Daily Current Affairs and GK | 20 December 2023

By Priyanka Chaudhary | Last Modified: 20 Dec 2023 17:13 PM IST

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Topic: MoUs /Agreements

1. Indian Navy joined hands with IIT Kanpur to promote technology development.

  • The Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IITK) and the Indian Navy signed an MoU at the Naval Headquarters.
  • It is a step toward strengthening the collaborative relationship between academia and the armed forces.
  • The main aim of the MoU is to promote technology development, innovative solutions and joint Research and Development.
  • Rear Admiral K Srinivas, Asst. Chief of Materiel (Dockyard & Refits) and Prof. S. Ganesh, Director, IIT Kanpur signed this MoU.
  • This MoU will act as a broader framework to enhance capacity building and enhance training effectiveness through the exchange of faculty/ guest lectures.
  • This collaboration will focus on joint Research and Development initiatives.
  • IIT Kanpur is a premier institution known for its cutting-edge research and technological advancements.

Topic: State News/Uttar Pradesh

2. Uttar Pradesh has become India’s second-largest economy.

  • According to a report by soic.in, UP is the 2nd largest state in India in GDP share after Maharashtra.
  • The soic.in is an online blogging platform that keeps track of investments and the stock market.
  • The report is based on Sensex and Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia (CSLA).
  • According to official statistics, Uttar Pradesh was third in GDP share.
  • Maharashtra with a GDP share of 15.7% of India’s total GDP leads the states. It is closely followed by Uttar Pradesh with a GDP share of 9.2%.
  • States like Tamil Nadu (9.1%), Gujarat (8.2%), and West Bengal (7.5%) have lagged behind Uttar Pradesh.
  • States such as Karnataka (6.2%), Rajasthan (5.5%), Andhra Pradesh (4.9%) and Madhya Pradesh (4.6%) are significantly behind Uttar Pradesh. 
  • Additionally, UP has moved up from 14th to 2nd in the rankings for "Ease of Doing Business."
  • The state currently exports items valued at close to Rs 2 lakh crore.
  • Today, Uttar Pradesh has a surplus of money since 56% of its workforce is working.
  • In addition, almost 96 lakh MSME units have been established.

Topic: Geography

3. A volcano has erupted in Iceland on the Reykjanes peninsula, just north of the fishing town Grindavik.

  • The Icelandic Meteorological Office said the intensity of the eruption had stabilized.
  • The meteorological office added that the volcanic activity is decreasing.
  • President Gudni Thorlacius Johannesson has said that protecting lives and infrastructure was the priority.
  • An eruption was anticipated on the peninsula after intense earthquake activity.
  • The authorities evacuated thousands of people and closed the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, famed for its turquoise waters.
  • Iceland is one of the most active seismic regions in the world. Around 30 active volcanic sites are present in Iceland, which is the highest in Europe.
  • Iceland is a Nordic island country between the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. It is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between North America and Europe. Its capital is Reykjavík.

Topic: Awards and Prizes

4. Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh has been awarded Bhutan’s National Order of Merit Gold Medal.

  • Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh is the WHO Regional Director (South-East Asia).
  • Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh has been awarded for her distinguished services to the country.
  • Dr Singh is an Indian national. The King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk honoured her at Bhutan’s 116th National Day celebration.
  • She is the first woman regional director of the WHO South-East Asia region.
  • During her tenure, Bhutan became one of the first countries to eliminate measles and rubella ahead of schedule.

Topic: National News

5. National Geoscience Data Repository Portal has been launched by Union Minister Pralhad Joshi.

  • On 19 December, the National Geoscience Data Repository (NGDR) Portal and a road show on critical minerals were launched in New Delhi.
  • This portal integrates 35 map services with the NGDR portal.
  • It includes geological maps, geochemical, geophysical, airborne geophysical and mineralogical data in various scales.
  • This portal can be accessed at geodataindia.gov.in.
  • The NGDR initiative is led by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) and the Bhaskaracharya Institute of Space Applications and Geoinformatics (BISAG-N).
  • Mr Joshi stated that 20 mineral blocks have already been put up for auction in the first tranche and several more are on the pipeline.
  • The success of the auction is important for the generation of revenue and jobs in the state, and the welfare of local communities and people.
  • It will also be important to promote collaboration between industry, academia, and government to strengthen the supply chain of critical minerals.
  • On 29 November, Mr Joshi had launched the first tranche of the auction of 20 important and strategic mineral blocks.
  • The Ministry of Mines is organizing road shows on critical minerals to reach out to industry players, potential bidders, and various other stakeholders to ensure the success of this landmark initiative.
  • The roadshow will provide information to potential bidders.

Topic: Sports

6. Mitchell Starc became the most expensive player in IPL history, bought by KKR for Rs 24.75 crore.

  • On December 19, Australian left-hander faster bowler Mitchell Starc has been signed by Kolkata Knight Riders for Rs 24.75 crore in the IPL 2024 auction in Dubai.
  • He also became the most expensive player in IPL history, surpassing his Australian captain Pat Cummins, who was signed by SRH for Rs 20.5 crore earlier on the same day.
  • Starc last played in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2015.
  • That year, he took 20 wickets in 13 matches at an average of 14.55 and an economy rate of 6.76.
  • Starc was signed by Kolkata Knight Riders in 2018 for Rs 9.40 crore but he got injured.
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Topic: Indian Polity

7. Broadcasting Services Bill 2023 will replace the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995.

  • On 19 December 2023, the centre said a draft had been prepared in this regard.
  • Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Singh Thakur said the Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill 2023 will bring the OTT content and digital news under its purview.
  • He also said the Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill 2023 will streamline the regulatory process.
  • The draft bill encompasses provisions for emerging technologies.
  • It attempts to strengthen the self-regulatory regime through the Broadcast Advisory Council (BAC).
  • The Broadcast Advisory Council (BAC) will be the entity for content regulation.
  • It will be an advisory body for other emerging technologies in the broadcasting sector.

Topic: Indian Economy

8. International Monetary Fund (IMF) said India has emerged as a star performer.

  • IMF said India is projected to contribute over 16% of the global growth.
  • IMF also said that India has been growing at a robust rate due to economic reforms in key sectors like digitization and infrastructure.
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its annual Article IV consultation with India.
  • According to Article IV consultation, India is on track to be one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world this year.
  • Article IV consultation report reviews a country’s current and medium-term economic outlook.

Topic: Banking System

9. RBI directed banks and NBFCs to not invest in any scheme of alternative investment funds (AIFs).

  • RBI tightens norms for banks, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and other lenders for investing in AIFs.
  • This decision has been taken to curb the evergreening of stressed loans.
  • The Reserve Bank has said that new steps have been taken to stop the arrangement of new loans to repay the old loans through AIF.
  • The notification adds that in case the bank is unable to liquidate its investment within the specified time frame, then it must make 100 per cent provision on such investments.
  • Alternative investment funds (AIFs) are established or incorporated in India to collect funds from sophisticated investors. It is a privately pooled investment vehicle.
  • Venture capital funds, angel funds, infrastructure funds, private equity funds and hedge funds are examples of Alternative investment funds.
  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had informed RBI about instances of non-bank financier’s evergreening loans through the AIF route.
  • Regulated entities (REs) invest in units of AIFs as part of their regular investment operations.
  • Around 1220 AIFs are registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). As of June 30, 2023, the total investment raised by AIFs stood at Rs 8.44 lakh crore.

Topic: International News

10. US announced the formation of a new multinational task force to counter the Houthi threat in the Red Sea.

  • The ten-nation Task Force ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian’ will be formed to counter the Houthi threat in the Red Sea.
  • The Navies of Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles Spain and the United Kingdom will be part of this taskforce.
  • Houthis rebel group has been continuously attacking multiple merchant vessels in the Red Sea, which forced many companies to suspend routes.
  • This new task force will tackle security challenges in the southern Red Sea, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait near Yemen and the Gulf of Aden.
  • The main goal of this task force is to ensure freedom of navigation for all countries and boost regional security and prosperity.

Topic: India and its Neighbour

11. Bhutan is planning to build a huge "International City" over an area of more than 1,000 sq km on its border with Assam.

  • On December 17, Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck announced the project in Thimphu.
  • The project is being pitched as an "economic corridor connecting South Asia to South East Asia through the north-eastern states of India".
  • India and Bhutan agreed to build the first India-Bhutan railway line up to Gelephu, which over time will also be connected to road routes and border trade and crossing points in Assam and West Bengal.
  • Bhutan will also give access to Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Singapore.
  • The project will be known as the ‘Gelephu Smartcity Project’.
  • Gelephu's plans are expected to include a "zero emissions" industry, a "mindfulness city" that will play to Bhutan's strengths in tourism and wellness, as well as infrastructure companies.

Topic: International Appointments

12. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi won the third Presidential Election in Egypt by winning 89.6% of the vote in the election.

  • His term will be for six years as President of Egypt.
  • The election came as Egypt grapples with a slow-growing economic crisis and tries to manage the risk of an outbreak of war in Gaza, which borders Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
  • Voting took place in Egypt for three days from December 10 to 12.
  • He was elected to the presidency in 2014, and re-elected in 2018, both times with 97% of the vote.
  • In 2019, the constitution was amended, extending the presidential term from four to six years and allowing Mr Sisi to stand for a third term.
  • Egypt:
    • Egypt is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and the Sinai Peninsula in the southwest corner of Asia.
    • Its Prime Minister is Moustafa Madbouly.
    • Its Capital is Cairo, and its currency is the Egyptian Pound.

Topic: Biotechnology and Diseases

13. Centre issues advisory to states after detection of JN.1 variant in India.

  • The central government issued an advisory to states after the detection of the first case of the JN.1 variant in the country.
  • The advisory directed states to ensure effective compliance with the detailed and revised operational guidelines for the COVID-19 surveillance strategy.
  • The states were also asked to ensure that adequate testing takes place in all the districts.
  • The first case of JN.1 was detected in a sample in Karakulam, Kerala in a 79-year-old woman with mild symptoms.
  • The JN.1 variant has already been detected in the United States, China and Singapore.
  • Currently, the WHO designated JN.1 as a variant of interest (VOI).
  • This sub-variant, first identified in Luxembourg, is a descendant of the Pirola variant (BA.2.86).
  • It carries mutations in the spike protein. It can increase infectivity and the ability to evade immune responses.
  • Fever, runny nose, sore throat, headache, and mild gastrointestinal are the common symptoms of the JN.1 variant.

Topic: Corporates/Companies

14. IndiGo has become 1st Indian airline to reach 100 million passengers in a year.

  • IndiGo also became 1st Indian airline to operate over 2,000 flights a day in 2023.
  • IndiGO is India’s largest airline in the domestic and international segments.
  • In November, IndiGo’s market share (by passenger carried) in the domestic segment was 61.8%.
  • This was nearly six times the market share of the Air India (ranked at 2nd).
  • In the International segment, IndiGo’s market share was 18.5% in July-September among international airlines operating flights from and to India.
  • Earlier this year, it placed an order for 500 Airbus A320 family planes. This was the largest-ever aircraft order in history.
  • IndiGo (InterGlobe Aviation Limited) is a low-cost airline headquartered in Gurgaon, Haryana, India.
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