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Current Affairs - 16th January 2023

1 ) ‘MV Ganga Vilas’: Modi Flagged off World’s Longest River Cruise in Varanasi, UP

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, flagged off the ‘MV Ganga Vilas’, the world’s longest river cruise in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh(UP). The 51-day luxury cruise, passing through 27 river systems, will cover a distance of 3,200 km from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh to Dibrugarh in Assam, via Bangladesh. The first trip of the cruise hosts 32 tourists from Switzerland. The river cruise is aimed to promote tourism and create new job opportunities. The expected date of arrival of MV Ganga Vilas in Dibrugarh is on 1st March, 2023.

Key points:

• MV Ganga Vilas cruise is curated to bring out the best of the country to be showcased to the world.
• The cruise will indulge in the art, culture, history, and spirituality of India and Bangladesh.
• The cruise includes visit to 50 tourists spots including world heritage sites, national parks, river ghats, and major cities like Patna in Bihar, Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Kolkata in West Bengal, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Guwahati in Assam.
• The international cruise is being offered by Antara Luxury River Cruises.

2 ) India is committed to eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis by 2027

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr Mansukh Mandaviya stated that India is committed to eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) by 2027 three years ahead of the global target through mission mode, multi-partner, multi-sector, targeted drive for which they have drawn up the roadmap. Dr Mansukh Mandaviya chaired the National Symposium on India’s Roadmap to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, Delhi.

Key points:

• The health ministry has developed a new five-pronged plan as part of its resolve to eradicate the disease by the end of 2027.
• As part of its commitment to eliminate the disease, multidrug administration (MDA) will be held twice a year in conjunction with National Deworming Day on February 10 and August 10.
• Dr Mansukh Mandaviya highlighted that 133 districts in 20 states and Union Territories supply anti-filarial drugs for free while calling for the “proper synergy of governmental effort and community change.”
• The national symposium’s launch of Enhanced Strategies for LF Elimination will serve as a precursor to the pan-Indian MDA Campaign’s mission mode launch on February 10, 2023.

3 ) Lohri 2023: Harvest Festival celebrated in different parts of India

• Lohri festival is observed across India with the customary fervour and joy, which is mostly associated with crop harvesting and happiness. • The festival is celebrated in North India, especially in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu and Chandigarh.

4 ) India’s 1st CoE for Online Gaming to be set up in Shillong by March 2023

During his two-day visit to Meghalaya, Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, stated about the launch of India’s first Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Online Gaming at Shillong, Meghalaya by March 2023.

Key points:

• The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has recently circulated Draft amendments to the IT Rules 2021 in relation to Online Gaming for public consultation.
• Rajeev Chandrasekhar also announced another initiative of MeitY to set up a state-of-the-art facility under the National Institute of Electronics and IT (NIELIT) to provide training on cutting-edge Digital Skills at Shillong.
• He also stated about Re-launching Skill India through Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 4.0, to train around 50,000 youth in Meghalaya, 60,000 in Tripura, and 35,000 in Nagaland.

5 ) India, UAE Signed Agreement on Green Hydrogen Development and Under Sea Cable Connectivity

Union Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy, Raj Kumar Singh, who is on a three-day visit to Abu Dhabi, and UAE’s (United Arab Emirates) Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail Al Mazrouei, signed the agreement on cooperation in the field of Green Hydrogen Development and Investment.

Key points:

• RK Singh presided over the 13th Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which is a 168-country International organisation dedicated to renewable energy.
• During his visit to Abu Dhabi, he had a meeting with COP28 President designate and UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate
Change, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber.
• RK Singh stated India’s priorities on G20 in the field of energy and Dr Sultan Al Jaber highlighted the priorities of the UAE for COP28, which is scheduled to be held in November 2023 in Dubai.

6 ) US, Japan sign pact at NASA for Deep Space Exploration

• United States (US) and Japan signed a space agreement at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) headquarters in Washington D.C., US. It was signed during Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s first visit to the US.
• It is based upon the long history of collaboration in space exploration between the two nations for deep space exploration.
• The pact recognizes a mutual interest in peaceful exploration.
• This agreement is called as ‘Framework Agreement Between the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States of America for Cooperation in Space Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, For Peaceful Purposes’.

7 ) Aditya Birla Health Insurance Inks Bancassurance Partnership with Punjab & Sind Bank

Aditya Birla Health Insurance Co. Ltd. (ABHICL) and Punjab & Sind Bank have established a bancassurance partnership for the distribution of health insurance products through the bank’s branch network in India.

Key points:

• Through this collaboration, customers and staff of Punjab & Sind Bank will have access to ABHICL’s extensive lineup of health-first insurance plans, which are designed to reward customers for leading healthy lifestyles.
• It offers unique products such as incentivized wellness benefits of up to 100% Health ReturnsTM and a chronic management programme with Day 1 coverage for asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes; nutrition and fitness wellness coaching; and mental health counselling, among others.
• As a result of this partnership, ABHICL currently has 18 bancassurance partners and more than 70,000 direct sales agents functioning across India.

8 ) Russian VTB Bank launches Direct Payments in Rupees

• Russian VTB Bank, Russia’s second-largest bank, launched direct payments in rupees, which will significantly increase bilateral trade and investment.
• Russian Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) clients can now make transfers without double conversion, which simplifies the work on international trade contracts with India.
• The mechanism of direct settlements allows for the setting of the price of a product and the payment in the national currency, as well as getting individual
quotes on market terms.
• Additionally, it eliminates preliminary transaction coordination.
• In November 2022, 9 Russian banks, including VTB, opened unique vostro accounts in India to promote trade between Russia and India.

9 ) India Honours 82 Best Agripreneurs with Awards on National Youth Day 2023

On the occasion of National Youth Day 2023 (12th January), the government of India presented the National Awards to 82 best Agripreneurs trained under the Central Sector Scheme – Agri-Clinics and Agri-Business (AC&ABC) at the National Agripreneurs Award ceremony was held at NASC Complex, New Delhi, Delhi.

Key points:

• The award recognises their significant contribution to farmers through agri-clinic and agribusiness services.
• 8 Nodal Training Institutes (NTIs) that efficiently deliver AC&ABC training were also recognised with awards for their best training, handholding and facilitation activities.
• Shubha Thakur, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MA&FW) inaugurated the Awards Ceremony and distributed awards.

10 ) R’Bonney Gabriel of USA crowned Miss Universe 2022

R’Bonney Gabriel of the United State of America (USA) was crowned 71st Miss Universe 2022 during the Miss Universe 2022 pageant held in New Orleans, Louisiana while Amanda Dudamel of Venezuela was named as the first runner-up, and Andreina Martinez of the Dominican Republic was named as the second runner-up.

Key points:

• The Miss Universe 2022 pageant saw the participation from over 80 different nations.R’Bonney Gabriel, a 28 year old, is a fashion designer from Houston, Texas,
• Notably, Miss USA wins the contest for the first time in eleven years.
• From India, Miss Diva Universe 2022 Divita Rai entered into the prestigious Top 16 category.

11 ) World’s 1st Agri-focused Satellite to Generate $108 million Revenue for SouthAfrica

As per the statement of Pontsho Maruping, Chairperson of the South African Council for Space Affairs, the launch of world’s first agriculture-focused satellite, AgriSAT-1 /ZA 008 is expected to generate over USD 100 million in revenue for South Africa.

Key points:

• It was launched by Dragonfly Aerospace on a Space X Falcon 9 rocket. Being the world’s first agriculture-focused satellite, it will provide high-quality data to the agriculture and forestry industry for efficient and sustainable practices.
• Images obtained from Dragonfly’s satellite will deliver valuable information for harvest monitoring, application mapping, and seasonal planning to develop sustainable agricultural methods.
• Assessments to analyse soil moisture, yield prediction, and biomass levels also could be obtained from AgriSAT-1 /ZA 008.
• It is the first of a seven-satellite constellation in low Earth orbit for customer EOSDA (EOS Data Analytics).

12 ) 7th Armed Forces Veterans Day Observed on January 14, 2023

7th Armed Forces Veterans Day was observed to recognize the contribution of the veterans of the Indian Armed Forces in serving the nation. Defence minister Rajnath Singh presided over the Celebrations.

Key points:

• The day honors the services rendered by Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa OBE, the
first Indian Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the Indian Armed Forces.
• Rajnath Singh addressed an Armed Forces Veterans Rally at Jaswant Ground in Dehradun Cantonment and launched the ‘Soul of Steel Alpine Challenge’ which is a joint adventure sports initiative of the Indian Army and CLAW Global by flagging off a car expedition from Dehradun to Ghamshali located in the Niti Valley.
• ‘We for veterans’ anthem – an ode to veterans was played for commemorating their valor and sacrifice.

13 ) 75th Indian Army Day– January 15, 2023

Indian Army (IA) Day was observed which commemorated its 75th anniversary at the Parade Grounds in Bengaluru, Karnataka which was attended by the Union Minister Rajnath, Ministry of Defence. This day recognizes the achievements of the first Indian Commander in Chief of the Indian Army General (later Field Marshal) Kodandera Madappa (KM) Cariappa.

Key points:

• On this day, he took over the command of IA from General Sir Francis Robert Roy Bucher, the last British Commander-in- Chief in 1949.
• Hailed from Karnataka, he led Indian forces to victory in the 1947 war.
• The Army Day Parade showcases the evolution of various weapon systems held in the Indian Army’s inventory. Soldiers were also awarded with Gallantry awards and Sena medals on the day.
• As a part of the Army outreach programme with civilians, a run was organised in Hyderabad at Necklace Road where around 1,000 people participated.
• A blood donation camp was also organized in which 7,500 units of blood were donated in both Hyderabad and Secunderabad at Military hospitals.

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