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Important Current Affairs 25th March 2019

AWARDS AND HONOUR:

President Administers Oath Of Office to Justice PC Ghose As Lokpal Chief.

• President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath of office to Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose as the country’s first Lokpal. The oath was administered at a ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Justice Ghose, a former Supreme Court judge, was named the country’s first Lokpal, the anti-corruption ombudsman.

Archana Kamath clinched a silver medal at Oman Open table tennis.

• Indian paddler Archana Kamath clinched a silver medal in the under-21 women’s singles section of the Seamaster ITTF Challenge Plus 2019 Oman Open table tennis tournament, at Muscat. Ninth-seed Archana reached her first under-21 international final, where she lost to Japan’s top-seed Satsuki Odo of Japan 11-7, 11-8, 11-6. Archana caused a couple of upsets en route to the summit clash, taking out second-seed Valerie Shcherbatykh of Russia 12-10, 11-7, 11-9 in the round-of-16, and fourth-seed Mariia Tailakova of Russia 6-11, 5-11, 11-2, 11-6, 11-9 in the semifinal.

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

SBI raised Rs.1, 251 crore via tier I bonds.

• State Bank of India (SBI) announced it had raised Rs.1,251.30 crore by issuing Basel III-compliant bonds. The Committee of Directors for Capital Raising, at its meeting on 22 March 2019, deliberated and accorded approval to allot 12,513 non-convertible, taxable, perpetual, subordinated, unsecured Basel III-compliant additional tier-I bonds, for inclusion in additional tier-I capital of the bank aggregating to Rs.1,251.30 crore. The bonds with a face value of Rs.10 lakh each bears a coupon rate of 9.45% per annum payable annually with a call option after 5 years or any anniversary date thereafter.

• The bonds were subscribed on 22nd March.

NATIONAL:

CBSE plan to add AI and yoga as new subjects.

• The CBSE will introduce artificial intelligence (AI), early childhood care education and yoga as new subjects in school curriculums from the upcoming academic session. The CBSE is to introduce AI and yoga as an optional 6th subject at Class IX from the session 2019-2020 onwards. This move aims to enhance the multidisciplinary approach in teaching learning and also to sensitise the new generation, it was decided that schools may start AI “inspire module” of 12 hours in Class VIII itself.

AIIMS launched mobile methadone vans to provide treatment to opioid addicts.

• In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) launched mobile methadone vans to provide treatment to opioid addicts in inner-city neighbourhoods in New Delhi. As a pilot project, the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of AIIMS has initiated the new service of delivering methadone through a mobile van in East Delhi.

• Opioid addiction: Opioid addiction is a long-lasting (chronic) disease that can cause major health, social, and economic problems. Opioids are a class of drugs that act in the nervous system to produce feelings of pleasure and pain relief.  Some opioids are legally prescribed by healthcare providers to manage severe and chronic pain. Some other opioids, such as heroin, are illegal drugs of abuse. Opioid addiction is characterized by a powerful, compulsive urge to use opioid drugs, even when they are no longer required medically.

INTERNATIONAL:

Jimmy Carter becomes longest living chief executive in American history.

• Former US president Jimmy Carter has reached a milestone. He was elected as the 39th President, Carter is now the longest living chief executive in American history. Today is the 172nd day beyond Carter's 94th birthday. It exceeds by one day the lifespan of former President George H.W. Bush, who died last November at the age of 94 years, 171 days.

Italy’s Earth-Watching PRISMA Satellite launched by Vega Rocket.

• A European Vega rocket carried a new Earth-observation satellite into orbit for the Italian Space Agency lighting up the nighttime sky over its French Guiana launch site.   The PRISMA Earth observation satellite lifted off at 9:50 p.m. EDT (0150  March 22 GMT) from the South America's Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.

• The satellite will operate in a sun-synchronous orbit, meaning that it circles the Earth in such a way that the sun is always in the same position as the satellite takes pictures of the planet below. PRISMA (an Italian acronym for Hyperspectral Precursor of the Application Mission) is designed to provide information about environmental monitoring, resources management, pollution and crop health.

Norway to put world's 1st wireless e-cab charging stations.

• Norway's capital Oslo will become the world's first city to install wireless induction-based fast-charging systems for electric taxis, The Charging plates will be installed in the ground where taxis are parked, which will connect with receivers in taxis and allow them to charge for up to 75 kilowatts. Finland's Fortum is working on the project with America's Momentum Dynamics. The project aims to install wireless charging using induction technology. Charging plates are installed in the ground where the taxi is parked and a receiver is installed in the taxi. This allows for charging up to 75 kilowatts.

Indonesia launched its first mass rapid transit (MRT) system.

• Indonesian President Joko Widodo inaugurated the country's first mass rapid transit (MRT) system on 24th March. The aim is to ease the traffic congestion in the capital Jakarta. He also presided over a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the second phase which is planned for completion by 2024. Passengers can ride for free until the end of the month. Jakarta is one of the top three traffic-congested cities in the world, according to a traffic index developed by the navigation systems company TomTom.

Seven Indian names in the 100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy list.

• The “100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy” list is comprised of seven Indian names who took important measures to combat climate change. The list is prepared by Apolitical, a peer to peer learning platform for governments. The list has been topped by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Congresswoman, US Congress). 7 names from India:

• 7 names from India: 

♦ Piyush Goyal- Minister of Railways and Coal

♦ Dr.Harsh Vardhan- Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change

♦ Mukta Tilak- Mayor of Pune

♦ Jyoti Kirit Parikh- Executive director of Integrated Research and Action for Development

♦ Sunita Narain- Director of the Centre for Science and the Environment

♦ Vandana Shiva- Founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Natural Resource Policy

♦ Upendra Tripathy- Director general of the International Solar Alliance

Thailand held its first general election after 5 years of military rule.

• Thailand held its first general election after five years of military rule. The military ousted an elected government in a coup in 2014. About 51.4 million people voted in the election. It will appoint 500 members to the House of Representatives, the lower house of the Parliament. Voters in Thailand have voted to choose their next government 24th March 2019, after five years of living under military rule. The March 24 vote comes after the ruling junta repeatedly postponed general elections after it overthrew an elected government in 2014.

AWARDS:

India clinched SAFF Womens Championship For 5th Time.

• India lifted South Asian Football Federation SAFF Women’s Championship fifth time in a row. Keeping its winning streak India defeated host Nepal in the final by 3-1 in Biratnagar, Nepal.  India’s Dalmia Chhibber scored first goal of the match in 26th minute. India’s Indumathi Kathiresan and Sabitra Tamang of Nepal remained top scorer of the tournament, both scored four-goal each.

APPOINTMENTS:

Vice Admiral Karambir Singh is the next Chief of Indian Navy.

• The government of India appointed Vice-Admiral Karambir Singh, presently Flag Officer Commander-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) Eastern Naval Command as next Chief of the Naval Staff with effect from May 31, 2019. The present Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba retires on the same day. Born on November 03, 1959, Vice Admiral Karambir Singh was commissioned on July 01, 1980 into the Executive Branch of the Indian Navy. Vice Admiral Karambir Singh is a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington.

Tata Coffee Appoints Chacko Purackal Thomas as MD And CEO.

• Tata Coffee announced the appointment of Chacko Purackal Thomas as the managing director and chief executive officer. He will replace Sanjiv Sarin. He will assume the charge from April 1, 2019.

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Important Current Affairs of 24th March

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

State Bank of India Signed MoU with Bank of China For Business Opportunities.

• State Bank of India has signed a pact with the Bank of China to boost business opportunities. SBI signed an MoU to enhance business synergies between both the banks. Through this pact, both SBI and BoC will gain direct access to their respective markets of operation. Both banks’ clients will be able to use the vast combined network to expand their businesses abroad.

Exim Bank gives USD 83 million line of credit to Congo to finance 3 solar power projects.

• Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) signed a loan agreement on behalf of the government of USD 83.11 million to Congo for financing three solar power projects in the central African country. It aims to provide support for financing three solar photovoltaic power projects with a total capacity of 35 megawatts in the three provinces — Karawa, Mbandaka, and Lusambo.

RBI Governor called for permanent status to Finance Commission.

• Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das called for permanent status to Finance Commission. RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das is also the member of the fifteenth finance commission.  The permanent status will ensure consistencies between finance commissions so that there is some certainty in the flow of funds to states.

• The permanent status will also provide for continuity between the successive finance commissions. The establishment of the finance commission through permanent status will also enable it to address issues arising from the implementation of the recommendations of the finance commission during the intervening period.

• The RBI governor also called on for a robust expenditure planning without compromising on fiscal consolidation as fiscal federalism gathers momentum in the era of uniform goods and services tax (GST). The planning is to address the socio-economic challenges without diluting the goals of fiscal consolidation.

INTERNATIONAL:

Operation Sunrise: India and Myanmar jointly destroy insurgent’s camps.

• The Indian and Myanmar’s armies have, in a coordinated operation, destroyed at least 10 camps belonging to an insurgent group in Myanmar, which had become a threat to India’s mega Kaladan Project in the neighbouring country. The military action carried out was codenamed Operation Sunrise.

Threats to Bumphead Parrot Fish in Andaman.

• Bumphead parrotfish, Bolbometopon muricatum, is an important component of coral reef ecosystem, but is highly endangered globally. It is categorized as ‘vulnerable’ in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). A group of researchers recently studied the distribution, abundance and dangers to this species in the waters of Andaman and Nicobar islands.

British PM welcomes EU decision to postpone Brexit beyond 29 March.

• British Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed the EU decision to postpone Brexit beyond 29th March.  The UK will be offered a delay until 22nd May, if MPs approve the withdrawal deal negotiated with the EU next week.  In a press conference along with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk said that British Prime Minister Theresa May has accepted the offer from EU

WHO panel calls for registry of all human gene editing research.

• World Health Organization experts said it would be irresponsible for any scientist to conduct human gene-editing studies in people, and a central registry of research plans should be set up to ensure transparency.

• After its first two-day meeting in Geneva, the WHO panel of gene editing experts, which was established in December after a Chinese scientist said he had edited the genes of twin babies, said it had agreed a framework for setting future standards

Pakistan to receive over 2 billion US Dollars loan from China.

• Cash-strapped Pakistan will receive over 2 billion US Dollars loan from China to provide a boost to its ailing economy. Pakistan's Finance Ministry has announced that all procedural formalities for the transfer of the  2.1 billion US Dollars loan being provided by the Chinese government have been completed, and the funds will be deposited in the State Bank of Pakistan's account by Monday.

• Pakistan has received 1 billion US dollars each from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as part of the bailout packages by the two Gulf nations to help shore up Islamabad's dwindling foreign currency reserves. Islamabad is also in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package. Earlier, Pakistan officials said that Islamabad would seek around   8 billion US dollars from the IMF which would be the biggest package by the Fund for Islamabad.

AWARDS AND HONOUR:

Leeladhar Jagudi will be honoured with the Vyas Samman 2018.

• Hindi writer Leeladhar Jagudi honoured with Vyas Samman 2018 for his collection of poems ‘Jitne Log Utne Prem’. He was awarded Padma Shri in 2004 apart from other awards, including Sahitya Akademi Award, Akashvani National Award and Uttarakhand Gaurav Samman. Vyas Samman: The award is given annually to outstanding literary work in Hindi authored by Indian citizen which has been published in the last decade. It was started in 1991 by the KK Birla Foundation. It carries monetary amount of Rs. 4 lakh.

Indian American Neomi Rao sworn in as judge of District of Columbia Court.

• Neomi Jehangir Rao, a prominent Indian-American lawyer, has been sworn in as U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals. She has become the second from the community to be a part of the powerful court considered next only to the U.S. Supreme Court.

NATIONAL:

Delhi police get hi-tech bus worth Rs 3.7 crore for emergency situations.

• In a first-of-its-kind bus, the Delhi police inducted a Mobile Command and Control Vehicles (MCCV) with all modern equipment into service. The bus, built by Bengaluru-based firm Mistral at the cost of ₹3.7 crore, is fitted with latest equipment including Integrated Communication System (ICS), voice logger and CCTV surveillance among others.

EV charging stations to be established in Bengaluru.

• In order to reduce the burden for the electric vehicle users who hunt for charging stations in the city Electric Vehicles charging Stations has been planned to be established in Bengaluru, Andhra Pradesh. The 112 EV charging stations that have been proposed to provide the infrastructure needed to encourage the use of EVs will be readied by August-end.

Daiki Aluminium Industry to set up plant in Sri City Andhra Pradesh.

• Japan-based Daiki Aluminium Industry Co. Ltd., through its Indian subsidiary, is to set up an aluminium alloy plant at Sri City in Andhra Pradesh. Daiki Aluminium Industry India Pvt. Ltd. would make an initial investment of Rs.250 crore.

•  To be built on a 20-acre plot in the domestic tariff zone, the plant is expected to go on stream by February 2020.

• The plant will produce aluminium alloy ingots. It will have an annual capacity of 84,000 tonnes. The products will be exported to automobile companies in ASEAN and Japan.

• The plant is expected to generate direct employment for about 600 people with 80% of them being women. Daiki plans to capture the demand requirements of aluminium alloy in the country and expand the market in stages. 

SPORTS:

Neeraj Chopra to lead Indian athletics team in Asian Championships.

• Star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra was named to lead a 39-member Indian athletics team for next month's Asian Championships in Doha, with sprint sensation Hima Das also making the cut in 400m despite her recent below-par show.  National record holders, Mohd Anas (400m), Jinson Johnson (800m and 1500m), Dharun Ayyasamy (400m hurdles), Avinash Sable (3000m steeplechase), Tajinder Pal Singh Toor (shot put) and Annu Rani (javelin throw) as well as Dutte Chand (200m) were also among those named in the team.

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Important Current Affairs of 23th March

NATIONAL:

Uttarakhand plans to introduce caravans in major spots to boost tourism.

• The government of Uttarakhand in a bid to promote tourism will be introducing mobile caravans or motor homes equipped with every facility you can expect to find in a regular house. The portable homes will enable you to access remote locations. The plan also includes the development of parks for the caravans to be stationed.

• These complexes will provide water, electricity and waste disposal facilities. This way, coupled with the government’s endeavour to build homestays in and around popular tourist spots, soon most Himalaya vistas will be enjoyable from your windowsill. We are working on a plan to introduce fleets of mobile caravans equipped with all facilities available in homes, which will be introduced soon.

Corporate Affairs Ministry releases national guidelines on responsible business conduct

• Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs released the National Guidelines on responsible business conduct and revised the National Voluntary Guidelines on social, environmental and economic responsibilities of business, 2011.

• These guidelines on responsible business conduct aim to urge businesses to actualise the following principles in letter and spirit:

•  Businesses should conduct and govern themselves with integrity in a manner that is ethical, transparent and accountable.

• Businesses should provide goods and services in a manner that is sustainable and safe.

•   Businesses should respect and promote the well-being of all employees, including those in their value chains.

•  Businesses should respect the interests of and be responsive to all their stakeholders.

•  Businesses should respect and promote human rights.

•  Businesses should respect and make efforts to protect and restore the environment.

CSK to donate IPL opener proceeds to families of Pulwama attack.

• The cricket extravaganza Indian Premier League begins on Saturday with its 12th edition. Defending champions Chennai Super Kings will take on Royal Challengers, Bangalore at Chennai in the opening game.  According to the CSK director, the entire ticket proceeds of this match will be given to the families of CRPF personnel killed in the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama. Another IPL team, Kings XI Punjab, recently donated five lakh rupees each to families of five CRPF soldiers killed in the Pulwama attack.

India Post released stamp cover on Ice Stupa in Leh.

• India Post released a special stamp cover on Ice Stupa in Leh at an event in the presence of Himalayan Institute of Alternatives Ladakh founder Sonam Wangchuk who spearheaded the Ice Stupa initiative.  Ice Stupas refer to artificial glaciers. The water from these artificial glaciers melt in the springtime, just when the fields need Leh lies in the cold desert region and most villages in the region face acute water shortage in the streams whereas in June there is an excess of water and even flash flooding due to the fast melting of the snow and glaciers in the mountains. By September all farming activities end and yet a smaller stream flow throughout the winter steadily but wastefully going into the Indus river without being of use to anybody.

• Ice Stupas are aimed at reducing water crisis in the region and also to convey a message to the world that how the Mountain people are forced to do such innovative ideas to solve the water crises, Ice Stupas also sends a message to all the people who live in big cities to not use resources in such a way that it creates problem for mountain people.

INTERNATIONAL:

New Zealand Bans Assault Weapons.

• New Zealand imposed an immediate ban on assault weapons following the Christchurch massacre that claimed the lives of 50 mosque-goers. Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern announced assault rifles and military-style semi-automatic weapons would be banned with immediate effect, making a pledge to ensure that nothing like Christchurch massacre ever occurs in the Pacific nation again. About New Zealand Capital: Wellington Currency: New Zealand dollar.

SPORTS:

BWF badminton rankings 2019: Lakshya, Riya break into top 100.

• Young Indian shuttlers Lakshya Sen and Riya Mookerjee broke into the top-100 among Men’s and Women’s singles players in the latest World Badminton Rankings. Making a massive jump of 28 places, Lakshya Sen is placed 76th. Riya Mookerjee climbed up 19 spots to be placed 94th. In the women's singles rankings, P V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal are static with Sindhu at sixth and Saina at ninth position.

• Japan's Kento Momota is leading the men's chart while Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying is topping the women's singles list. Among men, B Sai Praneeth also moved up three places to 19th. Kidambi Srikanth remains static and is the best placed Indian in the men's rankings at seventh. He is followed by Sameer Verma (14th), H S Prannoy (24th), Subhankar Dey (43rd), Parupalli Kashyap (48th), Ajay Jayram (52nd) and Sourav Verma (53rd).

India to face Nepal for title clash at SAFF Women's Championship.

• In football, India clinched the SAFF Women's Championship for the fifth time in a row, defeating hosts Nepal 3-1 in the final at Biratnagar. In the first half, Dalmia Chhibber of India scored the first goal of the match which was equalled by Nepal's Sabitra Bhandari at the 33rd minute. In the second half, Grace Dengmei scored the second goal at 63rd minute and Anju Tamang scored third and decisive goal in the 76th minute.

BANKS AND ECONOMY:

Fitch Cuts India GDP Growth Forecast For FY20 To 6.8%.

• Fitch Ratings cut India’s economic growth forecast for the next financial year starting April 1, to 6.8% from its previous estimate of 7%, on weaker than expected momentum in the economy. The rating agency also cut growth forecasts for FY20 and FY21 to 7% from 7.3% and 7.1% from 7.3%, respectively.

Defence Ministry clears proposal to buy 10 lakh 'Made in India' hand grenades for Army.

• The Rs 500 crore proposal comes shortly after the Defence Ministry cleared the acquisition of assault rifles and signed a joint venture with Russia to manufacture AK-203 rifles for the infantry units of the Indian Army. The new hand grenades will replace the existing inventory, HE-36 grenades manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board.

• The multi-mode grenades have been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Recently, the government also signed a contract worth Rs 700 crore for procurement of 70,000 Sig Sauer assault rifles with a US manufacturer.

RBI denies IDBI Banks proposal to name change.

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has turned down IDBI Bank’s proposal to change its name following the transfer of a controlling 51% stake to LIC, insurance behemoth, from the government of India.  The board of IDBI Bank had, last month, sought the RBI’s approval for a change in the name of the lender to either LIC IDBI Bank or LIC Bank following the takeover by Life Insurance Corporation (LIC). However, RBI did not elaborate on the reasons for denial by the regulator for changing the name.

PFC to buy 52.63 percent govt shares in REC for Rs 14,500 crore by March-end.

• State-owned Power Finance Corporation (PFC) will acquire the entire 52.63 per cent shares of the government in REC for Rs 14,500 crore by the month-end, a move that will help the centre to meet its disinvestment target.

• REC Limited is a public Infrastructure Finance Company in India’s power sector. The company is a Public Sector Undertaking and finances and promotes rural electrification projects across India. The government proposes to raise Rs 80,000 crore from disinvestment during the fiscal ending March 19 and has so far raised Rs 56,473.32 crore. With completion of PFC-REC deal, the amount will increase to over Rs 70,000 crore.

AWARDS:

Brazilian astronomer Marcelo Gleiser wins 2019 Templeton Prize.

• Brazilian physicist and astronomer Marcelo Gleiser (60) was awarded 2019 Templeton Prize worth $1.4 million for his work on blending science and spirituality. It makes him first Latin American to win this award. Templeton Prize is awarded annually on person for outstanding his/her contributions in affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. Mother Teresa was the first winner in 1973. Some of its other recipients include Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1975), Dalai Lama (2012) etc. In 2018, it was awarded to King Abdullah II of Jordan.

OBITUARIES:

India-Pakistan war hero, Captain M.N. Samant died aged 89 years.

• Captain Mohan Narayan Rao Samant of the Indian Navy, a 1971 India-Pakistan war hero, who was honoured by Bangladesh as a ‘Friend of Liberation War’, has passed away at the age of 89. The Maha Vir Chakra awardee was instrumental in India waging a covert maritime war against shipping in the then East Pakistan. He had trained over 400 Bengali college students as maritime commandos for carrying out mass raids and inflicting damages to Pakistani shipping vessels in the run up to the 1971 war.

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Important Current Affairs of 18th March

NATIONAL:

New hydro policy will help to meet renewables target.

• The Union Cabinet approval to the new hydroelectricity policy that, among other things, included large hydro projects within the ambit of renewable energy. Prior to the policy, only small hydro projects of a capacity of less than 25 MW were treated as renewable energy. Large hydro projects were treated as a separate source of energy.

•  India’s renewable energy sector had an installed capacity of 75,055.92 MW as of February 2019, according to data with the Central Electricity Authority. This made up about 21.4% of the overall energy mix, with the rest coming from thermal, nuclear and large hydro sources.  With the inclusion of large hydro in renewable energy, the energy mix changes drastically. Renewable energy capacity would now be 1,20,455.14 MW or 34.4% of the overall energy mix.

NGT directed 6 states to submit action plans for bringing air quality standards.

• The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed six States to submit by April 30 action plans for bringing air quality standards within the prescribed norms, failing which they would be liable to pay environment compensation of Rs.1 crore each.  A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel ordered the Chief Secretaries of Assam, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Nagaland governments to submit their plan within the stipulated time

Second Scorpene submarine Khanderi ready for induction.

• The Navy is set to induct the second Scorpene submarine Khanderi by early May. The remaining submarines in the series are in advanced stages of manufacturing and trials. Khanderi was launched into the water in January 2017 and has since been undergoing a series of trials.

• Also, the fourth submarine Vela is ready to be launched into the water for trials around the same time depending on the ocean tide.  Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL), Mumbai, is manufacturing six Scorpene submarines under technology transfer from Naval Group of France under a 2005 contract worth $3.75 bn.

• After a series of delays in the project, the first submarine of the class Kalvari joined service in December 2017. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2020.

India and Maldives agreed to cooperate on defence, development, health.

• India and the Maldives discussed measures to strengthen ties and agreed to collaborate in the fields of defence, development cooperation, capacity building and health as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held talks with the country’s top leadership, including her Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid.

• Ms. Swaraj and Maldivian Foreign Minister Shahid reviewed progress on important bilateral issues, including implementation of agreed outcomes of President Solih’s visit to India during 2018. She unveiled a plaque dedicating the renovated IGM Hospital to the people of Maldives in the city of Male. IGMH is the first and largest government health-care facility in the Maldives, built with Indian assistance.

Nara Lokesh, Poonam Mahajan among Indians in Young Global Leaders list.

• Andhra Pradesh IT minister Nara Lokesh, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan and Xiaomi India head Manu Kumar Jain are among the Indians featuring in the list of Young Global Leaders, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). Telangana government's Chief Innovation Officer Phanindra Sama, SaveLife Foundation's Piyush Tewari and Kaleidofin's co-Founder Sucharita Mukherjee are also in the list. The list has 127 of the world's "most promising social activists, business leaders, public servants, artists and technologists under the age of 40".

Climate Vulnerability Index Highest For Assam And Mizoram.

• Indian scientists have developed a common framework for the assessment of climate change vulnerability in all the states in the Himalayan region. The assessment shows that the vulnerability index is the highest for Assam (0.72) and Mizoram (0.71). Sikkim is the least vulnerable state with the index being 0.42. Assam is highly vulnerable to climate change because of factors like low per capita income, deforestation, large number of marginal farmers, least area under irrigation, lack of alternative sources of income and high rates of poverty.

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND LAUNCHES:

Aviva Life Insurance launches Special Mentorship Programme Wings.

• Aviva Life Insurance announced the launch of ‘Wings’, a specially designed mentorship program to empower the female workforce. Wings program is an initiative of the SHE division of Aviva Life Insurance for mentoring all the women employees in Aviva.

BCCI announced Dream11 as official partner of VIVO IPL.

• The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), announced Dream11, India’s Biggest Sports Game, as the Official Partner for the VIVO Indian Premier League (IPL). This 4-year exclusive partnership will begin with the upcoming IPL 2019 season. Additionally, the ‘Official Fantasy Game’ of IPL will also be powered by Dream11.

APPOINTMENTS:

Santosh Jha appointed as The Next Ambassador Of India to the Republic Of Uzbekistan.

• Santosh Jha presently Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Washington appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Uzbekistan. Presently, Mr Jha working as Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Washington DC USA.

Kotak Mahindra Bank has appointed KVS Manian, Gaurang Shah as board directors.

• KVS Manian and Gaurang Shah appointed as Kotak Mahindra Bank ’s whole-time directors for a three-year term effective from the date of approval from the Reserve Bank of India. He is currently working as the president – corporate, an investment bank and Gaurang Shah is the president- group chief risk officer of the bank

Pinaki Chandra Ghose named as Indias first Lokpal.

• Pinaki Chandra Ghose is likely to be India’s first anti-corruption ombudsman or Lokpal. He is the former Supreme Court judge and current member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The decision was made by the PM-led high-level selection committee.  Mr.Ghose was appointed as judge of the Calcutta High Court in 1997 and went on to become Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh before his elevation to the Supreme Court in 2013. The Lokpal Act, which was passed in 2013 after a nationwide anti-corruption movement.

• The act provides for setting up of Lokpal at the centre and Lokayuktas in the States to probe corruption complaints against top functionaries and public servants. A Lokpal is an anti-corruption authority or ombudsman who represents the public interest. The Lokpal has jurisdiction over all Members of Parliament, central government employees, including the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers in cases of corruption.

SPORTS:

Diksha, 18-yr-old becomes 2nd Indian golfer to win on Ladies European Tour.

• Diksha Dagar became the second Indian woman golfer to win an event on Ladies European Tour after clinching South African Women's Open in Cape Town. Aditi Ashok was the first Indian to win on the Ladies European Tour after clinching Hero Women's Indian Open in Gurugram in 2016.

OCA reinstated Chess in Asian Games 2022.

• Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) decided to reinstate the Chess game to the Asian Games fold for the 2022 edition in Hangzhou. The top players welcomed the return of Chess.

• The OCA General Assembly met in Bangkok on March 3 and its president Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad Al-Sabah officially confirmed the development to World Chess Federation (WCF) president Arkady Dvorkovich.

• Chess was a part of the Asian Games programme at the 2006 edition in Doha and 2010 in Guangzhou. India won two gold medals at Doha, and two bronze in the 2010 edition at Guangzhou.

T. Irfan became first Indian athlete to qualify for Tokyo Olympics.

• A 29-year-old Indian athlete from Kerala, K.T. Irfan qualified for the Tokyo Olympics as he finished fourth in the men’s 20 kilometre category at the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan. He got qualified for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

• He made the cut after finishing fourth at the Asian Race Walking Championship at Nomi in Japan.  The fourth-place finishes also ensured a berth in the upcoming International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championship in Doha that begins in September. The Two other Indian race walkers, who qualified for the World Championship are Devinder and Ganapati.

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

RBI allows HDFC Bank to hold only 9.9 percent in Bandhan Bank.

• HDFC, India’s largest mortgage lender, which has agreed to merge its low-cost arm Gruh Finance Pvt. Ltd. with Bandhan Bank, can hold 9.9 percent in the bank, according to its exchange filing. That’s the maximum a non-banking finance company can own in a private bank. HDFC had sought approval for 14.96 percent.

AWARDS:

Former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan received Padma Bhushan from President.

• President Kovind presented Padma Bhushan to Shri Sankaralingam Nambi Narayanan for Science & Engineering. Shri Narayanan is an accomplished scientist with more than three decades of experience in Indian Space Research Organisation. The scientist was instrumental in developing the Vikas engine that would be used for the first PSLV that India launched.

• But, Nambi Narayanan, who was falsely implicated in the ISRO spy case, was accused of selling state secrets comprising confidential test data from rocket and satellite launches. In 1994, Narayanan was arrested by Kerala police over espionage charges, which were dismissed by CBI in 1996. The Supreme Court declared him not guilty in 1998 and ordered Kerala to pay ₹50-lakh compensation over "mental torture" in 2018

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Important Current Affairs of 16th March

NATIONAL:

Kent RO receives the Best Domestic Water Purifier Award 2019.

• Kent RO Systems Pvt. Ltd. has been bestowed with the Best Domestic Water Purifier Award 2018-19 for its RO (Reverse Osmosis)+ UV + UF (Ultra Filtration) technology at the Water Digest Water Awards organized at The Lalit, New Delhi. Water Digest Water Awards is backed by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and UNESCO.

• Reverse Osmosis (RO) removes the all pollutants and contaminants from water, UV also known as Ultra Violet Radiation kills bacteria and virus and Ultra Filtration, an additional layer of security which works without electricity, filters remnants of microbial bodies. Thus, a combination of all three provides multistage purification which makes the water 100% safe and pure.

Students of IIT Kharagpur developed app to detect Fake Notes.

• The Students from IIT- Kharagpur has devised a code for a Smartphone application to address the problem of detecting fake Indian currency. Detecting Fake Currency Students of IIT- Kharagpur has developed an image processing application which can detect counterfeit currency.

•  A user can upload a currency note image and the mobile app would verify its authenticity using 25 features extracted from the front and rear side of the currency note. If the app finds the discrepancies with the features it reports about the failure checkpoints.  Smart India Hackathon 2019 organised by Ministry of Human Resource and Development in association with AICTE, i4c and Persistent Systems. It provides an unique Open Innovation Model for identifying new and disruptive technology innovations to solve the challenges faced in the country.

NGT suspended the expansion of Udupi thermal plant.

• The Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT), New Delhi, has ordered the suspension of the Environmental Clearance of August 1, 2017, granted for the expansion of the thermal plant of Udupi Power Corporation Ltd. (UPCL) at Yellur in Udupi district by addition of 2 x 800 MW units to raise ultimate capacity to 2,800 MW.  The move is after the appeal of an NGO which opposed the thermal power plant at Yellur in Udupi district. The tribunal held that clearances granted for the setting up of the power plant were illegal. It directed the State government to conduct a study of carrying capacity of the area. It also ordered the company to pay Rs.1 lakh as cost to the petitioners.

Karnataka government plans for cloud seeding project.

• The government of Karnataka is planning for cloud seeding project due to drought and to influence the upcoming monsoon and capture as much water as possible from the rain clouds. The State government has called the tenders for cloud seeding operations to enhance rainfall during the monsoons of 2019 and 2020. The cost is expected to be Rs.50 crore per year.

• Earlier Efforts of Karnataka Karnataka had undertaken a similar exercise through Project Varshadhare in 2017.  Cloud Seeding is a process of intervening chemically to induce precipitation rain or snow from clouds. Cloud seeding aims to facilitate and accelerate the process by making available chemical nuclei for condensation to take place.

• The agents used as nuclei are iodides of silver or potassium, dry ice (solid carbon dioxide), or liquid propane.

Joint exercises to be conducted by US army and NSG in Hyderabad.

• The US military forces and the Indian National Security Guard (NSG) is conducting joint exercises in Hyderabad. This would be a part of the US-India security partnership. The aim of these exercises is to enhance preparedness and tackle any crisis that affects the public health and safety. The exercise is witnessing participation by the 1st Battalion and the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) stationed out of Okinawa, Japan. The exercise will be overseen from the US Embassy, New Delhi and US Special Operations Pacific Command at Camp HM Smith in Hawaii.

President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Gandhinagar.

• President of India Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the Festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (FINE) in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. 10th Biennial National Grassroots Innovation awards were also distributed by the President on the occasion.

• The event will provide a platform to the innovators for building the linkages with potential stakeholders whose support can improve the prospects in the coming years for the betterment of the society. FINE is a unique initiative of the Office of the President of India to recognize, respect and reward grassroots innovations and foster a supportive ecosystem. President Kovind awards National Grassroots Innovators.

• For innovations in new varieties of agriculture crops, Prakash Singh Raghuvanshi from Uttar Pradesh has been awarded lifetime achievement award.

USFDA approved Glen marks generic version of acne treatment gel.

• Glenmark Pharmaceuticals received its final approval from the United States Food & Drug Administration (USFDA), the US health regulator, for its generic version of BenzaClin gel used in the treatment of acne.

• The approval granted to Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Inc, USA (Glenmark) by the USFDA is for Clindamycin and Benzoyl Peroxide Gel, 1 per cent|5 per cent, a generic version of BenzaClin1 Gel, 1 per cent/ 5 per cent, of Valeant Bermuda. Citing IQVIATM sales data, Glenmark said BenzaClin Gel, 1 per cent/ 5 per cent had sales of $99.4 million in the 12-month period ended January 2019. Glenmark’s current portfolio consists of 151 products authorised for distribution in the US with 53 ANDAs (Abbreviated New Drug Applications) pending approval with the USFDA.

SPORTS:

India to host FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup in 2020.

• International Football Federation (FIFA) President Gianni Infantino announced that India will host the U-17 Women's World Cup in 2020. The tournament in India will be the seventh edition. By virtue of being the host country, India will take part in the tournament for the first time in its history. This will be the second FIFA tournament India will be hosting, after the U-17 Men's World Cup in 2017. The U-17 women's tournament began in 2008, when New Zealand hosted it. Spain are the current champions.

ESPN World Fame 100 list: Virat Kohli the only Indian in Top 10.

• This year’s ESPN World Fame 100 list, an annual list of the most famous athletes on the planet, placed the Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo at the top spot, followed by former Basketball player Lebron James and FC Barcelona captain Lionel Messi. Indian skipper, Virat Kohli, stands on the seventh position and is the only Indian athlete in the top 10 club, whereas Dhoni is placed on the 13th position. There were only three women in the list- Serena Williams (17), Maria Sharapova (37) and Sania Mirza (93); making Sania Mirza the only Indian woman athlete to feature in the list.

Karnataka defeated Maharashtra to win Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

• Karnataka defeated Maharashtra to win their maiden Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore. With the win, Karnataka set a record of most number of wins in a row by an Indian domestic team as they won 14 T20 matches to lift the coveted T20 trophy.

Narasimha appointed as mediator to resolve disputes of cricket administration by SC.

• Supreme Court appointed senior advocate P. S. Narasimha, as a mediator for resolving various disputes related to cricket administration in the country. A bench of Justices S. A. Bobde and A. M. Spare was informed by P. S. Narasimha that former apex court judge Justice (retd) D. K. Jain has assumed charge as the ombudsman of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The bench also asked P. S.

Winners list of 2019 All England Open Badminton Championships.

• All England Open Badminton Championships 2019 was held from 6 Mar 2019 to 10 Mar 2019 at Arena Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom. The Winners in the various categories of the are: Men's Singles: Japan's Kento Momota Women's Singles: China's Chen Yufei Men's Doubles: Indonesia's Mohammad Ahsan & Hendra Setiawan Women's Doubles: China's Chen Qingchen & Jia Yifan Mixed Doubles: China's Zheng Siwei & Huang Yaqiong All England Open Badminton Championships All England Open Badminton Championships held annually in England is the world's oldest badminton tournament. The genesis of the tournament can be traced to open tournament held in the English town of Guildford in 1898, the success of this tournament paved the way for the All England's inaugural edition, which was held at London's Horticultural Halls in 1899.

INTERNATIONAL:

India gets first TIR shipment via Chabahar Port from Afghanistan.

• he first shipment under the United Nations ‘Transports Internationaux Routiers’ (TIR) convention arrived in India from Afghanistan through Iran’s Chabahar Port. TIR allows goods to be sealed in compartments and requires no need for physical checking of the contents.

• This enables shipments to pass through countries without being opened at borders. India joined the TIR Convention (the United Nations Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets) on June 15, 2017. India took over the operations of a part of Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar in Iran in December 2018.

Geographical Indication (GI) tag granted to Coorg Arabica Coffee and 4 other varieties of Coffee by the Geographical Indications Registry.

• Geographical Indication (GI) tags have been granted to Coorg Arabica Coffee, Wayanad Robusta Coffee, Chikmagalur Arabica Coffee, Araku Valley Arabica Coffee and Bababudangiris Arabica Coffee, by the Geographical Indications Registry on 1st March 2019. Coorg Arabica Coffee is grown in Kodagu, Karnataka. Wayanad Robusta Coffee is grown in Wayanad, Kerala. Chikmagalur Arabica Coffee and Bababudangiris Arabica Coffee are grown in Chikmagalur, Karnataka.

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Important Current Affairs of 15th March

NATIONAL:

Brookfield acquires RILs East West Pipeline

• India Infrastructure Trust, an infrastructure investment trust (InvIT), sponsored by Brookfield, will acquire the East West Pipeline for Rs. 3,000 crore.

• The pipeline is owned by Reliance Industries Ltd’s promoters’ family.  As a part of the transaction, the InvIT would acquire 100% equity interest in Pipeline Infrastructure Private Ltd. which currently owns and operates the pipeline.

• Following this acquisition by Brookfield, the existing pipeline usage agreement has been reworked.  Now, reserved capacity will be cut to 33 Million Metric Standard Cubic Meter Per Day (MMSCMD) against 56 MMSCMD and any unutilised capacity payment by RIL will be the difference between Rs.500 crore a quarter and actual revenue earned by PIPL.

DRDO successfully test fired Man Portable Anti-tank Guided Missile

• Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test-fired Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) in the desert ranges of Rajasthan.

• The MPATGM is a third-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) comes loaded with a high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead. It has a maximum engagement range of about 2.5 kilometers. The indigenously developed missile has features like a state-of-the-art imaging infrared radar seeker with integrated avionics.

Arecanut Gets Its First GI Tag For Sirsi Supari

• Registrar of Geographical Indications, Government of India, accorded a GI tag, ‘Sirsi Supari’, to arecanut grown in Sirsi, Siddpaur and Yellapur taluks of Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka. The Totagars’ Cooperative Sale Society (TSS) Ltd, a Sirsi-based agri cooperative, is the registered proprietor of the GI ‘Sirsi Supari’.

NTPC partners with Indian Railways for fly ash transportation

• State-run National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd. (NTPC) has teamed up with the Indian Railways for fly ash transportation. The partnership is to help enhance ash utilisation at Rihand and Vindhyachal Super Thermal Power plants.  NTPC had signed a memorandum of understanding with Hazipur-based East Central Railway Zone for transportation of fly ash under Indian Railways’ Special Freight Train Operator scheme.

IFFM to be from 29th March at Malappuram, Kerala

• The 77th International Film Festival of Malappuram (IFFM) organised by the Rasmi Film Society will be held at Malappuram, Kerala on March 29, 30 and 31. Actor Indrans will inaugurate the festival at the Municipal bus-stand auditorium, named after filmmaker Mrinal. Sen.V.C. Abhilash’s Aalorukkam will be the inaugural film. There will be 11 films in the World, Indian and Malayalam categories.

RInfra to sell Delhi-Agra Toll Road in Rs 3,600 crore deal

• Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) has signed a "definitive binding agreement" with Singapore-based Cube Highways and Infrastructure for sale of its 100 per cent stake in Delhi-Agra (DA) Toll Road Pvt Ltd. The deal is valued over Rs 3,600 crore.

• In addition, NHAI claims of Rs 1,200 crore to be filed by DA Toll Road will flow directly to Reliance Infrastructure. DA Toll Road Pvt Ltd is the special purpose vehicle (SPV) of RInfra, which operates the 180 kilometre long six-lane road that connects the national capital with Agra on National Highway-2.

ECI to launch Observer App

• The Election Commission of India (ECI) is to launch the Observer App, a mobile application, that will help poll observers to submit reports.

•  The poll observers will get all the important notifications and alerts through the ‘Observer App’. It will also help them get their deployment status and download the ID card. As the observers will be involved in real-time disposal of cases of violation of the Model Code of Conduct and expenditure received through another mobile application ‘cVIGIL’, those details will also be available on the ‘Observer App’.

BANK AND ECONOMICS:

Russia releases coin commemorating annexation of Crimea.

• A new coin that features the Crimea or Kerch Strait Bridge released by Russia’s central bank, to mark Crimea’s reunification with Russia. Two million new five ruble (about $0.08, €0.07) coins were pressed which depict an outline of the peninsula which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

RBI categorises IDBI Bank as private sector lender

• IDBI Bank has been categorised as a private sector bank for regulatory purposes with effect from January 21, 2019.

• This follows  Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) acquiring 51 per cent of the total paid-up equity share capital of the bank. In April 2005, IDBI Bank was categorised under a new sub-group, ‘other public sector banks,’ by the RBI.

• The Bank has a high proportion of bad loans. In another release, the RBI announced that the State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank will continue to be identified as Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs). D-SIB means that a bank is 'too big to fail'.

DAY:

World Consumer Rights Day is observed on 15th March

• The consumer movement marks 15th March with World Consumer Rights Day every year, as a means of raising global awareness about consumer rights and needs. The theme for World Consumer Rights Day 2019 is ‘Trusted Smart Products’.

• The day demands that the rights of all consumers are respected and protected, and to protest against market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights. World Consumer Rights Day was inspired by President John F Kennedy, who sent a special message to the US Congress on 15th March 1962, in which he formally addressed the issue of consumer rights. He was the first world leader to do so.

• This World Consumers Rights Day highlights what consumers want and need from a connected world. This year over 100 members in over 90 countries are coming together to mark World Consumer Rights Day.

AWARDS AND APPOINTMENTS:

M.R.Kumar takes charge as Chairman of LIC

• M.R.Kumar, the newly-appointed chairman of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), has taken charge on 14th March. Mr.Kumar took over from Hemant Bhargava who had been the acting chairman since January 2019. Mr.Kumar had joined LIC as a direct recruit officer in 1983.  The government had also named two MDs for LIC, Vipin Anand and T.C. Suseel Kumar.

Sweden's 16-year-old Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

• Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish student and activist has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in climate activism and fighting global warming. She began her weekly protest in August 2018 by riding her bicycle to the Swedish Parliament with ''School strike for climate'' sign.

• The #FridaysForFuture movement went viral and spread over 80 countries. If she were to win, she would be the youngest recipient since Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai, who was 17 when she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

Padmanaban Gopalan bagged the Commonwealth Youth Award for the Asian region

• Social entrepreneur from Tamil Nadu, Padmanaban Gopalan, founder of No Food Waste named the winner of the Commonwealth Youth Award for the Asian region worth 3,000 Pounds at a ceremony at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London. He was given the honour for his work towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of Zero Hunger with his innovative system of recovering excess food to distribute to those in need. 

Army Chief Bipin Rawat conferred PVSM by President Kovind

• Army Chief General Bipin Rawat was conferred with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM), the highest military medal award in recognition of peace-time service not accounting to gallantry, by President Ram Nath Kovind. President also awarded three Kirti Chakras and 15 Shaurya Chakras to armed forces personnel for displaying gallantry.

• Two Kirti Chakras were posthumously awarded to Sepoy Vramha Pal Singh of the Rajput Regiment and Rajendra Kumar Nain, a constable with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). A Shaurya Chakra was also posthumously awarded to Ravindra Dhanawade by the President, who is the Supreme Commander of the armed forces.

Three Kirti Chakras and 15 Shaurya Chakras awarded by the President to Army Personnel

• President Ram Nath Kovind conferred 3 Kirti Chakras and 15 Shaurya Chakras to Armed Forces Personnel for displaying conspicuous gallantry, indomitable courage and extreme devotion to duty at the Defence Investiture Ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.  2 Kirti Chakras and 1 Shaurya Chakra were given posthumously. 15 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, 1 Uttam Yudh Seva Medal and 25 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals were also conferred on senior officers of the Armed Forces for their distinguished service by the President.

INTERNATIONAL:

Special olympics World Game began in UAE

• Special Olympics World Games 2019 is held at Abu Dhabi, from March 14 to 21. The Games were declared open by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. There are 7,500 athletes from 190 countries taking part at the Games this year. Team India is the second largest contingent after the host UAE with 387 players, along with coaches and other staff. The Special Olympics takes place every two years and alternates between summer and winter.

UK removes cap on PhD level work visas

• U.K. announced in a Budget update, referred to as the annual Spring Statement, that from later this year all PhD-level highly-qualified roles will be exempt from any cap on the numbers that can apply and come to work in Britain.

• Indians are among the largest group of professionals set to benefit from a new U.K. government plan to remove any limit on the number of PhD-level work visas to be granted.  A key pillar of the plan is backing Britain to remain at the forefront of the technology revolution that is transforming the economy. In Order to support that ambition, the country completely exempt PhD-level roles from the visa caps.

Vienna topped the Most Liveable Cities index for the 10th year

• The Austrian capital Vienna has topped Mercer's index of most liveable cities for the 10th year in a row. Zurich in Switzerland, is placed second in the index, while Auckland, Munich and Vancouver came joint third. Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu is ranked at 105 in Mercer's Quality Of Living Index and is the number one city from India.

• Luxembourg was named the safest city in a separate personal safety league table. Global consulting firm Mercer surveyed in 231 cities across the globe and were ranked them based on factors such as healthcare, education, public services, recreation, crime, housing and personal freedom. The ranking was based on data analysed between September and November 2018.

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Important Current Affairs of 14th March

NATIONAL:

Chennai to get second Greenfield airport.

• The Tamil Nadu government has finally taken the first step towards building the second Greenfield airport near Chennai. Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (Tidco) Limited has issued a Request for Proposal to appoint a consultant for preparing a draft report and identify potential sites near the city.

•  Tidco was chosen as the nodal agency for selection of a consultant, officials said. No site has been identified yet. The consultant will identify and propose three potential sites near Chennai for the greenfield airport. The consultant will look at the air traffic projections and the demand and do a detailed master plan citing the necessary airside and land facilities and other infrastructure and industrial provisions the site will need.

Over 12 Indian states banned e-cigarettes.

• Following an advisory from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued in 2018, Twelve states across India have banned Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) or e-cigarettes.

• States of Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Jharkhand have taken steps to ban the use of ENDS.

• ENDS, more commonly known as e-cigarettes or “vapes" in India, are products that produce an aerosolized mixture containing flavored liquids and nicotine that is inhaled by the user.

Over 605 people have died of swine flu in 2019 so far: Health Ministry.

• According to data from the Union Health Ministry, as many as 605 people have died due to swine flu this year, with 75 deaths being reported last week. Over 19,380 people have tested positive for the virus. Rajasthan reported the highest number of swine flu cases (4,551) and deaths (162) followed by Gujarat (118 deaths  and 3,969 cases). Delhi was third with 3,362 swine flu cases and seven deaths. Swine flu is the common name for the H1N1 influenza virus. H1N1 is a self-limiting viral, air-borne disease spread from person to person, through large droplets generated due to coughing and sneezing, indirect contact by touching a contaminated object or surface and close contact, including handshaking, hugging and kissing.

India extended USD 250 million to Nepal.

• India has extended a grant assistance of up to USD 250 million to Nepal for the reconstruction of infrastructures in the areas of housing, education, health and cultural heritage that was destroyed during the devastating April 2015 earthquake which saw the death of over 9,000 people.

India ranks 16th in terms of highest number of impacted species in hotspots.

• India was ranked 16th in the world in terms of highest number of impacted species in biodiversity-rich zones (also known as hotspots) due to human actions.

• In India, 35 species affected on an average in biodiversity-rich zones. Malaysia ranks first among countries with highest number of impacted species (on an average 125 species). Southeast Asian tropical forests — including those in India’s Western Ghats, Himalaya and north-east — are among the ‘hotspots’ of threatened species.

India bans Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes after the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

• Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft banned by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in the Indian airspace from 1600 hrs IST or 1030 UTC 13th March 2019. The airlines affected by this are SpiceJet which has 13 jets of the model 8 variant and Jet Airways which has 5 jets of this variant.

Thirty four edition of Aahar International Food and Hospitality Fair begins in New Delhi.

• 34th edition of Aahar- the International Food and Hospitality Fair which is organized by India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) begins in New Delhi on 12th March 2019. Participants from China, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Spain, USA and UK are participating in the event.

HGS and NASSCOM to launch centre of excellence for PwDs in Bangalore.

• Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) partnered with National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) Foundation to launch a centre of excellence in Bengaluru for training differently-abled persons (PwDs) which will train a minimum of 100 PwDs making them industry-ready over the next 12 months with a goal to place at least 50% of them in companies already sensitised for hiring them.

• The trainees will be skilled in a variety of job roles suitable for hospitality, IT or BPM and retail industries and will also be trained on soft skills, interview skills, communication skills, and English language.

BANKS AND ECONOMY:

HDFC Bank becomes third Indian firm to cross Rs 6 lakh crore in value.

• HDFC Bank crossed the Rs. 6 lakh crore market capitalisation mark for the first time on March 13, becoming only the third Indian company to achieve the milestone.

• Reliance Industries is the most valued Indian company with a market value of Rs.8.50 lakh crore, followed by TCS at Rs. 7.50 lakh crore.

About HDFC bank:

♦ HDFC Bank is India’s largest private sector lender by assets.

♦ CEO: Aditya Puri

♦ Headquarters: Mumbai

♦ Founded: August 1994, India

RBI to inject rupee liquidity through Forex swap.

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to inject rupee liquidity into the system through long-term foreign exchange buy/sell swap, a first-of-its-kind instrument, used for liquidity management. The RBI would conduct dollar-rupee buy/sell swap auction of $5 billion for a three-year tenor on March 26.

•  The U.S. dollar amount mobilised through this auction would also reflect in RBI’s foreign exchange reserves for the tenor of the swap while also reflecting in RBI’s forward liabilities. This move of RBI can lower the dependence on open market operations (OMO) which have been a significant amount of the overall borrowing as higher OMOs can distort the rates curve.

AWARDS AND RESIGNATION:

Rahul Bajaj resigns as chairman of Bajaj Finserv.

• Rahul Bajaj will step down as Chairman and Non-Executive Director of Financial services company ‘Bajaj Finserv’ on May 16. However, he will continue to serve the company as Chairman Emeritus. The 80-year-old has been at the helm of Bajaj Finserv since its inception in 2007 and the Bajaj Group for around five decades.

Ved Rahi will be awarded with Kusumagraj Rashtriya Sahitya Puruskar.

• Famous Novelist and Film Director, Ved Rahi will be awarded prestigious Kusumagraj Rashtriya Sahitya Puruskar which carries a cash prize of Rs. 1 Lakh, A memento and a citation. Ved Rahi was born in Jammu in 1933 and he had written seven novels in Dogri Language. He also wrote in Hindi and Urdu. He was given Sahitya Akademi Award in 1983 for his Novel “Aale” which was written in Dogri Language.

INTERNATIONAL:

Japan announced Rs 22 lakh for Kolkata museum.

• The Japanese government announced a donation of some Rs 22 lakh ($31,800) to the Rabindra Bharati Museum, Kolkata in a bid to strengthen historical and cultural ties with India. Rabindranath Tagore, Asia's first Nobel Prize recipient, visited Japan in 1916, 1924 and 1929, renewing relations between the countries as India's leading cultural ambassador.

About Japan:

♦ Capital: Tokyo

♦ Currency: Japanese yen

♦ Prime minister: Shinzo Abe

UK issued a Black hole Coin to commemorate Stephen Hawking.

• The United Kingdom has commemorated Professor Stephen Hawking in a new 50p coin. The coin has references to the late physicist's pioneering work on black holes.  Black Hole Coin  The commemorative coin aims to celebrate the life and "ground-breaking" achievements of Hawking, who passed away in 2018. It is a commemorative coin and not for circulation as currency.

• The coin features Hawkins's name in capital letters above a rippling drawing of concentric circles, intended to represent a black hole. The coin was designed by  British engraver and printmaker Edwina Ellis. The coin is available in gold, silver, and a double thickness silver version called a piedfort. The coin has been released by UK's Royal Mint.

EU has added 10 countries in the Tax blacklist.

• The European Union has expanded its tax haven blacklist by including 10 countries. The list now has 15 countries. The list was first drawn up by EU in 2017 in the wake of several scandals that pushed the EU into doing more to fight tax evasion by multinationals and the rich.

• Seven countries Aruba, Belize, Bermuda, Fiji, Oman, Vanuatu, and Dominica were moved from greylist to blacklist due to their inability towards reform commitments. Three other countries added into the list are Barbados, the United Arab Emirates, and the Marshall Islands.

• Eu list of Tax Blacklist or Tax Havens: Tax Havens provide taxpayers with opportunities for tax avoidance, while their secrecy and opacity also serve to hide the origin of the proceeds of illegal and criminal activities. Features of these Tax Havens include low or zero taxation, fictitious residences (with no bearing on reality) and tax secrecy.

Krishna Kumari Kohli becomes the first Thari Hindu woman to be elected to the Senate of Pakistan.

• Krishna Kumari Kohli appointed as the first female senator of Pakistan from the Hindu Dalit community. She is also the first Thai Hindu woman to be elected to the Pakistan Senate. On 8th March 2019, which was celebrated as the International Women’s Day, she chaired the session of the Upper House of Parliament.

Industrial production growth declined to 1.7% in January 2019 as per CSO report.

• The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has released the data for the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) for the month of January. The IIP data shows that: Industrial output growth stood at 1.7% in January against the 2.6% growth recorded in December 2018.  Eleven out of the twenty-three industry groups in the manufacturing sector have shown positive growth during the month of January 2019 as compared to January 2018. The cumulative industrial production increased by 4% in April-January FY2019 compared with 4.1% growth in April-January FY2018.

Japan plans to stun the world in 2020 Olympics.

• Driverless cars, robot volunteers and ultra high-definition TV: Japan Inc. plans to use the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to show the world it has regained its touch for innovation and technology.  The last time Japan hosted the summer games, Tokyo 1964, it stunned the visitors with its shinkansen, the sleek high-speed bullet train that has since become a byword for cool and efficient transport.

•  The country used the games as a springboard to dominate the tech world. From Sharp's LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screens to the Sony Walkman, Japan enjoyed an unparalleled reputation in the vanguard of technological innovation. Japan’s vision for the 2020 Games includes an aspiration to make them the most innovative in history.

NASA to send women to Mars.

• NASA, the US Space agency, said that the first person to set foot on Mars is likely to be a woman. It said that women are at the forefront of the U.S. space agency’s upcoming plans.

• NASA recently announced that it will have its first all-female spacewalk at the end of the month when astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will get to float around in space. NASA has the first all-female spacewalk at the end of March, which is, of course, National Women’s Month. So NASA is committed to making sure that it has a diverse set of talent. It is also looking forward to the first woman on the Moon.

DAY:

World Kidney Day 2019 is observed on 14th March.

• World Kidney Day 2019 is observed on 14th March. The theme of the World Kidney Day 2019 is Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere.  Second Thursday of March every year is observed as World Kidney Day every year as a global health awareness campaign focusing on the importance of the kidneys and reducing the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide.

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Important Current Affairs 12th March 2019

NATIONAL:

Jet Airways sought Rs.750 crore from Etihad

• Naresh Goyal, Jet Airways chairman, has sought urgent funding of Rs.750 crore from its equity partner Etihad, the reason cited was the very precarious position of the airline following the lingering cash flow issues which got amplified after the forced grounding of over 50 of its planes.

• The airline had also secured the go-ahead from the Civil Aviation Ministry to pledge its shares in Jet Privilege for securing the interim funding. The airline holds 49.9% stake in the loyalty programme while the majority is with Etihad.

PM inaugurated Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute of Archaeology.

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the new Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute of Archaeology at Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh. He also unveiled the statue of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya at the campus.  Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute of Archaeology is a state-of-the-art institution that comprises of an auditorium, an open-air theatre, and an Archaeological Museum

• Institute of Archaeology is an academic wing of the Archeological Survey of India under the Ministry of Culture.  Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage in India.

• It functions under the under the Ministry of Culture. ASI regulates all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 and Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.

PM attended 50th Raising Day celebrations of CISF.

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the 50th Raising Day celebrations of Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF), at Indirapuram in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. He suggested the idea of starting digital museums at airports and metros, showcasing the work of CISF.

• Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF): Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) came into existence in 1969 with three battalions. It provides integrated security cover to the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) which occupied the commanding heights of the economy. Over the years CISF has grown several folds to reach 1,48,371 personnel.

Surat Metro Project springs up expected to serve the masses by 2024.

• The Government of India approved the Surat Metro Rail Project having two Metro Rail Corridors with a combined length of 40.35 km.

• The project will be completed in 5 years at an estimated project cost of Rs. 12020.32 Crore This project will provide continuous availability of affordable, reliable, safe, secure and seamless transport system in the urban agglomeration of the city.

• It will reduce the accidents, pollution, travel time, energy consumption, anti-social incidents as well as regulate urban expansion and land use for sustainable development.

Jammu and Kashmir government to give monthly stipend and jobs for those who Shun militancy.

• Draft on Reintegration proposes a monthly stipend and jobs for those who Shun militancy by the Jammu and Kashmir government. The move is to encourage the youths hailing from Jammu and Kashmir to Shun militancy.  The government proposes to offer them a monthly stipend of Rs. 6000 and jobs. The new Reintegration policy draft is under the consideration of Jammu and Kashmir administration headed by Governor Sathya Pal Malik

• As per the government, the initiative will allow the militants who surrender ‘to encourage him to join the mainstream’. It gives importance to rehabilitation. Militants found to have been involved in heinous crimes won’t get the proposed benefits.

About Jammu and Kashmir

♦ Capital – Srinagar (summer), Jammu (winter)

♦ Governor – Sathya Pal Malik

Madhya Pradesh Government raises Reservation Quota of OBCs to 27 percent.

• Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel approved the ordinance to increase reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) from 14 per cent to 27 per cent, making MP the only state in India to have 27 per cent quota for OBCs. At present, the state provides 20 per cent reservation to Scheduled Tribes, and 16 per cent to Scheduled Castes.

• OBCs are estimate to constitute nearly 52 per cent of the state’s population, and OBC groups have often demanded an increase in reservation to reflect their strength in the state

Centre amended the Enemy Property Order.

• The central government has amended the guidelines for disposal of the Enemy Property Order, 2018, to facilitate usages of enemy property by the state government exclusively for public use.  Enemy properties are the properties of the people who migrated to Pakistan during partition and also to China after the Sino-India war in 1962. It is estimated that there are 9,280 such properties which were left behind by people who went to Pakistan and 126 such properties were left by the Chinese nationals.

• The central government has amended the guidelines for disposal of the Enemy Property Order, 2018, to facilitate usages of enemy property by the state government exclusively for public use.  Enemy properties are the properties of the people who migrated to Pakistan during partition and also to China after the Sino-India war in 1962. It is estimated that there are 9,280 such properties which were left behind by people who went to Pakistan and 126 such properties were left by the Chinese nationals.

Venkaiah Naidu conferred Honorary Doctorate from the University of Peace.

• Vice President Venkaiah Naidu was conferred Honorary Doctorate from the UN established the University of Peace. He is the first Indian to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Peace. The university has stated that the degree of "Doctor Honoris Causa" (Doctor of Philosophy) was conferred on the Indian Vice President recognising his contribution to the Rule of Law, democracy and sustainable development in India.

• The University of Peace was established in accordance with the Resolution 35/55 passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1980. The main campus of the University of Peace is located in Costa Rica. It aims to be a forward-thinking, transformational and inspirational educational institution dedicated to the goals of quality teaching, research, and service for serving humanity in building a peaceful world.

Centre launched Pulse Polio Programme 2019 to eradicate Polio.

• The government has launched the Pulse Polio Programme 2019. Under the programme, polio drops would be administered to children less than five years of age. More than 17 crore children of less than five years across the country will be administered polio drops.

• The pulse polio programme aims to protect children from the polio disease by conducting two nationwide mass polio vaccination campaigns and two to three sub-national campaigns each year.  India was declared Polio-free country in the year 2014.

• India's last reported cases of wild polio were in West Bengal and Gujarat on 13 January 2011. 

♦ Polio also known as poliomyelitis is a highly contagious viral disease caused by Poliovirus

♦ It attacks the nervous system

♦ Children younger than 5 years old are more likely to contract the virus than any other group 

♦ Poliovirus spreads by food or water containing human faeces and less commonly from infected saliva

Arcelor Mittal receives NCLT nod for taking over Essar Steel at Rs 42,000 Crore.

• A resolution plan of Rs. 42,000 crores submitted by ArcelorMittal for the acquisition of Essar Steel Ltd. was approved by the Ahmedabad bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). The approval has been granted 583 days after the beginning of insolvency proceedings, against the mandatory time period of 270 days.

India stands world’s 2nd largest arms importer says SIPRI.

• According to the latest report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India was the world’s second largest importer of major arms in 2014–18 and accounted for 9.5% of the global total. Saudi Arabia which holds the long-held tag as largest importer accounted for 12% of the total imports during the period.

•  Russia accounted for 58% of Indian arms imports in 2014–18, compared with 76% in 2009-13. Israel, the U.S., and France all increased their arms exports to India in 2014-18. The Russian share in Indian imports is likely to sharply go up for the next five-year period as India signed several deals including S-400 air defence systems, four stealth frigates, AK-203 assault rifles, a second nuclear attack submarine on the lease, and deals for Kamov-226T utility helicopters, Mi-17 helicopters, and short-range air defence systems.

Keralas Marayur jaggery finally gets Geographical Indication tag.

• The Marayoor Jaggery, the traditional and handmade product from Idukki district of Kerala, received the Geographical Indication (GI) tag from the Central Government. In Marayur and Kanthallur grama panchayats of Kerlala, jaggery is produced without adding any chemicals.

• The distinct features of the Marayur Jaggery are high sweetness with less saltiness, high content of iron and less sodium. About Geographical Indication (GI): A Geographical Indication (GI) tag is a name or sign used on products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin. It can be a town, a region, or a country. It plays a very important role to increase the realm of the market.

Pinaka guided rocket system successfully test fired.

• Defence Research and Development organisation, DRDO successfully test fired the PINAKA guided WEAPON rocket system from Pokhran range in Rajasthan. This indigenously developed Guided PINAKA by DRDO will significantly boost the capability of the artillery to make precision hits. Pinaka is a multiple rocket launcher produced in India for the Indian Army. Pinaka saw service during the Kargil War, where it was successful in neutralising enemy positions on the mountain tops.

Hardeep Puri launched the Indian Urban Observatory and Video wall at New DelhI.

• Minister of State (I/C) for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep S Puri, inaugurated the state-of-the-art India Urban Observatory and Video Wall at New Delhi. The India Urban Observatory will plug into the sources of data from cities, both from real-time and archival sources. It will help in getting up-to-date information on a meaningful set of indicators over various domains such as transport, health, environment, water, finance and so on, which will further assist in developing best practices, future

BANKS:

Korea Exim Bank to give Rs 4,100 crore loan for Vizag Metro.

• Korea Exim Bank has come forward to extend a Rs 4,100 crore loan for Visakhapatnam Metro Rail project. The three-corridor Vizag Metro would be built over a stretch of 42.55 km at a cost of Rs 8,300 crore. About Korea Eximbank:

♦ Also called  Export–Import Bank of Korea

♦ It is the official export credit agency of South Korea

♦ Founded: 1976

♦ Headquarters: Seoul, South Korea.

INTERNATIONAL:

Fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly to discuss curbing of plastic waste.

• The fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly has gathered in Nairobi, Kenya from 11 - 15 March 2019.  In the five-day UN Environment Assembly, Countries from around the world has set their sights on a pivotal deal to curb plastic waste, a source of long-term pollution and worsening contamination of the ocean’s food chain

• The UN wants individual countries to sign up to significantly reduce plastic production, including a phasing out of single-use plastics by 2030, a goal inspired by the 2015 Paris Agreement on voluntary reductions of carbon emissions.

• The world currently produces more than 300 million tonnes of plastics annually, and there are at least five trillion plastic pieces floating in our oceans. Microplastics have been found in the deepest sea trenches and high up the earth’s tallest peaks, and plastic consumption is growing year-on-year. The One Planet Summit on 14th March will bring together heads of State to lend political clout to the process.

Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister meets PM Modi.

• Saudi Arabia's state minister for Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir met PM Narendra Modi in Delhi. Jubeir's visit to India comes days after his trip to Pakistan's Islamabad. Saudi minister's visit comes after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's stand-alone visits to India and Pakistan soon after the Pulwama terror attack.

About Saudi Arabia:

♦ Capital: Riyadh

♦ Currency: Saudi riyal

♦ King: Mohammed bin Salman

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Important Current Affairs 11th March 2019

NATIONAL:

Karnataka sought Rs.2,064 crore for draught relief

• Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy sought early release of Rs.2,064.30 crore funds to provide relief to drought-hit farmers in the ongoing rabi season. In addition to floods, Karnataka reeled under severe drought both during Kharif (summer) and rabi (winter) seasons of the 2018-19 crop year (July-June).

• The state government has submitted a memorandum seeking Rs.2,064.30 crore drought relief fund for the ongoing rabi season as crop loss is estimated to be Rs.11,384.7 crore. The state has declared drought in156 out of 176 talukas.

• The state has released Rs.386 crore from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and given priority to ensure drinking water and fodder, besides creating 1.19 crore man-days jobs under the MGNREGA scheme

Lok Sabha 2019 elections will start from 11th April

• Election Commission of India announced that the Lok Sabha 2019 elections will start from April 11, in seven phases. Code of Conduct for parties kicks in from 10th March and there are close to 90 crore eligible voters. Date of counting will be on the 23rd of May 2019.

• The election in 22 States and Union Territories will be conducted in a single phase. Two-phase elections are in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Manipur, and Tripura, while Assam and Chhattisgarh will have three phases. Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Odisha will be covered in four phases, Jammu and Kashmir in five, and Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal in seven phases. In Anantnag, the election will be held in three rounds.

• Schedule of the seven phases of Lok Sabha polls:

♦ Phase one – 11th April 2019

♦ Phase two – 18th April 2019

♦ Phase three – 23rd April 2019

♦ Phase four – 29th April 2019

♦ Phase five – 06th May 2019

♦ Phase six – 12th May 2019

♦ Phase seven – 19th May 2019

Date of counting- 23rd May 2019

NPPA reduced MRP of 390 non-scheduled cancer medicines up to 87 percent

• The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has reduced the MRP of 390 non-scheduled cancer medicines have been reduced by up to 87%.NPPA has asked the manufacturers and hospitals to revise the prices based on the trade margin formula. According to the price regulator, five brands will see a price reduction of about 70%, while 12 others will see a 50-70% price cut. MRPs of 45 cancer medicines will reduce by 25%.

• This price reduction is expected to result in annual savings of around Rs.800 crore for patients. The price reduction is expected to benefit about 22 lakh cancer patients in India.

Ministry of power to give star rating for 2 electrical appliances

• The Ministry of Power has announced that two more electrical appliances microwave ovens and washing machines will now be assigned star ratings based on their energy efficiency metrics.

• The rating of appliances in India is undertaken by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency. Bureau of Energy Efficiency is a statutory body set up under the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.

• The program to rate microwave ovens and washing machines will be implemented on a voluntary basis and will be valid up to December 31, 2020. Star Rating of Appliances provides a basic sense of how energy efficient each product is. Higher the rating, higher is the efficiency of the appliance.

India, ASEAN clock fastest growth for e-commerce, digital trade sectors: FICCI KPMG

• According to India and ASEAN: Co-creating the Future’ report by industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and consulting major KPMG, India and 10 member ASEAN are among the fastest growing economies in the world.

• India and ASEAN show a faster growth rate even for e-commerce and digital trade sectors.

• Global E-commerce Sector topped by China.

• Global e-commerce sales are expected to reach 4.5 trillion dollars from 1.3 trillion dollars by 2021.

• By 2025, the e-commerce market in India is expected to reach a volume of 90 billion dollars as per the report.

BANKS:

SBI to link the interest rate to RBIs repo rate

• State Bank of India is to link the interest rate it offers on savings account deposits to the Reserve Bank of India’s repo rate, an external benchmark. SBI has become the first domestic bank to do such linking. By doing so, the bank will effectively link all loan rates to an external benchmark either directly or indirectly, thereby attempting tospeed up the transmission of any changes in the benchmark monetary policy rate to depositors and borrowers.

• The following changes are announced by SBI:

♦ Savings accounts with deposits above Rs.1 lakh would be priced at 2.75% below the prevailing repo rate of 6.25%

♦ Cash credit accounts and overdraft facilities over Rs.1 lakh would be priced at 2.25% over the repo rate

♦ For all other floating rate products, including retail and corporate loans, the impact of SBI’s decision to link savings account deposit rates to the repo rate will be felt indirectly

♦ For savings account holders with balances up to Rs.1 lakh and borrowers with cash credit and overdraft limits up to Rs.1 lakh, interest rates will remain fixed

AWARDS AND APPOINTMENTS:

Maneka Gandhi felicitated the 30 winners of the Web Wonder Women contest

• Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, felicitated the 30 winners of the ‘Web Wonder Women’ contest organized by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in New Delhi.

• The women were selected from over 240 nominations received under the categories media, awareness, legal, health, governmental, food, environment, development, business and art.

ACKO General Insurance honoured with Golden Peacock Award 2019

• he new-age digital insurance company, ACKO General Insurance was awarded the prestigious Golden Peacock Innovative Product Award – 2019, for their contextual micro insurance product -“Ola Ride Insurance“.

• The award was presented to Biresh Giri, Appointed Actuary & CRO, Acko at an event in Dubai.

• Launched in March 2018, Ola Ride Insurance is a first of its kind insurance in the Indian market where Acko partnered with the leading ride-sharing company, Ola.

India claims the First Prize at The International Golden City Gate Tourism Awards 2019 in the category of TV Cinema Spot at ITB, Berlin

• The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India was awarded the First Prize in the category- TV Cinema Spot at the International Golden City Gate Tourism Awards 2019 held at Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB), Berlin.

• The awards were received by Shri Yogendra Tripathi, Secretary, Tourism.

• The awards were given for the following promotional films and TV commercials produced under the Incredible India 2.0 Campaign:

Yogi of the Racetrack

The Reincarnation of Mr. and Mrs. Jones

Sanctuary in Paris

Maharani of Manhattan

The Masala Master Chef

S. Mubarak appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of El Salvador

• Shri B. S. Mubarak, the Indian Foreign Service officer of 2001 batch, is presently the Ambassador of India to the Republic of Guatemala.

INTERNATIONAL:

Japanese woman honoured by Guinness World Records

• A 116-year-old Japanese woman who loves playing the board game Othello is being honored as the world’s oldest living person by Guinness World Records.

• Tanaka was born January 2, 1903, the seventh among eight children. The previous oldest living person was another Japanese woman, Chiyo Miyako, who died in July at age 117.

NASAs LRO spotted water molecules moving around the dayside of moon

• NASA Scientists have observed water molecules moving around the dayside of the moon using NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). It is an advance that could help us learn about the accessibility of water that can be used by humans in future missions.

• Measurements from the Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) instrument aboard the LRO of the sparse layer of molecules temporarily stuck to the surface helped characterize lunar hydration changes over the course of a day.

• Lunar water can potentially be used by humans to make fuel or to use for radiation shielding or thermal management. Water molecules remain tightly bound to the regolith until surface temperatures peak near lunar noon.

Pulse polio programme launched in Nagaland

• The Nagaland Health and Family Welfare Department launched the first round of 'Intensive Pulse Polio Immunization' programme. I.Himato Zhimomi, Principal Secretary of Health and Family Welfare, administered the first two polio drops to an infant at Naga Hospital, Kohima marking the launch of the three-day programme.

India launched its 3rd IT corridor in China

• National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) entered into a partnership with China's Xuzhou city from Jiangsu Province in China to help develop the IT corridor. This is India's third IT corridor in China. The corridor will facilitate partnerships between Indian and Chinese companies.

• The partnership will enable Indian software and service industry associations to enter the Chinese market and seize the development opportunities in China. The earlier two corridors launched at Dalian and Guiyang cities has brought to fore opportunities with over 300 companies where more than 10 Indian SME companies have signed deals worth 31 Million RMB (USD 4.5 million).

• The first two corridors had enabled cooperation in co-create mode in emerging technologies such as A1, IOT, and Analytics in the Chinese market. IT corridor project between India and China strengthens India-China Digital Cooperation

SPORTS:

Bisht won gold at the 38th GeeBee Boxing Tournament, Finland

• Kavinder Singh Bisht in the 56kg-category struck gold at the 38th GeeBee Boxing Tournament in Helsinki, Finland. Bisht defeated Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Hussamuddin in the 56kg summit clash.

• Three-time Asian medallist Shiva Thapa, Govind Sahani, Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Mohammed Hussamuddin and Dinesh Dagar won silver medals at the Finland Boxing tournament.

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Important Current Affairs of 10th March

NATIONAL:

Google launches 'Bolo' app to help children read in Hindi, English

• Google has launched a new app called Bolo, which aims to help students with their reading and comprehension skills and will help them read out aloud in English and in Hindi.

• The app features an animated character 'Diya', who encourages children to read stories aloud and helps if the child is unable to pronounce a word.

• Bolo will also be a free app and relies on Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech technology.

Southern Railway gets a boost; Kerala to get a new coaching terminal in Nemom

• Minister of Railways & Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal laid the foundation stone for New Coaching Terminal at Nemom and unveiled WAP-7HS passenger locomotive through video conferencing here today. Shri Ghanshyam Singh, Member (Traction), Railway Board, Shri Rajesh Agarwal, Member (Rolling Stock), Railway Board, Shri Vishwesh Chaubey, Member (Engineering), Railway Board and other Senior Railway Officers were present on this occasion.

• Shri Piyush Goyal said that the present Government has consistently focused on development for all areas in the country

• The main focus has been on large scale infrastructure creation both physical and social.

Telangana govt forms SIT to probe data theft case

• The Telangana government formed a Special Investments in-depth probe into the alleged electoral rolls data theft.

• The Telangana government formed a Special Investments in-depth probe into the alleged electoral rolls data theft.

• The SIT will have three IPS officers, two DSPs and a few instants A YSR Congress leader had lodged a complaint with the Cyberattack.

• YSRCP president YS Jaganmohan Reddy alleged that the TDP president and chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu.

Centre to launch work from home jobs in the IT sector

• The government is working on a scheme to push work-from-home jobs in the IT sector by offering financial incentives to both employees and employers. Incentivising work-from-home jobs through policy-level initiatives can help in creating jobs in the ITES domain while increasing the available talent pool for the sector.

• This will create employment opportunities in the IT/ITES industry, especially for women and differently-abled persons. Currently, the scheme is proposed for a three-year period till March 31, 2022, with an outlay of about Rs.270 crore to create about 50,000 work-from-home jobs.

• The initiative is likely to be launched as phase II of the IT Ministry’s India BPO Promotion Scheme that incentivises firms to set up operations in tier-2 and tier-3 cities in the country. The scheme, launched in 2016, had an outlay of about Rs. 500 crore with an objective to create about 1.45 lakh jobs.

BANKS AND ECONOMY:

DBS plans to triple balance sheet size in 5 years as a WoS

• Singapore’s DBS Bank plans to grow its balance sheet size threefold in five years. DBS recently started operations in India as a wholly owned subsidiary (WoS). The bank is expected to close the financial year with a balance sheet size of Rs.50,000 crore.

• In 2018, the bank infused Rs.1,800 crore capital while transforming itself into a WoS. The total capital of the bank now stands at Rs.7,700 crore, with a capital adequacy ratio of more than 19%. The loan book, which is about Rs. 20,000 crore, is predominantly made up of corporate loans while the share of retail is less than 10%. The deposit base of the bank is about Rs. 30,000 crore.

• DBS aims to grow the retail so that it contributes 30% of the income and profitability over the next few years.

AWARDS AND PRIZES:

Arata Isozaki won Pritzker Architecture Prize

• Arata Isozaki, a prominent Japanese architect renowned for his versatility and transnational approach to design, has won his field's highest accolade, the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

• He is the 46th person and eighth Japanese architect to receive the Pritzker Prize.

President Ram Nath Kovind to give Nari Shakti awards on International Womens Day

• International Women’s Day is being observed on 08th March. Governments, NGOs and other organisations across the world observe the day on the 8th of March every year to highlight the achievements of women.

• The theme for this year’s women’s day is ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’.

• The purpose of the theme is to achieve gender equality by putting innovation by women and girls, for women and girls, at the heart of efforts.

RESIGNATION:

Kummanam Rajasekharan Resigns as Mizoram Governor

• Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan stepped down from his post. Governor of Assam, Prof. Jagdish Mukhi, has been given temporary charge of the Aizawl Raj Bhavan.

• Mr. Rajasekharan, who was former State president of the BJP in Kerala, sworn in as Governor of Mizoram in May 2018.

INTERNATIONAL:

China hikes defence budget to USD 177.61 billion, turns second highest spender

• China has increased its defence budget by 7.5 per cent for this year, hiking it to USD 177.61 billion from last year's USD 175 billion.

• It is over three times India's defence budget.

• With this increase, China becomes the highest defence spender on defence after the United States.

• India's defence budget this year was increased by 6.87 per cent to Rs 3.18 lakh crore against last year's allocation of Rs 2.98 lakh crore.

France reiterates support for India’s permanent seat in reformed UNSC

• France, which assumed the March Presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), has reiterated its support for India as the permanent member of the powerful UN organ. It said that the UNSC’s enlargement is the first crucial part towards its reform.

• India has been calling for the reform of the UN Security Council along with Brazil, Germany, and Japan for long, emphasizing that it rightly deserves a place at the UN high table as a permanent member.

• It also stressed that the UN cannot be recognised as a centre of gravity for multilateralism throughout the world unless it can step up partnerships and focus should also be made on openness to civil society, business world, NGOs and trade unions, which are all stakeholders that breathe life into the UN.

SPORTS:

Yomif Kejelcha sets world indoor mile record with a time of 3min 47.01sec

• Ethiopia's Yomif Kejelcha smashed the world indoor mile record with a time of 3min 47.01sec at the Bruce Lehane Invitational in Boston. The 21-year-old broke a record of a mark of 3:48.45 set by Morocco's Hicham El Gerrouj on February 12, 1997.

• It was third time lucky for Kejelcha, who narrowly missed out on breaking world indoor records in his two previous races. He finished just 0.01 outside the world indoor mile record at the Millrose Games with a time of 3:48.46, and was then beaten to the world indoor 1,500m record in Birmingham one week later when compatriot Samuel Tefera won in 3:31.04.

EXTRAS:

HIV remission achieved via stem cell transplantation

• In a significant development, a person with HIV infection has been reported to be experiencing remission for the last 18 months after antiretroviral therapy (ART) was stopped following stem-cell transplantation in London. Remission is when HIV RNA (ribonucleic acid) is undetectable in blood. ART is used for treating HIV.

• The person with HIV was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer, in 2012. To treat cancer, stem cells which give rise to blood cells were transplanted from a donor who had two mutant copies of a co-receptor for HIV infection. This exercise was carried out in London.  The co-receptor (CCR5) is used by the HIV virus to gain entry into host cells in humans. But a mutant does not allow the virus to enter the host cells and hence makes the person resistant to HIV infection.

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