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CURRENT AFFAIRS BOOSTER : 26th DECEMBER 2023



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Current Affairs

 


26th December 2023



NATIONAL AFFAIRS

1)  Kerala Emerges as the Most Preferred State to Work: ISR 2024

According to the 11th edition of the India skills Report (ISR) titled ‘India Skills Report 2024: Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Skills, Work, Monbility’ released on 20th December 2023, Kerala have emerged as the most preferred State to work for both male and female employable talent.
The report has been prepared by Wheebox, a talent assessment agency.
Highlights:
i.Overall employability in India has increased to 51.25% among surveyed youth with the necessary skills.
ii.In terms of large talent availability, States with the highest concentration of highly employable youth are Haryana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh (AP), Uttar Pradesh (UP), Kerala, and Telangana.
iii.Telangana has the highest concentration of employable talent in the age group of 18-21 with 85.45% followed by Kerala with 74.93%.
About Kerala:
Chief Minister– Pinarayi Vijayan
Governor– Arif Mohammed Khan
Stadium– Lal bahadur shastri stadium, VKN Menon Indoor Stadium


INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

2)  India’s Coking Coal Imports Witnessed 5-Year High, reached 38.14 mt; Australia Remains Dominant Supplier

India’s coking coal imports are at a five-year high during the April-November period(11 months) of fiscal year 2023-24(FY24) at 38.14 million tonnes (mt). On a year-over-year (y-o-y) basis, this represents a slight increase compared to the 38.12 mt imported during the same period in FY23.

·         Australia is the dominant supplier for India, accounting for over 60% of shipments. Over the past 5 years, Australia’s market share has decreased from 75%.

Key Points:
i.As of October 2023, the United States of America (USA) is the 2nd largest supplier of coking coal to India. Russia is the 3rd largest supplier replacing countries such as Canada and Mozambique.

·         Russian supplies have doubled in 5 years, from 1.75 mt in FY20 to 3.9 mt in FY24 (up 123%).

·         USA supplies have doubled over the same period, reaching 5.8 mt from 2 mt (a near 200% jump). Supplies increased by 10%.

ii.Despite being the 2nd-largest global producer of crude steel after China, India faces a shortage of coking coal domestically.
iii.Mills primarly depends on imports, positioning India as the largest global importer of coking coal.

·         Indian mills are diversifying sources, exploring suppliers from Poland, and New Zealand, and considering the potential of Mongolia.

Steel Industry Growth:
i.The surge in coking coal demand aligns with a 13% YoY increase in finished steel production, reaching 88.9 mt for the period under review (as against 78.5 mt).

·         Consumption stands at 87 mt, up 15% YoY.

ii.Crude steel production has reached 94 mt for 11 months of FY24, a 15% YoY increase, as compared to 83 mt in the year-ago period.
iii.Pig iron and hot metal production stood at 4.7 mt and 56.78 mt, up by 19% and 8%, respectively.

 

3)  India, Bangladesh Agrees to Extend Crucial IBP Route 

As per the Protocol on Inland Water Transit & Trade (PIWT&T), the Government of India (GOI) and Government of Bangladesh (GoB) have agreed to extend Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route and declare Safardighi in West Bengal as the new port of call.
High level talks:
i.Three high-level talks between India and Bangladesh was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 19th and 20th December, 2023.
ii.These talks includes:

·         Shipping Secretary-Level Talks (SSLT)

·         22nd Standing Committee Meeting (SCM) under PIWT&T

·         3rd Meeting of Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) on use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports (in Bangladesh) for to-and-fro movement of goods

·         Both agreed to extend the trade and connectivity through the land route of Land Customs Station (LCS) Radhikapur (Birol) and Hodibari (Chilahati) of West Bengal.

Attended Delegates:
i.SSLT and IGC was led by T.K. Ramachandran (Secretary, Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways-MoPSW,India) and Mohamed Mostafa Kamal (Senior Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, Bangladesh).
ii.SCM was led by Sanjay Bandopadhyaya (Chairman, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), India) and Sheikh Mohamed Sharif Uddin (Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping,  Bangladesh).
Under SSLT:
i.Both countries agreed to form a technical team to include Chandpur-Chittagong(Bangladesh) stretch as IBP route under PIWT&T.
ii.Along with identifying a location for drop-in centre for Bangladesh, inclusion of Dhamra Port(Odisha) as Port of Call under Coastal Shipping Agreement was considered.
Under SCM:
i.In order to provide better navigation and tracking facility to ships, they agreed to establish a joint committee to implement a common Automatic Identification System (AIS) on the IBP route.
ii.Bangladesh proposed to develop additional IBP (5&6; 9&10) on 80:20 sharing basis.
iii.Mongla-Jamtola stretch of Bangladesh will also be added to IBP route to make it easier to visit the Sunderbans area in Bangladesh.
Under ICG:
The possibility of including Payra sea port(Bangladesh) into Agreement on the use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports (ACMP) will be examined by both the countries.
What is  “Port of call”? 
As per the shipping Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) regulation, a “port of call” can be defined as the port of a country where cargo or a passenger (cruise) ship halts to discharge or load the cargo or to embark or disembark passengers.
About Bangladesh:
Prime Minister(PM) – Sheikh Hasina
Capital – Dhaka
Currency – Bangladeshi Taka

 

BANKING & FINANCE

4)  ADB & India Signed USD 100 mn Loan Agreement to Improve Urban Services & Tourism Facilities in Tripura

Asian Development Bank (ADB) and The Government of India (GoI) signed a loan agreement of USD 100 million for the project “India : Tripura Urban and Tourism Development Project” which aims to improve urban services and tourism facilities in the northeastern state of Tripura.

·         This is the first urban project in India that has been prepared with Project Readiness Financing (PRF).

Signatories:
The loan agreement was signed by Juhi Mukherjee, Joint Secretary of Department of Economic Affairs(DEA) in the Ministry of Finance(MoF) and Nilaya Mitash, Officer-in-Charge of ADB’s India Resident Mission.
Urban Services:
i.The project will improve the municipal infrastructure and public services for 12 out of 20 urban local bodies (ULBs) along the main National Highways(NH) in Tripura.
ii.A 21 km of urban roads will be build which incorporate features that respond to the needs of the elderly, women, children, and disabled people.
Tourism Facilities:
i.The project also aims to build the capacity of Tripura Tourism Development Corporation Limited (TTDCL), with a 10-year business plan and marketing strategy.
ii.Along with establishing a digital museum and a new adventure park, ADB will help upgrade tourist destinations, such as the Chaturdash Devata Temple(Old Agartala), Kasba Kalibari(Kamalasagar), and Neermahal Palace(Rudijala) in Tripura.
Urban water supply systems:
The project will upgrade urban water supply systems by

·         installing 42 kilometers (km) of new transmission and distribution pipes

·         establishing 4 new water treatment plants

·         improving 55 km of stormwater drains

About the project:
i.It is a ADB Administered Cofinancing project which is of total value USD 125 million(ADB financing USD 100 million & Non-ADB Financing USD 25 million).
ii.The program is implemented by Tripura Tourism Development Corporation Limited and Tripura Urban Planning & Development Authority.
iii.The project is executed by Urban Development Department of Government of Tripura with procurement plan duration of 18 months (1.5 years).
iv.The project is expected to be closed on 30th June 2030.
Additional Info:
i.The project also increases the capacities of these ULBs in the areas such as climate and disaster resilience, project management, service delivery, and financial sustainability.
ii.The project readiness financing (PRF) document describes the smooth transition from preparation to implementation of the project to minimize contracting delays and speed up the initial disbursements.
About Asian Development Bank (ADB):
President – Masatsugu Asakawa
Headquarters – Mandaluyong City, Manila, Philippines
Established in – 1966
Members – 68 members(49 members are from Asia)

 

5)  NABARD signs pact with ADB to facilitate Climate Action in India’s ANR Section

National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have launched an initiative to facilitate climate action in India’s Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development (ANR) sector.

·         Under this initiative, NABARD collaborates with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to establish a Technical Support Unit (TSU) to address climate change challenges, focusing on agriculture and rural livelihood sectors in India. The TSU will be managed by Intellecap Advisory Services Private Limited.

Note: United States of America (USA) based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a private foundation founded by Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates in 2000.
Key Points:
i.The ADB-NABARD collaboration will help the farming sector to tackle the adverse impact of climate change.
ii.This will also identify and support food security and climate financing in India’s ANR sector.
iii.Under this, NABARD will also receive support to formulate a climate financing policy and its adoption.
This will also support the ongoing and future projects of NABARD, like crop diversification projects, micro-irrigation projects, and JIVA (agro-ecology programme for revitalising natural resources management).
Note:
JIVA, launched by NABARD in 2022, is a community-based participatory programme for watershed (rainfed) and wadi (tribal) areas.  This extends across 2.5 million hectares, with a funding commitment of about Rs 5,000 crore.
About National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD):
Chairman– Shaji K V
Headquarters– Mumbai, Maharashtra
Establishment– 1982
About Asian Development Bank (ADB):
President – Masatsugu Asakawa
Headquarters – Mandaluyong City, Manila, Philippines
Establishment– 1966

 

6)  WB and DEA launch PPP Beginner’s e-course to foster PPP collaboration in Infrastructure Capacity-Building

The World Bank (WB) and the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance launched the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Beginner’s e-course to help people understand and contribute to PPPs in India.

·         It is a step towards fostering collaboration between the public and private sectors in infrastructure capacity-building.

·         It was launched by Ajay Banga, President, WB Group in the presence of Ajay Seth, Secretary, DEA, among others.

Key Points:
i.The PPP e-course is a infra-focused capacity-building programme jointly undertaken by the Infrastructure Finance Secretariat, DEA and the World Bank.
ii.The course is a five-module program that includes quizzes, including introduction to PPPs, identification of PPP projects, structuring of projects, tendering and implementation and monitoring aspects of PPP projects.
iii.The modules are practical and multi-sectoral, and use projects and case studies.
iv.The duration of the course is 7 hours and 15 mins.
v.Key features of the PPP beginner’s e-Course include: Accessible Learning, Expert-Driven Content, Interactive Learning, Certification.

 

7)  ICICI Prudential AMC Changed its ETF Symbols

ICICI Prudential Asset Management Company(AMC) Limited has changed its exchange-traded fund (ETF) product symbols to ‘IETF‘ (which stands for ICICI Prudential ETF) to simplify the identification of ETF Schemes for passive investment purposes.

·         The move is in line with Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI)’s master circular which dictates that the scheme name should mirror the scheme category.

About the code:
i.The code will be a combination of the name of the fund followed by the symbol ‘IETF’.
ii.The symbol of 28 ETF was changed in BSE (formerly Bombay Stock Exchange) Limited and National Stock Exchange (NSE) of India Limited.
About ICICI Prudential Asset Management Company Limited:
ICICI Prudential Asset Management Company Limited is a Joint Venture (JV) between ICICI Bank Limited and United Kingdom(UK) based Prudential Plc
Managing Director(MD) & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – Nimesh Shah
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
Established in – 1998

 

8)  SIDBI grants Rs.12.45 Cr to ETO Motors to deploy 300 E3W

Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has granted Rs. 12.45 crores to ETO Motors Private Limited to deploy 300 Electric 3-Wheelers (E3W) in Hyderabad(Telangana) and New Delhi (Delhi), under Mission 50K-EV4ECO.

·         ETO Motors will also develop Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging infrastructure including 180 Charging points.

·         All E3Ws will be manufactured in ETO Motors’ state-of-art manufacturing capacity in Jadcherla, Telangana.

Mission 50K-EV4ECO:
i.Under this mission, SIDBI will provide loans to eligible small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for the purchase of EVs and developing charging infrastructure, including battery swapping.
ii.The mission was launched in April, 2023.

 

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

9)  Iran’s Navy Includes Cruise Missiles Talaeieh & Nasir to its Armoury

On December 24, 2023, Iran’s navy has added the “Talaeieh” and the “Nasir”, the domestically produced cruise missiles to its arsenal. The missiles are stationed at a naval base near the Indian Ocean in the southern Iranian port of Konarak.
Key Points:
i.The Talaeieh has a range of over 1,000 kilometers and can change targets while traveling.
ii.The Nasir has a range of 100 kilometers and can be installed on warships.
iii.The missiles were designed by Iran’s military sector.
Note:
Cruise missiles are unmanned vehicles that are propelled by jet engines, similar to an airplane. They can be launched from ground, air, or sea platforms.
About Iran:
President– Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi
Currency– Iranian Rial
Capital– Tehran

 

10)       Uttarakhand Tourism Conducts trial run of Gyrocopter for ‘Himalaya Airsafari‘ 

Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board (UTDB) in partnership with Rajas Aerosports and Adventures Private Limited has completed the first gyrocopter trial flight at Bairagi Camp in Haridwar, Uttarakhand.

·         This paves a path for UTDB to launch India’s first Himalayan Air Safari scheme using gyrocopter.

·         These state-of-the-art gyrocopters are procured from German company ‘AutoGyro’ and it will be operated by trained German pilots.

About Himalayan Air Safari scheme:
i.The scheme is part of the Breakfast Tourism initiative of UTDB.
ii.The lesser-known picturesque locations in Uttarakhand can be explored through this scheme.
Note: A gyrocopter (also called autogyro) is a rotary-wing aircraft that flies by means of autorotation.

 

SPORTS

11)       Forbes’ World’s Highest-Paid Female Athletes 2023: Polish Tennis Player Iga Swiatek Tops; India’s PV Sindhu Ranked 16th

Polish Tennis Player Iga Świątek(22 years old) has topped the Forbes’ annual list World’s Highest-Paid Female Athletes 2023, with a total earning of USD 23.9 million (on-field USD 9.9 million; off-field USD 14 million) in 2023.

·         Indian Badminton player Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (PV Sindhu) is tied with American Gymnast Simone Biles in 16th position with a total earning of USD 7.1 million (on-field USD 0.1 million; off-field USD 7 million).

·         Sindhu is the only Indian and the only badminton player featured on the list.

Note: Iga Świątek is ranked as the world No. 1 (as of 18th December 2023) in women’s singles by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
Top 3:
Following Iga Świątek, Chinese freestyle skier Eileen Gu (20 years) is ranked 2nd with USD 22.1 million (on-field USD 0.1 million; off-field USD 22 million), and American tennis player Coco Gauff (19 years) is ranked 3rd with USD 21.7 million (on-field USD 6.7 million and off-field USD 15 million).
Top 5 World Highest-Paid Female Athletes 2023 by Forbes:

Rank

Name

Nationality

Sport

Earnings
(in USD)

1

Iga Świątek

Poland

Tennis

23.9 million

2

Eileen Gu

China

Freestyle skiing

22.1 million

3

Coco Gauff

United States of America (USA)

Tennis

21.7 million

4

Emma Raducanu

United Kingdom (UK)

Tennis

15.2 million

5

Naomi Osaka

Japan

Tennis

15 million

16

P.V. Sindhu

India

Badminton

7.1 million

Simone Biles

USA

Gymnastics

Highlights:
i.Iga Świątek is the 4th tennis player to secure the top spot on the list after Maria Sharapova(Russia) (2008 to 2015); Serena Williams(America) (2016 to 2019); and Naomi Osaka(Japan) (2020 to 2022).

·         According to the 2023 list, Iga Swiatek had the highest on-field earnings at USD 9.9 million.

ii.12 out of the world’s 20 highest-paid female athletes are tennis players.

·         WTA Tour players continue to dominate Forbes’ annual list, comprising 9 of the Top 10 highest-paid female athletes.

iii.At the age of 43, American tennis player Venus Williams is the oldest player on the list; and 19-year-old Coco Gauff is the youngest player on the list.
v.Naomi Osaka secured No. 5 on the list but had 0 earnings on the on-field but earned a total of USD 15 million only on the off-field.
Forbes’ World’s Highest-Paid Female Athletes List:
Forbes introduced the ranking in 2008 and the annual list is comprised of on-court earnings and off-court earnings estimates.

·         On-field earnings: Include base salaries, bonuses, stipends, and prize money and are rounded to the nearest USD 100,000.

·         Off-court earnings: They are rounded to the nearest USD 500,000 and are determined from endorsements, licensing, appearances, and memorabilia, as well as cash returns from any businesses with significant athlete interest.

The 2023 list featured 20 female athletes who collectively earned USD 226 million, encompassing both on-field and off-field earnings.
About PV Sindhu:
i.She hailing from Hyderabad, Telangana is ranked 11th in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Ranking – Women’s Singles.
ii.She won the silver in Women’s singles in 2016 Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and became the 1st Indian woman to win a silver medal at the Olympics.
iii.She won the Bronze in Women’s singles in 2020 Olympics held in Tokyo, Japan and beacame the first Indian woman to win two Olympic medals.
iv.In 2019, She became the first and the only Indian to win a gold in badminton world Championships.
Awards:
i.She was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 2013 and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award (now known as Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award) in 2016.
ii.She was honoured with the Padma Shri in 2015 and Padma Bhushan in 2020 for Sports.
Recent related News:
Mukesh Ambani, the Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries Ltd. Topped the
Forbes India’s 100 Richest 2023 List with USD 92 Billion. Mukesh Ambani regains the ‘Richest Indian’ title after he slipped to 2nd spot in 2022.
About Forbes:
Chief Executive Officer– Mike Federle
Founded in– 1917
Headquarters– New Jersey, USA

 

12)       Manchester City Defeats Fluminense to Win FIFA Club World Cup 2023

The United Kingdom’s Manchester City Football Club (F.C.) won their maiden Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Club World Cup 2023 by defeating Fluminense F.C.(Brazil) in the finals held at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia).

·         The 20th edition of the  FIFA Club World Cup witnessed the participation of seven teams and was held from 12th -22nd December 2023.

·         This victory marks Manchester City’s fifth title of 2023 season, including the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Champions League, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup.  Manchester City also became the first English team to win the FIFA Club World Cup at their first attempt.

·         The Golden Ball was given to Rodri (Manchester City), while the Silver Ball and Bronze Ball were awarded to Kyle Walker (Manchester City) and Jhon Arias (Fluminense), respectively. The FIFA Fair Play Award was awarded to Al Ittihad Football club.

·         The winners of the tournament were rewarded with USD 5 million, while the runners-up will get USD 4 million.

 

IMPORTANT DAYS

13)       National Consumer Rights Day 2023- December 24

 National Consumer Rights Day, also known as Bharatiya Grahak Diwas or National Consumer Day, is annually observed across India on 24 December to raise awareness of consumer rights and responsibilities.

·         The day aims to educate people about their rights as consumers to avoid exploitation like freedom of choice, access to information, and protection against dangerous products.

Background:
i.The day commemorates the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) of 1986, which received the assent of the President of India on 24 December 1986.
ii.The 1st National Consumer Rights Day was observed on 24 December 1986.
About Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution:
Union Minister– Piyush Goyal (Rajya Sabha Maharashtra)
Ministers of State– Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Constituency: Buxar, Bihar); Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti (Constituency: Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh)


14)       Good Governance Day 2023 – December 25

Good Governance Day, also known as Sushasan Diwas in Hindi, is annually observed across India on 25th December to mark the birth anniversary of the former(10th) Prime Minister (PM) Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The day also aims to create awareness of accountability and administration of government among the people.
i.25th December 2023 marks the 10th Good Governance Day and 99th birth anniversary of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
ii.The third Good Governance Week (Sushasan Saptah) was observed from 19-25 December 2023.
iii.Jitendra Singh launched three new features on the integrated government online training (iGOT) Karmayogi platform.
About Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (MoPPG&P):
Union Minister – Narendra Modi  (Constituency: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh)
Minister of State(MoS) – Jitendra Singh (Constituency: Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir)

 

 



















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