Cabinet Approvals on Jan 11, 2023The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the following proposals which were briefed to media by the Union Minister Bhupender Yadav, Ministry of Labour & Employment (MoLE) in New Delhi, Delhi:
i.The Union Cabinet has approved setting up of National Level multistate cooperative export society under the Multi State Cooperative Societies (MSCS) Act, 2002 that will act as an umbrella organisation for carrying out and promoting exports.
ii.The Union Cabinet also approved setting up of a national level multi-state cooperative seed society under MSCS Act, 2002. It will act as an apex organisation for production, procurement, processing, branding, labelling, packaging, storage, marketing and distribution of quality seeds.
iii.CCEA approved a Rs 2,600-crore incentive scheme to promote Rupay debit card and low-value BHIM-UPI (Bharat Interface for Money – Unified Payments Interface) transactions (person-to-merchant) in FY23.
iv.The Union Cabinet has also given its ex post facto approval for renaming of National Centre for Drinking Water, Sanitation and Quality, Joka, Kolkata in West Bengal as ‘Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee National Institute of Water and Sanitation (SPM-NIWAS)’.
About the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI):
Union Minister – Piyush Goyal (Rajya Sabha – Maharashtra)
Ministers of State (MoS) – Anupriya Patel; Som Parkash
Indian High Commission signs MoU to establish Hindi Chair at Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka
The Indian High Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sabaragamuwa University to establish a Hindi Chair at the Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka.
- Gopal Baglay, High Commissioner, and Professor Udaya Rathnayake, Vice Chancellor of Sabaragamuwa University, signed the MoU to establish the Hindi Chair as part of India’s cultural connect through the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
- The Hindi chair will help familiarise students with India, its history, and culture as well as pave way for popularising Hindi by deputing Indian faculties.
- At the university’s Hindi Kavita competition, Gopal Baglay also presented awards to the winners.
WEF Global Risks Report 2023: Cost of Living Crisis and Digital Inequality Among India’s RisksThe World Economic Forum (WEF) has published ‘The Global Risks Report 2023’ (18th Edition), which lists the biggest risks for India over the short and medium terms.
- These risks include cost-of-living crisis, digital inequality, geopolitical competition for resources, natural disasters, and extreme weather events.
The Global Risks Report 2023 summarises the findings of the latest Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS).
Key Report Findings:
i.Globally, the greatest risks over the next 2 years [2023–2025] include: cost-of-living crisis, natural disasters and extreme weather conditions, geoeconomic confrontations, failure to control climate change, and occurrences causing significant environmental damage.
ii.The biggest risks over the long term (10 years) [2023-2033] are failures to adapt to and mitigate climate change, loss of biodiversity, massive involuntary migration, and natural resource crises, among others.
About the World Economic Forum (WEF):
Managing Director (MD) – Saadia Zahidi
Established – 1971
Headquarters – Cologny, GenevaCanton, Switzerland
UNU-INWEH: 3,700 Indian Dams Will Lose 26% Storage Capacity By 2050; World to Lose 26% Storage By 2050 To Trapped Sediment According to a new study by the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health (UNU-INWEH), around 3,700 large dams in India could lose on average 26% of their initial total storage by 2050 owing to sediment deposition, which might affect future water security, irrigation, and power generation.
- The findings were originally published in the journal ‘Sustainability’ in an article titled “Present and Future Losses of Storage in Large Reservoirs Due to Sedimentation: A Country-Wise Global Assessment” by the UNU-INWEH.
UNU-INWEH Study: The Global Scenario
i.Due to sediment trapped in dams, about 50,000 large dams around the world will lose 24-28% of their water storage capacity by 2050.
- These reservoirs have already lost 13%-19% of their capacity due to sedimentation.
About United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health (UNU-INWEH):
UNU-INWEH, also known as the UN’s ‘Think Tank on Water’, is one of the UNU institutes and an academic arm of the United Nations (UN).
Director – Vladimir Smakhtin
Established – 1996
OAG’s Punctuality League 2023: IndiGo Airlines & Coimbatore International Airport are Among World’s 20 Most Punctual Airlines & AirportsAccording to The Official Airline Guide (OAG)’s Punctuality League 2023 report, released on 11th January 2022, India’s largest airline IndiGo and Airports Authority of India (AAI)-owned Coimbatore International Airport, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, are among the 20 most punctual airlines and airports globally in terms of On-Time Performance (OTP) in 2022.
- Indigo and Coimbatore International Airport are the only indian airline and airport featured on the OAG’s Punctuality League 2023 report.
On-Time Performance (OTP):
The OTP can be defined as, flights that arrive or depart within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival or departure times.
- An airline’s OTP is calculated on the basis of arrivals data, while both departures and arrivals data are taken into consideration for an airport’s OTP.
i.IndiGo has been ranked 15th among the Top 20 most Punctual Airlines with OTP of 83.51 percent in 2022, while Coimbatore International Airport is ranked 13th among the Top 20 Most Punctual Airports.
ii.The list is topped by Garuda Indonesia with an OTP of 95.63 percent, followed by Safair (95.30 percent) in the 2nd position and Eurowings (95.26 percent) in third spot.
i.In the top 20 list, IndiGo is ahead of Thai Smile Airways (16th rank), Delta Air Lines (17), Viva Air Colombia (18), Etihad Airways (19) and Emirates (20).
ii.Among the top 20 mega airlines by OTP, IndiGo is at fifth place in the list, topped by All Nippon Airways (88.79 per cent) and with Japan Airlines (88.07 per cent) in the second place, followed by LATAM Airlines Group (85.03 per cent) and Azul Airlines (84.87 per cent) in the 3rd and 4th position respectively.
- Mega airlines are the world’s top 20 operators in terms of scheduled flights in 2022.
iii.In the league of the top 20 most punctual low-cost carriers, IndiGo holds the 6th position.
i.Among the top 20 airports in OTP globally in 2022, Coimbatore International Airport holds 13th position with a score of 88.01 percent and a cancellation rate of only 0.54 percent.
- Japan’s Osaka international airport (Itami) holds the first position with an OTP of 91.45 percent.
ii.Among the 10 most punctual airports in the Asia Pacific region, Coimbatore International Airport, Tamil Nadu, holds the 10th position.
PwC India Report: Startup Funding in India Drops 33% to USD 24 Billion in 2022In accordance with the “Startup Tracker-CY22” report published by PwC India, funding for Indian startups fell by 33% to USD 24 billion in calendar year 2022 (CY22) as compared to CY21 but was still more than twice as much as the amount raised in CY20 and CY19 combined together.
- Startups received a total of USD 13.2 billion in funding in 2019, USD 10.9 billion in CY20, and USD 35.2 billion in CY21.
i.In value terms, early-stage deals made up roughly 12% of the total capital in CY22, compared to just under 7% in CY21.
ii.In volume terms, early-stage deals made up 60–62% of the total funding in CY21 and CY22, with an average ticket size of USD 4 million per deal.
iii.Growth and late-stage funding deals accounted for 88% of funding activity in CY22 in terms of value, accounting for 38% of overall deal count.
About PwC India:
Chairperson – Sanjeev Krishan
Headquarters – Kolkata, West Bengal
NPCI allows UPI transactions for Non-Resident Accounts linked to International Numbers
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has allowed UPI (Unified Payments Interface) transactions for non-resident bank accounts like Non-Residential External (NRE) and Non- Resident Ordinary (NRO) linked to international mobile numbers.
- Initially, the transactions from mobile numbers of 10 countries – Singapore, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Oman, Qatar, United States of America(USA), Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United Kingdom (UK) – will be enabled
- This means Non-resident Indians (NRIs) from these countries can transact through UPI.
- This decision has been taken to expand and boost the global use of UPI.
- NPCI has mandated all UPI members, including banks and payments platforms, to comply with the norms by 30th April 2023.
i.Banks engaged in such type of accounts should ensure that only those accounts complying with the Foreign Exchange Management Act(FEMA) use this facility, and should adhere to the guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
ii.This allows the diaspora to use it not just when they come to India but also when they are abroad. They can make instant transfers and use it on e-commerce portals.
iii.All onboarding and transaction level checks — such as cooling period and risk rules — will be applicable as per existing UPI guidelines.
i.NPCI allowed UPI transactions to and from NRO/NRE accounts linked to Indian numbers in October 2018.
ii.NRIs couldn’t access the UPI network since SIM binding, which is an important security feature of UPI, was available only to Indian SIM cards.
Bajaj Allianz Life, Punjab & Sind Bank enter into strategic partnershipOn January 11, 2023, a corporate agreement was signed between Punjab & Sind Bank (PSB), a Public Sector Bank (PSB), and Pune (Maharashtra) based Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance Company (BALIC).
- This will allow PSB’s new and existing customers to avail a variety of retail life insurance products from BALIC including term, savings, retirement and investment options.
The agreement was signed by Swarup Kumar Saha, Managing Director(MD) & Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Punjab & Sind Bank and Tarun Chugh, MD & CEO, BALIC in New Delhi, Delhi.
i.PSB is the 25th Schedule Commercial Bank (SCB) that has partnered with BALIC for distributing its life goals-based product suite.
ii.BALIC will provide seamless service to customers which include responding to customer support requests made via WhatsApp or a self-service tool like the Bajaj Allianz Life LifeAssist App, in addition to the well-trained bank employees servicing the life insurance division.
About Punjab & Sind Bank:
MD & CEO– Swarup Kumar Saha
Headquarters– New Delhi (Delhi)
Tagline– Where service is a way of life
RBI Grants In-principle Approval for Payment Aggregator Licence to EnKash
On 11th January 2023, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has provided in-principle approval for the Fintech startup EnKash, for payment aggregator’s licence. This will enable EnKash to broaden its product offerings to millions of businesses for digital transactions.
- EnKash,established in 2018, has assisted around 1 lakh businesses to digitise and decentralise their corporate payments.
Note – Hitachi Payment Services an end-to-end payment service provider and BharatPe, a fintech unicorn have also received in-principle approval from RBI for a payment aggregator licence.
Exim Bank Raises USD 1 billion through 10-year Sustainability Bond Issue
Export-Import Bank of India ( Exim Bank) has raised USD 1 billion via a 10-year Sustainability Bond issue in the 144A/Reg-S format under its Environmental Social Governance (ESG) Framework. According to the Exim Bank, the net proceeds of Sustainability Bond will be used towards eligible projects under its ESG Framework, including renewable energy, clean transportation, access to essential services and basic infrastructure, affordable housing, and sustainable water and wastewater management.
- India Exim Bank becomes the first Indian issuer to open the markets for dollar and sustainability bond issuances in 2023, by issuing at a coupon rate of CT10 (US 10-year Treasury Bond) +190 basis points.
RITES Signs MoU with IIT-Kanpur to Explore Opportunities in Sustainability Sector
Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) Limited, a Miniratna (Category-I) and Schedule ‘A’ Central Public Sector Enterprise under the Ministry of Railways (MoR) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh for exploring opportunities in the areas of sustainability and carbon-related works including carbon neutrality, particularly in sectors such as steel and power.
- The MoU also includes research and development-related works on air quality sensors to address air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste management.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope discovers its 1st Earth-Like ExoplanetThe National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) discovered its first exoplanet, a planet that orbits another star, formally classified as LHS 475 b, which is reportedly almost the exact size of Earth, clocking in at 99% of Earth’s diameter.
- The planet is rocky and almost precisely the same size as Earth, but whips around its star in only two days.
- LHS 475 b, located in the constellation Octans, is only 41 light-years away.
The research team is led by Kevin Stevenson and Jacob Lustig-Yaeger, both from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, United States (US).
- Researchers used NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) to observe exoplanet LHS 475 b on 31st August 2022.
- The team’s results were presented at a press conference of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) on 11th January 2023.
i. The team chose to examine this target with Webb after carefully reviewing targets of interest from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which highlighted the planet’s existence.
ii. With just two transit observations, Webb’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) was able to capture the planet clearly.
iii. Only Webb is able to characterise the atmospheres of Earth-sized exoplanets among all other active telescopes.
iv. By examining the transmission spectrum of the planet, scientists made an effort to assess what is included in its atmosphere.
v. The precise light curve of Webb almost immediately showed the planet’s two-day orbital period.
vi. LHS 475 b is closer to its star than any other planet in the solar system. Its red dwarf star is less than half the temperature of the Sun, therefore researchers project it still could support an atmosphere.
Sony Sports Ropes in Hyundai Ioniq 5, Samsonite & Panasonic as Sponsors for Australian Open 2023
Broadcaster Sony Sports Network, which will air the Australian Open 2023 across its channels and OTT (Over-The-Top) app SonyLiv has roped in sponsors including Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Samsonite as co-presenting sponsors and Panasonic as an associate sponsor for the upcoming Australia Open. This will mark the return of the Sony Sports network’s live tennis studio show, ‘Extraaa Serve’, hosted by Arpit Sharma and the Hindi commentary for the tournament will be provided by Natekar, Manish Batavia & Atish Thukral.
- The Extraaa Serve will feature Olympian, Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist and Indian tennis player, Somdev Devvarman, former tennis player Gaurav Natekar and Davis Cup player Purav Raja.
- Sony Sports also launched its ‘Slam Of The Greats’ campaign, which pays homage to the ‘Greats of Tennis in this Era’, that includes Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Ashleigh Barty and highlights the rise of new young tennis stars.
Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya launches book titled “Braving A Viral Storm”
On 11th January 2023, Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, launched the book titled “Braving A Viral Storm: India’s Covid-19 Vaccine Story” in New Delhi, Delhi. The book is co-authored by Aashish Chandorkar and Suraj Sudhir and published by Rupa Publications India.
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, has received a book from Aashish Chandorkar where he has detailed India’s advancements in vaccination.
- The book’s release coincides with India’s second anniversary of starting its COVID-19 vaccination drive in January 2021.
- The book is a transcription of India’s success story and will be New India’s history. It depicts India’s strength and capability.
National Youth Day 2023- January 12National Youth Day is annually celebrated across India on January 12 to mark the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu spiritual leader, Philosopher and reformer in India, whose contributions to India’s freedom movement and revival of nationalism were enormous.
- 12th January 2023 marks the 160th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.
- On National Youth Day 2023, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi inaugurated the 26th National Youth Festival (from 12th to 16th January 2023) in Hubbali, Karnataka.
- The theme of National Youth Festival 2023 is “Viksit Yuva-Viksit Bharat”.
i. In 1984, the Indian government declared the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda as National Youth Day to honour and recognise his teachings.
ii. The 1st ever National Youth Day was observed on 12th January 1985.
About Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports:
Minister- Anurag Singh Thakur (Constituency- Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh).
Minister of State (MoS)- Nisith Pramanik (Constituency- Coochbehar, West Bengal).
Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma launches Shared School Bus System & Agriculture Response Vehicle Scheme
On 11th January 2023, Conrad K Sangma, Chief Minister (CM) of Meghalaya, flagged off 30 Shared School Bus systems and unveiled Prime Tourist Vehicles and an agriculture response vehicle scheme at a function held at U Soso Tham Auditorium, Shillong, Meghalaya.
i. The buses are part of the Sustainable Transport & Efficient Mobility Society (STEMS) programme, which focuses on mobility and overall transportation to decongest Shillong, Meghalaya.
- The buses have a passenger information system and LED screens to display the routes, and they are GPS-enabled for real-time tracking.
ii. The primary tourist vehicles are a step to enhance the overall tourism sector, offer quality transportation services to tourists, and at the same time provide employment opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
iii. The Meghalayan government provides financial aid to tourism entrepreneurs so they can buy premium tourist vehicles.
iv. The Meghalaya Agriculture Response Vehicle Scheme, which was recently launched, would reduce the amount spent on the transportation of agricultural produce by the farmers by providing them with financial support for the purchase of “Agriculture Response Vehicles” under the scheme.
- This initiative will provide the state’s rural entrepreneurship ecosystem.
v. The transport department will be enlisted to run and maintain the buses while the National Informatics Centre (NIC) will develop a mobile application and website for tracking and booking the buses.
vi. The Meghalaya Skills Development Society will provide training for drivers and caretakers of the buses.
Chief Minister (CM)- Conrad K Sangma
Governor- Brig. (Dr.) B D Mishra (Retd.)
Wildlife Sanctuary- Siju Wildlife Sanctuary; Narpuh Wildlife Sanctuary
OTPC & APDCL signed MoU to Develop 250 MW Battery Energy Storage in AssamONGC Tripura Power Company Limited (OTPC) and Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop a battery energy storage system project in Assam at an investment of Rs 2000 crore.
The 250 megawatts (MW) / 500 MW-hour system will be developed in a phased manner by incorporating a joint venture company.
- OTPC is a joint venture of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), gas utility GAIL (India) Ltd, Government of Tripura and India Infrastructure Fund-II.
Sanil C Namboodiripad, Managing director (MD) of OTPC, and Rakesh Kumar, MD of APDCL, signed the MoU in the presence of Nandita Gorlosa, Minister for Power, Cooperation, Mines and Minerals, Indigenous & Tribal Faith and Cultural Department, Guwahati, Assam.
i. The development project would assist Assam in realising its goal of becoming a leader in the green energy transition.
ii. The battery storage projects are essential for the successful integration of future solar power projects in Assam, which has been developing a significant amount of solar energy potential.
iii. The benefit of this project is to improve power availability during peak load hours, integrate renewable energy generation into the electricity grid and increase grid reliability.
About the ONGC Tripura Power Company Limited (OTPC):
OTPC, a reliable and strategic energy partner, has been a trusted energy supplier to Assam since 2014.
Chairman- Arun Kumar Singh
Managing Director- Sanil C. Namboodiripad
IAS officer A Santhi Kumari Appointed as 1st Woman Chief Secretary of Telangana
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao appointed Senior Indian Administrative Officer (IAS) officer A Santhi Kumari (1989 batch) as the first woman Chief Secretary of Telangana for a tenure until April 2025.
- She will succeed the incumbent Somesh Kumar, after the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) relieved him from the post and repatriated him to his home cadre Andhra Pradesh(AP).
- Prior to her appointment, She was serving as the Special Chief Secretary for Environment and Forests.
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