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CURRENT AFFAIRS BOOSTER : 2nd & 3rd JULY 2023



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Current Affairs

 


2nd & 3rd July 2023



NATIONAL AFFAIRS


1) Government raises interest rates on select small saving schemes by up to 0.3% for Q2 of FY24

The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance (MoF) has announced an interest rate hike on selected small savings schemes by up to 0.3%  for the 2nd quarter of the financial year 2023-24 (Q2 FY24) (i.e July 1, 2023-September 30, 2023).

·         The rates are in line with the high-interest rates in the banking system.

Changed Interest Rates:
i.The interest rate for the five-year recurring deposit (RD) has been raised by 30 basis points (bps), resulting in a highest increase of 0.3%. Earlier it was 6.2%, now it is 6.5%.
ii.Interest rate has increased by 10bps for

·         Th One-year term deposits with post offices will now earn 0.1% reaching 6.9% (earlier 6.8%) and,

·         The two years tenor is 7% (earlier 6.9%).

About Ministry of Finance:
Union Minister- Nirmala Sitharaman (Rajya Sabha-Karnataka)
Minister of State- Pankaj Chaudhary; Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad.

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2) MoD signed a contract of Rs. 2725 Cr with MDL for INS Shankush 

On 30th June 2023, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a contract with the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) for the Medium Refit with Life Certification (MRLC) of the Indian Navy Ship “INS Shankush”, a SubSurface Killer (SSK) Class of Submarine.

·         The cost of the overall contract is Rs.2725 crore and the delivery of the Submarine post-MRLC will be in 2026.

·         Under this contract, INS Shankush, a submarine belonging to the SSK Class, will undergo comprehensive renovation and life certification at MDL’s facility in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

Note: INS Shankush belongs to the Shishumar class of Submarines and has a speed of 22 knots.
About the Contract:
i. This contract holds the significant step towards the development of MDL as a Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) hub for supporting the industrial ecosystem of India.
ii. The project is set to involve the participation of over 30 Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
iii. It would lead to employment generation of 1200 man-days per day throughout the project duration.
iv. The INS Shankush project will be a flag bearer of Atmanirbhar Bharat in accordance with the Government of India’s Make-in-India initiative.
Additional Info:
MDL is also currently in the process of finalising an agreement with the United States of America’ s (USA) Navy to provide maintenance and repair services during voyages for its fleet.
About Ministry of Defence (MoD):
Union Minister- Raj Nath Singh (Constituency- Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh)
Minister of State (MoS)- Ajay Bhatt (Constituency- Nainital- Udham Singh Nagar, Uttarakhand)

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3) Power Ministry notified Carbon Credit Trading Scheme 2023 to develop India’s 1st domestic carbon market 

On 30th June 2023, the Ministry of Power notified the “Carbon Credit Trading Scheme, 2023”, to develop India’s first domestic regulated carbon credit trading market.

·         The scheme was 1st announced under the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022.

·         The scheme was drafted by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency(BEE), a statutory body under the Ministry of Power.

i.The Carbon Credit Trading Scheme, 2023, entails the formation of a National Steering Committee(NSC), a technical committee, an Accredited Carbon Verification Agency and the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) as the carbon market regulator.
ii.The National Steering Committee(NSC), constituted of 20-22 members, will be headed by the secretary, Ministry of Power as the ex-officio chairperson while the secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) will be co-chairperson.
About Ministry of Power:
Union Minister– Raj Kumar Singh (Constituency- Arrah, Bihar)
Minister of State– Krishan Pal (Constituency- Faridabad, Haryana)

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4) KAPP-3 India’s 1st indigenous 700 MWe Nuclear Reactor commenced commercial operations in Gujarat

On 30th June 2023, the 3rd Unit of Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP) (KAPP-3), India’s first indigenously developed 700 MWe (megawatt electric) Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) (nuclear power reactor), commenced its commercial operations at Kakrapar Site, Gujarat.
Key Points: 
i.The Kakrapar project encompasses the construction of two 700 MW PHWRs: KAPP-3 and KAPP-4.
ii.The Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP) site also houses two 220 MWe PHWRs (Kakrapar Atomic Power Station(KAPS)-1 and KAPS-2).
iii.The reactor was built by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), a wholly owned public sector undertaking (PSU) of the Government of India under the administrative control of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
Other PHWRs projects: 
i. The physical progress achieved by KAPP 4 unit, as at the end of May 2023 was 96.92% and was by initiating various commissioning activities.
ii. The NPCIL plans to build sixteen 700 MW PHWRs across India, and has granted financial and administrative sanction for the same.
iii. Construction of 700 MW nuclear power plants is under progress at Rawatbhata, Rajasthan in Rajasthan Atomic Power Project (Units 7 and 8) (RAPS 7 and 8) and at Gorakhpur, Haryana in Gorakhpur Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojana (Units 1 and 2) (GHAVP 1 and 2).
iv. The Centre has sanctioned building of 10 indigenously developed PHWRs in fleet mode at four locations such as Gorakhpur in Haryana (GHAVP – 3 & 4), Chutka in Madhya Pradesh(Chutka -1&2), Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan (Mahi Banswara – 1&2&3&4) and Kaiga in Karnataka (Kaiga – 5&6).

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS


5) India stands at 126 rank out of 163 countries in the Global Peace Index 

According to the 17th edition of the Global Peace Index 2023 released by international think-tank, the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), India has ranked at 126th position by climbing nine positions from 2022. The list is topped by Iceland.
India’s position with respect to year 2022
India held the 135th position in 2022 with a score of 2.578, whereas in the current year it has improved to the 126th rank with a score of 2.314.
India’s position with respect to neighbours:

·         India is listed as the 126th country on the list which is far behind few of her neighbours such as Bhutan (17), Maldives (23), Nepal (79), China (80), Bangladesh (88), Sri Lanka (107).

·         Countries like Myanmar (145) &  Pakistan (146) are listed behind India

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6) United States of America Rejoins UNESCO after 5 years

The United States of America (USA) re-joined as a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after 5 years.
On 30th June 2023, the 193 member states of UNESCO met for an extraordinary session to examine the proposal of the USA to rejoin UNESCO as early as July 2023, on the basis of a concrete financial plan, which includes a commitment to repay its estimated arrears of USD 619 million. During the meet, 132 voted in favour, 10 voted against.

·         USA’s decision to rejoin UNESCO was motivated by concern, over China’s influence in setting standards for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technology apprenticeship around the world.

Note:
In 2017, the USA, during the presidency of Donald Trump,  decided to withdraw from UNESCO.
The Joe Biden administration has already requested USD 150 million for the 2024 budget to go toward UNESCO dues and arrears.

>>READ FULL NEWS



BANKING & FINANCE


7) Highlights of SEBI Board Meeting: Reduction of public issue listing timelines; Board representation for retail investors under REITS/InvITs

On June 28, 2023, the board of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has approved a series of decisions such as the reduction of public issue listing timelines, the introduction of regulations for non-convertible debt securities, and strengthening investor grievance handling mechanisms to improve the market efficiency and investor protection.
Key Points:
The  board has approved the proposal for reducing the time period for listing of shares in a public Issue from the existing six days to three days, from the date of issue closure (T Day). The revised timeline of T+3 days would be made applicable in two phases.

·         The new listing timeframe would be voluntary for all public issues opening on or after September 01, 2023 and mandatory for the ones on or after December 01, 2023.

SEBI board also approves the amendments to the SEBI  infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs) Regulations, 2014 and SEBI real estate investment trusts (REITs) Regulations, 2014 to provide nomination rights to unitholders holding 10% or more of the total outstanding units of the InvIT/REIT, either individually or collectively, on the board of directors of the Investment Manager/Manager.

·         The sponsor who sets up the InvIT/ REIT, monetizes its assets by transferring them to the InvIT/ REIT and exerts control over the decisions of the InvIT/ REIT through a significant shareholding in the Investment Manager/Manager.

·         Currently, SEBI Regulations mandate the sponsor to hold a minimum of 15% units for a period of at least 3 years from the date of listing of units.

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8) World Bank Approves USD1.5 Billion to Support India’s Low-Carbon Transition

On 29th June 2023, The World Bank granted USD1.5 billion in financing to accelerate India’s development of low-carbon energy sources. This funding aims to assist India in scaling up renewable energy, fostering the growth of green hydrogen, and stimulating climate finance for investments in low-carbon energy.
i. The program’s objectives include scaling up renewable energy supply to reduce costs and improve grid integration.
ii. This will assist India in achieving its target of 500 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
Background:
India, a rapidly growing economy, currently has lower per capita energy consumption compared to the global average. However, as the economy continues to expand, the country’s energy demand is expected to increase significantly. To align with its objective of achieving net-zero emissions by 2070, India aims to gradually phase out the use of fossil fuel-based energy sources.
About World Bank:
Establishment – July, 1944
Headquarters – Washington DC, United States of America(USA)
President Ajay Banga  

>>READ FULL NEWS

 


APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNATIONS


9) ACC re-appointed Tushar Mehta, SGI for the second time and 6 ASGs for Supreme Court, 4 ASGs for High Courts of India

On 30th June 2023, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) approved the re-appointment of Tushar Mehta as Solicitor General of India (SGI) with effect from 1st July 2023 for a period of three years or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

·         This is the 2nd extension granted to Mehta by the government of India.

·         Tushar Mehta has been serving as the SGI since 10th October 2018. In June 2020, he got his 1st extension as SGI for a term of 3 years with effect from 1st July 2020.

About Tushar Mehta:
i. Tushar Mehta, born on May 5, 1962, in Gujarat started his career as a lawyer in 1987.
ii. In 2007, the High Court of Gujarat named him a senior lawyer. In 2008, he was appointed as Additional Advocate General
iii. In 2014, he received a promotion to Additional Solicitor General of India.
iv. He was also the Special Public Prosecutor in the 2G spectrum matter and related cases.
About SGI:
The Solicitor General of India (SGI) is subordinate to the Attorney General for India. The SGI is the second-highest law officer in India.
Reappointment of Additional SGI – Supreme Court of India:
i. The ACC also approved the re-appointment of 6 Additional Solicitors General (ASG) for the Supreme Court of India for a period of 3 years namely:

·         Vikram Banerjee, K.M. Nataraj as Additional SGI with effect from 1st July 2023; Balbir Singh and S.V. Raju, N. Venkataraman and Aishwarya Bhati as Additional SGI with effect from 30th June 2023.

Note: However, the terms of the ASG’s namely Madhavi Diwan, Sanjay Jain and Jayant K Sud was ended and their names did not feature in the list of re-appointed law officers.
Reappointment of Additional SGI of the High Court: 
The ACC also issued an order of re-appointing 4 ASG’s in the High Courts of India for a period of 3 years namely:

·         Chetan Sharma, Additional SGI, High Court of Delhi with effect from 1st July 2023;

·         Satya Pal Jain, Additional SGI, High Court of Punjab & Haryana with effect from 1st July 2023;

·         Dr. Krishna Nandan Singh, Additional SGI, High Court of Patna with effect from 1st July 2023; 

·         Devang Girish Vyas, Additional SGI, High Court of Gujarat with effect from 30th June 2023.

About Appointment Committee of the Cabinet (ACC):
Established in- 26 January 1950
Chairperson- Narendra Modi (Prime Minister of India)
Headquarters- New Delhi, Delhi   

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10) PTC India shareholders approve the appointment of Rajib Kumar Mishra as CMD

On 28th June 2023, the PTC India Limited (formerly known as Power Trading Corporation of India Limited) shareholders passed resolutions relating to the appointment of Rajib Kumar Mishra as the company’s Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) with requisite majority votes at the seventh Extra Ordinary General Meeting (EGM).

·         He has been appointed as the CMD in PTC India with effect from March 29, 2023. 

·         He has been serving as the acting chairman of PTC India since November 2021, after former CMD Deepak Amitabh quit.

·         As per the voting result, 77.71% of votes were in favour of the ordinary resolution and 22.29% against the proposal.

·         In 2020, He was named the Whole-time Director of the company with effect from 24th February 2020, up to 23rd February 2025 or the age of 62, whichever is earlier.
He joined PTC Board on February 24, 2015, as Director of Marketing and Business Development. he has previously worked at various capacities at Power Grid, NTPC and PTC India.

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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY


11) Galactic 01: Virgin Galactic completed first Commercial Spaceflight

On 29th June 2023, Virgin Galactic Holding Inc (SPCE.N), the space company founded by United Kingdom(UK) entrepreneur Richard Branson, successfully completed its first commercial spaceflight mission called “Galactic 01”.

·         2 Italian air force officers(Colonel Walter Villadei and Lieutenant Colonel Angelo Landolfi) and an aerospace engineer from the National Research Council of Italy made the brief suborbital ride with 3 Virgin Galactic crew members.

·         The crew flew more than 50 miles (80 km), an altitude recognised as the edge of outer space by the Government of the United States of America(USA), above the New Mexico desert on a Virgin Galactic rocket plane.

·         The Mission started at the Virgin Galactic spaceport in New Mexico, where the passengers were securely attached beneath the wing of the enormous twin-fuselage mothership known as Virgin Mother Ship (VMS) Eve. 75 minutes after takeoff, the Unity spaceplane landed on a runway at Spaceport America.

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SPORTS


12) 2023 Lausanne Diamond League: Neeraj Chopra wins in javelin throw with 87.66m throw

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Gold medallist Neeraj Chopra won the gold medal at the Lausanne Diamond League 2023 (officially known as Lausanne Diamond League Athletissima 2023), held from June 29 to 30 at Stade Olympique de la Pontaise in Lausanne, Switzerland.

·         Neeraj Chopra recorded a throw of  87.66 meters(m), Germany’s Julian Weber finished second with the throw of  87.03m and Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic finished third with the throw of 86.13m.

Key points:
i.Neeraj Chopra earned 8 points from the Lausanne leg of the Diamond league.He earned 16 points including the Doha leg to lead the 2023 Diamond League qualification rankings in men’s javelin throw.
ii.In Diamond leagues, Athletes are awarded points instead of medals and the top eight athletes at the end of the Diamond league will qualify for the Diamond League Finals.

·         The Diamond league 2023 season finals will be held in Eugene on the 16th & 17th September 2023.Lausanne Diamond League is the 11th round of the 2023 Diamond League series.

Note:
In September 2022, Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian to win a Diamond League title by winning the Zurich Diamond League Final 2022 with a best throw of 88.44m.
Murali Sreeshankar finished fifth in the men’s long jump
i.India’s Murali Sreeshankar finished fifth in the  men’s long jump event at the 2023 Lausanne Diamond League with a jump of  7.88 metres(m).
ii.The 24-year-old Sreeshankar finished 3rd place in his maiden Paris Diamond League 2023 with the jump of 8.09m on 9th June 2023.
About Diamond League:
i.The Diamond League is a series of athletic meets, comprising track and field events, held annually from 2010, organised by Monaco headquartered World Athletics.
ii.It was established to replace the International Amateur Athletic Federation IAAF Golden League, which had been held since 1998.
iii.The 2023 Diamond League is the 14th edition,which is being held from May 5, 2023- September 17, 2023.

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OBITUARY


13) Alan Arkin, Oscar-winning ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ actor, dies at 89

On June 29 2023, Veteran United States(US) actor Alan Arkin, who received four Academy Award nominations and won an Oscar passed away in Carlsbad, California, United States of America(USA)at the age of 89.

·         He demonstrated his versatility from farcical comedy to chilling drama.

Early life:
i.He was born on 26th March 1934 in Brooklyn, New York, United States of America.
ii.He began his career in theater on Broadway, New York before entering into television and film roles.
iii.He won the Tony Award for best actor for the play Enter Laughing in 1963.
Notable works and awards:
i.Arkin won his Oscar for his supporting performance in the indie comedy “Little Miss Sunshine” in 2007.
ii.He starred in films including “Catch-22”, “Edward Scissorhands” and “Argo,” and series like “BoJack Horseman.”
iii.His most recent role was on Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method,” where he earned two Emmy nominations.
iv.Arkin earned two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Golden Globe Award,  and British Academy Film Award.
v.He also received multiple Oscar nominations, including for his first film “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming” in 1967 and for “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” in 1969.

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IMPORTANT DAYS


14) National Doctor’s Day 2023 – July 1    

National Doctor’s Day is annually observed across India on 1st July to appreciate and honour the valuable contributions of doctors and healthcare professionals in India. This day also gives an opportunity to thank doctors for their selfless service and efforts for the well-being of the people in India.

·         The day also commemorates the birth as well as the death Anniversary of Bharat Ratna Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy (BC Roy), a physician and one of the most influential designers of India’s contemporary healthcare system.

·         The national observance of Doctor’s Day across India is led by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

The theme for National Doctor’s Day 2023 in India is – “Celebrating Resilience and Healing Hands”.
Background:
i. In India, the celebration of National Doctor’s Day was initiated by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) for the first time on 1st July 1991.
ii. Since 1991, the day has been celebrated as a significant occasion to honour and appreciate the invaluable contributions of doctors, promote medical awareness, and encourage the well-being of the medical community.
About Indian Medical Association (IMA):
Started in- 1928
National President- Dr. Sharad Kumar Agarwal
Headquarters- New Delhi, Delhi

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15) 75th National Chartered Accountants Day – 1st July 2023

The National Chartered Accountants (CA) Day is annually observed across India on 1st July to commemorate the establishment of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) on 1st July 1949. It is also known as ICAI Foundation Day which honors the work of all Chartered Accountants.

·         1st July 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the ICAI.

Theme for 2023:
The theme for the year 2023 is ‘Empowering Financial Excellence’.
Event 2023:
i.To commemorate the 75th anniversary, President of India Droupadi Murmu attended the CA foundation day and launched the new syllabus at Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi, Delhi
ii.India Post, Ministry of Communication & Technology, released a commemorative stamp of ICAI on the occasion of the CA Day 2023 to mark the beginning of its 75th year.
iii.ICAI also launched a Special logo to commemorate the beginning of its 75th year.
About Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI):
President- Aniket Sunil Talati
Headquarters- New Delhi

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16) 6th Goods and Services Tax Day – 1st July 2023 

Goods and Services Tax (GST) Day is annually observed on 1st July to commemorate the implementation of the GST system, a comprehensive indirect tax levied on the supply of goods and services in India.

·         1st July 2023 marks the observance of the 6th GST Day which commemorates the 6th anniversary of GST coming into force (1st July 2017).

Background:
i.On 1st July, 2017, GST laws were implemented, replacing multiple indirect taxes such as excise duty, service tax, value-added tax (VAT), and others levied by the Central and State Governments.
ii.On 30th June 2018, the Government of India announced the decision to celebrate the 1st July of every year as the GST Day.
iii.The first-ever GST day was observed on 1st July 2018, which marked the first anniversary of GST coming into force.
About GST Council:
As per Article 279A (4), the GST Council will make recommendations to the Union and the States on important issues related to GST, like the goods and services that may be subjected or exempted from GST, model GST Laws, principles that govern Place of Supply, threshold limits.

·         Chairperson of GST Council is Union Finance Minister Smt.Nirmala Sitharaman

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STATE NEWS


17) Anurag Verma Appointed as New Chief Secretary of Punjab

On 1st July 2023, Anurag Verma, a 1993-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, took charge as the 42nd chief secretary of Punjab in Chandigarh, Punjab. He will also hold the charge as principal secretary, personnel and vigilance.

·         Anurag Verma succeeded Vijay Kumar Janjua, who retired on 30th June 2023.

·         Anurag Verma served as the additional chief secretary of Punjab, Principal Secretary home affairs and Justice, along with some other additional charges. Previously, he has also served as the deputy commissioner of the Bathinda, Ludhiana and Jalandhar districts.

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