Current Affairs March 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
- The UK government under PM Rishi Sunak reached a landmark deal with the European Union (EU) on postBrexit trade rules that will govern Northern Ireland. This deal will replace the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Background of Northern Ireland
- The island of Ireland comprises the Republic of Ireland, which is a sovereign country, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
- The political split on the island was exacerbated by growing tensions, especially from the 1960s onwards between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
- This dark saga on the island ended only after the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998 between the UK Prime Minister and the Republic of Ireland respectively.
- A key takeaway from the Agreement was, respecting the wishes of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland, the province would remain a part of the U.K. What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?
- Background: After the UK left the European Union (Brexit), Northern Ireland remained its only constituent that shared a land border with an EU-member, the Republic of Ireland.
- Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) together with Northern Ireland forms the United Kingdom.
- Northern Ireland’s 310-mile border with the Republic of Ireland is the only land border between the UK and the EU. Northern Ireland Protocol was negotiated in 2020 between the U.K. and the E.U. Issues with Northern Ireland Protocol
- Given all sides were committed to keeping that land border open, the UK and EU agreed that the inspection of goods would be conducted between Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and Northern Ireland.
- This effectively created a customs border between two different parts of the UK – Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
What is the Windsor Framework?
- The Windsor Framework is aimed at significantly reducing the number of checks. It proposes two crucial aspects:
- Lanes: Two lanes would be created for goods arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain:
- A green lane for goods will remain in Northern Ireland. Products going through the green lane would see checks and paperwork removed.
- A red lane for goods that may be sent on to the EU. Red lane goods would still be subject to checks.
- Stormont Brake: It allows Northern Ireland lawmakers and London to veto any EU regulation.
- The veto is applicable if they believe that the regulation affects the region adversely.
2ndRaisina Security dialogue: 2023
- It is a conference of intelligence and security chiefs and top officials from around the world.
- It is modeled on the lines of the Munich Security Conference and Singapore’s Shangri-La Dialogue.
- It is organized by the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). It was held for the first time in April 2022.
Raisina Security dialogue 2023
- It is the second edition of the dialogue. It saw participation of intelligence and security chiefs from over 26 countries, including intelligence chiefs from the U.K, Japan, France, and Bahrain.
- The focus of the discussions was largely on global security, which encompassed counterterrorism, radicalization, drug trafficking, and illegal arms smuggling, among others.
8th Raisina Dialogue
- Recently, the eighth edition of the Raisina Dialogue was held in New Delhi.
- Giorgia Meloni (Italian PM) was the chief guest and keynote speaker at the 8th Raisina Dialogue.
- Raisina Dialogue is India’s flagship conference on geopolitics and geo-strategy. It is India’s premier conference on geopolitics and geoeconomics, committed to addressing the most challenging issues facing the global community.
- It is organized by the Ministry of External Affairs in collaboration with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). It is held annually since 2016 in New Delhi.
- Theme for 2023: “Provocation, Uncertainty, Turbulence: Lighthouse in the Tempest”.
- About ORF: Established in 1990, the ORF is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that conducts policy research on good governance, foreign policy, and sustainable economic development for India.
State Visit of Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese to India
- During his first visit to India, PM Albanese and PM Modi participated in the 1st India-Australia Annual Summit.
- Joint Statement of First India-Australia Annual Summit was released
- Audio-visual Co-production Agreement between the two countries were signed.
- MoU on Cooperation in Sports was signed.
- The two sides agreed on the establishment of two task forces one on solar (solar task force) and second on Green Hydrogen.
- Letter of Intent was signed between the India’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for Furthering Cooperation in Innovation.
Other highlights of this visit
- Cricket Diplomacy: PM Modi and PM Albanese went to the Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad, where India and Australia were playing the fourth test match of the Border-Gavaskar series.
- Business Delegation: The Australian prime minister brought with him a huge delegation of business leaders. Australian businesses have mainly concentrated on China, which buys about a third of Australia’s exports. Despite concerns about China, Australia’s economy is closely tied to that country. Australia is now trying to wean its economy away from China.
- First foreign leader to visit INS Vikrant: During the current visit, PM Albanese became the first foreign leader to visit INS Vikrant, India’s locally built aircraft carrier. While visiting INS Vikrant, Albanese said: For Australia, India is a top security partner.
- Talisman Sabre exercises: Australia invited India to join the Talisman Sabre exercises later this year, a major operation for the Australian Defence Force.
- Australia will host the “Malabar” exercises in August 2023, with participation from India, Japan, and the US.
- General Rawat Australia-India Young Defence Officers’ Exchange Programme: As part of General Rawat Australia-India Young Defence Officers’ Exchange Programme, a 15-member Australian contingent, visited the Agra-based Military establishment. This programme was instituted in honour of India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat.
- Two Australian universities Wollongong and Deakin are set to establish campuses in Gujarat’s ‘GIFT City’.
Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)
- India and Australia discussed the finalisation of a CECA.
- CECA is aimed at upgrading an interim trade deal finalised last year in the form of Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA). The entry into force of ECTA (entered into force December 2022) eliminated tariffs on more than 85% of Australian exports to India.
- India and Australia have reached a significant milestone in working towards investment in critical minerals projects to develop supply chains between the two countries.
- About: Critical minerals are elements that are the building blocks of essential modern-day technologies and are at risk of supply chain disruptions. Examples: Copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt, and rare earth elements are critical components in many of today’s rapidly expanding clean energy technologies, ranging from wind turbines and power grids to electric vehicles. As the transition to clean energy accelerates, demand for these minerals will skyrocket.
Saudi Arabia and Iran Agree to Restore Ties
- Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies after seven years of tensions (since 2016).
- The two countries plan to reopen their respective embassies in Tehran and Riyadh within two months. They also confirmed their “respect for the sovereignty of states and non-interference in their internal affairs.
- Note: talk between Iran and Saudi Arabia was hosted by China.
Cause of strained relations between Saudi and Iran
- Regional dominance: Saudi Arabia and Iran – two powerful neighbours – are locked in a fierce struggle for regional dominance. Historically Saudi Arabia, a monarchy and home to the birthplace of Islam, saw itself as the leader of the Muslim world. However, this was challenged in 1979 by the Islamic revolution in Iran.
- Religious differences: They each follow one of the two main branches of Islam – Iran is largely Shia Muslim, while Saudi Arabia sees itself as the leading Sunni Muslim power. Series of events further increased tension
- 2011 – Arab Spring: Saudi Arabia accused Iran of inciting protests in Bahrain against the royal family.
- 2011 – Syrian war: Shia-ruled Iran backed President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and provided him with military forces and money to battle Sunni minority rebels backed by Saudi Arabia.
- 2015 – War in Yemen: Saudi Arabia backed its internationally recognised government and targeted Houthi rebel strongholds. The Houthis rebels of Yemen are aligned with Iran.
- 2015 – Mecca stampede: A stampede in Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in 2015 further inflamed tensions. Iran accused the Saudi government of mismanaging the most important event.
- 2016 – Saudi Arabia cuts ties: After the stampede in Mecca, Saudi Arabia executed prominent Shia leader Nimr al-Nimr, a critic of the Saudi government. Protesters in Tehran stormed the Saudi embassy. Riyadh then cut ties with Tehran.
- 2017 – Qatar blockade: in June 2017, Saudi Arabia and its allies (United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt) imposed a blockade on Qatar. They said Qatar was too close to Iran and supported “terrorism”.
- 2019 – Attacks on Saudi targets: Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for a series of attacks on targets in the kingdom, including one that struck the heart of the country’s oil industry, temporarily halving the kingdom’s crude production.
- 2020 – Qassem Soleimani killed: When the Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad, official Saudi media celebrated the attack.
What is the significance of this agreement?
- Peace and stability in the middle east: the agreement would help end the war in Yemen and de-escalate tensions in the Middle East region.
- Highlights Beijing’s growing role: China hosted the talks that led to the breakthrough, highlighting Beijing’s growing role as a global economic and political power, and counterbalance to Washington — particularly in the Middle East. So far, middle east had been a region that was long shaped by the military and diplomatic involvement of the United States.
- For India: So far, India had maintained a good relationship with both the countries. T
- Iran and Saudi Arabia are two major oil producers in the world, and any conflict between them can lead to oil price spikes that can have a significant impact on India’s energy security. Normalizing ties between these two countries could help stabilize global oil prices and ensure a consistent supply of oil to India.
- Both Iran and Saudi Arabia are important trading partners for India.
- India has strong economic and strategic interests in the Middle East including International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
Doha Political Declaration:
- Doha Political Declaration was adopted by the head of the states at the recently concluded Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5).
- It is a key outcome of the 2nd part of the LDC5 conference held under the theme “From Potential to Prosperity” in Qatar.
- The declaration welcomed the Doha Programme of Action (DPoA) and strongly committed to its implementation throughout the coming decade.
What is the Doha Programme of Action (DPoA)?
- The DPoA for the Least Developed Countries was adopted at the first part of the LDC5 conference held in March 2022 in New York, US. It is a 10-year plan to put the world’s 46 most vulnerable countries back on track to achieving the UN-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
- DPoA (2022-2031) consisted of six key focus areas like eradicating poverty, addressing climate change etc. Least developed countries (LDCs):
- They are low-income countries confronting severe structural impediments to sustainable development. They are highly vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks. There are currently 46 countries on the list of LDCs which is reviewed every three years by the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) of the UN.
India – USA 5th Commercial Dialogue 2023, New Delhi
- Recently, during the visit of US Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo to New Delhi, India and the US have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on establishing the Semiconductor Supply chain which can help India realize its long-nurtured dream of becoming a hub for electronic goods.
WhatsApp opposes Online Safety Bill (OSB)
- Recently, WhatsApp’s head said that WhatsApp would not comply with the country’s proposed Online Safety Bill (OSB) which will in effect outlaw End-to-End (E2E) encryption.
- British’ Online Safety Bill: The OSB is a proposed British legislation aimed at improving online safety by placing “Duty of Care” obligations on online platforms. Clause 110 of the OSB empowers the regulator to issue notices to most internet service providers, including private messaging apps, to identify and take down Terrorism and Child Sex Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA) content.
- The OSB does not mandate removal of E2E encryption, but it would require messaging apps to scan all messages to flag such content, which would de facto mean breaking encryption.
- Privacy and free speech advocates view the OSB as a disproportionate step that allows for bulk interception and surveillance.
- Note: E2E encryption is a secure communication mechanism that allows data to be encrypted on the sender’s device, transmitted securely over the internet or any communication channel, and then decrypted only by the intended recipient.
- In September 2021, the US announced a new trilateral security partnership for the Indo-Pacific, between Australia, the UK and the US (AUKUS). The major highlight of this arrangement is the sharing of US nuclear submarine technology to Australia. Its Indo-pacific orientation makes it an alliance against China’s assertive actions in the South China Sea.
- In News: The United States, Australia and Britain unveiled details of a plan to provide Australia with nuclear-
powered attack submarines from the early 2030s to counter China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific.
ICC issues arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin
- The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin for the alleged war crime of unlawfully deporting and transferring more than 16000 children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.
- This is the first time that the ICC has issued an arrest warrant against one of the five permanent members of the United Nation Security Council.
About International Criminal Court (ICC)?
- Headquartered in The Hague, The Netherlands, ICC is a permanent court to prosecute serious international crimes committed by individuals. It tries crimes such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression. It is different from the United Nations’ International Court of Justice, also at The Hague.
- Statute: Before the ICC became functional in 2002, its founding treaty was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1998 in Rome, Italy, thereby making it the Rome Statute.
- Membership: To become a member of the ICC or State party to the Rome Statute, countries have to sign the statute and ratify it under their respective legislatures. 123 countries are currently members of the ICC, with African countries making up the largest bloc. Notably, countries including India, China, Iraq, North Korea and Turkey never signed the Rome Statute. Others including the US, Russia, Israel and Syria signed, but never ratified it.
- Russia’s reaction: Moscow dismissed the orders as void. As of March 2023, Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute, and therefore, the ICC has no jurisdiction over crimes committed on its territory. However, the ICC can investigate and prosecute crimes committed by individuals from other countries who committed the alleged crimes on the territory of a state party to the Rome Statute but Ukraine is also not a State Party to the
How is ICC Different from ICJ?
- Unlike the International Court of Justice, the ICC is not part of the United Nations system, with the UNICC relationship being governed by a separate agreement.
- The ICJ, which is among the UN’s 6 principal organs, mainly hears disputes between nations. It was established in 1945 and is seated at The Hague (Netherlands).
Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC)
- The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) recently launched the Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) portal under the IT Rules, 2021.
- The Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) is established under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 made under the Information Technology Act, 2000.
- GAC aims to ensure a Safe & Trusted and Accountable Internet for Indian users.
- Three such GAC have been constituted of professionals from various fields.
- Users (Digital Nagriks), who are dissatisfied with the Grievance Officer of social media companies on content takedown requests, can appeal in GAC and the complaint would be heard by one of three Committees (GAC) constituted by the government.
Working of GAC:
- Each GAC will comprise three government-appointed, full-time members, including a chairperson.
- Any user aggrieved by a decision of a platform’s Grievance Officer can appeal to the GAC within 30 days of the receipt of communication from the Grievance Officer.
- The Committee has to dispose of the appeals within 15 days of receiving them.
- GAC’s decisions will be binding on the intermediary (Social media company). GAC portal:
- The GAC will be a virtual Digital platform that will operate only online and digitally — wherein the entire appeal process, from the filing of the appeal to the decision thereof, shall be conducted digitally through the new portal https://gac.gov.in.
- The appellants can track the status of their appeal through the Appellant Login window.
- GAC will upload its order on the portal, and the appellant will receive notification of the same by SMS and email.
‘Bahu Balli’: world’s first bamboo crash barrier
- The world’s first 200-metre-long bamboo crash barrier named ‘Bahu Balli’ has been installed on a highway connecting Chandrapur and Yavatmal districts in Maharashtra.
o Crash barriers are installed on either side of a highway to prevent vehicles from moving out of the road network and also restrict the movement of outside elements onto the highways.
- It has been developed after rigorous testing at various government-run institutions such as the National Automotive Test Tracks(NATRAX) and Central Building Research Institute(CBRI).
- The bamboo species used in the making of this barrier is Bambusa Balcoa which has been treated with creosote oil and coated with recycled High-Density Polyethylene(HDPE).
- Significance: The use of bamboo is remarkable for the bamboo sector and India as a whole, as this crash barrier offers a perfect alternative to steel and addresses environmental concerns and their aftermath.
- As per the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, SMART-PDS is an important technologically driven initiative, therefore, all states and union territories should make earnest efforts to implement it at the earliest.
- SMART-PDS: It is a system where smart ration cards are issued to beneficiaries of the Public Distribution System (PDS) and ration is given through fair price shops on the production of the smart ration card by any member of the beneficiary family. The fingerprint template of the beneficiary is recorded in these smart ration cards, which record all transactions.
- Recently, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) has been facing allegations of irregularities in its functioning.
- Established in 1994, it is an autonomous body under the University Grants Commission (UGC) responsible for assessing the quality of higher educational institutions in India.
- Through a multi-layered assessment process, it awards grades ranging from A++ to C based on parameters such as curriculum, faculty, infrastructure, research and financial well-being.
- Currently, only institutes that are at least 6 years old or from where at least two batches of students have graduated can apply for accreditation, which is valid for 5 years.
- Accreditation by NAAC is voluntary, though many circulars have been issued by the UGC urging institutions to undergo assessment.
- The UGC launched a scheme named ‘Paramarsh’ in 2019 to mentor institutes aspiring to get accredited.
Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) Mission
- It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for the holistic growth of the horticulture sector covering fruits, vegetables, root & tuber crops, mushrooms, spices, flowers, aromatic plants, coconut, cashew, cocoa and bamboo.
- Under MIDH, the Government of India (GOI) contributes 60%, of the total outlay for developmental programmes in all the states except states in the North East and the Himalayas, and 40% share is contributed by State Governments. In the case of North Eastern States and Himalayan States, GOI contributes 90%.
Recently, 3 Centers of Excellence (CoEs) have beend approved under MIDH:
- CoE for Kamlam/ Pitaya (Dragon Fruit) at Bengaluru, Karnataka
- CoE for Mango and Vegetables at Jajpur, Odisha
- CoE for Vegetables and Flowers at Ponda, Goa
Justice Deepak Verma committee
- The Supreme Court has increased the jurisdiction and powers of a high-powered committee led by its former judge, Justice Deepak Verma, to conduct necessary checks concerning the import, transfer, procurement, rescue and rehabilitation of wild animals, including those in captivity, across India.
- Before, the committee’s powers were only limited to Tripura and Gujarat, but now it has been extended to cover the whole of India.
“Bharat 6G project: India plans to roll out high-speed internet by 2030”
- The Prime Minister has unveiled a Vision Document to roll out high-speed 6G Communication Services by 2030 and also launched Bharat 6G Project to identify and fund research and deployment of the nextgeneration technology in India.
- Note: India is the 2nd-largest telecom market globally with 1.2 billion digital subscribers.
- 6G (Sixth-Generation Wireless), the successor to 5G cellular technology will be able to use higher frequencies than 5G networks and provide substantially higher capacity and much lower latency (delay). It seeks to utilize the terahertz band of frequency which is currently unutilized.
Green/self-powered Desalination Plant in Lakshadweep
- Chennai-based National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) will set up a Desalination plant in Lakshadweep.
- Desalination Technology: Desalination refers to the removal of salts and minerals from water. Today there are two main types of desalination technologies – Reverse Osmosis & Thermal Desalination.
The NIOT is working on an initiative to provide potable water in six islands of Lakshadweep using Low Temperature Thermal Desalination (LTTD) technology. The NIOT is now trying to make this process emission-free. Currently, the desalination plants, each of which provides at least 100,000 litres of potable water every day, are powered by diesel generator sets.
- The proposed desalination plant will use a combination of renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and wave energy to power the plant.
- About NIOT: The NIOT was established in 1993 as an autonomous society under the Ministry of Earth Science Its Headquarter is located at Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
POLITY (Articles or Sections in News)
Appointment of the CEC and ECs : SCs Verdict
- Since long back, there have been demands to bring reforms in the appointment procedures of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and the Election Commissioners (ECs) of India.
- Finally, a five-judge Constitution bench ruled unanimously that the appointment of the CEC and ECs will be done on the advice of a committee/collegium.
- This judgement will significantly curtail the executive’s influence over ECI and ensure that the Commission’s independence, autonomy, and institutional integrity will remain well-protected. The Apex Court’s Verdict (Anoop Baranwal v. Union of India):
- The appointment of the CEC and the ECs shall be made by the President on the advice of a
Committee consisting of the – o Prime Minister,
- Leader of the Opposition of the Lok Sabha, and in case no leader of Opposition is available, the leader of the largest opposition Party in the Lok Sabha, and the
- Chief Justice of India
- This will be subject to any law to be made by Parliament. This means that Parliament can undo the effect of the SC verdict by bringing in a new law on the issue.
- Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) under Article 142 ruled that the lawyers and professionals with 10 years of experience will be eligible for appointment as President and member of the state consumer commission and district forums.
- Note: Article 142 provides discretionary power to the Supreme Court as it states that the SC in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it.
- Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) has said that the Governor cannot call for a Floor Test on the basis of internal differences in the Party Members.
- Note: According to Article 175(2), the Governor can summon the House and call for a floor test to prove whether the government has the numbers.
- Floor Test: It is a term used for the test of the majority. If there are doubts against the Chief Minister (CM) of a State, he/she can be asked to prove the majority in the House.
Anticipatory Bail or Pre-arrest Bail:
- It is a legal provision that allows an accused person to apply for bail before being arrested. In India, pre-arrest bail is granted under section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. It is issued only by the Sessions Court and High Court.
- The provision of pre-arrest bail is discretionary, and the court may grant bail after considering the nature and gravity of the offence, the antecedents of the accused, and other relevant factors.
Bar Council of India permits foreign lawyers and law firms to practice in India
- The notification essentially allows foreign lawyers and law firms to register with BCI to practise in India if they are entitled to practise law in their home countries.
However, the foreign lawyers or foreign Law Firms have not been permitted to appear before any courts, tribunals or other statutory or regulatory authorities.
They are allowed to practise transactional work /corporate work such as joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property matters, drafting of contracts and other related matters on a reciprocal basis.
- Note: The BCI is a statutory body established under the Advocates Act, 1961, and it regulates legal practice and legal education in India.
ST women should get inheritance rights
- A Member of Parliament has urged the government to issue a notification that would include women from the Scheduled Tribe community in the inheritance rights provisions of the Hindu Succession Amendment Act, 2005.
- Section 2(2) of the Act excludes ST women, which results in the denial of their equal rights to inherit their father’s or Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) properties.
- The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, was amended in 2005 to grant daughters equal rights to inherit their father’s or HUF properties. But the exclusion of ST women from this act is discriminatory based on gender and is against Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
- Note: The law applies to everyone who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion.
Enemy property in India
- The Central Government recently launched a National Survey of Enemy Properties, spread across 20 states and three Union territories.
- The enemy properties are those left behind by the people who took citizenship of Pakistan and China after leaving India during the partition and after 1962 war. The enemy properties are vested with the Custodian of Enemy Property for India (CEPI), an authority created under the Enemy Property Act 1968.
- The 2017 amendment to the Act (Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2017) stated that the successors of those who migrated to Pakistan and China ceased to have a claim over the properties left behind in India. The amended law stated that enemy property should continue to vest in the Custodian even if the enemy, enemy subject, or enemy firm ceases to be an enemy due to death, extinction, business winding up, or change of nationality or if the legal heir or successor is an Indian citizen or a citizen of a non-aggressive country.
- Of the total 9,406 enemy properties in India, 9,280 are left behind by Pakistani nationals and 126 properties by Chinese nationals.
- Maximum number of enemy properties is in Uttar Pradesh – 4,991. Bengal has 2,735, and Delhi has 487.
- Enemy properties valued between Rs 1 crore and Rs 100 crore will be disposed of by the Custodian of Enemy Property of India an authority created under the Enemy Property Act, 1968 through an electronic auction or otherwise, as may be decided by the central government and at the rate determined by the Enemy Property Disposal Committee.
QR code-based Coin Vending Machine
- RBI is preparing a pilot project on QR code-based Coin Vending Machine (QCVM) in collaboration with a few leading banks. QCVM is a cashless coin dispenser that dispenses coins in exchange for a debit to the customer’s bank account via the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
How QCVM is different from conventional/standard cash-based Coin Vending Machines ?
- The conventional machines relied on banknotes for facilitating coin exchanges. It means, in standard machines, customer requires to insert bank note of an amount which he/she wants to change in coins, this bank note is first authenticated by the machine and then coins are dispensed.
- But QCVM would eliminate the need for physical tendering of banknotes and their authentication. The vending machines would dispense coins with the requisite amount being debited from the customer’s account using United Payments Interface (UPI) instead of physical tendering of banknotes.
- Customers would be endowed the option of withdrawing coins in required quantities and denominations. The central idea here is to ease the accessibility to coins.
Where will QCVM be launched?
- The trial project will begin with 19 locations in 12 cities across the country. These vending machines are designed to be deployed in public spaces such as railway stations, shopping malls, and marketplaces to improve convenience and accessibility.
Based on the results of the pilot tests, banks will be given guidance to promote improved coin distribution using QCVMs.
Foreign Contribution Regulation Act
- Recently, the Central government of India suspended the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence of the Centre for Policy Research/CPR (a not-for-Profit society).
- FCRA was enacted during the Emergency in 1976 amid apprehensions that foreign powers were interfering in
India’s affairs by pumping money into the country through independent organisations.
The FCRA requires every person or NGO seeking to receive foreign donations to be
- Registered under the Act
- To open a bank account for the receipt of foreign funds in the State Bank of India, Delhi.
- To utilise those funds only for the purpose for which they have been received and as stipulated in the Act.
Eligibility criteria for the registration
- These registrations are granted to individuals or associations that have definite cultural, economic, educational, religious, and social programmes.
- The applicant should not be fictitious or benami; and should not have been prosecuted or convicted for indulging in activities aimed at conversion through inducement or force, either directly or indirectly, from one religious faith to another.
- Once granted, FCRA registration is valid for five years. NGOs are expected to apply for renewal within six months of the date of expiry of registration.
- Registration can be cancelled if an inquiry finds a false statement in the application
- Once the registration of an NGO is cancelled, it is not eligible for re-registration for three years.
- The ministry also has the power to suspend an NGO’s registration for 180 days pending inquiry and can freeze its funds.
- All orders of the government can be challenged in the High Court.
Social Stock Exchange
- The National Stock Exchange (NSE) has received final approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to set up a Social Stock Exchange (SSE) as a separate segment of the NSE.
- Social stock exchange is a novel idea in India, and a stock exchange of this kind enables non-profit organisations and for-profit enterprises raise funds.
- Aim of SSE: The aim is to help social and voluntary enterprises to raise capital in form of equity or debt or a unit of the mutual fund.
- Global Examples: SSE exists in countries such as Singapore, UK among others. These countries allow firms operating in social sectors to raise risk capital. Who can list on SSE?
- Not-for-profit organisations (NPOs) and for-profit social enterprises with social intent and impact as their primary goal will be eligible to participate in the SSE.
- The social enterprises will have to engage in a social activity out of 16 broad activities listed by the regulator. The eligible activities include-
- Eradicating hunger poverty, malnutrition and inequality
- Promoting healthcare, supporting education, employability and livelihoods Gender equality empowerment of women LGBTQIA communities.
- Supporting incubators of social enterprise.
- Corporate foundations, political or religious organisations or activities, professional or trade associations, infrastructure companies, and housing companies, except affordable housing, will not be eligible to be identified as social enterprises.
- NPOs can raise money either through the issuance of Zero Coupon Zero Principal (ZCZP)
Instruments from private placement or public issue, or donations from mutual funds.
- According to Sebi’s framework, a minimum issue size of ₹1 crore and a minimum application size for the
subscription of ₹2 lakh are currently required for SSE.
e-Pharmacies: On regulating online sale of drugs in India
Recently, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW) issued show cause notices to at least twenty companies including Tata-1mg, Flipkart, Apollo, PharmEasy, for selling medicines online.
This happened after the All-India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), a powerful lobby of over
12 lakh pharmacists, threatened to launch a country-wide agitation if the government didn’t act.
Legislative Framework for e-Pharmacies in India
- As of now, no exact rules are in place for E-drug stores in India, and this is a significant inhibitor to the online drug store market in India. At present, E-pharmacies in India follow the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940, the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945, the Pharmacy Act 1948 and the Indian Medical Act 1956.
- However, the electronic sale of physician-prescribed drugs from online drug store sites is expressed under the IT Act, 2000.
- E-pharmacies are managed by state drug controllers and approvals for E-pharmacies should be given by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
- The MoH&FW in 2018 came out with draft rules to control the online offer of medications and availability of genuine drugs from certifiable online sites. But, after being sent to a group of ministers, the proposal was immediately put on hold. Since then, multiple court orders and the 172nd Parliamentary Standing Committee report have called for regulating e-pharmacies.
How are e-Pharmacies Competing with Chemist Shops?
- Flushed with billions of dollars of private equity, e-pharmacies started offering hefty discounts on medicines in a bid to garner more market share. Is banning e-pharmacies a viable option?
- E-pharmacies flourished during the covid pandemic in the year 2020 where the need for home delivery of medicine was felt. The Ministry of Home affairs at that time issued orders to continue to operate.
- The customers availing the benefits of online deliveries have also increased with the years.
- Therefore, banning e-pharmacies is not a viable option because there is a possibility that some of these businesses will go underground if banned. Hence, instead of banning, regulating them is a viable option.
Hallmark Unique Identification (HUID)
- Recently, the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs said that the sale of gold jewellery mandates a Hallmark Unique Identification (HUID) from April 1, 2023.
About Hallmark Unique Identification:
- The HUID is a unique 6-digit alphanumeric code consisting of numbers and letters.
- The HUID will be given to every piece of jewellery at the time of hallmarking and it is unique for every piece of jewellery. This unique number is stamped manually, on jewellery at the Assaying & Hallmarking centres.
- Present scenario: Earlier, the HUID used to be 4 digits and now both 4 and 6-digit HUIDs are used in the market.
- From April 1st 2023, only 6-digit alphanumeric codes will be allowed.
- Symbol – The BIS Hallmark consists of 3 symbols namely the BIS logo, Purity/Fineness Grade, and a sixdigit alphanumeric code
- The authenticity of hallmarked jewellery can be checked by using the ‘verify HUID’ feature on the BIS Care App.
What is the Bureau of Indian Standards?
- Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the National Standards Body of India established under the BIS Act 2016.
- Objective: Harmonious development of the activities of standardisation, and quality assurance of goods and articles.
- It works under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.
- BIS represents India in International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
HISTORY, ART AND CULTURE
Siang Unying Festival: Adi Community, Arunachal
- Recently, the Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Ayush attended the Siang Unying Festival – which is an important festival of the Adi community at Boleng, Arunachal Pradesh.
- The festival of Unying is celebrated to herald the season of cultivation, the beginning of the Adi community’s New Year, arrival of spring seasons as well as a great way to strengthen the bond among the community
- About Adi community: They are believed to have come from southern china in the 16th century. The Adi constitute a major group and inhabit the lower part of the Lower Dibang Valley district, especially the Roing and Dambuk areas of Arunachal Pradesh. They are experts in making cane and bamboo items.
The Adis are basically dependent on agriculture. Both wet rice cultivation and shifting cultivation are practised. Solung (a harvesting festival where animal sacrifices and rituals are performed) and Aran ( a hunting festival where all the male members of the family go hunting) are two major festivals of the Adi tribes.
Attukal Pongala: Kerala
- It is a 10-day long festival celebrated annually at Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Trivandrum, Kerala. Attukal Temple is called the “Women’s Sabarimala” as only women perform rituals. This festival is dedicated to Attukal Bhagavathy, also known as Goddess Kannaki or Bhadrakali. It is celebrated every year and falls in the month of February or March.
- Pongala, which means ‘to boil over’, is the ritual in which women prepare sweet payasam (a pudding made from rice, jaggery, coconut and plantains cooked together) and offer it to the Goddess or ‘Bhagavathy’. This ritual is performed on the 9th day.
- It is one of the largest congregation of women for a festival in the world.
- During the 10-days festivities, a sacrificial offering known as Kuruthitharpanam is also included in the religious event.
Bumchu festival : Sikkim
- Bumchu is an annual holy water vase ritual commemorated in Tashiding Monastery, one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites, located on a hilltop overlooking the Rangeet River in Sikkim.
- Bumchu means “pot of sacred water” in Tibetan. The water inside the vase is shared among the worshippers. The water is thought to have healing qualities and to grant luck and riches to those who drink it.
- Recently, Home Minister e-inaugurated Mata Sharda Devi Temple dedicated to Goddess Sharda Devi and announced that the government of India will attempt to build a Kartrapur-style corridor to Sharda Peeth as an important step in the direction of discovery of Sharda-civilization and promotion of Sharda-script.
- Sharda Peeth is an abandoned Hindu temple and ancient centre of learning.
- Location:It is located in the village of Sharda in the valley of Mount Harmukh, along the Neelam River (Kishanganga) in the Pakistani-administered territory of occupied Kashmir. It lies 16 miles to the northwest of the Line of Control.
- As a Centre of Learning: Between the 6th and 12th centuries CE, it was one of the foremost centres of higher learning, hosting scholars such as Kalhana, Adi Shankara, and Vairotsana. It is also said to be where Paṇini and Hemachandra completed and stored their writings on Sanskrit grammar.
- Religious significance: Sharda is the most revered religious place for Kashmiri Pandits. They believe that Sharada in Kashmir is a tripartite embodiment of the goddess Shakti: Sharada (goddess of learning), Saraswati (goddess of knowledge), and Vagdevi (goddess of speech).
- It is one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas throughout South Asia that commemorate the location of fallen body parts of the Hindu deity Sati.
- Recently, the Bangla Sahitya Sabha, Assam (BSSA) felicitated guests at a function with “hybrid gamosas” made up of Assamese Gamocha and Bengali Gamchas cut in half and sewn together. The organization issued an apology after a controversy erupted.
- The BSSA is a newly formed literary and cultural society with the aim of serving as a meeting point for Bengalis of Assam.
- Assamese Gamocha is a traditional rectangular handwoven cotton towel, which is an integral part of Assamese culture and tradition. It is granted GI tag. The towel is also used as a symbol of unity and brotherhood during the Bihu festival.
- Bengali Gamcha, a traditional handwoven cotton towel, which is an integral part of Assamese culture and tradition. It is a rectangular piece of cloth. It comes in a red-and-white chequered pattern.
Shyamji Krishna Varma
- On March 30, 2023 the death anniversary of Shri Shyamji Krishna Varma was commemorated. Shyamji Krishna Varma was a prominent Indian revolutionary who played a significant role in the country’s freedom struggle against British colonial rule.
- He also established the Indian Home Rule Society in London, which provided a platform for Indian students to voice their opposition to British rule.
APPOINTMENTS and RESIGNATIONS
|Rajesh Malhotra||Principal director general of the Press Information Bureau (PIB).|
|Manik Saha (BJP)||took oath for second term as 13th chief minister of Tripura.|
|Conrad Sangma||sworn in as the Meghalaya chief minister for the second successive term in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sangma won from the South Tura constituency from National People’s Party (NPP).
BJP secure only 2 seats in the elections and form coalition with NPP.
|Neiphiu Rio||Leader of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), took the oath of office as the fifth Chief Minister of Nagaland.|
|Eric Garcetti||US Ambassador to India.|
|Dilma Vana Rousseff (Ex Brazil President)||She has been elected as new President of New Development Bank (NDB) or also known as BRICS bank. She replaces Marcus Troyjo in the position.|
|Ajay Singh||President of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).|
|Gianni Infantino||re-elected as FIFA president until 2027.|
|S.S. Dubey||28th Controller General of Accounts (CGA).|
|Rashmi Shukla (IPS)||Director-General of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).|
|Jishnu Barua||Chairperson of power regulator ‘Central Electricity Regulatory Commission’ (CERC).|
|Bola Tinubu||President of Nigeria.|
|Vo Van Thuong||President of Vietnam.|
|Xi Jinping||Began an unprecedented third term as China’s president.|
|Ram Chandra Paudel||President of Nepal.|
|Ram Sahaya Prasad Yadav||Nepal’s third Vice President.
|Tejal Mehta||She is an Indian-American woman judge, appointed as the first Justice of a district court in the US state of Massachusetts.|
|Arun Subramanian||Becomes first Indian American judge of the Manhattan Federal District Court in New York.|
|Lt. Manmeet Colon||an Indian origin and a Sikh woman officer, has recently taken up the position of assistant police chief in the state of Connecticut (England). She has become first-ever person of Asian descent to hold the position.|
|Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan||Vice President of UAE.|
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Proton Beam Therapy (PBT)
- Proton beam therapy (PBT) is a form of radiotherapy used to treat certain cancers. It uses high-energy beams of protons, rather than X-rays, to deliver a dose of radiotherapy. The PBT is considered a viable alternative to radiation for treating solid tumors, especially head and neck cancers.
- Benefits of Proton Therapy: The key benefit of proton therapy is the ability to target tumor cells, more precisely. Research shows that proton therapy results in a higher dose of radiation to the tumor, but significantly less radiation to healthy cells near the tumor.
- With less healthy tissue affected by the radiation, side effects may be milder, and there is less risk of developing secondary cancers due to radiation.
What are the challenges in accessing PBT Therapy in India?
- Not enough facilities offering PBT Treatment: Currently, there are 42 PBT machine installations in the U.S.
followed by Europe (35), Japan (26), China (seven), Taiwan (three), and South Korea (two) while India has only one. Apollo Hospital is the only center in the whole of South and West Asia offering the PBT.
- Huge cost to set up: Setting up a PBT center is fraught with infrastructural and regulatory challenges stemming from safety concerns from the Department of Atomic Energy.
- A PBT machine is a huge contraption, up to three storeys tall, and costs nearly ₹500 crores.
- Costly treatment: Apollo Hospital has been able to reduce the cost of PBT from nearly ₹1.2 crores (as charged in the U.S.) to between ₹5 lahks and ₹30 lahks. But it is still running into many lakhs of rupees.
- Note: The PBT unit in the AIIMS was also planned. It was meant to benefit poor patients as the treatment would have been free of cost, but the plan has now been shelved.
India’s first DNA Vaccine against Dengue
- India’s first prospective DNA vaccine against dengue is under clinical trials.
- The DNA vaccine has been in development since 2019 by scientists from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru, in collaboration with nine institutions in India, Africa, and the US.
- About DNA Vaccine: DNA vaccines use engineered DNA to induce an immunologic response in the host against bacteria, parasites, and viruses. It is considered to be more stable, cost-efficient, and easier to handle than traditional vaccines. (The ZyCoV-D is the world’s first and India’s indigenously developed DNA based vaccine for COVID-19).
- Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection found in tropical and sub-tropical climates worldwide, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas. The primary vectors that transmit the disease are Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
- The virus responsible for causing dengue is called the dengue virus (DENV).
- It can be transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) also states that the virus can transmit from pregnant mother to baby.
- There is no specific treatment for dengue/severe dengue. Early detection of disease progression associated with severe dengue and access to proper medical care lowers fatality rates of severe dengue to below 1%.
- West Bengal has recently reported 12 deaths in government hospitals due to Adenovirus infection. However, there is no evidence of a viral epidemic at present.
- Adenoviruses (ADVs) are double-stranded linear DNA viruses ranging from 70-90 nanometres in size. They can cause cold-like symptoms, fever, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhoea, and pink eye (conjunctivitis).
CE-20 cryogenic engine
- ISRO recently conducted a flight test of cryogenic engine for the Chandrayan-3 mission at the ISRO Propulsion Complex, Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu.
- About CE-20 cryogenic engine: It has been designed and developed by the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), a subsidiary of ISRO. It will power the Cryogenic Upper Stage of the LVM3 launch vehicle for the Chandrayaan-3 mission. It is the first Indian cryogenic engine to feature a gas-generator cycle. It is one of the most powerful upper-stage cryogenic engines in the world. This engine develops a nominal thrust of 186.36 kN in vacuum.
What is a Cryogenic stage?
- The cryogenic stage is technically a very complex system due to its use of propellants at extremely low temperatures and the associated thermal and structural problems. It uses liquid fuels that are cooled to very low temperatures. A Cryogenic rocket stage is more efficient and provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant it burns compared to solid and earth-storable liquid propellant rocket stages.
- Chandrayaan-3 mission has three major modules — the Propulsion module, Lander module, and Rover.
- The mission is slated to be launched later this year by Launch Vehicle Mark 3 (LMV3) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.
- Note: Chandrayaan-2 was launched on July 2019, which aimed to land a rover on the lunar South Pole.
ISRO successfully carries out controlled re-entry experiment of MT-1 satellite
- The Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) has successfully carried out the controlled re-entry experiment for the decommissioned Megha-Tropiques-1(MT-1) satellite.
- Megha-Tropiques-1 was a joint mission developed by ISRO and the French space agency, CNES, for tropical weather and climate studies. The satellite was launched into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in 2011.
- The mission was initially planned to operate for three years but it was extended later as it continued to deliver key data about the climate for a decade.
Why has ISRO brought down the Megha-Tropiques-1 satellite?
- ISRO has brought down the Megha-Tropiques-1 satellite as part of its commitment to the United Nations Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (UNIADC) following the end of the mission life.
- The UN guidelines state that at its end-of-life the satellite should be deorbited, preferably through controlled re-entry to a safe impact zone or by bringing it to an orbit where the orbital lifetime is less than 25 years.
- India has recorded 2 deaths, one each in Karnataka and Haryana, due to the Influenza A subtype H3N2 virus.
- Influenza viruses, which cause the infectious disease known as flu, are of four different types: A, B, C and D.
- Influenza A is further classified into different subtypes and one of them is the H3N2.
- Its symptoms are similar to that of any other flu (cough, fever, body ache and headache, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose and extreme fatigue).
- Oseltamivir, a drug used to treat H1N1 (swine flu), has been recommended by the World Health Organization for the treatment of H3N2 cases as well.
- Recently, a team of researchers from Christian Medical College in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, and PGIMER Chandigarh found that an antibiotic combo is best for severe scrub typhus.
- Scrub typhus is a life-threatening infection caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi bacteria which is a major public health threat in South and Southeast Asia.
- It is spread to people through bites of infected chiggers (larval mites).
- Symptoms: fever, headache, body aches, and sometimes rash.
- Treatment: antibiotic Doxycycline is used to treat it. There is no vaccine available for this disease.
- Typhus fever: Typhus fevers are a group of diseases caused by bacteria that include epidemic typhus, scrub typhus, and murine typhus.
- Epidemic typhus is caused due to Rickettsia prowazeki and spread by body lice.
- Scrub typhusis caused due to Orientia tsutsugamushi and spread by chiggers.
- Murine typhusis caused due to Rickettsia typhi spread by fleas.
Time Zone for the Moon:
- The European Space Agency has said that a universal timekeeping system for the moon is needed. Currently, Lunar missions have operated on the time of the country that launched them.
- Challenges: Clocks run faster on the moon than on Earth, gaining about 56 microseconds each day. Further complicating matters, ticking occurs differently on the lunar surface than in lunar orbit.
UTC: While the space station doesn’t have its own time zone, it runs on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is meticulously based on atomic clocks (type of clock that uses certain resonance frequencies of atoms (usually cesium or rubidium) to keep time with extreme accuracy).
Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) mission
- MAIA is a joint mission between NASA and the Italian Space Agency ASI set to launch before the end of 2024.
- This will investigate the health impacts of air pollution in the world’s most populated cities.
- It will consist of the PLATiNO-2 satellite, which will be provided by ASI, and a science instrument that will be built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
- The MAIA mission will collect and analyse data from the observatory, sensors on the ground and atmospheric models. During the course of the three-year mission, MAIA will focus on 11 primary target areas in the world including New Delhi.
Magellan spacecraft : Venus
- Recently, NASA’s Magellan spacecraft captured images of Venus’ surface from different orbits. A few locations, including those suspected to have volcanic activity, were observed two or three times over two years.
GPT-4 (Generative Pre-Trained Transformer-4)
- Recently, Microsoft-backed OpenAI launched its artificial intelligence (AI) model GPT-4, an upgrade from GPT-3.5.
- GPTs are machine learning algorithms that respond to input with human-like text. They have the following characteristics:
- Generative: They generate new information.
Pre-trained: They first go through an unsupervised pre-training period using a large corpus of data. Then they go through a supervised fine-tuning (to specific tasks) period to guide the model.
- Transformers: They use a deep learning model (transformers) that learns context by tracking relationships in sequential data. Specifically, GPTs track words or tokens in a sentence and predict the next word or token.
- It is OpenAI’s large multimodal language model that generates text from textual and visual input.
- It can understand and produce language that is creative and meaningful, and will power an advanced version of the company’s sensational chatbot, ChatGPT.
Significance of GPT-4
- It is more conversational and creative and is a remarkable improvement over its predecessor, GPT-3.5, which first powered ChatGPT.
- While GPT-3.5 could not deal with large prompts well, GPT-4 can take into context up to 25,000 words, an improvement of more than 8x.
- Its biggest innovation is that it can accept text and image input simultaneously, and consider both while drafting a reply. For example, if given an image of ingredients and asked the question, “What can we make from these?”, GPT-4 gives a list of dish suggestions and recipes.
- GPT-4 was also tested in several tests that were designed for humans and performed much better than average. For instance, in a simulated bar examination, it had the 90 percentiles, whereas its predecessor scored in the bottom 10%.
- GPT-4 also sailed through advanced courses in environmental science, statistics, art history, biology, and economics.
- Its performance in language comprehension (in English and 25 other languages, including Punjabi, Marathi, etc) also surpasses other high-performing language models.
- It can also purportedly understand human emotions, such as humorous pictures.
- It has the ability to describe images that is beneficial for the visually impaired.
- It can also do a lot of white-collar work, especially programming and writing jobs.
- Wider use of language models like these will have effects on economies and public policy.
ISRO puts 36 satellites of UK based company OneWeb in orbit
- The Indian Space Research Organisation’s GSLV-Mk3/LVM3 has successfully launched the second batch of 36 Oneweb satellites into Low Earth Orbit.
- About OneWeb satellites: OneWeb is a global communication network powered from space, enabling connectivity for governments and businesses. Bharti Enterprises is a major investor in OneWeb group, which is engaged in the implementation of the constellation of low earth satellites.
- OneWeb Group has signed an agreement with ISRO’s commercial arm NewSpace India Ltd to launch 72 satellites into Low-Earth orbits(LEO). The first set of 36 satellites for OneWeb was launched in 2022. This is the second launch.
- This was the eighteenth launch of OneWeb satellites bringing the constellation’s total number of satellites to 618.
- OneWeb intends to use 588 active satellites in its first-generation constellation to provide global connectivity at high speed and low latency.
- Significance: This was the sixth launch for India’s heaviest rocket LVM-3 – which includes the launch of Chandrayaan-2 in 2019 – and the second one where it demonstrated the capability of launching multiple satellites in low earth orbit (LEO).
- Recently, scientists have reported evidence of the piezoelectric effect in liquids, for the first time.
- The effect has been known for 143 years and in this time has been observed only in solids.
- Piezoelectric effect is a phenomenon where specific types of material produce an electric charge proportional to the mechanical stress applied to them. It was first time discovered in 1880, in quartz by Jacques and Pierre Curie. Quartz is the most famous piezoelectric crystal. Quartz is silicon dioxide (SiO2)
International Maritime Exercise/ Cutlass Express 2023 (IMX/CE-23)
- It is one of the largest multinational maritime exercises in the world.
- It aims to bolster regional security and stability in the Western Indian Ocean.
- This is the Indian Navy’s maiden participation in IMX. INS Trikand is participating in this exercise from India. It also marks the second occasion where an Indian Naval ship is participating in an exercise conducted by the combined maritime forces.
- Earlier, INS Trikand had participated in the CMF-led Operation Sea Sword 2 in the Northwest Arabian Sea.
- INS Trikand: INS Trikand is a frontline frigate equipped with a versatile range of weapons and sensors. The ship is a part of the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet, based in Mumbai. It belongs to the Talwar class of guided missile frigates. It was built by the Yantar shipyard in Kaliningrad, Russia.
- It is India-France joint exercise held at the Pangod military center in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
- This is the first time the two countries have engaged in a military exercise in a team format consisting of a company group each from the Thiruvananthapuram-based Indian Army troops and French 6th Light Armoured Brigade.
- Objective: Enhancing interoperability, coordination, and cooperation between both forces at the tactical level.
- Theme : “Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operations in a Contested Environment”.
- Indian-France Military Exercises:
India – France Maritime Partnership Exercise
- Indian Navy’s indigenously built guided missile frigate, INS Sahyadri participated in a Maritime Partnership Exercise (MPX) with French Navy (FN) ships in the Arabian Sea in March 2023.
- The INS Sahyadri is a Shivalik class multi-role stealth frigate.
- Other India France Exercises: Varuna (Naval exercise), Garuda (Air exercise), Shakti (Army exercise), Desert Knight-21 (Air exercise).
Exercise La Perouse in Indian Ocean:
- The third edition of the multilateral maritime exercise is conducted in the Indian Ocean Region.
- This edition witnessed the participation of the Royal Australian Navy, French Navy, Indian Navy, Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force, Royal Navy and the United States Navy.
- The biennial exercise La Perouse is conducted by the French Navy and is aimed at enhancing maritime domain awareness and optimising maritime coordination amongst the participating navies in the Indo-Pacific Region.
- Indigenously built guided missile frigate INS Sahyadri and fleet tanker INS Jyoti participated in this edition of the exercise.
Bold Kurukshetra: 13th edition
- Recently, the Singapore Army and Indian Army participated in Exercise Bold Kurukshetra which was held at Jodhpur Military Station, India.
- Other exercise between India and Singapore includes Joint Military Training (Air Force), Trilateral Maritime Exercise SIMTEX (Singapore-India-Thailand) and Exercise Agni Warrior (Army).
Exercise SEA DRAGON 23
- launched in 2014, the Sea Dragon is an annual, multinational anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise conducted by the United States Navy.
- Participating Countries: India, USA, Japan, Canada and South Korea.
- Indian Navy’s P8I aircraft participated in the event.. Other Exercises between India and USA:
- Malabar: India and USA with Japan, Australia participate in the naval war gaming exercise named Malabar.
- Yudh Abhyas: Military Training Exercise
- VAJRA PRAHAR: Special Forces Exercise
Exercise Konkan 2023
- Konkan 2023, the bilateral maritime exercise between the Indian Navy and the UK’s Royal Navy, was recently held off the Konkan coast in the Arabian Sea.
- INS Trishul (Indian Nvy), a guided missile frigate, and HMS Lancaster (UK Royal navy), a Type 23 guided missile frigate, participated in this edition.
Other military exercises of India and the UK include – Konkan Shakti 2021 (first-ever tri-services joint exercise), Exercise Indradhanush (joint air force exercise), Exercise Ajeya Warrior (joint military exercise between India’s & UK’s soldiers).
- The 2nd edition of joint military exercise “The Africa-India Field Training Exercise (AFINDEX-2023)” culminated at Foreign Training Node, Aundh, Pune. A total of 25 nations of the African continent with 124 participants and Indian troops from the SIKH, MARATHA and MAHAR Regiments participated in the multinational exercise.
Exercise Vayu Prahar
- It is a multi-domain air-land exercise jointly conducted by the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force for 96-hour in eastern sector (Arunachal).
VSHORADS flight tested
- Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted two consecutive successful flight tests of the Very Short Range Air Defence System (VSHORADS) missile at the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur off the coast of Odisha.
- VSHORAD missile system is a man-portable air defence system (MANPADS). These are short-range, lightweight and portable surface-to-air missiles that can be fired by individuals or small groups to destroy aircraft or helicopters. They are having a maximum range of 8 kilometres and can engage targets at altitudes of 4.5 km. The missile has a miniaturized Reaction Control System (RCS) and integrated avionics.
- Designed and developed: DRDO’s Research Centre Imarat (RCI), Hyderabad in collaboration with other DRDO laboratories and Indian Industry Partners.
INS Androth (claimed to be “most silent ship in the country”)
- The INS Androth, the second in a series of eight Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Craft (ASW SWC), was launched recently.
- Built by: Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) in Kolkata for the Indian Navy.
- Primary Role: To conduct anti-submarine operations in coastal waters, low-intensity maritime operations, and mine-laying operations.
- It is also capable of full-scale sub-surface surveillance of coastal waters and various surface platforms and coordinated ASW operations with aircraft.
RANKING AND REPORTS
- According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) Trends in International Arms Transfers 2022 report, India remained the world’s largest arms importer from 2018 to 2022 followed by Saudi Arabia and Ukraine.
- With an 11% share of total global arms imports, India was the world’s biggest importer of major arms in 2018–22, a position it has held for the period 1993–2022.
- Russia was India’s largest arms supplier in the periods between 2013-17 and 2018-22, but its share of arms imports to India fell from 64% to 45% while France emerged as the second-largest arms supplier to India between 2018-22 at 29%, followed by the US at 11%.
- India was the third-largest arms supplier to Myanmar after Russia and China and comprised 14% of its imports.
- About SIPRI: It is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. It was established in 1966 in Stockholm (Sweden).
Clean Energy Transition: Karnataka Tops
- According to a report from Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and Ember, Karnataka and Gujarat have emerged as India’s frontrunners in the transition to clean electricity.
- Note: Ember is an independent, not-for-profit climate and energy think tank while the IEEFA examines issues related to energy markets, trends, and policies.
Note: As part of its international obligations, India has committed to generating about half of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources and reducing the emissions intensity of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 45% by 2030.
- According to a report by Access Now and the KeepItOn coalition, India enforced as many as 84 internet shutdowns in 2022 and was on top of the list for the fifth year in a row.
- In 2022, the Internet was shut down 49 times in Jammu and Kashmir, the highest of any state in the country.
- Authorities in Rajasthan imposed shutdowns on 12 different occasions followed by West Bengal, which ordered shutdowns seven times.
- Note: Internet shutdown orders are governed under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.
- At least 187 internet shutdowns across 35 countries were recorded in 2022. Thirty-three of these 35 countries are repeat offenders.
- Ukraine comes at second place with 22 shutdowns in 2022, followed by Iran with 18, and with seven internet shutdowns, Myanmar stands fourth in the list.
World Bank’s (WB) Women, Business and the Law report 2023
- Women, Business and the Law report: India scores 74.4 in World Bank index on life cycle of working women
- According to the World Bank’s (WB) Women, Business and the Law report 2023 – an index on the life cycle of a working woman, India’s score dropped to 74.4 out of 100.
- In the 2023 index only 14 (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, etc) economies scored a perfect 100.
- 2023 report is the 9th in a series of annual reports that analyze laws and regulations affecting women’s economic opportunity in 190 economies.
Academic Freedom Index report
- India’s academic freedom index is in the bottom 30% among 179 countries in 2022.
- Academic freedom refers to the principle that scholars and researchers should have the freedom to pursue their research and express their findings without interference, censorship, or retaliation from the government, private institutions, or other external entities.
- Academic Freedom Index has been published by Global Public Policy Institute.
WORLD AIR QUALITY REPORT
- Bangladesh was the most polluted country in the world in 2021, says the World Air Quality Report prepared by the Swiss-based air quality technology company IQAir.
- Earlier, in 2018, 2019 and 2020 also Bangladesh was found to be the most polluted country in the world.
- Among the cities, Dhaka was the second most polluted city in the world with a PM 2.5 level of 78.1 just below New Delhi which had a PM 2.5 level of 85.1 in 2021/2022 Data.
- According to the World Air Quality Report prepared by IQAir, Delhi ranked 4th out of 50 of the world’s most polluted cities in terms of PM2.5 levels in 2022.
- Chad, Iraq, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh are the 5 most polluted countries in 2022.
- The WHO guideline for annual PM2.5 levels is 5 μg/m3.Lahore was the most polluted city in the world, followed by Hotan in China, and Bhiwadi in Rajasthan.
- New Delhi is the second most polluted capital city in the world, with N’Djamena in Chad topping the list.
- A total of 39 Indian cities (including ‘Delhi’ and ‘New Delhi’) are on the list of 50 of the world’s most polluted cities based on annual average PM2.5 levels in 2022.
- Out of 131 countries, India ranked 8th with a population weighted average PM2.5 level of 53.3 μg/m3 in 2022.
Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2023
- The IEP has recently corrected its report related to Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2023 after the Communist Party of India (CPI) was wrongly included in the list of deadliest terror groups of 2022.
- India ranks 13th on The Global Terrorism Index (GTI).
The report shows that Afghanistan continues to be the country most affected by terrorism for the 4th year in a row, even though attacks and deaths decreased.
- Globally, deaths from terrorism fell by 9% to 6,701 deaths, marking a 38% decrease from its peak in 2015.
- Pakistan recorded the second largest surge in terror-related deaths worldwide in 2022, the toll increasing significantly to 643.
- South Asia remains the region with the worst average GTI score. South Asia recorded 1,354 deaths from terrorism in 2022.
- Islamic State (IS) and its affiliates were the deadliest terror group globally for the eighth consecutive year, recording the most attacks and deaths of any group in 2022.
- About GTI Report: The GTI report is produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), a global think tank headquartered in Sydney, Australia. The index provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism over the past 15 years. The report ranks 163 countries (99.7% of the world’s population) on the impact of terrorism.
- Indicators: Include the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities, injuries, and hostages.
World Happiness Report 2023
- India has been ranked at the 126th place among 146 countries in the recently released World Happiness Report.
- Finland has been named the happiest country in the world for the sixth consecutive year.
- Top 5 countries: Finland>Denmark>Iceland>Israel>Netherland
- Worst Performers: Afghanistan (unhappiest nation), followed by Lebanon, Sierra Leone & Zimbabwe.
- India is ranked 126, ten places higher than its ranking of 136 in 2022.
- India remains below most neighboring counties, including Pakistan (108) and Sri Lanka (112).
- Unlike previous years, where the same countries tend to appear in the top 20, there’s a new entrant this year — Lithuania (at the 20th spot).
- About World Happiness Report: It is an annual publication of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). It is based on global survey data from people in more than 150 countries. It is based on people’s own assessment of their happiness, as well as economic and social data.
- The report considers six key factors: social support, income, health, freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption. It assigns a happiness score based on an average of data over a three-year period.
- Since 2012, the World Happiness Report has been released annually around March 20th as part of the International Day of Happiness celebration.
- According to the data shared by the Ministry of Education, Bihar (61.8 %) has the lowest literacy, followed by Arunachal Pradesh (65.3 %) and Rajasthan (66.1 %).
- Kerala has the highest literacy rate in India at 94%, followed by Lakshadweep at 91.85% and Mizoram at
- The literacy rate in rural India is 67.77 per cent as compared to 11 per cent in urban India.
SCHEMES and Programmes in News
- Recently, a function was held to commemorate the success of “SWAYATT”, an initiative that was first launched in February 2019.
- SWAYATT Initiative: It is an initiative to promote Start-ups, Women and Youth Advantage Through eTransactions on Government eMarketplace (GeM).
- Aim: To promote the inclusion of various categories of sellers and service providers on the portal by taking proactive steps to facilitate their training and registration, develop women’s entrepreneurship, and encourage the participation of the MSME sector and startups in public procurement.
What is Government e-Marketplace (GeM)
- GeM is an Online Market platform that was set up in 2016 to facilitate the procurement of goods and services by government ministries, departments, public sector undertakings (PSU) etc.
- It has been envisaged as the National Procurement Portal of India.
This portal was developed by the Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (Ministry of Commerce and Industry) with technical support from the National e-governance Division (Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology).
- GeM is a completely paperless, cashless and system-driven e-marketplace that enables procurement of common-use goods and services with minimal human interface.
Dhara initiative completes 1 year
- The Dhara initiative taken up under the aegis of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav by the Ministry of Culture has been completed one year.
- During its yearlong activities, it has been successful in creating public awareness, and stakeholder participation and helped to devise a framework for the promotion and revival of multiple domains of Indian Knowledge Systems.
- The Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS) Division of the Ministry of Education located at AICTE, New Delhi is the key execution partner for Dhara events.
- Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Culture
Catch the Rain 2023
- The President of India launched ‘Catch the Rain-2023’ as part of efforts to turn conservation of water into a mass campaign in the run-up to the monsoon season.
- Theme 2023: Source Sustainability for Drinking Water.
- Tag line: Catch the rain, where it falls, when it falls.
- Catch the Rain is a Jan Andolan campaign to encourage all stakeholders to create rainwater harvesting structures.
- The campaign is implemented by the National Water Mission (NWM), Ministry of Jal Shakti.
- The campaign takes place across the country, in both rural and urban areas.
- The Department of Commerce, Government of India, has implemented the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) to facilitate the growth of exports by creating appropriate infrastructure.
- The TIES scheme provides grants-in-aid to central/state government-owned agencies or their joint ventures for infrastructure projects with significant export linkages.
- The infrastructure includes Border Haats, Land customs stations, quality testing and certification labs, cold chains, trade promotion centres, export warehousing and packaging, Special Economic Zones, and ports/airports cargo terminuses.
‘Learning Science via Standards’,
- Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), has launched a new initiative called ‘Learning Science via Standards’, aimed at helping students understand the practical applications of scientific concepts, principles, and laws in the manufacturing, functioning, and testing of products.
- NITI Aayog recently launched ATL Sarthi, a comprehensive self-monitoring framework to strengthen the ever-growing ecosystem of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL).
- Atal Innovation Mission is establishing ATLs in schools across India to foster curiosity, creativity, and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design thinking mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc. So far (March 2023), AIM has funded around 10,000 schools to establish ATLs.
- Recently, Government of India has launched a monthly allowance of Rs. 20,000 for up to one year for women-led Startups under ‘herSTART’ platform.
New NCERT Textbooks & Panchaadi method
- After nearly two decades, school students at all levels will learn from updated National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks to be introduced in the 2024-25 academic year. This is in keeping with the National Education Policy 2020 and National Curriculum Framework (NCF) which was released in August 2022. The textbooks will be developed in 22 languages.
- Currently, the government has released NCF for pre-school to Class 2, for children aged between three and eight years. The framework for other classes is yet to be rolled out.
- NCF, in its guidelines, has emphasised that students’ learning should be planned to keep in mind Indian roots and has proposed a five-step learning process or panchaadi for children at the preschool or foundational level. Panchaadi includes aditi (introduction of a topic), bodh (conceptual understanding), abhyas (practice), prayog (application), and prasar (expansion).
- The Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) is implementing a centrally sponsored PM Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Scheme (PMFME) Scheme for providing financial, technical, and business support to micro food processing enterprises in India.
- This scheme is a part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan – Vocal for Local Initiative in the food processing sector.
- The PMFME scheme is operational for a period of five years from 2020-21 to 2024-25 with an outlay of Rs. 10,000 Crore.
Institution of Eminence Scheme
- The central Government formulated the IoE scheme to establish 20 prestigious educational institutions in the country.
- It was introduced by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in 2017 that required the IoE scheme to receive accreditation within five years of notification.
- The status of ‘Institute of Eminence’ was launched to empower higher education institutions in India and help them implement world-class teaching systems to enhance affordable access to high-quality education.
- 20 institutions (10 Public and 10 Private Institutions) received the grant, and eleven among the selected ones got the Institutions of Eminence status in April 2021.
SMILE and SHRESHTA Scheme
- The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment in India is implementing two schemes: The Scheme for Residential Education for Students in High Schools in Targeted Areas (SHRESHTA) and the Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise (SMILE).
- SHRESHTA provides financial assistance to NGOs for education projects related to students belonging to Scheduled Castes, with three types of projects covered they are Residential Schools, Non-Residential Schools, and Hostels, both for Primary and Secondary Students. The scheme has been revised and a new component, Mode-I, has been added for quality residential education for meritorious SC students in top-class residential High Schools through a nationwide entrance test conducted by National Testing Agency (NTA).
- SMILE, on the other hand, supports marginalized individuals for livelihood and enterprise, but does not specifically cover persons belonging to Scheduled Castes.
BIODIVERSITY , ENVIRONMENT & GEOGRAPHY
Earth’s innermost inner core (IMIC)
- Seismologists at The Australian National University (ANU) recently documented the evidence of a distinct fifth layer of earth at the centremost part of Earth— the “innermost inner core” (apart from the 4 layers: crust, mantle, outer liquid and inner solid core).
- This 5th layer is made of the same material as the inner core (iron and nickel) and the main difference between the two is the way the atoms are arranged to form a solid. This layer could have solidified and grown in a different direction than the rest of the inner core. The idea that the Earth could hold a 5thlayer was proposed in 2002.
“Conflict wood”: Myanmar’s Teak
- Recent investigation by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealed that India has become the second largest importer of “conflict wood” from Myanmar, after China.
- Since the February 2021 coup in Myanmar, the military junta has also taken control of Myanmar Timber Enterprises (MTE).
MTE the state-owned company has exclusive rights over the country’s precious timber and teak trade.
- The MTE has held an estimated dozen timber auctions since the coup. The revenue generated after the sales are a key revenue stream for the military regime.
- Hence, pro-democracy supporters have termed the imported teak from Myanmar as “Conflict Wood.” Sometimes, it is also called known as “blood teak.” The term used to describe teak timber that has been illegally harvested in conflict zones or other areas of instability, such as Myanmar’s ethnic conflict zones. The term “blood teak” is used to draw parallels to “blood diamonds,” which are diamonds mined in war zones and sold to finance armed conflict.
- Note: Teak from Myanmar’s deciduous and evergreen forests is considered the most tensile and durable hardwood, resistant to water and termites.
Chitwan National Park (CNP) : Nepal
- As per the recent study, anthropogenic threats like illegal fishing and sand mining pose a threat to the mugger crocodiles (Crocodylus plaustris) of the Rapti river flowing along the Chitwan National Park (CNP) in southcentral Nepal, contiguous to the Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar (only tiger reserve of the state).
- CNP, established in 1973, was Nepal’s first National Park.
- Mugger crocodile : It is found in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Iran. The species is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ in the IUCN of Nature’s Red List. It has been enlisted in Appendix I of the CITES of Wild Fauna and Flora and included in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA)
- India has proposed to launch International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA) will work towards the protection and conservation of the seven major big cats — tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard, puma, jaguar and cheetah. Membership to the alliance will be open to 97 “range” countries, which contain the natural habitat of these big cats, as well as other interested nations, international organisations, etc.
Landslide Atlas of India
- Recently, National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) under the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has released the Landslide Atlas of India, a detailed guide identifying Landslide Hotspots in the country.
- Uttarakhand, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh reported the highest number of landslides during 1998 – 2022.
- Mizoram topped the list, recording 12,385 landslide events in the past 25 years, of which 8,926 were recorded in 2017 alone. Mizoram is followed by Uttarakhand (11,219) and Kerala.
- The number of districts with the maximum landslide exposure are in Arunachal Pradesh (16), Kerala (14), Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir (13 each), Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Maharashtra (11 each), Mizoram (8) and Nagaland (7).
- Most landslide-prone districts India: Rudraprayag and Tehri Garhwal districts of Uttarakhand have the highest landslide density and landslide risk exposure in the country. The recent case of Joshimath, Uttarakhand is also one of the major incidents that took place.
How prone is India is to Landslides?
- Globally, landslides rank third in terms of deaths among natural disasters. India is among the four major countries where the risk of landslides is the highest. About 0.42 million square kilometres in the country are prone to landslides, which is 12.6% of the total land area of the country.
- Rainfall variability pattern is the single biggest cause for landslides in the country, with the Himalayas and the Western Ghats remaining highly vulnerable.
- As many as 66.5 % of the landslides are reported from the North-western Himalayas, about 18.8 % from the North-eastern Himalayas, and about 14.7 % from the Western Ghats.
- In the Western Ghats, despite fewer events, landslides were found to be making inhabitants significantly vulnerable to fatalities, especially in Kerala.
Seaweed Kappaphycus alvarezii posing threat to corals in Kurusadai, Tamilnadu
- Recently, the dead coral reefs were observed near Kurusadai (Tamil Nadu), one of the 21 uninhabited islands forming the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park.
- The primary reason behind this loss is Kappaphycus alvarezii, a seaweed species (marine algae) deliberately introduced for commercial cultivation some two decades ago.
- Currently, about 750 farmers are engaged in seaweed farming, primarily Kappaphycus, in 18 villages of Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu and it is also likely to be cultivated in Tamil Nadu’s proposed seaweed park.
- About Kappaphycus alvarezii: It is seaweed (alga) which is native to the Indo-Pacific region. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists it as one of the world’s 100 most invasive species.
▪ Odisha has recorded 871 large forest fires since November 2022. This is also a national record for the season, official data showed. It was followed by Andhra Pradesh (754), Karnataka (642), Telangana (447) and Madhya Pradesh (316). In 2021, 51,968 forest fire incidents occurred in the state. Massive fires had broken out in Similipal National Park in the Mayurbhanj district, which is one of the major biospheres of Asia.
- Recently, under Namami Gange Program, the development of river front on Gandak River in the district of Gopalganj, Bihar has been undertaken and two Ghats have been constructed.
- River Gandak was declared as National Waterway (NW)-37 from Bhaisalotan Barrage to Gandak and Ganga River confluence at Hajipur, Bihar along with 111 NWs in the country vide National Waterways Act, 2016.
- About Gandak: The river Gandak, is also known as the Gandaki and Narayani River in Nepal. It is a significant river that flows through the northern part of India and Nepal. Valmiki National Park and Tiger Reserve in Bihar is located on the banks of this river.
National Chambal Sanctuary
- The area of National Chambal Sanctuary is under threat due to illegal sand mining activities that are damaging the ecosystem and endangering its flora and fauna.
- The National Chambal Sanctuary, located at the trijunction of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.
Waste-to-Energy project : Kozhikode, Kerela
- Kerela first waste-to-energy project is announced recently in Kozhikode.
- The planned facility is expected to be built in two years and generate about 6 MW of power.
- Waste-to-energy projects use non-recyclable dry waste to generate electricity. The process increases the State’s power generation capacity and eases the Solid Waste Management (SWM) burden.
- Generally, solid waste in India is 55-60% biodegradable organic waste, which can be converted into organic compost or biogas; 25-30% non-biodegradable dry waste; and around 15% silt, stones, and drain waste.
- Of the non-biodegradable dry waste, only 2-3% – including hard plastics, metals, and e-waste – is recyclable.
- The remainder consists of low-grade plastic, rags, and cloth that can’t be recycled. This fraction of the nonrecyclable dry waste is the most challenging portion of the present SWM system; the presence of these materials also reduces the efficiency of recycling other dry and wet waste. Waste-to-energy plants use this portion to generate power. The waste is combusted to generate heat, which is converted into electricity. Waste-to-Energy Technologies:
- Biological Treatment Technologies (BTT).
- Thermal Treatment Technologies.
Aravalli Green Wall Project
- Recently, the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change launched the Aravalli Green Wall Project at a function organised to celebrate the International Day of Forests at Tikli Village in Haryana.
About Aravalli Green Wall Project
- The project is a major initiative to green the 5 km buffer area around Aravalli Hill.
- The Aravalli Green Wall Project is part of the Union Environment Ministry’s vision to create green corridors across the country to combat land degradation and desertification.
- The project covers the states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Delhi – where the Aravalli hills landscape span over 6 million hectares of land.
- The project will involve planting native species of trees and shrubs on scrubland, wasteland and degraded forest land, along with rejuvenating and restoring surface water bodies such as ponds, lakes and streams.
- The project will also focus on agroforestry and pasture development to enhance the livelihoods of local communities.
Some of the objectives of the Project:
- Improving the ecological health of the Aravalli range.
To prevent the eastward expansion of the Thar Desert and to reduce land degradation by creating green barriers that will prevent soil erosion, desertification and dust storms
DNA Profiling of Elephants
- Announcing the 30-year celebration of ‘Project Elephant’ recently officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said that the DNA profiling of 270 of the 2,675 captive elephants in the country has been completed.
- The DNA profiling was started in August 2022 for Gaj Soochna Mobile Application for forest officials.
- DNA profiling is the process where a specific DNA pattern, called a profile, is obtained from a sample of bodily tissue. The DNA profiling will act as the ‘Adhaar card of captive elephants’.
- Project Elephant: It was launched in 1992 as a Centrally-Sponsored Scheme to protect elephants and improve their habitat and corridors, reduce Human-elephant conflict and ensure their welfare. Project elephant is mainly implemented in 16 States.
Conservation status of Asian Elephant
- IUCN: Endangered; Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I ; CITES: Appendix I
New Rules for Dehorning Cattle and Castration
- Recently, the central government has laid down the procedures for Dehorning Cattle and Castration, branding or nose-roping of any animal.
- All procedures are to be carried out with the involvement of a registered veterinary practitioner, along with the mandatory use of general and local anaesthetics.
- The rules prescribe a methodology for euthanasia for ill animals to avoid a painful death. The issue is concerning as most dairy owners and farmers abandon their bulls on roads as it incurs extra cost or effort to sustain them.
- Dehorning cattle means removing horns of cattle while castration is the process of removing the testicles of male cattle.
Daylight-Saving Time (DST)
- According to Norway-based Time and Date, DST is the practice of setting the clocks forward one hour from the standard time during the summer and back again in the autumn.
- This is done to make better use of natural daylight. India does not follow daylight saving time as countries near the Equator do not experience high variations in daytime hours between seasons.
- In News: Recently, the Lebanon Government has delayed the start of Daylight-Saving Time (DST) by a month. Meanwhile, Greenland has chosen to stay with DST forever.
- Lebanon usually sets its clocks forward an hour on the last Sunday in March. However, its Prime Minister said this year, the clocks would be reset on 21 April, without citing any reason.
AWARDS AND HONOURS
Porter Prize 2023
- Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has received the Porter Prize 2023.
- It recognized the government’s strategy in managing COVID-19, also the approach, and involvement of various stakeholders especially the involvement of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers. The country’s contribution to developing and manufacturing vaccines was also lauded. India delivered more than 2.5 billion doses.
- Porter Prize is named after award-winning economist Michael E. Porter who has brought economic theory and strategy concepts to bear on many of the most challenging problems faced by corporations, economies and societies.
- Note: India launched the ASHA programme in 2005-06 as part of the National Rural Health Mission.
95th Academy Awards (Oscars Awards 2023)
|Oscars Awards 2023 Best Picture||Everything Everywhere All At Once|
|Oscars Awards 2023 Best Actress||Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once)|
|Oscars Awards 2023 Best Actor||Brendan Fraser (The Whale)|
|Oscars Awards 2023 Best Director||Daniel Kwan and Daniel Schienert (Everything Everywhere All at Once)|
|Oscars Awards 2023 Best Original Song||“Naatu Naatu” (RRR)|
|Oscars Awards 2023 Best Documentary Short Film||‘The Elephant Whisperers’ by Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga|
- The Elephant Whisperers : it made history by becoming the first Indian documentary to win an Oscar. It is a 41-minute short documentary, which was produced by Achin Jain and Guneet Monga and was directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, centres on a Tamil Nadu family who adopts two orphaned baby elephants from the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.
- “Naatu Naatu” : song “Naatu Naatu” from SS Rajamouli’s blockbuster movie RRR won the Best Original Song award. Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava provided the vocals for the song, which was composed by MM Keeravani and released in March 2022 with words and music by Chandrabose.
- Note: Standing ovations were given after Deepika Padukone introduced the live performance of Naatu Naatu.
- In addition to Priyanka Chopra and Persis Khambatta, Deepika is the third Indian to present at the Oscars. All Nominations for India
- Besides “Naatu Naatu” and The Elephant Whisperers, third nomination from India was Shaunak Sen’s All That Breathes (in best Documentary Feature category).
President’s Colour to INS Dronacharya
- The President of India presented the President’s Colour to INS Dronacharya. It is the highest award bestowed on a military unit in India in recognition of its exceptional services to the nation. It is also known as ′Nishaan′ which is an emblem that is worn by all unit officers on the left-hand sleeve of their uniform.
Sangita Kalanidhi award 2023
- Recently, Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri has been selected for the Sangita Kalanidhi award 2023.
- Since it beginning in, this award 1942 is considered the highest award in the field of Carnatic music. The award is conferred by the Madras Music Academy. The award comprises a gold medal and a birudu patra(citation).
- Madras Music Academy is a landmark institution in the history of the fine arts. It emerged as an offshoot of the All India Congress Session held in Madras in December 1927.
- Carnatic music: it is commonly associated with southern India including the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, but also practised in Sri Lanka. It is one of two major genres of Indian classical music that evolved from ancient Hindu traditions, the other being Hindustani music, which emerged as a distinct form in northern India as a result of Persian and Islamic influences.
- Dance category: Vasanthalakshmi Narasimhachari has been selected for The Nritiya Kalanidhi award for dance ( she excels in both Bharathanatyam and Kuchipudi dance).
- The Abel Prize for mathematics was awarded to Argentine-American Luis Caffarelli.
- Partial Differential Equations: Luis Caffarelli is a professor at the University of Texas and was honoured for his seminal contributions to regularity theory for nonlinear partial differential equations. He is the first person born in South America to win the award.
- About the Abel Prize: It is named after the Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel (1802-1829) and is one of the most coveted awards in mathematics.
- The Abel Prize is funded by the Norwegian government and amounts to NOK 7.5 million ($710,000).
- The prize is awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and presented by His Majesty King Harald.
- The choice of the Abel laureate is based on the recommendation by the Abel Committee, which is composed of five internationally recognised mathematicians.
Water and Heritage Shield Award
- A site Sípàapu located in Arizona, United States and sacred to the Hopi Native American Nation has been awarded a ‘Water and Heritage Shield’ by the International Committee on Monuments and Sites International Science Committee.
- The Sípàapu is a rocky dome made of limestone as well as a spring located on the Little Colorado river, a tributary of Colorado. The Hopi consider the Sípàapu to be the place from where their ancestors emerged from another world into this one.
Hopi Tribal people: The Hopi are known as one of the oldest living cultures in documented history, having migrated north to Arizona in the 12th century.
Vyas Samman 2022
- Pagalkhana, a 2018 satirical novel by renowned Hindi author Gyan Chaturvedi, has been chosen for the 32nd Vyas Samman.
- The KK Birla Foundation founded the annual Vyas Samman in 1991, which is awarded to a superb piece of Hindi literature authored by an Indian citizen and published within the previous ten years. A 4 lakh rupee award is offered.
Saraswati Samman 2022
- The KK Birla Foundation has announced that Tamil writer Sivasankari will be the recipient of the prestigious Saraswati Samman award for the year 2022, for her 2019 memoir, Surya Vamsam.
- This award is one of the most esteemed recognitions in Indian literature, and comes with a cash prize of Rs 15 lakh, a plaque, and a citation.
Other Honors and Awards:
- Sashidhar Jagdishan, managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) of HDFC Bank, has been chosen as the Business Standard Banker of the Year 2022.
- Vinod Kumar Shukla has won the PEN/Nabokov Award for lifetime achievement in literature. The award is conferred annually by PEN America.
- Civic architect, urban planner and activist, Sir David Alan Chipperfield has been selected as the 2023 Laureate of The Pritzker Architecture Prize, the award that is regarded internationally as architecture’s highest honor.
- The International Golden City Gate Tourism Awards 2023 in the categories of “TV/Cinema Commercials International and Country International” were won by the Indian Ministry of Tourism and Government of India,
- Shaktikanta Das, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, has been honored with the title “Governor of the Year” for 2023 by Central Banking, an international economic research journal.
- Ratan Tata, an Indian industrialist and philanthropist, has been named an Honorary Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO) for his outstanding contributions to the Australia-India bilateral relationship, specifically in the areas of trade, investment, and philanthropy.
- The highest civilian honor in Kerala, the “Kerala Jyothi,” was awarded to the writer M T Vasudevan Nair.
- The Union Territory of J&K has awarded wildlife conservationist Aliya Mir with Wildlife Conservation Award 2023 .Aliya is the first woman from Jammu and Kashmir to work for Wildlife SOS and is the first woman in the region to receive this honour.
- Perumal Murugan’s novel ‘Pyre’, which deals with caste-based discrimination, has been nominated for the 2023 International Booker Prize longlist.
BOOKS and Auhors
|‘India’s Vaccine Growth Story – From Cowpox to Vaccine Maitri’||Sajjan Singh Yadav|
|“As Good as My Word,”||KM Chandrasekhar|
|“Mundaka Upanishad: The Gateway to Eternity”||Dr. Karan Singh (former MP)|
|India’s Struggle for Independence – Gandhian Era.||P. Jyothimani & G. Balan|
|“Bipin: The Man Behind the Uniform.”||Rachna Biswat Rawat|
|“Snakes In the Ganga: Breaking India 2.0”||Shri Rajiv Malhotra and Mrs. Vijaya Viswanathan|
|“A Matter of the Heart: Education in India”.||Anurag Behar|
|“Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (illustrated)” (In English language)||Shrimant Kokate (Marathi writer)|
|‘Azaad’ (autobiography)||Ghulam Nabi Azad|
|‘Basu Chatterji: And Middle-of-the-Road Cinema’||Aniruddha Bhattacharjee|
|“War and Women” (it highlights the suffering of Bengali women who were||Dr M A Hasan|
|victims of sexual violence perpetrated by the Pakistan Army during the 1971 war)|
|“Why Can’t Elephants be Red ?||Vani Tripathi Tikoo|
OBITUARY / DEATHS
|A.M. Ahmadi||Former Chief Justice of India (1994 to 1997).|
|Chandrashekhar Dasgupta||Former Indian diplomat and the Padma Bhushan Awardee.|
|Satish Kaushik||Veteran actor-writer-director (Bollywood)|
|Sameer Khakhar||experienced actor who had worked in theater, television, and movies.
He is most remembered for his portrayal of the character “Khopdi” in the popular TV series
|Pradeep Sarkar||a renowned filmmaker who directed successful movies like Parineeta and Mardaani.|
|Gordon Moore||cofounder of Intel company in 1968. He predicted that computing power would continue to increase over time (known as “Moore’s Law”).|
- World Athletics, the governing body for athletics, has announced a ban on transgender women from competing in elite female competitions if they have gone through male puberty.
- Recently, Nikhat Zareen (2nd world title) and Lovlina Borgohain (1st world title) won two gold medals for India in the Women’s World Boxing Championship.
- Tamil Nadu’s Jeswin Aldrin broke the national record in the men’s long jump in the second AFI National Jumps Competition. He leaped 42 meters.
- India’s top triple-jumper Aishwarya Babu has been banned by the National Anti-Doping Agency’s (NADA) disciplinary panel for four years for using a prohibited anabolic steroid.
- Asian Chess Federation confers D Gukesh with Player of the Year award.
- Karnataka ended their 54-year wait to win the Santosh Trophy national football championship, beating Meghalaya 3-2 in a pulsating final at the King Fahd International Stadium in the Saudi Arabia capital.
- Tokyo Olympic Games silver-medallist weightlifter Mirabai Chanu has bagged the 2022 ’BBC Indian Sportswoman Of The Year’ award after a public vote.
- Pankaj Advani, the Indian cue sports champion, has retained his Asian Billiards title in the 100-up format after defeating his compatriot Brijesh Damani 5-1 in the final held at Qatar Billiards and Snooker Federation (QBSF) Academy.
- Irani Cup (Cricket): In the final of the Irani Cup 2022/23, Team ‘Rest of India’ secured their 30th title win in the Indian domestic tournament, continuing their dominant performance. They defeated Madhya Pradesh by 238 runs.
- Tim Paine, the former captain of the Australian test cricket team, has announced his retirement.
- Aasif Sheikh, a wicketkeeper from Nepal, has been awarded the 2022 Christopher Martin-Jenkins Spirit of Cricket Award for his act of sportsmanship during a T20 international match.
- National women’s hockey team midfielder Salima Tete has appointed the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) Athletes Ambassador from India for a term of two years.
- Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2023 final : the Mumbai Indians won against the Delhi Capitals by seven wickets in the finals played held at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai
3 March: World Wildlife Day
- Theme 2023: ‘Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation’.
- This date was chosen as it is the birthday of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, signed in 1973. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of CITES’ establishment.
- About CITES: CITES is an international agreement between governments. It aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.
- The CITES Secretariat is administered by UNEP and is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
3rd March : World Hearing Day
- Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) determines the theme.
- Theme 2023: “Ear and hearing care for all”.
8th March: International Women’s Day
- Theme 2023 : “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”
- The Ministry of Jal Shakti has organized the “Swachh Sujal Shakti Samman 2023”, to honor the women champions of the rural water and sanitation sector.
- 36 women WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) Champions were conferred with the ‘Swachh Sujal Shakti Samman 2023’.
- Captain Shaliza Dhami : on the occasion of International Women’s Day, she has been selected to take over the command of a frontline combat unit in the Western sector (facing Pakistan) She will be the first woman officer in the IAF to command a missile squadron in the Western sector.
- Note: In January 2023, the army deployed a woman officer, Captain Shiva Chouhan, on the Siachen glacier for the first time.
- Recently, a woman officer, Colonel Geeta Rana has for the first time, taken over the command of an independent unit in the sensitive Ladakh sector where India and China have disputed relations.
54th Raising Day of the Central Industrial Security Force
- Recently, the 54th Raising Day parade of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) was organised at the National Industrial Security Academy (NISA) in Hyderabad. NISA is a premier training institute of CISF in Industrial Security and Disaster Management. It is located at Hyderabad, Telangana.
- Union Home Minister Amit Shah was the chief guest on the occasion.
- This is the first time that the CISF Raising Day is celebrated outside the national capital New Delhi.
- The CISF is one of the five Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) in India established on March 10, 1969 under an Act of Parliament, “Central Industrial Security Force Act, 1968. It aims to provide integrated security cover to certain sensitive public sector undertakings with a strength of only three battalions.
- Note: Since 1969, CISF Raising Day is being celebrated on March 10 ever year. However, this year the date was revised to March 12.
15 March: World Consumer Rights Day
- Theme 2023: “Empowering consumers through clean energy transitions”.
- Note: India celebrates 24th December as National Consumer Day every year.
14 March : International Day of Action for Rivers (IDAR)
- This year, the 25th anniversary of the day was observed. The day was earlier known as International Day against Dams, for Rivers, Water, and Life.
- Theme: Rights of Rivers (It calls for the designation of rivers as a national treasure).
17 March: World Sleep Day
- Theme 2023: ‘Sleep is Essential for Health’.
21 March: World Forests Day
- Theme 2023: ‘Forests and Health.’ Key facts
- India’s total forest and tree cover was 80.9 million hectares, which accounted for 62% of the geographical area of the country.
- The report said 17 States and Union Territories had more than 33% of their area under forest cover.
- Madhya Pradesh had the largest forest cover, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and
- The top five States in terms of forest cover as a percentage of their total geographical area were Mizoram (84.53%), Arunachal Pradesh (79.33%), Meghalaya (76%), Manipur (74.34%) and Nagaland (73.90%).
20th March, World Sparrow Day
- Theme 2023: “I Love Sparrows”
- According to the survey conducted by the Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS), The house sparrow population in Thiruvananthapuram city has recorded a significant reduction. The decline in population has been attributed to the oppressive heat and a lack of food supplies in the traditional areas of the city.
22nd March: World Water Day (WWD)
- Theme 2023: ‘Accelerating the change to solve the water and sanitation crisis’.
- According to the United Nations, the idea behind celebrating the day is to “support the achievement of sustainable development goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.”
21 March: World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD)
- Theme: “With Us Not for Us”
- Down syndrome happens when there is an extra copy (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome, which leads to physical and intellectual disabilities.
21st March: United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (End Racism Day)
- It commemorates the day in 1960 when police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against apartheid “pass laws”.
- Theme 2023: it focuses on the urgency of combatting racism and racial discrimination.
23rd March: Shaheed Diwas
- It is celebrated to remember the sacrifices made by three freedom fighters – Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar, and Shivaram Rajguru .
23rd March: World Meteorological Day
- Theme 2023: “The future of weather, climate, and water across generations.”
24th March: World Tuberculosis (TB) Day
- On this day in 1882, Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis that causes TB, and his discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.
- Theme for 2023: Yes! We can end TB!
- India aims to make the nation TB-free by 2025, whereas the Global Target for TB elimination is 2030.
- India accounts for roughly 28% of TB cases in the world, as per the Global TB Report 2022.
- Theme: Invest in Our Planet.
- Earth Hour is a worldwide movement organized to encourage individuals, communities and businesses to turn off non-essential electric lights for one hour.
- It is organized on the last Saturday of March as a symbol of commitment to the planet.
- Earth Hour is the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF)’s annual initiative that began in 2007.
- It encourages people from more than 180 countries to switch off the lights from 30 pm to 9.30 pm as per their local time. The idea is to refrain from the use of non-essential lighting to save energy in a symbolic call for environmental protection.
- Salhoutuonuo Kruse and Hekani Jakhalu, both from the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, made history by becoming the first women MLAs in Nagaland.
- The Kochi landfill site around Brahmapuram, Kerala that recently caught fire is a stark reminder that Indian cities need to be prepared for more such incidents as summer approaches.
- The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a penalty of Rs 10 crore on the Kerala government for failing to protect two wetlands, Vembanad and Ashtamudi lakes, which are included in the Ramsar list of wetlands. The wetlands have become polluted due to the dumping of pharmaceutical waste, plastic waste, household waste, and slaughterhouse waste.
- Indian commercial vehicle manufacturer, Ashok Leyland, has launched an “All Women Production Line” with 100 per cent female employees at its Hosur plant in Tamil Nadu.
- The government of Tamil Nadu has decided to declare Thanthai Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary as the 18th wildlife sanctuary in the state.
- On March 10,2023 the Manipur government decided to withdraw from the Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement with two militant groups, Kuki National Army (KNA) and Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), alleging their involvement in inciting agitation among forest encroachers.
- Yaoshang festival, Manipur’s version of Holi, which lasts for five days, has begun.
- Matua mela is being organised in West Bengal to celebrate the 212th birth anniversary of Sri Sri Harichand Thakur, the founder of the Matua sect.
- Tiwa tribesmen in Assam celebrate the Yangli festival once every three years to mark the beginning of the sowing season. Karnataka
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated World`s longest railway platform of 1.5 kilometres at Sri Siddhaarooda railway station in Hubballi in the state of Karnataka. It is to be noted that Indian Railways, South Western Railway Zones Hubbali is now registered in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest platform.
- Union Home Minister and Minister of Cooperation Shri Amit Shah unveiled the statues of Lord Basaveshwara ji and Nadaprabhu Kempegowda ji at the State Assembly premises in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
- Recently, the Rajasthan Government has passed the Right to Health Bill, which gives every resident of the state the right to avail free services at all public health facilities.
- President Droupadi Murmu inaugurated the 7th International Dharma Dhamma Conference 2023 in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 15 countries will participate in the three-day conference.
- Theme: “Eastern Humanism for the New Era”
- Recently, Sarus Crane (Grus Antigone), Uttar Pradesh’s state bird, was recently rescued and transported to Raebareli’s Samaspur Bird Sanctuary.
- Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami announced the launch of Mukhyamantri Ekal Mahila Swarozgar Yojana (self-employment scheme for single women).
- Uttarakhand become India’s first state to start insurance scheme (“Resham Keet Bima” programme) for sericulturists.
- Jitendra Singh, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science & Technology, inaugurated Asia’s largest 4-metre International Liquid Mirror Telescope at Devasthal, Uttarakhand.
- Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has announced the government will set up a sports university in the Kumaun region’s Haldwani town.
Jammu and Kashmir
- The first cable-stayed railway bridge of India on the Anji river (a tributary of the Chenab River) in Jammu and Kashmir is expected to be ready by May 2023. Anji bridge between Katra and Reasi stations falls in the Reasi district of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The upcoming structure is part of the ambitious Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla-Rail Link (USBRL) project. The project was declared a National Importance Project in March 2002. It is also the biggest mountain railway project since independence.
MISCELLANEOUS (in News)