Current Affairs Dec 29, 30, 2023.

Current Affairs Dec 29, 30, 2023.

National news:

1. PM Modi Inaugurates Ayodhya Airport, Emphasizes Fusion of Tradition and Modernity in India’s Progress

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Maharshi Valmiki International Airport in Ayodhya.
  • He urged the nation to celebrate Deepawali on January 22, marking the Pran Pratishtha of Ramlala at the newly constructed temple in Ayodhya.
  • PM Modi emphasized the importance of illuminating the entire country on this occasion.
  • Ayodhya is positioned to guide the development of Uttar Pradesh, with a focus on infrastructure and overall progress.
  • The government is committed to developing Ayodhya as a key destination, anticipating a significant influx of visitors.
  • PM Modi highlighted the government’s efforts in developing religious places, emphasizing the combination of tradition and modernity in India’s progress.
  • In addition to the airport, the Prime Minister inaugurated the reconstructed Ayodhya Dham railway station and flagged off several new trains, including Vande Bharat and Amrit Bharat Express.
  • The Trishakti of Namo Bharat, Amrit Bharat, and Vande Bharat trains is expected to bring transformative changes to the country’s railway system.
  • The fusion of development and culture is seen as the driving force propelling India forward in the twenty-first century.
  • Capital of Uttar Pradesh – Lucknow.

Chief Minister – Yogi Adityanath.

Governor – Anandiben Patil.

2. NHAI Implements Road Safety Measures on National Highways to Address Reduced Visibility During Foggy Conditions

  • The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is proactively addressing reduced visibility during foggy conditions on National Highways.
  • Road safety measures include reinstalling missing or damaged road signs and enhancing the visibility of safety devices through reflective markers.
  • Transverse bar markings are being implemented in habitations and accident-prone locations to improve road safety.
  • Functional blinkers are being ensured at median openings, especially in under-construction zones and hazardous locations.
  • NHAI is taking measures to alert highway users during reduced visibility, utilizing Variable Message Signs (VMS) or electronic signages to display ‘Foggy Weather Alerts’ and speed limit messages.
  • The authority is conducting Nighttime Highway inspections on a weekly basis to monitor and address safety concerns effectively.
  • These proactive steps aim to enhance road safety and mitigate risks associated with foggy weather conditions on National Highways.
  • NHAI’s comprehensive approach includes both physical improvements on the roads and the use of technology to communicate important safety information to highway users.
  • NHAI stands for the National Highways Authority of India. Its primary objectives include the creation of a network of high-quality highways and roads to enhance connectivity and facilitate economic and social development.

 

3. NCC Republic Day Camp 2024 Inaugurated with 2,274 Cadets, Including Record 907 Girls

  • The National Cadet Corps (NCC) Republic Day Camp 2024 commenced at the Cariappa Parade Ground in Delhi Cantt.
  • The camp began with Sarva Dharma Puja, emphasizing unity and diversity.
  • A total of 2,274 cadets from various States and Union Territories will participate in the month-long camp.
  • This year’s camp boasts the largest participation of girls, with 907 girls among the cadets.
  • The diverse participation includes 122 cadets from Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, and 171 from the North-Eastern Region, representing a ‘Mini India.’
  • The Youth Exchange Programme will feature the participation of cadets and officers from 25 friendly countries, showcasing international collaboration.
  • Participating countries include Argentina, Botswana, Bhutan, Brazil, Czech Republic, Fiji, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Mauritius, and Mozambique.
  • Director General NCC Lt Gen Gurbirpal Singh urged cadets to actively participate and derive maximum benefits from the camp’s activities.
  • The Republic Day Camp aims to instill patriotism, discipline, and leadership qualities among the participating cadets.

4. BJP President JP Nadda Unveils Stamp Marking 200 Years of Indian-Origin Tamils in Sri Lanka

  • BJP President JP Nadda released a commemorative stamp marking the 200th anniversary of Indian-origin Tamils in Sri Lanka.
  • Addressing an event in New Delhi, Nadda expressed happiness at remembering the year 1823 and honoring the Indian-origin Tamils with a postage stamp.
  • He highlighted the historical context, noting that British encouragement led to the migration of Indian Tamils to Sri Lanka, serving economic purposes.
  • Nadda acknowledged the struggles faced by the migrated Indian-origin Tamils, including challenges to human dignity, health, and livelihood.
  • He emphasized the importance of remembering history and the hardships endured by forefathers while celebrating the present.
  • Nadda pointed out that since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, India has embarked on an optimistic journey.
  • Modi, in 2017, became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Jaffna and pledged to provide Pucca Houses to the community.
  • The commemorative stamp serves as a symbolic recognition of the enduring ties between Indian-origin Tamils and Sri Lanka over the past two centuries.
  • Capital of Srilanka – Colombo; Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte.

Currency- Srilankan Rupee

Language – singhala.

Prime Minister – Dinesh Gunawardena.

5. PM Modi Inaugurates Maharshi Valmiki International Airport and Ayodhya Dham Junction Railway Station, Launches Development Programs Worth ₹15,700 Crores in Ayodhya.

  • PM Modi inaugurated the Maharshi Valmiki International Airport in Ayodhya, marking a significant development in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Development programs worth ₹15,700 crores were launched in the city as part of the inauguration.
  • Vande Bharat and Amrit Bharat special trains were flagged off by the Prime Minister during the occasion.
  • A roadshow from the airport to Ayodhya Dham railway station witnessed enthusiastic participation from local residents, including women, saints, and elderly people.
  • PM Modi visited the house of a PM Aawas Yojana beneficiary, shared tea with the family, and inquired about the government scheme’s impact.
  • The Prime Minister visited Lata Mangeshkar Chowk, featuring a statue of Veena, located near Ram ki Paidi, before inaugurating the international airport.
  • The redeveloped Ayodhya Railway Station, known as Ayodhya Dham Junction Railway Station, was inaugurated by PM Modi. The station reflects the architecture of the upcoming Shri Ram Mandir.
  • The station, developed at a cost of over ₹240 crores, is equipped with modern features, including lifts, food plazas, puja needs shops, child care rooms, and waiting halls.
  • PM Modi flagged off the Amrit Bharat Express, a new category of superfast passenger trains, providing improved facilities for rail passengers.
  • Additionally, six new Vande Bharat Trains were flagged off, connecting various destinations such as Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra, Amritsar, Coimbatore, Mangalore, Jalna, and Anand Vihar Terminal. These trains feature enhanced amenities for passengers.
  • Capital of Uttar Pradesh – Lucknow.

Chief Minister – Yogi Adityanath.

Governor – Anandiben Patil.

 

6. Union Minister launches the Government of India Calendar for 2024, highlighting the achievements of the Narendra Modi government across various themes

  • Union Minister Anurag Singh Thakur launched the Government of India Calendar for the year 2024 in New Delhi.
  • The calendar highlights the achievements of the Narendra Modi government across different themes, showcasing development initiatives in various fields.
  • Minister Thakur emphasized the government’s efforts in infrastructure development, health, women empowerment, economy, sports, education, and technology.
  • He mentioned the remarkable growth of India’s startup ecosystem, becoming the third-largest, and the country’s transformation from the ‘fragile five’ to the fifth-largest economy in the world.
  • The Minister noted the significant increase in the number of airports from 74 to 150 under the Modi government and the expansion of metro services to 22 cities.
  • The number of AIIMS (All India Institutes of Medical Sciences) has increased from 7 to 23 during the last ten years.
  • Thakur highlighted the government’s commitment to women-led development, citing the example of 33 percent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.
  • Information and Broadcasting Secretary Apurva Chandra and other senior officials from the ministry attended the calendar launch event.
  • The calendar serves as a visual representation of the government’s achievements and initiatives in the year 2024.

7. PM flags off Coimbatore – Bengaluru Cantt Vande Bharat train via video conferencing.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Coimbatore – Bengaluru Cantt Vande Bharat train through a video conferencing ceremony.
  • The event was attended by Coimbatore Member of Parliament PR Natarajan, BJP National Women’s Wing President Smt. Vanathi Srinivasan, Salem Divisional Railway Manager Pankaj Sinha, and other officials.
  • The new Vande Bharat train becomes the fastest service in the Bengaluru-Coimbatore sector, covering a distance of 380 km in 6 hours 20 minutes in one direction and 6 hours 30 minutes in the return direction.
  • The train, consisting of eight coaches, departs Coimbatore at 5 am and reaches Bangalore Cantonment Railway Station at 11:30 am. The return journey departs Bangalore at 1:40 pm and reaches Coimbatore at 8 pm. The train operates on all days except Thursday.
  • The service is expected to benefit students, IT professionals, and business-class travelers, particularly those from textile hubs in Coimbatore, Salem, Erode, and Tiruppur.
  • The train will also serve the needs of industrial units in Dharmapuri and Hosur, supporting IT hubs within Bengaluru city.
  • The launch of this Vande Bharat train aims to enhance connectivity, improve travel efficiency, and boost economic activities in the region.

8. ‘Know India Programme’ for youth diaspora completes 20 years, fostering closer connections between Indian diaspora youth and their ancestral homeland.

  • The 70th edition welcomed participants from Fiji, Mauritius, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Colombia.
  • The ‘Know India Programme,’ a flagship initiative of the External Affairs Ministry, has celebrated its 20th anniversary.
  • Muktesh Pardeshi, Secretary of Consular, Passport, Visa, and Overseas Indian Affairs, addressed the Valedictory Session of the 70th edition in New Delhi.
  • The 70th edition of the Know India Programme took place from the 11th to the 29th of the current month.
  • Thirty-four participants from various countries, including Fiji, Mauritius, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Colombia, attended the program.
  • Launched in 2003, the Know India Programme aims to strengthen the ties between Indian diaspora youth and their ancestral homeland.
  • The three-week program provides participants with exposure to India’s history, cultural heritage, and the growth and development of modern India.
  • Open to Persons of Indian Origin aged between 21 to 35 years, the program has become one of the longest-running diaspora engagement initiatives of the Government of India.
  • The 71st Know India Programme is scheduled to be organized from the 3rd to the 19th of the next month.
  • The initiative plays a crucial role in building bridges and fostering a deeper understanding of India among the global Indian diaspora.

9. India achieves significant growth in the steel sector, becoming the second-largest steel producer globally.

  • India has risen to become the second-largest steel producer globally, marking tremendous growth in the steel sector.
  • The Ministry of Steel reports that domestic steel production reached around 90 million tonnes, with a growth of over 14% compared to the corresponding period last year.
  • Domestic crude steel production stands at over 94 million tonnes, reflecting a growth of over 14% compared to the production in the same period last year.
  • The Production Linked Incentive Scheme has played a crucial role in boosting investments in the steel sector.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with 27 companies, covering 57 projects with a total investment of over 29 crore rupees in the current year.
  • The steel sector plays a pivotal role in critical industries such as construction, infrastructure, automobile, and defense, contributing significantly to India’s economic development.

10. Environment Minister launches National Transit Pass System (NTPS) pan-India, facilitating seamless transit of timber, bamboo, and other forest produce.

  • Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav launched the National Transit Pass System (NTPS) nationwide.
  • NTPS is designed to facilitate the seamless transit of timber, bamboo, and other forest produce across the country.
  • It is envisioned as a ‘One Nation-One Pass’ regime, contributing to the ease of doing business.
  • The system aims to enhance transparency, aligning with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for India’s development.
  • NTPS is seen as a bridge between the rural and urban economy, fostering greater connectivity.
  • Minister of State for Environment Ashwini Kumar Choubey emphasized that NTPS is a game-changer for agroforestry and trees outside the forest.
  • The system is designed for user convenience, offering desktop and mobile applications for easy registration and permit applications.
  • Currently, 25 States and Union Territories have adopted the unified permit system, streamlining interstate business operations for producers, farmers, and transporters.
  • NTPS is expected to contribute to the efficient and transparent movement of forest produce, benefiting various stakeholders in the process.

 

 

International news:

11. U.S. Approves $147.5 Million Sale of Artillery Shells to Israel Amid Gaza Offensive

  • The U.S. Government approved the sale of artillery shells and related weapons to Israel worth $147.5 million.
  • The deal was announced by the U.S. State Department, and it comes as Israeli forces continue their offensive in the Gaza Strip.
  • The government bypassed the usual congressional review, citing an emergency requiring immediate action.
  • This marks the second time in the month that the Biden Administration has bypassed Congress to supply arms to Israel.
  • The move is anticipated to face stronger criticism both domestically and internationally.
  • The Biden Administration emphasizes urging Israel to protect civilians in Gaza, while casualties rise amid intensified attacks on the Hamas group.

12. Argentina’s New President Javier Milei Withdraws Plans to Join BRICS

  • Argentina’s new President, Javier Milei, has decided to reverse the country’s plans to join BRICS, the five-nation bloc of emerging economies.
  • This decision marks a turnaround from the stance of the previous administration.
  • President Milei communicated the withdrawal to BRICS members China, Russia, India, Brazil, and South Africa through a letter.
  • The decision comes after BRICS members, during the summit in August, had agreed to invite Argentina and five other countries, including Egypt and Ethiopia, to join the bloc starting from January 1.
  • The change in direction may have implications for Argentina’s diplomatic and economic engagements with the BRICS nations.
  • Capital of Argentina – Buenos Aires.

Currency – Peso.

Language – Spanish.

President – Javier Milei.

13. SpaceX to Launch Military’s X-37B Robot Spaceplane on Seventh Mission

  • SpaceX is set to launch the military’s secretive X-37B robot spaceplane on its seventh mission.
  • The launch will be carried out using the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  • This mission marks the first time the X-37B will be launched atop a rocket capable of delivering it to a higher orbit than before.
  • The previous launch attempts were delayed due to poor weather and unspecified technical issues, leading to multiple countdown aborts.
  • The Boeing-built X-37B is about the size of a small bus and resembles a miniature space shuttle.
  • The spaceplane is designed for deploying various payloads and conducting technology experiments during long-duration orbital flights.
  • After completing its mission, the X-37B descends back through the atmosphere and lands on a runway, similar to an airplane.
  • The launch is scheduled for a nighttime blast-off, with a 10-minute launch window starting at 8:07 p.m. EST (0107 GMT Friday).

 

 

Appointments:

14. Senior JD(U) leader and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar elected as the new JD(U) President.

  • Senior JD(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been elected as the new President of JD(U).
  • The election took place during the party’s national executive meeting in New Delhi, where the current President, Rajiv Ranjan Singh, resigned from his post.
  • Singh proposed Nitish Kumar’s name, and the proposal was accepted by the party.
  • The BJP took a dig at Bihar Chief Minister, stating that JD(U) is a regional party and Kumar was already the leader, implying that the change in position may not bring significant changes.
  • BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain mentioned that Kumar had left the NDA with the hope of becoming a candidate for the Prime Minister post but couldn’t achieve it.
  • Hussain asserted that the BJP has a strong presence in Bihar and expressed confidence in winning upcoming Lok Sabha elections and the next assembly polls in the state.
  • Nitish Kumar’s election as JD(U) President is part of the party’s internal restructuring and leadership changes.

 

15. China Appoints Former Navy Chief Dong Jun as New Defence Minister

  • China has named former Navy chief Dong Jun as its new Defence Minister, replacing Li Shangfu, who disappeared from public view four months ago.
  • The announcement of Mr. Dong’s appointment was made by China’s top legislators during a Standing Committee meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing.
  • The change in leadership comes amid a series of dismissals of top military officials earlier in the year, with additional removals of nine senior military officials from the Standing Committee this week.
  • The reshuffling in military leadership could have significant implications for China’s defense policies and strategies.
  • Capital of China – Beijing.

Currency – yuan.

Language – Mandarin.

President – Xi Jinping.

 

Science and Technology:

16. Ministry of Science and Technology reveals the potential of mushroom-derived compounds against COVID-19.

  • The Ministry of Science and Technology announced that mushroom-derived bioactive compounds show potential in combating COVID-19 and other viral infections.
  • Researchers from the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology, conducted the analysis.
  • The study assessed 13 different mushroom-derived bioactive compounds and their roles in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection and related infections.
  • Mushrooms were found to contain bioactive polysaccharides and compounds with antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and medicinal properties.
  • Mushroom-based drugs are currently undergoing human trials, with promising results observed against SARS-CoV-2.
  • The research highlights the potential of natural sources, such as mushrooms, in the development of therapeutic interventions against viral infections.
  • The findings contribute to ongoing efforts in exploring diverse approaches for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

 

Banking:

17. The Central government increases the rate of interest on two small savings schemes for January-March 2024 quarter.

  • The Central government has increased the rate of interest on two small savings schemes for the January-March 2024 quarter.
  • The rate of interest on the Sukanya Samriddhi Account Scheme has been raised by 20 basis points, reaching 8.2% from 8%.
  • The interest on the three-year time deposit has been increased by 10 basis points to 7.1% from 7.0%.
  • All other small savings schemes will maintain the same rate of interest as in the October-December quarter.
  • This adjustment in interest rates aims to provide better returns to investors and account holders in these specific savings schemes.
  • The Finance Ministry’s notification indicates the government’s periodic review and adjustments to small savings rates based on prevailing economic conditions.

18. The Financial Intelligence Unit India issues compliance show cause notices to nine offshore Virtual Digital Assets Service Providers (VDA SPs) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

  • The Financial Intelligence Unit India (FIU IND) has issued compliance show cause notices to nine offshore Virtual Digital Assets Service Providers (VDA SPs).
  • VDA SPs were brought under the Anti Money Laundering, Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML-CFT) framework in March 2023, as per the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) Act, 2002.
  • The notices are issued for non-compliance with the provisions of the PMLA Act in India.
  • The Director of FIU IND has written to the Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, urging the blocking of URLs of entities operating illegally.
  • This move is part of regulatory efforts to ensure that cryptocurrency platforms adhere to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing frameworks to prevent illegal activities

 

Sports:

19. Australia Beats India by 3 Runs in Women’s Cricket 2nd ODI at Wankhede Stadium

  • Australia secured a three-run victory over India in the second game of the 3-match Women’s Cricket ODI series at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
  • Chasing a target of 259, the Indian Women’s team scored 255 runs for 8 wickets in 50 overs, falling just short of the required runs.
  • Annabel Sutherland of Australia took three wickets, contributing to the team’s bowling performance.
  • Richa Ghosh was the highest scorer for India with 96 runs.
  • Australia had elected to bat first and posted a total of 258 for 8 in their 50 overs. Phoebe Litchfield scored 63 runs, and Ellyse Perry hit a half-century.
  • Deepti Sharma of India took 5 wickets in Australia’s innings.
  • With this victory, Australia clinched the series, having won the first match by 6 wickets.
  • The third and final match of the series is scheduled to be played on January 2, 2024.
  • Capital of Australia – Canberra.

Currency – Australian Dollar.

Language – English.

Prime Minister – Anthony Norman Albanese.

 

20. Hockey India Announces 18-Member Squad for FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024

  • Hockey India has unveiled an 18-member Indian Women’s team for the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024.
  • The qualifiers are scheduled to take place in Ranchi, Jharkhand, from January 13th to 19th, 2024.
  • The top three teams from the eight-team competition will secure qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
  • Goalkeeper Savita Punia will lead the Indian team as the Captain, with Vandana Katariya named Vice Captain.
  • India is placed in Pool-B, alongside New Zealand, Italy, and the United States, while Pool-A consists of Germany, Japan, Chile, and the Czech Republic.
  • The qualifiers are a crucial step for teams aiming to secure their place in the upcoming Olympics scheduled for July-August 2024 in Paris.

 

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