Current Affairs 26 February 2024 & Test | Latest News & Updates

Current Affairs 26 February 2024

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Some lines of current affairs 26 February 2024 news

NATIONAL

Union Minister Anurag Thakur introduces four new portals to update the media industry

Union Minister Anurag Thakur of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) launched four new portals in New Delhi to modernize India’s media industry.

  • Press Sewa Portal: Developed under the Press and Registration of Periodicals Act of 2023 (PRP Act, 2023) by the Press Registrar General of India (PRGI), formerly known as the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI).
  • TEMPEST: This system was introduced for the Central Bureau of Communication (CBC) to provide comprehensive media and communication solutions to Ministries, Departments, etc.
  • NaViGate Bharat Portal: Developed by the New Media Wing of MIB, it serves as the National Video Gateway.
  • National Register for Local Cable Operators (LCOs): A web form for collecting information about LCOs for the National Register.

Some key points about the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB):

  • Union Minister: Anurag Singh Thakur (Representing Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh)
  • Minister of State: L. Murugan (Rajya Sabha – Madhya Pradesh)

Microsoft, iCreate, and MeitY have jointly launched the iMPEL-AI program

Microsoft and the International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology (iCreate) have teamed up, with support from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), to introduce the iMPEL-AI program in India. This initiative aims to empower Indian AI startups.

Key Point:

The agreement was signed by Microsoft and iCreate, witnessed by Union Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar from MeitY, Jean-Philippe Courtois, Executive Vice President and President of National Transformation Partnerships at Microsoft, and Avinash Punekar, CEO of iCreate.

About iMPEL-AI:

  • The program will be rolled out in two phases, fostering AI innovation and product development among Indian startups by offering mentorship and technology resources.
  • In the first phase, the iMPEL-AI program will identify 1100 AI innovators across India to become AI Most Valuable Players (MVPs), focusing on priority areas such as Healthcare, Financial Inclusion, Sustainability, Education, Agriculture, and Smart Cities.
  • The second phase will involve selecting and nurturing 100 startups nationwide, leveraging Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI for coding and language AI models.
  • The top 25 startups will receive support from Microsoft’s Global Network to enhance their products for global competitiveness.

AI Skilling:

  • Microsoft and iCreate will provide AI skilling opportunities to 11,000 innovators, startups, and youth across India through Microsoft’s Learning Management System.
  • Participants will earn globally recognized Microsoft certifications, enhancing their job prospects and career growth.

About iCreate:

  • iCreate is India’s sole non-academic institution dedicated to nurturing tech innovation startups into successful businesses.
  • It is backed by the Governments of Gujarat and India to promote ‘Next Generation Entrepreneurship.’
  • CEO: Avinash Punekar
  • Established: 2012
  • Headquarters: Ahmedabad, Gujarat

The Interest Equalization Scheme is extended until June 2024, with an extra funding of Rs. 2500 Cr

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) extended the Interest Equalization Scheme (IES) for Pre and Post-Shipment Rupee Export Credit until June 30, 2024, with an additional allocation of Rs. 2500 crores. Here are the key points simplified:

  • Interest Rates:
    • Manufacturers and Merchant Exporters exporting under 410 Harmonized System (HS) lines will receive a 2% interest equalization rate.
    • Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) manufacturers exporting under any HS line will receive a 3% interest equalization rate.
  • Average Interest Rate:
    • Banks charging loans under the scheme at an interest rate exceeding the Repo rate + 4% on average might face restrictions starting from the financial year 2023-24 (FY24).
    • The Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) will identify banks violating these provisions.
  • Cap on Subvention Amount:
    • The annual net subvention amount is limited to Rs.10 Crores per Importer-Exporter Code (IEC) in a given financial year since April 1, 2023.
  • Background on IES:
    • The IES started in 2015 for 5 years and has been extended multiple times, including a 1-year extension during COVID-19.
    • Previously known as an interest subvention scheme, it’s implemented by RBI through various banks providing credit to exporters.
    • The scheme is jointly monitored by DGFT and RBI.
  • About RBI:
    • Governor: Shaktikanta Das
    • Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra
    • Established: 1935

NGEL has signed an agreement with APIIC to develop an integrated green hydrogen hub in Andhra Pradesh

  • NTPC Green Energy Limited (NGEL), a wholly owned subsidiary of NTPC Ltd, signed a land lease agreement with Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) to develop an “Integrated Green Hydrogen Hub” on 1,200 acres near Pudimadaka village in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
  • The signing ceremony took place at the AP Secretariat, Amaravati. Note: NTPC Ltd, formerly known as National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd, is a Maharatna Central Public Sector Enterprise owned by the Ministry of Power, Government of India.

Objective:

The Pudimadaka green hydrogen hub aims to establish an advanced ecosystem for technologies in the new energy model, including electrolyser and fuel cell manufacturing, ancillary industries, incubation, testing facilities, and production and export of green hydrogen and its derivatives (like green ammonia, green methanol, etc.).

Production Facility:

  • The project involves constructing India’s largest green hydrogen production facility, capable of producing 1,200 tons per day.
  • The hub will also facilitate the conversion of green hydrogen to derivatives such as green ammonia and green methanol, primarily targeting export markets.

National Green Hydrogen Mission:

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is actively implementing the National Green Hydrogen Mission to position India as a global hub for the production, usage, and export of green hydrogen and its derivatives.

NTPC’s Green Energy Initiatives:

  • NTPC, India’s largest integrated power utility, has a total installed capacity of 74 gigawatts (GW), providing a quarter of India’s total electricity.
  • By 2032, it aims to increase its non-fossil fuel capacity to 45-50%, including 60 GW of renewable energy, with a total portfolio of 130 GW.

About NTPC Limited:

  • Chairman & Managing Director: Gurdeep Singh
  • Headquarters: New Delhi, Delhi
  • Established in: 1975

Minister Arjun Munda initiated a campaign to raise awareness about medicinal plants

Union Minister Arjun Munda from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) launched a project called “Health Screening and Management through Ayurvedic Interventions” for students in Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) in tribal areas of India. The launch event included Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal from the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH). This joint project involves MoTA, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Institute of Research in Tribal Health (NIRTH) in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, and the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) under the Ministry of AYUSH. It aims to benefit more than 20,000 tribal students and is in line with the MoU signed by MoTA and the Ministry of Ayush in October 2023.

INTERNATIONAL

The coast guards of India, Sri Lanka, and Maldives conduct the 16th Trilateral Coast Guard Exercise named “Dosti 16”

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG), Sri Lankan Navy (SLN), and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) are currently conducting the 16th edition of the ‘Dosti-16’ trilateral Coast Guard exercise from February 22–25, 2024, in Male, Maldives. Bangladesh observers are also participating.

Objectives:

  • Enhance military collaboration among the three nations and address sea incidents.
  • Ensure safety and security in Indian Ocean territories, boosting maritime security and cooperation regionally.

Participants:

  • India: ICG Ships Samarth, Abhinav, and ICG Dornier aircraft.
  • Sri Lanka: Sri Lankan Naval Ship Samudra.

Strategic Significance of Maldives:

  • Maldives is a vital maritime neighbor, strategically important in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • It plays a crucial role in India’s maritime strategies like ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the ‘Neighbourhood First Policy.’

About Dosti Exercise:

  • DOSTI exercise began between Maldives and India’s coast guards in 1991, expanding to include Sri Lanka in 2012.
  • The 15th edition occurred in 2021 in Maldives.

IFFCO ranked first among the Top 300 Cooperatives worldwide in the 2023 edition of ICA’s World Cooperative Monitor

  • In the 2023 edition of the World Cooperative Monitor (WCM) report by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), India’s Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) Limited secured the top spot among the Top 300 Cooperatives in the Agriculture and Food Industries section, based on turnover-to-GDP per capita ratio.
  • Following IFFCO, India’s Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Limited (AMUL) claimed the second position, with France’s Groupe CrĂ©dit Agricole coming in third.
  • Additionally, IFFCO ranked 72nd in the Top 300 Largest Cooperative and Mutual Organizations by Turnover, an improvement from its 97th position in the 2022 report.
  • The WCM 2023 marks the 12th edition of this annual report, published by the ICA with support from the European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises (Euricse). It’s based on fiscal year 2021 data and provides rankings across seven sectors: Agriculture and food industries (including fishing), Insurance, Wholesale and retail trade, Financial services, Industry and Utilities, Education, health and social work, and Other services (including housing).

Top 5 Cooperatives by Turnover/GDP per Capita: (Agriculture and Food Industries section )

Rank Organisation Country Turnover/GDP
per capita
(USD)
1 IFFCO India 3,321,512.57
2 AMUL India 2,809,573.69
3 Groupe Crédit Agricole France 2,680,001.60
4 Sistema Unimed Brazil 2,027,885.39
5 Copersucar SA Brazil 1,803,571.29

Top 3 Organisation by Turnover (Agriculture and Food Industries section):

Rank Organisation Country Turnover/GDP
per capita
(billion USD)
1 Nonghyup (National Agricultural Cooperative Federation – NACF) Republic of Korea(South Korea) 61.17
2 National Federation Of Agricultural Cooperative Associations – ZENNOH Japan 38.91
3 CHS Inc The United States of America (USA) 38.45

Here’s a simplified version:

  • The combined turnover of the Top 300 cooperatives and mutuals in the report exceeds $2 trillion, based on 2021 financial data.
  • These organizations mainly operate in sectors such as Agriculture (105 enterprises) and Insurance (96 enterprises), with Wholesale and Retail Trade ranking third (57 enterprises).

About Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO):

  • Owned entirely by 35,565 cooperative societies in India.
  • CEO: Udai Shanker Awasthi
  • Headquarters: New Delhi, Delhi
  • Established in: 1967

BANKING & FINANCE

Banks and non-banks can issue prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) for public transport, as per RBI regulations

On February 23, 2024, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) updated rules for prepaid payment instruments (PPIs), allowing authorized banks and non-bank issuers to provide PPIs for payments on public transportation systems.

This directive from the RBI falls under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.

Key Points:

The goal is to make digital payments convenient, fast, affordable, and safe for commuters using public transport such as metro, buses, rail, waterways, tolls, and parking.

PPIs:

  • PPIs are tools for purchasing goods/services, financial transactions, and remittances. They can be issued by both banks and non-bank entities.
  • Cash loading on PPIs is capped at Rs 50,000 per month, subject to the overall limit of the PPI.

Types of PPIs:

  • Small PPIs: Require minimal details, usable at specific merchants, no fund transfers or cash withdrawals. Two types exist:
    • PPIs up to Rs 10,000 (with cash loading). These can be upgraded to full-KYC PPIs within 24 months.
    • PPIs up to Rs 10,000 (without cash loading).
  • Full-KYC PPIs: Issued after completing Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements, usable for purchases, fund transfers, and cash withdrawals.

For official information on PPIs:

  • RBI allows Paytm to shift UPI payment business to other banks.
  • The RBI authorized Paytm Payments Bank to transfer its UPI-based payments business to four or five other banks, including Axis Bank.
  • Paytm has paused new user sign-ups until it completes the transfer of existing accounts to these banks.
  • RBI has instructed the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to review One 97 Communications’ request to serve as a third-party application provider (TPAP) for the UPI channel.
  • In March 2022, RBI imposed business restrictions on Paytm Payments Bank for the benefit of customers, wallet holders, and merchants using Paytm’s services.

CEIB has introduced a new automated search portal for checking the background of potential borrowers

  • The Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB) and the State Bank of India (SBI) collaborated to launch an Automated Search Portal for verifying the backgrounds of potential borrowers and Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) to assist Public Sector Banks (PSBs).
  • Amit Mohan Govil, Director General of CEIB, and Dinesh Khara, Chairman of SBI, inaugurated the portal during a meeting with all PSBs in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

Key points:

  • CEIB and SBI developed a digital platform to help PSBs quickly obtain mandatory intelligence clearance for timely fund disbursement.
  • It ensures PSBs receive prompt antecedent verification reports, speeding up due diligence and reducing fraud risks.

Risk Assessment and Mitigation:

  • Antecedent verification reports strengthen risk assessment and mitigation efforts.
  • CEIB checks economic offenders’ data before generating reports.
  • NPAs undergo scrutiny to enhance risk mitigation.

Antecedent Verification Report:

This report, crucial for approving high-value loans, undergoes thorough checks of economic offenses data maintained by CEIB.

Mandate for Large Value Bank Frauds:

PSBs must obtain a CEIB report before approving loans exceeding Rs. 50 crore for new borrowers or when existing borrowers’ accounts turn into NPAs.

Key Points:

  • In August 2022, CEIB created a uniform report format at the Indian Banks’ Association’s (IBA) request.
  • PSBs were advised to appoint nodal officers as Single Points of Contact (SPOCs) for streamlined communication with banks.

Submission Process:

PSBs will now submit intelligence clearance requests to CEIB through dedicated emails in a specified format, eliminating manual processing delays.

Akshayakalpa has signed an MoU with BII and Samunnati to fund 1,500 small dairy farmers in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana

Tiptur-based Akshayakalpa Farms And Foods Pvt. Ltd. in Karnataka signed a deal with British International Investment (BII) and Samunnati Financial Intermediation and Services Pvt. Ltd. to fund 1,500 small-scale dairy farmers in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana. This initiative is backed by BII’s Climate Innovation Facility, a GBP 200 million fund supporting climate projects in developing nations. The agreement aims to boost milk and crop yields sustainably, with a focus on organic certification. BII is a UK government-backed development finance institution, while Samunnati Financial, based in Chennai, specializes in agricultural value chain solutions. Akshayakalpa stands as India’s pioneer in certified organic dairy production.

ECONOMY & BUSINESS

Uber is teaming up with ONDC to enhance transportation options on the Uber app

  • Uber India Systems Pvt. Ltd., headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra, has partnered with the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) to explore integrating its services into the ONDC network, enhancing mobility options within the Uber mobile app.
  • The partnership aims to offer safe, affordable, and dependable rides to people across India. The memorandum was signed during an event in Bengaluru, Karnataka, attended by Uber’s Global CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, and Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of Infosys Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

Note:

  • ONDC is an initiative led by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MoCI).
  • Uber India Systems Pvt. Ltd. operates as a subsidiary of Uber Technologies, Inc., based in California, USA.

ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS

Minda’s acquisition of up to 8.79% of Pricol’s shares has been approved by the CCI

  • The CCI has given the green light for Noida’s Minda Corporation Limited to acquire up to around 8.79% of the equity share capital of Coimbatore’s Pricol Limited.
  • Minda makes auto parts for OEMs and Tier-1 suppliers across different sectors in India. Pricol also produces automobile components for OEMs, Tier-1 suppliers, and the replacement market worldwide, including in India.

OBITUARY

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and former Lok Sabha Speaker, Manohar Joshi, has passed away

Manohar Joshi, a prominent figure in Maharashtra’s politics, passed away at 86 in Mumbai. Born on December 2, 1937, in Nandavi, Raigad, he had a long and influential career.

Here’s a simplified overview of his life:

  • Joshi was deeply involved with the Shiv Sena for over 40 years, starting his political journey in 1967.
  • He held various positions, including Mayor of Mumbai from 1976 to 1977.
  • Elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Council in 1972, he served for three terms until 1989.
  • In 1990, he entered the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and became the Leader of the Opposition from 1990 to 1991.
  • Joshi became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra from 1995 to 1999, the first Shiv Sena leader to hold this position.
  • He served as a Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) from 1999, also holding the role of Union Cabinet Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises until 2002.
  • Joshi was unanimously elected as the Speaker of Lok Sabha in 2002, serving until 2004.
  • From 2006 to 2012, he served as a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) representing Maharashtra.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Central Excise Day 2024- February 24

The Central Excise Day, celebrated annually on February 24 in India, honors the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) for its role in administering indirect taxes. This day marks the anniversary of the Central Excise and Salt Act of 1944, enacted on February 24, 1944. Its objective is to motivate excise department employees nationwide to prevent corruption in the manufacturing industry. The CBIC oversees various organizations such as Custom Houses, Central Excise, and Central Goods and Service Tax (GST) Commissionerates, along with the Central Revenues Control Laboratory. Sanjay Kumar Agarwal serves as the Chairman, and the headquarters is located in New Delhi, Delhi. The motto of CBIC is “Desh Sevarth Kar Sanchay,” emphasizing tax collection in service of the nation.

STATE

Odisha’s Finance Minister has introduced a budget of Rs 2.55 lakh crore for the fiscal year 2024-25

  • The Finance Minister of Odisha, Bikram Keshari Arukha, presented a growth-oriented Annual Budget for the Financial Year 2024-25 in the Legislative Assembly. The budget amounts to Rs 2,55,000 crore, marking an 11% increase from the previous year, FY24. No new schemes were introduced.
  • An interim budget of Rs 1.18 lakh crore was also presented for the first four months of FY25.
  • The school and mass education department received the highest resource allocation of Rs 33,865 crore.
  • Rs 58,575 crore has been allocated to identified schemes under the Programme Budget. Additionally, Rs 10,718 crore has been allocated to transform Urban Odisha.

About Odisha:

  • Chief Minister: Naveen Patnaik
  • Governor: Raghubar Das
  • Wildlife Sanctuaries: Gahirmatha Sanctuary, Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary
  • Airports: Biju Patnaik International Airport, Jharsuguda Airport
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