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Current Affairs - 18th January 2023

1 ) Sainya Ranakshetram 2.0: IA organised a Cyber Threat Seminar Cum Workshop

2nd edition of Hackathon named ‘Sainya Ranakshetram 2.0’ was organized by the Indian Army (IA) under the aegis of HQ Army Training Command (ARTRAC), Shimla (Himachal Pradesh). It was a Cyber Threat Seminar cum Workshop to facilitate engagement with individuals, academia and organizations for identification of suitable talent in the field of Cyber Security. During the workshop, the identified talent was felicitated by General Manoj Pande, Chief of the Army Staff (CAS) during a virtual function on January 17, 2023.

Key points:

• To seek solutions for operational cyber challenges by providing a platform to identify indigenous talent
• To shorten the development time for innovative solutions in the field of Cyber Security
• To enhance the standard of training in Cyber Deterrence, Security Software Coding, Electro Magnetic
• Spectrum Operations (EMSO) and Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning (AI/ ML).

2 ) Adani Enterprises partners with Ashok Leyland & Ballard to Develop Asia’s 1st Hydrogen powered mining truck

Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL), the flagship entity of Adani Group, signed an agreement with Chennai(Tamil Nadu)- based Ashok Leyland and Ballard Power Systems of Canada to start a pilot project to develop a hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Truck (FCET) for mining logistics and transportation. This partnership marks the 1st planned hydrogen-powered mining truck in Asia. FCET is planned to be launched in India in 2023. AEL will lead the demonstration project, Ballard Power will supply the FCmove fuel cell engine for the hydrogen truck, and Ashok Leyland will provide the vehicle platform and technical support.

Key points:

• AEl focused on both mining operations and developing green hydrogen projects for sourcing, transporting, and building out hydrogen refuelling infrastructure.
• AEL has previously announced that it intends to invest more than USD 50 billion over the next 10 years in green hydrogen and related ecosystems corresponding to a capacity of up to 3 million tonnes of green hydrogen annually.
• The hydrogen-powered mining truck will also enable other businesses’ option of switching fleets in ports, airports, and their industrial activities to long-term sustainable solutions
• Ballard Power Systems signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with AEL in February 2022 to explore hydrogen fuel cell solutions in India’s transportation and industrial sectors.

3 ) GoI to Hold the First Global Tourism Summit in April 2023 As Part of Its G-20 Presidency

As part of its Group of Twenty (G20) presidency, the Government of India (GoI) will host the country’s first “Global Tourism Investors Summit 2023” in April 2023, with participation from all G20 members. India holds the Presidency of the G20 from December 1, 2022 to November 30, 2023. The Union Ministry of Tourism will organize the Global Tourism Investors Summit 2023, with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) as the industry partner, and it is scheduled to take place in New Delhi, Delhi, from April 10 to 12, 2023.

Key points:

• The summit would showcase India’s “major tourist destinations” to a global audience, with stakeholders from various state governments.
• Additionally, it will offer a number of educational workshops, exhibitions, investment-related discussions, and constructive future-looking dialogues.
• The GoI is committed to attracting global investment to the cruise, healthcare, religious, adventure, and eco-tourism industries.
• West Bengal (WB) ranks 5th in terms of foreign tourist arrivals, and the state has enacted a number of tourism-related policies, including the WB Tourism Policy 2019, the Tea Tourism Policy (which permits garden owners to use 15% of their land for tourism purposes), and the Homestay Tourism Policy.
• Durga Puja in Kolkata (West Bengal), which has been designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an intangible cultural heritage in 2021, can be promoted as intangible culture and heritage tourism.
• A road show urging various eastern states, including Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, to take a proactive role in promoting their states in front of the international investors with niche destinations was held in Kolkata ahead of the Global Tourism Investors Summit 2023.
• By 2030, the GoI targets a forex contribution to GDP of USD 56 billion which will generate 140 million jobs.

4 ) Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launches ‘Soul of Steel’ Alpine Challenge to Promote Tourism in Border Areas

• Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launched the “Soul of Steel” Alpine Challenge to promote tourism in border areas during the event organised as a part of the 7th Army Veterans’ Day in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. The “Soul of Steel” Alpine Challenge is the world’s 1st Alpine skill and endurance challenge, set to take place from January to June 2023.
• Additionally, he launched a website where volunteers could sign up for a variety of adventurous activities under the joint initiative of the Indian Army and Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) Global, a veterans’ organisation.
• He flagged off “Road to the End“, a 460-km-long car rally, as part of a joint expedition by the Indian Army and CLAW Global. The rally ends at the destination in the Garhwal Himalayas, near Niti village in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.

5 ) European Union Establishes Its First Mainland Satellite Launch Port

European Union (EU) has launched its first mainland orbital launch complex, “Spaceport Esrange,” a new satellite launch and reusable rocket test facility at Esrange Space Center near the city of Kiruna in northern Sweden. It was inaugurated by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, King of Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf, and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. The EU will utilize it to complement its current launch capabilities in French Guiana.

Key points:

• The first satellite launch from Spaceport Esrange is scheduled for early 2024. • This Swedish space centre is located at the base of “Radar Hill,” about 200 kilometres (124 miles) above the Arctic Circle. • The EU hopes to increase its ability to send small satellites into orbit with this new launchpad in Arctic Sweden. • The Themis programme of the European Space Agency (ESA) will start testing at Esrange in 2023 as part of Europe’s drive towards reusable rocketry. • Themis, a project to test reusable rockets, focuses on the testing of reusable rockets, which are rockets able to land back on Earth, like those developed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk. • This will be a first-stage test aimed at achieving vehicle lift-off and recovery, known as “hop tests.”

6 ) South Indian Bank ties up SAIL for Financing Dealers

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been inked between the South Indian Bank (SIB) and Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) to provide financial assistance to the dealers of SAIL across India.

Key points:

• The bank will serve the MSME (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises) and corporate customers of SAIL by providing financial assistance for working capital, especially steel procurement through its 928 branches.
• It will boost India’s steel production, in lines with the Central government’s infrastructure and industrial push.

7 ) Captain Surbhi Jakhmola Becomes 1st Woman Officer Posted on Foreign Assignment at BRO

Captain Surbhi Jakhmola, an Indian Army officer from 117 Engineer Regiment, has been posted in the Project Dantak of Bhutan, she becomes the 1st woman officer to be posted on a foreign assignment at the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

Key points:

• Project Dantak, is an overseas project of the Border Roads Organisation under the Ministry of Defence of India.
• Project Dantak was established in April 1961 as a result of the vision of His Majesty the Third King and then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru.
• The project identifies the importance of connectivity in spurring the socio-economic development and growth of Bhutan. It is tasked to construct the pioneering motorable roads in Bhutan.

8 ) Avani Chaturvedi becomes 1st IAF Woman Fighter Pilot to Participate in Aerial Wargames Abroad

Su-30MKI pilot Squadron Leader Avani Chaturvedi, one of the first 3 woman combat pilots in the Indian Air Force (IAF), is scheduled to participate in the inaugural air exercise Veer Guardian 2023 in Japan. She becomes the first IAF Woman Fighter Pilot to participate in aerial wargames abroad.

Key points:

• Veer Guardian 2023 aims to strengthen the bilateral air defence cooperation between India.
• Veer Guardian 2023, from 16th to 26th January 2023, will be held at the Hyakuri Air Base and its surrounding airspace in Omitama, as well as the Iruma Air Base in Sayama, Japan.
• The IAF women officers have been participating in the wargames with foreign contingents in India but this will be the first occasion where women officers represent the nation abroad.

9 ) Tamilnad Mercantile Bank Limited bags Best Small Bank Award 2022

Tamilnad Mercantile Bank (TMB) Limited has bagged the Best Small Bank award in the best banks survey for the year 2022 done by Business Today-KPMG (BT-KPMG Best banks survey). The award was received by S. Krishnan, Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Award (CEO) of TMB limited, from Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) of India, in a function held in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

Key points:

• The bank received this award in the category of banks with a book size of less than Rs. 1 lakh crore.
• The TMB has shown its ability to perform well enough to win the respective category.

10 ) India Assumes Presidency of 13th International Renewable Energy Agency

India has assumed the presidency of the 13th assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the first international organisation solely dedicated to renewable energy, which was held from January 13–15, 2023, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Union Minister Raj Kumar Singh (R.K. Singh), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), delivered the opening remarks at IRENA’s 13th assembly.

Key points:

• According to the 14-member Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) delegation, the Indian presidency of IRENA will strengthen India’s leadership in sustainability activities.
• The Smart City Programme and Green Hydrogen Hubs are avenues through which UAE companies like Masdar could invest in India.
• Masdar is an Abu Dhabi-based, government-owned provider of renewable energy that specialises in sustainability and green hydrogen projects.
• The UAE offers prospects for rooftop solar and captive regeneration to the Indian sector.
• The UAE and India can strengthen their bilateral cooperation on accelerated climate action and the implementation of the Paris Agreement (2015), including public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the deployment of renewable energy, the production of green hydrogen, sustainable finance, and the establishment of carbon markets.

11 ) Former BSF DG Pankaj Kumar Singh appointed Deputy NSA

Appointment Committee of Cabinet (ACC) approved the appointment of Pankaj Kumar Singh, as Deputy National Security Adviser (Dy NSA) in the National Security Council Secretariat of India. He has been appointed on a re-employment contract of 2 years with effect from the date of assumption of charge of the post, or until further orders.

Key points:

• Pankaj Kumar Singh was the 29th Director General (DG) of BSF. He is the son of Ex BSF DG Prakash Singh, who served as the DG of BSF from 1993 to 1994.
• He served as the head of the Induction Training Session for the United Nations (UN) “Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina” (1997– 1998).
• He also travelled to 3 South American countries (Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile) to select officers from these countries for the UN Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
• He has also served the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the National Development Council (NDC).

• In 2021, Pankaj Kumar Singh proposed to hold the BSF’s Raising Day in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
• The government has now ordered all parliamentary groups, including the Army, to hold their foundation and raising days outside of Delhi.
• He has authored and published various articles including the book “Journey to the country of Shiva.”

12 ) MoEF&CC puts Neelakurinji on the List of Protected Plants

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has listed Neelakurinji or Kurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana) under Schedule III of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, including it to the list of protected plants. The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, prohibits picking, uprooting or destroying plants and also prohibits the cultivation and possession of these plants. Neelakurinji has been included in the list after the Center expanded the earlier protected list of six plant species to 19.

Key points:

• Neelakurinji is a tropical plant species and is native to the shola forests in the Western Ghats. It is also found in Shevaroy Hills in the Eastern Ghats, Annamalai Hills in Kerala and Sanduru Hills in Karnataka.
• It does not grow in any other part of the world.
• It grows on mountain slopes at an altitude of 1300 to 2400 meters to a height of 30 to 60 cm.
• Its flowers are violet-blue in colour and bloom once in 12 years.They have no scent or medicinal value.
• Because of these flowers, the Nilgiri hills at the southern end of the Western Ghats are called the Blue Mountains.
• The most recent blooming of Neelakurinji was over a vast area on the Kallippara hills at Santhanpara in Idukki, Kerala.

13 ) Home Minister Amit Shah releases book titled “Revolutionaries” by Sanjeev Sanyal

• Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs, released a book titled “Revolutionaries- The Other Story of How India Won Its Freedom” authored by Economist Sanjeev Sanyal, member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister(EAC-PM), at a function in New Delhi, Delhi.
• He was the Principal Economic Adviser to the Finance Minister for 5 years till February 2022.
• He authored several books including Land of the Seven Rivers, The Ocean of Churn, India in the Age of Ideas, and the Indian Renaissance. He coauthored and edited six Economic Surveys of the Government of India between 2017 and 2022.

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