Current Affairs April 2023
- INTERNATIONAL ( WORLD)
- HISTORY, ART & CULTURE
- SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
- RANKS AND REPORTS
- BIODIVERSITY AND ENVIRONMENT
- AWARDS AND HONOURS
- OBITUARIES / DEATHS
- SPORTS/ GAMES
- IMPORTANT DAYS
- STATE’s News
INTERNATIONAL / WORLD NEWS
UK to Join CPTPP
- The UK has signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
- About CPTPP: The CPTPP is a free trade agreement (FTA) between 11 countries: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. It was signed in 2018 in Santiago, Chile.
- The UK will become the 12th member, and the first to join the partnership since its inception. Is signing CPTPP by UK makes it new member?
- The agreement will now need to be ratified by British parliament and each of the CPTPP countries.
How CPTPP evolved from TPP ?
- In 2016, a trade agreement between a small group of Pacific Rim countries comprising Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore led to the formation of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) consisting of 12 nation-states. Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was never ratified due to the withdrawal of the United States in 2017 (under US President Donald Trump).
- After the withdrawal of the US, the remaining eleven signatories, known as the TPP-11, continued talks and their efforts led to the formation of CPTPP.
- Significance: CPTPP is a trade agreement which removes 99% of tariffs on goods and services, just like the original TPP did, all the member countries have agreed to cut down on wildlife trafficking. That helps elephants, rhinoceroses, and marine species the most. It prevents environmental abuses, such as unsustainable logging and fishing. Countries that don’t comply will face trade penalties.
What are the benefits to the UK of joining CPTPP?
- Economic benefits: More than 99% of British exports, including key markets such as cheese, cars, chocolate, machinery, gin, and whisky, will have zero tariffs.
- Gateway to Indo-Pacific: The deal was a “gateway” to the Indo-Pacific region which would account for a majority (54%) of global economic growth in the future. The U.K. is currently also negotiating a “free trade” deal with India.
- Geopolitical benefits: As a CPTPP member, the UK will get a veto on whether China joins the treaty. China has applied to become a member of the bloc in September 2021. What is India’s stand on CPTPP?
- India did not join CPTPP as it seeks to place greater labour and environmental standards on its other partners and CPTPP draft includes narrowly detailed qualifications on standards for investment protection, provisions to protect the host state’s right to regulate, and the imposition of detailed transparency requirements.
Georgia Assembly has passed a resolution that condemns Hinduphobia
- Georgia Assembly in U.S. has passed a resolution that condemns Hinduphobia and anti-Hindu bigotry, making it the first state in America to take such legislative action. The resolution highlights that Hinduism is a diverse religion with over 1.2 billion adherents worldwide, and it promotes values of acceptance, mutual respect, and peace. The resolution acknowledges the contributions of yoga, meditation, ayurveda, music, and art, which have enriched American culture.
India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline (IBFPL)
- The IBFPL was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a virtual mode. It is the first cross-border energy pipeline between the two countries. It will be used to supply diesel from India to Bangladesh.
- IBFPL will carry diesel from Assam-based Numaligarh Refinery Ltd’s (NRL) marketing terminal at Siliguri in West Bengal to the Parbatipur depot of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC).
- IBFPL is 5 Kilometers long, out of which 126.5 kilometer pipeline is in Bangladesh and 5 kilometers in India.
- The pipeline has a capacity of one million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA).
- The total project cost for the construction of the IBFPL is Rs 377.08 crore of which Bangladesh’s section of the pipeline cost Rs 285 crore..
- The project is built under grant assistance from the government of India.
Finland joined NATO as 31st member
- Finland has joined NATO due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has made its smaller neighbors feel the need for the powerful military backing that NATO provides. Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership after the invasion.
- Note: Sweden’s path to NATO membership remains blocked by Turkey and Hungary.
- About North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): Formed in 1949 (12 founding members) with the signing of the Washington Treaty, NATO is a security alliance of 31 countries from North America and Europe. Recently, Finland (Nordic nation) joined the alliance as 31st Member.
- NATO’s fundamental goal is to safeguard the Allies’ freedom and security by political and military means.
- It is a system of collective defence where independent member states agree for mutual defence in case of any attack by external party.
- Article 5 of the Washington Treaty states that an attack against one Ally is an attack against all. This provision has only been invoked once, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
- This article forms the core of the Alliance, a promise of collective defense.
- Headquarter of NATO – Brussels,
Why this move is seen as a strategic and political blow to Russia?
- Major change in Europe’s security landscape: Finland had adopted neutrality after its defeat by the Soviets in World War II. However, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Finland expressed its willingness to join the alliance. Hence, Finland’s membership represents a major change in Europe’s security landscape.
- NATO’s expansion toward Russia: Finland shares the longest (1340 Km) European Union border with Russia. Hence, Finland’s membership has ensured NATO’s expansion toward Russia.
2023 UN Water Conference: New York
- Recently, the United Nations held its first water conference in 46 years on March 22-24 in New York.
- The 2023 UN Water Conference was co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands.
- SDG 6, aims to provide clean water and sanitation for everyone by 2030.
- The urgent need for action was demonstrated by a report “Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028.” About 1st UN Water Conference
- The first UN Water Conference was held in Mar de Plata, Argentina in 1977, attended by 116
- It resulted in the first global ‘Action Plan’ recognizing that “all peoples, whatever their stage of development and social and economic conditions, have the right to have access to drinking water in quantities and of a quality equal to their basic needs.”
Bhutan’s King visited India
- The King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck paid an official visit to India.
- The visit of the King of Bhutan is in keeping with the longstanding tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries.
Key facts about India-Bhutan Relations
- Bhutanese currency is Ngultrum (Nu.) and is officially pegged to the Indian Rupee.
- For the 12th Five Year Plan (FYP) of Bhutan, India is providing an assistance of 45 billion Ngultrum (Nu). Since the launching of FYP of Bhutan in 1961, India has been extending financial support to it.
- So far, Government of India has constructed three Hydroelectric Projects (HEPs) in Bhutan: o 336 MW Chukha HEP, 60 MW Kurichhu HEP and 1020 MW Tala HEP.
- These three plants are operational and exporting surplus power to India.
5th ICDRI 2023
- Recently, the Prime Minister of India, addressed the 5th International Conference on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (ICDRI) 2023.
- It was launched in 2019, at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.
- CDRI is India’s second major global initiative after the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
- The CDRI Secretariat is based in New Delhi,
- Since its inception, 31 countries, 6 international organisations and 2 private sector organisations have joined CDRI as members.
United Nations Statistical Commission
- Recently, India has been elected to the highest statistical body of the United Nations for a four-year term beginning January 1, 2024. India was a member of the Statistical Commission last in 2004 and the country is returning to the UN agency after a gap of two decades.
- United Nations Statistical Commission was established in 1947 (HQ: New York) and is the highest body of the global statistical system. It brings together the Chief Statisticians from member states from around the world.
- Membership: The Commission consists of 24 member countries of the United Nations elected by the United Nations Economic and Social Council based on an equitable geographical distribution.
- The term of office of members is four years.
China’s ‘String of Pearls’ policy to encircle India in the Indian Ocean Region
- Recent satellite images showing the construction of a military facility on Coco Islands in Myanmar and a proposed remote satellite receiving ground station system in Sri Lanka, both coming up with Chinese help, have raised concerns in India of possible surveillance across the region.
- About Coco Islands: They are a small group of islands located in the Bay of Bengal. Great Coco Island, the
- largest in the group, lies just 55 km from India’s strategic Andaman and Nicobar Islands. They are part of the Yangon Region of Myanmar. it is geologically an extended division of the Arakan Mountains or Rakhine Mountains same as India’s Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
Carbon free electricity by 2035
- The Group of Seven (G7) countries’ Climate and Energy Ministers and envoys have committed to ensuring carbonfree electricity production by 2035 and accelerating the phase-out of coal. The agreement was made at Sapporo, Japan, ahead of the G7 summit in Hiroshima in May 2023.
- India was also invited in the summit as a ‘guest’, in the context of its G20 presidency.
- Recently, China has conducted a meeting of trade ministers of the grouping known as C+C5 — China and the five Central Asian republics, namely Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The first C+C5 summit held in Jan 2022 marked the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Central Asian nations.
- China’s historical trade and cultural links with the region date back to the ancient Silk Route.
Sudan crisis (dispute between SAF vs RAF)
- Fierce fighting broke out between the Sudan’s army (Sudan Armed Forces/SAF) and its paramilitary forces (Rapid Support Forces/RSF) in Khartoum, capital of Sudan.
- The recent violence in the country due to tense negotiations between SAF and RSF. The negotiations were about merging the forces into a single national army, as part of a political agreement for the military to hand over power to civilian leaders. This created mounting tensions because hardline factions within the military were resistant to the incorporation and led to violence.
- RSF, a paramilitary group is led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo — also known as Hemedti.
- Sudan Armed Forces /SAF is headed by Lt Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Explanation:
- The roots of the ongoing conflict in Sudan go back to April 2019, when Sudan’s long-serving authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown. He was overthrown by military generals following a countrywide uprising against him. Despite Bashir’s ouster, civilians continued their demonstrations, seeking democratic elections and the establishment of a civilian government.
- This led to the constitution of the Sovereignty Council, a power-sharing body of military officers and civilians. This council would lead Sudan to elections at the end of 2023 and Abdalla Hamdok was appointed Prime Minister for the transitional period (2019-23)
- However, the military overthrew Hamdok’s government in October 2021.The military announced that it would hold power until elections are held in July 2023.
- Soon after this coup, relations between the military and the RSF deteriorated. (RSF was founded by Bashir to crush a rebellion in Darfur that began more than 20 years ago due to the political and economic marginalization of the local people by Sudan’s central government. The RSF has been accused of widespread atrocities).
- One of the main sticking points between the military and RSF is over the plans to include the 100,000-strong RSF into the army and who would then lead the new force. The violence erupted as members of the RSF were redeployed around the country in a move that the army saw as a threat.
- India recently launched ‘Operation Kaveri’ to evacuate its nationals from conflict-torn Sudan.
- According to the official data, the number of Indians in Sudan is around 4,000.
- As part of the operation, two C-130 aircraft and the navy ship INS Sumedha is on standby to safely evacuate stranded Indians.
- About Sudan: Khartoum is capital of Sudan. Sudan is located in northeastern Africa. It is bounded on the north by Egypt, on the east by the Red Sea, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, on the south by South Sudan, on the west by the Central African Republic and Chad, and on the northwest by Libya. Sudan is drained by the Nile River and its tributaries. The country is dominated by Muslims, most of whom speak Arabic.
- Some recent Evacuation operations by India
|Operation Ganga (2022)||to bring back all the Indian nationals who are currently stranded in Ukraine.|
|Operation Devi Shakti (2021)||evacuate Indian citizens from Kabul after its swift takeover by the Taliban.|
|Vande Bharat (2020)||naval operation as part of the national effort to bring home Indian citizens from overseas during the Covid-19 pandemic.|
|Operation Samudra Setu
|naval operation as part of the national effort to bring home Indian citizens from overseas during the Covid-19 pandemic.|
The Black Sea Grain Deal
- The Group of Seven (G7) agriculture ministers have issued an official statement calling for the extension, full implementation, and expansion of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) deal that allows Ukraine to export over 27 million Tonnes of grain from its Black Sea ports.
- The deal was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022 but Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February 2022, has signaled that it will not allow the deal to continue beyond 18th May 2023 because its demands to facilitate its own grain and fertilizer exports have not been met.
- About Black Sea: It is an inland sea between Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is bound by Ukraine to the north and northwest, Russia and Georgia to the east, Turkey to the south, and Bulgaria and Romania to the west. It links to the Sea of Marmara through the Strait of Bosphorus and then to the Aegean through the Strait of Dardanelles.
The Big Catch-Up Initiative : to boost vaccination among children
- On April 24, 2023, a global effort called “The Big Catch-up” was announced by various health organizations.
- Implementing Partners: WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation, Immunization Agenda 2030, and other health partners
- Aim: It aims to protect populations from vaccine-preventable outbreaks like -measles, diphtheria, polio and yellow fever – save children’s lives and strengthen national health systems.
- Target Countries: 20 countries including India, where majority of the children who missed vaccinations in 2021.
- The Preparedness and Resilience for Emerging Threats Initiative (PRET) was launched in April 2023, with a focus on respiratory pathogen pandemic preparedness.
- PRET Initiative was launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and operates under the aegis of the International Health Regulations (IHR), 2005, which is a critical international legal instrument for managing public health emergencies.
Other World News:
- During his three-day visit to Uganda’s Kampala, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar launched the ‘Tulsi Ghat Restoration Project’ of Varanasi.
- Romania’s deputy defence minister, Simona Cojocaru, met with India’s defence secretary, Giridhar Aramane, in New Delhi and signed the agreement.
- Hush Money: Recently, Former US President Donald Trump is scheduled to appear in court to face charges related to a hush-money payment. Hush money refers to the use of money to silence or buy off individuals or institutions who may have damaging information or allegations against the user.
- China-Japan Hotline: Recently, China and Japan set up military hotlines (a direct phone line set up for a specific purpose) to manage maritime, air incidents over disputed Senkaku islands.
o Note: Japan and China claim the uninhabited islands, in East China Sea known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China (Tiaoyutai in Taiwan), as their own, but Japan has administered them since 1972.
- The Dalai Lama has named a US-born Mongolian boy as the 10th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa, the head of the Janang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and the Buddhist spiritual head of Mongolia. (Buddhism became the predominant religion in Tibet by the 9th century AD. Tibetan Buddhism has four major schools: Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug. The Janang school is one of the smaller schools that grew as an offshoot of the Sakya school. The Dalai Lama belongs to the Gelug school).
- Italy has recently banned ChatGPT due to concerns over the collection of personal data and the lack of guardrails to prevent minors from accessing the AI chatbot.
- Italy proposes new law to ban English language, violators will face fines up to Rs 90 Lakh on public and private entities, that use foreign languages, especially English, instead of Italian in official communications. The draft bill calls for the protection and promotion of the Italian language and asserts.
- Recently, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov has attended the 24th Russia-India Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) meeting in India.
- Recently, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has released the State of World Population report 2023, which states that India will overtake China to become the world’s most populous country by the middle of 2023.
- Recently, India and UAE signed a Food Security Partnership. India, being the world’s second-largest food producer, is an essential partner in the UAE’s ambition to strengthen food security.
- Recently, The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group (WBG) held their Spring Meetings in Washington DC, United States.
- Armenian genocide: April 24, 1915 marks the beginning of what came to be known as the Armenian genocide. It is when the Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey) initiated the detainment of Armenian intellectuals and leaders in Constantinople. Ottoman Empire was dominated by Muslims where Armenians were a Christian, well-off minority.
- MiCA: Recently, the European Parliament (legislative body of the European Union) has approved the Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulation, the world’s first comprehensive set of rules that aims to bring largely unregulated cryptocurrency markets under government regulation. The regulation will come into force after formal approval by member states. (India is yet to have a comprehensive regulatory framework for cryptoassets. A draft legislation on the same is reportedly underway. In the Union Budget for 2022, the Finance Ministry imposed a
30% tax on income from the “transfer of any virtual digital asset”).
- India-Hungary: The first meeting of the India-Hungary Joint Working Group for water management cooperation was held in New Delhi where both countries discussed challenges and initiatives in the water sector. The focus was on the issue of groundwater over-exploitation and the need for proper water management practices in India.
- Ofek-13: recently, from the Palmachim Airbase , Israel successfully launched a new spy satellite named Ofek13, into orbit. It is intended to provide advanced intelligence capabilities to the Israeli.
- According to reports, Syria has now become the world’s largest narco-state, with the majority of its foreign currency earnings coming from the production and export of Captagon, a highly addictive amphetamine commonly referred to as “poor man’s coke”.
- Yuan: China’s yuan has replaced the US dollar as the most traded currency in Russia, a year after the invasion of Ukraine led to a slew of Western sanctions against Moscow.
- US State Pennsylvania Recognizes Diwali as an Official State Holiday.
India achieves 100% Rice Fortification target
- As part of the Rice Fortification Program, 269 districts in 27 states in India have achieved a 100% target for Phase II by March 2023 in the distribution of fortified rice under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
- Fortification is the process of enhancing the nutritional value of staple foods like rice, by adding important vitamins and minerals including iron, iodine, zinc, Vitamin A & D. Before processing, these nutrients may or may not have been present in the food.
- The App Version of the National Logistics Portal (Marine), named ‘Sagar-Setu’, has been launched by Ministry for Ports, Shipping and Waterways.
- Aim: The app will provide real-time information on vessel-related information, gate, container freight stations, and transactions, enabling digital transactions for payments.
- Benefits: The app will boost maritime trade, enhance the economy of the country, and increase the visibility of operations and tracking.
Language Friendship Bridge Project
- Recently, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) has envisaged a special project called ‘The Language Friendship Bridge’ to expand India’s cultural footprint in nations with whom it has historical ties.
- India is planning to create a pool of experts in languages spoken in countries like Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan and Indonesia to facilitate better people-to-people exchanges.
- It plans to train five to 10 people in the official languages of each of these countries.
- As of now, the ICCR has zeroed in on 10 languages: Kazakh, Uzbek, Bhutanese, Ghoti (spoken in Tibet), Burmese, Khmer (spoken in Cambodia), Thai, Sinhalese and Bahasa (spoken in both Indonesia and Malaysia).
Digital Health Summit 2023 : GOA
- Recently, Digital Health Summit 2023 was organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Goa.
- CII is a non-government, not-for-profit, industry-led and industry-managed organization.
- Recently, YUVA Portal was launched by Science and Technology Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh in New Delhi. It aims to connect and identify potential young start-ups in India’s science and technology innovation ecosystem.
- Earlier, “One Week – One Lab” campaign was launched.
- Astronomy lab in Haryana’s Karnal was also launched, which provides opportunities for people with disabilities to excel in various forms of skill, art, and craft.
SATHI Portal and Mobile App
- The Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA & FW) Minister of India has launched the SATHI (Seed Traceability, Authentication and Holistic Inventory) Portal and Mobile App to address the challenges in seed production, quality seed identification, and seed certification. The system has been developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) in collaboration with MoA & FW with the theme of ‘Uttam Beej – Samriddh Kisan’.
“Sangathan Se Samridhhi
- Recently, the Ministry of Rural Development’s Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) launched a national campaign called “Sangathan Se Samridhhi– Leaving no Rural Woman Behind”, aiming to mobilize a significant number of women into Self Help Groups (SHGs).
Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023
- Recently, the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying has issued the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023. These Rules supersede the Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules, 2001, and are issued under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960.
- The Rules aim to provide guidelines for the sterilisation and immunisation of stray dogs through Animal Birth Control (ABC) programmes. The responsibility of carrying out ABC programmes lies with the respective local bodies, municipalities, municipal corporations, and panchayats.
- The Municipal Corporations are required to implement the ABC and Anti Rabies Program
Landmark pact in ending Insurgency in Assam
- Recently, the Dimasa National Liberation Army (DNLA), an insurgent group operating mostly in Assam’s Dima Hasao district, signed a peace agreement with the government.
- Both Union Home Minister and Assam Chief Minister declared that this peace settlement marked the end of the tribal insurgency in Assam.
- Assam has seen insurgency by various tribal militant groups, particularly from the 1980s onwards. Reasons behind the insurgency in Assam
- Multi-ethnic: The Assam region has a long history of tensions between the various indigenous ethnic groups. The major tribes are Bodo (35%),Mishing (17.52%),Karbi(11.1%), Rabha (7.6%), Sonowal
Kachari (6.5%), Lalung (5.2%), Garo (4.2%), and Dimasa (3.2%). Of these, the most sustained and violent movement for autonomy has been carried out by Bodo groups. However, there have also been Karbi and Dimasa groups that waged militant operations over the decades.
- Immigration: The large-scale immigration of Bengali-speaking Muslims from the neighboring country of Bangladesh has been a major source of tension in the region. The Assamese people see this immigration as a threat to their identity, culture, and economic well-being.
- Economic factors: The perception of exploitation of NE resources by the central government in Delhi boosted insurgency.
POLITY (Articles or Sections in News)
Competition (Amendment) Act, 2023
- the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2023 received the President’s assent on April 11, 2023 to become the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2023 (“Amendment Act”).
- The Competition Amendment Act, 2023 modified the Competition Act, 2002, which authorizes the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to prevent practices that adversely impact competition and consumer interests.
Competition Commission of India (CCI)
- Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a statutory body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, 2002, it was duly constituted in March 2009.
- The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (MRTP Act) was repealed and replaced by the Competition Act, 2002, on the recommendations of the Raghavan committee.
- The CCI consists of 1 Chairperson and 6 Members who shall be appointed by the Central Government.
- The commission is a quasi-judicial body which gives opinions to statutory authorities and also deals with other cases. The Chairperson and other Members shall be whole-time Members.
UAPA tribunal upheld Ban on PFI
- Recently, five months after its (UAPA tribunal) constitution, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal upheld the Centre’s decision to ban Popular fronts of India and its affiliates.
- In September 2022, the the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a gazette notification banned the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its affiliates or associated organisations like Rehab India Foundation (RIF) and Campus Front of India for five years.
- Invoking the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967 to impose the ban, the Ministry of Home Affairs stated that the PFI and its affiliates are linked to terror groups like the ISIS, radicalise a specific section of society and pose a major threat to the country’s internal security.
- Note: Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967 is India’s main law against terrorism and terrorist activities.
- UAPA Tribunal: The UAPA provides for a tribunal to be constituted by the government for its bans to have longterm legal sanctity. It is headed by a retired or sitting judge of a High Court. On receiving notification from the Centre, the Tribunal calls upon the concerned association to show cause, within 30 days from the date of the service of such Centre’s notice, that why it should not be declared unlawful. After hearing arguments from both sides, the Tribunal can hold an inquiry to decide within 6 months whether there is sufficient evidence to declare an association unlawful association. Under the UAPA, the Centre’s notification cannot have an effect until the tribunal confirms the declaration in its order.
Popular Front of India?
- The PFI was created in 2007 through the merger of three Muslim organisations in southern India namely the National Democratic Front in Kerala, the Karnataka Forum for Dignity, and the Manitha Neethi Pasarai in Tamil Nadu.
- The Union Minister of Science and Technology has launched the SUPREME initiative to provide financial support for the upgradation and maintenance of analytical instrumentation facilities (AIFs).
- Full Form: Support for Up-gradation Preventive Repair and Maintenance of Equipment (SUPREME)
- Aim: To extend financial support for repair, upgradation, maintenance, retrofitting, or acquiring additional attachments to increase the functional capabilities of existing analytical instrumentation facilities.
- Eligibility: Different facilities created under the projects/ Analytical instrumentation facilities (AIFs) with the support of DST only will be considered for funding support under this Scheme.
o UGC recognized Central Universities/ State Funded Universities/Deemed Universities /Private Universities among others are also eligible to apply under this scheme.
- Duration: The duration of support will be for a period not exceeding 3 years.
- Funding Pattern: The funding pattern in the scheme would be 75:25 for all private and government-owned institutions (except for state-funded institutions for which 100% funding would be considered).
Recent modifications to political party status made by the election commission
- The Election Commission recently conducted a periodic review, upgrading the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to a national party. This decision was based on AAP’s strong performance in Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat, and Goa.
- In contrast, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC) lost their national party status. However, they were recognized as state parties in Nagaland and Meghalaya, respectively, due to their performance in recent assembly elections.
- Additionally, parties like Rashtriya Lok Dal in Uttar Pradesh and Revolutionary Socialist Party in West Bengal had their state party status revoked.
- Furthermore, the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) was recognized as a state party in Nagaland, the Tipra Motha Party as a state party in Tripura, and the Voice of the People Party as a state party in Meghalaya.
- Present status: After the recent changes by Election commission of India, currently, there are six national parties : the BJP, the Congress, the CPI (Marxist), the AAP, the BSP, and the National People’s Party (NPP). How does the EC recognize parties as either national or state parties?
- The Election Commission (EC) recognizes political parties as either national or state parties based on criteria laid down in the Representation of People Act 1951 and the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.
- Parties that have been newly registered, or have not contested an election since being registered, or have not secured the requisite votes/seats in a state or general election are categorised as registered unrecognised political parties (RUPPs). They don’t enjoy all the benefits extended to recognized parties. The recognised party status is reviewed periodically by the EC.
Criteria for a Political Party to be Recognised as a National Party:
- A political party would be considered (if it satisfies any of the below conditions) a national party if:
- it is ‘recognised’ in four or more states as a state party; or
- if its candidates polled at least 6% of total valid votes in any four or more states in the last Lok Sabha or Assembly elections and has at least four MPs in the last Lok Sabha polls; or
- if it has won at least 2% of the total seats in the Lok Sabha from not less than three states.
- The AAP satisfied the first criteria as it is recognised as a state party in Delhi, Punjab, Goa and Gujarat. Criteria for a Party to be Recognised as a State Party:
- To be recognised as a state party, a party need –
- At least 6% vote-share in the last Assembly election and have at least 2 MLAs; or
- have 6% vote-share in the last Lok Sabha elections from that state and at least one MP from that state; or
- At least 3% of the total number of seats or three seats, whichever is more, in the last Assembly elections; or
- At least one MP for every 25 members or any fraction allotted to the state in the Lok Sabha; or
- Have at least 8% of the total valid votes in the last Assembly election or Lok Sabha election from the state.
- DMK in Tamil Nadu, BJD in Odisha, YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh, RJD in Bihar, TRS in Telangana are the names of some of the state political parties.
What is the significance of obtaining National Party status?
- Reserved Symbol: National parties are granted an exclusively reserved symbol for their candidates to use across the country, making it easier for voters to identify their preferred party on the ballot.
- National Presence: National party status allows a party to fight elections throughout India, fielding candidates in any state and thereby expanding its base, influence and nationwide presence.
- Single Proposer: Candidates from national parties need only one proposer when filing nomination papers, simplifying the nomination process and providing easier access to the voter list.
- Star Campaigners: National parties can have up to 40-star campaigners, whose expenditures are not included in the party candidate’s election expenditure, allowing for more prominent figures to campaign without burdening the candidate’s budget.
- Government Land Allocation: National parties receive government land allocation in New Delhi for their national president and office space at subsidized rates.
- Free Airtime on Public Broadcasters: National parties benefit from free airtime on public broadcasters like Doordarshan and All India Radio during general elections, helping them reach a wider audience and convey their message.
|Derecognition of Political Parties||Deregistration of Political Parties|
|Derecognition refers to the withdrawal of recognition of a political party by the ECI. Such parties are simply declared as registered-unrecognized parties. The ECI has the power to derecognize a political party if it violates the provisions of the Indian Constitution or the Representation of the People Act, 1951.||• Deregistration refers to the cancellation of the registration of a political party. However, the ECI is not empowered to deregister parties.
• Once a political party is deregistered, it cannot contest elections.
A party can only be de-registered if:
• Its registration was obtained by fraud;
• It is declared illegal by the Central Government; or
• A party amends its internal Constitution and notifies the ECI that it can no longer abide by the Indian Constitution.
“Hue and Cry notice”
- Recently, the Punjab government has issued a “hue and cry notice” against the fugitive pro-Khalistan preacher Amritpal Singh. The ‘hue and cry’ rule simply meant that if a suspect or a criminal was running down the street in front of some bystanders, then each of them had to yell to help the police identify and catch them.
Bastille Day Parade: France
- France has recently invited Indian PM Narendra Modi to visit Paris as a guest at the annual Bastille Day parade.
- The Bastille Day military parade, also known as the 14 July military parade, is a French military parade that has been held on the morning of 14 July each year in Paris since 1880.
- It is also one of the oldest regular military parades in the world.
- July 14 is the anniversary of the storming of the infamous Bastille prison in 1789 – a turning point for the success of the French Revolution. This day is marked as the National Day of France.
Reservation to Dalit Coverts
- Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1950: initially, it provided for recognizing only Hindus as Scheduled Castes. The Order was amended in 1956 to include Dalits who had converted to Sikhism and once more in 1990 to include Dalits who had converted to Buddhism.
- Since Dalits coverts to Islam and Christianity are not recognized as Scheduled Castes, they do not get reservation benefits. So there is a prolonged demand to include them in SC status on the lines of Dalit converts to Sikhism and Buddhism.
Commissions constituted with respect to such demands:
- Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities : it was constituted in 2004 and submitted report in 2007. It recommended Scheduled Caste (SC) reservation for Dalit converts to Christianity and Islam. Central govt Rejected the Mishra report.
- G. Balakrishnan commission: In October 2022, Central govt constituted a new Commission headed by a former CJI K.G. Balakrishnan, giving it two years to prepare a report on the question of granting SC status to “new persons who have historically belonged to the Scheduled Castes but have converted to religions other than Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism”.
Indelibe ink (Voter’s ink)
- Since 1962, Mysore Paints & Varnish Ltd. in Mysuru is the only company authorised to produce the indelible ink used in elections in India. The Maharaja of Mysore Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar established the factory in 1937. This indelible ink was first used in the country’s third general election.
- Indelible ink typically contains Silver Nitrate which stains the skin on exposure of ultraviolet light, leaving a mark that is impossible to wash off and is only removed on external skin cells are replaced. it ensures that no eligible voter votes twice in an election and hence plays a key role in avoiding fraudulent and multiple voting.
National Investigation Agency (NIA)
- National Investigation Agency (NIA) is the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency of India.
- Parent agency: Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
- Establishment: NIA was created after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008.
- Jurisdiction: The agency is empowered to deal with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states. A State Government may request the Central Government to hand over the investigation of a case to the NIA, provided the case has been registered for the offences as contained in the schedule to the NIA Act.
- NIA special courts: Various Special Courts have been notified by the Govt. of India for trial of the cases arising out of offences committed in various states of the Union. These are presided over by a judge appointed by the Central Government on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the High Court with jurisdiction in that region.
- Offices: It is headquartered in Other Branches are located in Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kochi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Kolkata, Raipur, Jammu, Chandigarh, Ranchi, Chennai and Imphal.
- Note: Union Home and Cooperation Minister recently said that National Investigation Agency (NIA) agency to have offices in all states by 2024.
People in Nagaland opposing reservation to women in ULB
- Most of the traditional tribal and urban organizations oppose the 33% reservation of seats for women, arguing that it would violate the special provisions granted by Article 371A of the Constitution to Nagaland.
- According to Article 371A, Parliament cannot make laws about the religious or social practices of the Nagas, their traditional laws, and how they solve legal problems, or who owns and uses the land unless the Nagaland Legislative Assembly agrees.
- The apex tribal body of Nagaland, Naga Hoho argues that women have traditionally not been part of decisionmaking bodies. Nagaland is the only state where ULB seats are not reserved for women.
- The first and only civic body election in Nagaland was held in 2004 without any reservation of seats for women.
India and Malaysia to trade in Rupees
- India and Malaysia have agreed to settle trade in Indian rupees in addition to the current modes of settlement in other currencies.
- In July 2022, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allowed the settlement of international trade in Indian rupees.
- In December 2022, India saw its first settlement of foreign trade in rupee with Russia – as part of the ‘International Settlement of Trade in Indian Rupee’ mechanism initiated by the RBI.
- In March 2023, banks from 18 countries were allowed by the RBI to open Special Rupee Vostro Accounts (SRVAs) to settle payments in Indian rupees.
- Note: Using the rupee for international trade transactions will help check the flow of dollars out of India and slow the depreciation of the currency albeit to a “very limited extent. Thus, most importantly, the move is expected to reduce the pressure on India’s forex reserves.
- In the past week, the National Stock Exchange (NSE) issued a string of notices naming entities involved in dabba trading. The NSE cautioned retail investors to not subscribe (or invest) using any of these products offering indicative/assured/guaranteed returns in the stock market as they are prohibited by law.
- Dabba (box) trading refers to informal trading that takes place outside the purview of the stock exchanges. In this form of trading, brokers execute trades for clients without placing them on stock exchanges. Instead, the brokers maintain their own trading books or ‘dabba’ and settle trades with clients outside the exchange.
- Traders bet on stock price movements without incurring a real transaction to take physical ownership of a particular stock as is done in an exchange. In simple words, it is gambling centred around stock price movements. Example: An investor places a bet on a stock at a price point, say ₹1,000. If the price point rose to ₹1,500, he/she would make a gain of ₹500. However, if the price point falls to ₹900, the investor would have to pay the difference to the dabba broker. Thus, it could be concluded that the broker’s profit equates the investor’s loss and vice-versa.
Top exporting districts
- Jamnagar in Gujarat is the top exporting district in India. It formed about 24% of India’s exports in value terms in FY23 (till January).
- Surat in Gujarat and Mumbai Suburban in Maharashtra feature second and third, forming only about 4.5% of the country’s exports in the period.
India Steel 2023
- The Union Ministry of Steel, in collaboration with the Department of Commerce, Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry), is organizing India Steel 2023, a conference and exhibition on the steel industry.
- India is world’s second-largest producer of crude steel after China.
- India is the second-largest consumer of finished steel after China.
HISTORY, ART AND CULTURE
Pattanam Site: CentralKerela
- Recent excavation has revealed that the Pattanam Site in Kerala was a thriving urban centre from the 5th century B.C. to the 5th century A.D., with its peak phase from 100 B.C. to A.D. 300. At present, the excavation has uncovered less than 1% of the site so far.
- Pattanam is part of Muziris, ‘first emporium’ of the Indian Ocean. It is an example of the Greco- Roman classical age coming into direct contact with an ancient South Indian civilisation.
- Note: The name Muziris is believed to have originated from the Tamil word “Muciri”, which means “the land of seven rivers”.
- Note: The Greco-Roman classical age refers to a period of ancient history spanning from the 8th century BC to the 5th century AD, when the cultures of Greece and Rome exerted a significant influence on the Mediterranean world and beyond.
- Significance: Pattanam is the only multi-cultural archaeological site on the southwestern coast of the Indian subcontinent. The excavations have unearthed over 45 lakh sherds (ceramic fragments). Of these approximately 1.4 lakh belongs to the littoral/coastal regions of the Mediterranean, the River Nile, the Red Sea, the western and eastern Indian Oceans, and the South China Sea. Further, the recent findings also include the seal of a sphinx, native to the ancient Greek city of Thebes.
- There is no evidence of institutionalized religion or caste system in ancient Pattanam.
- No idols of gods and goddesses or grandiose places of worship were found.
- The absence of sophisticated weaponry also stands in contrast with some other Pattanam-contemporary sites.
- The people of Pattanam may have been a peace-loving people who didnot harbor religious and caste boundaries.
- Recently, the Prime Minister of India referred to the Uttaramerur inscription in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, while discussing India’s democratic history.
- While Uttaramerur has multiple inscriptions spanning centuries, the most famous one being referred to by the Prime Minister is from the reign of Parantaka I (907-953 AD) who belongs to the Chola dynasty. About the inscription:
- The famous inscription from Parantaka I’s reign is found on the walls of the Vaikunda Perumal Temple. ▪ The inscription gives details of the functioning of the local Sabha, i.e., the village assembly.
- A Sabha was an assembly exclusively of brahmans and had specialised committees tasked with different things. This gave details about how members were selected, the required qualifications, their roles and responsibilities, and even the circumstances in which they could be removed.
- Required qualifications: It includes ownership of a certain amount of land, having a house, being between the age of 35 and 70 and “knowing mantras and Brahmanas” (from the Vedic corpus). An exception can be made on land ownership if the person has learnt at least “one Veda and four Bhashyas”. One must also be “well-versed in business” and “virtuous”.
- Selection procedure for the Sabha: It says there were 30 wards. Everyone living in these 30 wards would assemble and select one representative for the village assembly. All those eligible and willing would write their names on palm leaf tickets following which, the representative would be chosen based on an elaborate draw of lots, conducted by priests in the inner hall of the building where the assembly meets.
GI Tag for Ladakh’s Wood Carving
- Recently, The Geographical Indication (GI) Registry in Chennai, responsible for registering products under the GI Act, 1999, has awarded the registration to Ladakh’s wood carving.
- Ladakh’s wood carving is renowned for its intricate designs and unique patterns that are mostly inspired by Buddhist themes and motifs. Local wood such as willow and apricot are used to make these wood carvings, which are often used to decorate doors, windows, and other household items.
- Significance: The GI registration ensures that the product has a unique identity and origin, and it cannot be duplicated or sold under the same name by any other manufacturer from a different region.
- Recently, Banarasi Paan is also granted with GI tag. Three other Varanasi-based products: Banarasi Langda Mango, Ramnagar Bhanta (Brinjal), and Adamchini Rice were also granted GI Tag.
‘Basohli Painting’ got GI tag
- The world-famous ‘Basohli Painting’, popular for its miniature art style from Kathua district, Jammu & Kashmir has obtained the Geographical Indication (GI). This is the first time that the Jammu region got a GI tag for handicrafts.
GI Tag for Madhya Pradesh’s Gond Painting
- The paintings, which are created by the Gond tribe, depict nature, animals, and religious themes, and showcase their way of life. The Dindori district is the main source of Gond painting, and it has expanded to other places in the area.
GI Tag for Tamil Nadu’s famous Cumbum Panneer Thratchai (Cumbum grapes)
- The Cumbum Valley located at the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu is known as the ‘Grapes City of South India’ and cultivates the Panneer Thratchai. This variety, also known as Muscat Hamburg, is popular for its quick growth and early maturity, ensuring that the crop is available in the market almost throughout the year. The Panneer grapes were first introduced in Tamil Nadu by a French priest in 1832 and are rich in vitamins, tartaric acid and antioxidants and reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. They are also known for a superior taste apart from the purplish brown-colour.
Mircha rice from West Champaran district of Bihar gets GI Tag
- The grains of this rice are similar in size and shape to black pepper, which is why it is called Mircha or Marcha rice. The rice has a distinct aroma, and its grains and flakes are known for their palatability.
- Note: Chhattisgarh’s Nagri Dubraj, an aromatic rice variety, has also been granted a geographical indication (GI) tag by the Geographical Indication Registry.
Derecognition of Political Parties
- Thirra, also known as Theyyam thira, is a ritual dance performed in the groves and temples of the Malabar region in Kerala, India. This art form is performed by the artists of the Malaya community, known as “perumalayans.” It is usually performed during the annual temple festival known as Utsavam.
- Clan deities such as Bhagavathi and Shiva are worshipped in these forms.
Idu Mishmis tribe: Arunachal
- Recently, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) announced that the Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh would soon be notified as a tiger reserve. This move has caused unrest among the Idu Mishmi tribe who feel that a tiger reserve would “hinder their access” to the forest.
- About Idu Mishmis tribe: Idu Mishmi is a sub-tribe of the Mishmi group in Arunachal Pradesh and neighbouring Tibet, primarily living in the Mishmi Hills bordering Tibet. They are known for their weaving and craftsmanship skills and are estimated to comprise around 12,000 people (as per census 2011). Their language, also called Idu Mishmi, is considered endangered by UNESCO.
- Tigers are particularly important to them as according to their mythology, tigers are their elder brothers.
Agitation by Kurmi community in West Bengal to change their status from OBC to ST
- Train services were recently disrupted in Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore districts of West Bengal following rail-blockade agitation by the Kurmi community.
- Currently, in Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand, the Kurmi community is classified under the Other Backward Classes group with the Odisha government also recognising the community under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes. Kurmis were not included among the communities classified as STs in the 1931 Census and were excluded from the ST list in 1950.
- State governments in Jharkhand and West Bengal have repeatedly recommended the inclusion of this community in the ST list.
- Kurmis are a landowning farming community who also want their Kurmali language to be included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
- Similar demand by other tribes: The renewed protests by the Kurmis comes at a time when six communities in Assam — Adivasi, Chutia, Koch-Rajbongshi, Matak, Moran and Tai-Ahom — too have threatened to launch an agitation over the “inordinate delay” in their inclusion in the ST list.
Process of Inclusion under ST
- The respective State or Union Territory government must initiate the proposal for inclusion, which then goes to the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry and subsequently to the Office of the Registrar General of India (ORGI).
- If the ORGI approves the inclusion, the proposal is then sent to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST), and if they concur, the proposal is forwarded to the Cabinet for amendment to the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950.
- Few tribals belonging to ‘Hakki-Pikki’ are stranded in Sudan, where violent clashes between a powerful paramilitary force and the country’s armed forces are going on.
- Hakki-Pikki is a Scheduled Tribe in Karnataka and their origin is said to be an ancestral relation with the legendary Ranapratap Singh and is believed to have originated from Gujarat and Rajasthan and migrated to south India via Andhra Pradesh.
- They are a semi-nomadic tribal group belonging to the state of Karnataka. In Kannada, the word ‘Hakki’ stands for ‘bird’ and ‘Pikki’ stands for the verb ‘to catch’. The community is known as the ‘bird catcher,’ which is their traditional occupation. Their society is matriarchal, and Monogamy is the norm.
- Their mother tongue was designated as ‘Vaagri’ by scholars (listed as endangered language by UNESCO).
- They have traditional medical knowledge that is in demand in several African countries.
- The community resided in the dense jungles for a long time and created its own plant and herb-based medicine systems.
103rd birth anniversary of Pandit Ravi Shankar:Sitar maestro
- Ravi Shankar was a world-famous sitar player and composer, who gained immense popularity among Western audiences for Indian classical music by collaborating with musicians from various parts of the world.
- He was awarded Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, in 1999.
Rongali Bihu dance in assam sets 2 Guinness World Records
- Assam’s Bihu dance has made history by breaking two world records with 11,304 dancers and musicians performing at Sarusajai Stadium in Guwahati. The performers attempted to create world records in two categories – the largest Bihu dance performance and the largest performance by folk musicians.
- About Rongali Bihu: It is one of the major festival of Assam which is commonly known as Bohag bihu. It is the most popular Bihu that celebrates the onset of the Assamese New Year and the coming of spring. The word ‘Rongali’ is derived from ‘Rong’ which means Happiness and celebrations. This festival reflects the rich culture of
Assamese society. During the celebration, traditional pat or muga silk or cotton mekhela chadors are worn by ladies
(the two-piece attire). As a sign of affection and respect, gamocha, the traditional Assamese towel, also known as Bihuwaan, is exchanged.
Key facts about Bihu
- Bihu is a secular festival that is celebrated by people from all parts of Assam irrespective of caste creed or religious background.
- The first Bihu is known as the Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu, which is celebrated in the month of April.
- The second Bihu is known as Kati Bihu or Kongali Bihu, which is celebrated during the month of October
- Finally, there is Magh Bihu, which is observed during the month of January.
Global Buddhist Summit 2023
- India hosted an International summit on Buddhism in New Delhi.
- Organized by: Ministry of Culture and the International Buddhist Confederation
- Aim: To find solutions to problems such as climate change, poverty, and conflict, among others, by exploring the Buddhist teachings and practices.
- Participation: Over 170 delegates from countries such as Mexico, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Japan and 150 from India will participate in the summit.
- Theme: “Responses to Contemporary Challenges : Philosophy to Praxis”.
- About International Buddhist Confederation: It was formed in 2013 as an international Buddhist umbrella body to serve as a common platform for Buddhists worldwide. (Headquarters: New Delhi).
- Recently, Prime Minister paid tribute to Jagadguru Basaveshwara on Basava Jayanthi.
- Basaveshwara, also known as Bhaktibhandari, Basavanna or Basaveswara, was a 12th century philosopher, Kannada poet and a social reformer during the reign of the Kalachuri-dynasty king Bijjala I in Karnataka. He spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanaas. He rejected gender or social discrimination, superstitions and rituals.
- He introduced new public institutions such as the ‘Anubhava Mantapa’ (or, the “hall of spiritual experience”), which welcomed men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds to discuss spiritual and mundane questions of life, in open. He was founder of the Lingayats sect.
- Recently, the Prime Minister has paid tributes to Sri Ramanujacharya on his Jayanti.
- Born in 1017 in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu, Ramanujacharya is revered as a Vedic philosopher and social reformer. He travelled across India, advocating equality and social justice. He revived the Bhakti movement, and his preachings inspired other Bhakti schools of thought. He was instrumental in reviving the Vishishtadvaita subschool of Vedanta philosophy. He is considered to be the inspiration for poets like Annamacharya, Bhakt Ramdas, Thyagaraja, Kabir, and Meerabai.
- He went on to write nine scriptures known as the navaratnas, and composed numerous commentaries on Vedic scriptures. He took education to those who were deprived of it. His greatest contribution is the propagation of the concept of “vasudhaiva kutumbakam”, which translates as “all the universe is one family”.
- Because of his work to promote social equality, the 213-feet tall statue of Ramanujacharya in Hyderabad is known as the Statue of Equality.
- Recently, the PM paid tributes to Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya on his birth anniversary.
- Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya, born in the 8th century AD in Kerala, is one of the most revered philosophers in Indian history. He is considered to be the founder of the Advaita Vedanta school of philosophy, which emphasizes the ultimate unity and oneness of all existence. Shankaracharya is credited with reviving Hinduism and restoring its philosophical and spiritual foundation. He was a prolific writer, composing commentaries on the Vedas, Upanishads, and other important texts. His most significant works include the commentary on the Brahma Sutras (Bhashya), Bhajagovinda Stotra, Nirvana Shatakam, and Prakaran Granths. Shankaracharya was also a social reformer and worked to eliminate caste-based discrimination and promote social equality.
Derecognition of Political Parties
- The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) recently urged the government to conserve the historically significant structures at the Sree Mahavishnu Temple at Thirunelly.
- About Thirunelly Temple: it is an ancient temple dedicated to the Lord Maha Vishnu, located on the sides of Brahmagiri Hill, a part of the Sahyadri Mountain Ranges in the Wayanad district of Kerala. It is also known as the Sahyamala Kshetram and Kashi of the South. It is the only temple in the world where the devotees can perform all the rituals related to one’s life, starting from birth to death and life after death. The rituals in this temple are performed on the banks of stream Papanashini, which originates from the Brahmagiri hills.
- Legend behind: It’s an ancient temple where Lord Brahma is said to establish the idol of Lord Vishnu. It’s believed that he found the idol on a gooseberry (amla) tree, locally known as nelli, thus giving Thirunelli its name.
- Architecture: The temple embodies classical, traditional Kerala architecture. The shrine is shielded with 30 granite columns, and the ground is paved with huge square pieces of granite. The main deity idol of the temple is in the form of Chathurbhuja – Lord Vishnu with his four hands. The 600-year-old Vilakkumadom structure, made of exquisite granite, is located at the temple.
- Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH): founded in 1984, INTACH is an autonomous nongovernmental Indian non-profit society that seeks to preserve Indian culture and heritage. Headquarters: New Delhi.
Pushkaralu festival : Varanasi
- The 12-day Pushkaralu festival of Telugu-speaking people began on April 22 in Varanasi.
- Pushkaram is a festival celebrated in India once every 12 years, dedicated to worshipping the 12 sacred rivers. This Pushkaralu festival is Ganga Pushkaram. Each river is associated with a zodiac sign, and the festival is based on the position of Jupiter at the time.
- The 12 most significant rivers that flow in India are Ganga, Narmada, Saraswati, Yamuna,
Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri, Bhima, Pushkar, Tungabhadra, Sindhi and Pranahita.
- Legend: After severe penance, the devotee Pushkara was blessed by Lord Shiva with the ability to live in water and purify holy rivers. On a request from Bruhaspati (Jupiter), Pushkara decided to enter one of the 12 sacred rivers.
|Siddhartha Mohanty||Chairperson of the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC)|
|Hari Hara Mishra||Executive Officer (CEO) of the Association of Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs).|
|M S Chuppu||Mohammed Shahabuddin Chuppu has become the 22nd president of Bangladesh, taking over from Abdul Hamid.|
|Neeraj Nigam||Executive director (ED) of RBI.|
|Sanjay Jasjit Singh||Vice-Chief of Naval Staff (VCNS).|
|Sudha Shivkumar||40th president of FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO).|
|Aparesh Kumar Singh||chief justice of the Tripura High Court.|
|Anant Maheshwari||Anant Maheshwari , the President of Microsoft India, has been appointed as the Chairperson of Nasscom for the period 2023-24.|
|Murugesvaran ‘Subby’ Subramaniam||A British-Hindu, appointed as Warrant Officer of the UK’s Royal Air Force, the aerial warfare and space force announced.|
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Ganga: India’s first cloned Gir female calf
- Recently, the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Karnal (Haryana) has produced cloned female calf of the desi breed Gir named Ganga. It is India’s first cloned Gir female calf.
- Under a project by NDRI, it will work on cloning of indigenous cow breeds such as Gir and Sahiwal. Indigenous cattle breeds such as Gir, Sahiwal, Tharparkar, and Red-Sindhi, play a pivotal role in milk production and the growth of the Indian dairy industry.
- Gir cattle are also very popular and have been exported to Brazil, the United States, Mexico, and Venezuela for the development of zebu cows.
- Note: Dolly, a female Sheep (1996-2003) was the first mammal that was cloned from an adult somatic cell. She was cloned by by Ian Wilmut and his colleagues at the Roslin Institute in Scotland.
- Note: First cloned mammal in India was Sampruna (world’s first cloned buffalo calf) in 2009 by NDRI Karnal. Sampurna died after 5 days of birth due to lung infection.
Ghana approved ‘R21’ malaria vaccine
- Recently, a much-anticipated malaria vaccine developed by Oxford University has received its first approval.
- It is the first vaccine to achieve more than 75% effectiveness. (The goal set by the World Health Organisation). It has been approved for use in children aged 5-36 months, the age group at the highest risk of death from malaria. Ghana became the first African country which approved the vaccine.
- The Serum Institute of India has a deal with Oxford to produce up to 200 million doses of the vaccine annually.
- Note: Mosquirix (RTS,S) is the first Malaria Vaccine (mainly targets Plasmodium falciparum) developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline in 1987 and endorsed by WHO in 2011. In India, Bharat Biotech has been granted license to manufacture this vaccine.
- About Malaria: Malaria is an acute febrile illness caused by Plasmodium parasites, which are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is not contagious and cannot spread from one person to another There are many different types of plasmodium parasites, but only 5 types cause malaria in humans- Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium knowlesi.
- Note: In humans, the plasmodium parasites grow and multiply first in the liver cells and then in the red cells of the blood.
- Gamma-Ray Bursts are the most powerful class of explosions in the universe, and they occur when massive stars die. When a massive star collapses, it creates a black hole, and the energy released during this process produces jets of high-energy particles that travel almost at the speed of light.
- These jets pierce through the collapsing star, producing X-rays and gamma rays, which can be detected by observatories on Earth and in space.
ISRO’s Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission – RLV LEX
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully conducted the Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission (RLV LEX). It was second RLV test as first took place in 2016.
- The test was conducted at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR), Chitradurga, Karnataka.
- About RLV: Reusable launch vehicle (RLV) means a launch vehicle that is designed to return to Earth substantially intact and therefore may be launched more than one time. An RLV may also contain stages that may be recovered by a launch operator for future use in the operation of a substantially similar launch vehicle.
- Advantages: With the costs acting as a major deterrent to space exploration, a reusable launch vehicle is considered a low-cost, reliable, and on-demand mode of accessing space. How many RLV experiments have been carried out by India?
- The first RLV experiment was done in 2016 (in West Bengal). ISRO officials described it as a “baby step” in the development of an RLV.
- The second RLV test conducted recently (at Chitradurga, Karnataka) involved a Chinook Helicopter of the Indian Air Force lifting the RLV LEX to a height of 4.5 km and releasing the RLV, based on a command from the Mission Management Computer.
- After midair release, the RLV carried out an autonomous landing “under the exact conditions of a Space Re-entry vehicle’s landing — high speed, unmanned, precise landing from the same return path — as if the vehicle arrived from space.
- This is the first time in the world that a launch vehicle has been carried to an altitude of 4.5 km by helicopter and released for carrying out an autonomous landing on a runway.
- Indian private space vehicle company – Skyroot Aerospace – recently test-fired its 3D-printed cryogenic engine – Dhawan II, developed for its heavier vehicle – Vikram II.
- Dhawan II is named in honour of Satish Dhawan, an eminent Indian rocket scientist who played a crucial role in the development of India’s space programme.
- Earlier in November 2022, Skyroot launched India’s first privately developed rocket Vikram-S.
- Cryogenics – the study of the production and behaviour of materials at extremely low temperatures (below -150℃) to lift and place the heavier objects in space.
- Cryogenic Engine: A cryogenic engine/ cryogenic stage is the last stage of space launch vehicles which makes use of Cryogenics. It uses Liquid Oxygen (LOx) and Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) as propellants. They are one of the hardest to develop and so far only 6 countries have these launch vehicles – the US, China, Russia, France, Japan, and India.
- India’s heaviest launch vehicles – GSLV and GSLV Mk III – use cryogenic fuel in the upper stage of the launch vehicle.
- Advantages: It is more efficient and provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant it burns compared to solid and earth-storable liquid propellant rocket stages. Using a cryogenic upper stage instead of a solid fuel stage enhances the payload carrying capacity of a rocket. Both fuels (LOx and LH2) are environmentfriendly compared to other solid, semi-cryogenic and hypergolic propellants used in the rocket industry.
- Disadvantage: It is technically a much more complex system as against solid/earth-storable liquid propellant stages due to the usage of propellants at extremely low temperatures and the associated thermal and structural problems.
- Recently, India has initiated an anti-dumping probe into imports of poisonous chemical sodium cyanide from China, the European Union, Japan and Korea following a complaint by domestic companies.
- Sodium cyanide is white crystalline or granular powder. It releases hydrogen cyanide gas, a highly toxic chemical asphyxiant that interferes with the body’s ability to use oxygen. Exposure to sodium cyanide can be rapidly fatal. It is used for extraction of gold and silver from their respective ores, manufacturing insecticides, dyes, pigments, and bulk drugs.
LIGO Project at Hingoli Maharashtra
- Recently, the government approved the construction of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project after seven years of in-principle approval. LIGO-India received the Central government’s inprincipal approval in February 2016. Since then, the project reached several milestones towards selecting and acquiring a site and building the observatory.
- LIGO-India will be located in Hingoli district of Maharashtra, about 450 km east of Mumbai, and is scheduled to begin scientific runs from the Union Cabinet gave the final approval and cleared the Rs 2,600-crore project.
- The project will be built by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Science Foundation (NSF), USA.
- The project aims to detect gravitational waves from the universe. Gravitational waves were first postulated (1916) in Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which explains how gravity works.
ESA’s Juice Mission to explore Jupitar
- Recently, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) mission to explore Jupiter and its icy moons, namely Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa.
- Launched from French Guiana on an Ariane 5 launcher. The mission is set to reach Jupiter in 2031.
- The spacecraft was constructed by Airbus Defence and Space, a division of the Airbus group.
TeLEOS-2 Satellite : PSLV C-55
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched Singapore’s TeLEOS-2 satellite from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The launch is carried out by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C55) of ISRO. (TeLEOS-2 is Earth Observation Satellite weighing 741 kg and has synthetic aperture radar capable of providing data in 1-meter resolution).
- It is a dedicated commercial mission through NSIL (NewSpace India Limited) with TeLEOS-2 as primary satellite and Lumelite-4 as a co-passenger satellite, both belonging to Singapore.
- The scientists used PSLV Orbital Experimental Module-2 (POEM-2) as an orbital platform to carry out the scientific experiments through non-separating payloads carried by it.
- A ‘hybrid’ solar eclipse called the Ningaloo Eclipse was witnessed on April 20, 2023.
- The last one was seen in 2013, and the next one will appear in 2031.
- A hybrid eclipse is a type of solar eclipse that looks like an annular solar eclipse or a total solar eclipse, depending on the observer’s location along the central eclipse path. It means that for some observers, the Moon appears to fully cover the Sun, resulting in a total solar eclipse, while for others, the Moon only partially covers the Sun, resulting in an annular solar eclipse.
- Recently, the Indian scientists working in the Garbh-Ini programme have identified 19 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), or genetic markers, that are associated with preterm or premature birth.
- About Genetic Markers: Genetic markers, also known as DNA markers or genetic variants, are specific sections of DNA that are associated with particular traits, characteristics, or conditions. Genetic markers can be either DNA sequences or specific variations in the DNA sequence, such as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which are the most common type of genetic marker.
- About Preterm Birth: Preterm birth, also known as premature birth, refers to the birth of a baby before the completion of 37 weeks of gestation. There are sub-categories of preterm birth, based on gestational age:
- Extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks);Very preterm (28-32 weeks);Moderate to late preterm (32-37 weeks).
- About the Garbh-Ini programme: It promotes Maternal and Child Health and develops prediction tools for preterm birth. It is an initiative under the Department of Biotechnology of the Union Ministry of Science and Technology as a collaborative interdisciplinary programme. This program is led by the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), NCR Biotech cluster, Faridabad. It is part of the Atal JaiAnusandhan Biotech Mission – Undertaking Nationally Relevant Technology Innovation (UNaTI).
- Recent reports emerged that for the first time, the LockBit Ransomware was found to be targeting Mac devices (gadgets of Apple company).
- LockBit Ransomware is malicious software designed to block user access to computer systems in exchange for a ransom payment. It was formerly known as “ABCD” ransomware, but it has since grown into a unique threat within the scope of extortion tools.
- It is a subclass of ransomware known as a ‘crypto virus’ due to forming its ransom requests around financial payment in exchange for decryption. It focuses mostly on enterprises and government organizations rather than individuals.
Tianlong-2 rocket (liquid-fueled rocket)
- Chinese company Space Pioneer has achieved a historic milestone in space exploration, launching its Tianlong-2 rocket into orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Inner Mongolia on April 2.
- The Tianlong-2 rocket, also known as “Sky Dragon-2,” has enabled Beijing Tianbing Technology to launch a small satellite named “Love Space Science” to a polar orbit around Earth. The satellite will test its remote sensing capabilities from this sun-synchronous orbit. Fengyun-3
- It is a meteorological satellite launched by China The satellite was launched using the Chang Zheng-4B carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Cosmodrome, located in Gansu Province.
Sixth edition of Exercise Cope India-2023
- It was recently held between Indian Air Force and the US Air Force (USAF) at the Air Force Stations – Kalaikunda (West Bengal), Panagarh (West Bengal) and Agra (UP). t is a bilateral joint exercise between Indian Air Force (IAF) and the United States Air Force (USAF).
- Cope India began in 2004 as a fighter training exercise. The last edition of the exercise was held in 2019.
- Japan Air force participated as an observer.
- Yudh-Abhyas (Military Exercise) ; Vajra Parhar (Indo-US Special Forces joint training exercise)
- Dharma Guardian (India- Japan.
- Exercise Malabar : between the navies of India, Japan, and the USA.
- It is a multilateral ‘Air force’ exercise hosted by France.
- Venue: Mont-de-Marsan, an Air Force base of the French Air and Space Force (FASF)
- In addition to Indian Air force (IAF) and French Air and Space Force (FASF), Air Forces from Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, and the United States of America also took part in this multilateral exercise.
- This exercise marked the first overseas participation for the IAF’s Rafale aircraft.
Exercise INIOCHOS-23: Greece
- It is multi-national air exercise conducted at the Andravida Air Base in Greece.
- The Indian Air Force participated with four Su-30 MKI and two C-17 aircraft.
- Apart from the hosts, the USA, France and Italy, and others like Jordan and Saudi Arabia participated in INIOCHOS-23.
- Exercise INIOCHOS is an annual multi-national air exercise hosted by the Hellenic Air Force (air force of Greece). It is based on the Single Base Concept-means the entire exercise takes place from a single air base.
SLINEX – 2023 held in Colombo
- Exercise SLINEX is an annual bilateral maritime exercise between Indian Navy and Sri Lanka Navy.
- SLINEX – 2023 was the 10th edition of the annual exercise held in Colombo.
- The Indian Navy was represented by INS Kiltan (Advanced Anti Submarine Warfare Corvette) and INS Savitri (Offshore Patrol Vessel), while the Sri Lanka Navy by SLNS Gajabahu (Advance Offshore Patrol Vessel) and SLNS Sagara (OPV) in the exercise.
- The Andaman and Nicobar Command recently conducted a joint military exercise, ‘KAVACH’, involving assets of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
- Aim: To enhance operational synergy and joint warfighting capabilities among the three services.
“Balikatan” military exercisesbegins
- Annual exercise between US and Philippines aimed at improving the respective militaries’ ability to respond jointly to threats in the Indo-Pacific. The exercises began in 1991. Balikatan means “shoulder-to-shoulder”.
- The 7th edition of the joint military exercise “AJEYA WARRIOR-23” between India and the United Kingdom was conducted at Salisbury Plains, United Kingdom.
- It is a biennial training event with the United Kingdom. It is conducted alternatively in the United Kingdom and India. The last edition was held at Chaubatia, Uttarakhand in October 2021.
- Soldiers of the 2 Royal Gorkha Rifles from the UK and Indian Army soldiers from the BIHAR Regiment are participating in the exercise.
- The 8th India-Thailand Defence Dialogue was held in Bangkok, Thailand, during which both sides expressed satisfaction at the ongoing bilateral defense cooperation.
Defense Exercises between India and Thailand are:
- Exercise MAITREE (Army); Exercise SIAM BHARAT (Air Force); India-Thailand Coordinated Patrol (Navy).
Combined Commanders’ Conference 2023
- PM Shri Narendra Modi participated in Combined Commanders’ Conference in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
- Combined Commanders’ Conference is a biennial event where the country’s top military brass come together to brainstorm on military matters and national security.
- This year, the three-day conference of Military Commanders had the theme ‘Ready, Resurgent, Relevant’.
- President Droupadi Murmu recently went on a 30-minute flight in a Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft from Tezpur Air Force Station in Assam. She is the third president and second woman president (first- Former President Pratibha Patil) to fly such a sortie.
- The Sukhoi-30 MKI is a multirole combat aircraft developed by Russia’s Sukhoi and licensed produced by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
BMD Interceptor tested in Odisha
- DRDO and Indian Navy successfully conducted a maiden flight trial of a sea-based endo-atmospheric interceptor missile off the coast of Odisha.
- Purpose: The purpose of the trial was to engage and neutralize a hostile ballistic missile threat thereby elevating India into the elite club of Nations having Naval Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) capability.
- Earlier, DRDO has successfully demonstrated land-based BMD system with the capability to neutralize ballistic missile threats, emerging from adversaries.
RANKING AND REPORTS
State Energy Efficiency Index Report 2021-22 released
- Developed by: Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) along with Alliance for an Energy-Efficient Economy (AEEE).
- SEEI 2021-22 has an updated framework of 50 indicators aligned with national priorities.
- 5 states – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan and Telangana – are in the Front Runner category (>60 points)
- 4 states – Assam, Haryana, Maharashtra, and Punjab – are in the Achiever category (50-60 points).
- Further, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Chandigarh are the top-performing states in their respective state groups.
- Telangana and Andhra Pradesh showed the most improvement since the last index.
- About The Bureau of Energy Efficiency: It was set up on 1st March 2002 under the provisions of the Energy Conservation Act, 2001. The primary objective of reducing the energy intensity of the Indian economy.
- Recently, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) has released a report titled- “The Status of Women In Agrifood Systems” highlighting the importance of Gender Equality in the Agricultural Sector.
First-ever census of water bodies
- The Ministry of Jal Shakti recently released the report of its first-ever census of water bodies, revealing crucial insights into the country’s water resources.
- The census enumerated a total of 24,24,540 water bodies across the country, with West Bengal accounting for the most (7.47 lakh) and Sikkim the least (134).
- West Bengal has the highest number of ponds and reservoirs (South 24 Parganas district has highest).
- Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of tanks.
- Tamil Nadu has the highest number of lakes
- Maharashtra leads in water conservation schemes.
- The report highlights that 1% of the waterbodies are in rural areas, with only 2.9% in urban areas.
- Most of the waterbodies are ponds, followed by tanks, reservoirs, water conservation schemes, percolation tanks, check dams, lakes, and others.
- 6% of all enumerated waterbodies are encroached, with 95.4% of encroachments in rural areas and the remaining 4.6% in urban areas.
- A significant percentage of encroachments cover more than 75% of the waterbody’s area.
Global Unicorn Index 2023 by Hurun
- According to 2023 index, Swiggy, Dream11 and BYJU’S are India’s top unicorns.
- Note: A unicorn is any privately owned firm with a market capitalization of more than USD 1 billion. It denotes new entities dedicated to offering creative solutions and new business models, among other things.
- The report indicates that India continues to be the world’s third-largest country with the highest number of unicorns, following the US (top) and China (2nd).
- However, India ranks fifth in the Hurun Global 500 companies, which is a list of the most valuable non-statecontrolled businesses globally.
India ranks 38 in Logistic Performance Index (LPI) 2023
- India has climbed six places on the World Bank’s Logistic Performance Index (LPI) 2023, now ranking 38th in the 139 countries index.
- This is a significant improvement from its previous ranking of 44th in 2018 and 54th in 2014.
- About LPI: The LPI is an interactive benchmarking tool developed by the World Bank It helps countries identify the challenges and opportunities they face in their performance of trade logistics and what they can do to improve their performance.
Global Climate 2022 report : WMO
- The State of the Global Climate 2022 report has been released by the World Meteorological Organization.
- Increase in Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) emissions: Global GHGs emissions continued to increase in 2022. Carbon dioxide is at 149% of pre-industrial levels, Methane is at 262% of pre-industrial levels, Nitrous oxide is at 124% of pre-industrial levels.
- The annual increase of methane was 18 ppb from 2020 to 2021. This is the largest increase on record.
- High Global Mean Temperature: In 2022, the planet was 1.15 ± 0.13 °C warmer than the pre-industrial (18501900) average, making the last 8 years the warmest on record.
- Despite cooling La Niña conditions , 2022 was the 5th or 6th warmest year.
- Above Normal Precipitation: In 2022, large areas withabove normal precipitation included large parts of Asia and the south-west Pacific, areas of northern South America and the Caribbean, the eastern Sahel region, parts of southern Africa, Sudan, and eastern Europe.
- Meanwhile, regions with rainfall deficits included western and central Europe, northwest Africa, parts of the Middle East, Central Asia and the Himalayas, Eastern Africa and Madagascar, central and southern South America, and central and western North America.
- Ocean Heat Content: As GHGs accumulate in the atmosphere, temperatures warm on land and in the ocean. It is expected that theocean will continue to warm well into the future – a change which is irreversible on centennial to millennial time scales.
- In 2022, 58 percent of the ocean surface suffered at least one marine heatwave event and 25 per cent of the surface experienced at least one marine cold spell.
- Rise in Sea Level: In 2022, global mean sea level continued to rise. The sea has risen approximately4 ± 0.3 mm per year over the past 30 years .
- Ocean Acidification: Global mean ocean pH has been steadily declining at rates not seen for at least the past 26,000 years.
- Sea Ice Extent: Arctic sea-ice extent was below the long-term average for most of the year. o Antarctic sea-ice extent dropped to the lowest level and almost 1 million km 2 below the long-term (19912020) mean. The total extent of Antarctic sea ice continued tobe below average.
- The Greenland Ice Sheet ended with a negative total mass balance for the 26th year in a row.Summit Station, the highest point in Greenland, had its warmest September and experienced melting for the first time. Heavy rain fell on the ice sheet for the first time.
- Glacier Mass Balance: The glaciers have been losing mass nearly every year. o Exceptional Melt in Swiss Alps: In Switzerland 6% of the glacier ice volume was lost between 2021 and 2022.
- For the first time in history, no snow outlasted the summer season even at the very highest measurement sites and therefore no accumulation of fresh ice occurred.
- Extreme Events: Rising global temperatures have contributed to more frequent and severe extreme weather events around the world, including cold and heat waves, floods, droughts, wildfires and storms.
Socio-economic and Environmental Impacts
- Drought gripped East Africa: Rainfall has been below-average in five consecutive wet seasons, the longest such sequence in 40 years.
- Record breaking rain: In July and August led to extensive flooding in Pakistan (1 700 deaths).
- Heat Waves: Record breaking heatwaves in Europe. China had its most extensive and long-lasting heatwave since national records began resulting in the hottest summer on record by a margin of more than 0.5 °C. Heatwaves in the 2022 pre-monsoon season in India and Pakistan caused a decline in crop yields. This, combined with the banning of wheat exports and restrictions on rice exports in India.
- Population Displacement: In Somalia, almost 1.2 million people became internally displaced by the catastrophic impacts of drought on pastoral and farming livelihoods and hunger during the year.
World Development Report 2023
- Recently, the World Bank published the World Development Report 2023: Migrants, Refugees & Societies.
- The report estimated a 120% income gain for Indians who migrate to another country for work, compared to a 40% rise in the case of internal migration.
- Under-skilled Indian citizens migrating to the US noticed a hike in their income of nearly 500%, followed by the UAE by almost 300%.
- There are currently 184 million migrants globally, which is 2.3% of the population, including 37 million refugees.
- Top Migration Corridors: India-US, India-Gulf Cooperation Council and Bangladesh-India have been identified to be among the top migration corridors globally along with Mexico-US, China-US, Philippines-US and KazakhstanRussia.
- Increase in Remittances: The remittances have increased to some of the countries with a large migrant population, including India, Mexico, China and the Philippines.
- India received the highest ever foreign inward remittances of USD 89,127 million in FY 2021-22.
India Justice Report (IJR) 2022
- It is a first of its kind national periodic reporting initiated by Tata Trusts in 2019 to rank the capacity of all 36 states and UTs to deliver justice.
- It analyses 4 core pillars of the justice system (Police, Prisons, Judiciary and Legal aid) through the prism of budgets, human resources, workload, diversity, infrastructure, etc.
- The Report – a collaborative partnership between DAKSH, Common Cause, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, TISSPrayas, etc – brings together otherwise siloed data on the 4 pillars of Justice delivery.
- The India Justice Report 2022 is the 3rd edition, which also assesses the capacity of the 25 State Human Rights Commissions in the country separately.
key findings of the report?
- Low spending on judiciary: except for two union territories, Delhi and Chandigarh, no state spends more than 1% of its total annual expenditure on the judiciary.
- Justice Delivery:
- Large and medium-sized states: Out of the 18 large and medium-sized states having a population of over 1 crore each, Karnataka has achieved the top rank among the 18 large and mid-sized states in delivery of justice with populations over one crore. Tamil Nadu has ranked in the second position; Telangana third; hen Gujarat and Andhra in 4th and 5th rank respectively. Uttar Pradesh is at rank 18 which is the lowest.
- Small States: The list of 7 Small States with a population less than one crore each, was topped by Sikkim which was ranked second in 2020. Sikkim has been followed by Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura. The State of Goa is at rank Seven which is the lowest.
- Judges per million population: India had only 19 judges per one million people (when calculated against the sanctioned strength), which falls behind the Law Commission’s 1987 target of reaching 50 judges per million population in a decade.
- Shortage of Judges: The Indian judiciary is facing a severe shortage of judges and infrastructure, leading to rising pendency, increasing caseloads, and declining case clearance rates (CCR) in lower courts. As of December 2022, the High Courts were functioning with only 778 judges against a sanctioned strength of 1,108 judges.
- Pendency: The number of cases pending per judge is rising in most states over the last five years, while the sanctioned strength has remained the same. The average pendency in High Courts is highest in Uttar Pradesh (11.34 years) and West Bengal (9.9 years), while it is lowest in Tripura (1 year), Sikkim (1.9 years), and Meghalaya (2.1 years).
- Case clearance rate (CCR): A CCR, or the number of cases disposed of in a year, measured against the number filed in that year, of more than 100% indicates that the number of pending cases is reducing.
- The HCs are increasingly clearing more cases annually than subordinate courts.
- The HCs of Kerala and Odisha have higher case clearance rates (156% and 131% respectively), while the HCs of Rajasthan [65%] and Bombay [72%] have the lowest case clearance rates.
- Tripura is the only State where the CCR in district courts remained above 100%.
- Infrastructure: Nationally, the number of court halls appears sufficient for the number of actual judges, however, it added that space will become a problem if all the sanctioned posts are filled.
- Police stations and prisons: Prisons are over-occupied at over 130% with more than two-thirds or 77.1% of the prisoners still awaiting the completion of investigation or trial.
- Moreover, around 25% of the police stations in India do not have a single CCTV.The representation of women in prison staff is also only 13%.
- The share of jails with video conferencing increased to 84% as opposed to the previous 60% in 2020.
- Police: The report flags the issue of inadequate women representation in the police, which currently stands at 11.75%, despite their numbers doubling in the last decade.
▪ The police-to-population ratio is 152.8 per lakh whereas the international standard is 222.
- Diverse representation: Karnataka remains the only state to consistently meet its quota for SC, ST and OBC positions both among Police officers and the constabulary.In judiciary, at the Subordinate/District Court level, no state met all three quotas.
‘Global Report on Sodium Intake Reduction’ : released by WHO
- The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily intake of less than 5 grams of salt for adults, but an average Indian’s sodium consumption is more than double that amount.
- The WHO has set a goal for member states to reduce population sodium intake by 30% by 2025, but progress has been slow.
- Salt as a Sodium chloride is an essential nutrient that plays several important roles in the body. Sodium is an electrolyte that helps to regulate the balance of fluids in the body and aids in the transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contractions. But excessive salt intake can have dangerous consequences such as Hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.
World’s “most criminal countries”
- according to the World of Statistics, Venezuela has been ranked top, followed by Papua New Guinea (2), Afghanistan (3), South Africa (4), Honduras (5) in most criminal countries list.
- India stood at 77 spots while the US (55th) and UK (65th) were ahead of India in the criminal ranking.
- Turkey, Germany & Japan were among the least criminal countries, ranking at 92nd, 100th, and 135th ranks.
“Freedom in the World 2023 Report,”: released by Freedom House
- It identified Tibet, South Sudan, and Syria as the “least-free countries” in the world.
SCHEMES and Programmes in News
National Mission on Natural Farming (NMNF)
- The Government of India has launched the National Mission on Natural Farming (NMNF) as a separate and independent scheme to promote chemical-free and climate-smart agriculture.
- The National Mission on Natural Farming (NMNF) has been formulated by upscaling the Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati (BPKP) to promote natural farming across the country.
- Coverage: NMNF will cover a 5 lakh hectare area by developing 15,000 clusters. The farmers willing to implement natural farming on their field will be registered as cluster members, each cluster shall comprise 50 farmers or more with 50-hectare land. Also, each cluster can fall into one village or spread across 2-3 nearby villages under the same gram panchayat.
- Financial Assistance: Under NMNF, farmers will receive a financial assistance of ₹15,000 per hectare per year for three years for the creation of on-farm input production infrastructure. However, the incentives would be provided to farmers only when they commit to natural farming and have actually taken it up. If a farmer defaults or does not continue with natural farming, subsequent instalments shall not be disbursed.
- Web Portal for Implementation Progress: A Web portal has also been launched for the promotion of natural farming with information on the implementation framework, resources, implementation progress, farmer’s registration, blog, and so on.
- Master Trainers: The agriculture ministry is undertaking large-scale training of master trainers, ‘champion’ farmers and practising farmers in the techniques of natural farming through the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE) and National Centre of Organic and Natural Farming (NCONF).
- Establishment of BRCs: The Centre intends to set up 15,000 Bhartiya Prakritik Kheti Bio-inputs Resources Centres (BRCs) to provide easy access to bio-resources wherein cow dung and urine, neem and bioculture play an important role. These bio-input resource centres would be set up alongside the proposed 15,000 model clusters of natural farming.
Climate Smart Agriculture:
- Climate smart agriculture is an integrated approach to managing landscapes-cropland, livestock, forests, and fisheries-that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change.
- It aims to tackle three main objectives: sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes, adapting and building resilience to climate change, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions wherever possible.
Derecognition of Political Parties
- Launched in: 2018
- Aim: To provide financial assistance of ₹5.5 lahks per family to over 5,000 Hindu and Sikh families who migrated to India from Pakistan’s West Punjab after the 1947 partition who have faced several challenges.
- Duration of the scheme: The scheme has been extended till March 31, 2024.
- Need of such scheme: Out of 5,764 eligible families, only 903 families have received the grant so far, with several claims being unable to process due to the lack of original documents such as refugee cards. The scheme has also been affected by corruption allegations and demands for bribes from revenue officials.
Global Engagement Scheme
- It is a scheme of Ministry of Culture under which Festivals of India are organized in other countries showcasing folk art and other cultural events as exhibitions, dance, music, theatre, food fest, literary fest, film fest, yoga etc. (Aim- promoting Indian Folk Arts and Culture abroad).
National Mission for Cultural Mapping
- In a bid to harness the unique cultural heritage of rural India, the government has identified and documented distinctive features of more than one lakh villages across the country. The entire exercise has been carried out under the ‘Mera Gaon Meri Dharohar‘ (My Village My Heritage) programme of the National Mission for Cultural Mapping (NMCM).
Categories of Villages:
- Villages have been categorized into seven to eight categories based on ecological, developmental, and historical significance, as well as cultural aspects such as famous textiles or products or connected to some historical or mythological events such as the Independence struggle or epics like the Mahabharata.
- Ecological Category: o Bishnoi village in Rajasthan is a case study for living in harmony with nature.
- Raini village in UK , which is famous for the Chipko movement.
- Developmental Importance: o Modhera in Gujarat is the first solar-powered village in India.
- Historical Villages:
- Kandel in Madhya Pradesh, the site of the famous “Jal Satyagraha”. o Hanol in Uttarakhand and Vidurashwathar of Karnataka, which are linked to the Mahabharata. o Suketi in Himachal Pradesh, Asia’s oldest fossil park.
- Pandrethan in Kashmir, the village of Shaivite mystic Lal Ded.
BIODIVERSITY , ENVIRONMENT & GEOGRAPHY
Poaching (illegal hunting) of Rhino
- After zero cases of rhinoceros poaching were recorded in Assam in 2022, the first such case was reported recently. In 2021, the Assam Government constituted an Anti-Poaching Task Force.
- There are five species of rhino – white and black rhinos in Africa, and the greater one-horned, Javan, and Sumatran rhino species in Asia.
- Only the Great One-Horned Rhino is found in India. Also known as the Indian rhino, it is the largest of the rhino species.
- The species is restricted to small habitats in Indo-Nepal terai and northern West Bengal and Assam. The Great One-Horned Rhino is listed as Vulnerable in IUCN Red List, mentioned in Appendix I in CITES and in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
50 years of Bandipur Tiger Reserve
- Bandipur Tiger Reserve, located in Karnataka, completed 50 years as a Project Tiger Reserve on April 1, 2023. The reserve was launched in 1973 by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, with the aim to stop the decline in population of tigers. Initially, there were 12 tigers in Bandipur when Project Tiger was launched, as a result of protection measures, there are currently 173 tigers using the area.
- The park is located between the Kabini river in the north and the Moyar river in the south. The Nugu river runs through the park. The highest point in the park is on a hill called Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta.
- Note: Project Tiger was launched by the Government of India in the year 1973 to save the endangered species of tiger in the country.
- Recently, the International Conference on Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence was held in Oxford, the United Kingdom, which has brought hundreds of activists from 70 countries to discuss solutions to address HumanWildlife Conflicts. The Conference was organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and several other organizations together.
Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric project (SLHEP)
- The Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric project (SLHEP) on the Assam-Arunachal border was recently hit by a landslide during pre-monsoon rain. However, no damage has been caused to the project and it is set to become operational by June 2023.
- About SLHEP: SLHEP is an under-construction gravity dam (nearly 90% of the work completed) with capacity 2000 MW (8×250 MW). It is the biggest hydroelectric project undertaken in India so far and is a run of river scheme on river Subansiri. The construction of SLHEP is being undertaken by National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) Limited.
- About Subansiri River: Subansiri, or “Gold River” is the largest tributary of the Upper Brahmaputra river. It originates from the Tibetan Himalayas and makes its way to India via (Miri Hills) Arunachal Pradesh.
- Note: Arunachal Pradesh is often dubbed as the powerhouse of the country and is home to 34% (50,328
megawatts) of the country’s 148,701 MW hydropower potential.
A step to make countries accountable for climate change treaties
- Recently, the UNGA passed a resolution seeking opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the accountability of countries towards climate change reduction, based on the promises they have made by these countries to the UNFCCC. The ICJ will take around 18 months to give its opinion.
- The resolution passed by consensus had been pushed through by one of the smallest countries in the world, the Pacific Island of Vanuatu. This island was devastated in 2015 by the effects of Cyclone Pam, believed to have been spurred by climate change.
- Note: UNFCCC is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The main aim of the Paris Agreement to combat climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 5 degrees Celsius.
NGT imposed stay on the Great Nicobar Island project
- The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued a stay on the Great Nicobar Island project worth ₹72,000 crore and created a committee to review the environmental clearance granted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The project includes an international container transshipment terminal, a greenfield international airport, township development, and a 450 MVA gas and solar based power plant over an extent of 16,610 hectares in the island.
International Big Cats Alliance (IBCA)
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the International Big Cats Alliance (IBCA) during his visit to Karnataka on April 9, 2022. The IBCA aims to conserve seven species of big cats, including tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, snow leopards, and clouded leopards.
- Nepal has become a founding member of the International Big Cats Alliance.
5th cycle of India’s Tiger Census 2022
- Prime Minister recently released the summary report of the 5th cycle of the All India Tiger Estimation. The tiger census covered forested habitats in 20 states of India. The PM has released the Census while inaugurating the International Big Cat Alliance (IBC) in Karnataka’s Mysuru, organised to mark 50 years of Project Tiger (Project Tiger is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the MoEFCC launched in 1973).
- Population: Population has grown by 200 from 2018 to 2022. The current tiger population in India is 3,167, up from 2,967 in 2018.
- Growth Rate: The growth rate slowed to 7% in the four years from 2018 to 2022, from around 33% during 2014-2018.
- Increase: There has been a significant increase in the tiger population in the Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains, while tiger occupancy in Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana showed a decline.
- The North East Hills and Brahmaputra Plains had 194 tigers captured by camera traps, and the region’s Nilgiri cluster is the largest tiger population in the world, contributing significantly to colonisation of tigers in neighbouring areas.
- Decline: Tiger occupancy in the Western Ghats declined, the latest analysis showed. Significant declines were observed in the Wayanad landscape and in the Biligiriranga Hills.
Tiger Census in India
- The national tiger census is done every four years by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in partnership with state forest departments, conservation NGOs, and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). The census uses a double sampling method based on ground-based surveys and images from camera-traps.
Tiger Reserves in India
- Total Number: 53 according to NTCA.
- Largest: Nagarjunsagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve, Andhra Pradesh on the basis of core area.
- Smallest: Orang tiger reserve in Assam on the basis of core area.
- Note: According to the NTCA’s fifth cycle of Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) for 2022, the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) ranked first, Satpura and Bandipur came second, while Nagarhole was ranked third (92.42%) in the 2022 cycle of MEE.
- Cellular agriculture is a relatively new concept that offers a sustainable and ethical alternative to traditional animal agriculture. It involves growing animal-based products, such as meat, dairy, and seafood, from cell cultures rather than directly from animals. This technology comprises two different approaches, namely cell cultivation and precision fermentation.
- In the cell-cultivation method, stem cells are initially sampled from animals through a painless process and then fed with nutrients in large containers where they multiply and differentiate into muscle tissue, which is the main component of meat.
- On the other hand, the precision-fermentation method uses microorganisms, such as yeast, to produce products such as milk and egg-white proteins. These products can be grown directly from microorganisms in a similar fermentation process to that which has been used for many years in the food industry to produce enzymes and other products.
- One of the main advantages of cellular agriculture is its potential to address the environmental and ethical issues associated with traditional animal agriculture. It requires fewer resources, such as land, water, and feed, and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and waste. Additionally, the raising and slaughtering of animals can be avoided, which can significantly improve animal welfare.
Fifth layer discovered
- Geologists have discovered a new layer between the core and the mantle that is likely to be a thin but dense sunken ocean floor.
- Earth’s structure was divided into four layers: crust, mantle, outer core, and inner core.
- Now a fifth layer has been discovered which is between the core and the mantle that is likely to be a sunken ocean floor seen only in isolated patches previously. This layer is pencil-thin in geological terms, measuring tens of kilometres, which is minuscule when compared to the thickness of Earth’s other layers.
- Significance: the analysis could reveal how this layer plays a role in heat to escape from the core, the portion of the planet that powers the magnetic field. Also, this new discovery opens up new avenues of research for geologists and could lead to a better understanding of Earth’s geological processes.
New Species Cascade Frog -Amolops Siju
▪ Researchers from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have discovered a new species of frog, which they named Amolops Siju, from the Siju cave in the South Garo Hills district of Meghalaya.
First mangrove pitta bird census : Odisha
- it was conducted in two coastal districts of Odisha (Kendrapara and Jagatsingpur).
- This census was conducted using a point count method, where direct sightings and chirping sounds were used to count the birds. The census of Mangrove Pitta birds found that a total of 179 individual birds were counted. The highest concentration of these birds was found in the mangroves near the Mahipura river mouth inside the Bhitarkanika National Park.
- About Mangrove Pitta: The Mangrove Pitta bird (Pitta megarhyncha) is a species of bird that can be found in a few pockets of eastern India, including Odisha’s Bhitarkanika and West Bengal’s Sundarbans.
- The Mangrove Pitta bird is a ground forager (an animal that searches widely for food) and tree rester that primarily inhabits coastal mangrove forests in India.
- IUCN Status: Near Threatened”.
- Distribution: India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia.
- Importance: This species is important because it is a bio-indicator of the health of mangrove forests, which are crucial to maintaining ecological balance in coastal areas.
- Thermal stress poses a serious threat to Sustainable Livestock Farming in Kerala.
- Thermal stress refers to the physiological and metabolic responses of animals to elevated temperatures that exceed their comfort zone. Thermal stress can be caused by a variety of factors such as high ambient temperature, humidity, solar radiation, and lack of proper ventilation or cooling mechanisms.
Challenges to Cheetah Translocation Project : Death of Uday and Sasha Cheetahs
- India’s ambitious Cheetah Translocation Project is facing a new set of challenges as two cheetahs have died, bringing the number of cheetahs left in the project to 18 out of the initial 20.
- Uday, a six-year-old male cheetah, died on April 23, 2023, in Kuno National Park, and Sasha, a five-year-old female cheetah, died on March 27, 2023, in the same park.
- Therefore, the government is now considering alternative conservation models, such as the South African model of conserving cheetahs in fenced reserves.
Olive Ridley sea turtles
- The Rushikulya beach in India’s Odisha state recently witnessed the highest-ever congregation of Olive Ridley sea turtles in the past few decades. The Rushikulya beach is not a wildlife sanctuary, yet turtles feel safe to carry out mass nesting.
- About Olive Ridley turtle: The Olive Ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world. They are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs. They are carnivores and get their name from their olive-colored carapace, which is heart-shaped and rounded.
- Habitat: They are mainly found in the warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
- Odisha’s Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary is known as the world’s largest rookery (a colony of breeding animals) of sea turtles.
- Conservation status– IUCN Red List:Vulnerable; WPA 1972: Schedule 1; CITES : Appendix I
- Operation Olivia: Every year, the Indian Coast Guard’s “Operation Olivia”, initiated in the early 1980s, helps protect Olive Ridley turtles as they congregate along the Odisha coast for breeding and nesting from November to December.
AWARDS AND HONOURS
C R Rao got 2023 International Prize in Statistics
- Calayampudi Radhakrishna Rao (C R Rao), a prominent Indian-American mathematician and statistician, will be awarded the 2023 International Prize in Statistics, the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in the field.
- Other Awards Conferred to C R Rao: Padma Bhushan in1968 ; Padma Vibhushan in 2001.
- International Prize in Statistics is awarded every two years by a collaboration among five leading international statistics organizations. The prize is modeled after the Nobel prizes, Abel Prize, Fields Medal, and Turing Award.
Ramon Magsaysay Award
- After a 64-year wait, members of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation personally presented the 1959 Ramon
Magsaysay Award to the Dalai Lama at his residence in Himachal Pradesh’s McLeod Ganj. Dalai lama was awarded Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1959 in Community Leadership category.
- Wing Commander Deepika Misra has made history as the first female Air Force officer to receive a gallantry medal (Vayu Seva Medal).
- Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah presented the “Maharashtra Bhushan” award for the year 2022 to Appasaheb Dharmadhikari (social worker and reformer) at Raigarh, Maharashtra.
- The 13th edition of the Olive Crown Awards was held in Mumbai, India, to commend individuals and corporates that promoted sustainability or ‘green advertising’. This award is awarded by the International Advertising Association.
- An Indian-American physician and professor Nitya Abraham has been honoured with the Young Urologist of the Year Award conferred by the American Urological Association (AUA).
- The highest decoration of Poland, the Order of the White Eagle, was presented to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.
- At the World Vaccine Congress 2023 held in Washington, USA, Bharat Biotech was awarded the Best Production/Process Development award as a part of the Vaccine Industry Excellence (ViE) awards.
- Nilesh Bhagwan Sambre, the founder of Jijau Educational and Social Foundation, was recently honored with the “Maratha Udyog Ratna” award at the “Maratha Entrepreneurs Conference 2023”.
- Raj Subramaniam, the CEO of FedEx, a renowned global transportation company, and an Indian-American, was recently honored with the distinguished Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award.
- Former Chancellor Angela Merkel received Germany’s highest Order of Merit (Grand Cross award).
- Utsa Patnaik, a well-known economist of both national and international acclaim, has been chosen for the prestigious Malcolm Adiseshiah Award 2023.
- Wisden T20 player of 2022: Suryakumar won the honour of Wisden Almanack’s leading T20I cricketer while Harmanpreet Kaur became the first Indian woman to win the Cricketer of the Year award.
- Asha Bhosle, the renowned singer, will be honored with the Lata Deenanath Mangeshkar award, which was established by the Mangeshkar family and trust in memory of Lata Mangeshkar.
- Alessandra Korap, an indigenous Munduruku woman from the Brazilian Amazon, has been recognized with a 2023 Goldman Environmental Prize.
- Ratan Tata, the Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, has been awarded the Order of Australia (AO), which is Australia’s highest civilian honour.
BOOKS and Auhors
|‘Saurashtra Tamil Sangam Prashasti,’||Somnath Sanskrit University|
|“Smoke and Ashes: A Writer’s Journey Through Opium’s Hidden Histories”||Amitav Ghosh|
|“Crosscourt” (autobiography of a renowned tennis player)||Jaidip Mukerjea|
|Sachin@50 – Celebrating A Maestro’||Boria Majumdar|
|“Courting India: England, Mughal India and the Origins of Empire”||Nandini Das|
|Gandhi: Siyasat aur Sampradaiykta (‘ Gandhi: Politics and Communalism’)||Piyush Babele|
OBITUARY / DEATHS
|Parkash Singh Badal||former Chief Minister of Punjab and leader of the Akali Dal.|
|Tarek Fatah||a Pakistani-Canadian journalist who referred to himself as a “Midnight’s Child” due to being born shortly after Pakistan’s independence in 1949, has passed away from cancer at the age of 73.|
|Allu Ramesh||Telugu actor and comedian.|
|Sarah Thomas||a renowned short story writer and novelist.|
|Salim Durani||former Indian all-rounder cricketer.|
|Jalabala Vaidya||a renowned theatre artist and co-founder of Delhi’s Akshara Theatre.|
|Keshub Mahindra||the Chairman Emeritus of Mahindra & Mahindra and India’s oldest billionaire.|
|Uttara Baokar||Noted actor and theatre artist.|
- Aman Sehrawat, a freestyle wrestler, won India’s 1st gold medal, under the men’s 57kg freestyle category, at the 36th Asian Wrestling Championships 2023 held at Astana, Kazakhstan
- Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has claimed his first Australian Grand Prix 2023.
- Russian tennis star Daniil Medvedev won Miami Opens 2023.
- FIFA has selected Argentina to host the under-20 soccer World Cup after revoking the hosting rights from Indonesia.
- Gregoria Mariska Tunjung, an Indonesian badminton player, won Madrid Spain Masters 2023. She defeated PV Sindhu from India.
- Sanjita Chanu, a weightlifter from India who has won the Commonwealth Games twice, has been banned for four years by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) of India after she tested positive for banned drugs.
- Recently, during the second T20I match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand in Dunedin, Kim Cotton became the first woman to serve as an on-field umpire in a men’s international match between two full-member teams, making history.
- FIFA announced that it had withdrawn Peru’s hosting rights to the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2023. The FIFA officials cited concerns over the country’s ability to meet the requirements for hosting such a major tournament.
- MS Dhoni along with Yuvraj Singh (the Player of the Tournament in the 2011 ODI World Cup), have been named among the five Indians to be awarded honorary life membership of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).
- According to the latest FIFA rankings, the Indian men’s football team has climbed up five spots and is now ranked at 101.
- Delhi Capitals’ captain David Warner became the fastest batsman to reach 6000 runs in the Indian Premier League (IPL). It took Warner 165 innings to reach this milestone, while Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan achieved it in 188 and 199 innings respectively.
- Kagiso Rabada became the fastest bowler to take 100th wicket (in 64th match) in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
30 March 2023: International Day of Zero Waste,
- It was observed for the first time on 30 March 2023 and is jointly facilitated by UNEP and UN-Habitat.
- It aims to raise awareness of the importance of zero waste and responsible consumption and production practices and urban waste management contributing to achieving sustainable development.
2 April: World Autism Awareness Day
- Theme 2023: “Contribution of Autistic Individuals at Home, at Work, in the Arts, and Policymaking.”
- Autism, also known as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a developmental disorder that affects a broad range of people, is typically diagnosed in early childhood and can impact individuals throughout their lives. Those with autism may experience social difficulties and display repetitive behavior patterns or speech, as well as other behavioral issues.
- Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 of India deal with rights of people with disabilities including autism.
5 April: National Maritime Day
- Theme 2023: “Propelling Indian Maritime to Net Zero.”
- India celebrated National Maritime Day, which commemorates the maiden voyage of the first Indian commercial vessel, the SS Loyalty, from Mumbai to London in 1919.
7th April: World Health Day
- It marks the anniversary of the founding of World Health Organisation in 1948.
- Theme for 2023: Health for All
14th April: World Chagas Disease Day
- Theme 2023: “time to integrate Chagas disease into primary health care”.
- About Chagas Disease: It is also called American trypanosomiasis and is a communicable parasitic disease.
- It is caused by the parasite protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. The disease is named after physician Carlos Chagas who first detected it in a Brazillian child in 1909.
- Chagas disease, also known as “silent or silenced disease“, is a little-known disease that affects millions of people, especially in Latin America. It infects 6-7 million people and claims around 12,000 lives every year worldwide, according to WHO.
17 April: World Hemophilia Day
- It is celebrated to honor the birth anniversary of Frank Schnabel, who established the World Federation of Hemophilia. Hemophilia is a rare medical condition where the blood fails to clot correctly due to the lack of specific clotting factors. It is a X-linked genetic disorder that is more common in males . Hemophilia is sometimes referred to as “the royal disease,” because it affected the royal families of England, Germany, Russia and Spain in the 19th and 20th centuries. Queen Victoria of England, who ruled from 1837-1901, is believed to have been the carrier of hemophilia B, or factor IX deficiency.
18 April: International Day for Monuments and Sites (World Heritage Day)
- Theme 2023:” Heritage Changes,” (it focuses on the role of cultural heritage in climate action and its importance in protecting vulnerable communities.
- Note: India is currently home to 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, making it the country with the sixth-largest number of sites in the world. Out of these, 32 are cultural sites, 7 are natural sites, and one is a mixed-type site, the Khangchendzonga National Park.
21 April: Civil Services Day in New Delhi • Every year, 21st April is celebrated as ‘Civil Services Day’ by the Government of India to commemorate the day when first Home Minister of Independent India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel addressed the probationers of Administrative Services Officers in 1947 at Metcalfe House, Delhi. He referred to civil servants as the “steel frame of India”.
- Mission Karmayogi is aimed at building a future-ready civil service with the right attitude, skills and knowledge, aligned to the vision of New India.
22 April : Earth Day
- Theme 2023: “Invest in our planet”
- The idea of commemorating such a day was propounded by Gaylord Nelson, an American environmentalist and politician. Earth Day was first observed in 1970 against environmental degradation. In 2009, the United Nations designated 22nd April as ‘International Mother Earth Day.
- On Earth Day 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement was signed by 123 countries which aims to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
24 April: National Panchayati Raj Day (NPRD)
- Theme 2023: “Sustainable Panchayat: Building Healthy, Water Sufficient, Clean & Green Villages.”
- The Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India in collaboration with the Government of Madhya Pradesh is commemorating NPRD on 24th April, 2023 at Rewa in Madhya Pradesh.
- The Prime Minister inaugurated an integrated e-GramSwaraj and GeM portal for public procurement at the Panchayat level. The integration aims at enabling panchayats to market their goods and services through GeM leveraging the e-GramSwaraj platform.
- SVAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas): It is a Central Sector Scheme launched by the Prime Minister on 24th April 2020 on the occasion of the National Panchayati Raj Day. it aims to provide “Records of Rights”/ Property Cards to rural household owners of the inhabited area of the village. It covers multifarious aspects viz. facilitating monetisation of properties and enabling bank loans; reducing property-related disputes; comprehensive village-level planning. It will further enhance the socio-economic profile of the Panchayats, making them self-sustainable.
- Fiscal autonomy granted to local government bodies across states: Kerala and Maharashtra are ranked as the best in terms of fiscal devolution, while Odisha and Assam are ranked the lowest among major states.
- Article 243D of the Constitution that currently provides for one-third (33%) of total seats reserved for women at the local level however some states have extended it to 50%.
- Note: Bihar was first state to fix 50 % reservation to women in Panchayats in 2005. As many as 20 states including Bihar. UK, HP and MP have fixed 50 % reservation to women in local govts.
25 April: World Malaria Day
- Theme 2023: “Time to deliver zero malaria: invest, innovate, implement”.
- This day was established by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2007 to raise awareness about malaria.
- In 2021, WHO launched the E-2025 initiative to halt the transmission of malaria in 25 identified countries by
- India’s aim is to be malaria-free by 2027 and to eliminate the disease by 2030.
- As per the World Malaria Report 2022, the disease claimed the lives of an estimated 6,19,000 people in 2021.
Himachal Pradesh Himachal Pradesh passed Sukhashraya Act 2023
- Himachal Pradesh passed Sukhashraya (Care, Protection, and Self-Reliance of Children of the State) Act, 2023 to ensure the welfare of orphans and persons with special needs. The Act offers financial and institutional benefits to the beneficiaries between the age of 18-27 years, along with vocational training, skill development, and coaching to help them become active members of society. Benefits under the Act:
- A Mukhya Mantri Sukhashraya Sahayata Kosh fund of Rs 101 crore has been formed, and a child welfare committee will be established in each district to oversee the scheme.
- Orphans and persons with special needs will become ‘children of the state’.
- Financial benefits include Rs 5,000 in summer and winter, Rs 500 for major festivals, and Rs 4,000 monthly allowance for daily expenses in college.
- Institutional benefits include sponsored train tickets and accommodation for 10 days within the state, and hostel fees for beneficiaries in ITI and government colleges.
- The government will give a fixed amount of money at the time of marriage and three biswas of land to build their own homes.
- Orphans who wish to establish their own start-ups will be given a token corpus to incentivize entrepreneurial pursuits.
- D. students will also receive the monthly allowance. Kangra tea
- Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra tea gets European GI tag.
- The tag will help Kangra tea to get an opportunity to enter the European market. Luanchadi-Gaddi dress
- Anjali Sharma from Kangra, HP successfully scaled the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro in South Africa while wearing a traditional Gaddi dress (Luanchadi). Sanjeevani project
- The HP government has initiated a project named Sanjeevani to uplift the livelihood of small dairy farmers and livestock owners. The project aims to enhance the lives of farmers by providing them with convenient and highquality livestock care services at their doorstep, utilizing telemedicine and technology. This will aid in reducing the turnaround time for services and potentially prevent outbreaks.
- Himachal Pradesh has become the “first state” to create a DNA database of unidentified bodies, an official said Monday. The process was started in April last year and so far records of 150 DNA samples of unidentified bodies have been stored in the database.
- Recently, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, unanimously passed a resolution seeking a ban on entry of media houses and individuals to Leh who tried to “malign the image” of the Dalai Lama. (Dalai Lama is a title given by the Tibetan people for the foremost spiritual leader of the Gelug or “Yellow Hat” school of Tibetan Buddhism, the newest of the classical schools of Tibetan Buddhism).
- Haryana becomes first state in India to have 100% electrified railway network.
- The Kerala Lokayukta, has referred a case related to alleged nepotism and anomalies in the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) to a three-member full bench for investigation.
- Before the passing of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act in 2013, several states in India passed laws for creating the Institution of ‘Lokayukta’. Maharashtra was first state to establish Lokayukta in 1971.
- The 2 Km Kuttamperoor River in Alappuzha, Kerala has been rejuvenated after over a 6-year effort through public participation and government intervention.
- GI Tag: According to data shared by the GI Registry, Kerala has secured the highest number of Geographical Indication (GI) tags for products among all states in India in FY23.
- India’s First Water Metro: Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation the Kochi water metro, a firstof-its-kind public boat service integrated with a metro rail network. The project is being implemented by Kochi Metro Rail Corporation with the financial assistance provided by a German funding agency. The main objective is to link ten island communities in Kerala’s city with the mainland, resulting in shorter travel times and more costeffective transportation. This will be achieved through a fleet of 78 fast hybrid ferries plying to 38 jetties. Boats for the project are electrically propelled. However, they have the backup of diesel-powered generators.
- Chennai’s Mayor has announced that she will begin a new initiative called ‘Makkalai Thedi Mayor’. The scheme is designed to address civic issues across the 15 zones in Chennai in a more streamlined and efficient manner, with the mayor visiting each zone every 15 days to receive petitions from residents.
- Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation has developed a mechanism called Tamil Nadu Regional Aerial Connectivity through Helicopters (TN REACH). Its Purpose is to utilize over 80 unused helipads across the state to provide intercity and town connectivity.
- Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi has given assent to a bill that bans online gambling games and regulates them.
- Recently, India’s Home Minister launched the Vibrant Village program at Kibithu, a village in India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh. This program aims to bring about the overall development of rural areas and transform them into self-sufficient and prosperous communities. West Bangal
- Kolkata Metro has achieved a significant milestone as it became the first metro rail in India to complete an under-river journey. The metro rakes passed through an underwater tunnel beneath the Hooghly river.
- Recently, the border dispute between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, which was going on since 1972 has been resolved permanently. Assam and Arunachal Pradesh share an 804-km long boundary.
- On April 7, 2023, The Gaj Utsav-2023 was inaugurated at the Kaziranga National Park by the President of India, Smt Droupadi Murmu.
- Adani Power Ltd, recently opened a new power plant in in Godda district, Jharkhand, India with a capacity of 1,600 MW and is expected to supply electricity to Bangladesh.
- In Chhattisgarh, the State Assembly unanimously approved the two amendment bills, creating a 76% quota for members of the SC, ST and OBC. The Governor has not yet approved the bills.
- Recently, the Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL) coal mining project in the Parsa East and Kente Basan coal blocks of Chhattisgarh’s Surguja district has sparked a controversy due to its impact on the environment and local communities (mainly Gond tribe). Mining in the region will lead to the loss of about 8 lakh trees of the Sal forests in Hasdeo Aranya. This will end up affecting the catchment of the Hasdeo river.
- Recently, ten personnel of the Chhattisgarh Police’s District Reserve Guard (DRG) and the civilian driver of their vehicle were reported killed in an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) attack by Maoists in the state’s Dantewada
- The Polavaram-Konda Reddi clan is experiencing cultural shock as the Godavari river does not flow through their new settlements. The Konda Reddis, classified as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) in Andhra Pradesh.
- Scientists at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) have found rare-earth elements (REEs) in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh. REEs consist of a group of 17 chemical elements, including the 15 lanthanides and two additional elements: scandium (Sc) and yttrium (Y). They are particularly important for making permanent magnets used in modern electronic devices such as smartphones, computers, and jet aircraft.
- Recently, a massive Avalanche hit Sikkim’s Nathu La. An avalanche is a sudden, rapid flow of snow, ice, and debris down a mountain or slope.
- Tripura’s recent award as the best-performing state in the North Eastern region for e-Procurement is a significant achievement for the state. Karnataka
- Bengaluru’s Ulsoor Bazaar post office is set to become home to India’s first post office built using 3D printing Three-dimensional printing is also known as additive manufacturing.
- Zero Shadow Day: Bengaluru experienced a unique phenomenon called Zero Shadow Day on 25th April 2023. At precisely 12:17 pm, vertical objects such as buildings and trees appeared to have no shadows. This occurred because the sun was directly overhead, at its zenith, causing the shadow to be directly beneath the object. This event happens twice a year at every point on Earth between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The next Zero Shadow Day for Bengaluru is on 18th August 2023.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Rajasthan’s first Vande Bharat Express train via video conferencing, which is the 15th such train in the country.
- For the fourth year in a row, Rajasthan topped the country in terms of persondays generation under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
- Indian Home Minister Amit Shah has unveiled a 54-feet-tall bronze statue of Lord Hanuman at Sarangpur temple in Botad district, Gujarat. The statue, which stands on a 48-feet-tall pedestal, has been built at a cost of around Rs 30 crore ($4 million USD) by the Hanuman Seva Samiti, a trust associated with the temple. It is said to be one of the tallest statues of Lord Hanuman in the world.
- Jatayu Conservation and Breeding Centre (JCBC): it is world’s first conservation and breeding center for the critically endangered Asian king vulture set to open in Uttar Pradesh’s Maharajganj district.
- The Department of Tourism organized the Thawe Festival in Gopalganj, Bihar. The festival aimed to promote tourism in Gopalganj and attract visitors to the Thawe Durga Temple. Uttarakhand
- Mana village in Uttarakhand, which was previously recognized as the last Indian village, will now be
acknowledged as the “first Indian village.” Telangana
- The Chief Minister of Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao, unveiled a 125-foot bronze statue of BR Ambedkar in Hyderabad to commemorate his 132nd birth anniversary on 14 April. Jammu and Kashmir
- Recently, India released the first edition of the Dogri version of the Indian Constitution. Dogri is spoken in the northern Indian state of J&K and is one of the 22 official languages recognized by the Indian Constitution.
Andaman & Nicobar
- Port Blair has seen significant improvements in Internet Connectivity since August 2020, when the ChennaiAndaman & Nicobar Islands (CANI) cable was inaugurated.
- Note: The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are home to 5 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs): Great Andamanese, Jarwas, Onges, Shompens and North Sentinelese.
- The plan to build six nuclear power reactors in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur, which is currently the world’s biggest nuclear power generation site under consideration, has been delayed for over a decade due to issues related to India’s nuclear liability law – Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLNDA) of 2010.
MISCELLANEOUS (in News)