Kisan e-Mitra: Union MoS Kailash Choudhary Launched AI Chatbot for PM-KISAN SchemeKailash Choudhary, Minister of State (MoS) for the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA&FW), launched “Kisan e-Mitra”, an AI (Artificial Intelligence) Chatbot for the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme in New Delhi, Delhi.
- The chatbot will enhance the efficiency and accessibility of the PM-KISAN scheme, providing farmers with rapid, clear, and easily accessible responses to their inquiries.
Points to note:
i.The MoA&FW successfully integrated the AI chatbots into government schemes. This is the first AI Chatbot integrated with a major Union government flagship scheme.
ii.This initiative is in line with the Government of India’s (GoI) vision of leveraging technology for the betterment of farmers’ lives and governance.
About Kisan e-Mitra:
Objective: The introduction of the AI chatbot in the PM-KISAN grievance management system is aimed at empowering farmers with a user-friendly and accessible platform.
i.The AI Chatbot acts as a comprehensive guide for the beneficiaries, providing them with timely and accurate responses to their queries related to the scheme.
ii.It has been developed and improved with the support of the EKstep Foundation and Bhashini.
iii.In the initial phase, the AI chatbot assists farmers with:
- Application status queries.
- Payment details.
- Ineligibility status.
- Scheme-related updates.
iv.The AI Chatbot, accessible through the PM KISAN mobile app, is integrated with Bhashini for multilingual support, addressing the linguistic and regional diversity among PM KISAN beneficiaries.
- Currently, the Chatbot is available in English, Hindi, Bengali, Odia, and Tamil. In a short period, it will be made available in all 22 official languages of India.
Benefits: The AI Chatbot will help in accessing scheme information and resolving grievances.
- The scope of this service needs to broaden with other related issues like weather information, soil conditions bank payments, and others.
Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme:
i.The PM-KISAN is a central sector scheme launched in February 2019 to support the financial needs of land-holding farmers in India (with 100% funding from GoI).
ii.The scheme offers an annual financial benefit of Rs 6,000, in 3 equal installments to eligible farmers’ families through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode.
Department of Social Justice & Empowerment and All World Gayatri Pariwar signed MoU for NMBA awarenessOn September 22, 2023, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been inked between the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJ&E), and All World Gayatri Pariwar at Dr. Ambedkar International Centre in New Delhi, Delhi for spreading the message of NMBA among the youth, women, students and the community under the banner of All World Gayatri Pariwar.
- This MoU is a boost towards achieving the objective of drug sensitized India.
- The MoU was signed in the presence of Union Minister Dr. Virendra Kumar, MoSJ&E, Dr. Chinmay Pandya, All World Gayatri Pariwar, among others.
i.Alcohol is the most frequently used psychoactive substance in India, followed by Cannabis and Opioids, according to the first comprehensive National Survey on Substance Use conducted by the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment through the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) at AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), New Delhi.
ii.MoSJ&E is actively combating drug demand through the implementation of the National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR).
- NAPDDR is an umbrella scheme that provides financial assistance to State Governments and Union Territories (UTs) for various initiatives, including Preventive Education and Awareness Generation, Capacity Building, Skill Development, Vocational Training, and support for the livelihood of former drug addicts.
About Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan (NMBA):
In August 2020, MoSJ&E has formulated and launched NMBA in 272 Districts across 32 State/Union Territories identified as most vulnerable in terms of usage of drugs. Its aim is to create awareness about ill effects of substance abuse among the youth, with special focus on higher education institutes, university campuses, schools, among others.
About All World Gayatri Pariwar
Head/Mentor– Dr. Pranav Pandya
Headquarters– Haridwar, Uttarakhand
SIMBEX 2023: Indian Navy Conducts Maritime Exercise with Singapore at South China SeaThe Indian Navy (IN) and the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) participate in the 30th edition of the Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX 2023), a joint naval combat exercise, from 21st to 28th September 2023 in the southern parts of the South China Sea off the coast of Singapore.
SIMBEX 2023 is conducted in two phases including the land phase and the sea phase.
- The land phase will include table-top activities and planning meetings.
- It is held from 21st to 24th September 2023 at RSS Singapura – Changi Naval Base, Singapore.
- The sea phase will see the navies engage in various naval drills, including anti-submarine warfare and live weapon firing.
- It is held from 25th to 28th September 2023 in the southern reaches of the South China Sea in international waters.
- The Harbour Phase will witness a wide range of professional interactions, cross-deck visits, Subject Matter Expert Exchanges (SMEE) and sports fixtures, aimed at enhancing interoperability and mutual understanding between the two navies.
i.Indian Navy’s Rajput-class destroyer INS Ranvijay, Kamorta-class corvette INS Kavaratti, Sindhughosh class diesel-electric submarine INS Sindhukesari and a P-8I maritime patrol aircraft are taking part in this exercise.
ii.The Republic of Singapore Navy’s two Formidable-class frigates Republic of Singapore Ship (RSS) Stalwart and RSS Tenacious, an S-70B naval helicopter, and the Victory-class missile corvette RSS Valour are taking part in this exercise.
- The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is also participating in the exercise with a Fokker-50 maritime patrol aircraft and four F-15SG fighter aircraft.
During the opening ceremony, RSN’s Fleet Commander Colonel (COL) Kwan Hon Chuong and India’s Eastern Naval Command Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Vice Admiral Rajesh Pendharkar unveiled the commemorative logo of its 30th edition of the bilateral exercise.
- SIMBEX, first held in 1994, is the longest continuous naval exercise that India has had with any other country.
- Indian Navy hosted the 29th edition of SIMBEX in October 2022 at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh(AP), India.
Highlights of SIMBEX 2023:
i.The Indian Navy and the Republic of Singapore Navy will also sign a submarine rescue joint standard operating procedures (JSOP) agreement.
ii.During the shore phase, sailors from both navies will conduct joint planning, professional exchanges, and sporting activities.
iii.During the sea phase, both fleets will perform a series of naval serials in the air, surface, and underwater domains, including gunnery firing, air defence, anti-submarine, communication, and navigation exercises.
- The exercise will be concluded with a sail-past of participating ships.
UPNEDA and SIDBI Signed MoU to Promote Green Projects A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been inked between the Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Development Agency (UPNEDA), and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) for solarization of residential units at Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh (UP) and for bio-energy and renewable project financing.
- The agreement was inked during an event organised in the SIDBI’s Lucknow Office in UP.
- This MoU will help in promoting solar energy, and encourage innovations for environment friendly projects.
It should be noted that the State Government of UP has nominated Ayodhya to be developed as a Solar City.
i.During the event, emphasis were laid on creating awareness about digital and latest initiatives being undertaken by SIDBI through ‘Promotional campaign for Financing Solar/ Green Projects’ for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector.
ii.It should be noted that the Central Government is installing solar rooftop panels in 2500 MSMEs, and also targets 30% electrification of vehicles by the year 2030, under the EV30@30 mission.
- SIDBI is supporting both missions of the Government.
iii.Through this event, information was shared among MSMEs regarding the solar and green projects and direct financing products being offered by SIDBI.
About Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Development Agency (UPNEDA):
It is an autonomous institution functioning as nodal agency for implementation of various schemes in the state.
Director– Anupam Shukla
Headquarters– Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh
About Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI):
It was established under an Act of Parliament in 1990.
Chairman & Managing Director– Sivasubramanian Ramann
Headquarters– Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Axis Bank launches ‘NEO for Business’ for MSMEs On September 21, 2023, Axis Bank launched ‘NEO for Business’, a distinctive one-stop Transaction Banking platform for Indian Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). This is a first-of-its-kind comprehensive digital proposition that supports real, current, and emerging Transaction Banking needs of MSMEs.
- It has contemporary UX (User Experience)/UI (User Interface) along with bank-grade security features.
- “NEO for Business” is the latest launch as part of “NEO by Axis Bank” branding. NEO by Axis Bank is the digital banking proposition for its corporate banking customers/clients.
About NEO for Business:
i.It offers a wide array of Banking and Beyond Banking features such as: Digital self on-boarding, Bulk Payments, GST Compliant Invoicing, Payment Gateway integration, 360° Customer View, End to End Transaction Tracking, Auto Reconciliation, Recurring Collections, Cash Flow Reports, among others.
ii.These features make banking easier for MSMEs, allowing them to do transactions without going to a bank branch.
iii.Axis Bank’s existing Current Account holders can access NEO for Business on mobile through an app or web registration. Initially, it serves sole proprietors and individuals in the MSME sector, with plans to expand to companies, partnerships, and LLPs (Limited Liability Partnership).
About Axis Bank:
Managing Director (MD) & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – Amitabh Chaudhry
Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
Established in – 1993 (begun operations in 1994)
Tagline – Badhti ka Naam Zindagi
Utkarsh Small Finance Bank Launched Interoperable Cardless Cash Withdrawal (ICCW) Using UPI on ATMsUtkarsh Small Finance Bank Limited (USFBL) launched Interoperable Cardless Cash Withdrawal (ICCW) service with an aim to allow Unified Payment Interface (UPI) enabled cardless cash withdrawal from Utkarsh Small Finance Bank Automated Teller Machine (ATM).
- This is in line with notification ‘ICCW at ATMs’ released by Reserve Bank of India(RBI) in 2022 under Section 10(2) read with Section 18 of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 (Act 51 of 2007).
- ICCW is also known as UPI-ATM; It enables withdrawal through Quick Response(QR) code.
i.Card-less cash withdrawal through ATMs is a permitted mode of transaction offered by a few banks in India on an on-us and Off-us basis.
ii.UPI users can withdraw cash from any participating banks’ ATMs (enabled for UPI-ATM) via UPI mobile application instead of using a physical card.
iii.By scanning single-use dynamic QR code displayed on the ATM screen and authorising the transaction with UPI PIN, a customer can withdraw money from an ATM.
iv.As far as transaction Limits is concerned, customers can enjoy up to two ICCW transactions per day per account, with a withdrawal limit of Rs. 10,000/- per transaction.
Key Features of ICCW:
i.ICCW allows customers to withdraw cash from any ATM, regardless of which bank they use. This is especially convenient for people who have multiple bank accounts.
ii.Since the whole transaction is cardless, the card-related frauds like skimming, cloning etc can be reduced.
iii.The process is considered to be more secured as it uses dynamic QR code for each transaction.
iv.Customers need not carry multiple credit/debit cards.
v.It will be useful for customers who have completed KYC (Know Your Customer) but have not yet received a physical card.
vi.ICCW allows Cash withdrawal from Multiple UPI-Linked Accounts along with streamlined interaction with ATM Machines.
About Utkarsh Small Finance Bank Limited (USFBL):
Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer(CEO) – Govind Singh
Headquarters – Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Incorporated in – 2016
Highlights of Raj Bhasha Kirti Puraskar 2022-23
The Rajbhasha Kirti Puraskar 2022-23 ,the most prestigious award offered by the Indian government for “achievements in implementing the official language” was presented at the Hindi Diwas Samaroh 2023.This prestigious award ceremony was part of the 3rd All-India Official Language Conference (Akhil Bharatiya Rajbhasha Sammelan) took place at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi, Pune, Maharashtra, from September 14-15.
Organized and Presented Annually by: Department of Official Language, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
- Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare Receives First Prestigious Raj Bhasha Kirti Puraskar, 2022-23.
- Power Finance Corporation (PFC) received the prestigious ‘Rajbhasha Kirti Puraskar’ in the ‘A’ category for the year 2022-23. PFC secured the third position in this category.
- Banking Institutions such as Punjab National Bank,Bank of Baroda,Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) ,Central Bank of India, UCO Bank and Bank of Maharashtra have been recognised in different categories.
India set to Host 17th International Congress on the Chemistry of Cement in 2027 in New Delhi
India won the bid to host the 17th International Congress on the Chemistry of Cement (ICCC) in 2027 in New Delhi, Delhi. The decision was announced during the ongoing 16th ICCC (2023) in Bangkok, Thailand held from 18 to 22 September 2023.
Besides India, other bidders were from Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
- India’s bid was made by National Council for Cement and Building Materials (NCCBM / NCB) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi. The bid was presented by Dr L P Singh, Director General, NCCBM; Dr S K Chaturvedi, Joint Director, NCB and Dr Shashank Bishnoi, Professor (Civil Engg.), IIT Delhi.
- The 17th ICCC will offer India a unique opportunity to bring together global leaders, experts, and innovators in the cement sector. India previously hosted the 9th Congress in 1992.
- The event highlights India’s research and academic expertise in the cement and concrete sector and as the host city New Delhi will showcase its vibrancy with world-class conference facilities, including Bharat Mandapam and Yashobhoomi to the global industry.
About ICCC: The ICCC is regarded as the largest and most prestigious event in the area of Cement and Concrete. These congresses have been held approximately every 4 to 6 years since 1918, serving as a crucial bridge between academia and the cement industry.
- NCB, then Cement Research Institute of India (CRI) was founded on 24 December 1962. It is the premier body under the administrative control of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- India’s cement industry, the second-largest in the world, has a low carbon-di-oxide (CO2) footprint and is energy efficient.
Rajya Sabha Chairman Appoints Four New Women Vice-Chairpersons; Panel to Discuss Women’s Reservation BillThe Vice President of India, ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha Jagdeep Dhankhar has reconstituted the panel of vice-chairpersons with the eight member panel with 50 percent(4 members) of women parliamentarians with effect from 13th September 2023.
- For the first time in the history of Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of the Indian Parliament) has given equal representation to women members in the panel.The four new women Vice-Chairpersons are: Kanta Kardam(Uttar Pradesh), Sumitra Balmik(Madhya Pradesh), Mamata Mohanta (Odisha) and Geeta alias Chandraprabha(Uttar Pradesh).
13 Women Vice-chairpersons Panel for a Day to Discuss Women’s Reservation Bill
The Vice President of India, ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha Jagdeep Dhankhar has constituted 13 women Parliamentarians to the panel of vice-chairpersons.The panel was reconstituted for a day to discuss the Women’s reservation Bill or Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam 2023.
- The panel of vice-chairpersons was constituted for a day specifically to discuss the Women’s Reservation Bill in 2023. This suggests that the panel was formed temporarily to address this particular legislative matter or session to discuss the bill.
Indian-origin Nihar Malaviya Assumes Permanent CEO of Penguin Random House
Nihar Malaviya, an Indian-origin American publishing executive, has been named permanent Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Penguin Random House, the New York (United States of America, USA)-based international publishing group.
- Nihar Malaviya has been serving as the interim CEO for 9 months since January 1, 2023.
- Since his appointment as interim CEO, he has been a member of Bertelsmann’s (the parent company of Penguin Random House) Group Management Committee (GMC).
- He will succeed Markus Dohle, who left the position following Penguin Random House’s unsuccessful attempt to acquire Simon & Schuster in 2022.
- Prior to his appointment as interim CEO, he served as President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Penguin Random House, USA since 2014.
- He started his career at Bertelsmann in 2001 as a participant in the Bertelsmann Entrepreneurs Programme. In 2003, he moved within the group, joining Random House, where he excelled in various leadership roles.
- He also serves on the board of directors of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and Yale University Press in the USA. He is a two-time recipient of the Bertelsmann Entrepreneur Award for Strategy Execution.
Note: Penguin Random House, the world’s largest trade book publisher, has been undergoing company-wide reorganization since 2023.
Vivek Bhasin Appointed as 14th Director of BARC
On 15th September 2023, Vivek Bhasin took charge as the 14th Director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), India’s premier nuclear research facility, headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Prior to this appointment, Vivek was serving as the director of the Nuclear Fuels Group(NFG) of the BARC.
- He succeds Ajit Kumar Mohanty who was appointed as the Secretary to Department of Atomic Energy(DAE) under the Prime Minister’s Office(PMO) and Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission in May 2023.
- Vivek Bhasin joined the Reactor Engineering Division of BARC in 1988. He is known for his contribution towards APSARA-U Reactor (operational in BARC) and Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR)(Operational in Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant, Tamil Nadu)
BARC was founded by Homi Jehangir Bhabha in the name Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET) in 1954. AEET was renamed BARC in 1966.
Delhi LG VK Saxena launches Vigilance Complaint Information Management System Portal
The Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Vinai Kumar (VK) Saxena launches first of its kind Vigilance Complaint Information Management System (VCIMS) portal enabling people to file graft complaints against government employees at anytime from anywhere.
- Complaints can be related to the vigilance/corruption/demand of bribe.
- With transparency and secrecy, this portal will monitor complaints and initiate speedy action.
- This portal requires only one time registration.
i.To ensure that only genuine complaints are filed on the portal, it is mandated for the complainants to submit an e-undertaking so that he/she can be prosecuted under section 182 of IPC ( Indian Penal Code) for giving false information to public servants.
ii.Complaints against corruption received in physical form will not be accepted.
iii.This tool will aid in achieving the goal of zero tolerance to corruption.
Batillipes kalami: New Marine Tardigrade Species Found in TN, Named after Former President A.P.J. Abdul KalamResearchers from the Department of Marine Biology of the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) in Cochin, Kerala, have identified a new species of a marine tardigrade, “Batillipes kalami” from intertidal beach sediments of the Mandapam coast in Ramanathapuram (southeast) Tamil Nadu (TN).
- The new species is named after Late Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the 11th President of India (2002-2007) and an aerospace scientist, since the discovery was made close to his native place Rameswaram (TN).
- The research findings have been published in the 18 September 2023 issue of the scientific journal, Zootaxa .
Genus and Species:
i.The new Species ‘Batillipes kalami‘ of the marine tardigrade belongs to the Genus ‘Batillipes‘. It is the 37th species of the genus Batillipes.
ii.Batillipes kalami is the 2nd marine tardigrade to be discovered in Indian waters and the first one from the east coast.
- “Stygarctus keralensis”, the 1st marine tardigrade species from India was discovered from Vadakara(West Coast) in Kerala in 2021.
iii.It is also the first taxonomically described species belonging to the genus Batillipes from India.
i.Marine Tardigrades, often referred to as “water bears”, are eight-legged micro-animals found in the water. They are extremely tiny animals whose size is measured in micrometers.
ii.They are considered to be one of the toughest organisms on earth, having survived all five mass extinctions, and are also the first known animals to survive in space.
- Tardigrades are semi-aquatic. They can survive in watery as well as terrestrial environments.
Vishnudattan N.K. (research scholar) and S. Bijoy Nandan (Professor) from the Dept. of Marine Biology, Microbiology, and Biochemistry at Cusat; and Marcus Rubal from the Centre of Molecular and Environmental Biology at the University of Minho, Portugal.
i.B. kalami measures an average of 170 micrometers (0.17 mm) in length and around 50 micrometers (0.05 mm) in width. The females are slightly bigger compared to the males.
ii.It is characterised by 4 pairs of legs, which possess sensory spines of varying lengths.
iii.It has a trapezoid-shaped head with sharp-tipped filament-like appendages (cirri) extending from it.
iv.It belongs to the phylum Tardigrada, which comprises more than 1,300 described species. Of them, just 17% are marine species.
v.It can be differentiated from all its congeners by:
- The presence of unconstricted primary clavae;
- 2 pairs of lateral body projections between leg II and leg III;
- Long and blunt-ended lateral body projections between leg III and leg IV;
- The shape of leg IV sensory organs and the presence of dorsal indentations in its head.
Padma Bhushan Awardee & Bharatanatyam Dancer Saroja Vaidyanathan Passed Away Bharatanatyam Dancer and Padma Bhushan Awardee Saroja Vaidyanathan passed away at the age of 86 due to lymphoma diseases in Delhi.
About Saroja Vaidyanathan:
i.Saroja Vaidyanathan was born on 19 September 1937 in Bellary, Karnataka, and grew up in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
- She was married to Vaidyanathan, an IAS officer from the Bihar cadre.
ii.She established “Ganesha Natyalaya” in Delhi, where she teaches Bharatanatyam, Tamil, Hindi, and Carnatic music.
iii.She served as the president of “Sanskar Bharathi”, a pan-Indian organisation working in the fields of art and literature, for the Delhi Chapter since 2021.
i.Saroja Vaidyanathan was conferred with the Padma Shri in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan in 2013 in the Arts category.
- She received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2008 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi fellowships (Akademi Ratna) award in 2023.
ii.She is also the recipient of Delhi’s government Sahitya Kala Parishad Samman(1991), Tamil Nadu’s government Kalaimamani title(1999),and the title of Bharata Kalai Sudar, from the Pollachi Tamil Isai Sangam.
- She was also the recipient of Kalidas Samman(2009-10) of the Government of Madhya Pradesh.
Saroja Vaidyanathan has authored a number of books on Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music, including ‘The Classical Dances of India’, ‘Bharatanatyam – An In-Depth Study’, ‘Carnataka Sangeetham’, and ‘The Science of Bharatanatyam’.
Sonal Goel IAS Unveils Her Book “Nation Calling” for IAS aspirants
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, Ministry of Earth Sciences has launched a book ‘Nation Calling – Holistic Approach for Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services Examination’ authored by IAS officer Sonal Goel Resident Commissioner of Tripura Bhawan in New Delhi, Delhi.
- The book was published by UPSC Guide.
- The book was launched at the Constitution Club of India in New Delhi, Delhi.
- The book summarises Sonal Goel’s 15 year experience as an IAS officer which inspires young people to become a bureaucrat.
About Sonal Goel:
Sonal Goel, hailing from Panipat, Haryana, is a 2008 batch IAS officer of Tripura Cadre. She joined the Haryana cadre in July 2016 and served as Commissioner of Municipal Corporation of Faridabad(Haryana) & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Smart City Faridabad and Deputy Commissioner district Jhajjar(Haryana).
International Day of Sign Languages 2023- September 23 The United Nations (UN) International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL) is annually observed across the globe on 23 September to support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all deaf people and other sign language users.
- The day also aims to raise awareness of the importance of sign language in the full realisation of the human rights of people who are deaf.