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General Awareness

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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

Read today's headlines and TAKE TEST to keep a watch on current happenings

ENVIRONMENT

IREDA and PNB Collaborate On Renewable Energy Projects

  • Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd. (IREDA) and Punjab National Bank (PNB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to advance renewable energy initiatives across the nation. Signed at IREDA's registered office in New Delhi, the agreement paves the way for joint efforts in co-lending and loan syndication for a spectrum of renewable energy projects.
  • The MoU includes provisions aimed at enhancing support for renewable energy projects. These provisions include:
  • Joint Lending and Loan Syndication: IREDA and PNB will collaborate in providing financial assistance through joint lending and loan syndication mechanisms.
  • Management of Trust and Retention Account (TRA): The agreement entails the joint management of TRA for IREDA borrowers, ensuring efficient fund utilization and management.
  • Competitive Terms of Sanction: The parties will work towards ensuring competitive terms, including pricing, on IREDA borrowings, facilitating smoother project financing.
  • Investment Opportunities: IREDA and PNB can explore investment avenues in bonds issued by each other.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Bandhan Bank Authorised to Collect Revenues on Behalf of West Bengal Govt.

  • Private lender Bandhan Bank was authorised by the West Bengal government to collect tax and non-tax receipts on its behalf.
  • The mandate will enable the bank to collect revenues through the Government Receipt Portal System (GRIPS).
  • By virtue of this mandate, people will be able to pay various taxes like property tax, motor vehicle tax and professional tax using this portal.

IEPFA and DBS Bank Collaborate to Enhance Investor Awareness

  • The Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA), operating under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, partnered with DBS Bank to bolster awareness regarding investment safety and fraudulent schemes. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between these entities aims to utilise DBS Bank's digital platforms to disseminate crucial messages to investors across India.

India Ranks First in the World in Terms of the Number of IPOs in 2023

  • According to a report by EY India, a leading global professional services organisation, Indian stock exchanges, including the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE), have emerged as global leaders in terms of the number of IPOs in 2023, with no cross-border deals reported.
  • India's primary markets, comprising BSE and NSE, recorded 31 IPOs (including one InvIT) in the fourth quarter of 2023, marking a significant uptick compared to the same period in 2022 and the third quarter of 2023. This represents a remarkable 72% increase over Q4 2022 and a substantial 41% increase over the third quarter (Q3) 2023.
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SPORTS

Bengaluru Open Tennis: India's Saketh Myneni and Ramkumar Ramanathan Clinch Doubles Title

  • In the Bengaluru Open tennis, India's Saketh Myneni and Ramkumar Ramanathan clinched the doubles title, while Sumit Nagal's campaign came to an end in the semi-finals.
  • Myneni and Ramkumar defeated the French pair of Constantin Kouzmine and Maxime Janvier 6-3, 6-4 and clinched the doubles title.

India Clinches Three Gold Medals on Opening Day of Asian Indoor Athletics Championships 2024

  • In the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships 2024, India clinched three gold medals on the opening day as Tajinderpal Singh Toor, Harmilan Bains, and Jyothi Yarraji won gold in Tehran, Iran.
  • Two-time Asian Games gold medallist Tajinderpal Singh Toor hurled the shot put at a distance of 19.72 meters for a new national indoor record.
  • The Two-time Asian Games silver medallist Harmilan Bains won gold in the women's 1500-meter run category and confirmed India's first gold medal. She clocked 4 minutes and 29.55 seconds in the final.
  • Jyothi Yarraji broke her personal and the National record to win gold in the women's 60 m hurdles as she clocked 8.12 seconds. Her previous best was 8.13 seconds. She defeated Japan's Asuka Tereda in the final to claim the top spot.
  • The Asian Indoor Athletics Championships, running since 2004, is a biennial competition organised by the Asian Athletics Association. The 2024 edition, going on in Tehran's Aftab e Enghelab Sports Complex, is the 11th edition.

Anush Agarwalla Secures First-ever Paris Olympics Quota in Dressage Discipline

  • Anush Agarwalla, who had won a historic individual bronze medal at the 2023 Asian Games, secured a Paris Olympics quota in dressage discipline, the Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) announced.
  • He obtained the Paris 2024 quota for the country based on his performance in four FEI events.
  • In dressage competitions, the horse and rider perform a series of pre-determined movements in an arena of 20 metres to 60 metres, bordered by a low rail which the horse must stay within.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Department of Fisheries Signs a MoU with Open Network for Digital Commerce

  • The Department of Fisheries signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) in the presence of Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Parshottam Rupala, Minister of State Dr. L Murugan, Secretary (Fisheries) Dr. Abhilaksh Likhi, Joint Secretary (Inland Fisheries), Sagar Mehra, MD, ONDC T. Koshy and other esteemed dignitaries at New Delhi. Parshottam Rupala also released a booklet 'From Catch to Commerce, Increasing Market Access through Digital Transformation'.
  • The objective of the collaboration of Department of Fisheries with ONDC is to provide a digital platform and empower all stakeholders including traditional fishermen, fish farmers producer organisation, entrepreneurs from fisheries sector to buy and sell their products through e-market place. ONDC is a unique platform of e-marketing that will play a significant role in fisheries sector by connecting fishermen, fish farmers, FFPOs, self-help groups and other fishermen cooperatives in a structured manner.

Empowering Indian Ports: Govt. Launches 'Sagar Aankalan' Guidelines

  • Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal launched the 'Sagar Aankalan' guidelines for Indian port performance index. The move aims at enhancing the efficiency and competitiveness of Indian ports.
  • The 'Sagar Aankalan' guidelines for National Benchmarking of Indian Ports Performance will be enforced across all seaports in India, with the goal of boosting their efficiency and competitiveness.

Centre Agrees to Discuss Demands for Ladakh's Statehood

  • The Centre agreed to discuss the demands for Ladakh's statehood, the inclusion of the Union Territory in the 6th Schedule of the Constitution and the setting up of an exclusive public service commission for the high-altitude region.
  • The agreement was arrived at a meeting held between the High Powered Committee (HPC) for Ladakh headed by Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai and a 14-member delegation of the Apex Body of Leh (ABL) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), representing various organisations of the Union Territory.
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DEFENCE

SAMAR Air Defense Missile Debuts in Vayushakti Exercise at Jaisalmer

  • The SAMAR (Surface-to-Air Missile for Assured Retaliation) air defense missile system marked a significant milestone as it was fired for the first time during the Vayushakti Exercise in Rajasthan's Jaisalmer in February.
  • SAMAR represents a remarkable achievement in indigenous defense technology, being developed entirely by units of the Indian Air Force's (IAF) Maintenance Command.
  • Notably, it was conceptualised utilising outdated Russian-origin air-to-air missile systems, showcasing innovative adaptation and utilisation of existing resources.
  • SAMAR represents a significant leap forward in India's air defense capabilities, embodying the nation's commitment to self-reliance and innovation in defense technology.
  • Its successful deployment and integration into operational exercises underscore its readiness to safeguard national airspace, marking a pivotal moment in India's defense preparedness.

Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi Assumes Charge as Vice Chief of Army Staff

  • Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi, who has vast operational experience along the frontiers with China and Pakistan, assumed charge as Vice-Chief of the Army Staff, succeeding Lieutenant General M. V. Suchindra Kumar.
  • Prior to taking over as Vice-Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Dwivedi was serving as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Northern Command from 2022-2024 in an extremely challenging operational environment.
  • An alumnus of Sainik School, Rewa, Lt Gen Dwivedi was commissioned into 18 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles in 1984, a unit he later commanded.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Shubman Gill is Punjab 'State Icon' for Lok Sabha Polls

  • In a significant move to boost voter engagement and participation in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the Punjab Chief Electoral Officer's office announced Indian cricketer Shubman Gill as the new "state icon" for Punjab. This appointment is a strategic effort to connect with the youth and sports enthusiasts, ensuring that the electoral process resonates more deeply across various demographics.
  • Under the ambitious target of "Is Vaar 70 Paar", the electoral office aims to surpass a 70 per cent voter turnout in the forthcoming polls. This initiative follows the previous voter turnout of 65.96 per cent during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections across the 13 seats in Punjab. By engaging a figure like Shubman Gill, who holds considerable influence among the younger population, the electoral office is optimistic about achieving and even exceeding this target.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

World Day of Social Justice

  • The World Day of Social Justice is observed annually on February 20. This day is dedicated to promoting social justice and ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. The World Day of Social Justice is an opportunity to reflect on the progress made in the fight for social justice and to identify the challenges that remain.
  • The history of the World Day of Social Justice dates back to 1995, when the Copenhagen Summit for Social Development was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The summit resulted in the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, which called for an end to poverty, unemployment, and discrimination. The World Day of Social Justice was first declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007.
  • The theme of World Day of Social Justice 2024 is 'Bridging Gaps, Building Alliances'. The United Nations chose this theme to emphasise the importance of collaboration and partnership in addressing the world's challenges.

Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh Foundation Day

  • The states of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh celebrate their Foundation Day on February 20, since 1987. This declaration was made by the Indian Government following the 53rd Amendment of the Indian Constitution in 1986. Arunachal Pradesh is also known as the 'Land Of The Rising Sun'. Proudly situated on the edge of the Himalayas, it is renowned for its dawn-lit mountains.
  • Arunachal Pradesh has a rich history that dates back centuries. The state was formerly known as the North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) until it was granted statehood on 20 February 1987. Prior to that, it was a part of the larger state of Assam. The state was divided into 16 districts in 1975, and the first general election for the Assembly was held in February 1978.
  • The history of Mizoram dates back to 1961, when the Mizo National Front (MNF) was formed by local Mizo tribal leaders to demand political rights.
  • The insurgency, which lasted for two decades, eventually resulted in the peace accord between the government of India and the MNF in 1986. This historic agreement paved the way for the establishment of Mizoram as a state of India on February 20, 1987.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

IIT Madras Hosts 'National CSR Summit'

  • The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) organised the IIT Madras National CSR Summit - 'Building India 2047 – Technology for Better Tomorrow' on the campus with a focus on 'Technology-Driven Social Impact'.
  • The flagship CSR Summit brought together stalwarts from corporate India to address prevailing societal challenges and enable collaboration through scalable and sustainable technological solutions towards 'Viksit Bharat @2047.'
  • The event saw participation from industry, PSUs, corporate firms and business leaders from across the country. The inaugural IIT Madras CSR Awards (2023) were presented during the summit, which was graced by Chief Guest Dr Palanivel Thiagarajan, Minister for Information Technology and Digital Services, Government of Tamil Nadu, alongside faculty, researchers, and students of the Institute.

IP University Vice Chancellor Mahesh Verma Assumes Additional Role at DPSRU

  • Lieutenant Governor V. K. Saxena appointed Mahesh Verma, the Vice-Chancellor of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, to assume the additional responsibility of overseeing Delhi Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research University (DPSRU).
  • The announcement was made regarding Saxena's directive to dismiss DPSRU Vice-Chancellor Ramesh Goyal in relation to an alleged faculty recruitment scam at the university between 2017 and 2019.

Uttar Pradesh Receives Grants of Rs. 740 crore for Higher Education

  • Uttar Pradesh received the largest grant in the nation, approximately Rs. 740 crore, under different categories through the Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan. This funding is earmarked to bolster research quality in the state's universities, foster innovation, and refurbish dilapidated structures within older educational institutions.
  • The allocated grant aims to improve the quality of higher educational institutions in Uttar Pradesh, ensuring they adhere to prescribed parameters and standards. Through the Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan Yojana, funding has been allocated for establishing new government model colleges in underserved regions to meet identified minimum Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) requirements.
  • The objective of the scheme is to offer financial assistance to higher education institutions across states, fostering equitable development. By 2026, the target is to raise the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) to 35 per cent.
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ART AND CULTURE

Aadi Mahotsav - National Tribal Festival Concludes

  • The annual 'Aadi Mahotsav – National Tribal Festival', inaugurated by President Droupadi Murmu concluded. The 9 day festival was organised in the heart of the capital city at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, New Delhi, from February 10 to February 18 by TRIFED showcasing its commitment to empowering tribal communities through celebration of the spirit of tribal entrepreneurship, crafts, culture, cuisine, and commerce.
  • The highlights of this year (2024) included launching of the Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Tribes aiming to nurture start-up culture and economic innovation among tribal entrepreneurs.
  • Approximately 1100 tribal artisans, artists, healers, chefs, and cultural troupes from 27 States and Union Territories showcased their work.
  • From handicrafts and handloom textiles to paintings and jewellery, each masterpiece showcased exceptional craftsmanship and untold stories woven into tribal culture.
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TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

The World's Most Powerful Passports in 2024

  • Six countries -- four European and two Asian -- have jointly secured the top position for the most powerful passports, according to Henley Passport Index data. Singapore and Japan, besides France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, have the most powerful passports in the world with access to 194 destinations without a visa, according to the 2024 Henley Passport Index.
  • South Korea, Finland and Sweden stood at the second position with access to 193 destinations without a visa.
  • With access to 192 destinations, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, and the Netherlands secured the third spot, followed by Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, ranking fourth on the list.
  • India slipped one rank compared to last year's 84th position to 85th position.
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