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23rd December 2023


1)  MOCI Minister Piyush Goyal releases 5th LEADS Survey Report: 13 States and UTs among Achievers

Union Minister Piyush Goyal, Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) released the 5th LEADS ( Logistics Ease Across Different States) 2023 Survey Report in New Delhi, Delhi.

·         Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu are categorized as achievers among the Coastal states in the 5th LEADS 2023 Survey Report.

LEADS 2023 categorizes States based on their geographic demographics into 4 categories viz. Landlocked Group, Coastal Group, north-eastern Group and UTs Group. For grading each of these categories is divided into the following three categories.
ii.Fast Movers

·         13 states and UTs categorized as achievers, 10 are fast movers, and 13 are aspirers

About Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI);
Union Minister- Piyush Goyal (Rajya Sabha Maharashtra)
Minister of State- Anupriya Singh Patel (Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh); Som Prakash (Hoshiarpur, Punjab)

2)  Union MSME Minister Narayan Rane Launched 3 Sub-schemes under RAMP Programme

On 20th December 2023, Union Minister Narayan Rane, Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises(MoMSME), launched three sub-schemes under the aegis of the Raising and Accelerating MSME Performance (RAMPprogramme.

The 3 sub schemes are:

·         MSME Green Investment and Financing for Transformation Scheme (MSME GIFT Scheme).

·         MSE Scheme for Promotion and Investment in Circular Economy (MSE SPICE Scheme).

·         MSE Scheme on Online Dispute Resolution for Delayed Payments (MSE ODR scheme).

The schemes were launched during the 2nd meeting of the National MSME Council chaired by Union Minister Narayan Rane.

·         Union Minister of State(MoS), Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma, MoMSME, graced the event as the Vice Chairperson of the National MSME Council.

About RAMP Programme:
i.RAMP, launched in June 2022, is a World Bank supported 5 year central scheme by MoMSME.
Aim: To strengthen governance at Central and State; improve Centre-State linkages and partnerships and improve access of MSMEs to market and credit,
ii.RAMP will be implemented over a period of 5 years with a financial outlay of Rs 6,062.45 crore or USD 808 Million.

·         USD 500 Million will be funded by WB and USD 308 million will be funded by GoI.

iii.The National MSME Council is the administrative and functional body of RAMP.
Details of the new Sub-schemes:
i.MSME GIFT Scheme – will support the MSMEs to adopt green technology with interest subvention and credit guarantee support.
ii.MSE SPICE Scheme – this is the 1st ever governemnt scheme to support circular economy projects which will be done through credit subsidy.
This will aid to achieve the target of MSME sector towards zero emissions by 2070.
iii.MSE ODR scheme –this is a first of its kind scheme to Integrates legal support with IT (Information Technology) tools and AI (Artificial Intelligence) to address delayed payment issues for MSEs.
Implementing Agencies:
MoMSME has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with the implementing agencies Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) for MSME GIFT Scheme and MSE SPICE Scheme and with National Informatics Centre Services Inc. (NICSI) for MSE ODR scheme.
New Initiatives:
i.MoMSME’s Zero Defect and Zero Effect (ZED) scheme has been made free for women led MSMEs.
ii.Support for Commercialisation of IP Programme (MSME – SCIP Programme) enables MSME innovators to commercialize their Intellectual Property Rights(IPR).


3)  ICG & Amazon India Join Hands to Create Work Opportunities for Ex-Service Personnel

Amazon India has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) to provide career opportunities for  ex-service personnel.

·         The partnership aims to help ex-servicemen from military backgrounds pursue corporate careers through opportunities at Amazon or in other corporate roles.

·         The collaboration also aims to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion in Amazon India’s workplace.

Note: Amazon India also renewed its MoU with the Directorate General Resettlement (DGR), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to reaffirmed its commitment to supporting ex-service personnel.



4)  United Nations Declared 2024 as the International Year of Camelids

 The United Nations (UN) has declared the year 2024 as the International Year of Camelids (IYC 2024) to raise awareness of the economic and cultural significance of camelids in protecting ecosystems, conserving biodiversity, assuring food security, and adapting to climate change.

·         The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) is the lead agency for celebrating the IYC 2023 in collaboration with other relevant organizations and bodies of the UN system.

Slogan of IYC 2024: Heroes of deserts and highlands: Nourishing people and culture
i.On 20 December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the resolution A/RES/72/210 and declared 2024 as the IYC upon recommendation by FAO.

·         This was adopated following the resolution 7/2017 of the 40th session of the Conference of the FAO.

ii.The resolution for the IYC was proposed by the Government of Bolivia and presented by Ecuador as the Country Chair of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC).
iii.FAO officially launched the IYC 2024 on 4 December 2023 in Rome, Italy.
Significance of IYC 2024:

·         Raise awareness of the potential of camelids

·         Encourage increased investment in the camelid sector

·         Promote research, capacity development, and innovative practices and technologies.

·         Promotes actions that improve the management of camelids to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

i.Camelids are members of the family “Camelidae”, the only currently living family in the suborder Tylopoda.
ii.Dromedary camels, Bactrian camels, wild Bactrian camels, llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, and guanacos are the 7 distinct members of this Camelids.
iii.Camelids contributes to the livelihoods of millions of households across over 90 countries.
iv.They contribute to food security, nutrition and economic growth and holds a strong cultural significance for communities across the world.
Camelids and SDGs:
Camelids contribute significantly to achieving SDGs, combating hunger, eradicating extreme poverty, empowering women, and ensuring the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.
About Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO):
With 195 members – 194 countries and the European Union, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide.
Director-General– Qu Dongyu
Headquarters– Rome, Italy
Established in– 1945


5)  IOM Launches Project PRAYAS for Orderly, Safe Movement of Indians Overseas

On December 21, 2023, International Organization for Migration (IOM) launched Project PRAYAS (Promoting Regular & Assisted Migration for Youth and Skilled Professionals) in partnership with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Government of India (GoI) to facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration for Indian workers and students.

·         The project was launched by Muktesh K. Pardeshi, Secretary (Consular, Passport, Visa and Overseas Indian Affairs/CPV& OIA), MEA, to commemorate the International Migrants Day (18 December).

Note: IOM is a leading United Nations(UN) agency promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all.
About Project PRAYAS:
i.This project is a joint collaboration between the IOM India and Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA).
ii.PRAYAS, backed by the IOM Development Fund, seeks to develop a roadmap for enhanced coordination between Central and State Governments, fostering the sharing of best practices among States and bolstering engagement with MEA on international migration matters.
Key Points:
i.PRAYAS consolidates state initiatives for safe migration in alignment with GoI’s migration priorities and Goal 10.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

·         SDG Target 10.7: Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies

ii.It adheres to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and the Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF).
iii.India’s working-age population will be 68.9% by 2030, with over a billion workers.
iv.With Over 32 million Indians and people of Indian origin residing abroad, India plays a major role in the international migration dynamics.
About International Organisation for Migration (IOM):
Director General (DG)– Amy E. Pope (First woman DG of IOM)
Headquarters– Geneva, Switzerland
Establishment– 1951


6)  Bhutan King Announces Gelephu Mindfulness City Project of 1,000 sq km on Assam Border

Bhutan’s Reigning King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has announced that the Gelephu Mindfulness City, or Special Administrative Region (SAR) project on the 116th National Day  of the Kingdom of Bhutan held at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu (Bhutan).
i.The project covers over 1,000-square-kilometre area in Gelephu, located in Sarpang District in Bhutan which also borders the Indian state of Assam.
About the project:
i.The Special Administrative Region (SAR) in Gelephu will have the autonomy to formulate laws and policies that are needed.

·         It will also have executive autonomy and legal independence.

ii.The project of Mindfulness City encompasses conscious and sustainable businesses inspired by Buddhist spiritual heritage and distinguished by the uniqueness of the Bhutanese identity.
iii.The project also includes building a second international airport for Bhutan at Gelephu.
iv.During the Bhutan King’s speech on National Day, he thanked the Indian government for the approval of the first India-Bhutan railway line that connects Gelephu (Bhutan) to Kokrajhar (58 km rail link) in Assam.

·         The preliminary Engineering-cum-Traffic (PET)survey for the Kokrajhar-Gelephu link has been completed by the Indian Railways.

v.The project aims to establish an economic corridor connecting South Asia with Southeast Asia via India’s northeastern states.
Bhutan’s National Day (celebrated on December 17th every year) commemorates the coronation of the first King of Bhutan, Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck, in 1907, to mark the unification of Bhutan under single monarchy.
Related News:
Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has made an official visit to India from 03-10 November 2023.
About Bhutan:
Bhutan borders with four Indian states namely West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh.
Capital – Thimphu
Currency – Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN)



7)  JICA Signs Japanese ODA Loan Agreements with GoI for High-Speed Rail Project & SDGs

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed loan agreements with the Government of India (GoI) in Delhi to offer Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans totalling 415,301 million yen for the following two projects:
i.Project for the Construction of Mumbai -Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail (V) (loan amount: 400,000 million yen)
ii.Program for Japan-India Cooperative Actions towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in India (Phase 2) (loan amount: 15,301 million yen)
Project for the Construction of Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail:
i.By constructing a high-speed rail between Mumbai(Maharashtra) and Ahmedabad (Gujarat) (approximately 500-km section), the project aims to improve the efficiency of the transportation network and contribute to broad economic development.
ii.The project will promote regional economic development and the attainment of the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

·         Goal 8 – Decent work and economic growth

·         Goal 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure

·         Goal 11 – Sustainable cities and communities

·         Goal 13 – Climate action

iii.India’s under-construction bullet train follows the style of Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed bullet trains.
Program for Japan-India Cooperative Actions towards SDGs in India:
i.The program aims to contribute to the promotion of the SDGs in India, especially in the field of social development.
ii.The loan will fund projects overseen by the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog which impact 112 aspirational districts and 500 aspirational blocks across India.
iii.The program will also promote policy actions, implement effective practices, and enhance the Japan-India partnership through the exchange of human resources.
iv.The project is currently in the second phase which was started in April 2021 and scheduled to be completed in March 2026.
Policy Matrix Pillars:
The program aims to work on areas (Policy Matrix Pillars) like
i.Health and nutrition – to promote regional healthcare systems and improve maternal and child nutrition
ii.Education –  to enhance learning outcomes, foster inclusive school environments, and maintain hygienic educational facilities.
iii.Agriculture and water resources – to increase farmers’ income and improve the efficacy of agricultural producer associations
iv.Financial inclusion and skill development – to provide vocational training for youth and enhance financial inclusion and social security coverage.
v.Basic infrastructure – to increase internet access and ensure universal availability of water supplies.
Note: The quantitative and qualitative outcomes of these policy actions will be monitored and evaluated by JICA across three tranches.
About Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA):
President – Tanaka Akihiko
Headquarters – Tokyo, Japan
Established in – 1974


8)  Axis Bank & American Express Partners to Launch Co-Branded Credit Card

Axis Bank Limited has partnered with the American Express Company and launched the “Axis Bank Privilege Credit Card” on the American Express network.

·         Under this partnership, Axis bank customers will benefit with the local and global benefits of the American Express network.

About Axis Bank Privilege Credit Card:
i.Eligibility: The applicant should be a resident of India aged between 18 to 70 with a net annual income of Rs 6 lakhs or more.
ii.Joining fee is Rs. 1500(NIL for priority customers) and the annual fee is (2nd year onwards) of Rs 1500.

·         The standard fee will be reversed by spending Rs.2.5 lakh in the previous anniversary year.

iii.The finance charges of the card are 3.6% per month and the Cash Withdrawal Fee is 2.5% of the Cash Amount.
iv.Reward Points: EDGE Reward point is the new point redemption currency of this credit card. These reward points can be redeemed against multi-brand vouchers.
About American Express (AMEX):
American Express is a leading, globally integrated payments company
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer(CEO) – Stephen J. Squeri
Headquarters – New York, United States of America (USA)
About Axis Bank Limited:
MD & CEO– Amitabh Chaudhry
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
Established in – 1993
Tagline – Badhti Ka Naam Zindagi


9)  Kotak Life Has Introduced a New Insurance Product  ‘T.U.L.I.P’

On 20th December 2023, Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance Company Limited launched “Kotak T.U.L.I.P”, a new term insurance policy with benefits of a unit-linked insurance plan (Ulip).
T.U.L.I.P, stands for term and Ulip, offers comprehensive protection like a term plan and also the opportunity to grow their wealth like a ULIP.

·         This offers a refund of 2 times the premium allocation charges in the 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th years.

·         The policy also offers loyalty addition up to 30% of the fund value as part of the maturity benefits,

·         This also offers 8  fund options to choose from for the policyholder to invest according to their financial goals.



10)       DEA Grants One-Time Exemption to LIC to Achieve 25% MPS in 10 Years

On 21st December 2023, The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance (MoF), granted one-time exemption (in the public interest) to Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) to achieve 25% Minimum Public Shareholding (MPS) within 10 years from the date of listing, till May 2032.
i.In January 2023, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has amended the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 which will exempt Indian state-run companies from the MPS norm that requires listed companies to maintain a 25% public shareholding even after their privatisation, if the government decides so “in public interest”.
ii.The exemption to the MPS rule was earlier available only to government-controlled companies.
Note:  LIC was listed on the exchanges in May 2022 and the Government of India (GoI) has sold over 22.13 crore shares (3.5% statke) through Initial Public Offering (IPO). At present, GoI holds 96.5% stake in LIC.



11)       UNESCO Announced Winners of 2023 Heritage award; Rambagh Gate in Punjab wins Award of Excellence

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s 2023 Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation, also known as Heritage Awards, were awarded to a total of 12 projects from India(6), China(5), Nepal(1).

·         Rambagh Gate and Ramparts in Punjab(India), has won the “Award of Excellence”, the highest honour of UNESCO heritage awards.

·         Karnikara Mandapam, Kunnamangalam Bhagawati Temple, Kerala, India have won the 2 awards. It was recognised with Special Recognition for Sustainable Development category and Award of Distinction.

The awards were announced by UNESCO Regional office in Bangkok, Thailand(UNESCO Bangkok), the Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education as well as a Cluster Office in the Asia-Pacific region of the UNESCO.
About United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):
Director-General– Audrey Azoulay
Headquarters– Paris, France
Founded in– 1945 (came into force in 1946)
Members– 194 Members and 12 Associate Members

12)       T2 of KIA wins World Special Prize for Interior 2023 at UNESCO Prix Versailles

India’s Kempegowda International Airport’s (KIA) Terminal 2 (T2) in Bengaluru, Karnataka received the “World Special Prize for an Interior 2023” from UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Prix Versailles under the category of Airports.

·         The award recognizes creativity, innovativeness, ecological efficiency, and the reflection of local heritage.

·         As per Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), it is the only Indian airport to receive such global recognition.

Other two Prix Versailles (Airports) Awards and Winners:
i.Prix Versailles Award– It was won by Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, Satellite Concourse, Shenzhen, China
ii.Special prize for an Exterior– It was won by Newark Liberty International Airport, Terminal A, Newark, New Jersey, United States (US)
Click Here for full list of Awards
About KIA Terminal 2:
i.The 2,55,661 sqm Terminal 2 is built on four pillars: technological leadership, environmental stewardship, a terminal within a garden, and a tribute to Karnataka’s culture.
ii.It is designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), with civil construction by Larsen & Toubro (L&T).

·         SOM is an American architectural and engineering firm known for its expertise in urban planning.

About Prix Versailles Awards:
Established in 2015, it recognizes intelligent sustainability as a cultural catalyst, acknowledging attributes such as innovation, creativity, reflection of local heritage, ecological efficiency, and promotes social interaction.

·         The Prix Versailles 2023 World Judges Panel was chaired by Elie Saab.

About Prix Versailles:
Secretary General– Jerome Gouadain
Secretariat– Versailles, France



13)       Sanjay Kumar Singh Elected as a New President of WFI

Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) names Sanjay Kumar Singh as its new President, he is also the Vice-President of Uttar Pradesh(UP) Wrestling Association.
i.Sanjay Kumar won the election with 40 votes (special majority) by defeating former India wrestler and Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Anita Sheoran who secured only 7 votes.
Other elected members of WFI:
Secretary General: Prem Chand Lochab (Gujarat)
Treasurer: Satya Pal Sigh Deswal (Uttarakhand)
Joint Secretaries: Bellippady Gunaranjan Shetty (Karnataka) and R K Purushottam (Andhra Pradesh)
Senior Vice President: Devender Singh Kadian (Assam)
Vice-Presidents: Asit Kumar Saha (West Bengal), Jai Prakash (Delhi), Kartar Singh (Punjab) and N Phoney (Manipur)
Executive Committee (EC) members: M Loganathan (Tamil Nadu), Neivkuolie Khatsii (Nagaland), Prashant Rai (Chattisgarh), Rajnish Kumar (Jharkhand) and Ummed Singh (Rajasthan).
Previous WFI President:
i.Previously the position of ‘President’ was held by Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh
Member of Parliament(MP) representing Kaiserganj Constituency of UP in the Lok Sabha.
ii.Brij Bhushan was serving the post since 2011 (three tenure 2011-15, 2015-19, 2019-23).
iii.However, in January 2023, he was removed from the post.
iv.In April 2023, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) set up a two-member ad-hoc committee comprising, Bhupender Singh Bajwa, IOA executive council member and Suma Shirur, former Indian shooter of outstanding Merit of IOA, to overlook the operations of the WFI.
The WFI’s electoral college comprised 50 voters.
Additional Info:
United World Wrestling (UWW), the governing body of wrestling, has banned the WFI in August 2023 for not conducting its election on time.
About Wrestling Federation of India (WFI):
President  – Sanjay Kumar Singh
Headquarters – New Delhi, Delhi
Established in – 1967


14)       Govt Reconstitutes National Startup Advisory Council, MoCI Nominates 31 Non-Official Members

 On 18th December 2023, Government of India reconstituted the National Startup Advisory Council (NSAC) upon the completion of its 2 year term. Following the reconstitution, Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) has nominated 31 non-official members to represent various stakeholders of the startup eco-system.
Note: The term of the non-official members of NSAC shall be 2 years or until further orders.
About National Startup Advisory Council(NSAC):
i.NSAC was constituted by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), MoCI in January 2020.
ii.Aim: To advise the government on measures required to build a strong ecosystem to foster innovation and startups in India to promote sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities.
iii.The council with a term of 2 years aims to promote a culture of innovation, and enhace access to capital for startups.
iv.The NSAC is chaired by the Miniter for Commerce & Industry (MoCI) and the Joint Secretary of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), MoCI, will be the convener of the council.
About the Reconstituted NSAC:
i.The nominated members includes founders of startups, individuals representing investor interests and representatives from incubators and accelerators.
ii.The 31 nominated non-official members includes Kunal Bahl, Co-Founder of Snapdeal, Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Founder and Executive Vice Chairman of Info Edge; Nithin Kamath, Founder and CEO of Zerodha; and Nivruti Rai MD & CEO of Invest India.
Click here for the complete list of nominated members
Additional info:
The 8th meeting of NSAC was held on 19th December 2023 under the chairmanship of Union Minister Piyush Goyal, MoCI, in New Delhi, Delhi.


15)       Bisleri ropes in Actress Deepika Padukone its 1st-ever Global Brand Ambassador

Bisleri International Private Limited, leading Indian bottled water company, has roped in Deepika Padukone, a bollywood actress and producer as its first ever global brand ambassador.

·         As the brand ambassdor, she will feature on the Bisleri’s #DrinkItUp campaign, which embraces the fun and excitement of visualising hydration.

·         Padukone will also be a part of all Bisleri product packaging.

Note:Bisleri was launched in India in 1965. In 1969, Parle Group acquired the Bisleri brand, from an Italian entrepreneur, Signor Felice Bisleri
About Bisleri International Private Limited:
Chief Executive Officer(CEO) – Angelo George
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra



16)       CCI Approvals on 19th December 2023

On 19th December 2023, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) approved the following:
i.Proposal to acquire certain business undertakings of Ind Swift Laboratories Limited(ISLL) and Essix Biosciences Limited(Essix) by Synthimed Labs Private Limited(Synthimed).
ii.Proposal to acquire majority shareholding of Glenmark Life Sciences Limited(GLS) by Nirma Limited.
iii.Amalgamation of a list of companies and demerger of Real Estate Business Undertaking of India Land Hotels Mumbai Private Limited into Indiabulls Pharmacare Limited
About the Competition Commission of India(CCI)
CCI, the competition regulator in India, is responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, 2002
Chairperson – Ravneet Kaur
Headquarters – New Delhi, Delhi
Established– 2003


17)       National Mathematics Day 2023- December 22

 National Mathematics Day (NMD) is annually celebrated across India on 22 December to commemorate the birth anniversary of the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, who was born on 22 December 1887 in Erode, Madras Presidency, British India (now Tamil Nadu, India)

·         This day is celebrated to raise awareness about the importance of mathematics for the growth of humanity and to recognise the contributions made by Ramanujan, to mathematics.

22 December 2023 marks the 136th birth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan.
i.In December 2011, the Government of India declared that 22nd December, birth anniversay of Srinivasa Ramanujan, of every year as “National Mathematics Day” and the year 2012 as “National Mathematics Year” as a tribute to Srinivasa Ramanujan.

·         This was announced by then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh during the event organised in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

ii.The first-ever NMD was observed on 22 December 2012, the 125th birth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan.




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