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Important Current Affairs 8th April 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Jeff Bezos tops Forbes’ Annual Billionaire list fourth year in a row

•The Amazon.com Inc founder, Jeff Bezos has topped Forbes’ annual world’s billionaires list for the fourth consecutive year. India’s richest billionaire Mukesh Ambani ranked at 10th position with a total net worth of USD 84.5 billion.

•The 35th edition Forbes World’s Billionaires list was released on April 06, 2021, comprising a record-breaking 2,755 billionaires. The list is prepared based on the wealth using stock prices and exchange rates from March 5, 2021.

Carl Bildt appointed WHO special envoy for ACT-Accelerator

•Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), appointed Carl Bildt as WHO Special Envoy for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator). Bildt succeeds Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Andrew Witty in the special envoy role. He will help lead the collective advocacy for the ACT-Accelerator in his new role, mobilising support and resources so it can deliver against its strategy for 2021.

•The ACT-Accelerator is a groundbreaking global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests, treatments and vaccines, according to the WHO website.

•It brings together governments, scientists, businesses, civil society, and philanthropists and global health organizations.

•These include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CEPI, FIND, Gavi, The Global Fund, Unitaid, Wellcome, the WHO and the World Bank.

NATIONAL

India completes arch of world’s highest railway bridge in J&K

•The construction of the arch of the world’s highest railway bridge that soars 359 metres above the bed of the Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir was completed. The 1.3-kilometre-long bridge aims to boost connectivity to the Kashmir Valley and it is being constructed at a cost of ₹ 1,486 crores as part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL) project.

The iconic Chenab Bridge:-

•The construction of the Chenab bridge was declared as a national project in 2002.

•Indian Railways is constructing the iconic Arch Bridge on River Chenab as a part of the USBRL project to connect the Kashmir valley to the rest of the nation.

•This bridge is 1315m long.

•This is the highest Railway Bridge in the world being 359m above the river bed level.

•It will be 35 meters higher than the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris (France).

•The overall weight of Arch is 10,619 MT.

•The most sophisticated ‘Tekla’ software used for structural detailing.

•Structural steel was suitable for -10°C to 40°C temperature.

•Bridge designed to bear earthquake forces of highest intensity zone-V in India.

•Bridge designed to withstand high wind speed up to 266 Km/Hour.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

DRDO develops Advanced Chaff Technology to safeguard naval ships

•The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed an Advanced Chaff Technology to safeguard naval ships against missile attack. The development of Advanced Chaff Technology by the DRDO lab is another step towards Atmanirbhar Bharat.

•Chaff is a passive expendable electronic countermeasure technology used worldwide to protect naval ships from enemy’s radar and Radio Frequency (RF) missile seekers. The importance of this development lies in the fact that a very less quantity of chaff material deployed in the air acts as a decoy to deflect the enemy’s missiles for the safety of the ships.

OBITUARY

Gita Press president Radheshyam Khemka passes away

•The president of Gita Press, Radheshyam Khemka, passed away. He is credited for taking the Sanatan literature to the masses. Khemka for 38 years was the editor of the prominent 'Kalyan' magazine printed at the press.

•He last edited the magazine's April 2021 issue. Gita Press is the world's largest publisher of Hindu religious texts.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Justice N V Ramana to assume charge as next CJI

•The senior-most Supreme Court judge Justice Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana has been appointed as the next Chief Justice of India (CJI).

•Justice Ramana would succeed incumbent CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde to take over as the 48th CJI. He would assume charge of the office from April 24, 2021, till August 26, 2022.

Cabinet Appoints Tarun Bajaj as new Revenue Secretary

•The Central Government has approved the appointment of Tarun Bajaj as the new Revenue Secretary under the Ministry of Finance.

•Prior to this, Bajaj, a 1988 batch Haryana-cadre IAS officer, was serving as the Economic Affairs Secretary since April 30, 2020. The cabinet has also approved the appointment of Ajay Seth, a 1987 batch Karnataka-cadre IAS officer, as new Economic Affairs Secretary in place of Bajaj.

Chintan Vaishnav appointed as Mission Director of Atal Innovation Mission

•Noted socio-technologist, Dr Chintan Vaishnav has been appointed the mission director of Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), the government’s flagship initiative under NITI Aayog. Vaishnav will take over from Ramanathan Ramanan later this month. Ramanan has been leading AIM as its first mission director since June 2017. Vaishnav is currently at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US. He holds a PhD in technology, management, and policy from MIT.

•AIM’s mission is to create and promote a vibrant ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship across the country. Over the past four years, since its inception, AIM’s various initiatives have achieved notable successes. So far, AIM has established 72,59 Atal Tinkering Labs in schools across 650 districts, providing over 3.5 million students access to emerging technologies.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

RBI to release Financial Inclusion Index (FI Index) annually

•The Reserve Bank of India has announced that it will periodically publish a “Financial Inclusion Index” (FI Index) annually in July for the financial year ending previous March. The FI Index would be based on multiple parameters and shall reflect the broadening and deepening of financial inclusion in the country, a statement on regulatory and developmental policies of RBI.

•Financial Inclusion has been a thrust area for the government, the Reserve Bank and other regulators, with significant progress made over the years. To measure the extent of financial inclusion in the country, the Reserve Bank proposes to construct and publish a Financial Inclusion Index (FI Index) based on multiple parameters.

RBI Monetary Policy: Policy Rate unchanged

•The six-member monetary policy committee of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) headed by Governor Shaktikanta Das, has decided to keep key lending rates unchanged for the fifth consecutive time, in its April 2021 policy review meeting held between April 5 to 7, 2021. The Reserve Bank of India is likely to keep policy rates unchanged amid the uncertainty created by a fresh surge in coronavirus infections.

Major Decisions of Monetary Policy Committee meeting are:

• Policy Repo Rate: 4.00%

• Reverse Repo Rate: 3.35%

• Marginal Standing Facility Rate: 4.25%

• Bank Rate: 4.25%

• CRR: 3%

• SLR: 18.00%

RBI Monetary Policy Key Decisions:

• The Consumer Price Index of 2022 is predicted to be at 5.1%.

• RBI has also kept the accommodative monetary stance unchanged.

• Meanwhile, the GDP growth of India is projected at 10.5% in the financial year 2021-22.

• RBI is to buy Rs 1 lakh crores of G-Sec under the G-Sec Acquisition Programme.

• The Apex Bank has increased the centre’s Ways and Means Advances by 46%. The current limit is Rs 32,225 crores. It has now been increased to Rs 47,010 crores.

• Maximum End of Pay balance for payment banks has been doubled to Rs 2 lakhs.

• Additional liquidity facility of Rs 50,000 crores announced for NABARD, SIDBI and NHB in 2021-22.

IMF revises GDP growth forecast of India to 12.5% for FY22

•International Monetary Fund (IMF) has raised its growth forecast for the Indian economy by 100 basis points to 12.5 per cent for the fiscal year 2021-22. GDP growth for FY23 is pegged at 6.9 per cent.

•The revised forecast was published in the IMF’s World Economic Outlook. India is the only country among major world economies that is projected to grow at a double-digit rate during FY22.

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Important Current Affairs 7th April 2021

NATIONAL

TRIFED launches “Sankalp se Siddhi”- Village and Digital Connect Drive

•Tribal Co-operative Marketing Federation of India (TRIFED) has launched Sankalp Se Siddhi - Village & Digital Connect Drive. It is a 100-day drive which was started on the 1st of April. The drive entails 150 teams visiting 10 villages each of which 10 in each region from TRIFED & State Implementation Agencies, visiting 10 villages each.

•The main aim of this drive is to activate the Van Dhan Vikas Kendras. Ministry of Tribal Affairs in a statement said that 100 villages in each region and 1500 villages in the country will be covered in the next 100 days.

•They will also identify tribal artisans and other groups and empanel them as suppliers so that they can have access to larger markets through the Tribes India network - both physical outlets and TribesIndia.com.

•It is expected that Sankalp Se Siddhi will aid in effecting a complete transformation of the tribal ecosystem across the country.

SPORTS

Hurkacz beats Sinner to win Miami Open

•Hubert Hurkacz of Poland won the biggest title of his career by beating 19-year-old Jannik Sinner of Italy 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the Miami Open final.

•Hurkacz became his country's first Masters 1000 champion. The world number 37 is the lowest-ranked player to win a Masters event since Tomas Berdych in Paris in 2005.

OBITUARY

Former Union Minister and Gujarat MLA Digvijaysinh Zala passes away

•Former Union Environment Minister and an MLA from Wankaner in Gujarat, Digvijaysinh Zala has passed away.

•The veteran Congress leader became the first Environment Minister of India under the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from 1982 to 1984.

Malayalam screenwriter P. Balachandran passes away

•Malayalam screenwriter, filmmaker, dramatist and actor, P. Balachandran has passed away. He is best known for the play Paavam Usman for which he won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award and Kerala Professional Nataka Award in the year 1989.

•Balachandran has scripted many films including Ulladakkam (1991), Pavithram (1994), Agnidevan (1995), Punaradhivasam (2000), and Kammatti Paadam (2016). His directorial debut is Ivan Megharoopan (2012). He has also acted in a few films, the most notable being Trivandrum Lodge (2012).

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Shabir Khandwawala appointed new BCCI ACU chief

•Shabir Hussein Shekhadam Khandwawala, who has served as the Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) before, is the new BCCI Anti-Corruption Unit chief.

•The 70-year-old, a 1973 batch IPS officer, takes over from Ajit Singh whose tenure ended on March 31. After retiring as Gujarat DGP in late 2010, Khandwawala worked with the Essar Group as an advisor and was also part of the central government's Lokpal Search Committee.

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Rwanda Genocide

•International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda observed globally on 7 April every year. The International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda was announced by the United General Assembly in 2003. On April 7th, the date where the genocide against members of the Tutsi began. For approximately 100 days, over 800,000 Tutsi were assassinated.

•UNESCO aims to educate the world population regarding genocides and the consequences of the crime. UNESCO is committed to promoting education about genocides as a means to sensitize learners for the causes, dynamics and consequences of such crimes and to strengthen their resilience against all forms of discrimination.

World Health Day observed globally on 7 April

•The World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated on 7 April every year. On April 7th every year, governmental as well as non-governmental health organizations organize events that focus on promoting healthier habits of living. From exciting activities to pledges and support plans, these events aim to create awareness about what can increase the life expectancy of people around the world.

•The Theme of World Health Day 2021: “Building a fairer, healthier world for everyone”.

•In 1948, the WHO held the First World Health Assembly. The Assembly decided to celebrate 7 April of each year, with effect from 1950, as World Health Day. The World Health Day is held to mark WHO’s founding and is seen as an opportunity by the organization to draw worldwide attention to a subject of major importance to global health each year.

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace: 6 April

•The United Nations celebrates the 6th of April every year as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. Sport has historically played an important role in all societies, be it in the form of competitive sport, physical activity or play. Sports also presents a natural partnership for the United Nations (UN) system.

•Sport can help promote fairness, team building, equality, inclusion and perseverance. Sport and physical activity can also help us get through times of crisis, like COVID-19, by reducing anxieties and improving physical and mental health. The professional sport also provides employment and income to many people around the world and an integral sector to the economic success of many communities and regions.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Suman Chakraborty to get 30th GD Birla Award for Scientific Research

•Professor Suman Chakraborty has been selected for the 30th GD Birla Award for Scientific Research for his outstanding contribution to engineering science and its applications in developing technologies for affordable healthcare. He is a faculty member at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur’s department of mechanical engineering.

•He is credited with establishing the first microfluidics laboratory in the framework of an academic institution in India to facilitate the study of how tiny volumes of fluids flow through small channels. Apart from being a reputable academic, Chakraborty has invented technologies that have not only been patented but also licensed to industrial houses for commercialisation.

Alfred Aho Wins the 2020 ACM Turing Award

•Lawrence Gussman Professor Emeritus of Computer Science, Alfred V. Aho has won the 2020 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) A.M. Turing Award, known informally as the "Nobel Prize of computing." Aho shares the award with his long-time collaborator Jeffrey David Ullman.

•Aho and Ullman began working together at Bell Labs in 1967 and their early efforts included developing efficient algorithms for analyzing and translating programming languages. Even when Ullman began a career in academia in 1969 while Aho remained at Bell Labs, they continued their collaboration for several decades and shaped the foundations of programming language theory and implementation, as well as algorithm design and analysis.

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Important Current Affairs 6th April 2021

NATIONAL

Dr. Harsh Vardhan approves National Policy for Rare Diseases, 2021

•Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has approved National Policy for Rare Diseases, 2021. The policy aims to lower the high cost of treatment for rare diseases, with an increased focus on indigenous research & local production of medicines. The Policy also focuses on early screening and prevention through primary and secondary health care infrastructure such as Health and Wellness Centres and District Early Intervention Centres.

•A provision for financial support up to Rs.20 lakh under the Umbrella Scheme of Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi is proposed for treatment of those rare diseases that require a one-time treatment (diseases listed under Group 1 in the policy). Benefits to be extended to about 40% of the population eligible under PM Jan Arogya Yojana.

J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha inaugurates Tulip Festival

•In the Kashmir Valley, Tulip Festival in Srinagar was inaugurated by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha. Over 15 lakh flowers of more than 64 varieties are in full bloom on the foothills of the Zabarwan Mountains. The five-day-long Tulip Festival in Asia's largest tulip garden at the foothills of Zabarwan hills on the banks of world-famous Dal Lake in Srinagar.

•The Tulip Garden was opened for tourists and the general public on the 25th of March.

•Last year the Tulip Festival could not be held because of the unprecedented situation of COVID-19.

•However, this time, the Tulip Festival is being organized on a large scale to attract more and more tourists.

•The Tulip Festival, to be held from 3rd to 7th of April, will showcase Kashmiri folk music apart from a painting competition.

Rajasthan becomes the 1st state to provide free health insurance to all

•Rajasthan becomes the first state in the country where the state government is providing free health insurance facility to all the citizens of the state. This plan was announced by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in the state budget of 2021-22.  The State began the registration for its cashless ‘mediclaim’ scheme Chiranjeevi Health Insurance Scheme.

•Each family will get annual health insurance up to 5 lakhs.

•Registrations have started for the Chiranjeevi Health Insurance Scheme from 1 April, while the scheme will start benefiting the residents after its implementation on May 1.

•In this health insurance cover, 1576 packages and procedures for the treatment of various diseases have been included.

•The cost of treatment related to OPD, examination, medicines and related package of 15 days after discharge will also be included in the free treatment before the patient is admitted to the hospital.

India's biggest floating solar power plant to be set up in Telangana

•The biggest floating solar power plant in India is to be set up at Ramagundam in Telangana. It is expected to be opened in May 2021. The cost of the project has been estimated as Rs 423 crores. The power plant will have 4.5 lakh photovoltaic panels.

•The solar power plant is being set up at the Ramagundam Thermal Power Plant reservoir.

•The solar power plant is to be set up in 450 acres of the reservoir.

•The project is commissioned by NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation).

•NTPC aims to reduce its carbon footprints and increase its green energy production to 30% of its capacity through this solar power plant.

•The capacity of the solar power plant is 100 MW.

OBITUARY

Veteran film and TV actress Shashikala passes away

•Veteran film and TV actress Shashikala Om Prakash Saigal passed away. She was more popularly known by her first name, Shashikala has famously appeared as various supporting characters in over 100 films.

•Shashikala was honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri by the Indian government for her unparalleled contribution to the world of cinema and arts in 2007. She was also conferred with the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award at the V. Shantaram Awards in 2009. Apart from this, Shashikala bagged two Filmfare awards for her work in Aarti and Gumrah.

Samajwadi Party founder member Bhagwati Singh passes away

•Founder member of the Samajwadi Party and former UP minister Bhagwati Singh passed away. He was 89-year-old.

•The last rites of Singh will not be done as he had pledged to donate his body to the King George Medical University.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Digit Insurance roped Virat Kohli as brand ambassador

•Digit Insurance has roped in cricketer Virat Kohli as its brand ambassador. Kohli has also invested in Digit Insurance in the past. Digit Insurance, a general insurance company that became the first unicorn of 2021 with a valuation of $1.9B.

•With this association, the company aims to carry the message of ‘making insurance simple’ through the cricketer. Digit was able to get the Indian Men’s Cricket Team Captain to invest in the company before he planned to become the face for the brand.

RBI deputy governor BP Kanungo retires

•BP Kanungo has stepped down from the post of the deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India after his term ended on 2 April, cutting short all expectations of an extension of his tenure.

•He was appointed deputy governor in 2017 for three years. His term was extended by one more year in 2020. The other deputy governors of the RBI are Rajeshwar Rao, M.K. Jain and Michael Patra.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

A book titled ‘Manohar Parrikar: Brilliant Mind, Simple Life’ by Nitin Gokhale

•A new book titled ‘Manohar Parrikar: Brilliant Mind, Simple Life’ authored by Nitin Gokhale was released. The book is published by Bloomsbury. It is an attempt to capture Parrikar’s persona — the man, the politician and the patriot. Gokhale is a renowned author, media trainer and founder of a specialised defence related website BharatShakti.in. and StratNewsGlobal.com.

•Through this book, the author presents the journey of the contribution of Parrikar to nation-building and his service to the Goan society, from being an IIT student to a social worker and to India’s defence minister. The book is a tribute to Parrikar, India’s former defence minister and four-time chief minister of Goa, the first IIT-ian to become a chief minister.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

World Bank, AIIB approve loan for USD 300 million projects to Punjab

•The World Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) have approved the loan for USD 300 million (about Rs 2,190 crore) canal-based drinking water projects in Punjab. The project is aimed at ensuring quality drinking water and minimise water losses for Amritsar and Ludhiana. The entire project will be co-financed by IBRD (World Bank) – USD 105 million, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank – USD 105 million and the Punjab government – USD 90 million.

•The Infrastructure has been designed to meet the water demand for 30 years. It would benefit the residents of Amritsar with an estimated population of 14.51 lakh for 2025 and 22.11 lakh for 2055.

•At present, the Canal Based Water Supply Project for Amritsar has been awarded to M/s Larsen & Toubro Limited at a contract amount of Rs.784.33 Crore.

•The total estimated Design-Build Cost of the Ludhiana Project is Rs.1093.92 Crore and the period for completion of the same is 36 months.

•The estimated Operation & Maintenance cost is Rs.270.73 Crore for 10 years. The total amount for the project comes out to Rs.1364.65 Crore.

World Bank approves USD 32 million project to Mizoram

•The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved a USD 32 million projects to improve management capacity and quality of health services in Mizoram. The project titled “Mizoram Health Systems Strengthening Project” will strengthen the governance and the management structure of the Mizoram Health department and its subsidiaries. This project will support the state government's efforts to deliver quality healthcare for the poor and vulnerable and those located in remote areas.

•The key focus will be to strengthen the effectiveness of the state health insurance programme, build synergies with the Government of India's Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (PMJAY), and thereby reduce financial barriers in accessing hospital services, prevent catastrophic out of pocket expenditure for health by poor families and expand coverage.

•The Mizoram Health Systems Strengthening Project will benefit the people across the state. It will also benefit healthcare personnel by strengthening their planning and management capabilities along with building their clinical skills and competencies.

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Important Current Affairs 3rd April 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Indian Army to participate in Military Exercise SHANTIR OGROSHENA 2021

•A multinational Military Exercise named ‘SHANTIR OGROSHENA’ 2021 (Front Runner of the Peace) is scheduled to be held in Bangladesh from April 04 to 12, 2021. The theme of the exercise is “Robust Peace Keeping Operations”. The exercise is being held to commemorate the birth centenary of Bangladesh ‘Father of the Nation’ Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and mark glorious 50 years of liberation of the country.

•The Indian Army is also participating in this multinational exercise, along with a contingent of the Royal Bhutan Army, Sri Lankan Army and Bangladesh Army.

•The Indian contingent will comprise 30 personnel including Officers, JCOs and Jawans of a Battalion from The DOGRA Regiment.

•USA, UK, Turkey, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Singapore will also attend the exercise as Military observers.

NATIONAL

GoI declares 14th April, birthday of Dr B R Ambedkar as public holiday

•The central government has declared April 14, Dr BR Ambedkar's birthday a public holiday. Dr B R Ambedkar was the sculptor of the Indian Constitution and the country already celebrates his birthday as Ambedkar Jayanti every year. The government has announced that from this year 14th April will be declared as a public holiday.  It will be Ambedkar’s 130th birth anniversary on April 14, 2021.

•Babasaheb Ambedkar's original name is Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar.

•His father Ramji Sakpal was a Subedar in the army and his mother Bhimbai Kapal was a housewife.

•The family settled in Mumbai in 1897 and Babasaheb enrolled at Elphinstone High School. After matriculation, he took admission to Elphinstone College in 1907.

•He graduated from Bombay University in 1912 with a degree in Economics and Political Science. Babasaheb Ambedkar was a renowned social reformer and a Dalit icon, he spoke unequivocally against the inequality, injustice, and discrimination faced by the members of the Dalit community.

•Babasaheb Ambedkar died on December 6 in 1956. In 1990, he was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award.

Maharashtra: Amboli named as biodiversity heritage site

•The Maharashtra government has declared an area at Amboli in Western ghats in Sindhudurg district, where a rare freshwater fish species was discovered, as a biodiversity heritage site. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray”s son Tejas Thackeray, who is a wildlife researcher, and his team had discovered the new freshwater fish species – Schistura Hiranyakeshi” near Amboli in Sawantwadi tehsil of Sindhudurg district. The State government issued a notification declaring the area at Amboli as a biodiversity heritage site. Schistura is a small and colourful fish that lives in water and streams in an abundance of oxygen.

•Earlier, the State government had declared the Glory of Allapalli in Gadchiroli district, Landor Khori Park in Jalgaon, Ganesh Khind in Pune, myristica swamp vegetation in Sindhudurg district as biodiversity heritage sites. The discoveries of the freshwater fish species were published in the International Journal of Ichthyology in the October 2020 edition by Tejas Thackeray and co-authors.

Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam in Uttar Pradesh lists itself at BSE

•Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam listed itself at BSE and successfully raised Rs. 150 Crores by issuing Municipal Bond on Private Placement Basis using BSE BOND. This is the first-ever green bond issuance by any Municipal Corporation in the country. The money will be used for the construction of a tertiary sewage treatment plant at Indirapuram in Ghaziabad. The money will be used to fund the project partly which is worth Rs 240 crore. This treatment plant will enable the sewage water to be used for industries after treatment.

•Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam is the second Municipal Corporation to raise funds in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Earlier, Lucknow Municipal Corporation had listed itself at BSE.

4th batch of three Rafale fighter jets land in India

•The fourth batch of three Rafale fighter jets landed in India after flying non-stop from Istres Air Base France, in a further boost to the strike capability of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The Rafale fighter jets were provided mid-air refuelling by air force tankers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

•The three Rafale fighter aircraft which took off from France for India were scheduled to land at the Jamnagar airbase. The planes equipped with the Hammer missiles have enhanced their capability to carry out air-to-ground strikes like the one in Balakot.

Centre withdraws order cutting interest rates on small savings schemes

•The government has withdrawn its order slashing interest rates on small savings schemes, including National Savings Certificates (NSC) and Public Provident Fund (PPF), for the first quarter of 2021-22. Earlier on March 31, 2021, the Finance Ministry had announced a sharp cut in interest rates for small savings schemes by 50-110 basis points. Interest rates for small savings schemes are notified on a quarterly basis.

•However, the orders issued were withdrawn by the government on April 01, 2021. This marks the fourth consecutive quarter that the government has maintained the rates on such schemes that are effective from April 1 and remain in effect till June 30, 2021.

RANKING

India ranks 140th in WEF’s gender gap index 2021

•India has slipped 28 places to rank 140 among 156 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report 2021, by World Economic Forum. In 2020, India ranked 112th among 153 countries. Iceland has topped the index as the most gender-equal country in the world for the 12th time. Afghanistan is the worst-performing country in the report.

South Asia:

•India emerged as the third-worst performing country in South Asia.

•Bangladesh is the best performer in South Asia.

•Among India’s neighbours, Bangladesh ranked 65, Nepal 106, Pakistan 153, Afghanistan 156, Bhutan 130 and Sri Lanka 116.

•In South Asia, only Pakistan and Afghanistan ranked below India.

Global Gender Gap Report

•The Global Gender Gap Report 2021 is the 15th edition of the annual publication by WEF.

•The Global Gender Gap Index was first introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2006 to compare countries’ gender gaps across four dimensions: economic opportunities, education, health and political leadership.

Top 10 gender-equal country

1.Iceland

2.Finland

3.Norway

4.New Zealand

5.Rwanda

6.Sweden

7.Namibia

8.Lithuania

9.Ireland

10.Switzerland

BANKING AND ECONOMY

GST revenue collection in March 2021

•India’s economic recovery is gathering steam. The GST collections for the month of March have topped Rs 1.23 lakh crore, setting a new record since the implementation of Goods and Services Tax in July 2017. The gross GST revenue collected in the month of March 2021 rose to a record of Rs. 1,23,902 crore of which CGST is Rs. 22,973 crore, SGST is Rs. 29,329 crore, IGST is Rs. 62,842 crore and Cess is Rs. 8,757 crore.

GST Collection previous months

• February 2021: Rs. 1,13,143 crore

• January 2021: Rs. 1,19,847 crore

• December 2020: Rs. 1,15,174 crore

• November 2020: Rs. 1.04 lakh crore

• October 2020: Rs. 1,05,155 crore

Facebook and Google to build new cables under the sea called ‘Echo’ and ‘Bifrost’

•Facebook and Google are planning to build new subsea cables from the US to Singapore and Indonesia. Facebook has partnered with leading regional and global partners to build two new subsea cables Echo and Bifrost that will provide vital new connections between the Asia-Pacific region and North America. While Google is only investing in Echo. These cables will increase overall transpacific capacity by 70 per cent.

•These projects are still subject to regulatory approvals, when completed, these cables are expected to deliver much-needed Internet capacity, redundancy, and reliability. The announcements come at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the need for reliable Internet access.

UNESCAP: India’s Economic Growth Of 7% in 2021-22

•The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) said in the latest update that, India’s is estimated to record economic growth of 7% in 2021-22, over a contraction of 7.7% witnessed in the previous fiscal on account of the pandemic’s impact on normal business activity.

•It also noted that maintaining low borrowing costs while keeping non-performing loans in check would be a challenge.

Paytm Money opens new R&D centre in Pune

•Online investment platform Paytm Money has set up a new R&D facility in Pune, Maharashtra, which will drive product innovation, especially in the area of equity, mutual funds, and digital gold. The company added that it plans to hire over 250 engineers and data scientists to build new wealth products and services.

•Paytm Money aims to achieve over 10 million users and 75 million yearly transactions in FY21, with the majority of users coming from small cities and towns.

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Important Current Affairs 1st April 2021

NATIONAL

Govt further extends Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme to June 30, 2021

•The Central Government has extended the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS 3.0) by another three months till June 30, 2021, or till such time that an amount of Rs. 3 lakh crore is sanctioned under the Scheme. Additionally, the government has also introduced certain modifications in the ECLGS scheme to further contribute towards economic revival.

Modified rules:

•The limit of credit has been enhanced to 40 per cent of outstanding loans as of February 29, 2020. This limit was 20 per cent earlier.

•The scheme would now also cover borrowers with total credit outstanding up to Rs 500 crore, with overdues for 60 days or less on February 29 2020, as compared to 30 days overdue earlier.

•The tenor of loans granted under ECLGS 3.0 is 6 years with a moratorium period of 2 years on repayment of principal. In ECLGS 2.0, the tenor was five years with a 12-month moratorium.

•Further, the scheme has also introduced providing an incentive to MLIs (member lending institutions) to enable the availability of additional funding facility to the eligible beneficiaries.

•The ECLGS was announced as part of the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Package of Central Government to provide fully guaranteed and collateral-free additional credit to MSMEs, business enterprises, individual loans for business purposes and MUDRA borrowers.

Education Minister inaugurates ‘Anandam: The Center for Happiness’ at IIM Jammu

•Union Education Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal has inaugurated “Anandam: The Center for Happiness” at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Jammu virtually. The centre will help people overcome mental stress and help spread positivity and it will encourage and propagate holistic development for all the stakeholders at IIM Jammu. Lieutenant Governor, Jammu, and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha; Founder, Art of Living Foundation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar virtually graced the occasion.

•The purpose of establishing ‘Anandam’ at IIM Jammu is to bring holistic well-being. Regular physical exercises at the Center will contribute to the wellness at the physical level for both the students and the faculty. Under the concept of ‘Anandam: The Center for Happiness’ will be divided into five broad categories, namely, Counselling, Holistic wellness, Elective courses on Happiness Development, Research and Leadership & Faculty Development.

OBITUARY

Beloved children’s author of US, Beverly Cleary passes away

•Beloved children’s author of US, Beverly Cleary passed away. She was named a Living Legend in 2000 by the Library of Congress. In 2003, she was chosen as one of the winners of the National Medal of Arts.

•The author whose memories of her Oregon childhood were shared with millions through the likes of Ramona and Beezus Quimby and Henry Huggins.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Utkal Divas or Odisha Day is celebrated on 1 April

•Utkal Divas or Utakala Dibasha is celebrated on April 1 every year to remember the formation of the Odisha state after a struggle to be recognised as an independent state. Under British rule, Odisha was part of the Bengal presidency, which consisted of the present-day Bihar, West Bengal, and Odisha. The state was originally called Orissa but the Lok Sabha passed the Orissa Bill, and Constitution Bill (113rd amendment), in March 2011 to rename it Odisha.

•The region became part of Kalinga after it was conquered by Magadha King Ashoka in 261 BC to expand his Mauryan rule. After Mauryan rule, King Kharavela’s rule began in Odisha. Kharavela managed to avenge the Mauryan invasion by defeating Magadh. Historians credit Kharavela for laying the foundation for Odisha’s fame as a land of art, architecture and sculpture. He also managed to establish a powerful political state.

•Gajapati Mukunda Deva was the last Hindu king of Odisha. He was defeated by the Mughals in 1576. A few hundred years later, the British took over and divided the state into different parts. The northern and western districts of the state became part of what was then called the Bengal presidency.

•The new province of Odisha was formed after people’s continued struggle, which finally paid off on April 1, 1936. Sir John Hubbak was the first governor of the state. Notable leaders from that movement are Utkala Gouraba, Madhusudan Das, Utkala Mani, Gopabandhu Das, Fakir Mohan Senapati, Pandita Nilakantha Das, and many others.

International Transgender Day of Visibility: 31st March

•International Transgender Day of Visibility observed globally on 31st March every year. The day is dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide, as well as a celebration of their contributions to society.

•The day was founded by US-based transgender activist Rachel Crandall of Michigan in 2009. As a reaction to the lack of LGBT recognition of transgender people, citing the frustration that the only well-known transgender-centred day was the Transgender Day of Remembrance which mourned the murders of transgender people but did not acknowledge and celebrate living members of the transgender community. The first International Transgender Day of Visibility was held on March 31, 2009. It has since been spearheaded by the U.S.-based youth advocacy organization Trans Student Educational Resources.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Dr Sharankumar Limbale to receive Saraswati Samman 2020

•Noted Marathi writer Dr Sharankumar Limbale will receive Saraswati Samman, 2020 for his book Sanatan. The award carries fifteen lakh rupees, a citation and a plaque. Saraswati Samman, instituted by KK Birla Foundation in 1991, is recognised as the most prestigious and highest literary award in the country.

•Dr Limbale’s Sanatan has been published in 2018. Sanatan is an important social and historical document of the Dalit struggle. Speaking first to All India Radio, Dr Limbale was overjoyed with emotion as he started his career with the public broadcaster.

Maggie O’Farrell’s ‘Hamnet’ wins book critics award for fiction

•Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet, an imagined take on the death of Shakespeare’s son from the bubonic plague, has won the National Book Critics Circle prize for fiction. Hamnet, an unfortunately well-timed story for the current pandemic, explores the impact of the boy’s illness and death on his family. He was Shakespeare’s only son, and scholars have long speculated about his influence — if any — on “Hamlet,” which Shakespeare worked on in the years following Hamnet’s death.

•Tom Zoellner’s Island on Fire: The Revolt That Ended Slavery in the British Empire won for nonfiction, and Amy Stanley’s Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and Her World was the winner in biography. The autobiography award went to Cathy Park Hong for Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

A book titled “Names of the Women” by Jeet Thayil

•A book titled “Names of the Women” authored by Jeet Thayil. The book talks about the women whose roles were suppressed, reduced, or erased in the Gospels.

•Jeet Thayil is a renowned author, best known for his book ‘Narcopolis’ which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012 and won the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. His most recent book ‘Low’ was released in 2020.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

Govt pegs market borrowing at Rs 7.24 lakh crore in 1st half of FY22

•The government has decided to borrow Rs 7.24 lakh crore in the first half of 2021-22 fiscal (FY22) to meet resources to revive the economy hit by coronavirus pandemic. This borrowing is 60.06 per cent of the estimated gross issuances for fiscal 2021-22.

•According to Budget 2021-22, the estimated gross borrowing is pegged at Rs 12.05 lakh crore in the financial year beginning April 01, 2021. The government raises money from the market to fund its fiscal deficit through dated securities and treasury bills.

RBI extends deadline for processing auto-debit payments by 6 months

•The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has extended the timeline for processing recurring online transactions by 6 months to September 30, 2021. Earlier in December 2020, RBI had directed all banks including RRBs, NBFCs, and payment gateways that the processing of recurring transactions (domestic or cross-border) using cards or Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs) or Unified Payments Interface (UPI) would not be continued beyond March 31, 2021, if they do not comply with Additional Factor of Authentication (AFA).

•This means that with effect from April 30, 2021, there were supposed to be no automatic recurring payment for various services, including recharge and utility bill, under arrangements/practices not compliant with AFA. However, banks and payment gateways had sought additional time to comply with the RBI directive on automatic recurring payment. Taking it into consideration, RBI decided to further extend the timeline.

Government announces Rs 14,500 crore capital infusion in 4 PSBs

•The Central Government has announced to infuse Rs 14,500 crore in four state-owned lenders namely Central Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, Bank of India and UCO Bank in 2020-21, by issuing non-interest bearing bonds to these banks. This infusion will complete the government’s total capital infusion of Rs 20,000 crore in public sector banks for the current financial year 2020-21. Earlier in December 2020, it infused Rs 5,500 crore in Punjab and Sind Bank.

•The Recapitalisation bonds will be issued with six different maturities, and the special securities would be “at par” for the amount as per the application made by the eligible banks. Banks require capital to meet the mandatory reserve requirements laid out by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), make provisions for bad loans and kick-start the lending cycle when demand revives in the economy.

Union Bank of India launched “UNI – CARBON CARD”

•Union Bank of India has launched “UNI – CARBON CARD”, an HPCL co-branded credit card on the Rupay platform of NPCI. It is a unique card designed with association with one of the largest Public Sector Bank, Union Bank of India and HPCL, a leader in the fuel retail and Rupay – India’s largest card payment network. It will create an opportunity to create value for the customers.

Benefit:

•The Bank is having a total network of 9590+ branches and 13280+ ATMs across India, this co-branded credit card is a Bank’s maiden joint venture.

•While using this card at HPCL retail outlets, the cardholder gets Cashback/Rewards in addition to the waiver of fuel surcharge provided by the Bank.

•Cardholders will be able to enjoy many freebies and offer brought out by NPCI such as Entertainment, Lifestyle, Travel, Shopping, Food delivery, etc.,

•The card is offered to salaried and others. The card limit offered is 20% of gross annual income with a minimum of Rs 50,000/- with no upper limit.

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Important Current Affairs 31st March 2021

INTERNATIONAL

New Zealand passes miscarriages bereavement leave law

•New Zealand’s parliament has passed legislation giving mothers and their partners the right to paid leave following a miscarriage or stillbirth, becoming only the second country in the world to do so. India is the only other country with similar legislation.

•The leave provisions apply to mothers, their partners as well as parents planning to have a child through adoption or surrogacy. One in four New Zealand women has had a miscarriage. The bill will give women and their partners time to come to terms with their loss without having to tap into sick leave. Because their grief is not a sickness, it is a loss. New Zealand was the first country in the world to give voting rights to women and has been a pioneer on issues around woman’s rights.

Suez Canal reopens after giant stranded ship is freed

•The giant container ship “Ever Given” that blocked traffic in the Suez Canal for the last week resumed its journey, after being successfully refloated. The efforts to float the delinquent Panamanian container ship Ever Given are successful.

•The 1,400-foot-long cargo ship jammed diagonally across a southern section of the Suez Canal, leaving a total of 367 ships, including dozens of container ships and bulk carriers, unable to use the key trading route.

Indo-Korean Friendship Park Inaugurated at Delhi Cantonment

•India’s First Indo-Korean Friendship Park was jointly inaugurated at Delhi Cantonment by Hon’ble Raksha Mantri, Shri Rajnath Singh, and Hon’ble Minister of National Defence, Republic of Korea Mr Suh Wook. The park has been developed in joint consultation with the Ministry of Defence, the Government of India, the Indian Army, the Delhi Cantonment Board, the Embassy of Korea and the Korean War Veterans Association of India.

•Besides being a symbol of strong India-South Korea friendly relations, this park will also act as a monument to India’s contributions as part of 21 countries that participated in the Korean war 1950-53, under the aegis of the United Nations.

NATIONAL

India, US Carry Out Joint Military Drill In Himachal Pradesh

•The 11th edition of Indo-US joint special forces exercises Vajra Prahar 2021 was conducted at Special Forces training school located at Bakloh, in Himachal Pradesh. The exercise ‘Vajra Prahar’ is aimed at sharing best practices and experiences in areas such as joint mission planning and operational tactics. The exercise was aimed at improving interoperability between the special forces of the two countries.

•The armies of participating nations jointly train, plan and execute a series of operations for neutralisation of threats of varied nature with a common aim of countering threats of international terrorism through mutual training and jointness.

Maharaja Chhatrasal Convention Centre inaugurated at Khajuraho

•The Minister of State for Tourism and Culture (Independent Charge) Shri Prahlad Singh Patel, and the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan jointly inaugurated the ‘Maharaja Chhatrasal Convention Centre at Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh. The Convention Centre has been developed under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism, adding another feather to the UNESCO World Heritage site at Khajuraho.

•This new venue will cater to the business needs, by hosting meetings and conferences. The Convention Centre is equipped with all modern amenities and infrastructure to offer a secure space to host corporate banquets for teams both large and small amidst a soothing decor and ambience.

UP govt organizes ‘banana festival’ in Kushinagar

•Uttar Pradesh government was organised a ‘Banana Festival’ in Kushinagar, which has witnessed the participation of at least 35 farmers and entrepreneurs. The state government had in 2018 organised the One District One Product (ODOP) scheme to promote traditional enterprise.

•Noting the good cultivation of bananas in Kushinagar, products in the district made from banana fibre were selected in the ODOP scheme. At least 4,000 farmers are linked to banana cultivation and after inclusion in the ODOP scheme, around 500 people are employed in its processing. There are three banana fibre processing units in the district and the construction of a Common Facility Centre (CFC) is also planned.

Nagaland Health Minister launches ‘i-Learn’ for Community Health Officers

•Nagaland Health and Family Welfare Minister, S Pangnyu Phom has launched i-Learn, a capacity building and performance tracking application for Community Health Officers, CHOs in the state at his office chamber in Kohima. The state government launched the i-Learn application in partnership with USAID-NISHTHA/Jgpiego which will cater across the 189 Health & wellness centres in the state.

About the “i-Learn”:

•i-Learn is a learning management system for CHOs with self-facilitated learning for improving and learning new skills in clinical and non-clinical areas.

•The state is committed to defeating the pandemic and as such it has rolled out several interventions including digital technology like the Naga Telehealth services.

•The Naga Telehealth, a telemedicine platform launched just about six months ago has received a good response from the state’s own medical doctors and CHOs wherein more than 1000 teleconsultations have been conducted.

SPORTS

India tops the medals tally with 15 gold at Delhi ISSF Shooting World Cup

•India finished at the top of the medals table at the 2021 ISSF World Cup New Delhi, held from 18 to 29 March 2021 at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range in New Delhi. India secured 30 medals which included 15 gold, 9 silver and 6 bronze. The USA came second with eight medals including four gold, three silver and one bronze.

Winners of Gold Medal

1.Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar: Men’s 50-metre rifle three positions

2.Saurabh Chaudhary, Shahzar Rizvi and Abhishek Verma: Men’s 10-metre air pistol team event

3.Swapnil Kusale, Chain Singh and Neeraj Kumar: Men’s 50-metre rifle three positions team event

4.Gurjoat Khangura, Angad Vir Singh Bajwa and Mairaj Ahmad Khan: Men’s Skeet team event

5.Kynan Chenai, Prithviraj Toidaiman, Lakshay: Men’s Trap team event

6.Chinki Yadav: Women’s 25-metre pistol

7.Yashaswini Singh Deswal: Women’s 10-metre air pistol

8.Yashaswini Singh Deswal, Manu Bhaker, Shri Nivetha Paramanantham: Women’s 10-metre air pistol team

9.Rahi Sarnobat, Manu Bhaker, Chinki Yadav: Women’s 25-metre pistol event

10.Rajeshwari Kumar, Shreyasi Singh, Manisha Keer: Women’s Trap event

11.Saurabh Chaudhary/Manu Bhaker: 10-metre air pistol Mixed Team event

12.Divyansh Singh Panwar/Elavenil Valarivan: 10-metre air rifle Mixed Team

13.Tejaswini/Vijayveer Sidhu: 25-metre rapid-fire Pistol Mixed Team

14.Sanjeev Rajput/Tejaswini Sawant: 50-metre rifle three positions Mixed Team

15.Angad Vir Singh Bajwa/Ganemat Sekhon: Trap Mixed Team

OBITUARY

1971 Battle of Basantar hero, Lt Gen Pinto (retd) passes away

•Lieutenant General, Walter Anthony Gustavo ‘WAG’ Pinto (Retd), a military hero who led an infantry division to a legendary victory in the 1971 India-Pakistan War has passed away at the age of 97.

•He led the 54 Infantry Division in the Battle of Basantar in the war that gave birth to Bangladesh, leading his troops from the front with the motto he coined “bash on regardless”.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

India & Bangladesh inks 5 MoU to Boost Cooperation

•India and Bangladesh have signed five Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) to further boost bilateral cooperation. The signing of the MoUs took place on 27 March 2021, between Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Dhaka. Indian PM Narendra Modiji was on a two-day official visit to Bangladesh to join the twin celebrations of Bangladeshi Founding Father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth centenary and the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence in 1971. This is the first trip of PM Modi to a foreign country since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

MoUs signed in the following areas

•Disaster management, resilience, and mitigation.

•Cooperation between Bangladesh National Cadet Corps (BNCC) and National Cadet Corps of India (INCC).

•Establishment of a framework of cooperation in the area of trade remedial measures between Bangladesh and India.

•Supply of ICT equipment, courseware, and reference books and training for Bangladesh-Bharat Digital Service & Employment and Training (BDSET) Centre.

•Establishment of sports facilities in Rajshahi College field and surrounding areas.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

66th Filmfare Awards 2021: Check Complete List of Winners

•The awards for the 66th annual Filmfare awards were announced. The event was hosted by actors Rajkummar Rao and Riteish Deshmukh. Despite the difficulties the film industry faced during 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Filmfare decided it was important to commemorate the best of Indian cinema. Among the winners was the late Irrfan Khan, who won the award for best actor in a leading role (male) category, while Amitabh Bachchan bagged the best actor (critics) Award.

66th Filmfare Awards 2021:

1.Best Film: Thappad

2.Best Film (Critics): Prateek Vats (Eeb Allay Ooo!)

3.Best Director: Om Raut (Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior)

4.Best Actor in a Lead Role (MALE): Irrfan Khan (Angrezi Medium)

5.Best Actor (Critics): Amitabh Bachchan (Gulabo Sitabo)

6.Best Actor in a Lead Role (Female): Taapsee Pannu (Thappad)

7.Best Actress (Critics): Tillotama Shome (SIR)

8.Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Male): Saif Ali Khan (Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior)

9.Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Female): Farrokh Jaffar (Gulabo Sitabo)

10.Best Story: Anubhav Sushila Sinha and Mrunamayee Lagoo Waikul (Thappad)

11.Best Screenplay: Rohena Gera (SIR)

12.Best Dialogue: Juhi Chaturvedi (Gulabo Sitabo)

13.Best Debut Director: Rajesh Krishnan (Lootcase)

14.Best Debut Female: Alaya F (Jawaani Jaaneman)

15.Best Music Album: Pritam (Ludo)

16.Best Lyrics: Gulzar (Chhappak)

17.Best Playback Singer (male): Raghav Chaitanya – Ek Tukda Dhoop (Thappad)

18.Best Playback Singer (Female): Asees Kaur (Malang)

19.Lifetime Achievement Award: Irrfan Khan.

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Important Current Affairs 30th March 2021

INTERNATIONAL

US President Biden invites PM Modi to Leaders Summit on Climate

•President Joe Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to a US-hosted virtual summit on climate next month to underscore the urgency and the economic benefits of stronger climate action. Biden will host a two-day climate summit of world leaders starting on Earth Day, April 22, in which he will outline the US goal for reductions of carbon emissions by 2030, known as the nationally determined contribution under the historic Paris accord.

•The White House said a total of 40 world leaders, including Prime Minister Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, were invited to the conference, which will be live-streamed to the public.

•Other leaders invited for the summit include Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering are the other two leaders from South Asia to be invited for the mega-conference.

OBITUARY

Noted journalist and author Anil Dharker passes away

•Noted journalist and author Anil Dharker passed away. He was the founder and director of the Mumbai International Literary Festival. He was in his mid-70s, was the editor of several publications including Mid-Day and The Independent and played a vital role in opening the Akashwani Auditorium in south Mumbai as an art movie theatre.

•Dharker had been the editor of a variety of publications, starting with ‘Debonair’, ‘Mid-Day’; ‘The Independent’ and ‘The Illustrated Weekly of India’.

•He was a columnist for The Indian Express newspaper and has authored ‘The Romance Of Salt’, a book on Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March. He had also worked as a TV show producer and anchor.

•He was also a member of the Advisory Boards of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Children’s Film Society of India.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

SAIL Chairperson Soma Mondal appointed Chairperson of SCOPE

•Soma Mondal, the chairperson of the state-owned Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), was on March 26, 2021, elected the new chairperson of the Standing Conference of Public Enterprises (SCOPE). Mondal will have a two-year term starting April; she took

•SCOPE is an apex professional organization representing the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs). It promotes excellence in organisations where public investment is involved, in order to enable them to be globally competitive.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

India and US agree to revamp SEP

•India and the US on Monday decided to revamp the existing energy cooperation framework to focus more on clean energy keeping advanced American technology and the rapidly growing Indian energy market in mind to reflect new priorities set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden.

•Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan and US energy secretary Jennifer Granholm have decided to revamp the India-US Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP) accordingly and convene the third meeting of the revamped SEP at an early date, requesting anonymity.

•“Earlier, two SEPs were [held under the Trump Administration], where the focus of energy cooperation was more on supply of fossil fuels from America rather than cooperation in reducing carbon footprints. While the import of fossil fuel from the US will continue, Washington will support India’s efforts for clean energy,” the official said. The inaugural SEP, a ministerial meeting, was first held on April 17, 2018. Its second meeting took place on July 17, 2020.

India, South Korea agree on joint production, export of military hardware

•In a significant move, India and South Korea have agreed to go for joint production and export of military hardware, enhance intelligence sharing and boost cooperation in cyber and space domains as part overall expansion of defence and security ties.

•The decisions were taken during delegation-level talks between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his South Korean counterpart Suh Wook on Friday with both sides resolving to give a major push to ramp up ties.

•The South Korean minister was on a three-day visit to India from Thursday last that was focused on boosting bilateral defence and military cooperation.

7th annual summit of NATHEALTH

•Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan, addressed the 7th annual summit of NATHEALTH. The summit focused on ‘Indian Health system expansion in post-COVID era’. While addressing the summit the minister reiterated the commitments of the government for fulfilling the goal of Health for all.

•The primary vision of the policy-framework is to attain highest possible level of health and well-being for all irrespective of all age groups. To attain this vision, the policy emphasizes on preventive & promotive aspects of health and providing universal access to good quality healthcare services. Government also launched Ayushman Bharat program with the objective of providing Universal Free Access to primary health care, promoting health and wellbeing.

About Health Union Budget 2021-22

•Union Budget 2021-22 also identifies Health as one of the six main pillars to drive growth.

•It has adopted a holistic approach towards health and wellbeing with a financial allocation of Rs 2,23,846 crore in 2021-22.

•It accounts for an increase of 137% over 2020-2021.

•To achieve the objectives of the policy, the government is working towards increasing health expenditure by 2.5 % of GDP 2025.

•The government is also encouraging State Governments to increase State sector health spending to 8% of the State’s GDP.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Mahinder Giri Wins International Ranger Award

•Mahinder Giri, a range officer who has been deployed at Motichur range of Rajaji Tiger Reserve (RTR) for the past few years, has become the only ranger from Asia to win the prestigious International Ranger Award.

•The award has been announced for 10 professionals across the globe by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), “based on their contribution towards conservation”.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

PM Modi unveils new version of 'Exam Warriors'

•PM Modi unveils new version of 'Exam Warriors' to make them stress free before examinations.

•The new version of Exam Warriors written by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now available with many new mantras for students as well as parents. It is available at retail stores as well as online. The Exam Warriors module is also available on the NaMo App.

• In a series of tweets, Mr Modi said, the new edition of the book has been enriched with valuable inputs from students, parents and teachers. Substantive new parts have been added that would especially interest the parents and teachers. He said the book reaffirms the need to remain stress free before an exam. The Prime Minister added that it has many interactive activities for students and parents.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

Deutsche bank's new investment Banking head

•Deutsche Bank has named Fabrizio Campelli to lead its investment bank — part of a raft of board changes — as the German lender's chief executive, Christian Sewing, steps back from managing the unit.

•Campelli, who has most recently served as its chief transformation officer, will take responsibility for Deutsche's corporate and investment bank, it said in a statement. The move is part of a series of changes at the bank, which include handing Sewing a renewed contract to keep him at the helm until 2026, in what it described as a "clear signal of continuity".

S&P raises India’s FY22 GDP growth forecast to 11% from 10%

•S&P Global Ratings raised India’s growth forecast for the financial year 2021-22 to 11% from 10% earlier, led by an expansionary fiscal policy aimed at boosting domestic private spending.

•It has also raised the 2021 growth forecast for China to 8% from 7% on stronger-than-expected exports and lingering momentum in the property market.

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Important Current Affairs 26th March 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Indian-American Doctor Vivek Murthy appointed as US Surgeon General

•The US Senate has voted, 57-43, to confirm the appointment of Indian-American doctor Vivek Murthy as the Surgeon General under US President Biden’s administration.

•The 43-year-old Dr Murthy would occupy the position of America’s Surgeon General for the second time. Prior to this, Dr Murthy was appointed as surgeon general under the Obama administration in 2011 but was fired by former President Trump in 2017.

World’s first Ship Tunnel to be built in Norway

•The Norwegian Coastal Administration has received the green signal to start working on the construction of the world’s first tunnel, being built exclusively for ships. The tunnel is dubbed as “Stad Ship Tunnel” and would be built under the mountainous Stadhavet peninsula in northwestern Norway.

About the Tunnel:

•The 1.7 km tunnel will be able to handle ships of up to 16,000 tonnes and give ships a safer passage through the treacherous Stadhavet Sea.

•The tunnel will be 49 metres (161 ft) high and 36 metres (118 ft) wide.

•It is estimated to cost at least 2.8 billion Norwegian kroner (NZ$460 million) the construction of this ship tunnel.

•The construction would begin in 2022 and would take three to four years to complete.

NATIONAL

Nirmala Sitharaman launches Central Scrutiny Centre and IEPFA mobile App

•Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman virtually inaugurated Central Scrutiny Centre (CSC) and Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority’s (IEPFA) Mobile App. The two tech-enabled initiatives have been launched by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to leverage digital solutions to achieve the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Digitally empowered India.

About the Moblie App:

•The Mobile App will focus on financial literacy by spreading investors’ awareness, education, and protection among investors.

•The Mobile App has been developed for citizen engagement and information dissemination to promote awareness among investors.

Hardeep Singh Puri inaugurates Kurnool Airport in Andhra Pradesh

•Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri has inaugurated the Kurnool Airport, in Andhra Pradesh virtually. The flight operations at Kurnool airport will begin on 28 March 2021. This airport has been developed under the Regional Connectivity Scheme, Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (RCS-UDAN).

About the airport:

•Kurnool airport will bring the region closer to major hubs in South India by providing direct flight operations to Bangalore, Vishakhapatnam and Chennai.

•Kurnool is the 6th airport in Andhra Pradesh to become functional after Kadapa, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati, Rajahmundry & Vijayawada.

SPORTS

ISSF World Cup: India’s Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar Wins Gold

•India’s Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar won gold in the men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions event at the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi. The 20-year-old became the youngest in history to win a shooting World Cup gold in the 3 Positions event. The two other Indian shooters in the final, Sanjeev Rajput finishing sixth and Niraj Kumar came at the last position.

•This was India’s 8th gold medal in the ongoing World Cup. India continues to dominate the medal tally with 15 so far. India has won three silver medals and four bronze to go with the eight gold medals.

OBITUARY

Acclaimed Polish Poet Adam Zagajewski passes away

•Renowned Polish poet Adam Zagajewski has passed away. He was a leading figure in Poland’s New Wave or Generation ’68, a literary movement of the late 1960s that called for a simple language to relate directly to reality.

•Zagajewski’s “Try to Praise the Mutilated World,” was translated into English by Clare Cavanaugh and published in The New Yorker.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Sanjeev Kumar appointed as Chairman of Airports Authority of India

•IAS Sanjeev Kumar has appointed as Chairman of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) under the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

•Kumar is a 1993-batch IAS officer of Maharashtra cadre. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved his appointment.

Principal Scientific Advisor K. VijayRaghavan gets extension

•The government has extended the term of Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) K. VijayRaghavan by a year. He was appointed PSA in 2018 after retiring as Secretary of, Department of Biotechnology. His contract ends on April 2 but has now been extended until April 2022.

•Since the pandemic began, the Office of the PSA has been among the key coordinating agencies with industry, research bodies, health and science ministries to accelerate the development of diagnostics, drugs and vaccines. The PSA office has also been instrumental in formulating the National Science Innovation and Technology Policy as well as the forthcoming National Research Foundation.

CJI SA Bobde recommends Justice NV Ramana as his successor

•Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde has recommended Justice NV Ramana’s name as his successor after he retires next month. CJI Bobde is set to retire on 23 April. In a letter to the Law Ministry, CJI SA Bobde recommended Justice Ramana as his successor. Justice NV Ramana is the most senior judge in the apex court after CJI Bobde. On appointment, Justice NV Ramana will be the 48th Chief Justice of India and he will have a long tenure as CJI for over 16 months.

•The Centre had last week asked CJI Bobde to recommend his successor. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had reportedly sent a letter to Justice Bobde, seeking his recommendation, as is the practice under the Memorandum of Procedure for Appointment of Chief Justice of India. The recommendation letter has to come around a month before the vacancy arises.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World TB Day 2021: Kerala's TB eradication programme bags national honour

•Kerala’s tuberculosis eradication programme had won national honour as the state bagged the Union government’s award for reducing the prevalence of the disease through various systematic initiatives. Kerala is the only state had chosen for recognition in the state category.

•The southern state has reduced the TB prevalence rate by 5 per cent in the last five years as part of achieving sustainable development goals. The nation has set an ambitious goal to achieve “End Tuberculosis” by reducing the incidence of new TB cases by 80% by 2025, five years ahead of UN Sustainable Development Goals.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Asha Bhosle to be honoured with ‘Maharashtra Bhushan’

•Legendary singer Asha Bhosle will be honoured with the prestigious Maharashtra Bhushan Award for the year 2020. A committee chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray decided to select Ms Bhosle for the award for the year 2020. Ms Bhosle, whose sister Lata Mangeshkar won the award for 1997, said she got to know from Mr Thackeray that she has been selected for the award for 2020. Ms Bhosle received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2000.

•The award, instituted in 1996 by the State government to recognise distinguished work and achievements of eminent persons from the State, representing different walks of life, carries a cash prize of Rs.10 lakh and a citation.

•The first Maharashtra Bhushan awardee was Marathi writer P.L. Deshpande and the last winner of this award was historian Babasaheb Purandare who got it for the year 2015.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

A book titled ‘My Experiments with Silence’ authored by Samir Soni

•The book “My Experiments with Silence” is authored by Samir Soni on anxiety and self -discovery. Soni’s book aims to be a personal account of his dialogues with himself during his growing-up years in Delhi, his stint at Wall Street and his time in Bollywood.

•The book will be published by OM Books International. Soni said his book will be an “ode to anyone who has fought or is fighting their inner demons”.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

Indian Overseas Bank launches ‘IOB Trendy’ savings account

•Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) has launched ‘IOB Trendy’, a savings account customised for the growing millennial population in the country by keeping their banking preferences in mind. IOB Trendy is a Savings Bank Account Scheme introduced by the bank towards this endeavour.

About the IOB Trendy account

•For opening an IOB Trendy account, a customer needs to be within the age bracket of 21 – 38 years.

•The account may be self or jointly operated. In the case of a joint account, the primary holder has to be a millennial at the time of account opening.

•There is no ‘Opening Balance’ requirement for IOB Trendy. So, no charges will be levied for the first month for non-maintenance of balance.

•However, IOB Trendy customers need to maintain a daily minimum balance of Rs.10,000 or a daily minimum balance of Rs.5,000 and a digital turnover (transactions using IOB ATM / CDM / IOB Mobile Banking or Internet Banking fund transfer / IOB UPI transactions or IOB Debit card POS transactions) of a minimum of Rs.20,000 per month.

•The millennial-focused account also offers features like an online application submission facility, free personalised accident (death) insurance cover of Rs.5 lakh if the quarterly average balance is Rs.1 lakh and above, auto-sweep facility when the balance exceeds Rs.50,000 among others.

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Important Current Affairs 24th March 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Russia Launches 38 Satellites From 18 Countries Into Space

•Russian space agency ‘Roscosmos’ successfully launched 38 foreign satellites into orbit, onboard Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The 38 satellites belonged to 18 countries including South Korea, Japan, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Italy and Brazil. One of these satellites named ‘Challenge-1’ was the first-ever satellite made completely in Tunisia, which was created by the Telnet telecommunications group.

•In 2018, a Soyuz rocket carrying a Russian cosmonaut and a NASA astronaut failed mid-flight, forcing the crew to carry out an emergency landing. Both survived without injuries.

NATIONAL

Indian Armed Forces 4th Strongest in the World

•China has the strongest military force in the world while India stands at number four, according to a study released by defence website Military Direct. China has the strongest military in the world, scoring 82 out of 100 points in the index. The USA, despite their enormous military budgets, comes in 2nd place with 74 points, followed by Russia with 69, India at 61 and then France with 58. The U.K. just about makes the Top 10, coming in 9th place with a score of 43.

•The study said “ultimate military strength index” was calculated after taking into consideration various factors including budgets, number of inactive and active military personnel, total air, sea, land and nuclear resources, average salaries, and weight of equipment.

SPORTS

India Legends wins 2020-21 Road Safety World Series T-20

•In Cricket, India Legends defeated Sri Lanka Legends by 14 runs to clinch the Road Safety World Series final title, held at Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Stadium in Raipur, Chhattisgarh.

•India Legends put up a total of 181/4 but Sri Lanks Legends could manage 167/7. Sachin Tendulkar was the captain of the India Legends.

Nozomi Okuhara bags women’s singles titles at All England Open

•Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara has won the All England Badminton Championships women’s title as she defeated Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-12, 21-16 in the finals. In the men’s category, Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia has won the All England Badminton Championships title as he defeated Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen in the summit clash. With this win, Malaysia’s title drought came to an end and it is after four years, that someone from the country has managed to win the All England Open. Lee Chong Wei had last won the All England Open for Malaysia in 2017.

List of winners: All England Badminton Championships 2021:

Sl. No.

Category

Winner

1.

Men’s singles

Lee Zii Jia (Malaysia)

2.

Women’s singles

Nozomi Okuhara (Japan)

3.

Men’s doubles

Hiroyuki Endo and
Yuta Watanabe

4.

Women’s doubles

Mayu Matsumoto and
Wakana Nagahara

5.

Mixed doubles

Yuta Watanabe and
Arisa Higashino

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

ISRO Demonstrates India’s First Free-Space Quantum Communication

•In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully demonstrated free-space Quantum Communication over a distance of 300 metres, with several technologies developed within the country. The demonstration included live video conferencing using quantum-key-encrypted signals, at Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, between two line-of-sight buildings within the campus.

•The experiment was done at night to ensure that there is no interference from the direct sunlight. This is a major milestone achievement for unconditionally secured satellite data-communication using quantum technologies.

OBITUARY

Acclaimed Egyptian feminist Nawal Saadawi passes away

•Nawal Saadawi, a renowned Egyptian feminist, psychiatrist and novelist, whose writings have stirred controversy for decades in an overwhelmingly conservative society passed away. She was a fierce advocate of women rights in Egypt and the Arab world.

•In 2005, she was awarded the Inana International Prize in Belgium, a year after she received the North-South prize from the Council of Europe. In 2020, Time Magazine named her on their 100 Women of the Year list. She was the founder and head of the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association and co-founder of the Arab Association for Human Rights.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Arindam Bagchi takes charge as MEA spokesperson

•Arindam Bagchi, an officer of the 1995 batch of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), has assumed charge as the new spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA). He is replacing Anurag Srivastava, an officer of the 1999 batch of IFS.

•Before this, Bagchi was serving as the joint secretary (north) at the MEA headquarters. He was an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer from the 1995 batch. In past, he has served as India’s ambassador to Croatia from November 2018 to June 2020. He was also India’s deputy high commissioner to Sri Lanka.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Tuberculosis Day: 24 March

•World Tuberculosis Day is observed every year on 24 March to create awareness among the public about the global epidemic of tuberculosis (TB) and efforts to eliminate the disease. The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.

•The theme of World TB Day 2021 – ‘The Clock is Ticking’ –conveys the sense that the world is running out of time to act on the commitments to end TB made by global leaders. This is especially critical in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that has put End TB progress at risk, and to ensure equitable access to prevention and care in line with WHO’s drive towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.

•Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious disease that mainly affects your lungs. The bacteria that cause tuberculosis are spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes.

•Tuberculosis can also affect other parts of your body, including your kidneys, spine or brain. When TB occurs outside your lungs, signs and symptoms vary according to the organs involved. For example, tuberculosis of the spine may give you back pain, and tuberculosis in your kidneys might cause blood in your urine.

World Meteorological Day observed globally on 23 March

•The World Meteorological Day is celebrated every year on 23 March to commemorate the date of the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization in 23 March 1950. The day also highlights the contribution that the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services make to the safety and well-being of society.

•The World Meteorological Day theme is “The ocean, our climate and weather” celebrates WMO’s focus in connecting the ocean, climate and weather within the Earth System. It also marks the starting year of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

Shaheed Diwas Observed On 23 March

•Every year, March 23 is observed as Martyrs Day (Shaheed Diwas or Sarvodaya Day) to pay tribute on the death anniversary of the freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar, and Shivaram Rajguru, who laid their lives for the freedom of India.

•It was on March 23 in 1931, in Lahore (Pakistan), that these three were hanged to death for assassinating John Saunders, a British police officer in 1928. They had mistaken him for British police superintendent James Scott, who had ordered lathi-charge, which eventually led to the death of Lala Lajpat Rai. Also, 30 January is observed as Martyr’s Day or Shaheed Diwas in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

RBI imposes Rs 15 lakh penalty on Fedbank Financial Services

•The Reserve Bank of India has imposed a penalty of Rs 15 lakh on Fedbank Financial Services Limited, Mumbai. The penalty has been imposed for non-compliance with “certain provisions of the directions issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) contained in ”Monitoring of Frauds in NBFCs (Reserve Bank) Directions, 2016′.

•The statutory inspection of the company with reference to its financial position as of March 31, 2019, revealed, inter alia, non-compliance with the directions issued by it. The inspection report of the Koyana Sahakari Bank based on its financial position as of March 31, 2019, revealed that it had exceeded the prudential inter-bank (single bank) exposure limit.

RBI sets up external advisory committee for evaluating banking applications

•The Reserve Bank of India has announced the names of the members of the Standing External Advisory Committee (SEAC) for evaluating applications for Universal Banks as well as Small Finance Banks. The committee has five members, with former RBI deputy governor Shyamala Gopinath as the chairperson. The panel will have a tenure of three years.

•Other members include Revathy Iyer, director, central board, RBI; B Mahapatra, former executive director, National Payments Corporation of India; T N Manoharan, former chairman, Canara Bank; and Hemant G Contractor, former MD, State Bank of India, and former Chairman, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority. According to guidelines, applications for universal banks and SFBs will first be evaluated by the RBI to ensure prima facie eligibility of the applicants, after which the newly formed committee will evaluate the applications.

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Important Current Affairs 23rd March 2021

NATIONAL

GoI launched “Gram Ujala Scheme” for Rural Areas

•The government of India has launched the “Gram Ujala Scheme” to provide the cheapest LED bulbs in rural areas. The scheme was launched by the Union power and new and renewable energy minister, Raj Kumar Singh. In the first phase, the scheme was launched from Arrah district in Bihar. In this phase, around 15 million LED bulbs will be distributed in the villages of Arrah (Bihar), Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), Nagpur (Maharashtra), and western Gujarat.

•The Gram Ujala Scheme is an ambitious scheme that offers the world’s cheapest LED bulbs in rural areas. This is the first such scheme in India. It provides the LED Bulbs in these areas at a mere Rs.10. This scheme also furthers its climate change strategy and strengthen the self-reliance credentials. The scheme does not come with the government’s support or subsidy.

Indian Navy undertakes exercise PASSEX with Royal Bahrain Naval Force

•Indian Navy on 18th March undertook Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with Royal Bahrain Naval Force Corvette Al Muharraq in the Persian Gulf under Operation Sankalp. PASSEXs are conducted regularly by the Indian Navy with units of friendly foreign navies, whilst visiting each other’s ports or during a rendezvous at sea.

•The exercises are aimed at fostering interoperability and reflecting the commitments of both, India and Bahrain, to build cooperative partnerships in meeting emergent maritime challenges.

Maharashtra farmers start fresh fruit cake ‘movement’

•Fruit growers in rural Maharashtra have started an innovative ‘movement’ to promote fresh fruit cakes as a healthier option, instead of the traditional bakery-made cakes. According to farmers and agrarian experts, the aim of this ‘spontaneous’ movement is to encourage farmers and their families to increase the intake of fruits in their diet and to find a new way of selling their produce in times of the pandemic.

•As part of the movement, farmers, their families and various organisations of cultivators are encouraging cakes made locally using fruits like watermelon, muskmelon, grapes, orange, pineapple and banana while celebrating special events.

Bihar becomes first state to have own ethanol policy

•Bihar Cabinet has approved the Ethanol Production Promotion Policy, 2021, becoming the 1st Indian State to have an ethanol promotion policy. The policy allows the extraction of ethanol, which was restricted to sugarcane, from surplus quantities of maize as well. The new policy would permit ethanol production in Bihar from all feedstocks permitted by National Policy on Biofuels, 2018, and subsequently by the National Biofuel Coordination Committee.

•The Assembly was informed of the cabinet decision by deputy chief minister Renu Devi as the industry minister Shahnawaz Husain was away in poll-bound West Bengal for campaigning. So far, the government of India has granted permission for ethanol production from B-heavy molasses, C-heavy molasses, grains unfit for human consumption, sugarcane juice, sugar, sugar syrup, surplus rice and maize.

SPORTS

ISSF WC: Yashaswini wins first gold for India

•Yashaswini Deswal bagged the first gold medal for India in the Women’s 10M Air Pistol final of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Rifle/Pistol/Shotgun. Deswal accumulated 238.8 points to lead in her category. Another Indian shooter Manu Bhaker won a silver medal with 236.7 points.

•World number one shooter Divyansh Singh Panwar clinched the bronze medal in 10m Air Rifle (men’s category) and opened India’s medal account in the competition.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Defence Ministry deal with BDL to acquire 4,690 anti-tank guided missiles

•The Defence Ministry has sealed a deal with the public sector undertaking Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) to acquire 4,960 MILAN-2T anti-tank guided missiles at a cost of ₹ 1,188 crores for the Indian Army. The missiles, having a range of 1,850 metres, are being produced by BDL under license from French defence major MBDA Missile Systems. These missiles can be fired from the ground as well as vehicle-based launchers and can be deployed in the anti-tank role for both offensive and defensive tasks.

•The missile is being produced by BDL under license from MBDA Missile Systems, France. These missiles can be fired from the ground as well as vehicle-based launchers and can be deployed in Anti-Tank Role for both offensive & defensive tasks and will further enhance the operational preparedness of the Armed Forces.

OBITUARY

Former Sebi chairman GV Ramakrishna passes away

•Former Sebi chairman GV Ramakrishna passed away. He was appointed as the chairman of markets regulator Sebi in 1990 when it lacked legal status. He headed that body till 1994 and then became the first chairman of the Disinvestment Commission in 1996.

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

•The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March to remind people about the negative consequences of racial discrimination. This year theme is “Youth standing up against racism”. It engages the public through #FightRacism, which aims to foster a global culture of tolerance, equality and anti-discrimination and calls on each and every one of us to stand up against racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes.

•The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in 1960.

•In 1979, the General Assembly adopted a programme of activities to be undertaken during the second half of the Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination. On that occasion, the General Assembly decided that a week of solidarity with the peoples struggling against racism and racial discrimination, beginning on 21 March, would be organized annually in all States.

World Poetry Day: 21 March

•World Poetry Day is celebrated on 21 March every year to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world. The Day celebrates one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity. Practised throughout history – in every culture and on every continent – poetry speaks to our common humanity and our shared values, transforming the simplest of poems into a powerful catalyst for dialogue and peace.

•UNESCO first adopted 21 March as World Poetry Day during its 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999, with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

67th National Film Awards Announced

•The 67th National Film Awards are currently being announced in New Delhi. The awards are for films from the year 2019. The event is organised by the Directorate of Film Festivals, which comes under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The ceremony was supposed to be held in May last year but was delayed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

list of all the winners:

Feature Film Awards

•Best Feature Film: Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea (Malayalam)

•Best Actor (shared): Manoj Bajpayee for Bhonsle (Hindi), and Dhanush for Asuran (Tamil)

•Best Actress: Kangana Ranaut for Panga (Hindi) and Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (Hindi)

•Best Supporting Actress: Pallavi Joshi for The Tashkent Files (Hindi)

•Best Supporting Actor: Vijay Sethupathi for Super Deluxe (Tamil)

•Best Director: Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan for Bahattar Hoorain (Hindi)

•Best Debut Film of a Director: Mathukutty Xavier for Helen (Malayalam)

•Best Child Artist: Naga Vishal for KD (Tamil)

•Best Action Direction: Avane Srimannarayana (Kannada), Vikram Mor

•Best Choreography: Maharishi (Telugu), Raju Sundaram

•Best Special Effects: Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea (Malayalam), Siddharth Priyadarshan

•Special Jury Award: Oththa Seruppu Size 7 (Tamil), Radhakrishnan Parthiban

•Best Lyrics: Prabha Varma for Kolaambi (Malayalam)

•Best Music Direction: D. Imman for Viswasam (Tamil)

•Best Background Music: Prabuddha Banerjee for Jyeshthoputro (Bengali)

•Best Make-up Artist: Ranjith for Helen (Malayalam)

•Best Costumes: Sujith Sudhakaran and V. Sai for Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea (Malayalam)

•Best Production Design: Anandi Gopal (Marathi), Sunil Nigwekar and Nilesh Wagh

•Best Audiography (Location Sound Recordist): Iewduh (Khasi), Debajit Gayan

•Best Audiography (Re-recordist of the final mixed track): Oththa Seruppu Size 7 (Tamil), Resul Pookutty

•Best Screenplay (Original): Jyeshthoputro (Bengali), Kaushik Ganguly

•Best Screenplay (Adapted): Gumnaami (Bengali), Srijit Mukherji

•Best Screenplay (Dialogue Writer): The Tashkent Files (Hindi), Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri

•Best Cinematography: Jallikattu (Malayalam), Gireesh Gangadharan

•Best Editing: Jersey (Telugu), Navin Nooli

•Best Children’s Film: Kastoori (Hindi)

•Best Film on Environment Conservation: Water Burial (Monpa)

•Best Film on Social Issues: Anandi Gopal (Marathi)

•Best Film on National Integration: Tajmahal (Marathi)

•Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment: Maharishi (Telugu)

•Best Female Playback Singer: Savani Ravindra for Bardo (Marathi)

•Best Male Playback Singer: B Praak for Kesari (Hindi)

Best Films in Each Language:

•Best Hindi Film: Chhichhore

•Best Telugu Film: Jersey

•Best Malayalam Film: Kalla Nottam

•Best Tamil Film: Asuran

•Best Paniya Film: Kenjira

•Best Mishing Film: Anu Ruwad

•Best Khasi Film: Iewduh

•Best Chattisgarhi Film: Bhulan the Maze

•Best Haryanvi Film: Chhoriyan Chhoron Se Kam Nahi Hoti

•Best Tulu Film: Pingara

•Best Punjabi Film: Rab Da Radio 2

•Best Odia Film: Kalira Atita and Sala Budhar Badla (shared)

•Best Manipuri Film: Eigi Kona

•Best Marathi Film: Bardo

•Best Konkani Film: Kaajro

•Best Kannada Film: Akshi

•Best Bengali Film: Gumnaami

•Best Assamese Film: Ronuwa – Who Never Surrender

•Special Mentions: Biriyani (Malayalam), Jonaki Porua (Assamese), Lata Bhagwan Kare (Marathi) and Picasso (Marathi)

Non-Feature Film Awards

•Best Voice-over/ Narration: Sir David Attenborough for wild Karnataka (English)

•Best Music Direction: Bishakhjyoti for Kranti Darshi Guruji – Ahead of Times (Hindi)

•Best Editing: Arjun Gourisaria for Shut Up Sona (Hindi/ English)

•Best Audiography: Radha (Musical), Allwin Rego and Sanjay Maurya

•Best On-Location Sound Recordist: Rahas (Hindi), Saptarshi Sarkar

•Best Cinematography: Savita Singh for Sonsi (Hindi)

•Best Direction: Sudhanshu Saria for Knock Knock Knock (English/ Bengali)

•Best Film on Family Values: Oru Paathira Swapnam Pole (Malayalam)

•Best Short Fiction Film: Custody (Hindi/ English)

•Special Jury Award: Small Scale Societies (English)

•Best Animation Film: Radha (Musical)

•Best Investigative Film: Jakkal (Marathi)

•Best Exploration Film: Wild Karnataka (English)

•Best Educational Film: Apples and Oranges (English)

•Best Film on Social Issues: Holy Rights (Hindi) and Ladli (Hindi)

•Best Environment Film: The Stork Saviours (Hindi)

•Best Promotional Film: The Shower (Hindi)

•Best Arts and Culture Film: Shrikshetra-Ru-Sahijata (Odia)

•Best Biographical Film: Elephants Do Remember (English)

•Best Ethnographic Film: Charan-Atva The Essence of Being a Nomad (Gujarati)

•Best Debut Non-Feature Film of a Director: Raj Pritam More for Khisa (Marathi)

•Best Non-Feature Film: An Engineered Dream (Hindi)

RANKING

India slips to 56th rank in Global Home Price Index

•India has moved down 13 spots in the latest global home price index to finish last at 56th rank in the quarter ending December 2020. Against its 43rd rank a year ago, India saw a decline of 3.6% year-on-year (YoY) in home prices, leading to the drop in global position, showed Knight Frank’s Global House Price Index. India was the weakest-performing country during the fourth quarter of 2020, with a decline of 3.6% in home prices, followed by Morocco with a drop of 3.3%.

•According to the report, markets like New Zealand (19%), Russia (14%), the US (10%), Canada and UK (both 9%) have recorded accelerated growth in rankings in the last three months due to a growth in housing demand.

•The index tracks the movement in mainstream residential prices across 56 countries and territories worldwide using official statistics. In the 12-month percentage change for the period Q4 2019 – Q4 2020, Turkey continues to lead the annual rankings with prices up by 30.3% on-year, followed by New Zealand at 18.6% and Slovakia at 16.0%.

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