Current Affairs- 4 & 5 June 2023

MoRTH allows e-Bank GuaranteeInsurance Surety Bonds as bidThe Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has approved the acceptance of e-Bank Guarantee (BG) and Insurance Surety Bonds as a bid security and performance security in standard documents of engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC), hybrid annuity model (HAM) and BOT (Toll) projects.

  • This decision follows recent amendments by the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance in General Financial Rules (GFRs) 2017 relating to inclusion of e-BG and Insurance Surety Bonds as means to accept bid security and performance security.

Key Points:
i.As per the approval, existing contracts including road development, toll contracts, ropewaysand any other contract wherein Ministry has prescribed a BG can be replaced with insurance surety bonds.
ii.Physical bank guarantees (being taken as bid security or performancesecurity) may be accepted if e-bank guarantees are not feasible.
iii.The introduction of surety bond insurance reduces the reliance on bank guarantees for infrastructure developers and provides risk transfer and financial protection in case of non-performance.

  • It also requires less collateral and frees up funds for business growth.

Static Points:
i.A Bank Guarantee (BG) is a financial instrument used as a legal contract in which a bank acts as a guarantor and undertakes an obligation to pay the beneficiary a certain amount of money specified in the guarantee, if the debtor from the original contract does not fulfill his contractual obligations.
ii.Insurance Surety Bonds are instruments where insurance companies act as ‘Surety’ and provides the financial guarantee that the contractor will fulfil its obligation as per the agreed terms.
iii.Ministry of Finance, has made e-BG and Insurance Surety Bonds at par for all Government procurements.

G20 3rd Employment Working Group Meeting held in GenevaFrom June 31st to June 2nd, 2023, the 3rd Employment Working Group (EWG) meeting under the G20 (Group of Twenty) Indian Presidency successfully held at the International Labour Organization (ILO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • It was chaired by Ms. Arti Ahuja, G20 EWG Chair, and Secretary, Labour and Employment.

Delegates representing 78 G20 Members, Invitee Countries, Guest Countries, and International Organizations
Key Points:
i.The members reached a broad agreement on the draft Ministerial Communique and Outcome documents related to the three G20 EWG’s priority areas.
ii.The discussions included progress updates on Antalya and Brisbane Targets by the ILO and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), highlighting the need for accelerated efforts to meet the goals.
iii.Key outcomes under the Indian Presidency include the development of an international reference classification of occupations and extension of ILO and OECD’s Skills for Jobs Database to G20 countries to address global skill gaps.
iv.Commitments were also made to provide social protection for gig and platform workers and ensure sustainable financing.
Note:The fourth and final meeting, along with the Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting, is scheduled for July 19th-21st, 2023, in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.

  • The 2nd EWG meeting was held at Guwahati, Assam.

Indian Army’s Sapta Shakti Command Conducted “Sudarshan Shakti 2023” Exercise Along Western BorderSouth Western (Sapta Shakti) Command of the Indian Army (IA) conducted a 4 day exercise “Sudarshan Shakti 2023” from 22nd to 25th May 2023 along the Western borders in Rajasthan and Punjab.

  • Exercise ‘Sudarshan Shakti 2023’, was designed to validate operational preparedness of the Indian Army in a network-centric environment.
  • The joint war exercise included the participation of various units from the Indian Army and other defence forces to test their readiness and capability in dealing with different scenarios.

Key Points:
iThe Indian Army’s elements of combat power, combat support and logistic support were exercised in a synergised application under all domains of enemy threat including Grey Zone Warfare as part of high tempo operations.
ii. The exercise is considered a unique event in its scope and objective as it is aimed to counter electronic warfare.
iii. Special Forces and niche technologies covering drones, tethered drones, loiter ammunition were deployed during the military drill.
ivShatrujeet Brigade (50th Independent Para Brigade), which is a formation of Indian army and the Western Command prominently took part in the exercise named as ‘Sudarshan Shakti’.
Key People:
General B.S. Raju- South Western Command’s General Officer Commanding-In-Chief; Air Marshal P.M. Sinha- Western Air Command’s Air Officer Commanding-In-Chief were present during the war drills.
Note: This exercise fulfilled the stated objectives of the five pillars of transformation announced by Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Manoj Pandey in January 2023, the 5 pillars of the transformation are:

  • Operational preparedness
  • Force modernization
  • Human resource development
  • Strategic partnerships
  • Jointness among the armed forces.

Indian Army and Indian Air Force Joint Exercise:
iC-130J Super Hercules, C-17 Globemaster and AN-32 aircrafts were used to insert troops and specialised equipment into designated areas in the obstacle-ridden terrain with clinical precision.
ii. A high level of operational preparedness and synergy was displayed between Western Command, strategic forces and the Indian Air Force (IAF) to undertake integrated operations in an obstacle-ridden terrain.
This partnership is an excellent example of jointness and interoperability between the two forces during various operational scenarios.

Indian Navy & IMU signed MoU for Technical Collaboration

On 2nd June 2023,  Indian Navy and the Indian Maritime University(IMU), headquartered at Chennai(Tamil Nadu), signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) for Technical Collaboration. The MoU enable collaboration in areas of training, joint research and development, collaborative training, and field-level problem solving by teams from the Centre of Excellence(CoE) (Marine Engineering),  Indian Navy Ship(INS) Shivaji, Lonavala(Maharashtra), and IMU.

  • The MoU was signed by Vice Admiral Sandeep Naithani, Chief of Equipment, and Dr. Malini V Shankar, IAS (Retired), Vice Chancellor of IMU in New Delhi, Delhi.

THE Impact Ranking 2023: Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham tops Indian Universities Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (Amrita University), Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, has emerged as the top Indian university on the Times Higher Education(THE) Impact Rankings 2023.  2023 Impact Rankings is the 5th edition of THE Impact ranking.

  • Globally, Amrita University is ranked 52 among the 1,591 universities from 112 countries.
  • Western Sydney University in Australia has topped the overall ranking followed by University of Manchester, in the United Kingdom(UK) and Queen’s University in Canada.

Indian University among top 100 under Each SDG: 

  • For SDG 1: No Poverty: JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research (Mysuru, Karnataka) is ranked 65th.
  • For SDG 2: Zero Hunger: LPU is ranked 41st.
  • For SDG 3: Good Health and Well Being: JSS Academy is ranked 16th and Amrita university is ranked 23rd and Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research (Chennai, TN) is ranked 83rd.

Recent Related News:
According to the ‘Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023’, the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru (IISc Bengaluru) in Karnataka has secured the number one spot among Indian universities.

  • IISc Bengaluru is Ranked No. 1 among Indian institutions, falling into the 251-300 band after spending three years in the 301-350 band.
  • It is also the only university in India to make the top 300 list.

About Times Higher Education(THE): 
Mission: To be the definitive source of data, insight, and expertise on higher education around the world.
First issue– October 1971
Headquarters– London, United Kingdom (UK)

IRENA’s Low-cost finance for energy transition Report Praises India’s Renewable Energy Growth A report titled ‘Low-cost finance for energy transition’ produced by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) praised India’s achievement in rolling out renewable energy capacity, calling it “unprecedented”.

  • The report was prepared by IRENA in conjunction with India’s G20 Presidency and in close collaboration with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) of India, offers valuable insights concerning access to low-cost finance for the energy transition and the deployment of critical technologies in particular

Key Points of the Report: 
i.India ranked third on the Renewable Energy Attractive Index in 2021 and India’s solar and wind power base is the fourth largest in the world.
ii.India’s renewable energy sector growth is being driven by national targets of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 and 500 GW of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030.

  • Establishment of the government-owned, non-banking finance company, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), in 1987 by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is recognized by the report.
  • The report states that, IREDA has been serving India’s renewable energy sector and the government’s ambitions for the past 35 years and it has helped commission approximately 20 GW of renewable energy capacity in the country through financing to renewable energy developers

iv.Green Bonds:

  • The report mentioned sovereign green bonds as a next logical step to showcase India’s commitment to building a low-carbon economy, mobilise private sector capital for sustainable development and lower the cost of capital for green projects by tapping into new investors.
  • During the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), India set net-zero emissions targets to achieve by 2070.
  • The report estimated that India would need USD 10 trillion between 2022 and 2070 to achieve them to meet its 2070 net-zero target.
  • So far, overall green bond issuance in India has grown significantly to USD 18.3 billion cumulatively, with 2021 being the year with a record issuance of USD 7 billion.

v.India aims to reach about 50% of cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.
vi.Climate finance, green development and lifestyle for the environment (LiFE) are among the key priorities of India’s presidency of the Group of Twenty (G20), under its chosen theme, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (“One Earth, one family, one future”).
Note – International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international co-operation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy.

Security Council Extends UN Political Mission in Sudan for 6 Months

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has agreed to extend the  United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) – United Nations(UN)’s political mission in Sudan, for 6 months  until the 3rd December 2023, as conflicts worsen in Sudan.

  • Adopting resolution 2685 (2023), UNSC also requested the Secretary-General of UN to continue reporting on the implementation of the Mission’s mandate every 90 days and decided to remain actively seized of the matter.

UNITAMS was created in June 2020 to support Sudan’s democratic transition after the fall of Omar al-Bashir government.
The resolution reaffirms the Security Council’s commitment to Sudan’s sovereignty, unity, independence, and territorial integrity.

SEBI Issued Guidelines for Transactions in Corporate Bonds through RFQ platform by SBsOn June 2, 2023, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) issued guidelines for transactions in Corporate Bonds (CBs) through the Request for Quote (RFQ) platform by stock brokers (SBs) in order to increase liquidity on the platform and to enhance the transparency and disclosure pertaining to trading in the secondary market in corporate bonds.
Key Points:
i.SEBI has asked SBs to undertake at least 10% of their total secondary market trades by value in CBs in that month by placing/seeking quotes through one-to-one (OTO) or one-to-many  (OTM) mode on the RFQ platform of stock exchanges.

  • The instruction would be applicable for all the trades in a proprietary capacity with effect from July 01, 2023.

ii.The value would be increased by 25% of their total secondary market trades from April 1, 2024, onwards.
Note – This circular is issued by SEBI in the exercise of powers conferred under Section 11(1) of the SEBI Act, 1992,  to protect the interests of investors in securities and  to  promote  the  development of,  and to  regulate the securities markets.
About Securities and Exchange Board of India ( SEBI):
Chairperson -Madhabi Puri Buch
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharastra
Establishment – 12 April 1992

IRDAI Identified SBI Life as the Acquirer-Insurer of Business of SILIC

On June 2, 2023, The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) identified SBI Life Insurance Company Limited (SBI Life) as the acquirerinsurer of the business of Sahara India Life Insurance Co. (SILIC).

  • In this regard, SBI Life shall take over the policy liabilities of around two lakh policies of SILIC, backed by the policyholders’ assets, with immediate effect.

Note: This decision has been taken by IRDAI in exercise of its powers under sub-section (2) of Section 52B of the Insurance Act, 1938.  Click Here for Official Release
Key Points:
i.For the implementation of the Order in a timebound manner, IRDAI has constituted a committee of Member (Actuary), Member (Life) and Member (F&I).
ii.SBI Life has been instructed to engage with SILIC policyholders, ensuring policy servicing and establishing a dedicated cell to address their queries.

  • They are also required to publish essential information on their website.

iii.IRDAI will closely monitor the situation, providing further directions as needed to safeguard the interests of SILIC policyholders.
The SILIC Background:
SILIC was granted a Certificate of Registration (CoR) in 2004 for life insurance. Due to financial and governance issues, an Administrator was appointed in 2017, preventing the insurer from underwriting new business. Despite multiple directions to meet regulatory requirements, SILIC failed to comply and protect policyholder interests. The company’s portfolio is in a run-off trend with increasing losses and claims. Consequently, on June 2nd, 2023, IRDAI decided to take the above mentioned action to safeguard SILIC policyholders.
About SBI Life Insurance Company Limited (SBI Life):
SBI Life was incorporated in 2000 and was registered with IRDAI in 2001.
MD & CEO– Mahesh Kumar Sharma
Headquarters– Mumbai, Maharashtra
Tagline– Apne Liye.Apno Ke Liye.

RBL Bank Introduces ACE Fixed Deposit Scheme, offering up to 8.50% Interest RateRBL bank Ltd introduced a new fixed deposit scheme named ‘ACE Fixed Deposit scheme’ with an interest of up to 8.50% to provide better saving options for its customers.
Key Points:
i.Term – The Fixed Deposit (FD) scheme is available for terms ranging from 12 months to 20 years, and the customers will have additional alternatives for banks and prizes under the new plan.
ii.The minimum deposit value of the FD scheme is Rs 50 lakh and maximum deposit value is Rs 2 crore.
iii.Eligibility – The scheme is available to both resident and non-resident Indians.
iv.Under the scheme, the bank is offering 20 bps higher rate of interest, over and above the regular callable deposits (Fixed Deposit with premature withdrawal). Moreover, senior citizens and super senior citizens getting 50 bps and 75 bps higher interest rate respectively.
Fixed Deposit Interest Rate:
RBL Bank has also revised its fixed deposit interest rates effective from June 1, 2023 and it offers an interest rate between 3.50% to 7.80% for regular citizens for deposits below Rs 2 crore. Click here to know more.
Under FD the bank offers, Senior Citizens (60 years to less than 80 years) with an additional interest rate of 0.50% per annum (p.a) and Super Senior Citizens (80 years and above) are eligible for an additional interest rate of 0.75% p.a.

  • Senior Citizens/Super Senior Citizens rates are not applicable on Non-Resident Fixed Deposits (NRE/NRO).

About RBL Bank Ltd.:
Establishment – 6 August 1943
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
MD&CEO – R Subramaniakumar
Tagline – apno ka bank

Karbon Card launched Card++, India’s 1st Mobile Based Expense Management CardKarbon Card, a B2B (Business  to Business) payment solution provider launched India’s first-ever mobile-based expense management card namely ‘Card++’.

  • Based on the mobile-first approach, it will address the challenges faced by startups and Small and Midsize Business (SMB) by providing reliable and accessible expense solution, thus,  reducing disruptions caused by the use of multiple payment instruments by SMBs.

i. A dedicated Android app for easy access anytime anywhere
ii. Uncapped cashback on spends.
iii. Customizable transaction controls on the app itself
Key Points:
i.The card is free to use and provides uncapped cash-back offers.
ii.Its features include allowing payments on platforms like Google, Amazon, Swiggy, Ola, etc.

  • It offers a comprehensive and user-friendly expense management experience with its 2-click sign-up process, intuitive Android app for on-the-go access, and seamless top-up options.

iii.It aims to onboard a significant number of new customers by the end of 2023.
About Karbon Card:
Founders– Amit Jangir, Kartik Jain, and Sunil Kumar
Headquarters– Bengaluru, Karnataka
Establishment– 2019

Tata Group to set up Rs 13,000-crore Lithium Ion Battery Giga Factory in Gujarat

The Tata Group will set up India’s first lithium-ion cell manufacturing facility in Gujarat through its subsidiary, at a cost of Rs 13,000 crore which will contribute to the development of a thriving battery manufacturing ecosystem in Gujarat.

  • The plant will have an initial capacity of 20GWh.

In presence of Gujarat’s Chief Minister (CM) Bhupendra Patel, Tata’s Agratas Energy Storage Solutions Private Limited signed a memorandum of understanding(MoU) with the state government as part of the new electronics policy for setting up a gigafactory that aligns with the state’s ambitious goal of achieving 50% carbon emission-free energy and 100% EV adoption by 2030.

  • The plant will help generate direct and indirect employment for some 13,000 individuals.
  • The plant will help reduce Gujarat’s dependence on China and Korea, which currently supply battery cells to India.

The factory will be dedicated to manufacturing lithium-ion cells, which are key components in manufacturing EV batteries.
The plant is expected to start in less than three years in Sanand, northern Gujarat.

Tongan Princess Mele Siu’ilikutapu Passes Away at 75

On 28 May 2023, PrincessMele Siu’ilikutapu Kalaniuvalu Fotofili of Tonga , a member of the Tongan Royal family and a politician, passed away in Auckland, New Zealand at the age of 75. She was born on 12th May 1948 in Tonga, a Polynesian country.
She will be buried in Tonga at the Mala’e Kula Royal Tombs.

  • She was the eldest daughter of Prince Fatafehi Tuipelehake and Melenaite Tupoumoheofo Veikune and the eldest granddaughter of Her Majesty, the late Queen Salote.
  • She served as the 1st elected female parliamentarian in Tonga from 1975 to 1977.
  • She also served as president of the Langafonua Gallery & Handicrafts Centre, established by the late Queen Salote to empower Tongan women with traditional skills and talents.
  • She served as the patron of Tonga Health Society Langimalie Clinic (since 2018) and the Lapaha Council, Tonga’s 1st village council.

World Bicycle Day 2023- June 3 The United Nations (UN)‘s World Bicycle Day is annually observed on 3rd June across the world to promote the benefits of cycling and raise awareness about the social, economic importance of bicycles, which contributes to a cleaner Environment.

  • The day also celebrates the bicycle as a simple, affordable, reliable, clean, healthy, environmentally friendly and sustainable means of transport.

iIn April 2018, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the resolution A/RES/72/272 during its 72nd Regular sessionand proclaimed 3rd June of every year as World Bicycle Day.
ii. The declaration was adopted by a consensus of 193 member states that encouraged them to include bicycles in regional, international, and subnational development programmes and policies.
iii. The first UN designated World Bicycle Day was observed on 3rd June 2018.
About United Nations (UN):
Founded in– 24 October 1945
Secretary-General– António Guterres
Headquarters– New York, the United States of America (USA)

Maharashtra Cabinet launched new Portal “Maha Labharthi” for implementing “Shasan Aplya Dari” Scheme

On 17th May 2023, the Maharashtra Cabinet chaired by Eknath Shinde, launched an initiative Shasan Aplya Dari’ (government at your doorstep) aimed at providing citizens the necessary information and full benefits of various schemes of the government.
The state government of Maharashtra will now use a new portal called Maha Labharthi, which means mega beneficiary, where all the state schemes will be enlisted.
The portal Maha Labharth developed by Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited (MKCL) will be used by the state government for effective implementation of its Shasan Aplya Dari scheme.
The objective of ‘Shasan Aplya dari’ is to take various benefits of the government schemes at the doorstep of the common people without any inconvenience.
Registration Process:
iOnce launched, the citizens can visit the MahaLabharthi website and after filling the requisite information, he/she would get a list of government schemes, which he/she wants to use and get benefits of it.
ii. The portal will also provide information about the government office from where one can inquire about the government scheme and its associated benefits and the necessary documents to avail the benefits.
Authorisation Centre:
iThe Maharashtra State Certificate in Information Technology (MS-CIT) centres as well as Common Service Centre (CSC) at the district level will authorise the citizens, who are all eligible to visit and get the information.
ii. Upon filling the form, the citizens availing the government schemes will be provided a letter signed by the Chief Minister (CM) and the deputy CM of the Maharashtra state.
iii. The letter can be taken to the concerned government office or to a place hosting the ‘Shasan Aplya dari’ program.

  • For this initiative a dedicated team has been set up in the CM’s office and 15,146 volunteers have been appointed for the same across the state.

About Maharashtra:
Chief Minister– Eknath Shinde
Governor– Ramesh Bais
Zoological Park– Balasaheb Thackeray Gorewada International Zoological Park and Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park (Peshwa Park)

TN govt signed 6 MoUs worth Rs 818.9 crores with Japanese CompaniesOn 29th May 2023, The Tamil Nadu (TN) government signed six memoranda of understanding (MoUs) worth over Rs 818.9 crore with Japanese Companies during Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin nine-day visit to Japan and Singapore.
Details of the MOUs:
i.On behalf of  Tamil Nadu Government, Tamil Nadu Industrial Guidance Corporation  signed an MOU worth over Rs 112 cr with KyoKuto Satrac to manufacture truck parts in Kancheepuram district.
ii.Shimizu Corporation signed an MOU with Tamil Nadu Industrial Guidance Corporation to undertake construction, engineering and related business in Tamil Nadu.
iii.Mitsuba India Pvt Ltd signed an MOU with Tamil Nadu Industrial Guidance Corporation to manufacture spare parts for four and two vehicles at an investment of Rs 155 crore.
iv.Sato-Shoji Metal Works signed an MOU for setting up a factory for manufacturing of highquality steel components used in the aerospace, defence and construction equipment sector with an investment of Rs 200 crore.
v.Kohyei signed an MOU with Tamil Nadu Industrial Guidance Corporation worth over Rs 200 crore to manufacture polycarbonate sheets, roofing systems, and extrusion lines for electronic components for use in the construction industry.
vi.Tofle signed an MOU with Tamil Nadu Industrial Guidance Corporation worth over Rs 150 to manufacture stainless steel specialised flexible hoses.
Other Highlights of CM’s visit:
i. In addition to this, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with
Omron Healthcare, a Japan-based manufacturer and distributor of personal healthcare products, will set up a medicaldevices manufacturing plant in Tamil Nadu at a cost of Rs128 crore.
ii.TN CM M K Stalin participated in a joint conference with Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) to invite Japanese companies to invest in Tamil Nadu and also invited major Japanese companies to participate in global investors’ meet in Chennai to be held in January 2024.
About Tamil Nadu:
Chief Minister– M K Stalin
Governor– R N Ravi
Airport– Chennai International Airport, Coimbatore International Airport

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