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China’s Youngest Astronauts Launch to Space Station

  • A team of three Chinese astronauts, with an average age of 38, has embarked on a six-month mission to the Tiangong space station.
  • The Shenzhou-17 spacecraft lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Thursday morning, marking China’s second crewed flight to the Tiangong this year.
  • The astronauts will conduct experiments, test equipment, and prepare for future lunar missions as part of China’s ambitious space programme.
  • China aims to send a crewed mission to the Moon by 2030 and plans to build a base on the lunar surface.
  • China also plans to select and train foreign astronauts for joint flights to the Tiangong, which can house up to three people at a time.

Groundwater Depletion in India: A Looming Crisis

  • The report by the United Nations University warns that the world is approaching six environmental tipping points, including groundwater depletion.
  • Groundwater depletion occurs when aquifers are pumped faster than they can naturally recharge, leading to reduced water availability and quality.
  • India is the world’s largest user of groundwater, especially for agriculture, and faces a high risk of crossing the groundwater depletion tipping point.
  • Some areas in the Indo-Gangetic basin have already passed the tipping point, and the entire northwestern region is predicted to experience critically low groundwater availability by 2025.
  • The report suggests that groundwater depletion can have severe impacts on food security, livelihoods, ecosystems and human health. It also calls for urgent action to manage and conserve groundwater resources.

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IMF Predicts the Fastest Growing Economies in 2024

  • The graphic visualizes the GDP growth forecasts for 2024 from the IMF’s World Economic Outlook report.
  • The top 20 fastest growing economies are mostly from Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, regions with high population growth and development potential.
  • Macao (+27.2%), Guyana (+26.6%), and Niger (+11.1%) are expected to lead the global growth, driven by tourism, oil exports, and agriculture respectively.
  • India (+6.3%) is the only major economy in the top 20 list, benefiting from its large domestic market and demographic dividend.

RBI Asks Private Banks to Have Two Wholetime Directors

  • The RBI has issued a circular directing private sector banks and wholly-owned subsidiaries of foreign banks to have at least two wholetime directors on their boards.
  • The banks that do not meet the requirement have to submit their proposals for the RBI’s approval within four months.
  • The RBI has also asked the banks to establish effective senior management teams to strengthen governance and prepare for future challenges.
  • The move is part of the RBI’s efforts to improve the performance and stability of the banking sector in India.

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Kerala to Set Up Graphene Production Facility in PPP Model

  • Kerala government has announced a project to establish a graphene production facility, a first-of-its-kind initiative in India.
  • Graphene is a nanomaterial with extraordinary properties and potential applications in various sectors.
  • The facility will operate on a public-private partnership model, with an estimated investment of ₹237 crore.
  • The Kerala Digital University will be the implementing agency, while the KINFRA will be the special purpose vehicle for infrastructure development.
  • The project aims to create a graphene ecosystem in the state, fostering innovation and research in material technology.

Former Mumbai batsman Amol Muzumdar becomes India women’s head coach

  • Amol Muzumdar, who played for Mumbai, Assam and Andhra in domestic cricket, has been appointed as the head coach of the India women’s national team by the BCCI’s cricket advisory committee.
  • The position of the head coach was vacant since December 2022, when Ramesh Powar was removed. Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Nooshin Al Khadeer served as interim coaches for various events, including the T20 World Cup and the Asian Games.
  • Muzumdar, who retired in 2014, has a rich coaching experience. He worked with the NCA, Mumbai, Rajasthan Royals and South Africa. He is one of the highest run-scorers in Ranji Trophy history, with 11,167 runs from 171 matches.
  • Muzumdar is expected to bring his expertise and knowledge to the India women’s team, which has achieved many milestones in recent years. He will face the challenge of preparing the team for the upcoming ODI World Cup in New Zealand in 2024.

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IIT Kanpur and Airbus partner to boost aerospace research and education in India

  • IIT Kanpur and Airbus have signed a MoU to collaborate on advanced aerospace technologies, programs and activities.
  • The partnership aims to enhance the talent pool and technical capabilities of aerospace students in India, as well as to explore opportunities for global cooperation.
  • The collaboration will also benefit India’s aerospace industry, which has witnessed significant growth and innovation in recent years, with initiatives such as the C295 Final Assembly Line in Vadodara.

ISB Professor Sarang Deo joins WHO’s advisory group for tuberculosis

  • Professor Sarang Deo, a renowned expert in operations management and healthcare, has been appointed as a member of the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group (STAG) for Tuberculosis by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Professor Deo is the Deputy Dean of Faculty and Research and the Executive Director of the Max Institute of Healthcare Management at the Indian School of Business (ISB). He has conducted extensive research on tuberculosis care and management in India and other low and middle-income countries.
  • Professor Deo will provide scientific and technical guidance to WHO on its strategic, scientific, and technical aspects related to tuberculosis work. He will also advise on priority activities for prevention and care. He will collaborate with other experts from academia, government, civil society, and industry.
  • Professor Deo’s appointment reflects his exceptional contributions to the fight against tuberculosis, one of the world’s deadliest diseases. It also represents a significant development for India’s efforts to combat this disease and improve its healthcare delivery systems.

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China Is Building World’s Largest Ghost Particle Detector in the Ocean

  • Trident is a massive neutrino-detecting telescope that China is constructing in the western Pacific Ocean. It will be the world’s largest and most sensitive facility of its kind.
  • Neutrinos are tiny, abundant, and elusive particles that can reveal the origins and mechanisms of cosmic rays, one of the biggest mysteries in physics.
  • Trident will consist of over 24,000 optical sensors spread across 7.5 cubic kilometers of water. It will use a Penrose tiling pattern to optimize its detection capabilities.
  • Trident is expected to be completed by 2030 and will enhance China’s leadership and innovation in neutrino research.

Shillong hosts Green Tourism Conclave to promote sustainable tourism in Northeast and Odisha

  • The conclave was organized by Green Tourism India and featured representatives from various tourism departments, agencies, and experts.
  • The conclave aimed to foster environmentally responsible tourism in India, with a focus on the Northeastern region and Odisha, which have rich natural and cultural diversity.
  • The conclave discussed various topics related to sustainable tourism, such as adventure and eco-tourism, community tourism and homestays, sustainable luxury travel, and best practices and policies.
  • The conclave also showcased the potential and initiatives of the Northeast and Odisha in ecotourism, highlighting their unique attractions, challenges, and opportunities.

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PM SVANidhi Scheme empowers female street vendors and promotes financial inclusion, says SBI report

  • The PM SVANidhi Scheme is a micro-credit scheme that provides collateral-free working capital loans to urban street vendors.
  • A report by the SBI’s economic research department (ERD) reveals the positive impact of the scheme on gender equality, socio-economic transformation, and financial discipline.
  • The report states that 43 percent of the beneficiaries are female street vendors, reflecting the empowerment of urban women and the scheme’s role as a gender equalizer.
  • The report also shows that 75 percent of the beneficiaries belong to the “non-general category”, indicating the scheme’s inclusivity and outreach to disadvantaged sections of society.
  • The report further highlights that the scheme has fostered financial discipline among borrowers, with high repayment ratios and increased debit card spending. The scheme also encourages digital transactions and offers interest subsidy and cashback incentives.
  • The report acknowledges the contribution of public sector banks, especially SBI, in disbursing around 70 lakh loans worth over ₹9,100 crore to more than 53 lakh street vendors under the scheme.

Sumit Antil breaks his own world record in javelin throw at Asian Para Games

  • Sumit Antil, a Paralympic champion, threw a javelin 73.29 meters in the F64 category, breaking his own world record of 70.83 meters.
  • He won a gold medal and led India’s 30-medal haul on the third day of the Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, China.
  • The F64 category is for athletes with a leg amputation who use prosthetics.
  • Antil is one of the six gold medalists from India in athletics, along with Ankur Dhama and Sundar Singh Gurjar, who also set new world records in their events.

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Government revises fertilizer subsidies amid global price hike

  • The government has reduced the subsidy rates for nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and sulphur fertilisers for October-March period.
  • The decision is aimed at maintaining affordable and stable prices for farmers despite the increase in international prices of fertilisers.
  • Urea, the most widely used fertiliser, remains highly subsidised at Rs 266 per bag.
  • The government expects to spend Rs 60,000 crore on non-urea fertiliser subsidies, up from the initial estimate of Rs 44,000 crore.
  • The government assures the availability and quality of various grades of P&K fertilisers through manufacturers and importers.

Jammu and Kashmir celebrates Accession Day on October 26

  • October 26 is a public holiday in Jammu and Kashmir to mark the signing of the Instrument of Accession in 1947.
  • The Instrument of Accession was a pact between Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, and India, that granted India the authority to legislate on defense, external affairs, and communications for the region.
  • The Instrument of Accession was signed after Jammu and Kashmir faced invasion by Pakistani-backed forces and sought India’s help to repel them.
  • The holiday honors the historic decision that secured the region’s future within the Indian union and reflects its unity and solidarity with the rest of India.

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Jamrani Dam Project gets approval from Centre, to benefit Uttarakhand and UP

  • The project involves building a dam on the Gola River near Jamrani village in Nainital district of Uttarakhand.
  • The project will provide irrigation water to 57,065 hectares of land in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, covering four districts.
  • The project will also generate 14 MW of hydroelectric power and supply 42.70 MCM of drinking water to Haldwani and nearby areas in Uttarakhand.
  • The project will cost Rs 2,584 crore and will be completed by March 2028. The Centre will provide Rs 1,557 crore under the PMKSY-AIBP scheme.

Jaishankar visits Kyrgyzstan, discusses cooperation and attends SCO meeting

  • Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar visited Kyrgyzstan for a two-day trip from October 25 to 26.
  • He met with Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov and explored opportunities for enhancing cooperation in banking, defense, energy, health, and other sectors.
  • He also participated in the SCO Council of Heads of Government meeting, where he met with his counterparts from Russia, China, and other member states.
  • He reaffirmed India’s commitment to the SCO framework and its role in promoting regional stability and cooperation.

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Actor Rajkummar Rao to be appointed as Election Commission’s National Icon

  • Rajkummar Rao, known for his role in “Newton”, a film about conducting elections in Naxal-affected areas, will be honoured as a National Icon by the Election Commission (EC).
  • National Icons are selected by the EC to inspire and encourage voters to participate in the democratic process and uphold its values.
  • Rao will join other eminent personalities like Pankaj Tripathi, Aamir Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, M. S. Dhoni, and M. C. Mary Kom, who have been recognised as National Icons by the EC.
  • Rao will receive this honour from Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar on October 26 (Today), in view of the upcoming assembly elections in five states and the 2024 general elections

Bengaluru Literature Festival to celebrate storytelling and culture on December 2-3

  • The 12th edition of the Bengaluru Literature Festival (BLF) will be held at The Lalit Ashok, Bengaluru on December 2-3, featuring around 250 authors and speakers.
  • The festival will have two venues named Seonee and Malgudi, inspired by the literary works of Rudyard Kipling and R K Narayan respectively.
  • The festival will offer a variety of cultural experiences, such as music performances, children’s activities, and book launches, in addition to discussions and readings.
  • The festival will also host Atta Galatta, a literary prize for Indian literature, ScreenLit, a forum for screenwriters, and LitMart, a platform for aspiring authors to pitch their book ideas.

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