- 1. UGC issued guidelines for Higher Education Institutions to provide equal opportunities to all.
- 2. Actor Vijay launches political party Tamizhaga Vetri Kazhagam.
- 3. Karnataka government would launch a 'Digital Detox' initiative in partnership with the All India Game Developers Forum (AIGDF).
- 4. RBI’s Digital Payments Index increased from 395.57 in March 2023 to 417.77 in September 2023.
- 5. A major report submitted by the UCC panel to the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand.
- 6. India will 'replace' military personnel in Maldives.
- 7. PM Modi inaugurated the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) - Commonwealth Attorneys and Solicitors General Conference in New Delhi.
- 8. UPI has been formally launched at Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
- 9. Gujarat government presented Rs 3.32 lakh crore budget for 2024-25.
- 10. Prime Minister Narendra Modi lay the foundation stone of the Talabira Thermal Power Project of NLC India Limited in Odisha.
- 11. Champai Soren took oath as the new Chief Minister of Jharkhand.
- 12. 2024 has been declared the 'Year of Naval Civilians' by the Indian Navy.
- 13. IAF to conduct Vayu Shakti 2024 exercise in Jaisalmer on 17th Feb.
- 14. Union Cabinet has extended the refund scheme for garments and made-ups exports till 31 March 2026.
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Topic: National News
1. UGC issued guidelines for Higher Education Institutions to provide equal opportunities to all.
- The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued 'Guidelines to Provide Equitable Opportunity for the Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs) in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
- The guidelines are in line with the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
- It emphasizes on accessibility, equity, and inclusivity in higher education for socio-economically disadvantaged groups.
- University Grants Commission recommended that all universities and Higher Education Institutions should follow these guidelines to improve the educational opportunities of students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.
- UGC urged Universities and HEI to implement bridge courses, earn-while-learn schemes and outreach programmes to provide employability opportunities for students.
- UGC made mandatory to form socioeconomically disadvantaged groups (SEDGs) cell to ensure inclusive, equal, and quality higher education for students.
- The chairperson and members of the cell will nominated by the Head of the Higher Education Institution.
Topic: Indian Polity
2. Actor Vijay launches political party Tamizhaga Vetri Kazhagam.
- He said that his party would contest the 2026 Tamil Nadu Assembly elections.
- However, his party would stay away from the coming Lok Sabha elections. It would not support anyone in the Lok Sabha elections.
- Mr. Vijay is the founder-president of the party. He is arguably the biggest and highest paid star in Tamil Nadu presently.
- Several years ago, Vijay had transformed his fans association into Vijay Makkal Iyakkam (VMI).
- VMI is a larger social platform that has now been changed into a political party.
- His some films that ran into trouble during the release are Kaavalan (2011) and Thalaivaa (2013).
- His film Mersal has dialogues critical of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
- He applied on 2 February on behalf of his party to register with the Election Commission of India.
Topic: State News/ Karnataka
3. Karnataka government would launch a 'Digital Detox' initiative in partnership with the All India Game Developers Forum (AIGDF).
- The initiative aims to raise awareness about the dangers of spending excessive time in the digital world.
- It also aims to establish an environment of responsible gaming.
- Offline and online Digital Detox Centres will be established across Karnataka through this initiative. These centres will offer personalized guidance.
- Minister for IT&BT Priyank Kharge said this initiative is another step to fulfil the government's commitment of building a digitally empowered Karnataka through responsible use of technology.
- The Minister observed that the outcomes of digital dependence are mental health issues, shrinking attention spans and fraying real-world relationships.
- The Government of Karnataka, AIGDF and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) will work together to raise awareness about mindful technology.
Topic: Reports and Indices/Ranking
4. RBI’s Digital Payments Index increased from 395.57 in March 2023 to 417.77 in September 2023.
- RBI’s Digital Payments Index (DPI) has increased across all parameters.
- It was driven by growth in payment enablers, payment performance, and consumer centricity across the country.
- March 2018 is the base period for the RBI-DPI. This means that the DPI score for March 2018 is taken as 100.
- In September 2019, the DPI stood at 173.49. This increased to 217.74 in September 2020.
- This further increased to 304.06 in September 2021.
- RBI publishes DPI on a semi-annual basis with a lag of four months.
- RBI DPI consists of five broad parameters. These parameters measure the penetration of digital payments in India. The parameters and their weights are given below.
- Payment Enablers (weight 25 per cent)
- Payment Infrastructure – Demand-side factors (weight 10 per cent)
- Payment Infrastructure – Supply-side factors (weight 15 per cent)
- Payment Performance (weight 45 per cent)
- Consumer Centricity (weight 5 per cent)
Topic: State News/ Uttarakhand
5. A major report submitted by the UCC panel to the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand.
- On February 2, the government-appointed panel to draft the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) handed over an important document to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.
- The draft will be examined, studied, and discussed before presenting it in the Assembly.
- From February 5-8, a four-day special session of the Assembly has already been called to pass the law on UCC.
- This draft, consisting of four volumes comprising 740 pages, has been submitted to Dhami.
- The five-member committee was headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai.
- Along with Desai, other members of the panel include retired chief justice of Sikkim High Court Pramod Kohli, social activist Manu Gaur, former Uttarakhand chief secretary Shatrughan Singh, and Vice Chancellor of Doon University Surekha Dangwal.
- On 3 January, a meeting of the state cabinet has also been called to discuss the draft.
- The UCC will provide a legal framework for uniform marriage, divorce, land, property, and inheritance laws for all citizens in the state, regardless of their religion.
- Upon its implementation, Uttarakhand will become the first state in the country to adopt UCC after independence.
- It has been in operation in Goa since the days of Portuguese rule.
Topic: India and Its Neighbours
6. India will 'replace' military personnel in Maldives.
- After the second meeting of the high-level core group between the two sides on February 2, the Maldives government has said that India will "replace" its military personnel in the Maldives in two phases by May 10.
- The decision came against the backdrop of the Maldives' demand to end the presence of Indian military personnel in the archipelagic nation.
- Both sides agreed that the Indian government would replace military personnel in one of the three aviation platforms by March 10, and complete the replacement of military personnel in the other two platforms by May 10.
- However, it was not made clear whether India's military personnel would be replaced by civilian operators or some other batch of armed forces personnel.
- Both sides had agreed on a set of mutually workable solutions to enable the continued operation of Indian aviation platforms providing humanitarian and medical services to the people of Maldives.
- The Maldivian side reiterated that both countries will continue cooperation in the field of defense and security.
- The development came a day after the revised Indian budget estimates for 2023-'24 gave the Maldives a larger financial allocation than earlier in the current fiscal year.
- The revised budget estimate for Maldives is ₹770.90 crore, up from the previous grant of ₹400 crore.
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Topic: Summits/ Conferences/ Meetings
7. PM Modi inaugurated the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) - Commonwealth Attorneys and Solicitors General Conference in New Delhi.
- The theme of this conference is Cross-Border Challenges in Justice Delivery.
- During the conference, important issues of law and justice will be deliberated.
- Some of these issues are judicial transition and the ethical dimensions of legal practice, executive accountability and revisiting modern-day legal education.
- Participants in the conference are Attorney Generals and Solicitors from the Commonwealth nations spanning the Asia-Pacific, Africa, and the Caribbean along with different international delegations.
- The conference serves as a unique platform. It offers a forum for interaction among different stakeholders in the Commonwealth legal fraternity.
- An exclusive round table conference tailored for Attorneys and Solicitors general is also included in the conference.
- It aims to develop a comprehensive roadmap to address the challenges in legal education and transnational justice delivery.
Topic: International News
8. UPI has been formally launched at Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
- It was formally launched at a Republic Day reception held in France.
- Indian tourists can now buy tickets for the Eiffel Tower via UPI.
- Eiffel Tower is the first merchant to offer UPI payments in France.
- France has become the first European country to accept UPI.
- India and France pledged to foster a healthy ecosystem and form partnerships in 2023 to empower their citizens and guarantee their full participation in the digital century.
- A deal was signed by France's Lyra Collect and NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL) to deploy the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) throughout France.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that India and France have decided to adopt the UPI payment method and that it will start at the famous Eiffel Tower, while on a visit to France in July of last year.
- The UPI is India's mobile-based payment system. It allows people to make payments through a virtual payment address created by the customer.
- NIPL was incorporated on April 3, 2020 as a wholly owned subsidiary of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
- NIPL is devoted to the deployment of RuPay and UPI outside of India.
Topic: State News/ Gujarat
9. Gujarat government presented Rs 3.32 lakh crore budget for 2024-25.
- Finance Minister Kanubhai Desai presented the budget for 2024-25 in the Assembly.
- The budget outlay has increased Rs 31,444 crore, or 10.44 per cent as compared to the previous budget.
- The budget has been presented with an estimated surplus of 146.72 crore and proposed no new taxes.
- Gujarat government announced schemes and projects with main focus on GYAN Garib' (the poor), Yuva' (youth), Annadata' (farmer) and Nari Shakti' (women power).
- Under the Namo Lakshmi scheme, girls studying in government, aided and private schools from Classes 9 to 12 will get financial assistance of more than Rs 50,000 over the four years for their education.
- Rs 1,250 crore has been allocated in the budget for this programme.
- Under the Namo Shri scheme, pregnant women of backward and poor sections will get an assistance of Rs 12,000. Rs 750 crore has been allocated for this in the budget.
- Seven municipalities- Navsari, Gandhidham, Morbi, Vapi, Anand, Mehsana and Surendranagar-Wadhwan will be converted into municipal corporations.
- Additionally, the state government proposed reducing stamp tax and certain provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act in order to provide a relief of Rs 754 crore to citizens.
- Rs 55,114 crore has been allocated to the education department. It is the maximum budget allocation to a department.
- The Budget allocated Rs 20,100 crore for the health and family welfare department, which is 32 per cent more than the current year’s allocation of Rs 15,181 crore.
- The government announced significant changes in Doodh Sanjeevani Yojana and PM Poshan Yojana.
- A new scheme, Anganwadi 2.0, has been announced in the budget. Under this scheme, 8,000 new anganwadis will be built using modern technology and 20,000 anganwadis will be provided IT connectivity to convert them into smart anganwadis within the next three years.
- GIFT City will be developed as a planned green city across 3,300 acre.
Topic: State News/ Odisha
10. Prime Minister Narendra Modi lay the foundation stone of the Talabira Thermal Power Project of NLC India Limited in Odisha.
- The Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) Talabira Thermal power project worth more than Rs 27,000 crore will be established in Sambalpur, Odisha.
- The government has approved the setting up of 3 x 800 MW Ultra Super Critical Thermal Power Plant at Talabira through NLCIL.
- Coal infrastructure projects of Mahanadi Coalfields Limited including First Mile Connectivity (FMC) projects - Bhubaneswari Phase-I in Talcher Coalfields in Angul district and Lajkura Rapid Loading System (RLS) has been inaugurated by PM Modi.
- He also dedicated a 50-km-long second track of Jharsuguda-Barpali-Sardega rail line phase-1 built by Mahanadi Coalfields Limited to the nation.
- NTPC Darlipali Super Thermal Power Station (2x800 MW) and NSPCL Rourkela PP-II Expansion Project (1x250 MW) in Sundargarh district has been also dedicated to the nation.
- PM Modi also laid the foundation stone of NTPC Talcher Thermal Power Project, Stage-III (2x660 MW) in Angul district.
- He also laid the foundation stone of the Nagpur Jharsuguda Natural Gas Pipeline Section (692km) of Mumbai-Nagpur-Jharsuguda pipeline project.
Topic: National Appointment
11. Champai Soren took oath as the new Chief Minister of Jharkhand.
- On February 2, JMM legislature party leader Champai Soren took oath as the Chief Minister of Jharkhand at Raj Bhavan in Ranchi.
- He became CM two days after Hemant Soren resigned from the post of Chief Minister and his arrest by ED.
- On 1 February, Champai Soren urged the Governor to accept his claim to form the government as soon as possible, which was without a Chief Minister since the resignation of Hemant Soren.
- Champai Soren, whose party is a constituent of the JMM-led alliance, has been given 10 days to prove his government's majority.
- The 67-year-old tribal leader took oath as the 12th Chief Minister of the state and the sixth Chief Minister from the Kolhan region of Jharkhand.
- Apart from this, in the swearing-in ceremony, senior Congress leader Alamgir Alam and RJD leader Satyanand Bhokta took oath as cabinet ministers.
12. 2024 has been declared the 'Year of Naval Civilians' by the Indian Navy.
- It has been declared to improve the administration, efficiency, and welfare of Naval civilians by addressing all aspects of civilian human resource management in a time-bound manner.
- Key focus areas towards maximizing administrative efficiency, digital initiatives, general and specific training programs, and welfare activities have been identified for implementation in 2024.
- Civilian personnel of the Navy constitute approximately one-third of the total workforce of the Indian Navy and contribute significantly to its operational effectiveness in all areas.
- Civilian personnel influence the overall performance of naval structures such as command headquarters, dockyards, material organizations, naval armament depots, Naval Armament Inspectorates, training establishments, and many other types of support units.
- However, several initiatives have been conceived and implemented in the past to enhance organizational efficiency and satisfaction levels among civilian personnel.
13. IAF to conduct Vayu Shakti 2024 exercise in Jaisalmer on 17th Feb.
- The Indian Air Force will carry out Vayu Shakti, Gagan Shakti and Tarang Shakti exercises.
- The Indian Air Force will conduct the mega exercise Vayu Shakti 2024 at the Pokharan Range in Jaisalmer.
- More than 100 aircraft and helicopters will participate in this exercise.
- Several indigenous manufactured and designed aircraft and helicopters like Tejas, Prachand, and Dhruv will take part in the exercise.
- Air-to-air and surface-to-air missile systems including MICA, R-73, SAMAR, and Akash will show their firepower.
- The second mega exercise will be also conducted ‘Gagan Shakti’. Rafale fighter aircraft and the S-400 air defence systems would participate in this exercise.
- Exercise Gaganshakti is conducted once in five years.
- Tarang Shakti would be the first-ever multinational exercise to be held in India.
- Aircraft from friendly air forces like the US, Germany, France, Australia and neighbouring countries will participate in this exercise.
Topic: Government Schemes and Initiatives
14. Union Cabinet has extended the refund scheme for garments and made-ups exports till 31 March 2026.
- The cabinet has extended the Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL) scheme for garment exports by two years.
- The cabinet had first approved the scheme up to 31 March 2020. After this, it further approved the scheme till 31 March 2024.
- The extension to the scheme will help in improving export competitiveness.
- ₹9,246 crore is the Budget allocation for the scheme this year.
- Benefits under the Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) are available for the majority of other products that are not covered by the RoSCTL.
- RoSCTL scheme is a Ministry of Textiles scheme for exports under Chapters 61, 62 and 63 of the Customs Tariff.
- The objective of the scheme is to compensate for the State and Central Taxes and Levies in addition to the Duty Drawback Scheme on export of apparel/ garments and Made-ups by way of rebate.