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Important Current Affairs for CLAT-17th February 2023

Smart Cities Mission get June 2023 deadline with 67% completion rate till now

The deadline for completing projects under the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) was extended for all 100 participating cities to June 2023 due to the delays caused by COVID-19.

The deadline for completing projects under the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) was extended for all 100 participating cities to June 2023 due to the delays caused by COVID-19 and based on a NITI Aayog recommendation, according to Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry. In response to several questions about Smart City projects in the country, the Ministry informed the Lok Sabha that “the period of implementation of SCM has been extended to June 2023”.

The Details of Smart Cities Mission:

More About The Smart Cities Mission (SCM):

Though announced in 2015, the SCM was conducted as a competition with cities being selected from 2016 to 201. The cities were given five years to complete the projects under the mission, with the first set of Smart Cities expected to complete in 2021.

In response to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State (MoS) for Housing and Urban Affairs Kaushal Kishore observed that the Smart Cities had issued tenders for 6,452 projects worth ₹1.84 lakh crore as on November 12. Out of those, work orders had been issued for 5,809 projects and 3,131 projects completed so far.

Mid-term evaluation of Smart Cities Mission (SCM):

However, NITI Aayog in its mid-term evaluation found that many of the Sustainable Development Goals were being met by the Smart Cities projects and the work needed to be “deepened”. Along with that, over one year was lost due to the pandemic, the official noted. Taking all factors into account, NITI Aayog recommended extending the deadline for all cities to June 2023, which was agreed by the Ministry.

What is the Smart Cities Mission:

It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, launched in June 2015 to transform 100 cities to provide the necessary core infrastructure and clean and sustainable environment to enable a decent quality of life to their citizens through the application of “Smart Solutions”. 

The mission aims to meet the aspirations of India’s population living in cities through various urban development projects.

Features of Smart Cities Mission:

Among its strategic components is ‘area-based development’, which includes city improvement (retrofitting), city renewal (redevelopment) and city extension (greenfield development), plus a pan-city initiative in which ‘smart solutions’ are applied covering larger parts of the city.

Key focus areas of the scheme include construction of walkways, pedestrian crossings, cycling tracks, efficient waste-management systems, integrated traffic management and assessment.

The scheme also assesses various indices to track urban development such as the Ease of Living Index, Municipal Performance Index, City GDP framework, Climate Smart Cities assessment framework, etc.

India-Japan kick starts joint training exercise 4th “Dharma Guardian” 2023

"Dharma Guardian" 2023: India and Japan has kick started an exercise ‘Ex Dharma Guardian’ at Camp Imazu in Shiga Province, Japan from February 17 to March 2, 2023.

Exercise “Dharma Guardian” 2023

India and Japan has kick started an exercise ‘Ex Dharma Guardian’ at Camp Imazu in Shiga Province, Japan from February 17 to March 2, 2023. The Indian Army contingent arrived at the exercise location on February 12, 2023. India and Japan will kick off an exercise ‘Ex Dharma Guardian’ at Camp Imazu in Shiga Province, Japan from February 17 to March 2, 2023. The Indian Army contingent arrived at the exercise location on February 12, 2023.

Exercise ‘Dharma Guardian’

This will be the 4th edition of the Exercise ‘Dharma Guardian’ between India and Japan. Exercise Dharma Guardian will strengthen bilateral ties and the level of defence cooperation between the Indian Army and the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force.

Troops of the Garhwal Rifles Regiment of the Indian Army and an infantry regiment from the Middle Army of the Japan Ground Self Defence Force (JGSDF) are participating in the exercise this year to share experiences gained during operations in order to enhance inter-operability in planning and execution.

In the series of military training exercises undertaken by India with various countries, Exercise Dharma Guardian which is an annual training event with Japan, is crucial and significant in terms of security challenges faced by both nations in the backdrop of current global situation. The scope of this exercise covers platoon level joint training on operations in jungle and semi urban/urban terrain.

Importance of the Dharma Guardian Exercise

The joint exercise will enable the two armies to share best practices in tactics, techniques and procedures of conducting tactical operations under a UN mandate, in addition to developing interoperability, bonhomie, camaraderie and friendship between the two armies.

The training will focus primarily on a high degree of physical fitness and sharing of drills at the tactical level. During the exercise, participants will engage in a variety of missions ranging from joint planning, joint tactical drills, basics of establishing integrated surveillance grids, including the employment of aerial assets. The joint exercise will facilitate both armies getting to know each other better, sharing their wide experiences and enhancing their situational awareness.

Other Exercise between India and Japan

Malabar Exercise

Japan-India Maritime Exercise (JIMEX)

Shinyuu Maitri.

India, Fiji Ink MoU on visa exemption for diplomatic, official passport holders

India and Fiji have signed a pact to exempt visas for holders of diplomatic and official passports.

India and Fiji have signed a pact to exempt visas for holders of diplomatic and official passports. As of now, India has diplomatic and official passport holders’ visa exemption pacts with 59 other countries as per the PassportIndia.gov.in website.

Significance of this Visa Exemption:

External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar said the visa waiver agreement will be helpful in encouraging travel between the two countries. “The experience of the world at the Hindi convention would also surely enthuse all delegates, friends and relatives to come to Fiji.

Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka thanked India for the cooperation and said he was confident many more such initiatives would be done to deepen cooperation. “We have a lot of Fiji travellers going to India for medical treatment, education and those things. We will certainly benefit, scale may differ but proportionately, probably the same or more Fiji will benefit,” Rabuka said.

S. Jaishankar’s Fiji Visit:

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar described Fiji as an important partner of India and said that he has conveyed to the Fijian leadership that New Delhi has very substantial interests in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.

Addressing the Indian community in Suva, Mr Jaishankar said that he had a detailed discussion with Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Ligamamada Rabuka about the future of India-Fiji relations.

Mr Jaishankar is on a three-day visit to the South Pacific archipelago nation to attend the 12th World Hindi Conference currently being held there.

He also thanked the government of Fiji for partnering with India for the conference and said that “we were honoured by the presence of Fijian president Wiliame Katonivere and the Fijian-Indian community at the event”.

The External Affairs minister also said that the Fijian-Indian community and their contributions are valued and the Fijian government is “keen on upgrading the relationship between the two countries and intensifying cooperation.”

The Indo-Pacific and Fiji:

Mr Jaishankar said, “When we look at the Indo-Pacific, we certainly see Fiji as a very important partner with whom we have a historic link.” The Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region, comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.

The US, India and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the resource-rich region.

About Republic of Fiji:

It is an archipelago consisting of around 300 islands in the South Pacific Ocean.

Capital: Suva

Currency: Fijian Dollar

President : Wiliame Katonivere 

Prime Minister: Sitiveni Rabuka.

India and Spain agreed to cooperate in digital infra, climate action, clean energy

Indian and Spanish leaders agreed to collaborate on issues such as digital infrastructure, climate action, clean energy transition and sustainable.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephone conversation with Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez and both leaders agreed to collaborate on issues such as digital infrastructure, climate action, clean energy transition and sustainable development. Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in a statement said that the leaders discussed a number of bilateral and international issues of mutual interest.

More About The Recent Engagement Between India & Spain:

They reviewed ongoing bilateral initiatives and expressed satisfaction at the recent high-level exchanges and growing cooperation in defence, economic and commercial sectors.

They agreed to collaborate on issues such as digital infrastructure, climate action, clean energy transition and sustainable development.

India’s Outreach For G-20 Summit:

PM Modi briefed his Spanish counterpart on India’s priorities for the G-20 Presidency oriented towards working to promote oneness based on the theme of Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam (One Earth, One Family, One Future).

“Prime Minister Sánchez extended full support to India’s initiatives under its G-20 Presidency,” according to the PMO.

‘Omorgus Khandesh’ is a Newly Discovered Indian Beetle by Zootaxa

A new beetle species have been discovered in India, according to a paper published in the New Zealand-based journal Zootaxa. It is important for forensic science.

A new beetle species have been discovered in India, according to a paper published in the New Zealand-based journal Zootaxa. The beetle is important for forensic science as it helps detect the time of death of an animal or human. Omorgus Khandesh is necrophagous and is also called a keratin beetle.

During the decomposition of a body, blowflies are amongst the first ones to arrive in the early stages. Meanwhile, the final successional stage is with the arrival of the keratin feeders, thus their importance in forensic science.

‘Omorgus Khandesh’ is a Newly Discovered Indian Beetle by Zootaxa- Key Points

The bug was discovered by scientist Aparna Sureshchandra Kalawate who works with the Zoological Survey of India, Western Regional Centre (WRC), Pune.

The paper was co-authored by Werner P Strümpher of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, Pretoria, South Africa.

The beetle was found in the collections of WRC, according to a press note shared by the authors. The new species belongs to the Trogidae family. With the addition of this new species, now there are a total of 14 extant species of this family in India.

The beetles of this group are sometimes called hide beetles as they tend to cover their body under the soil and hide. They are not photogenic; they are usually black or grey and encrusted in the dirt.

The new species is morphologically most similar to Omorgus tremulous. The latter is redescribed and illustrated to enable accurate recognition of both species in the new paper.

Omorgus Khandesh is mainly associated with bird and mammal nests or burrows and the details of their life histories are poorly known. They feign death upon being disturbed and become motionless.

UIDAI Launched New AI Chatbot Aadhaar Mitra in India

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to has recently launched a chatbot to help people get an answer to their queries related to the Aadhaar card.

AI Chatbot Aadhaar Mitra Launched by UIDAI

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has recently launched a chatbot to help people get an answer to their queries related to the Aadhaar card. It is called “Aadhaar Mitra”. The Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML)-a based chatbot can answer queries related to Aadhaar enrolment number, PVC Card order status, and complaint status, among other things. It is available in both English and Hindi languages.

After every answer given by Aadhaar Chatbot, there is a Thumbs Up/Thumbs down icon below every chat response. Also, after the end of the session, on closing the window resident can provide a star rating (on a scale of 1 to 5).

What can Aadhaar Mitra answer?

Aadhaar Chatbot is well-trained to answer queries on Aadhaar-related topics, provide information about Locate Aadhaar Center, Check Aadhaar Enrolment/ Update status, Check PVC Card Order status, file a Complaint, Check Complaint status, Locate Enrolment Center, and Book An Appointment.

The user does not need to go to an Aadhaar enrolment center to update the card anymore. It can be done through the chatbot. They can also apply for a duplicate Aadhaar if the original is lost.

How to use Aadhaar Mitra?

The users can simply type their query in Chatbot and get the desired answers immediately.

Step 1: Go to www.uidai.gov.in

Step 2: Click on the “Aadhaar Mitra” box in the bottom right corner. The chatbot will open saying, “Hi, I am your Aadhaar Mitra. How May I help you!!”

Step 3: Tap on “Get Started” to ask the query.

Step 4: In the search box, enter the query and click on the Enter button. The chatbot will reply with the answer.

Step 5: Also, you can click on the suggested query option available at the top. You can also give feedback on the answers.

UNDP’s “Don’t Choose Extinction” climate campaign wins two Anthem Awards

The ‘Don’t Choose Extinction’ campaign, launched by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to raise awareness about the climate emergency, has won Gold and Silver in two different categories.

‘Don’t Choose Extinction’ campaign,

The ‘Don’t Choose Extinction’ campaign, launched by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to raise awareness about the climate emergency, has won Gold and Silver in two different categories at the 2nd Annual Anthem Awards. This was announced today by The International Academy of Digital Arts & Science (IADAS), which was launched by the Webby Awards in 2021. The Awards are intended to celebrate mission-driven work and the social impact of individuals, corporations and organizations. Its goal is to define a new benchmark for impactful work that inspires others to take action in their communities.

The Don’t Choose Exinction campaign won Gold in the Category: Sustainability, Environment & Climate – Non-Profit Campaign, and Silver in the Category: Sustainability, Environment & Climate – Global Awareness Campaign. Anthem Winners were selected from 2,000 submissions from over 43 countries around the world.

About the ‘Don’t Choose Extinction’ campaign

UNDP’s ‘Don’t Choose Extinction’ campaign and film shines a spotlight on fossil fuel subsidies and their negative impact on the planet. Last year, US$423 billion was used in direct subsidies with 80 percent of those going to the manufactures. In 2022, because of the Ukraine war and the energy crisis, the subsidies have reached over US$600 billion by year’s end. The campaign and UNDP’s Energy Hub offer encourages countries to utilize those funds for socially impactful and positive solutions so they can benefit from a green transition but at the same time leave no one behind.


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