- 1. On 19 May, PM Modi will go on three-nation tour of Japan, Papua New Guinea and Australia.
- 2. India rejected the United States State Department's report on religious freedom, describing it as motivated and biased.
- 3. Flights between Bahrain and Qatar will resume from 25 May.
- 4. Snow Leopard's presence in Kishtwar High Altitude National Park confirmed through camera trap.
- 5. Dr. Manoj Kumar's book, ‘Supreme Court on Commercial Arbitration,’ released on 13 May.
- 6. A 5,000-year-old 'Great Grandfather' tree is believed to be the oldest tree in the world.
- 7. World Hypertension Day 2023: 17 May
- 8. 8th All India Pension Adalat inaugurated in Delhi on 17 May 2023.
- 9. Exercise Jal Rahat was conducted in Assam by Indian Army.
- 10. 50 Start-ups Exchange Programme launched by India and Bangladesh.
- 11. A new user-friendly website and two portals-UTSAH and Professor of Practice launched by UGC.
- 12. NCB has seized drugs worth Rs 40,000 cr in a year under 'Operation Samudragupt'.
- 13. Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Ravneet Kaur as chairperson of CCI.
- 14. The modalities of engagement for working towards a comprehensive TEPA discussed by India and the EFTA states.
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Topic: National News
1. On 19 May, PM Modi will go on three-nation tour of Japan, Papua New Guinea and Australia.
- He will visit Hiroshima in Japan from 19th May to 21st May for the G-7 Summit.
- He will speak at the G-7 sessions with partner countries during the summit.
- He will then visit Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. This will be the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Papua New Guinea.
- He will here host 3rd Summit of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) jointly with his counterpart James Marape on 22nd May.
- PM will visit Sydney, Australia to take part in the Quad Leaders’ Summit.
- He will interact with Australian CEOs and address the Indian diaspora in Sydney on 23rd May.
- He will meet with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese on 24th May and hold a bilateral meeting.
- Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC):
- It was launched in 2014. It is a multinational grouping. Its second summit was held in Jaipur in 2015.
- It involves India and fourteen Pacific Island countries.
Fourteen Pacific Island Countries of Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC)
Papua New Guinea
Federated States of Micronesia
Republic of Marshall Islands
Topic: Reports and Indices
2. India rejected the United States State Department's report on religious freedom, describing it as motivated and biased.
- US State Department 2022 Report on International Religious Freedom remains based on misinformation and flawed understanding.
- The report includes a chapter on India. It was released on 15 May 2023.
- The U.S. report on religious freedom had criticised Indian anti-conversion laws.
- It referred to Hindus in Kashmir who claimed that the government was not allowing them to leave the valley despite being targeted by radical Islamist militants.
- It mentioned the BJP approximately 28 times in its description of purported hate crimes and statements made by party leaders against minorities.
- It mentioned BJP state politician Haribhushan Thakur Bachaul, P.C. George, former BJP Rajasthan legislator Gyan Dev Ahuja and others.
- The report mentioned the Vishva Hindu Parishad 24 times and the Bajrang Dal seven times.
- It also mentioned Union Home Minister Amit Shah's public meeting in Hyderabad.
- The names of Mohammad Zubair, Bilkis Bano, and Umar Khalid also appear in the report.
- International Religious Freedom Report describes the status of religious freedom in every country. The U.S. Department of State submits this annual report to the Congress.
Topic: International News
3. Flights between Bahrain and Qatar will resume from 25 May.
- The Ministry of Civil Aviation Affairs, Bahrain announced that Bahrain and Qatar will resume direct flights between the two countries from May 25.
- The decision is in accordance with "agreement between the relevant authorities in the two brotherly countries".
- The resumption of flights between Bahrain and Qatar "falls within the framework of fraternal ties between the two brotherly countries and peoples, and in a way that achieves their common aspirations."
- In May 2023, Qatar and Bahrain re-established diplomatic ties more than two years after the Arab blockade on Doha ended.
- In April, 2023, the Bahrain-Qatari Follow-up Committee met for the second time at the offices of the GCC General Secretariat in Riyadh, where the decision was taken.
- In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt had cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism and interfering in the affairs of regional governments.
- In 2021, Qatar joined other GCC members in Saudi Arabia to launch the AlUla statement, which intended to build a "unified and geostrategic bloc" to address common issues.
- Riyadh and Cairo were among the first to re-appoint an ambassador to Doha in 2021 following the Saudi- AlUla statement to end the dispute.
(Source: News on AIR)
Topic: Environment and Ecology
4. Snow Leopard's presence in Kishtwar High Altitude National Park confirmed through camera trap.
- Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Conservation Department's research team finds presence of snow leopards in Kishtwar High Altitude National Park through camera trap photographs.
- In a camera trap frame, three snow leopards are seen moving through a snow-covered area in the Renai catchment of Kishtwar High Altitude National Park.
- Snow leopards are mostly found at altitudes between 3,000 and 4,500 metres.
- Snow leopards have been sighted in the Kishtwar National Park and its surrounding areas in the Jammu region, parts of central and northern Kashmir, and the snowy regions of Ladakh.
- The Snow Leopard holds immense ecological significance, acting as a keystone species in maintaining the delicate balance of the ecosystem.
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the snow leopard as vulnerable.
- Earlier in November 2021, the Wildlife Department had launched a first of its kind campaign under the Snow Leopard Project of the Union Environment Ministry, in which the Snow Leopard Population Assessment Campaign was started.
- Through this, the focus was on identifying the species and the challenges for their proper conservation.
- In Jammu and Kashmir, Kishtwar High Altitude National Park is famous for its wide variety of flora and fauna including many rare and endangered species.
- It also protects a diverse range of wildlife that coexist within its boundaries, including the Himalayan ibex, musk deer and several avian species.
(Source: News on AIR)
Topic: Books and Authors
5. Dr. Manoj Kumar's book, ‘Supreme Court on Commercial Arbitration,’ released on 13 May.
- This book is a compendium of three volumes with Judgments spanning from the year 1988 till 2022 covering Arbitration Act 1940 and 1996.
- The book foreword has been written by Shri R. Venkataramani.
- The book was released on 13 May, the foundation day of Hammurabi & Solomon Partners.
Topic: Environment and Ecology
6. A 5,000-year-old 'Great Grandfather' tree is believed to be the oldest tree in the world.
- A giant tree has lived for thousands of years in the forest in southern Chile and is in the process of being recognized as the oldest in the world.
- The tree trunk, four meters (13 feet) in diameter and 28 meters tall, is also believed to contain scientific information that could shed light on how the planet has adapted to climate change.
- It is on the verge of replacing Methuselah, a 4850-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine found in California in the United States, as the oldest tree on the planet.
- Great Grandfather is located on the edge of a ravine in a forest in the southern Los Ríos region, 800 kilometers (500 mi) south of the capital Santiago.
- It is Fitzroya cupressoides, a type of cypress tree that is endemic to the south of the continent.
- It is the largest tree species in South America, which is also known as the Patagonian cypress.
- In 1972, Park warden Anibal Henriquez had discovered the tree while patrolling the forest.
Topic: Important Days
7. World Hypertension Day 2023: 17 May
- World Hypertension Day is observed every year on 17 May to increase awareness about high blood pressure.
- This year, the theme for World Hypertension Day is “Measure your blood pressure accurately, control it, live longer”.
- World Hypertension Day was initiated by World Hypertension League.
- World Hypertension League launched the first World Hypertension Day on May 14, 2005.
- Since 2006, May 17 of every year is being celebrated as World Hypertension Day.
- Hypertension or high blood pressure is a serious condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries increases persistently.
- Poor lifestyle choices, poor dietary choices and a lifestyle without workouts are some of the main causes of hypertension.
- Hypertension increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and blindness.
Topic: National News
8. 8th All India Pension Adalat inaugurated in Delhi on 17 May 2023.
- Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Dr. Jitendra Singh inaugurated it.
- At 8th All India Pension Adalat, chronic cases were taken up and resolved.
- Till date 7 All India Pension Adalats have been organised.
- In these Adalats, 24,218 cases have been taken up and 17235 cases have been resolved.
- Union Minister also presided over the 50th PRC (Pre-Retirement Counselling) Workshop.
- The PRC was conducted by Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare.
- It was organised for 1200 officers of all ministries and departments who will retire in next 6 months.
- Bhavishya platform introduced by Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare has ensured end-to-end digitization of pension processing and payment.
- Bhavishya platform is an online Pension Sanction and Payment Tracking System.
Topic: State News/Assam
9. Exercise Jal Rahat was conducted in Assam by Indian Army.
- It was a joint flood relief exercise conducted by the Gajraj Corps of the Indian Army at Hagrama Bridge on Manas River, Assam.
- It was conducted to validate joint drills and coordinate preparedness by multi-agency flood relief columns.
- In addition to the Indian Army, SSB, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) also took part in the exercise.
- District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) and police representatives also participated.
- Manas River is known as the Drangme Chhu in Bhutan. It joins the Brahmaputra River at Jogighopa in Assam.
- Its major tributary is the Aie River, which joins it in Assam at Bangpari.
Topic: India and its neighbours
10. 50 Start-ups Exchange Programme launched by India and Bangladesh.
- As part of this programme, 50 Start-ups from India and 50 Start-ups from Bangladesh will exchange visits to each other’s countries.
- These visits will be for expansion of business ties, sharing of experience and knowledge and expansion of youth and entrepreneurial collaboration.
- The first group of 10 start-up companies as part of the 50 start-ups exchange programme returned to Bangladesh after completing a successful visit to India from 8-12 May.
- The start-ups belong to e-commerce, health, transport and logistics, energy, education and skill development sectors.
- During their visit to India, they were introduced to India’s ‘Start-up India’ initiative.
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Topic: Government Schemes and Initiatives
11. A new user-friendly website and two portals-UTSAH and Professor of Practice launched by UGC.
- On May 16, 2023, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has launched a newly designed website and portal to transform higher education in India.
- In order to support universities and colleges in focusing on providing the younger generation with a high-quality education, the decision has been made to assist and facilitate these institutions.
- The decision is aimed at enhancing the educational experience and ensuring that students get a high-quality education that prepares them for the future.
- To make more user friendly, informative and dynamic, UGC has redesigned the website.
- In addition, UGC has launched two new portals: 'UTSAH' and 'Professor of Practice'.
- The UGC will use the Undertaking Transformative Strategies and Actions in Higher Education (UTSAH) portal as a platform for providing detailed information about its initiatives for qualitative improvement in higher education.
- To get experienced professional experts in the required area, the Professors of Practice (PoP) portal is designed to facilitate institutions.
Topic: National News
12. NCB has seized drugs worth Rs 40,000 cr in a year under 'Operation Samudragupt'.
- On May 13, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and the Navy seized around 2,700 kg of narcotics worth Rs 15,000 crore in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Kochi.
- In 2022, Operation Samudragupt was launched to stop drug smuggling through sea routes.
- In February 2022, the first success of 'Operation Samudragupt' was achieved.
- In a joint operation by the NCB and the Indian Navy, 529 kg of hashish, 221 kg of methamphetamine, and 13 kg of heroin were seized in the deep sea off the coast of Gujarat, sourced from Baluchistan and Afghanistan.
- In October 2022, during the second successful operation the team intercepted an Iranian boat off the coast of Kerala.
- A total of 200 kg of high-grade heroin imported from Afghanistan was seized and six Iranian drug traffickers were apprehended.
Topic: National Appointments
13. Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Ravneet Kaur as chairperson of CCI.
- She will hold the office for five years from the date of assumption of the charge or till the date of attaining the age of 65 years or until further orders, whichever is the earliest.
- She is a Punjab cadre IAS officer. She has been appointed nearly seven months after the former full time chairman Ashok Kumar Gupta left office on October 20, 2022.
- On 25 October 2022, Sangeeta Verma was appointed by the centre as interim chairperson of Competition Commission of India.
- Competition Commission of India (CCI):
- CCI was formed on 14 October 2003 under the Competition Commission Act, 2002.
- It aims to eliminate practices that affect competition in Indian market and protect the interests of the consumers.
Topic: Indian Economy
14. The modalities of engagement for working towards a comprehensive TEPA discussed by India and the EFTA states.
- Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has discussed the modalities for Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) with representatives of EFTA states.
- A free trade agreement between India and EFTA will enhance two-way commerce, investment flows, job creation and economic growth.
- A free trade agreement between EFTA and India is officially called as TEPA.
- Under TEPA, trading partners eliminate or reduce customs duties on highest number of goods traded between them. They also ease norms to promote trade in services and investments.
- European Free Trade Association (EFTA):
- It is a four-nation bloc involving Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
- It was founded in January 1960. EFTA countries are not part of the European Union (EU).
- EFTA is an inter-governmental organisation created for the promotion of free trade. Its secretariat is in Geneva.