Daily Current Affairs and GK | 21 June 2024

By Priyanka Chaudhary | Last Modified: 21 Jun 2024 16:57 PM IST

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Topic: Summits/Conferences/Meetings

1. The India-France-Australia trilateral meeting identified new proposals to expand the Indo-Pacific partnership.

  • On 20 June, the third India-France-Australia Trilateral Focal Point Meeting was held.
  • They identified new proposals for furthering the trilateral cooperation.
  • It includes under the framework of the Indo Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) mechanisms, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) cooperation, and multilateral engagements.
  • Piyush Srivastava, Joint Secretary (Europe West), and Paramita Tripathi, Joint Secretary (Oceania and Indo-Pacific), led the Indian side.
  • The French side was led by Benoît Guidée, Director (Asia and Oceania), Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • The Australian side was led by Sarah Storey, First Assistant Secretary, South and Central Asia Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.      
  • The three sides evaluated progress achieved across the three pillars of their trilateral cooperation: maritime safety and security, maritime and environmental cooperation, and multilateral cooperation.
  • In order to create a free, open, inclusive, and rule-based Indo-Pacific region, India, Australia, and France reiterated their commitment to advance their common values.

Topic: National News

2. A loan of USD 170 million approved by ADB to strengthen the health system in India.

  • On June 19, a USD 170 million (over Rs 1,418 crore) policy-based loan approved by multilateral development lender Asian Development Bank (ADB) to improve India's health system preparedness and capacity to respond to future pandemics.
  • This funding will help implement the government’s National Health Policy 2017 under Strong and Scalable Action for Resilient and Transformative Health Systems.
  • The aim of the policy is to ensure universal access to high-quality healthcare services across the country.
  • This policy-based loan will address gaps in policy, legislative and institutional governance and structures.
  • It will contribute to India's goal of providing universal access to quality and affordable healthcare, thereby strengthening pandemic preparedness and response.
  • The Indian government and ADB have been collaborating to strengthen its health system and adopt transformative solutions.

Topic: International News

3. In Virginia, Indian-American Suhas Subramaniam won the Democratic congressional primary.

  • Indian-American Suhas Subramanyam defeated eleven other candidates, including fellow Indian-American Krystle Kaul, to win the Democratic primary for a Virginia congressional seat.
  • Subramanyam was the first Indian-American, South Asian, and Hindu to be elected to the Virginia General Assembly in 2019 and to the Virginia State Senate in 2023.
  • Subramanian was contesting for the US House of Representatives from Virginia's 10th congressional district, which has a significant Indian-American population.
  • In 2023, its current representative, Democratic Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, announced that she would not run for the seat.
  • Subramaniam was born in Houston to Indian-American parents who immigrated to the United States from Bengaluru.
  • He was appointed to the position of White House technology policy advisor in 2015 by then-President Barack Obama.

Topic: Indian Polity

4. Bhartruhari Mahtab has been appointed pro tem Speaker of 18th Lok Sabha.

  • He has been appointed by President Droupadi Murmu. He is seven-term MP from Cuttack.
  • Opposition leaders said the government ignored the convention of giving the honour to the senior-most MP Kodikunnil Suresh of the Congress. He is eight-term MP.
  • President appointed him under Article 95 (1) of Constitution to carry out the duties of Speaker till election of the Speaker.
  • Elected members of the 18th Lok Sabha will make oath before the pro tem Speaker.
  • A panel of chairpersons would assist Bhartruhari Mahtab.
  • This panel comprises Mr. Suresh, DMK leader T.R. Baalu, Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadyay, and BJP leaders Radha Mohan Singh and Faggan Singh Kulaste.
  • As per convention, the MP serving the maximum terms is appointed pro tem Speaker.
  • In addition to Kodikunnil Suresh of the Congress, another senior-most MP in the 18th Lok Sabha is Virendra Kumar of BJP.
  • Both of them are now serving their 8th term. Virendra Kumar of BJP is now a Union Minister.
  • The first session of the 18th Lok Sabha will start on June 24. The election of Speaker will take place on June 26.

Topic: Indian Economy

5. UK surpassed China as India's fourth-largest export market in May 2024, as per commerce department data.

  • In May last year, the UK was India’s sixth-largest export destination.
  • Exports to the UK increased to $1.37 billion in May 2024.
  • Exports to China grew by 3% to $1.33 billion in May 2024.
  • Items like machinery, food items, pharmaceutical products, textiles, jewellery, iron, and steel dominated exports to the UK.
  • As per commerce department data, India’s top 10 key export markets saw positive growth in May 2024.
  • These 10 markets make up 52% of India’s total value of goods exported in May 2024.
  • India’s merchandise exports grew by 9.13% in May 2024 to $38 billion.
  • US, UAE, the Netherlands, UK and China were India’s top five export destinations in May 2024.
  • In May 2024, imports from Saudi Arabia and Switzerland contracted 4.11% and 32.33%, respectively.
  • The remaining eight of India’s top 10 import markets saw the growth in May 2024.
  • Overall merchandise imports increased 7.7% to $61.91 billion.
  • Russia continued to remain India’s second-largest import destination, after China.

Topic: National News

6. Website and Mobile App for World Food India 2024 has been launched.

  • Union Minister of Food Processing Industries, Chirag Paswan and Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries and Railways, Ravneet Singh, launched them as a precursor to the 3rd edition of World Food India.
  • World Food India (WFI) will be organised from 19th to 22nd September 2024.
  • It will be organised to foster collaboration and partnerships among global and Indian food sector stakeholders.
  • World Food India 2023 witnessed 1,208 exhibitors, 715 international buyers from 90 countries, 24 states, and 75,000 attendees.
  • It also featured over 16,000 B2B/B2G meetings, roundtable discussions, 47 thematic sessions and more.
  • WFI 2024 is an industry-driven inclusive event hosted by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries.
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Topic: Environment and Ecology 

7. Scientists at Pune's Agharkar Research Institute have identified a new genus of diatoms. 

  • The genus has been found in the Eastern Ghats mountain range’s unpolluted waters.
  • The genus has been given the name “Indiconema” because of its restricted distribution within the country.
  • One species of Indiconema from the Eastern Ghats and another from the Western Ghats was reported by the research. 
  • This highlights the diverse biogeographic zones supporting various diatom species in India.
  • India has a rich diatom diversity. India has an estimated 6,500 taxa.
  • Thirty percent of these taxa are endemic, meaning they are restricted to a specific region. 
  • Indiconema is closely related to Afrocymbella, an East African indigenous genus.
  • This further highlights the biogeographical links between India and the African continent.
  • Diatoms are microscopic algae. They play a key role in our everyday lives.
  • They generate about 25% of the oxygen used worldwide. They form the base of the aquatic food chain.
  • They are useful indicators of water quality because of their sensitivity to changes in chemistry of water.

Topic: State News/Jharkhand

8. Caste-based survey has been approved by Jharkhand government in the state.

  • At a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Champai Soren, this decision was taken.
  • The personnel department has been instructed by the CM to draft a Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) for carrying out the survey. 
  • CM said the caste-based survey aims to study the prevalence of various communities in the state.
  • It also aims to analyse the social and economic issues faced by the different components of the population.
  • The caste survey in Jharkhand will follow the model of Bihar.
  • In Bihar, data collection was carried out between January 7 and October 2 last year.

Topic: MoUs and Agreements

9. An MoU signed between NHAI and IIIT Delhi to enhance road safety through AI.

  • On June 20, an agreement signed between the National Highways Authority of India and the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi, aimed at enhancing road safety through the deployment of Artificial Intelligence.
  • This initiative will leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based solutions to improve the availability of road signs on National Highways.
  • Under the terms of the agreement, IIIT Delhi will carry out surveys to gather imagery and other related data related to the availability and condition of road signs on selected National Highway stretches.
  • Under this project, around 25,000 km length of highways will be covered.
  • IIT Delhi will process the data collected through surveys by deploying artificial intelligence to accurately identify and classify road signs.
  • The survey report based on the results will contain a geo-stamped inventory of existing road signs along with their classification, comprehensive structural condition, and other supporting data.

Topic: State News/Jammu and Kashmir

10. A successful trial run of the MEMU train conducted by Indian Railways on Chenab Bridge in J&K.

  • On June 20, the Indian Railways successfully conducted a trial run of an eight-coach MEMU train on the world's highest railway bridge - the Chenab Bridge - in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • This step will pave the way for starting rail service from Reasi to Baramulla in Kashmir.
  • The trial run was carried out at a speed of 40 mph on the 46-kilometer-long electrified line section between Sangaldan in Ramban district and Reasi.
  • It was the first full train to cross the iconic bridge between Dugga and Bakkal stations over the Chenab River, which is the world's highest arch railway bridge.
  • This year, on February 20, PM Narendra Modi officially inaugurated the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link project, which includes the 48.1-km-long Banihal-Sangaldan section.
  • Under the UPA government led by Congress, Phase I of the project was inaugurated in October 2009 and covers 118 km of the Qazigund-Baramulla section.
  • In the subsequent phases, the 18 km long Banihal-Qazigund section was inaugurated in June 2013, and the 25 km long Udhampur-Katra section was inaugurated in July 2014.

MEMU train

(Source: News on AIR)

Topic: Important Day

11. International Day of Yoga 2024: 21 June

  • International Yoga Day is celebrated every year on 21 June.
  • It is celebrated to recognize the various benefits of yoga and to promote yoga as part of life.
  • This year, the tenth International Day of Yoga has been celebrated across the world.
  • The theme of the International Yoga Day 2024 is "Yoga for Self and Society."
  • The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution on 11 December 2014 to mark 21 June as the International Day of Yoga.
  • 21st June was selected as Yoga day because the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere and is of great significance for many people in the world.
  • The day was first celebrated in 2015 with the theme “Harmony and Peace”.
  • Yoga is an ancient practice that not only deals with physical and mental health but also emotional and spiritual health.
  • Yoga has been declared the UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2016.
  • 2024 International Yoga Day was celebrated by PM Narendra Modi on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir.

Topic: Government Schemes and Initiatives

12. Viability Gap Funding (VGF) scheme approved by the cabinet for implementation of Offshore Wind Energy Projects.

  • On June 19, the Viability Gap Funding (VGF) scheme for offshore wind energy projects at a total outlay of Rs 7453 crore approved by the Union Cabinet chaired by PM Narendra Modi.
  • This includes an outlay of Rs 6,853 crore for setting up and commissioning of 1 GW of offshore wind power projects (500 MW each off the coast of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu).
  • Additionally, Rs 600 crore was approved for upgradation of two ports to meet the logistics requirements for offshore wind power projects.
  • This VGF Scheme is a major step towards implementation of the National Offshore Wind Energy Policy notified in 2015.
  • It aims to harness the vast offshore wind energy potential that exists within the Exclusive Economic Zone of India.
  • The Government's VGF support will reduce the cost of power from offshore wind projects and make them viable for procurement by Discoms.
  • These projects will be set up by private developers selected through a transparent bidding process.
  • The power generation infrastructure including offshore substations will be constructed by Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL).
  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, as the nodal ministry, will coordinate with various Ministries/Departments to ensure successful implementation of the scheme.
  • Successful commissioning of one GW capacity offshore wind projects will generate approximately 3.72 billion units of renewable electricity annually.
  • This will result in annual reduction of 2.98 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions over a period of 25 years.

Topic: State News/ Bihar

13. Patna High Court quashed the Bihar government's 65% reservation in jobs and education.

  • Patna High Court struck down Bihar government laws to increase reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes, and Extremely Backward Classes from 50% to 65%.
  • On November 9, the Bihar Assembly approved the Bihar (in admission in Educational Institutions) Reservation (Amendment) Act, 2023 and the Bihar Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services (Amendment) Act, 2023.
  • With these laws, Bihar provided the second-highest percentage of reservations to backward classes after Tamil Nadu.
  • The High Court said that these laws are the violations of the equality clause under Articles 14, 15 and 16.
  • Chief Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice Harish Kumar rendered this verdict.
  • As per the PIL, the reservation was given in the Constitution to provide socially and educationally disadvantaged groups with appropriate representation.
  • However, there was no provision for providing reservations based on population size.

Topic: Indian Economy

14. India recorded all-time High seafood exports in FY24.

  • During the financial year 2023-24, India’s seafood exports reached an all-time high in volume.
  • India shipped 17,81,602 MT of seafood worth ₹60,523.89 crore (US$7.38 billion) during 2023-24.
  • Frozen shrimp remains the major export item in quantity and value.
  • The USA and China became the major importers of India’s seafood.
  • During FY 2023-24, the export improved in quantity terms by 2.67%.
  • Shrimp exports during the period increased by 0.69% in quantity terms.
  • Frozen fish remained the second largest export item. This year, exports of frozen fish increased by 3.54% and 0.12% in terms of quantity and value, respectively.
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