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Important Current Affairs of 29th March

INTERNATIONAL:

Boeing unveils changes to MCAS, anti stall system.

Embattled aviation giant Boeing pledged to do all it can to prevent crashes like two that killed nearly 350 people in recent months, as it unveiled a fix to the flight software of its grounded 737 MAX aircraft.  Boeing gathered hundreds of pilots and reporters to unveil the changes to the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). Boeing unveiled the software changes at the company’s massive factory in Renton, Washington, and offered reassurances.

NATIONAL:

Vijayawada Railway Station awarded the Gold Rating for being Clean & Eco-Friendly.

• Vijayawada railway station, one of the busiest railway junctions in India, has received Gold Rating by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) for Green Measures. The IGBC-CII, with the support of the Environment Directorate of Indian Railways, developed the Green Railway Stations Rating System to facilitate adoption of green concepts, thereby reduce the adverse environmental impact due to station operation and maintenance and also enhance the overall commuter experience.

•  The Vijayawada station has installed 100 per cent LED lighting, the fans are five-star rated, and solar power is already being used for water heating systems.

Kolkata Dhaka ship to set sail for the first time ever.

• A regular river cruise will start between Kolkata, India and Dhaka, Bangladesh for the first time in the history of the two countries.

• The Indian ship, R V Bengal Ganga, will start its journey from a west Kolkata jetty. About 60 persons will be travelling

• The return journey will take nearly two weeks from Kolkata and the ship will pass through Sunderbans on both sides of the marine border.  Another ship will simultaneously start from Bangladesh, traverse the same route and reach Kolkata, taking approximately the same time. The border formalities will be completed at Sunderbans on the Indian side.

AWARDS:

Nobel Prize recipient Amartya Sen awarded with Oxford University's Bodley award.

• The 85-year-old winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, was awarded with the prestigious Bodley Medal, the highest honour granted by the University of Oxford's world-famous Bodleian Libraries, for his contribution in literature, culture, science and communication.

Turing Award, the Nobel Prize of computing, won by 3 Pioneers in Artificial Intelligence.

• The 2018 Turing Award, known as the “Nobel Prize of computing,” has been given to Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton, and Yann LeCun — sometimes called the ‘godfathers of AI’, for their work developing the AI subfield of deep learning.

• The trio believed in the potential of AI and brought to the world the innovations such as neural networks, self-driving cars, facial recognition, CNN and much more. About Turing Award: Initiated in 1966, this annual award is named after British mathematician Alan M.

• Turing, whose work laid the foundation for computer science and artificial intelligence. It honors the individual for contributing major technical importance in the computer field. First recipient – Alan Perlis

Delhi government school teacher Manu Gulati honoured with Martha Farrell Award 2019

• Delhi government school teacher, Manu Gulati honored with the Martha Farrell award for Excellence in Women’s Empowerment 2019 in the Most Promising Individual category with prize money of INR 1,50,000 for promoting gender quality and women’s empowerment.

• She collaborates with America India Foundation’s “Market Aligned Skills Training Program”, through which she assists the training programs for beauticians, weavers, salesgirls, etc in Jalandhar in Punjab, Betul in Madhya Pradesh and Baramullah in Kashmir.

• The Awards were first awarded in 2017 in the memory of Dr. Martha Farrell, a prominent activist for gender equality and women’s empowerment. About Delhi: Governor: Anil Baijal, Chief Minister: Arvind Kejriwal Deputy Chief Minister: Manish Sisodia Chief Secretary: Vijay Kumar Dev Commissioner of Police: Amulya Patnaik

Singapore airport named worlds best aviation hub for the seventh time.

• According to the Skytrax World Airport Awards, Singapore's Changi Airport has been crowned the world's best aviation hub for the seventh time in a row, while New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport featured at number 59.

• Singapore Changi Airport is known for its rooftop swimming pool, two 24-hour movie theaters and shopping spots

•  At number two on the list is Tokyo International Airport (Haneda), up one place from 2018. This hub also won World's Best Domestic Airport and World's Cleanest Airport. Incheon International Airport secured 3rd position in the list. The other Indian aiports in the list were Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport at 64, the Rajiv Gandhi Hyderabad International Airport at 66, and Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport at 69.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATION:

Vice Admiral MA Hampiholi, AVSM, NM to be designated as Director General Naval Operations (DGNO)

• Vice Admiral MA Hampiholi, AVSM NM has been appointed as Director General Naval Operations (DGNO). He will succeed Satish Namdeo Ghormade.  He was commissioned in the Executive Branch of the Indian Navy on 1st July 1985.

• he Flag Officer has experience as Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) specialist officer at onboard INShips Himgiri, Agray,and Ganga. He has experience as a Commanding officer in INS Nashak (missile vessel), INS Magar {Landing Ship Tank (Large)} and INS Talwar (stealth Frigate), Second-in-Command of INS Khukri (Missile Corvette).

• He commanded the National Coast Guard, Mauritius for two years (2003 – 05) and served as Commanding Officer of INS Mandovi.

Manohar Ajgaonkar, Vijai Sardesai designated as Goas Deputy Chief Ministers.

• Goa’s Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar has been appointed as the Deputy Chief Minister of Goa. He switched to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, on March 27, 2019. At present he is the second deputy chief minister along with Goa Forward Party (GFP) leader and state minister Vijai Sardesai. Both will succeed Sudin Dhavalikar.

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

RBI to issue Regulatory sandbox.

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is set to issue guidelines within two months for the fintech companies to test their new products on a small group of users before scaling up.  A Sandbox is a framework set up by a regulator that allows FinTech start-ups to conduct live experiments in a controlled environment under supervision.

• Regulatory sandbox will provide a well-defined space for the companies to develop new products. It allows for experimenting with their products and fintech solutions. In case of failure, the consequences would be contained and the reasons will be analysed for betterment.

Deposits ordinance does not cover gold schemes.

• The Centre’s recent ordinance banning unregulated monthly deposit schemes will not affect the ongoing monthly schemes operated by jewellery and chit fund firms.

• Called the ‘Banning of Unregulated Deposit Scheme Ordinance’, it was promulgated by President Ram Nath Kovind during the last week of February 2019 to save gullible investors from losing money to Ponzi and fake deposit schemes.

•  The ordinance makes such unregulated deposit schemes punishable, among other things. Ordinance: Ordinances are laws that are promulgated by the President of India on the recommendation of the Union Cabinet. They can only be issued when Parliament is not in session.

• They enable the Indian government to take immediate legislative action. Ordinances cease to operate either if Parliament does not approve of them within six weeks of reassembly, or if disapproving resolutions are passed by both Houses.  It is also compulsory for a session of Parliament to be held within six months.

SPORTS:

Four sports including Breakdancing get provisional green light for Paris Olympics 2024

• Breakdancing was among four sports given a provisional green light for inclusion in the Paris 2024 Games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The three other sports namely - Surfing, Skateboarding and sport climbing also got approval for provisional inclusion in Summer Olympics 2024 from IOC.

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Important Current Affairs of 28th March

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

Demat share transfer to be effective from 1st April.

• Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) said that the transfer of shares of listed companies can be done only in dematerialised form from April 1 but investors are not barred from holding shares in the physical form.

•  In December 2018, the capital markets watchdog extended the deadline for transfer of shares of listed companies only in dematerialised (demat) form to April 1.

• Now, it has been decided not to extend the deadline.  The decision that the transfer of shares has to be compulsorily in demat form was taken way back in March 2018. SEBI also said that the measure would come into effect from April 1, 2019.

Bank of Baroda to launch Baroda Kisan.

• Public sector Bank, Bank of Baroda has made an announcement about developing an agri-digital platform called 'Baroda Kisan'. The platform is to provide solutions for all major agricultural requirements.  The project aims to provide a holistic approach towards solving agricultural plights by means of providing reliable and customised information, inputs for use, the convenience of renting farm equipment and market linkage for sale of agri-produces. Bank of Baroda has signed a memorandum of understanding (Mou) with Six companies viz.

• Skymet Weather Services, Weather Risk Management Services, BigHaat, Agrostar India, EM3 Agri Services and Poorti Agri Services for the project. The agri-digital platform will be executed by IT Centre of Excellence (ITCoE) of Bank of Baroda in partnership with IBM India. Baroda Kisan is aimed at digitization of digital services.

NATIONAL:

Assam launched initiatives to educate voter.

• Assam State government has launched initiatives to educate voters. Folk song competitions, quiz programmes and appeals by celebrities are some of the initiatives being undertaken by the election office in Assam for attracting women, first-time voters, people with physical disabilities and senior citizens to cast their votes.

• Sprinter Hima Das, Whitley Awardee and environmentalist Purnima Devi Barman, singer Tarali Sarma, body builder Golap Rabha and actor Kopil Bora have been roped in as State icons to create awareness about the election process.

• District election officers have been directed to reach out to the maximum number of voters in the constituencies under their jurisdiction. Polling stations with low female voter turn-out have been identified and ‘mahila voter rallies’ are being held.

Cabinet approved additional posts for NCLAT.

• Cabinet approved a proposal of six additional posts of judicial and technical members in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT). The tribunal hears appeals against rulings of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).  The Cabinet cleared a proposal for the creation of three additional posts each for judicial members and technical members in the NCLAT. The new posts would ensure meeting the mandate provided to NCLAT by the Finance Act, 2017, the Companies Act, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 and the time frame provided for disposal of cases.

Gujarat ATS and Indian Coast Guard capture 9 international smugglers with heroin worth Rs 500 crore

• The Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad and the Indian Coast Guard captured nine international drug smugglers. The smugglers were reportedly carrying 100 kgs of contraband worth Rs 500 crore in the boat, which they had destroyed after they were trapped by the agencies.   As per the press statement, the Gujarat ATS had received a tip-off that an illegal consignment of narcotic drugs, Heroin, is going to be smuggled in Gujarat through Coast.

Delhi International Airport is to be transformed with world-class amenities.

• Delhi world’s 12th busiest hub, the Indira Gandhi International Airport, transiting between the various terminals of IGI Airport, will become a breeze in a few years’ time, with the airport operator finalizing the route of an “air train” connecting the terminals as well as Aerocity, the hotel center.

• It connects the Aerocity’s Airport Metro Express station to all the major Hotels and Offices with Aerocity's Hospitality District through an experiential walkway. It not only connects all the buildings but also provides a well-designed public space for everyone to enjoy. It promotes an active lifestyle and enables access to open spaces, shaded areas for casual breakouts and many other amenities.

MPI 2018 report says Indias povert rate has reduced drastically.

• According to the Multi-dimensional Poverty Index 2018 report, the four poorest states namely Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh were still home to 196 million MPI poor people, which was over half of all the MPI poor people in India.

• The Multi-dimensional Poverty Index 2018 report prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative makes the following observations about India:

• India has reduced its poverty rate drastically from 55% to 28% in 10 years, with 271 million people moving out of poverty between 2005-06 and 2015-16. Jharkhand had shown the greatest improvement, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Nagaland. Kerala, one of the least poor regions in 2006, reduced its MPI by around 92%.

At 15,256ft, Himachal's Tashigang is world's highest polling station.

• The Tashigang polling station in Himachal Pradesh falls in Buddhist-dominated Lahaul-Spiti, one of the 17 assembly segments that form the Mandi Lok Sabha seat, the second largest constituency in India.

• Situated at about 29 km from the India-China border, the polling station covers two villages— Tashigang and Gete.

• As per the revised electoral rolls, the two villages have 48 voters, of which 30 are men and 18 women. Earlier the tiny settlement of Hikkim in the same district located at an altitude of about 14,400 feet was the highest polling station in the country.

Vedanta Limited has discovered oil in the Krishna Godavari basin.

• Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Limited has discovered oil in the Krishna Godavari basin on India’s east coast. The company has notified the management committee, Directorate General of Hydrocarbons and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas of an oil discovery in the second exploratory well H2, located in block KG-OSN-2009/3, Krishna-Godavari Basin, east coast of India.

• Vedanta Limited holds 100% participating interest in the block. The first exploration well, A3-2, drilled in the block was a gas discovery

Adani becomes first Indian port operator to record 200 million tonnes cargo movement in 2018-19

• Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) has claimed that its portfolio of nine ports and terminals handled 200 million metric tonnes (MMT) of cargo in 2018-19, becoming the first Indian port operator to achieve the milestone. The Gautam Adani-led company doubled its cargo handling from 100 MMT reached in 2013-14

India becomes the 4th country to test Anti-satellite missile system, codenamed Mission Shakti successfully.

• India successfully completed 'Mission Shakti' operation where it destroyed a live satellite on a low earth orbit (LEO) using an Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile in three minutes. India has become the 4th country after the US, Russia and China in the world to achieve this historic feat.

• Anti Satellite weapons also called the ASAT are developed to destroy satellites. Mission Shakti is a joint programme of DRDO and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Mission Shakti will help the country in standing strong and secure. It will further protect the nation from disharmony and bring peace.

INTERNATIONAL:

India, US Ink Pact To Check Tax Evasion By MNCs.

• India and the US signed an agreement for the exchange of country-by-country (CBC) report. The move will give huge relief to subsidiaries of US-headquartered companies in the taxation-related matter. The agreement was signed by PC Mody, Chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), and Kenneth I Juster, US Ambassador to India.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS:

Maruti Suzuki board re-appointed Kenichi Ayukawa as MD and CEO for 3 years.

• This would be Kenichi Ayukawa's third three-year term as MD and CEO of Maruti. He first took over as MD and CEO of the company in March 2013 as Shinzo Nakanishi had attained the age of retirement. He played a major role in expanding the company's market share beyond 50 per cent.

Azali Assoumani re-elected as the President of Comoros.

• Azali Assoumani was re-elected as the President of Comoros after defeating his closest rival, Mahamadou Ahamada in the election held by the electoral commission of the Indian Ocean Archipelago. 66 years old, Azali Assoumani who first took office in 2016, was credited with 60.77 percent votes whereas Mahamadou Ahamada got only 14.62 percent votes.

SPORTS:

Manu and Saurabh won gold in 12th Asian Airgun Championship in Taoyuan, Taipei.

• Indian shooting stars Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary smashed the qualification world record before clinching the 10m air pistol mixed team gold in the 12th Asian Airgun Championship in Taoyuan, Taipei. The Indians then went on to win the five-team final with a score of 484.8.

• Hwang Seongeun and Kim Mose of Korea won the silver with a score of 481.1 while Wu Chia Ying and Kou Kuan-Ting claimed the bronze for the host country with a score of 413.3.  This win comes a month after they won the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup stage gold in the same event in Delhi.

• Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary broke the record set by Russians Vitalina Batsarashkina and Artem Chernousov at the European Championships held recently.

Infosys joined hands with Roland-Garros to provide digital solution for French Open tennis tournament.

• IT company Infosys joined hands with Roland-Garros with a three-year partnership agreement to provide a digital solution for French Open tennis tournament, also called Roland-Garros. This agreement will enhance the game by providing fans, players and coaches with a new experience in digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data and analytics, mobility, virtual and augmented reality.

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Important Current Affairs of 27th March

NATIONAL:

CARE Hospitals has launched Ummeed, a Cancer screening programme.

• CARE Hospitals in association with Piramal Swasthya has launched a cancer screening programme called ‘Ummeed’ in Hyderabad, Telangana. The initiative that will help in early detection of oral, breast and cervical cancer, will be introduced in Rangareddy in the next 45 days, where in screening will be conducted free of cost.

• A fully-equipped van will be used to screen people and an all-woman team will educate the rural population about the importance of early detection of cancer.

IIT Delhi researchers developed AI based disease detector.

• Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi have created a low-power electronic hardware system, based on artificial intelligence (AI), which is capable of detecting malaria, tuberculosis, intestinal parasite and cervical cancer within a few milliseconds.

•  The researchers aim to build a neuromorphic system exclusively for the healthcare sector, in places where there are limited resources and paucity of specialists. AI-based software do exist for apps used for diagnosis.

•  However, this is the first time that a portable, low-power and cost-effective hardware has been developed to make AI-based systems available in areas with resource constraints.

AUSINDEX to be held off the coast of Vishakhapatnam from April 2 to 16th.

• Third Installment of the Joint Naval Exercise of India and Australia AUSINDEX is to be held off the coast of Vishakhapatnam from April 2 to 16.

• The joint exercise will focus on anti-submarine warfare, as part of efforts to ramp up bilateral naval cooperation in the strategic Indian Ocean region.

• AUSINDEX 2019 From the Australian side, HMAS Canberra (landing helicopter dock), Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment vessel, two frigates, HMAS Newcastle and HMAS Parramatta and P81 and P8 maritime patrol aircraft, will be involved in the exercise.

• A Kilo-class submarine, land-based Hawk aircraft that will provide the air attack element for the exercise, a Kamorta class anti-submarine vessel, besides a stealth destroyer will lead the Indian deployment for the exercise.

• The exercise will feature the deployment of Australian personnel on Indian ships and vice versa. The area of the exercise will be within 200 miles of Vishakhapatnam.  Over 1000 Australian defence personnel will take part. Australia has also proposed logistics sharing pact with India.

ISRO to launch 29 satellites including EMISAT on April 1, 2019.

• India on April 1 will launch an electronic intelligence satellite 'Emisat' for the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) along with 28 third party satellites. ISRO, for the first time, will also demonstrate its new technologies like three different orbits with a new variant of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket.

• PSLV-C45 will take off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota tentatively at 9:30 AM carrying the satellites onboard.

• EMISAT, weighing 436 kg, is intended for electromagnetic spectrum measurement. The 28 international customer satellites are from four countries, viz. Lithuania, Spain, Switzerland and USA. All these satellites are being launched under commercial arrangements.

INTERNATIONAL:

GIZ Indo German Development Corporation to help in waste segregation.

• The Indo-German Development Corporation, GIZ, has been tied to help the North Delhi Municipal Corporation to carry out waste segregation activities. The tie-up, which has been facilitated through the Swachh Bharath Mission, is for a five-year period during which time the development corporation will provide technical assistance such as training

• In order to ensure implementation of the solid waste management bylaws in the North Corporation, ward level committees were being formed, involving Resident Welfare Associations, market associations, NGOs and Ragpickers organisations to look into specific local requirements. In addition, three ‘model wards’ have been selected where waste segregation will be ensured within six months.

IOC and BPRL has acquired an oil block in Abu Dhabi.

• Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat PetroResources Ltd. (BPRL), a subsidiary of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL), acting jointly as a consortium through Urja Bharat Pte Ltd. has acquired an oil block in Abu Dhabi, where the two will invest $170 million.

• The consortium through Urja Bharat Pte Ltd. have been awarded 100% stake in the Abu Dhabi Onshore Block 1 Concession.

• The concession has been awarded by the Supreme Petroleum Council, on behalf of the Abu Dhabi government. The concession award is for 35 years. This Onshore Block 1 is located in the A1 Dhafra region around Ruwais City and the refining complex, including the coastal region to the west.

China infused USD 2.2 billion in Pakistan's forex reserves.

• China infused around $2.2 billion in Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves for imports and external debt repayments. Pakistan has so far received a total of $9.1 billion in financial assistance from friendly countries during the current fiscal year. Pakistan has got $4.1 billion from China, $3 billion from Saudi Arabia and $2 billion from United Arab Emirates (UAE). Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves stood at $8.84 billion as on March 15.

LIMA 2019 Aero Expo held in Langkawi, Malaysia.

• Langkawi International Maritime Aero Expo (LIMA-2019) is held in Langkawi, Malaysia from 26 March 2019 to 30 March 2019. The event, that takes place once every two years, is one of the largest maritime and aerospace exhibitions in the Asia-Pacific.

• It is established in 1991. Indian Air Force (IAF) is participating in the Maritime Aero Expo for the first time, during which it will showcase its indigenously developed LCA fighter aircraft, Tejas.

• The anti submarine warfare corvette INS Kadmatt also participate in LIMA 2019

World's largest e-waste recycling hub opened in Dubai.

• Located at the Dubai Industrial Park, the 2,80,000 square feet plant will process Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), IT asset disposition (ITAD), refrigerant gas and specialised waste. It is established by ‘Enviroserve’ company with a total cost of $5 million. It has a processing capacity of 100,000 tonnes of total integrated waste per year, of which 39,000 tonnes is e-waste.

DAYS:

World Theatre Day celebrated on 27th March.

• World Theatre Day celebrated annually on the 27th March by ITI Centres and the international theatre community.

• It was initiated in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI).   On this day several national and international theatre events are organised.

•  A celebrated figure of the theatre is also invited by ITI who speaks and motivates people about the theme of Theatre, a culture of peace and circulate the message in the whole world. 

• This year that is in 2019 Carlos CELDRAN from Cuba, is an award -winning and highly esteemed theatre director, playwright, academic and professor, living and working in Havana, Cuba and present his work all over the world has been selected for the message 2019.

World Purple day Observed on March 26.

• Epilepsy Awareness Day which is commonly known as World Purple Day is observed on March 26 in order to encourage the people to wear the colour to increase the awareness of Epilepsy. Nearly 50 million people in the world are having Epilepsy as per the World Health Organization (WHO) which does not have a known cause.

• The day was first observed in 2008 in Nova Scotia, Canada to encourage awareness and cast away the myths on the general public about the decease. The mission of the day is to share stories and start conversations about epilepsy and to raise funds.

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

Forex swap auction received USD 16.31 billion by RBI.

• The first Forex swap auction by Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which was aimed at infusing primary liquidity, received $16.31 billion bidding by banks. In turn, RBI infused Rs.34,561 crore rupee liquidity.

• There is the expectation that RBI would conduct more such auctions as there is an appetite in the market, and reduce dependence on open market purchases of bonds.

• RBI has infused a significant amount of liquidity in the current fiscal through open market operations (OMOs). 

RBI fined Rs 2 Crore penalty on PNB.

• The Reserve Bank of India has fined a penalty of Rs 2 crore on Punjab National Bank for non-compliance of regulatory directions with regard to SWIFT operations.  SWIFT (Society For Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) is a global messaging software used for sharing information on inter-bank transactions by financial entities.

AWARDS:

ADNOC Awards Onshore Block To Indian Consortium.

• A consortium of two Indian oil companies, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and Indian Oil Corporation Limited awarded as the exploration rights for Abu Dhabi Onshore Block 1.  The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, ADNOC, Monday signed agreements awarding the exploration rights. The award has been endorsed by Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Petroleum Council. 

President Kovind honoured with highest civilian order in Croatia.

• President Ram Nath Kovind was honoured with Croatia's highest civilian award -- the Grand Order of the King of Tomislav, by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. He was awarded for his "exceptional contribution to the advancement of relations and development of mutual cooperation between Croatia and India.

• “President Kovind is the first Indian President to visit Croatia. Kovind is in the European country as part of his eight-day three-nation visit to Croatia, Bolivia and Chile to further strengthen bilateral ties between India and the three countries.

APPOINTMENTS:

Election Commission appoints K K Sharma as a Spl. Central Police Observer for LS polls in West Bengal, Jharkhand

• Election Commission of India appointed former Director General of Border Security Force K K Sharma as a Special Central Police Observer for Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal and Jharkhand.  Mr Sharma will oversee the deployment and other security-related issues in these States.

Shambhu S Kumaran appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Morocco

• Shambhu S Kumaran a 1995 batch of Indian Foreign Service officer appointed as next India’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco.

• Shambhu S Kumaran a 1995 batch of Indian Foreign Service officer appointed as next India’s Ambassador to Kingdom of Morocco.

•  He will succeed Dr. Kheya Bhattacharya. About Kingdom of Morocco Capital: Rabat Currency: Moroccan dirham Points of interest: Majorelle Garden, Bahia Palace Spoken languages‎: ‎Moroccan Arabic; ‎Berber‎; ... Official languages‎: ‎Arabic; ‎Berber     Foreign Languages‎: ‎French; English; Spanish.

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Important Current Affairs 26th March 2019

National:

Goldman Sachs report says that in FY20 food inflation likely to go up to 2 percent.

• Goldman Sachs report said that food inflation in the country is likely to go up to 2% in the fiscal year 2019-20 from the 0.7% estimated for FY19.

• It can be noted that low food prices had been one of the prime factors which had aided the RBI to be more accommodative in its rate-setting recently. It also attributed that the low food prices in the last few months to the prices of cereals and vegetables which had remained low for some time. Deregulation of markets, which saw delisting of vegetables from the Agriculture Produce and Marketing Committee Act in 14 States, had helped keep vegetable prices low.

Delhi Development Authority launched the housing scheme.

• The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) launched the housing scheme for 2019, under which it will offer 18,000 flats spread across Narela and Vasant Kunj. With the online portal now open, interested buyers can get registered, following which a draw will be conducted to allot flats. The portal for online registration will be available until May 10.

•  All the flats on offer under this scheme are newly constructed. Approximately 450 HIG [high-income group] flats and 1,550 MIG [middle-income group] are being offered. Additionally, 8,300 LIG [low-income group] and 7,700 EWS [economically weaker section] flats are being offered under the scheme. Those registering for the housing scheme will have to deposit an application fee ranging from Rs. 25,000 for EWS category to Rs. 2 lakh for three bedroom flats.

Chandrayaan 2 to carry NASAs laser retro reflector arrays.

• India’s lunar mission Chandrayaan 2 will carry NASA’s laser instruments. The U.S. space agency said that the laser instrument will help scientists to make precise measurements of the distance to the Moon. Chandrayaan 2 is scheduled to be launched in the month of April. NASA has confirmed that Chandrayaan 2 and Israeli lander Beresheet, due to touch down on April 11, will each carry NASA-owned laser retroreflector arrays.

HAL rolled out 16th Tejas fighter for IAF fleet.

• The Indian Air Force (IAF) ordered 40 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas fighter from the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL).  The State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has rolled out its 16th Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas fighter in the initial operational clearance (IOC) configuration to be inducted into the fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

India extends Rs. 35.5 million financial grant to Nepal.

• India has extended a financial grant of 35.5 million Nepalese rupees for the construction of an educational campus in Nepal under the Development Partnership Programme. The building was constructed at Siddheshwar Education Public Campus in Ramechhap district. It consists of 12 class rooms, meeting hall, laboratory room and a library.

• It will enhance the poor, needy and the marginalized students’ access to education in the district and the nearby areas. Development Partnership Programme is administered by the Development Administration Partnership division of the Ministry of External Affair.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATION:

Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal resigned his position.

• Jet Airways Founders Naresh Goyal and wife Anita Goyal have stepped down from the board of the cash-strapped airline. With this, Naresh Goyal ceases to be Chairman. Director Kevin Knight has also resigned. The board has accepted their resignations. The board also approved the issue of 11.4 crore equity shares to the lenders upon conversion of Re 1 of the outstanding debt. Lenders will infuse up to Rs 1,500 crore via debt instruments.

AIBA President Gafur Rahimov resigns.

• he Amateur International Boxing Federation (AIBA) President Gafur Rahimov announced his resignation. He cited the reason as the political based discussions were harming the organizations progress. Rahimov will be replaced by an interim president.  Rahimov was elected in November 2018 despite being on the U.S. Treasury Department’s sanctions list “for providing material support” to a criminal organization.

SPORTS:

Paralympics high jumper Girish Gowda named as Ambassador of Karnataka LS Elections.

• Silver Medalist in Paralympic high jump, Girish Gowda has been appointed as the ambassador of Karnataka Lok Sabha Elections 2019. He represented India in men’s high jump F-42 category during 2012 Summer Paralympics games held in London, where he clinched the silver medal. With this, he became the first Indian to win medal in this category

Govindaraj re-elected as BFI President.

• K. Govindaraj has been unanimously re-elected as president of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) at its annual general body meeting. Govindaraj announced that a new six-team women’s league will be held in the next three months.

INTERNATIONAL:

Pentagon approves USD 1 billion to build 92 km of Trump's border wall.

• Acting US defence (Pentagon) secretary Patrick Shanahan authorised $1 billion to build part of the wall sought by President Donald Trump along the US-Mexico border. The amount will go towards building 92 km of 18-foot fencing, improving roads and other measures along the border.

•  Earlier, Trump had declared national emergency over the border wall demand. Trump had sought $5.7 billion for the wall. He believes the wall will help curb crime and drug trade in the US. The wall was one of the main promises of the Trump election campaign in 2016.

IAF formally inducted four heavy-lift Chinook helicopters.

• On the lines of Indo-US deal inked in September 2015 for the purchase of 15 Chinooks by India, the first four heavy lift CH-47F (I) Chinook helicopters were inducted in the Indian Air Force, at Air Force Station, Chandigarh, in Squadron No 126 Helicopter Flight.

• These multi-role helicopters will act as life-saver during HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) missions. Regarded as one of the most modern heavy lift chopper, the payload capacity of Chinook is about 10 tonne, as it is able to lift artillery, vehicles, road construction and engineer equipment as well as troops and supplies to mountainous sectors.

• It can also lift M-777 ultra-light howitzers of the Indian armed forces. India has purchased 15 Chinooks for $1.5 billion. The delivery of remaining helicopters is expected to be completed by 2023.

AWARDS:

Peter Tabichi won Global Teacher Prize 2019.

• Peter Tabichi, a science teacher from rural Kenya, who gives away most of his salary to support poorer pupils, has won a $1m prize (£760,000) for the world's best teacher. The award, in a competition run by the Varkey Foundation, has seen him beating 10,000 other nominations from 179 countries. Last year's winner was an art teacher from north London, Andria Zafirakou.

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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 22th March

NATIONAL:

Lok Sabha passed the Indian Forest Amendment Bill, 2017.

• The Lok Sabha passed the Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The bill replaces Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 promulgated by President Ram Nath Kovind in November 2017 and amends Indian Forest Act, 1927.

• Though bamboo was taxonomically a grass, it was earlier defined as a tree under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and its felling and transit required permission. It was a major impediment for bamboo cultivation by farmers on non-forest land.

• The bill omits bamboo grown in non-forest areas from the definition of trees. The omission thereby exempts it from requiring permits for felling or transportation of bamboo grown in non-forest areas. With this, bamboo grown in non-forest areas ceases to be a tree.

• It will encourage bamboo plantation by farmers, which will contribute to doubling farmers income by 2022.  The Indian Forest Act, 1927 consolidates laws relating to forests, the transit of forest-produce and duty to be levied on them. Under it, the definition of the tree includes palms, stumps, bamboos, brush-wood, and canes.

Indias to fight hypothermia, Bracelets from Bengaluru saving babies in Papua New Guinea

• Bempu is made in India Hypothermia alert device and the Bempu was invented in 2016 by Bengaluru-based Ratul Narain, who is an alumnus of Stanford University. Currently, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is using the device extensively in PNG, in southwestern Pacific to save newborns from extreme cold and sudden drop in temperature.

•  The facility has so far been used largely in Henganofi district, Eastern Highlands province of the country. It was used for children with less than 2.5kg birth weight. Eastern Highlands province was chosen for the pilot as it’s one of the coldest terrains in PNG.

CBSE launches app Shiksha Vani.

• Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) launched its podcast app, 'Shiksha Vani'. It will be used to send out major announcements made by the board and is expected to be the quickest way to information. The first official circular on the app confirmed the beginning of the evaluation process of the 2019 Board Examinations.

ADB to invest USD 50 million in Avaada Energy for expansion of solar projects in India.

• The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will invest $50 million in Indian renewable energy independent power producer Avaada Energy Private Limited, to expand its solar energy generation capacity in India. Avaada is a developer of utility-scale, rooftop, and off-grid solar projects. According to the ADB, this investment will contribute to the Indian government’s goal to increase the share of renewable energy generation capacity from about 20% in 2018 to 40% by 2030. It will also help to reduce India's emission intensity of its gross domestic product by 33-35 per cent by 2030. The company has secured power purchase agreements of about 1,700 megawatts.

India's deepest shaft cave discovered in Meghalaya.

• India's deepest shaft cave Krem Um Ladaw has been discovered in Meghalaya's East Khasi Hills district during the annual 'Caving in the Abode of the Clouds Expedition'. The cave has a 105 m deep shaft entrance passage.

• This comes a year after the world's longest sandstone cave Krem Puri was discovered in Meghalaya. With all these discoveries, Meghalaya has become on of the top caving regions of the world. Meghalaya has 1,700 caves and cave locations of which over 1000 have been explored or partially explored.

INTERNATIONAL:

FAO expressed its concerns over armyworms.

• The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has expressed concerns over the increasing menace of Crop-damaging armyworms in Asia. Farming in several Asian countries is under threat from Armyworms, a type of crop-damaging insects that have munched their way from America and across Africa.  These flying insects arrived in India in July and have since spread to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, and China's Yunnan province.

• These insects feed mostly on maize and can feed on several species of crops, including rice and sugarcane. Armyworms which are native to the Americas have been moving eastwards since 2016 sweeping across Africa where they caused $1-3 billion in damage, before arriving in Asia. 

• The FAO had convened a meeting of officials from affected countries and experts for discussing ways to limit armyworm infestations amid a "growing sense of alarm". FAO called on the nations to work together since pest has no respect for international boundaries and it threatens food security, economy, domestic and international trade

India signals to boycott China's Belt and Road Forum for second time.

• China's second Belt and Road Forum for a second time, saying no country can participate in an initiative that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity. India boycotted the first Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in 2017 after protesting to Beijing over the controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) overriding New Delhi's sovereignty concerns.

• Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently said that next month China plans to hold a much bigger, second BRF which will also be attended by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. Speculation is rife whether India would attend the second BRF as China has deepened its commitment to expand the USD 60 billion CPEC, which aims to connect China's Xinjiang province with Pakistan's Gwadar port with a host of road, rail, gas and oil pipelines. China has also undertaken a host of energy projects under the aegis of the CPEC.

India and Sri Lanka to conduct joint military exercise Mitra Shakti VI.

• India and Sri Lanka is to conduct joint military exercise Mitra Shakti VI from 26 March to 8 April at Sri Lanka.  At the Military Exercise Mitra Shakti VI India would be represented by the Bihar Regiment. Gemunu Watch Battalion of Sri Lankan Army will be representing the Sri Lankan side. The exercise aims to build and promote close relations between armies of both the countries and to enhance the ability of joint exercise commander to take military contingents of both nations under command.

Jagmeet Singh made history in the House of Commons.

• Indian-origin Jagmeet Singh made history in the House of Commons, a component of Canada’s Parliament, as the first non-white leader of a major opposition party in the country. Singh, 40, the leader of the New Democratic Party, was elected in federal by-elections held on February 25. Singh’s first words as an elected lawmaker were about last week’s terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand.

First ever High-Level Dialogue on Indo-Pacific Cooperation (HLD-IPC) held in Jakarta, Indonesia.

• The Government of Indonesia hosted the first ever High-Level Dialogue on Indo-Pacific Cooperation (HLD-IPC) in its capital city Jakarta.

• The theme of the HLD was “Towards a Peaceful, Prosperous, and Inclusive Region”.

• It was inaugurated by Indonesia’s Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

• The representatives from India, Australia, US, Brunei Darussalam, Japan, South Korea, Russia, New Zealand and China apart from 10 member ASEAN countries.

• The main objective behind this meet was to urge all participating governments to talk openly about their plans for increasing cooperation and for building trust in the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean region.

SPORTS:

Former hockey Captain Sardar Singh appointed in Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) standing committee.

• A total of 13 Indian Olympic Association members, including former India hockey captain Sardar Singh, have been named in various Standing Committees of the Olympic Council of Asia at its 38th General Assembly in Bangkok.

• Singh has been elected in the athletes standing committee, while IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta was named in the culture standing committee. Hockey India secretary general Mohd. Mustaque Ahmad is in the media standing committee, while Athletics Federation of India president Adille Sumariwala and Lalit Bhanot have been elected in the sports for environment and sports standing committees respectively. All the members have been elected for a four-year term from 2019 to 2023.

Abu Dhabi signed to host T10 League for next five years.

• Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi, will be the new home of T10 cricket for the next five years, starting with the 2019 season. The first match of the T10 League 2019 will be held on October 23. In Cricket, there are two short formats so far, that is, ODI and T-20. Now, brace for T-10. T10 was first introduced to the UAE in 2017. With eight squads vying for victory in games with an explosive pace, players featured have included Chris Gayle, Shoaib Malik, Shane Watson and Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed.

DAYS:

World Down Syndrome Day observed on March 21.

• Recognizing the need to support people suffering from Down Syndrome, the WHO (world Health Organization) on 20th December 2007, recognized March 21st as ‘World Down Syndrome Day’. Following the decision of WHO, the United Nations General Assembly also designated the same date as “World Down Syndrome Day” on 19th December 2011.

• Since 2012 “World Down Syndrome Day” has been observed annually on 21st March. World Down Syndrome Day 2019 theme is “Leave no one behind”. Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder causing a delayed physical and mental growth in individuals.

• Children or adults suffering from Down Syndrome have lower IQ and learning ability along with characteristic facial features. A young adult with Down Syndrome has an average IQ of 50; equivalent to that of a normal 9 years old child.

World Water Day is celebrated on 22nd March.

• The World Water Day designated by the United Nations is celebrated on 22nd March every year. The first World Water Day was commemorated in 1993. The theme for World Water Day 2019 is ‘Leaving no one behind’. This is an adaptation of the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit. Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030.  To ‘leave no one behind’ focus on taking efforts towards people including those who have been marginalized or ignored.  Regulatory and legal frameworks must recognise the right to water for all people, and sufficient funding must be fairly and effectively targeted at those who need it most.

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Important Current Affairs of 21 March

INTERNATIONAL:

India attacks UNSC for Progressively Undermining UN General Assembly in finding solutions for global challenges.

• India and UN General Assembly must take lead in finding solutions to the challenges faced by the world, slamming the Security Council for "progressively undermining" the authority of the 193-member global body. India's deputy permanent representative K Nagaraj Naidu said on Monday the growing number of complex challenges facing the world, like those related to peace and security, climate change and sustainable development that cut across boundaries and regions can be addressed only through a genuine multilateral and participative process.

• The prerogatives and authority of the General Assembly have been progressively undermined by the Security Council through its frequent attempts to redefine its scope of competence through wider and permissive interpretations of what constitutes a threat to international peace and security and by engaging in discussions on issues that clearly fall within the purview of the General Assembly.

Cyclothon held on the occasion of World Sparrow Day.

• A colourful cyclothon was organised in Berhampur on the occasion of World Sparrow Day, March 20th, to mark the progress of making Ganjam the first sparrow-friendly district of Odisha. The event aimed at spreading awareness about the rising number of vehicles causing air pollution, which, in turn, affects the avian population.

• A large number of cyclists donning sparrow masks along with a sparrow mascot took part in this cycle rally organised by youth environmental organisation Anchalika Vikash Parishad (AVP) and the Forest Department.

Nirav Modi was denied bail in London.

• ndian businessman Nirav Modi who was accused in the Rs.13,000 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case was denied bail in London, despite offering the court assurances including £500,000 as security.  Mr.Modi is now due to appear before Emma Arbuthnot, the Chief Magistrate of Westminster Magistrates Court, who ordered Vijay Mallya’s extradition on March 29.  The hearing before District Judge Marie Mallon took place a day after Mr. Modi was arrested at a bank branch in London by the Metropolitan Police.

SAIL launched Smart Garbage Bins.

• Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) has launched smart garbage bins made of stainless steel which integrates technology for smart waste management. Smart Garbage Bins The IOT (Internet of Things) enabled Gazelle sensors Smart Garbage Bins will send signals to the garbage collection vehicle about the 'fill-up' position of the bin. This provides for better cleaning and lower human intervention.

• These Smart Garbage Bins made up of SAIL SALEM stainless steel 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. There will be separate bins for recyclable and non-recyclable wastes.  Initially, these Smart Garbage Bins will be placed at one each at Kamala Nagar in North and BhikajiCama Place in South Delhi.

Kazakhstan renames capital Astana as 'Nursultan' after ex-President.

• Kazakhstan's Parliament has voted to rename the country's capital Astana as 'Nursultan', in honour of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Kazakhstan's new President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev had proposed the move to rename the capital in honour of Nazarbayev, who announced his resignation on March 19 after 30 years in power. Nazarbayev's daughter, Dariga, was elected speaker of the Senate.

Google unveiled video game streaming service Stadia.

• Google unveiled its on-demand video-game streaming service Stadia, built for Chrome, Android and TVs, at the 2019 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California. Stadia's 'Crowd Play' feature will let people, watching a YouTube live stream, to actually join the streamer's game. The service will initially be launched this year in the US, Canada, the UK and Europe.

Italy to join China's Belt and Road Initiative.

• Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte pledged to make Italy the first Group of Seven nation to join China's ambitious Belt and Road initiative (BRI). This move will help rebalance Italy's trade with the Asian nation. Four Italian ports could reportedly be opened to Chinese investments for BRI. The US has warned Italy against joining the Chinese initiative.

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

South Indian Bank to issue Basel III compliant bonds.

• South Indian Bank plans to raise up to Rs.250 crore by issuing Basel III compliant bonds. The Committee approved the information memorandum for issuance of rated, unsecured, redeemable, non-convertible, Basel III compliant, lower tier 2 bonds up to Rs.150 crore with an option to retain an over-subscription aggregating up to Rs.100 crore, aggregating to total issue size of Rs.250 crore.

Vodafone Idea approves terms for Rs. 25,000 Crore worth Rights Issue at 60 percent discount.

• India's largest telecom firm Vodafone Idea announced its board has approved ₹25,000 crore rights issue at a discount of around 60% to the current share prices. Vodafone Group and the Aditya Birla Group would contribute ₹11,000 crore and ₹7,250 crore, respectively. The issue will increase the number of Vodafone Idea shares by 229%. Vodafone Idea stock fell as much as 7.6 per cent to Rs. 29.60, its steepest intraday fall in almost two months.

Mizoram Assembly passed Mizoram Maintenance of Household Registers Bill, 2019 to detect illegal foreigners

• Mizoram Assembly passed a new bill named Mizoram Maintenance of Household Registers Bill, 2019 with an objective to detect foreigners illegally residing in Mizoram,who takes away the benefits of the citizen of Mizoram. As per the Bill, the Assembly will create the 2 registers namely one for the citizen residents and another for non-citizen residents of a village/area/town. This register comprises the name, details and passport size photographs of every individual in the state.

NATIONAL:

Social Media platforms to prevent violation of Code of Ethics during polls.

• Social Media platforms and internet mobile Association of India (IAMAI) have adopted a Voluntary Code of Ethics for the forthcoming general elections. According to the code submitted to the election Committee, IAMAI and Social Media platforms, including Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Google, will create a high priority dedicated reporting mechanism and appoint dedicated teams during the polls for taking expeditious action on any reported violations

• No political campaign will be allowed to run on major social media platforms in the last 48 hours before polling ends. It has also been agreed to provide a mechanism for political advertisers to submit pre-certified advertisements issued by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee. 

• The code also promises to facilitate transparency in paid political advertisements. The social media companies will take action on content reported by the nodal officer, expeditiously, in accordance with the law. IAMAI will act as the liaison between social media firms and the poll panel. Our correspondent reports that the code, which comes into operation with immediate effect, has been developed to ensure free, fair and ethical use of social media platforms to maintain the integrity of the electoral process. 

Shark-faced plane lands at Delhi airport for the first time.

• A shark-themed plane, an Embraer E190-E2 commercial jet, landed at the Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport for the first time. Last year, the shark-themed aircraft landed at Lhasa's Gonggar Airport (Tibet), one of the world's highest airports at 11,713 feet. E190-E2 is manufactured by Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer.

IND INDO CORPAT 2019 was inaugurated at Port Blair.

• The 33rd edition of India-Indonesia coordinated patrol (IND-INDO CORPAT) was inaugurated at Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The IND-INDO CORPAT 2019 is held from 19 Mar to 04Apr 2019.  Navies of both countries have been carrying out coordinated patrolling twice a year since 2002 in an effort to keep the Indian Ocean region (IOR) safe and secure for commercial shipping and international trade.  It also enhances mutual understanding and interoperability between the two navies.

•  IND-INDO CORPAT 2019  From the Indonesian Side Naval Ship, KRI Sultan Thaha Syaifuddin and Maritime Patrol Aircraft CN-235 are taking part. Commodore Ashutosh Ridhorkar, Naval Component Commander, Andaman and Nicobar Command is leading the Indian side. During the exercise ships and aircraft from both the countries would undertake the patrolling on the respective sides of 236 nautical miles long International Maritime Boundary line.

SpiceJet becomes first Indian low-cost airline to join IATA as a member.

• Budget carrier SpiceJet has joined global airlines' grouping International Air Transport Association (IATA), becoming the first Indian low-cost carrier to get the membership. The membership would help SpiceJet, which has ambitious expansion plans, to have codeshares and agreements with other carriers. IATA has over 290 airlines as members. Other Indian members of the IATA include Air India, Jet Airways and Vistara.

Indian-Omani group signs USD 3.8 billion deal to build Sri Lanka refinery.

• India's Accord Group and Oman's oil ministry have signed a $3.85 billion deal to build an oil refinery in Sri Lanka. This is the biggest single pledge of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) ever made in the country. The project will be located near the southern Sri Lankan port of Hambantota, which was handed over on a 99-year lease to a state-owned Chinese company. Privately-owned Accord Group will control 70 per cent of the joint venture and the Sultanate of Oman's Ministry of Oil and Gas the rest. The refinery is expected to produce 9 million metric tonnes of refined products a year for export from the Hambantota port, which serves the busiest East-West shipping route.

India ranked 140th in the happiest country in the world 2019 list.

• Finland has been ranked as the happiest country in the world 2019 for the second year in succession. The report was released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations on March 20. India secured 140th place, seven spots down from last year, on UN World Happiness Report- 2019. Indians are not as happy in 2019 as they were in 2018 and the country figures at 140th place, seven spots down from last year, on UN World Happiness Report- 2019

•  The UN’s seventh annual World Happiness Report, which ranks the world’s 156 countries on “how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be”, also noted that there has been an increase in negative emotions, including worry, sadness, and anger. Pakistan is ranked 67th, Bangladesh 125th and China is placed at 93rd position, according to the report. People in war-torn South Sudan are the most unhappy, ranked 156th, with their lives.

Mumbai social worker Gauri Sawant designated as first transgender election ambassador

• A 38-year-old transgender activist Shree Gauri Sawant from Mumbai appointed as first transgender election ambassador by The Election Commission of India. There was no separate classification of transgenders as voters till 2014 but after that transgenders were first enrolled as voters along with males and females. Automotive Tyre Manufacturers’ Association (ATMA) appointed as Mr. K M Mammen as Chairman. Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association (ATMA) appointed as Chairman & Managing Director of MRF Ltd Mr. K M Mammen as their chairman.

SPORTS:

Tokyo 2020 Olympics torch unveiled.

• Tokyo 2020 Olympics unveiled a cherry-blossom shaped torch for the Games as the city prepares for the famed flower season to begin in coming days. The top part of the torch is shaped in the traditional emblem of the sakura, or cherry blossom using the same cutting-edge technology as in the production of Japan's bullet trains, the organisers said.

• The shiny rose-gold torch, which is 71 centimetres (28 inches) long and weighs 1.2 kilograms (2 pounds 10 ounces), uses aluminium construction waste from temporary housing built for victims of the 2011 quake and tsunami. Fukushima was chosen as the starting point for the Olympic torch relay.  Japan has dubbed the 2020 Games the "Reconstruction Olympics" and wants to showcase recovery in regions devastated by the disaster.

India bags over 350 medals at Special Olympics World Games.

• India got more over than 350 medals at the Special Olympics World Games 2019 at Abu Dhabi in UAE, making the history for the country. The current medal tally stands at 85 Gold, 153 Silver and 124  Bronze totalling 362 medals. Some of the biggest names in world music will perform at the spectacular Closing Ceremony at Zayed Sports City.

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Important Current Affairs 20th March 2019

INTERNATIONAL:

INCOIS and French scientists discovered existence of a new sea level oscillation.

• Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) researchers, in collaboration with scientists from France, have discovered the existence of a ‘synchronous oscillation’ of sea level across the entire Tropical Indian Ocean with a time period of 30 to 80 days during winter months of December to April.

• In these months, Indian Ocean routinely gains/losses 3 trillion tonnes of water from the Pacific Ocean every 30-80 days accompanied by a sea level rise/fall of 4 cm which is 30% of total sea-level change. This process is driven by intense winds hovering over a small area in the eastern Indian Ocean. This wind is associated with tropical weather phenomenon called Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). MJOs, being a low-pressure system, is known to facilitate cyclone formation over the Indian Ocean. The study said the waves gain more relevance since MJOs are gradually getting more intense in the warming climate.

British Army to create a new Battalion by recruiting more than 800 Nepalese Gurkha.

• The British Army has announced that it would create a new Specialised Infantry Battalion by recruiting more than 800 Nepalese Gurkha servicepersons.  Gurkhas have completed 200 years of service in the British Army and currently, they comprise upto 3% of the British Army.

• Gurkha and British Army During the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-16, Gorkha Kingdom had inflicted heavy casualties on the British Army even though they had lost the war. British India decided to recruit these soldiers starting in 1815 and the Gurkhas have fought on the side of the British Empire in almost every war, including both World Wars.

• The Gurkhas are recruited every year by the British Army and Gurkhas are held in high esteem in the British Army. Gurkhas have the same service conditions as the regular British Army, with the option of British citizenship upon retirement.

BANKS AND ECONOMY:

RBI says Forex swap for liquidity has been received well.

• The recent decision of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to inject rupee liquidity through long-term foreign exchange (forex) swap, a first of its kind in liquidity management policy, has been received well.  On 26th March auction the feedback of the forex swap will be received. The central bank will conduct a dollar-rupee buy/sell swap auction of $5 billion for a three-year tenor, on March 26.

Hyundai and Kia to invest USD 300 million in Ola.

• Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation together plans to invest $300 million in cab aggregator Ola. This will be the biggest combined investment by the two firms of the South Korean Hyundai Motor Group.  As part of the strategic collaboration, the three companies will work on developing unique fleet and mobility solutions, besides building India-specific electric vehicles and infrastructure.

• Hyundai Motor Group expects to accelerate its transition from a ‘car manufacturer’ into a ‘Smart Mobility Solutions Provider’, as the partnership’s initiatives will allow it to engage in all aspects across the entire mobility value chain, including vehicle production, fleet operation, and mobility services.

GST Council approves transition plan for new GST rates.

• GST council approved a transition plan for new goods and services tax rates on residential properties under which developers of under-construction buildings may either opt to shift to the revised lower rates without input tax credit or stick to the previous rates. Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey told media that for housing projects launched on or after the first of April this year, the developers will have to adhere to the new GST rates recommended by the council last month.

• Developers can also opt for different GST options for separate buildings in a project depending on if construction started before or after 31st March this year. Mr Pandey added that there will be no revenue loss to the government due to the new GST structure for under-construction housing.

SPORTS:

Gopi Thonakal qualified for World Athletics.

• In marathon, India's Asian champion Gopi Thonakal has qualified for the World Athletics Championships to be held in the Qatari capital Doha in September-October this year. He achieved qualification after finishing 11th in the Seoul International Marathon, clocking his personal best time of 2 hours 13 minutes 39 seconds. Gopi’s time is the second best ever by an Indian after the four-decade old national record of 2:12:00, which is held by Shivnath Singh.

IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals to Academy in England.

• Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Rajasthan Royals has tied up with the Star Cricket Academy in Surrey, England. The tie-up is to re-launch the facility as the ‘Rajasthan Royals Academy’. The centre has a state-of-the-art cricket centre named the Jarrett Centre.

• It is an indoor cricket training centre run by former professional batsman Siddharth Lahiri, along with his team of coaches including former England international and mentor to the academy, Keith Medlycott.  The franchise is also keen to create an exchange programme across India and UK wherein the children from the UK will receive an opportunity to come to Institute of Sport, Nagpur.

APPOINTMENT AND RESIGNATION:

Japanese Olympic chief quits amid corruption allegations scandal.

• Tsunekazu Takeda, the head of Japan's Olympic Committee (JOC), is stepping down over corruption allegations relating to the awarding of the 2020 Games to Tokyo. Takeda is being investigated by French prosecutors who are looking into claims that a €2 million (£1.7 million) bribe was paid to secure Tokyo's winning bid for the Olympic Games. Takeda was head of the Tokyo bidding committee when it was awarded the Games in 2013, defeating rival bids from Madrid and Istanbul.

Kazakhstan's 1st and only President resigns after 29 yrs in power.

• Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan's first and only President, announced his resignation on March 19 after 29 years in power. He has been Kazakhstan's President since 1990 and was formally elected in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. He received 98 percent of the votes. Nazarbayev would continue to chair the Security Council and remain the leader of the Nur Otan party. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, speaker of the upper house of parliament, will take over as the country's acting president for the remainder of his term in line with the constitution

NATIONAL:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address 25 lakh Chowkidars.

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address over 25 lakh Chowkidars through audio bridge medium on Wednesday and share the colours of Holi with them.  The Party's media head and Rajya Sabha MP Anil Baluni this is a part of a series of initiatives under the 'Main Bhi Chowkidaar' outreach programme.

IIPHG to launch Conquer Exam, Be a Warrior app.

• Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar, Gujarat, (IIPHG) joined hands with National Mental Health Program, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Gujarat for developing a mobile application called as ‘Conquer Exam, Be a Warrior’ to reduce the exam pressure for the student. This application creates awareness as well as help students to analyze their weak point and overcome from the exam pressure by providing assistance.

Uttar Pradesh to take census of Otters for the first time.

• For the first time, Uttar Pradesh is taking a census of Otters in its protected areas. The census has begun in the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR).

•  Otters  Otters live on fish and spend much of its time in or close to water bodies. A growing or healthy population of otters means the water bodies are pollution-free. Clean water bodies mean a healthy ecosystem of the forest.

• India is home to 3 of the 13 species of otters found worldwide. These are: 1) Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra) - IUCN status: Near Threatened 2) Smooth-coated Otter (Lutra perspicillata) - IUCN status: Vulnerable 3) Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinereus) - IUCN status: Vulnerable.

ICF Chennai becomes worlds largest rail coach manufacturer.

• Integral Coach Factory (ICF), the rail coach manufacturing factory at Chennai, which became famous for manufacturing Train 18, has become the single largest rail coach manufacturer in the world surpassing top Chinese manufacturers. The manufacturing facility of Indian Railways in Chennai manufactured 2,919 coaches from April 2018 to February 2019 against 2,600 coaches manufactured by top Chinese manufacturers.

•  ICF has set a target to manufacture 3,200 coaches in this financial year 2019. The ultra-modern ‘Train 18’ is engine less, with self-propelled coaches like metro was indigenously made at Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai. Integral Coach Factory in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, was established in 1952 and is owned and operated by the Indian Railways.

International Workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure IWDRI 2019 held in New Delhi.

• International Workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (IWDRI), a two-day workshop organised by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), and in partnership with the Global Commission on Adaptation, United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank was held at New Delhi.

• The objectives of the workshop were to:

♦ Identify good practices of disaster risk management in key infrastructure sectors.

♦ Identify specific areas and pathways for collaborative research on DRI (Transport, Energy, Telecom and Water).

♦ Discuss and co-create the broad contours of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) as well as a notional roll-out plan for the next three years.

♦ Build a forum for members to work on areas of common interest and make specific commitments. The first IWDRI was held in January 2018 and IWDRI 2019 built upon some of the ideas generated at the IWDRI 2018 as a crucial milestone towards the establishment of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI). 

DAY:

International Day of Happiness is celebrated on 20th March.

• International Day of Happiness is celebrated every year on March 20. The theme for IDH 2019 is ‘Happier Together’. This year the focus will be on what we have in common, rather than what divides us. It is celebrated by all 193 UN Member States. Since 2013, the United Nations has celebrated the International Day of Happiness as a way to recognize the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world.

• It was conceptualized and founded by philanthropist, activist, statesman, and prominent United Nations special advisor Jayme Illien to inspire, mobilize, and advance the global happiness movement.

AWARDS:

Irfan Ramzan Sheikh who fought against 3 terrorists as 14-yr-old awarded Shaurya Chakra.

• Jammu and Kashmir's Irfan Ramzan Sheikh, who fought off three armed terrorists in 2017, when he was 14 years old, was awarded Shaurya Chakra by President Ram Nath Kovind. Sheikh fought off the terrorists who wanted to kill his father and didn't let them enter his house. The terrified terrorists left one of the terrorists' body and ran away.

Mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck becomes 1st woman to win prestigious Abel Prize.

• Mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck (76-year-old) has become the first woman to win the Abel prize, sometimes called the Nobel prize of mathematics, for the impact of her work on "analysis, geometry and mathematical physics". She is also an advocate for gender equality in science and mathematics.

•  About Abel Prize: It is named after Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel and directly modeled after the Nobel Prizes. It comes with a monetary award of 6 million Norwegian Kroner. Established: 23 August 2001 First awarded‎: ‎2003 Country: Norway Awarded for: Outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics Presented by: Government of Norway

MOUS:

MoU signed by Ola and Telangana Govt. to strengthen traffic infrastructure in Hyderabad

• A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Ola and the Government of Telangana to support the government’s initiative to implement smart solutions to enhance mobility experience further strengthening traffic infrastructure in Hyderabad. Under the MoU, the first pilot project proposed is the dynamic mapping of riding quality of various major roads in Hyderabad through the network of vehicles operating on the Ola platform.

IBBI and SEBI signed an MoU for effective implementation of IBC.

• The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). The IBBI and the SEBI seek effective implementation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Code) and its allied rules and regulations, which have redefined the debt-equity relationship and aims to promote entrepreneurship and debt market.

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