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Important Current Affairs for CLAT-4th May 2023

Updated: May 5, 2023

‘Gigachat’ Russia’s Sberbank launches Al to compete with ChatGPT

'Gigachat' Russia’s Sberbank launches Al to compete with ChatGPT: Sberbank has developed a technology named GigaChat to compete with ChatGPT in the artificial intelligence chatbot race.

‘Gigachat’ Russia’s Sberbank launches Al to compete with ChatGPT

Sberbank has developed a technology named GigaChat to compete with ChatGPT in the artificial intelligence chatbot race. Initially available in an invite-only testing mode, GigaChat stands out with its ability to communicate more intelligently in Russian than other foreign neural networks.

Russia’s ‘Gigachat’: Key Points

The release of Microsoft-backed OpenAI’s ChatGPT last year has spurred the technology industry to incorporate AI further into users’ hands to reshape how people work and win business.

Sberbank, Russia’s leading bank, has invested heavily in technology to reduce the country’s dependence on imports, which has become critically important due to export cuts and sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine by Western nations.

Australian High Commission in India Announces Government Grant for Project in Kargil

What is Gigachat?

The architecture of GigaChat is based on the NeONKA (Neural Omnimodal Network with Knowledge-Awareness) neural network ensemble model, which involves multiple neural network models, supervised fine-tuning, and reinforcement learning with human feedback.

Sber has developed a new neural network model that can perform various intellectual tasks, such as supporting a conversation, writing texts, answering fact-based questions, and creating images by integrating the Kandinsky 2.1 model into the ensemble.

The company plans to release NeONKA 3.5 with 13 billion parameters to accelerate the evolution of the open-source community and AI.

The model has been optimized to fit high load systems and trained using the Christofari Neo supercomputer.

SberDevices and Sber AI are developing the model with support from AIRI and AI experts to train GigaChat in specific knowledge domains and fine-tune its performance accurately. The new model will be integrated into many Sber products and services, including virtual assistant Salute.

Unified portal, CU-Chayan launched by UGC for faculty recruitment

Unified portal, CU-Chayan launched by UGC: University Grant Commission (UGC) Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar launched a new recruitment portal called CU-Chayan for Central University faculty,

Unified portal, CU-Chayan launched by UGC

University Grant Commission (UGC) Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar launched a new recruitment portal called CU-Chayan for Central University faculty, declaring it to be completely user-friendly and suitable for the needs of all the stakeholders in the recruitment process.

The UGC created the CU-Chayan portal with the aim of developing an enabling environment for both universities and applicants, with universities able to manage every aspect of the recruitment process independently. Currently 31% seats are vacants across different universities.

What does CU-Chayan portal offer?

The CU-Chayan portal is a unified recruitment platform that is tailored specifically to the recruitment of faculties in Central Universities.

The portal serves as a common platform for listing vacancies, job advertisements, and postings across all Central Universities.

Moreover, the registration and application process is entirely online, from application to screening to alerts for portal users.

The CU-Chayan portal offers a personalized dashboard that is built to manage the application process. It provides transparency and access to every facet of the recruitment process.

It offers a variety of features to assist applicants, including a consolidated list of job openings from all participating universities, a singular login for applying to any of the universities, and customised dashboards to aid in the application process.

Additionally, applicants can use a range of filters like university name, location, job title, category, subject, employment type, experience, education level, and more to look for jobs.

CU-Chayan Portal launched by UGC: Key Points

For universities, the platform offers real-time application tracking, personalised admin dashboards, adjustable advertising regulations, and a fully online process that includes payment gateways, from initial application to screening.

It also features built-in email communication tools, online feedback and reference options for referees, and provides real-time analysis and insights into the application process.

Members of the university’s Screening Committee can see applicant details, view point or research scores generated by the system, and verify uploaded documents against each entry.

Additionally, the screening committee’s comments and scores can be saved within the portal.

The CU-Chayan portal will not hinder the independence of Central Universities when it comes to filling faculty positions. Utilizing the portal, Central Universities will still be responsible for announcing job openings, gathering online applications, shortlisting candidates, conducting interviews, and appointing faculty members.

These activities will be carried out through the Admin dashboard for each University on the portal. The purpose of the portal is to provide a beneficial platform for all Central Universities and not a centralized recruitment process. Autonomous recruitment processes will still occur, managed by the respective Central Universities.

India’s First Undersea Tunnel Nears Completion: Mumbai Coastal Road Project

How does the CU-CHAYAN portal come into existence?

The portal was developed in cooperation with the Vice Chancellors of Central Universities, and feedback was taken into consideration when creating it. The CU-Chayan portal can be modified to meet the unique requirements of each university, and the UGC will provide training to Central Universities in its use.

The reservation system for recruitment would also not be impacted, and individual universities would continue to adhere to the Government of India’s reservation system and create their respective rosters in compliance with DOPT guidelines.

The World’s 10 Highest-Paid Athletes 2023 by Forbes

The world’s ten highest-paid athletes collectively made $1.11 billion before taxes and agents’ fees over the last 12 months, the highest total ever.

The World’s 10 Highest-Paid Athletes 2023

International soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo ($136 million), Lionel Messi ($130 million) and Kylian Mbappe ($120 million) are the top three highest-paid athletes. Ronaldo leads the way with an estimated haul of $136 million, including $46 million from his playing salary and bonuses and $90 million from endorsements, appearances, licensing income and other business endeavors. Mbappé, who at age 24 comes in at No. 3 with $120 million, and Johnson, who lands at No. 6 with $107 million, make eye-popping debuts in the top ten.

Forbes calculates on-field earnings based on prize money, salaries and bonuses, while off-field earnings are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and memorabilia and licensing income. It also includes cash returns from businesses that are operated by the athlete. The world’s ten highest-paid athletes collectively made $1.11 billion before taxes and agents’ fees over the last 12 months, the highest total ever.

Airtel Payments Bank Introduces Face Authentication for Aadhaar-enabled Payment System(AePS)

Airtel Payments Bank has collaborated with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to introduce face authentication for the Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS).

Airtel Payments Bank Introduces Face Authentication for Aadhaar-enabled Payment System:

Airtel Payments Bank has collaborated with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to introduce face authentication for the Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS) at its five lakh banking points. The move comes as one of the first initiatives of its kind in India, where four banks have partnered with NPCI to offer face authentication for AePS.

Importance of Face Authentication for AePS:

Ganesh Ananthanarayanan, COO of Airtel Payments Bank, emphasized the importance of the new feature, stating that “face authentication is an important addition to our existing bouquet of secure and simple banking solutions to drive financial and digital inclusion in the country.”

AePS allows customers to carry out financial and non-financial transactions at any banking point using their Aadhaar number or virtual ID to access their Aadhaar-linked bank account. Until now, transactions were being authenticated using the customer’s Aadhaar number and fingerprint or iris match in the UIDAI records. The new facility will enable customers to validate the transaction by undertaking face authentication along with the Aadhaar number.

Collaboration with NPCI:

The collaboration with NPCI will enable Airtel Payments Bank to expand its reach across the country, enhancing the accessibility of Aadhaar-based transactions. NPCI Chief Operating Officer Praveena Rai stated that “it is delightful to see Airtel Payment Bank implementing this feature for AePS transactions, which will enhance the reach of Aadhaar-based transactions across the country.”

Rollout Plan:

In the first phase, Airtel Payments Bank will make the facility available for non-financial transactions such as balance enquiry and mini-statements. As per guidance from NPCI, Airtel Payments Bank will enable the functionality for other bank customers and the Bank’s customers at other banking outlets.

Testing Digital Payments through Feature Phones and IVR:

Airtel Payments Bank has also partnered with NPCI to test digital payments through feature phones. The company is testing interactive voice response (IVR), among other use cases, with NPCI for digital payments in tier-II and tier-III cities.

Here are some key points about Airtel Payments Bank:

Airtel Payments Bank is a subsidiary of Bharti Airtel, a leading telecommunications company in India.

It is India’s first payments bank, launched in 2017, with a focus on providing digital banking and financial services to the underbanked and unbanked population in the country.

Airtel Payments Bank offers a range of services, including savings accounts, current accounts, money transfers, bill payments, and digital banking services.

The bank operates through a network of banking points, which include Airtel retail stores, authorized banking points, and partner outlets.

Airtel Payments Bank is a licensed entity under the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and operates as a semi-closed wallet, which means that customers can only use it for transactions with the bank’s authorized merchants.

The bank has partnered with various government schemes, including the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), to offer digital banking services to the unbanked population in the country.

India’s Merchant Payments through UPI Anticipated to Reach $1 Trillion by FY26

Merchant payments over the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in India are expected to grow by 40 to 50 percent to reach $1 trillion by the fiscal year (FY) 2026, according to a report by Bain & Company

Fintech and Banks Must Adapt to Remain Competitive in India’s Fintech Era:

India’s Merchant Payments through UPI Anticipated to Reach $1 Trillion by FY26:

Merchant payments over the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in India are expected to grow by 40 to 50 percent to reach $1 trillion by the fiscal year (FY) 2026, according to a report by Bain & Company. This growth will be driven by greater awareness, increased merchant adoption of UPI, new payment capabilities like UPI Lite and UPI 123 Pay, and the introduction of international payment lanes on the domestic payment railroad. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) estimates that in March 2023 alone, merchant transactions worth nearly $40 billion were cleared through UPI. The industry has already surpassed a $500 billion payment run rate.

UPI and Mobile Wallets to Account for 28% of India’s $3.2 Trillion Digital Payments Market in FY26:

UPI and mobile wallets will account for 28% of India’s $3.2 trillion digital payments market in FY26, up from 11% in FY22. Meanwhile, cash will drop to 48% from 69% in FY22, as all digital payment methods, including credit cards, debit cards, and buy now, pay later, increase. NPCI’s UPI has helped India lead the way in developing a non-cash economy and outpace many other emerging nations.

Credit Card Spending in India to Increase 2.5 Times to $280 Billion by FY26:

According to Bain & Company’s report, credit card spending in India is expected to increase 2.5 times to $280 billion by FY26 from a present level of roughly $100 billion. An increase in spending on newly issued credit cards will account for a significant portion of this gain. The Reserve Bank of India reports that there were 85 million credit cards in circulation as of March 2023. Tier-2 sites, new fintech and consumer tech partnerships for co-branded cards, and an overall opening up of supply will be the sources of growth in new credit cards.

Government Payments and Subsidies to Decrease, Premium Merchants May Pay Specific MDR for UPI Payments:

Bain & Company has predicted that government payments and subsidies will decrease over the next three to five years, resulting in market forces controlling pricing for merchant payments. Premium merchants, for instance, may pay a specific Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) for UPI payments. Payment service providers will have developed alternative revenue streams by then. Providers like Razorpay, Cashfree, and Paytm, which were initially positioned as online payment providers, have all established their offline operations as well, providing their users with an omnichannel payment experience.

Fintech and Banks Must Adapt to Remain Competitive in India’s Fintech Era:

As the fintech era progresses in India, banks themselves will need to adapt to remain competitive. Banks will need to investigate full-stack merchant solutions and increase the number of credit card holders by adding new consumers. The research advised “commercializing partnerships with a select group of non-banks to expand the reach and improve capabilities.” To hasten go-to-market, fintech themselves must develop compliance departments, increase income diversification, and fortify their relationships with banks and NBFCs.

India’s First Undersea Tunnel Nears Completion: Mumbai Coastal Road Project

India's first undersea tunnel, which is set to open by November 2023, is a 2.07-kilometer twin tunnels run 17-20 meters below sea level, connecting Girgaon to Priyadarshini Park.

India’s First Undersea Tunnel Nears Completion: Mumbai Coastal Road Project:

The Mumbai Coastal Road Project (MCRP) is a Rs 12,721-crore initiative by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to link Marine Drive to the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. The most significant feature of the project is the construction of India’s first undersea tunnel, which is set to open by November 2023. The 2.07-kilometer twin tunnels run 17-20 meters below sea level, connecting Girgaon to Priyadarshini Park via the Arabian Sea, Girgaon Chowpatty, and Malabar Hill.

Construction Challenges and Use of TBM:

The construction of the twin tunnels involved cutting through complex geological strata using a massive Chinese Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) and a team of 35 men. The TBM, named Mavala, is the largest ever used in India, weighing over 1,700 tonnes and standing about 12 meters tall. It was manufactured by the China Railway Construction Heavy Industry Company Ltd (CRCHI) and was assembled and launched a year ago.

The TBM has been instrumental in completing the construction of the undersea tunnels. It broke through from the Girgaon end in January 2022 after a year of mining activity, and the second tunnel’s boring commenced in April 2022. The BMC expects to make its breakthrough by the end of May as only 140 meters of mining work remains.

Tunnel Design and Features:

The tunnels have a diameter of 12.19 meters and feature six crosswalks, four for pedestrians and two for motorists. Each tunnel has three 3.2-meter-wide lanes, with two lanes operational and the third used in case of emergencies or increased vehicular density.

The tunnels also have fibreglass facades resembling the Queen’s Necklace, a famous C-shaped promenade on Marine Drive. The entry and exit points are designed to provide easy access to the tunnels, and the crosswalks allow for safe pedestrian and vehicular movement.

Impact on Commute Time:

The MCRP is expected to reduce the 45-minute commute from Girgaon to Worli to just 10 minutes during peak hours. The high-speed coastal road, spanning 10.58 kilometers, connects Marine Drive to the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. The undersea tunnels are a critical component of the project, cutting down commute time and easing traffic congestion in the area.

Michael Douglas to Receive Honorary Palme d’Or at Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival will honor Michael Douglas with an honorary Palme d'Or for his outstanding career and contributions to cinema.

The Cannes Film Festival will honor Michael Douglas with an honorary Palme d’Or for his outstanding career and contributions to cinema. The 78-year-old actor will be celebrated during the festival’s opening ceremony on May 16. Douglas has had a diverse career, starring in numerous acclaimed films like The China Syndrome, Basic Instinct, Falling Down, and Behind the Candelabra, all of which have previously been shown at Cannes.

In 1987, Michael Douglas played the iconic role of banker Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, which earned him an Academy Award. He has continued to have a prominent presence in the film industry with recent roles in Marvel’s Antman films and an award-winning performance in the TV series The Kominsky Method. Douglas is the son of Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, and he began his career as a producer of the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975, which also won him an Oscar. He was last seen at the Cannes Film Festival for the screening of Behind the Candelabra, where he played the beloved character of flamboyant pianist Liberace.

Previous recipients of the honorary Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival have included Forest Whitaker, Agnes Varda, and Jodie Foster. The festival will take place from May 16-27 and will feature premieres of highly anticipated films such as the new Indiana Jones and Martin Scorsese movies. The opening film will be Jeanne du Barry, which marks Johnny Depp’s return to the big screen.

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