Current Affairs- 19 April 2023

India Acquires Weapons Worth USD 300 Million from US for Indian NavyIndia is set to clear the proposal to acquire armaments worth over USD 300 million from the United States of America(USA) to arm the Indian Navy’s MH 60 “Romeo” chopper, the multi-role helicopters which will enhance its capabilities to counter enemy warships and submarines.
Under this, the fleet of 24 choppers will get additional Hellfire missiles and Mk 54 lightweight torpedoes.

  • The Hellfire missiles are a potent anti-shipping weapon and can be used to take down the targets like tanks, and command posts.
  • Mk 54 lightweight torpedoes are a very effective anti-submarine weapon. They are also equipped onboard the P8I maritime aircraft.

Note:The negotiation for the USD 300 million deal will be concluded under the Foreign Military Sales route.
i.India signed an agreement to procure 24 MH 60 Romeo naval multi-role helicopter worth USD 2 billion(over Rs 16000 crore) from Lockheed Martin in February 2020.
ii.Under the original contract signed with the USA, a limited amount of armaments. The 24 MH-60 Romeos were equipped with multi-mode radars and night-vision devices as well as armed with missiles, torpedoes and other precision-guided weaponry.
iii.The delivery of all 24 anti-submarine helicopters are expected to be completed by 2025.
iv.The first batch of MH 60 Romeos were delivered in 2022 at Kochi, Kerala and has been acquired to fill a critical capability gap in the Indian Navy.
v.The MH-60 which can operate from frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers, are going to replace Sea King choppers.
About Indian Navy: 
Chief of the Naval Staff– Admiral R Hari Kumar
Headquarters– New Delhi, Delhi

Indian Navy conducts offshore security exercise ‘Prasthan‘ in MumbaiOn April 6th 2023, Indian Navy conducted the offshore security exercise Prasthan, a bi-annual co-ordinated exercise along with other defence, state and civilian agencies on the Greatdrill Chaaya platform about 30 nautical miles South West of Mumbai harbour, Maharashtra.

  • The exercise is held every six months, to verify the policies and methods for handling potential emergencies on oil production platforms.
  • The previous ‘Prasthan’ exercise was conducted on October 11 and 12 2022 in the Krishna Godavari Basin Offshore Development Area (ODA) under the aegis of Headquarters, Eastern Naval Command, Vishakapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

About Prasthan exercise:

  • It ensures offshore security and aims to integrate the efforts of all maritime stakeholders involved in offshore defence.
  • Actions were taken throughout the simulation to prepare for several situations, including an oil platform fire, a man overboard, an oil spill in the area, helicopter emergencies, a hazardous gas leak, assisting a disabled vessel in the offshore area and medical evacuation of the platform crew.
  • A number of ships and helicopters from the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, Indian Coast Guard, ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) and Directorate General of Shipping were deployed for the exercise.
  • Personnel from Maharashtra Police, Customs, Fisheries Department, Mumbai Port Authority, JN (Jawaharlal Nehru) Port Authority and other concerned state and central civilian agencies also participated in it.

Union Minister Giriraj Singh launches ‘Sangathan se Samriddhi’ Campaign to Bring Marginalised Rural Women into SHGs 

On 18th April 2023, Union Minister Giriraj Singh, Minister of Rural Development (MoRD), launched the “Sangathan Se Samriddhi” campaign. It will empower marginalised rural households by bringing all eligible rural women into Self Help Groups (SHGs).

  • The government is targeting to bring 10 crore women under the purview of SHGs from the existing 9 crores. The number of members has now crossed 9 crores from just over 2.3 crores in 2014.
  • The government has also set a target that every woman associated with SHGs should be able to earn Rs 1 lakh per annum.

Law Minister Kiren Rijiju releases 1st Edition of Dogri version of Constitution of India

Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, Ministry of Law and Justice (MoL&J), released the 1st edition of the Dogri version of the Constitution of India at the University of Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

  • Kiren Rijiju described the translated document as very important in providing justice to the common people.
  • According to Kiren Rijiju, it is necessary to understand the law and it cannot be done better than organising it in one’s mother tongue.

Dogri is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in the Jammu region of J&K and is one of the 22 official languages recognized by the Indian Constitution.

IAF Participated in Multilateral Military Exercise Orion at Mont-de-Marsan Airbase in FranceOn April 17, 2023, a Multilateral Military Exercise Orion was initiated at Mont-de-Marsan, an Air Force base of the French Air and Space Force (FASF) in France

  • It saw the participation of the Indian Air Force (IAF) along with other Air Forces from Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain and the United States of America (USA).
  • The exercise will culminate on May 5, 2023.

Key Points:
i.The Indian Air Force Contingent comprises four Rafale, two C-17, two IL-78 aircraft and 165 air warriors.

  • This is the first overseas exercise for the IAF Rafale aircraft. It is regarded as among the most powerful fighter jets in service with any military in Asia.

ii.By participating in this exercise, the IAF will incorporate the best practices of other Air Forces, further enhancing their employment philosophy.
iii.Exercise Orion is one of the largest military exercises organized by France recently, involving approximately 12,000 troops from North Atlantic Treaty Organization and four phases.
iv.The French armed forces, including the Army, Navy, and Air Force, have conducted several sections of military drills. The exercises have also involved several allied nations, such as the US and UK, in the past.

UPI remains Preferred Medium for Digital Payments in 2022; Bengaluru tops with Rs 6,500cr digital transactions: Worldline Report i.According to the report by Worldline India titled India Digital Payments Annual Report 2022 Unified Payments Interface (UPI) continued to be the most preferred medium for digital payments in 2022 in India with a 70% increase in the number of transactions to 74 billion and a 54% increase in the value of transactions to Rs 126 trillion.
ii.A total of 8,792 crore digital payments were undertaken in 2022 worth Rs 149.5 lakh crore.
iii.The UPI volume and value market share was 84%. It recorded 91% increase in volume and over 76% increase in value in Year 2022 as compared to Year 2021.
iv.Credit card issuance increased 18% to 81.1 million, while debit cards increased slightly by 0.2% to 939.4 million from 938 million.
v.As per the data by Worldline Report, Bengaluru recorded 29 million transactions valued at Rs 6,500 crore, the highest number of digital transactions across 12 cities in India in 2022.
About Worldline India Private Limited:
CEO– Ramesh Narasimhan
Headquarter– Mumbai, Maharashtra

HDFC Bank launches Regalia Gold Credit CardHDFC Bank, India’s largest private bank, launches Regalia Gold Credit Card, for travel and lifestyle needs. It is a super-premium credit card launched under the bank’s Regalia range of credit cards with multiple features and benefits.
Key Points:
i.The card has Travel and Lifestyle benefits, allowing customers to redeem rewards for the global travel and on a collection of premium brands via the exclusive Regalia Gold catalogue.
ii.It also offers cardholders complimentary airport lounge access globally, and premium milestone benefits.
iii.The credit card was available to high-income individuals and is designed exclusively to cater to the needs and requirements.
iv.Regalia Gold Credit Card also offers an option to convert spends into EMI.
v.The Credit Card is enabled for contactless payments, facilitating fast, convenient and secure payments at retail outlets.
Note – Government has allowed payment through contactless mode (without being asked to input your Credit Card PIN) for a maximum of Rs 5,000 for a single transaction.
Additional info: HDFC Bank is the leading player in the payment’s ecosystem in India with over 1.65 crore credit cards and, an overall cumulative card base of over 6 crore, including credit, debit, and prepaid cards, addressing the need of different market segments.
About HDFC Bank Ltd:
MD & CEO – Sashidhar Jagdishan
Establishment – 1994
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
Tagline – We Understand Your World

India gives $500,000 to UN Women for Women EmpowermentIndia has made a contribution of $500,000 (Rs 4.09 crore) to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women.  The cheque for the same was handed over by Ruchira Kamboj, the Permanent Representative of India to the UN, supporting UN Women’s core voluntary budget.

  • The donation was received by Sima Sami Bahous, the Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women.

Key Points:
i.This funding highlights India’s commitment towards gender equality and empowerment of women, as well as the government’s support towards UN Women’s activities.
ii.The donation will be utilized towards UN Women’s efforts to promote gender equality and empower women globally.
iii.India currently serves as a member of the Executive Board of the UN Women and Women-led Development is one of the priorities of India’s G20 presidency.
iv.India’s development model is centered around women-led initiatives, entrepreneurship, and STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education.
About United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
Executive Director– Sima Bahous
Headquarters– New York, United States

AU SFB partnered with BBPS to Enable Bill Payment Via Video Banking

AU Small Finance Bank (AU SFB), has become India’s 1st commercial bank to connect with the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) and deliver bill payment services through video banking. This initiative’s primary goal is to promote digital accessibility and improve economic capability leading to greater financial inclusion.

  • Customers can use this platform to pay their bills without having to go to a branch, which is especially useful for senior citizens and others with mobility challenges who live in remote areas.

Customers of AU SFB can access the bill payment service on video banking through or AU 10101 app.

Karnataka Bank launches “KBL Centenary Mahotsav” Campaign for Home loans

Karnataka Bank Limited (KBL) launched a special campaign “KBL Centenary Mahotsav” for Home loans from 17 April 2023 to 17 July 2023 to mark its 100th year of establishment. KBL was incorporated on 18th February 1924 at Mangaluru, Karnataka.

  • Customers can utilize the benefits of digital banking and offers of the special campaign across all its 901 branches.
  • Customers can obtain a Horne loan under the KBL Centenary Mahotsav campaign with a reduction in the upfront fee, an attractive rate of interest starting at 8.75%, Nil processing charge for a Horne loan and other benefits.
  • Karnataka Bank has developed digital loan products for home loans, allowing customers to take advantage of seamless digital processes and immediate in-principle approvals at their comfort and convenience.

President Droupadi Murmu Conferred National Panchayat Awards 2023 & Inaugurated the ‘National Conference on Incentivisation of PanchayatsOn April 17, 2023, the President of India, Droupadi Murmu conferred the National Panchayat Awards 2023 and inaugurated the ‘National Conference on Incentivisation of Panchayats’ in New Delhi, Delhi.

  • The President also inaugurated the National Panchayat Awards Week which was celebrated by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR)from April 17 to 21, 2023 as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM) 2.0.

i.The National Panchayat Awards under different categories are conferred annually by the MoPR since 2011 to acknowledge and incentivize the best-performing Panchayats (local self-government bodies) across the country.
ii.All the Panchayats will be ranked based on their performance under 9 Localization of Sustainable Development Goals (LSDGs) themes aggregating 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).
iii.The MoPR conceptualized a series of Thematic Conferences for the National Panchayat Awards Week on the theme of “Panchayaton ke Sankalpon ki Siddhi ka Utsav”
iv.A booklet on ‘Best Practices on Works of Awardee Panchayats’ was released by Giriraj Singh, Union Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.
GS NIRNAY App: Union Minister Giriraj Singh launched a mobile application GS NIRNAY (National Initiative for Rural India to Navigate, InnovAte and Resolve PanchaYat decisions), for empowering rural communities during the National Conference.
About the Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR):
Union Minister – Giriraj Singh (Constituency- Begusarai, Bihar)
Minister of State (MoS) – Kapil Moreshwar Patil (Constituency- Bhiwandi, Maharashtra)

Economist Utsa Patnaik selected for Malcolm Adiseshiah Award 2023 Utsa Patnaik, a renowned economist of national and international repute, has been selected for the Malcolm Adiseshiah Award 2023 by the Malcolm & Elizabeth Adiseshiah Trust (MEAT) based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu (TN).

  • The award will be given with a citation and a prize money of Rs. 2 lakh at a function which will be held in Chennai, TN.

About Malcolm Adiseshiah Award: 
i. MalcolmAdiseshiah Award is annually presented by the MEAT to honour the contributions of the outstanding social scientist in the field of development studies.
ii. The recipients are selected by a national-level jury specially constituted for this purpose, from the nominations received.
Malcolm Adiseshiah Award 2022 was awarded to Prabhat Patnaik, a renowned Indian Economist and Political commentator, and he is the Husband of Utsa Patnaik.
About Utsa Patnaik:
i. Utsa Patnaik is an Indian Marxian economist, who obtained her doctorate in economics from the Somerville College, Oxford, United Kingdom(UK).
ii. She served as the Professor of Economics at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning (CESP) in the School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, Delhi, from 1973 until her retirement in 2010.
She had won the V.V. Giri Memorial Award 2011 for her outstanding contribution to labour studies, instituted by the V.V Giri National Labour Institute, Noida in Uttar Pradesh.
Malcolm & Elizabeth Adiseshiah Trust:
MEAT was registered on 8th March 1996 as a Public Charitable Trust and the award instituted during the year 2000.
The trust established The Malcolm Adiseshiah Award & The Elizabeth Adiseshiah Award for Distinguished Contributions to Development Studies.

  • The Elizabeth Adiseshiah Award, Instituted in 2018, will be presented to a young scholar below the age of 45. The award carry a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh.
  • Both awards are open to Indian and foreign scholars ordinarily resident in India.

Indian-American FedEX CEO Raj Subramaniam awarded with Pravasi Bharatiya SammanAn Indian-American Rajesh Subramaniam, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FedEx Corporation, has been awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award, for his contribution to Business.

  • The award was conferred by Droupadi Murmu, President of India, on 10 January 2023, as a part of the celebration of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) 2023 at Indore, Madhya Pradesh.

Note: 27 Indians living abroad received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award in 2023.
About Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award:
i. The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award is the highest honour conferred on a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) to recognise their achievements and honour their contributions to various fields, both in India and abroad.
ii. The inaugural Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award was given in 2003.

Sekhar Rao appointed as interim MD and CEO of Karnataka Bank Karnataka Bank had appointed Sekhar Rao as the interim managing director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), following the completion of M S Mahabaleshwara’s term as the incumbent CEO.
Additional Info:

  • Mahabaleshwara M S, who served as the bank’s managing director and CEO, completed his second three-year term and demitted office on April 14.
  • Term 1:(15th Apr 2017 – 14th April 2020)
  • Term 2:(15th Apr 2020 – 14th April 2023)
  • Sekhar Rao, the bank’s executive director, assumed the role of interim managing director and CEO on April 15, 2023, after receiving approval from the Reserve Bank of India on April 12, 2023.
  • As per the appointment terms, he will hold the position for a duration of three months or until a regular managing director and CEO is appointed, whichever is earlier.

About Karnataka Bank:
CEO – Sekhar Rao
Headquarters – Mangalore, Karnataka
Tagline – Your family bank across India
Founded in – 1924

Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh launches ‘YUVA PORTAL’ to Identify Potential Young Start-UpsOn 17th April 2023, Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology, launched the “YUVA Portal” and One Week- One Programme at National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in New Delhi, Delhi, to help in connecting and identifying potential young Start-Ups.

  • YUVA- Young, Upcoming and Versatile Authors.

Key Highlights:
i. Dr Jitendra Singh highlighted the 37 Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) Labs spread across India as examples of India’s excellence in technology, innovation, and start-ups.
ii. The One Week – One Lab programme will offer the opportunity for the CSIR labs to showcase the work being done by them so that others can avail of it.

  • In the campaign, each of the CSIR labs is showcasing their exclusive innovations and technological breakthroughs to the people of India.

One Week – One Lab programme:
i. CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is going to organise the One Week- One Lab program from 17 to 21 April 2023.
ii. Aim of  One Week – One Lab programme:

  • To create awareness about the available technologies and services present at NPL among potential stakeholders,
  • To provide solutions to societal problems,
  • To sensitise the masses about the importance of precise measurements
  • To develop the scientific temperament among the masses, especially amongst students who are the future of India.

iii. From 18 to 20 April 2023, there will be three days of Start-up/Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME)/Industry Meet.

  • The aim of this event is to showcase various services extended by NPL to industries.

Additional Information:
i. Dr Jitendra Singh also noted the launch of the astronomy lab that has come up in Karnal, Haryana, that it will provide a level-playing field to all and even Divyangs (persons with disabilities) could excel in various forms of skill, art and craft.

  • The facility in different languages will enable hearing-impaired students to study the sun, moon, and stars along with basic to complicated ideas of space

ii. Indian Sign Language AstroLab has 65 pieces of equipment, including a large telescope, interactive models, audio-visual aids, etc.

International Day For Monuments and Sites 2023 – April 18International Day for Monuments and Sites, also known as World Heritage Day is annually observed across the globe on April 18 to create global awareness about the significance of historical, heritage, and cultural monuments, and measures to protect them so that future generations can also witness them and embrace the rich heritage of the world.

  • International Day for Monuments and Sites 2023 was observed on 18th April 2023 under the theme “Heritage Changes”.
  • The theme for World Heritage Day is annually proposed by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).

i. International Day for Monuments and Sites was established by ICOMOS, a non-governmental international organisation dedicated to the conservation of the world’s monuments and sites.
ii. Later, the day was adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) during its 22nd General Conference in November 1982 and declared April 18 of every year as International Day for Monuments and Sites.

  • The day was 1st observed in 1983 by UNESCO.

About the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS):
President- Teresa Patricio
Secretary General- Mario Santana
Headquarters- Paris, France
Establishment- 1965

Kerala adopts Water Budget, the 1st of its kind in India, to tackle water scarcity in SummerKerala became the first state in India to adopt a water budget to tackle water shortage in summer. Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister (CM) of Kerala, unveiled the details of the 1st phase of the Water Budget in Kerala covering 94 grama panchayats in 15 block panchayats.

  • CM handed over a copy of the budget to  Additional Chief Secretary Sarada Muraleedharan during the event held in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
  • Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine presided over the event.

About the Water Budget:
i.The Water Budget provides the scientific methods for the conservation of water and it also aims to create awareness about the need for water conservation.
ii.This water budget would support Kerala to meet the demand and supply of Water, the precious liquid resource and apportion it accordingly.
Water Budget Preparation:
i.The Water budget was prepared by a committee of officials including Water Resources department representatives and experts from the sector.
ii.The budget was prepared in consultation with the  Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM).
i.Despite housing 44 rivers, several backwaters, lakes, ponds, streams and abundant rain, several parts of Kerala is facing water scarcity during the summers.
ii.The water budget will regulate the usage of water in accordance with its availability in the area.
iii.This would create awareness among the public against water wastage and will support achieving water conservation.
Other highlights:
CM also inaugurated the 3rd phase of the Haritha Keralam Mission’s ‘Ini Njan Ozhukatte’ campaign to revive rivulets, canals, and streams in the Western Ghats.

  • Around 7,290 kilometres (km) of irrigation networks had been rejuvenated under the 1st and 2nd phases of the project.
  • Water sources in 230 grama panchayats spread over 9 districts will be mapped using satellite images.
  • Following the completion of the surveys, the local bodies will undertake activities to revive the sources before the onset of the monsoon.

About Kerala: 
Chief Minister– Pinarayi Vijayan
Governor– Arif Mohammed Khan
Wildlife Sanctuary– Kottiyoor Wildlife Sanctuary; Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary
Airport– Calicut International Airport; Kannur International Airport

Himachal Pradesh launches project Sanjeevani to empower dairy farmersOn April 9th, The Animal Husbandry Department (AHD) of Himachal Pradesh along with Bharat Financial Inclusion Ltd. (BFIL), (a subsidiary of IndusInd Bank) has launched an initiative called Sanjeevani which aims to provide doorstep veterinary services to farmers.

  • Under the Sanjeevani project, mobile veterinary clinics will be set up to provide doorstep veterinary services to farmers at a single toll-free phone call.
  • The collaboration under National Animal Disease Control Programme-Mobile Veterinary Van (NADCP-AHD-MVU) will enhance the doorstep services.
  • The integrated call centre will function as a single contact point for various matters related to livestock healthcare and vaccination programs.
  • To support farmers and improve their livelihoods, the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, has launched the Sanjeevani project which will benefit farmers in 44 blocks of all 12 districts of the state.

Key Points:

  • The Sanjeevani project is a farmer-friendly initiative that aims to empower the livelihoods of small dairy farmers and livestock owners. By providing convenient and quality care for their livestock at their doorstep, the project will enhance the lives of many farmers from rural remote areas. The collaboration will ensure holistic veterinary services to farmers.
  • The project’s uniqueness lies in its mobile app that connects doctors and farmers, tracks the efficiency of service delivery, medicines prescribed, and livestock diseases related data in one platform.

About Himachal Pradesh: 
Chief Minister – Thakur Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu
Governor – Shiv Pratap Shukla
Capitals – Shimla (Summer), Dharamshala (Winter)
National Parks – Great Himalayan national park, Pin valley national park
About Bharat Financial Inclusion Ltd:
Founded : 1998
Headquarters : Hyderabad, Telangana
Executive Vice Chairman : J Sridharan

TN & High Glory Footwear signed MoU for an investment of Rs 2302 crore 

On 17th April 2023, the Tamil Nadu (TN) Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the High Glory Footwear India Private Limited subsidiary of Taiwan-based Pou Chen Group, for setting up a footwear manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu involving an investment of Rs 2,302 crore over 12 years.

  • The manufacturing unit will come up at the SIPCOT (State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamilnadu Ltd) Industrial Park, Ulundurpet in Kallakurichi, TN.
  • This partnership will generate job opportunities for more than 20,000 people in the non-leather footwear sector, especially for the youth and women in and around the Kallakurichi district, TN.
  • The investment has been attracted after the government released its Footwear and Leather Products Policy in August 2022.

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