Current Affairs – 4 July 2023

India and France Conduct Joint Maritime Exercise off VisakhapatnamIn a demonstration of their strong naval partnership, the Indian Navy and the French Navy carried out a joint Maritime Partnership Exercise (MPX) in the Bay of Bengal along the coast of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. The exercise involved the participation of Indian Naval Ships INS Rana (a guided missile destroyer) and INS Sumedha (an indigenously built offshore patrol vessel), alongside the French Navy’s La Fayette class frigate FS Surcouf.

  • During FS Surcouf’s visit to Visakhapatnam from June 26-29, a range of activities were undertaken to foster professional and social interactions between the two navies.
  • These activities included sporting events, cross-deck visits, and exchanges aimed at promoting mutual understanding and camaraderie.

Key Highlight:
The MPX commenced with INS Rana and INS Sumedha, along with FS Surcouf, engaging in a series of joint exercises. These exercises encompassed tactical manoeuvres, replenishment at sea (RAS) approaches, air defence operations, and cross-deck helicopter operations. The exercises showcased the seamless coordination and interoperability between the Indian and French naval forces.

  • The exercise not only enhanced the naval capabilities of both forces but also emphasised their shared commitment to maintaining a secure and stable maritime environment in the Bay of Bengal region.

Additional Info:
i. As strategic partners, the Indian Navy and the French Navy continue to strengthen their bonds through joint exercises, fostering greater interoperability and reinforcing naval diplomacy between the two nations.
ii. From March 10 to March 11, 2023, a Maritime Partnership Exercise (MPX) took place between the Indian Navy and the French Navy. During this exercise, the French Navy’s frigate FS La Fayette and Mistral-class amphibious assault ship FS Dixmude participated alongside the Indian Navy’s guided missile frigate INS Sahyadri.

PM launched National Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission and issued AB-PMJAY cards in Madhya Pradesh        On 1st July 2023, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister (PM) of India launched the National Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission (NSCEM) as part of the National Health Mission (NHM) and released the guidelines for Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission in Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh to eliminate anaemia by 2047. Along with the initiative of NSCEM, the PM also distributed sickle cell genetic status cards to the beneficiaries.

  • The PM also initiated the distribution of Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) cards of about 3.57 crore beneficiaries, with 1 crore cards already being issued to the beneficiaries in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The ceremony for the distribution of AB-PMJAY cards was being organised at urban bodies, Gram panchayats and Development Blocks across Madhya Pradesh.

About Madhya Pradesh:
Chief Minister- Shivraj Singh Chouhan
Governor- Mangubhai C. Patel
Tiger Reserve- Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Kanha Tiger Reserve

IN & ICG signed MoU with IPRCL to develop a gallery at NMHCOn 2nd July 2023, The Indian Navy (IN) and Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Indian Port Rail & Ropeway Corporation Ltd (IPRCL) in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, to set up a Naval gallery at National Maritime Heritage Complex (NHMC).

  • The MoU aims at Planning, Development, Construction, and Commissioning of Gallery No.6, based on the theme, “Evolution of Indian Navy & Indian Coast Guard” in Phase 1A of this Project.

Note: Sarbananda Sonowal reviewed the project process of National Maritime Heritage Complex,World’s biggest maritime museum complex, Lothal in Gandhinagar, Gujarat
i.This MoU has been signed by Commandant PV Gopal, Project Officer, NMHC, Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and AK Gupta, Managing Director(MD), Indian Port Rail & Ropeway Corporation Ltd.
ii.The signing of MoU took place in presence of Sarbananda Sonowal, MoPSW, Bhupendrabhai Patel, Chief Minister(CM) of Gujarat, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Shantanu Thakur and Shripad Yesso Naik, Ministers of State(MoS) MoPSW and senior officers of the Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy.
About NHMC:
i.Ministry of Ports,Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) is building NHMC at the historic Indus Valley civilization (IVC) region in Lothal, Gujarat, at an investment of Rs 4,500 crore.
ii.The foundation stone for the project was laid by Prime Minister(PM) Narendra Modi in March 2019.
iii.Indian Navy and coast guard will work for the planning, development, construction, and commissioning of the gallery.
Key highlights: 
i.NMHC complex will have World’s Tallest Lighthouse Museum, Asia’s Biggest Under Water Marine Museum and India’s Grandest Naval Museum
i.iIt will showcase the maritime heritage of the country from ancient to modern times by adopting an edutainment approach using the latest technology to spread awareness about India’s maritime heritage.
iii.It will comprise of Lothal mini recreation to recreate Harappan architecture and lifestyle; four theme parks – Memorial theme park, Maritime and Navy theme park, Climate theme park, and Adventure and Amusement theme park; 14 galleries highlighting India’s maritime heritage starting from the Harappan times till now; a Coastal States pavilion displaying the diverse maritime heritage of states and Union Territories(UT).
Note: NMHC is one of the major projects of Sagarmala Programme under MoPSW.
About Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW):
Union Minister- Sarbananda Sonowal
Minister of State- Shantanu Thakur; Shripad Yesso Naik.

Kishan Reddy releases postal cover on “9 Years of Telangana Statehood” 

On 30th June 2023, G Kishan Reddy, Union Minister for Tourism, released a special postal cover to commemorate “9 Years of Telangana Statehood” and Picture Post cards (a set of 5 cards) on “Buddhist Heritage in Telangana – Bavapur Kurru” at an event in Dak Sadan, Hyderabad, Telangana.

  • The special postal cover featuring Dhulikatta Buddhist stupa is priced at Rs 50 and the set of Bavapur Kurru post cards are priced at Rs 200.
  • These will be available at all head post offices.

About the Special postal cover: 
The special postal cover released by the Department of Post features the Dhulikatta Buddhist stupa, situated on the banks of Hussaini Vagu at Dhulikatta in Peddapalli district, Telangana. The Stupa is Palaeographically datable to 2nd century B.C.

  • The Buddhist stupa belongs to the Hinayana sect of Buddhism.
  • Satavahana period stupa is characterized by a snake (Nagamuchilinda) guarding the Buddha and it is inscribed in ancient Brahmi script.

About the Set of Picture Post Cards: 
The set of 5 cards traces the events of Bavari, journey of a Brahmin sage from the Parayanavagga of Suttanipata, and the introduction of Buddha Dhamma.

  • The cards depicts the life event of a Buddhist monk Bavari,who settled in Assaka Janapada and sent 16 of his disciples to Magadha to meet the Buddha.

Bavapur Kurru:
i.Bavapur Kurru is the Buddhist site, located on an island in the middle of the river Godavari, 14 kms from Khanapur town in Nirmal District, Telangana. This site was found by archaeologists in 2019.
ii.The Buddhist literature mentioned about the spread of Buddhism in Telangana in Parayanavagga of Sutta-Nipata, a collection of religious discourse, speaks of Bavari, a Brahmin priest who came from Kosala in Magadha to settle on an island of the Godavari River.
Telangana Statehood Day – 2nd July:
i.Telangana was formed as the 29th State of India on 2nd July 2014.
ii.The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act of 2014, (Telangana Act), is an Act of Indian Parliament that split the state of Andhra Pradesh into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
2nd July 2023 marks the 9th Statehood Day of Telangana.

The 2nd edition of the JDCC meeting between India and Tanzania

On 28th & 29th of June 2023 the second edition of Joint Defence Cooperation Committee (JDCC) meeting was held  between India and Tanzania in Arusha, Tanzania, East Africa focused on a wide range of opportunities for collaboration with a view to enhancing security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

  • India and Tanzania have finalised a five-year roadmap to expand defence and maritime, infrastructure building and collaboration in military equipment and technology.

The Indian delegation, led by Joint Secretary Amitabh Prasad, included  officials from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Armed Forces and Binay S Pradhan,High Commissioner of India to Tanzania.

WHO reports: In 2019, 395,000 deaths of children under 5 due to Unsafe WASHAccording to the World Health Organization (WHO) report titled Burden of disease attributable to unsafe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2019 update, among children under the age of 5, unsafe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) was responsible for 395 000 deaths and 37 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). This represents 7.6% of all deaths and 7.5% of all DALYs in this age group.

  • This also includes 273 000 deaths from diarrhoea and 112 000 deaths from acute respiratory infections, top 2 infectious causes of death for children under 5 globally.

About the WHO Report:
i.The report provides the estimates of the burden of disease attributes to unsafe WASH for 183 WHO Member states for the year 2019.
ii. The estimates are based on 4 health outcomes –  diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections (ARIs), undernutrition (protein-energy malnutrition (PEM)), and soil-transmitted helminthiases (STH).

  • These are included in reporting of sustainable development goal (SDG) indicator 3.9.2 on mortality attributed to unsafe WASH.

Key Highlights:
i.According to the report, half of the world’s population still does not have adequate access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, which caused the death of at least 1.4 million people and 74 million DALY in 2019.

  • About 771 million people lack access to safe water and 1.7 billion people don’t have a toilet globally.

ii. STHs affect an estimated 1.5 billion people or 24% of the world’s population.
iii. Diarrhoeal disease accounted for most of the attributable burden, with over one million deaths and 55 million DALYs.
iv. The second largest contributor was ARIs from inadequate hand hygiene, which was linked to 356 000 deaths and 17 million DALYs.
v. It was estimated that 10% of the burden of undernutrition, PEM among children under 5 could be attributable to unsafe WASH, representing a total of 8,000 deaths and 825,000 DALYs in this age group.
vi. Data in the report showed, only 3% of countries had a formal policy or a plan in place with at least 75% costing plan available to implement these policies.
vii. WHO African and South-East Asian Regions contributed to around 3 quarters of all WASH attributable deaths, with 510,000 and 593,000 deaths respectively.
viii. Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mongolia, Pakistan and Sao Tome and Principe experienced the fastest progress on access to basic hand hygiene services, with coverage increasing by more than 10% points between 2015 and 2020.

Highlights of RBI’s 27th Financial Stability Report, June 2023i.On June 28, 2023, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released its half yearly publication
i.e. 27th Financial Stability Report (FSR), June 2023, which assesses risks to financial stability and the resilience of the Indian financial system. It reflects the collective evaluation of the Sub-Committee of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC).
ii.As per it, Indian economy and the domestic financial system remain resilient despite global headwinds.
iii.According to stress test results published in the FSR, under the baseline scenario, the aggregate Capital to Risk-Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) of 46 major banks is projected to slip from 17.1% (historical high) in March 2023 to 16.1% by March 2024.
iv.SCBs’ Gross Non-Performing Assets (GNPA) ratio continued its downtrend and fell to a 10-year low of 3.9% in March 2023 and the net non-performing assets (NNPA) ratio declined to 1% of total loans, the lowest figure since June 2011.
v.The RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das launched the Reserve Bank’s next generation data warehouse, viz., the Centralised Information Management System (CIMS) during the 17th Annual Statistics Day Conference on June 30, 2023.

Indian Bank and NeSL Collaborate to Introduce Digital Services under Project WAVEIndian Bank, a leading public sector lender, joined hands with National E-Governance Services Ltd (NeSL) to roll out a range of digital services as part of its ambitious digital transformation initiative, Project WAVE (World of Advance Virtual Experience), which was initiated in January 2022. These innovative services are set to revolutionise the banking experience by significantly reducing the turnaround time for bank guarantee issuance and delivery.
i. As part of their digital transformation efforts, Indian Bank and NeSL have introduced an electronic bank guarantee (e-BG) service to replace traditional paper-based processes.
ii. This move eliminates the need for physical stamp paper and customer signatures, replacing them with digital stamping and e-signing.
The result is a streamlined process that reduces the average turnaround time for bank guarantees from the industry standard of 3-4 working days to just a few minutes.
Additional Info:
In addition, Indian Bank has launched a fully digital process for eligible individuals and businesses to access pre-approved business loans.

  • The digital vehicle loan product allows individual customers to obtain their desired vehicle with ease, with loan values of up to Rs 25 lakh available.

Future Outcomes:
The partnership with NeSL and the implementation of Project WAVE will empower customers with faster and more efficient processes, revolutionizing the way banking services are delivered.
About Indian Bank:
MD & CEO – Shanti Lal Jain
Headquarters   Chennai
Tagline – Your Own Bank
Established in – 1907

SBI Revamps YONO App; Launches Interoperable Cardless Cash Withdrawal facilityOn 2nd July 2023, The State Bank of India (SBI) revamped its digital banking app, ‘YONO for Every Indian,’ and introduced the Interoperable Cardless Cash Withdrawal (ICCW) facility, aimed at providing greater convenience to customers. These updates were unveiled on SBI’s 68th Bank Day.

  • The revamped YONO (You Only Need One) app aims to meet customer expectations for a seamless and pleasant digital experience, turning the vision of ‘YONO for Every Indian’ into a reality.
  • The enhanced YONO application now includes Unified Payment Interface (UPI) features like Scan and Pay, Pay by Contacts, and Request Money, expanding SBI’s commitment to inclusive and customer-centric digital banking services.

About Interoperable Cardless Cash Withdrawal (ICCW):
The Interoperable Cardless Cash Withdrawal (ICCW) facility allows both SBI customers and customers of other banks to withdraw cash from any bank’s ATM using a single-use dynamic QR code. SBI aims to encourage customers of other banks to join the YONO journey.
i. Users can easily withdraw cash by scanning the QR code using their UPI application’s Scan and Pay feature.
ii. This feature simplifies the cash withdrawal process and enhances security by eliminating the need for a PIN or physical handling of a debit card, minimising risks such as shoulder surfing or card cloning.
About YONO – You Only Need One

  • Since its launch in 2017, the YONO app has gained popularity, with over 60 million registered users. In the fiscal year 2022-2023, 7.86 million savings accounts, accounting for 64% of total accounts, were acquired digitally through YONO.

About State Bank of India
Chairman – Dinesh Kumar Khara
Headquarters – Mumbai
Tagline – The Banker to Every Indian
Established in – 1955

Ajit Pawar Took Oath as the Maharashtra Deputy CM

On 2nd July 2023, Ajit Pawar took oath as the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra in the presence of chief minister(CM) Eknath Shinde and existing deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis at Raj Bhavan, Mumbai, Maharashtra, by joining the National Democratic Alliance.

  • Along with him eight other Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)leaders took oath as ministers.

They are Chhagan Bhujbal, Dilip Walse Patil, Hasan Mushrif, Dhananjay Munde, Aditi Tatkare, Dharmarao Atram, Anil Patil, and Sanjay Bansode.
He has also brought 29 Member of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) from NCP to the Shinde faction and has resigned as the Leader of the Opposition.

PM Prasad takes over as Coal India chairman

On 1st July 2023, PM Prasad took charge as newly-appointed chairman and managing director (CMD) of Coal India Limited (CIL) by succeeding  Pramod Agrawal, who superannuated on June 30, 2023.

  • He was previously holding the charge of CMD of Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) since October 1, 2020.

About PM Prasad:
i.He began his CIL career in 1984 as a management trainee at Western Coalfields Limited and served in different CIL subsidiaries.
ii.He also had a three-year stint in National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) as Executive Director (coal mining).
iii.He was awarded as ‘Best Mines Manager’ from Secretary Coal, Ministry of Coal (MoC) and Chairman, Coal India Limited in 1995.
iv.When he led the commencement of coal mining operations at Pakribarwadih mines, Hazaribagh, Jharkhand in 2016, it was bestowed with the first prize in ‘Swarn Shakti Awards’.
v.Under his leadership, NCL was awarded at the World Environmental Conference in June 2018 for outstanding work in environment conservation.

Home Minister Amit Shah launched Make in India “Akshar River Cruise” on Sabarmati Riverfront, GujaratOn 2nd July 2023, Amit Shah, Union Minister of Home Affairs and Cooperation, virtually launched the ‘Akshar River Cruise‘ on Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. This is the first passenger catamaran built in India under the “Make in India” initiative.

  • The Akshar River Cruise is a floating restaurant developed under Public Private Partnership by Akshar Travels. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Limited (SRFDCL) at a cost of Rs.15 crore
  • The cruise has a capacity of 165 passengers.

Features of the Akshar River Cruise:
iThe 30-metre-long luxury cruise, with two engines and a two-hour drive, will help boost tourism with attractions such as live music and tasty vegetarian and Jain food.
ii. The river cruise is equipped with 180 life safety jackets, a fire sprinkler system against fire.
iii. Emergency rescue boats/life boats have also been designed for the safety of the people.
iv. The cruise has become the centre of various social and cultural activities for everyone including senior citizens, Children and Youths.
The riverfront was a brainchild of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he was the Gujarat chief minister.
Tourism Initiatives of Gujarat:
Under the Sarhad Darshan Programme (Border visit programme), arrangements have also been made to give the youth of Gujarat an experience of Nadabet, the Indo-Pak border in Gujarat, where the border security forces (BSF) performs their duties in difficult circumstances.

SpaceX Launches European Space Telescope Euclid to Explore ‘Dark Universe’On 1st July 2023, SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched a European Space Agency (ESA) telescope Euclid from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA into orbit on a mission to study the nature and properties of dark energy and dark matter

  • The Telescope is designed to observe galaxies across a wide range of wavelengths.

Key highlights: 
i.The spacecraft will have a 1.2-metre-wide telescope and two instruments

  • A visible-wavelength camera
  • A near-infrared camera/spectrometer

ii.The detectors of the near-infrared instruments have been supplied by NASA.
iii.The spacecraft measures 4.7 Meters Tall And 3.7 Meters Round.
ESA’s Euclid Mission:
The mission is the second medium-class mission (M2) in the Cosmic Vision program (2015-2025) adopted by ESA’s Science Program Committee (SPC) in June 2012, and launched on July 1, 2023.
About Euclid Space Telescope:
i.It is named after the Greek mathematician, Euclid of Alexandria.
ii.It plans to explore the origin and components of the Universe and the fundamental laws that govern it by remaining operational for a minimum of six years.
iii.The telescope will deliver images that are at least four times sharper than ground-based ones.
iv.It looks at the shapes and movement of galaxies from different points between the pull of gravity and the push of dark energy.
Note: Euclid will travel to the 2nd Lagrangian Point (Orbiting Spot ) about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.

James Webb Space Telescope helps researchers unveil 6 new galaxies

In June 2023, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has helped researchers identify the earliest galaxies ever seen – within the first 650 million years after the Universe was born in the Big Bang,

  • The project, is known as the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES).

JWST has discovered six Monster galaxies, formed roughly 500-700 million years after the Big Bang,
6 distant galaxies captured by JWST:
i.The record holder (JADES-GS-z13-0)
ii.The glowing dog bone
iv.The big clumpy one
v.The inside-out one
vi.The cosmic rose

Red Bull Driver Max Verstappen Wins Formula 1 (F1) 2023 Austrian Grand PrixDutch-Belgium racing Driver Max Verstappen won the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix (Officially known as Formula 1 Rolex Groser Preis Von Österreich 2023) at the circuit Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria.

  • Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (Monacan Driver) finished 2nd position and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez (Mexican Driver) finished 3rd position

About Max Verstappen: 
i.This marks Max Verstappen’s seventh win out of Nine F1 events in 2023 and also marks 42nd F1 win, the fifth highest in F1 games surpassing Brazilian Aryton Senna Da Silva’s 41 victory in F1.
ii.The Spanish Grand Prix, Monaco Grand Prix, Miami Grand Prix, Australian Grand Prix, Bahrain Grand Prix, Canadian Grand Prix, and Austrian Grand Prix are the events won by Max Verstappen in 2023.
Ferrari’sCharles Leclerc won the 2022 edition of Austrian Grand Prix,while Max Verstappen finished second in that event.
2023 Championship (Driver Standings – As of 2023 Austrian Grand Prix ) 

  • Number of Laps – 71
  • Circuit Length – 4.318km
  • Race Distance – 306.452 km

World Sports Journalists Day 2023 – July 2 World Sports Journalist Day is annually observed all over the world on 2nd July to acknowledge and honour the hard work of sports journalists across the world. The day also commemorates the foundation of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS Association Internationale de la Presse Sportive) in 1924 in Paris, France.
2nd July 2023 marked the 99th Anniversary of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS).
iWorld Sports Journalists Day was established by the AIPS in 1994 to mark the 70th anniversary of its foundation and celebrate the achievements of members of the sporting media.
ii. To mark the foundation of AIPS, July 2nd each year has been designated World Sports Journalists Day.
iii. The first-ever World Sports Journalists Day was observed on July 2nd 1994.

International Plastic Bag Free Day 2023 – July 3International Plastic Bag Free Day is annually observed across the globe on 3rd July to create awareness about the hazardous effects of single-use plastic bags on the environment.

  • The day is a reminder for individuals and communities globally to decrease their reliance on plastic bags and look for sustainable solutions as an alternative.

i.The first International Plastic Bag Free Day was observed on 3rd July 2023, initiated by Rezero, a member of Zero Waste Europe (ZWE).
ii.The first edition took place in Catalonia ,Barcelona, Spain, and later in 2009 ZWE decided to launch it at European level.

  • The European Union(EU), in 2015, passed specific directives to decrease the dependence on single-use plastic bags.

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