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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 20th Dec 2023

Today’s Current Affairs: 20th Dec 2023 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

Smart India Hackathon 2023:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with the participants of the Grand Finale of Smart India Hackathon 2023 through video conferencing on 19th Dec,2023.

  • Mr Modi will also address the participants on the occasion.
  • Smart India Hackathon 2023 is to inculcate a culture of product innovation and a mindset of problem-solving.
  • Smart India Hackathon is a nationwide initiative to provide students with a platform to solve some of the pressing problems we face in our daily lives.
  • It is an initiative by the Ministry of Education, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Persistent Systems and Inter-Institutional Inclusive Innovation Centre (i4C).
  • SIH has been conducted every year since 2017 in two formats, SIH Software and SIH Hardware Editions for higher education students.
  • The first four editions SIH2017, SIH2018, SIH2019, SIH2020 and SIH2022 proved to be extremely successful in promoting innovative out-of-the-box thinking in young minds, especially engineering students from across India.
  • The Grand Finale of the Smart India Hackathon 2023 is being held from the 19th to the 23rd December 2023.
  • This year, more than 50 thousand ideas were received from 44 thousand teams, which is almost a sevenfold increase compared to the first edition of the Smart India Hackathon.
  • Over 12 thousand participants and more than two thousand 500 mentors will take part in the grand finale, scheduled to be held at 48 nodal centres across the country.
  • A total one thousand 282 teams have been shortlisted this year for the grand finale to provide solutions on various themes including Space Technology, Smart Education, Disaster Management, Robotics and Drones, Heritage and Culture and others.

Khelo India Para Games:

The Union Sports Minister officially closed the inaugural edition of the Khelo India Para Games in Delhi.

  • Haryana emerged as the top-performing state with 105 medals, including 40 gold, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  • The Khelo India Para Games (KIPG) is aimed at empowering para athletes in India. Organized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Sports Authority of India, and other bodies, it is part of the broader Khelo India Initiative.
  • Khelo India was introduced by the Indian government in 2017 and encompasses the:
    • Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG) (commenced 2018): Annual national competition for youngsters representing states
    • Khelo India University Games (KIUG) (commenced 2020): Showcases university students’ talent in sports
    • Khelo India Winter Games (Commenced 2020):Promotes winter sports in India
    • Khelo India State Centres of Excellence (KISCE) scheme aims to enhance sports infrastructure by supporting existing training facilities.

Kakrapar-4 Nuclear Reactor:

The fourth unit of the Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP-4) in Gujarat, with a capacity of 700 MWe, achieved recently, marking the initiation of a controlled fission chain reaction.

  • The Kakrapar facility, houses the largest indigenous nuclear power reactors built by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).
  • These pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) utilize natural uranium as fuel and heavy water as coolant and moderator.
  • The Kakrapar Atomic Power Station includes two operating PHWRs with a capacity of 220 MWe each, known as KAPS-1 and -2.
  • The NPCIL, a public sector undertaking of the Department of Atomic Energy, already operates indigenous PHWRs at other facilities.

20th Anniversary Of The United Nations Convention Against Corruption:

The year 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).

  • The G20 also addresses anti-corruption efforts globally through its Anti-Corruption Working Group and includes related topics in the B20 and SAI20 discussions within the G20 Social track.
  • United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) was signed on December 9, 2003 in Mexico and entered into force on 14th December 2005.
  • The International Anti-Corruption Day was established on 9th December as a result of proposals by the Brazilian delegation to the Convention.
  • It is the only legally binding multilateral international anti-corruption treaty.
  • The Convention covers five main areas: Preventive Measures, Criminalization and Law Enforcement, International Cooperation, Asset Recovery, and Technical Assistance and Information Exchange.
  • The Convention covers many different forms of corruption, such as bribery, trading in influence, abuse of functions, and various acts of corruption in the private sector.

5th Edition Of Logistics Ease Across Different State (LEADS) 2023 Report:

The Ministry of Commerce & Industry has released the 5th edition of “Logistics Ease Across Different State (LEADS) 2023” report, which serves as a guide for stakeholders in the Logistics Sector by providing strategic insights.

Highlights of the LEADS 2023:

  • Thirteen states and Union Territories, including Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Chandigarh, and Gujarat, are categorized as achievers in the logistics index chart 2023.
  • These regions have shown efficient logistical services that contribute to export promotion and economic growth.
  • Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, and Nagaland are recognized as fast movers in the logistics index.
  • These areas have shown significant progress and improvements in their logistical services.
  • States and UTs in the aspirers category, such as Goa, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, and Jharkhand, are identified as regions with potential for growth in their logistics ecosystem. These areas are striving to enhance their logistical capabilities.
  • The report emphasizes the significance of policy reforms such as industry status for logistics, digital initiatives (PM GatiShakti, Logistics Data Bank, Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP), GST), and the alignment of State Logistics Policies with the National Logistics Policy.

World’s Largest Meditation Centre:

Prime Minister Monday recently inaugurated the world’s largest meditation centre, Swarved Mahamandir, in Varanasi.

  • Swarved Mahamandir is the world’s largest meditation centre, where 20,000 people can sit together and meditate.
  • It is located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
  • It aims to illuminate humankind with its spiritual aura and engulf the world in a state of peaceful alertness.
  • The temple is named after the Swarved, a spiritual literature written by Sadguru Shri Sadafal Deoji Maharaj, the creator of Vihangam Yoga and an eternal yogi.
  • The temple propagates Swarveda teachings, with a focus on Brahma Vidya, a body of knowledge that enables spiritual seekers to sustain a state of perfect Zen, a state of unyielding constancy in peace and happiness.
  • It is a seven-floor superstructure.
  • It has a beautiful design with 125-petal lotus domes.
  • The ceiling and doors with intricate carvings are made of teakwood.
  • The pink sandstone decor surrounds the temple walls, and there is an exquisite garden with medicinal herbs.
  • Verses of the Swarveda have been carved upon the walls of the Mahamandir

World Bank’s Latest Migration And Development Brief:

The World Bank’s latest Migration and Development Brief highlights India’s significant position as the top remittance recipient, drawing attention to the evolving dynamics in the remittance landscape.

Key highlights of the recent report:

  • The top five remittance recipient countries in 2023 are India ($125 billion), Mexico ($67 billion), China ($50 billion), the Philippines ($40 billion), and Egypt ($24 billion).
  • The United States continued to be the largest source of remittances.
  • Remittances to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) grew by an estimated 3.8 per cent in 2023, reaching a total of USD 669 billion.
  • Resilient labour markets in advanced economies and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries played a pivotal role in supporting migrants’ ability to send money home.
  • The Middle East and North Africa saw a decline in remittance flows for the second consecutive year, mainly driven by a sharp drop in flows to Egypt.
  • Remittance flows to Europe and Central Asia also decreased by 1.4 percent after a significant gain in 2022.
  • The report suggests a potential risk of a decline in real income for migrants in 2024 due to global inflation and low growth prospects.
  • A special section of the report emphasises the potential of leveraging remittances for development finance, particularly through diaspora bonds.
  • The report says diaspora bonds can be structured to tap into diaspora savings held in foreign destinations, providing a stable source of funds.

National Geoscience Data Repository Portal : Ministry Of Mines

The Union Ministry of Mines is to launch the National Geoscience Data Repository (NGDR) Portal on 19th December 2023 in a ceremony in New Delhi.

  • National Geoscience Data Repository Portal is a comprehensive online platform for accessing, sharing, and analysing geospatial information across India.
  • The NGDR initiative was spearheaded by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) and Bhaskaracharya Institute of Space Applications and Geoinformatics (BISAG-N).
  • It represents a significant leap forward in democratising critical geoscience data, empowering stakeholders across industries and academia with unprecedented access to invaluable resources.

Geological Survey of India:

  • The Geological Survey of India (GSI) was set up in 1851 primarily to find coal deposits for the Railways.
  • Over the years, GSI has not only grown into a repository of geo-science information required in various fields in the country but has also attained the status of a geo-scientific organisation of international repute.
  • Its main functions relate to creating and updating of national geoscientific information and mineral resource assessment.
  • GSI’s chief role includes providing objective, impartial and up-to-date geological expertise and geoscientific information of all kinds, with a focus on policy making decisions, commercial and socio- economic needs.

Chum Salmon : Migratory Fish

Scientists have recently discovered that Chum salmon, a migrating fish, have been spawning in the Arctic waters.

  • Chum salmon is a species of anadromous salmonid fish, which means they hatch in freshwater streams and rivers and then migrate out to the saltwater environment of the ocean to feed and grow.
  • They do not reside in fresh water for an extended period.
  • They are also known as dog salmon.
  • They are the most widely distributed of all the Pacific salmon.
  • They are found throughout the North Pacific Ocean and range from the Arctic coast of Canada and throughout the northern coastal regions of North America and Asia.
  • They spend their early life growing and feeding in freshwater streams, estuaries, and associated wetlands.
  • They spend the remainder of their life foraging in the ocean before returning to the streams and tributaries where they were born to spawn

Sultanpur National Park : Decrease In The Number Of Migratory Birds

According to forest department officials the Sultanpur National Park in Farrukh Nagar, Gurugram has reported a decrease of 20-30 per cent in the number of migratory birds this season.

  • Sultanpur National Park, formerly known as Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, is located in the Gurgaon district in Haryana.
  • It comprises mainly wetlands.
  • This national park is a major habitat for aquatic birds, including migratory and resident birds.
  • It was notified as a Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance, in 2021.
  • It also features seasonal aquatic vegetation and is dotted with artificial islands; the Park also includes open grasslands.
  • Flora: Grasses, dhok, khair, tendu, ber, jamun, banyan tree and neem etc.
  • It is a very important wintering ground for waterfowl.
  • Some of the resident and migratory species of birds found in the area are the Common hoopoe, Purple sunbird, Black francolin, Little cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Siberian Crane, Greater Flamingo, Common Teal, Common Greenshank, Ruff, etc.

TEMPO Satellite : NASA

NASA’s new satellite TEMPO measures air pollution hourly has shown significant progress and now the space agency officials are already thinking about ways to extend its life.

  • Tropospheric Emissions Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) monitors major air pollutants across North America.
  • Its monitoring range extends from Canada’s oil sands to the Yucatán Peninsula and across the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
  • It is part of a virtual constellation with South Korea’s Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS) and the European Space Agency’s upcoming satellite, aiming for comprehensive air pollution monitoring over the Northern Hemisphere.
  • It will make important scientific observations, including that of ozone, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and formaldehyde levels.
  • It is capable of measuring air quality over North America hourly during the daytime with a resolution of several square miles.
  • It monitors the effects of everything from rush-hour traffic to pollution from forest fires and volcanoes.
  • The present pollution-monitoring satellites are in low Earth orbit (LEO), but this new monitoring instrument is hosted in geostationary orbit.
  • It was designed for a 20-month operation.