Current Affairs

Ministry of Tourism Unveils National Competitions to Boost Rural Tourism

On 3rd December, 2023, the Ministry of Tourism introduced the National Best Tourism Village Competition 2024 and the National Best Rural Homestay Competition 2024 to bolster the promotion and development of Rural Tourism across India, building on the success of the 2023 edition that recognized 35 villages.

Key Points

  • Collaboration: These initiatives, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management, aim to enhance Rural Tourism in India.
  • Role of Competitions: The National Best Tourism Village and National Best Rural Homestays Competitions are strategic initiatives to implement the national strategies.
  • These competitions foster collaboration among governments, industry stakeholders, NGOs, and local communities, synergizing efforts to strengthen rural economies.
  • Objective of Competitions: The competitions seek to instill healthy competitiveness among villages and rural homestays, recognizing outstanding contributions to Rural Tourism.
  • Goal: The goal is to incentivize communities and individuals for active involvement in achieving sustainable development goals.
  • Nodal Agency: The Ministry has established the Central Nodal Agency Rural Tourism and Rural Homestay (CNA RT & RH) to effectively implement initiatives for Rural Tourism.
  • CNA RT & RH is conducting capacity-building sessions for states to create Master Trainers for spreading awareness at the village level.
  • Impact on Tourism: The competitions are expected to boost tourism in lesser-explored regions, encouraging community participation, preserving cultural authenticity, and promoting sustainable and responsible practices in the tourism sector.

UAE Sets Historic $30 Billion Commitment to ALTÉRRA at COP28

Recently, during COP28 summit, the United Arab Emirates, holding the COP28 Presidency, made a ground-breaking commitment of $30 billion to ALTÉRRA, a climate-focused investment initiative, aiming to reshape international climate finance with a focus on equitable access for the Global South.

Key Points

  • Purpose: ALTÉRRA, now the world's largest private investment vehicle for climate action, plans to mobilize $250 billion globally by 2030.
  • Its primary objective is to steer private markets towards climate investments, fostering transformative changes in emerging markets and developing economies facing higher risks.
  • Private Sector Focus: With a $30 billion injection, ALTÉRRA aims to guide private markets, bringing about significant shifts in climate-focused investments.
  • The initiative targets areas where traditional investments encounter greater challenges.

India and China Refrain from Global Pledge at COP28 for Renewable Energy Goals

Recently, India and China, both major economies and leading coal consumers, abstained from a commitment made by 118 nations during the annual UN climate summit (COP28) to triple global renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency rates by 2030.

Key Points

  • Global Pledge at COP28: 118 nations pledged to triple the global renewable energy generation capacity to 11,000 GW and double the annual energy efficiency rate. However, India and China chose not to participate.
  • India's Stance on Coal: Despite progress in non-fossil fuel energy, India refrained from committing to substantial reductions in reliance on coal-fired power plants, a crucial component of its electricity generation.
  • Leeway Until 2030: India maintains flexibility for continued coal use until 2030, aligning with the G-20 Declaration's emphasis on gradual coal de-addiction.
  • Economic Growth Priority: India asserts that it won't be pressured into reducing coal usage, emphasizing the need for power availability to fuel economic growth.
  • The stand aligns with China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Iran, setting them apart from the global shift toward renewable energy.
  • Paris Agreement Commitment: While committed to increasing non-fossil power capacity by 2030 under the Paris Agreement, India prioritizes lifting millions out of poverty through development, a consideration that influences its global commitments.
  • Divergence from Fossil Fuel Consensus: India's position puts it at odds with the global consensus on moving away from fossil fuels.

Indian Troops Withdrawal from Maldives

Following Maldives President statement that India had agreed to withdraw its troops from the island nation two days after a meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, Indian officials contested the assertion, asserting that no final decision has been reached and that on-going discussions are still in progress.

  • President of Maldives, during his election campaign, pledged to remove Indian troops, citing concerns about sovereignty. A formal request was made after his inauguration.

Key Points

  • COP Summit Meeting: Indian Prime Minister and Maldivian President met on the sidelines of the COP 28 summit in Dubai on December 1, initiating discussions on strengthening bilateral cooperation.
  • Formation of Core Group: Both nations announced the establishment of a 'core group' or 'high-level committee' to enhance bilateral cooperation, addressing various aspects, including development projects.
  • President Claim: Maldives President claimed that an agreement had been reached to withdraw Indian military personnel, citing on-going technical progress. He emphasized constructive dialogues with the Indian government.
  • Indian Response: Indian officials disputed the claim, asserting that discussions in Dubai briefly touched upon the status of Indian platforms engaged in humanitarian activities in the Maldives. They clarified that the focus was on operational aspects, not solely on development projects.
  • Operational Considerations: Indian sources highlighted the ongoing discussions on the continued operational use of Indian helicopters and a Dornier aircraft stationed in the Maldives for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities.
  • Bilateral Development Partnership: Indian sources contested the notion that the bilateral panel's primary focus was only on development projects.
  • They clarified that the core objective was to find solutions to keep the Indian platforms operational.

RBI and Bank of England Sign MoU for Cooperation on CCIL

Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Bank of England (BoE) inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Friday to enhance cooperation and information exchange pertaining to the Clearing Corporation of India Limited (CCIL).

Key Points

  • Framework for Regulatory Reliance: The MoU establishes a framework allowing the Bank of England to rely on the regulatory and supervisory activities of RBI, ensuring the safeguarding of the UK's financial stability.
  • Cross-Border Cooperation: The RBI emphasized the significance of cross-border cooperation for facilitating international clearing activities.
  • The MoU reflects the commitment of the Bank of England to respect the regulatory regimes of other authorities.
  • Assessment for Recognition: The agreement enables the Bank of England to assess CCIL's application for recognition as a third-country Central Counterparty (CCP). This recognition is crucial for UK-based banks to conduct transactions through CCIL.
  • Confirmation of Mutual Interests: The MoU reaffirms the shared interests of both authorities in enhancing cooperation in alignment with their respective laws and regulations.

IMD Unveils 2023 World Digital Competitiveness Ranking (WDCR)

India was positioned 49th among 64 economies in the 2023 World Digital Competitiveness Ranking (WDCR) recently released by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD).

Key Points

  • Cybersecurity Advancements: Noteworthy progress in cybersecurity knowledge reported, but shortcomings identified in technology and future readiness.
  • Comprehensive Assessment: WDCR offers a holistic evaluation of nations in navigating the digital landscape amidst the surge of artificial intelligence (AI).
  • Key Digital Prowess Indicators: Ranking illuminates crucial aspects influencing a nation's digital capabilities in an era where technology shapes global societies.
  • U.S. Secures Top Spot: United States regains the leading position, reaffirming its status as a "digital nation" actively incorporating digital technologies like AI across governmental, corporate, and individual sectors.
  • Top 5 Countries: Netherlands rises to second place, Singapore excels in technology at third, Denmark slips to fourth, and Switzerland, strong in knowledge, maintains fifth place.
  • Asia-Pacific Descent: India drops to 12th among 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, a shift from its consistent 11th position in the last four years.
  • Global Ranking Change: Among nations with populations exceeding 20 million, India falls to 18th globally, marking a two-position decline from the previous year.
  • Cybersecurity Improvements: Positive developments in cybersecurity knowledge, particularly in talent, training, and education. Setback in the sub-factor of scientific concentration.
  • Technology Domain Challenges: India secures the 50th spot, facing issues in enforcing contracts, wireless broadband, and internet users. Notable strengths in telecommunications investments and IT and media stock market capitalization.
  • Future Readiness Assessment: India ranks 51st, highlighting weaknesses in tablet possession, internet retailing, and E-governance. Strengths noted in the distribution of world robots.
  • Top Five Investing Nations: China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam identified by the World Bank as responsible for 75% of the world's total digital infrastructure investment in 2023, capturing an impressive $68.3 billion.

Appointment of Manisha Padhi as India's First Woman Aide-De-Camp

Squadron Leader Manisha Padhi, an Indian Air Force officer, was recently appointed as India's first Woman Aide-De-Camp (ADC) from the Indian Armed Forces.

Key Points

  • Mizoram Governor's Announcement: Dr. Hari Babu Kambhampati, Mizoram Governor, appointed Padhi and shared the news through a video on social media.
  • Breaking Gender Norms: Governor stressed Padhi's appointment as a testament to women breaking gender norms and excelling in various domains.
  • Role Clarification: Defined the role of an Aide-De-Camp as a personal assistant to a high-ranking individual, including a head of state.

India Secures Highest Votes, Re-elected to IMO Council for 2024–25 Biennium

On 1st Dec, India was re-elected to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council with the highest votes during the assembly elections for the 2024–25 biennium.

Key Points

  • Category of Interest: India falls under the Category of 10 states with "the largest interest in international seaborne trade," alongside prominent maritime nations.
  • Term Duration: The Council's term will span the biennium 2024-25.
  • Proud Achievement: India maintains a proud and unbroken record in category B, showcasing continuous service at IMO.
  • Global Maritime Support: India secured large-scale support from the international community, allowing it to continue serving the global maritime domain.
  • IMO's Authority: The IMO is the leading authority regulating the maritime industry, crucial for global trade, transportation, and marine operations.
  • Council's Role: The council, as IMO's executive organ, supervises the organization's work and performs assembly functions between sessions, excluding recommendations to governments on maritime safety and pollution prevention.
  • Enhanced Representation: Under MIV 2030, India aims to appoint permanent representatives at IMO London for better representation.
  • JPO Program: Proposes nominating at least 2 qualified candidates for the Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Program, contributing to international cooperation.
  • Strategic Goals: Amrik Kaal Vision 2047 outlines initiatives to strengthen India's global maritime presence, including a dedicated IMO cell in India, permanent representative at IMO headquarters, London, and implementing BIMSTEC Master Plan.
  • Regional Coordination: Emphasis on creating a robust BIMSTEC institutional structure for coordinated and timely implementation of regional projects.

Indian PM Launches Green Credit Initiative at COP28 Summit

Recently, India’s Prime Minister introduced the Green Credit Initiative at the COP28 summit in Dubai, garnering support from various world leaders.

Key Points

  • World Climate Action Summit: Indian PM, Mozambique, and the European Council, inaugurates the web portal of the Green Credits Programme during the COP28 World Climate Action Summit.
  • Global South Impact: Indian PM emphasized the impact of climate change on the Global South during his participation in the high-level segment of the COP28 climate conference.
  • Earth's Health Card Analogy: The Prime Minister drew an analogy between the significance of a Health Card in life and the need to prioritize positive actions for Earth's Health Card through initiatives like Green Credit.
  • Initiation Date: The Green Credit Initiative was first introduced by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change on October 13, 2023.
  • Dual Priorities: The initiative focuses on water conservation and afforestation as its main priorities.
  • Market-Based Mechanism: Described as a market-based mechanism, the initiative incentivizes voluntary environmental actions across sectors involving individuals, communities, private sector industries, and companies.
  • Tradable Green Credits: Specific environmental activities will earn green credits, treated as tradable commodities, and can be sold on domestic market platforms.
  • Boosting Environmental Activities: The primary aim is to boost voluntary environmental activities such as tree plantation, water conservation, sustainable agriculture, and waste management.
  • Incentivizing Corporations: The scheme encourages big corporations and private companies to participate by offering incentives, contributing to positive changes in the country's climate issues.

Union Ministry Launches Amplifi 2.0 Portal for Access to Urban Data

Recently, the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs introduced the Amplifi 2.0 (Assessment and Monitoring Platform for Liveable, Inclusive, and Future-ready urban India) portal, offering raw data from Indian cities on a single platform for academics, researchers, and stakeholders, facilitating data-driven policy-making.

Key points

  • Urban Local Bodies Involvement: Currently, 225 urban local bodies (ULBs) are on-boarded, and data for 150 cities is accessible on the portal.
  • Data Maturity Challenge: Cities' lack of data maturity resulted in only 150 ULBs sharing their data initially. The Ministry sent data quality parameters to improve data sharing.
  • Future Expansion: The goal is to eventually include data from over 4,000 Urban Local Bodies on the portal.
  • Diverse Data Categories: The website presents diverse data for various cities, covering aspects like diesel consumption, water quality testing, healthcare expenditure, slum population, and road accident fatalities.
  • Indices-Based Ranking: The Ministry previously used ULB-provided data for ranking cities based on four indices: Ease of Living Index, Municipal Performance Index, Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework, and Data Maturity Assessment Framework.
  • Subset Reports: The government plans to release different reports focusing on subsets of the four indices.
  • Shift in Focus: The Urban Outcomes Framework 2022, developed by the National Institute of Urban Affairs and Ernst and Young, shifts focus from indices to data, providing a comprehensive list of indicators across 14 sectors.
  • Opportunity for New Frameworks: The initiative opens avenues for creating new frameworks based on open data, covering sectors such as demography, economy, education, energy, environment, finance, governance, health, housing, mobility, planning, safety and security, solid waste management, and water and sanitation.
  • Projected Urban Population: By 2030, 60 crore (40%) of the population is projected to live in urban areas, compared to 37.7 crore (31%) in 2011.
  • Economic Contribution: Urban India contributed 63% to the country's GDP in 2011, projected to increase to 75% by 2030, according to the 2011 Census.
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