Current Affairs- 26 July 2023

Central Govt approves 8.15% interest rate on Employees’ Provident Fund for FY23On 24th July 2023, The Ministry of Finance, Government of India(GoI) has approved  Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)’s Central Board of Trustees’ recommendation to set the annual interest rate of 8.15% on Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) accounts for the financial year 2022-2023(FY23).

  • This move will cover over 6 crore subscribers of EPFO.
  • The current rate is 0.5% higher than the FY22 when it was 8.10%.

MoL&E has conveyed this approval of the Central Government under para 60(1) of EPF Scheme, 1952 by crediting the interest to the account of each member of the EPF Scheme as per the provisions under Para 60 of EPF Scheme, 1952.
Key Points:
i.With this rate, there will be distributing over Rs 90,000 crore to EPFO accounts on a total principal amount of approximately Rs 11 trillion during FY23, up from Rs 77,424.84 crore and Rs 9.56 trillion, respectively, during FY22.
ii.After the distribution for FY23, EPFO will be left with a surplus of Rs 663.91 crore.
iii.According to government data, EPFO added 1.72 million net members during April 2023, with around 847,000 new members for the first time during this period.

India’s 1st Fisheries AIC to be Set up at KUFOS, Kerala with a Grant of Rs 10crIndia’s first Atal Incubation Centre (AIC) in fisheries will be set up at Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) in Kochi, Kerala to promote innovation, entrepreneurship, and technological advancement in fisheries and related sectors..

  • KUFOS got a grant of Rs 10 crore from National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog to set up fisheries’ AIC at the University.

About AIC in Fisheries:
i.KUFOS will lead this project as its principal investigator under the guidance of Radhika Rajasree SR, Professor and head of the Department of Fish Processing Technology, KUFOS.
ii.This AIC will serve as a hub for innovation by developing technologies and solutions for the challenges faced by marine ecosystems and fishing communities.
iii.It will also support new businesses in this sector to improve the fisheries industry and boost the economy.
iv.By encouraging partnerships between universities, industries, and the government, AIC will aid in knowledge transfer and commercialization of research outcomes.
v.It will also create job opportunities and provide a supportive environment for start-ups and entrepreneurs to succeed.
Key Points:
i.KUFOS is known for its excellence in education, research, and outreach related to fisheries and ocean studies.
ii.The AIC initiative is a part of NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) set up in 2016, which aims to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across different sectors in India.

CDoT to be the Nodal Agency for Handling IPRs & Patents
The Government of India(GoI) has decided to make the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT),premier R&D centre of the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications, as the nodal facilitation agency to handle telecommunication intellectual property rights (IPRs) and patents.

  • CDoT will only act as a facilitator for SEP negotiations and shall not have any financial liability or obligations towards any parties.

Key points: 
i.C-DoT will offer support and guidance to startups, Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises(MSME), and research entities in converting their innovations into IPRs and transforming research into commercially viable products.
ii.It will manage IPRs/standard essential patent (SEP) on behalf of the Indian Research and development (R&D) ecosystem and engage with both domestic and global IPR licensors.
iii.It represents Indian technology entities in IPRs/SEPs related engagements and be responsible for developing, hosting, and maintaining the repository of Indian telecom IPRs/SEPs.
iv.These initiatives align with the National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) goals, which aims to establish internationally recognized IPRs in India, promote SEPs in digital communication technologies, and encourage Indian IPRs through international collaborations.
About Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) :
Chief executive officer(CEO)- Dr. Rajkumar Upadhyay
Established- 1984
Headquarters- New Delhi, Delhi

Italy unveils memorial to honour Indian Army Soldiers who fought in  World War-II
On 22nd July 2023, the Commune of Monotone, Italy and the Italain Military historians unveiled the V.C Yeshwant Ghadge Sundial Memorial at Montone, Perugia, Italy, as a tribute to the Indian soldiers from the 4th, 8th and 10th Divisions, who fought in the Italian Campaign, during the Second World War (WW-II) (1939-1945).

  • The memorial also honoured the supreme sacrifices of Indian Soldier, Naik Yeshwant Ghadge, Victoria Cross (VC) recipient (posthumous), who was killed during the fighting in the of Upper Tiber Valley, Italy on 10th July 1944.
  • The memorial is in the form of a live sundial. The motto of the memorial is “Omines Sub Eodem Sole”, which translates in English as “We all live under the same sun”.
  • Ambassador and Mayor of Montone inaugurated the Yashwant Gharge Memorial and Dr Neena Malhotra, Ambassador of India in Italy and the Indian Defence Attaché represented India during the ceremony.
  • A special post card was also released during the event.

Note: Out of the 20 VC awarded in Italy, 6 were won by Indian soldiers.

Indian Banks Receive Rs.5,729 Crore  DEA Fund for Unclaimed Deposit SettlementOn 24th July 2023, Bhagwat Kisanrao Karad, the Union Minister of State(MoS) for Finance Ministry, announced that over the past five years Indian banks have been allocated a sum of Rs.5,729 crore from the “Depositor Education and Awareness” (DEA) Fund, as an effort to reunite unclaimed deposits with their claimants.

  • As of 31st  March 2023, Rs. 36,185 crores is transferred from  Public Sector Banks to  DEA Fund and Rs. 6,087 crores is transferred from Private banks as well.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has initiated the “100 Days 100 Pays” campaign, aiming to help banks locate and settle the top 100 unclaimed deposits of each bank in every district across the country within a 100-day timeframe. This campaign commenced on June 1, 2023, and is scheduled to conclude on September 8, 2023.

Other steps taken by RBI to reduce unclaimed deposits:
i.Displaying the list of unclaimed deposits which are inactive/inoperative for ten years or more on the bank’s websites
ii.Finding the whereabouts of the customers and their legal heirs to return unclaimed deposits to the rightful claimants
iii.Formulating board approved policy on classification of unclaimed deposits
iv.Framing grievance redressal mechanism for quick resolution of complaints, record keeping, and periodic review of unclaimed deposit accounts.
Additional Info:
RBI is set to launch a centralized web portal that will allow the public to inquire about such deposits across multiple banks.

HDFC Mutual Fund launches HDFC Charity Fund for Cancer Cure
HDFC Asset Management Company (HDFC AMC), investment manager to HDFC Mutual Fund (HDFC MF), has launched its fourth fund the HDFC Charity Fund For Cancer Cure in partnership with the Indian Cancer Society (ICS) for the treatment of underprivileged cancer patients.

  • The New Fund Offer (NFO) will open on July 28, 2023, and close on August 08, 2023. It is a closed-ended income scheme and a f Fixed Maturity Plan(FMP) with a tenure of 1,196 days.

Key highlights:
i.The HDFC Charity Fund for Cancer Cure offers investors the option to donate 50% or 75% of Income Distribution cum Capital Withdrawal (IDCW) to the ICS.

  • These donations will be eligible for deduction under Section 80G of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (under the old regime).

ii.HDFC AMC will match donations with an equal amount directly contributed to ICS (subject to limit of Rs 16 crore per financial year).
iii.HDFC AMC has waived all investment management and advisory fees and ensured that the maximum benefit goes towards supporting cancer patients.

Bajaj Finserv launches first equity scheme in flexi-cap category
Bajaj Finserv Asset Management launched its first equity Fund ‘Bajaj Finserv Flexi Cap Fund’ in the flexi-cap category, an open-ended and dynamic equity scheme.

  • The New Fund Offer (NFO) opens for subscription on July 24 and closes on  7th August 2023.
  • Bajaj Finserv Asset Management Limited is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bajaj Finserv Limited.

Investment Approach
i.Flexi-cap fund invests across companies of any market capitalizations including large-caps, mid-caps, and small-caps companies.
ii.Bajaj Finserv Flexi Cap Fund will follow an investment philosophy based on INQUBE – the Asset Management Company (AMC)’s proprietary framework that adds the layer of behavioural finance to the informational and quantitative edges.
iii.It also invests based on Megatrends investing approach and their experts spot across sectors, themes, market capitalization and geographies.
Fund Manager: The scheme will be managed by Nimesh Chandan (Chief Investment Officer),Sorbh Gupta(Senior Fund Manager – Equity) and Siddharth Chaudhary (Senior Fund Manager – Fixed Income)
Megatrends are long-term developments that impact various aspects of society significantly such as technological advancements, changing consumer behaviors, demographic shifts, environmental concerns and more.

BEL signed MoUs with Gabriel Power and CoRover for energy & AI solutionsOn 19th July 2023, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), a Navratna Defence Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with Gabriel Power and Energy Private Ltd (Gabriel Power) and CoRover Private Limited to leverage opportunities across the power and energy sectors and Artificial Intelligence (AI) -based conversational solutions respectively.

  • The strategic MoUs, aims to boost the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (‘self-reliant India’) initiative and Government of India’s vision of a Digital India.

About BEL’s MoU with Gabriel Power and Energy Pvt Ltd:
i.The collaboration focuses on supporting the commitment of the two companies to the ’Make in India‘ initiative by enhancing indigenous manufacturing capabilities and establishing India as a leading global manufacturing hub for advanced power and energy solutions.
ii.The partnership is expected to create significant job opportunities within the power and energy industries.
iii.Under the MoU, BEL, and Gabriel will work closely together to introduce state-of-the-art technologies that will be further optimised and manufactured in India.
iv.The collaboration will encompass a wide range of products, including Electric Vehicle (EV) Chargers, Smart Meters, Green Hydrogen Generation, Hydrogen Gensets, and Solar Steam Solutions.
About Gabriel Power:
Gabriel Power, a company that is backed by several Global Funds intends to bring these technologies to India, manufacture few products along with BEL and under ‘Make in India’ and targeting markets in India, Asia, Middle East and Africa.
About BEL’s MoU with CoRover Private Limited:
i.BEL signed a non-exclusive MoU with CoRover Private Limited, a human-centric conversational and generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) company for 2 years to indigenously develop and establish emerging technologies and technical solutions to mark the requirements of AI-based solutions, especially conversational AI-based virtual assistants.
ii.The MoU will enable both companies to collaborate in the fields of Generative AI platform, particularly with a special focus on the BharatGenerative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) platform of Co-Rover.
Note: BharatGPT, the Large Language Model of CoRover, supports more than 12 Indian languages and over 120 foreign languages, through text, voice and even video.
iii.AI can be used to develop many more interactive applications like Dialogue/Conversational Management, Real Time Analytics, Speech to Text (STT)/Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and many more.
Note: CoRover private ltd is the world’s first and the highest Return on Investment (ROI) delivering human-centric conversational AI platform has developed the world’s first human-centric conversational AI platform, being used by 1.3 Billion users.

President Droupadi Murmu confers National Geoscience Awards 2022 to 22 winnersi.On July 24, 2023, the President of India Droupadi Murmu conferred the National Geoscience Awards- 2022 (NGA) of the Ministry of Mines on 22 Geoscientists during an event organized at Rashtrapati Bhavan Cultural Centre in New Delhi, Delhi.
ii.The National Geoscience Award for Lifetime Achievement was conferred upon Professor (Dr.) Om Narain Bhargava, Department of Geology, Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh, for his pioneering work in the Himalayas spanning over the last four decades.
iii.The National Young Geoscientist Award was presented to Dr. Amiya Kumar Samal, Assistant Professor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh (UP). He has made a notable contribution in understanding the variation of Sub-Continental Lithospheric Mantle (SCLM) beneath various Archean cratons of the Indian shield.
About Geological Survey of India (GSI):
Director General– Janardan Prasad
Headquartered– Kolkata, West Bengal (WB)
Establishment– 1851

Union Minister Anurag Thakur Confers 8th and 9th Community Radio AwardsThe Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Thakur, inaugurated the two-day Regional Community Radio (CR) Sammelan (North) at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in New Delhi, Delhi on the occasion of National Broadcasting Day on 23rd July 2023.

  • During the Inaugural Session, he presented the 8th and 9th National Community Radio Awards to commendable Community Radio Stations (CSRs) that have made significant contributions in their field and for the public interest.

9th National Community Radio Awards:
The 9th National Community Radio Awards consists of 12 awards under 4 categories.

  • These prestigious awards recognize outstanding Community Radio Stations (CRS) from various states, including Haryana, Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, and Tripura. 
  • The CSR played a key role in ‘Jan Bhagidari se Jan Andolan ’ (Public movement with Public Participation).

About Ministry of Information and Broadcasting:
Union Minister- Anurag Singh Thakur(constituency-Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh)
Minister of state- Dr. L. Murugan

Jindal Aluminium Limited received AS9100D Aerospace Certification from NVT Services 
Jindal Aluminium Limited, India’s largest Aluminium extrusion company and India’s second largest producer of aluminium flat rolled products, was awarded the AS 9100D Aerospace certification by M/s NVT Services, one of India’s top aerospace certification agencies.  The certificate recognises Jindal Aluminium as a qualified manufacturer for the aviation, space, and defence industry.

  • Post completion of a two-stage audit process by NVT Services, the accreditation was awarded to the Bengaluru (Karnataka) facility of Jindal Aluminium. The process of certification started in January 2023, and the certificate was received by the Jindal Aluminium Ltd in June 2023.

Note: AS9100D also called as AS9100 or EN9100:2018 is the most recent standard for organizations that design, develop or provide aviation, space and defense products and services, including parts, components and assemblies.

  • The AS 9100 Rev D standard includes the requirements of ISO 9001:2015 and specifies additional aviation, space, and defense (ASD) industry requirements.
  • AS 9100D standard, jointly developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the European Association of Aerospace Industries, specifies the Quality Management System requirements for organizations that develop, design or manufacture aviation, space and defence products.

MoS gives 3 month extension to Amitava Mukherjee’s tenure as CMD of NMDC & NSL
The Ministry of Steel(MoS) has extended tenure of the Amitava Mukherjee as the Chairman-cum-Managing Director(CMDAdditional charge of NMDC Limited erly known as National Mineral Development Corporation) and NMDC Steel Ltd (NSL), a wholly owned subsidiary of NMDC Ltd for 3 months.

  • The extended tenure comes into effect from 1st September 2023 to 19th November 2023 or till a regular CMD is appointed or until further orders, whichever is the earliest.
  • Mukherjee is a Director (Finance) at NMDC Ltd who holds the additional charge of the CMD of NMDC since 13th March 2023 and additional charge of CMD of NSL, since 21st March 2023.
  • 19th November 2023 marks the date of completion of his tenure as Director (Finance) of NMDC Ltd.

Note: Previously, in June 2023, he got a 3 months extension to his tenure as CMD of NMDC and NSL with effect from 1st June 2023 to 31st August 2023.
About Amitava Mukherjee:
i.He joined NMDC as Director (Finance) in 2018. Prior to this, he served as General Manager (Finance) in Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) for 3 years.
ii.He is on the Board of nine subsidiaries/ associate/joint venture Companies of NMDC. He also holds the position of Chairman in BRPL.
iii.He belongs to the 1995 batch of Indian Railway Accounts Services (IRAS) and held key positions in the Eastern Railways during his service in IRAS from 1997-2016.
iv.Before joining IRAS, he worked at Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) from 1994-1997.
About NMDC Limited:
Incorporated in– 1958
Chairman & Managing Director (Additional Charge)–  Amitava Mukherjee
Headquarters– Hyderabad, Telangana.

SpaceX launched 22 Starlink v2 satellites to LEOOn 23rd July 2023, the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) launched 22 Starlink v2 satellites to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) onboard the Falcon 9 rocket from the Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Base in Florida, the United States of America(USA).

  • The Falcon 9 first stage booster returned to Earth and landed about 8.5 minutes after the lift off on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • This marks the 6th flight and landing of the Falcon 9 first stage booster. It has previously supported 5 missions including CRS-26, OneWeb Launch 16, Intelsat IS-40e, and two Starlink missions.

Key Points:
i.The spacecraft were deployed on the LEO, about 65 minutes after the launch.
ii.SpaceX’s Starlink is the constellation of networked satellites aimed to provide global broadband communications (internet services to those who are not yet connected).
iii.The Starlink v2 satellite also provide reliable and affordable internet across the globe.
Note: So far SpaceX has launched more than 4,850 Starlink craft to LEO.
About Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX):
Founded in– 2002
Chief Executive Officer& Co-Founder– Elon Musk
Headquarters– Hawthorne, California, the United States of America

Pakistan A Wins ACC Men’s Emerging Teams Asia Cup 2023
On 23rd July 2023, Pakistan A cricket team won Asian Cricket Council(ACC) Men’s Emerging Teams Asia Cup 2023 by defeating India A in the finals at R. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

  • This marks Pakistan’s second consecutive win in the tournament,previously it won the cup in the 2019 finals against Bangladesh in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

About ACC Men’s Emerging Teams Asia Cup 2023:
i.The fifth edition ACC Men’s Emerging Teams Asia Cup 2023 held from 13th July to 23rd July 2023 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
ii.The eight teams participated in the event including India A, Sri Lanka A, Bangladesh A, Afghanistan A, Oman A, Pakistan A, Nepal A and United Arab Emirates A.
List of award winners:

Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard has won 110th edition of the Tour de France
Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard of the Jumbo-Visma, Dutch professional bicycle racing team,has won 110th edition of the Tour de France for a second straight year on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, France. The Tour de France (Tour of France) is an annual men’s multiple-stage bicycle race primarily held in France.

  • Vingegaard crossed the finish line after the 21-day race 7min 29sec ahead of Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar, the champion in 2020 and 2021.
  • Vingegaard’s winning margin (7 minutes and 29 seconds) was the largest since 2014.
  • The tour covers 3,405 kilometres with eight mountain stages across five mountain ranges. Vingegaard seized control of the race over two stages in the Alps.

Sri Lankan Cricketer Lahiru Thirimanne retires from international cricket
On 23rd July 2023, Sri Lankan cricketer Lahiru Thirimanne announced his retirement from international cricket with immediate effect, after a 12-year cricket career.
About His Career:
i.Thirimanne represented Sri Lanka in 44 Test matches, 127 One-Day Internationals(ODI) and 26 Twenty20 (T20) Internationals after his debut in 2010.
ii.He has represented Sri Lanka in two ODI World Cups (2015, 2019) and three T20 World Cup campaigns, including Sri Lanka’s victory in 2014.
iii. He Scored more than 5000 international runs across all three formats and In five ODIs, he also served as Sri Lanka’s captain.
iv.Thirimanne’s final appearance for Sri Lanka was the Test match against India at Bengaluru in March 2022.

World In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Day 2023 – July 25World In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Day is annually observed across the globe on 25th July to commemorate the achievements and progress made in the field of infertility and reproductive endocrinology.

  • The day 25th July marks the birth date of world’s first ‘Test-tube baby’, Louise Brown, the first baby conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF). Louise Brown was born on 25th July 1978 in in Manchester, England, the United Kingdom (UK).

i.This day is also recognised to celebrate the success and importance of IVF as an effective method of conceiving.
ii.This day is also known as World Embryologist Day observed across the globe to commemorate the great role and contribution of Embryologists in the IVF technology, one of the greatest innovations in the field of reproductive Science.

World Drowning Prevention 2023-25th July The United Nations (UN)’s World Drowning Prevention Day is annually observed across the globe on 25th July to highlight the impacts of death by drowning on families and communities and to provide solutions to prevent death by drowning.

  • World Drowning Prevention Day 2023 theme is “Anyone can drown, no one should” and World Health Organisation (WHO) is inviting technical partners to: Do One Thing, Improve One Thing or Add One Thing to improve safety of people in and around water.

25th July 2023 marks the observance of the 3rd World Drowning Prevention Day.
i.World Drowning Prevention Day was established by the U.N. General Assembly Resolution’s A/RES/75/273  “Global drowning prevention” in April 2021, to spread the awareness on drowning and devise various counteractions to restrain it.
ii.The first World Drowning Prevention Day was marked on 25 July 2021.

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