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Important Current Affairs for CLAT-24th July 2023

Algeria applies to join BRICS, would contribute $1.5 bln to group bank

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced that Algeria has formally submitted an application to join the BRICS group of nations. The move aims to create new economic prospects for the oil and gas-rich nation in North Africa, as it seeks to diversify its economy and strengthen ties with countries like China.

Application for BRICS Membership and Contribution to BRICS Bank

  • In its bid to join the BRICS group, Algeria has not only submitted an application but also sought to become a shareholder member of the BRICS Bank.

  • The nation has pledged a substantial contribution of $1.5 billion to the bank, a move aimed at reinforcing its position and influence within the bloc.

  • The BRICS group, with a collective GDP of around 26% of the world’s total and representing more than 40% of the global population, holds significant economic clout on the international stage.

Growing Interest from Over 40 Countries

  • South Africa‘s top diplomat overseeing relations with the BRICS bloc reported that more than 40 countries have expressed interest in joining the group.

  • Among these nations are Argentina, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Comoros, Gabon, and Kazakhstan.

  • The growing interest reflects the increasing appeal of the BRICS alliance as a platform for economic cooperation and collaboration.

China’s Investment in Algeria

  • During President Tebboune’s visit to China, it was revealed that China plans to invest a substantial $36 billion in Algeria.

  • The investment will span diverse industries, including manufacturing, new technology, the knowledge economy, transport, and agriculture.

  • China’s substantial financial commitment further strengthens the economic ties between the two nations and bolsters Algeria’s efforts to diversify and modernize its economy.

More about BRICS

  • BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

  • It is an association of five major emerging national economies from different regions of the world.

  • Originally known as “BRIC” when formed in 2001, South Africa joined in 2010, leading to the acronym “BRICS.”

  • The main objectives are to promote economic cooperation, facilitate political dialogue, and enhance strategic partnerships among member countries.

  • BRICS collectively represents around 42% of the global population and approximately 23% of the global GDP.

  • The New Development Bank (NDB) was established in 2014 by BRICS countries to fund infrastructure and sustainable development projects.

  • The Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) provides member countries with access to financial resources in times of economic crisis.

  • BRICS engages in regular political and diplomatic dialogues to discuss global issues and strengthen cooperation on international platforms.

  • The group promotes academic and cultural exchanges to foster mutual understanding and goodwill.

  • BRICS summits are held annually, providing leaders with a platform to coordinate on mutual interests.

  • It is seen as a counterbalance to Western-led global institutions and holds influence in shaping the international economic and geopolitical landscape.

Amended Rules Relating to Retirement Benefits of IAS, IPS, IFOS Pensioners

The central government has made significant amendments to the rules governing retirement benefits for officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Forest Service (IFoS).

The amendments empower the central government to take action against pensioners, including withholding or withdrawing their pension, even without a reference from the state government. Such actions can be taken if the pensioner is found guilty of grave misconduct or convicted of a serious crime, particularly one involving an offence under the Official Secrets Act.

Definition of ‘Grave Misconduct’ and ‘Serious Crime’

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) issued a notification on July 6, 2023, specifying that ‘grave misconduct’ includes the communication or disclosure of any document or information mentioned in the Official Secrets Act. Additionally, a ‘serious crime’ encompasses any offence under the Official Secrets Act.

Eliminating Dependency on State Government References

  • The amended All India Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958, have removed the dependency on state government references for action against retired officials.

  • Previously, the central government required a reference from the respective state government if a pensioner was convicted.

  • However, the amended rules now include the phrase “or otherwise” after “…the State Government concerned,” allowing the central government to act on its own if a pensioner is found guilty of grave misconduct or convicted of a serious crime.

Addressing Challenges in Taking Action Against Officers

  • The rationale behind this amendment was to address instances where state governments did not send references for action against retired officials, even after their conviction by courts of law.

  • This lack of cooperation from state governments made it challenging for the central government to take appropriate action against the concerned officers, especially when dealing with All India Services officials.

Final Decision on Withholding or Withdrawing Pension

The amended rules now state that the decision of the central government regarding withholding or withdrawing pension shall be considered final.

Restrictions on Publication of Sensitive Information

  • The amended rules also introduce new provisions regarding the publication of sensitive information by officers who served in intelligence or security-related organizations.

  • Such officers must seek prior clearance from the Head of the Organization before making any publication related to the domain of the organization, including any reference or information about personnel and their designations, as well as expertise or knowledge gained while working in that organization.

  • Failure to adhere to this undertaking may result in severe action, including treating it as grave misconduct.

India hands over INS Kirpan to Vietnam in landmark move

Indian Naval Ship Kirpan, a corvette that served the Indian Navy for 32 years, has been decommissioned and handed over to the Vietnam People’s Navy (VPN) in a ceremony held at Cam Ranh, Vietnam. The momentous occasion marked the first time India has transferred a fully operational corvette to a foreign country.

Strengthening India-Vietnam Defence Partnership

  • The handover of INS Kirpan signifies the deepening defence ties between India and Vietnam.

  • India has consistently bolstered its defence partnership with Vietnam, reflecting the shared concern about China’s growing maritime power in the Indo-Pacific region.

  • In 2022, India handed over 12 high-speed patrol guard boats to Vietnam, five of which were built in India, while the remaining were constructed in Vietnam using an Indian Line of Credit.

Support in Defence Technological Capabilities

  • In addition to the patrol guard boats, India has actively supported Vietnam in enhancing its defence technological capabilities.

  • India sponsored the establishment of an Army Software Park in Vietnam with a generous grant of $5 million.

  • This support has been instrumental in strengthening Vietnam’s capacity to address security challenges and safeguard its national maritime interests.

Mutual Logistics Support Agreement and Preferred Security Partner

  • India and Vietnam have also signed a mutual logistics support agreement, further solidifying their strategic partnership.

  • The transfer of INS Kirpan to VPN underscores the Indian Navy’s position as the preferred security partner in the Indian Ocean Region.

  • Both countries share maritime territorial disputes and have demonstrated a united front in addressing regional security concerns.

Fostering Peace, Stability, and Regional Security

  • Admiral Hari Kumar expressed confidence that Vietnam People’s Navy will utilize the potential of INS Kirpan to safeguard their national maritime interests and contribute to regional security.

  • This exchange of naval assets symbolizes India’s commitment to promoting peace, stability, and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, as well as reinforcing its position as a reliable partner in the region.

Lokesh M take charges as CEO of NOIDA

Newly-appointed Noida Authority Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lokesh M took charge and held a meeting with officials. The CEO highlighted that industrial growth and a better public hearing system would be his key priorities. 2005-batch IAS officer Lokesh M has been appointed as new CEO of Noida Authority after former CEO Ritu Maheshwari was transferred to as Divisional Commissioner Agra. After taking charge, the new CEO held a press meet where he said that his focus will be on building a better public hearing system and addressing issues of allottees, farmers and citizen grievances.

Lokesh M, who was earlier the Kanpur divisional commissioner, held a meeting with the authority staff and laid his plans for making Noida a ”beautiful city”, besides addressing the woes faced by city residents. After the meeting, he also briefed media about his plans to better deliver services to citizens. Before his posting in Kanpur, Lokesh M was posted in Saharanpur as divisional commissioner and he was known for his initiative to open de-addiction centres in that district.

About the Lokesh M

A native of Karnataka, Lokesh M completed his training from Aligarh in 2006. He was District Magistrate and collector of Mainpuri, Kushinagar, Etah, Ghazipur, Amroha and Kaushambi districts from 2009 to 2016. He was on deputation to Karnataka from 2016 to 2021, after which he was made the Divisional Commissioner of Saharanpur before getting posted as Agra commissioner on May 31. He recently served as Kanpur Commissioner before joining as Noida Authority CEO.

Hungarian GP: Verstappen hands Red Bull record 12th straight win

Max Verstappen won the Hungarian GP at the Hungaroring, by a comfortable 33.731 secs margin over McLaren’s Lando Norris. Verstappen’s lead at the top of the standings grows to an even more gargantuan 110 points, and the Dutchman seems firmly on course to pick up a second world championship in a row. Teammate Perez also furthered his advantage over third place man Fernando Alonso, who finished a disappointing ninth in Hungary.

Union Minister Shri Anurag Thakur confers 8th and 9th Community Radio Awards

Union Minister, Shri Anurag Thakur presented the 8th and 9th National Community Radio Awards during the Inaugural session of the two-day Regional Community Radio Sammelon.

What’s in News?

The Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting presented the 8th and 9th National Community Radio Awards during the Inaugural Session of two-day Regional Community Radio Sammelon held at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in New Delhi.

Award Winners:

Thematic Awards:

  • First Prize: Radio Mind Tree, Ambala, Haryana. Programme: Hope Jeene Ki Raah.

  • Second Prize: Radio Hirakhand, Sambalpur, Odissa. Programme: Adhar O Poshan Bigyan.

  • Third Prize: Green Radio, Sabour, Bihar. Programme: Poshan Shrinkhla.

Most Innovative Community Engagement Awards:

  • First Prize: Radio SD, Mazaffarnagar, UP. Programme: Hizra in Between.

  • Second Prize: Kabir Radio, Sant Kabir Nagar, UP. Programme: Selfie Le Le Re.

  • Third Prize: Radio Mind Tree, Ambala, Haryana. Programme: Book Bugs.

Promoting Local Culture Awards:

  • First Prize: Voice of SOA, Cuttack, Odissa. Programme: Asmita.

  • Second Prize: Friends FM, Tripura, Agartala. Programme: Revived a dying art: MASK & POT.

  • Third Prize: Pantnagar Janvani, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand. Programme: Dadi Maa Ka Batua.

Sustainability Modern Awards:

  • First Prize: Radio Hirakhand, Sambhalpur, Odissa.

  • Second Prize: Vayalaga Vanoli, Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

  • Third Prize: VAGAD Radio “90.8”, Banswara, Rajasthan.

Role of Community Radio Stations:

Community Radio Stations played a vital role in realizing Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of Jan Bhagidari se Jan Andolan. Union Minster, Anurag Thakur praised these stations for their contributions in keeping listeners informed during calamities and highlighted their significance in education, awareness generation, and problem solving across the remotest concerns of India.

Significance:

Community Radio Stations plays a significant role by making people aware about any calamities and also plays key role in the fields of education, health and awareness generation.

Union Minister during the Inaugural Session emphasized the increasing popularity of Community Radio Stations and expressed the government’s commitment to realizing Prime Minister Modi’s vision of having a Community Radio Station in each district.

Apurva Chandra, Secretary, highlighted the need for a platform to bring together the experiences of Community Radio Stations and lauded their contribution during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Government’s Efforts:

  • The licensing time has been significantly reduced from four years to six months.

  • The number of processes involved has been reduced from thirteen to eight.

  • The Government will auction 808 channels in 284 cities during the 3rd e-auction, thereby expanding the reach of radio in India.

Mukhya Mantri Khet Suraksha Yojana to be implemented in Uttar Pradesh

The Agriculture Department of Uttar Pradesh is gearing up to implement the Mukhya Mantri Khet Suraksha Yojana, intending to uplift the welfare of farmers across the entire state.

The scheme involves installation of a solar fence with a low 12-volt current to deter animals without causing harm. When animals come into contact with the fence, a mild shock will be triggered, and a siren will sound, effectively deterring animals such as nilgai, monkeys, pigs, and wild boars from causing crop damage in the fields.

Mukhyamantri Khet Suraksha Yojana: Empowering Farmers with Grants and Enhanced Budget

Under the Mukhyamantri Khet Suraksha Yojana, small and marginal farmers will receive a substantial grant of 60% subsidy on the total cost i.e. Rs 1.43 lakh per hectare from the government. Moreover, the scheme’s budget has witnessed a significant increase, surging from Rs 75 crore to Rs 350 crore.

Stray Animals: A Persistent Challenge for Farmers

Farmers have been struggling with a significant problem involving stray animals, and despite the government’s endeavors to address the issue, the measures have proven inadequate. The additional challenge of crop damage caused by these animals compounds the existing difficulties faced by farmers.


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