Daily Current Affairs and GK | 22 May 2024

By Priyanka Chaudhary | Last Modified: 22 May 2024 17:35 PM IST

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Topic: Space and IT

1. NASA is ready to launch a “PREFIRE” mission to study Earth's polar region.

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will launch the Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-Infrared Experiment (PREFIRE) mission on May 22.
  • The main aim of the mission is to study the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
  • Twin shoebox-size climate satellites have been deployed in the mission.
  • A thermal infrared spectrometer to measure far-infrared energy radiated from the Earth's surface is also part of the mission.
  • The main objective of the PREFIRE mission is to investigate the amount of heat radiated from Earth's Polar Regions into space and its impact on climate change.
  • The “PREFIRE” mission will fill the knowledge gap by providing detailed information on how efficiently far-infrared heat is emitted by snow and sea ice, and the influence of clouds on this radiation.
  • The success of this mission will increase the understanding of polar ice loss and its implications for sea level rise and sea ice loss.
  • The Polar Regions play a very critical role in regulating Earth's climate. However, only 40 per cent of the energy released from the Arctic has been systematically measured.

Topic: Defence

2. Indian and French Armies take part in Exercise Shakti.

  • This is the 7th edition of the ongoing Joint Exercise Shakti.
  • During the exercise, two armies are sharing critical skills in jungle survival and mountain operations.
  • It is a biennial training event. It is being held from 13 May to 26 May in Umroi, Meghalaya.
  • The exercise aims to increase the militaries’ capabilities for multi-domain operations in semi-conventional scenarios.
  • The joint exercise involves a 90-member Indian contingent.
  • Indian contingent is mainly from the Rajput Regiment. It is supplemented by personnel from other military branches.
  • The French side has also sent 90 soldiers. They are primarily from the 13th Foreign Legion Half-Brigade. 
  • The Exercise aims to deepen defense cooperation and bilateral relations between India and France.
  • French Ambassador to India Thierry Mathou and Indian Army’s Major General Prasanna Sudhakar Joshi attended the opening ceremony on 13 May.

Topic: Summits/ Conferences/ Meetings

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Global Forum has been opened in Seoul on May 22.

  • At the opening, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said safety is a priority in the use of artificial intelligence.
  • The one-day global forum is being organised alongside the second AI global summit (a two-day event).
  • On the first day of the AI summit on 21 May, sixteen companies pledged to develop the AI technology safely.
  • These sixteen companies are at the forefront of developing AI.
  • This pledge has come at a time when regulators are scrambling to keep up with rapid innovation and emerging risks.
  • The companies included U.S. leaders Google, Meta, Microsoft and OpenAI.
  • These companies also included firms from China, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. 
  • Second AI global summit is co-hosted by South Korea and the United Kingdom in Seoul.

Topic: Important Days

4. International Day for Biological Diversity: 22 May

  • International Day for Biological Diversity is observed every year on 22 May for the promotion of biodiversity issues.
  • It is a United Nations-approved international day to create awareness regarding biodiversity issues.
  • The theme of International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) 2024 is ‘Be part of the Plan’.
  • The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework is also referred to as the Biodiversity Plan.
  • For over 3 billion individuals, fish provides 20% of animal protein.
  • Plants contribute more than 80% of the food consumed by humans.
  • There are currently one million plant and animal species that face extinction.
  • Biodiversity loss might increase zoonoses. Zoonoses are diseases transmitted from animals to humans.

Topic: International News

5. The world's first major law for artificial intelligence gets the final green light from the EU.

  • On May 21, European Union member states gave final consent to the world's first major legislation to regulate artificial intelligence, as institutions around the world race to ban the technology.
  • The AI Act has been approved by the EU Council, a key piece of regulatory legislation that sets out comprehensive rules around artificial intelligence technology.
  • The AI Act applies a risk-based approach to artificial intelligence, meaning it treats different applications of the technology differently depending on the perceived threats they pose to society.
  • The law bans applications of AI that are deemed "unacceptable" in terms of their risk level.
  • Such applications include so-called "social scoring" systems that rank citizens based on the collection and analysis of their data, predictive policing in the workplace and schools, and emotional recognition.
  • High-risk AI systems cover autonomous vehicles or medical devices, which are assessed based on the risks they pose to the health, safety and fundamental rights of citizens.
  • These also include applications of AI in financial services and education, where there is a risk of bias in AI algorithms.

Topic: MoUs and Agreements

6. An agreement has been signed between RITES and Bangladesh Railways for the supply of 200 passenger coaches.

  • On May 20, a contract was signed with Bangladesh Railways by state-owned RITES Limited to supply 200 broad-gauge passenger trains to the neighbouring country.
  • RITES, the export arm of Indian Railways, has won a contract worth US$111.26 million (about Rs 915 crore) funded by the European Investment Bank through a global competitive bidding process.
  • Apart from supply, RITES will provide its expertise in design, spare parts support and training as per the terms and conditions of the contract.
  • The contract covers supply with a commissioning period of 36 months, followed by a warranty period of 24 months.
  • Previously, it had supplied 120 BG passenger coaches (LHB type), 36 BG locomotives and 10 meter gauge locomotives to Bangladesh Railways, besides collaborating on other infrastructure projects.
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Topic: Economy/Banking/Finance

7. Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) market capitalisation has reached $5 trillion milestone as of May 21.

  • This is regarded as resulting from the ongoing rally in the Indian stock markets, encouraged by firm support from different sectoral indices as well as positive economic indicators.
  • Over the past few sessions, Indian stock indices have demonstrated resilience with little volatility.
  • The Sensex had a cumulative increase of about 2,000 points last week.
  • Early in April, the BSE market cap hit $4 trillion. In just over a month and a half, it increased by an additional trillion.
  • Foreign investors have been net sellers of Indian stocks in recent sessions.
  • Domestic institutional investors have compensated by remaining net buyers.
  • Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) sold stocks worth Rs 8,671 crore in April and Rs 28,242 crore so far in May, according to the National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL).

Topic: MoUs/Agreements

8. Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have signed a MoU.

  • This MoU is for capacity building and digitalization of the vaccine cold chain management.
  • The aim of the partnership is to enhance the capacity building, the digitalization of vaccine cold chain management and communication planning in India.
  • The Secretary of the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying and the UNDP Resident Representative in India signed the MoU.
  • The cold chain management is a major challenge in the vaccination rollout in India.
  • India has a population of 142.86 crore people and 53.57 crore farm animals. India has 85.18 crore poultry population.
  • Real-time information on vaccine stocks and flows will be provided by the Animal Vaccine Intelligence Network (AVIN) developed by UNDP.
  • AVIN will also provide real-time information on vaccine storage temperatures.
  • The focus of partnership between UNDP and the government will also be on strengthening the Animal Health with One Health approach.

Topic: State News/Karnataka

9. 33% of government contract jobs have been reserved for women by the Karnataka government.

  • The Karnataka government issued an order to reserve 33% of government contract jobs for women.
  • More than 75,000 employees are currently working as outsourced employees in government departments.
  • The government usually hires third-party agencies to provide Group-C and Group-D posts personnel.
  • The reservation policy will apply to outsourcing jobs lasting more than 45 days and employing more than 20 people.
  • As per government rule, the outsourcing agencies must provide details of their employees to the tendering agency.
  • Around 2.5 lakh government jobs are vacant across 43 state government departments.

Topic: National News

10. SC student enrollment witnessed a 44% increase between 2014 to 2022: NCBC

  • The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) shared data on the enrollment of students from different categories from 2014–15 to 2021–22.
  • The enrollment of students from the Scheduled Caste (SC) category has increased from 4.61 million to 6.62 million.
  • Minority female student enrollment has also increased by 42.3% from 1.07 million to 1.52 million during the period 2014–15 to 2021–22.
  • The data showed that female SC enrollment has increased by 51%.
  • The enrollment of Scheduled Tribe (ST) students has grown by 65.2 percent, from 1.641 million to 2.71 million.
  • In the academic year 2020–21, 34,133 OBC children secured admissions in Central Schools and 19,710 in Navodaya Schools.
  • OBC student enrollment increased from 1,662 in 2021 to 2,090 in 2023 in MBBS admissions.
  • Between 2014–15 to 2020–21, OBC student enrollment in central universities increased by 32.6 percent.
  • In 2020–21, overall enrollment in higher education grew from 34.2 million in 2014–15 to 41.4 million.

Topic: Reports and Indices/ Rankings

11. By 2050, global life expectancy is projected to improve by more than 5 years for men and more than 4 years for women.

  • According to a global study published in The Lancet journal, Life expectancy is projected to improve by nearly five years for men and more than four years for women worldwide between 2022 and 2050.
  • Improvements are expected to be greatest in countries where life expectancy is lower, contributing to an overall increase in life expectancy across all geographic regions.
  • Public health measures are improving prevention and survival rates from cardiovascular diseases, COVID-19 and many communicable, maternal and nutrition-related diseases, largely driving the trend of increased life expectancy globally.
  • Worldwide healthy life expectancy, the number of years one can expect to live in good health, will increase by 2.6 years in the coming years – from 64.8 years in 2022 to 67.4 years in 2050.
  • For India, the study estimates that by 2050, life expectancy for men could exceed 75 years on average, while for women it could be around 80 years.

Topic: Important Days

12. International Tea Day 2024: 21 May

  • Every year on May 21, International Tea Day is celebrated.
  • In 2005, the first International Tea Day was celebrated in New Delhi.
  • In 2019, the United Nations recognized it for the first time.
  • This day is observed to enhance public awareness of tea's cultural and economic importance around the world.
  • Tea is a beverage. It is made from the Camellia Sinensis plant. After water, tea is the most consumed drink in the world.
  • It is believed to have originated from northeastern India, northern Myanmar, and southwest China.
  • China is the world's largest exporter of tea, followed by Kenya and Sri Lanka.
  • China is the largest producer of tea in the world, followed by India and Kenya.

Topic: Reports and Indices/Ranking

13. India moved to 39th place on the World Economic Forum's Travel & Tourism Development Index 2024.

  • As tourism activities returned to pre-pandemic levels, India’s rank on the World Economic Forum's Travel & Tourism Development Index 2024 reached 39th position.
  • In 2021, India’s rank was 54th.
  • USA is at the top of the World Economic Forum's Travel & Tourism Development Index 2024.
  • Spain, Japan, France and Australia are among the top five in the Travel & Tourism Development Index 2024.
  • India is ranked highest in South Asia and among the lower-middle-income economies.
  • The index is prepared by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the University of Surrey.
  • India ranks 18th in price-competitive and 25th in Ground and Port infrastructure.
  • India is only one of three to score in the top 10 for all the resource pillars.
  • India’s overall TTDI (Travel and Tourism Development Index) score is 2.1 per cent below its 2019 level.
  • High-income economies in Europe and Asia-Pacific continued to lead the index.
  • The report highlights that the Middle East has seen the biggest improvement in international tourist arrivals.

Travel & Tourism Development Index 2024

(Source: World Economic Forum)

Topic: Corporates/Companies

14. ONGC registered the highest-ever profit in FY24.

  • In FY24, ONGC reported its highest-ever standalone net profit of Rs 40,526 crore.
  • ONGC announced that its consolidated net profit for FY24 reached an all-time high of Rs 57,101 crore.
  • ONGC crude oil production registered a surge of 2.4 per cent quarterly.
  • It reached 5.359 million metric tonnes (MMT) in the fourth quarter of FY24.
  • ONGC’s standalone gross revenue declined by 11 per cent from Rs Rs 1,55,517 crore in FY23 to 1,38,402 crore in FY24.
  • ONGC has announced a total dividend of Rs 12.25 per share with a total amount of Rs 15,411 crore.
  • This includes an interim dividend of Rs 9.75 per share already paid during the year.
  • During FY24, ONGC spent Rs 37,000 crore in capital expenditure.

ONGC registered the highest-ever profit in FY24

(Source: DD News)

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