Daily Current Affairs for 13th Jan 2024

  1. Home
  2. »
  3. Current Affairs January 2024
  4. »
  5. Daily Current Affairs for 13th Jan 2024


Thirty Meter Telescope

Why in News ?

The Department of Science and Technology visited Mauna Kea, an inactive volcano in Hawaii, to discuss challenges to the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project. The 30-meter diameter telescope is a joint collaboration between the US, Japan, China, Canada, and India. India is expected to contribute $200 million in hardware. Local opposition has sparked debates about the project’s future.

Background of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Project:

  • https://epaper.thehindu.com/ccidist-ws/th/th_international/issues/67209/OPS/Public/GJTC80KGO.1+GDSC938KE.1.jpg?rev=2024-01-12T20:58:53+05:30 The TMT project aims to develop a 30-meter diameter primary-mirror optical and infrared telescope for deep space observations. It is a collaborative effort involving institutions from the U.S., Japan, China, Canada, and India. The Union Cabinet approved India’s participation in 2014, with a significant hardware contribution of $200 million.

Local Opposition and Concerns on Mauna Kea:

  • Mauna Kea hosts multiple telescopes, but the construction of new projects, including TMT, has faced local opposition. Residents argue that building telescopes on the site violates religious and cultural customs. Previous projects were imposed without adequately addressing these concerns.

Alternative Site Consideration:

  • Plans are underway to explore an alternate site for TMT construction. The Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM) on La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands is considered a viable alternative. This decision is influenced by the challenges faced at Mauna Kea.

India’s Perspective and Continued Support:

  • India continues to support the TMT project, emphasizing its major contribution and commitment to providing $200 million worth of hardware. The Department of Science and Technology aims for the project’s success and explores consensus-building, considering local sentiments.

Future Prospects and Decision-Making:

  • Discussions are ongoing to determine the best path forward for the TMT project. The aim is to secure consensus and support from the local community at Mauna Kea. The director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIAP) anticipates a firm decision on the project’s site within the next two years. The world’s best astronomy site at Mauna Kea adds significance to these deliberations.

About TMT

The TMT International Observatory LLC (TIO) is set to construct one of the world’s largest visible-light telescopes, with a 30m prime mirror diameter, three times wider, and nine times more area than the current largest telescope. The non-profit organization will manage the construction, maintenance, and operation of the telescope. The telescope is expected to produce 12 times sharper images than the Hubble Space Telescope.

Organizations Involved in Building the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)

  • Caltech, a major research organization, has been awarded 32 Nobel Prizes since 1932.
  • Department of Science and Technology, India, established in 1971 to promote science and technology.
  • National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, established in 2001, brings together scientists and engineers worldwide.
  • National Institutes of Natural Sciences/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the core of research and development in Japan.
  • National Research Council, Canada, the premier research and development organization in Canada.
  • University of California, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, an observer, not a full-time member of the TMT International Observatory.
  • Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), a consortium of 39 US institutions and 6 international affiliates, an Associate Member since 2014.

Importance of a Thirty Meter Telescope

  • This telescope will assist humans in exploring deep into space and will serve as a tool to address numerous astronomical issues.
  • It will aid scientists in detecting black holes that may exist in distant galaxies.
  • If the project is successful and the installation and operation of TMT begins, scientists’ understanding of the formation of planets and other celestial objects may improve.

About Mauna Kea

  • Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano on the Hawaiian island of Hawaii. The Mauna Kea Observatories (MKO) are a collection of independent astronomical research centres and large telescope observatories located on the island of Mauna Kea.
  • This location is said to be suitable for the project due to its dark sky, lack of light pollution, high elevation, and good astronomical seeing.




Why in News?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Kala Ram Mandir in Nashik, Maharashtra, after a roadshow. The temple, which was the site of a land mark agitation led by Babasaheb Ambedkar over 90 years ago, is also the site of a ceremony for the Ram temple in Ayodhya. Uddhav Thackeray, the UDT chief, had announced his intention to spend January 22 at the temple.

Historical Background of Kalaram Temple:

  • The Kalaram temple, situated in Nashik, has historical significance dating back to 1792. It was constructed by Sardar Rangarao Odhekar, who envisioned a black-colored statue of Lord Ram in the Godavari River. The temple is named after the unique black idol of Lord Ram, known as “Kala Ram.”

Dalit Satyagraha Led by B R Ambedkar:

  • In 1930, B R Ambedkar and social activist Pandurang Sadashiv Sane initiated a crucial Dalit satyagraha at the Kalaram temple. Their aim was to demand access for Dalits to Hindu temples, and the satyagraha continued until 1935. Ambedkar and Sane Guruji played pivotal roles in leading Dalit protesters, advocating for their right to enter the temple.

Mahad Satyagraha and Dalit Movement Foundation:

  • Prior to the Kalaram temple satyagraha, in 1927, Ambedkar launched the Mahad Satyagraha to assert Dalit rights to use water in public places. This event is considered foundational for the Dalit movement. Sane Guruji also campaigned extensively for Dalit rights, leading a protest fast at the Vitthal Temple in Pandharpur.

Unique Features of Kalaram Temple:

  • The temple’s name, “Kalaram,” signifies the black-colored statue of Lord Ram. The sanctum sanctorum houses statues of Ram, Sita, and Lakshman, with a distinctive black idol of Hanuman at the main entrance. The temple’s architecture includes 14 steps representing Ram’s exile years and 84 pillars symbolizing the cycle of 84 lakh species.



Consumer price inflation (CPI)

Why in News?

Programme Implementation released data that showed retail inflation in December Grew by 5.7%.

About Retail inflation

Retail inflation, also known as consumer price inflation (CPI), refers to the price increase faced by consumers, affecting the generational price level rather than the price of any single commodity. The inflation rate is the rate at which prices rise, and a 5.7% inflation rate means that prices are 5.7% higher than in December 2022.

Retail Inflation in India: A Critical Analysis

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is legally required to target an inflation rate of 4%.
  • The latest data shows a 5.7% reading, which is disappointing as inflation had dropped below 5% in September and October before rising in November.
  • The RBI’s action affects the cost of car and home loans for consumers.
  • Retail inflation has not fallen below 4% in the last four years.
  • The RBI has a legally mandated comfort zone from 2% to 6%, which has been above this mark for most of the past four years.
  • The price level rose by 24% during the first five years of the BJP-led government.
  • If an annual inflation rate of 5.5% for the current financial year is assumed, the price level has grown by another 32% over the past five years.
  • If inflation doesn’t increase, consumers would be worse off in’real’ terms as their current salary would not be enough to buy the goods they bought five years ago.

Inflation Record over the Past 10 Years

  • The RBI’s mandate for annual inflation rate is 4%, implying a 4% annual increase in the general price level.
  • In five years, the general price level will be 22% higher, and in 10 years, it would be 48% higher than the end of the 2013-14 financial year.
  • The price rise in the past five years was roughly 64% higher than 2013-14, more than expected.
  • The calculation pegs the general price level at the 100 mark, implying that a 4% increase in overall prices each year would increase a person’s salary/income by 22%.
  • To assess affordability, one must look at income and inflation trends.
  • A rough calculation is provided to determine if a person is better or worse off from their current situation.



Atal Setu

Why in news?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), colloquially known as Atal Setu, India’s longest sea bridge spanning 21.8 km.

This monumental infrastructure, dedicated to the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was initiated with the laying of its foundation stone in December 2016.

Key Features of Atal Setu

Cost and Length: Atal Setu, constructed at a cost exceeding ₹17,840 crore, combines a 16.5 km stretch over the sea with approximately 5.5 km on solid ground, making it a 21.8-kilometer-long marvel.

Connectivity: Enhancing connectivity between Mumbai Port and Jawaharlal Nehru Port, the bridge is strategically designed to provide faster access to Mumbai International Airport and Navi Mumbai International Airport.

Reduced Travel Time: With the potential to significantly reduce travel time, the bridge aims to cut the current two-hour journey from Mumbai to Pune, Goa, and South India to a mere 15-20 minutes.

Historical Significance: Originally conceptualized six decades ago, Atal Setu fulfills its primary objective of linking Mumbai’s Sewri with Raigad’s Chirle, marking a historic milestone in India’s infrastructure development.

Maximum Speed Limit: The Mumbai Trans Harbour Link sets a maximum speed limit of 100 kmph for four-wheelers, ensuring efficient and swift transportation.

In addition to this inauguration, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for projects worth ₹30,500 crore in Navi Mumbai, emphasizing the government’s commitment to robust infrastructure development.

Other Projects Inauguration by Prime Minister

At Navi Mumbai, the prime minister will unveil development projects worth more than ₹12,700 crore.

  • Underground Road Tunnel: PM Modi will lay the foundation stone of the underground road tunnel connecting Eastern Freeway’s Orange Gate to Marine Drive. The 9.2-km tunnel will be built at a cost of more than ₹8,700 crore and will be a significant infrastructure development in Mumbai that will reduce travel time between Orange Gate and Marine Drive.
  • Railway Projects: Prime Minister will dedicate railway projects worth ₹2,000 crore to the nation. 
    • Phase 2 of Uran-Kharkopar railway line: It will enhance connectivity to Navi Mumbai as suburban services running between Nerul/Belapur to Kharkopar will now be extended to Uran. 
    • PM Modi will flag off the inaugural run of the EMU train from Uran railway station to Kharkopar.
  • Bharat Ratnam for Gems & Jewellery: Prime Minister will inaugurate Bharat Ratnam for Gems and Jewellery sector at Santacruz Electronic Export Processing Zone- Special Economic Zone, which is the first of its kind in India with the best available machines in the world including 3D Metal printing.
  • Namo Mahila Shashaktikaran Abhiyaan: It aims to empower women in Maharashtra by providing skill development training and exposure to entrepreneurship development.



Taiwan election and its relation with China

Why in news?

  • Taiwan will vote to elect its next President and legislature. Given the island’s fraught relationship with China and the escalating global tensions, the outcome of this election might be historic for Taiwan.
  • The election was expected to be a clear victory for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but has turned into a tight race with the main opposition party Kuomintang (KMT) managing a late surge.

Relation between China and Taiwan

  • After Mao Zedong’s Communist Party seized power on the mainland in 1949, exiled Chinese nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek established an enclave on the island of Taiwan, and proclaimed it to be the ‘Republic of China’.
  • At first, the United States and a large section of the West backed this ‘government’.
  • In the Cold War, the Taiwanese government in Taipei emerged as a crucial ally of the United States and took over China’s seat on the UN Security Council.
  • However, all that changed in 1979 when the US, as part of its efforts to normalise ties with mainland China, moved its recognition from Taipei to Beijing.
  • Washington adopted a strategy of strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan with this adjustment, which continues till this day.
  • Officially, the US recognises Beijing’s belief that Taiwan is a part of China under the ‘one China’ theory. However, it maintains close connections with Taiwan.

What is the issue?

  • The main issues have been around whether to enhance Taiwan’s uniqueness and sovereignty or to foster better relations with China.
  • Despite never having governed the democratic island home to 24 million people, Communist China continues to claim Taiwan as its own and has not ruled out a military invasion to achieve this.
  • China launches fighter jets into the Taiwan Strait almost daily.
  • Meanwhile, the United States, the de facto security guarantee for Taiwan, is intensifying military drills around the Indo-Pacific with its partner.
  • Only a dozen odd small countries, mainly in south America and Caribbean recognises Taiwan independence.

Taiwan election:

  • Of the 2.36 crore population, 1.94 crore Taiwanese are eligible to vote in Saturday’s presidential election, reported the local Taipei Times, quoting the nation’s Central Election Commission. The next President of Taiwan will be sworn in on May 20, 2024.
  • The three primary political contenders contesting the upcoming elections are Lai Ching-te (aka William Lai) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang (KMT) and Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP).
  • The DPP opposes Beijing’s claims of sovereignty and affirms Taiwan’s independence from China, arguing that only the island’s people can determine their destiny. The KMT, which strongly denies being pro-Beijing, favours closer connections with China — it had, after all, ruled China until escaping to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to the Communists. TPP too aims to re-establish ties with China.



Inauguration of Ram mandir temple and fast observe for the fasting

Why in news?

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will fast and observe the required holy practices as envisaged in the Vedic texts from Friday onwards till the consecration of the idols at the Ram temple in Ayodhya on January 22.
  • He will continue with his official duties as usual during this period.

Significance of PM Modi’s 11-day anushthan

  • According to Hindu shastras, ‘pran pratishtha’ of a deity’s idol is a detailed ritual. There are specific rules laid down which need to be followed before the ceremony.
  • Prime Minister Modi has decided to rigorously follow all the rituals despite hectic schedule and responsibilities. As a result, he has embarked on a 11-day anushthan.
  • He referred to the rituals as “yama Niyama” which are described as ethical guidelines mentioned in the Gita and by the sage Patanjali as the first two limbs of the yoga.

History of Ram mandir temple

  • It is about a plot measuring 2.77 acres in Ayodhya that houses the Babri mosque and Ram Janmabhoomi.
  • This particular piece of land is considered sacred among Hindus as it is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram.
  • Muslims argue that the land houses Babri mosque, where they had offered prayers for years before the dispute erupted.
  • The controversy is over whether the Babri mosque was built on top of a Ram temple after demolishing or modifying it in the 16th century.
  • Muslims, on the other hand, say the mosque was built by Mir Baqi in 1528 and that Hindus took control over it in 1949, when some people placed idols of Lord Ram inside the mosque

Judicial stand:

  • In its judgment, the Supreme Court referred to an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report to observe that the Babri Masjid, which stood on the disputed site until its demolition in 1992.
  • It reported that Mosque was not built on vacant land and there was evidence of a temple-like structure having existed on the land before the mosque was built.
  • Considering the ASI report valid, the Supreme Court said what was found in the excavation “was not an Islamic structure”.

Current Affairs

Recent Posts