audrey Azoulay said that no country in the world should bar women and girls from receiving an education, and it is a universal human right that must be respected.
The international community has the responsibility to ensure that the rights of Afghan girls and women are restored without delay.
According to UNESCO, currently, around 80 per cent of school-aged Afghan girls and young women are out of school under the Taliban rule, as they denied them access to secondary schools and universities.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialised agency of the United Nations aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, arts, sciences and culture
Headquarters: Paris, France
Founded: 16 November 1945, London, United Kingdom
India is a founding member of the UNESCO
Air Force Station Gorakhpur will hold a Public Outreach Programme ‘Know Your Forces’
Air Force Station Gorakhpur today organised a public outreach programme, ‘Know Your Forces’, as part of the 74th Republic Day celebrations to showcase the might of the IAF and motivate young people to join the defence forces.
About the Event:
The event will include a static and aerial display of fighter aircraft, helicopters, and other IAF assets and slithering operations by Special Forces.
A slithering operation is an exercise in which troops are dropped from a chopper using a rope at a location where the helicopter cannot land.
The visitors will also be briefed about the role and various career opportunities in the Indian Air Force.
About Slithering Operation:
A slithering operation is an exercise in which troops are dropped from a chopper using a rope at a location where the helicopter cannot land. Below are some of the army troops that carry out slithering operations.
Para (Special Forces)- These forces are also known as Para SF. They are a group of special forces battalions of the Parachute Regiment in the Indian Army.
The National Disaster Response Force- NDRF is an Indian specialised force constituted “for the purpose of a special response to a threatening disaster situation or disaster”. The apex body for disaster management also carries out slithering operations.
France Wants to be Partner in Building National Base for Defence Industries in India
French Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain has said his country wants to be a partner in the process of building a national industrial base for defence industries in India.
Talking to reporters recently on board the French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, which took part in the Indo-French naval exercise ‘Varuna’ off the Goa coast, Mr Lenain said the two countries can co-produce a lot of equipment for the defence and space sectors.
France is committed to making available the best technologies to Indian forces without restrictions.
Mr Lenain said France has really understood the vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India).
A French Navy official earlier said this joint preparation for air-sea warfare exemplifies the outstanding Indo-French naval cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, with ships, frigates and helicopters as well as a French command and replenishment ship carrying out numerous training sessions of increasing intensity.
The aim of the joint exercise was to prepare the crews of the two countries to face a variety of challenges together, mobilising their anti-surface, anti-submarine and anti-aircraft assets, as well as shared control of the air-sea environment and ship control.
Sports Ministry Holds First Mission Olympic Cell Meeting
The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) held the first meeting of the Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) outside Delhi and on the sidelines of the ongoing FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
The fortnightly meeting, in which members of MOC meet to discuss key agenda points of India’s Olympic programme and proposals for Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) athletes.
The MOC members met to discuss the major agenda of India’s Olympic program and proposals for the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) athletes.
The Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams are the only teams that are funded under MYAS’s TOPS Scheme and get an annual expenditure of ₹24 cr under the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Annual Calendar for Training and Competitions (ACTC) scheme.
Normally, MOC members from all over India visit Delhi every month to discuss agendas related to TOPS.
During the outbreak of COVID-19, the meetings were conducted through video conferencing so that the athletes did not suffer due to the delay.
After the lockdown, the meetings have adopted a hybrid approach where one meeting a month is held virtually, while the other is held as a physical meeting.
R Vishnu Prassad Receives Most Distinguished Scientist of the Year Award 2022
R Vishnu Prassad was awarded “The most distinguished scientist of the year 2022” at Vigyan Bhawan, Delhi, by Shri Anurag Thakur, Hon’ble minister of information and broadcasting.
R Vishnu Prassad, a scientist with 69 patents, has been honoured with the Indian Achievers Award.
The award, which recognises individuals for their outstanding contributions in various fields, including culture, science, sports, and innovation, was presented to Vishnu during a ceremony held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, on 17 January 2023.
The Indian Achievers Award is India’s most prestigious award and a prestigious recognition that is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to society in a variety of fields.
Tata Boeing Delivers the First Fuselage of AH-64 Apache to the Indian Army
Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited (TBAL) recently delivered the first fuselage for six AH-64 Apache attack helicopters ordered by the Indian Army from its state-of-the-art facility in Hyderabad.
The fuselage was produced at TBAL’s production facility in Hyderabad.
Boeing completed the deliveries of all 22 AH-64E Apache helicopters to the Indian Air Force in 2020.
Tata Group recently won the “Supplier of the Year” award 2022 from Boeing, among more than 11,000 suppliers worldwide.
About Boeing AH-64 Apache:
The Boeing AH-64 Apache is an American twin-turboshaft attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement and a tandem cockpit for a crew of two.
It features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems.
It is armed with a 30 mm M230 chain gun.
Vigyanika Science Literature Festival was held in IISF, Bhopal
Vigyanika, a Science Literature Festival, was organised on 22 and 23 January 2023 at the India International Science Festival (IISF), MANIT, Bhopal.
“Science Literature Festival” was organised as part of the 8th India International Science Festival (IISF).
This year’s IISF was coordinated and organised by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Ministry of Science and Technology and Vijnana Bharati.
Vigyanika will have six sessions, including keynote lectures, panel discussions, interactions with authors, depiction of scientific ideas through drama and folk dance, and Vigyan Kavi Sammelan.
Vikram Dev Dutt Appointed as Next DGCA Director General
At a time when the aviation regulator is flagging a lot of safety issues with the airlines, the Cabinet Committee on Appointments has approved the appointment of senior IAS officer Vikram Dev Dutt as the next director general of the Directorate of General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Dutt, a 1993-batch IAS officer of the AGMUT cadre, is currently serving as the chairman and managing director (CMD) of Air India Asset Holding Ltd.
The officer will take over his new position on 28 February, upon the superannuation of incumbent DGCA Chief Arun Kumar, who has been serving as the aviation regulator since July 2019.
Fifth Kalvari Class Submarine INS Vagir to be Inducted into Indian Navy
VAGIR is the fifth Scorpene-class conventional submarine. It was delivered and commissioned in the Indian Navy on 23 January 2023. The sea trials for VAGIR commenced on 1 February 2022 and it was launched into water on 12 November 2020.
Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of the Naval Staff, was the Chief Guest during a ceremony conducted at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai.
Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) of Mumbai produced the submarine in conjunction with M/s Naval Group of France. Four Kalvari class submarines have already been delivered to the Indian Navy.
Other commissioned submarines:
INS Kalvari was commissioned in December 2017
INS Khanderi was commissioned in September 2019
INS Karanj was commissioned in March 2021
INS Vela was commissioned in November 2021
INS Vagsheet was launched into the water in April 2022 and will be delivered by the end of 2023.
23 Tableaus to Be Represented in the 74th Independence Day Parade
During the Republic Day parade on 26 January 2023, twenty-three tableaux – 17 from States/Union Territories and six from various Ministries/Departments – will roll down the Kartavya Path.
The tableaus will symbolise the nation’s rich cultural legacy, economic prosperity, and strong internal and external security.
The States/UTs tableaux for the Republic Day parade were chosen on a zonal basis.
Ahom ‘Maidams’ India’s Sole Nomination for UNESCO World Heritage Site
Art and Culture
Ahom era ‘Maidams’, the resting place of royal families in Assam’s Charaideo district, will be India’s sole nomination for recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said recently.
The dossier prepared on the ‘Maidams’, also called “Assam’s Pyramids”, was selected by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi amongst the 52 heritage sites spread across the nation that are aiming at the coveted tag.
The ‘Maidams’ of the Ahom dynasty at Charaideo were first included in the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in April 2014, ‘Maidams’ will be nominated in the category of cultural sites.
India currently has 40 World Heritage Sites – 32 of them cultural sites, seven natural sites and one mixed site.
Currently, Kaziranga National Park and Manas National Park in Assam in the Northeast are among the seven natural sites, while there is no World Heritage Site in the cultural heritage category.
JUICE Space Mission of Europe to be Launched in April 2023
Science and Technology
The European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) has been confirmed for launch from the agency’s spaceport in French Guiana in April 2023.
The mission will explore the large, frigid worlds that orbit Jupiter, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa.
It marks Europe’s biggest space venture yet, spanning a decade of precise monitoring and calculations to send the JUICE spacecraft into orbit not only around three large moons but also the largest planet in the solar system.
What Is JUICE?
JUICE is the abbreviation for Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer.
German engineers created the satellite, which France then tested.
The mission’s primary goal is to investigate the microbial life that exists on the icy moons.
Additionally, the planet’s polar regions and magnetosphere will be investigated.
JUICE will enter Ganymede’s orbit to investigate its composition.
The satellite is anticipated to join Jupiter orbit by 2034 if it is launched in April 2023.
In 2035, it will be deorbited.
Galilean Tribute on board:
Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei was the first person to identify Jupiter’s four largest moons orbiting their planet in 1610.
This led to his correct theory that, rather than the heavens revolving around the Earth, celestial bodies instead circle larger ones: the four moons around Jupiter and planets around the sun.
In tribute to his discovery, the ESA has inaugurated a plaque on the JUICE spacecraft, reproducing pages of Galileo’s observations in his pamphlet Sidereus Nuncius, where he first published his observations and turned human understanding of the universe on its head.
DRDO, Naval Group Reach Agreement on Indigenous AIP Modules on Scorpene Submarines
In an important step that will significantly enhance the endurance of the Scorpene-class conventional submarines of the Indian Navy, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Naval Group have reached an agreement to fit the indigenous fuel cell-based Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system on INS Kalvari soon.
The AIP has been developed by DRDO’s Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL), and the land-based prototype has been tested.
What Is Air Independent Propulsion?
This new technology has a force multiplier effect on the lethality of a diesel-electric submarine
It will enhance the submerged endurance by several folds
It will enhance the performance as compared to other technologies
It will generate hydrogen onboard
NMRL and Indian industry partners together have generated this technology
The technology is ready for industrialisation
Six Scorpene submarines are being built under Project-75 by the MDL under technology transfer from the Naval Group of France under a $3.75 billion deal signed in October 2005.
The project is about four years behind schedule. The first submarine INS Kalvari was commissioned in December 2017; the second one, INS Khanderi, in September 2019; the third, INS Karanj, in March 2021 and the fourth, INS Vela, joined service in November 2021.
The Centre has selected the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) and the Lunglei Fire Station (LFS), Mizoram, for the Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar for 2023 for their work in disaster management.
OSDMA was established in 1999 in the aftermath of the Super Cyclone and has been a part of several initiatives, such as
Raising the Odisha Disaster Response Action Force (ODRAF)
Multi-hazard Early Warning Service (MHEWS) framework
SATARK- System For Assessing, Tracking And Alerting Disaster Risk Information Based on Dynamic Risk Knowledge
Lunglei Fire Station, Mizoram, responded efficiently and effectively to a massive forest fire which was reported on 24 April 2021 in the uninhabited forest areas that surrounded Lunglei town and spread to more than ten village council areas.
Lunglei Fire Station personnel, assisted by local civilians, worked continuously for more than 32 hours, during which they motivated and provided on-the-spot training to residents.
Due to the valiant, brazen and prompt efforts of Fire and Emergency staff in putting out the flames, there was no loss of life and property, and the spread of fire to other parts of the State was prevented.
What Is Subhas Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar?
This award is instituted by the Government of India to recognize and felicitate the invaluable contribution and selfless service rendered by individuals and organisations in India.
Every year on 23rd January, this award is announced.
There is a cash prize of ₹51 lakhs and a certificate for the institutions and ₹5 lakhs and a certificate for the individuals.
Eleven Children Conferred With Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar (PMRBP)
Awards and Recognitions
President Droupadi Murmu recently conferred the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar (PMRBP) 2023 on 11 children, including one with a rare bone disorder, who is now an accomplished singer and a youngster who jumped into a river to save the life of a woman.
About Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar (PMRBP):
The Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar (PMRBP) is awarded to children aged 5 to 18 for their exceptional performance, which deserves national recognition.
The awards are given in six categories—Art and Culture, Bravery, Innovation, Scholastic, Social Service and Sports.
This year, awards were presented in the categories of Art and Culture, Bravery, Innovation, Social Service and Sports.
The award consists of a medal, a cash prize of ₹1,00,000, book vouchers worth ₹10,000, a certificate and a citation.
It started in 1996 as the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement and was renamed in 2018 as Bal Shakti Puraskar.
About Bal Kalyan Puraskar:
This is given as recognition to Individuals and Institutions, who have made an outstanding contribution towards service for children in the field of child development, child protection and child welfare.
An individual who is an Indian Citizen residing in India and should have attained the age of 18 years or above (as of 31st August of the respective year).
The awards are given in each of the two categories – Individual and Institution – along with cash prizes (₹1,00, 000 and ₹5,00, 000, respectively).
It was started in 1979 as the National Child Welfare Awards, and in 2018, renamed Bal Kalyan Puraskar.
SCO Film Festival to be Organised in Mumbai from 27th to 31st January 2023
Arts and Entertainment
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is organising the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Film Festival in Mumbai from 27–31 January 2023, in Mumbai, through the National Film Development Corporation.
The SCO Film Festival is being organised to mark India’s Presidency at SCO.
A total of 57 Films will be showcased at the SCO Film Festival from SCO countries. In the Competition Section, 14 feature films are competing and will be screened, and the Non-Competition section will showcase 43 Films.
The Opening Ceremony will be held at Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA, Mumbai, on 27 January 2023.
The Competition section is for the SCO Member States only and comprises various prestigious awards like Best Feature Film, Best Actor (Male), Best Actor (Female), Best Director (Feature Film), and Special Jury Award.
The Non-competition section is for all SCO countries, viz., Member States and also the Observer States and Dialogue Partners States in the following categories:
SCO Country Focus films – selected to represent the respective SCO country at the film festival. Thus, enabling exchange among the different countries and acting as a bridge between the cultures of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation members.
Director Focus films – made by a well-known director of the SCO Country, an acclaimed veteran who is well respected in the country for their craft and lineage of cinema, contributing to the heritage of the Country.
Children Focus films – that educate and entertain the young audience while being easy to understand. Thus developing the interest of young children and nurturing their minds.
Short films – not exceeding 20 mins in duration that are artistically and cinematically adept and capture the audience’s imagination by applying original ideas.
Indian Restored Classic–5 films are being showcased.
The official language of the SCO, i.e., Russian and Chinese, will also be the official language of the Film Festival. English will also be included as the functional language of the festival as it is being hosted in India. The films to be screened will be required to be dubbed or subtitled in English for the benefit of the jury and local audience.
The SCO is a multilateral organisation established on 15 June 2001. The SCO currently comprises eight Member States (China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), three Observer States (Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia) and fourteen Dialogue Partners (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Maldives, Myanmar, UAE and Turkey)
13th National Voters’ Day
Polity and Governance
The Election Commission of India is celebrating the 13th National Voters’ Day on 25 January 2023.
Hon’ble President of India, Smt Droupadi Murmu, was the Chief Guest at the national function being organised in New Delhi by the Election Commission of India.
NVD is celebrated at the national, state, district, constituency and polling booth levels, which makes it one of the largest celebrations in the country.
The theme for this year’s NVD, ‘Nothing Like Voting, I Vote for Sure’, is dedicated to voters, which conveys individuals’ feelings and aspirations towards participation in the electoral process through the power of their vote.
The logo is designed to showcase the festivity and inclusivity of the electoral process.
Ashoka Chakra, in the background, represents the largest democracy in the world, whereas the inked finger represents the participation of each and every voter of the country.
The tick mark in the logo stands for informed decision-making by the voter.
An ECI song- “Main Bharat Hoon- Hum Bharat Ke Matdata Hain”, produced by ECI in association with Subhash Ghai Foundation, will also be screened.
The song brings forth the power of the vote and celebrates the spirit of inclusive, accessible, ethical, participative and festive elections in the largest and most vibrant democracy of the world.
About National Voters’ Day:
Since 2011, National Voters’ Day has been celebrated on January 25 every year, all across the country, to mark the foundation day of the Election Commission of India, i.e., 25th January 1950.
The main purpose of the NVD celebration is to create electoral awareness amongst citizens and encourage them to participate in the electoral process.
Dedicated to the voters of the country, National Voters’ Day is also used to facilitate the enrolment of voters, especially the newly eligible young voters.
New voters are felicitated and handed over their Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC) in the NVD functions held across the country.
About the Election Commission of India:
The Election Commission of India is a constitutional body
It was established by the Constitution of India to conduct and regulate elections in the country
Headquarters: New Delhi
Formed: 25 January 1950
Current executive: Rajiv Kumar
Gujarat Court Describes Cow as a ‘symbol of religion’
Gujarat court, while awarding life term punishment to one Mohammad Ameen for illegally transporting cattle, described the cow as ‘Gaumata’, a mother.
The court said that cow dung could even prevent nuclear radiation from affecting houses made of cow dung.
The court has also stated that all of the earth’s problems will get solved the day cow slaughter ends.
The case against Ameen pertains to 18 July 2020, when a truck carrying 16 cows and bullocks was caught by the police.
The police caught the vehicles around 5.30 am at a subdivision between villages in Tapi and Banaskantha districts in Gujarat.
It was alleged that the cows were being transported without any food or water in the truck. Mandatory veterinary first-aid kits were also absent in the truck.
Also, out of 16 animals, one cow and one bullock had died.
Sebi Launches Information Database on Municipal Bonds
The database contains a wide range of information in the form of statistics and regulations, circulars, etc., issued by Sebi and information to be obtained by an Issuer to tap the Municipal Bond Market.
A municipal bond is a debt instrument issued by municipal corporations. Bengaluru floated municipal bonds for the first time in India in 1997.
Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme
Indian Coast Guard conducted a course for officers and sailors of several countries under ITEC.
ITEC Programme (Ministry of External Affairs) was instituted in 1964 as a bilateral programme of assistance to share India’s developmental experience.
ITEC has also been used for cooperation programmes such as the Commonwealth Secretariat, UNIDO, Group of 77 and G-15, ASEAN, BIMSTEC, etc.
Under ITEC and its sister programmes, SCAAP (Special Commonwealth Assistance for Africa Programme) and the Technical Cooperation Scheme (TCS) of the Colombo Plan, more than 160 countries have benefitted.
Major components of ITEC: Training and Capacity Building, Study Tours, and Deputation of Indian experts.
First Anti-Deforestation Raids in Amazon
Brazil’s environmental protection agency IBAMA launched its first anti-deforestation raid in search of illegal loggers that are contributing to the Amazon’s deforestation.
Prior to winning the elections, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pledged to rid the forest of illegal loggers in October 2022.
Most of the destruction that occurs in the Amazon is owed to Jair Bolsonaro, who suspended the Amazon Fund in November 2019 following a quarrel with Norway.
‘Ops Alert’ Exercise
Recently, the Border Security Force (BSF) has started a seven-day “Ops Alert” exercise.
It commenced on 21 January and will continue till 28 January.
All along the Indo-Pak international border from Sir Creek (marshy area) to the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat and Barmer district of Rajasthan.
The BSF will carry out special operations in forward and depth areas as well as creeks and ‘Harami Nalla’ as part of the exercise.
It has also planned public outreach programmes as part of the exercise.
To enhance its security, “permanent vertical bunkers” of concrete are being constructed for the first time to station BSF troops right at the strategically significant Sir Creek and Harami Nalla marshy areas.
Republic Day 2023: History, Importance and Interesting Facts
Every year, Republic Day is celebrated on 26 January to commemorate the day on which the Constitution of India came into effect in 1950.
This year, the day falls on Thursday, with citizens of the country marking it as the 74th Republic Day.
This occasion marks the day when India became a republic and was no longer under the British Empire.
The Constitution of India is the supreme law of our country.
It is the framework the citizens follow when it comes to fundamental rights, directive principles, and the duties that all citizens and government institutions have to follow.
History and Significance:
Republic Day commemorated the adoption of the Constitution of India on 26 January 1950.
While India gained independence from the British Raj in 1947, it was not until 26 January 1950 that the Constitution of India came into effect, and the country became a sovereign state, declaring it a republic.
The Constituent Assembly held its first session on 9th December 1946, and the last on the 26th November 1949, and then the Constitution was adopted a year later.
Dr BR Ambedkar headed the Drafting Committee of the Constitution. On this day, India also marks Constitution Day.
Republic Day commemorates the spirit of independent India. On this day, in 1930, the Indian National Congress proclaimed Purna Swaraj from colonial rule.
Republic Day also commemorates Indian citizens’ power to choose their government democratically.
The country marks it as a national holiday to commemorate the establishment of the Indian Constitution.
Republic Day Celebrations:
Republic Day celebrations are marked with much enthusiasm in the country. On this day, the President unfurls the national flag, followed by spectacular military and cultural pageantry.
Additionally, the President of India distributes Padma Awards to the deserving civilians of the country, and brave soldiers are awarded Paramvir Chakra, Ashok Chakra and Vir Chakra. Live webcast of the Republic Day Parade is also made accessible every year to millions of people.
This Year’s Tableaux:
“Twenty-three tableaux—17 from states and union territories and six from various ministries and departments—will be displayed and will depict the nation’s rich cultural heritage, economic progress and strong internal and external security”.
Difference between ‘Flag Hoisting’ and ‘Flag Unfurling’:
On both 15 August and 26 January, the national flag is hoisted. There is an important similarity between these two important events, yet they are a little different. There is a distinction between hoisting the flag on Independence Day and Republic Day because the customs for each day are different.
While both the events honour and pay respect to the national flag and might look the same, there is a distinction between the two events regarding how the flag should be raised.
The position of the flag also matters a lot.
One can spot the difference in unfurling and hoisting in the positioning of the flag. When the national flag is hoisted on Independence Day, it is tied and sits at the bottom of the pole.
It is the Prime Minister who raises the national flag up and hoists it with the aim to honour the historical event of the day.
Whereas when the flag is unfurled on Republic Day, it is closed and tied at the top of the pole.
The President unfurls it without pulling the flag up as it takes place on Independence Day. On Republic Day, the country celebrates the day when the Constitution was adopted.
Prime Minister Hoists National flag on Independence Day:
On Independence Day, the hoisting of the flag signifies the rise of a new nation free from colonial domination. To raise the flag on Independence Day, 15 August, a rope is pulled from below. Following that, it is unlatched and raised into place.
President Unfurls the Flag:
The difference between the two ceremonies is that when India became a Republic in 1960, it was already Independent, so there was no reason to hoist the flag from bottom to top.
Furthermore, on the first Independence Day in 1947, Independent India had no President. Lord Mountbatten was the Governor General of India, the position equivalent to the President, and being a representative of a coloniser couldn’t have raised the flag of an Independent.
Switzerland Becomes 1st in WTO to Formally Adopt Fisheries Deal
Switzerland became the first World Trade Organization member to submit its acceptance of the fisheries subsidies agreement struck at the 12th Ministerial Conference—WTO announced 20 January.
The agreement bars subsidies to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; and bans subsidies for fishing overfished stocks and for fishing on the unregulated high seas. To take effect, the deal requires two-thirds of WTO members to accept it.
Key Features of the Agreement:
Prohibits subsidies to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and bans subsidies for fishing overfished stocks and for fishing on unregulated high seas.
Recognises the needs of developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) and establishes a Fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building to help them implement the Agreement.
No prohibition on a WTO Member regarding subsidy to its vessel or operator as long as it is not carrying out IUU.
No prohibition on subsidies that are implemented to rebuild the stock to a biologically sustainable level.
What Is India’s Stand?
Members who have provided huge subsidies in the past and engaged in large-scale industrial fishing should take more obligations to prohibit subsidies based on the ‘polluter pay principle’ and ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’.
Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise (Tropex-23) Indian Navy’s Largest War Game
The 2023 edition of the Indian Navy’s major maritime exercise TROPEX, is currently underway in the Indian Ocean Region. This operational level exercise is conducted biennially and witnesses participation not only by all Indian Navy units but also of Indian Army, Indian Airforce and Coast Guard assets.
TROPEX 23 is being conducted over a duration of three months, from January – March 2023.
As part of the exercise, all surface combatants of the Indian Navy, including Destroyers, Frigates, Corvettes, as well as submarines and aircraft, are put through complex maritime operational deployments to validate and refine the Navy’s Concept of Operations, including operational logistics and interoperability with other Services.
The exercise is being conducted in different phases, both in the harbour and at sea, encompassing various facets of combat operations, including live weapon firings.
The biennial exercise aims to authenticate and refine the Navy’s concept of “operations”. The exercise also aims at testing the overall military capabilities.
Also, the maritime exercise will ease the operational level interaction with the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and the Coast Guard.
This will strengthen the interactions and joint operations in a complex environment.
Other Related Exercises:
The Navy has also conducted the biennial tri-services amphibious exercise (AMPHEX) 2023 at Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh from 17 to 22 January.
This exercise aimed at joint training of elements of all three services in various aspects of amphibious operations to improve interoperability and teamwork.
NASA to Test Nuclear-Powered Spacecraft by 2027
Science and Technology
In a first, the United States has announced that it will test a spacecraft engine powered by nuclear fission by 2027.
The programme is part of a long-term NASA effort to demonstrate more efficient methods of propelling astronauts to Mars in the future.
The last nuclear thermal rocket engine tests conducted by the United States occurred more than 50 years ago under NASA’s Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application and Rover projects.
NASA says it could allow spacecraft to travel faster, reduce transit time, and have other benefits, such as increased payloads on missions.
With the help of this new technology, astronauts could journey to and from deep space faster than ever, a major capability to prepare for crewed missions to Mars.
Nuclear Safety Concerns:
NASA abandoned nuclear thermal propulsion technology about 50 years ago due to a lack of funding and a shift in priorities toward developing chemical rocket engines for the Apollo program.
There were also safety concerns.
DARPA now says it uses high-assay low-enriched uranium instead of highly-enriched uranium.
Testing the Nuclear Thermal Rocket Engine:
NASA successfully tested its new-era Artemis spacecraft last year, the first step toward putting humans back on the moon and then on Mars.
The nuclear thermal rocket engine would be the first tested on DARPA’s experimental spacecraft. The US Space Force plans to provide the launch for the demonstration mission.
NASA believes the agency could be ready to send humans to Mars by the late 2030s.
Chandigarh Gets North India’s Largest Floating Solar Power Project
UT Administrator Banwari Lal Purohit recently inaugurated northern India’s largest floating solar power project of 2000kWp worth Rs 11.70 crore at waterworks, Sector 39.
He also inaugurated a 500kWp floating solar project with fountains at Dhanas Lake. Adviser Dharam Pal, director (environment) Debendra Dalai and Mayor Anoop Gupta were present on occasion.
These projects have been designed and executed by CREST (Chandigarh Renewable Energy and Science and Technology Promotion Society) and will generate a minimum of 35 lakh units (kWh) of solar energy per year with 20% module efficiency.
J and K to Host Its First-Ever SARAS Fair
The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will host its maiden SARAS Fair 2023 at Bagh-e-Bahu in Jammu from 4 to 14 February.
The SARAS fair will provide artisans and women’s self-help groups from across the country a platform to showcase and sell their crafts, Handicrafts, handloom, and food products.
As per reports, the national-level food and cultural fair will have over 75 stalls and food courts.
The 11-day fair will witness several cultural events, aids, and plays on several government schemes and campaigns.
The SARAS Fair provides rural and marginal producers with an opportunity to showcase their products, capacity, and skills of livelihood. It is conducted under the guidance of the Ministry of Rural Development.
The Fair is organised jointly by the Central-State Government as part of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), where entrepreneurs across the country are brought together for marketing.
Visakhapatnam Railway Station Receives ‘Green Railway Station Certification’ with Platinum Rating
East Coast Railways‘ Visakhapatnam railway station has received the prestigious ‘Green Railway Station Certification’ with the highest Platinum rating.
The certificate has been awarded by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) for adopting green concepts.
It secured 82 out of 100 points in six environmental categories.
Visakhapatnam railway station falls under the Waltair division of the East Coast Railway.
The railway station has performed well in various categories, such as sustainable facilities, health, hygiene, energy and water efficiency, smart green initiatives, innovation, and development.
What Is a Green Railway Station?
The Environment Directorate of Indian Railways (IR), with the support of IGBC, has developed the Green Railway Stations Rating System to reduce the adverse environmental impacts due to station operation and maintenance and enhance the overall experience of the passengers.
This is a voluntary and consensus-based program.
The rating system helps to address issues of national priorities such as water conservation, handling of waste, energy efficiency, reduced use of fossil fuels, lesser dependence on usage of virgin materials, and health and well-being of occupants.
Other ‘Green Railway Station’
In 2022, Bhagalpur railway station (BGP) of Malda division, Eastern Railway (ER), received IGBC ‘Green Railway Station Certification’ with a Silver rating by CII (Confederation of Indian Industries). In 2021, Central Railways’ Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus Railway Station (CSMT) was awarded IGBC Gold Certification.
Himachal Pradesh targets to be the first ‘green energy state’ by 2025
The Himachal Pradesh government intends to make the State the first Green Energy State by the end of 2025 by harnessing hydro, hydrogen and solar energy and switching to green products.
The State Government wants to refurbish the present system, and the focus is on harnessing green energy in the best interest of the State.
The State government would also invest in solar plants and will install 500 MW solar projects during the year 2023-24. Out of this, 200 MW would be installed by HPPCL, for which land has been identified for 70 MW capacity, and the rest of the sites will be finalised soon.
The Government of Himachal Pradesh has received a dividend of ₹2355 crores against the equity contribution of ₹1055 crore and 12 per cent free power from Nathpa Jhakri and Rampur hydropower projects amounting to around ₹7000 crores so far.
Celebrated Architect BV Doshi Dies: “Pole Star in the World of Architecture”
Balkrishna Doshi, a renowned Indian architect and Padma Bhushan award winner, passed away recently at 95.
He was widely regarded as one of the greatest modern Indian architects, and his death was met with a flood of condolences from prominent figures in the architecture and design community.
Doshi’s contributions to architecture were widely recognised and celebrated, and he received numerous awards throughout his career, including the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2018, the Padma Bhushan in 2020, and the Royal Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2022.
Doshi is known for his work in designing buildings that are influenced by Indian architecture, climate, local culture, and craft traditions.
Nagaland Orange Festival Hosted in Nagaland
In Nagaland, the third edition of the annual Orange festival 2023 got accomplished recently at Rusoma village, under Kohima district.
The two-day festival is being organised in collaboration with the Department of Horticulture, Agriculture, Rural Development, Land Resources and Kohima Smart City.
The first of July is recognised as International Fruit Day.
Fruit Festivals Are Well-Known Worldwide:
The Orange Festival in Amsterdam
Mango Festival in India
Cranberry Festival in Canada
Pineapple Festival in Thailand
Pumpkin Festival in Germany
Fruit Festivals in India?
The Banana Festival: Kerala
Pineapple Festival: Manipur
Mango Festival: Delhi and different parts of India
Jack Fruit Festival: Kerala
International Orange Festival: Nagpur
Konkan Fruit Festival: Goa
Strawberries Fruit Festival: Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra
‘Padma Awards 2023’ Announced
On the occasion of Republic Day 2023, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs announced the winners of the Padma Awards on Wednesday. The long list of 106 awardees included Mulayam Singh Yadav, Zakir Hussain, KM Birla, Sudha Murty, Raveena Tandon, etc.
What are Padma Awards?
Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian awards in India.
The award is presented in three categories—including Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Shri—to honour people for their notable work in different disciplines and fields like art, social work, literature and education, public affairs, etc.
Know the Complete List of Padma Awardees of this year
India, Pakistan Came Close to a Nuclear War, Claims Former U.S. Secretary of State in New Book
Books and Authors
Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has claimed that he was “awakened” to speak to his then-Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj who told him that Pakistan was preparing for a nuclear attack after the Balakot surgical strike in February 2019 and India is preparing its own escalatory response.
About the Book:
In his latest book, “Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love” which hit the stores recently, Mr Pompeo says the incident took place when he was in Hanoi for the U.S.-North Korea Summit on 27–28 February, and his team worked overnight with both New Delhi and Islamabad to avert this crisis.
Balakot was an operation to send a strong message to Pakistan that India will retaliate massively if they mess around with us. It was one of the main reasons why we didn’t have major trouble from across the border after Articles 370 and 35(A) were abrogated in August 2019.
Referring to this matter, Pompeo said that after the Balakot strike, his team held talks with India and Pakistan overnight to avoid a nuclear confrontation between the two countries. His effort prevented a possible war between the two countries, which could turn into a nuclear war at any time.
In his book, Pompeo does not use respectful words for former Indian External Affairs Minister late Sushma Swaraj while praising National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, and in some cases describing S Jaishankar as his superior.
Bank of Baroda Introduces Vikram Credit Card Dedicated to Soldiers
Defence and Banking
BOB Financial Solutions Limited (BFSL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of Baroda, has announced the launch of Vikram, the contactless RuPay credit card dedicated to Indian defence, paramilitary, and police personnel, reinforcing its commitment to address the credit needs of personnel who are selflessly guarding us and serving our country.
The Indian Army (Yoddha), Indian Navy (Varunah), Indian Coast Guard (Rakshamah), and Assam Rifles already have exclusive co-branded credit cards with BFSL (The Sentinel).
About Vikram Card:
Vikram will be given Lifetime Free (LTF), which includes appealing reward points and activation gifts of a complimentary OTT subscription.
The credit card also has a ₹20 lakh accidental death insurance policy. Other benefits will include a 1% fuel surcharge waiver, LTF add-ons, EMI deals, and periodic merchant offers through BOB Financial and NPCI tie-ups.
Paying tribute to the defence, paramilitary, and police forces with this card launch, Shailendra Singh, MD and CEO of BOB Financial Solutions Limited, said, “Vikram means one who is wise, brave, strong as well as victorious”.
This credit card signifies the same – it lets you wisely manage your finances, makes you strong because you have credit available at your convenience and for your urgent needs, and gives you a sense of victory in all the savings you make on every purchase.
Check out the Highlights of Union Budget 2023 by clicking on the link given below: Union Budget 2023-24
Japan Launches an Intel Satellite to Watch North Korea
Science and Technology
Japan successfully launched a rocket recently carrying a government intelligence-gathering satellite on a mission to watch movements at military sites in North Korea and improve natural disaster response.
The H2A rocket, launched by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., successfully lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan, carrying the IGS-Radar 7 reconnaissance satellite as part of Tokyo’s effort to build up its military capability, citing growing threats in East Asia.
The Mitsubishi Heavy-operated, liquid-fuel H2A rocket has recorded 40 consecutive successes since its failure in 2003.
Mitsubishi Heavy and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are co-developing their new flagship H3 rocket as the successor to the H2A, which is set to retire in 2024. The first launch of H3 is set for February.
Japan’s Effort to Strengthen Military Capability:
The launch is part of Japan’s effort to strengthen its military capability and address growing security concerns in East Asia.
The IGS program was launched after a North Korean missile flew over Japan in 1988 and aimed to set up a network of 10 satellites to spot and give early warning for possible missile launches.
The satellites can also be used for disaster monitoring and response.
Govt Renamed Delhi’s Mughal Gardens as ‘Amrit Udyan’
The Central government recently renamed the Mughal Gardens in New Delhi’s Rashtrapati Bhavan as ‘Amrit Udyan’.
Keeping in line with the theme of ‘Amrit Mahotsav’ marking 75 years of India’s Independence, the Central government changed the name of Mughal Gardens to Amrit Udyan.
About the Garden:
Designed by Edwin Lutyens, the iconic garden is spread across 15 acres and incorporates both Mughal and English landscaping styles.
The main garden has two channels intersecting at right angles dividing the garden into a grid of squares – a Charbagh (a four-cornered garden) – a typical characteristic of Mughal landscaping.
There are six lotus-shaped fountains at the crossings of these channels, rising to a height of 12 feet.
The gardens house nearly 2500 varieties of Dahlias and 120 varieties of roses.
Latest Developments in the Garden:
During the term of former Presidents Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Ram Nath Kovind, more gardens were developed, including two herbal gardens, a tactile garden and a Bonsai Garden.
President Kalam had also constructed a Manipuri-style thinking hut at the gardens, where he claimed he wrote two of his books.
Novak Djokovic Won the Australian Open 2023 Title
Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open for the 10th time to equal Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 men’s Grand Slams singles titles.
The Serb beat Greek third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) on Sunday (29th January) in Melbourne Park, returning to the world number one ranking for the first time since last June.
Novak Djokovic claimed the men’s singles title, his tenth Australian Open title and 22nd major title overall, tying Rafael Nadal’s all-time record.
Nadal was the defending champion but lost to Mackenzie McDonald in the second round. Ashleigh Barty was the reigning champion of Women’s singles, but she retired from the sport in March 2022.
Aryna Sabalenka won the women’s title, which was also her first major title.
Shri Manoj Kumar, Chairman, Khadi and Village Industries Commission, inaugurated the Khadi Fest-23, which will run from 27 January to 24 February 2023 at the KVIC Headquarters in Mumbai.
In this Khadi Fest, Khadi and Village Industries Institutions, PMEGP units from various parts of the country affiliated with the Khadi and Village Industries Commission are showcasing their products for exhibit and sales.
In addition to cotton khadi, khadi silk, pashmina, poly vastra, patola Silk, kalamkari sarees, Kanjivaram silk, lightweight soft-silk sarees, tussar silk, phulkari dress materials and other attractive apparel made of khadi fabrics, Madhubani prints, dry fruits, tea, kahwa, beauty herbal and ayurvedic products, honey products, hand paper products, home decor products, Bamboo Products, Carpets, Aloe Vera Products, Leather Products and many other Khadi and Village Industries products are available.
About Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC):
The Khadi Village Industries Commission was established in 1957 under the Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act 1956.
It is under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
It is responsible, along with other agencies, for the planning, promotion, organisation and implementation of programs for the development of Khadi and other village industries in rural areas.
KVIC Chairman: Manoj Kumar
Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina to inaugurate the Bookfair ‘Amar Ekushey Boi Mela’ on 1st February
The largest and longest book fair in Bangladesh ‘Amar Ekushey Boi Mela’ will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on 1st February.
The historic ‘Amar Ekushey Boi Mela’ will be organised on the grounds of the Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital city, Dhaka. State Minister for Cultural Affairs K M Khalid visited the two venues today to see the progress of the preparations for the month-long book fair.
‘Paro Boi, Garo Desh: Bangabandhur Bangladesh’, meaning “Read Book, build country: Bangabandhu’s Bangladesh”, is the theme of the fair this year.
The book fair started in 1972 to commemorate the sacrifices of people killed by Pakistani forces on 21st February 1952, demanding Bangla as the mother language for then East Pakistan. It has been organised every year by the Bangla Academy since 1978.
APEDA plans to brand food products using river names
As part of its promotion strategy for Agri exports, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) proposes to use river names as taglines and branding for Indian Agri products.
APEDA is identifying Agri products that can be sourced from the Gangetic, Brahmaputra, Cauvery and Godavari river basins, among others, across the country.
The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority is an Indian Apex-Export Trade Promotion Active government body
Founded: 13 February 1986
Headquarters: New Delhi
Parent organisation: Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India
Purpose: Export promotion of agricultural and processed food products
First Made-in-India helmet launched to meet Europe’s ECE 22.06 standard
Steelbird has launched the new Ignyte IGN-7 helmet to meet ECE 22.06 European certification. The Ignyte IGN-7 helmet is also the first helmet in India to receive triple homologation as it conforms to DOT FMVSS Noy, 218 for the US market and India’s BIS safety standards. This helmet is priced from ₹6,199 onwards.
What is IGN – 7?
There is a NACA airflow system in the helmet
The US created the NACA vent system
The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics is referred to as NACA
NACA draws outside air in to keep the user ventilated
Different speeds of 6, 7, and 8 miles per second are tested
What is ECE 22.06?
In ECE 22.06, low-speed impact testing was the primary addition
Helmets typically shield riders from high-speed contact
However, a number of international studies have found that low-speed impacts are much more harmful to the brain than high-speed ones
A spin-on-impact test is also included in the ECE 22.06 standard of tests
Tests on shell sizes and retention mechanisms are also included in ECE 22.06
The first helmet standard issued in India by ISI was IS:4151 in 1993
Joe Biden nominates Indian-American astronaut Raji Chari for US Air Force Brigadier General post
US President Joe Biden has nominated Indian-American astronaut Raja Chari for appointment to the rank of Air Force brigadier general, according to the US Defense Department.
According to the department, the Senate, which approves all top civilian and military appointments, must ratify the nominee before it can become official.
In the past, Chari was one of the four astronauts aboard the SpaceX spacecraft that successfully docked with the orbiting lab in May of the previous year.
Noble’s Helen butterfly
The extremely rare Noble’s Helen butterfly was recorded for the first time in India from the Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh
It is a swallowtail butterfly with a wingspan of 100–120 mm
It has an extra white spot in the dorsum of the forewing
Scientific name: Papilio noblei
Distribution: They are found in Myanmar, Yunnan, Hubei (China), North Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam
The species is known to be very rare in occurrence in its previously known ranges
India beat England to win the inaugural Women’s U19 T20 World Cup title
India beat England in the first-ever ICC U19 Women’s T20 World Cup final on Sunday, 29th January
Chasing a meagre 69, India lost Shafali Verman and Shweta Sehrawat early. But G Trisha and Soumya Tiwari built a solid partnership to guide India home.
India bowled out England for a paltry 68 after England’s batting once again faltered in a crunch game.
Titas Sadhu did the damage early on and picked up the in-form Liberty Heap in the first over, and off-spinner Archana Devi also bowled well to dent England right at the start.
The rest of the bowlers chipped in with regular breakthroughs as the England batting lineup had no answers.
England captain and stellar all-rounder Grace Scrivens has been named Player of the Tournament after a run of outstanding performances with bat and ball.
Titas Sadhu of India poses after being named Player of the Match following the ICC Women’s U19 T20 World Cup 2023 Final match.
Germany beat Belgium 5-4 in a penalty shootout to win the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar
In the FIH Hockey World Cup, Germany lifted the World Cup after 17 years beating Belgium 5-4 in a penalty shootout after the game ended 3-3 in the final at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
Germany has won the World Cup three times, first in 2002 and second in 2006.
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