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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

30 Jan 2024

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

India, Other Nations Attend Conclave Organised By Taliban in Kabul

  • India was among 10-odd countries which attended a conclave in Kabul organised by the Taliban with a broader aim for regional cooperation. India has not yet recognised the Taliban setup and has been pitching for the formation of a truly inclusive government in Kabul.
  • The participating countries included India, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Indonesia and Kyrgyzstan. Russia was represented at the conclave by its special representative for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov.
  • The Regional Cooperation Initiative meeting was addressed by the Taliban regime's acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

Three West African States Quit ECOWAS Regional Block

  • Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, three West African states led by the military, immediately left the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional economic bloc that has been urging them to return to democratic rule.
  • The decision by the three, announced in a simultaneous joint statement is a blow to the bloc's regional integration efforts after it suspended the three following coups.
  • The bloc had previously said that it does not recognise the military-led governments, vowing that coups would no longer be tolerated after the military takeovers in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea and an attempted coup in Guinea-Bissau.

Bhutan's Liberal Tobgay Becomes Prime Minister after Fourth Free Vote

  • Bhutan's liberal politician Tshering Tobgay, leader of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), officially began his second term as Prime Minister, following elections earlier this month (January 2024).
  • Tobgay is the country's fourth freely elected Prime Minister since democracy was established in the Himalayan kingdom 15 years ago. A former bureaucrat and an advocate for Bhutan's Buddhist culture, he was previously Prime Minister from 2013 to 2018. He was also the leader of opposition in the parliament set up after the first free vote in 2008 until 2013.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Amit Shah Launches Computerisation Projects for Agri, Rural Dev Banks, Registrar of Coop Societies

  • Union Minister of Cooperation Amit Shah inaugurated a significant initiative – the Computerisation Project of Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (ARDBs) and the Registrar of Cooperative Societies (RCSs) in all states and union territories.
  • This collaborative effort by the Ministry of Cooperation and the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) aligns with the vision of 'Sahkaar Se Samriddhi', and targets 1,851 units across 13 states and UTs, aiming to connect them with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development through a common national software.
  • This initiative standardises business procedures, reduces transaction costs, facilitates streamlined loan distribution to farmers, and provides real-time data access for improved monitoring and assessment.

THDCIL Inaugurates India's Largest Green Hydrogen Pilot Project

  • THDC India Limited (THDCIL), a prominent Power Sector PSU, unveiled India's largest electrolyser end fuel cell-based Green Hydrogen Pilot Project at its office complex in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. The initiative aligns with the 'National Green Hydrogen Mission', showcasing THDCIL's commitment to sustainable energy practices.
  • R. K. Vishnoi, Chairman and Managing Director, THDCIL, inaugurated the project.

Bank of Baroda's Subsidiary 'BOB Financial Solutions Limited' Rebranded as 'BOBCARD Limited'

  • Bank of Baroda's wholly-owned subsidiary for cards, 'BOB Financial Solutions Limited', was rebranded as 'BOBCARD Limited' with the tagline 'Credit Reimagined'.
  • The NBFC also unveiled a new logo called 'Baroda Sun', which comprises dual 'B' letterforms that hold the rays of the rising sun.
  • The rebranding signifies a revitalized commitment to providing excellent credit solutions and customer-centric offerings. BOBCARD aims to differentiate itself as a forward-thinking financial partner, emphasizing adaptability and a focus on elevating financial experiences.
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SPORTS

Netherlands Won FIH Hockey5s Women's World Cup

  • India finished as runner-up at the inaugural edition of the FIH Hockey 5s Women's World Cup after a 7-2 loss to the Netherlands in the final in Muscat, Oman.
  • Tournament Awards and Accolades:
  • Gold Medallists: Netherlands
  • Silver Medallists: India
  • Bronze Medallists: Poland
  • Women's Challenger Trophy Winner: United States
  • Women's Challenger Trophy Runner-Up: Namibia
  • Best Goalkeeper: Marta Kucharska (Poland)
  • Best Junior Player: Deepika Soreng (India)
  • Top Scorer: Teresa Viana (Uruguay) with 19 goals
  • Best Player: Noor De Baat (Netherlands)

Divyansh Singh Panwar Breaks 10m Air Rifle World Record

  • Divyansh Singh Panwar at the ISSF World Cup in Cairo, Egypt broke Lihao's world record in the 10m air riffle with a final score of 253.7.
  • During the Asian Games in Hangzhou, in 2023, China's Sheng Lihao had become 10m air rifle champion with a world record of 253.3.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

IREDA Releases Vigilance Journal 'Pahal'

  • Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), Government of India enterprise under the administrative control of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, released 'Pahal'- the insightful house journal of its Vigilance Department. The journal was unveiled by Chairman & Managing Director of IREDA, Pradip Kumar Das. The ceremony took place at the registered office of IREDA in New Delhi, where Chief Vigilance Officer Ajay Kumar Sahani and other senior officials graced the occasion. The initiative marked a significant step towards transparency, accountability, and the promotion of renewable energy initiatives by IREDA.

Nitish Kumar Forms Govt. in Bihar with NDA

  • Nitish Kumar, who resigned as Bihar Chief Minister, formed a government in the state once again in alliance with the BJP.
  • In the aftermath of the alliance with the BJP, two Deputy Chief Ministers were appointed—Vijay Sinha and Samrat Choudhary. A total of 8 leaders took oath as cabinet ministers in the new government led by Nitish Kumar. The newly formed Cabinet includes members from both the BJP and JD(U), along with representatives from other parties. The list of ministers who took oath includes Samrat Choudhary, Vijay Kumar Sinha, Dr. Prem Kumar, Vijay Kumar Choudhary, Bijendra Prasad Yadav, Shravan Kumar, Santosh Kumar Suman, and Sumit Kumar Singh.

Beating Retreat Ceremony 2024

  • Beating retreat ceremony that officially marked the end of Republic Day festivities was held at Vijay Chowk.
  • The ceremony began with the massed band's 'Shankhnaad' tune, which was followed by the enthralling tunes such as 'Veer Bharat', 'Sangam Dur', 'Deshon ka Sartaj Bharat', 'Bhagirathi', and 'Arjuna' by Pipes and Drums band. The CAPF bands will play 'Bharat Ke Jawan' and 'Vijay Bharat' among others.
  • The principal conductor of the ceremony was Lt Col Vimal Joshi. While the Army Band conductor was Subedar Major Moti Lal, MCPO MUS II M Antony and Warrant Officer Ashok Kumar was the Conductors of Indian Navy and Indian Air Force respectively. The conductor of CAPF band was Constable G. D. Ranidevi. The Buglers performed under the leadership of Naib Subedar Umesh Kumar, and Pipes and Drums band was played under the instructions of Subedar Major Rajender Singh.
  • President Droupadi Murmu, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Mister Rajnath Singh were among the dignitaries who attended the ceremony.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Dr. Nitya Anand, Man Who Discovered India's First Oral Contraceptive Pill 'Saheli', Passes Away

  • Dr. Nitya Anand who made the first oral contraceptive pill 'Saheli' in India, passed away at the age of 99. Dr. Anand was in charge of the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) from 1974 to 1984. He was part of CDRI since it started in 1951. He guided 100 PhD students, wrote over 400 papers, and had more than 130 patents.
  • Dr. Anand made Saheli, a unique birth control pill, used once a week and without steroids or hormones. It was introduced in 1986 by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. In 2016, Saheli became part of India's National Family Programme. It is still the only pill of its kind in the world.
  • Dr. Anand was awarded the Padma Shri award.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

President Presents Best Electoral Practices Awards for 2023

  • The President of India, Droupadi Murmu presented the Best Electoral Practices Awards for the year 2023 to the state and district level officers for their outstanding performance in the conduct of elections during 2023. Awards were also presented to important stakeholders including government departments, and media organisations for their valuable contribution towards voters' awareness.
  • Karnataka's IAS officers Shikha C. and Divya Prabhu GRJ received Election Commission's national award for demonstrating best electoral practices.
  • They were part of the state and district level officers the President honoured with the Best Electoral Practices awards for 2023 for their outstanding performance in the conduct of elections, last year (2023).

Filmfare Awards 2024

  • The 69th Filmfare Awards ceremony took place in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The event featured hosting by Karan Johar, and performances by Kareena Kapoor, Karisma Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, and Kartik Aaryan among others.
  • Here is the list of some of the winners: Best Film (Popular): 12th Fail, Best Film (Critics): Joram, Best Actor in a Leading role (Male): Ranbir Kapoor (Animal), Best Actor in a Leading role (Female): Alia Bhatt (Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani), Best Actor (Critics): Vikrant Massey (12th Fail), Best Actress (Critics): Rani Mukerji (Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway) and Shefali Shah (Three Of Us) and Best Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra (12th Fail).
  • The Filmfare Awards are annual awards that honour artistic and technical excellence in the Hindi-language film industry of India. The Filmfare ceremony is one of the most famous film events in India. The awards were introduced by the Filmfare magazine of The Times Group in 1954, the same year as the National Film Awards. They were initially referred to as the 'Clare Awards' or 'The Clares' after Clare Mendonça, the editor of The Times of India and modelled after the Academy Awards.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

Odisha Launches LABHA: A 100% State-funded MSP Scheme for Tribal Empowerment

  • In a move towards the development and empowerment of approximately one crore tribals in Odisha, the state government, led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, launched the 'LABHA' scheme. LABHA, an acronym for Laghu Bana Jatya Drabya Kraya, is a 100% state-funded Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Minor Forest Produce (MFP).
  • Tribal primary collectors will sell minor forest produce at MSP through procurement centres managed by TDCCOL (Tribal Development Cooperative Corporation of Odisha Limited).
  • LABHA Yojana will collaborate with Mission Shakti's Women Self-Help Groups (SHGs), benefiting the majority of tribal women who constitute 99% of primary collectors.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

IIT Delhi Receives Grant from Rockefeller Foundation to Establish Climate Sciences and Technology Chair

  • The Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT D) received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to establish the Climate Sciences and Technology Chair.
  • With the aim of supporting the growing interest in climate technology interventions, this collaboration will provide resources to experts, researchers, and students to shape future climate policy action.
  • Over the course of the five-year grant, IIT Delhi will elect an academic with noteworthy contributions in the area of climate sciences and technology to expand the existing talent pool in this field from the Global South. Along with the Chair, IIT-D, across the five years, will hold two climate-centric convenings bringing together experts from the Global South to discuss the latest advances in tackling climate change.

New Funding Criteria for Govt. Aid Include NAAC Accreditation, NIRF Ranking

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) introduced draft guidelines proposing significant changes in the criteria for colleges to receive grants from the Centre. If approved, these guidelines, titled 'UGC (Fitness of Colleges for Receiving Grants) Rules, 2024,' will replace the existing 1975 UGC guidelines.
  • As per a notice released earlier, the UGC is reviewing applications from colleges to be included in Section 12B of the UGC Act, 1956. This process follows the UGC (Fitness of Institutions for Grants) Rules, 1975.
  • To align with the new NEP 2020 and ensure higher education institutions meet specific quality standards, the UGC is amending these rules and has introduced the draft University Grants Commission (Fitness of Colleges for Receiving Grants) Rules, 2024.
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ART AND CULTURE

India's 'Maratha Military Landscapes' nominated for UNESCO World Heritage List 2024-25

  • India nominated the 'Maratha Military Landscapes' for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List for the 2024-25 cycle. This significant move by the Culture Ministry highlighted the exceptional fortification and military systems envisioned by the Maratha rulers.
  • The 'Maratha Military Landscapes of India' comprise twelve components, including Salher Fort, Shivneri Fort, Lohgad, Khanderi Fort, Raigad, Rajgad, Pratapgad, Suvarnadurg, Panhala Fort, Vijay Durg, Sindhudurg, and Gingee Fort. These structures, dating back to the 17th and 19th centuries, span across Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, showcasing the strategic military prowess of the Maratha rule.
  • The nomination of the 'Maratha Military Landscapes' falls under the category of cultural property. These landscapes were included in the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2021. India's nomination aims to preserve and bring global recognition to these historical sites.
  • The Maratha Military Landscapes include hill forts, hill-forest forts, hill-plateau forts, coastal forts, and island forts. This variety reflects the Marathas' adaptability and ingenuity in using the natural terrain to their advantage.
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BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Himanta Biswa Sarma Releases First Volume of 'Political History of Assam (1947-1971)'

  • Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma released the first edition of 'Political History of Assam (1947-1971)'- Volume 1, marking a significant step in documenting the state's political journey.
  • The book, envisioned to be completed in three volumes by 2025, covers the political events in Assam from 1947 to 2020. Authored by Rajen Saikia, an eminent historian and former President of the Indian History Congress, Modern India Section, this work aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the region's political landscape during a crucial period in its history.
  • CM Sarma's initiative to release 'Political History of Assam (1947-1971)' is an attempt to bring forward a comprehensive and unbiased account of the state's political history. This initiative aligns with the State government's project for the Compilation & Publication of 'Political History of Assam.'
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LAW AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

Senior Advocate Abhinav Mukerji is Additional Advocate General for Bihar in Supreme Court

  • Senior Advocate Abhinav Mukerji was appointed as an Additional Advocate General (AAG) for the state of Bihar to conduct cases before the Supreme Court.
  • Notably, Mukerji is the first ever AAG for Bihar in the apex court.
  • Mukerji, who is a first generation advocate, was designated a Senior Advocate by the Supreme Court of India. He is a gold medalist in the Advocate-on-Record (AoR) examination by the Supreme Court of India and has served as the Standing Counsel for State of Bihar and the Additional Advocate General for the State of Himachal Pradesh in the Supreme Court.
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