India, France & UAE Announce Plans for Co-Operation Under Trilateral FrameworkIn the midst of the geopolitical unrest brought on by the conflict in Ukraine, India, France, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have announced an ambitious roadmap for cooperation in a wide range of fields, including defence, energy, and technology under a trilateral framework.
Proposed Actions to Support the Framework
i.A number of trilateral events will be organized to assist the efforts during the G20 Presidency of India and the hosting of 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by the UAE in 2023, respectively.
ii.The three nations also decided to enhance their cooperation through projects like the Indo-Pacific Parks Partnership, headed by India & France, and the Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC), led by the UAE.
iii.In the context of the International Year of the Millet 2023, the three countries decided to focus on major concerns like single-use plastic pollution, desertification, and food security.
About the United Arab Emirates (UAE):
President – Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Capital – Abu Dhabi city
Currency – Arab Emirati Dirham (AED) [called Dirhams]
Union Minister Bhupender Yadav launches ‘Save Wetlands Campaign’ as a “whole of society” approach for wetlands conservationOn 4th February 2023, Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Bhupender Yadav, launched the ‘Save Wetlands Campaign’, a campaign structured on a “whole of society” approach for wetlands conservation, during the National level Celebration of World Wetlands Day at Nanda Lake in Goa.
- This 1-year campaign will include creating awareness about the importance of wetlands among the people and increasing the coverage of wetlands mitras and establishing citizen partnerships for wetlands conservation.
- During the event, The “India’s 75 Amrit Dharohar- India’s Ramsar Sites Factbook” and “Managing Climate Risks in Wetlands – A Practitioner’s Guide” booklets were also released.
About Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC):
Union Minister– Bhupender Yadav
Minister of State– Ashwini Kumar Choubey
Indian Railways to introduce Bharat Gaurav Deluxe AC Tourist Train under ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ SchemeThe Indian Railways (IR) is set to introduce the “Bharat Gaurav Deluxe AC Tourist Train” a special tour Garvi Gujarat to showcase the Cultural & Spiritual Heritage of Vibrant Gujarat.
- on 28th February 2023, the train, operated by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation(IRCTC) will depart from Delhi Safdarjung Railway Station on an 8 days tour.
- The entire tour will cover a distance of 3500 kilometres(Kms) during the course of 8 days journey.
- The launch of the Bharat Gaurav Tourist Train is in line with the Government of India initiative “Dekho Apna Desh” to promote domestic tourism.
About Bharat Gaurav Deluxe AC Tourist Train:
i.The train Tour is designed in line with the “Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat” scheme of the Government of India, conceptualised on the life of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, the Iron Man of India, to showcase the heritage of Gujarat.
ii.Bharat Gaurav Deluxe AC Tourist Train, the state-of-the-art train, with 1st AC & 2nd AC Class will be operated for 8 days inclusive tour.
iii.The train will consist of 4 first AC coaches, 2 second AC Coaches, 1 well-equipped pantry car and two rail restaurants and can accommodate 156 tourists onboard.
iv.For the convenience of the tourists, the boarding and deboarding facilities will be provided at the Gurugram, Rewari, Ringas, Phullera & Ajmer Railway Stations.
About the Tour:
The 8 days tour will include a visit to various heritage sites and religious sites.
- Heritage sites: World’s tallest statue – Statue of Unity, Champaner archaeological park, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage site, Adhlej Step Well, Akshardham Temple at Ahmedabad, Sabarmati Ashram, Modhera Sun Temple and the Rani ki Vao, a UNESCO site at Patan.
- Religious sites: Somnath Jyotirlinga, Nageshwar Jyotirlinga, Dwarkadheesh Temple and Beyt Dwarka
Note: IRCTC has partnered with payment gateways to provide Equated Monthly Instalment (EMI) payment options to customers.
IAF Revises Doctrine, Defines its Role In a ‘No War, No Peace’ Setting
On 4th February 2023, the Indian Air Force (IAF) made public a revised doctrine which defines the role of air power in the “no war, no peace scenario” setting in India.
- The doctrine highlighted the use of air power as part of a joint military strategy involving the two other forces.
- The doctrine, which refers to air power as aerospace power, also emphasised that defensive and offensive counter-operations are “inextricably linked”.
- For the first time, the doctrine extensively detailed the “no war, no peace” (NWNP) environment, saying the condition requires the IAF to work towards shaping the behaviour of external threats.
The IAF first published a doctrine in 1995, which was revised in 2007. In 2012, a revised and unclassified basic doctrine was published. The latest doctrine revises the 2012 document.
Indian Fertiliser Companies signs MoUs with Morocco’s OCP Group for 1.7 MT import of Soil NutrientsFour India-based fertiliser companies, the state-run National Fertilizers Limited, the private Chambal Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd, Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd, and Paradeep Phosphates Ltd, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with OCP Group, a Moroccan state-owned fertilizer producer, for the annual importation of 1.75 million metric tonnes (MT) of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) fertilisers at Rabat, Morocco.
- According to the MoU, 1 MT of diammonium phosphate (DAP), 0.7 MT of triple superphosphate (TSP), and 0.05 MT of mutate of potash (MOP) will be imported to cover the domestic requirements of the soil nutrient variety for the upcoming year.
i. OCP Group will supply India with 1.7 million metric tonnes of phosphate-based fertilizer over the coming 12 months (2023) after India entered a strategic partnership with the group.
ii. Senegal, Jordan, Israel, Oman, Russia, Canada, and Saudi Arabia are among the nations with which India is negotiating to acquire supplies of non-urea fertilisers like DAP and nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK).
- India imports about half of its DAP needs from these countries.
iii. According to Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers (MoC&F), India will be a global market price-setter for fertilizers in the next 2 years.
MoUs regarding Fertilizers:
i. In October 2022, Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd signed MoU with K Plus S Middle East FZE DMCC, a subsidiary of Germany’s K+S Minerals and Agriculture GmBH for the supply of around 0.1 MT of MOP annually till 2025 at a discounted India specific price.
ii. In September 2022, Coromandel International, Chambal Fertilizers and Indian Potash Limited signed an MoU with Canpotex, Canada for the import of potash.
iii. In August 2022, India and Saudi Arabia signed a pact for an annual supply of 2.5 MT of ammonia and DAP, NPK fertilisers till 2025.
IEA Report: India’s ‘LiFE’ Initiative Can Save USD 440 Billion Globally in 2030 The International Energy Agency (IEA) claimed in its country report titled “LiFE lessons from India -The benefits of advancing the Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) initiative through the G20” that if adopted worldwide, the measures specified under the LiFE initiative could save consumers around USD 440 billion in 2030, corresponding to around 5% of total fuel spending across the global economy that year.
- It further said that implementing India’s “LiFE” initiative may help decrease worldwide carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 2 billion metric tonnes by 2030, or roughly one-fifth of the emission reduction required to reach global net-zero emissions.
i.In November 2021, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the LiFE initiative during the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), that was held in Glasgow, Scotland (United Kingdom).
ii.India, the third-largest national market for renewable energy in the world, is currently 10% more energy efficient than the global and G20 averages, with various policies already integrated into its energy transition strategy.
About International Energy Agency (IEA):
Executive Director – Dr. Fatih Birol
Headquarters – Paris, France
SEBI Notifies Stronger Framework for Green Bonds; Introduces Concept of Blue, Yellow BondsThe Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), India’s capital market regulator, has strengthened the green bond framework by introducing “Blue” and “Yellow” bonds as new modes of sustainable finance.
- These bonds are subcategories of Green Debt Securities (GDS), with ‘Blue Bonds’ pertaining to water management and the marine sector and ‘Yellow Bonds’ pertaining to solar energy.
Green Debt Securities (GDS)
According to the regulatory framework, GDS are debt securities that are issued to raise funds for projects or assets that belong into specific categories.
Sustainable finance is the process of taking environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into account when making financial investment decisions, resulting in increasing long-term investments in sustainable economic activities and projects.
About the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI):
Chairperson– Madhabi Puri Buch
Headquarters– Mumbai, Maharashtra
Indian Achievers Award 2022: RV Prassad received The Most Distinguished Scientist Of The Year 2022 Award
R Vishnu Prassad, Founder and Chief Scientist at Vishnu Prasad Research Centre was awarded “The Most Distinguished Scientist of the Year 2022” at the Indian Achievers Award 2022 by Anurag Singh Thakur, Minister of Information and Broadcasting at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, Delhi.
- RV Prasad was chosen by a jury headed by Justice Gyan Sudha Misra.
- He was recognised for working tirelessly on sustainability, smart cities, and a vision to create a clean India through solid waste management and the treatment of huge water bodies.
The event was attended by a number of notable figures, including Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, a former Chief Justice of India (CJI), and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, a former Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
About R Vishnu Prasad:
i. R Vishnu Prasad, a scientist from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, with 69 patents, has published over 300 research papers in International journals and has been awarded several patents for his inventions.
ii. He has won a number of honours, including the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, which is India’s highest award for outstanding contributions to science and technology.
Indian Achievers Award:
i. The Indian Achievers Award is India’s most prestigious award and a prestigious recognition that is given to individuals for outstanding contributions in various fields including culture, science, sports and innovation.
ii. The deserving Achievers are felicitated with appropriate Award Titles like the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Woman Of Excellence Award, Business Leadership Award and more.
iii. The primary goal is to promote the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Startups while also making sure that the government and society as a whole understand both the needs of the business community and its contribution to the nation’s well-being.
Note: Other recipients of the Indian Achievers Award include Paramveer Chakra Subedar Major Sanjay Kumar, hockey player late Major Dhyan Chand, film actress Shruti Haasan, Padma Shri Alok Mehta, and boxer Vijender Singh.
Shamika Ravi appointed as a full-time Member of EAC-PM
Shamika Ravi, an Economics Professor and Researcher, has been appointed as a full-time Member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) in the rank of the Secretary to the Government of India (GoI). She is currently a non-resident senior fellow of the governance studies program at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., United States of America (USA).
- Shamika Ravi, the former Director of Research at Brookings India, researches the economics of development including areas of finance, health, urbanization and gender inequality.
- She had previously served as a part-time member of the EAC-PM from 2017 to 2019 and publishes extensively in peer-reviewed academic journals.
Chairman: economist Bibek Debroy
Member: Sanjeev Sanyal & Part-time Members: Rakesh Mohan, Dr Sajjid Chinoy, Dr Neelkanth Mishra, Nilesh Shah, Prof. T.T. Ram Mohan, and Dr Poonam Gupta.
RBI allows DSP Investment Managers to hike stake in DCB Bank to 9.99%
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has allowed DSP Investment Managers to hike their stake in DCB Bank Limited, a private sector scheduled commercial bank in India, to 9.99% as part of investments made through various mutual fund schemes.
- The approval is valid for a year up to February 2, 2024. Currently, DSP Mutual Fund holds 4.23 per cent of the bank.
- The DCB Bank got notification from the RBI on 3rd February 2023 that it had given DSP Investment Managers permission to purchase up to 9.99% of the Bank’s paid-up equity capital through the schemes of DSP Mutual Fund.
- Additionally, the RBI directed DSPIM to make sure that its ownership of the bank never exceeds 10% of its paid-up equity capital.
BARC’s Thorium Reactors IHTR & IMSBR can Deliver Clean Energy, HydrogenIndian high-temperature reactor (IHTR) and Indian molten salt breeder reactor (IMSBR), the noted Thorium(Th) technologies of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre(BARC), A premier multi-disciplinary Nuclear Research Centre of India under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) can deliver clean energy – hydrogen and play a major role in India’s green energy transition.
- Apart from Coal, Thorium is the only abundant energy source in India.
- At present, BARC is working on several technologies for using thorium, of which IHTR and IMSBR are noteworthy.
About the Indian high-temperature reactor (IHTR):
IHTR is designed to produce heat and, in turn, produce hydrogen through the ‘sulphur-iodine’ method.
- In this method, sulphuric acid decomposes into oxygen, sulphur dioxide and water under high temperatures.
- When iodine is added to sulphur dioxide and water, you get hydrogen iodide, which again splits into hydrogen and iodine at high temperatures.
The fuel of the reactor: A mixture of Uranium-233 dioxide and Thorium dioxide.
- Note: Uranium-233(233U) does not occur naturally, it is obtained by the mutation of thorium in reactors.
About the Indian molten salt breeder reactor (IMSBR):
IMSBR is a 5-Megawatt (MW) pilot project in Visakhapatnam, Andhara Pradesh(AP).
IMSBR can operate in a self-sustaining 233U-Th fuel cycle. Additionally, being a thermal reactor, the 233U requirement is lower (as compared to fast spectrum), thus allowing higher deployment potential.
- BARC has developed an appropriate salt for this purpose (LiF-CaF -ThF –UF) which is circulated by the pump through the reactor core.
- BARC has also developed other things such as pumps, valves, flow meters and heat exchangers.
i.The establishment of the IMSBR demonstration plant at Visakhapatnam will mark a significant step in India’s green energy journey with the entry of the thorium cycle.
ii.The electricity-generating IMSBR and the hydrogen-producing IHTR will play a major role in making India achieve the net-zero target.
iii.The IMSBR and IHTR systems and the associated fuel cycle aspects are in exploratory evaluation and initial assessment stages.
About Bhabha Atomic Research Centre(BARC):
BARC was established as Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET) in 1954.
Renamed as Bhabha Atomic Research Centre(BARC) in 1966.
Director– Dr. Ajit Kumar Mohanty
Location– Mumbai, Maharashtra
JUICE: ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer to be launched in April 2023European Space Agency(ESA)’s JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (Juice) mission which aims to explore Jupiter and its three largest natural satellites – Ganymede, Callisto and Europa, is set to be launched in April 2023 onboard Ariane 5 (launch vehicle) from Europe’s Spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana in South America.
i.The Juice mission will make detailed observations of the giant gas planet and its three large ocean-bearing moons, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa, with a suite of remote sensing, geophysical and in situ instruments.
- The Juice mission will also be the last ESA mission to launch on an Ariane 5 from ESA’s Spaceport in Kourou. After this launch, Ariane 6, the new heavy-lift launch system, will be used.
ii.The mission will characterise the moons of Jupiter as both planetary objects and possible habitats.
iii.It will also explore Jupiter’s complex environment in-depth, and study the wider Jupiter system as an archetype for gas giants across the Universe.
i.Juice will be the first spacecraft ever to orbit a natural satellite other than Earth’s moon.
ii.On route to Jupiter, this will perform the 1st ever lunar earth gravity assist to save propellant.
iii.This will also be the first spacecraft to change orbit from another planet to one of its moons(Jupiter to Ganymede).
Click here to know more about JUICE
Astronomers Discovered 12 new Moons of Jupiter; Beocmes Planet with most Moons
Astronomers have discovered 12 new moons of Jupiter, taking the total number of natural satellites revolving around Jupiter from 80 to 92. Jupiter becomes the planet with the most number of moons overtaking Saturn which has 83 confirmed moons.
- The findings have been reported by astronomer Scott S. Sheppard from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC who observed the planet between 2021 and 2022.
- The Minor Planet Center (MPC) of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has published the orbits of the new moons.
New Balance Indoor Grand Prix 2023: India’s Tejaswin Shankar won Gold in Men’s High Jump
On 4th February 2023, Indian High Jumper & Commonwealth Games 2022 bronze medallist, Tejaswin Shankar won the gold medal in men’s high jump event with a leap of 2.26 metres at the 2022 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, a World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold Series event, held in Boston, United States of America(USA).
- 2007 world champion & four-time Olympian Donald Thomas (2.23 metres) of the Bahamas secured the 2nd spot and Darryl Sullivan of the USA came in 3rd with a season-best of 2.19 metres.
- In 2018, Tejaswin Shankar set India’s indoor high jump record at 2.28 metres. He also holds the national record for men’s outdoor high jump in India with 2.29 metres.
- He won the bronze in Men’s high jump at Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games(CWG) and became the first Indian to win a CWG medal in the sport.
The high jump field at New Balance Indoor Grand Prix consisted of only 4 athletes.
Former Pakistan President, General Pervez Musharraf (Retd) Passed AwayOn 5th February 2023, Pervez Musharraf, Former President of Pakistan (2001-2008) and retired General, passed away at the age of 79 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Pervez Musharraf was born on 11th August 1943 in Delhi, British India (now New Delhi, Delhi, India).
- Pervez Musharraf was known as the architect of the 1999 conflict in Kargil.
About Pervez Musharraf:
i. Pervez Musharraf moved from Delhi to Karachi, Pakistan, in 1947, during the India-Pakistan partition.
ii. He joined the army in 1964, graduated from the Army Command and Staff College in Quetta, and attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in London.
iii. He fought in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 as a second lieutenant, and also participated in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 as a Company Commander in the Commando Battalion.
- Between 1966 and 1972, he was initially promoted to Army Captain and then to Major.
iv. He rose to the rank of General and was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff in 1998, by then Prime Minister (PM) of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif.
v. General Pervez Musharraf, then-Chief of Army Staff and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, led a coup against PM Nawaz Sharif and became head of government.
vi. He was associated with 2 parties: All Pakistan Muslim League and Pakistan Muslim League (Qaid e Azam Group).
vii. In 2001, he appointed himself as the President of Pakistan and served till 2008. Later in 2002, he amended the constitution 29 times, giving himself the authority to dismiss parliament and remove the PM.
viii. He was charged with high treason and given a death sentence in 2019 for suspending the Constitution. To avoid criminal charges against him in Pakistan, he lived in self-imposed exile in the UAE, since 2016.
ix. He published his autobiography titled “In the Life of Fire: A Memoir” in 2006.
Pervez Musharraf was honoured with the Imtiaz Sanad Medal for his gallantry during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965.
International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation 2023 – February 6The United Nations (UN)’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) is annually observed across the globe on February 6 to combat the horrific practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).
- The day offers an opportunity for all stakeholders involved in eliminating FGM to recognise achievements, advocate for the abandonment of the practice, and raise awareness
6th February 2023 marks the 12th anniversary of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.
The theme of International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation 2023 is “Partnership with Men and Boys to transform Social and Gender Norms to End FGM”.
i. On 6th February 2003, Stella Obasanjo, the 1st Lady of Nigeria and spokesperson for the Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), made the official declaration on “Zero Tolerance to FGM in Africa during a conference organised by the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC).
- The 1st International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was observed on 6th February 2003.
- As a result, February 6 has been designated as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM by the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights.
ii. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the resolution A/RES/67/146 on 20th December 2012 and proclaimed the 6th February of every year as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.
About the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA):
United Nations Population Fund, formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, is a UN agency aimed at improving reproductive and maternal health worldwide
Executive Director- Dr Natalia Kanem
Headquarters- New York, United States of America (USA)
About the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF):
Executive Director- Catherine M. Russell
Headquarters- New York, USA
Pune-Nashik High-Speed Rail Project Received in-principle Approval from Railway Ministry
On February 4, 2023, Devendra Fadnavis, the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, announced that the Ministry of Railways had accorded “in principle approval” for the Pune-Nashik (Maharashtra) high-speed rail project, which had been in the works since 2020.
Devendra Fadnavis made the announcement after a meeting with Ashwini Vaishnaw, the Railway Minister, in New Delhi, Delhi.
- The officials from Maharashtra and the railway ministry will make a technical appraisal of the project and then take the proposal to the Union Cabinet for approval.
- The high-speed rail between Pune and Nashik will boost development and provide seamless connectivity to the industrial zones of both cities.