Table of Contents
Read the most important current affairs of 18 December 2023. Today Current Affairs covers the headlines on Surat Diamond Bourse, Kashi Time Sangamam, Kotak School of Sustainability, Emir of Kuwait.
Top 20 Current Affairs and News Headlines of 18 December 2023
1.PM Modi Unveils Varanasi’s Swarved Mahamandir, World’s Largest Meditation Center
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked a historic moment on Monday as he inaugurated the Swarved Mahamandir in Umaraha, Varanasi. The temple derives its name from the Swarved, a spiritual text authored by Sadguru Shri Sadafal Deoji Maharaj, the eternal yogi, and founder of Vihangam Yoga.
- This newly constructed meditation center stands tall at seven floors, accommodating an impressive 20,000 devotees at a time for meditation. The Swarved Mahamandir is a mesmerizing architectural marvel, seamlessly blending traditional and modern design elements.
- Intricate marble carvings adorn its structure, and towering lotus-shaped domes reflect the rich cultural heritage of Varanasi. The seven-floor superstructure stands as a testament to the city’s spiritual legacy while embracing contemporary aesthetics.
2.PM Modi to Inaugurate of Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor
- In alignment with the government’s commitment to fortify the logistics sector, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate the 402 km-long segment of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) on 18 December.
- The project, executed at a cost of Rs 10,903 crores, boasts 12 stations, comprising six junction stations and six crossing stations.
- The dedicated section spans from New Deen Dayal Upadhyay Junction to New Bhaupur Junction, situated on the Delhi-Howrah rail route, covering districts like Chandauli, Mirzapur, Prayagraj, Kaushambi, Fatehpur, Kanpur Nagar, and Kanpur Dehat in Uttar Pradesh.
3.Surat Diamond Bourse Inaugurated by PM Modi
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently inaugurated the Surat Diamond Exchange, marking a historic moment as it surpassed the Pentagon to become the world’s largest office complex.
- This sprawling complex spans an impressive 6.7 million square feet and was completed at a cost of ₹32 billion. The iconic Pentagon, a symbol of American power, has an area of 6.5 million square feet.
- The Surat Diamond Bourse is a crucial component of the Diamond Research and Mercantile (DREAM) City. With an astounding 67 lakh square feet of floor space, the SDB is now recognized as the world’s largest office building, housing nearly 4,500 diamond trading offices.
4.PM Narendra Modi Launches Second Edition of Kashi Time Sangamam in Varanasi
- On a vibrant Sunday in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the second edition of Kashi Tamil Sangamam, a cultural extravagance aimed at fostering the cultural ties between Varanasi and Tamil Nadu.
- The second edition of Kashi Tamil Sangamam, scheduled from December 17 to 30, 2023, is part of the ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat Yuva Sangam’ program.
- With a focus on people-to-people connect, the event aims to revive the historical ties between Kashi and Tamil Nadu, both renowned centers of learning and culture in ancient India.
- As a symbolic gesture of cultural integration, PM Modi flagged off the Kashi Tamil Sangamam Express, a train service connecting Varanasi and Kanyakumari. This initiative not only enhances connectivity but also signifies the unity in diversity but defines India.
5.TIWB Launched Saint Lucia Program, With India As The Administration Partner
- Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB), a joint initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), launched a significant program in Saint Lucia on 14th December 2023.
- India, known for its expertise in tax matters, has been chosen as the Partner Administration, demonstrating its commitment to fostering international cooperation in tax administration.
- The TIWB program in Saint Lucia is set to span 12-18 months, during which India, in collaboration with the TIWB Secretariat and the support of the UNDP Country Office, Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, aims to empower Saint Lucia in enhancing its tax administration.
6.Kerala-Based Startup, Genrobotics Ranks Top 3 In Global AI Summit For Indian Startups
- Genrobotics, a Kerala-based startup, has emerged as a frontrunner in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for social change. The company achieved significant recognition by being adjudged among the top three AI startups in India at the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) Summit 2023.
- Genrobotics clinched the ‘AI Game Changers‘ award at the summit for its groundbreaking G-gaiter Robotic Technology. Genrobotics earned recognition for its healthcare innovation, specifically the development of G Gaiter—an advanced AI-powered robotic gait trainer.
- G Gaiter is tailored for individuals contending with mobility challenges stemming from conditions like stroke, spinal injury, accidents, Parkinson’s disease, etc. This revolutionary technology facilitates quicker recovery, minimizing the need for external assistance in the rehabilitation process.
7.India’s Akash Missile Achieves Global First: Engages Four Targets Simultaneously at 25km
- India has achieved a global first by demonstrating the capability of its indigenous Akash missile system to engage four aerial targets simultaneously at a range of 25 kilometers.
- The remarkable feat took place during the ‘Astrashakti’ military exercise conducted by the Indian Air Force on December 12. This exercise served as a platform to showcase the exceptional capabilities of the Akash missile system, illustrating its ability to engage multiple targets concurrently.
- The Akash missile, with a commendable range of up to 25 kilometers, represents a short-range surface-to-air missile designed primarily for safeguarding vulnerable areas from potential air attacks. This demonstration not only underscores the effectiveness of the Akash system but also solidifies its significance in India’s defense capabilities.
8.IAF Successfully Testfires ‘SAMAR’ Air Defense Missile System In Andhra Pradesh
- The Indian Air Force (IAF) has proudly announced the successful test firing of its Surface to Air Missile for Assured Retaliation (SAMAR) air defence missile system. This accomplishment marks a milestone for the IAF’s strategic self-reliance efforts.
- The IAF conducted the successful firing trials of the SAMAR air defence missile system during the AstraShakti-2023 exercise at Air Force Station Suryalanka. This exercise provided the platform for the SAMAR missile system to showcase its capabilities in real-world scenarios.
- SAMAR is a quick reaction surface-to-air missile system, ingeniously crafted by the IAF’s 7 Base Repair Depot (BRD) and 11 BRD, in collaboration with Simran Flowtech Industries and Yamazuki Denki. Notably, the system repurposes old Russian-origin Vympel R-73 and R-27 air-to-air missiles, demonstrating an innovative approach to maximize existing resources.+
9.S&P Global Ratings: Positive Outlook for Asia-Pacific Economies Despite Global Challenges
- S&P Global Ratings has expressed confidence in the credit strength of Asian emerging and developing economies, citing their positive impact on the credit ratings of governments in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.
- The agency anticipates that these economies will contribute to maintaining stable credit ratings for most APAC nations in the coming one to two years.
- S&P emphasizes that the growth of Asian emerging and developing economies will serve as a credit strength for many governments in the region.
10.IndusInd Bank Introduces ‘Indus Solitaire Program’ for the Diamond Industry
- IndusInd Bank has recently launched the ‘Indus Solitaire Program,’ an innovative community banking initiative specifically designed to cater to the unique needs of the diamond industry.
- This comprehensive program is set to provide an array of exclusive benefits and features, reinforcing the bank’s commitment to serving the diamond community.
- Its Specialized Banking Features are: 24×7 locker access at select branches to ensure the security of valuable assets, Family account add-ons for a comprehensive banking experience, Zero cross-currency markup fee on foreign exchange transactions and facilitating international business for industry professionals.
11.Fuel Price Cut Anticipation Grows as Global Crude Oil Slips Below $80/bbl
- The call for a reduction in retail prices for petrol and diesel has intensified as international crude oil prices recently dropped below $80 per barrel, stabilizing in the $76-77 range.
- This demand is backed by the robust performance of oil marketing companies (OMCs) in the first half of fiscal year 2023 and the maintenance of retail inflation within the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) comfort zone in November 2023.
- The present scenario of prices below $80 is considered favorable for OMCs. It remains uncertain whether there will be a cut in excise duty, as observed in November 2021 and May 2022, or a resumption of the daily fuel price revision exercise, which has been on hold since April 6, 2022.
12.NPS Assets Surge to ₹10.7 Lakh Crore with Impressive 16.94% Equity Returns
- India’s National Pension System (NPS) has witnessed a substantial growth in assets, reaching a new milestone of ₹10.7 lakh crore as of December 9, 25.95% higher than the previous year.
- Riding on the bullish wave in equities, pension funds have achieved an impressive average annual return of 16.94% in equities, as of December 8 this year.
- This stellar performance in equities surpasses other investment avenues with returns of about 7% in Corporate Bonds, 7.10% in Government Securities, and approximately 8.2% in Central and State Government Schemes.
- The total NPS assets, including Atal Pension Yojana, surged to ₹10.7 lakh crore, marking a significant increase of 25.95% YoY. Notably, NPS assets in equities amounted to ₹1.9 lakh crore, contributing to the overall growth.
Important Days News
13.International Migrants Day 2023
- International Migrants Day 2023, observed annually on December 18, serves as a global platform to recognize and appreciate the significant contributions of migrants while shedding light on the challenges they face.
- This day serves as a reminder to reflect on and celebrate the invaluable contributions of millions of migrants worldwide, recognizing their role as dynamic agents for the development in both their countries of origin and destination.
- The theme for International Migrants Day 2023 is “Promoting Safe Migration.” Through this theme, the United Nations calls for nations to affirm their dedication to upholding the human rights of all migrants, irrespective of their legal standing.
Ranks & Reports News
14.Aster Medcity Claims The No.1 Spot As India’s Leading Emerging Hospital
- Aster Medcity, located in Kochi, Kerala, and a unit of Aster DM Healthcare, has emerged as a frontrunner in the healthcare industry.
- The hospital has recently achieved the remarkable feat of being ranked No.1 in the ‘Best Multi-specialty Hospital Emerging‘ category by The Week-Hansa Research 2023, as published in December 2023.
- This recognition underscores Aster Medcity’s commitment to delivering quality healthcare services, making it a preferred destination for patients both within India and around the globe.
- Earlier this year, Aster Medcity’s Cardiology department secured the 49th position in the prestigious Top 100 Cardiology Hospitals in Asia Pacific, as recognized by the internationally reputed Newsweek magazine.
15.Logistics Performance Index 2023: States and UTs Recognized for Achievements and Challenges
- The Commerce and Industry Ministry recently released the fifth LEADS (Logistics Ease Across Different States) 2023 report, shedding light on the logistics performance of various states and Union Territories in India.
- Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Chandigarh, and Gujarat are among the 13 states and Union Territories recognized as “achievers” in the logistics index chart for 2023.
- Notably, the number has reduced from 15 to 13 states this year, with Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand transitioning to “aspirers” and “fast movers” categories, respectively.
- Sikkim and Tripura showcased commendable progress, moving from the “fast movers” category in 2022 to the coveted “achievers” category this year.
16.Hyderabad Leads In Food Adulteration Cases: NCRB
- The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recently revealed alarming data that sheds light on the severity of Adulteration, especially in the city of Hyderabad and its surrounding areas.
- The NCRB data pointed out that Hyderabad topped the nation in food adulteration cases in 2022. In close second place was Andhra Pradesh, trailing after Telangana.
- Among 19 major Indian cities, a total of 291 cases of adulterated food were reported, with a staggering 246 cases emerging from Hyderabad alone. This unsettling trend underscores a pressing concern for the city’s food safety.
17.Kotak Mahindra Bank Partners with IITK to Launch Kotak School of Sustainability
- The Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT) and Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited (KMBL) have joined forces to establish the Kotak School of Sustainability. The collaboration aims to provide leadership solutions for sustainability and prepare future generations to champion the cause of sustainable development.
- The Kotak School of Sustainability is touted as India’s first full integrated institution dedicated to sustainability education. Funded by Kotak Mahindra Bank through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, the school is poised to play a crucial role in shaping the future of sustainability initiatives in the country.
- According to the press release by Kotak Mahindra Bank, the initiative aims to offer comprehensive academic and skill-building programs at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The overarching goal is to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to address complex sustainability challenges.
18.Israel Appoints Reuven Azar as New Ambassador to India with Expanded Diplomatic Role
- The Israeli government recently greenlit the appointment of Reuven Azar as the new Ambassador to India, underscoring his expansive role as the non-resident Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Bhutan as well.
- Azar holds graduate and post-graduate degrees in International Relations from the Hebrew University, providing a solid academic foundation to complement his rich diplomatic experience.
- Reuven Azar currently serves as the Ambassador of Israel to Romania. His diplomatic journey is marked by diverse roles, including heading the Israel-US-China internal task force at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Prior to this, he spent three years as the Deputy National Security Advisor for Foreign Policy and served as the Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel.
Science & Technology News
19.Bhashini AI Translates PM Modi’s Speech In Indian languages
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi utilized an AI-powered Indian language translation tool, ‘Bhashini’, during a recent speech in Uttar Pradesh.
- The tool, developed by the government, aims to facilitate real-time translation, fostering communication across diverse linguistic communities within the country.
- ‘Bhashini’ operates as an AI-driven language translation system, facilitating conversations between speakers of different Indian languages. It allows individuals to communicate in their native language, effectively breaking down language barriers.
20.Sheikh Nawab AI-Ahmad AI-Sahab, Kuwait Emir, Passed Away at the Age of 86
- India is in a somber state as it observes a one-day state mourning on Sunday, December 17, following the passing of the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawab AI-Ahmad AI-Jaber AI-Sabah, who died on December 16, 2023, at the age of 86.
- The Union Home Ministry has issued a communication to all states outlining the protocols to be observed during this period of mourning.
- In alignment with the solemnity of the occasion, the government has declared a suspension of all official entertainment on the day of mourning. This decision reflects a collective expression of grief and a show of solidarity with the people of Kuwait during this period of mourning.
18 December 2023 CURRENT AFFAIRS | ALL EXAMS IMP. CURRENT AFFAIRS | ASHISH GAUTAM SIR