Current Affairs – 3 August 2023

National Mission for Clean Ganga Approves 7 Projects Worth Rs 692 CroreThe National Mission for Clean Ganga(NMCG) approved 7 projects worth Rs 692 crore for the construction of Sewage Treatment Plants(STP)and other works to prevent pollution of the river Ganga and its tributaries.

  • The projects were approved at the 50th meeting of the Executive Committee of NMCG held on 1st August 2023, under chairmanship of G. Asok Kumar, Director General(DG) of NMCG.

i.A Project to start the M.Sc. Course in Freshwater Ecology and Conservation at the Ganga Aqualife Conservation Monitoring Centre, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, at a cost of Rs. 6.86 crore for ten years was approved by NMCG.
About National Mission for Clean Ganga(NMCG):
Director General(DG) – G Asok Kumar
Established – 2011

7 products from Rajasthan, Goa & UP get Geographical Indication tag Geographical Indications Registry headquartered in Chennai (Tamil Nadu) under the Department of Industry Promotion and Internal Trade (DIPIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) has granted Geographical Indications (GI) tags for 7 new products from 3 states– 4 from Rajasthan, 2 from Goa and 1 from Uttar Pradesh (UP).
Tamil Nadu (TN) has now become the state with a maximum of 58 Geographical Indication (GI) tagged products with the addition of 3 new products of TN namely Tirunelveli’s Chedibutta saree, Kanniyakumari’s Matti banana, and Tiruvannamalai’s Jaderi namakatti. Uttar Pradesh holds the second position with 51 GI products followed by Karnataka (48), Kerala (36) and Maharashtra (34).
The GIs Registry in Chennai, Tamil Nadu (TN) has given the GI Tag for 3 new products from the state of Tamil Nadu namely Jaderi NamakattiMatti banana, and Chedibutta saree. With the 3 new products, TN tops the list with 58 GI-tagged products followed by Uttar Pradesh (51) and Karnataka (48).

Overview of PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Pune,MaharashtraPrime Minister(PM) Narendra Modi visited Pune, Maharashtra on 1st April 2023. He flagged off the Pune metro trains and inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of various development projects.
i.PM Narendra Modi was conferred the Lokmanya Tilak National Award 2023 by the Tilak Smarak Mandir Trust, which comes with a memento and citation, in appreciation for his exceptional leadership and his work promoting patriotism among citizens.
ii.He dedicated the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation’s (PCMC) Waste to Energy Plant. It was developed at a cost of approximately Rs 300 crores and will consume approximately 2.5 lakh Metric Tonnes(MT) of trash yearly to generate power.
About Maharashtra:
Chief Minister – Eknath Sambhaji Shinde
Governor –  Ramesh Bais
Dances  – Dangari Gaja, Povadas Dance,Lavani Dance

New Guidelines for Designation of Senior Advocates in the SC
The Supreme Court (SC) of India has introduced new guidelines named as Guidelines for Designation of Senior Advocates by the Supreme Court of India, 2023 for the designation of senior advocates practising in the Supreme Court of India.It replaced the guidelines issued in 2018.

  • The new guidelines prescribe a minimum age of 45 years for applying for the ‘senior advocate’ designation and minimum of 10 years of standing(mainly in Supreme Court).
  • This age limit can be relaxed by the Committee, the Chief Justice of India(CJI) or a Supreme Court judge if they recommend an advocate’s name.

Why new guidelines?
The new guidelines have been introduced following a ruling on May 12, 2023 by a three-judge bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul. The ruling was in response to a case seeking modifications in the ‘senior advocate’ designation guidelines set by a 2017 Supreme Court ruling in the Indira Jai Singh v. Union of India case.

  • The 2017 guidelines allowed the CJI and “any judge” to recommend an advocate’s name for designation, the new 2023 guidelines specify that the CJI and “any Judge of the Supreme Court” may recommend an advocate’s name in writing.

Key Changes in the New Guidelines:
i.The new guidelines mention that “any Judge of the Supreme Court” can recommend an advocate’s name in addition to the Chief Justice of India.
ii.The weightage for reported and unreported judgments, excluding those that don’t establish legal principles, has been increased from 40 to 50 points.
iii.Guidelines reduced the marks for “publication of academic articles” from 15 to 5.

  • “Experience of teaching assignments in the field of law” and “guest lectures delivered in law schools and professional institutions connected with law” have been combined and will also account for 5 marks.

Committee for Designation of Senior Advocates:
All matters relating to the designation of Senior Advocates in the Supreme Court of India will be dealt by “Committee for Designation of Senior Advocates”.
Composition of the Committee:
Chairperson – Chief Justice of India (CJI) (current CJI is Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud)
Members:  Two senior-most Judges of the Supreme Court of India; Attorney General for India (AGI) and A member of the Bar council(nominated by the Chairperson and other Members).
Transparency and Objectivity in Designation
i.The evaluation procedure now encompasses the inclusion of legal article publications, teaching responsibilities, and guest speaking engagements.
ii.This is intended to offer a more comprehensive representation of the advocate’s capacity to contribute to legal progress.
iii.The updated criteria are designed to guarantee openness and impartiality in the selection process.

DGT Partners With Amazon Web Services to Enhance Students in Emerging Technologies
The Directorate General of Training (DGT) under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) is partnering with Amazon Web Services (AWS) India to enhance students’ capabilities and employability in emerging technologies like cloud computing, data annotation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML).

  • The pact aims to provide students enrolled in DGT institutions with valuable self-paced online learning programs at no cost.

Key points:
i.Under this partnership, AWS India will offer cutting-edge learning content through DGT’s Bharat Skills platform.
ii.This platform serves as a central repository of updated curriculum, course content, question banks, and learning videos for all courses under the Craftsmen Training Scheme (CTS) and Crafts Instructor Training Scheme (CITS) offered by approximately 15,000 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and 33 National Skill Training Institutes (NSTIs) across India.
iii.According to the “Asia Pacific Digital Skills Study,” 92% of the 769 employers surveyed in India believe that one emerging technology, such as AI, edge and quantum computing, blockchain, or cryptocurrency, will become a standard part of their future business operations.

WHO Report on Global Tobacco Epidemic 2023: 5.6 Billion People Protected by at Least One Tobacco Control Measure

The World Health Organization (WHO) released the “’WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2023: Protect people from tobacco smoke“, the 9th report in the series that tracks the status of the tobacco epidemic and interventions to combat it. The report monitors countries’ progress in tobacco control since 2008 and also marks 15 years since the introduction of MPOWER, which is designed to assist countries in implementing demand-reduction measures of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

  • The report state that around 5.6 billion people (71% of the world’s population or 7 in 10 people globally) are protected with at least one best practice of tobacco control measure, a 5 times increase from 2007.
  • The report showed that 2 new countries, Mauritius and the Netherlands, have achieved best-practice level in all MPOWER measures. Until now, this was achieved by only Brazil and Türkiye.
  • Mauritius has become the first African country to fully implement the entire MPOWER Measures.  It has recorded a 25% decline in the prevalence of smoking among adults between 1992 and 2021.

About World Health Organization (WHO):
Director-General– Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Headquarters– Geneva, Switzerland

CRED launched RuPay credit card-based UPI paymentsCRED, a Bengaluru (Karnataka) based fintech company, in collaboration with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), introduced RuPay credit card-based Unified Payments Interface (UPI) payments for CRED members.
Features and Benefits:
i.Members of CRED can now use their RuPay credit cards to make payments to merchants via UPI.
ii.This integration enables members to complete transactions quickly and securely with a simple scan using their linked RuPay credit card.
iii.This initiative will benefit banks and merchants through increased consumption and inclusion in the credit ecosystem.
iv.It also eliminates the requirement to carry physical cards, enabling seamless payments using saved cards and the benefit of tracking and clearing bills right on the CRED app.
v.It can enable customers to earn more rewards on their UPI transactions through their credit cards on CRED.
vi.Increasing the use of credit cards for UPI transactions offers customers, the use of credit to handle their expenses and ensure they maintain their account balances for longer.
Key Points:
i.Multiple payment options for UPI will be now available for the CRED members such as linking their Rupay Credit Card, Peer-to-Peer (P2P), Scan and Pay, and paying on online merchants.
ii.CRED supports RuPay credit cards issued by banks such as HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank, Axis Bank, BOB Financial Solutions, Canara Bank, Indian Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Punjab National Bank, and Union Bank.
Note: Currently, the CRED app is the 4th most preferred UPI app.
About CRED:
Founder & Chief Executive Officer (CEO)- Kunal Shah
Headquarters– Bengaluru, Karnataka
Established in– 2018

India’s Q1 FY24 Fiscal Deficit at Rs 4.51 Trillion, 25% of Annual TargetBased on the data released by Controller General of Accounts(CGA) under Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance on 31st July 2023, the fiscal deficit for first quarter(Q1 – April 2023 to June 2023) stood at Rs 4.51 trillion(USD 54.86 billion) as against the full year estimate of Rs 17.86 trillion, accounting for 25.3% of annual estimates for the financial year 2023-2024(FY2024).

  • It was lower at Rs 3.5 trillion or 21.2% of the Budget estimate in the corresponding period in FY 2022-2023 (FY23).
  • The rise in fiscal deficit is attributed to increased capital expenditure and accelerated tax devolution to state governments, which offset the sharp increase in non-tax revenues.

Key Points:
i.Capital Expenditure (Capex) Surge:

  • Capex increased significantly to Rs 2.78 trillion in June 2023 quarter.
  • This marked a substantial rise from Rs 1.75 trillion in the same period the previous year.

ii.Non-tax revenues:
Total non-tax revenue for Q1 in FY2024 was Rs 1,54,968 crore or 51.4 % of the budget estimates against 23.1% for the same period last year. Dividends and profits made up 105% of the non-tax revenue, adding up to Rs 91,000 crore.
Other Observation:
i.Receipts and Tax Revenues:

  • Total receipts for April-June reached Rs 5.99 trillion, constituting 22.1% of annual estimates.
  • Tax receipts contributed Rs 4.3 trillion, equivalent to 18.6% of annual estimates.

ii.Total Expenditure Increase:

  • Total expenditure grew notably to Rs 10.5 trillion in June 2023 quarter.
  • This represents 23.3% of annual estimates, a significant rise from Rs 5.86 trillion in the previous year’s period.

iii.Fiscal Deficit Target:

  • Government’s aim: Reduce fiscal deficit to 5.9% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in FY 2023-24 against 6.4% last year.

iv.Non-Tax Revenue Surge:

  • Net tax revenues contracted by 14%.
  • Non-tax revenues surged by 149%, driven by factor like RBI dividend transfer of Rs 87,416 crore in May 2023 for FY2023

v.Expenditure Composition: Within total revenue expenditure of Rs 7.72 trillion at June quarter-end:

  • Interest payments accounted for Rs 2.44 trillion and Rs 87,035.14 crore directed toward subsidies.

About Fiscal Deficit:

  • It is the excess of total spending from the Consolidated Fund of India(excluding repayment of the debt) over total receipts into the fund (excluding the debt receipts) during a financial year.
  • Formula: Fiscal Deficit = Total expenditure of the government (capital and revenue expenditure) – Total income of the Government (Revenue Receipt + Recovery of loans + Other receipts).

RIL & Brookfield Asset Management singed MoU to Manufacture RE & Decarbonisation Equipment in Australia
Brookfield Asset Management signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) to explore opportunities to manufacture renewable energy and decarbonization equipment in Australia. The MoU with RIL is a part of Brookfield’s efforts to bring global manufacturing technology and expertise to Australia.

  • The MoU aims to accelerate and de-risk Australia’s energy transition by enabling it to locally produce clean energy equipment such as photovoltaic (PV) modules, long-duration battery storage, and components for wind energy which will help Australia transition to a net zero future
  • Under the MoU, Brookfield will work with RIL to explore direct capital investment and development of skills, knowledge and expertise in the renewable energy sector of Australia to facilitate the nation’s transition to a net zero future.
  • The two companies will evaluate the operations in Australia to make/or assemble equipment used in the construction of renewable energy projects supplying equipment.
  • Brookfield will utilize RIL’s expertise in solar panel technology and long-duration battery storage technology.

Note: In March 2023, Brookfield signed a binding agreement with EIG Consortium to acquire Origin Energy. As a part of the acquisition, Brookfield and its partners are set out a plan to invest between AUD 20 billion and AUD 30 billion over the next 10 years to accelerate its energy transition.

2022/2023 NSTF-South32 Awards : Mohamed Reza Mia, Indian-origin South African Won Innovation Award for Aircraft ProjectDr Mohamed Reza Mia, Indian-origin South African(SA) and Chairman and Founder of Johannesburg(SA)- based Pegasus Universal Aerospace (PUA) Company, won the 2022/2023 National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)-South32 Awards for outstanding contributions to Science, Engineering, Technology (SET) and innovation in SA for the category “Innovation Award: Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME)“.

  • The Innovation Award was won by the Pegasus Universal Aerospace team, recognised for the design and development of a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
  • The design and development of VTOL aircraft is expected to create between 7 000 and 11 000 new jobs.

Note: The SMME awards are sponsored by the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) under the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of SA, and include prizes for a contribution by an individual or a team in an SMME over the last 5 to 10 years.
About Mohamed Reza Mia:
i.He is a healthcare practitioner, specialising as a General Practitioner, (GP), in  Johannesburg, SA with a special interest in Aesthetic Medicine and AntiAging Therapies.
ii.He founded the Pegasus Universal Aerospace (PUA) company in 2012 to make a small private jet with (VTOL) capability.
iii.By combining the best features of a helicopter and a business jet, he has developed a prototype aircraft that could be used for tricky rescue airlifts and emergency air transportation.
About the Pegasus Aircraft:
i.The ‘Pegasus’ aircraft resembles a small jet, but doesn’t need a runway. It’s the first time that a VTOL vehicle outperforms traditional business jets in speed, range, payload, and passenger capacity.
ii.It will also be safer than either a helicopter or plane and among the innovative aircraft designs, Pegasus stands out for its unique feature that marks the possibility of stalling and falling out of the sky.
iii.PUA, primarily self-funded is currently testing quarter-scale models that have a wing-span of 4 metres. PUA also partnered with an automation and robotics company to further reach greater heights.
Note: The Pegasus Vertical Business Jet (VBJ) prototype was featured in the Hollywood movie “The Lost City” released by Paramount Pictures in 2022.
Another Innovation Category Award:
i.LignOrganics, a bio-manufacturing company in SA also won the award for the category, Innovation Award: SMME.
ii.LignOrganics is the first on the African continent to produce sulphur-free lignin  and the first in the world to achieve ‘total biomass valorisation’.
NSTF 2023:
i.The 2023 event was the 25th edition of NSTF Awards held on 13th July 2023 and took place simultaneously in Cape Town and Johannesburg, SA .
ii.The NSTF’s theme for 2023 is Ocean Science for sustainable development.

  • This theme was selected in response to the United Nations (UN) proclamation of the decadal theme of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development for 2021-2030.

iii.In 2023, NSTF introduced a new “Special Annual Theme Award” for an outstanding contribution to SET and innovation through research and innovation in Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

  • It is designed to focus on research and innovation in ocean science in support of attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in SA.

BSNL’s Shivendra Nath Appointed as CMD of EPI
On 27th July 2023, the Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB) panel selected Shivendra Nath for the post of Chairman and Managing Director (CMD), Engineering Projects (India) Ltd (EPI), a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the Ministry of Heavy Industries.

  • He is currently serving as the Senior General Manager of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), a PSU under the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications.
  • He will replace Dhirendra Singh Rana, the incumbent CMD of EPI, who took charge in 2019 and is scheduled to retire on September 30, 2023.
  • As CMD of EPI, Shivendra Nath will be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company and will be accountable to its board and directors.
  • About Shivendra Nath:

i.Shivendra Nath, a distinguished 1994-batch Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) officer, started his engineering career in 1994 as the Engineering Project Manager of the Personnel & Training (P&T) Department, Indian Engineering Services through UPSC.
ii.He served as the Chief Engineer at BSNL till September 2020.
iii.He assumed the role of Superintending Engineer at Naya Raipur Development Authority (NRDA) until January 2021.
About Engineering Projects (India) Ltd (EPI):
EPI was incorporated in April 1970 as the Indian Consortium for Industrial Projects Ltd. consortium of 7 PSUs.
It was renamed Engineering Projects (India) Ltd. in December 1970.
CMD– Dhirendra Singh Rana
Headquarters– New Delhi, Delhi
Established in– 1965

MFIN Elects Udaya Kumar Hebbar as Its ChairpersonOn 31st July 2023, Microfinance Industry Network (MFIN) elected Udaya Kumar Hebbar as Chairperson and Manoj Kumar Nambiar as the Vice Chairperson in its 14th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Delhi.
Udaya Kumar Hebbar
i.Udaya Kumar Hebbar assumed the position from Devesh Sachdev, MD & CEO of Fusion Micro Finance Ltd. on completion of his respective term.
ii.Hebbar is the Managing Director (MD)of CreditAccess Grameen Ltd.
Manoj Kumar Nambiar
i.Manoj Kumar Nambiar assumed the position from Vivek Tiwari, MD & CEO of Satya MicroCapital Ltd. on completion of his respective term.

  • Previously Manoj Kumar Nambiar was elected as a Chairperson of MFIN in 2019 and was re-elected in 2020.

ii.Nambiar is the MD of Arohan Financial Services Ltd.(an Aavishkaar Group company).
About Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN):
i.MFIN was established in 2009 as an Industry Association for Non-Banking Financial Companies – Microfinance Institutions (NBFC-MFI).
ii.In 2014, MFIN was recognized by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as India’s first Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) for the NBFC-MFIs.
iii.MFIN Members are Reserve Bank of India (RBI)-regulated entities comprising the 55  NBFC-MFIs, and 44 Associates including Banks, Small Finance Banks (SFBs), NBFCs, Banking Correspondents(BC), Credit Bureau, Fintech companies, among several others.
About Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN):
Chairman- Udaya Kumar Hebbar
Headquarters- Gurugram, Haryana
Established- 2009

Prof Ganesan Kannabiran, NIT’s Former Director In charge appointed as NAAC Director
On 28th July 2023, Professor Ganesan Kannabiran, a former Dean of Research & Consultancy and Director in charge of the National Institute of Technology (NIT)- Tiruchirappalli, assumed charge as the new Director of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in Bengaluru, Karnataka, and his tenure will be for 5 years.

  • He replaced Prof. S. C. Sharma, who served as the Director of NAAC from May 2018 to May 2023.

About Ganesan Kannabiran:
i.He established the Center for Subject Matter Expert (SME) Research Development and led the institutional-level ‘Strategic Planning Group’ assisting in a major goal-oriented transformation at NIT-Tiruchirappalli.
ii.He also served as Director in charge of NIT Puducherry.
iii.He was the founding Director of the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Sri City Andhra Pradesh (An Institute of National Importance) and led the institution from 2018 to 2023.
iv.He founded 2 Section 8 Companies (Center for Entrepreneurship Development and Incubation (CEDI) at NIT Trichy and Gyan Circle Ventures at IIIT Sri City, Andhra Pradesh).
v.He serves as a member of the Academic Advisory Committee of Project Management Institute India.
vi.He is also a member of the Computer Society of India and the Indian Society for Training and Development.
About National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC):
It is an autonomous institution of the University Grants Commission (UGC), Established in 1994.
It conducts assessment and accreditation of Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs).
Chairman of Executive Committee– Prof. Anil Sahasrabudhe
Director– Prof. Ganesan Kannabiran
Headquarters– Bengaluru, Karnataka.

World FinTech Day 2023 – 1st AugustWorld FinTech Day is annually observed across the globe on 1st August to celebrate and recognize financial technology and its transformative impact on the global financial industry.
i.Financial technology, or Fintech, refers to the use of technology in delivering financial services which ranges from mobile banking and cryptocurrency to investment services and online lending.
ii.Fintech has democratized access to financial services, enabling more people to participate in the global economy.
iii.Fintech has revolutionized the banking sector by introducing faster, more efficient, and customer-centric services
Why August 1?
i.August 1st marks the death anniversary of Cosimo de’ Medici in 1464.
ii.Medici was a 15th-century Italian politician and banker who established the Medici Bank and influenced the present-day banking system.
Recent Fintech innovations:

  • Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies
  • Robo-advisors
  • Mobile Payments and Digital Wallets
  • Peer-to-Peer Lending

Additional Info:

  • The global blockchain in banking and financial services market is reported to have experienced significant growth, increasing from USD($)1.89 billion (roughly Rs. 15,552 crore) in 2022 to USD 3.07 billion (roughly Rs. 25,262 crore) in 2023.
  • This growth reflects a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 62.1 percent during this period.

Muslim Women Rights Day 2023 – 1st August The Muslim Women’s Rights Day is annually celebrated across India on 1st August to commemorate the enactment of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on MarriageAct, 2019, which prohibits the practice of triple talaq in India.

  • 1st August 2023 marks the observance of the 4th Muslim Women’s Rights Day.
  • The legislation declared that triple talaq is a cognizable and non-bailable offense and shall also sentence any such perpetrator to three years of imprisonment.

i.The Triple talaq bill also known as the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, was passed by the Indian Parliament on 30th July 2019, to make instant Triple talaq in any form such as spoken, written, or by electronic means void and a criminal offense.
ii.Then President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the bill on 1st August 2019 and criminalized triple talaq in India.
About Ministry of Minority Affairs:
Union Minister- Smriti Zubin Irani (Constituency-Amethi, Uttar Pradesh)
Minister of State (MoS)- John Barla

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan Launches LEAP Coworks for KSUM Beneficiaries

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