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Important Current Affairs of 19th March

NATIONAL:

NCLT approved ArcelorMittal to buy Essar Steel.

• The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLT) gave a conditional nod to a Rs.42,000-crore offer by world’s largest steelmaker ArcelorMittal to buy Essar Steel. NCLT said that the acceptance of the resolution plan submitted by ArcelorMittal and partner Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. would be subject to its final order in the appeal filed by the promoters of debt-laden Essar Steel against the move.

Indian Navy stand behind the cyclone hit Mozambique.

• India decides to divert three Indian naval ships to the port city of Beira in Mozambique to provide humanitarian assistance to the people affected by tropical cyclone ‘#IDAI’. The coastal city of Beira on Friday, 15 March.

• The city's power grid has currently crashed, the airport has been shut and most roads are inaccessible. The Indian Navy diverted ships to the African country for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) work. The Navy Spokesperson tweeted about the mission and on being the first-respondents for disaster relief.

Assam gets digital awareness, launches i-help initiative to promote electoral literacy.

• Assam launched an initiative ‘i-help’ to promote digital electoral literacy in the state launched in view of the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. The 'i-help' is a joint initiative of the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and Common Service Centres (CSC) in Assam.

• The CSCs are internet-enabled access points spread throughout the country delivering various government and non- government digital services to the citizens and is uniquely positioned in rural areas to significantly extend the awareness and outreach activities of CEO, Assam.

• The CSC has a presence in all the 2,528-gram panchayats in the state and there are 4,587 functional centres at present.

Microsoft Launched Project Sangam To Boost Indias Swachh Bharat Mission.

• Microsoft announced that it has partnered with The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to promote its Project ‘Sangam’ which is developed to accelerate Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) in India. It is one of the world’s largest Cleanliness Programme. About Microsoft Industry: Computer software Headquarters: Hyderabad, India Key people: Bhaskar Pramanik (Chairman)

NGT questioned MoEF for not furnishing proper data.

• The National Green Tribunal (NGT) questioned the Union Environment Ministry for not furnishing proper data on monitoring mechanism for compliance of conditions of environment clearance granted by the Ministry.  The observations came following submissions by the Ministry that a mechanism existed to periodically monitor the compliance of environmental clearance conditions which was being strengthened.

• The tribunal had in January directed the MoEF to furnish data on the same following which it submitted that a total of 6,779 projects were monitored between 2013-2014 and 2018-19. The Ministry informed the Bench that while in 2013-14, 843 projects were monitored, in 2018-19, it was 1,002.  A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel instructed Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to appear before the tribunal on April 29.

INTERNATIONAL:

Vijit becomes the first Indian Coast Guard ship to visit Indonesia.

• This visit of the coast guard ship follows from the first-ever-visit of Naval Ship INS Sumitra to Sabang in July 2018

• Vijit's visit to Sabang, Indonesia, also highlights strengthening cooperation in the area of maritime security and safety between New Delhi and Jakarta. ICGS Vijit is the 2nd in the series of 90 meter Offshore Patrol Vessels and was commissioned at Goa on 11 Dec 2010.

• 'Vijit' meaning "Winner or Victorious" is the testimony of India's shipbuilding capabilities and the resolve of Govt of India to safeguard country's maritime interests.

UNEA has adopted two resolutions piloted by India.

• The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) has adopted two resolutions piloted by India on single-use plastics and sustainable nitrogen management. The resolutions were passed at the fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) which was held in Nairobi. The theme of the fourth session of UNEA was Innovative Solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable production and consumption. 

Joint military exercise, Sary Arka Antiterror 2019, to be held in Uzbekistan.

• The decision to hold Sary-Arka-Antiterror 2019, the first joint military exercise of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was announced at the during the 34th meeting of the RATS council held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The exercise is to be held Sary Arka, Kazakhstan.

Astronomers discover 83 supermassive black holes 13 billion light-years away from Earth

• Astronomers have discovered 83 quasars powered by supermassive black holes 13 billion light-years away from the Earth, from a time when the universe was less than 10 per cent of its present age. A professor at Princeton University in the US, Michael Strauss said, it is remarkable that such massive dense objects were able to form so soon after the Big Bang.

•  A statement that the understanding of how black holes can form in the early universe, and just how common they are, is a challenge for the cosmological models. This finding, published in the Astrophysical Journal, increases the number of black holes known at that epoch considerably, and reveals, for the first time, how common they are early in the universe's history.

•  In addition, it provides new insight into the effect of black holes on the physical state of gas in the early universe in its first billion years. The Supermassive black holes, found at the centres of galaxies can be millions or even billions of times more massive than the Sun. A supermassive black hole becomes visible when gas accretes onto it, causing it to shine as a quasar.

Cyclone Idai affected over 1.5 million people in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.

• Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi have been hit by a vicious cyclone that has killed nearly 150 people, left hundreds more missing and stranded tens of thousands. According to the UN and government officials, Cyclone Idai has affected more than 1.5 million people in the three southern African countries. The port city of Beira in Mozambique was hit the hardest. The deaths are mainly in Zimbabwe's Chimanimani, a mountainous area along the eastern border with Mozambique that is popular with tourists.

Soyuz successfully placed astronauts in ISS.

• Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA Astronaut Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin successfully docked International Space Station (ISS).  Soyuz Spacecraft is a Russian Spacecraft carries people and supplies to and from the space station. Soyuz Spacecraft also function as lifeboats and one Soyuz spacecraft is always docked to the space station, so that in case of emergency the crew can return to earth through the spacecraft.

• After the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, the Soyuz spacecraft has become the sole means of transportation for crew members going to or returning from the orbiting laboratory.  The International Space Station is a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS programme is a joint project between five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory.

AWARDS:

Indian writer Raghu Karnad won Windham Campbell Prize.

• Indian Writer Raghu Karnad has won the Windham-Campbell Prize $165,000 under the non-fiction category for his debut book, The Farthest Field: An Indian Story Of The Second World War. Raghu Karnad is the second Indian to receive the award. Earlier in 2016, Jerry Pinto had won the award for his novel, Em And The Big Hoom.

•  Karnad is one of the eight winners chosen across four categories: fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry. The other awardee in the non-fiction category was American writer Rebecca Solnit for the diverse body of work she has produced over her career.  The Windham-Campbell Prize is administered by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University in the US.

•  It was established in 2013. The award was constituted with the generous gift from writer Donald Windham in memory of his partner Sandy Campbell. The jury selects two winners each for each of the category.

MOUS AND POLICY:

India & Afghanistan Signed an MOU On Digital Education Initiatives.

• The Ministry of Human Resource Development has signed a memorandum of understanding(MoU) with the Afghanistan government to work on digital education initiatives, which include many prominent programs developed by Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).  The MoU was signed at IIT-Madras. 

About Afghanistan

• President: Ashraf Ghani

• 1st Vice President: Abdul Rashid Dostum

• 2nd Vice President: Sarwar Danish

• Chief Executive Officer : Abdullah Abdullah

New hydro policy will help to meet renewables target.

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

•  Large hydro projects were treated as a separate source of energy.  India’s renewable energy sector had an installed capacity of 75,055.92 MW as of February 2019, according to data with the Central Electricity Authority. This made up about 21.4% of the overall energy mix, with the rest coming from thermal, nuclear and large hydro sources.

•  With the inclusion of large hydro in renewable energy, the energy mix changes drastically. Renewable energy capacity would now be 1,20,455.14 MW or 34.4% of the overall energy mix.

APPOINTMENT:

Goa Speaker Pramod Sawant sworn-in as new Chief Minister of Goa.

• Pramod Sawant (45), former Speaker of Goa legislative Assembly and MLA from Sankhelim in North Goa was sworn-in as 13th Chief Minister of Goa, succeeding Manohar Parrikar, who died on March 17 after a prolonged battle with advanced pancreatic cancer. Sudin alias Ramkrishna Dhavlikar of Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Vijai Sardesai of Goa Forward Party were sworn in as Deputy Chief Ministers. Nine other leaders also took oaths as cabinet ministers.

SPORTS:

For the first time ever Bengaluru FC crowned ISL Champions.

• Bengaluru FC clinched their maiden Indian Super League title as Rahul Bheke found a championship-winning header in the dying minutes of the final against FC Goa, in Mumbai. The two teams were locked 0-0 after 90 minutes. Even the first extra time saw no goals but Bengaluru got better of a 10-men Goan team 1-0, four minutes from the end of the second extra half.

India finished second in medal tally at Asian Youth Championships.

• Indian youth team finish second in the overall medals tally with a total of 26 medals including eight gold, nine silver and nine bronze medals. China topped the overall medals tally with 31 medals that included 12 gold, 11 silver and eight bronze medals. Japan finished third with 20 medals that included 6 Gold, 8 Silver and 6 bronze. Asian Youth Athletics Championships 2019 was held in Hong Kong.

Indian shuttler Sai Praneeth finished runner-up at Swiss Open.

• Indian shuttler Sai Praneeth won the silver medal at the Swiss Open after losing the men's singles final to world number two and top-seeded Chinese shuttler Shi Yuqi in Basel, Switzerland. About 2019 Swiss Open: The 2019 Swiss Open, officially the YONEX Swiss Open 2019, was a badminton tournament which took place at St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland and had a total purse of $150,000.

Valtteri Bottas Won Australian F1 Grand Prix 2019

• Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas beat his world champion teammate Lewis Hamilton to clinch the season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix. Bottas, who claimed his first race win since Abu Dhabi in 2017claimed the extra point for the fastest lap in the race.

India bags 188 medals at Special Olympics World Games.

• India won a total of 188 medals at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. The medals include 50 gold, 63 silver and 75 bronze medals. In table tennis India won four gold and one silver medal. In Judo, Sonu Kumar from Rohtak, Haryana won the gold medal by winning all three bouts. Muskan bagged a silver.

• Four Silver medals were bagged by Santoshi Vijay Kauthankar from Goa in the female category. India sent a 378-strong contingent that is participating in the 15th edition of the Games. The closing ceremony of Special Olympics World Games is scheduled for March 21. 

Mukesh Ambani Tops Forbes List of Worlds Richest Sports Team Owners.

• The chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), Mukesh Ambani tops with a net worth of around $50 billion. Ambani bought the Indian Premier League (IPL) team Mumbai Indians for over $100 million through RIL's 100 percent subsidiary IndiaWin Sports. The team had won the IPL crown in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

• Former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer who own the Los Angeles Clippers team placed at the second spot in the list. He purchased the basketball team for about $2 billion after he retired from Microsoft. Red Bull energy drink company founder Dietrich Mateschitz followed at number three spot. He owns Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda, Formula One team Red Bull Racing and MLS club New York Red Bulls.

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Important Current Affairs of 18th March

NATIONAL:

New hydro policy will help to meet renewables target.

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

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

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

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

Second Scorpene submarine Khanderi ready for induction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Vulnerability Index Highest For Assam And Mizoram.

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

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND LAUNCHES:

Aviva Life Insurance launches Special Mentorship Programme Wings.

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

BCCI announced Dream11 as official partner of VIVO IPL.

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

APPOINTMENTS:

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

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

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

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

Pinaki Chandra Ghose named as Indias first Lokpal.

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

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

SPORTS:

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

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

OCA reinstated Chess in Asian Games 2022.

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

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

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

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

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

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

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

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

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

AWARDS:

Former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan received Padma Bhushan from President.

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

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

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Important Current Affairs of 15th March

NATIONAL:

Brookfield acquires RILs East West Pipeline

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

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

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

DRDO successfully test fired Man Portable Anti-tank Guided Missile

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

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

Arecanut Gets Its First GI Tag For Sirsi Supari

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

NTPC partners with Indian Railways for fly ash transportation

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

IFFM to be from 29th March at Malappuram, Kerala

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

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

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

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

ECI to launch Observer App

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

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

BANK AND ECONOMICS:

Russia releases coin commemorating annexation of Crimea.

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

RBI categorises IDBI Bank as private sector lender

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

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

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

DAY:

World Consumer Rights Day is observed on 15th March

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

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

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

AWARDS AND APPOINTMENTS:

M.R.Kumar takes charge as Chairman of LIC

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

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

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

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

Padmanaban Gopalan bagged the Commonwealth Youth Award for the Asian region

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

Army Chief Bipin Rawat conferred PVSM by President Kovind

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

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

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

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

INTERNATIONAL:

Special olympics World Game began in UAE

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

UK removes cap on PhD level work visas

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

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

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

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

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

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Important Current Affairs of 13th March

NATIONAL:

India-Bangladesh Jointly Inaugurated 4 Development Projects

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, jointly unveiled e-plaques for development projects in Bangladesh, through video conferencing.

• This was the sixth such video conference between PM Modi and Prime Minister Hasina.

E-plaques were unveiled for the following 4 development projects:

♦ Supply of buses and trucks,

♦ Inauguration of 36 community clinics,

♦ Inauguration of 11 water treatment plants, and

 ♦ Extension of National Knowledge Network to Bangladesh.

Facebook launched Facebook Hubs to aid start-ups.

• Facebook launched ‘Facebook Hubs’ at 20 locations in India to support the start-up ecosystem in the country.

• These hubs will help foster innovation and support for the community by hosting mentor hours and trainings, workshops, roundtable discussions.

• The company has partnered with co-working company 91springboard. These hubs will be part of a global network for training and mentoring facilities for start-ups, among others.

Six lakh employees to be trained to handle 96000 VVPAT Machines in Maharashtra.

• For the first time in Lok Sabha elections, VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audi Trail) machines are to be used all over the country. In Maharashtra, 96000 VVPAT machines will be used in 48 Lok Sabha constituencies and process for training 6 lakh employees to handle these machines has begun. They will be provided with training at three levels.

• VVPAT system is complimentary for electronic voting machines (EVMs) and receipt of voting will be given to the voters through these machines. Information regarding vote cast to a particular candidate by the voter can be available after pressing a button on VVPAT machine. A receipt will be given in seven seconds after voting to the voter.

ECI to launch cVIGIL on 18th March.

• Election Commission of India has developed cVIGIL, a mobile app, for the upcoming Lok Sabha election. ‘cVIGIL’ stands for 'Vigilant Citizen’.

•  It is expected to be launched on 18th March 2019. It will be available on Google Playstore. Complaints regarding the model code of conduct and violations can be lodged in during election time.

• To lodge a complaint, a voter should download the app from Google Play Store. Photos and two-minute video clippings regarding the violation including threatening of voters, causing enmity between voters on caste and religious lines, character assassination of candidates, can be uploaded via the app. Complainants also have the option to remain anonymous. Within 100 minutes of filing the complaint, the complainant will receive feedback on the action taken.

Vastradan Campaign has set the Guinness World Record.

• Vastradan Campaign initiated by the erstwhile royal family of Udaipur has set the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of clothes for donation.

• Through the Vastradan Campaign, over 3,29,250 pieces of clothing from over 76,000 donors were collected and distributed to the needy. The campaign reached out to over 120 schools, 15 colleges and around 30 NGOs.

• The certificate for the Guinness World Record was handed over to Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, a descendant of Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap. The campaign highlighted the empathy of the citizen's especially young boys and girls.

WHO released the Global Influenza Strategy 2019-2030.

• World Health Organization (WHO) released a Global Influenza Strategy for 2019-2030 aimed at protecting people in all countries from the threat of influenza, one of the world’s greatest public health challenges. The aim of the strategy is to prevent seasonal influenza, control the spread of influenza from animals to humans, and prepare for the next influenza pandemic.

• Every year across the globe, there are an estimated 1 billion cases, of which 3 to 5 million are severe cases, resulting in 290000 to 650000 influenza-related respiratory deaths. WHO recommends annual influenza vaccination as the most effective way to prevent influenza, which is especially important for people at higher risk of serious influenza complications and for health care workers.

• The new strategy is the most comprehensive and far-reaching that WHO has ever developed for influenza and it outlines a path to protect populations every year and helps prepare for a pandemic through strengthening routine programmes. For more than 65 years, the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS), comprised of WHO Collaborating Centres and national influenza centres, have worked together to monitor seasonal trends and potentially pandemic viruses and this system serves as the backbone of the global alert system for influenza. 

DRDO developed a range of Casualty Combat drugs.

• The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a range of combat drugs that can extend the golden hour till the soldier or an armoured unit is shifted to hospital after an attack. This range of drugs can bring down the death toll.

• The spectrum includes bleeding wound sealants, super absorptive dressings, and glycerinated salines. It can save lives in the event of warfare in the jungle and high altitude areas as well as in terror attacks.

• These medicines ensure that soldiers do not suffer from unwanted blood loss while being taken to better healthcare from war zones. This range of casualty drugs is aimed at enhancing the chances of survival and minimum disability by providing effective first aid care within the golden hour.

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO):

♦ Formed on: 1958

♦ Headquarters: New Delhi

♦ Minister responsible: Nirmala Sitharaman

♦ Parent: Ministry of Defence

♦ It is charged with the military's research and development

Indias first LGBTQ Clinic and HIV treatment centre inaugurated by Humsafar Trust in Mumbai.

• The first HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) treatment centre and holistic clinic for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) by Humsafar trust in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

• The founder of Humsafar Trust, Ashok Row Kavi announced that the center will be open for all and it will give provide counselling.

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

RBI to become World's 10th largest holder of gold.

• According to data provided by the World Gold Council (WGC), India has the 11th largest gold reserve and the current holding pegged at 607 tonnes. The Netherlands holds the 10th position with 612.5 tonnes, or just about 5.5 tonnes ahead of RBI.

• The top spot is occupied by US gold reserves of 8,133.5 tonnes, followed by Germany with 3,369.7 tonnes. International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks third on the list with total gold reserves of 2,814 tonnes.

Bank of Baroda becomes one of the first PSBs to launch creche/day-care facility for employees children.

• Bank of Baroda become one of the first public sector banks to launch a crèche/child day-care facility for children of its employees.

• The day-care facility has been launched at its Mumbai corporate office in Bandra Kurla Complex and is being mulled further on being implemented at the head office in Vadodara, Gujarat.

• The bank will bear 60% of the cost incurred every month and rest 40% will be borne by the parents.

SEBI withdrew 20 percent on investments by FPI in corporate bonds.

• Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the markets regulator, withdrew the 20% limit on investments by Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) in corporate bonds of an entity. SEBI withdrew the restriction in accordance with a circular issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

• In 2018 June, the Securities and Exchange Board of India had mandated that no FPI shall have an exposure of more than 20% of its corporate bond portfolio to a single corporate. However, in February RBI lifted the restriction in view of market feedback. To give effect to the directions of the RBI, SEBI said provisions of its June 2018 circulars with respect to exposure of more than 20% stands withdrawn with immediate effect.

• Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI):

♦ Formed: April 12, 1988

 ♦ Acquired Statutory Status on: January 30, 1992

♦ Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra

♦ Chairman: Ajay Tyagi

♦ SEBI is the regulator for the securities market in India

PNB Sanctions Loans worth Rs 689 cr to 1,600 MSMEs Via Online Portal.

• State-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) sanctioned loans worth Rs 689 crore to over 1,600 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through the PSB loaning 59minutes.com portal as part of its effort to promote such industries. Under the Mudra Yojana, the bank has offered loan to over 2.69 lakh small entrepreneurs this fiscal  About Bank of Baroda Founder: Dyal Singh Majithia, Lala Lajpat Rai Headquarters: New Delhi

BoI raised Rs.660 crore by selling shares to employees

• State-owned Bank of India (BoI) raised Rs.660.80 crore by issuing shares to employees under Employee Share Purchase Scheme (ESPS).

• The bank issued 6,25,52,188 shares of Rs.10 each to eligible employees. The Bank offered a discount of 24.28% on the applicable price to the employees and about 94.70% of total employees participated.

AWARDS AND APPOINTMENTS:

Ex-RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan received Yaswantrao Chavan National Award

• Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan, for his contribution towards economic development, was awarded the ‘Yashwantrao Chavan National Award 2018‘ on March 12, 2019, which was the 106th birth anniversary of late Yashwantrao Chavan, the first chief minister of Maharashtra. About Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor – Shaktikanta Das Headquarters – Mumbai.

Axis Bank names Rakesh Makhija as new Chairman.

• Axis Bank has appointed Rakesh Makhija as Non-Executive Chairman for a period of 3 years. He will take over from Sanjiv Misra when his term ends on July 17.

• Makhija is also the Chairman of the bank's Nomination and Remuneration Committee.

SPORTS:

India retain 2nd spot in ICC T20I rankings, Rahul moves up to 5th.

• The Indian cricket team retained its second spot in the T20I team rankings with 122 points, despite the recent series loss against Australia at home. Pakistan tops ICC T20I rankings with 135 points, with England remaining at third place with 121 points. In the T20I batsmen rankings, Indian batsman KL Rahul moved up to the fifth spot. In the T20I bowlers' list, Kuldeep Yadav, who was rested for two T20Is against Australia, dropped a place to the fifth rank. Pakistan’s Babar Azam and Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan remained in top positions in batsmen and bowlers’ list respectively. About ICC: ICC - International Cricket Council It was founded as the Imperial Cricket Conference in 1909 by representatives from Australia, England and South Africa. It was renamed as the International Cricket Council in 1989. Headquarters: Dubai, United Arab Emirates Current champion: India national cricket team Chairperson: Shashank Manohar

Dipa Karmakar selected as Barbie Role Model.

• Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar was selected as Barbie role model & was presented with a one-of-a-kind doll by Barbie as the company celebrates its 60th anniversary. She was part of the ‘Shero’ program launched in 2015 by the company. Karmakar has won over 77 medals, including 67 gold ones at state, national and international levels.

• She also became India’s first gymnast to win a gold medal at an international event – the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup at Mersin, Turkey. Mattel, the toy manufacturing company behind Barbie, on their 60th anniversary of Barbie, released a new range of barbies to honor female role models globally, spanning different career fields. Japan’s tennis star Naomi Osaka, Brazilian surfer Maya Gabiera and Canadian ice skater Tessa Virtue are other women athletes who have been honoured.

INTERNATIONAL:

Google celebrated 30 years of World Wide Web with doodle.

• Google on March 12 celebrated 30 years of the World Wide Web (WWW) with a doodle. On March 12, 1989, British scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee while working at European Organisation for Nuclear Research in Switzerland, CERN, submitted a proposal for an information sharing system that would become the WWW. On April 30, 1993, CERN put WWW software in the public domain. Its popularity started spreading from November with the launch of Mosaic, the first search engine to accept pictures. That revolutionised the web, making it user friendly. Mosaic was later replaced by the likes of Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

UK Parliament rejects Prime Minister's Brexit deal for a second time.

• UK Members of Parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, which sets out the terms of the UK's exit from the European Union (EU), for the second time. MPs voted by 391 to 242 to reject the deal. The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29. Brexit is an abbreviation for "British" and "exit" referring to the UK's decision in a June 23, 2016 referendum to leave the European Union (EU). The UK joined the European Communities (EC) in 1973 under the Conservative government of Edward Heath.

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Important Current Affairs 11th March 2019

NATIONAL:

Karnataka sought Rs.2,064 crore for draught relief

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

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

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

Lok Sabha 2019 elections will start from 11th April

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

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

• Schedule of the seven phases of Lok Sabha polls:

♦ Phase one – 11th April 2019

♦ Phase two – 18th April 2019

♦ Phase three – 23rd April 2019

♦ Phase four – 29th April 2019

♦ Phase five – 06th May 2019

♦ Phase six – 12th May 2019

♦ Phase seven – 19th May 2019

Date of counting- 23rd May 2019

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

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

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

Ministry of power to give star rating for 2 electrical appliances

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Global E-commerce Sector topped by China.

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

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

BANKS:

SBI to link the interest rate to RBIs repo rate

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

• The following changes are announced by SBI:

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

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

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

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

AWARDS AND APPOINTMENTS:

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

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

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

ACKO General Insurance honoured with Golden Peacock Award 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yogi of the Racetrack

The Reincarnation of Mr. and Mrs. Jones

Sanctuary in Paris

Maharani of Manhattan

The Masala Master Chef

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

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

INTERNATIONAL:

Japanese woman honoured by Guinness World Records

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

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

NASAs LRO spotted water molecules moving around the dayside of moon

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

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

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

Pulse polio programme launched in Nagaland

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

India launched its 3rd IT corridor in China

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

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

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

SPORTS:

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

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

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

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Important Current Affairs of 4 March

NATIONAL:

April 2019 to March 2020 declared as Construction Technology year

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared April 2019-March 2020 as Construction-Technology year at the Construction Technology India-2019 Expo-cum-conference in New Delhi.

• Construction-Technology year emphasizes the role of advanced technology to meet the increasing demand for housing in the country. The declaration of Construction year aims to gives the housing sector a new pace by using the latest technologies available in the world. India has even launched the Global Housing Technology Challenge to fast-track the construction of affordable housing and meet the target of constructing 1.2 crore houses by 2022.

Usha Thorat-led task force to ensure stability of external value of rupee

• The Reserve Bank of India constituted an eight-member task force on offshore rupee markets, headed by Usha Thorat former Deputy Governor, to look into issues related to the markets and recommend appropriate policy measures to ensure the stability of the external value of the rupee.

• The terms of reference of the task force include assessing the causes behind the development of the offshore rupee market; study the effects of the offshore markets on the rupee exchange rate and market liquidity in the domestic market; and recommend measures to address concerns, if any, that may arise out of offshore rupee trading.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairs National Security Council meet

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of the National Security Council on Sunday following heightened tensions with Pakistan

• He Official sources said the meeting was attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

• The NSA is tasked with advising the prime minister on matters of national security.

• It was set up by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1998, with Brajesh Mishra as the first National Security Advisor (NSA).

Sushma Swaraj addresses OIC Foreign Ministers plenary session in Dubai

• External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addressed the plenary session of the foreign ministers’ meet of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation states in Abu Dhabi.

• She presented a picture of the secular fabric of India and began the speech by saying that she stands as a representative of land that has been for ages a fountain of knowledge, a beacon of peace, a source of faiths and traditions, and home to religions from the world.

Centre, ADB sign 926 million loan agreement to operationalize two lines of Mumbai Metro

• The Union Government on March 1, 2019 signed a 926 million dollar loan agreement to operationalize two of the Mumbai Metro Rail System.

• The move will ease the distress of millions of commuters each day and help provide a cleaner and less congested city. The loan agreement was signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB), Department of Economic Affairs, on the behalf of the Indian Government and Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB's India Resident Mission on behalf of ADB.

• The carriages procured under this project will feature high-level safety features and automation, including surveillance systems, door closing, and train obstacle detectors.

Govt approves Adani Powers Rs 14,000 crore Jharkhand SEZ project.

• The government has approved a Rs 14,000-crore special economic zone (SEZ) project of Adani Power in Jharkhand, which will export the entire power generated in the Unit to Bangladesh.

• It will be ready by the end of 2022.

• The company had sought approval for setting up the project over an area of 425 hectares.

• Two supercritical units of 800 MW each would be set up with an investment of Rs 14,000 crore, which would include setting up of a water pipeline and a power evacuation system.

PM Modi flagged off Tejas Express, fastest train between Chennai and Madurai.

• This train will be the fastest in the Chennai-Madurai corridor and is India’s first semi-high speed fully AC luxury train.

• PM Modi also laid the foundation stone for two other projects which will boost rail infrastructure in Tamil Nadu.

• PM laid the foundation stone for the restoration of rail connectivity between Rameswaram and Dhanushkodi. The 17.20 Km railway line project is worth Rs 208 crore.

• Prime Minister also laid the foundation stone for the construction of new bridge Pamban viaduct. This will be India's first ever vertical moving bridge. The cost of this project is Rs 250 crore.

India signed deal with Russian firm to produce 7.5 lakh AK-203 rifles

• For the AK-203 Assault Rifles, the deal was signed between the OFB (Ordnance Factories Board) and the Russian company Concern Kalashnikov.

• The AK-203 rifles, the latest derivative of the AK-47 rifles, will be produced at the Indian Ordnance Factory at Amethi's Korwa.

• The new 7.5 lakh rifles will replace the indigenous INSAS rifles in the Army, Air Force and Navy.

• AK-47, officially known as the Avtomat Kalashnikova, is the most basic model followed by AK 74, 56, 100 series and 200 series.

INTERNATIONAL:

NASA created a deep ocean conditions in lab to study origins of life.

• Scientists from NASA, the U.S. space agency, have reproduced deep ocean conditions in the lab to re-create a life that could have formed on the sea floor four billion years ago.

• The study focuses on how the building blocks of life form in hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. It could offer clues to how life started on Earth. Hydrothermal vents are places on the seafloor where warm water from under the Earth’s crust mixes with near-freezing seawater. These vents form natural chimneys, which play host to all kinds of ocean life.

• The team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California made their own miniature sea floors by filling beakers with mixtures that mimic Earth’s primordial ocean.

APPOINTMENTS AND RE-APPOINTMENTS:

Macky Sall has been re-elected as the President of Senegal

• Macky Sall has been re-elected as the President of Senegal. He won the re-election with58.27% of votes cast. Under the election system of Senegal if a candidate wins more than 50% votes there would be no second round voting and he would be announced the winner.

Sports:

Shashank Shekhar claimed 10 km Nepals (COAS) Marathon and Run for Fun.

• Shashank Shekhar won the 10-kilometre race of Nepal’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Open Marathon and Run for Fun which was held in Nepal’s Capital- Kathmandu.

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Important Current Affairs of 3 March

National:

7th Guinness Book of World Record Created By DEPwD in Bharuch, Gujarat.

• A National Conference on “Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) was inaugurated by the Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot. Mr. Gehlot stated that the “7th Guinness Book of World Record” has been created by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD).

Doordarshan launches Rock the Night, a programme for rock music.

• Doordarshan today launched Rock the Night, a brand new programme for rock music. This programme will air at DD National from 5th of March. DD has envisioned Rock the Night as a platform for indie rock bands to showcase their talent.

• The show is dedicated to the soldiers who keep the nation safe. He also expressed his love for artists like Cliff Richards, The Bee Gees, and Smokie.

• The crept in the Indian indie rock bands. Director General of Doordarshan, Supriya Sahu said, DD is the heartbeat of the nation.

India’s Food grain output in 2018-19 maybe 281.37 MT: Second Advance Estimate.

• The second advance estimates for the production of most of the crops for the agricultural year 2018-19 been released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare.

• Data on Production of Food Crops:

♦ Food grains  –  281.37 million tonnes.

♦ Rice – 115.60 million tonnes. (record)

♦ Nutri / Coarse Cereals – 42.64 million tonnes.

♦ Maize – 27.80 million tonnes.

♦ Pulses – 24.02 million tonnes.

♦ Tur – 3.68 million tonnes.

♦ Gram – 10.32 million tonnes.

Cabinet approves Rs 1,450 crore for share capital of RBI in NHB.

• The National Housing Bank (NHB) has been set up to operate as the principal agency to promote housing finance institutions in India.

• Up till now, the authorised capital of NHB stands at ₹2,000 crore of which ₹1,450 crore has been subscribed by RBl. Currently, the capital is fully subscribed by RBl.

IIT (BHU) scientist discovered tadpole-like jets on Sun

• Scientists led by IIT (BHU) researcher Abhishek Srivastava have discovered tadpole-shaped jets coming out of regions with intense magnetic fields on the Sun.

• Formally called pseudo-shocks, the "tadpoles" are made entirely of plasma, which accounts for an estimated 99% of the observable universe.

• It could help understand why corona (Sun's upper atmosphere) is over 200 times hotter than its surface.

Swine Flu cases has increased in Gujarat

• Swine Flu in Gujarat has become an epidemic as almost 100 new cases are reported from across the state per day. So far, 3000 cases and 99 deaths in two months has been reported.

• Since January 1st, 2164 people have fully recovered and have been discharged from hospitals while 853 people are under treatment for H1N1 influenza, which has already claimed 99 lives in this year since January 1st. On average, 80-100 cases and 2-3 deaths are being reported per day for the last two weeks.

Delhi Cabinet approved the reimbursement cost of fitting hydraulic lifts in CNG buses

• The Delhi Cabinet approved the reimbursement cost of fitting hydraulic lifts in 1,000 standard-floor Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses that are going to be procured. In a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Transport Department’s proposal was approved to provide efficient and environmental friendly modes of public transport to Delhiites.

• The hydraulic lifts are to be fitted in 1,000 standard-floor buses, enabling them to be used by differently abled people as directed by both Supreme Court and Delhi High Court. The government has made a commitment before the Supreme Court that it will bear the cost of installation of lifts in 1,000 standard-floor buses.

Cabinet approved the Ordinance for arbitration centre

• The Union Cabinet has approved the promulgation of an Ordinance for establishing the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) in an effort to make India a hub of institutionalized arbitration. The establishment of institutionalized arbitration will be to the advantage of the public and public institutions in terms of quality of expertise and costs incurred.

• The NDIAC will be headed by a chairperson who will be appointed by the Centre in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. There will also be two full-time or part-time members. They will be eminent persons having substantial knowledge and experience in institutional arbitration.

• The NDIAC Bill, 2019, could not be taken up for consideration and passing by the Rajya Sabha in the recently concluded session. Therefore, the government, in view of the urgency to make India a hub of institutionalized arbitration and promote ‘ease of doing business’, has decided to promulgate an Ordinance: ‘The NDIAC, 2019’.

SPORTS:

Chris Gayle Becomes First Player To Smash 500 Sixes In International Cricket

• West Indies opener Chris Gayle become the first batsman ever to smash 500 or more sixes in international cricket. In the 4th ODI against England in Grenada, Gayle scored 162 runs.

• His innings contained a staggering 14 sixes and powered the Windiest to their highest-ever ODI score of 389.

Sanath Jayasuriya banned for 2 years after ICC anti-corruption probe

• The former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya has been banned for two years from all cricket-related activity by the ICC's anti-corruption unit.

• He was punished for refusing to co-operate with investigations concerning corruption in the country.

• Jayasuriya played 110 Tests, 445 one-day internationals and 31 Twenty20s for Sri Lanka and was also a former captain during his illustrious career between 1989-2011.

• He is also a former member of Sri Lanka's parliament and a former deputy minister

BOOKS:

Arun Jaitley to release book titled Mann Ki Baat - A Social Revolution on Radio in New Delhi

• A book titled, 'Mann Ki Baat - A Social Revolution on Radio' was released by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi.

• The book is a compendium encompassing 50 editions of the 'Mann Ki Baat' programme by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on All India Radio.

• The father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi used to communicate in very simple language with people and his Salt Satyagraha had an electrifying effect.

• Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee travelled, he used to carry a small transistor along to listen to Radio News.

APPOINTMENTS:

Ravneet Gill is appointed as MD and CEO of Yes Bank

• Ravneet Gill, Former India chief of Deutsche Bank, took charge as the Managing Director (MD) and chief executive officer of private sector lender Yes Bank. He will have a three-year term.

• Mr. Gill succeeds Rana Kapoor, the co-founder of the bank, whose term ended on January 31, 2019. Mr.Ajai Kumar, one of the board members, was appointed as the interim CEO after Mr. Kapoor’s term ended. Yes Bank decided to search for a new chief executive after the RBI declined to extend Mr. Kapoor’s tenure beyond January 31, 2019, though the board had endorsed a three-year extension.

Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar takes over as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Air Command

• Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar, who played a prominent role in the Kargil Operations has taken over as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force.

• The Air Marshal is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and was commissioned in the Flying Branch of the Air Force as a Fighter Pilot in June 1981.

• The Air Marshal reviewed a ceremonial Guard of Honour yesterday and outlined his vision for the Western Air Command. He exhorted all personnel to work with zeal and enthusiasm so as to enable Western Air Command to fulfil the objectives of the IAF and the nation at large.

• The Air Marshal is an Experimental Test Pilot and has flown about 42 types of aircraft.

INTERNATIONAL:

South Korea to help U.S. and North Korea reach a deal

• South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in announced that South Korea will work with the U.S. and North Korea to ensure they reach agreement on denuclearisation, a day after talks between the U.S. and North Korean leaders collapsed over sanctions.

• A second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in Vietnam, was cut short after they failed to reach a deal on the extent of sanctions relief North Korea would get in exchange for steps to give up its nuclear programme.

• South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has been an active supporter of efforts to end confrontation on the Korean peninsula, meeting Mr. Kim three times last year and trying to facilitate his nuclear negotiations with the U.S.

OBITURIES:

Sitting Judge of Delhi HC Justice Valmiki J Mehta passed away

• Mehta, who was 59 years old, had assumed office as an Additional Judge of Delhi high court on April 15, 2009.

• Mehta got enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi in 1982 and began his career in law by practising in the Delhi High Court, district courts and various tribunals in civil matters.

• He was appointed a Senior Advocate at the age of 42, on September 22, 2001.

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Important Current Affairs of 2 March

NATIONAL:

Union Bank of India reduced the MCLR by 10 basis points

• Union Bank of India, the State-run lender, said it had reduced the Marginal Cost of funds-based Lending Rate (MCLR) by 10 basis points across all tenors.

• The lender has reduced its one-year MCLR or the minimum lending rate, against which most of the consumer loans are benchmarked, to 8.60% from 8.70% earlier. The bank has set the new six-month MCLR at 8.50% and two-year at 8.70%.

RBI has formed a task force on the offshore rupee market

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has formed a task force on the offshore rupee market. It will be headed by former Deputy Governor Usha Thorat and will recommend steps for ensuring the stability of the currency.

• The task force shall examine the issues relating to the offshore rupee markets in depth and recommend appropriate policy measures that also factor in the requirement of ensuring the stability of the external value of the rupee. The committee would submit its report by the end of June 2019.

• The task force will assess the causes behind the development of the offshore rupee market, and study the effects on the exchange rate and market liquidity in the domestic market. It would also recommend measures to address concerns arising out of offshore rupee trading.

Growth Rate in the Core Sector witnessed decline

• The data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industries reported that the growth rate eight core sectors which include coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizers, steel, cement, and electricity witnessed a decline. The core sector which had witnessed a 6.2% growth in January 2018 witnessed a growth rate of 1.8% in January.

• The decline in the output of crude oil, refinery products, and electricity pulled down the growth of eight core sectors to 1.8%. Production of crude oil, refinery products, and electricity contracted 4.3%, 2.6%, and 0.4%, respectively. Coal and cement output slowed to 1.7% and 11% in January as against 3.8% and 19.6% in January 2018, respectively. Natural gas, fertilizers and steel output grew 6.2%, 10.5%, and 8.2 % respectively. The core sector growth would impact the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) as these segments account for about 41 percent of the total industry output.

Tata Steel has been recognised as one of World’s Most Ethical Companies

• Tata Steel has been recognised as one of World's Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute for 2019. Ethisphere Institute is a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices. For the eighth time, Tata Steel has got the recognition in the 'Metals, Minerals and Mining' category. Tata Steel is one of the only two honourees in the 'Metals, Minerals and Mining' industry.

• 128 companies are recognized for exemplifying and advancing corporate citizenship, transparency and the standards of integrity in the year 2019. The honourees are from 21 countries and 50 industries.

• The companies are listed World's Most Ethical Companies based on 5 factors:

♦ Leadership and Reputation

♦ Ethics Compliance Programme

♦ Culture of Ethics

♦ Corporate Citizenship

♦ Responsibility Governance

DCB Bank launches Open Banking Platform for next generation banking solutions.

•  Creating a collaborative ecosystem with enterprises, fintech and app developers, and enhancing customer-service delivery, DCB Bank announced the launch of its Open Banking Platform.

• More than 20 start-ups, fintech, merchants, enterprises and developers are set to partner with DCB Bank for access to its Open Banking Platform APIs (Application programming interface) and collaborate on innovation and customer centric products.

Mainamati Maitree Exercise 2019 held between BSF and BGB.

• Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) concluded a three-day Mainamati Maitree Exercise 2019 as a part of confidence-building measures between the two border guards. The exercise was held in Comilla district of Bangladesh.

• The objective of Mainamati Maitree Exercise 2019 was to plan and conduct anti-smuggling and anti-criminal activity related operations with an aim to achieve better joint operational efficiency and border management in the area. The exercise involved joint patrolling, anti-smuggling drills, and simulated raids on suspected places in both the countries and checking of goods and identity at international check posts.

PNB bank ranks highest in implementation of Reforms Agenda

• Punjab National Bank (PNB) secured top spot among all public sector banks in the implementation of ‘Reforms agenda’.

• PNB topped the list with a score of 78.4 out of 100 in the EASE-index which is followed by BoB (77.8), SBI (74.6), and Oriental Bank of Commerce (69).

• The EASE (Enhanced Access and Service Excellence) report shown significant enhancement in PSB performance on the back of Government’s 4 R's strategy- recognition, recovery, recapitalisation and reforms.

Cabinet approves setting up of 22nd AIIMS at Manethi, Haryana

• The new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Manethi, District Rewari, and Haryana will be established at a cost of Rs 1,299 crore.

• Like other AIIMS in the country, the AIIMS Rewari will also be set up under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).

• The new AIIMS will add 100 Undergraduate (MBBS) seats and 60 B.Sc (Nursing) seats.

IRCTC launched its own digital payment gateway 'IRCTC iPay'.

• With a view to promote Government’s Digital India initiative,  the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation(IRCTC) has launched its much awaited own payment aggregator system called "IRCTC iPay”.

• The new system will provide payment options like Credit Card, Debit card, Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and International card.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONAS:

Ajay Narayan Jha became Member of the 15th Finance Commission.

• Shri Ajay Narayan Jha joined the 15th Finance Commission as its Member in place of Shri Shaktikanta Das resigned as a Member of the Commission after being appointed as Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

• A 1982 batch IAS officer of Manipur cadre, he was the Finance Secretary to the Government of India and served as Secretary to the 14th Finance Commission, headed by former RBI Governor, Shri Y.V. Reddy.

• The 15th Finance Commission was constituted by a Presidential Order in November 2017 under the Chairmanship of Shri N. K. Singh to decide the formula for devolution of revenue between Centre and States.

Naresh Goyal agreed to step down as Jet Airways chairman

• This comes weeks after reports suggested that the cash-strapped Jet airline has agreed to most of the conditions set by its second-largest shareholder Etihad for its revival.

• Etihad had agreed to invest in Jet Airways if Goyal stepped down from the board.

• Etihad Airways owns a 24% stake in Jet Airways

• Jet  airline had a gross debt of ₹8,411 crore as of September-end, including aircraft debt of ₹1,851 crore

AGREEMENTS:

RBI have signed a bilateral swap agreement with the Bank of Japan

• Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have signed a bilateral swap agreement with the Bank of Japan. The Swap agreement will provide India access to 75 billion US dollars against the 50 billion dollars under earlier BSA.

• The bilateral swap agreement will provide India to access the reserves if at any point of time when the need arises. The currency swap makes it easier to improve liquidity conditions. Currency swap agreements help when the economic crisis arises.

• The swap agreements also contribute towards stabilizing the country's balance of payments (BOP) position. The agreement aids in improving confidence in the Indian market.

POLICY:

India’s first policy to protect bank locker launched by IFFCO Tokio General Insurance.

•  IFFCO Tokio General Insurance launched ‘bank locker protector policy’, the first stand-alone bank locker cover offered by any insurance company with a plan to protect the contents of a bank locker such as jewellery, title documents, and other valuables.

• The policy offers a cover against various risks including fire, earthquake, burglary, and holdup, infidelity by a bank staff or any act of terrorism.

• Important documents kept in a locker can also be insured under the policy as an add-on cover.

• The policy can be sold both as a retail and a group policy for banks

SPORTS:

Deepak Singh Wins Gold At Makran Cup In Boxing

•  National Boxing champion Deepak Singh (49kg) is the only Indian boxer who won gold medal at Makran Cup in Boxing held at Chabahar, Iran.

The five others claimed silver medals in the Makran Cup in Chabahar, Iran P. Lalitha Prasad (52kg), Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Manish Kaushik (60kg), Duryodhan Singh Negi (69kg), Sanjeet (91kg) and Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Satish Kumar (+91kg) claimed silver medals.

INTERNATIONAL:

Russia, China blocked a US resolution on Venezuela in the UN

• Russia and China vetoed a US resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on addressing the crisis in Venezuela.

• Russia's draft resolution -- which urged a settlement "through peaceful means" and insisted that all humanitarian aid be agreed by Maduro's government -- won only four votes: Russia, China, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea.

• Seven countries including the United States, European countries and Peru opposed the Russian measure and there were four abstentions.

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Important Current Affairs 28th February 2019

National :        

Piyush Goyal launched 'Rail Drishti Dashboard' To Track Train Information.

• Minister of Railways and Coal, Piyush Goyal has launched Rail Drishti dashboard, to promote transparency and accountability of Indian Railways.

• Rail Drishti Dashboard is an online portal containing information related to passenger and freight trains and links to live feeds of IRCTC kitchens.

First Indian made Centaur rocket was successfully launched at Thumb, Kerala.

• The first Indian-made Centaur rocket was successfully launched from the Thumba equatorial rocket station, Kerala on 26th February 2019 to the great jubilation of a large number of scientists.

• Dr.Vikram Sarabhai, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Indian National Committee for Space Research, described that the flight of the two-stage sounding rocket as very satisfactory

• It was a hailed as a momentous event. India is now on the path to long-range development of superior rockets, which will take us to the goal of satellite launching in five years.

Centre brought 42 nonscheduled cancer drugs under price control.

• Centre announced that it had brought 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer drugs under price control, capping trade margin at 30%,which would reduce their retail prices by up to 85%.

• The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has invoked extraordinary powers in public interest, under Para 19 of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, (DPCO) 2013 to bring 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer drugs under price control through trade margin rationalization. Department of Pharmaceuticals (DOP) directed manufacturers to fix their retail price based on the price at first point of sale of a product of the non-scheduled formulations containing any of the 42 drugs.

• The NPPA currently fixes prices of drugs placed in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) under Schedule-I of the DPCO. So far, around 1,000 drugs have been brought under price control under the initiative. Non-scheduled drugs are allowed an increase of up to 10% in prices every year, which is monitored by the NPPA.

Union Textile Minister inaugurated Titanwala Museum in Rajasthan.

• Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani inaugurated the ‘Titanwala Museum’ that showcases the hand block printing of the Chhipa community in Bagru.

• Bagru printing is one of the traditional techniques of printing with natural color followed by the chippas of Rajasthan.

• Suraj Narayan Titanwala took the initiative of setting up the museum.

India has successfully tested fired 2 indigenously developed QRSAM.

•  India has successfully test-fired two indigenously developed Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air missiles (QRSAM) from a test range at Chandipur in Odisha's Balasore district.

• The missile is an all-weather, all-terrain missile with electronic countermeasures against jamming by aircraft radars. QRSAM uses solid-fuel propellant.

•  The missile is an all-weather, all-terrain missile with electronic countermeasures against jamming by aircraft radars

• QRSAM uses solid-fuel propellant and has a range of 25-30 km

• QRSAM has been developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) in association with Bharat Electronics Limited and Bharat Dynamics Limited as a replacement to Osa-AK and Kvadrat missile systems.

Mukesh Ambani becomes world's 8th richest with USD 54 bn wealth.

• As per Hurun Global Rich List 2019, Reliance Industries' 61-year-old Chairman Mukesh Ambani is the world's eighth-richest person with a net worth of $54 billion.

• He is the only Asian among the top 10.

• Amazon's Jeff Bezos topped the list for the second consecutive year with a net worth of USD 147 billion.

• With a wealth of USD 96 billion, Microsoft founder Bill Gates ranks second, followed by Warren Buffett with net worth of USD 88 billion.

Govt detects Rs 20,000 crore GST evasions in April-Feb FY19.

• The government detected Goods and Services Tax (GST) evasion of around Rs 20,000 crore between April 2018 and February 2019.

• Out of this, 10,000 crore has been recovered.

• Currently, GST has 4-tier slab of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent, while essential items are zero rated.

DAC approved purchase of defense equipment worth Rs 2,700 crore

• Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) granted approval for procurement of three cadet training ships for the Indian Navy, which would be utilized to provide basic sea training for officer cadets including women officer under trainees.

• DAC meeting was chaired by Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

• DAC is the highest decision-making body for defense purchases.

 LAUNCHES:

Assam Launches PRANAM Commission To Protect Parents Of State Government Employees

•  28 February 2019 Current Affairs: Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal launched the PRANAM Commission, which is a panel set up to look after the issues concerning a Bill brought in for the protection of parents of state government employees.

Dr. H Chaturvedi’s Book On Quality, Accreditation & Ranking Launched In New Delhi

• 8 February 2019 Current Affairs: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu launched the book titled ‘Quality, Accreditation, and Ranking – A Silent Revolution in the Offing in Indian Higher Education’

• The book is edited by Education Promotion Society for India’s (EPSI) Alternate President Dr. H Chaturvedi in New Delhi.

• On this occasion, the UGC Chairman, Dr. DP Singh, and Management Guru Padma Shri Dr. Pritam Singh were present as the guest of honor.

ISRO to launch defense satellite 'Emisat' in March for DRDO.

• In the special mission, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will also launch 28 third-party satellites and will demonstrate its new technologies like three different orbits with a new variant of 'Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle' (PSLV) rocket in March, 2019.

• Electronic intelligence satellite 'Emisat' of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) weighs about 420 kg.

• After launching Emisat at an altitude of 763 km, the PSLV rocket will be brought down to put the remaining 28 satellites into orbit at an altitude of 504 km.

SCHEMES:

Karnataka launched a major water conservation scheme Jalamrutha.

• Karnataka State government launched a major water conservation scheme titled‘Jalamrutha’, which focuses on drought-proofing measures, including protection and rejuvenation of water bodies. The scheme was initiated by the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department and was cleared by the State Cabinet. Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy launched the scheme in Bengaluru.

• Jalamrutha will deploy scientific approaches to water budgeting, water harvesting, and water conservation through the use of geospatial data, satellite imagery, topographical and geological data.

• The scheme will be implemented by key line departments of the government, Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and private sector institutions. It will operate on a four-tier institutional structure with planning and execution committees being set up at village, taluk, district and State levels.

MCCs budget includes Mysuru Yogalakshmi scheme

• The Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) presented the budget with an outlay of Rs.775 crore for the year 2019-20. MCC introduced new schemes that included Rs.25, 000 for each girl child born in government hospitals in the City, pink toilets for the benefit of women, besides placing dust bins in buses and autorickshaws

• Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Taxation, Finance and Appeals, Shobha presented the MCC Budget 2019-20. She announced the Mysuru Yogalakshmi scheme for the benefit of girl children born to residents of the city in government hospitals. The scheme will come into force from April 1, 2019.

• Under the scheme, Rs.25, 000 will be deposited in the form of a bond in a nationalized bank in the name of each girl child born in a government facility. Rs.2.5 crore has been set aside in the Budget for the scheme. The scheme aimed at helping the girls pursue higher education and become financially independent.

 APPOINTMENTS:

Govind Prasad Sharma is appointed as the Chairman of NBT

• Educationist and Author Govind Prasad Sharma has been appointed as the Chairman of National Book Trust (NBT). Govind Prasad Sharma has served as the Principal of Government P.G. College in Madhya Pradesh and in other Educational sectors previously.

• National Book Trust National Book Trust (NBT) is an apex body established by the Government of India in the Year 1957 under the Department Of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development.

AWARDS:

Telanganas 4 ULBs bagged Swachh Survekshan 2019 awards.

• Telangana’s four Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) bagged Swachh Survekshan-2019 awards. Siddipet, Sircilla, Boduppal, and Peerzadiguda are the four Urban Local Bodies. The awards would be presented by President Ram Nath Kovind and others at a ceremony to be held in Delhi on March 6.

• Every year, cities and towns across India are awarded the title of 'Swachh Cities' on the basis of their cleanliness and sanitation drive as a part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan that was launched in 2014. 

• The objective of the survey is to encourage large scale citizen participation, ensure sustainability of initiatives taken towards garbage free and open defecation free cities, provide credible outcomes which would be validated by third-party certification, institutionalize existing systems through online processes and create awareness amongst all sections of society about the importance of working together towards making towns and cities a better place to live in.

INTERNATIONAL:

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un held second summit in Vietnam

• US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un have begun their high-profile second summit in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi.

• The main focus of the summit is to discuss denuclearization amid claims from Michael Cohen ahead of public hearing.

• US may announce a formal end to the Korean War during the summit.

Muhammadu Buhari re-elected as Nigerian President.

• Buhari, of the ruling All Progressives Congress party, secured 56 percent, or 15.2 million votes, in the February 23 polls.

• His main opponent, former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), received 41 percent or 11.3 million votes.

• Muhammadu Buhari, 76-year-old, has been re-elected for a second four-year term.

• He was first elected president in 2015, becoming the first opposition candidate to defeat an incumbent and win the presidency.

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Important Current Affairs 26th February 2019

National News

PM Modi Inaugurated 40-Acre National War Memorial in New Delhi

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated a new National War Memorial, situated in the India Gate complex in New Delhi, to the nation.

• The National War Memorial, spread over 40 acres in the India Gate complex behind the canopy, is dedicated to soldiers killed during the Indo-China War in 1962, Indo-Pak Wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971, Indian Peace Keeping Force Operations in Sri Lanka and in the Kargil Conflict in 1999, and also those in the UN peacekeeping missions.

FAGMIL Signs MoU with Himachal Pradesh to Establish India's 4th White Cement Plant Project

• Under its diversification programme, FCI Aravali Gypsum and Minerals India Limited (FAGMIL) has taken up a project to establish a white cement plant near village Nohra Dhar in Himachal Pradesh, at a project cost of approximately Rs. 605 crores.

• It will be the 4th white cement plant in the country. The installed capacity of the plant would be 0.3 million tonnes per annum and it will generate the direct employment of approximately150 persons.

Madhya Pradesh Government Launched ‘Mukhyamantri Yuva Swabhiman Yojana’

• Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath launched the State Government’s flagship scheme ‘Mukhyamantri Yuva Swabhiman Yojana’ that guarantees 100 days of employment every year to urban youth from economically weaker sections.

• Under the scheme, Rs 4,000 stipend per month during 100 days period, would be given to the youth and they will also be given skill development training in order to become independent. (Only those youths, whose family’s annual income is less than Rs 2 lakh and who are in the age group of 21-30 years, are eligible for the scheme).

INTERNATIONAL

India strikes back: IAF jets destroy Jaish terror camps across LoC

• In retaliation to the deadly Pulwama terror attack, the Indian Air Force fighter jets crossed the line of control in the early hours of February 26, 2019 and attacked Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

• The same was confirmed by the Indian Foreign Secretary, Vijay Gokhale during a press conference in New Delhi on the same day. The Foreign Secretary revealed that India has struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot.

• The Indian Air Force used Mirage-2000 jets to drop 1000 kg of laser-guided bombs causing an estimated casualty of 200-300. In the intelligence led operation, India struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa.

Awards

President Conferred 'Gandhi Peace Prize'

• President Ram Nath Kovind conferred the Gandhi Peace Prize for 2015, 16, 17 and 18 at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.

• The award comprises a cash award of one crore rupees, a citation in a scroll, a plaque and a traditional handicraft item.

• Here are the awardees that were facilitated at the occasion:

1. For 2015: Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari was given the award for its contribution in Rural Development, Education and Development of natural resources.

2. For 2016: Jointly to Akshaya Patra Foundation for its contribution in providing mid-day meals to millions of children across India and Sulabh International for its contribution in improving the condition of sanitation in India and emancipation of manual scavengers.

3. For 2017: Ekal Abhiyan Trust for its contribution in providing Education for Rural and Tribal Children in remote areas pan India, Rural Empowerment, Gender, and Social Equality.

4. For 2018: Japan's Yohei Sasakawa for his contribution in Leprosy Eradication in India and across the world.

Lifetime Achievement Award For G.R. Karthikeyan

•  G.R. Karthikeyan, father of India’s first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement award at the FMSCI annual awards function.

•  FIA president Jean Todt was the chief guest and handed over the awards.

Appointments

 Indra Nooyi Joins Amazon’s Board of Directors

• PepsiCo’s India-born former CEO Indra Nooyi has joined Amazon’s board of directors, the online retail giant. Starbucks executive Rosalind Brewer has also joined the Amazon Board.

• She was Pepsico CEO from October 2006 to October 2018, where she also served as the Chairman of its board of directors from May 2007 to February 2019.

Sports News

Afghanistan Scores Highest Ever T20 International Score

• Afghanistan scored 278 for the loss of three wickets from their allotted 20 overs, to register the highest-ever total in T20s at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.

• Hazratullah Zazai scored 162 runs from just 62 balls. Zazai became the first player from Afghanistan to score 150 or more runs, and his 236-run opening stand with Usman Ghani became the highest partnership in T20Is.  

Sri Lanka Becomes 1st Ever Asian Team To Win Test Series In South Africa

• Sri Lanka cricket team became the first Asian side to win a Test series in South Africa after winning the series by 2-0.

• Kusal Perera was given the Man of the Series award. Before Sri Lanka, only Australia and England have defeated South Africa in a Test series at home.

Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta Wins Cannes International Open Trophy

• Indian Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta lifted the Cannes International Open trophy. He took an easy draw with Pier Luigi Basso of Italy in the ninth and final round.

• Abhijeet won the tournament with 7.5 points. It is his first solo International tournament victory.

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