Daily Current Affairs for 30th Dec 2023

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Assam peace pact with ULFA

Why in news?

  • The union home minister and the Assam government signed a memorandum of settlement with the pro talk’s faction of the United liberation front of Asom.
  • This tripartite peace accord marks the conclusion of 12 years of unconditional negotiations between the ULFA faction led by Arabinda Rajkhowa and the government.
  • This peace pact is anticipated to bring an end to the long standing insurgency in Assam.

What is united liberation front of Assam?

  • The ULFA is a militant outfit operating in Assam. It seeks to establish an independent state of socialist Assam with an armed struggle.
  • It seeks to establish a sovereign Assam, so the government of India banned it in 1990 citing it as a terrorist organisation.
  • It was established in 1979.

How ULFA functioned and had been treated?

  • For 44 years, their struggle was filled with kidnappings,exortions, executions, and bomb blasts leading to loss of life in Assam and beyond.
  • In 1990, the centre launched operation Bajrang lwading to arrest of 1221 ULFA insurgents.
  • Assam was declared a disturbed area.
  • In 1992, one faction later christened as surrendered ULFA and engage in dialogue but later carried out secret killings.
  • ULFA has link to other insurg Centre, Assam sign peace pact with ULFA faction - The Hindu ent outfits in the northeast and myanmmar as well as Islamic terror outfits.

Impact of peace pact?

  • The peace deal is a step in the right direction and will contribute to the peace and development of Assam.
  • ULFA cadres have agreed surrender arms and ammunitations, vacate their camps and have decided to join the mainstream and engage in the peaceful democratic process established by law and maintain the integrity of the country.
  • The fruitfulness will depend on the government’s commitment.




Why in news?

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), following a landmark 2023, will ring in the New Year with the launch of the PSLV-C58 X-ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat) mission on January 1.

  • Landmark Launch Announcement:
    • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) sets the stage for a momentous start to 2023 with the revelation of the PSLV-C58 X-ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat) mission.
  • Mission Details:
    • ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is geared up to launch XPoSat along with an impressive array of 10 additional payloads.
  • Takeoff Schedule:
    • The rocket is scheduled to lift off precisely at 9:10 a.m. from the renowned Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, marking a pivotal moment in space exploration.
  • Orbital Experiments Unveiled:
    • https://epaper.thehindu.com/ccidist-ws/th/th_delhi/issues/65394/OPS/Public/GB1C756QI.1+GD6C770A9.1.jpg?rev=2023-12-29T20:34:28+05:30 Highlighting the scientific objectives, ISRO outlines the mission’s core focus on launching XPoSat into an eastward low inclination orbit. Post-injection, the PS4 stage will undergo strategic restarts to shape the orbit into a 350 km circular orbit, crucial for maintaining 3-axis stabilized mode for Orbital Platform experiments.
    • The PSLV Orbital Experimental Module-3 experiment is poised to execute, aligning with the mission’s goal of deploying 10 identified payloads, a collaborative effort between ISRO and IN-SPACe.
  • Scientific Breakthrough:
    • XPoSat emerges as ISRO’s inaugural dedicated scientific satellite, designed to pioneer research in space-based polarisation measurements of X-ray emissions from celestial sources.
  • Cutting-Edge Payloads:
    • XPoSat carries two groundbreaking payloads:
      • POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays), developed by the esteemed Raman Research Institute.
      • XSPECT (X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing), crafted by the Space Astronomy Group of URSC, Bengaluru.
  • Start-up and Educational Collaboration:
    • The PSLV will not only be a carrier of ISRO’s advanced scientific instruments but will also host payloads from various sources, showcasing a collaborative effort in space exploration. Notable payloads include:
      • Dust Experiment (DEX) by PRL, ISRO.
      • Fuel Cell Power System (FCPS) by VSSC, ISRO.
      • Si-based High Energy Cell by VSSC, ISRO.
      • Radiation Shielding Experimental Module (RSEM) by TakeMe2Space.
      • WESAT by the LBS Institute of Technology for Women.



India- Argentina lithium deal

Why in news?

India’s Mines Ministry is in discussions to acquire lithium blocks in Argentina from CAMYEN, aiming to boost its reserves. The acquisition, valued at a couple of hundred crore, aligns with India’s green energy objectives and carbon footprint concerns, as it heavily relies on imports.

  • Strategic Agreements with South American Miners:
    • The Mines Ministry, operating through Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (KABIL), enters a draft exploration and development agreement with Argentinian miner CAMYEN for potential acquisition and development of five lithium blocks.
    • Additionally, a non-disclosure agreement with Chilean miner ENAMI is established for possible exploration, extraction, processing, and commercialization of lithium.
  • Global Lithium Landscape:
    • Latin American nations, particularly Chile and Argentina, contribute 30–35% of the world’s lithium supplies. Chile, with 11% of global lithium reserves, supplies 26%, while Argentina, holding almost a fifth of reserves, contributes around 6%. Australia remains a significant global producer.
  • Advancements in Argentina Acquisition:
    • Talks are in ‘advanced stages’ for the acquisition of lithium blocks in Argentina. The reported cost could reach a ‘couple of hundred crore,’ awaiting Cabinet approval.
    • https://epaper.thehindu.com/ccidist-ws/th/th_delhi/issues/65394/OPS/Public/GB1C756QN.1+GD6C7709P.1.jpg?rev=2023-12-29T19:05:31+05:30 KABIL’s board approves the ‘Draft Exploration and Development Agreement,’ and a proposal for a branch office in Catamarca, Argentina, is green lit by the Ministry.
  • Government Approval and Intensified Search:
    • Ministry officials confirm the necessary approval for KABIL to enter the agreement with CAMYEN.
    • India intensifies its year-long search for critical minerals, particularly lithium, deemed ‘white gold’ and crucial for India’s transition to green energy, reducing its carbon footprint.
  • Domestic Lithium Auctions and Import Bill:
    • India puts up lithium blocks for auction in J&K and Chhattisgarh. However, the majority of domestic requirements are met through imports, resulting in an import bill estimated at ₹24,000 crore.

India-Argentina relations

India and Argentina have diplomatic relations since 1949, collaborating on global governance, climate change, and multilateral forums. They support each other on major issues and candidates for UN bodies. India-Argentina relations were elevated to Strategic Partnership in 2019, and high-level visits have strengthened ties, including India’s 2018 G20 Summit visit to Argentina.


Trade and Economic Ties

Growing Economic Relations:

    • India and Argentina have witnessed significant growth in economic ties, especially in recent years.

Trade Exchange:

    • The trade relationship focuses on the exchange of agricultural and industrial products.

Imports and Exports:

    • India imports vegetable oils, sunflower oil, and soya oil from Argentina, while Argentina imports Indian pharmaceuticals, vehicles, and textiles.
    • Major Indian exports to Argentina include organic chemicals, vehicles, lubricants, machinery, sound and image devices, and garments.
    • Key imports from Argentina to India encompass soybean oil, petroleum, copper, sunflower oil, leather, wool, and ferroalloys.

Trading Partner Status:

    • India holds the position of being the 4th largest trading partner of Argentina, with bilateral trade reaching a historic peak in 2022, showing a growth rate of 12% over 2021.

Multilateral Engagement

International Platforms:

    • Both countries collaborate on various international platforms and organizations, including the G20, Group of 24, and Group of 77.
    • Coordination on global issues such as climate change, sustainable development, and global governance reform is evident.

Antarctic Treaty and Beyond:

    • Both nations are signatories to the Antarctic Treaty, indicating shared interests in Antarctica.

Other Aspects of India-Argentina Relations

Cultural Ties:

    • Cultural ties have strengthened over the years, with events like festivals, film screenings, and exhibitions promoting mutual understanding and exchange.

Historical and Literary Connections:

    • Historical and literary ties include Rabindranath Tagore’s visit to Argentina in 1924, resulting in poems and the award of an honorary doctorate to Victoria Ocampo by Visva Bharati University in 1968.

Indian Diaspora:

    • A small but significant Indian diaspora in Argentina, mainly in business, academia, and the IT sector, contributes to people-to-people connections and cultural exchange.

Challenges and Efforts:

    • Market access issues and trade imbalances have posed challenges, addressed through negotiations and discussions.

Recent Development: Social Security Agreement (SSA)

Bilateral Agreement:

    • India and Argentina recently signed a ‘Social Security Agreement (SSA)’ to safeguard the legal rights of professionals in each other’s domains.

Purpose of SSA:

    • SSAs, also known as Totalization Agreements, coordinate the social security systems of both countries; ensuring individuals who have worked in both are not disadvantaged in receiving social security benefits.

Way Forward:

Continued collaboration, addressing challenges, and leveraging agreements like the SSA to strengthen and deepen the multifaceted relationship between India and Argentina.



Increased interest rate on small saving schemes

Why in news?

  • The government has hiked the interest rates for sukanya samriddhi account scheme and three year time deposit.
  • Government announced the interest rates for small saving scheme applicable in the January – March 2024.

What followed and impact?

  • There has been a 20 basis points increase in the Interest rate for both sukanya samriddhi Account scheme and the three year time deposit.
  • SSAS interest rate has now been hiked to 8.2 percent for the period of January march 2024.
  • The interest rate for all other small savings scheme will remain unchanged from the rates offered in October – December period.
  • The interest rates on small savings, determined by government.

How interest rate is decided?

  • The government periodically review the interest rate of small savings schemes on a quarterly basis.
  • The shyamala Gopinath committee proposed the methodology for determining these rates.
  • The committee suggested interest rate for different schemes are advised to be set within the range of 25 to 100 basis points above the yields of government bonds with corresponding maturities.

What is sukanya samriddhi yojna ?

  • It is a small deposit scheme for girl child, launched as a part of the Beti bachao Beti Padhao campaign which would fetch an attractive interest rate and provide income tax rebate.



Job condition and its relation to pre covid level

Why in news?

  • A report released by finance ministry about final quarter of 2023-24.
  • According to which India’s labour markets have fully recovered to pre pandemic levels.
  • The declining foreign direct investment inflows are expected to rebound and economic activity that has been robust through October and November is likely to remain strong in the final quarter of 2023-24.

What other things in report mentioned?

  • Foreign investments inflows are helping Indian stock market indices climb new heights and reflect broad based optimism among domestic and foreign investors on India’s growth prospects.
  • Indian economy is expected to comfortably achieve a growth rate growth rate upwards of 6.5% in 2023-24.
  • Real GDP grew 7.7 % in the first half of the year and Reserve Bank of India has revised its 2023-24 growth projection to 7 % from 6.5%.
  • A major surge was witnessed in repatriation which increased by 64.6 %.
  • This likely due to increase in interest rates in the developed economies, monetary tightening and general uncertainties prevailing in these economies.

What are the challenges?

  • Inflationary pressure in advanced countries and supply chain disruptions re-emerging from persistent geopolitical stress.
  • Though the India’s domestic momentum, and stability, low to moderate input cost pressures and anticipated policy continuity are significant buffers against geopolitical risks.

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