‘MV Ganga Vilas’: Modi Flagged off World’s Longest River Cruise in Varanasi, UPNarendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, flagged off the ‘MV Ganga Vilas’, the world’s longest river cruise in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh(UP). The 51-day luxury cruise, passing through 27 river systems, will cover a distance of 3,200 km from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh to Dibrugarh in Assam, via Bangladesh.
- The first trip of the cruise hosts 32 tourists from Switzerland.
- The river cruise is aimed to promote tourism and create new job opportunities.
- The expected date of arrival of MV Ganga Vilas in Dibrugarh is on 1st March, 2023.
MS Ganga Vilas, the first of its kind cruise service, is supported by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) under Ministry of Shipping, Ports and Waterways (MoPSW).
Note: PM Modi noted that more river cruise systems are being developed in various parts of India.
About the MV Ganga Vilas:
i.The MV Ganga Vilas vessel is 62 meters in length, 12 meters in width and comfortably sails with a draft of 1.4 meters.
ii.It features 18 suites, three decks, and other amenities for tourists.
iii.The cruise has a capacity of carrying 36 passengers.
iv.The cruise, which follows sustainable principles, is equipped with pollution-free mechanisms and noise control technologies.
v.MV Ganga Vilas cruise cost around Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 per day and the cost of the entire 51-day trip will be around Rs 20 lakh.
i.MV Ganga Vilas cruise is curated to bring out the best of the country to be showcased to the world.
ii.The cruise will indulge in the art, culture, history, and spirituality of India and Bangladesh.
iii.The cruise includes visit to 50 tourists spots including world heritage sites, national parks, river ghats, and major cities like Patna in Bihar, Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Kolkata in West Bengal, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Guwahati in Assam.
iv.The international cruise is being offered by Antara Luxury River Cruises.
Points to note:
i.The global River cruise market has grown at ~5% over the past few years and is expected to constitute around 37% of cruise market by 2027.
ii.Europe leads the growth with approximately 60% share of river cruise vessels in the world.
iii.In India, 8 river cruise vessels are operational between Kolkata and Varanasi while cruise movement is also operation on National Waterways(NW) 2 (Brahmaputra).
iv.At present, four river cruise vessels are operational in NW2 while it is operating in limited capacity in NW3 (West Coast Canal), NW8, NW 4, NW 87, NW 97, and NW 5.
India is committed to eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis by 2027Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr Mansukh Mandaviya stated that India is committed to eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) by 2027 three years ahead of the global target through mission mode, multi-partner, multi-sector, targeted drive for which they have drawn up the roadmap.
Dr Mansukh Mandaviya chaired the National Symposium on India’s Roadmap to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, Delhi.
- Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) elimination is a priority illness with a deadline, in contrast to other countries where it may be neglected.
i. The health ministry has developed a new five-pronged plan as part of its resolve to eradicate the disease by the end of 2027.
- As part of its commitment to eliminate the disease, multi-drug administration (MDA) will be held twice a year in conjunction with National Deworming Day on February 10 and August 10.
ii. Dr Mansukh Mandaviya highlighted that 133 districts in 20 states and Union Territories supply anti-filarial drugs for free while calling for the “proper synergy of governmental effort and community change.”
iii. The national symposium’s launch of Enhanced Strategies for LF Elimination will serve as a precursor to the pan-Indian MDA Campaign’s mission mode launch on February 10, 2023.
iv. The ministry will observe this day by conducting mass visibility campaigns at the national, state, district, sub-district, and block levels to ensure that everyone has access to LF-preventing medications.
Other Aspects of the Strategy:
Early diagnosis and treatment; Engagement of medical colleges for strengthening morbidity management and disability services; Integrated vector control with multi-sectoral coordinated efforts; Inter-sectoral convergence with allied departments and ministries; Leveraging existing digital platforms for LF and exploring alternative diagnostics.
Five Enhanced Strategies for Elimination of LF:
- Multi-drug administration (MDA) Campaign twice a year synchronized with National Deworming Day (10th Feb and 10th August)
- Early diagnosis and treatment; engagement of medical colleges for strengthening Morbidity management and disability (MMDP) services
- Integrated Vector Control with multi-sectoral coordinated efforts
- For inter-sectoral convergence with allied departments and ministries
- Leveraging existing digital platforms for LF and exploring alternate diagnostics
Lohri 2023: Harvest Festival celebrates in different parts of India
On 13th January 2023, the Lohri festival is observed across India with the customary fervour and joy, which is mostly associated with crop harvesting and happiness.
- The festival is celebrated in North India, especially in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu and Chandigarh.
India’s 1st CoE for Online Gaming to be set up in Shillong by March 2023During his two-day visit to Meghalaya, Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, stated about the launch of India’s first Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Online Gaming at Shillong, Meghalaya by March 2023.
- Objective: To catalyse startups and entrepreneurs from the entire North East Region to build the next generation Online Gaming ecosystem.
- The CoE will be set up by Digital India Startup Hub through the Software Technology Parks of India.
i.Note: The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has recently circulated Draft amendments to the IT Rules 2021 in relation to Online Gaming for public consultation.
ii.Rajeev Chandrasekhar also announced another initiative of MeitY to set up a state-of-the-art facility under the National Institute of Electronics and IT (NIELIT) to provide training on cutting-edge Digital Skills at Shillong.
iii.He also stated about Re-launching Skill India through Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 4.0, to train around 50,000 youth in Meghalaya, 60,000 in Tripura, and 35,000 in Nagaland.
About Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology:
Union Minister – Ashwini Vaishnaw (Rajya Sabha Odisha)
Ministers of State (MoS) – Rajeev Chandrasekhar (Rajya Sabha Karnataka)
India, UAE Signed Agreement on Green Hydrogen Development and Under Sea Cable Connectivity
Union Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy, Raj Kumar Singh, who is on a three-day visit to Abu Dhabi, and UAE’s (United Arab Emirates) Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail Al Mazrouei, signed the agreement on cooperation in the field of Green Hydrogen Development and Investment.
- They also discussed the launch of a sub-sea cable between India and the UAE under the Mission, ‘ONE SUN, ONE WORLD, ONE GRID INITIATIVE’, which is announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- They also discussed opportunities in the field of power and renewable energy.
i.RK Singh presided over the 13th Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which is a 168-country International organisation dedicated to renewable energy.
ii.During his visit to Abu Dhabi, he had a meeting with COP28 President designate and UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber.
iii.RK Singh stated India’s priorities on G20 in the field of energy and Dr Sultan Al Jaber highlighted the priorities of the UAE for COP28, which is scheduled to be held in November 2023 in Dubai.
iv.India is working on achieving net zero emission by 2070 as specified under the Paris Climate Agreement and also pledged to attain about 40 percent accumulative electric power generation capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2030.
v.India is moving towards the Mission LiFE – Lifestyle for Environment, which was announced by Prime Minister Modi and the UN Secretary-General in October 2022. Click here to know more
About Ministry of New and Renewable Energy:
Union Minister – Raj Kumar Singh (Arrah, Bihar)
Ministers of State (MoS) – Bhagwanth Khuba (Bidar, Karnataka)
US, Japan sign pact at NASA for Deep Space Exploration
The United States (US) and Japan signed a space agreement at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) headquarters in Washington D.C., US. It was signed during Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s first visit to the US.
- It is based upon the long history of collaboration in space exploration between the two nations for deep space exploration.
- The pact recognizes a mutual interest in peaceful exploration.
This agreement is called as ‘Framework Agreement Between the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States of America for Cooperation in Space Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, For Peaceful Purposes’.
It was signed by US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa.
Aditya Birla Health Insurance Inks Bancassurance Partnership with Punjab & Sind BankThe Aditya Birla Health Insurance Co. Ltd. (ABHICL) and Punjab & Sind Bank have established a bancassurance partnership for the distribution of health insurance products through the bank’s branch network in India.
- This collaboration would allow ABHICL to expand its national footprint and serve the 1,528 branches and customers of Punjab & Sind Bank.
- ABHICL is the health insurance joint venture of Aditya Birla Capital Ltd. (ABCL).
Note: Mayank Bathwal is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ABHICL.
i.Through this collaboration, customers and staff of Punjab & Sind Bank will have access to ABHICL’s extensive lineup of health-first insurance plans, which are designed to reward customers for leading healthy lifestyles.
- It offers unique products such as incentivized wellness benefits of up to 100% Health ReturnsTM and a chronic management programme with Day 1 coverage for asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes; nutrition and fitness wellness coaching; and mental health counselling, among others.
ii.As a result of this partnership, ABHICL currently has 18 bancassurance partners and more than 70,000 direct sales agents functioning across India.
About Punjab & Sind Bank:
MD & CEO – Swarup Kumar Saha
Established – 1908
Headquarters – New Delhi, Delhi
Tagline – Where Service is a Way of Life
Russian VTB Bank launches Direct Payments in Rupees
Russian VTB Bank, Russia’s second-largest bank, launched direct payments in rupees, which will significantly increase bilateral trade and investment.
Russian Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) clients can now make transfers without double conversion, which simplifies the work on international trade contracts with India.
- The mechanism of direct settlements allows for the setting of the price of a product and the payment in the national currency, as well as getting individual quotes on market terms.
- Additionally, it eliminates preliminary transaction coordination.
- In November 2022, 9 Russian banks, including VTB, opened unique vostro accounts in India to promote trade between Russia and India.
NCLT Approves Transfer of Ownership of Jet Airways to Jalan-Kalrock Consortium
On January 13, 2023, National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) allowed the transfer of ownership of Jet Airways to the Jalan-Kalrock consortium (JKC).
- Due to a financial crisis Jet Airways closed its operations in April 2019, after which it underwent a resolution process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
- The revival plan submitted by the JKC was cleared by Jet’s committee of creditors in October 2020. The NCLT approved the revival plan in June 2021.
ii.In accordance with the revival plan, JKC proposed a total infusion of Rs 1,375 crore, in which Rs 900 crore towards capital infusion and Rs 475 crore paid to creditors (Rs 380 crore will go to financial creditors).
iii.So far, the JKC has deposited bank guarantees worth Rs 150 crore with the lenders. As per the resolution plan, JKC had to make cash payments of Rs 185 crore to financial creditors within 180 days from mid-November 2022.
iv.Now, JKC was given additional 6 months(i.e. till mid-May 2023) to clear all required payment to lenders, other creditors and workers.
v.JKC will have an 89.79% stake while 9.5% will go to lenders.
India Honours 82 Best Agripreneurs with Awards on National Youth Day 2023
On the occasion of National Youth Day 2023 (12th January), the government of India presented the National Awards to 82 best Agripreneurs trained under the Central Sector Scheme – Agri-Clinics and Agri-Business (AC&ABC) at the National Agripreneurs Award ceremony was held at NASC Complex, New Delhi, Delhi.
The award recognises their significant contribution to farmers through agri-clinic and agribusiness services.
- 8 Nodal Training Institutes (NTIs) that efficiently deliver AC&ABC training were also recognised with awards for their best training, handholding and facilitation activities.
- Shubha Thakur, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MA&FW) inaugurated the Awards Ceremony and distributed awards.
AC&ABC is a mega flagship Scheme of the Indian government, implemented in collaboration with NABARD since 2002.
- This aims to transform unemployed youth into self-employed Agripreneurs through 45 days of free residential training, with a provision for availing loans and subsidies from the banks.
- The Scheme is implemented by the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), Hyderabad, Telangana.
R’Bonney Gabriel of USA crowned Miss Universe 2022R’Bonney Gabriel of the United State of America (USA) was crowned 71st Miss Universe 2022 during the Miss Universe 2022 pageant held in New Orleans, Louisiana while Amanda Dudamel of Venezuela was named as the first runner-up, and Andreina Martinez of the Dominican Republic was named as the second runner-up.
- R’Bonney Gabriel was crowned by the Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu.
i.The Miss Universe 2022 pageant saw the participation from over 80 different nations.R’Bonney Gabriel, a 28 year old, is a fashion designer from Houston, Texas,
- Notably, Miss USA wins the contest for the first time in eleven years.
ii.From India, Miss Diva Universe 2022 Divita Rai entered into the prestigious Top 16 category.
ACC extends tenure of Bank of Baroda MD Sanjiv ChadhaOn January 14, 2023, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of the Department of Financial Services for extending the term of Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bank of Baroda (BoB) Sanjiv Chadha for about five months till June 30, 2023 i.e. when he attains 60 years, the retirement age.
- Earlier his tenure was going to end on January 19, 2023.
i.Meanwhile, the Financial Services Institutions Bureau (FSIB), the headhunter for directors of state-owned banks and financial institutions, recommended elevation of Executive Director (ED) Debadatta Chand as MD of BoB.
ii.FSIB also recommended Union Bank of India ED Rajneesh Karnataka for the position of MD & CEO in Bank of India.
iii.FSIB is the headhunter for directors of state-owned banks and financial institutions, and is headed by former secretary, Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Bhanu Pratap Sharma.
iv.The final decision on the FSIB recommendation is taken by ACC.
About Bank of Baroda:
Headquarters– Vadodara, Gujarat
Tagline– India’s International Bank
World’s 1st Agri-focused Satellite to Generate $108 million Revenue for SouthAfrica
As per the statement of Pontsho Maruping, Chairperson of the South African Council for Space Affairs, the launch of world’s first agriculture-focused satellite, AgriSAT-1 /ZA 008 is expected to generate over USD 100 million in revenue for South Africa.
Key points about AgriSAT-1 /ZA 008:
i.Background: It was launched by Dragonfly Aerospace on a Space X Falcon 9 rocket. Being the world’s first agriculture-focused satellite, it will provide high-quality data to the agriculture and forestry industry for efficient and sustainable practices.
- Images obtained from Dragonfly’s satellite will deliver valuable information for harvest monitoring, application mapping, and seasonal planning to develop sustainable agricultural methods.
- Assessments to analyse soil moisture, yield prediction, and biomass levels also could be obtained from AgriSAT-1 /ZA 008.
iii.It is the first of a seven-satellite constellation in low Earth orbit for customer EOSDA (EOS Data Analytics).
iv.Firsts associated with AgriSAT-1 /ZA 008:
- First ever-commercial satellite licensed in South Africa
- First imaging satellite designed and built by Dragonfly
- First microsatellite to be manufactured in South Africa since 2009
- First agri-focused constellation in space.
Renowned Scientist Dr AD Damodaran Passed Away
On 13th January 2023, Dr A D Damodaran, a renowned scientist and former Director of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) National Institute For Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST), passed away in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
- Dr A D Damodaran worked briefly at the Nuclear Fuels Complex in Hyderabad, Telangana, and served as a visiting scientist at the Indian Institute of Metals and the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
- He started working at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and later took over as Director of CSIR-NIIST in 1985, where he held the position for 12 years.
- He was also chairman of the Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation (Keltron) and an expert in advanced materials, nutraceuticals, food nutrition, and intellectual property rights.
Congress Jalandhar MP Santokh Chaudhary dies of Heart Attack during Bharat Jodo YatraThe Congress MP (Member of Parliament) Santokh Singh Chaudhary aged 76 from Jalandhar (Lok Sabha constituency), Punjab has passed away due to heart attack while taking part in the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
- He was the Cabinet Minister of Punjab.
- He won the 2014 Indian general election and 2019 Indian general election being an Indian National Congress (INC) candidate.
What is Bharat Jodo Yatra?
It was initiated by INC, and orchestrated by leader of the Congress Rahul Gandhi. The aim of this Yatra is to unite and strengthen India. The Yatra began on September 7, 2022 from Kanyakumari and will pass through 12 states, culminating in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). It will cover a distance of nearly 3,500 Km over about 150 days.
Come! Let’s Run: English translation of Book Authored by Tamil Nadu Health
The English version of the book titled ‘Come! Let’s Run’ by Tamil Nadu Health and
Family Welfare Minister, Ma. Subramanian was released by Krishnamachari Srikkanth,
former Captain of the Indian Cricket team.
- The Tamil version of the same book titled ‘Odalam Vanga’ was released on March
- The book was published by Emerald Publishers and the English translation was
done by Geeta Padmanaban (a teacher) along with J. Joicy and Sharon.
7th Armed Forces Veterans Day Observed on January 14, 2023 On January 14, 2023, the 7th Armed Forces Veterans Day was observed to recognize the contribution of the veterans of the Indian Armed Forces in serving the nation. Defence minister Rajnath Singh presided over the Celebrations.
i.Background: The day honors the services rendered by Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa OBE, the first Indian Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the Indian Armed Forces.
ii.Rajnath Singh addressed an Armed Forces Veterans Rally at Jaswant Ground in Dehradun Cantonment and launched the ‘Soul of Steel Alpine Challenge’ which is a joint adventure sports initiative of the Indian Army and CLAW Global by flagging off a car expedition from Dehradun to Ghamshali located in the Niti Valley.
iii.‘We for veterans’ anthem – an ode to veterans was played for commemorating their valor and sacrifice.
75th Indian Army Day– January 15, 2023On January 15, 2023, the Indian Army (IA) Day was observed which commemorated its 75th anniversary at the Parade Grounds in Bengaluru, Karnataka which was attended by the Union Minister Rajnath, Ministry of Defence. This day recognizes the achievements of the first Indian Commander in Chief of the Indian Army General (later Field Marshal) Kodandera Madappa (KM) Cariappa.
- On this day, he took over the command of IA from General Sir Francis Robert Roy Bucher, the last British Commander-in-Chief in 1949.
- Hailed from Karnataka, he led Indian forces to victory in the 1947 war.
Indian Army Day 2023: First Time celebrated outside Delhi
It should be noted that it is for the first time that this day is celebrated outside the National Capital Region (NCR), Delhi. Till 2022, the main Army Day parade was held at the Cariappa Parade ground in Delhi where Service Chiefs paid homage to the IA.
- The reason behind the shifting of celebrations is to increase the visibility of these events and secure greater engagement with the local population.
- In Bengaluru ‘Shaurya Sandhya‘ event was also organized on this occasion.
- The celebrations for IA Day were also held in Hyderabad, Telangana.
About 2023 Parade:
Eight marching contingents including a horse-mounted contingent from the Army Service Corps and a military band comprising regimental brass bands were a part of this year’s Army parade. The parade was also supported by a flypast of Army aviation Dhruv and Rudra helicopters.
i.The Army Day Parade showcases the evolution of various weapon systems held in the Indian Army’s inventory. Soldiers were also awarded with Gallantry awards and Sena medals on the day.
ii.As a part of the Army outreach programme with civilians, a run was organised in Hyderabad at Necklace Road where around 1,000 people participated.
iii.A blood donation camp was also organized in which 7,500 units of blood were donated in both Hyderabad and Secunderabad at Military hospitals.