Current Affairs – 22 August 2023

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan releases ‘State of School Education in Rural India’ reportUnion Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Ministry of Education released India’s first “State of School (Elementary) Education in Rural India” report during the Transforming Rural India (TRI)’s India Rural Colloquy 2023 (IRC) held in India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, Delhi.

  • The report revealed that a total of 78% of parents of girls and 82% of parents of boys wanted to educate their children to graduation and above.
  • The report aims to provide data along with the right analytics and insights to stimulate the development of rural India.

About the Report:
i.The report is based on an analysis of survey of 6229 parents across 21 States/Union territories (UTs) of India. The study  focused on children in rural communities between the age group of 6-to-16-year-old.

  • Out of the 6,229 rural households surveyed, 6,135 had school-going students, 56 had students who dropped out of school, and 38 had children who had never enrolled in school.

ii.The pan-India survey was spearheaded by the Development Intelligence Unit (DIU) in collaboration with the Transforming Rural India Foundation (TRI) and Sambodhi Research and Communications Pvt. Ltd., Noida, Uttar Pradesh(UP).
iii.The report examines various aspects of learning environments and parental engagements and also illuminates the evolving parental attitudes toward girls’ education in rural India.
Report Analysis:
i.School Drop-out Rate: The data reveals that one-fourth of male children dropped out of school during primary schooling and the female primary school dropout rates were higher, with around 35%.

  • Around 75% boys and 65% girls dropped out of school after completing primary school education.
  • One of the main reason for dropout can be non-availability of schools with higher classes within the village or nearby villages.

ii.Smart Phone Usage: The survey indicated that 49.3% of children aged between 6 to 16 years have access to smartphones in rural India.

  • Out of these, only 34% use it for study downloads and 18% of students access online learning via tutorials.
  • 58.32% of students belonging to Class 8 or above have access to smartphones and 42.1% between classes 1 and 3 have access to it.

iii.Parents‘ Engagement: Among parents who never went to school, 28.7% regularly inquire about school education, while 25.1% rarely or never do so.

  • In contrast, 46.3% of parents with education above higher secondary actively follow up on their child’s education regularly, with only 4% rarely engaging in their child’s education.

Key Points:
i.The report stated, 63% of the households have a designated place for study and 83% of households provide uninterrupted study time at home.
ii.Only 40% of parents have conversations with their kids every day about learning in school while 32% have these conversations a few days in a week.
iii.A total of 55.7% of respondents felt that higher education is affordable while 31.3% believed otherwise.

First WHO Traditional Medicine Global Summit under G20 Summit Held In GujaratThe First World Health Organization (WHO) Traditional Medicine Global Summit was launched by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat alongside the Group 20(G20) health ministerial meeting.The summit also witnessed the 1st Joint Finance and Health Ministerial under the Indian Presidency.

  • The summit was hosted together by WHO and the Ministry of Ayush
  • Theme: “Towards Health and Well-being for All”. 

Note: India holds the G20 presidency in 2023.
About the summit:
During the summit, there was extensive deliberation and exchange of knowledge regarding various aspects of Traditional Medicine on a global scale on the necessity, influence, innovation, and data concerning the utilisation of traditional medicine systems.
About Gujarat:
Governor – Acharya Devvrat
Wildlife sanctuary – Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, Pania Wildlife Sanctuary
Zoological Park- Sayaji Baug Zoo

Ministry of Home Affairs Renews FCRA Licence of ORF for 5 Years
The Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a Delhi-based foreign policy think tank, has received a five-year renewal of its Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) license from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The renewed license is valid from October 1, 2023, to September 20, 2028. ORF sought this renewal to continue receiving foreign grants from voluntary sources and foreign entities.

  • The renewal of the organization’s FCRA was pending with the government since March 2023. During this time, extensions were provided to various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including ORF till September 30th 2023. .
  • The ORF, in adherence to the amendment made to section 17 of The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, in the year 2020, took the necessary steps to meet the new legal requirements.
  • As part of the compliance process, ORF ensured that it met the regulatory requirements by opening bank accounts with the State Bank of India(SBI). These bank accounts were established at the Parliament Street New Delhi branch of the SBI. This step aligns with the regulations and helps facilitate transparent and accountable financial transactions related to foreign contributions.
  • As of August 15, 2023 a total of 206 voluntary organizations have been issued FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) licenses. This list includes several notable organizations like the International Forum for Environment, Sustainability, and Technology (iFOREST) and Sikkim Manipal University. The licenses allow these organizations to receive foreign contributions legally and transparently.

Bank credit growth to MSMEs decelerates in Q1FY24: RBI issues new Guidelines for Fair Lending Practicesi.According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, Bank credit growth to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) has decelerated on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis in the first three months (April-June) of the FY24 i.e. Q1FY24.
ii.Banks’ cautious attitude towards risk makes them hesitant to provide loans to small units, leading to a deceleration in bank credit growth.
iii.Credit to medium industries grew by 13.2% in June (compared to 47.8% in June 2022).
iv.RBI has issued comprehensive guidelines regarding penal charges in loan accounts to ensure fairness, transparency, and accountability in the lending practices of financial institutions. As per it, Penalties for loan contract non-compliance termed ‘penal charges not ‘penal interest.’ These will come into effect from January 1, 2024.
About Reserve Bank of India (RBI):
Governor – Shaktikanta Das
Deputy Governors – Swaminathan Janakiraman, Michael Debabrata Patra, M. Rajeshwar Rao, T. Rabi Sankar
Establishment – 1st April 1935
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra

RBI releases guidelines for IDF-NBFC; ResetsFloating Interest Rate on EMI based Personal Loansi.The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in consultation with the Government of India (GoI), has reviewed guidelines for Infrastructure Debt Fund-Non-Banking Financial Companies (IDF-NBFCs) to enhance their role in infrastructure financing and align regulations across NBFCs in this sector.
ii.The updated regulations for IDF-NBFCs will be effective from August 18, 2023.
iii.RBI advised banks and finance companies to reset Floating Interest Rate on Equated Monthly Instalments (EMI) for select personal loans in response to rising interest rates through the new rules, w.e.f.  December 31, 2023. This will apply to both new and existing borrowers.
iv.These rules will enhance transparency by necessitating the disclosure of principal and interest recovered to date, remaining EMIs, EMI amounts, and the annualized rate of interest/Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for the entire loan duration.
About Reserve Bank of India (RBI):
i.It was established on April 1, 1935, in accordance with the provisions of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.
ii.The Central Office of the Reserve Bank was initially established in Calcutta but was permanently moved to Mumbai in 1937.
iii.Though originally privately owned, since nationalization in 1949, the Reserve Bank is fully owned by the Government of India.
iv.Thus, 2023 marks the 75th year of public ownership of the Reserve Bank and its emergence as a national institution.

Canara Bank launches UPI interoperable Digital Rupee Mobile App Canara Bank launched its Unified Payments Interface (UPI) Interoperable Digital Rupee mobile application, called the “Canara Digital Rupee app”, as a part of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) pilot project.

  • Canara Bank is now the first among the public and commercial sector bank to provide this feature in its CBDC mobile app, Canara Digital Rupee app.
  • The app has been created in accordance with RBI guidelines and is powered by advanced blockchain technology to ensure great security and efficiency.

i.Customers will be able to scan merchant UPI Quick Response (QR) codes using the Canara Digital Rupee app and make digital currency payments with the release of this unique feature.
ii.It enables merchants to accept digital currency payments in addition to UPI-based payments, utilising their existing UPI QR codes without the need for a separate onboarding process for CBDC.
iii.The app features multi-factor authentication and encryption to safeguard transactions and protect user data.
iv.The app will allow customers to experience the benefits of rapid and secure transactions using RBI’s digital money.
v.Customers may now simply deal in digital currency with the Canara Bank Digital Rupee mobile application, which is currently available for both Android and iOS users.

  • According to RBI regulations, digital currency is legal tender, therefore the launch of this app is a big step towards the use of digital currency in India.

Accessibility of the Application:
i.The facility is now being given on a trial basis to bank customers and merchants in 26 locations across India. All whitelisted clients in these 26 cities can access the Canara Bank Digital Rupee app.
ii.If a customer is not whitelisted, they will be prompted to request for whitelisting during app installation.
iii.Within 24 hours, the customer will receive a message from the bank for whitelisting, after which they will be able to install the app.
About Canara Bank Limited :
Canara Bank was established as Canara Hindu Permanent Fund Ltd. in 1906 and was renamed as Canara Bank Limited in 1910.
Managing Director (MD) & Chief Executive Officer (CEO)- K.Satyanarayana Raju
Headquarters– Bengaluru, Karnataka
Nationalised in 1969
Tagline– Together we can

SBI Partners With IITto Strengthen its Data Analytics, AI Capabilities
State Bank of India (SBI) is contributing Rs 22.5 crore through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm, SBI Foundation, to set up a Banking Data and Analytics Hub at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B), Mumbai, Maharashtra, to tackle the distinct challenges facing by the Indian banking and financial services industry. The collaboration will boost SBI’s AI (Artificial Intelligence) capabilities and promote the exchange of innovative concepts through cooperation between the banking industry and academia.

  • The partnership’s positive impact will extend to the entire Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance sector (BFSI) sector, facilitating the incorporation of emerging technologies such as ChatGPT.
  • The hub is designed to encompass a laboratory area of 10,000 square feet. Its primary focus will be on supporting research and skill enhancement in the fields of data analytics and AI.
  • SBI, founded through a parliamentary Act on July 1st, 1955.Recently, it celebrated its 68th Bank Day. Dinesh Kumar Khara is the Chairperson of SBI.

SBI Appoints Four Directors To The BoardThe State Bank of India (SBI) has appointed four directors namely Ketan Shivji Vikamsey, Mrugank Madhukar Paranjape,  Rajesh Kumar Dubey and Dharmendra Singh Shekhawat to the central board of the bank.

  • They were appointed for a period of 3 years with effect form 26th June 2023  to 25th June 2026.

Details of the Appointment: 
i.Ketan Shivji Vikamsey and Mrugank Madhukar Paranjape have been reappointed as the director (elected under Section 19(c) of SBI Act 1955) at SBI’s Central board.

  • They have been holding this position since June 2020.

ii.Rajesh Kumar Dubey and Dharmendra Singh Shekhawat have been appointed as the Directors (elected under section 19 (c) of the SBI Act, 1955) at SBI’s Central Board.

  • Rajesh Kumar Dubey and Dharmendra Singh Shekhawat have replaced B Venugopal and Ganesh Natarajan, whose tenure as Director ended on 25th June 2023.

About Ketan Shivji Vikamsey:
i.He is a is a senior partner at KKC & Associates LLP (formerly Khimji Kunverji & Co LLP), Chartered Accountants, established in 1936.
ii.He is registered as an Independent Director with the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs(IICA) under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs(MCA).
About Mrugank Madhukar Paranjape:
He is currently the Managing Director(MD) & Chief Executive Officer (CEEO) of NCDEX e-Markets Limited. Previously, he has served as the MD & CEO of Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited.
About Rajesh Kumar Dubey:
He is presently holding the charge of Executive Director (Personnel) at Life Insurance Corporation of India(LIC). He joined LIC of India as a Direct Recruit Officer in the year 1988.
About Dharmendra Singh Shekhawat:
i.Dharmendra Singh Shekhawat is a  main Partner of M/s. D. S. Shekhawat & Associates, Chartered Accountants since September 2002 and is also the Chairman of the Th. Jaswant Singh Memorial Trust.
ii.He has served as an Independent Director on the Board of Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) and was also the Chairman of the Audit Committee of the Board of IOCL.
About State Bank of India(SBI):
Chairman – Dinesh Kumar Khara
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
Established in – 1955
Tagline – The Banker to Every Indian

Indian Army Inducts Swathi Mark II Mountain Variant WLRThe Indian Army inducted six Swathi Mark II mountain variant Weapon Locating Radar (WLR) to enhance battlefield surveillance.

  • The Indian Army awarded the contract to manufacture Swathi Mark II (Swathi Mountains) to Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), a Navratna Public Sector Enterprise(PSE), in December 2021.
  • It was developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • Lieutenant General JB Chaudhari, the Deputy Chief of the Army Staff (DCOAS) for Capability Development and Sustenance (CD&S), flagged off the radar system at the induction ceremony on August 5, 2023 at Agra, Uttar Pradesh(UP) .

About Swathi WLR Mark II:
i.Swathi WLR is a mobile 3D electronically scanned phased-array radar that can autonomously locate hostile soldiers’ artillery, mortars, and rocket launchers and destroy them by enabling counter bombardment.

  • It is specifically designed for operations in mountainous and high-altitude areas.

ii.Each Swathi WLR unit is mounted in two vehicles: a radar vehicle with electronics and an antenna shelter, and a power source-cum-built-in test equipment (BITE) vehicle with two diesel generator sets and a radar target simulator.
iii.The Swathi radar comes in two versions: the Swathi Plains (WLR) and the Swathi Mountains (WLR-M).
iv.The Swathi Mark I variant(Swathi Plains) is set up into two 8×8 wheeled Tatra trucks weighing approximately 30 and 28 tonnes, subsequently, the Mark II variant is integrated into two 6×6 wheeled Tatra trucks weighing around 18 tonnes each.

  • The Swathi WLR Mark I variation is suited for plains operations, and the only difference between the two models is weight.
  • The Indian Army already inducted 30 units of Swathi Mark-I and they are deployed across the Line of Control (LoC).

India had exported four Swathi Weapons Locating Radars to Armenia valued at USD 40 million, in March 2020.

Luna-25 crashed into the Moon; Russia’s 1st Moon mission in 47 years FailedRussia’s first lunar mission in 47 years, Luna-25, failed as the space craft spun out of control and crashed into the moon after a problem preparing for pre-landing orbit(orbital maneuver).
Reason behind the Crash:
Roscosmos, State Space Corporation of Russian Federation, announced that the initial analysis of the moon lander indicates that a difference between the planned and actual propulsion maneuver caused the spacecraft to move into an unintended orbit.
Luna-Glob-Lander (Luna-Glob-1), also known as Luna-25, was launched on 10th August 2023 atop a Soyuz-2.1b rocket(Soyuz-2 Fregat) from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia.

  • It was anticipated to land  near the lunar south pole on 21st August 2023.

About Luna-25:
i.The objective of Luna-25 is to Explore the composition of the polar regolith and to Investigate the plasma and dust components of the lunar polar exosphere for one year.
ii.The main landing site was north of Boguslavsky crater and the reserve landing site was to the southwest of Manzini crater in Moon.

  • Luna 25 was launched as a precursor for more advanced lunar endeavors, paving the way for the upcoming Luna-26 and Luna-27 missions.
  • Luna 25 was named in continuation of robotic probe programme of Soviet Union – Luna 24 mission which brought back moon rock back to earth in 1976.

About Russia:
President – Vladimir Putin
Capital – Moscow
Currency – Russian Ruble

India’s First Hydrogen Bus Hits the Public Roads in Leh, Ladakh
NTPC Limited(formerly known as National Thermal Power Corporation), a Maharatna Public Sector Undertaking(PSU) under the Ministry of Power (MoP), has begun the trial of India’s 1st hydrogen bus in Leh, Union Territory (UT) Ladakh.  This marks India’s 1st-ever use of hydrogen buses on public roads. The first hydrogen bus arrived in Leh, marking the initiation of a 3-month process involving field trials, roadworthiness tests, and necessary regulatory steps.

  • NTPC is working towards achieving carbon-neutral Ladakh by establishing a hydrogen fuelling station, a solar plant, and introducing five fuel cell buses for local transport within the city of Leh. This is part of efforts to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainability in the region.
  • The first of its kind Green Hydrogen Mobility Project at 11,562 ft is co-located with dedicated Solar plant of 1.7 MW for providing renewable power. The fuel cell buses are designed for operation in sub-zero temperature in rarefied atmosphere, typical to such altitude locations which is a unique feature of this project.
  • NTPC aims to achieve 60 GW of Renewable Energy capacity by 2032 and play a significant role in Green Hydrogen Technology and Energy Storage.The company is taking up several initiatives towards decarbonization such as Hydrogen blending, Carbon Capture, EV buses, Smart NTPC Townships etc.

FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023: Spain Defeated England to win their 1st Women’s World CupSpain Women’s football team (nicknamed La Roja) won the Fédération Internationale de football Association(FIFA) Women’s World Cup 2023 by defeating England 1-0 in the finals at Stadium Australia in Syndey, Australia on 20th August 2023 for the first time.

  • Sweden won the bronze medal by defeating Australia 2-0 in the 3rd place match held in Brisbane, Australia.
  • The 9th edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup co-hosted for the first time by Australia and New Zealand held from 20th July to 20th August 2023.

About Fédération Internationale de football Association(FIFA):
President – Gianni Vincenzo Infantino
Headquarters– Zürich, Switzerland
Established – 1904

Sadbahavana Diwas or Harmony Day 2023 – August 20 Sadbahavana Diwas, also known as Harmony Day, is annually celebrated on 20th August across India to celebrate the birth anniversary of India’s 6th Prime Minister (PM) Rajiv Gandhi.

  • Sadbahavana Diwas aims to encourage peace, national integration, and communal harmony among all religions.
  • The day offers a platform for the people to take the pledge to establish peace and harmony around them.

The Sadbahavana Diwas 2023 marks the 79th birth anniversary of former PM Rajiv Gandhi, who was born on 20 August 1944.
i.In memory of Rajiv Gandhi, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) of the Indian National Congress (INC) started the Sadbhavana Diwas and instituted the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award in 1992.
ii.The first Sadbhavana Diwas was observed in 1992, a year after Rajiv Gandhi was assasinated by a suicide bombing in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu on 21st May 1991.

  • 21st May, the death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi was declared National Anti-Terrorism Day.

iii.Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award recognises people who have dedicated their lives to promoting social harmony.

World Mosquito Day 2023 – August 20i.World Mosquito Day is annually observed across the globe on 20th August to commemorate Sir Ronald Ross a British doctor who discovered the relationship between mosquitoes and the transmission of malaria between humans in 1897.

  • The day aims to create awareness about the cause and prevention of Malaria.
  • The observance also recognises the efforts of the health care officials and others who are combating the diseases caused by Mosquitoes.

ii.Ronald Ross’s work showed how the parasite enters the organism and laid the foundation for the research on malaria and methods of combating it.

  • He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1902 for this work.

International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism 2023 – August 21United Nations (UN)’s International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism is annually observed across the world on the 21st August to honour and support the victims and survivors of terrorism and to promote and protect the full enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

  • The day also aims to pay tribute to all the victims of the global curse of terrorism, at home and worldwide.

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