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Important Current Affairs for CLAT-28th September 2023

What is NASA’s Psyche mission?

The Psyche mission represents an ambitious venture to explore a distinct metallic asteroid positioned in orbit between Mars and Jupiter. The exceptional feature of this asteroid, named Psyche, is its composition, believed to be the exposed nickel-iron core of an ancient planet – a fundamental building block of our solar system.

Significance of Psyche

While the metallic cores of rocky planets like Earth are concealed deep beneath layers of rock and crust, Psyche offers a rare opportunity to directly investigate one such core. By studying Psyche, scientists aim to gain insights into the tumultuous history of planetary formation through collisions and accretion.

Mission Leadership

The mission is spearheaded by Arizona State University, with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory overseeing mission management, operations, and navigation. The spacecraft’s solar-electric propulsion system will be constructed by Maxar (formerly SSL), complemented by a suite of scientific instruments.

Science Goals

  1. Unveiling Iron Cores: The primary objective is to comprehend a previously uncharted component of planet formation: iron cores.

  2. Peering Inside Terrestrial Planets: Psyche will facilitate an unprecedented examination of the interiors of terrestrial planets, including Earth, which are otherwise hidden from view.

  3. Exploring a Metal World: Psyche represents a novel celestial body made predominantly of metal, contrasting with the typical rock and ice composition of other objects in our solar system.

Science Objectives

  1. Core Identification: Determine whether Psyche is indeed a core or composed of unmelted materials.

  2. Age Determination: Assess the relative ages of different regions on Psyche’s surface.

  3. Elemental Composition: Investigate whether small metal bodies like Psyche contain the same light elements found in Earth’s high-pressure core.

  4. Environmental Conditions: Ascertain whether Psyche formed under more oxidizing or reducing conditions compared to Earth’s core.

  5. Topography Characterization: Study the topography of Psyche to gain insights into its surface features and structure.

Scientific Instruments

  1. Multispectral Imager: A tool for capturing images in multiple wavelengths, aiding in the analysis of Psyche’s surface.

  2. Gamma Ray and Neutron Spectrometer: Used to detect gamma rays and neutrons emitted by Psyche, providing information about its composition.

  3. Magnetometer: Measures magnetic fields around Psyche, helping to understand its magnetic history.

  4. X-band Gravity Science Investigation: Utilizes gravity measurements to probe the asteroid’s internal structure.

  5. Deep Space Optical Communication (DSOC): A pioneering laser communication technology, operating in near-infrared wavelengths, enhances data transmission between the spacecraft and Earth, enabling more efficient communication.

Sri Lanka’s IMF Bailout Faces Delay Amidst Ongoing Debt Restructuring

Sri Lanka is facing delays in receiving the second tranche of its $2.9 billion IMF bailout package due to unresolved issues with its external debt restructuring. This crisis comes as the nation grapples with its worst economic downturn in history, characterized by dwindling foreign exchange reserves and public protests over shortages of vital commodities.

IMF’s Financial Lifeline

In March of this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) granted Sri Lanka a 48-month extended arrangement worth $2.9 billion under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). The aim was to bolster Sri Lanka’s economic policies and promote essential reforms.

Challenges on the Road to Recovery

While the IMF acknowledges some signs of stabilization, it cautions that a full economic recovery remains uncertain. Key issues include:

  1. Debt Restructuring: Sri Lanka is in the midst of restructuring its public debt, which is in arrears. The IMF Executive Board demands that financing assurances reviews be completed to ensure that adequate progress is being made in debt restructuring. This is crucial for gaining confidence that debt targets will be met in a timely manner as part of the program.

  2. Program Review: The release of the second tranche, approximately $330 million, hinged on the completion of the first program review. This review assesses whether set targets, policies, and reforms are in place to achieve the program’s objectives.

  3. Reform Progress: Sri Lanka has made commendable progress in implementing much-needed reforms, resulting in tentative signs of economic stabilization. Key indicators include a decrease in inflation from 70% in September 2022 to under 2% in September 2023, an increase in gross international reserves by $1.5 billion, and alleviation of essential commodity shortages.

Challenges Ahead

Despite these positive developments, the IMF warns of ongoing challenges:

  1. Economic Recovery: The nation’s economic recovery is still fragile, with subdued growth momentum.

  2. Revenue Shortfall: An expected government revenue shortfall by year-end could hamper its ability to provide essential public services.

IMF’s Recommendations

To address these challenges, the IMF suggests:

  1. Strengthening Tax Administration: Improve tax administration to increase revenues and signal better governance.

  2. Removing Tax Exemptions: Eliminate tax exemptions to enhance revenue collection.

  3. Combatting Tax Evasion: Actively address tax evasion to boost government finances.

Background

Sri Lanka sought an IMF bailout after declaring its first-ever sovereign debt default in April 2022. This crisis led to a political upheaval, with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigning in July 2022. His successor, Ranil Wickremesinghe, implemented measures to combat inflation. These included tax and utility service reforms, though analysts suggest that the economy has only partially recovered.

India and UN Launch Global Capacity Building Initiative

In a groundbreaking move, India and the United Nations have jointly introduced a significant capacity-building initiative known as the “India-UN Capacity Building Initiative.” This initiative is designed to facilitate the sharing of India’s development experiences, best practices, and expertise with partner countries in the Global South.

Key Event Details

The announcement of this initiative took place during the “India-UN for the Global South-Delivering for Development” event on September 23 in New York. The event was attended by prominent figures, including India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar, and Dennis Francis, President of the 78th General Assembly.

Building on Existing Cooperation

According to India’s permanent mission to the UN, the “India-UN Capacity Building Initiative” builds upon the extensive cooperation in development and capacity building that India has already established bilaterally with partner countries. Notably, India’s UN Development Partnership Fund has initiated 75 development projects in 61 countries over the past six years, demonstrating its commitment to international development.

Collaborative Efforts with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Under this initiative, a strategic partnership has been forged between the UN India team and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The partnership aims to leverage India’s Technical and Economic Cooperation platform to disseminate India’s development experiences and best practices to a global audience. A Joint Declaration of Intent has been exchanged to solidify this collaboration.

Alignment with India’s G20 Presidency Goals

The “India-UN Capacity Building Initiative” will play a pivotal role in advancing the development-related objectives of India’s G20 Presidency, including the G20 Action Plan. These objectives encompass accelerating progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), promoting technological transformation, and building Digital Public Infrastructure, among other critical priorities.

Bengaluru Leads in Green Office Space as India Witnesses a 36% Increase Since 2019

In a significant development for India’s real estate sector, Bengaluru has emerged as the city with the highest green-certified office space. This achievement is part of a broader trend showcased in the ‘Indian Real Estate: Taking Giant Strides – 2023 Mid-Year Outlook’ report jointly released by real estate consultant CBRE and industry body CII during the CII Realty conference.

Green-Certified Office Space Growth:

The report highlights a remarkable 36% growth in green-certified office space across six major Indian cities over the past three and a half years. In 2019, the total green-certified office stock stood at 251 million square feet, but it has now surged to an impressive 342 million square feet.

Key Findings:

  1. Bengaluru’s Leading Role: Bengaluru has taken the lead in this green revolution, showcasing the most significant growth in green office space. This trend underscores the city’s commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly workplaces.

  2. Report Launch: The CBRE-CII report, titled ‘Indian Real Estate: Taking Giant Strides – 2023 Mid-Year Outlook,’ was unveiled during the CII Realty conference. It serves as a comprehensive overview of the real estate sector’s progress and prospects in the current year.

  3. Green-Certified Office Stock: The report emphasizes the substantial expansion of green-certified office space from 2019 to 2023, reflecting a strong industry response to environmental concerns and evolving global and domestic Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) regulations.

  4. Sustainable Business Practices: The report underscores the growing importance of ESG considerations among businesses, driving a “flight-to-quality” wave among occupiers. This shift reflects a preference for modern, premium, and sustainable office spaces in the medium to long term.

Arogya Manthan 2023: Celebrating 5 Years Of Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY And 2 Years Of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

The National Health Authority (NHA), under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), is set to host a two-day event known as ‘Arogya Manthan’ in New Delhi. This event is being organized to commemorate two significant milestones in India’s healthcare sector: the 5th anniversary of the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) and the 2nd anniversary of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM).

Arogya Manthan 2023, taking place on September 25th and 26th, promises to be an engaging forum filled with insightful discussions and deliberations on various aspects of these two transformative healthcare schemes.

Objective and Focus of Arogya Manthan 2023

Arogya Manthan 2023 aims to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Discussion of Challenges: The event will facilitate in-depth discussions on the challenges faced in implementing these healthcare schemes and finding solutions.

  2. Trends Analysis: Participants will analyze emerging healthcare trends and their implications for the future of Indian healthcare.

  3. Best Practices Sharing: Best practices from various stakeholders will be shared, promoting knowledge exchange and synergy.

Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY – A Health Success Story

AB PM-JAY, launched on September 23, 2018, has been a resounding success:

  • 5.5 Crore Free Hospitalizations: The scheme has provided free hospitalizations to 5.5 crore individuals, with a total value of Rs. 69,000 Crore.

  • Health Security: It has not only ensured good health for millions of underprivileged families but has also shielded them from catastrophic healthcare expenses.

Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission – A Digital Healthcare Revolution

ABDM, initiated on September 27, 2021, has ushered in a digital healthcare transformation:

  • Digital Highway: The mission aspires to create a digital highway connecting various healthcare stakeholders.

  • Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA): Over the past two years, more than 45 Crore ABHA accounts have been established.

  • Health Records Integration: More than 30 Crore health records have been linked to ABHA accounts, enhancing healthcare delivery.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

Both flagship healthcare schemes share a common goal of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in India. Their collective efforts strive to make healthcare accessible, available, affordable, and scalable for all citizens.

Arogya Manthan 2023 Awards

On the closing day of the two-day Arogya Manthan 2023 event, Union Health Minister awarded the top-performing States and Union Territories in various categories. Among the various award categories of AB-PMJAY, the award for “Highest Ayushman Card Creation” was earned by Assam, Nagaland, and Jammu & Kashmir. Karnataka and Tripura secured the accolade for the “Highest Percentage of Utilization in Public Hospitals.” For ABDM, Andhra Pradesh was awarded as the “Top State in Linking Health Records with ABHA,” while Uttar Pradesh emerged as the “Top State in Generation of ABHA Scan and Share Tokens” of the numerous award categories.

India Ranks 40th in Global Innovation Index 2023

India retains 40th rank out of 132 economies in the Global Innovation Index 2023 rankings published by the World Intellectual Property Organization. India has been on a rising trajectory, over the past several years in the Global Innovation Index (GII), from a rank of 81 in 2015 to 40 in 2023.

Collaborative Efforts in Innovation

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has also been collaborating in India’s journey towards an innovation-driven economy. This year, the NITI Aayog, in partnership with the CII and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), is hosting, virtually, the India Launch of the GII 2023 on 29th September 2023.

Which are the most innovative economies in 2023?

For the 13th year in a row, Switzerland is the most innovative economy in 2023 followed by Sweden, the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore. Discover how other economies are performing in the Global Innovation Index 2023 rankings.

  • Denmark (9th) and the Republic of Korea (10th) remain in the top 10. France (11th) gets closer, improving one rank this year, while Japan remains strong as the 13th most innovative economy. Israel re-enters the top 15, reaching 14th place.

  • After a rapid ascent, gaining 23 positions over the last decade, China ranks 12th this year, dropping one rank relative to 2022.1 China remains the sole middle-income economy to secure a position among the top 30, retaining 3rd place in the SEAO region and top spot in the upper middle-income group (see Figure 11 and Table 3). Belgium (23rd) re-enters the top 25, climbing three ranks.

  • All eight Nordic and Baltic economies improved their ranking this year, except for Iceland, which stays at 20th spot. Estonia gains two ranks and edges the top 15, at 16th place. Norway (19th) reenters the top 20. Lithuania (34th) and Latvia (37th) make the largest improvements, gaining five and four ranks respectively, with Latvia re-entering the top 40.

  • Apart from China, there are only four other middle-income economies among the top 40 economies, namely, Malaysia (36th), Bulgaria (38th), Türkiye (39th) and India (40th).

  • The United Arab Emirates stabilizes at 32nd place, close to the top 30. Saudi Arabia (48th) and Qatar (50th) make it into the top 50. Middle East economies Bahrain (67th), Oman (69th), Jordan (71st) and Egypt (86th) also experience notable improvements in their innovation ranking – Global Innovation Index 2023 51 with Bahrain and Oman entering the top 70, and Jordan just outside. In sum, these are some systematic and positive innovation rank developments in the Middle East.

  • Brazil (49th) makes it into the top 50 in 2023, following a gradual ascent over recent years, overtaking Chile (52nd) as the most innovative economy in Latin America and the Caribbean. Uruguay (63rd) and El Salvador (95th) are the only two other economies within the region that improve their ranking in 2023.

  • Thailand (43rd) and Viet Nam (46th) consolidate their positions in the top 50, while the Philippines (56th) gets closer. Viet Nam and the Philippines continue marching forward, after a setback in 2022, gaining two and three ranks, respectively. Indonesia (61st) moves rapidly toward the top 60, following a rise over recent years. Together with China, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran (62nd), the Philippines, Türkiye and Viet Nam, Indonesia joins the group of middle-income economies within the GII top 65 that climbed fastest in the GII ranking over the last decade.

  • In the last four years, and since the start of the pandemic, Mauritius (57th), Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Pakistan ascended most in the GII, in order of their rank progression.

  • In Central and Southern Asia, Kazakhstan (81st) and Uzbekistan (82nd) are close to the top 80, while Pakistan (88th) follows closely, the latter overperforming on innovation once again in 2023.

  • Nine out of the 26 economies from Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) covered this year improve their ranking. South Africa (59th) enters the top 60. Rwanda (103rd and low-income group leader) continues moving ahead. Senegal (93rd) and Nigeria (109th) take two of the biggest leaps forward. Excluding island economies, Senegal becomes the region’s third most innovative economy in 2023.

About the Global Innovation Index

Now in its 16th edition, the Global Innovation Index is a leading reference for measuring an economy’s innovation ecosystem performance. Published annually, it is also a valuable benchmarking tool used by policymakers, business leaders, and other stakeholders to assess progress in innovation over time.

The Global Innovation Tracker 2023 addresses these crucial questions. It takes the pulse of four key stages in the innovation cycle: (1) science and innovation investment; (2) technological progress; (3) technology adoption; and (4) the socioeconomic impact of innovation.

The main findings this year are as follows:

1. Science and innovation investment showed a mixed performance in 2022 in the context of many challenges, and a downturn in innovation finance. Scientific publications continued to increase in number, albeit at a slower rate. Global government R&D budgets are expected to grow in real terms in 2022, while R&D expenditure by top corporate spenders rose substantially. But it is unclear whether this can compensate for surging inflation. International patent filings, in turn, stagnated while venture capital investments declined sharply in value in 2022, following extraordinarily high levels in 2021, reflecting a deteriorating climate for risk finance.

2. Strong technological progress in the fields of information technology, health, mobility and energy continue to deliver new breakthroughs opening up new opportunities for global development. Computing power is historically strong, while the costs of renewable energy and genome sequencing costs are continuing to fall.

3. An observed increase in technology adoption is gradually making access to safe sanitation and connectivity more widespread. Electric vehicle (EV) uptake is booming, and the desire for greater automation has increased robot installation. However, for the majority of innovation indicators, overall penetration rates remain medium-to-low, and the availability of radiotherapy for cancer treatment continues to be inadequate in many countries.

4. The socioeconomic impact of innovation remains low. The COVID-19 crisis triggered volatility in labor productivity – which is currently at a standstill – and life expectancy fell for a second consecutive year (with healthy life expectancy continuing to increase, but more slowly). Carbon dioxide emissions continued to grow in 2022, albeit at a lower rate than the postpandemic surge of 2021 – but with no global reductions in sight.

Sanjeev Mantri Appointed As MD And CEO Of ICICI Lombard

In a significant leadership transition, the board of ICICI Lombard General Insurance has appointed Sanjeev Mantri as the new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (MD & CEO) of the company. This move follows the resignation of Bhargav Dasgupta, the outgoing MD & CEO, who stepped down ahead of completing his 15-year tenure due to recent regulatory changes.

Bhargav Dasgupta’s Resignation

Bhargav Dasgupta, who had served as the MD & CEO of ICICI Lombard for nearly 15 years, decided to step down from his role. His resignation was prompted by the new regulations governing the tenure of CEOs, which now limit their term to a maximum of 15 years. This regulation comes into effect in April 2024, and Dasgupta chose to make an early exit from his position. It is noteworthy that Bhargav Dasgupta will be taking on a new role at the Asian Development Bank.

Sanjeev Mantri’s Appointment

Following Bhargav Dasgupta’s resignation, the board of ICICI Lombard appointed Sanjeev Mantri, who had been serving as the Executive Director of the company. Mantri’s appointment is set to last for five years or until his retirement, pending approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). This appointment reflects the company’s commitment to ensuring a smooth transition in leadership.

Sanjeev Mantri: A Brief Profile

  • Early Career

Sanjeev Mantri joined ICICI Lombard in 2015 as the Executive Director, where he headed various retail divisions and was responsible for distribution across different channels. His leadership was instrumental in the company’s successful listing, showcasing his expertise in the insurance industry.

  • Experience and Expertise

Mantri brings with him a wealth of experience, spanning close to three decades. Prior to his tenure at ICICI Lombard, he held key positions at renowned organizations such as Bennett Coleman and Co. and BNP Paribas. His diverse experience in the financial sector has equipped him with a deep understanding of the complexities of the industry.

  • Key Roles at ICICI

Within ICICI Bank, Mantri handled the Rural and Inclusive Banking portfolio, demonstrating his commitment to financial inclusion. He also played a pivotal role in leading the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) business verticals, contributing significantly to the bank’s expansion into rural markets. These experiences have undoubtedly honed his leadership skills and industry knowledge.

Smooth Transition Under Sanjeev Mantri’s Leadership

As Sanjeev Mantri prepares to take on the role of Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ICICI Lombard General Insurance, the company is poised for a smooth transition. His wealth of experience, leadership qualities, and track record of accomplishments make him a promising choice to lead the organization into the future. Sanjeev Mantri’s tenure is set to begin on December 1, 2023, or upon approval from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI).

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