- 1. 100th Jayanti of Justice Konda Madhava Reddy has been celebrated.
- 2. UGC has issued the draft guidelines on the recognition of colleges.
- 3. Former European Union (EU) Commission President Jacques Delors died.
- 4.The Ayodhya International Airport will be named 'Maharishi Valmiki International Airport Ayodhya Dham'.
- 5. Qatar court lifted the death sentence of 8 Indians.
- 6. UP government directed the implementation of a green hydrogen policy to promote clean energy.
- 7. A peace accord will be signed between ULFA, the Assam Government and the Centre.
- 8. Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has formed an Ad Hoc committee to supervise the operations of WFI.
- 9. Asset quality of Indian banks improved to a decadal high: Trend and Progress of Banking in India report.
- 10. Nina Singh became the first woman Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
- 11. A Protocol on Consultations signed by India and Russia for the period of the next four years (2024-28).
- 12. The government will sell FCI rice under the Bharat brand.
- 13. India lost a record 204 tigers in 2023: Wildlife Protection Society of India.
- 14. An ammonia gas leak incident shook Ennore, Chennai.
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Topic: Personality in News
1. 100th Jayanti of Justice Konda Madhava Reddy has been celebrated.
- A special Indian Postal Cover commemorating the 100th anniversary of the late Justice Konda Madhava Reddy has been released by Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankar.
- Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan and Chief Justice of Telangana High Court Alok Aradh were also present on this ocassion.
- Justice Reddy was born on August 15, 1872. He made a valuable contribution to India’s justice and education system.
- Justice Reddy’s life central message was inclusive society.
- He served as the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh and Mumbai High Courts as well as the Governor of Maharashtra.
- He is remembered among his peers as a soft-spoken, thoughtful, contemplative person, reasonable and fair with an innate sense of justice.
- Justice Konda Madhava Reddy died on 25 September 1997, after suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Topic: National News
2. UGC has issued the draft guidelines on the recognition of colleges.
- The guidelines are named the “UGC (Recognition of Colleges under Clause (f) of Section 2 of the UGC Act) Regulations, 2023”.
- The draft guidelines will apply to colleges as defined under the UGC Act.
- The draft guidelines lay down the conditions for recognition of a college by UGC.
- According to the draft guidelines, a college seeking recognition should be affiliated with a university under the provisions of UGC (Affiliation of Colleges by Universities) Regulations.
- As per the draft guidelines, a college seeking recognition should comply with the provisions of the UGC Act.
- It should offer programmes leading to the award of degrees or diplomas of not less than one academic year.
- For recognition, a college should furnish the following documents to the UGC.
- Documents related to the year of establishment
- Affiliation certificate issued by the university
- Approval of the statutory/regulatory body with an undertaking that the college complies with all the provisions of the UGC Act
- Official communication about the All India Higher Education Survey code issued by the Ministry of Education
- All existing colleges shall obtain the UGC recognition under Section 2(f) within 3 years from the date of notification of these Regulations.
- If the colleges are established/affiliated after the notification of these regulations, they shall obtain the recognition within 3 years of their establishment/affiliation.
- The responsibility for verification of the documents is with the universities.
Topic: Personality in News
3. Former European Union (EU) Commission President Jacques Delors died.
- Jacques Delors was a key figure in the creation of the euro currency.
- Delors was a prominent figure in French politics. Delors was finance minister under President Francois Mitterrand.
- He served as the eighth head of the European Commission from 1985 to 1995.
- Key events during this time included the creation of the common market, and the enforcement of the Schengen travel agreements.
- Other key events during his term were the start of the Erasmus student exchange programme, and the adoption of the euro as the single currency of the bloc.
Topic: State News/Uttar Pradesh
4.The Ayodhya International Airport will be named 'Maharishi Valmiki International Airport Ayodhya Dham'.
- PM Modi will inaugurate the newly constructed Ayodhya Airport on 30 December.
- Ayodhya is all set to get its first international airport. Phase 1 of the airport is developed at a cost of over Rs 1,450 crore.
- Its terminal building will have an area of 6500 sqm. It will be equipped to serve about 10 lakh passengers annually.
- Its interiors are decorated with local art, paintings and murals depicting the life of Bhagwan Shri Ram.
- This terminal building is also equipped with various sustainability features like an insulated roofing system, LED lighting, rainwater harvesting etc.
- Additionally, PM Modi will lay the foundation for a greenfield township in Ayodhya that will cost over Rs 2180 crore to create.
- Along with that, PM Modi will inaugurate six new Vande Bharat trains and two new Amrit Bharat trains.
- Maharishi Valmiki wrote the epic Ramayana.
- Uttar Pradesh government earlier changed the name of Ayodhya railway station.
Topic: International News
5. Qatar court lifted the death sentence of 8 Indians.
- On December 28, the appellate court of Qatar commuted their death sentences.
- It is a first but significant move in providing relief to the families of eight former Indian Navy personnel on death row in Qatar.
- A detailed order from the Qatar court is awaited, but the Indian government said that the sentences have been 'reduced'.
- This came weeks after the Indian government appealed against the death sentence handed to eight people by a Qatari court on alleged espionage charges.
- All the employees of Doha-based Dahra Global, Indian nationals, were taken into custody in August 2022.
- The charges against him were never made public by Qatari authorities. They were accused of spying for Israel.
- The eight men were working in their private capacity with Dahra Global to oversee the Italian small stealth submarine, U2I2.
- They were identified as Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta and Sailor Ragesh.
Topic: State News/ Uttar Pradesh
6. UP government directed the implementation of a green hydrogen policy to promote clean energy.
- UP CM Yogi Adityanath has issued instructions to officials to accelerate the formulation of a green hydrogen policy in a decisive step towards strengthening the state's commitment to clean energy.
- The objective of this policy is to encourage and facilitate companies engaged in this emerging sector, thereby providing maximum assistance to accelerate its growth.
- During the comprehensive review of the policy draft in the meeting held on December 25, CM Adityanath stressed the paramount importance of consultation with investors and stakeholders.
- Adityanath outlined a number of support measures to facilitate companies operating in this vital sector.
- These include the provision of land and additional benefits such as exemption from stamp duty and electricity charges, as well as capital and interest subsidies.
- Such measures are aimed at strengthening the operating scenario for entities investing in green hydrogen initiatives.
- Green hydrogen refers to hydrogen gas produced through a process called electrolysis, where electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind or solar power is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
- This method produces hydrogen without emitting greenhouse gases, making it environmentally friendly.
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7. A peace accord will be signed between ULFA, the Assam Government and the Centre.
- This tripartite accord between the Centre, Assam Government and United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) is intended to bring lasting peace in the North East region.
- The Memorandum of Settlement will be inked in the presence of Home Minister Amit Shah.
- The pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) will be part of the agreement.
- Over a dozen top leaders of the pro-talks faction of the ULFA, headed by Arabinda Rajkhowa, will be present during the signing of the peace accord.
- The hardline faction of the ULFA, led by Paresh Baruah, will not be part of the accord agreement.
- Director of the Intelligence Bureau Tapan Deka and the government’s advisor on Northeast affairs A K Mishra have been talking to the ULFA faction from the government side.
- The Rajkhowa-led ULFA faction had started talks with the central government in 2011.
- The ULFA was formed in 1979. The central government declared it a banned outfit in 1990.
Topic: Committees/ Commissions/Taskforces
8. Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has formed an Ad Hoc committee to supervise the operations of WFI.
- The committee comprises Bhupinder Singh Bajwa as Chairman, MM Somaya and Manjusha Kanwar as Members.
- The committee has the responsibility to observe and supervise the functioning of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).
- It will also take care of things like selecting athletes and submitting entries for athletes to compete internationally, among other things.
- In its order, IOA said WFI’s recently appointed President and officials have made arbitrary decisions that are against the constitution.
- IOA added that the officials disregarded due process and reversed the decisions made by the IOA-appointed ad hoc committee.
- It further stated that this represents a clear break from accepted norms and exposes a governance deficit inside the Federation.
Topic: Banking System
9. Asset quality of Indian banks improved to a decadal high: Trend and Progress of Banking in India report.
- The Reserve Bank of India released a report titled ‘Trend and Progress of Banking in India’.
- As per the report, the Indian scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) Gross Non-Performing Assets (GNPA) ratio improved in the second quarter of this financial year.
- According to the report, the consolidated balance sheet of SCBs grew by 12.2% in 2022–23.
- The improvement in asset quality is measured by GNPA ratios. The GNPA ratio of SCBs reached a decadal low of 3.9% in March 2023.
- About a 45% reduction in the GNPAs of SCBs is due to recoveries and upgrades.
- The combined balance sheet of urban cooperative banks has increased by 2.3% in 2022–23.
- The consolidated balance sheet of non-banking financial companies increased by 14.8% in 2022–23.
Topic: National Appointments
10. Nina Singh became the first woman Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
- The government appointed Nina Singh as the Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
- She is a 1989 batch IPS officer from Rajasthan cadre and was working as Special DG in CISF.
- Nina Singh is also the first woman to head the CISF and served as joint director of CBI in 2013 and 2018.
- Anish Dayal Singh has been appointed as the Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
- Rahul Rasgotra has been named as Director General of the Indo-Tibetan Police Force (ITBP).
- Vivek Srivastava is named DG, Fire Service, Civil Defense, and Home Guards.
Topic: MoUs / Agreements
11. A Protocol on Consultations signed by India and Russia for the period of the next four years (2024-28).
- It has been signed to make progress in economic cooperation, energy trade, connectivity, military-technical cooperation, and people-to-people exchanges.
- The protocol was signed during the official visit of External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar to Russia.
- Jaishankar held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow and discussed a range of issues, including the Indo-Pacific region, Ukraine, and the Israel-Gaza conflict.
- Dr. Jaishankar said that relations between India and Russia have been strong and stable, living up to the responsibility of a strategic partnership.
- In addition, India and Russia also signed two important agreements to advance the implementation of the Kudankulam nuclear power projects in India.
Topic: Agriculture and Allied Sector
12. The government will sell FCI rice under the Bharat brand.
- To control rice inflation, the government is considering the proposal to sell FCI rice under the 'Bharat' brand, but the discounted rate has not been decided yet.
- The ministry's efforts to curb retail rice prices by boosting domestic availability through the sale of FCI rice through e-auction under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) have received a lackluster response.
- Under OMSS, Food Corporation of India (FCI) is offering quality rice at a reserve price of Rs 29 per kg.
- The Group of Ministers has to decide whether to sell Indian rice at the same rate or at a lower rate.
- The government is already selling wheat flour (atta) and pulses under the Bharat brand through stores.
- These stores are being managed by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), National Cooperative Consumer Federation (NCCF), and Kendriya Bhandar.
- FCI has been able to sell only 3.04 lakh tonnes of rice under OMSS so far this year.
- In the case of wheat, the nodal agency has sold 82.89 lakh tonnes of wheat under OMSS.
- Rice inflation stands at 13% year-on-year and the government is concerned about rising prices of the key food ahead of the 2024 general elections.
Topic: Environment and Ecology
13. India lost a record 204 tigers in 2023: Wildlife Protection Society of India.
- According to figures compiled by the Wildlife Protection Society of India, 204 tigers died in India in 2023.
- The highest deaths of tigers were recorded in Maharashtra (52). It is followed by Madhya Pradesh (45). Uttarakhand registered 26 deaths of tigers.
- Tamil Nadu and Kerala recorded 15 deaths each. Karnataka registered 13 deaths.
- Karnataka has the second-highest number of tigers in India.
- Uttar Pradesh recorded 7 deaths. Bihar and Chhattisgarh recorded 3 deaths each.
- ‘Natural & other causes’ are the reasons for the deaths of 79 tigers in India.
- 55 tigers died due to poaching while 46 tigers died due to Infighting. Fourteen tigers died during rescue/treatment.
- From 2018 to 2022, India’s tiger population has increased by 200. The number of tigers in India was 3,167 in 2022.
Topic: State News/ Tamil Nadu
14. An ammonia gas leak incident shook Ennore, Chennai.
- Ammonia gas leaked from a fertiliser manufacturing unit at Ennore in north Chennai.
- The residents suffered shortness of breath and nausea. More than 50 people have been kept under observation in hospitals.
- The gas leak was plugged in by specialists within 20 minutes.
- The technical committee has been set up by the government. It comprises experts from the Indian Institute of Technology and officials of the state and central pollution control boards.
- Ammonia (NH3) is a pungent gas composed of nitrogen and hydrogen.
- It is a poisonous gas with a familiar noxious odour. It is produce from anaerobic decay of plant and animal matter.
- Ammonia is produced commercially via the catalytic reaction of nitrogen and hydrogen at high temperature and pressure. It can be used as a fuel in standard engines.