Current Affair- 03 February 2023

MeitY, Meta Announce List of 120 Startups, Innovators for XR Startup Programme

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Meta (Meta Platforms, Inc formerly named Facebook) have announced the list of 120 startups and innovators for the Extended Reality (XR) Startup Programme in New Delhi, Delhi.  The Programme includes an Accelerator and a Grand Challenge, aiming towards boosting the emerging Tech ecosystem in India.

The programme will discover, nurture, and accelerate XR Technology startups and innovators across India.

The programme supports 40 early-stage start-ups working in XR technologies with a grant of Rs 20 lakh each.

  • Among the selected startups, more than 30% are from Tier II or Tier III cities across India and women-led or co-led Startups and Innovators form over 20% of the cohort.

IIT Patna signs MoU with Drone Destination to open Bihar’s 1st UAV Training Centre

Delhi-based Drone Destination Private Limited (DD), one of India’s leading Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) training and manufacturing groups, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Patna (Bihar) to open Bihar’s 1st Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)-authorized Drone Training Centre.
DD is the drone training partner of Indira Gandhi National Flying Academy (IGRUA) under the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and has several centres across India.

  • IIT Patna plans to develop a drone centre of excellence to propel the UAV ecosystem.
  • Drone Destination became the 1st Drone Training Organisation to certify more than 1,200 DGCA-certified Drone Pilots in India, along with IGRUA and Sanskardham, the training partners of DD.
  • DD became the National Skill Development Corporation’s (NSDC)’s 1st Drone Training Partner and plans to jointly open 10 new drone centres.

CMIE:  Unemployment Rate Falls to 4-Month Low of 7.14% in January 

According to the data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), India’s unemployment rate declined by 7.14% in January 2023, the lowest in 4 months, from 8.30% in December 2023. The unemployment rate was 8.03% in November 2022, 7.92% in October 2022 and 6.43% in September 2022.

  • Rural unemployment was 6.48% in January 2023, and Urban unemployment was 8.55%.
  • Jammu and Kashmir had the highest unemployment rate among the states with 21.8%, followed by Haryana (21.7%), and Rajasthan (21.1 %).
  • Unemployment in Delhi in January was at 16.75, in Goa (16.2%), Assam (16.1%) and Tripura (16%).
  • Chhattisgarh is the lowest unemployment rate among the states with 0.5%, followed by Odisha (1.5%), Tamil Nadu (1.8%), and Madhya Pradesh (1.9%).

India’s 1st Hydrogen Train Will Come by Dec 2023 On Heritage Routes

i.Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw announced that India’s first hydrogen train will be designed and manufactured in India by December 2023, as the Union Budget 2023–24 focuses on green growth.

  • Once operational, the hydrogen train will operate on heritage circuits such as Kalka-Shimla before being expanded to other places.

ii.The train’s purpose is to exhibit India’s cultural heritage through trains, which will be updated by adding new circuits to the list, such as the Guru Kripa circuit.

iii.The Union Budget 2023-24 has an allocation of Rs. 2.41 lakh crore for Railways.

  • The “Amrit Bharat Station” scheme will redevelop 1275 stations while also revamping the production of Vande Bharat trains.

Indore Municipal Corporation Launches Secured Redeemable NCDs of Rs 244 croreIndore municipal corporation has launched secured redeemable Non-Convertible Debentures (NCDs) of face value of Rs 1000 each, aggregating up to Rs 122 crore. The issue contains an option to retain over-subscription up to 122 crores, making the total issue size to 244 crores.

  • Rate of return: The issue offers a 8.25% rate of return per annum, payable half yearly.
  • Each NCD shall consist of 4 separate transferable and redeemable principal tranches, each having a face value of Rs 250.

Key Points:
i.The NCDs will be issued from 10 to 14 February 2023 and they are proposed to be listed on the National Stock Exchange of India Limited.
ii.Rating: The NCDs that are proposed to be issued have been rated ‘IND AA+/Stable’ as per India Ratings and ‘CARE AA;(Stable)’as per Care Ratings.
iii.The benefits such as interest on NCDs/ any STRPPs (Separately Transferable Redeemable Principal Parts) that are forming part of the NCD, would be available to the NCD Holders from the Deemed Date of Allotment.
What are Debentures?
Debentures are financial instruments that a company issues when it wants to raise long-term capital.
About NCDs:
i.Definition: The debentures which cannot be converted into shares or equities are called NCDs.
ii.They have higher rate of return compared to convertible debentures as they are considered a little risky (due to long term).
iii.The maturity value of the NCDs remains fixed, and they give fixed returns on maturity.
iv.An eligible corporate that is intending to issue NCDs should obtain credit rating for issuance of the NCDs from one of the rating agencies specified by the Reserve Bank of India.

Kotak Mahindra Bank Implements RBI’s First Phase of Digital RupeeKotak Mahindra Bank Limited (KMBL) has announced the implementation of the first phase of the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), referred to as the “Digital Rupee” (e₹).

  • The “Digital Rupee” (e₹) is a legal tender equivalent to bank notes and coins but issued in a digital form by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The RBI has shortlisted KMBL as one of eight banks to implement a pilot project for the issuance of e-currencies.
Reliance Retail has become the first organized retail chain in India to accept the RBI-created and blockchain-based CBDC (e₹) payments at its gourmet food store, Freshpik.

  • Innoviti Technologies, a payments-focused financial-tech firm, announced the launch of in-store payments via digital rupee in the retail segment (e ₹-R) in collaboration with Reliance Retail, ICICI Bank, and Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited (KMBL).

About Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited (KMBL):
MD & CEO – Uday Kotak
Established – 2003
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra

IDFC First Bank to receive Rs. 2,200 crore investment from IDFC Ltd

i.The board of IDFC Limited gave its in-principle approval for an investment of Rs 2,200 crore in IDFC First Bank, raising its stake in the bank from 36.38% to 40%.

  • IDFC Limited, the parent firm, is planning a reverse merger with IDFC First Bank.

ii.Additionally, the IDFC board has approved a special interim dividend of Rs. 11 per share, resulting in a payout of Rs. 287 crore to the Government of India (GoI), IDFC’s largest shareholder.
iii.In December 2021, the boards of IDFC, IDFC Financial Holding Company, and IDFC First Bank gave their in-principle approval to the merger of IDFC and IDFC Financial Holding with IDFC First Bank.

  • IDFC Ltd. and IDFC Financial Holding have started the merger process with IDFC First Bank.

KFin Technologies launches in GIFT City

i.KFin Technologies Limited (KFintech) has announced the commencement of its operations in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

  • KFintech has formally signed deals with 4 GIFT City funds and 2 global funds in GIFT City, while discussions with other asset managers continue.

ii.KFintech is a top provider of technology-driven financial services that spans all asset classes and offers comprehensive services and solutions to the Indian capital markets ecosystem.

  • It also provides asset managers in Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Hong Kong with a range of investor solutions, such as transaction origination and processing for mutual funds and private retirement plans.

iii.The Gift City IBU (IFSC (International Financial Services Centre) business unit) of KFintech will meet the rising demand for portfolio management, private wealth, and alternative investments.

PVR Cinemas launches India’s 1st Multiplex within Airport Complex in Chennai

PVR Cinemas launched its 5-screen property at PVR Aerohub in Chennai International Airport, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (TN). this is India’s 1st multiplex housed within an airport complex.

  • There are 1155 seats available, and it is outfitted with cutting-edge cinematic technologies including 2K RGB+ laser projectors, REAL D 3D digital stereoscopic projection for incredibly clear, razor-sharp, ultra-bright pictures, and advanced Dolby Atmos high-definition immersive audio.
  • PVR Cinemas will have 12 locations in Chennai with 77 screens after this launch, and it will strengthen its position in TN with 88 screens spread across 14 properties. Its South Indian screen count would increase to 328 in 53 properties.

9th Edition of Kalinga Literary Festival: Announces KLF Book Awards 2022The Kalinga Literary Festival (KLF) [9th edition] has announced the KLF Book Awards 2022 in a variety of categories and languages including English, Hindi, Nepali, Maithili, Odia, and other Indian languages.

  • The awards will be given in a range of categories, including Non-fiction, Fiction Poetry Book, Book in Hindi language, Book in Translation, Bhasa First Book, Business Book, Environmental Book, Biography/Autobiography, Children Book, Sports Book, Lifestyle and Emerging Trend Books among others.
  • The 9th KLF will take place in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, from February 24 to 26, 2023.

The KLF, India’s Largest Festival of Literature Spirit, is an annual literary festival held in Bhubaneswar.
KLF Book Awards 2022: List of Awardees

Manuela Roka Botey appointed as the 1st Female Prime Minister of Equatorial GuineaTeodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, appointed Manuela Roka Botey, deputy minister of education, as the Prime Minister (PM) of Equatorial Guinea. She becomes the first woman to hold the post of PM in Equatorial Guinea.

  • She succeeds Francisco Pascual Obama Asue who served as the PM of Equatorial Guinea, since 2016 for 3rd consecutive term.
  • On 1st February 2023, Manuela Roka Botey, the 1st female PM of Equatorial Guinea, was sworn in before President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in the Ambassadors Room of the People’s Palace in Malabo, Bioko, Equatorial Guinea.

Key points:
i. The 3 Deputy Prime Minister of Equatorial Guinea has been confirmed in their post.

  • Clemente Engonga Nguema Onguene- 1st Deputy PM and Minister of Education.
  • Ángel Mesie Mibuy- 2nd Deputy PM and Minister of the Government, charged with Relations with Parliament and Legal Affairs.
  • Alfonso Nsue Mokuy- 3rd Deputy PM and Minister of Human Rights.

ii. The 3 Deputy PMs were invited as veterans to support the newly appointed PM.
About Manuela Roka Botey:
i. Manuela Roka Botey is a native of Bariobe, Baney District, Equatorial Guinea.
ii. Manuela Roka Botey was Vice Chancellor of the National University of Equatorial Guinea and Sister Militant of the District Monitoring Commission of the PDGE, Convergencia para la Democracia Social (Democratic Party for Equatorial Guinea), in Baney, Equatorial Guinea.
President of Equatorial Guinea:
i. Equatorial Guinea has had only two presidents since its independence from Spain in 1968. The 1st President of Equatorial Guinea was Francisco Macías Nguema (1968- 1979).
ii. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (80 years old) has been serving as the President since 1979. In November 2022 he was re-elected as the President for a 6th term with 95% of the vote.
About Equatorial Guinea:
President- Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Capital- Malabo
Currency- Central African Franc (CFA)

US Based GA-ASI Initiates 3 Projects in India in AI, Drones & Semiconductors  General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), a major energy and defence corporation based in the United States (US), has begun 3 significant projects in India in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI), drones, and semiconductors following the establishment of a landmark India-US initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET).

  • The US-India Business Council hosted the inaugural meeting under iCET, which was attended by US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Indian National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, and other senior US and Indian officials.

Three Significant Projects
i.GA-ASI has formed a partnership with Bharat Forge Limited (BFL), one of India’s leading forging companies, in the critical field of aerostructure manufacturing.
ii.In order to create the next generation AI technologies, GA-ASI has partnered with 114ai, an Indian AI company.
iii.In the field of semiconductors, GA-ASI has partnered with the Indian start-up 3rdiTech.

  • 3rdiTech is one of the inaugural winners of the flagship Innovations For Defence Excellence (iDEX) programme of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The Task Force
i.In order to enhance cooperation between the two nations in the semiconductor industry, the US Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and the India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA) have decided to establish a task force.

  • The task force will be made of stakeholders from the private sector in both countries.
  • Objective: Develop a “readiness assessment” to discover near-term industrial prospects and support the long-term strategic development of complementary semiconductor ecosystems.

ii.This task force will make recommendations to the Department of Commerce and the India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) on ways to enhance India’s position within the global semiconductor value chain, including chip manufacturing, as well as contribute to the US-India Commercial Dialogue.
iii.The task force will also identify and promote opportunities for workforce development, Research and Development (R&D), advanced packaging, and exchange.
About Bharat Forge Limited (BFL):
Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) – Baba Kalyani
Headquarters – Pune, Maharashtra

Former Indian Footballer Parimal Dey Passed AwayOn 1st February 2023, a former Indian footballer Parimal Dey, who was fondly known as “Jangla-da” passed away at the age of 81. He was born on 4th May 1941 in West Bengal.
About Parimal Dey:
i. Parimal Dey played for India in 5 matches, scoring just one goal for the Indian team, the game-winning goal against the Republic of Korea in the bronze-medal game of the 1966 Merdeka Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
ii. He also won 2 IFA Shield finals against BNR (Bengal Nagpur Railway Football Club (also known as BNR Recreation Club)) in 1966 and PAS Club (Pas Tehran Football Club, an Iranian football club based in Tehran, Iran) in 1970.
iii. In 1970, he took a leading role in the IFA (Indian Football Association) Shield final.
iv. He holds the distinction of winning the Calcutta Football League and IFA Shield thrice in 1966, 1970, and 1973.
v. Parimal Dey played for Mohun Bagan Athletic Club only for two seasons. He played for East Bengal in eight seasons and won Santosh Trophy twice at the domestic level in 1962 and 1969, before retiring in 1973.
vi. For East Bengal, he scored 84 goals and won a host of important trophies like the Calcutta Football League and the IFA Shield thrice in 1966, 1970, and 1973.

  • Among other tournaments, he has won the Durand Football Tournament, commonly known as the Durand Cup (1967, 1970), and the Rovers Cup (1967, 1969, 1973).

vii. He has the distinction of capturing the IFA Shield and Calcutta Football League 3 times, in 1966, 1970, and 1973, respectively.
Awards and Honours:
i. In 2018-2019, Parimal Dey was conferred with the ‘Banglar Gourav’ award for football.
ii. He was conferred with the “Banga Bhushan” title by the Government of West Bengal in 2019 after his retirement from active football.

Palagummi Sainath authored a New Book titled “The Last Heroes”

Indian Columnist (Journalist) and author Palagummi Sainath (P Sainath) has authored a new book titled “The Last Heroes- Foot Soldiers of Indian Freedom” which broadly deals with the history of India’s freedom struggle written from the perspective of common people. The book was published by India Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

  • P Sainath provides a graphic account of the participation of 15 ordinary persons, men and women, belonging to rural and tribal society, who were described as “Foot Soldiers of Indian Freedom.”
  • The book highlights the spirit of common people’s resistance and heroic activities against British rule and the feudal elements working as its collaborators.

World Wetlands Day 2023 – February 2 The United Nations (UN)’s World Wetlands Day is annually observed across the globe on 2nd February to create awareness about the wetlands, a critically important ecosystem on the planet and their vital role in the lives of the people.

  • The day also marks the date of the adoption of the “Convention on Wetlands of International Importance” (Ramsar Convention), an intergovernmental treaty adopted on 2nd February 1971, in the city of Ramsar, on the shores of the Caspian Sea, in Iran.

The theme of World Wetlands Day 2023 is “Wetland Restoration”.
According to the UN, “Revive and restore degraded wetlands” is the theme of 2023 World Wetlands Day which highlights the importance of wetland Restoration.
2023 Campaign visual: The Ripple Effect: 
Core idea: Our actions have an impact. One small action can trigger a ripple effect.

  • The 2023 campaign visual shows a person restoring a wetland through the action of re-planting. The visual features the outward “Ripple Effect” with the headline “Its Time for Wetland Restoration”. 

About  Ramsar Convention on Wetlands: 
The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands is based at the headquarters of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Gland, Switzerland.
Secretary General– Musonda Mumba

Manish Sisodia, Dy CM of Delhi, launched DCPCR’s WhatsApp Chatbot ‘Bal Mitra’ On 1st February 2023, Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of the Government of Delhi, launched the WhatsApp Chatbot ‘Bal Mitra’ developed by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) to enable two-way between people and the Commission (child rights panel) and eliminating the information gap.

  • “Bal Mitra” can be accessed by sending a WhatsApp message to DCPCR Helpline No. 9311551393.
  • Manish Sisodia termed it as an important initiative to make governance citizen-friendly.
  • The technology support for the chatbot was offered by Infobip limited.

‘Bal Mitra’:
To make the Commission more accessible, efficient and responsive to the needs of children in distress and those at high risk.
i. The Chatbot called ‘Bal Mitra’ will enable Children, parents, and concerned citizens to interact with the Commission more quickly and effectively.
ii. The chatbot’s features include complaint registration, searching information and tracking complaint status, seeking information on admissions, and more.
iii. The Chatbot will also ensure the confidentiality of the matters reported through it and provide authentic information on various issues relating to children and their rights.
Key Points:
i. The launch of the Chatbot ‘Bal Mitra’ was followed by the panel discussion on the “Role of technology for strengthening governance for children”.

  • The panel was facilitated by Amee Misra, the Head of Policy at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Additional info: 
i. In March 2022, DCPCR launched the ‘Early Warning system’, which assisted the education department in re-admitting over 50,000 students and reducing the dropout rate.
ii. Early Warning System and the Chatbot ‘Bal Mitra’ will help DoE to disseminate the information related to the education of children in a better way across Delhi.
About the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR):
The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has been constituted under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005.

  • It is a statutory body of the Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi that works on monitoring and protecting the rights of children.

Chairperson- Anurag Kundu
Headquarters- New Delhi, Delhi

MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched Ladli Bahina Scheme to Provide Rs 1,000 Per Month to Poor WomenShivraj Singh Chouhan, Chief Minister (CM) of Madhya Pradesh(MP), launched a new scheme to provide Rs 1,000 per month to women from financially poor backgrounds in Madhya Pradesh.

  • CM noted that a sum of Rs 60,000 crore will be spent on this scheme over a period of 5 years.
  • The announcement was made during a programme on the banks of the Narmada River in Narmadapuram, MP.

About Ladli Bahina Scheme:
i.The Ladli Bahina Scheme for the poor women from lower and middle classes of all sections on the line of Ladli Lakshmi Scheme.
ii.The beneficiaries of other welfare schemes can also avail the benefits of the new scheme.
iii.Under this scheme women will get financial assistance of Rs 12000 per year(Rs 1000 per month).
Note: He also stated that the government is set to construct a Narmada corridor and Narmada lok on the line of the Mahakal Lok at the Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain.

Gandhisagar Floating Festival 2023, Asia’s 1st floating festival, started in MP On 1st February 2023, Usha Thakur, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Religious Trust and Endowments, Government of Madhya Pradesh(MP), inaugurated the Gandhisagar Floating Festival 2023, Asia’s first floating festival, the first edition of the 5-day global festival in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh(MP).

  • The unique and first-of-its-kind floating festival will have land, air and water-based adventure activities.
  • After the 5-day festival which concludes on 5th February 2023, the tent city for tourists will continue for 3 months (till 30th April 2023) and adventure activities will continue for 6 months.

About Gandhisagar Floating Festival 2023: 
The festival is organised by the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board (MPTB) with an aim to promote Gandhisagar as a tourist destination in both the domestic and international markets.

  • The Gandhisagar Floating Festival is operated and managed by LJS, Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Gandhi Sagar Dam is one of the 4 major dams constructed on the Chambal River in the Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh.
The Gandhi Sagar Dam is a masonry gravity dam standing 62.17 meters high with a gross storage capacity of 7.322 billion cubic metres from its catchment area.
Features of the festival:
i.The festival will offer a unique glamping and adventure activities experience to tourists in Mandsaur.
ii.The festival includes live music performances on a floating stage, a floating market, a boat spa, a boat safari, a silent forest tour, and other such events.
iii.As a part of the festival, adventure activities will be organized near Gandhisagar reservoir.
iv.Various workshops are organised as a part of the festival to promote awareness and understanding of eco-friendly craftsmanship.
About Madhya Pradesh: 
Chief Minister– Shivraj Singh Chouhan
Governor– Mangubhai Chhaganbhai Patel
National Park– Ghughwa Fossil National Park(Dinosaur Fossil National Park), Vanvihar National Park
Dams– Gandhi Sagar Dam(Chambal River); Bansagar Dam( Sone River)

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