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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 17th March 2019

NATIONAL:

India sets aspirational target for engineering exports at USD 200 bn by 2025.

• India can achieve a three-fold "aspirational" increase in its engineering exports to reach $200 billion by 2025, if concerted efforts are made by the government and industry to develop a conducive ecosystem, and ensuring inputs at competitive prices, according to an EEPC India-Deloitte strategy paper. India's engineering exports, which contribute 25 per cent to the overall merchandise shipments, are projected to touch about $80-82 billion in the current financial year ending March 31.

West Bengal has maximum first-time voters in Lok Sabha polls.

• According to Election Commission, West Bengal has the maximum number of first-time voters, around 20.1 lakh, in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. WB is followed by Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, with around 16.7 lakh and 13.6 lakh first-time voters, respectively. The number of people eligible to vote has reportedly increased by 8.4 crore as compared to 2014 General Elections. Over 1.5 crore voters are in the age group of 18-19 years. These "young voters" constitute 1.66 per cent of the total electors.

AFINDEX 2019 held at Pune.

• Africa-India Joint Field Training Exercise (AFINDEX-19) between the Indian Army and 16 African nations will be conducted in Pune from March 18 to 27. The joint exercise would be held at Pune's Foreign Training Node at Aundh Military Station and College of Military Engineering in Kirkee. 

Features of AFINDEX-19:

♦ 10 personnel, each from the participating nations from the African continent and personnel of Maratha Light Infantry of the Indian Army will participate in the joint exercise

♦ The exercise aims to train the participating contingents in Humanitarian Mine Assistance (HMA) and Peace Keeping Operations (PKO) under the United Nations Charter through practical

♦ Contingents from Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Mozambique, Uganda, Niger & Zambia are part of the joint exercise together with officers from Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar as Observers

Erode Turmeric received GI tag.

• Erode Turmeric has finally received GI tag from the Geographical Indication Registry. Erode is the city in the state of Tamil Nadu. The product to acquire GI tag has to indicate that a product of a particular origin has a certain quality or reputation or some other characteristics, which is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

The uniqueness of the Erode Turmeric:

♦ Erode Turmeric is golden yellow in colour with resistance to pests after boiling

♦ Erode turmeric contains 2.5 to 4.5% of curcumin content

♦ Erode Turmeric is grown in hot moist conditions prevalent in the area with temperature ranging from 20 degrees to 37.9 degrees Celsius with an average of 600 to 800 mm rainfall in a year Geographical Indication defines the goods as originating in the territory of a country or a region or locality in that territory, provided a given quality reputation or other characteristics of the product are attributable to its geographical origin.

Income Tax dept cracks down on terror funding in Kashmir valley.

• Income Tax Department conducted search actions at 5 locations in the Kashmir Valley. Few places in Jammu were also searched. In a release, the CBDT said, these actions are part of the Department’s continued drive against use of black money by disruptive elements in the State.

• It said, the operations also send a message of deterrence and obviation to those intending to vitiate the democratic process of free and fair elections.  The preliminary results are extremely encouraging. In the aggregate, undisclosed cash of one crore 44 lakh and unaccounted jewellery of 2.48 crore rupees has been seized.

NITI Aayog and USAID organised IEMF.

• Niti Ayog in association with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) organized the first workshop on the development of the India Energy Modelling Forum (IEMF). The workshop was organized under the Sustainable Growth Pillar of the India-U.S. Strategic Energy Partnership.

•  IEMF aims to improve cooperation and coordination between modelling teams, the Government of India, knowledge partners and think-tanks, build the capacity of Indian institutions, and identify issues for joint modelling activities and future areas of research. The workshop featured eight expert sessions which saw discussions around the various aspects of setting up an India-centric energy modelling platform and was attended by various central government ministries and agencies.

SPORTS:

South Africas Duminy announces retirement from ODIs after 2019 World Cup.

• The 2019 World Cup will be Duminy's third appearance in the tournament, having featured for South Africa in 2011 in the subcontinent and in 2015 in Australia and New Zealand. Allrounder Jean-Paul Duminy had already retired from Test cricket in September 2017 after featuring in 46 matches. Duminy has played 193 ODIs so far - scoring 5047 runs at an average of 37.39 - in addition to bagging 68 wickets.

Argentina, Colombia set to co-host Copa America in 2020.

• Argentina and Colombia have been chosen in principle to co-host the 2020 Copa America. The 2020 Copa América will be the 47th edition of the Copa América. 2019 Copa América will be  staged in Brazil between June 14 and July 7. The Copa América is the world's oldest international football tournament. The event was first held in 1916 in honour of the 100th anniversary of Argentina's independence—with Uruguay winning the inaugural title.

Sourav Ganguly appointed as advisor of Delhi Capitals for IPL 2019.

• Former India captain Sourav Ganguly was appointed as the advisor of Delhi Capitals (formerly known as Delhi Daredevils) for the upcoming edition of Vivo Indian Premier League (IPL), where he will work closely with the team’s head coach Ricky Ponting. With Captain Shreyas Iyer, Delhi Capitals will be facing Mumbai Indians on 24th March 2019 at the Wankhede Stadium.

BANKS AND ECONOMY:

State Bank of India launched YONO Cash for cardless withdrawal of cash.

• State Bank of India launched ‘YONO Cash’ for cardless withdrawal of cash at over 16,500 SBI ATMs across the country. With this facility, customers can initiate the cash withdrawal process on the YONO app and set a six-digit YONO Cash PIN for the transaction.  They will also get a six-digit reference number for the transaction on their registered mobile number via SMS. The withdrawal has to be completed in the next 30 minutes at the nearest ATM. The initiative will also address their concern of using debit card at the ATMs for cash withdrawals by eliminating possible risk associated with it.

AWARDS:

Manmohan Singh presented the Business Line Changemaker of the Year award to Arun Jaitley.

• Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley received the award over successful implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The award was also presented to the petitioners against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalised homosexuality.

Indian Embassy in Nepal awarded 200 scholarships to meritorious Nepali students.

• The Indian Embassy in Nepal has announced 200 scholarships to meritorious Nepali students for continuing various undergraduate courses at colleges and universities. The scholarships were granted under the Golden Jubilee Scholarship scheme.

• Golden Jubilee Scholarship scheme was initiated by the Indian Embassy in Nepal to mark the completion of 50 years of India-Nepal Economic Cooperation. This year the scholarship programme covered 36 undergraduate courses including MBBS, BDS, BE, BSc and BBA The recipients of the scholarships represent 50 districts of Nepal. Under the scheme, an MBBS/BDS student receives NRs. 4,000/- per month for five years, a BE student receives NRs. 4,000/- per month for four years and a student studying in other undergraduate courses receives NRs. 3,000/- per month for three years. Those provided scholarship included 45% of girls and 8% differently-abled students.

INTERNATIONAL:

India welcomes France's decision to sanction Masood Azhar.

• India welcomed the decision taken by France to sanction Jaish-e-Mohammed Chief Masood Azhar.  In a tweet, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, Azhar who is a Pakistan-based and his outfit is UN proscribed terrorist organisation who is responsible for the Pulwama terrorist attack. Earlier, France has decided to freeze all assets of Pakistan based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed, JeM chief Masood Azhar, in the application of the country's Monetary and Financial Code.

• The French government's Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, France always been and always will be by India's side in the fight against terrorism.  France has decided to sanction Masood Azhar at the national level by freezing his assets in the application of the Monetary and Financial Code.                                  

OBITUARIES:

Goa CM Manohar Parrikar Passes Away Aged 63 After Battle with Pancreatic Cancer.

• Manohar Parrikar, Goa Chief Minister and former defence minister, has passed away at the age of 63 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Parrikar was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in February 2018 and had been in and out of hospitals in Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and New York since.

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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 of 9th March

INTERNATIONAL:

Punjab Cabinet decision bring smiles on faces of teachers and nurses

• Punjab government is in a fix over the job status of 2,200 master-cadre contractual school teachers who have not been paid salary since November last year when their three-year contract had expired.

• They were supposed to get regular job at the expiry of the contract, but that hasn’t happened to date.

• Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal gave a royal ignore to the teachers, who were demanding a regular job as per the conditions notified during their appointment in November 2014.

IRDAI, NHA form working group to curb fraud in Ayushman Bharat scheme

• The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) and the National Health Authority (NHA) have formed a working group on the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PM JAY).

• In six months, it will submit a report on how to detect and deter fraud through a common repository and capacity-building.

West Bengal Chief minister unveiled Yuvashree Arpan Scheme

• Under Yuvashree Arpan, 50,000 youths will receive financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh each for setting up an enterprise.

• The Yuvashree I scheme is implemented by the state labour department.

• Launched in 2013, the state provides unemployment allowance of Rs 1,500 per month to 1, 00,000 unemployed youth.

• The state government's Khadya Sathi project was awarded the Skoch platinum award for providing service to the people under the governance category for bringing in socio-economic change.

Government doubled income tax exemption limit for gratuity to Rs 20 Lakh

• The government has doubled the income tax exemption limit for gratuity to Rs 20 lakh from the existing Rs 10 lakh.

• Gratuity law applies to all employees who work in an organization where there are 10 or more employees in a year.

• It will be implemented from March 29, 2018.

• This will increase the burden of paperwork for those who retired on March 31, 2018.

Kylie Jenner named youngest self-made billionaire of all time by Forbes magazine

• Jenner, 21, made it onto the annual Forbes list of billionaires after debuting her Kylie Cosmetics online in 2015 with $29 lip kits containing matching lipstick and lip liner.

• According to Forbes list, she was both the world's youngest billionaire and also the youngest self-made billionaire ever.

• The richest person in the world remained Amazon.com Inc Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, whose net worth increased to $131 billion from $112 billion in 2018, according to Forbes.

CCEA approved new rules to provide greater coal availability

• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved new rules that will provide greater coal availability to stressed thermal power projects, based on the recommendations of the Group of Ministers constituted to look into the issue. One of the reasons for the stress was the non-availability of coal and that thermal projects without a medium to long-term power purchase agreements would not get coal supply.

Uttarakhand CM Rawat lays foundation stone for Doon-Mussoorie ropeway project

• Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on Wednesday laid the foundation stone for the Dehradun-Mussoorie ropeway project which is considered to be a tourist novelty.

• The Rs 300-crore ropeway project is expected to be completed in three years, the Chief Minister said at a function here.

• The ropeway will shorten the one-hour zigzag drive to just 15 minutes from Purkul village the base camp at Dehradun to Mussoorie.

NGT ordered Volkswagen to deposit Rs.500 crore with CPCB

• The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered Volkswagen India to deposit a sum of Rs.500 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) within two months for using cheat devices in its diesel vehicles.

• A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel enhanced the compensation amount ofRs.171 crore, which was recommended by an NGT-appointed committee, as a means of creating deterrence.

• In November last year, the green panel had directed Volkswagen to deposit a sum of Rs.100 crore as interim compensation. Coming down heavily on the company for not complying with the order, the NGT, in January, had directed Volkswagen to deposit the sum within one day.

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

United Bank, HDFC Life sign bancassurance deal

• United Bank of India, one of India’s premier Nationalized Banks signed a Bancassurance deal with HDFC Life Insurance Company. United Bank has a strong presence in rural and semi-urban areas with over 2,000 branches and offices while HDFC Life is India’s largest non-bank promoted private life insurer.

• Through this partnership, United Bank of India’s customers will be able to take advantage of HDFC Life’s expertise in Life Insurance products, distribution and customer service.

• The partnership promises to improve the overall business of both organizations.

• For the Bank’s customers, the choice of Life Insurance products will be a valuable addition.

• It will increase customer satisfaction and eventually lead to customer delight.

POLICY:

Cabinet approved for new hydroelectric policy

• The Union Cabinet approved a new hydroelectric policy aimed at boosting the sector, including according large hydro projects the status of renewable energy projects.

• According to the new policy, large hydro projects will also be designated as renewable energy projects. So far, only smaller projects of less than 25 MW in capacity were categorized as renewable energy. With the removal of this distinction, large hydro projects will be included as a separate category under the non-solar renewable purchase obligation policy.

• Under this policy, power purchasers will have to source a portion of electricity from large hydro projects. The new policy will increase the debt repayment period for hydro projects to 18 years from the current 12 years with the provision to introduce an escalating tariff of 2%.

SPORTS:

Cabinet approved for the Centre for Disability Sports at Gwalior

• The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for setting up of a Centre for Disability Sports at Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. The Centre for Disability Sports, Gwalior will be set up at an estimated cost of Rs 170.99 crore, spread over a period of 5 years. The Centre of Disability Sports would be registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

• The centre would create an improved sports infrastructure to ensure effective participation of persons with disabilities in sports activities and also enable them to compete at national and international levels. It would aid in developing a sense of belonging in Divyangjan to facilitate their integration in society. A governing body consisting of not exceeding 12 members would be set up for overall superintendence and supervision of the Centre with representation for experts from National Level Sports Federations apart from experts in para games.

Tamil Nadu's 16-year-old, P Iniyan, becomes India's 61st chess Grandmaster

• Iniyan Panneerselvam defeated Ukraine's 37-year-old Grandmaster Sergey Fedorchuk in Noisiel Open chess tournament in France to become India's 61st Grandmaster.

• Viswanathan Anand is India’s first Chess Grandmaster and he achieved the norm way back in 1987. He is also a five-time World Chess champion.

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Important Current Affairs of 8 March

NATIONAL:

PM STIAC identified 9 national missions for India’s sustainable development

•  The Prime Minister's Science, Technology and Innovation Council (PM-STIAC) have identified nine national missions to address major scientific challenges to ensure India's sustainable development. Through the nine missions, the PM STIAC aims to facilitate collaboration to solve complex problems.

The identified Nine Missions are:

♦ Natural language Translation

♦ Quantum Frontier

♦ Artificial Intelligence

♦ National Biodiversity Mission

♦ Electric Vehicles

♦ BioScience for Human Health

♦ Waste to Wealth

♦ Deep Ocean Exploration

♦ Agnii

Defence Ministry announced that permanent commission for women in Indian Army

• The Defence Ministry announced that permanent commission will be granted for Women in all the 10 branches of Indian Army. The extension of Permanent Commission to Women will provide women with a career in the Army till their retirement. The Short Service Commission entails an opportunity to serve as a Commissioned Officer for 10/14 years. At the end of 10 yrs, 3 options will be provided, either elect for a Permanent Commission or opt out or have the option of 4 years extension.

• The Women Officers will now get a permanent commission in branches such as signals, engineers, army aviation, army air defence, electronics, and mechanical engineers, army service corps, army ordnance corps, and intelligence. The Defence Ministry had earlier approved permanent commission for women in all branches of Air Force including fighter pilots.

Delhi government launches app One Delhi to track bus, metro services

• A commute-planning app “ONE Delhi” was launched by Kailash Gahlot, Transport Minister of Delhi.

• The app offers facilities such as:

• Obtaining the estimated time of arrival for buses and metros.

• Tracking the real-time location of buses and metros.

• Providing information about their fares.

• Providing the best route and mode of travel between two places.

• List of tourist spots in Delhi.

MoEFCC amended rules to ban the import of solid plastic waste

• The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has amended the Hazardous and other Wastes (Management and Trans boundary Movement) Rules, 2016 to completely ban the import of solid plastic waste.

• The amendment notified by the MoEFCC fixes a loophole which previously allowed the import of plastic waste into India for processing. The ban on the import of plastics is in lines with the principles of sustainable development. To ensure the ban doesn't adversely impact the ease of doing business, the amendment allows the reverse import of defective electrical and electronic assemblies and components manufactured in and exported from India, within a year of export.

• India is exploring various options to discourage the use of single-use plastics and also is emphasizing recycling of the plastic waste to reduce the burden on the environment thereby providing benefits.

OECD has reduced the world economic growth forecasts for 2019 to 3.3 percent

• The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has reduced the world economic growth forecasts for the year 2019.  OECD has cut its 2019 forecast for global economic growth to 3.3% for the current year, down from 3.5% it predicted earlier.

• The report notes that trade tensions and political uncertainty, including Brexit and erosion of business and consumer confidence are weighing on the world's economy thereby contributing to the slowdown. The 19-nation eurozone was particularly hard to hit, with predicted growth dropping from 1.8% to 1% which was contributed to policy uncertainty including those over Brexit.

Government to issue Rs 20 coins for the first time

• The Finance Ministry has announced the rollout of a new Rs. 20 coin shaped like a "dodecagon", a 12-edged polygon.

• The new coin will be heavier than all the existing coins at 8.54 grams.

• The obverse side of the coin will bear Lion Capital of Ashoka Pillar while the reverse will have the denominational value "20" with rupee symbol above.

• New series of Re 1, Rs 2, Rs 5 and Rs 10 denomination coins will also be minted.

• As per Coinage Act, 1906, the Government of India has the sole right to mint coins and the responsibility for coinage vests with the Government.

• Coins are minted at the four India Government Mints at Mumbai, Alipore (Kolkata), Saifabad (Hyderabad), Cherlapally (Hyderabad) and Noida (UP).

Odisha Government announces financial assistance for craftsmen

• Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched the scheme ‘Mukhyamantri Karigar Sahayata’ for financial assistance to craftsmen. The nodal department of the scheme is the Directorate of handicrafts.

• Craftsmen with 10 years of experience and having annual income below Rs.1 lakh are eligible to get assistance of Rs.800 per month.

• For craftsmen above 80 years of age would get Rs.1000 per month allowance for those has the same experience and annual income as above.

• Annual income certificate, residence proof, experience certificate and age proof are required to produce for availing the benefits of the scheme.

BANKS AND ECONOMY:

SBI and Hitachi Payment Services launched SBI PSPL to establish digital payments platform in India

• State Bank of India (SBI) and Hitachi Payment Services Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd, launched their merchant-acquiring joint venture, SBI Payment Services Pvt Ltd (SBIPSPL), for establishing a digital payments platform for India and other countries in the region, in Mumbai.

•  It will facilitate the expansion of the digital payments landscape in India via its digital payments platform and offer innovative products to suit the requirements of all segments of merchants by leveraging the brand value and vast distribution network of SBI, and bring Artificial Intelligence and other technological capabilities of Hitachi to SBI Payment Services.

National Housing Bank proposes stricter regulations for Housing Finance Companies

• National Housing Bank (NHB),a mortgage sector regulator and a fully owned subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to impose stricter regulations on the Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) to prevent them from falling prey to liquidity and credit risks.

• Following proposals have been put forward:

• Increasing the capital adequacy ratio (CAR)of these companies from 12%to 15%, in a phased manner by 31st March 2022. This will be accomplished by increasing the minimum CAR to 13% by 31st March 2020, 14 % by 31st March 2021 and 15 % by 2022.

• Bringing down the public borrowings to 12 times of the Net Owned Fund (NOF) from the existing 16 times, by March 2022.

•  Implementing graded reduction in the limit on the overall borrowings of Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) from 16 times of Net Owned Fund (NOF) to 14 times of Net Owned Fund (NOF) by 31st March 2020, 13 times of Net Owned Fund (NOF)by 31st March 2021 and 12 times of Net Owned Fund (NOF)by 31st March 2022

World Bank to provide Rs 2,200 crores for a healthcare project to Andhra Pradesh.

• The World Bank decided to provide a loan of Rs. 2200 crores ($328-million) to Andhra Pradesh for implementation of the AP Health Systems Strengthening Project (APHSSP).

• The loan agreement was signed between the Government of India, government of Andhra Pradesh and the World Bank

• The agreement was signed by Bandana Preyashi, director, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance (GoI), Poonam Malakondaiah, Special Chief Secretary (Medical and Health, AP government) and Mohini Kak and Kari L Hurt, representatives of World Bank in India.

• The project aims to improve the quality of healthcare, availability and accessibility of primary health services to the majority population of the state.

• The quality of healthcare delivery will be enhanced through National Quality Assurance Standards (NQAS) certifications for Community Health Centres (CHCs) and Primary Health Centres (PHCs).

AWARDS AND HONOUR:

BIAC India won the Women on a Mission award

• Brandix India Apparel City (BIAC) India’s partner P. Doraswamy was conferred with ‘The Women on A Mission Award’. It was presented to him by philanthropist Sudha Narayana Murthy at the women’s summit organized under ‘he for she’ category in Bengaluru.

• The award was given to him for his contribution to the welfare of women workforce in Visakhapatnam by organizing free medical camps, cancer screening initiatives, distribution of free amenities.

DAY:

International Women's Day 2019

• International Women's Day is celebrated across the world on March 8.

• The United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day in the International Women's Year, 1975.

• Official UN Theme of International Women's Day 2019: Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change.

• National Women's Day of India was observed on 13 February, on the date of birth of India’s first women governor Sarojini Naidu.

INTERNATIONAL:

Singapore government to invest Rs 5,000 crore in Bharti Airtel

• Singapore's government’s investment arm GIC Pvt Ltd will subscribe to shares worth Rs.5,000 crore as part of Airtel's plans to raise Rs.25,000 crore through rights issue.

• Singapore's Singtel also committed to buying Rs.3,750 crore worth Airtel stock.

Kaja Kallas elected as the first female Prime Minister of Estonia

• Kaja Kallas is the leader of country’s Reform Party.

• The Reform party beat the current Prime Minister Jüri Ratas’ lead Centre party, gaining 4 new seats in the parliament.

• Estonia also elected their first female president Kersti Kaljulaid in 2016.

• Estonia is a small country in the Baltic states that has been very active in the block chain field.

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Important Current Affairs of 7th March

National :

Cabinet approves promulgation of Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Ordinance, 2019

• Union Cabinet approved the proposal for promulgation of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Ordinance, 2019. 

• The Ordinance will ensure that the Constitutional provisions of reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the socially and educationally backward classes in the faculty recruitment will be protected.

• This will ensure that the process of recruitment of faculty is resumed and the vacancies are filled up.

• The decision will allow filling up of more than five thousand vacancies by direct recruitment in Teachers cadre. 

CCEA approves construction of a 3rd railway line between Narayangarh in West Bengal

• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the construction of a 3rd railway line between Narayangarh in West Bengal and Bhadrak in Odisha of 155 kilometres length. 

• The total estimated cost of this project is over Rs 1866 crore and will be completed by 2023-24. 

• This will also help in generating direct employment for about 37 lakh man-days.

Poorest of poor and uneducated women left behind in Integrated Child Development Scheme: Report

• As per a paper published in WHO bulletin recently, the poorest of the poor and uneducated women are not being covered under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).

• The Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) provides a package of services at anganwadi or child-care centres to young children and pregnant women and lactating mothers.

• These services include supplementary nutrition, referral services, immunisation, health check-up, pre-school non-formal education and health and nutrition education.

• The study also said that mothers without any schooling were the lowest beneficiaries.

PM-STIAC: Nine Science and Technology Missions and other Projects

• The Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government, Prof. K. Vijay Raghvan shared details of the nine national missions guided by the Prime Minister Science, Technology & Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC).

• The PM-STIAC aims to facilitate the process of collaboration and focus needed to solve complex problems in a reasonable time-frame.

• The Union Government is catalysing collaborations across scientific ministries, research institutions and industry partners, through the PM-STIAC, to leverage cutting edge scientific research for societal benefit.

• 4 meetings of the PM-STIAC have been held since October 2018 and key national missions emerged from the discussions. Each mission is being led by a lead Ministry and will engage international and national institutional partners, young scientists and industry.

Prime Minister launches key development projects at Kalaburagi and Kancheepuram

• The Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched key development projects at Kalaburagi in Karnataka and Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu.

• At Kalaburagi in Karnataka, the Prime Minister dedicated the ESIC Hospital and Medical College, Bengaluru to the nation.

• He also inaugurated the Super Specialty Block of KIMS in Hubali, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal building in Bangalore and the Women’s Hostel for Students from North Eastern Region at Bangalore University.

• At Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu, the Prime Minister launched various National Highway projects, including the foundation stone for the four laning of NH-45C from Vikravandi to Thanjavur and the six laning of Karaipettai – Walajapet section of NH-4.

• He dedicated the 5 MMTPA capacity Ennore LNG Terminal to the nation.

• The Prime Minister also unveiled the statue of Dr MG Ramachandran at Dr. MGR Janaki College of Arts & Science for Women, Chennai.

Uttar Pradesh gets highways projects worth over Rs 1 Lakh Crore

• Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated National Highways projects worth Rs 1, 10, 154 crore in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh.

• He inaugurated foundation stone for several works under Namami Gange programme worth over Rs 1969.57 crore.

• The National Highways include four-laning of Lucknow-Sultanpur section on NH-56, four-laning of Kursi Road–Ayodhya Road section of Lucknow ring road, four-laning of Ghaghra Bridge to Budhanpur section on NH-233, widening of Sonoli-Gorakhpur section on NH-29E, widening of Barabanki-Jarwal Road Junction on NH-28C, etc.

• The foundation stone for construction of Lucknow-Kanpur Expressway was also laid.

• Several projects under Namami Gange programme were launched including laying of sewerage network of 214.88 km in Prayagraj at a cost of Rs 260.86 crore, laying of sewerage network of 69 km including 2 STPs of 9MLD capacity in Garh Mukteshwar, etc.

Shri Vishwakarma Skill University, National Institute of Technical Teacher’s Training and Research sign MoU

• A Memorandum of Understating (MoU) between Shri Vishwakarma Skill University (SVSU) and National Institute of Technical Teacher’s Training and Research (NITTTR) was signed.

• The MoU will be in force for a period of three years. 

• The collaboration targets to ensure purposeful engagement of Faculty, Experts and Industry Partners for various academic activities.

• The collaboration seeks to support Vision and Mission of both Institutions related to Technical and Vocational Education, Training and Research.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister lays foundation stone for Doon-Mussoorie ropeway project

• Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat laid the foundation stone for the Dehradun-Mussoorie ropeway project.

• The 300-crore rupees ropeway project is expected to be completed in three years.

• It will be one of the world's longest ropeways, and will shorten the one-hour zigzag drive to just 15 minutes from Purkul village the base camp at Dehradun to Mussoorie.

• Poma, a French company which manufactures cable-driven projects, will provide the technical support to the ropeway which will be built on the PPP mode

Madhya Pradesh: Ancient tribal language Gondi to be taught in tribal districts

• In Madhya Pradesh, ancient tribal language Gondi will be taught in tribal districts.

• Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath decided to include Gondi in the primary education curriculum of the state's tribal-dominated districts.

• The rapid decline in the number of people who speak that tongue is a matter of concern. Hence, the Chief Minister stressed on the need to save it.

Justice SA Bobde nominated as Executive Chairman of NALSA

• President Ram Nath Kovind nominated Justice SA Bobde of the Supreme Court as Executive Chairman of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).

• The post is currently headed by Justice AK Sikri who retired on March 6, 2019.

• The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) is a statutory body constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society.

• NALSA fulfils the provisions under the Article 39A of the constitution which provides for free legal aid to the poor and weaker sections of the society.

International:

ISRO, French space agency CNES sign agreement on maritime security

• National space agency ISRO and its French counterpart CNES signed an agreement to set up a joint maritime surveillance system in the country.

• The two nations will explore putting up a constellation of low-Earth orbiting satellites that will identify and track movement of ships globally and in the Indian Ocean region where France has its Reunion Islands.

• They will initially share data from their present space systems and develop new algorithms to analyse them.

• The agreement comes a year after the two governments initiated broad collaboration plan during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit in March 2018.

• The two agencies have put up two climate and ocean weather monitoring satellites Megha-Tropiques (of 2011) and SARAL-AltiKa (2013) that are considered as models.

Malaysia joins the International Criminal Court

• Malaysia ratified the Rome Statute making it the 124th State party to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).

• Even though Malaysia had helped to negotiate the Rome Statute, it has been long been reluctant to ratify it.

• The downing of flight MH17 and the Rohingya crisis have focused Malaysia’s attention on the ICC.

• After the election of Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister in May 2018, there has been a significant shift in the relationship between the Malaysian government and monarchy.

• The ratification has also stemmed from ambition to see Malaysia playing a more active role in ASEAN and the United Nations.

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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 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 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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Important Current Affairs 25th February 2019

NATIONAL:

GST Council reduces GST Rate on Real Estate projects

• The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council met on February 24, 2019 for its 33rd meeting and slashed GST rate on under-construction residential properties and the affordable housing projects.

• In case of non-affordable houses, the GST rate for under-construction flats and houses has been brought to 5 percent without Input Tax Credit (ITC), down from the present 12 percent. In case of affordable houses, the GST rate has been reduced to 1 percent without ITC from 8 percent.

Aero India 2019 culminates; Drone Olympics held

• The 12th biennial edition of International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition, Aero India 2019 culminated on February 24, 2019 at Air Force Station Yelahanka in Bengaluru.

• For the first time, the 2019 edition of Aero India combined the defence and civil aviation segments into a holistic event with the co-involvement of the defence and civil aviation ministries. The 12th edition of Aero India intended to be a “Runway to a billion opportunities” and put India on the Global map.

PM-KISAN: PM Modi launches ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana’ from Gorakhpur, UP

• The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 24, 2019 launched the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN) from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.

• On the launch day itself, the first instalment of Rs 2,000 was directly credited to the bank accounts of selected beneficiary farmers. Around 12 crore farmers are expected to benefit from PM-KISAN. The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana was announced in the Union Interim Budget 2019 by Finance Minister Piyush Goyal.

PM Modi dedicates National War Memorial to the nation

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 25, 2019 dedicated the National War Memorial to the nation in a solemn ceremonial function in New Delhi.

• The National War Memorial, located near the India Gate in New Delhi, is a fitting tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives defending the nation, post-independence. The Memorial commemorates the soldiers who participated and made the supreme sacrifice in Peace Keeping Missions, and Counter Insurgency Operations.

Government launches Rail Drishti Dashboard to keep people informed about ongoing Railway works

• Railway Minister Piyush Goyal launched Rail Drishti Dashboard in New Delhi to keep people informed about the work going on in the Railways across the country. The Ministry of Railways will get suggestions and comments through the platform and will plan on future actions.

• The information gathered by technology and other means can benefit if there is proper data analysis.  People will get useful information from Rail Drishti through Railway WiFi facilities that are continuously expanding in the country.

INTERNATIONAL:

Oscars 2019: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ wins most Oscars

• The 91st Academy Awards, popularly known as Oscar Awards, were conferred on February 24, 2019 (February 25 as per Indian time). 'Bohemian Rhapsody', nominated for five Oscars, won the most Oscars at the award show.

• The ‘Period. End of Sentence’, a film on menstruation set in rural India, won the Oscar in the Documentary - Short Subject category at the 91st Academy Awards. The film has been directed by Rayka Zehtabchi and produced by Indian producer Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment.

Afghanistan begins export to India via Chabahar port

• Afghanistan has begun exports to India through Iran’s Chabahar port. At the inauguration of the new export route in Zaranj city in western Nimroz province, President Ashraf Ghani said Chabahar port is the result of healthy cooperation between India, Iran and Afghanistan.

• Afghanistan’s exports will increase to two billion dollar from the current one billion dollar in the next year.

• Indian ambassador Vinay Kumar said Afghanistan’s exports to India have increased by 40 percent after the launch of air corridor between Kabul and New Delhi.

 23 trucks carrying 57 tonnes of dried fruits, textiles, carpets and mineral products were dispatched from Zaranj to Chabahar port to be shipped to Mumbai.

Cobra Gold, one of world’s largest multinational military exercises, held in Thailand

• Thailand and the United States hosted the annual Cobra Gold military exercise, the biggest activity of its type in the Asia-Pacific region with 29 nations taking part as participants or observers.

• Apart from the 2 countries, 7 countries who participated in the exercise were India, Singapore, Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea.

• The Indian Army participated in the military training exercise with a 14-member contingent.

• Thai Chief of Defense Forces,Gen. Pornpipat Benyasri and the commander of the U.S. Army.

BANKING & FINANCE

RBI formalised USD 75-billion swap pacts with Bank of Japan

• This arrangement would bring in greater stability to the foreign exchange and capital markets in India since it will enable the availability of $75-billion in foreign capital for use as and when the need arises. 

• In February, the rupee had shown signs of a rebound and it remained one of the best performing among the emerging market currencies. 

• The rupee closed at 71.14 on Friday. The local unit fell about 2% so far this year, after an 8.5% drop in 2018 amid sharp swings in global crude oil prices.

SPORTS

India suspended by IOC from Hosting International Sporting Events after Pakistan Shooters were Denied Visa

• The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended all Indian applications to host future events and urged international sports federations not to stage competitions in the country after two Pakistanis were denied visas to compete in New Delhi.

• It was after India denied of entry visas for two shooters from Pakistan who were due to take part in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup event held in New Delhi following the attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in Pulwama, which killed at least 40 CRPF paramilitary police.

• The IOC Executive Board decided to suspend all discussions with the Indian National Olympic Committee (NOC) and Government regarding the potential applications for hosting future sports and Olympic–related events in India, until clear written guarantees are obtained from the Indian government to ensure the entry of all participants in such events in full compliance with the rules of the Olympic Charter.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

ONGC Rajahmundry wins environmental excellence award

• Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC)’s Rajahmundry unit won the Energy and Environment Foundation Global Clean Awards-2019 for sustained efforts in pursuit of Swachh Bharat Mission as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a function in New Delhi.

•  It has also received Platinum Award under Apex India Environment Excellence Award 2018from Apex India Foundation for excellence in environmental management in Petroleum Sector.

Manpreet Singh named as Player of the Year and Lalremsiami as Rising Player of The Year by the Asian Hockey Federation

• Harmanpreet Singh was awarded the 2018 Player of the Year award while women’s team striker Lalremsiami as the Rising Player of The Year, by the Asian Hockey Federation.

• Harmanpreet Singh led the Indian team to an unbeaten streak at the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat where the team was declared joint winners with Pakistan and also contributed to the team’s silver medal win at the FIH Champions Trophy in Breda. 18-year-old Lalremsiami, has shown remarkable progress in the women’s team with her impressive performance as a striker at the 2018 World Cup and the Asian Games where the team won Silver medal and was also a part of the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires where theunder-18 team won a silver.

• The Indian men’s team was awarded the Best Performance of The Year for being the only Asian side to have reached the top eight at the World Cup in Bhubaneswar.

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