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For the very purpose of getting you ready for the challenge that is Current Affairs In India, we are covering the 2019 March current affairs including politics current affair, current affair news, science current affairs, general knowledge current affair, current government affair and international current affairs. Only studying India's current affairs or political current affairs is not sufficient as you have to cover international events and current affairs along with the Indian current affairs, as well as those in the field of science and sports.

Current Affairs - March

Current Affairs March 03 to March 09

International Current News

  • Iran: It is also called Persia and officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Iran has announced the successful flight test of its new Hoveizeh long-range cruise missile. The announcement has coincided with celebrations for the country’s 1979 Islamic revolution. According to an official, 'The test of the Hoveizeh cruise missile was carried out successfully at a range of 1,200 km and accurately hit the set target. The Hoveizeh, part of the Soumar family of cruise missiles unveiled in 2015, has a range of over 1,350 km (840 miles) and is designed to be used against ground targets. Cruise missiles with a range of over 1,000 km are classified as long range. The Hoveizeh missile needs a very short time for its preparedness and can fly at a low altitude. An undated video released by the defense ministry showed the Hoveizeh being test-fired from a mobile launcher. Hoveizeh is manufactured by the Aerospace Industries Organization and will be used by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Force. Iran began ten days of celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution which deposed the monarch Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, replacing his government with an Islamic republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
  • Macedonia: It is a country in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. Macedonia has signed an accord to join NATO to become the 30th member of the US-led alliance. At a formal signing of the NATO accession protocol, Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov hailed the moment as showing that the country will never walk alone once in the alliance. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the admittance of a new member highlighted that all European nations who meet the entrance criteria could join the regional alliance. However, Moscow has continually rejected NATO's position, saying that by taking in Balkan members, the alliance is undermining security in the region. The Macedonia-NATO accord follows a deal with Greece ending a 27-year-old dispute over Macedonia's name. The accord must now be ratified by allied governments.
  • Thailand: It is a Southeast Asian country. It's known for tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha. Siamese fighting fish has been named Thailand’s national aquatic animal. Known in the Western World as a betta fish, the underwater brawler is popular in home aquariums for its iridescent body and many-hued tail. According to an official statement, cabinet of Thailand greenlighted a proposal for the fighting fish to be the national fish, citing its historical and cultural significance. It brings up feelings of nostalgia for older generations in Thailand – which changed its name from Siam in 1939. They remember a time when the fish were traded and sparred in childhood games. Children looking for the fish today will mostly see it in pet shops.

National Current News

  • National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS): It was the new survey conducted by Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. According to the report, over 93 per cent households in rural India have access to toilets and of these households, 96.5 per cent uses them. The survey was conducted by an independent verification agency under the supervision of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, also re-confirmed the open defecation free (ODF) status of 90.7 per cent villages which were declared so by various districts and states. The survey was conducted between November 2018 and February 2019 and covered 92,040 households in 6,136 villages across States and Union Territories of India. It was found that 93.1 per cent of households have access to toilets during the survey period and 96.5 per cent of those who had access to toilets, used them. 90.7 per cent villages which were previously declared and verified as ODF were re-confirmed to be ODF. The remaining villages also had sanitation coverage of about 93 per cent. 95.4 per cent of the villages surveyed found to have minimal litter and minimal stagnant water. The government said since its launch in October 2014, the Swachh Bharat Mission has changed the behaviour of hundreds of millions of people with respect to toilet access and usage. 500 million people have stopped defecating in the open since the SBM began, down from 550 million at the beginning of the programme to less than 50 million.
  • NABL : It is the abbreviation for National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories. It is an autonomous society providing Accreditation (Recognition) of Technical competence of a testing, calibration, medical laboratory & Proficiency testing provider (PTP) & Reference Material Producer (RMP). NABL has launched another voluntary scheme called Quality Assurance Scheme (QAS) for Basic Composite (BC) Medical Laboratories (Entry Level). These laboratories perform only basic routine tests like blood glucose, blood counts, rapid tests for common infections, liver & kidney function tests and routine tests of urine will be eligible to apply under this scheme. To encourage small pathology laboratories, the base criterion of the scheme is based on the requirements enlisted in Gazette notification dated 18th May, 2018 by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) to amend Clinical Establishments (Central Government) Rules, 2012. The scheme requires minimal documentation and a nominal fee has been prescribed for availing the scheme. Components of competence assessment have been added for assuring quality and validity of test results. The scheme will help to bring quality at the grass root level of India’s health system where laboratories follow the imperatives of quality in all their processes.
  • Rs 20 Coin: The Government has launched first ever ₹20 coin which will be shaped like a 12-edged polygon with design of grains to denote farm dominance in the country. The ₹20 coin will weigh 8.54 gm and its outside diameter will be 27mm with the outer ring made of nickel silver and the centre piece of Nickel brass. The face of the new ₹20 coin shall bear the ‘Lion Capitol of Ashoka Pillar’ with ‘Satyameva Jayate’ inscribed below. The left periphery will have the word ‘Bharat’ in Hindi and the right periphery will have the word ‘India’ in English. The reverse side of the coin would have the denominational value ‘20’ in the international numerals along with the Rupee symbol. The design of grains depicting the agricultural dominance of the country is flanked on the left periphery of the coin. The year of minting in international numerals shall be shown on centre of left periphery of the coin.
  • Kendriya Vidyalaya: It is a system of central government schools in India. The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the setting up of 50 new KendriyaVidyalayas under Civil/Defence Sector all over the country. The Vidyalayas are proposed to be opened in the Civil/Defense Sector and once they are fully functional they will provide quality education to approximately 50,000 students once they become fully operational. The new KVs will be set up at Gaya and Supaul in Bihar, Sonitpur and Darrang in Assam, Bilaspur and Kondagaon in Chhattisgarh, Yamunanagar, Gurgaon and Sonepat in Haryana, Agar-Malwa, Alirajpur, Anuppur, Mandsaur and Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Shivgangai and Madurai in Tamil Nadu, Sepahijala in Tripura, Varanasi, Fatehpur, Hamirpur, Lakhimpur Kheri, Agra and Behraich in Uttar Pradesh, Udham Singh Nagar and Champawat in Uttarakhand. The KVs will also build in Siligudi in West Bengal, Koderma, Sarai Kelakharsawan and West Singhbhum in Jharkhand, Belgaum and Bengaluru in Karnataka, Pratapgarh amd Dausa in Rajasthan, Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, Anjaw, Namsai and Upper Subansari in Arunachal Pradesh, Mandi in Himachal Pradesh, Doda in Jammu and Kashmir, Ernakulam in Kerala, Gadchiroli in Maharashtra and Keonjhar, Ganjam, and Rayagada in Odisha.
  • National Common Mobility Card : It is a bank-issued debit, credit or prepaid card which can be used for payments for all transport facilities including metro, bus, suburban railways, toll, parking, smart city and retail. The stored value on card supports offline transaction across all travel needs with minimal financial risk to involved stakeholders. The service area feature of this card supports operator specific applications e.g. monthly passes, season tickets etc. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the payment card which can be used to pay transport charges across the country.
  • Aadhaar: It is a 12-digit unique identity number that can be obtained by residents of India, based on their biometric and demographic data. President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to an Ordinance that allows voluntary use of Aadhaar as ID proof for obtaining mobile SIM cards and opening bank accounts. The Ordinance — necessitated because the Rajya Sabha could not approve a Bill after its passage by the Lok Sabha — was promulgated recently. It should be noted that the Cabinet approved the promulgation of an Ordinance to give effect to changes proposed in Aadhaar and two others legislations. The amendments provide for stiff penalties for violation of norms set for the use of Aadhaar and violation of privacy. It bans storing of core biometric information as well as Aadhaar number by service providers in cases of individuals who have voluntarily offered the national ID as a means of authentication. The ordinance gives effect to the changes in the Aadhaar Act such as giving a child an option to exit from the biometric ID programme on attaining 18 years of age. The amendments make it clear that anyone not offering Aadhaar cannot be denied any service, be it opening of a bank account or obtaining a mobile phone SIM card.
  • PSBloansin59minutes.com : It is a portal launched in November to provide credit of up to Rs 1 crore to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in just 59 minutes or less than an hour, in a bid to make banking transparent and hassle-free. The portal has become largest online lending platform in the country with loan sanctions exceeding over Rs 35,000 crore. The platform has reduced the turnaround time from 20-25 days to 59 minutes. Upon approval, the loan is disbursed in 7-8 working days. The automated loan processing system has not only brought in ease, but is also helping in fostering transparency. It has put an end to discretion at the bankers’ end, as in-principle approval of loans does not require human intervention. Due to the linking of data points, no one can game the system now. There is no scope for information asymmetry. It will also end the era of giving false information, such as a different income statement to banks and tax authorities. Since the launch, 1.62 lakh MSME units have been given in-principle approvals, while 1.12 lakh have got a final nod. Of this, 35,517 units have got new loans worth Rs 10,047 crore, while 77,369 units have received renewal loans of Rs 25,609 crore, according to the latest figures. MSME units availing of the loans have to submit details such as income-tax returns, GST data and bank statements to avail of credit facility through this portal.
  • Pradhan Mantri Jivan Yojana: It is a new scheme approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. The scheme titled Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN (Jaiv Indhan- Vatavaran Anukool fasal awashesh Nivaran) Yojana aims for providing financial support to Integrated Bioethanol Projects using lignocellulosic biomass and other renewable feedstock. The JI-VAN Yojana will be supported with total financial outlay of Rs.1969.50 crore for the period from 2018-19 to 2023-24. Out of scheme fund of Rs.1969.50 crore, Rs.1800 crore has been allocated for supporting 12 Commercial projects, Rs.150 crore has been allocated for supporting 10 demonstration Projects and remaining Rs.9.50 crore will be provided to Centre for High Technology (CHT) as administrative charges. Under this Yojana, 12 Commercial Scale and 10 demonstration scale Second Generation (2G) ethanol Projects will be provided a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) support in two phases: a) Phase-I (2018-19 to 2022-23), wherein six commercial projects and five demonstration projects will be supported. b) Phase-II (2020-21 to 2023-24): wherein remaining six commercial projects and five demonstration projects will be supported.
  • Centre for Disability Sports : It is a new facility approved by the Government, aimed at offering sports infrastructure to ensure effective participation of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in sports activities and also enable them to compete at national and international levels. The centre will come up at Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. The facility is expected to be completed in two yeartime, i.e, by 31st March, 2021. Thereafter, it will take another 6 months for the Centre to become operational. Once operational, this Centre will result in employment of 140 personnel. In addition, construction and allied activities will also generate considerable employment opportunities.Setting up of the Centre shall entail an estimated cost of Rs 170.99 crore (Non-recurring Rs.151.16 crore and Recurring Rs 19.83 crore),spread over a period of 5 years. The Centre will have an Outdoor Athletic Stadium, Indoor Sports Complex, Basement Parking Facility; Aquatic Centre having 2 Swimming Pools, one covered Pool and an Outdoor Pool; High Performance Centre with classrooms; medical facilities; Sports Science Centre; hostel facilities for athletes, support facilities including accessible lockers, dining, recreational amenities and Administrative Block. The facilities so developed would be multi-functional centres with provision for training, selection, sports academics and research, medical support, spectator galleries and suitable for holding national/international events.

Science and Technology Current News

  • Geological Survey of India (GSI) : It is a government body and the prime provider of basic earth science information to government, industry and general public, as well as the official participant in steel, coal, metals, cement, power industries and international geoscientific forums. GSI has launched 22 permanent global positioning system (GPS) stations across India to identify seismically hazardous zones and encourage mapping activities. The 22 GPS-Geodetic (pertaining to Geodesy, the science of earth measurement) observatories are located in Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, Jaipur, Pune, Dehradun, Chennai, Jabalpur, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Raipur, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Gandhinagar Vishakhapatnam, Agartala, Itanagar, Mangan, Jammu, Lucknow, Nagpur, Shillong and Little Andaman. The new 13 stations will be located in Aizawl, Faridabad, Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh, Cooch Behar, Zawar, North Andaman, Middle Andaman, South Andaman, Ranchi, Mangalore, Imphal and Chitradurga. These stations are meant to delineate high strain zones for earthquake probability, determine a seismic motion on faults that may lead to a rupture and produce thematic maps with high positional accuracy. The GSI is also keen on getting youngsters interested in geology and has taken several initiatives for this, the first being introduction of geology at the school level.
  • ISRO: It is an acronym for Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is the space agency of the Government of India. It will launch a special programme for School Children called Young Scientist Programme. The Program is primarily aimed at imparting basic knowledge on Space Technology, Space Science and Space Applications to the younger ones with the intent of arousing their interest in the emerging areas of Space activities. The program is thus aimed at creating awareness amongst the youngsters who are the future building blocks of our Nation. This will further help them to appreciate what they are being taught in the school and its real application in Space Science & Technology. ISRO has chalked out this programme to ‘Catch them young’. The programme will be of around two weeks duration during summer holidays and the schedule will include invited talks, experience sharing by the eminent scientists, facility and lab visits, exclusive sessions for discussions with experts, practical and feedback sessions. It is proposed to select 3 students each from each State/ Union Territory to participate in this programme every year covering CBSE, ICSE and State syllabus. Those who have finished 8th standard and currently studying in 9th standard will be eligible for the programme.

Sports Current News

  • Cricket : It is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a field at the centre of which is a 20-metre (22-yard) pitch. Cricket will be returning to the next Asian Games at Hangzhou 2022. Cricket will be making its entry after the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) added it to its sports programme for the next edition of the continental event. Cricket has struggled to grow beyond its traditional bases and was last played at the Olympics in the 1900 Paris Games. Cricket was added back for Hangzhou at the OCA general assembly in Bangkok. The ICC has been pushing for the game's Olympic return with the shortest 20-over format and hopes to find a place at the 2028 Games in Los Angeles. Cricket will return to the next Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) added it to its sports programme for the next edition of the continental event. Cricket has struggled to grow beyond its traditional bases and was last played at the in the 1900 Paris Games. International Cricket Council (ICC) has been pushing for the game's Olympic return with the shortest 20-over format and hopes it will find a place at the 2028 Games in Los Angeles.

Arts

  • Azaadi Ke Diwane museum: It is a new museum dedicated to the unsung heroes of the country’s freedom struggle. Located in Redfort, the facility was built by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). It is the fifth in a series of recently inaugurated ones — the others being the Subhash Chandra Bose and INA museum, the Yaad-e-Jallian museum, the Museum on 1857 (on the country’s first war of Independence) the Drishyakala (a museum on Indian Art) — on the sacrifices of India’s freedom fighters. The museum is a modern, state-of-the-art, informative and educational exhibition involving multi-sensory technology to engage the visitors.

Defence

  • AK 203 rifle: It is a derivative of legendary AK-47 rifle. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid the foundation stone of a manufacturing unit of AK-203 rifles in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi. The rifles will be manufactured in Amethi under a joint venture between India and Russia. The rifles will be known as Made in Amethi and will help security forces in militant encounters. Modi expressed his gratitude to Russian President Vladimir Putin for making the venture possible in such a short time by his support, Modi accused previous governments of neglecting the armed forces, adding that the manufacture of AK-203, a modernised version of the AK-47, should have started more than eight years ago. Attacking the United Progressive Alliance government, Modi said, “These people sat on Rafale deal for years and when it was time for their government to go, they pushed it into cold storage. When our government assumed office, we finalised it in one-and-a-half years...and the first Rafale aircraft will be in our skies soon.
  • Indian Army: It is the land-based branch and the largest component of Indian Armed Forces. Women officers will be getting permanent commissions in 10 branches of the Indian Army. The Defence Ministry said that it has taken necessary steps to ensure that women, who were earlier inducted for short service commission (SSC), get permanent commission in the armed forces. Permanent commission will be granted to women officers inducted in branches such as Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Army Air Defence, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Army Ordinance Corps and Intelligence. The Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers will have to give their option for permanent commission before completion of four years of commissioned service and they would be able to choose their specialisation. The government had earlier approved the the same for the Air Force, where all branches including fighter pilots are open for women officers. In Indian Navy, all non-sea going branches/cadre/specialisation have been opened for induction of women officers through Short Service Commission.

Economics

  • Cement Industry – India 2018: It is a compendium on the Indian Cement Industry released Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu. The compendium has been prepared by National Council for Cement and Building Materials (NCCBM), in association with cement section of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). It contains key information about technology development, challenges and opportunities for Indian cement industry along with an exhaustive directory of cement plants in India. The Indian cement industry is the second largest in the world with an installed capacity of 509 million tonnes per annum in 2018 and cement production of 298 million tonnes in 2018 with 143 integrated cement plants, 102 grinding units, 5 clinkerisation units and 62 mini cement plants in the country.
  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI): It is India's central banking institution, which controls the issuance and supply of the Indian rupee fines three banks for non-compliance of norms. RBI has announced that it has imposed a total penalty of Rs 2.2 crore on private sector lender Axis Bank in two separate cases. A penalty of Rs 2 crore has also been imposed on UCO Bank and Rs 1 crore on Syndicate Bank for violation of norms. The RBI said penalty of Rs 2 crore has been imposed each on Axis Bank and UCO Bank for non-compliance of norms related to payment through cheques. In another case, a penalty of Rs 20 lakh has been imposed on Axis Bank for contravention of the directions related to detection and impounding of counterfeit notes. The penalty on Syndicate Bank has been imposed for violation of guidelines related to checking fraud and managing risk. The RBI, however, said the action on banks is based on deficiencies in regulatory compliance and is not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the bank with its customers.

Current Affairs March 10 to March 16

International Current News

  • European Union: It is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe.The European Union is planning to expand its blacklist of tax havens and is planning to add 10 more countries. According to an official, 'It is expected that the updated blacklist will contain 15 countries, and the updated gray list contains 23 countries. The list was first put together in 2017 to name and shame non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes and will be amended at a meeting of EU economy and finance ministers meet in Brussels'. Seven countries are to be moved back from a gray list because commitments previously made have not been respected. These are Aruba, Belize, Bermuda, Fiji, Oman, Vanuatu and Dominica. They are joined by five more countries entering the naughty list for the first time, whose tax regimes, according to the Commission's assessment, have gotten worse over the past months, these are Barbados, the United Arab Emirates — that's still being debated — and the Marshall Islands.
  • China: It is a populous nation in East Asia whose vast landscape encompasses grassland, desert, mountains, lakes, rivers and large coastline. China has blocked India's bid to declare Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist for the fourth time. Action comes despite the India's huge diplomatic pressure to ban the JeM chief, who is the mastermind behind the ghastly suicide bomb attack in Jammu and Kashmir, which left 44 CRPF jawans dead. After the February-14 Pulwama terrorist attack, the US, the UK and France had moved the United Nations (UN) to declare Masood a global terrorist on February 27. However, China has again chosen to side with its 'all-weather friend' Pakistan, citing it wanted a solution (of the conflict in J&K) 'acceptable to all'.

National Current News

  • New oil and Gas Exploration Policy: Government of India has announced a new policy for oil and Gas exploration. As per the policy, the government will not charge any share of profit on hydrocarbons produced from less explored areas as it looks to attract the elusive private and foreign investment to raise domestic output. According to experts, this move is strategic move, since it breaks away from the two-and-a-half decade-old practice of having a uniform contractual regime for all sedimentary basins in the country, the new policy provides for different rules for areas that already have producing fields and ones where commercial production of oil and gas is yet to be established. Irrespective of the basins, producers will get complete marketing and pricing freedom for oil and gas in future bid rounds.
  • Guidelines for responsible business conduct: It is a new guidelines released by Ministry of Corporate Affairs under the goverment of India. The Ministry has revised the National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business, 2011 (NVGs) and formulated the National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct (NGRBC). These guidelines urge businesses to actualise the principles in letter and spirit. These principles are, 1) Businesses should conduct and govern themselves with integrity in a manner that is Ethical, Transparent and Accountable. 2) Businesses should provide goods and services in a manner that is sustainable and safe. 3) Businesses should respect and promote the well-being of all employees, including those in their value chains. 4) Businesses should respect the interests of and be responsive to all their stakeholders. 5) Businesses should respect and promote human rights. 6) Businesses should respect and make efforts to protect and restore the environment. 7) Businesses, when engaging in influencing public and regulatory policy, should do so in a manner that is responsible and transparent. 8) Businesses should promote inclusive growth and equitable development. 9) Businesses should engage with and provide value to their consumers in a responsible manner.
  • Cloud Seeding: Cloud seeding uses planes to spray clouds with chemicals to condense smaller particles into larger rain droplets. Karnataka approves cloud seeding, hoping to influence the upcoming monsoon and capture as much water as possible from the rain clouds, Karnataka government has pushed a tender call for cloud seeding operations. According to news reports, cloud seeding will enhance rainfall during the monsoons of 2019 and 2020. The project is expected to cost ₹50 crore each year. The tenders should have been out by February, giving enough time for preparation for the monsoon. However, the department managed to get the required approvals and sanction for work before the enforcement of model code of conduct on Sunday. A contractor is expected to be chosen by April-end and, officials said, the cloud-seeding planes could take to the skies by June 20.
  • Vastradan Campaign : It is a campaign launched by erstwhile royal family of Udaipur to donate clothers. Vastradan Campaign initiated has created a Guinness World Record. According to an official release, the campaign has created a Guiness World Record for the largest collection of clothes for donation. The campaign had collected more than 3 lakh items of clothing. Through the Vastradan Campaign, over 3,29,250 pieces of clothing from over 76,000 donors were collected and distributed to the needy. The campaign reached out to over 120 schools, 15 colleges and around 30 NGOs. The certificate for the Guinness World Record was handed over to Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, a descendant of Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap. The campaign was started as an innovative exercise in giving by reaching out to the citizens rather organizations. The campaign highlighted the empathy of the citizen’s especially young boys and girls.
  • Enemy properties: It can be expanded to ‘guidelines for Enemy Property Order, 2018’. Centre has allowed the state government to put Enemy properties to public use. State governments can now put to public use, some enemy properties that were left behind by people who left India for Pakistan and China after 1965 and 1971 wars. A notification was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on March 8 amending the guidelines for disposal of the Enemy Property Order, 2018. The move came amid the Centre's efforts to sell around 9,400 enemy properties, valued at around Rs 1lakh crore. In November last year, the government gave an in-principle clearance for the sale of 6.50 crore shares valued at around Rs 3,000 crore belonging to those people who left India for Pakistan and China. The order has been amended to facilitate usages of enemy property by the state government exclusively for public use. According to a government report, India holds assets worth at least Rs 1.07 lakh crore, including 11,882 acres of land, belonging to people who migrated to Pakistan after 1965 and 1971 wars. Besides this, there are 149 immovable enemy properties of Chinese nationals, spread over Karnataka, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi.
  • The Star Labelling Programs: It is a program formulated by Bureau of Energy Efficiency. The program will now include these two appliances for grant of Star Rating in terms of their energy performance. Initially, the program for above two appliances will be implemented on a voluntary basis and will be valid up to 31st December 2020. In a bid to optimize energy performance of Microwave Ovens and Washing Machines, Ministry of Power, Government of India expanded its ambitious Standards & Labelling (Star Rating) program for Energy Efficient for Appliances to cover the Microwave Ovens and Washing Machines (with revised parameters) in the country. This initiative will promote advancement of technology and energy efficiency in Microwaves Ovens which is becoming a popular household gadget. As regard to the launch of revised program for Washing Machines It is estimated savings of over 3.0 Billion Units of electricity at consume-end through adoption of Star Rated Microwave Ovens and Washing Machines by 2030. This would be equivalent to Green House Gases (GHG) reduction of 2.4 Million-ton of CO2 by the year 2030 through these initiatives. The size of Indian Microwave Oven market stood at 1.21 million units in year FY 2017-18 and is projected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of around 2%. Whereas, the size of Indian Washing Machine market stood at 6.1 million units in year FY 2017-18 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 8% fuelled by a growth in urbanization. Therefore, it is important to optimize energy performance of Microwave Ovens and Washing Machines. This will create awareness amongst the domestic consumers to encourage transition towards energy efficient microwave ovens and Washing machines.
  • Pulse polio program 2019: It is a government programme to eradicate polio eradication. The programme was launched by President of India Ram Nath Kovind, who administered polio drops to children less than five years old, at the Rahstrapati Bhawan in New Delhi. More than 17 crore children of less than five years across the country will be given polio drops as part of the drive. Universal Immunization Programme is focusing to protect children from more diseases than ever before and has introduced several new vaccines like Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine, Rotavirus vaccine, and Measles-Rubella vaccine in the recent past. To provide additional protection to our children, Government has also introduced the injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine into its routine immunization program. Along with Universal Immunization Programme of the country, government has also launched Mission Indradhanush to accelerate our goal to achieve more than 90% full immunization coverage. More than 3.39 crore children and 87 lakh pregnant women have been vaccinated through Mission Indradhanush drives.
  • J& K Return Policy for Militants: It is a draft policy encourages militants in J&K to give up arms. The policy is under consideration of the J&K government headed by Governor Satya Pal Malik. Jobs, reformative measures, and a monthly stipend of Rs 6,000 are the key points of draft to encourage militants hailing from the state to give up arms. The policy draft is presently at the pre-SAC stage. It is subject to clearance by the State Home Department and the Chief Secretary. The State Administrative Council (SAC) is the body governing J&K, which is under President’s rule, and is led by the Governor and includes his four advisors and Chief Secretary B V R Subramanyam. According to the draft, the new initiative addresses the need for rehabilitation at a policy level through a two-pronged approach: reformative measures and opportunities of livelihood. There is also provision for a monthly stipend of Rs 6,000 for a militant who surrenders with a view to encourage him to join the mainstream. The initiative, however, will not cover militants found to have been involved in heinous crimes.
  • IT Corridor: It is a location which has lot of IT related businesses and facilitates growth. Aiming to facilitate partnerships between Indian and Chinese Companies, India has launched its third IT corridor in China. The 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. The IT industry body has already launched such corridors at Dalian and Guiyang cities to cash in on the burgeoning Chinese IT industry market. Through its previous similar initiatives in China, NASSCOM has brought to the 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 previous IT corridors in Dalian and Guiyang have already sprung up opportunities to the tune of 24 Million RMB (USD 4.6 million) and 62 Million RMB (USD 8.9 million) respectively, it said.
  • National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA): It is a government regulatory agency that controls the prices of pharmaceutical drugs in India. NPPA has put out list of 390 anti-cancer non-scheduled medicines with MRP reduction up to 87 %. NPPA had put 42 anti-cancer drugs under 30% Trade Margin cap. Manufacturers and Hospitals were directed to convey revised MRP, to be effective from 8th March, 2019, based on the Trade Margin (TM) formula. 390 brands i.e. 91% of the 426 brands reported by manufacturers, showed downward price movement. The average out of pocket expenditure for cancer patients is 2.5 times that for other diseases. This move is expected to benefit 22 lakh cancer patients in the country and would result in annual savings of approx. Rs. 800 crores to the consumers. The Trade Margin rationalisation for 42 anti-cancer drugs was rolled out as Proof of Concept, stressing on the new paradigm of self-regulation by the Industry. The manufacturers of these 42 drugs have been directed not to reduce production volumes of brands under regulation.
  • Marayur Jaggery : It is a traditional and handmade product from Idukki district, Kerala. The jaggery has got the geographical indication (GI) tag. The tag allow the food item safe for consumption while rejuvenating the traditional way of production and ensuring a safe market in future. It has been a long-term demand of farmers in Marayur and Kanthallur grama panchayats, where jaggery is produced without adding any chemicals. Though the Marayur jaggery has always been known for its high quality, fake jaggery with a salty taste was being marketed as Marayur jaggery. It was the persistent efforts made by the Intellectual Property Rights cell, Kerala Agriculture University, from August 2016 that resulted in the jaggery receiving the GI tag. An official said, said that GI tag would help get more acceptance in the internatioanl market for the product. But the farmer should maintain the quality. The GI tag would aid in initiating legal action against fake jaggery being sold as Marayur jaggery. The GI tag was given after considering its quality and speciality.
  • Sirsi Supari : It is kind of aracanut which is grown Yellapura, Siddapura and Sirsi taluks in Karnatakan. This kind of arecanut has got the Geographical Indication (GI) Tag. Totgars’ Cooperative Sale Society Ltd., Sirsi, is the registered proprietor of the GI. The Registrar of Geographical Indications, under the Union government, Chennai issued the certificate to the society on March 4, 2019. Its GI number is 464. According to a release, the particular arecanut which is medium in size, somewhat flat and rounded in shape, somewhat ash coloured, and has a hard seed. The arecanut grown in these taluks have unique features like a round and flattened coin shape, particular texture, size, cross-sectional views, taste, etc. These features are not seen in arecanut grown in any other regions. Its average dry weight is 7.5 g and average thickness is 16 mm. This particular variety has a unique taste due to differences in chemical composition. The total average flavonoids content in it is around 90 whereas in others it is around 80. The total carbohydrates in ‘Sirsi Supari’ are 23% to 26%, total arecoline is 0.11% to 0.13%, total tannin content is 14.5% to 17.5%.
  • Erode Turmeric: Erode turmeric is a rhizome, both finger and bulb obtained from the Erode local cultivar. Erode turmeric has finally got a Geographical Indication (GI) tag from the Geographical Indication Registry. The Erode Manjal Vanigargal Matrum Kidangu Urimaiyalargal Sangham applied for the GI tag on January 4, 2011, at the office of the Deputy Registrar of GI Registry in Chennai. A Geographical Indication is a name or sign used on certain products that correspond to a specific geographical location or origin. The application and supporting documents said Erode turmeric was a traditional cultivar of India, grown in Erode, pointed out Chinnaraj G. Naidu, Deputy Registrar of Geographical Indications Registry, Chennai. The cultivar is called Erode local, i.e., Chinnanadan.. In its claim for uniqueness, the application said the mean length of the fingers of Erode turmeric was about 4.15cm and the mean circumference was about 3.03cm. The mean bulb length of the mother rhizome is about 4.54cm and the mean circumference is 6.54cm. Quality parameters of the turmeric included 2.5 to 4.5% of curcumin content, a golden yellow colour and resistence to pests after boiling.

Defence

  • Pinaka Guided Weapons System : It is a guided weapons system is equipped with state-of-the-art guidance kit comprising of an advanced navigation and control system. The weapon systems impacted the intended targets with high precision and achieved desired accuracies. Telemetry Systems tracked and monitored the vehicle all through the flight path and all the mission objectives have been met. Defence Research and Development organisation(DRDO) has successfully test fired the PINAKA guided WEAPON rocket system from Pokhran range in Rajasthan. An official release said, the weapon It said, the indigenously developed Guided PINAKA by DRDO will significantly boost the capability of the artillery to make precision hits.
  • Combat Casualty Drugs : It is a new range of combat casualty drugs developed to save security personnel during grave injuries. According to a release, 90 per cent of gravely wounded security personnel succumbing to injuries within a few hours. In order to reduce the casualities, DRDO's medical laboratory has come up with a range of 'combat casualty drugs' that can extend the golden hour till the trooper is shifted to hospital. The spectrum includes bleeding wound sealants, super absorptive dressings and glycerated salines, all of which can save lives in the event of warfare in jungle and high altitude areas as well as in terror attacks. According to developers of the drugs at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, chances of survival and minimum disability are highest when effective first aid care is given within the golden hour. Scientists at INMAS, entrusted with research and development in a number of areas concerning the defence sector, said the main battlefield emergencies are excess bleeding, sepsis, shock, hypovolemia (decreased blood volume) and pain.
  • Indian Arms Import: India is the second largest importer of weapons in the world, as per the annual report ‘Trends in International Arms Transfers-2018’ by the think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). According to the release, Saudi Arabia displaces India as world’s largest importer of weapons. After maintaining its position of world’s largest arms importer for about 8 years, India dropped down to be the second largest importer of weapons during 2014-18. Saudi Arabia is now the world’s largest weapons importer. India accounted for 9.5 percent of the global total imports during 2014-18, while Saudi Arabia accounted for 12 percent of the total imports during the period.

Current Affairs March 17 to March 23

International Current News

  • New Zealand: It is a country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean consisting of 2 main islands, both marked by volcanoes and glaciation. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a ban on all military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles. Making the annoucement, Jacinda Ardern said, 'I am announcing that New Zealand will ban all military-style semi-automatic weapons. We will also ban all assault rifles'. She announced the interim measures that will stop a rush of purchases before legislation on the measures takes effect. High-capacity magazines and devices similar to bump stocks - which make rifles fire faster - will also be banned. In short, every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack will be banned in this country. Anyone who keeps the guns after an amnesty period will face fines of up to NZUSD 4,000 and three years in jail. Ms Ardern brushed aside suggestions of opposition to the ban. The vast majority of New Zealanders will support this change.
  • Specialised Gurkha Infantry Battalion: It is a new army battalion which is about to be established in British Army. It is also the 3rd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles to be created in the Army. The 3rd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles will join other members of the Specialist Infantry Group, to complete plans set out in the 2015 Defence Review to establish up to five Specialised Infantry Battalions. These specialised Infantry Battalions are designed to provide expert capacity building and training skills with a focus on niche capabilities or areas of the world. For more than 200 years, Gurkhas have been an integral part of the British Armed Forces and have demonstrated exceptional military aptitude, with a 100% pass rate through basic training. Gurkha soldiers continue to make an exemplary contribution to the British Army through the unique skills they offer, including specialist language skills, which enable them to build longstanding relationships with the United Kingdom’s global partners.
  • Kazakhstan : It is a Central Asian country and former Soviet republic, extends from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai Mountains at its eastern border with China and Russia. Kazakhastan has renamed capital ‘Nursultan’ after ex-President. Interim President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev proposed changing the name of the Central Asian nation's capital from Astana to Nursultan. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was sworn in, following the shock resignation of the country’s long-time ruler and in his first official act renamed the capital after his predecessor. The parliament approved the change within hours. The Senate also appointed Mr. Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva as Speaker, setting her up as a potential contender to succeed her father. Mr. Tokayev told lawmakers that Mr. Nazarbayev had 'shown wisdom' by deciding to step down, a rare move in ex-Soviet Central Asia where other leaders have stayed in power until death.

National Current News

  • Mizoram Maintenance of Household Registers Bill, 2019: It is a new bill introduced to detect illegal foreigners in Mizoram. The state shares an over 700-km border with Bangladesh and Myanmar. The state government has introduced the Mizoram Maintenance of Household Registers Bill, 2019 last week. Speaking on the issue, Chief Minister Zoramthanga said the influx of foreigners into the state through its porous borders has remained a serious concern for several decades. The measures proposed under legislation are intended to provide credible individual identification system and to prevent usurpation of benefits of developmental schemes by those who are not entitled. It defines citizens as a person registered as such, or having requisite qualification as prescribed under the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  • Operation Sunrise : It is an operation carried out by Indian Army in Indo Myanmar border. The operation was carried out last month which ended earlier this month when the insurgent camps were wiped out. These insurgents were planning to hit the Indian workers at the Kaladan Transit project. Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project involving India and Myanmar– critical to the connectivity between North East and Myanmar was saved by a joint operation carried out by forces of both countries. Operation was carried out to wip the insurgent camps who were planning to hit the Indian workers at the Kaladan Transit project. The operation reportedly took place between mid-February to early March. It was a joint operation carried out by both Indian and Myanmar armies have, in which at least 10 camps of an insurgent group in the neighbouring Myanmar.
  • Unlocking National Energy Efficiency potential (UNNATEE): It is a draft document released by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency. It is prepared for accelerating energy efficiency in India. It is titled as Unlocking National Energy Efficiency potential (UNNATEE). It is first of its kind which clearly delineates the energy efficiency targets for the respective demand sectors up to the state levels. The consultation paper describes a plain framework and implementation strategy to establish a clear linkage between energy supply-demand scenarios and energy efficiency opportunities. The consultation paper offers a comprehensive roadmap to address India’s environmental and climate change mitigation action through energy efficiency measures. The consultation paper is aimed at developing India’s blueprint of effective energy efficiency strategy is a leap towards stimulating energy efficiency ecosystem and enabling reduction of the pressure on demand. The consultation paper was developed by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in association with PwC India
  • West Nile Virus : It is a single-stranded RNAvirus that causes West Nile fever. It is a member of the family Flaviviridae, specifically from the genus Flavivirus, which also contains the Zika virus, dengue virus, and yellow fever virus. Doctors in the Kozhikode medical college hospital have detected West Nile Virus in a 24-year-old-woman. According to a government statement, the patient had been under treatment since July 13 for fever whose symptoms resembled Japanese Encephalitis. She had been shifted to an isolation ward. Various samples including serum of the patient were sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune to confirm the West Nile fever, typically spread by Monsonia and Qulex mosquitoes. However, the viral infection can be confirmed only if the second samples sent to the laboratory tested positive. These would be sent from the medical college on Saturday, V. Jayasree, District Medical Officer, said in a statement, adding that the confirmation on the disease would be further delayed.
  • Geographical Indications (GI) Tag : It is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation by virtue of their geographical association. The tag conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to the geographical origin of the product. The owner of the GI tag has exclusive rights over the product. The Geographical Indications Registry has granted the Geographical Indication (GI) tag to Coorg Arabica Coffee, Wayanad Robusta Coffee, Chikmagalur Arabica Coffee, Araku Valley Arabica Coffee and Bababudangiris Arabica Coffee. According to the GI application, Coorg Arabica Coffee is grown specifically in Kodagu district in Karnataka. Wayanad Robusta Coffee, the flora of Wayanad is characteristic of the Western Ghats and the plantation crops grown in the cool climate. Chikmagalur Arabica Coffee and Bababudangiris Arabica Coffee are both grown in Chikmagalur district, Karnataka which is also known as the birthplace of coffee in the country. Bababudangiris Arabica Coffee grown specifically in the birthplace of coffee in India and region is situated in the central portion of Chikmagalur district.
  • Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL): It is a public sector undertaking, owned and operated by the Government of India. It has launched smart garbage bins made of stainless steel. These smart garbage bins will be able to send a signal to the garbage collection vehicle about the ‘fill-up’ position of the bin, aiding better cleaning and lower human intervention. The environment-friendly garbage bins will be made of SAIL SALEM stainless steel. These will be installed in underground Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) pits at the Smart Garbage Station. This will help prevent the spread of stink and diseases. SAIL will supply stainless steel garbage bins to Smart Garbage Stations at Bhikaji Cama Place in Delhi, which is being developed by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation. Another Smart Garbage Station being developed in North Delhi by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) at Kamala Nagar will also get stainless steel from SAIL.

Science and Technology Current News

  • Bennu: It is a carbonaceous asteroid in the Apollo group discovered by the LINEAR Project on 11 September 1999. It is a potentially hazardous object that is listed on the Sentry Risk Table with the second-highest cumulative rating on the Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale. NASA scientists have found water, particles in Asteroid Bennu. NASA's OSIRIS-Rex mission found plumes erupting from the cosmic body’s surface — among a numerous other findings including evidence of water-bearing minerals. NASA spacecraft which will be returning to earth would be bringing a sample of asteroid in 2023. Bennu also revealed itself to be more rugged than expected, challenging the mission team to alter its flight and sample collection plans, due to the rough terrain. Bennu is the target of NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (Osiris-REx) mission, which began orbiting the asteroid on December 31 last year. Bennu, which is only slightly wider than the height of the Empire State Building, may contain unaltered material from the very beginning of our solar system. Speaking on the development ante Lauretta, Osiris-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona said, ' The discovery of plumes is one of the biggest surprises of my scientific career. And the rugged terrain went against all of our predictions. Bennu is already surprising us, and our exciting journey there has just getting started.

Sports Current News

  • Special Olympics: Special Olympics is a global sports movement where every single person is accepted and welcomed, regardless of their ability or disability. The Special Olympics are held every two years and alternates between summer and winter. Special Olympics were inaugurated in the presence of UAE rulers, world leaders. The Special Olympics World Games 2019 is being hosted by the cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for the first time. It is also the first time the sports event is hosted in the Middle East and North Africa region. The host UAE had introduced the term 'people of determination; as part of a new National Strategy for Empowering People with Disabilities'

Environment

  • The Indian Forest Act, 1927: It is an act which was largely based on previous Indian Forest Acts implemented under the British. The most famous one was the Indian Forest Act of 1878. Aiming to offer a comprehensive amendment to the Indian Forest Act, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) has finalised the first draft of the amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927. Some of the proposed features of the draft amendments are, defining community as a group of persons specified on the basis of government records living in a specific locality and in joint possession and enjoyment of common property resources, without regard to race, religion, caste, language and culture. Under the proposed amendment Forest is defined to include any government or private or institutional land recorded or notified as forest/forest land in any government record and the lands managed by government/community as forest and mangroves, and also any land which the central or state government may by notification declare to be forest for the purpose of this Act. The amendments shift the focus of the Indian Forest Act from laws related to transport of forest produce and the tax on it to conservation, enrichment and sustainable management of forest resources and matters connected therewith to safeguard ecological stability to ensure provision of ecosystem services in perpetuity and to address the concerns related to climate change and international commitments.
  • Ice Stupa: It is a form of glacier grafting technique that creates artificial glaciers, used for storing winter water in the form of conical shaped ice heaps. India Post has released a special stamp cover on Ice Stupa in Leh, India. Aiming to motivate creation of Ice Stupas, this year HIAL has organized a competition among the villages on ice Stupas. With the technical and material support by the Himalayan Institute of Alternatives Ladakh (HIAL),village youths have enthusiastically participated in building the ice Stupas. As a result, over 12 villages in Ladakh have built ice Stupas this year in various villagesRamon Magsaysay and Rolex award winner Sonam Wangchuk said 'Simple living in cities only would help and allow the ecology of mountains to just survive.
  • Otter: They are carnivorous mammals in the subfamily Lutrinae. The 13 extant otter species are all semiaquatic, aquatic or marine, with diets based on fish and invertebrates. Uttar Pradesh for the first time has undertaken census of otters in protected areas of the state. The census exercise was started from Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) and will be completed by end of March 2019 covering all protected areas of state. Otter It is important part species (mammal) of forest ecosystem. It spends much of its time in or close to water bodies. It lives on fish. Its den is known as holt and it is close to water bodies. Its thriving population indicates healthy river ecosystem and water bodies are pollution-free. Three species of otters are found in India. It is classified as vulnerable species on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA): It is the world's highest-level decision-making body on the environment. The United Environment Assembly Nations (UNEA) adopted two resolutions piloted by India on addressing single-use plastic pollution and sustainable nitrogen management. This is the first time an India-backed resolution has been adopted at UNEA. The fourth session being held in Nairobi, Kenya concluded. The resolution on addressing single-use plastic pollution urges member states to develop national or regional plans, identify environment-friendly alternatives, work with research organisations and the industry to develop such alternatives, improve waste management practices. The Prime Minister had said India would phase out single-use plastic by 2022 during his World Environment Day speech in 2018. An Environment Ministry official said, 'This is the context for India to bring up the resolution and after tough negotiations, it was accepted. However, the member states did not want the resolution to say it would be ‘phased out’. So far, only 9% of the nine billion tonne plastics ever produced has been recycled. And, if the current trend continues, landfills will have 12 billion metric tonne plastic litter by 2050.
  • Climate Change: It occurs when changes in Earth's climate system result in new weather patterns that last for at least a few decades, and maybe for millions of years. Union Ministers Piyush Goyal and Dr Harsh Vardhan are among the seven Indians who have been named in the 'World's 100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy for 2019' for taking steps in order to combat climate change. The list, unveiled at the site of Apolitical, a global network for government helping public servants find the ideas, people and partners they need to solve the hardest challenges. Union Minister for Railways and Coal Piyush Goyal has led the fast track electrification of nearly 18,000 unelectrified villages, and been critical in the rollout of a drastic power sector reform and the world's largest LED bulb distribution programme, according to his profile on the website. Under his tenure, India saw a massive proliferation of renewable energy through the world's largest renewable energy expansion programme. List of Indians include, Pune Mayor Mukta Tilak, Executive director of Integrated Research and Action for Development, a research and policy analysis institute focusing on sustainable development Kirit Parikh, Environmental activist, Vandana Shiva, Director general of the International Solar Alliance, Upendra Tripathi. Co-founder and Executive Director, Sunrise Movement, Varshini Prakash.

Economics

  • Finance Commission: It is an important commission formed to give recommendations for devolution of taxes and other fiscal matters for five fiscal years, and also serves as a constitutional body for allocation of certain resources of revenue between the Union and the State Governments. RBI governor demands permanent status for finance commissions. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das said that there should be more consistency among various finance commissions. Speaking at function, he said, 'In the past several decades, finance commissions adopted different approaches on tax devolution, grants to be given to states, etc. But there is a need to ensure broad consistency among finance commissions, there should be continuity and change in finance commissions, especially now that we have GST’. He also called for a permanent status to finance commissions where the old commission continues to implement schemes till the next commission starts functioning.
  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI): It is India's central banking institution, which controls the issuance and supply of the Indian rupee.The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has released with guidelines to prevent misuse of price-sensitive information by participants in markets for financial instruments. According to an official release, 'Market participants, either acting independently or in collusion, shall not undertake any action with the intention to manipulate the calculation of a benchmark rate or a reference rate. Also, no market participant would carry out a transaction or initiate any action with the sole or dominant intention of influencing a benchmark rate or a reference rate. About regulatory action on market abuse, the RBI said market participants indulging in any such activity are liable to be denied access to markets in one or more instruments for a period that may not exceed one month at a time. The guidelines have become effective. These directions, the RBI added, would exclude transactions executed through the recognised stock exchanges. Further, the directions would not apply to banks and the central government in furtherance of monetary policy, fiscal policy or other public policy objectives.'
  • IDBI Bank : It is one of the largest bank in India. IDBI Bank has been categorised as a private sector lender following acquisition of majority stake by Life Insurance Corporation. According to a statement from RBI, LIC completed the process of picking up a controlling 51% stake in the nearly crippled IDBI Bank in January. IDBI Bank has been categorised as a 'private sector bank' for regulatory purposes by Reserve Bank of India with effect from 21 January 2019 consequent upon LIC acquiring 51% of the total paid-up equity share capital of the bank. IDBI Bank has been under the prompt corrective action framework of RBI that bans it from corporate lending and branch expansions, salary hikes and other regular activities. However, the lender has charted out a revival strategy to bring banking and insurance under one roof, along with its new owner Life Insurance Corporation (LIC). IDBI Bank informed about appointment of LIC as a corporate agent under bancassurance channel.
  • Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs): It is a category created by RBI. SBI, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank continue to be in the Reserve Bank of India’s list of Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs) for 2018. D-SIBs are required to maintain higher capital as compared to other banks. The additional Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) requirement for D-SIBs has already been phased-in from April 1, 2016, and will become fully effective from April 1, 2019, the RBI said, releasing the list for 2018. According to an official release, banks will have to set aside more capital for their continued operation. RBI comes with the list every year since 2015. Inclusion in D-SIB indicates that failure of any of these banks would have a cascading effect on Indian financial system. Inclusion in the list gives additional comfort to investors that these banks won’t be allowed to fail and therefore, borrowing costs of these banks from the markets are cheaper than their peers. SBI, being in the third bucket, was setting aside 0.45 per cent of its assets till 2018-19 as a surcharge. From next year, applicable from April 1, the bank will have to set aside 0.60 per cent of its risk-weighted assets. The increase in capital is in a phased manner, with the ultimate aim of providing one full percentage point extra as capital buffer for D-SIBs. ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank’s capital requirement rises to 0.20 per cent, from 0.15 per cent now. These two banks are in the fifth basket, and are considered less important than SBI.

Current Affairs March 24 to March 30

International Current News

  • Sharada Peeth: It is an abandoned Hindu temple and ancient centre of learning in the Pakistani administered territory of Azad Kashmir. The Pakistan government approved a proposal to establish a corridor that will allow Hindu pilgrims from India to visit Sharda Peeth, an ancient Hindu temple and cultural site in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The Sharda Peeth corridor, when opened, will be the second religious tract after Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan-controlled territory that will connect the two neighbouring nations. India had already sent a proposal to Pakistan to open the temple corridor, the Express Tribune reported quoting sources in Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Established in 237 BC during the reign of Ashoka, the 5,000-year-old Sharada Peeth is an abandoned temple and ancient centre of learning dedicated to the Hindu goddess of learning. Between the 6th and 12th centuries CE, Sharada Peeth was one of the foremost temple universities of the Indian subcontinent. It is also one of the three famous holy sites for Kashmiri Pandits, the other two being the Martand Sun Temple in Anantnag and the Amarnath temple. Kashmiri Pandit organisations have been demanding opening of the Sharda Peeth corridor for many years now.
  • NBCTF : It is an acronym for Nuclear, biological, chemical training facility. It was inaugurated at INS Shivaji in Lonavala by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba. The NBCTF, which is termed as Abhedya, impenetrable in Sanskrit, will help train personnel of naval ships fitted with nuclear, biological and chemical detection and protection systems. In a statement, the Navy said the facility will provide realistic training to naval personnel in detection, protection against and decontamination of nuclear, biological and chemical agents. Admiral Lanba launched the INS Shivaji's website on the Indian Navy portal. He also released the platinum jubilee logo, with the theme Propelling the Indian Navy since 1945, for the premier technical training establishment. INS Shivaji is celebrating its platinum jubilee year in 2019-20.
  • Grand Order of the King of Tomislav: It is a highest civilian award from Croatia. President Ram Nath Kovind was honoured with Croatia’s highest civilian award — the Grand Order of the King of Tomislav. Kovind is in Croatia as a part of his eight-day three-nation visit to Croatia, Bolivia and Chile to further strengthen bilateral ties between India and the three countries. Making the annoucement, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Ravish Kumar said, ' President of India honoured with highest civilian order in Croatia! During his State Visit to Croatia, Presidentkovind is honoured with Grand Order of the King of Tomislav, the highest award of Croatia. President Kovind dedicated it to India-Croatia friendship'. The civilian order is awarded to heads of state for their important contribution towards the development of state relations between Croatia and their respective countries. Kovind, who is the first-ever Indian head of state to visit Croatia, was earlier accorded a ceremonial welcome here. He is in the European nation from March 25 to March 28.
  • Islamic State: It is a Salafi jihadist militant group and former unrecognised proto-state that follows a fundamentalist, Salafi doctrine of Sunni Islam. The Islamic State group has been defeated in Syria by Kurdish-led forces. Kurdish-led forces announced the end of Islamic State’s nearly five-year-old caliphate after forcing diehard jihadists from their last stronghold in Eastern Syria. According to an official statement, 'Syrian Democratic Forces declare total elimination of [the] so-called caliphate and 100% territorial defeat of ISIS. The SDF had taken full control of Baghouz, a small village on the Euphrates where diehard jihadists made a last stand'. At its height, the Islamic State group ruled a third of both Syria and Iraq, holding millions of people hostage to violent interpretations of Islamic law. The group carried out large-scale massacres. During a rampage through Iraq’s Sinjar region in 2014, it captured thousands of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority and forced them into sexual slavery and many remain missing even today. The group also used its caliphate as a launch pad for attacks around the globe – including the 2015 assaults in Paris that killed more than 130 people. Fighters from the US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance raised their yellow flag in Baghouz early today to celebrate the landmark victory.

National Current News

  • Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF): It is a banned organisation founded by Amanullah Khan and Maqbool Bhat. Originally a militant wing of the Plebiscite Front, it changed its name to JKLF in Birmingham. Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has banned Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). According to an official, JKLF was banned under the anti-terror law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA). The move comes days after the Centre banned Jamat-e-Islami (JeI-J&K) under Section 3(1) of the UAPA. It is believed that murders of Kashmiri Pandits by the JKLF in 1989 triggered their exodus from the Valley. Yasin Malik was the mastermind behind the purging of Kashmiri Pandits and is responsible for their genocide. The JKLF was also banned under the same sections, which gives power to the Centre to declare any association as unlawful by notifying it in the Official Gazette.
  • Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE): It is a national level board of education in India for public and private schools and it is controlled and managed by Union Government of India. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) and Yoga will be included by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for academic session 2019-20. AI will be introduced as an optional sixth subject for Class IX whereas ECCE and Yoga are being introduced as elective subjects at senior secondary level. The circular of CBSE notes that AI in the past few years has gained geo-strategic importance and a large number of countries are striving to stay ahead with their policy initiatives to get their country ready. There is a huge requirement for yoga professionals and early childhood educators. Yoga will also teach a way of living that aims towards a healthy mind in a healthy body. Early Childhood Education prepares the students to teach children of nursery and kindergarten classes’ happy education or other systems of child-centric education.
  • Election Commission of India (ECI): It is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering election processes in India. The Election Commission has announced a series of guidelines to the media related to the poll. The advisory to the media announced that exit polls can only be telecast after the final phase of polling for the Lok Sabha elections ends on May 19. The advisory is also applicable for Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim. TV, radio channels, cable networks, websites and social media platforms should ensure that the contents of programmes telecast during the 48-hour period before the end of polls in each phase do not contain any material, including views or appeals by participants that may be construed as promoting or prejudicing the prospect of any particular party or candidate. The advisory included guidelines to websites and social media for the first time.
  • Tashigang : Tashigang, a small Himachal Pradesh village has got the distinction of the highest polling station in the world. According to an official release, Tashigang is located at an altitude of 15,256 feet. It falls in Buddhist-dominated Lahaul-Spiti and forms part of the Mandi Lok Sabha seat, the second largest constituency in India. Tashigang is situated at about 29 km from the India-China border and the polling station covers two villages— Tashigang and Gete. The polling station has 48 voters, of which 30 are men and 18 women. Even though Tashigang has all necessary facilities like power and water supply but lacks mobile connectivity and election officials will use a satellite phone during polls on May 19. Initially, election officials had intended to set up the polling booth at Gete village but shifted it to Tashigang as the government school building there was not found safe. Earlier the tiny settlement of Hikkim in Himachal Pradesh positioned at an altitude of about 14,400 ft, was the highest polling station in the country.

Science and Technology Current News

  • Young Scientist Programme: It is a special programme for School Children launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is also known as Yuva Vigyani Karyakram. The Program is primarily aimed at imparting basic knowledge on Space Technology, Space Science and Space Applications to the younger ones with the intent of arousing their interest in the emerging areas of Space activities. ISRO has chalked out this programme to Catch them young. The residential training programme will be of around two weeks duration during summer holidays and it is proposed to select 3 students each from each State/ Union Territory to participate in this programme covering state, CBSE, and ICSE syllabus. Those who have just finished 9th standard (in the academic year 2018-19) and waiting to join 10th standard (or those who have started 10th Std just now) will be eligible for the programme. The selection will be based on the 8th Std marks. A few seats are left for the programme from various states. The interested students can register online from 25th March 2019 (1800 hrs) to 03rd April 2019 (1800 hrs). The selection is based on the academic performance and extracurricular activities. Students belonging to the rural area have been given special weightage in the selection criteria. The list of the provisionally selected candidates from each state will be announced on 06th April 2019. The provisionally selected candidates will be requested to send the supporting documents through E-mail to ISRO. This Email ID will be intimated to selected candidates. After verifying the relevant certificates the final list will be published on 13th April 2019. The progamme is planned at 4 centres of ISRO during the second half of May 2019. For more information log on to www.isro.gov.in
  • Biomedical Research Career Programme (BRCP) : It is programme developed by India for attracting high quality Indian scientists working abroad to return to India. The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the continuation of the Biomedical Research Career Programme beyond its initial 10-year term from 2008-09 to 2018-19 to a new five year phase from 2019-20 to 2023-24. The programme is run by the Department of Biotechnology and UK- based biomedical research charity – Wellcome Trust. With the extension, the DBT would be increasing its commitment to the programme by two times, in comparison to that of the Welcome Trust. The total financial implication of the same will be Rs 1092 crore with DBT and WT contributing Rs 728 crore and Rs 364 crore respectively.
  • Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules 2019: It is the new notification announced by Union Health Ministry for promoting clinical research in the country. The new rules will apply to all new drugs, investigational new drugs for human use, clinical trials, bio-equivalence studies and ethics committees. The highlights of the notification includes reduction in time for approving applications, which has now come down to 30 days for drugs manufactured in India and 90 days for those developed outside the country. Also, in case of no communication from Drugs Controller General of India, the application will be deemed to have been approved. As per the new rule the requirement of a local clinical trial may be waived for approval of a new drug if it is approved and marketed in any of the countries (EU, UK, Australia, Japan and US) specified by the Drugs Controller General with the approval of the government. The new rules will ensure patient safety and an ethics committee will monitor the trials and decide on the amount of compensation in cases of adverse events. Meanwhile, the Indian Society for Clinical Research (ISCR) said that the new Clinical Trial Rules are well balanced and will further the conduct of ethical and quality clinical trials in the country which, in turn, will benefit patients.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO): It is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bengaluru. ISRO will launch 29 satellites including the primary payload EMISAT, on the first of April. Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C45 will take off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota tentatively at 9:30 AM carrying the satellites onboard. EMISAT has been developed for monitoring radar network by India. An ISRO release says, EMISAT, weighing 436 kg, is intended for electromagnetic spectrum measurement. It will be placed in an orbit of about 753 km altitude. The customer payloads are from Lithuania, Spain, Switzerland and the US. They will be hurled into space at an altitude of about 505 km. After all the satellites are put into orbits, the fourth stage of the rocket will be propelled to a different elevation and will be used as a platform for different experiments by Indian institutions, including ISRO. Indian Institute of Space Science (IISc) and the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation are the other two institutions that will have their devices on the experimental platform. Normally the rocket engine is left redundant as space debris once the launch mission is over. But ISRO uses it for such experiments for the second time in a series. During the last PSLV mission also it adopted the same innovative method.

Defence

  • Chinook Heavy Lift Helicopter: It is an all-weather capable Chinook heavy-lift helicopter made in the US. The Chinook, twin-engine, tandem rotor, is multi-role, vertical-lift platform, which is used for transporting troops, artillery, equipment and fuel. The helicopter can carry out military operations not only during the day but at night too.The all weather capable Chinook heavy-lift helicopters made in the US were inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF). The first four of the 15 CH-47F (I) Chinook helicopters, which were ordered from Boeing in September 2015, were commissioned into the IAF's 126 Helicopter Unit (HU). Speaking at the function here, Dhanoa said, "Our country faces a multitude of security challenges, we require vertical lift capability across a very diversified terrain. Induction of Chinook will be a game changer the way the Rafale is going to be in the fighter fleet. The IAF operates from bases which are from sea level to very high altitude advance landing grounds. The helicopter will give the IAF quantum leap in terms of ability to transport cargo to precarious high altitude locations. The aircraft is one of its best in its category'. The all-weather capable aircraft can also be used for humanitarian and disaster relief operations and in missions such as transportation of relief supplies and mass evacuation of refugees.
  • Mission Shakti: It is an operation led by the Defence Research and Development Organisation. It was aimed at strengthening India's overall security. According to the mission, India has shot down a low-orbit satellite through an Indian anti-satellite weapon A-SAT. The mission operation was called ‘Mission Shakti’ lasted for just 3 minutes. The significance of the test is that India has tested and successfully demonstrated its capability to interdict and intercept a satellite in outer space based on complete indigenous technology. With this test, India joins an exclusive group of space-faring nations consisting of USA, Russia and China. India has become the fourth country to execute a low-orbit satellite destruction in space.
  • Dhanush Howitzer: It is an indigenously developed Howitzer in India. The gun was inducted in Indian army. According to officials these guns have been tested to withstand extreme conditions like rainfall and snow, and have also been built for use in multiple terrains, from plains, to sand and especially in hilly areas. According a Defence expert when questioned about the Bofor, he said, 'It is not fair to compare the 'Dhanush' guns to Bofors as the former are far more technologically superior to Bofors due to the modifications made to the barrel to help improve its accuracy'. The Dhanush gun system is based on designs of the Bofors howitzer which was inducted in the Army in 1980s and would be the third type of artillery gun to be inducted into the force after the K-9 Vajra and the M-777 ultra-light howitzers, as per inputs. The 155mm x 45mm calibre artillery gun is capable of firing projectiles at a relatively higher angle with a steep angle of descent.

Economics

  • Fitch Ratings: It is a statistical rating agency based in US. It is one of the ‘Big Three credit rating agencies’, the other two being Moody's and Standard & Poor's. Fitch Ratings has predicted the India's economic growth rate around 6.8 percent for the year 2019-20. Top rating agency has 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. Making the announcement, through its Global Economic Outlook, it said 'While we have cut our growth forecasts for the next fiscal year (FY20, ending in March 2020) on weaker-than-expected momentum, we still see Indian GDP growth to hold up reasonably well, at 6.8%, followed by 7.1% in FY21'. Fitch Ratings cut India’s FY19 GDP growth forecast to 7.2% from 7.8% on December 6. The rating agency has also cut growth forecasts for FY20 and FY21 to 7% from 7.3% and 7.1 per cent from 7.3%, respectively. According to Fitch, the RBI, has adopted a more dovish monetary policy stance and cut interest rates by 0.25 percentage at its February 2019 meeting, a move supported by steadily decelerating headline inflation.
  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI): It is India's central banking institution, which controls the issuance and supply of the Indian rupee. RBI defers Indian Accounting Standards implementation by banks. In a desperate attempt that would spare the country’s banks from adding another layer to the USD 190 billion pile of bad loans on their books, India delayed the introduction of tough new accounting rules for the second year running, the Reserve Bank of India said that legislative amendments needed to implement the new Indian Accounting Standards are still under consideration by the government. The new rules based on the IFRS9 standards created in the aftermath of the financial crisis were supposed to kick in at the start of the new fiscal year that starts on April 1, after being delayed last year. According to Fitch Ratings’ local unit, India’s state-run lenders would have had to increase provisions by as much as 1.1 trillion rupees (USD billion) in the fiscal first quarter ending June 30 if the rules had gone ahead. That would have forced public sector lenders to raise 'substantial' amounts of extra capital, beyond the estimated 1.9 trillion rupee infusion already committed by the government for the two-year period to the end of this month. It should be noted that the RBI delayed the implementation of the new standards a few days into the start of the current fiscal year, citing the need for legal changes and more preparatory work by the country’s banks.
  • Punjab National Bank: It is an Indian multinational banking and financial services company. The RBI has slapped a penalty of Rs 2 crore on Punjab National Bank (PNB) for non-compliance of regulatory directions with regard to SWIFT operations. In a regulatory filing, the PNB said the Reserve Bank in a letter dated March 25 has informed the bank about the penalty. In the matter of violations of regulatory directions by Punjab National Bank observed during assessment of implementation of SWIFT- related operational controls, the Reserve Bank of India, (imposes) an aggregate penalty of Rs 20 million … on Punjab National Bank. SWIFT is a global messaging software used for transactions by financial entities. The massive Rs 14,000-crore fraud perpetrated by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi at the PNB was a case of misuse of this messsaging software.
  • Regulatory Sandbox: It is a new platform proposed by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which will function as platform for the fintech companies to test their new products and services on the small group of people before expanding and scaling it. According to RBI governor Shaktikanta, the regulatory Sandbox will now going to help the financial technology company’s to launch the innovative products at lower costs in less time. The sandbox will also enable the financial tech companies to do virtual testing of their new products and services. The companies will now be able to test the viability of the product without any expensive methods.
  • Baroda Kisan: It is a new agri-digital platform to be created by Bank of Baroda in order to provide solutions for all major agricultural requirements. According to an official release, six companies Skymet Weather Services, Weather Risk Management Services, BigHaat, Agrostar India, EM3 Agri Services and Poorti Agri Services have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the bank for this project. The agri-digital platform will be executed by IT Centre of Excellence (ITCoE) of Bank of Baroda in partnership with IBM India. The digital platform will give an holistic approach towards solving agricultural plights by means of providing reliable and customised information, inputs for use, convenience of renting farm equipment and market linkage for sale of agri-produces. Explaining the reason, Bank of Baroda Managing Director and CEO P S Jayakumar said, 'Digitization of agri services will have a huge impact on the Indian economy and this collaboration is an effort towards keeping up with the use of technology in the field of agriculture'.

Arts

  • Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA): It is an autonomous organisation, established in New Delhi in 1954 by Government of India to promote and propagate understanding of Indian art, in and outside the country.15 Winners were announced by the Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA) for the 60th Annual Academy Awards. All the awardees will be honoured with a plaque, a shawl and prize money of Rs 1 lakh at the 60th National Exhibition of Art, scheduled from March 25 to April 8 at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) and Sir JJ School of Art. The winners will also display their artworks at the exhibition. The awardees selected by the two-tier jury are Chandan Kumar Samal (Odisha), Gouri Vemula (Telangana), Hemant Rao (Madhya Pradesh), Hiren Kumar Chotu Bhai Patel (Gujarat), Jaya Jena (Odisha), Jayesh K.K (Kerala), Jitendra Suresh Sutar (Maharashtra), Douglas Maryan John (Maharashtra), Pratap Chandra Chakraborty (West Bengal), Rashmi Singh (Uttar Pradesh), Sachin Kashinath Chaudhari (Maharashtra), Sunil Kumar Viswakarma (Uttar Pradesh), Tabassum Khan (Bihar), Vasudeo Taranath Kamath (Maharashtra) and Veenita Sadguru Chendvankar (Goa). This year, the Akademi received over 6,100 entries by 2,836 artists. The figures almost doubled from last year's 1,433 applicant artists. The 60th National Exhibition of Art this year will exhibit artistic brilliance and provide a platform to give appreciation and recognition to outstanding artists on a nationwide scale. The works to be displayed have come to the forefront, both in terms of material application and aesthetic appeal.


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