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Weekly Current Affairs February 2024 (20th to 26th Feb 2024)

 

 

Current Affairs February 2024

 
Read this post to know about Weekly Current Affairs in short for the Week February 20 to 26, 2024. If you’re getting ready for entrance exams in India, it’s really important to know what’s happening around you. Whether you want to study UPSC, SSC, Bank Exams, Defence Exams or something else, keeping up with current events is a must. The exams often have questions about what’s going on in the world – like news about our country, other countries, or new discoveries. Being aware of these things not only helps you do well in the exams but also makes you smarter in general. It’s like having a wider view of the world, which is good for interviews and discussions too. So, it’s not just about passing the exams but also about being informed and ready for whatever comes your way.

In this post, you can see the headlines of current happenings categorised for your convenience. The categories of weekly current affairs of Week 4 of February are given below:
 

 

 

Weekly Current Affairs Update

For the Week: February 20 to 26, 2024

HEADLINES

 

Section A: INDIA

  • Surrogacy rules changed, couples with medical condition can use donor gametes
  • SC: Marriage cannot be ground to sack woman from Military Nursing Service
  • Centre allocates ₹20 crore to bail out poor prisoners
  • Govt excludes contentious provision in Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023 for truckers
  • Tribal Affairs, Ayush Ministries sign pact on health screening
  • SC to states: Go by our 1996 definition of forest
  • unveils 4 web portals for news publishers
  • FCRA licence of Indian Social Institute revoked
  • 41 candidates elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha
  • Former Lok Sabha Speaker and Maharashtra CM Manohar Joshi dies at 86
  • Senior advocate Fali S Nariman passes away at 95
  • Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi assumes charge as Vice Chief of Army Staff

 

Section B: INDIA & THE WORLD

  • Raisina Dialogue organised in New Delhi
  • India sends Buddha relics for public display to Thailand
  • Military Exercise ‘DHARMA GUARDIAN’ between India and Japan begins
  • G33 Trade Ministers Meeting held in Abu Dhabi
  • Exercise ‘DOSTI-16’ hosted by Maldives
  • India completely stops Ravi river water flow to Pakistan
  • INDUS-X Summit organised in New Delhi
  • G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting: India calls for revamp of UN Security Council
  • CICA Secretary General visits India
  • BBC gets first Indian-origin chairman in Dr Samir Shah

 

Section C: WORLD

  • Guinea’s military junta dissolves government and seals borders
  • African bloc lifts sanctions against Mali and Guinea
  • Donkey skin trade banned by the African Union
  • Pakistan: PML-N, PPP strike deal on coalition government
  • UAE dropped from financial crime watch list by FATF
  • Rishi Sunak govt bans mobile phones in all schools across England
  • UK signs new deal with EU to tackle small boat crossings
  • EU launches Red Sea mission
  • German parliament votes to legalise cannabis possession
  • Colombia to send deep-water expedition to explore historic galleon San José
  • US vetoes draft UNSC resolution on the Israel-Hamas war
  • World Day of Social Justice observed on February 20
  • International Mother Language Day celebrated on Feb 21
  • Israel declares Brazil’s President persona non grata for comparing Gaza war to Holocaust
  • Chile to reopen probe into mystery death of poet Pablo Neruda

 

Section D: SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

  • Vimarsh 2023 5G Hackathon conducted
  • Privately built lunar lander makes history with successful moon touchdown
  • ISRO completes final test for Gaganyaan rocket engine
  • ISRO: PAPA detects solar wind impact of coronal mass ejections
  • Tejas Mark-1A flies with India-made digital flight control computer
  • Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage
  • China names manned spaceship, moon lander

 

Section E: AWARDS

  • Vellayan Subbiah wins EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2023
  • Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards 2024 presented in Mumbai
  • Screen Actors Guild Awards presented in US
  • Times of India Sports Award (TOISA) 2023 awards

 

Section F: BANKING & FINANCE 

  • RBI allows banks to issue prepaid wallets for public transport systems
  • PSBs can now check on big borrowers on unified portal
  • RBI allows Paytm’s UPI payment business to be migrated to other banks
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman chairs 28th FSDC
  • 3 new PSB chairmen appointed

 

Section G: ECONOMY

  • NSSO unveils Household Consumption Expenditure Survey data
  • MRSI rolls out new socio-economic classification system
  • Rashtriya Udyamita Vikas Pariyojana under Skill India Mission inaugurated
  • Cabinet approves inclusion of additional activities in National Livestock Mission
  • Cabinet approves Flood Management and Border Areas Programme
  • Govt modifies rules to fast track rooftop solar installations
  • Farmers reject govt offer to buy 5 crops at MSP for 5 years
  • PM inaugurates 11 godowns in PACS
  • Govt allows 100% space FDI for making satellite parts
  • TRAI recommends mandatory call name display to curb spam
  • India cuts import duty on blueberries, turkeys; fully exempts extra long staple cotton from levy
  • India’s forex reserves dip by $1.13 bn to $616.1 bn as of Feb 16
  • IFFCO ranked first among top 300 cooperatives globally
  • Govt extends 20% export tax on parboiled rice until further order
  • Cabinet approves hike in sugarcane FRP by ₹25/quintal
  • Niranjan Rajadhyaksha declines to serve as member of 16th Finance Commission

 

Section H: CORPORATE

  • X complies with orders from govt. to block accounts, posts
  • Google paused Gemini’s ability to generate AI images of people
  • RIL-backed AI model set to launch in March
  • BYD unveils $233,450 EV
  • Zurich Insurance to buy 70% in Kotak Mahindra General
  • Mitsubishi Corp picks up 32% stake in TVS VMS for 300cr
  • Vibhor Steel listed

 

Section I: STATES

  • PM visits Chhattisgarh
  • Centre to examine Ladakh’s demand for constitutional safeguards
  • National Public Health India Conference held in New Delhi
  • SJVN commissions 50 MW Gujrai Solar Power Station in Uttar Pradesh
  • 211 PM SHRI schools inaugurated in Chhattisgarh
  • SECI unveils India’s largest solar-battery project in Chhattisgarh
  • Regional facilitation office of CBFC opened in Chandigarh
  • 1-km stretch of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project commissioned
  • UP Police Constable Exam 2024 cancelled due to paper leak
  • PM visits Varanasi
  • PM inaugurates AIIMS Jammu
  • India’s largest tribal festival held in Telangana
  • AP: PM opens IIT, IISER, IIITDM in Tirupati and Kurnool
  • NGEL inks land lease agreement with AP for green hydrogen hub
  • Tamil Nadu: To realise fine, court to give state 27kg of late CM’s gold & diamonds
  • Tamil Nadu bans cotton candy sale over cancer concerns
  • Karnataka: Bill to collect more taxes from earnings of state-owned temples defeated in council
  • Karnataka tightens cigarette laws: From sales to public smoking restrictions
  • Maharashtra: Sharad Pawar faction of NCP gets party symbol
  • Maharashtra MSME Defence Expo 2024 organised in Pune
  • Maharashtra assembly passes Maratha quota bill
  • PM visits Gujarat
  • Manipur HC deletes verdict para that led to ethnic violence
  • Assam to repeal Muslim Marriage Act
  • Arunachal Pradesh: 2 Congress MLAs, equal number of NPP legislators join BJP
  • First Gati Shakti Research Chair established at IIM Shillong
  • SC overturns result; declares AAP candidate Chandigarh Mayor
  • Radio announcer Ameen Sayani dies at 91
  • Telangana MLA Lasya Nandita dies in road accident
  • Film Director Kumar Shahani dies at 83
  • Actor Rituraj Singh dies at 59

 

Section J: SPORTS

  • Gopi Thonakal wins elite men’s race in Delhi Marathon
  • World Team Table Tennis Championships held in Busan
  • Tennis tournaments
  • Abhay Singh wins Goodfellow Classic squash
  • Asia Cup 2024 archery stage-1 held in Baghdad
  • Financial incentive for Service athletes who bagged medals in Asian Games
  • Fourth edition of Khelo India University Games start in Guwahati

 

 

Section A: INDIA

 

Surrogacy rules changed, couples with medical condition can use donor gametes

The Centre has amended the surrogacy rules 2022 allowing married couples to use an egg or sperm of a donor in case one of the partners is suffering from a medical condition.

 

The District Medical Board has to certify that either the husband or wife is suffering from a medical condition necessitating the use of donor gamete.

 

“In case when the District Medical Board certifies that either husband or wife constituting the intending couple suffers from a medical condition necessitating use of donor gamete, then surrogacy using donor gamete is allowed,” the notification issued on February 21, 2024 said.

 

The surrogacy using donor gamete is allowed subject to the condition that the child to be born through surrogacy must have at least one gamete from the intending couple, it stated.

 

This means if both the partners have medical problems or are unable to have their own gametes they cannot opt for surrogacy.

 

“Single women (widow or divorcee) undergoing surrogacy must use self-eggs and donor sperm to avail surrogacy procedures,” the notification read.

 

The amendment came after the Supreme Court last year received petitions from women across the country after it allowed a woman with a rare congenital disorder to avail surrogacy with a donor egg.

 

The Centre had in March 2023 issued a notification banning donor gametes for couples intending to undergo surrogacy.

 

SC: Marriage cannot be ground to sack woman from Military Nursing Service

Observing that any law which makes marriage of woman employees and their domestic involvement a ground for disentitlement is unconstitutional, Supreme Court has directed the Centre to pay Rs 60 lakh to a permanent commissioned officer from Military Nursing Service, who was fired from her job in 1988 after she got married.

 

Lt Selina John’s job was terminated as per Army instruction no. 61 of 1977 titled “Terms and Conditions of Service for the Grant of Permanent Commissions in the Military Nursing Service”, but it was withdrawn in 1995 when litigation was pending.

 

The court was hearing an appeal by the Centre challenging an Armed Forces Tribunal order for her reinstatement.

 

Bringing the officer’s 26 years of legal battle to an end, a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta concluded that Lt John’s release from Military Nursing Service was wrong and illegal and directed that she be paid the amount as a full and final settlement.

 

John was selected in 1982 and joined as a trainee at Army Hospital, Delhi. She was granted commission in 1985 to the rank of lieutenant and posted at Military Hospital, Secunderabad. She got married in 1988. By an order dated Aug 27, 1988, she was released from Army.

 

Centre allocates ₹20 crore to bail out poor prisoners

The Union government has allocated an annual fund of ₹20 crore to bail out poor prisoners languishing in prisons across the country due to financial constraints.

 

The Home Ministry has urged heads of prisons of all States and Union Territories to utilise the funds to provide relief to poor prisoners, who are either unable to pay the fine imposed on them or are unable to secure bail due to financial constraints.

 

In a communication, the Ministry said the initiative was part of the Centre’s priority in “reaching the last mile: no one to be left behind” under which the “Support to Poor Prisoners Scheme” was launched in May 2023.

 

“Many such prisoners are socially disadvantaged or belong to low-income groups. It is expected that providing financial aid to such poor prisoners may help them in paying their outstanding amount of fine or in securing bail, within the ambit of provisions of law, and they will be able to come out of jail and join the mainstream as a responsible citizen of the country,” the Ministry said.

 

Govt excludes contentious provision in Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023 for truckers

The Centre has excluded the contentious provision 106(2) affecting truckers from the Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita 2023, which will be implemented from July 1.

 

The truckers were demanding withdrawal of the provision in the newly-passed Bharat Nyay Sanhita, which increases the period of imprisonment from two years to 10 years in hit-and-run cases. Recently, they went on a strike pressing their demand.

 

On February 23, 2024, the government, notified that the three newly enacted – the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and Bharatiya Sakshya Abhiniyam – will be implemented from July 1.

 

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, replacing the IPC, will comprise 358 sections, down from the earlier 511 sections. Notably, 20 new crimes have been added, with compulsory minimum punishment retained in 23 crimes, and a penalty of community service established for 6 crimes. Additionally, 19 sections have been repealed.

 

Tribal Affairs, Ayush Ministries sign pact on health screening

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs and the Ayush Ministry on February 21, 2024 signed a Memorandum of Understanding paving the way for their collaboration on a nationwide health screening and management programme for about 20,000 tribal students enrolled in 55 Eklavya Model Residential Schools across the country.

 

The government, in a statement, called it a “Joint National Level Project of Health Screening and Management through Ayurvedic Interventions”, adding that the idea is to have a special focus on anaemia, haemoglobinopathies, malnutrition and tuberculosis and develop an “integrated approach” for the management of these diseases.

 

The programme will target children aged between 10 and 18 years, studying in Classes 6 to 12. “Efforts will be made to inculcate healthy lifestyle practices among students as per the principles of Ayurveda,” the government statement said.

 

The Ministry of Ayush, through its research council, the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, has taken this health initiative with joint efforts of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and ICMR-NIRTH (Indian Council of Medical Research–National Institute of Research In Tribal Health), Jabalpur.

 

SC to states: Go by our 1996 definition of forest

The Supreme Court on February 19, 2024 directed states and UTs to act as per the definition of ‘forest’ laid down in its 1996 judgment for identifying and preserving forest land and not follow the 2023 amendment to the Forest (Conservation) Act, which has allegedly resulted in 1.97 lakh square km of land getting excluded from forest area. While passing the order which virtually stayed the amendment to FCA, a bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra also directed that its prior permission will be necessary for setting up any zoo or safari in a forest. The SC ordered the Centre to issue a circular notifying all state govts and UTs about these directions.

Govt. unveils 4 web portals for news publishers

Union Information & Broadcasting Minister Anurag Singh Thakur on February 22, 2024 launched four online portals of the Central Bureau of Communication, the Registrar of Newspapers for India, the New Media Wing, and the Digital Addressable System of the Ministry.

 

The Minister said the initiative was aimed at ensuring ease of doing business by fostering a more conducive business environment for newspaper publishers and TV channels, enhance transparency and efficiency in government communication, provide easy access to authentic government videos, and create a comprehensive database of local cable operators for streamline regulatory processes in the sector in future.

 

The four portals include ‘Press Sewa’ for registration of newspapers and periodicals and ‘NaViGate Bharat’ for videos on the entire gamut of the government’s development-related and citizen welfare-oriented measures. The other portals are for registration of local cable operators and a transparent empanelment, media planning and e-billing system.

 

FCRA licence of Indian Social Institute revoked

The Union home ministry has revoked the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence of prominent think tank Indian Social Institute (ISI), citing alleged violation of rules. The institute, set up in 1951, critically analysed the National Education Policy 2020 in its journal, Social Action, published in 2023. Social Action is listed in the University Grants Commission Consortium for Academic Research and Ethics as an approved social science journal, as per ISI.

 

The journal, on the topic of ‘Peace and Conflict’, published in 2023, discussed the ethnic violence in Manipur and “unresolved political aspirations of people in Kashmir and Nagaland”.

 

The FCRA licence is granted by the home ministry to NGOs and think tanks for five years and their applications are reviewed on the basis of annual returns and foreign grants received for the purpose they are meant for. The FCRA Act was amended in 2020. Any misuse or diversion of foreign funds is considered a violation of the Act, said officials.

NEWSMAKERS

 

41 candidates elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha

Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, BJP chief J P Nadda and new party entrant Ashok Chavan and Union ministers Ashwini Vaishnaw and L Murugan were among the 41 candidates elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha on February 20, 2024

 

The BJP has won the highest number of 20 seats, followed by the Congress (6), Trinamool Congress (4), YSR Congress (3), RJD (2), BJD (2) and NCP, Shiv Sena, BRS and JD(U) one each.

 

As there were no other candidates in the fray on these 41 seats, the respective returning officers declared them winners on the last date of withdrawal of nominations.

 

The biennial elections were announced for February 27 in 56 seats.

 

  1. P. Nadda and the party’s other nominees Jasvantsinh Parmar, Mayank Nayak and diamond baron Govindbhai Dholakia were declared winners from Gujarat.

 

From Rajasthan, Sonia Gandhi was elected unopposed so were BJP’s Chunnilal Garasiya and Madan Rathore.

 

All the six candidates from Maharashtra — BJP’s Chavan, who joined the party only last February 20, 2024 after quitting the Congress, Medha Kulkarni and Ajit Gopchhade; Shiv Sena’s Milind Deora, who also resigned from the Congress recently, Praful Patel (NCP) and Chandrakant Handore (Cong) were elected unopposed.

In Bihar, JD(U)’s Sanjay Kumar Jha, BJP’s Dharmshila Gupta and Bhim Singh, Manoj Kumar Jha and Sanjay Yadav (both RJD) and Akhilesh Prasad Singh (Congress) were declared winners.

 

TMC’s Sushmita Dev, Sagarika Ghose, Mamata Thakur and Md Nadimul Haque and Samik Bhattacharya (BJP) were declared winners from West Bengal.

 

Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting and Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying, L. Murugan, Valmiki Dham Ashram head Umesh Nath Maharaj, Kisan Morcha’s national vice president Banshilal Gurjar, and Madhya Pradesh BJP’s women wing president Maya Naroliya bagged four seats for the BJP in Madhya Pradesh while Ashok Singh of the Congress also got elected unopposed.

 

From Odisha, Union minister Vaishnaw (BJP) and BJD’s Debashish Samantray and Subhashish Khuntia were declared winners.

 

The YSR Congress won all the three seats in Andhra Pradesh – G Babu Rao, Y V Subba Reddy and M Raghunath Reddy while in neighbouring Telangana, the ruling Congress bagged two seats – Renuka Chowdhury and Anil Kumar Yadav – and BRS one seat – V Ravichandra.

 

BJP nominees in Uttarakhand (Mahendra Bhatt), Subhash Barala (Haryana), Devendra Pratap Singh (Chhattisgarh) were elected unopposed.

 

Former Lok Sabha Speaker and Maharashtra CM Manohar Joshi dies at 86

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and senior Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi passed away on February 23, 2024 at the age of 86. Joshi was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra from 1995 to 1999 and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha from 2002 to 2004. He was also a Member of the Rajya Sabha from 2006 to 2012.

 

He was elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Council in 1972. Joshi secured a seat in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in 1990 and assumed the role of Leader of the Opposition from 1990 to 1991. As a Shiv Sena candidate, he emerged victorious from the Mumbai North-Central Lok Sabha Constituency in the 1999 general elections and later served as Union Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises (1999-2002) in the cabinet of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

 

Born on December 2, 1937, in the coastal Konkan region of Maharashtra, Joshi earned his Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the esteemed Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) in Mumbai. Joshi’s professional trajectory began as an educator, transitioning into politics in 1967.

 

Senior advocate Fali S Nariman passes away at 95

Veteran advocate Fali S Nariman passed away on February 21, 2024, at the age of 95. Nariman was a senior advocate of the Supreme Court and an eminent jurist. Nariman enrolled as an advocate of the Bombay High Court in November 1950, and was designated a senior advocate in 1961. In 1972, he was appointed Additional Solicitor General of India. In June 1975, he resigned from his post to protest against the decision of the Indira Gandhi government to declare emergency. For a decade, from 1991 to 2010, Nariman was the president of the Bar Association of India. In addition, he held various positions of note, including the vice-chairmanship of the International Court of Arbitration of the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) Paris, from 1989 to 2005, and the presidency of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1991 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2007.

 

Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi assumes charge as Vice Chief of Army Staff

Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi on February 19, 2024 assumed charge as the Vice Chief of Army Staff, replacing Lieutenant General MV Suchindra Kumar. Lt Gen Dwivedi was serving as the Northern Army Commander in his previous assessment. Lt Gen Kumar has been appointed as General-Officer-Commanding of Udhampur-based Northern Command.
 

 

Section B: INDIA & THE WORLD

 

Raisina Dialogue organised in New Delhi

The ninth edition of the Raisina Dialogue was organised in New Delhi on February 21-23, 2024. The theme for this year’s edition was “Chaturanga: Conflict, Contest, Cooperate, Create”. The conference was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis joined the inauguration session as the chief guest and delivered the inaugural speech.

 

The Dialogue witnessed participation of representatives from over 100 countries including Ministers, former Heads of State and Heads of Government, Military Commanders, Captains of Industry, Technology Leaders, Academics, Journalists, Scholars on Strategic Affairs, Experts from leading Think Tanks, and Youth.

 

Over the course of three days, decision makers and thought leaders of the world engaged with each other across conversations in various formats, over six thematic pillars: (i) Tech Frontiers: Regulations & Realities; (ii) Peace with the Planet: Invest & Innovate; (iii) War & Peace: Armouries & Asymmetries; (iv) Decolonising Multilateralism: Institutions & Inclusion; (v) The Post 2030 Agenda: People & Progress; and (vi) Defending Democracy: Society & Sovereignty.

 

About Raisina Dialogue

The Raisina Dialogue is an annual conference on geopolitics and geoeconomics hosted by the Observer Research Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. The conference takes place in New Delhi and is attended by people from political, business, media, and civil society backgrounds. The Dialogue is structured as a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral discussion, involving heads of state, cabinet ministers and local government officials, who are joined by thought leaders from the private sector, media and academia.

 

India-Greece

India and Greece on February 21, 2024 agreed to work towards co-production and co-development of defence items and decided to firm up a mobility and migration pact in near future as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his visiting Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis held extensive talks. The two PMs also decided to increase cooperation in areas including pharma, medical devices, technology, innovation, skill development, agriculture and space. Modi and Mitsotakis discussed IMEEC’s (India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor) perspectives for enhancing connectivity between India and Europe through engagement and cooperation among the countries of the region including in the fields of trade, commerce, investment, technology, energy, logistics, ports and infrastructure. The two leaders agreed on a speedy conclusion of the Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement (MMPA) between the two countries that would facilitate labour mobility between the two countries.

 

Bilateral meetings

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a bilateral meeting with the Netherlands Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren in New Delhi on February 23. Both Ministers discussed the possibilities for expanding their bilateral defence cooperation, particularly in maritime and industrial domains. They noted the increased interaction between the two Navies and expressed keenness to work together to enhance maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region.

 

India sends Buddha relics for public display to Thailand

India has sent the relics of Lord Buddha and his two disciples for public display across key cities of Thailand.

 

Holy Relics of Lord Buddha and His two Disciples were brought to Thailand from India by a 22-member delegation headed by Governor of Bihar Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar and Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Dr Virendra Kumar.

 

The four Holy Piparahwa Relics of Lord Buddha and his Two Disciples Arahata Sariputra and Arahata Maudgalyayana reached Bangkok, Thailand on February 22, 2024 for a 26-day exposition and were enshrined on February 23 for public veneration at the specially built Pagoda at Sanam Luang Pavilion in Bangkok. The relics will be displayed at the city’s Sanam Luang Pavilion for 11 days. They will then be displayed for five days each at Chiang Mai, Ubon Ratchathani and Krabi. The Holy Relics will be escorted back on 19th March, 2024 from Thailand to their respective homes in India

 

Military Exercise ‘DHARMA GUARDIAN’ between India and Japan begins

The 5th edition of Joint Military Exercise ‘DHARMA GUARDIAN’ between the Indian Army and the Japan Ground Self Defence Force commenced on February 25, 2024 at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges in Rajasthan. The Exercise is scheduled to be conducted from 25th February to 9th March 2024.

 

G33 Trade Ministers Meeting held in Abu Dhabi

The G33 Trade Ministers met in Abu Dhabi on February 25, 2024, preceding WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC 13). The G33 group of countries has long been seeking the permanent solution to the public stockholding programmes for food security purposes for developing countries, including the LDCs.

 

Exercise ‘DOSTI-16’ hosted by Maldives

Coast Guards of Maldives, India, and Sri Lanka, along with observers from Bangladesh, participated in the Trilateral Joint Exercise ‘DOSTI-16’ hosted by Maldives from February 22 to 25, 2025. DOSTI exercise had initially kicked off between Maldives and India in 1991. Sri Lanka first participated in the exercise in 2012. The exercise was last held in 2021, the portal said.

 

India completely stops Ravi river water flow to Pakistan

The completion of the Shahpur Kandi barrage project has ceased the flow of water from the Ravi river into Pakistan. Located on the Punjab-Jammu and Kashmir border, this development signifies a significant shift in water allocation, with the Jammu and Kashmir region now set to benefit from the 1150 cusecs of water previously destined for Pakistan. The diverted water will serve irrigation purposes in Kathua and Samba districts of J&K. Under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan, India possesses exclusive rights over the waters of the Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas rivers, while Pakistan controls the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab rivers. The treaty’s provisions enable India to establish storage facilities on the western rivers. Former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao laid the foundation stone for the Shahpur Kandi Barrage Project in 1995.

 

INDUS-X Summit organised in New Delhi

INDUS-X (India-US Defence Acceleration Ecosystem) Summit was organised on February 20-21, 2024 in New Delhi with the aim of promoting collaborative efforts between India and the United States in defence innovation. Organised by Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) under the Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence, and Department of Defence (DoD), United States, in conjunction with the U.S.-India Business Council and Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM), the summit aimed to boost strategic technology partnerships and defence industrial cooperation between India and the USA.

 

G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting: India calls for revamp of UN Security Council

Underlining that the current multilateral governance architecture is “outdated”, India, at a G20 ministerial meeting on February 22, 2024, called for comprehensive UN reforms, including the UN Security Council. Brazil assumed the G20 Presidency from India on December 1, 2023, and the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) in Rio de Janeiro was the first ministerial meeting under the Brazilian Presidency that was inaugurated on February 21, 2024. Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan participated.

NEWSMAKERS

 

CICA Secretary General visits India

CICA (Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia) Secretary General Ambassador Kairat Sarybay visited the Indian capital in February 2024 to hold consultations at the Ministries of External Affairs, Youth Affairs and Sports, meetings with representatives of the business community and research institutes of India. The CICA is a multi-national forum for enhancing cooperation towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia. The idea of convening CICA was first proposed by the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan — Nursultan Nazarbayev, on 5 October 1992, at the 47th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. CICA’s transformation into a full-fledged international organization was initiated by the Sixth CICA Summit in October 2022 and is currently a key priority. The CICA Secretariat – administrative body of CICA – is located in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

 

BBC gets first Indian-origin chairman in Dr Samir Shah

India-born media executive Dr Samir Shah was on February 22, 2024 confirmed as the new BBC chairman after his selection cleared the stages of scrutiny to be approved by King Charles III. Shah, who has worked in UK broadcasting for over 40 years, was picked as the government’s preferred candidate in December last year and went on to be quizzed by cross-party MPs of the House of Commons Media Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee for his pre-appointment scrutiny. The 72-year-old has now been confirmed in the 160,000 pounds per year and four-year term role to take charge as the public broadcaster’s first Indian-origin Chair from March 4 and running until March 2028.

 

 

Section C: WORLD

 

NEWS ROUND UP

 

Donkey skin trade banned by the African Union

It will make it illegal to slaughter donkeys for their skin across the continent. Demand for the animals’ skins is fuelled by the popularity of an ancient Chinese medicine called Ejiao, traditionally made from donkey hides. Leaders of African nations approved the ban at the conclusion of the African Union summit in Ethiopia on February 25, 2024. The trade had decimated donkey populations around the world, particularly in Africa and South America. Ejiao is believed by some to have anti-ageing and health benefits, although this is unproven. Chinese companies that make it used to use skins from donkeys sourced in China. But when the numbers of the animals in the country plummeted, they looked overseas.

 

Pakistan: PML-N, PPP strike deal on coalition government

Two major Pakistan political parties said on February 20, 2024 that they had reached a formal agreement to form a coalition government, ending negotiations after an inconclusive national election did not return a clear majority. The agreement between Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of three-time Premier Nawaz Sharif ends days of uncertainty and negotiations after the Feb. 8 elections produced a hung national assembly. Former PM Shehbaz Sharif (PML-N) would be the coalition’s candidate for prime minister. Asif Ali Zardari (PPP) will be the alliance’s candidate for the country’s president. PML-N is the largest party with 79 seats and PPP is second with 54. They, along with four other smaller parties, have a comfortable majority in the legislature of 264 seats.

 

UAE dropped from financial crime watch list by FATF

The United Arab Emirates, home to the financial hub of Dubai, has been dropped from a global watchdog’s list of countries at risk of illicit money flows, a win for the nation that could bolster its international standing. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a body that groups countries from the United States to China to tackle financial crime, on February 23, 2024 dropped the UAE from its ‘grey list’ of nations considered risky.

 

UAE was placed under closer scrutiny in 2022, when the FATF highlighted the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing involving banks, precious metals and stones as well as property. Measures taken by the UAE include increasing financial investigations and prosecutions, boosting international cooperation, and aligning virtual asset regulation with international standards.

 

Countries in grey list from 23 February 2024: Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Croatia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Jamaica, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Philippines, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Türkiye

Vietnam, Yemen

 

Countries in black list (High-Risk Jurisdictions subject to a Call for Action) from 23 February 2024: North Korea, Iran, Myanmar

 

Rishi Sunak govt bans mobile phones in all schools across England

Mobile phones will be prohibited in schools across England under new government guidance issued on February 19, 2024. The guidance by Rishi Sunak government supports headteachers in monitoring the use of mobile phones throughout the school day, including break times. The new policy aims to ensure a consistent approach across all schools in the country. Schools will have the option to implement different approaches, such as banning phones from the premises, collecting phones upon arrival, or securely storing them during school hours.

 

UK signs new deal with EU to tackle small boat crossings

The UK signed a new deal with the EU’s border agency in February 2024 to work more closely together to stop small boats crossing the English Channel. The agreement with Frontex is intended to lead to more sharing of information and expertise. It is the latest in a series of measures aimed at improving cooperation in tackling illegal migration. In 2023, nearly 30,000 migrants crossed the Channel to the UK from France – down a third on 2022. The deal includes training for both the UK and EU’s border agencies to learn from successful tactics overseas, collaboration on the development of new technologies, and the deployment of staff on both sides to help coordinate efforts to stop crossings.

 

EU launches Red Sea mission

The European Union launched a naval mission on February 19, 2024 to protect Red Sea shipping from Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The Iran-backed Houthis, who control much of war-torn Yemen, have been harassing the vital shipping lane since November in a campaign they say is in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza during the Israel-Hamas war. The EU aims to have the mission — called Aspides, Greek for “shield” — up and running in a “few weeks” with at least four vessels. The U.S. is already spearheading its own naval coalition in the area.

 

German parliament votes to legalise cannabis possession

The German parliament voted February 23, 2024 in favour of legalising the possession and controlled cultivation of cannabis starting in April. Under the new law, it will be possible to obtain up to 25 grams of the drug per day for personal use through regulated cannabis cultivation associations, as well as to have up to three plants at home. However, possession and use of the drug would remain prohibited for anyone under 18.

 

Colombia to send deep-water expedition to explore historic galleon San José

Colombia’s government on February 23, 2024 announced plans for a deep-water expedition to explore the historic galleon San José, sunk in the 18th century in the country’s northern Caribbean and believed to contain cargo valued at billions of dollars. It is the first phase of a scientific research into deep waters that aims at collecting information to determine which pieces are suitable and possible to extract. The wreckage is 600 meters deep in the sea. Colombia located the galleon in 2015 but it has since been mired in legal and diplomatic disputes, and its exact location is a state secret.

 

US vetoes draft UNSC resolution on the Israel-Hamas war

The United States on February 20, 2024 again vetoed a draft United Nations Security Council resolution on the Israel-Hamas war, blocking a demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. Thirteen council members voted in favor of the Algerian-drafted text, while Britain abstained. It was the third such U.S. veto since the start of the current fighting on Oct. 7.

 

World Day of Social Justice observed on February 20

The World Day of Social Justice was observed by the UN on February 20, 2024. This year’s theme 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. On 26 November 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared that starting from the sixty-third session of the General Assembly, 20 February will be celebrated annually as the World Day of Social Justice.

 

International Mother Language Day celebrated on Feb 21

International Mother Language Day was celebrated on February 21, 2024 with its theme as: “Multilingual education – a pillar of learning and intergenerational learning”. In 1999, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO had declared 21st February as International Mother Language Day. In India, Union Education Ministry has been celebrating the day as Matribhasha Diwas since 2015.

NEWSMAKERS

 

Israel declares Brazil’s President persona non grata for comparing Gaza war to Holocaust

Foreign Minister Israel Katz declared Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva persona non grata on February 19, 2024 over his comparison of Israel’s war against Hamas to the Holocaust. Katz, the son of Holocaust survivors, told Brazil’s Ambassador Federico Mayer that Israel “will not forget and we will not forgive.

 

Chile to reopen probe into mystery death of poet Pablo Neruda

Chile will once again try to resolve the mystery of what really killed Nobel laureate poet Pablo Neruda (12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973), who many believe was poisoned by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, an appeals court in Santiago ruled on February 20, 2024. The court ordered the reopening of the investigation into the death of Neruda, who was a prominent member of Chile’s Communist Party when military dictator Augusto Pinochet took power in a coup in 1973.

 

In a statement, the court said that the “investigation has not been exhausted as there are precise procedures that can be carried out to clarify the facts.” Neruda had been preparing to flee into exile in Mexico to lead the resistance against the Pinochet regime when he died in hospital just 12 days after the coup. The government claimed the 69-year-old had died of prostate cancer.

 

An investigation into the cause of Neruda’s death began in 2011 when Manuel Araya — his driver and personal assistant — asserted that the poet was given a mysterious injection in his chest just before he died. Araya died in June 2023, aged 77. Neruda’s remains were exhumed in 2013 to be tested for traces of poison and returned for burial three years later.

 

 

Section D: SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

 

Vimarsh 2023 5G Hackathon conducted

The Telecom Centres of Excellence (TCoE) India of the SRI unit of Department of Telecommunications (DoT), in collaboration with Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), conducted the Vimarsh 2023 5G Hackathon. The Hackathon aimed to address critical issues and explore innovative solutions for Law Enforcement Agencies and address challenges faced by them and promote innovation in the field.

 

As part of the third and final phase of screening, conducted on February 21-22, 2024,  22 out of 23 startups and institutes presented Use Case Proof of Concepts (PoC) at the DoT-funded IIT Madras 5G Testbed.

 

The Jury evaluated the physical demonstration of Automated drones, use cases related to AR/VR, Surveillance & Investigation, Evidence collection, Emergency response, Intelligent Traffic Management system, 5G metadata analysis, Geo fencing, AI based FIR filing etc. More details are available at Vimarsh 5G Hackathon 2023 (tcoe.in). Impactful solutions that emerged included Drone based surveillance safety and security, AI assisted FIR filing, geofencing solution for crime scene investigation, AR based training through crime scene recreation and AI based Data analytics & data processing App for predictive policing, etc.

 

Privately built lunar lander makes history with successful moon touchdown

A robotic spacecraft made history February 22, 2024 becoming the first privately built craft to touch down on the lunar surface, as well as the first American vehicle to accomplish the feat in more than 50 years.

 

The lander, built by Intuitive Machines, touched down on the lunar surface. The Nova-C lander, nicknamed Odysseus, is now the first American spacecraft on the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

 

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson also congratulated Intuitive Machines on the landing, calling the milestone a “triumph.”

 

Odysseus launched into space on Feb. 15 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The 14-foot-tall lander then spent six days cruising more than 620,000 miles to reach the moon.

 

As it descended to the lunar surface, Odysseus targeted a landing site near a crater called Malapert A, close to the moon’s south pole. The moon’s south polar region has long been tantalizing for scientists because water ice is thought to be relatively abundant in the region’s permanently shadowed craters.

 

Odysseus is carrying a mix of commercial cargo and NASA science instruments on its journey. The lander is expected to spend about a week collecting data on the moon before lunar night sets in and the probe loses power.

 

The mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, which the space agency set up to support development of moon landers by private-sector companies. NASA eventually plans to hire these companies to transport cargo and scientific instruments to the lunar surface as part of the agency’s broader ambitions to return astronauts to the moon.

 

NASA awarded Intuitive Machines $118 million to carry out the moon landing.

 

ISRO completes final test for Gaganyaan rocket engine

India’s national space agency, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), on February 21, 2024 announced that it has accomplished a major milestone after it completed the final round of ground qualification tests on February 13, 2024.

 

“ISRO has accomplished a major milestone in the human rating of its CE20 cryogenic engine that powers the cryogenic stage of the human-rated LVM3 launch vehicle for Gaganyaan missions, with the completion of the final round of ground qualification tests on February 13, 2024,” said ISRO in its official statement.

 

ISRO has informed that the final test was the seventh of a series of vacuum ignition tests carried out at the High Altitude Test Facility at ISRO Propulsion Complex, Mahendragiri, to simulate the flight conditions.

 

Life demonstration tests, endurance tests, and performance assessment under nominal operating conditions as well as off-nominal conditions w.r.t thrust, mixture ratio, and propellant tank pressure are part of the ground qualification tests that were taken for human rating of the CE20 engine.

 

“In order to qualify the CE20 engine for human rating standards, four engines have undergone 39 hot firing tests under different operating conditions for a cumulative duration of 8810 seconds against the minimum human rating qualification standard requirement of 6350 seconds,” said ISRO.

 

Apart from human rating, ISRO has also successfully completed the acceptance tests of the flight engine identified for the first unmanned Gaganyaan (G1) mission tentatively scheduled for Q2 of 2024. This engine will power the upper stage of the human-rated LVM3 vehicle and has a thrust capability of 19 to 22 tonnes with a specific impulse of 442.5 seconds.

 

In 2023, ISRO executed the Test Flight Abort Mission after the first test flight was aborted at 8:45 am due to a problem in the engine ignition. The three main parachutes of Gaganyaan TV-D1 were deployed after the launch.

 

ISRO: PAPA detects solar wind impact of coronal mass ejections

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on February 23, 2024 said that the Plasma Analyser Package for Aditya (PAPA) payload onboard the Aditya-L1 has detected the impact of coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

 

“Its advanced sensors have successfully detected the impact of CMEs, including those that occurred during February 10-11, 2024,” the ISRO said.

 

PAPA is an energy and mass analyser designed for in-situ measurements of solar wind electrons and ions in the low energy range. It has two sensors: the Solar Wind Electron Energy Probe (SWEEP, measuring electrons in the energy range of 10 eV to 3 keV) and the Solar Wind Ion Composition Analyser (SWICAR, measuring ions in the energy range of 10 eV to 25 keV and mass range of 1-60 amu). The sensors are also equipped to measure the direction of arrival of solar wind particles.

 

The payload has been operational since December 12, 2023.

 

“The SWEEP and SWICAR sensors on PAPA-Aditya-L1 are currently making continuous observations of solar wind electrons and ions in the default mode, demonstrating that they are performing as per the design in all modes of operations. The observations made by PAPA emphasise its effectiveness in monitoring space weather conditions and its capability to detect and analyse solar phenomena,” the ISRO added.

 

PAPA is an energy and mass analyser designed for in-situ measurements of solar wind electrons

 

Tejas Mark-1A flies with India-made digital flight control computer

Tejas Mark-1A prototype flew with digital fly-by-wire flight control computer (DFCC) for the first time on February 20, 2024.

Under the Rs 46,898 crore contract inked with Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) in February 2021, 83 Tejas Mark-1A have to be delivered to IAF in Feb 2024-Feb 2028 timeframe.

 

Defence ministry said DFCC, developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment, was integrated in “Prototype LSP-7” and successfully flown on February 20, 2024, which is “a significant development” towards Tejas Mark-1A programme. “All critical parameters and performance of the flight controls were found satisfactory,” it said.

 

IAF has so far inducted 40 Tejas Mark-1 jets. The improved Mark-1A version of the single-engine jet includes advanced mission computers, high performance DFCCs, smart multi-function displays, advanced electronically scanned array radars and advanced self-protection jammers.

 

Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage

To mitigate CO2 emissions, India is drafting a Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) policy. CCUS is capturing CO2 from large sources such as refineries, cement and steel plants, or power generation units that use fossil fuels like crude oil, coal, naphtha, or biomass as raw material. This captured carbon is then transported by pipeline, ship, rail, or truck to be used in a range of applications or injected for storage into deep geological formations such as depleted oil and gas reservoirs or saline aquifers.

 

Process of CO2 capture

A key aspect of carbon capture is to first decide where to put it in an industrial setup – pre-combustion (before one burns the fuel/feedstock) or post-combustion. Then comes the process of separating CO2 from other gases. The most common carbon capture method is to fit the technology to the chimney or smokestack of an industrial facility where the CO2 emissions are released. The technology diverts the smoke containing CO2 before it reaches the atmosphere. A chemical compound such as amine solvent is used to capture up to 95% of CO2 from flue gas. The CO2 is collected and heated to separate CO2 from amine and then put under pressure to turn it into liquid which can then be transported via ships, trucks, pipelines, or injected underground for sequestration. Other separation technologies include using wet scrubbers, solid absorbers, and membranes.

 

Uses of CCUS

Captured CO2 can be used for making value-added products. It can be used to make green urea and green hydrogen. Green urea can replace natural gas-based production and cut India’s imports of ammonia and urea. Captured carbon can also be used for building materials through concrete curing and aggregate formation.

 

China names manned spaceship, moon lander

China’s space agency has unveiled the names of a new manned spaceship and a moon lander for its mission to send astronauts to the moon before 2030. The new crew spaceship is named Mengzhou, which means dream vessel in Chinese. The moon lander is called Lanyue, meaning embracing the moon, in Chinese.

 

 

Section E: AWARDS

 

Vellayan Subbiah wins EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2023

Vellayan Subbiah, chairman, Cholamandalam Finance and executive vice-chairman, Tube Investments of India, has been awarded the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award 2023 (EOY). Subbiah was selected for his transformative strategies encompassing bold acquisitions and diversification that led to a fourfold increase in shareholder value in three years. He will represent India at the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year Award (WEOY) in Monte Carlo from June 4–7, 2024.

 

Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons, was conferred the special jury award for his outstanding leadership of the Tata group in the last few years.

 

Venu Srinivasan, chairman emeritus of TVS Motor Company, has been awarded the 2023 Lifetime Achievement in recognition of his decades of entrepreneurial excellence in revolutionising the two-wheeler industry in India.

 

EOY 2023 category winners:

  • Lalit Keshre, co-founder, Groww for start-up category
  • Sanjay Gupta of APL Apollo Tubes Ltd for manufacturing
  • Anand Deshpande of Persistent Systems in services category
  • Rafique A. Malik, chairman, Metro Brands for consumer products and retail
  • Shahid Bilakhia of Micro Life Sciences in life sciences and healthcare category
  • Deepinder Goyal, cofounder, Zomato in business transformation category
  • Team ICICI Bank (CEO Sandeep Bakhshi and executive directors Sandeep Batra, and Rakesh Jha) for the Entrepreneurial CEO category

 

Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards 2024 presented in Mumbai

The Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards 2024 were presented to the winners in Mumbai on February 20, 2024.

List of winners:

  • Best Film: Jawan
  • Best Film (Critics): 12th Fail
  • Best Actor: Shah Rukh Khan (Jawan)
  • Best Actress (Critics): Kareena Kapoor (Jaane Jaan)
  • Best Actress: Rani Mukerji (Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway)
  • Best Director (Critics): Atlee (Jawan)
  • Best Director: Sandeep Reddy Vanga (Animal)
  • Best Actor (Critics): Vicky Kaushal (Sam Bahadur)
  • Best Music Director: Anirudh Ravichander (Jawan)
  • Best Playback Singer (Male): Varun Jain and Sachin Jigar (Tere Vaste from Zara Hatke Zara Bachke)
  • Best Playback Singer (Female): Shilpa Rao (Besharam Rang from Pathaan)
  • Best Actor in a Negative Role: Bobby Deol (Animal)
  • Best Actor in a Comic Role: Ayushmann Khurranna (Dream Girl 2)
  • Best Actress in a Comic Role: Sanya Malhotra (Kathal)
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Anil Kapoor (Animal)
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Dimple Kapadia (Pathaan)
  • Most Promising Actor: Vikrant Massey (12th Fail)
  • Most Promising Actress: Adah Sharma (The Kerala Story)
  • Most Versatile Actress: Nayanthara
  • Best Lyricist: Javed Akhtar (Nikle The Kabhi Hum Ghar Se from Dunki)
  • Best Actress in a Television Series: Rupali Ganguly, ‘Anupamaa’
  • Best Actor in a Television Series: Neil Bhatt, ‘Ghum Hai Kisikey Pyaar Meiin’
  • Television Series of the Year: ‘Ghum Hai Kisikey Pyaar Meiin’
  • Best Actress in a Web Series: Karishma Tanna, ‘Scoop’
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Film Industry: Moushumi Chatterjee
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Music Industry: KJ Yesudas

 

Screen Actors Guild Awards presented in US

The 30th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, honoring the best achievements in film and television performances for the year 2023, was presented on February 24, 2024 in Los Angeles, California (US).

 

Winners are:

  • Best actor: Cillian Murphy – Oppenheimer
  • Best actress: Lily Gladstone – Killers of the Flower Moon
  • Best supporting actor: Robert Downey Jr. – Oppenheimer
  • Best supporting actress: Da’Vine Joy Randolph – The Holdovers
  • Outstanding performance by a cast: Oppenheimer
  • Best stunt ensemble in a film: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
  • Best actor in a TV movie or limited series: Steven Yeun – Beef
  • Best actress in a TV movie or limited series: Ali Wong – Beef
  • Best actor in a drama series: Pedro Pascal – The Last of Us
  • Best actress in a drama series: Elizabeth Debicki – The Crown
  • Best actor in a comedy series: Jeremy Allen White – The Bear
  • Best actress in a comedy series: Ayo Edebiri – The Bear
  • Best ensemble cast in a drama series: Succession
  • Best ensemble cast in a comedy series: The Bear
  • Best stunt ensemble in a TV series: The Last of Us

 

About the awards:

Screen Actors Guild Awards (also known as SAG Awards) are accolades given by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). The award was founded in 1995 to recognize outstanding performances in movie and prime time television. SAG Awards have been one of the major awards events in the Hollywood film industry since then, along with the Golden Globe Awards and the Oscars. SAG awards focus both on individual performances and on the work of the entire ensemble of a drama series and comedy series, and the cast of a motion picture.

 

Times of India Sports Award (TOISA) 2023 awards

Uttar Pradesh was on February 23, 2024 conferred with Times of India Sports Award (TOISA) 2023 ‘Change Maker of the Year’ award in Lucknow. The award was conferred on UP for its outstanding efforts in not only enhancing sports infrastructure but also for creating a conducive environment for athletes.

 

Tokyo Olympics gold medal winner Neeraj Chopra was declared the sportsperson of the year.

 

TOISA award for ‘Breakthrough Performer of the Year’ was won by cricketer Mohammed Shami for his incredible performance in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023. Shami hails from Sahaspur Alinagar in Amroha district of UP.

 

The men’s hockey team, which defeated Pakistan in the final to win the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, was felicitated with a special award. The team of the year was given to the men’s 4X400 metre relay team comprising athletes Muhammad Anas, Rajesh Ramesh, Muhammed Yahiya and Amoj Jacob. The coach of the year award was conferred on shooting coach Deepali Deshpande.

 

The para sportsperson of the year award went to javelin thrower Sumit Antil. The award for the athlete of the year (in female category) was won by UP athlete Parul Chaudhary for winning the gold medal in 5000m and silver in 3000m steeplechase at the Hangzhou Asian Games last year.

 

IOA president PT Usha got the lifetime achievement award.

 

List of winners:

  • TOISA mentor of the year: Mahesh Bhupathi
  • Badminton player of the year (doubles & singles): Chirag Shetty & Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (doubles); HS Prannoy (singles)
  • Archer of the year (male & female): Ojas Pravin Deotale & Jyothi Surekha Vennam
  • Special recognition in archery: Abhishek Verma
  • Athlete of the year-track & field (male & female): Neeraj Chopra & Parul Chaudhary
  • Para athlete of the year: Pooja Yadav
  • Chess player of the year: R Praggnanandhaa
  • Para chess player of the year: Darpan Inani
  • Cricketer of the year: Mohd Shami
  • Equestrian team of the year: Team Dressage: Hriday Chheda, Sudipti Hajela, Divyakriti Singh and Anush Agarwalla
  • 1975 hockey team honour: Ajit Pal Singh (captain), Ashok Kumar Singh, Ashok Diwan, Onkar Singh, BP Govinda, Harcharan Singh, Harjinder Singh Chimni, Victor Philips, PE Kalaiah
  • Special Recognition TOISA Women Icons: Mary Kom, Geeta Phogat, Rani Rampal, Mirabai Chanu, Saina Nehwal
  • Hockey player of the year (male & female): Hardik Singh & Salima Tete
  • Para judo player of the year: Kapil Parmar
  • Kabaddi player of the year: Pawan Sehrawat
  • Para powerlifter of the year: Zainab Khatoon
  • Sailor of the year: Neha Thakur
  • Special recognition in squash (male & female): Harinder Pal Sandhu and Anahat Singh
  • Shooter of the year (male & female): Rudrankksh Patil & Sift Kaur Samra
  • Para shooter of the year: Rudransh Khandelwal
  • Table tennis player of the year: Sutirtha Mukherjee
  • Para table tennis player of the year: Bhavinaben Patel
  • Tennis player of the year: Rutuja Bhosle
  • Boxer of the year: Lovlina Borgohain & Mohd Hussamuddin
  • Emerging sportsperson of the year: Esha Singh
  • Lifetime achievement: PT Usha
  • Special recognition inspiration of the year: Ram Babu
  • Corporate supporter of the year: Ajay Jayaram & Neha Aggarwal (OGQ)
  • Federation of the year: Shooting
  • Coach of the year: Deepali Deshpande
  • Team of the year: Indian men’s 4x400m relay team
  • Sportsperson of the year: Neeraj Chopra
  • Para sportsperson of the year: Sumit Antil
  • Changemaker of the year: UP govt

 

 

Section F: BANKING & FINANCE

 

RBI allows banks to issue prepaid wallets for public transport systems

The Reserve Bank of India on February 23, 2024 permitted authorised banks and non-banks to issue prepaid payment wallets for usage in public transport systems.

 

The central bank amended its norms on issuance of prepaid wallets to allow special wallets to be issued for tickets in public transport systems.

 

“Public transport systems across the country cater to a multitude of commuters on a daily basis. To provide convenience, speed, affordability, and safety of digital modes of payment to commuters for transit services, it has been decided to permit authorised bank and non-bank PPI issuers to issue PPIs for making payments across various public transport systems,” the RBI said.

 

These payment wallets will be usable at automatic fare collection systems, for parking payments, toll collection and others.

 

The regulator has put a cap of Rs 3,000 on these wallets and they will not need separate KYC for the same. These wallets can only be used for payments in buses, metro, waterways, toll payments, parking payments and such.

 

PSBs can now check on big borrowers on unified portal

Public sector banks (PSBs) would now be able to check the antecedents of large borrowers and ascertain the existence of any non-performing assets against their name in a single click, a move that is expected to help expedite lending decisions.

 

An “Automated Search Portal” for antecedent verification of prospective borrowers and NPAs [non-performing assets]” to streamline intelligence clearance process for banks was operationalised this week by the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB) in collaboration with the State Bank of India, the Indian Banks’ Association said in a statement on February 23, 2024.

 

Under the framework for timely detection, reporting, investigation relating to large value bank frauds, the Department of Financial Services under the Finance Ministry had mandated all PSBs to seek a report from the CEIB before sanctioning loans exceeding ₹50 crore in the case of new borrowers and if the existing borrower’s accounts turned into NPAs.

 

The Bureau, in tandem with SBI, has developed a digital platform that would help all public sector banks to obtain mandatory intelligence clearance from the CEIB in a prompt manner, which would facilitate timely disbursement of funds, the IBA said.

 

RBI allows Paytm’s UPI payment business to be migrated to other banks

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said on February 23, 2024 that Paytm can transfer its Unified Payments Interface-based payments business from Paytm Payments Bank to four to five other banks.

 

The RBI asked Paytm to stop onboarding new users until it completes the migration of the existing accounts to these banks. The RBI had earlier directed Paytm Payments Bank to stop offering banking services after March 15.

 

To continue merchant payments — the service that allows businesses to accept payments from customers using platform — One 97 Communications that owns Paytm has been asked to create settlement accounts with one or two banks. Paytm has already said that it was in the process of migrating accounts to Axis Bank from its affiliate payments bank for business continuity.

 

The RBI said it directed National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the operator of the UPI platform, to examine One 97 Communications’ request to become a third-party application provider (TPAP) for the UPI channel. Getting NCPI’s approval will allow the Paytm app to continue offering UPI-based payment services.

Paytm is trying to become a TPAP on UPI, just like its other rivals Google Pay and PhonePe.

 

All this while Paytm could issue virtual payment addresses to its users with the @paytm handle through Paytm Payments Bank. Google Pay and PhonePe handles have the names of the banks providing payment services to them.

 

To ensure a seamless migration, the RBI has asked NPCI to allow four to five banks to become payment service provider banks for Paytm. These banks should have the capability to process high volumes of UPI transactions, it said.

 

Further reiterating its previous statements in the FAQs released on February 16, the RBI said Paytm FASTag and National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) will cease to operate from March 15. Even users of Paytm wallet should look for alternative options. This means Paytm food wallets and prepaid wallets among others will cease to operate from March 16.

 

The central bank had on January 31 directed Paytm Payments Bank to stop offering basic banking services from the end of February. The deadline was subsequently relaxed to March 15.

 

February 23, 2024’s RBI order draws the curtains on Paytm’s banking and mobile wallet business and brings it on a par with other fintechs like Google Pay, Amazon Pay and PhonePe, which offer payment services through UPI.

 

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman chairs 28th FSDC

Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, presided over the 28th meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) in New Delhi on February 22, 2024. Dr. Bhagwat Karad, the Minister of State for Finance, joined the gathering. The meeting was attended by all financial sector regulators, including RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das. Securities and Exchange Board of India chairperson Madhabi Puri Buch, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) chairman Debasish Panda, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) chairman Ravi Mital and Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority’s chairman Deepak Mohanty.

 

FSDC was established by the Government in December 2010, serves as the apex forum aimed at fortifying financial stability, fostering inter-regulatory coordination, and advancing the development of the financial sector.

 

Chaired by the Finance Minister, the council comprises heads of key financial sector regulators such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), and Forward Markets Commission (FMC). Additionally, senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Chief Economic Adviser are also integral members of the council.

 

One of the primary objectives of the FSDC is to ensure macro-prudential supervision of the economy, including monitoring the functioning of large financial conglomerates.

 

Additionally, the council addresses matters pertaining to inter-regulatory coordination and financial sector development, with a focus on enhancing financial literacy and fostering financial inclusion initiatives across the nation.

 

3 new PSB chairmen appointed

Govt has appointed former LIC chairman M R Kumar non-executive chairman of the Board of Bank of India. Bank of Baroda director Srinivasan Sridhar was appointed non-executive chairman of Indian Overseas Bank. Former SBI MD Aravamudan Krishna Kumar has been appointed non-executive chairman of UCO Bank.

 

 

Section G: ECONOMY

 

NSSO unveils Household Consumption Expenditure Survey data

The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, conducted Household Consumption Expenditure Survey (HCES) during August 2022 to July 2023. This survey on household consumption expenditure aims at generating estimates of household Monthly Per Capita Consumption Expenditure (MPCE) and its distribution separately for the rural and urban sectors of the country, for States and Union Territories, and for different socio-economic groups. The summary results of HCES: 2022-23 relating to MPCE was released in February 2023. These include the following:

 

The HCES data showed significant shifts in rural and urban consumption, with share of food and cereals coming down. Spending on non-food items such as fridge, television, beverages and processed food, medical care and transportation have increased in this period while expenditure on food such as cereals and pulses has slowed.

 

The survey showed that at current prices, rural monthly per capita consumption spending rose 164% ——from Rs 1,430 in 2011-12 to Rs 3 ,773 in 2022-23 —while in urban centres, it shot up 146%, from Rs 2,630 in 2011-12 to Rs 6,459 in 2022-23. In rural areas, the share of food in monthly consumption has slowed to 46.4% in 2022-23 from 53% in 2011-12 while spending on non-food items rose to 54% from 47.15. In urban centres the same trend was visible with spending on food slowing to 39.2% in 2022-23 from 43% in 2011-22 while non-food expenditure rose to 60.8% in 2022-23 from 57.4% in 2011-12.

 

The HCES data showed discretionary items now account for a larger share of household spending than in 2011-12 when the survey was last released, a sign of reducing poverty. Delivery of social welfare schemes has improved with the bottom-of-the-pyramid households deriving more from such schemes.

 

Monthly per capita spending in rural areas has grown faster than urban monthly expenditure, narrowing the gap between the two, spending inequality between different income categories has also reduced in relative terms.

 

The average rural spending jumped 2.64 times between 2011-12 and 2022-23 with the bottom 50% of the households increasing their spending at a slightly faster clip, by 2.69 times compared with 2.63 times growth for the top 50%. In urban areas, the bottom 50% of households witnessed 2.77 times rise in spending compared with 2.41 times increase for the top 50% of households.

 

The relative spending gap between top 5% households and bottom 5% households in urban areas reduced to 10.4 times in 2022-23 from 14.7 times in 2011-12 while in rural areas, this gap came down to 7.6 times in 2022-23 from 8.6 times in 2011-12. Households in the middle of the spending bracket closed the gap much faster in rural areas. The bottom 5% of households survived at ₹46 per day in rural areas and ₹67 per day in urban centres.

 

Spending of scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and other backward classes grew faster than the rest in both urban and rural areas. Spending of casual labourers and self-employed went up more than those of regular salaried workers in urban areas.

 

Consumption of lower income groups was even higher if one imputes the value of items that households receive for free via social welfare programmes like ration and non-food items like laptops, mobile, bicycle, motorcycle, school uniform or footwear, besides home-grown stock or goods exchanged in barter. Imputation does not include health and education services provided by the government.

 

MRSI rolls out new socio-economic classification system

The Market Research Society of India (MRSI) has rolled out a new socio-economic classification framework called the Indian Socio-Economic Classification (ISEC), which will replace the New Consumer Classification System (NCCS) introduced in 2011.

 

Unlike NCCS which only factored the education of the chief earner and the presence of certain consumer durable items in the household, MRSI’s ISEC takes on a more advanced approach by including the occupation of chief earner, education of the highest educated male adult as well as education of highest educated female adult.

 

ISEC is an open-source classification system that spans 1 to 12 tiers and is available for all industry stakeholders.

 

The system has been created by a team of seasoned researchers using the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), the Worldpanel division, Kantar, the Indian Readership Survey (IRS), and referencing data from VTION, and ICUBETM, among others.

MRSI Director General Mitali Chowhan said ISEC, unlike any previous classification system, considers women’s education as a key definer of social capital, an attribute that is highly pertinent in the current day.

 

She also said that the socio-economic classification is the base of any targeted consumer understanding. “As an industry body, we are deeply invested in our stakeholders and the launch of ISEC is in line with our commitment to help our industry grow and evolve,” she added.

 

According to MRSI, the growth in GDP and income, penetration of consumer durables, and ownership of vehicles have witnessed a significant increase, leading to the current socio-economic classification becoming less discriminatory and more volatile.

 

ISEC will be adopted by leading industry bodies like The Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA), research users of various organisations such as ITC, Hindustan Unilever Limited, Marico, and Dabur India, research agencies including Kantar, IPSOS, and media agencies like GroupM and IPG Mediabrands.

 

Socio-economic classification enables brands and agencies to understand their target audience’s behaviour and profiles and set price points. Updates to the current socio-economic classification are critical given the changing landscape of Indian households. ISEC addresses this with classification using household education and occupation profiles.

 

Rashtriya Udyamita Vikas Pariyojana under Skill India Mission inaugurated

Union Minister of Education and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Dharmendra Pradhan, on February 20, 2024 inaugurated the Rashtriya Udyamita Vikas Pariyojana (National Entrepreneurship Development Project), in Sambalpur, Odisha. The initiative was also launched virtually across 9 cities including Bhopal, Kanpur, Indore, Varanasi, Bharatpur, Shillong, Silchar, Dibrugarh and Guwahati, emphasizing the nationwide scope of this initiative.

 

The project is tailored specifically for beneficiaries of the PM SVANidhi scheme. It aims to equip individuals with comprehensive entrepreneurship training. This initiative focuses on reskilling and upskilling employees to enhance their competitiveness. It will help the street vendors and small shopkeepers to become more skilled.

 

The Rashtriya Udyamita Vikas Pariyojana will offer comprehensive entrepreneurship training over a period of 22 weeks, combining theoretical knowledge with practical exposure through experiential learning. The training will be conducted through offline, online and hybrid modes, with certificates awarded upon completion, enhancing the course’s credibility and value.

 

Cabinet approves inclusion of additional activities in National Livestock Mission

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 21, 2024 further modification of National Livestock Mission by including the additional activities as under:

 

Establishment of entrepreneurship for horse donkey, mule, camel with 50% capital subsidy up to 50 lakhs will be provided to the Individuals, FPO, SHG, JLG, FCO and Section 8 companies. Also the state government will be assisted for breed conservation of horse, donkey and camel. The Central Government will provide 10 cr. for establishment of semen station and nucleus breeding farm for horse, donkey and camel.

 

Establishment of entrepreneurs for Fodder seed processing Infrastructure (Processing & Grading unit/Fodder storage godown) with 50% capital subsidy up to Rs.50 lakhs to the private companies, start-ups /SHGs /FPOs /FCOs /JLGs / Farmers Cooperative societies (FCO), Section 8 companies establishment of Infrastructure like construction of building, receiving shed, drying platform, machinery etc. including the grading plants as well as seed storage godown. The remaining cost of the project needs to be arranged by the beneficiary through bank finance or self-funding.

 

For increasing the fodder cultivation areas, the state government will be assisted for fodder cultivation in the non —forest land, waste land/range land/ non arable as well as forest land “Non-Forest Wasteland/Rangeland/Non-arable Land” and “Fodder Production from Forest Land” as well as in the degraded forest land. This will increase the fodder availability in the country.

 

The Livestock Insurance programme has been simplified. The beneficiary share of the premium for the farmers has been reduced and it will be 15% as against the current beneficiary share of 20%,30%, 40% and 50%. Remaining amount of the premium will be shared by the Centre and the State at 60:40 for all states, 90:10. The number of animals to be insured has also been increased to 10 cattle unit instead of 5 cattle unit for cattle sheep and goat. This will facilitate the livestock farmers to get their valuable animals insured with by paying minimum amount.

Background:

 

The NLM was commenced in 2014-15 with four Sub-Missions (i) Sub-Mission on Fodder and Feed Development (ii) Sub-Mission on Livestock Development (ii) Sub-Mission on Pig Development in North-Eastern Region (iii) Sub-Mission on Skill Development, Technology Transfer and Extension having 50 activities.

 

The Scheme was re-aligned during 2021-22 and was approved by CCEA in July, 2021 under Development Programme with an outlay of Rs.2300 crore.

 

The present re-aligned NLM is having three Sub-Missions viz. (i) Sub-Mission on Breed improvement of Livestock and Poultry (ii) Sub-Mission of Feed & Fodder and (iii) Sub-Mission on Innovation and Extension. The re-aligned NLM has 10 activities and target towards entrepreneurship development, feed and fodder development, research and innovation, livestock insurance.

 

Cabinet approves Flood Management and Border Areas Programme

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 21, 2024 approved the proposal of Department of Water Resources, RD & GR for continuation of centrally sponsored Scheme, viz., “Flood Management and Border Areas Programme (FMBAP)” with total outlay of Rs. 4,100 crore for a period of 5 years from 2021-22 to 2025-26 (15th Finance Commission period).

 

The Scheme has two components:

 

Under the Flood Management Programme (FMP) component of FMBAP with an outlay of Rs. 2940 crore, central assistance will be provided to State Governments for taking up critical works related to flood control, anti-erosion, drainage development and anti-sea erosion, etc. The pattern of funding to be followed is 90% (Centre): 10% (State) for Special Category States (8 North-Easter States and Hilly States of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and UT of Jammu & Kashmir) and 60% (Centre):40% (State) for General/ Non-Special Category States.

 

Under River Management and Border Areas (RMBA) component of FMBAP with an outlay of Rs. 1160 crore, flood control and anti-erosion works on common border rivers with neighbouring countries including hydrological observations and flood forecasting, and investigation & pre-construction activities of joint water resources projects (with neighbouring countries) on common border rivers will be taken up with 100% central assistance.

Although, primary responsibility of flood management rests with the State Governments, Union Government has decided that it is desirable to supplement the efforts of the State Governments in flood management, encouraging promotion & adoption of modern technology and innovative materials/approach.

 

Govt modifies rules to fast track rooftop solar installations

The Power Ministry on February 23, 2024 said that it has simplified the electricity consumer rules, reducing the time for availing new connections and simplifying the setting up of rooftop solar installations and allowing separate connections for charging EVs.

 

Issuing the amendments, Power and New & Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh said the amendments allow consumers living in multi-storied flats to choose their connection type and ensure separate billing for common areas and backup generators in residential societies.

 

The amendments also provide for check meters to be installed by distribution companies in case of consumer complaints to verify electricity consumption. Amendments have been made to the rules to facilitate faster installation and enhance the ease of setting up rooftop solar (RTS) PV systems on consumers’ premise.

 

Exemption has been given for the requirement of technical feasibility study, for systems up to a capacity of 10 kilowatt (kW). For systems of capacity higher than 10 kW, the timeline for completing the feasibility study has been reduced from 20 days to 15 days. Further, in case the study is not completed within the stipulated time, the approval will be deemed to have been given.

 

The distribution system strengthening necessary for RTS PV systems up to 5 kW capacity will be done by the Discom at its own cost. Further, the timeline for the Discom to commission RTS PV systems has been reduced from 30 to 15 days.

 

Owners residing in co-operative group housing societies (CGHS), multi-storied buildings, residential colonies, etc, will now have the option to choose from the Discom, either individual connections for everyone or a single-point connection for the whole premises.

 

In cases where consumers complain about meter readings not aligning with their actual electricity consumption, Discom is now required to install an additional meter within five days from the date of receipt of the complaint, which will be used to verify the consumption for a minimum period of three months.

 

Farmers reject govt offer to buy 5 crops at MSP for 5 years

Group of farmer unions under the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) rejected the government’s proposal on minimum support price (MSP) for five crops for five years on February 19, 2024 and vowed to continue the agitation until the demands are met.

 

In a bid to find a solution to the farmers’ agitation over the key demand for legal enforcement of the MSP, the Centre proposed buying cotton, maize, tur, urad and masur for five years directly from farmers at the MSP without any quantitative limit. The farmers have been demanding fixing the minimum support price (MSP) for all crops on the basis of the Swaminathan formula and providing it with a legal shield.

 

The current agitation to march to Delhi was called by the SKM (non-political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee of Punjab, which were part of the united SKM in the 2020-21 agitation against three farm laws.

 

PM inaugurates 11 godowns in PACS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 24, 2024 inaugurated 11 godowns for grain storage in primary agricultural credit societies (PACS) spread across 11 states as part of the government’s flagship ‘World’s Largest Grain Storage Plan’ in the cooperative sector. Modi also laid the foundation stone for an additional 500 PACS across the country for the construction of godowns and other agri infrastructure. He also inaugurated a project for computerisation of 18,000 PACS across the country. The aim behind these initiatives is to seamlessly integrate PACS godowns with the food grain supply chain, with a collaborative effort of NABARD and spearheaded by the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC).

 

Govt allows 100% space FDI for making satellite parts

In order to attract overseas players in the Indian space industry, Union Cabinet February 21, 2024 approved the amendment in foreign direct investment (FDI) policy in the space sector, allowing 100% overseas investment in making components for satellites.

 

Now, the satellite sub-sector has been divided into three different activities with defined limits for foreign investment in each such sector.

 

As per the existing policy, FDI is permitted in establishment and operation of satellites through the govt approval route only. By changing the current policy, govt has allowed up to 74% FDI under automatic route in satellites manufacturing and operation, satellite data products and ground and user segments. Beyond this limit, govt approval will be required in these areas for FDI.

 

Up to 49% FDI is allowed through the automatic route for launch vehicles and associated systems or subsystems, creation of spaceports for launching and receiving spacecraft. Beyond 49%, FDI in these activities would require govt approval. Further, up to 100% overseas investments are permitted under the automatic route for manufacturing of components and systems/ sub-systems for satellites, ground and user segments.

 

TRAI recommends mandatory call name display to curb spam

In another move to check unsolicited calls, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended that all network operators should implement the calling name display service on mobile phones and further that, all smartphone makers should be mandated to enable this feature within a stipulated time.

 

In its recommendations issued on February 23, 2024 on calling name presentation (CNAP) service, TRAI said, “the government should issue appropriate instructions for making CNAP feature in all devices sold in India, after a suitable cut-off date, say after six months from the date of notification.” The pan-India implementation of CNAP shall precede with trials in one license service area where all operators must participate.

 

TRAI said that the 140 number series allocated for businesses or telemarketers making calls to subscribers should also be displaying the name of calling entity. They should also be allowed the option to chose a “preferred name”, which could be a trademark or a unique name registered with the government of India.

 

India cuts import duty on blueberries, turkeys; fully exempts extra long staple cotton from levy

The government has fully exempted customs duty on import of extra long staple cotton, and has cut duties on specified varieties of imported blueberries, cranberries and frozen turkeys. In a notification, the Finance Ministry has slashed import duty on certain items of blueberries and cranberries from 30 per cent to 10 per cent in some cases and 5 per cent in other cases.

 

Similarly, import duty pertaining to meat and edible offal of turkeys, were also reduced from 30 per cent to 5 per cent effective February 20, 2024.

 

According to officials, the duty rate changes on frozen turkey, specified cranberries and blueberries and their processed products is to implement the recommendation of the Department of Commerce following a mutually agreed solution between India and the US.

 

India’s forex reserves dip by $1.13 bn to $616.1 bn as of Feb 16

India’s foreign exchange reserves dipped by of $1.13 billion to $616.1 billion for the week ending on February 16, latest data by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) showed on February 23, 2024. According to the Weekly Statistical Supplement released by the RBI, Foreign currency assets (FCAs) dropped by $740 million to $545.78 billion. Expressed in dollar terms, the FCAs include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US units like the euro, pound and yen held in the foreign exchange reserves. Gold reserves fell by $362 million to $47.38 billion, whereas SDRs decreased by $28 million to $18.11 billion. Previously, forex reserves dipped by $5.24 billion to $617.23 billion for the week ended on February 9. Reserve position in the IMF decreased by $1 million to $4.83 billion.

 

IFFCO ranked first among top 300 cooperatives globally

Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd (IFFCO) has again been ranked as top cooperative among top 300 cooperatives in the world, sustaining its position from the last year, according to a statement on February 22, 2024. The ranking is based on the ratio of turnover over Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. It relates to the turnover of the enterprise to the wealth of the country according to the 2023 edition of the 12th Annual World Cooperative Monitor (WCM) report published by International Cooperative Alliance (ICA). IFFCO has also improved its ranking to 72nd in overall turnover ranking from 97th position in last financial year.

 

Govt extends 20% export tax on parboiled rice until further order

The government of India on February 21, 2024 extended the 20 per cent duty on export of parboiled rice beyond March 31. The government in August 2023 had imposed a 20 per cent duty on the export of parboiled rice, a move aimed at maintaining adequate local stock and keep domestic prices under check. It was later extended till March 31, 2024. Besides, duty-free import of yellow peas, too, has been extended beyond March 31, subject to the condition that the bill of landing is issued on or before April 30, 2024.

 

Cabinet approves hike in sugarcane FRP by ₹25/quintal

The government on February 21, 2024 announced hiking the sugarcane FRP by ₹25 to ₹340 per quintal for the 2024-25 season starting October. Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) is the minimum price that mills have to pay to sugarcane growers. The decision to increase the FRP of sugarcane was taken at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

 

Niranjan Rajadhyaksha declines to serve as member of 16th Finance Commission

Dr. Niranjan Rajadhyaksha, Executive Director, Artha Global was appointed as Member in the 16th Finance Commission vide notification dated 31.01.2024. Dr. Rajadhyaksha has expressed his inability to take up this responsibility due to unforeseen personal circumstances.

 

 

Section H: CORPORATE

 

X complies with orders from govt. to block accounts, posts

Social media major X, formerly Twitter, has released a press statement on censorship requests from the Indian government. It is the first detailed statement on the centre’s frequent blocking requests. Recently, X complied government’s requests for blocking accounts posting about the farmers’ protests at the Haryana boundary.

 

“The Indian government has issued executive orders requiring X to act on specific accounts and posts, subject to potential penalties including significant fines and imprisonment,” the unsigned post on February 22, 2024 said. “In compliance with the orders, we will withhold these accounts and posts in India alone; however, we disagree with these actions and maintain that freedom of expression should extend to these posts.”

 

The company will not do anything new to defend these individuals’ freedom of expression, it indicated, referring to a “pending appeal” in the Karnataka High Court against blocking orders. The next hearing is on March 20. During a hearing on February 20, 2024, the company sought more time to respond to a recent government affidavit.

 

Banned accounts

The banned accounts on X and Facebook of farmer leaders and organisations include that of Sarvan Singh Pandher, coordinator of Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM); Tejveer Singh Ambala, spokesperson of BKU (Shaheed Bhagat Singh); farmer leader Ramandeep Singh Mann; Surjit Singh Phull from BKU Krantikari; farmer leader Harpal Sangha, Ashok Danoda from Haryana; Bhartiya Kisan Union spokesman; Progressive Farmers Front; and Kisan Majdoor Morcha. Some prominent non-farmers who have expressed their opinions or been a part of the farmers’ movement have also been banned on social media, including independent journalist Mandeep Punia, Khalsa Aid’s Ravi Singh, and Canadian Punjabi singer Jazzy B.

 

Google paused Gemini’s ability to generate AI images of people

Google on February 22, 2024 announced it would pause Gemini’s ability to generate images of people. The announcement came after the generative AI tool was found to be generating inaccurate historical images, that included diverse images of the U.S. founding fathers and Nazi-era Germany. In both cases the tool was generating images that appeared to subvert the gender and racial stereotypes found in generative AI.

 

Google’s Gemini chatbot is also facing criticism in India due to a response it generated which said that the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “been accused of implementing policies that some experts have characterised as fascist”.

 

Issues and concerns

Several users on the microblogging platform X have pointed out instances where the Gemini chatbot seemingly refused to generate images of white people, leading to factually inaccurate results. Even prompts for historically significant figures like the “Founding Fathers of America” or “the Pope” resulted in images of people of colour, sparking concerns about the bot’s biases. Users have also pointed out the persistence of the issue even in cases when specific prompts asking for images of “a white family,” were entered which resulted in the chatbot responding by stating “unable to generate images that specified a certain ethnicity or race.” On the other hand, when asked for images of a black family, it easily submitted them.

 

Google added the image-generating feature to the Gemini chatbot, formerly known as Bard, recently. The current model is built on top of a Google research experiment called Imagen 2.

 

RIL-backed AI model set to launch in March

BharatGPT, a consortium backed by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries and the country’s top engineering colleges, aim to launch its first ChatGPT-style service soon, a big step in the country’s ambitions to become a player in the field of artificial intelligence.

 

If successful, the model — dubbed Hanooman — will represent an advance for India in the race to develop potentially transformative AI technology. BharatGPT envisions the model working via 11 local languages in four main fields: health care, governance, financial services and education. It developed the model in collaboration with the IITs including in Bombay, backed by wireless carrier Reliance Jio Infocomm and govt.

 

The BharatGPT group offered a preview of the large language model on February 20, 2024 during a technology conference in Mumbai. In a video played before delegates, a motorcycle mechanic in southern India queried an AI bot in Tamil, a banker conversed with the tool in Hindi, and a developer in Hyderabad used it to write computer code.

 

BYD unveils $233,450 EV

BYD Co debuted its most expensive car on February 25, 2024, a 1.68 million yuan ($233,450) high-performance fully-electric supercar. The Yangwang U9 will initially be for the China market. The car can hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.36 seconds and reach a top speed of 309.19 km/h. BYD became the biggest EV seller globally, overtaking Tesla in the last quarter of 2023. While it is better known for making affordable EVs, the company markets its luxury models under the Yangwang and Fang Cheng Bao brands.

 

Zurich Insurance to buy 70% in Kotak Mahindra General

Kotak Mahindra Bank on February 23, 2024 said Zurich Insurance Company has agreed to pick up 70% stake in its general insurance arm, Kotak Mahindra General, for a total consideration of approximately ₹5,560 crore. As per the current regulatory guidelines, a foreign entity can own up to 74% in an insurance venture in India.

 

Mitsubishi Corp picks up 32% stake in TVS VMS for 300cr

Chennai: Japanese automotive giant Mitsubishi Corporation has invested Rs 300 crore for a 32% stake in multi-brand automotive dealer TVS Vehicle Mobility Solution (TVS VMS), subsidiary of TVS Mobility (demerged from TV Sundram Iyengar & Sons ). With this, the dealership business of TVS Mobility will transform into TVS VMS, a joint venture between TVS Mobility and Mitsubishi Corp

 

Vibhor Steel listed

Shares of Vibhor Steel Tubes on February 20, 2024 jumped 180 per cent at ₹421 against the IPO price of ₹151. The stock gained further 5 per cent to end the day at ₹442. On the NSE, shares of Vibhor Steel Tubes listed at ₹425 and closed at ₹446.25 per piece. The ₹72.18-crore initial public offering (IPO) of Vibhor Steel Tubes was subscribed by 320 times.

 

 

Section I: STATES

 

PM visits Chhattisgarh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 24, 2024 inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of multiple development projects worth Rs 34,400 crores in Chhattisgarh under ‘Viksit Bharat, Viksit Chhattisgarh’. The projects cater to several sectors including Roads, Railways, Coal, Power, and Solar Energy among others. He dedicated/inaugurated the following:

 

  • Dedicated NTPC’s Lara Super Thermal Power Project, Stage-I (2×800 MW) to the nation and laid the foundation stone of NTPC’s Lara Super Thermal Power Project, Stage-II (2×800 MW) in Raigarh

 

  • Inaugurated three First Mile Connectivity (FMC) projects of South Eastern Coalfields Limited

 

  • Inaugurated the Solar PV Project at Rajnandgaon that is expected to generate an estimated 243.53 million units of energy annually

 

  • Dedicated the Bilaspur – Uslapur Flyover that will reduce the heavy congestion of traffic and stoppage of coal traffic at Bilaspur going towards Katni

 

  • Dedicated a 50MW Solar Power Plant in Bhilai that will help in the utilization of solar energy in running trains

 

  • Dedicated rehabilitation and upgradation of the 55.65 km long Section of NH-49 to two lanes with paved shoulders that will help in improving connectivity between two important cities Bilaspur and Raigarh

 

  • Dedicated rehabilitation and upgradation of a 52.40 km long section of NH-130 to two lanes with paved shoulders that will help in improving the connectivity of Ambikapur city with Raipur and Korba city

 

  • Inaugurated the Indian Institute of Technology Bhilai and two newly constructed Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) buildings

 

Centre to examine Ladakh’s demand for constitutional safeguards

The Union government has agreed to examine how the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution can be implemented in Ladakh’s context, according to an understanding reached between civil society leaders and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) officials on February 24, 2024. In the next meeting, legal and constitutional experts will come together to discuss the legality and the context of granting Statehood to Ladakh and its inclusion under the Sixth Schedule.

 

The Sixth Schedule under Article 244 of the Constitution protects tribal populations, allowing for the creation of autonomous development councils which can frame laws on land, public health, and agriculture. As of now, 10 autonomous councils exist in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.

 

On February 24, 2024, members of the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) in Ladakh met MHA officials for a third round of meetings. The LAB and KDA are demanding Statehood and the inclusion of Ladakh in the Sixth Schedule thus giving it a tribal status, job reservations for residents, and a parliamentary seat each for Leh and Kargil.

 

Ladakh was turned into a Union Territory (UT) after the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution was revoked by the Parliament on August 5, 2019.

 

National Public Health India Conference held in New Delhi

Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Prof. S.P. Singh Baghel inaugurated the first National Public Health India Conference (NPHICON-2024) in the presence of Dr. V. K. Paul, Member NITI Aayog, in New Delhi on February 23, 2024. This three-day long conference was by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) under the Directorate General of Health Services.

 

SJVN commissions 50 MW Gujrai Solar Power Station in Uttar Pradesh

SJVN Limited, a Mini Ratna, Category-I and Schedule ‘A’ Central public sector enterprise under the administrative control of Ministry of Power, Government of India, has begun commercial operation of its 50 MW Gujrai Solar Power Station in Kanpur Dehat, Uttar Pradesh on February 23, 2024. With this milestone, the total installed power capacity of SJVN stands at 2,277 MW, with ten power stations currently operational. The 50 MW Gujrai Solar Power Station has been executed by SJVN through its renewable arm, SJVN Green Energy Limited (SGEL) at a cost of Rs. 281 crores.

 

211 PM SHRI schools inaugurated in Chhattisgarh

Union Minister of Education and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Dharmendra Pradhan, along with Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Shri Vishnu Deo Sai, inaugurated 211 PM SHRI schools in Raipur on February 19, 2024. PM SHRI School is a centrally sponsored scheme by the Government of India intended to develop more than 14500 PM SHRI Schools in which every student feels welcomed and cared for, where a safe and stimulating learning environment exists, where a wide range of learning experiences are offered, and where good physical infrastructure and appropriate resources conducive to learning are available to all students.

 

SECI unveils India’s largest solar-battery project in Chhattisgarh

The Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited (SECI), under the aegis of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, has commissioned India’s largest Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), which stores energy using solar energy. The 40 megawatts (MW) / 120MWh BESS with a solar photovoltaic (PV) plant which has an installed capacity of 152.325 megawatt hour (MWh) and dispatchable capacity of 100MW AC (155.02 MW peak DC) is located in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh. The project was dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi via video conferencing on February 24, 2024.

 

Regional facilitation office of CBFC opened in Chandigarh

Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur on February 25, 2024 announced the setting up of a regional facilitation office of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in Chandigarh, with the objective of promoting ease of doing business for filmmakers of the region. He made this announcement at the closing ceremony of the Chitra Bharati Film Festival in Chandigarh.

 

48.1-km stretch of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project commissioned

Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned a newly completed 48.1-km stretch of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project on February 20, 2024. The 272-km USBRL is being commissioned in phases — the 118-km Qazigund-Baramulla section was done in October 2009, the 18-km Banihal-Qazigund section in June 2013 and the 25-km Udhampur-Katra section in July 2014.

 

UP Police Constable Exam 2024 cancelled due to paper leak

The Uttar Pradesh government has made the decision to cancel the UP Police Constable Recruitment Exam 2024 following reports of paper leaks. The exam, which saw participation from over 48 lakh aspirants, including approximately 16 lakh women, on February 17 and 18, will be re-conducted within six months. This development comes amid ongoing protests by civil service aspirants against the alleged leaking of question papers.

 

PM visits Varanasi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 22, 2024 visited Varanasi (UP) where he unveiled statue of Sant Ravidas in Varanasi on his 647th birth anniversary. He participated in prize distribution ceremony of Sansad Sanskrit Pratiyogita at Swatantra Sabhagar, BHU, Varanasi. The PM launched two hybrid electric catamaran vessels – MV Guh and MV Nishadraj- on the River Ganga in Varanasi.

 

PM inaugurates AIIMS Jammu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 20, 2024 inaugurated the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), saying the people of Jammu will no longer have to leave for Delhi to avail specialised medical treatment. The hospital, sprawling across 226.84 acres along National Highway 44 in Vijaypur area of Samba district, was established under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) to address regional healthcare imbalances, encourage evidence-based research and elevate medical education standards.

 

India’s largest tribal festival held in Telangana

The village of Medaram, nestled in the Mulugu district in Telangana, hosted the biennial Sammakka-Saralamma Jatara, hailed as the nation’s largest tribal fair, from February 21 to 24, 2024. The fair honours tribal warriors for their supreme sacrifice defending tribal people’s rights.

 

Background

Legend has it that in the 12th century, a tribal chieftain Medaraju of ‘Polavasa’ region found a baby in a forest during a hunting spree. He named her Sammakka, brought her up and got her married to Pagidigidda Raju, a tribal leader of Medaram, who was a feudatory of Kakatiya rulers. Sammakka had three children Nagulamma, Saralamma and Jampanna.

 

When the then Kakatiya king insisted on payment of taxes by people of Medaram despite a drought, Pagidigidda Raju refused. Enraged, the king announced a war on Medaram. Undeterred by the military might of the Kakatiya reign, Sammakka and her husband joined the battle. Sammakka, unfazed by the death of her husband, daughter and son, continued the fight and suffered grievous injuries. She vanished into Chilakalagutta hillock nearby and is believed to have turned into a goddess to protect her tribe.

 

Sammakka and Saralamma began to be revered as goddesses, and devotees make offerings to please them to receive health and wealth. Held on the full moon day in the month of Magha (February) the Jatara rituals are held in tune with tribal traditions under the aegis of tribal priests, and attracts a footfall of around two crore.

 

AP: PM opens IIT, IISER, IIITDM in Tirupati and Kurnool

Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally dedicated to the nation the permanent campuses of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-Tirupati), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER-Tirupati) and the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Design and Manufacturing (IIITDM Kurnool) through virtual mode on February 20, 2024.

 

NGEL inks land lease agreement with AP for green hydrogen hub

State-run NTPC’s green energy arm has signed the land lease agreement with Andhra Pradesh to set up a green hydrogen hub in the state. The agreement, signed on February 20, 2024 between NTPC Green Energy Ltd (NGEL) and Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC), is for the development of an integrated green hydrogen hub on 1,200 acres of land near Pudimadaka village (Atchutapuram Mandal) in Visakhapatnam. The Pudimadaka green hydrogen hub aims to create a world-class ecosystem for technologies in the new energy paradigm, such as electrolyser and fuel cell manufacturing, related ancillary industries, incubation, testing facilities, production and export of green hydrogen and its derivatives (green ammonia, green methanol, etc).

 

Tamil Nadu: To realise fine, court to give state 27kg of late CM’s gold & diamonds

The 36th city civil court in Bengaluru announced on February 19, 2024 that it will hand over 27kg of gold and diamond jewellery belonging to late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa to the home secretary of her state on Mar 6-7, the beginning of final judicial process to sell her assets to mobilise the Rs 100 crore fine imposed on her.

 

In Sept 2014, special judge John Michael D’Cunha had convicted J Jayalalithaa, N Sasikala, J Ilavarasi and V N Sudhakaran and had sentenced all of them to undergo four years’ imprisonment each. Jayalalithaa was fined Rs 100 crore, and the other three Rs 10 crore each. Though Karnataka HC acquitted all of them on May 11, 2015, SC restored judge D’Cunha’s order on Feb 14, 2017.

 

The move comes nearly 10 years after Jayalalithaa was convicted and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment in a corruption case, and more than seven years since her death. The court’s present proceedings are to auction movable and immovable assets of Jayalalithaa. After the jewellery is auctioned, the court will bring her immovable assets to auction.

 

While 20 kg of jewellery will be sold or auctioned to realise the fine, 7kg is exempt as it is deemed as inherited from her mother. For its part, Canfin Homes Ltd, where Jayalalithaa had an account, handed over almost Rs 60 lakh to the special court on February 19, 2024.

 

Tamil Nadu bans cotton candy sale over cancer concerns

The Tamil Nadu government on February 24, 2024 implemented a ban on the sale of cotton candy after test reports revealed the presence of cancer-inducing chemicals. State health minister M Subramanian also ordered food safety officers to take required measures and strict action.

 

According to reports, the Food Analysis Laboratory found the compound Rhodamine-B in various confectionaries as well as cotton candy. The textile dye imparts a vibrant, fluorescent-tinted pink-to-red hue and is used extensively in textiles, inks, and cosmetics. The chemical is however toxic for humans and can cause cancer.

 

The development also comes mere days after Tamilisai Soundararajan issued a similar order for Puducherry. The Lieutenant Governor said officials had been directed to inspect shops selling cotton candy and undertake seizures if Rhodamine-B is found in their products. She also warned people against giving “food items having colour additives” to children.

 

Karnataka: Bill to collect more taxes from earnings of state-owned temples defeated in council

The Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Karnataka assembly on February 21, 2024 to enable the government to collect more taxes from earnings of state-owned temples. The new legislation mandates muzrai class ‘A’ temples with annual revenues of over Rs 1 crore to contribute 10% of their income to Dharmik Parishad; 5% to be paid by shrines with revenues of Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore. Before the amendment, contributions to the common pool (for Dharmik Parishad) came from 10% of the net income of temples with a gross annual income exceeding Rs 10 lakh; 5% of the net income of institutions whose gross annual income is between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh; and govt grants.

 

On February 23, the contentious bill failed to pass in legislative council, with BJP and JD(S) joining forces to defeat it. In the 75-member legislative council, BJP has 35 members, including the chairperson, while JD(S) has eight. Congress has 29 members, besides an independent. Two seats are currently vacant.

 

The government reasoned that the bill, once enacted into a law, would enable it to take a portion of revenues from temples with higher earnings and reallocate the funds to those with lower earnings.

 

Karnataka tightens cigarette laws: From sales to public smoking restrictions

The Karnataka government recently introduced the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Bill, 2024, aimed at tightening regulations on tobacco sales. One significant change is raising the legal age for purchasing cigarettes from 18 to 21 years.

 

This measure, part of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Manufacture, Supply and Distribution) (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, was successfully passed in the Assembly.

 

Additionally, the sale of cigarettes within a 100-meter radius of schools is banned to discourage underage smoking. Recognizing the concerns of small traders, the fine for violations of this provision has been capped at Rs. 1,000.

 

Furthermore, the bill addresses the issue of hookah bars, prohibiting their operation in any establishment, including eateries, pubs, or restaurants. Those found operating unauthorized hookah bars face severe penalties, including imprisonment ranging from one to three years and fines ranging from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1 lakh.

 

Maharashtra: Sharad Pawar faction of NCP gets party symbol

The Election Commission of India on February 22, 2024 allotted “man blowing turha (a traditional trumpet)” as the symbol of the Nationalist Congress Party-Sharad chandra Pawar. In July 2023, the Sharad Pawar-founded NCP split after Ajit Pawar and eight other MLAs joined the Eknath Shinde government. Subsequently, the Election Commission of India (ECI) granted the party name and the symbol of a ‘clock’ to the faction led by Deputy CM Ajit Pawar.

 

Maharashtra assembly passes Maratha quota bill

A special session of the Maharashtra assembly on February 20, 2024 passed a bill to provide 10% reservations to the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions. With the passage of the ‘Maharashtra State Socially and Educational Backward Bill 2024’ unanimously in both houses of the state legislature, the total quota percentage in the state now stands at 62%, above the 50% quota limit set by the Supreme Court.

 

Maharashtra MSME Defence Expo 2024 organised in Pune

The inaugural Maharashtra MSME Defence Expo 2024, held from February 24 to 26 at the Pune International Exhibition and Convention Centre (PIECC) in Pimpri-Chinchwad’s Moshi, drew in over two lakh visitors. This expo saw active participation from the Indian Defence Forces and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), aiming to bolster medium and small enterprises while positioning the state as a leading hub for defence manufacturing. The event served as a pivotal platform for industry leaders and innovative start-ups to showcase their capabilities, fostering collaboration and unlocking vast potential within the defence sector.

 

PM visits Gujarat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 25, 2024 visited Gujarat where he:

  • Inaugurated Sudarshan Setu which connects Okha mainland and Beyt Dwarka island in Gujarat. It is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the country. The 2.32 km bridge, including 900 metres of central double span cable-stayed portion and a 2.45 km long approach road, has been constructed at a cost of Rs 979 crore. The four-lane 27.20 metre wide bridge has 2.50 metre wide footpaths on each side. The bridge, which was known as ‘Signature Bridge’, has been renamed as ‘Sudarshan Setu’ or Sudarshan Bridge. Beyt Dwarka is an island near Okha port, which is nearly 30 km from Dwarka town, where the famous Dwarkadhish temple of Lord Krishna is situated. At present, devotees visiting the temple at Beyt Dwarka can travel only during the day by boat, while the construction of the bridge will allow them to travel at all times.
  • Virtually inaugurated ‘Central Research Institute of Yoga & Naturopathy’ (CRIYN) at Jhajjar, Haryana and National Institute of Naturopathy (NIN) in Pune, Maharashtra
  • Dedicated to the nation five All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Rajkot (Gujarat), Bathinda (Punjab), Raebareli (Uttar Pradesh), Kalyani (West Bengal) and Mangalagiri (Andhra Pradesh)

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 22, 2024 visited Gujarat where he:

  • Inaugurated two Made-In-India 700 MW nuclear power reactors at Kakrapar in Gujarat. These are dedicated units 3 & 4 of Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS 3 & 4). Both are Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR). The PM inaugurated Valinath Mahadev Temple at Tarabh in Mahesana, Gujarat
  • Inaugurated Vadodara-Bharuch section of Delhi-Mumbai Expressway at Navsari, Gujarat
  • Participated in Golden Jubilee celebration of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) in Ahmedabad

 

Manipur HC deletes verdict para that led to ethnic violence

The Manipur High Court has deleted its direction to the state government to consider the inclusion of the Meitei community in the list of Scheduled Tribes (STs), which had triggered the ethnic violence in Manipur, resulting in the deaths of at least 210 people so far. The court stated that the direction was against the observations made by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court.

 

Justice Golmei Gaiphulshillu, during a hearing of a review petition on February 21, 2024, ordered the deletion of the contentious para in the earlier direction, which was part of a judgement passed on March 27, 2023, by the then Acting Chief Justice MV Muralidaran of the High Court. The court had then directed the state government to consider the inclusion of Meitei community in the list of Scheduled Tribes in Manipur, which triggered massive violence involving the Meitei and Zo communities of Manipur.

 

The contentious paragraph in the March 27, 2003 judgement read that “the first respondent shall consider the case of the petitioners for inclusion of the Meetei/Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe list, expeditiously, preferably within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order in terms of the averments set out in the writ petition and in the line of the order passed in W.P.(C) No. 4281 of 2002 dated 26.05.2003 by the Gauhati High Court.”

 

Assam to repeal Muslim Marriage Act

The Assam government has decided to repeal the Assam Muslim Marriages and Divorces Registration Act of 1935. The State Cabinet, which met on February 23, 2024, approved the Assam Repealing Ordinance, 2024, for repealing the British-era marriage and divorce Act specific to Muslims. The government said that the decision to repeal the Act was made as the State is heading towards the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). District Commissioners and District Registrars would be authorised to take custody of registration records currently in the custody of 94 Muslim marriage registrars on the repeal of the legislation, under the overall supervision, guidance, and control of the Inspector-General of Registration. A one-time compensation of ₹2 lakh will be provided to each Muslim marriage registrar for their rehabilitation after the Act is repealed.

 

Arunachal Pradesh: 2 Congress MLAs, equal number of NPP legislators join BJP

Two MLAs of Congress and as many legislators from the National People’s Party (NPP) in Arunachal Pradesh joined the ruling BJP on February 25, 2024. Congress MLA and former union minister Ninong Ering (Pasighat West seat) and Wanglin Lowangdong (Borduria-Bogapani constituency) joined the saffron party during a function at its headquarters in Itanagar. NPP’s Mutchu Mithi (Roing seat) and Gokar Basar (Basar constituency) also became a part of the BJP at the event, which was attended by Chief Minister Pema Khandu. With February 25, 2024’s development, the BJP now has 53 MLAs in the House, while three independent MLAs extend outside support to the government. The Congress and NPP now have two MLAs each in the 60-member assembly.

 

First Gati Shakti Research Chair established at IIM Shillong

The Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways (MoPSW) and Ayush, Sarbananda Sonowal attended the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between the MoPSW and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) to set up India’s first ‘Gati Shakti Research Chair’ in Shillong on February 23, 2024. The Chair will spearhead high-quality academic research on multimodal logistics with a North-East focus: building knowledge on multimodal logistics development strategies and practice in the North-Eastern region, facilitate knowledge and innovation for logistical capacity building in the region.

NEWSMAKERS

 

SC overturns result; declares AAP candidate Chandigarh Mayor

The Supreme Court on February 20, 2024 set aside the decision of the returning officer, who had declared a BJP candidate as Chandigarh mayor on January 30. Holding that it would be “inappropriate” to set aside the “election process in entirety”, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud held that the “only infirmity” found was in the pronouncement of the result by returning officer Anil Masih.

 

As a result, the court declared Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Kuldeep Kumar to be the winner of the mayoral poll. The bench refused to accept Masih’s explanation as to why he declared the eight votes for AAP candidate as invalid.

The bench strongly disapproved of Masih’s conduct as a returning officer. The bench held that Masih “unlawfully altered the course of the mayoral election”. The bench ruled that the “solemn statement” made by Masih before the court, justifying his action, was a “patent falsehood”.

 

Masih has been issued show cause notice. The court has directed the judicial registrar to show-cause Anil Masih as to why steps should not be initiated against him under Section 340 of CrPC (related to Section 195 which deals with prosecution for contempt of lawful authority of public servants). Masih has been given three weeks to respond to the show cause notice.

 

The bench observed that Masih had acted “beyond the terms of his remit under statutory provisions” and made a “deliberate effort to invalidate ballot papers” to ensure that BJP’s candidate won.

 

Masih, in a statement made before the bench on February 19, 2024, had taken the stance that he had put his stamp (X mark) on eight ballot papers because they were defaced. The bench perused the said eight ballot papers and found that there is “no defacement at all”. The top court said that it was “duty bound to do complete justice to ensure electoral democracy is not allowed” to be adversely affected “by such subterfuges”.

 

The development took place on a plea filed by AAP councillor Kuldeep Kumar who had petitioned the apex court against the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s refusal to grant an immediate stay on the election result in which a BJP candidate was declared the Mayor of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation last February 20, 2024. Significantly, the mayor so elected resigned on February 19, 2024.

 

Radio announcer Ameen Sayani dies at 91

Radio announcer Ameen Sayani died at the age of 91 in Mumbai on February 20, 2024. He achieved fame and popularity across the Indian subcontinent when he presented his Binaca Geetmala program of hits over the airwaves of Radio Ceylon. CIBACA (formerly BINACA) GEETMALA was broadcast from 1952 – mainly over Radio Ceylon, and later over Vividh Bharati (AIR) – for a total of over 42 years. It was again revived after a gap of 4 years, and was aired over the National Network of Vividh Bharati for 2 years as COLGATE CIBACA GEETMALA.

 

Telangana MLA Lasya Nandita dies in road accident

Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MLA G Lasya Nanditha (37) died in a road accident on the Patancheru outer Ring Road in Telangana’s Sangerddy district on the outskirts of Hyderabad on February 23, 2024.

 

Film Director Kumar Shahani dies at 83

Kumar Shahani, Hindi film director and screenwriter, best known for his parallel cinema films Maya Darpan (1972), Tarang (1984), Khayal Gatha (1989) and Kasba (1990), died in Kolkata at the age of 83 on February 24, 2024. He received a B. A. (hons) from the University of Bombay in Political Science and History and studied screenplay writing and Advanced Direction at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.

 

Actor Rituraj Singh dies at 59

TV and film actor Rituraj Singh died in Mumbai at the age of 59 on February 20, 2024. He was known for his roles in TV shows like Banegi Apni Baat Jyoti, Hitler Didi, Shapath, Warrior High, Aahat, Adaalat, and Diya Aur Baati Hum.

 

 

Section J: SPORTS

 

Gopi Thonakal wins elite men’s race in Delhi Marathon

India’s Gopi Thonakal (35) won the elite men’s race at New Delhi Marathon on February 25, 2024, covering the distance of 42.195km in 2 hours, 14 minutes and 40 seconds. His timing was below the national record of 2:12:00 which has been standing in the name of Shivnath Singh since 1978. Srinu Bugatha finished second in 2:14:41 while Akshay Saini was third with a time of 2:15:27. Ashwini Madan Jadhav won the women’s elite race, clocking 2:52:25, while Thakor Nirmaben Bharatjee (2:55:47) and Divyanka Chaudhary (2:57:06) were second and third respectively. The New Delhi Marathon, which was held under the aegis of the Athletics Federation of India, saw thousands of participants from more than 200 cities, 27 states and several countries in different categories. The course passed some of the city’s iconic landmarks such as Humayun’s Tomb, Lodhi Garden and Khan Market.

 

World Team Table Tennis Championships held in Busan

The 2024 World Team Table Tennis Championships were held in Busan, South Korea from February 16 to 25, 2024. Quarterfinalists of the event qualified for the 2024 Summer Olympics. China won both men’s and women’s team titles

 

Tennis tournaments

Valentin Vacherot defeated Adam Walton 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5) in the final to win the men’s singles title at the $133,250 Maha Open Challenger tennis tournament at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune on February 25, 2024. Karen Khachanov won the men’s singles title at Qatar Open tennis by defeating Jakub Mensik in the final 7-6(12), 6-4. Italy’s Jannik Sinner won men’s singles title at Rotterdam Open tennis on February 25, 2024 by defeating Australia’s Alex De Minaur to win 7-5, 6-4 in the final.

 

Abhay Singh wins Goodfellow Classic squash

India’s Abhay Singh defeated Elliott Morris Devred of Wales 11-7, 11-9, 11-9 in the final to win men’s title at Goodfellow Classic PSA Challenger squash event in Toronto, Canada.

 

Asia Cup 2024 archery stage-1 held in Baghdad

The Indian men’s compound team, comprising Prathamesh Jawkar, Priyansh and Kushal Dalal, won the gold medal at the Asia Cup 2024 archery stage-1 world ranking tournament in Baghdad, Iraq on February 24, 2024. The Indian trio defeated the Iranian team of Armin Pakzad, Arash Ghasemipour and Radrezvan Behnia 232-229 in the gold medal match to clinch the top podium. The women’s compound team of Aditi Swami, Priya Gurjar and Parneet Kaur, however, had to settle for the silver medal after losing to Iran 223-229 in the final. Prathamesh Jawkar and Aditi Swami also combined to win the gold in the mixed team compound event, again ousting Iran 159-157. In the individual women’s compound event, Aditi Swami, the reigning world champion, bagged the bronze medal after beating team-mate Priya Gurjar in the third-place playoff match.

 

Financial incentive for Service athletes who bagged medals in Asian Games

Defence Rajnath Singh has approved a financial incentive for the Armed Forces personnel who bagged medals in the 19th Asian Games and 4th Asian Para Games held in Hangzhou, China in September-October 2023. For both Asian Games as well as Asian Para Games, Gold medal winners will receive a cash reward of Rs 25 lakh each, Silver medal winners Rs 15 lakh each and Bronze medal winners Rs 10 lakh each.

 

Fourth edition of Khelo India University Games start in Guwahati

The fourth edition of the Khelo India University Games are being held in Guwahati from February 19 to 29, 2024. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Union Sports minister Anurag Singh Thakur attended the inauguration ceremony at Sarusajai stadium in Guwahati. A total of 16 sporting events are being held in Guwahati. Over 4500 youths have taken part in event.

 

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