Current Affairs – 25 & 26 June 2023

National Energy Data: Survey and Analysis 2021-22 Report, Released by MNREOn 23rd June 2023, The report titled National Energy Data: Survey and Analysis 2021-22 was released by Raj Kumar Singh, Union Minister for Power, New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) at Shram Shakti Bhawan, New Delhi, Delhi.

  • This report is produced by the Energy Data Management Unit under the Bureau of Energy Efficiency(BEE), Ministry of Power in collaboration with NITI Aayog(National Institution for Transforming India) which provides detailed insights into energy supply and consumption patterns across various sectors of the Indian economy.

Key highlights of the report:
Value Addition:
i.The report provides detailed fuel-wise energy consumption data for various sectors which enables to understand their energy profiles.
ii.The use of distinct conversion factors for domestic coal and imported coal, based on different calorific values, provides a realistic picture of coal-based energy supply and consumption in the country.
About Ministry of New and Renewable Energy(MNRE):
Union Minister– Raj Kumar Singh (Constituency-Arrah,Bihar)
State Minister– Bhagwanth Khuba (Constituency-Bidar,Karnataka)

Women and Child Development Ministry discontinued its Autonomous Bodies RMK & CSWBThe Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) discontinued its two autonomous bodies, Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) and Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB), as well as its internal division namely Food and Nutrition Board (FNB).

  • This decision is a part of the Ministry of Finance’s rationalization exercise to shut down departments and sections that no longer have relevance in the current scenario.

About RMK:
Launched in 1993 to extend collateral-free credit to women in the informal sector, it was registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. In November 2020, the ‘Rationalisation of Government Bodies’ report by the Chief Economic Adviser (Then- Krishnamurthy Subramanian) recommended its closure, citing the availability of alternative credit options like microcredit schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) and PM Mudra Yojana. The move will help in avoiding duplicity.
About CSWB:
Formed in 1953 as a charitable company, it was one of the first efforts by the Indian government to build a body on the principle of voluntarism, and aims to function like a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO). It was registered under the Indian Companies Act 1956 to promote social welfare organizations, study their needs, and provide aid to Panchayati Raj institutions. It has been mostly inactive for some time now.
About FNB:
Set up in 1964, is an attached office of the MWCD. Originally with the Ministry of Food, the FNB was shifted to MCWD in 1993 as technical support wing. It has four regional offices and quality control laboratories at Delhi, Mumbai (Maharashtra), Kolkata (West Bengal) and Chennai (Tamil Nadu), in addition to 43 Community Food & Nutrition Extension Units (CFNEUs) in 29 states and UTs.
Key Points:
i.RMK and CSWB are among the six autonomous bodies under the WCD ministry; the others being the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD), National Commission for Women (NCW), National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).
ii.The budgetary allocation for CSWB in 2023-24 (FY24) was Rs 40.06 crore. For the FNB, Rs 18 crore was set aside in FY24. There has been no allocation for RMK in FY24.

India’s first, Hydrogen-Powered Trains to run from Jind district of Haryana Indian Railways is set to introduce its first hydrogen train, expected to start operating from Jind district in Haryana by March 2024.The first prototype of the hydrogen train is scheduled to run between the Jind-Sonipat (Haryana) Section of Northern Railway in the fiscal year 2023-2024.

  • India’s first hydrogen plant is being established near the railway junction in Jind (Haryana) district, in order to support this initiative.
  • The hydrogen plant is in its final phase of development and is expected to be completed by December 2023.
  • The hydrogen plant will produce hydrogen from water and will play a pivotal role in powering the hydrogen trains.

Note: Currently, trains in India run on diesel and electricity and it is claimed that hydrogen powered trains have been running only in Germany.
Key Points:
iHydrogen trains use hydrogen fuel cells instead of diesel engines, and those cells produce electricity by combining hydrogen and water, which generates electricity used to power the train’s motor.

  • The by-products are water and a little heat.

ii. The hydrogen fuel based train of eight bogies will be environment friendly, as hydrogen fuel does not produce harmful emissions.
iii. The introduction of hydrogen-powered trains will not only reduce carbon (CO2) emissions but also pave the way for a cleaner and greener future.
Note: Senior officials have also visited the site to assess the requirements for setting up a hydrogen pump in Jind (Haryana) and establishing the necessary infrastructure.

India and UAE signed a Mutual Recognition Arrangement for Authorized Economic Operators

On 23rd June 2023, India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) for authorised economic operators (AEOs) of both countries on sidelines of the 141st/142nd sessions of World Customs Organization(WCO) Customs Co-operation Council meeting, in Brussels, Belgium.

  • The agreement is signed to promote greater trade facilitation and ease of doing business between the 2 countries.

By recognizing the AEO status India and the UAE seek to streamline and quicken customs procedures, reducing administrative burden and costs for authorised businesses.
i.The MRA comes as the continuation of historic India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which was signed between the two nations on 18 February 2022, officially came into force on 1 May 2022.
ii.CEPA is expected to increase the total value of bilateral trade in goods to over USD 100 billion and trade in services to over USD 15 billion within five years.
Note: In September 2021, India and the US had signed a MRA AEO.

World Bank unveils debt payment pause, IMF touts $100 bn for poorestOn June 22, 2023, the World Bank (WB), during the Summit for a New Global Financial Pact in Paris, France announced measures to aid countries hit by natural disasters, including a pause in debt repayments to WB.

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also announced its target of making $100 billion in special drawing rights available for vulnerable nations.

Key Points:
i.The summit aims to give impetus to a new global finance agenda.
ii.This pause in debt repayments will give countries flexibility to redirect funds for emergency response, providing new types of insurance to help development projects and helping governments build advance-emergency systems.
iii.This initiative aims to boost crisis financing for low-income states and ease their debt burdens, reform post-war financial systems and free up funds to tackle climate change by getting top-level consensus on how to promote a number of initiatives.

Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2023: Bengaluru ranked 20th & Silicon Valley Topped the Global ListAccording to the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2023 (GSER 2023) released by  policy advisory and research firm Startup Genome, Indian ecosystems continue to rise, with Bengaluru (Karnataka) startup ecosystem has positioned to the 20th spot, moving two places from 2022 and Mumbai (Maharashtra) moved up five places to 31st position and Delhi moved up two places to 24th position respectively in the Global Startup Ecosystem list 2023.

  • Among the emerging ecosystems, Pune (Maharashtra) has moved into the 31-40 range in 2023, from 51–60 in 2022.
  • Silicon Valley remaining at the top ecosystem in the GSER 2023 followed by New York City and London tied at 2nd position. They are maintaining the top three position from 2020.

Key Points:
i.Los Angeles and Tel Aviv were at 4th and 5th position, whereas Boston and Beijing were at the 6th and 7th position respectively.
ii.Miami being ranked as 23rd has made impressive progress by making it into the top 30 ecosystems, an improvement of 10 positions from 2022.
About Startup Genome:
Founder & CEO – JF Gauthier
Headquarters – San Francisco, California, United States

LIC  – launches close-ended ‘Dhan Vridhhi’ plan and Sold 2.07% stake in NMDC for Rs 649 croreOn June 23, 2023, the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) launched the non-linked, non-participating, individual, savings, single-premium, close-ended life insurance plan, named ‘Dhan Vridhhi’ to offer a combination of protection and savings.

  • The plan was being available for sale from June 23 to September 30,  2023.
  • The plan provides financial support for the family in case of the unfortunate death of the life assured during the policy term.
  • As the plan is being a single premium plan, there is no future premium obligation and no lapsation.

– LIC Sold 2.07% stake in NMDC for Rs 649 crore
LIC sold over 6.06 crore shares or 2.07% stake in iron ore producer NMDC Lmited (formerly National Mineral Development Corporation) between March 14 and June 20 for around Rs 649 crore at an average price of Rs 107.59 a share via open market sale.
Now the LIC’s shareholding in NMDC has decreased from 11.69% to 9.62%.
About Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India
Headquarters -Mumbai, Maharashtra
Establishment -1956
Interim Chairman – Siddhartha Mohanty

Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance launches ‘Nishchit Pension Plan’Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance Company Limited (ABSLI), the life insurance subsidiary of Aditya Birla Capital Limited (ABCL), has announced the launch Nishchit Pension Plan‘ a comprehensive retirement solution. It is a non-linked, non-participating individual pension plan for retirement.

  • It helps in accumulating 100% guaranteed corpus, to secure an uninterrupted income.

Key points:
i.ABSLI’s Nishchit Pension Plan enables the policyholders to customize the plans according to their retirement goals, by providing Premium Payment Term (PPT) & Policy Term (PT) options.
ii.It will offer returns on premiums invested, loyalty additions depending on premium and its term, provided the policy is in-force and all due premiums have been paid.
i.Policyholders can choose from multiple PPT options, ranging from 5, 6, 8, 10, and 12 years & Regular Pay options.
ii.The maximum entry age to avail ABSLI Nishchit Pension Plan is 65 years, while the minimum entry age is 30 years.
iii.The minimum annualized premium is Rs. 20,000 and there is no limit on the maximum premium that you can pay.
iv.The maximum age to avail the vesting benefit is 75 years, while the minimum vesting age is 45 years.
Note – Vesting: The age at which the insured starts to receive the pension is called the vesting age. Once the vesting age is reached, the policy begins to release the annuity payout amount in the frequency mentioned in the policy
About Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance:
MD & CEO- Kamlesh Rao
Established- 2000
Headquartered- Mumbai

Manipal Technologies partners with Indian Bank to offer Customised Banking Solutions On 22nd June 2023, Manipal Technologies Limited (MTL), a multi-business enterprise, partnered with Indian Bank, a public sector bank to promote financial inclusion by offering customised banking products to empower millions of underserved individuals across India.
As part of this association, MTL will work closely with Indian Bank to offer tailor-made banking products in rural locations and unlock their economic growth potential.
iThe partnership aims to build a sustainable network of Corporate Business Correspondents (CBCs) that will enhance the availability, affordability and accessibility of financial services, particularly in underserved markets and rural areas.
Features of the alliance:
iThe initial focus will be serving more than 600 locations and eventually extending the presence in newer regions in states such as Tamil Nadu (TN), Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh (UP), Kerala, Maharashtra, Haryana, and Punjab.
ii. The Indian Bank’s alliance with MTL will further enable the Bank to extend its reach beyond existing branches and serve the unbanked and underbanked customers of India.
iii. The Indian bank also aims to empower individuals with seamless access to financial services, ranging from account opening, withdrawals, deposits, lead generation, opening FDs, and applying for loans.
iv. The extensive network of MTL’s trained Field Business Correspondents (FBCs) will enable Indian Bank in reaching out to individuals in remote areas to ensure the convenient access to financial services.
v. MTL’s business portfolio across domains, includes fintech, financial inclusion, doorstep banking, fraud risk management, gold loans, digital solutions, print management, cards, commercial print, and secure solutions.
Additional Info:
The Indian Bank recorded a 47% rise in net profit for the March quarter (the period of 3 months beginning on 1 January 2023) to Rs.1,447 crore, helped by a decrease in bad loans and a rise in interest income.
Note: For the year ended March 2023, the profit of the Indian Bank increased by 34% to Rs 5,282 crore against Rs 3,945 crore in FY2022.
About Indian Bank:
Incorporated on– March 5, 1907
Commenced on– 15 August 1907
MD & CEO– Shanti Lal Jain
Headquarters– Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Tagline– Your Own Bank/ Apka Apna Bank

Sahitya Akademi announced winners of Bal Sahitya Puraskar and Yuva Puraskar Awards 2023    On 22nd June 2023, the Executive Board of the Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters, an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Culture chaired by Madhav Kaushik, President, Sahitya Akademi declared a list of 22 recipients of its Bal Sahitya Puraskar and 20 winners of its Yuva Puraskar for the year 2023.

  • The works were selected on the basis of recommendations made by the Jury of 3 members each in concerned language in accordance with rules and procedure laid down for the purpose.

Sahitya Akademi Bal Sahitya Puraskar 2023:
iIt is an annual award established in 2010 for the most outstanding book by an Indian author, first published in any of the languages recognized by the Akademi during the five years prior to the year, immediately preced­ing the year of the award, i.e. books published between 2017 and 2021 are considered.
ii. The Akademi announced 22 winners in the category and the award will be given for 1 Stories, 7 Short stories, 7 Novels, 1 Poetry and Stories, 1 Play, 1 Memoir and 4 Poetry.
Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar 2023:
iIt is an annual award established in 2011 to recognise young writers of the age 35 years and below in Indian languages.
ii. The Akademi announced 20 winners in the category and the award will be given for 9 Short Stories, 7 Poetry, 1 Plays, 1 Criticism, 1 Historical, 1 Novel.
About Ministry of Culture:
Union Minister- Gangapuram Kishan Reddy (Constituency: Secunderabad, Telangana)
Minister of State (MoS)- Arjun Ram Meghwal (Constituency: Bikaner, Rajasthan )Meenakashi Lekhi (Constituency: New Delhi, NCT of Delhi)

India’s Harish Bhat ranked 10th on Forbes World’s Most Influential CMOs List 2023Walmart’s William White TopsOn June 22, 2023, 11th edition of ‘The Forbes World’s Most Influential CMOs List: 2023’ was released in which Tata group’s brand custodian Harish Bhat ranked 10th as the most influential CMOs (Chief Marketing Officer) for the 2nd consecutive year.

  • The list was announced in Cannes at a special luncheon event held at the Carlton hotel in France.

Key Points:
i.At 21st rank, the Indian origin Asmita Dubey, Chief Digital & Marketing Officer, L’Oreal also named in the list.
ii.The list recognizes 50 chief-marketers whose influence on their brands, businesses, culture, people, and the global marketing community, stand apart.
iii.Of this year’s 50 honorees, 28 make the list for the first time.
With primary research partner, Sprinklr, and with key supplemental data and analysis provided by LinkedIn, Forbes analyzed over 11 billion individual data points to get to the 50 CMOs.

  • 2,892 brands or companies that appeared in one or more of seven distinct and authoritative data sources (including The Forbes Global 2000 and Brand Finance 500) were assessed on 22 indicators and proxies for CMO influence.

Forbes list of most influential CMOs 2023: Top 5

  • The Forbes CMO Hall of Fame was initiated in 2022 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Forbes World’s Most Influential CMOs list.
  • It recognizes those chief marketers who have appeared, or would have, on the list at least five times since its inception.          

IIT Kanpur successfully conducts Test Flight for Cloud Seeding/Artificial RainThe Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K), Uttar Pradesh (UP) successfully conducted a test flight/experiment for their cloud seeding project. It was a test of artificial rain through cloud seeding. The experiment was conducted with due approval from DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation).

  • Cloud seeding is the process of enhancing the chance of precipitation by using different chemical agents like silver iodide, dry ice, salt, and other elements.

Note: Initiated in 2017, IIT-K Cloud Seeding Project is led by Professor Manindra Agarwal of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.
About Experiment:
In the experiment, an IIT-K’s Cessna aircraft took flight from the institute’s airstrip, reaching an altitude of 5000 feet. Using cloud seeding technology, the aircraft released chemical powder into the clouds (cloud seeding attachment), stimulating the formation of raindrops. Shortly after, rainfall was observed in the surrounding areas, validating the effectiveness of the artificial rain technique.

  • The cloud seeding attachments used in the experiment were procured from a manufacturer in the United States (US), and the necessary modifications to the aircraft were approved by both the US-based Cessna and the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation). Following the completion of the procedure, the test flight safely returned to the IIT-K Flight Lab airstrip.

Key Points:
i.This achievement opens up possibilities for creating rainfall in drought-prone regions of UP mainly Bundelkhand, and benefit agricultural communities facing water scarcity.
ii.The cost of cloud seeding is roughly Rs 2 to Rs 5 lakh for an hour of the exercise.

SpaceX launches 47 Starlink satellites, lands rocket at sea

On 22nd June 2023, SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corporation) launched 47 Starlink internet satellites by Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, United States of America(USA).

  • The Falcon 9’s first stage returned to Earth, landed on the SpaceX droneship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’, stationed in the Pacific Ocean.

As of now SpaceX has launched more than 4,600 Starlink satellites, most of them are currently operational.
Note: Starlink satellites are equipped with optical space lasers to create a global broadband internet network that provides high speed connectivity even to the remote corners of the Earth.

Sports Minister Anurag Singh Thakur launched IOA ‘Bharat in Paris’ campaignOn 23rd June 2023, Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Singh Thakur flagged off Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) “Bharat in Paris” campaign with a marathon (7 km) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
As part of the IOA’s movement of blending sports with sustainability, the participants of the “Bharat in Paris” campaign wear jerseys made from a blend of hemp, bamboo and beechwood.
Initiatives of India for Paris Olympic 2024:
i.The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports had launched the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) in September 2014, with an aim to support India’s top athletes for all their expenses of boarding, lodging and training in India and abroad.
ii.TOPS was revamped in April 2018 to establish a technical support team for managing the TOPS athletes and providing holistic support.

  • As of June 2023, this scheme supports 105 TOPS Core Group Athletes across 13 sporting disciplines.It includes both men’sHockey and women’s Hockey teams and 269 TOPS Development Group athletes across 12 sports disciplines.
  • The Athletes including Mirabai Chanu, PV Sindhu and Neeraj Chopra are benefited through this scheme.

Paris Olympic 2024:
Paris Olympics 2024 is set to begin from 26 July 2024 to 11 August 2024 at Paris in France.
Mascot:The name of the Paris 2024 mascot is Olympic Phryge, based on the traditional small Phrygian hats that the mascots are shaped after.

  • The name and design were chosen to represent symbolic figures of the French republic as well as emblems of liberty.

ONDC and Kerala Govt signed an agreement for better market access to PSU products

On 23rd June 2023, the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) signed an agreement with the Department of Industries and Commerce of the Kerala state to increase access and business opportunities in various sectors in Kerala by facilitating digital transformation.

  • This collaboration holds huge potential for improving the growth and visibility of public sector units (PSUs) offerings and facilitating increased accessibility for consumers across Kerala.
  • Nine PSUs have already signed an agreement with ONDC and currently around 200 products of PSU’s are available on ONDC platform.

Key People:
Suman Billa, Principal Secretary, (Industries & Norka), Government of Kerala and Thampy Koshy, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ONDC exchanged the MoU.
Antony Raju, Minister of Transport, Kerala; P. Rajeeve,  Minister of Law, Industries & Coir, Kerala; Dr. VP Joy, Chief Secretary, Goevernment of Kerala were some of the key people involved.
iIn the next phase of the collaboration, the products of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MEMEs) will be made available on ONDC platform.
ii. Workshops will be conducted in all taluks to create awareness onthe possibilities offered by ONDC.
iii. The agreement with ONDC will bring a momentum for PSUs MSMEs and the industries to market their products widely and assist Kerala industries go globally under the tag of ‘Kerala Brand’.
Note: The transport department will also be engaged in a pact with the ONDC.
Shiprocket seller app integrates with ONDC on boarding
Shiprocket, India’s 106th unicorn and an e-commerce enablement platform has announced the integration of the “Shiprocket seller app with Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) to facilitate the on boarding of sellers on the ONDC network.

  • With the help of Shiprocket’s seller app, the Shopify-powered stores of merchants will be discoverable on the network.
  • This integration aligns with Shiprocket’s mission to standardise e-commerce for merchants in BHARAT (India).

Note: Shiprocket plans to enable five categories on ONDC including beauty and personal care, fashion, electronics and appliances, health and wellness and home and kitchen.

Paytm Signs MoU With Arunachal Pradesh to Develop Startup Environment 

On 22nd June 2023, Paytm Payment Services Limited (PPSL) signed an Memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Arunachal Pradesh Innovation and Investment Park (APIIP) to develop a startup environment for the youth in Arunachal Pradesh.

  • To support the business of young people, Paytm Incubation Centre will offer free credits through the Paytm Startup toolkit and its product at a  subsidised rate to early-stage firms.

The MoU was signed in the presence of its CEO Tabe Haidar, at the APIIP, the first state-owned marquee incubator.
NOTE: On 18th May 2023, Paytm partnered with State Bank of India (SBI) Card to launch Paytm SBI Card on the RuPay network.

The IT department in Himachal Pradesh has been renamed as the Digital Technology Department.

The Himachal Pradesh(HP) government has renamed its Department of Information Technology(IT) as the Department of Digital Technologies and Governance and the approval to this effect was given by the state cabinet of HP.Himachal Pradesh has become the first state in India to have this nomenclature to transform the state into a digitally advanced state.

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