Current Affairs – 16 & 17 July 2023

Union Cabinet has Approved Commercial Mining of 6 Critical Minerals Through MMDR Act

On 12th July 2023, Union Cabinet approved amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) MMDR Act of 1957, for commercial mining of 6 critical minerals: lithium, titanium, beryllium, zirconium, niobium and tantalum.
Note: This is the 5th amendment to the act since 2014. Earlier amendments authorised e-auction for minerals and enabled the extension of expiring mine leases.
Key points:
i.The proposal will remove the six minerals from the India’s ‘Atomic Minerals’ list and empower the Center to auction their reserves for mining by private players.
ii.These minerals are key components of modern technologies such as mobile phones, electric vehicles, solar panels, semiconductors, and wind turbines.
iii.These minerals help in electronics and communications, India’s transition towards greener energy, electrification of the transportation sector.
The new amendment:
i.The amendment proposes for an exploration licence, awarded through an auction to carry out reconnaissance(exploration) and prospecting of a particular land for a mineral.
ii.The exploration licence for a larger area will be up to 5,000 sq km for a single block. The total area with one entity will not exceed 10,000 sq km.

  • Currently the government gives composite licences in a smaller area up to 25 square kilometres.

iii.The new amendment allows private companies to plan and explore areas where they conduct operations of mining.
OAMDR Act amended to enable commercial mining in offshore areas
On 12th July 2023, the Union Cabinet also cleared amendments to the Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation)(OAMDR) Act, 2002, which allow commercial mining of mineral resources in offshore areas.

  • Currently, the private sector is not allowed to mine mineral resources in offshore areas, including territorial waters, continental shelves, exclusive economic zones, and other maritime zones of India under the Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and Other Maritime Zones Act.

i.Australia is the world’s top lithium producer followed by the ‘Lithium Triangle’ of Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.
ii.India meets about 70% of its lithium requirement from China and Hong Kongs and it seeks to increase the EV penetration from 1% currently to 30% by 2030.

IGIA becomes 1st Airport to have 4 Operational Runways and an Elevated Taxiway
On 14th July 2023, Delhi International Airport, also known as the Indira Gandhi International Airport(IGIA) has become the first airport in India to get four runways and dual Eastern Cross Taxiway (ECT) (elevated taxiways).

  • Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, Union Minister for Civil Aviation and Steel inaugurated the new runway and ECT at IGIA, New Delhi, Delhi.

Note: IGIA is India’s busiest and the world’s seventh-busiest airport
Key People:
General (Dr.) Vijay Kumar Singh (Retd.) Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, and Road Transport and Highways, Sanjeev Kumar, Chairman, Airport Authority of India, G. M. Rao, Group Chairman, GMR were also present during the inaugration.
The 4th runway:
i.The 4.4-km runway with 4,400 metres length and  45 metres width  was constructed to handle Air Traffic Movements (ATM) and widebody aircraft is set to go up from 1,500 flights a day to 2,000.
ii.A ceremonial water cannon salute was accorded to Air India flight 821that took off from Delhi to Srinagar to mark the operationalisation of the fourth runway.
iii.The fourth runway construction was successfully completed in September 2021 and will be initially used only for departures.
Eastern Cross Taxiway (ECT):
i.The ECT is 2.1 kilometres long and 44 metres wide, with a gap of 47 metres between the two lanes.
ii.The taxiways will connect northern and southern airfields and reduce taxi distance for aircraft by 7 km and taxiing time for planes from 8-9 minutes.
iii.It will see a reduction of almost 55 thousand tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission on annual basis.
Additional Information:
i.IGIA has three terminals — T1, T2 and T3, and four runways — RW 09/27, RW 11R/29L, RW 10/28 and RW 11L/29R.
ii.Both the new runway and the taxiway are capable of handling large aircraft and wide-body jets such as Airbus 380, Boeing 777 and Boeing 747-8.

MoRTH & JICA jointly developed 5 Guidelines to Enhance Mountainous Road Infrastructure in India
On 7th July 2023, the Union Minister Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH), released the five guidelines to enhance mountainous road infrastructure in India developed by MoRTH with technical assistance of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

  • These guidelines were published by Indian Road Congress (IRC).

Note: These guidelines were released during the 225th mid term council meeting of Indian Road Congress in Raipur, Chhattisgarh.
Key People:
Tamradhwaj Sahu, Minister of Public Works Department(PWD), Chhattisgarh, P V V S S Ravi Prasad, MoRTH Director General (Road Development) & Special Secretary were present during the event.
About the Guidelines:
i.The guidelines are designed to improve road networks, promote economic growth and to ensure high-quality sustainable road projects.
ii.The guidelines provide technical specifications and best practices for road construction in mountainous regions covering,

  • Planning of Hilly Roads
  • Slope Protection and Embankment with Advanced Technology
  • Tunnel on Arterial Roads in Hilly Area
  • Mountain Bridge with Advance Technology
  • Operation and Maintenance of Mountainous Highways

India & JICA partnership:
Since 2007, JICA have provided several technical cooperation projects towards the road sector in India.
This includes,

  • Capacity development of sustainable development of expressways (2007-2011)
  • Capacity development for highway operation and maintenance Project (2013-2015),
  • Capacity Development Project on Highways in Mountainous Regions (2016-2022).

About Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH):
Union minister – Nitin Jairam Gadkari(Constituency-Nagpur, Maharashtra)
Minister of State – General (Retd.) Vijay Kumar Singh

India’s 1st PPP model ATL inaugurated in Kerala in collaboration with OPPO India
On 10th July 2023, Minister of State(MoS) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Rajeev Chandrashekar inaugurated country’s first Public-Private Partnership(P3) model Atal Tinkering  Lab(ATL) under NITI(National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission(AIM) in partnership with a leading smartphone manufacturing firm, Oppo India in Thrissur, Kerala.

  • Learning Links Foundation, New Delhi based ‘not for profit’ organisation will act as the implementation partner. The ATL has been set up to empower school children in classes 6th to 12th to develop innovative solutions.
  • ‘Hub n Spoke’ strategy (a distribution network that resembles a bicycle wheel) to be followed  to create an innovative learning environment. The ATL in the nodal school will act as a ‘Hub’ for students from neighbouring government schools to conduct experiments.
  • This marks a significant milestone in India’s School Innovation journey with the aim to create an empowered future-ready workforce and nurture entrepreneurship and technological skills among the youth.

About Atal Innovation Mission(AIM):
iThe Atal Innovation Mission is a flagship initiative of the Government of India, implemented by NITI Aayog
ii. AIM was launched in 2016 with the aim of fostering innovation and entrepreneurship among Indian youth.
iii. Till 2022, 10,000 ATLs were established across 35 States and UTs in India via government grants.
About Public Private Partnership(PPP)

  • Public-private partnerships (PPPs) entail the cooperative efforts between a government agency and a private-sector entity to jointly fund, construct, and manage various projects.
  • Financing a project through a public-private partnership can allow a project to be completed sooner or make it a possibility in the first place.

About Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship
Union Minister – Shri Dharmendra Pradhan (Rajya Sabha -Madhya Pradesh)
Minister of State – Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar

Saudi Arabia Becomes 51st Nation to sign TACOn 12th July 2023, Saudi Arabia signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia(TAC) with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the 56th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) in Jakarta, Indonesia.

  • Saudi Arabia became the 51st nation to agree to the TAC and It was signed by Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister(FM) Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.

About Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC):
i.The TAC is a peace treaty signed by ASEAN nations in 1976 to establish a set of norms to manage regional inter-state interactions based on mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national identity.

  • It is a legally enforceable code for regional and global inter-state relations.

ii.The Treaty has been revised three times, in 1987, 1998, and 2010, to allow states outside Southeast Asia, as well as regional bodies whose members are sovereign states, to join.
Priorities of TAC:
i.Mutual respect for all nations’ independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity.
ii.Every state has the right to live its national existence free of external intervention, subversion, and force.
iii.Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another.
iv.Disagreements or conflicts should be resolved peacefully, with no threats or use of force.

  • The countries acceded to TAC includes, India and China in 2003, the United States of America(USA) and European Union (EU) in 2009.
  • Ukraine had signed TAC in 2022 as the 50th member nation.

ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM):
i.The 56th AMM was held on 11-12 July 2023 in Jakarta, Republic of Indonesia. The Meeting was chaired by Indonesia under the theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth”.
ii.The AMM was formed by the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) in 1967, is responsible for ASEAN’s political-security cooperation as well as ASEAN’s interactions with external parties.
iii.The 10 ASEAN member countries are Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Viet Nam, Lao People’s Democratic Republic(PDR), Myanmar, and Cambodia.
About Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN):
Secretary General – Dr Kao Kim Hourn
Established – 1967
Headquarters – Jakarta, Indonesia

Bajaj Allianz Life launched ‘First Time Ever’ a Flexible and Rewarding Life Insurance Plan
Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance has launched a new life insurance plan called Bajaj Allianz Life ACE, a plan that is non-linked, participating, and offers early-income benefits, empowering customers to customise their cash flows. This is the first plan which allows such a customisation.

  • Unique feature is that the plan offers an early or deferred income option, allowing customers to start receiving income from the beginning of the policy or defer it for up to 5 years.

Key Features:
iThe plan offers the Goal Protection Benefit, ensuring that even in the unfortunate event of the policyholder’s death, their family continues to receive the income throughout the policy term.
ii. The customers have the flexibility to choose between a higher income to generate additional cash flow, a higher lump sum for creating a legacy, or a balance of both regular income and lump sum payouts.
Four product options:

The death benefit is guaranteed to be at least 105% of total premiums paid, with the sum assured on death being 11 times the annualized premium.
About Life Insurance:

Insurance serves as a protective measure against potential (financial) losses. The insurance industry comprises two main sectors: life insurance and general insurance. Life insurance pertains to the policyholder’s life, while general insurance covers various other aspects.

  • The introduction of life insurance in India can be attributed to British influence. In 1818, a British company established the Oriental Life Insurance Company in Calcutta (now Kolkata).

About Bajaj Allianz Life:
A Joint Venture between Bajaj Finserv Limited and Allianz SE (world’s leading global insurer and asset manager)
Managing Director(MD) & Chief Executive Officer(CEO) – Tarun Chugh
Headquarters – Pune, Maharashtra
Established in – 2001

IFSCA & BITS Pilani PIEDS Finxcelerator signed MoU to support FinTech & TechFin entities

On 13th July 2023, the International Financial Services Centers Authority (IFSCA) and Pilani Innovation & Entrepreneurship Development Society (PIEDS), Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani (Rajasthan) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at BITS Pilani PIEDS Finxcelerator, Pilani Campus in Rajasthan.

  • The MoU aims to set up a framework for cooperation and understanding between IFSCA and BITS Pilani PIEDS Finxcelerator to collaborate in supporting and facilitating FinTech and TechFin entities.
  • The MoU will enable cooperation and collaboration on diverse initiatives regarding FinTech.


  • Finxcelerator is the joint initiative by the Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBiH) and PIEDS, BITS Pilani.
  • IFSCA is responsible for development and regulation of international financial services, including that of the insurance sector, in the Indian Financial System Code (IFSC), which is treated as a separate international financial jurisdiction, distinct from the rest of India.

Google Pay introduced UPI LITE for faster and small value transactions

On 13th July 2023, Google Pay introduced its Unified Payments Interface (UPI) LITE payment (on-device wallet) feature to allow users to make small payments without entering the  UPI personal identification number (PIN).

  • Using Google Pay’s UPI Lite, users can make  payments of up to Rs(INR) 200 without the use of a UPI PIN. Users maintain a balance of Rs 2000 (Maximum balance) in UPI Lite wallet, which can be loaded up to twice in a day and can can spend up to a total of Rs 4000 within 24 hours.
  • This is possible because the LITE account is linked to the user’s bank account but does not rely on the issuing bank’s core banking system in real-time.

Note: The UPI LITE support feature was launched by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) along with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in September 2022, and currently it is supported by 15 banks. Paytm, PhonePe and BHIM, have the UPI LITE feature already.

BHEL signed TALA with General Electric Technology for gas turbines

In July 2023, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) signed a Technical Assistance and Licence Agreement (TALA), an extension agreement of its Gas Turbines (GTs) technology, with General Electric Technology GmbH Switzerland (GE) at BHEL corporate Office in New Delhi, Dehi.

  • Under this extension Agreement, BHEL gained better access and enhanced rights for existing/ uprated and new Gas Turbine models.
  • As per the agreement, BHEL shall also be able to supply GTs with fuel blends viz. Hydrogen, Methanol, Syngas etc. and in hybrid configuration contributing towards accelerating the energy transition in India.

BHEL in partnership with GE has been manufacturing and supplying GE designed GTs in India as well as overseas markets since 1986.

Signatories: The agreement was signed by Mr. Jai Prakash Srivastava, Director (Engineering, Research & Development) & Director (Finance – Additional Charge), BHEL and Mr. Theodoros Stamatiadis, Executive Counsel (Intellectual Property (IP)), GE Power (virtually).

ISRO successfully launched Chandrayaan-3, India’s 3rd lunar mission
On July 14, 2023, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched ‘Chandrayaan-3 (Moon Craft)’ spacecraft into orbit onboard Launch Vehicle Mark-3-LVM 3 rocket from SDSC SHAR (Satish Dhawan Space Centre- Sriharikota Range), Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh (AP).

  • It is India’s third lunar exploration mission after Chandrayaan 1 (launched on 22nd October 2008) and Chandrayaan 2 (launched on July 22 2019).
  • With successful landing, India will be the first country to land spacecraft near Moon’s South Pole at 70 degrees latitude, and the 4th country to soft land on the moon after the United States (US) with its Surveyor 1 in 1966; Soviet Union/Russia’s Luna 9 in 1966, and China with Chang’s 3 in 2013.
  • LVM3 is responsible for placing the integrated module, comprising the propulsion module, the lander module, and the rover, in an Elliptic Parking Orbit (EPO) measuring 170 x 36,500 km.


  • The 642 tonne LVM 3 (formerly GSLV-Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle MkIII) is 43.5 metre tall rocket, and is nicknamed as ‘Bahubali’ or ‘Fat Boy’.

About Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO):
Chairman– S. Somanath
Headquarters– Bengaluru, Karnataka
Establishment– 1969

Indian Army signs contract for procurement of Tactical Access Switch with Tata Advanced Systems Limited

On 14th July 2023, the Indian Army signed the contract for procurement of Tactical Access Switch with Tata Advanced Systems Limited under the Make in India model to produce a compact, modular, and strengthen networking device capable of faster switching, hence increasing the Indian Army’s tactical communication capability.

  • Tactical access switch used for the communication between two tactical army troops. It is equipped with a non-blocking mode of operation as well as a switching capability for data and Voice.

Recently inducted weapons in Indian Army:
i.The Dhanush howitzer, produced by Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited (AWEIL) using Swedish Bofors technology, entered Eastern Ladakh in 2022. It can effectively target locations up to 48 kilometers away, showcasing its advanced capabilities.
iii.The Army has received the advanced Tata Rajak surveillance system, which can see or detect persons from a distance of more than 15 kilometres and vehicles from a distance of more than 25 kilometres.
iv.The Made in India Kalyani M4 Quick Reaction Force Vehicle built by Kalyani Group’s Bharat Forge can travel at speeds of 60-80 km/h even in the rough terrain of the Ladakh sector, with a capacity of 10 combat ready armed personnel.
About Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO):
Chairman– S. Somanath
Headquarters– Bengaluru, Karnataka
Establishment– 1969

North Korea Conducted Second Successful Test of Solid-Fueled ICBM
On 12th July 2023, North Korea’s Hwasong-18( Mars Artillery Type 18), a intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was successfully launched for the second time from Pyongyang, North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). The first test-firing of Hwasong-18 was on 13th April 2023.

  • It uses solid-fuel technology, giving it the capability to launch with minimal preparation and allows faster deployment of missiles during a war which makes it harder for the opponent to detect signs of their launch in advance.
  • The road mobile, three stage missile flew for 74 minutes – the longest time for a North Korean missile test.
  • Hwasong-18 is the North Koreas’s first solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Key points:
i.The missile traveled up to a maximum altitude of 6,648 km (4,131 miles) and flew a distance of 1,001 km (622 miles).
ii.The missile finally splashed into the sea about 250km west of northern Japan’s Okushiri island.
iii.The missile landed in the East Sea,(the Sea of Japan) of the Korean peninsula and about 250 km west of northern Japan’s Okushiri island.
What is Solid Fuel Technology?
i.Solid propellants are a mixture of fuel and oxidiser to create propellants.
ii.Metallic powders such as aluminium serve as the fuel, while ammonium perchlorate, a salt of perchloric acid and ammonia, acts as oxidiser.
iii.When solid propellant burns, oxygen from the ammonium perchlorate combines with aluminium to generate enormous amounts of energy and temperatures of more than 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,760 degrees Celsius), creating thrust and lifting the missile from the launch pad.
Note: North Korea was banned by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) from ballistic missile tests after its first nuclear test in 2006.

2 components of NISAR Satellite jointly developed by NASA-ISRO combined to a single Spacecraft at ISRO
In June 2023, the engineers at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) facility in Bengaluru, Karnataka joined the two main components of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR), namely the spacecraft bus and the radar instrument payload, to create a single spacecraft.

  • On 8th March 2023, the payload ( L-band radar and S-band Radar) arrived from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in  Southern California, the United States of America(USA) to Bengaluru and the bus was built at the ISRO facility.
  • NISAR jointly developed by NASA and ISRO is set to launch in early 2024 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh(AP) atop ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark II rocket.
  • According to ISRO, NISAR will map the entire globe in 12 days and provide spatially and temporally consistent data for understanding changes among other observables, the dynamics of forests, wetlands, and agricultural lands.
  • The NISAR satellite is currently undergoing performance testing, to be followed by several rounds of environmental testing to ensure its promptness for launch and meet all of its operational requirements once in orbit.

World Youth Skills Day 2023 – July 15

The United Nations(UN)’s World Youth Skills Day is annually observed across the globe on 15th July to celebrate the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship.
The theme of World Youth Skills Day 2023 observed on 15th July 2023 is “Skilling teachers, trainers and youth for a transformative future”. 
i.The United Nations General Assembly(UNGA) adopted the resolution A/RES/169/145 in December 2014 and proclaimed the July 15 of every year as the World Youth Skills Day.

  • The resolution was initiated by Sri Lanka and supported by G77 (Group of 77) and China.

ii.The first ever World Youth Skills Day was observed on 15th July 2015.
The UNESCO – UNEVOC International Centre for TVET is one of 8 UNESCO institutes and centres working in the field of education.
The acronym UNEVOC is a combination of ‘UNESCO’ and ‘vocational education’.
Head of UNESCO-UNEVOC– Friedrich Huebler
Headquarters– Bonn, Germany

IRDAI appointed Tata AIG General Insurance as Lead insurer for Maharashtra

On 13th July 2023, The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) selected Tata AIG General Insurance Company Limited as the lead non-life insurer for the State of Maharashtra to collaborate with all other non-life and health insurance companies to increase insurance penetration in Maharashtra in line with its vision “Insurance for all by 2047”.

  • Under this collaboration,Tata AIG will leverage its expertise, technology, and partnerships to develop innovative insurance products and services that cater to the evolving needs of the people of Maharashtra.

Key features:
iAs the lead insurer, Tata AIG will also collaborate with the IRDAI and the Maharashtra Government to raise awareness of existing government schemes, enhancing insurance reach and accessibility at the Gram Panchayat (GP), district and state levels.
ii. The IRDAI has also identified key segments such as Motor Insurance, Health Insurance, Crop Insurance, support of Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and employment related insurance solutions to drive overall insurance penetration in Maharashtra.
iiiTata AIG will also assist in promoting the adoption of flagship government schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) in Maharashtra.
iv. The collaboration is to create a society, which is insured and aware of the list of coverage offered by their insurance policy. Maharashtra, with a strong socio-economic profile, certainly requires exponential adoption of insurance
About Tata AIG General Insurance Company Limited:
Tata AIG General Insurance Company Limited, a joint venture between the Tata Group and the American International Group (AIG), started operations on January 22, 2001.
Chairman– Saurabh Agrawal
MD&CEO– Neelesh Garg
Headquarters– Mumbai, Maharashtra

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this:
Available for Amazon Prime