Current Affairs Daily Digest – 16 November 2023


Shri Dharmendra Pradhan’s 3-Day Visit to UAE Focused on Education and Skill Development PartnershipUnion Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Ministry of Education(MoE) and Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship(MSDE) embarked on a significant 3-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from November 1-3, 2023.

  • During his visit, he engaged in discussions with key UAE ministers, officials, educators, Indian community representatives, and business leaders.

i.India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have expanded their educational cooperation by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
ii.NSDC International has signed an agreement with We One, a subsidiary of DP World, to support the  skill development and employment opportunities for the front-line workforce.
iii.National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and EFS Facilities Services Group, a UAE-based Facilities Management Firm, have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate Skilled International Workforce Mobility (IWM) for Indian nationals, with a specific emphasis on Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
About United Arab Emirates (UAE):
President- Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Prime Minister- Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Capital– Abu Dhabi
Currency– UAE dirham (AED)

IAEA Data Platform: IAEA Launches Open Data Platform to make Scientific Data More AccessibleOn November 14, 2023, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) launched an open data platform namely ‘IAEA Data Platform’ to streamline scientific data accessibility for decision-makers, Member States, experts, and the public.

  • It consolidates, organize and standardize IAEA data into a single repository, enhancing transparency, and knowledge.

Key Points:
i.IAEA Data Platform organizes data into three main topics:

  • Nuclear Safety and Security
  • Nuclear Technology and Applications
  • Safeguards and Verification

ii.The platform enables access to diverse data, including the Incident and Trafficking, unauthorized nuclear activities and the Modaria Dataset, an international compilation of soil-plant concentration ratio values for tropical environments.
iii.The platform includes tools like filtering options, tags, and an activity panel for tracking data changes over time.
iv.A unique feature of the platform is the Application Programming Interface (API) option, enabling data access through systems.
About International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA):
It is world’s foremost intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Director General– Rafael Mariano Grossi
Headquarters– Vienna, Austria
Establishment– 1957

BSNL Set to Award Rs.1000-Crore Contract to Nokia for OTN Equipment
State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is set to award a multi-year Rs.1000-crore purchase order to Finland’s Nokia for the supply of Optical Transport Network (OTN) equipment and deployment through a local system integrator.

  • The contract, part of BSNL’s Phase-4 project on a turnkey basis on the pan-India level is to supply, install, and commission OTN with a 3-year Operation and Maintenance (O&M) services and comprehensive Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) for 8 years.
  • The contenders for this contract include domestic gear vendors United Telecoms Limited (UTL) and Tejas Networks, a Tata Group company.
  • Domestic telecom equipment manufacturer Himachal Futuristic Communications Limited (HFCL) has front-ended the Nokia bid as the systems integrator.
  • However, Indian companies under the ‘Make in India’ Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) framework can potentially receive a price relaxation of up to 20% to receive 50% of the order.

Note: Financial bids for the BSNL contract have been opened, and an “Advance Purchase Order (APO)” will be issued to the successful bidder shortly.

Salman Rushdie receives First-Ever ‘Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award’
Indian-born British-American author Salman Rushdie received the first-ever “Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award” presented by the Vaclav Havel Center in Manhattan, New York, United States of America (USA).
About Salman Rushdie:
i.He has authored many novels and book of stories including Midnight’s Children which was awarded the Booker Prize in 1981.
ii.In 2008, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to literature.
About Vaclav Havel Center:
i.The Havel center was founded in 2012 as the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation,
ii.It is named for the Czech playwright and dissident who became the last president of Czechoslovakia after the fall of the Communist regime.

Jaiprakash Associates to Transfer 7.71% Equity to ICICI Bank as its Payment ObligationJaiprakash Associates Limited (JAL) and associated trusts are set to transfer 7.71% equity or over 18.93 crore shares to ICICI Bank as part of a settlement agreement between the JAL and the bank, amid loan repayment default.

  • The move is part of JAL’s efforts to reduce its debt with the bank.
  • The 7.71% stake is worth Rs 366 crore at the current market price.

The trust associated with JAL includes: Gujarat Anjan Cement Limited(GACL) Trust, Jaiprakash Enterprises Limited(JEL) Trust, Jaypee Cement Limited(JCL) Trust, and Jaypee Hotels Limited (JHL) Trust.

  • The share transfer did not require government or regulatory approval since the shares being transferred were below the mandatory 10% threshold.
  • JAL is a flagship company of Jaypee Group which is engaged in engineering & construction (E&C), cement, hospitality & real estate businesses.
  • JAL is also the holding company of subsidiaries engaged in cement, power, real estate and other diversified business activities.

Background: Why is JAL transferring shares to ICICI Bank?
i.JAL failed to repay a loan worth Rs 4,258 crore, comprising a principal sum of Rs 1,733 crore and an interest of Rs 2,525 crore.

  • These loans, involving fund-based working capital, non-fund-based working capital, term loans, and FCCB (Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds), were owed to various banks.

ii.The shares mentioned above, pledged to ICICI Bank, are sought for recovery by the bank due to a loan repayment default.

  • Following the settlement of these shares, the ICICI bank will reduce its dues from JAL, to the extent of value of shares transferred to the bank.

iii.The value of these shares will be determined based on the closing price at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) of India on the day prior to the actual transfer.

  • It should be noted that ICICI Bank has an exposure of approximately Rs 3,000 crore in JAL.

CCI clears Acquisition of Minority Stake in Shadowfax Technologies by Mirae Group Entities
Fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the acquisition of a minority stake in Shadowfax Technologies Private Limited (Target) by the Mirae Group Entities (Acquirers).
Details of the proposed combination:

  • Acquisition of a minority stake in Shadowfax Technologies by Mirae Asset Late Stage Opportunities Fund (Mirae IV).
  • Acquisition of a right to appoint a director on the board of Shadowfax Technologies by Mirae Asset Naver New Growth Fund I (Mirae I), Mirae Asset– GS Retail New Growth Fund I (Mirae II), Mirae Asset– Naver Asia Growth Investment Pte. Ltd (Mirae III) and Mirae IV.

Union Minister Jitendra Singh Launches Dashboard of DST for Effective Parliament BusinessOn 14th November 2023, Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Science & Technology(MoST) launched the software application Department of Science and Technology (DST), “Dashboard”, for real-time, prompt and effective Parliament business.
Key Points:
i.This portal streamlines real-time Parliament business, including questions, Acts, Cabinet Notes, and Gazette Notifications of the Government of India related to DST.
ii.It will serve as a dashboard for all activities of DST.
iii.The Minister urged the DST officials to utilize AI (Artificial Intelligence)-driven technology for analyzing Parliament Questions across various parameters.
Foundation Stone laid for the new Auditorium-cum-Guest House Complex
i.The MoS also laid the Foundation Stone of the new Auditorium-cum-Guest House Complex in the premises of the “Technology Bhavan” which is the headquarters of DST.
ii.The MOS also unveiled plaque at the site and also took part in the Bhoomi Puja.
About the Auditorium-cum-Guest house complex:
i.It is a 500-seater state-of-the-art Auditorium Block (5000 sq meters) with double basement car parking (9000 sq meters).
ii.It is planned to be completed in 24 months.
iii.Noida, Uttar Pradesh (UP) based Ircon Infrastructure & Services Limited (IrconISL) serves as the Project Management Consultant for this Project.

DoT granted Jio and OneWeb with Licences for Satellite Internet Services in IndiaThe Department of Telecommunications (DoT) under the Ministry of Communications (MoC) has granted the requisite licenses to Jio Satellite Communications Limited and Bharti Enterprises-owned Eutelsat OneWeb.

  • DoT allocated Internet Service Provider (ISP)-A and a Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) licence to OneWeb and ISP license to Jio.

Note: Both Jio and OneWeb possess the Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite (GMPCS ) licence.
About ISP license:
i.It is a type of license that allows companies to provide internet access, bandwidth, and related services to consumers and businesses.

ii.ISPs typically establish and maintain the network infrastructure, including servers, routers, and cables, essential for transmitting data over the internet.

iii.They provide a range of services, including broadband internet, email hosting, website hosting, and virtual private networks (VPNs).
About GMPCS licence:
i.GMPCS license authorizes the licensee to provide mobile communication services using satellite technology, enabling communication coverage on a global scale.
ii.They provide mobile voice and data communication in areas where traditional terrestrial networks may be unavailable or impractical.
Additional Info:
i.Jio Satellite Communications and Eutelsat OneWeb are to be the first companies to launch satellite internet services in India, with a primary focus on enterprises.
ii.Jio and OneWeb showcased their solution at the India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2023.
Note: Amazon’s Project Kuiper and SpaceX’s Starlink are also in the process of obtaining the GMPCS licence in India.

ICMR-NIP Unveils DISHA Portal to Make Diagnostic Services Through Geo-Mapping labs services in India
The Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) National Institute of Pathology (NIP) in New Delhi, Delhi launched  “DISHA” – DIagnostic Services in Healthcare : Availability & Geo-mapping of Laboratory services in India portal ( to assist the public to identify and locate nearest diagnostic health facilities.

  • The free and dynamic DISHA portal lists the diagnostic public healthcare facilities across India.
  • ICMR-NIP is gathering data on diagnostic public healthcare facilities and creating a user-friendly online map to access suitable laboratory facilities.

Key Points:
i.The portal also identify areas with an imbalance between population densities and diagnostic facilities.
ii.The data from the portal can help public health experts and government policymakers to empower existing labs, and create new facilities where necessary.
iii.Geographic Information System (GIS) has been implemented to enhance the accessibility to the essential information.
Need behind Diagnostic Centers:
i.Around 60-70% of critical healthcare decisions rely on evidence from laboratory services.
ii.Over 100,000 new cases of cancer go undetected in India annually, according to the Asia-Pacific Journal of Oncology Nursing.
iii.Cardiac diseases impact around 54.5 million individuals in India, with PLOS ONE reporting 64.5% incidence of undetected heart disease in females and 49.7% in older adults.

  • These figures underscore concerns about the diagnostic healthcare system in India, and a need to improve the quality and quantity of these centers.

ICAR Researchers Discovered 2 New Seer Fish Species in Indian Waters Researchers from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) have discovered two new species of seer fish: Scomberomorus avirostrus (Arabian Sparrow seer fish) and Scomberomorus leopardus (Russell’s Spotted Seer Fish) in Indian Waters.

  • This discovery brings the total number of seer fish species in Indian waters to 6 from the existing 4  species.

i.Prior to this discovery, the spotted seer fish (Scomberomorus guttatus) was thought to be a single species.
ii.However, the Researchers have found that it is actually a complex of three distinct species.
iii.These 3  species are:

  • The newly discovered seer fish (Arabian sparrow)
  • The resurrected seer fish (Russell’s spotted)
  • The existing spotted seer fish

iv.These 3 seer fish species are smaller in size compared to their counterparts and are mostly found in nearshore waters.
Note: Resurrected species are organisms that resemble or are extinct species.
About the New Species:
i.Scomberomorus avirostrus is an entirely new to science species

  • Arabian Sparrow seer fish, the common name given by CMFRI team refers the new species’ bird beak like snout.
  • The new species primarily inhabits the Arabian Sea coast north of Mangaluru (Karnataka), with its distribution extending up to the Arabian Gulf.

ii.Scomberomorus leopardus is a resurrected species.

  • Russell’s spotted seer fish and the existing spotted seer fish are found along the Bay of Bengal coast north of Nagapattinam(Tamil Nadu), including the Andaman Seas, and China Sea.

About Research Team:
i.The research was conducted along the Indian coast by a team of taxonomists led by E M Abdussamad the Principal Scientist of ICAR-CMFRI.
ii.They have successfully identified five new species of marine fish, including above two new species of seer fish.

  • Their other findings are one new species of barracuda, one new species of chub mackerel, and one new species of queenfish.

37th National Games Goa: Maharashtra Tops Medal Tally With 228 medals Maharashtra Finished top in the medal tally with 228 medals (80 gold, 69 silver, and 79 bronze) in the 37th edition of the National Games held in Goa from October 26th to November 9th, 2023.

  • Maharashtra won the Raja Bhalindra Singh Trophy for the overall championship in the National Games 2023, and it is also the first time Maharashtra has topped the medal tally since 1994.
  • Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) finished in second place with 126 medals (66 gold, 27 silver, and 33 bronze) while Haryana finished in third place with 192 medals (62 gold, 55 silver, and 75 bronze).

Medal Tally:

  • He won ten medals(8 golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze) in the swimming event.

Best Female Athlete: It was jointly awarded to gymnasts Sanyukta Prasen Kale(Maharashtra) and Pranati Nayak(Odisha).

  • Both of them won Five medals each(four golds and one silver)

About Goa:
Chief Minister – Pramod Sawant
Governor – P.S. Sreedharan Pillai
Festivals – Three Kings Feast, Goa Cashew & Coconut Festival, Sao Joao Festival
Dances – Dekhni, Dashavatara, Fugdi (Foogdi)

Subrata Roy, Founder & Chairman of Sahara Inida Pariwar, Passed Away Subrata Roy, the Founder and Chairman of Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh)-based Sahara Inida Pariwar, passed away at the age of 75 in Mumbai, Maharashtra. He was born on June 10, 1948, in Araria, Bihar. He was popularly known as ‘Saharasri‘.
About Subrata Roy:
i.In 1976, Subrata Roy took charge of Sahara Finance, a struggling chit-fund company. In 1978, Sahara Finance was evolved into Sahara India Pariwar.
ii.He diversified the business into various sectors and in 1992, the Sahara group launched Rashtriya Sahara, a Hindi-language newspaper.
iii. In 2000, the group expanded its presence in the television industry with Sahara TV, subsequently rebranded as Sahara One.
iv.In 2004,Time Magazine named Sahara Group as the 2nd largest employer in India after the Indian Railways.
v.Under his leadership, Sahara sponsored the Indian cricket and hockey teams and owned a Formula One(F1) racing team.
vi.In 2010 and 2012, Sahara acquired properties such as London’s (the United Kingdom) Grosvenor House Hotel and New York City’s (the United States of America) (NYC) Plaza Hotel respectively.
Books: Shanti, Sukh: Santushti, Essays on peace of mind and happy living (1994); Life Mantras (2016); Think With Me (2016).

Padma Vibhushan Awardee PRS Oberoi, the Doyen of Indian hospitality, Passed AwayPadma Vibhushan Awardee Prithvi Raj Singh (PRSOberoi, Chairman Emeritus of The Oberoi Group, passed away at the age of 94. He was born in New Delhi, Delhi on 3rd February 1929.

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