Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Current Affairs March 15-03-2024 to 21-03-2024.

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1.Government of India and ADB sign $23 million loan agreement to strengthen fintech ecosystem in India

The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a $23 million loan agreement to enhance access to quality fintech education, research, and innovation at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT-City). The signatories to the loan agreement for promoting Research and Innovation through Development of Fintech Institute at GIFT-City project were Ms. Juhi Mukherjee, joint secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, for the Government of India, and Mr. Rajesh Vasudevan, officer-in charge of ADB’s India Resident Mission, for ADB. GIFT City is an initiative of the Government of India and the State Government of Gujarat to foster India’s financial services and fintech ecosystem.

After signing the loan agreement, Ms. Mukherjee said that this project will establish an International Fintech Institute (IFI) to strengthen fintech education, boost start-up success rates, and drive fintech research and innovation. “The project’s emphasis on market-driven fintech skills programmes, creating enabling environment for private sector investment and enhancing collaboration between industry, skills developments institutes and development partners will promote holistic growth of fintech ecosystem in India.” Said Mr. Vasudevan.

The IFI, set to be established in partnership with globally reputed institutes and universities, will offer industry-aligned fintech training programmes that meet international standards. The institute will strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship by supporting startups, especially women-led, through incubation and acceleration service. It will also collaborate with industry and venture capital funds to support the growth of fintech startups. These interventions will contribute to enhance employment opportunities, workforce competitiveness, and productivity in new green technologies.

2. India and Singapore sign Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the sphere of Law and Dispute Resolution

India and Singapore have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation between the two countries in the sphere of Law and Dispute Resolution. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in a virtual meeting of the Minister of State of Law and justice, Government of India, Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal for the Indian side and the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, Government of Singapore, Mr. Edwin Tong for the Singapore side.

The Memorandum of Understanding is on further cooperation between the two countries in the areas of common interest such as international commercial dispute resolution: matters relating to promotion of robust alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in respective countries and establishment of joint Consultative Committee to oversee the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding.

Shri Arjun Meghwal in his virtual address while highlighting the importance of the Memorandum of Understanding stated, the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding signifies our collective commitment to Deeping collaboration in the field of law and dispute resolution, with a focus on sharing best practices, exchanging expertise, and facilitating capacity building initiatives for the stakeholder. Through this partnership, we are aiming to harness synergies between our legal regimes, leverage our respective strengths and explore innovation approaches to address the evolving needs of our citizens and business”.

The collaboration therefore marks a key milestone in strengthening cooperation between India and Singapore with focus on exchange of best practices in the sphere of law and dispute resolution, which will eventually enable adoption of efficacious mechanisms for resolution of disputes through alternate dispute resolution mechanisms.

3.New Scorpion Species Found in Thai National Park

In the dense wilderness of Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand, a term of researches made an astonishing discovery a previously unknown species of scorpion, scientifically classified as Euscorpiops Krachan.

The newly discovered scorpion, euscorpiops Krachan, takes its name from the very park that unveiled its existence. Researches, while camping near the Tenasserim Mountain Range, chanced upon this creature hidden beneath a rock, sparking an in-depth study of three adult males and one adult female. This species, belonging to the subgenus Euscorpiops, stands out for its diminutive size compared to its counterparts in the same subgenus. Brownish in color, with females exhibiting a darker hue than males, these scorpions boast eight eyes and legs.

The study reveals that Euscorpiops Krachan shares many characteristics with the other scorpiops. Their hunting strategy in akin to the “ambush or sit-and-wait type of foraging” observed in the other Scorpiops genus members”. The researchers suggest that the limited distribution ranges and high degree of endemism within the genus contribute to the unique characteristics of Euscorpiops Krachan.            

4. Atmospheric Research Testbed introduced in Central India

The first phase of India’s Atmospheric Research Testbed in Central India (ART-CI) was inaugurated at Silkheda in Sehore district, Bhopal. The establishment of the Atmospheric Research Testbed (ART) in Central India is a significant step forward in the study of the Indian Monsoon.

It is established by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) at Silkheda, Bhopal. This testbed aims to enhance understanding of the processes governing monsoon convection and land-atmosphere interactions in the central region of India, particularly within the monsoon core zone (MCZ- It is a crucial for the regional climate system, especially during the southwest monsoon season from June to September).

It also aims to develop observational campaigns and to adjust the basic parameterizations of numerical weather prediction models in order to improve the children models.

The testbed is equipped with a wide range of instruments for continuous observation of atmospheric conditions. Instruments include aethalometers for aerosol studies, cloud condensation nuclei counters, laser ceilometers, micro rain radars, etc.

5. India ranks 134th in Global Human Development Index

India has moved up a rank on the Global Human Development Index (HDI), according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report. The report stated that while India ranked 135 in 2021, it had moved up to 134 in 2022. A total of 193 countries were ranked in 2022 and 191 countries in 2021.

Sri Lanka has been ranked much ahead at 78, while China is ranked 75, both categorised under the High Human Development category. India also ranks below Bhutan that stands at 125 and Bangladesh, which is in the 129th position. Switzerland has been ranked 1. Nepal ranked 146 and Pakistan ranked 164.

India’s life expectancy at birth has slightly improved from 67.2 years in 2021 to 67.7 years in 2022. There is an overall increase (5.88%) in expected years of schooling (EYS) from 11.9 years to 12.6 years, leading to an improvement of 18 places w hen the EYS aspect was considered. The Gross National Income (GNI) per capita also improved from $6,542 to $6,951.

The widening human development gap revealed by the report shows that the two-decade trend of steadily reducing inequalities between wealthy and poor nations is now in reverse. Despite our deeply interconnected global societies, we are falling short. We must leverage our interdependence as well as our capacities to address our shared and existential challenges and ensure people’s aspirations are met, said by Achim Steiner head of the UN Development Programme.

6. Scientists Discovered Noctis Volcano on Mars

Scientists recently discovered a massive volcano on mars it is newly discovered volcano located just south of mars equator, in eastern Noctis Labyrinthus, west of valles Marineris, the planet’s vast canyon system. The volcano sits on the eastern edge of a broad regional topographic rise called Tharsis, home to three other well known giant volcanoes Ascraeus mons, Pavonis mons, and Arsia Mons.

The central summit area is marked by several elevated mesas forming an arc. Reaching a regional high and sloping downhill away from the summit area. The caldera remnant the remains of a collapsed volcanic crater once host to a lava lake can be seen near the centre of the structure Lava flows, pyroclastic deposits made of volcanic particulate materials such as ash, cinders, pumice and tephra, and hydrated mineral deposits occur in several areas within the structure’s perimeter. It was active for a very long time on the Red planet, and in its south-eastern part lies a thin, recent volcanic deposits beneath which glacier ice is likely still present.

7. Ethanol 100 Fuel Launched

The Union Minister for petroleum and Natural Gas and Housing and Urban Affairs, launched ‘ETHANOL’ 100, a revolutionary automotive fuel at Indian oil Retail outlet. It has high octane rating, typically, between 100-105.

It proves ideal for high performance engines, ensuring improved efficiency and power output all while minimizing environmental impact. ETHANOL 100’s versatility shines through, as it can be used in a wide array of vehicles, including flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) designed to run on gasoline, ethanol, or any blend of the two. Its practically, and potential to become a mainstream fuel option with the right infrastructure in place It includes 93-93.5 percent ethanol blended with 5 percent petrol and 1.5 percent co-solvent, which is a binder.

It stands as a cleaner, greener alternative to gasoline, boasting lower emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants, thus aiding in combating climate change and enhancing air quality in our communities.

8. Mumbai Wins 42nd Ranji Trophy Title

Mumbai secured their 42nd Ranji Trophy Title by defeating Vidarbha with a 169 runs victory in the final. Set an improbable target of 538 to win the summit clash after being outplayed since the first day afternoon, Vidarbha put up a resolute show with the bat to frustrate their hosts for the majority of the fourth and final day’s play.

It was all over for the Vidarbha when Dhawal Kulkarni bowled last man Umesh Yadav, the veteran seamer bowling out of first class cricket on a high after knocking over the batter’s leg stump. Wadkar made a defiant 102 off 199 balls, while out-of-favour India batter Karun Nair compiled a measured 74 in the second innings, but there efforts were not enough for two-time winners Vidarbha to challenge Mumbai’s supremacy in the summit showdown.

Tanush Kotian was the most successful bowler for Mumbai in Vidarbha’s second innings. Finishing with impressive figures of 4/95. And many bowlers of Mumbai also played well to lift their 42nd Ranji Trophy Title.

9. New election commissioners were appointed

The two retired bureaucrats, Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, were appointed as election commissioners, just two days ahead of the announcement of the dates of 2024 Lok sabha elections. They are now part of the three-member Election commission of Indian panel, headed by Rajiv Kumar, the chief Election Commissioner. The two officials are the first to be appointed under the new law governing appointments to the constitutional body, the chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, conditions of Service and Term of Office) Act,2023.

Under the new law, the two commissioners were selected by a three member selection committee, comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and the Leader of the Indian National Congress in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, as leader of the largest party in the opposition. They were chosen out of a shortlisted panel of six names. The shortlisting was done by a search committee which, according, to the Act, is headed by the Union Minister of Law and justice and includes two officials of the rank of secretary to the government.

10. Vladimir Putin re-elected as Russian President

President Vladimir Putin basked in an election victory that was never in doubt. As he said that he’d won the fifth term with a record number of votes, underlining the Russian leader’s total control of the country’s Political system. After facing only token challengers and harshly suppressing opposition voices, Putin extended his nearly quarter-century rule for six more years.

The highly-predictable election results set Putin up to be the longest serving Russian leader in 200 years. But there were small acts of visible protest against the voting, which was held just one month after Putin’s most potent critic, opposition leader Alexey Navalny, died in a remote prison in Russia’s far North.

Russia’s Central Election Commission said that with nearly 100% of all precincts counted, Putin had won the 87.29% of vote. Commission chief Ella Pamfilova said nearly 76 million voters cast their ballots for Putin, his highest vote tally ever. Putin 71, hailed the overwhelming results as an indication of “trust” and “hope” in him. Critics saw his landslide win, however, as merely another reflection of the preordained of the election.

11. DBS Bank India Announces $250 Million For Start-ups

DBS Bank India Announces a lending commitment of USD 250 Million for new-age start-ups. The initiative is a part of the bank’s focus on fostering innovation and entrepreneurship within the country’s thriving start-up ecosystem. The Indian start-up sector, a foundation pillar of the country’s development goals, has been significant expansion over the years with over 90,000 start-ups and the more than 100 unicorns as of 2024. Despite their growing resilience, access to capital for these companies in the current dynamic environment presents an ongoing challenge.

 Recognising the disruptive power of the start-up segment, particularly, those harnessing emerging technologies, DBS Bank India has earmarked lending support of $250 million, focusing on enterprises that are set to redefine Industry standards with innovative solutions. DBS Bank India were inspired by the ability of new-age entrepreneurs to harness innovation to solve real world challengers and hope to play a constructive role in their growth.

The lending commitment of $250 million for start-ups comes at an opportune time as the sector has been demonstrating improved operating metrics and a sharper focus on profitability in recent years. DBS Bank India intends to leverage advanced digital expertise, deep Asian connectivity,  and ecosystem partnerships, to offer holistic support, even going beyond banking to empower these innovators streamline operations.

12. Nepal Declares Pokhara as Nepal’s Tourism Capital

The Nepalese government recently declared Pokhara, situated in the picturesque Gandaki province, as the primary tourism capital of the Himalayan nation. This Official proclamation occurred during as a special event held at Barahi Ghat, located on the serene banks of the stunning Phewa lake.

Although Pokhara has been well-known as a significant tourism destination for a considerable time, it has only recently been officially necessary criteria. This designation represents a noteworthy achievement in Pokhara’s evolution, affirming its status as a premier centre for the tourism endeavours.

According to Pokhara Mayor Dhanaraj Acharya, the declaration holds profound implications for Pokhara’s global recognition. This recognition not only acknowledges Pokhara’s existing appeal but also sets the stage for further development and promotion of its unique offerings to travellers worldwide. The Government announced business activities, including discos, nightclubs, and live music venues in Pokhara, will remain open all night. This decision aims to enhance nightlife and provide tourists with a more vibrant and engaging experience.

13. Start-up Mahakumbh Event 2024

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the start-up of Mahakumbh event, where thousands of prospective entrepreneurs, investors, and business visitors were present. The focus of his address was on the government’s initiatives to enhance emerging sectors like deeptech, agritech, biotech, medtech, and AI.

The start-up Mahakumbh is being held from March18-20 at Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi. The event is organized jointly by apex industry associations, Bootstrap Incubation and Advisory Foundation and Indian Venture and Alternate Capital Association (IVCA). It is the supported by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal discussed the event, highlighting that Indian start-ups are revolutionizing industries and becoming the cornerstone of the country’s economy. He emphasized that aligning an inspirational India with the startup ecosystem will drive economic growth during the period leading up to India’s 100 years of Independence, termed Amrit Kaal, aiming to transform India into a Developed nation by 2047.

14. Keltron secures contract from Tamil Nadu

Keltron’s tasks include ₹519-crore work to establish command and control systems for 7,985 schools and 8,209 hi-tech IT labs and their maintenance and ₹455-crore work for establishing 22,931 smart classrooms in schools in Tamil Nadu. Kerala state electronics Development Cooperation’s, or Keltron, IT Business Group has bagged orders worth more than ₹1,000 crore from Tamil Nadu government through the competitive bidding route.

Another order worth ₹101-crore is to supply 79,723 tablet and PCs to primary school teachers in that state. The components of hi-tech labs include desktop computers, web cameras, indoor IP cameras, 5KVa UPS, internet routers and network connectivity. They will be coordinated from the command-and-control centre. Keltron will perform the management and maintenance of the lab for five years. Components of smart classrooms include laptops, a projector, USB multimedia speakers and interactive whiteboard.

Keltron has 12 year’s experience in running hi-tech classrooms. It implemented smart classrooms in Kerala’s government schools. The PSU has experience in setting smart classrooms using the latest technology and quality materials at low cost. Smart classrooms were established in Kerala as per the Specifications given by the Directorate of Public Instruction. 

15. World Air Quality Report 2023

India has been identified as the World’s Third most polluted country, as per the World Air Quality Report. Bihar’s Begusarai emerged as the world’s most polluted metropolitan area while Delhi was identified as the capital city with the poorest air quality, according to this report by the Swiss organisation IQAir.

The 2023 World Air Quality Report provides a global review of air quality data for the year 2023. The report summarizes PM 2.5 air quality data from 7,812 cities spanning 134 countries, regions, and territories. The data utilized to create this report was aggregated from more than 30,000 air quality monitoring stations operated by research institutions, government bodies, universities and educational facilities etc.

PM 2.5 data is reported in units of micrograms per cubic meter and incorporates the latest World Health Organization (WHO) annual PM 2.5 guideline and interim targets for data visualization andrisk communications.

The 2023 World Air Quality Report was created from real-time air quality data sourced from IQAir’s global air quality monitoring platform that vets incoming data with validation and calibration protocols to harmonize air quality data from monitoring stations around the world.

The report said seven of the 134 countries Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland, Mauritius, and New Zealand met the World Health Organization annual PM 2.5 average of 5µg/m3 or less.

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