February 19th, marks the celebration of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti, the 394th birth anniversary of one of the most revered figures in Indian history. While the date varies according to the Hindu Tithi, as per the Gregorian calendar, this day is dedicated to commemorating the life and achievements of the great Maratha ruler, Shivaji Maharaj.

World Whale Day, observed on the third Sunday of February, is a pivotal event aimed at highlighting the critical importance of whale conservation. This year, the day falls on February 18, spotlighting the urgent need to protect these marine behemoths crucial for ecological equilibrium. Originating in 1980 through the efforts of Greg Kauffman and the Pacific Whale Foundation, the initiative has grown from a focus on the endangered North Pacific humpback whales to a broader celebration of whale conservation success, now known as the Maui Whale Festival.

The Andhra Pradesh Forest Department, in collaboration with environmentalists, has launched an awareness campaign to commemorate World Pangolin Day on February 17, 2024. Highlighting the plight of the Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), also known as the Thick-Tailed Pangolin or Scaly Anteater, this initiative underscores the urgent need for conservation efforts for one of the world’s most trafficked mammals. The Indian Pangolin, native to the Indian Subcontinent, finds itself under severe threat due to illegal wildlife trade. Despite being protected under Schedule-I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and listed in Appendix-I of CITES, prohibiting trade in pangolin parts, the species is classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards 2024, hosted by the illustrious David Tennant, best known for his role in “Doctor Who,” was a celebration of cinematic excellence that unfolded at London’s Royal Festival Hall. Esteemed as the British counterpart to the Oscars, the event saw a live broadcast in the U.S. via BritBox International, albeit with a tape delay, allowing film aficionados worldwide to partake in the festivities.

The Jnanpith Award, India’s most prestigious literary accolade, has announced its recipients for the year 2023, marking a momentous occasion in the annals of Indian literature. This year, the honour is bestowed upon two luminaries from the world of letters: celebrated Urdu poet and Bollywood personality Gulzar, and the distinguished Sanskrit scholar and spiritual leader Jagadguru Rambhadracharya. Their selection for the 58th edition of the award underscores the rich diversity and depth of Indian literary traditions, spanning the classical to the contemporary.

The Sominsai festival, an ancient tradition deeply rooted in Japanese culture, has recently concluded its final celebration after a millennium-long legacy. Dating back a thousand years, the Sominsai festival was a revered event held at the Kokuseki Temple. Commencing on the seventh day of the Lunar New Year and spanning through the night, it was a spectacle of tradition and spirituality.

In a groundbreaking collaboration between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the world’s first wooden satellite, dubbed the LignoSat probe, is poised for imminent launch. Developed by Kyoto University scientists in partnership with Sumitomo Forestry, this innovative initiative aims to revolutionize spaceflight operations by prioritizing sustainability.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) introduces the “Young Scientist Programme” “YUva VIgyani KAryakram” (YUVIKA) to foster the innate curiosity of children and youth towards space science. YUVIKA aims to impart fundamental knowledge on Space Science, Technology, and Applications, particularly targeting rural areas. The program aspires to ignite interest in STEM fields and nurture future talents in space exploration.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has once again marked its presence in the space arena with the successful launch of its advanced meteorological satellite, INSAT-3DS. Launched on Saturday at 5:35 pm from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre – SHAR, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, the INSAT-3DS mission symbolizes a significant leap in the field of meteorology. This satellite, serving as a successor to the Third Generation Meteorological Satellite, underscores ISRO’s commitment to enhancing weather forecasting and environmental monitoring capabilities.

India is preparing to launch its first spy satellite developed by Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) aboard a SpaceX rocket in April. This satellite, designed for discreet information gathering, will bolster the country’s defense capabilities by providing real-time monitoring and ground control. Previously, Indian armed forces relied on foreign vendors for exact coordinates and timings. The indigenous spy satellite will end this dependency, ensuring sovereignty and security.

The Indian Premier League (IPL), since its inception in 2008, has been a powerhouse of talent and excitement in the cricketing world. To commemorate its success, a selection panel comprising esteemed former cricketers and journalists convened to assemble the IPL’s all-time greatest team. The iconic Mahendra Singh Dhoni was unanimously chosen to lead this star-studded ensemble, bringing his unparalleled leadership and cricketing acumen to the fore.

In an unforgettable showdown at Shah Alam, Malaysia, the Indian women’s badminton team etched their names into history by clinching a historic gold medal at the Badminton Asia Team Championships 2024. This victory marks a groundbreaking moment in India’s badminton journey, as the team emerged victorious against Thailand with a thrilling 3-2 scoreline. The finale saw 17-year-old Anmol Kharb deliver a stellar performance in the decisive match, securing India’s maiden continental triumph.

ICICI Bank announced the appointment of Mr. Pradeep Kumar Sinha as the Non-Executive Part-time Chairman at its recent board meeting. This decision follows the retirement of Mr. G. C. Chaturvedi, the current Chairman, effective June 30, 2024.

The Henley Passport Index, a renowned metric for measuring the strength and global mobility afforded by the passports of various countries, has unveiled its rankings for 2024. This year, France leads the pack, with its passport holders enjoying visa-free access to 194 countries, a testament to the country’s robust diplomatic relations and its citizens’ global mobility. While India saw a slight decrease in its rank, slipping to 85th with visa-free access to 62 countries, its maritime neighbour Maldives ranked 58th, enjoying access to 96 countries.

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