Highlights of PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Maharashtra and KarnatakaOn January 19, 2023, the Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi visited Karnataka and Maharashtra.
i.In Kodekal of Yadgiri District, Karnataka, PM laid the foundation stones and inaugurated various developmental projects related to irrigation, drinking water and a National Highway (NH) development project.
ii.In Malkhed of Kalaburagi District, the PM distributed title deeds (hakku patra) to the eligible beneficiaries of newly declared revenue villages.
iii.PM inaugurated, dedicated and laid the foundation stone of multiple development initiatives worth around Rs 38,800 crores in Mumbai including Mumbai Metro Rail Lines 2A & 7.
Governor– Bhagat Singh Koshyari
Chief Minister– Eknath Shinde
National Parks– Chandoli National Park, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Pench National Park
IPA & RIS signed MoA to set up Centre for Maritime Economy and ConnectivityIndian Ports Association (IPA) and Research & Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to set up a Centre for Maritime Economy and Connectivity.
- The MoA was signed in the presence of Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways in New Delhi, Delhi.
i.The proposed projects of the Transhipment Port at Galathea bay at Greater Nicobar in Andaman and Nicobar Islands will be advantageous for the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Nations.
ii.Union Minister stated that the RIS should offer its expertise in Policy formulation and support the implementation of policy decisions by the government of India.
Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal launches Bharat Pravah to highlight role of rivers, ports, and shipping
On 18th January 2023, the Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, launched ‘Bharat Pravah – India along its shores”, an initiative to highlight the importance of rivers-ports-shipping in the life of common man through literature dialogue and communication.
About Bharat Pravah:
i.Under the Bharat Pravah initiative, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways would organise events on various topics like Rivers and Sea-Centric Development in India: Through a Historical Lens’ and ‘Sea, Rivers, Ports and Ship in Folk Culture and Literature’, among others.
ii.The events will be organised at Mumbai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Visakhapatnam, Varanasi, Calicut and other key hubs of waterways, ports, and shipping across India.
Cyclone-I: Inaugural Indo-Egypt Joint Special Force Training Exercise held in RajasthanExercise Cyclone-I, the first edition of a joint exercise between the special forces of the Indian Army and the Egyptian Army is being conducted in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan with an aim to boost defence co-operation between the India and Egypt.
- 14 days long exercise is being conducted since 14th January 2023.
- The exercise aims to boost the defence cooperation between India and Egypt.
Note: Cyclone I which was planned to be held in Jodhpur, Rajasthan from 8th to 22nd January 2022 was postponed.
About Exercise Cyclone-I:
i.This first-of-its-kind exercise brings together the special forces of both India and Egypt on a common platform.
ii.Cyclone I will engage the contingents of both the Indian Army and the Egyptian Army to advance special forces skills like sniping, combat free fall, reconnaissance, surveillance & target designation, and sharing of information on weapons, equipment, innovations, tactics, techniques & procedures.
iii.The participants of the exercise also undertake joint planning and drills for special forces operations in a mechanised warfare setting as well as surgical strikes on terrorist camps/hideouts to include sniping of high-value targets.
iv.This is expected to offer insight into the culture and ethos of both armies and foster military cooperation and interoperability to strengthen diplomatic relations between India and Egypt.
President– Abdel Fattah El-Sisi
Currency– Egyptian Pound
IREDA & MNRE Signs MoU for Setting Performance Target for 2022-23
The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) to set an annual performance target for 2022-23.
- The MoU was signed by Pradip Kumar Das, Chairman and Managing Director (CMD), IREDA, and Bhupinder Singh Bhalla, Secretary, MNRE.
For 2022–2023, the Government of India (GoI) has set a target of Rs. 3,361 crore for revenue from operations, an increase of 18% from 2021-22.
- The GoI has also set up a number of performance-related key indicators, including return on net worth, return on capital employed, the ratio of non-performing assets (NPAs) to total loans, asset turnover ratio, and earnings per share, among others.
IREDA’s Performance Assessment:
i.In the second quarter of the fiscal year 2022–23 (FY23), IREDA reported a 67% increase in profit after tax (PAT) compared to the same period in FY22.
ii.The net NPAs decreased from 4.87% to 2.72% compared to the same period in FY22.
iii.IREDA has shown significant performance by earning 96.54 points for the FY22 MoU.
iv.Over 3,068 renewable energy projects have been funded by IREDA so far, with loan accounts totaling Rs. 1,41,622 crore in loan sanction and Rs. 90,037 crore in loan payment.
- It has also contributed to the addition of 19,502 megawatt (MW) of renewable energy capacity in India.
About Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA):
IREDA is a Mini Ratna (Category I) Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) administered by MNRE. It is a public limited government company incorporated as a non-banking financial institution (NBFI).
Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) – Pradip Kumar Das
Established – 1987
Motto – “Energy for Ever”
GoI Switches Bonds Maturing in 2024 With RBI in Cash-Neutral Deal
i.The Government of India (GoI) has been conducting conversion/switch operations with market participants as well as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in order to streamline its liability profile and promote market development.
ii.The GoI entered into a conversion/switch transaction with the RBI on January 17, 2023 (settlement on January 18, 2023), as part of these operations. Click here for official notification.
- The GoI bought back 6.18% bonds maturing in 2024 (FY 2024-25) worth Rs. 22,610 crore (USD 2.78 billion) at a price of Rs. 98.62, and it issued 8.28% 2032 bonds to the RBI worth Rs. 21,025.914 crore at a price of Rs. 106.05.
- The transaction was processed using Financial Benchmarks India Pvt. Ltd. (FBIL) prices as of January 16, 2023.
iii.Prior to this switch, the GoI had switched bonds worth more than Rs. 820 billion in FY23, falling short of its target of Rs. 1 trillion. [1 USD = 81.2680 INR (Indian Rupee)]
Three Key Takeaways from RBI’s Report On State Government BudgetsThe Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released a report titled “State Finances: A Study of Budgets for 2022-2023” on January 16, 2023, under the theme “Capital Formation in India: The Role of States.”
- The report is an annual publication that presents information, analysis, and an assessment of state government finances for 2022–2023 (FY23) in comparison to actual and revised/provisional accounts for 2020–2021 and 2021–2022, respectively. Click here to know more.
The three key observations from the RBI report are as follows:
i.The report states that the state’s debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio continues to be extraordinarily high.
ii.The report claims that the contingent liabilities of state governments have also significantly increased.
iii.The report also warns of new concerns, with some states preferring to return to the Old Pension Scheme (OPS).
About the Reserve Bank of India (RBI):
Governor – Shaktikanta Das
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
Establishment – 1935
LIC launches Guaranteed Return Life Insurance Plan ‘Jeevan Azad’The Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has unveiled Jeevan Azad (Plan No. 868), a new non-linked, non-participating plan designed for individual savings and life insurance.
- The plan offers an attractive combination of protection and savings.
i.LIC Jeevan Azad is a limited-period payment endowment plan that provides financial support to the family in the case of the untimely death of the life assured during the policy term and also addresses liquidity requirements through a loan facility.
- The survivor will also get a guaranteed lump sum amount on the maturity date.
ii.Subject to a certain condition, the plan also offers participants the option of receiving death or maturity benefits in instalments.
iii.It provides three optional riders under the plan for the payment of an additional premium: LIC’s Accidental Death and Disability Benefit Rider, LIC’s New Term Assurance Rider, and LIC’s Premium Waiver Benefit Rider.
Key Features of ‘Jeevan Azad’ Plan
i.The minimum basic sum assured is Rs. 2 lakh, while the maximum is Rs. 5 lakh.
ii.There will be no medical checkup for an amount assured of up to Rs 3 lakh, while it is needed for a sum assured of above Rs 3 lakh.
iii.The policy can be purchased for a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 20 years, with the premium-paying term determined as the policy term minus 8 years.
iv.The minimum entry age is 90 days completed, while the maximum entry age is 50 years.
v.Regular premium payments can be made at yearly, half-yearly, quarterly, or monthly intervals.
vi.The death benefit is paid if the life assured passes away during the policy’s term, after the commencement of the risk but before the maturity date.
vii.The death benefit will be the “Sum Assured on Death,” which is the higher of the “Basic Sum Assured” or 7 times the annualized premium.
- The death benefit cannot be less than 105% of the “total premiums paid” up to the date of death.
About the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC):
Chairperson– Mangalam Ramasubramanian Kumar
Established – 1956
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
Paytail Partners with HDB Financial Services to Offer Loans for Lifestyle Products
i.Paytail Commerce Private Limited (Paytail) has partnered with HDB Financial Services Limited to provide loans on lifestyle products such as bicycles, electric vehicles (EVs), mobile devices, consumer durables, and kitchen appliances.
- The loan amount varies from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 3 lakhs.
- It provides a 24-month Equated Monthly Instalment (EMI) period, based on the amount borrowed and the product segment.
ii.Customers will benefit from the partnership by receiving instant digital finance for in-store purchases as well as the option to pay for the product in easy instalments.
- It would also enable retailers in over 85,000 stores across India to create opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling their products.
iii.HDB Financial Services Limited is a prominent Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC). G. Ramesh is the MD & CEO of HDB Financial Services Limited.
iv.Paytail is a fintech firm that provides merchants with instant digital finance and simple EMIs. Vikas Garg is the Co-founder & CEO of Paytail.
Brand Guardianship Index 2023: Ambani tops among Indians, 2nd globally According to the Brand Finance Brand Guardianship Index 2023, Mukesh Ambani chairman of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is ranked No 1 among Indians and second globally with Brand Guardianship Index (BGI) score of 81.7.
- Jensen Huang, President and Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of US-based tech leader Nvidia, is ranked No 1 on the Brand Guardianship Index 2023 globally with a BGI Score of 83.
- Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft is ranked 3rd followed by Shantanu Narayen of Adobe (4th) and Sundar Pichai of Google (5th).
The Brand Guardianship Index 2023, ranking of the world’s top 100 CEOs or equivalents, was launched during the event hosted in association with Deloitte during the World Economic Forum(WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
Bahrain’s Isa Award for Service to Humanity 2023: Dr Sanduk Ruit of Nepal declared as 5th Laureate On 17th January 2023, Dr Sanduk Ruit, a renowned Nepali ophthalmologist, won the Isa Award for Service to Humanity 2023, a top civilian award in Bahrain.
- He has been declared the 5th laureate 2021-2022 of the Isa award for his work on blindness prevention and his service to the community and his achievements.
- The award carries a cash prize of USD 1 million, a certificate of merit and a gold medallion.
The award was presented by Sheikh Mohammad bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, a royal family member, to Dr Sanduk Ruit at the award announcement ceremony held in Manama, Bahrain.
About ISA Award:
i. The “Isa Award for services to Humanity” was established in 2009 by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the King of Bahrain.
ii. Every two years, an expert jury team selects individuals or organisations to receive the ISA Award after a rigorous selection process.
iii. The award is named in honour of Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the former King of Bahrain.
iv. This honourary award has been presented since 2013.
v. The first 4 laureates to receive the ISA award are Dr Jemilah Mahmood (2013); Dr Achyuta Samanta (2015); The Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt, popularly known as Hospital 57357, (2017); and The Edhi Charitable Foundation (2019).
About Dr Sanduk Ruit:
i. Dr Sanduk Ruit is the co-founder of the Himalayan Cataract Project.
ii. He is a pioneer in delivering high-quality microsurgical procedures in remote eye camps.
iii. He enabled countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to afford and have access to modern eye care.
iv. Since he saved 1,20,000 people’s eyesight who would have otherwise gone blind in the absence of treatment, he is fondly called the “God of Sight.”
v. More than 650 doctors have received training from Dr Sanduk Ruit on how to treat preventable blindness.
i. In 2006, Dr Sanduk Ruit received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding.
ii. He was awarded the National Order of Merit Gold in 2015 for his outstanding contribution to the prevention of blindness in Bhutan and the return of sight to hundreds of people.
iii. In 2018, he received Padma Sri from the Government of India for Medicine (Nepal).
iv. He was also honoured with Nepal’s Prime Minister National Talent Award-2075 and Well known Prabal Janasewa Shri (First) Honorary Degree 2076.
GGIAL: New Goa Manohar International Airport wins Best Sustainable Greenfield Airport AwardOn 18th January 2023 the New Goa Manohar International Airport (MIA), formerly Mopa International Airport, won the ‘Best Sustainable Greenfield Airport‘ award for the excellent initiatives taken by the GMR Goa International Airport Limited (GGIAL) in implementing sustainability as one of their key concepts.
- The award was presented at the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM)’s 14th International Conference-cum-Awards for Civil Aviation 2023 at Hotel Leela Palace, New Delhi, Delhi.
- GGIAL received the award under Aviation Sustainability and Environment category.
Note: New Goa Manohar International Airport (MIA) was built by GGIAL, a subsidiary of GMR Airports Infrastructure Limited.
i. Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Minister of Civil Aviation, presented the award to the senior officials of the GGIAL.
ii. The award criteria are contribution, innovativeness, applicability, relevance and impact potential in their respective areas.
iii. Sustainability being one of the core concepts, the New Goa Manohar International Airport is intended to have a net-zero carbon impact. It will therefore join the elite club of green airports across the world.
Other Civil Aviation Awards:
GMR Aviation for the Best Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) Services, Airbus for the Best Aircraft manufacturer, Pawan Hans for the Best Helicopter flights, SpiceJet for the Best Cargo Carrier, Adani for the Best Airport Technology and more.
ESAF Bank bags Inclusive Finance India Award 2022
ESAF Small Finance Bank has won the prestigious Inclusive Finance India Awards 2022 in recognition of its contributions to advancing the goal of financial inclusion and supporting inclusive growth.
i. Paul Thomas, Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ESAF Bank, received the award from Anantha Nageshwaran, Chief Economic Advisor at the 19th Inclusive Finance India Summit held in New Delhi, Delhi.
- The Inclusive Finance India Awards is an initiative of ACCESS Development Services in partnership with HSBC India.
- The award recognises the ESAF’s unique spectrum of Financial Inclusion projects ESAF Dhansree, ESAF Udyog Jyothi, LSEDP (Local Sustainable Economic Development Project), ESAF Balajyothi, ESAF Vayojyothi, and ESAF Garshom.
EESL CEO Vishal Kapoor assumes Additional Charge as CEO of CESL
Vishal Kapoor, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), has assumed the additional charge as the CEO of Convergence Energy Services Limited (CESL), a subsidiary of state-owned EESL.
- He succeeds CESL MD & CEO Mahua Acharya who resigned from the post on 1st December 2022.
- Vishal Kapoor joined the EESL in November 2022 before which he served as Joint Secretary (Distribution) in the Ministry of Power (MoP), Government of India (GoI).
- He led various government interventions, schemes, and reforms in the power distribution sector.
Tata Boeing Aerospace Delivers 1st Fuselage for 6 AH-64 Apache Helicopters to Indian ArmyTata Boeing Aerospace Limited (TBAL), a joint venture (JV) between Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and The Boeing Company, delivered the first fuselage for six AH-64 Apache attack helicopters ordered by the Indian Army.
- The first fuselage, which is the primary body of an aircraft, was officially handed over to Lieutenant General Ajay Kumar Suri, Director General and Colonel Commandant of Army Aviation, before being dispatched by TBAL to Arizona in the United States (US) for final assembly.
i.The Apache attack helicopter is regarded as the world’s most advanced and deadliest attack helicopter, with over 1,275 AH-64 Apaches in operation worldwide.
ii.Globally, these helicopters have completed over 4.9 million flight hours, 1.3 million of which have been in combat.
Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL)
i.TASL is a leading private player in aerospace and defence solutions in India.
ii.It is a fully owned subsidiary of Tata Sons and the strategic aerospace and defence division of the TATA Group.
MD & CEO – Sukaran Singh
Founded – 2007
Tripartite Agreement signed between UCSL, Department of Fisheries & 5 Fishermen SHGs to build Advanced Fishing VesselsOn January 19, 2023, a tripartite agreement has been signed between Malpe (Karnataka)-based Udupi Cochin Shipyard Limited (UCSL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), the Department of Fisheries, Kerala; and five fishermen Self-Help Group (SHGs) societies from Kerala to construct 10 Deep-Sea Tuna Long Liner-cum-Gill netter fishing vessels.
- The outlay for these advanced fishing vessels will be Rs 14 crores.
The tripartite agreement was signed by Adeela Abdulla, Director of Fisheries, Government of Kerala; Harikumar A A, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), UCSL and five fishermen belonging to various SHGs in Kerala.
i.The vessels are designed as per the standard design for Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana’s (PMMSY) deep sea fishing .
ii.The vessels will be equipped with advanced navigation and communication systems, including GPS (Global Positioning System), Automatic Identification System, distress alert transmitter, fish finder and magnetic compass.
iii.The vessel is of 22.7 m length and 6.4 m of breadth with a capacity of 12 persons, and can achieve a maximum speed of 8 knots.
iv.These vessels will provide safety to enhance productivity and livelihood of fishers.
IIT Guwahati signs MoU with AMTRON & RCH to Foster Drone Technology in Northeast India
On 18th January 2023, the Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati (IIT-G), Assam, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Assam Electronics Development Corporation Ltd (AMTRON) and RC Hobbytech Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (RCH) to improve and advance drone-based technology in Northeast India.
- The MoU was signed between Professor Parameswar K. Iyer, Officiating Director, IIT Guwahati (Assam), S. Sundar, IFS, Managing Director (MD) of AMTRON, and Biswajit Dey, Co-Founder of RCH.
- The MoU covers research and development and manufacturing for varied sectors such as agriculture, disaster management, wildlife conservation and health care.
- The members of the IIT Guwahati Drone Centre and Technology Incubation Hub will play a key role in this effort for the greater good of the region.
- The MoU will also support professional training programmes in the use of drones that will provide a variety of services, including drone-based surveys and mapping, courses on Geographic Information Systems, coding and AI (artificial intelligence)- related courses, and other related courses that will be held on the IIT Guwahati campus.
New Plateau housing 76 species of plants and shrubs Discovered in Maharashtra
Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) led by Dr Mandar Datar discovered a rare low-altitude basalt plateau housing 76 species of plants and shrubs from 24 different families in Manjare village, Thane district, Maharashtra, in the Northern Western Ghats.
- The research paper about this plateau was published in SpringerNature journal National Academy of Science Letters.
i. The region is being studied by ARI in Pune, Maharashtra.
ii. The discovered plateau can prove to be a repository of information for species interactions.
iii. This will also help to study the effects of climate change on species survival and increase awareness of the conservation needs of rock outcrops and their immense biodiversity value in the global context.
About the New Plateau:
i. The plateau is located 156 meters above mean sea level.
ii. The newly discovered plateau is the 4th type of Plateau to be identified in the region; the previous 3 are lateritic outcrops at high (HLF) and low altitudes (LLF) and basalt outcrops at high altitudes (BM).
iii. According to the researchers, the plateau shares the vegetation with the 3 other rock outcrops, simultaneously holding a few unique species.
i. Plateaus are the main landscape type in the Western Ghats, which are notable due to the predominance of endemic species.
- They are classified as a particular kind of rock outcrop and offer a special and challenging environment for species to adapt to.
ii. These outcrops are excellent study sites for the effects of climate change on species survival because they have seasonal water supply, limited soil, and nutrients.
iii. Therefore, plateaus provide valuable sources about how organisms can survive harsh environments.
Jnanpith Winning Assamese Poet Nilmani Phookan Passed AwayOn 19th January 2023, Nilmani Phookan, a renowned Assamese poet and recipient of the Jnanpith Award and Padma Shri Awardee, passed away in Guwahati, Assam at the age of 89. He was born in 1933 in Dergaon (present-day Golaghat), Assam.
About Nilmani Phookan:
i. Nilmani Phookan started his career as a lecturer in 1964 at Arya Vidyapeeth College, Guwahati until his retirement in 1992.
ii. He infused French symbolism into his Assamese poetry, which is evident in his poetry. His poems are inspired by the European symbolist movement in poetry.
iii. The notable works of Nilmani Phookan are Surya Heno Nami Ahe Ei Nadiyedi (1963), Manas-Pratima (1971), Phuli Thaka Suryamukhi Phultor Phale (1971), and Gulapi Jamur Lagna.
- He has also translated Japanese and European poetry into Assamese.
i. Nilmani Phookan was awarded the Assam Valley Literary Award in 1997. In 1981, he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in Assamese for his poetry collection, Kavita.
ii. In 1990, he has conferred the 4th-highest civilian award, Padma Shri, for Literature and Education (Assam).
iii. In 1998, he was selected by the Cultural Department, Government of India, to serve as an “Emeritus Fellow” for a 2-year tenure. The Assam Sahitya Sabha also gave him the “Sahityacharya” honour.
iv. In 2002, he received the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship, the highest literary honour in India, given by Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Akademi of Letters.
v. In 2020, he won the 56th Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary award. He was the 3rd recipient of Jnanpith from Assam after Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya and Mamoni Raisom Goswami.
MoA&FW approves ‘Apple Cluster’ for Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian
On 19th January 2023, the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA&FW) approved an “Apple Cluster” for the Shopian district, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), under the Cluster Development Programme.
- The approval was announced during a daylong conference on the “India Cold Chain Conclave”, organised by the MoA&FW in association with the PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PHDCCI) and National Center for Cold Chain Development (NCCD), in New Delhi, Delhi.
- The apple cluster of Shopian envisions the development of Shopian apple on 3 verticals including pre-production-production, post-harvest management and value addition and logistics, marketing and branding to make it globally competitive.
- The project’s estimated cost is Rs 135.23 crore, of which the MoA&FW will contribute roughly Rs 37.05 crore as a grant-in-aid. It is expected to be implemented in 4 years.
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