29 MARCH 2019, CURRENT AFFAIRS

National News 

Adani Becomes 1st Indian Port Operator To Record 200 MMT Cargo Movement

i. Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) announced that it has recorded cargo movement of more than 200 million metric tonnes (MMT) at nine ports along the east and west coasts, becoming thefirst Indian port operator to achieve the milestone.

ii. Adani Ports embarked its journey in 2001 and has become one of the largest port operators in the world.

Tashigang in Himachal Pradesh Becomes World’s Highest Polling Station

i. Tashigang, a Himachal Pradesh village at an altitude of 15,256 feet has now become the highest polling station in the world.
ii. Situated about 29 km from the India-China border, the polling station covers two villages, Tashigang and Gate. 


Useful info:

  • Himachal Pradesh CM- Jai Ram Thakur, Governor- Kaptan Singh Solanki. 

GI Certification For 5 Varieties Of Indian Coffee

i. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India has recently awarded Geographical Indication (GI) to five varieties of Indian coffee.
ii. They are:

  1. Coorg Arabica coffee,
  2. Bababudangiris Arabica coffee,
  3. Chikmagalur Arabica coffee,
  4. Araku Valley Arabica coffee,
  5. Bababudangiris Arabica coffee.

Useful info:

  • In India, coffee is cultivated in about 4.54 lakh hectares by 3.66 lakh coffee farmers of which 98% are small farmers. Coffee cultivation is mainly done in the Southern States of India:
  1. Karnataka – 54%
  2. Kerala – 19%
  3. Tamil Nadu – 8%
  • Coffee is also grown in non-traditional areas like Andhra Pradesh and Odisha (17.2%) and North East States (1.8%).

International News

In a 1st, UN Council Passes Resolution To Combat Terrorist Financing

i. The UN Security Council has unanimously passed the first-ever resolution ordering members to enforce laws against terror financing. 

ii. UNSC resolution demands all states “ensure that their domestic laws and regulations establish serious criminal offenses” to collect funds or financial resources to terrorist groups or individual criminals.

Useful info:

The UN Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

  • It has 15 Members, and each Member has one vote.
  • Vladimir Voronkov is the chief of U.N. counter-terrorism.

Banking/Business News

PNB Sells 13.01% Stake In Housing Finance Arm for Rs1851.60 crore

i. State-owned lender Punjab National Bank (PNB) had sold stake in its housing finance arm, PNB Housing Finance (PNBHF) to General Atlantic Group and VardePartners for Rs 1,851 crore at Rs 850 per share. 

ii. Both VardePartners and General Atlantic Group will buy 1.089 crore shares each at Rs 850 per share in the housing finance company from Punjab National Bank.

Useful info:

PNB Headquarters in: New Delhi, CEO: Sunil Mehta. 

IIT Kharagpur, Wipro Partner For Research In 5G and AI 

i. Wipro Limited (Bengaluru Based), a leading global information technology, consulting and business process services company and Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT Kharagpur), signed an MoU to collaborate on high-impact, industry-focused applied research in the areas of 5G and AI.
ii. Research outcomes from this partnership will be leveraged by Wipro to develop solutions for its customers, across industry verticals. IIT Kharagpur will benefit from the commercialization of the joint research insights and Wipro’s real-world industry expertise.

Awards

Nobel Prize Recipient Amartya Sen To Be Honored Oxford University’s Bodley Award

i. Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen will be awarded the prestigious Bodley Medal, the highest honor granted by the University of Oxford’s world-famous Bodleian Libraries.

ii. The medal is awarded to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the fields in which the Bodleian is awarded are, including literature, culture, science, and communication. 

Useful info:

Amartya Sen is an Indian economist and philosopher.

  • He was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize in 1998 in Economic Sciences for his valued work in welfare economics and social choice theory.

Geoffrey Hinton, Yann LeCun, and Yoshua Bengio Named Turing Award Winners

i. Three pioneers in AI, University of Toronto faculty member and Google Brain researcher Geoffrey Hinton, Facebook chief AI scientist and NYU professor Yann LeCun, and Element AI founder and University of Montreal professor Yoshua Bengio has been honored with the Turing Award.
ii. It is an annual prize the Association for Computing Machinery(ACM) has been awarding since 1966 to individuals who’ve made contributions of lasting and major technical importance to the computer field.

Books and Authors

Former Governor’s Book Titled ‘Indian Fiscal Federalism’ Launched

i. The Chairman of 15th Finance Commission of India, N.K. Singh launched the book “Indian Fiscal Federalism”. 

ii. The book has been written by Dr. Y. V. Reddy, former Governor of RBI and Chairman of the 14th Finance Commission of India along with Dr. G. R. Reddy, Advisor (Finance) to the Government of Telangana.

Obituaries

Soviet-era Cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky Passes Away

i. Russian cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky, who made the first of his three flights to space in 1963, passed away at the age of 84 years.

ii. In June 1963, He first flew to space as a member of the Vostok-5 crew. He was a recipient of the Hero of the Soviet Union and Order of Lenin awards.

28 MARCH 2019, CURRENT AFFAIRS

National News 

ISRO Launches Young Scientist Programme ‘YUVIKA’ For Schoolkids

i. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched a special programme for schoolchildren called Young Scientist Programme or Yuva Vigyani Karyakram (VUVIKA), in tune with the government’s vision“Jai Vigyan, Jai Anusandhan”. 

ii. The program is primarily aimed at imparting basic knowledge on space technology, space science and space applications to the younger ones with the intent of arousing their interest in the emerging areas of space activities.

Useful info:

  • ISRO Director: K. Sivan, Headquarters: Bengaluru, Established in: 1969. 

Facebook launches tools to boost Electoral Process

i. Social Media giant, Facebook has launched two new India-specific tools viz. “Candidate Connect” and “Share You Voted” to boost civic engagement on its platform during the Lok Sabha elections 2019 that commence in April. 

ii. Both these tools will be made available in 12 local languages.

Agreements/MoUs Signed

India-African Union Sign MoU On Strengthening Cooperation In Healthcare Sector

i. An agreement has been signed between India and the African Unionto establish an India-Africa health sciences collaborative platform. 

ii. The MoU will pave the way for cooperation in research and development, capacity building, health services, pharmaceutical trade and manufacturing capabilities for drugs and diagnostics.

Useful info:

  • On May 25, 1963, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the 32 African states that had achieved independence at that time agreed to establish the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
  • There are 55 Member States currently in the African Union.
  • Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (of Egypt) is the chairperson of AU from Jan 2019 to Jan 2020.

India, US Ink Pact To Check Tax Evasion By MNCs

i. India and the US signed an agreement for exchange of country-by-country (CbC) report. The move will give huge relief to subsidiaries of US-headquartered companies in the taxation-related matter. 

ii. The agreement for the exchange of CbC reports will enable the two countries to automatically exchange the reports filed by the ultimate parent entities of the multinational enterprises in the respective jurisdictions pertaining to the years commencing on or after January 1, 2016.

Banking/Business News

Infosys, Roland-Garros Team Up For Digital Innovation

i. Infosys, a global leader in next-generation digital services and consulting, and Roland-Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament, also called the French Open, announced a three-year strategic technology partnership. 

ii. The partnership aims to re-imagine the tennis experience for the fans and the players globally.

Bank of Baroda Set To Develop Digital Agri Platform ‘Baroda Kisan’

i. Bank of Baroda has signed an MoU with agriculture services companies to develop an agriculture digital platform, Baroda Kisan,which will provide solutions for agricultural requirements. 

ii. BoB has signed the agreement with Skymet Weather Services, Weather Risk Management Services, BigHaat, Agrostar India, EM3 Agri Services, and Poorti Agri Services.

Useful info:

  • P. S. Jayakumar is the MD and CEO of Bank of Baroda.
  • It headquarters in Vadodara, Gujarat.

Appointments

BCCI Ombudsman Justice D.K. Jain to Serve As Ad-Hoc Ethics Officer

i. Supreme Court-appointed BCCI Ombudsman Justice D K Jain (retd)will now serve as the Ethics Officer of the Indian cricket board on an ad-hoc basis

ii. According to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI),provisions in its constitution require an Ethics Officer to be appointed to determine and decide issues related to conflict of interest.

Useful info:

  • Justice D K Jain (retd) has been appointed as the first Ombudsman of the BCCI recently.

Ranks and Reports 

Skytrax World Airport Awards: Singapore’s Changi Tops, India’s IGI Ranks 59th

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

ii. The list has been compiled by the UK-based Skytrax, a consultancy firm which runs an airline and airport review and ranking site, featuring 100 airports. New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport is India’s Best Airport. 

Sports News

Veselin Matic Set To Be India’s Basketball Coach

i. Veselin Matic, who took Iran to an Asian Games bronze medal in 2010, is set to be appointed as the new head coach of the Indian men’s basketball team. 

ii. The Serbian’s name had been cleared by the sports ministry. A veteran international coach, Matic helped Iran qualify for its first ever World Championship (2010) with victory in the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship.

Obituaries

Malayalam Writer And Poet Ashita Passes Away

i. Celebrated Malayalam writer and poet Ashita passed away at the age of 63 in Thrissur, after fighting a long battle with cancer. 

ii. She was the recipient of myriad awards, and some include the Padmarajan Award – Thathagatha (2000), Lalithambika Antharjanam Award (1994) and Edaserri Award (1986).

27 MARCH 2019, CURRENT AFFAIRS

National News 

PM Modi Addresses The Nation: India Becomes Elite Space Power

i. PM Narendra Modi addressed the nation. PM Modi announced that India has entered its name as an elite space power. An Anti-Satellite Weapon (A-SAT) successfully targeted a live satellite on a low earth orbit. The name of this mission was ‘Mission Shakti’. 

ii. After the US, Russia, and China, India is the fourth country to acquire this space capability.

iii. Anti-satellite is a milestone for the country’s security and technological achievement. India is a space superpower now.

1st Indian Army Mountaineering Expedition To Mt Makalu Flagged Off

i. First Indian Army Mountaineering Expedition to Mt Makalu (8485m)comprising five Officers, two JCOs and eleven OR was flagged off by Director General Military Training. 

ii. In furtherance of the objective of summiting all challenging peaks above 8000M, Indian Army is launching its maiden expedition to Mt Makalu in Mar-May 2019.

Useful info:

  • Makalu is the fifth highest mountain in the world at 8,485 metres.
  • It is located in the Mahalangur Himalayas 19 km southeast of Mount Everest, on the border between Nepal and Tibet, China.

Important Cabinet Approvals: 27th March 2019

i. The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given the following set of approvals.  The important Cabinet Approvals are given as follows:

ii. The Cabinet:

  1. Apprised about MoU for cooperation on youth matters between India and Morocco. 
  2. Apprised about MoU on Antarctic cooperation between India and Argentine.
  3. Apprised about MoU between India and Morocco to promote exchange of information and technical cooperation in the field of Housing and Human Settlement.
  4. Apprised about MoU between India and Saudi Arabia for cooperation in the field of Housing.
  5. Approves MoU between India and Republic of Korea on Startup Cooperation.
  6. Approves MoU between India and Indonesia on combating illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and its precursors.
  7. Approves acquiring land of Central Water Commission at Nallagandla, Hyderabad by Telangana State Government for road widening.
  8. Approves creation of additional posts of three Judicial Members and three Technical Members in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal.

International News

World’s Largest e-waste Recycling Hub Opened At The Dubai Industrial Park

i. The world’s largest e-waste recycling plant has been opened in Dubai Industrial Park, Dubai by ‘Enviroserve’ company with a total cost of $5 million. It will recycle Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), IT asset disposition (ITAD), refrigerant gas and specialized waste.

ii. The processing capacity of this recycling hub is 100,000 tonnes of total integrated waste (per year), of which 39,000 tonnes is e-waste. The project is supported by the Swiss Government Export Finance Agency.

Awards

President Kovind Honoured With Croatia’s Highest Award

i. President Ram Nath Kovind has been awarded the Grand Order of King Tomislav with Sash and Grand Star by the President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic for his exceptional contribution to the advancement of overall relations and development of mutual cooperation between India and Croatia and for promoting friendship and partnership between the people of both the countries. This is the highest award of the Republic of Croatia. 

Useful info:

  • Croatia Capital: Zagreb, Currency: Croatian kuna.

Banking/Business News

Apple Partners With Goldman Sachs And Mastercard For Apple Card

i. Apple Inc & Goldman Sachs Group Inc jointly launched the Apple Card credit card for iPhones.
ii. The card is tied to Apple Pay, a service that allows people to load banking information and pay in store or use it for purchases online.

Useful info:

  • Apple Inc. CEO- Tim Cook; Headquarters- California, USA. 
  • Apple card is a virtual credit card that can be integrated into the Wallet app of the iPhone.

Sports News

Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Or Oman Open Table Tennis Held In Muscat

i. The Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus commonly called Oman Open table tennis held in Muscat, Oman. Indian players G Sathyan and Archana Kamath excelled in the tournament. 

ii. G Sathyan won a bronze medal in the tournament. Archana Kamath bags U-21 silver with an excellent run in the Oman Open.

Useful info:

  • Oman Capital: Muscat, Currency: Rial.

Manu Bhaker-Saurabh Chaudhary Won Gold Medal At Asian Airgun Championship

i. In Shooting, Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary have won a Gold medal in the 10-meter Air Pistol Mixed team event at the 12th Asian Airgun Championship at Taoyuan in Taipei.

ii. The pair made it to the Final after smashing the world record in the qualification. A second Indian team, comprising Anuradha and Abhishek Verma, also reached the Finals but finished fourth.

Obituaries

Scott Walker, Experimental Pop Hero, Passes Away

i. Scott Walker, one of the most innovative and enduring songwriters of the 20th century, has died aged 76.

ii. Walker first came to fame in the mid-1960s in the group the Walker Brothers, before creating a string of acclaimed solo albums – Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3 and Scott 4. 

26 MARCH 2019, CURRENT AFFAIRS

NATIONAL NEWS

Indian-Sri Lankan Joint Military Exercise MITRASHAKTI–VI Begins

In a bid to further cement the relationship between armies of both the nations, a contingent of Indian Army left for Sri Lanka to participate in 6th edition of joint military exercise “Mitra Shakti”, involving practicing tactical level operations in an international Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorist environment under UN mandate.

  • Exercise Mitra Shakti-VI will go a long way in further cementing relationship between both the nations and will act as a catalyst in bringing bonhomie at grassroots levels amongst both the armies.

Useful info:
Sri Lanka Capitals: Colombo, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
Currency: Sri Lankan rupee

India achieves 84 % reduction in TB deaths among HIV patients: UN

India has achieved an 84 per cent reduction in tuberculosis deaths among people living with HIV by 2017. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on the UNAIDS, it is the highest recorded decline among over 20 nations and it is also three years ahead of the 2020 deadline.

  • UNAIDS has urged countries to step up action to meet the 2020 target of reducing TB deaths among people living with HIV by 75 per cent, as outlined in the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS. World Health Organisation estimates show that globally, TB deaths among people living with HIV have fallen by 42 per cent since 2010.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

INS Kadmatt at Langkawi, Malaysia to Participate in LIMA-19

Indian Navy‘s frontline anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette INS Kadmatt reached atLangkawi in Malaysia, on a seven-day official visit, to participate in Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) Exhibition. 

  • The ship would be participating in numerous activities planned as part of LIMA 19 during the seven days at Langkawi, including the International Fleet Review (IFR) by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, maritime and air demonstration, Sea Exercises with 29 other participating navies, cultural exchange programmes, cross visits to ships, sporting events.

Useful info:
Malaysia Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Currency: Malaysian ringgit

Norway gets world’s first wireless charging station for taxis

Norway’s capital Oslo will become the first city in the world to install wireless charging systems for electric taxis, hoping to make recharging quick and efficient enough to speed the takeup of non-polluting cabs.

  • From 2023 onward all taxis in Oslo will have to be zero emission and Norway wants all new cars to be zero emission by 2025.

Useful info:
Norway Capital: Oslo
Currency: Norwegian krone

BANKING & FINANCE

RBI slaps Rs 2 crore penalty on PNB

The RBI has slapped a penalty of Rs 2 crore on Punjab National Bank (PNB) for non-compliance of regulatory directions with regard to SWIFT operations. SWIFT is a global messaging software used for transactions by financial entities. 

  • Earlier this year, the Reserve Bank had imposed penalties worth Rs 71 crore on 36 public, private and foreign banks for non-compliance with various directions on time-bound implementation and strengthening of SWIFT operations. However, the list did not include PNB.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

RBI appoints five-member committee to deepen digital payments

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das has said that the central bank of the country has appointed 5-member committee under the chairmanship of Nandan Nilekani to further deepen digital payments and enhance financial inclusion through Fintech.

  • The objective of the conclave is to shape India’s continued ascendancy in FinTech, build the narrative for future strategy and policy efforts, and to deliberate steps for comprehensive financial inclusion.

SPORTS

Conor McGregor announces retirement from MMA

Conor Mcgregor, the Irish UFC star, announced his retirement from Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). McGregor, the former two-division UFC champion, last fought at UFC 229 in October, falling in a lightweight title fight to Khabib Nurmagomedov by fourth-round submission.

  • He was suspended and fined by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) after that fight for his alleged role in a post-bout scuffle.

OBITUARIES

Rafi Eitan, Mossad spy involved in capturing Eichmann passes away

Rafi Eitan, the legendary Israeli spy who led the operation to capture the architect of the Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, has passed away aged 92. Eitan was among the founders of Israel’s revered intelligence agencies.

  • In 1960, Eitan led the Mossad operation to capture Eichmann in Argentina and bring him to trial in Jerusalem.

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Every year on 25 March, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system. The International Day also aims to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice.

25 MARCH 2019, CURRENT AFFAIRS

NATIONAL NEWS

India ranks 76th on WEF Global Energy Transition Index

India has moved up two places to rank 76th on a global energy transition index. This annual list, compiled by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF). The report, released by the WEF, said India is amongst the countries with high pollution levels and has a relatively high CO2 intensity in its energy system.

  • India is also the second best in the BRICS block of emerging economies, with Brazil being the best at 46th place globally. However, India is the only amongst the five economies to improve its rank since last year.
  • Useful info:
    WEF Headquarters: Cologny, Switzerland

Delhi IGI Airport becomes the 12th busiest in the world as per ACI report

The nation capital’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) has now become the world’s 12th busiest airport, moving up four places from the 16th spot in 2017. According to the preliminary world airport traffic rankings for 2018 released by the Airports Council International (ACI) , it over took mega-hubs like Frankfurt, Dallas Forth Worth, Guangzhou and Istanbul Ataturk airports.

  • India became the world’s third-largest aviation market in terms of passenger throughput, behind the US and China, in 2018. The ACI’s World Airport Traffic Forecasts also predicts the country will represent the third largest aviation market in terms of passenger throughput after the US and China by 2020.

NITI Aayog’s FinTech Conclave held in New Delhi

NITI Aayog has organized a day-long FinTech Conclave at Dr. Ambedkar International Center, New Delhi. The Conclave was inaugurated by RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das.

  • The objective of the conference is to shape India’s continued ascendancy in FinTech, build the narrative for future strategy and policy efforts, and to deliberate steps for comprehensive financial inclusion.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Naresh Goyal steps down as Jet Airways Chairman

Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal stepped down, paving way for lenders to bail out the financially troubled airline he set up 25 years ago. The airline has over one billion dollars in debt and has to repay money to banks, lessors of planes and suppliers besides clearing pending salaries to its pilots.

  • The board meeting held in Mumbai also decided on ways to procure interim funding.

For housing finance companies, FY20 looks as bad as FY19: Icra report

The liquidity crisis has crimped credit growth for housing finance companies (HFCs) and is unlikely to improve much in FY20, even as the weak external environment will put a pressure on asset quality, warns a report.

  • HFCs are expected to report a 13-15% credit growth in FY19, which will inch up to 14-16% in next fiscal year, ratings agency Icra has said in a weekend report.
  • Useful info:
    Investment Information and Credit Rating Agency of India Limited (ICRA) Headquarters‎: ‎Gurugram‎, India

World’s largest e-waste recycling hub opens in Dubai

The world’s largest e-waste recycling facility has opened in Dubai. Located at the Dubai Industrial Park, the 280,000 square feet plant will process Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)IT asset disposition (ITAD), refrigerant gas and specialised waste.

  • The facility will utilise state-of-the-art reclamation technology, which surpasses the European Union’s standards for e-waste. The 120 million dirhams ($5 million) project is backed by the Swiss Government Export Finance Agency.

SPORTS

Saina Nehwal named as TSJA sports person of the year

Badminton ace Saina Nehwal walked away with the Sportsperson of the Year award at the annual Telangana Sports Journalists Association (TSJA) Awards held at The Park. 

  • PV Sindhu was named the Outstanding Performer of the Year (female), Pullela Gopichandwas awarded the Coach of the Year and the Indian badminton team was named the Team of the Year, while the Badminton Association of Telangana was awarded the Association of the Year.

APPOINTMENTS

Govindaraj re-elected BFI president

K. Govindaraj was unanimously re-elected as president of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) at its annual general-body meeting in Bengaluru. Chander Mukhi Sharma was re-elected secretary-general. 

  • A new six-team women’s league would be held inside the next three months, declared Govindaraj.
  • Useful info:
    Basketball Federation of India Headquarters: New Delhi

AWARDS

Kenyan science teacher Peter Tabichi wins 2019 Global Teacher Prize

A science teacher from rural Kenya, who gives away most of his salary to support poorer pupils, has won a $1m prize (£760,000) for the world’s best teacher. Peter Tabichi, a member of the Franciscan religious order, won the 2019 Global Teacher Prize.

  • The award, announced in a ceremony in Dubai, recognises the “exceptional” teacher’s commitment to pupils in a remote part of Kenya’s Rift Valley.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Meteorological Day

World Meteorological Day takes place every year on 23 March and commemorates the coming into force on 23 March 1950 of the Convention establishing the World Meteorological Organization. It showcases the essential contribution of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to the safety and wellbeing of society and is celebrated with activities around the world.

  • The theme for this year is “The Sun, the Earth and the Weather”

24 MARCH 2019, CURRENT AFFAIRS

National News

India Hosts ‘4th Global Digital Health Partnership Summit’

i. J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare inaugurated the ‘4th Global Digital Health Partnership Summit’ in New Delhi, in the presence of  Ravi Shankar Prasad Union Minister of Law & Justice and Electronics & Information Technology

ii. The global intergovernmental meeting on digital health is being hosted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Digital Health Partnership (GDHP). 

Bihar Becomes The 1st State To Deploy Dog Squad To Check Liquor Smuggling

i. Bihar has become the first state to deploy specially-trained dogs to check smuggling of liquor which continues to take place inspite of the total ban imposed in the state for the last 3 years. 20 liquor-tracker dogs were trained rigorously for nine months in Hyderabad, Telangana.

ii. They were trained at Hyderabad-based Integrated Intelligence Training Academy. Patna will witness deployment of 4 such dogs.

Tamil Nadu Becomes 1st State in Mainland to Get 2 Coast Guard Districts

i. Tamil Nadu became the first state in the country to get a second Coast Guard district headquarters – Thoothukudi. The first district headquarters is Chennai.

ii. Inaugurated by state Governor Banwarilal Purohit, the Thoothukudi district headquarters has been set up with an aim to augment security mechanism on the eastern coast and the state in particular.

Indian Government Launched Rail Drishti Dashboard

i. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal launched Rail Drishti Dashboard in New Delhi. 

ii. The dashboard has been launched to keep people informed about the work going on in the Railways across the country.

International News

Zimbabwe Starts Trading New Currency RTGS dollar

i. Zimbabwe started to trade its new currency, the RTGS dollar, two days after the central bank announced measures to try and resolve a chronic monetary crisis. 

ii. The new currency replaces electronic bank savings called digital dollars and the bond notes and was named after the real-time gross settlement system that banks use to transfer money between each other.

Useful info:

  • Zimbabwe Capital: Harare, President: Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Women’s Livelihood Bond Launched By World Bank, UN And SIDBI

i. World Bank, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) launched new social impact bonds exclusively for women, called Women’s Livelihood Bonds (WLBs), with an initial corpus of Rs 300 crore.
ii. It will enable individual women entrepreneurs in sectors like food processing, agriculture, services, and small units to borrow around Rs 50,000 to Rs 3 lakh at an annual interest rate of around 13% to 14% or less and have a tenure of 5 years. They will be unsecured, unlisted bonds and offer a fixed coupon rate of 3% per annum to bond investors.

Useful info:

  • World Bank Interim President: Kristalina Georgieva, Headquarters:Washington D. C.
  • SIDBI Chairman & Managing Director: Mohammad Mustafa Headquarters: Lucknow.
  • UN Women Executive Director: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Headquarters: New York.

India To Attend OIC Meet for 1st Time in Abu Dhabi

i. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has been invited to deliver an address at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Abu Dhabi. This is the first time that a leader of the non-Muslim country has been invited to the OIC conference.
ii. Mrs Swaraj will be the Guest of Honour and address the inaugural plenary of the 46th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of OIC on the 1st and 2nd of March.

Useful info:

  • Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the UAE.

Donald Trump Signs SPD-4 To Create US Space Force

i. US President Donald Trump signed Space Policy Directive-4 (SPD-4),ordering the Pentagon to establish the Space Force as the 6th branch of the United States military, to go along with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, in order to secure and extend American dominance of the space domain.
ii. Donald Trump signs SPD-4 to create US Space Force SPD-4, as the name suggests, is Mr. Trump’s 4th space policy directive. The initial 3 were:
SPD-1– Directed NASA to get humans back to the Moon as a stepping-stone to Mars.
SPD-2– Streamlined regulations for the commercial space sector.
SPD-3– Dealt with space traffic management.

Cobra Gold Military Exercises Held In Thailand

i. Thailand and the United States hosted the annual Cobra Gold military exercise, the biggest activity of its type in the Asia-Pacific region with 29nations 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.
ii. The Indian Army participated in the military training exercise with a 14-member contingent. India participated in this exercise for the first time in the ‘Observer Plus’ category in 2016 alongside China.

Awards 

Oscar Awards 2019 Announced: Complete List Of Winners

i. The 91st Academy Awards (Oscars) has been announced at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, the USA

ii. Rami Malek was named Best Actor in a Leading Role for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, while Olivia Colman won Best Actress Oscar for ‘The Favourite’ at the 91st Academy Awards.

iii. India-based ‘Period. End of Sentence.’ has won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject.

Manpreet Singh Honoured With AHF’s Player Of The Year

i. The Asian Hockey Federation has honored Indian skipper Manpreet Singh with the 2018 Player of the Year award. Women team’s striker Lalremsiami has bagged the Rising Player of The Year prize.

ii. Manpreet led the Indian team to an unbeaten streak at the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat where the team was declared joint winners with Pakistan. 

Economy News

GST Council Reduces GST Rate on Real Estate Projects

i. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council met for its 33rd meetingand slashed GST rate on under-construction residential properties and the affordable housing projects. 

ii. The revised rates will be applicable from April 1, 2019. The decision was based on recommendations of a Ministerial Panel headed by Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel. 

iii. Here are the revised GST rates:

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

23 MARCH 2019, CURRENT AFFAIRS

National News 

Martyr’s Day: 23rd March

i.The nation is observing Shaheed Diwas or Martyr’s Day on 23rd March. Each year, March 23, homage is paid to the great revolutionary fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev who sacrificed their lives for the country.

ii.It was on March 23, 1931, three young freedom fighters were hanged to death in the Lahore Central Jail (Now in Pakistan).

Appointments 

Vice Admiral Karambir Singh To Take Over As Next Chief of Naval Staff

i. The Government of India has appointed Vice Admiral Karambir Singh,presently Flag Officer Commander-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) Eastern Naval Command as next Chief of the Naval Staff with effect from May 31, 2019. The present Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba retires on the same day.

ii. Born on November 03, 1959, Vice Admiral Karambir Singh was commissioned on July 01, 1980 into the Executive Branch of the Indian Navy. Vice Admiral Karambir Singh has been decorated with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) and the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM). 

Useful info:

  • Navy Day in India is celebrated on 4 December every year to celebrate the achievements and role of the Naval force to the country.

Tata Coffee Appoints Chacko Purackal Thomas As MD And CEO

i. Tata Coffee announced the appointment of Chacko Purackal Thomasas the managing director and chief executive officer. 

ii. He will replace Sanjiv Sarin. He will assume the charge from April 1, 2019.

President Administers Oath Of Office to Justice PC Ghose As Lokpal Chief

i. President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath of office to Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose as the country’s first Lokpal.

ii.   The oath was administered at a ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Justice Ghose, a former Supreme Court judge, was named the country’s first Lokpal, the anti-corruption ombudsman.

Ranks and Reports 

7 Indians Marked In “World’s 100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy for 2019”

i. The “100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy” list is comprised of seven Indian names including Union Ministers Piyush Goyal and Dr. Harsh Vardhan, who took important measures to combat climate change. 

ii. The list is prepared by Apolitical, a peer to peer learning platform for governments. The list has been topped by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Congresswoman, US Congress).

iii. The other 5 names from India: 

1. Mukta Tilak– Mayor of Pune.

2Jyoti Kirit Parikh- Executive director of Integrated Research and Action for Development.

3. Sunita Narain- Director of the Centre for Science and the Environment.

4. Vandana Shiva- Founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Natural Resource Policy.

5. Upendra Tripathy- Director general of the International Solar Alliance.

Business News 

In a 1st, SpiceJet Joins International Air Transport Association

i. Indian low-cost airlines SpiceJet has joined the International Air Transport Association (IATA). SpiceJet is the first Indian budget carrier to join the IATA, which has over 290 airlines as members.

ii. The membership of IATA will allow SpiceJet to explore and grow its collaborations with international member airlines of IATA through interlining and code shares and also enables to seamlessly expand the network options for its passengers in future.

Sports News

India Clinch SAFF Women’s Championship For 5th Time

i. India has lifted South Asian Football Federation SAFF Women’s Championship 5th time in a row. Keeping its winning streak India defeated host Nepal in the final by 3-1 in Biratnagar, Nepal. 

ii. India’s Dalmia Chhibber scored 1st goal of the match in 26th minute. India’s Indumathi Kathiresan and Sabitra Tamang of Nepalremained top scorer of the tournament. 

Useful info:

  • This is India’s 23rd straight victory in the championship since inception of the tournament in 2010.
  • India has clinched all five editions of SAFF championship.

22 MARCH 2019, CURRENT AFFAIRS

National News 

Integral Coach Factory of Chennai Became The World’s Largest Rail Coach Manufacturer

i. Indian Railways Integral Coach Factory (ICF) has surpassed the top Chinese manufacturers after creating a 40% record increase in its production. 

ii. With this, Indian Railway’s oldest and premier coach manufacturing unit becomes the single largest rail coach manufacturer in the world. 

CBSE Launches Shiksha Vani App

i. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) launched a new podcast app ‘Shiksha Vani’ that will disseminate crucial information to students and parents in a timely manner.

Useful info:

  • CBSE Chairperson- Anita Karwal, Headquarters- New Delhi.

Bihar Diwas: 22nd March

i. Bihar Diwas or Bihar Day is celebrated every year on 22 March to commemorate the state’s separation from Bengal presidency in 1912. 

ii. This day is a public holiday in Bihar. This day marks the 107th foundation day of Bihar.

Useful info:

  • Governor of Bihar- Lalji Tandon, Chief Minister- Nitish Kumar.

International News 

 New Zealand Bans Assault Weapons

i. New Zealand has imposed an immediate ban on assault weaponsfollowing the Christchurch massacre that claimed the lives of 50 mosque-goers.

ii. Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern announced assault rifles and military-style semi-automatic weapons would be banned with immediate effect, making a pledge to ensure that nothing like Christchurch massacre ever occurs in the Pacific nation again.

Useful info:

  • New Zealand Capital: Wellington, Currency: New Zealand dollar.

First Ever High-Level Dialogue On Indo-Pacific Cooperation (HLD-IPC) Held In Jakarta

i. The Government of Indonesia has hosted the first ever High-Level Dialogue on Indo-Pacific Cooperation (HLD-IPC) in its capital city Jakarta. The theme of the HLD was ‘Towards a Peaceful, Prosperous, and Inclusive Region’. 

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

Useful info:

  • Indonesia Currency: Indonesian rupiah, President: Joko Widodo. 

Ranks and Reports 

World Happiness Report Released, India Ranks 140th

i. The World Happiness Report was released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations on March 20, the International Day of Happiness. India is ranked 140th out of 156 nations. India shows a 7 spot decline.

ii. For the second consecutive year, Finland topped the list. Denmarkranked second followed by NorwayPakistan ranked 67th, Bhutan 95th, China 93rd, Bangladesh 125th, and Sri Lanka 130th while South Sudanranked last in the World Happiness Report.

Banking/Business/Economy News 

ADB To Invest $50 million In Solar Power Project Developer Avaada

i. Asian Development Bank (ADB) has inked an agreement to invest USD 50 million in solar energy project developer Avaada Energy Pvt Ltd to help the company scale up rapidly.

ii. The investment will come equally from ADB’s Ordinary Capital Resources and Leading Asia’s Private Infrastructure Fund (LEAP). 

Useful info:

  • Asian Development Bank Headquarters: Manila, Philippines, President: Takehiko Nakao. 
  • LEAP is a funding arrangement provided by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) which is administered by ADB.

 

Fitch Cuts India GDP Growth Forecast For FY20 To 6.8%

i. Fitch Ratings cut India’s economic growth forecast for the next financial year starting April 1, to 6.8% from its previous estimate of 7%, on weaker than expected momentum in the economy.
ii. The rating agency has also cut growth forecasts for FY20 and FY21 to 7% from 7.3% and 7.1% from 7.3%, respectively.

Awards

Hindi Writer Leeladhar Jagudi Awarded Vyas Samman 2018

i. Hindi writer Leeladhar Jagudi honoured with Vyas Samman 2018 for his collection of poems “Jitne Log Utne Prem” published in 2013. The award carries an amount of Rs. 4 lakhs and it was started by K K Birla foundation in 1991

ii. He has received Padma Shri in 2004 and Sahitya Akademi Award, Akashvani National Award and Uttarakhand Gaurav Samman as well.

Important Days

World Water Day: 22 March

i. International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

ii. The theme for World Water Day 2019 is ‘Leaving no one behind,’which is the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Useful info:

  • The United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. 

21 MARCH 2019, CURRENT AFFAIRS

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Kazakhstan to rename country’s capital Astana as Nursultan

Kazakhstan’s parliament voted to rename the country’s capital Astana as Nursultan in honour of longtime ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev, a day after he resigned as president. Astana is now officially renamed Nursultan. Kazakhstan’s new interim president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev proposed renaming the capital.

  • Astana replaced Kazakhstan’s largest city Almaty as the capital in 1997.

BANKING & FINANCE

SBI inks pact with Bank of China for business opportunities

SBI has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bank of China, third-largest bank in the world by capital size and one of the major players in the Chinese banking sector, to enhance business synergies between both the banks. This MoU will facilitate the clients of both the banks to access banking products and services of each other, which will lead to a mutually beneficial relationship.

  • Through this pact, both SBI and BoC will gain direct access to their respective markets of operation. Both banks’ clients will be able to use the vast combined network to expand their businesses abroad.

SPORTS

Deal signed to host T10 league for five years in Abu Dhabi

The Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi will be the new home of T10 cricket for the next five years, starting with the 2019 season. Abu Dhabi Cricket (ADC), in partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), has signed a five-year agreement with the organizers of the T10 Cricket League.

  • T10 was first introduced to the UAE in 2017. The first match of the T10 League 2019 will be held on October 23.

India wins 368 medals at Special Olympics World Summer Games

India returned with 368 medals, including 85 goldat the Special Olympics World Summer Games which was held at Abu Dhabi, UAE from March 14 to 21. The Indian team of 284 athletes also clinched 154 silver and 129 bronze medals in its highly successful campaign at the prestigious event.

  • Indian powerlifters bagged the maximum number of medals — 20 gold, 33 silver and 43 bronze. Roller Skating earned India 49 medals — 13 gold, 20 silver and 16 bronze.

APPOINTMENTS

Sudin Dhavalikar, Vijay Sardesai Appointed Goa Deputy CMs

Sudin Dhavalikar and Vijai Sardesai were appointed deputy chief ministers in the BJP led government in Goa. The development came soon after Chief Minister Pramod Sawant proved the majority of his two-day old government in the state Assembly floor test without any hiccups.

  • Dhavalikar and Sardesai, who represent Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Goa Forward Party respectively, were sworn in as ministers along with Sawant. 

EC appoints Shailendra Handa & Madhu Mahajan as Special Expenditure Observers

Image result for EC appoints Shailendra Handa & Madhu Mahajan as Special Expenditure Observers

Election Commission has appointed two eminent former Civil Servants Shailendra Handa and Ms. Madhu Mahajan as Special Expenditure Observers for the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections. Shailendra Handa has been deployed in Maharashtra and Madhu Mahajan has been deployed in Tamil Nadu.

  • The Special Observers will supervise and monitor the work being done by the electoral machinery.

AWARDS/ RECOGNITION

Brazilian astronomer Marcelo Gleiser wins 2019 Templeton Prize

Brazilian physicist and astronomer Marcelo Gleiser has been awarded the 2019 Templeton Prize, worth $1.4m, for his work blending science and spirituality. Gleiser is the first Latin American to win the award, which honours “a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension”. 

  • Previous winners of the award, started in 1972 by late global investor Sir John Templeton, include the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa. In 2018, it was won by King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Piyush Goyal among seven Indians in ‘World’s 100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy for 2019’

Union Ministers Piyush Goyal and Dr Harsh Vardhan are among the 7 Indians who have been named in the ‘World’s 100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy for 2019’ for taking steps in order to combat climate change. Piyush Goyal has led the fast track electrification of nearly 18,000 unelectrified villages while Harsh Vardhan launched the anti-plastic bag campaign in Delhi and the “Green Shopper Campaign”, which promotes business partnerships with manufacturing of environment-friendly products.

  • Mukta Tilak, Jyoti Kirit Parikh, Sunita Narain, Vandana Shiva, Upendra Tripathy & Varshini Prakash were among other people.

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid pass laws. 

  • The theme of this year is, “Mitigating and countering of rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies”. 

International Day of Forests

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests (IDF) in 2012. The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.

  • The theme for each International Day of Forests is chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. The theme for 2019 is Forests and Education.

20 MARCH 2019, CURRENT AFFAIRS

National News

Mobile App ‘Conquer Exam, Be a Warrior’ Developed By IIPHG 

i. Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar, (IIPHG) in collaboration with National Mental Health Program, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Gujarat has developed a mobile application called as ‘Conquer Exam, Be a Warrior’ for students to reduce the exam pressure.

Useful info:

  • Gujarat Capital: Gandhinagar CM: Vijay Rupani, Governor: Om Prakash Kohli.

Appointments

Gauri Sawant Becomes India’s 1st Transgender Election Ambassador

i. The Election Commission of India has appointed transgender social activist Gauri Sawant, as one of the 12 election ambassadors from Maharashtra. She is the first transgender election ambassadors.

ii. According to the Election Commission, Gauri Sawant’s appointment would help in more people from this category getting registered during the final phase of voters enrollment. 

Kazakhstan President Resigns After Nearly 30 Years In Power

i. Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev has announced his resignation after nearly 30 years in power. The 78-year old leader had ruled the country since it emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

ii. The Chairman of the Kazakh Senate would take over. The announcement came less than a month after the President sacked his government, citing a lack of economic development despite the country’s vast energy resources.

Useful info:

  • Kazakhstan Capital: Astana, Currency: Kazakhstani tenge.

Economy News

GST Council Approves Transition Plan For New GST Rates

i. GST council approved a transition plan for new goods and services tax rates on residential properties under which developers of under-construction buildings may either opt to shift to the revised lower rates without input tax credit or stick to the previous rates.

ii. Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey informed that for housing projects launched on or after the first of April 2019, the developers will have to adhere to the new GST rates recommended by the council.

Awards

Mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck becomes 1st Woman To Win Abel Prize

i. University of Texas professor Karen Uhlenbeck has become the first woman to win the Abel Prize, a mathematics honour first given in 2003. The 76-year-old was awarded for the impact of her work on“analysis, geometry and mathematical physics”.

ii. Modelled after the Nobel Prize, the Abel Prize is presented by the King of Norway and carries a $700,000 cash award. 

Indian Writer Raghu Karnad Wins Windham-Campbell Prize

i. An Indian journalist, author and chief of The Wire, ‘Raghu Karnad’received the prestigious Windham-Campbell prize of USD 165,000 for his debut book, ‘Farthest Field: An Indian story of Second World War’,published in the year 2015 in the non-fiction category.

International News

International Day Of Happiness: 20 March

i. International Day of Happiness is celebrated every year on March 20. 

ii. The theme for IDH 2019 is ‘Happier Together’, focusing on what we have in common, rather than what divides us.

Obituaries

Famed Economist Alan Krueger Passes Away 

i. Former White House economist and Princeton University professor Alan Krueger passed away. He was 58. 

ii. Krueger served as chief economist at the Department of Labor under President Bill Clinton and chair of the Council of Economic Advisersfrom 2011 to 2013 under former President Barack Obama.

19 MARCH 2019, CURRENT AFFAIRS

National News 

Justice P.C. Ghose Named India’s First Lokpal

i.Former Supreme Court judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose was recommended to be the first Lokpal or anti-corruption ombudsman of India. Justice Ghose, 67, is a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) since June 2017.

ii.His name was finalised and recommended by the Selection Committee comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and eminent jurist Mukul Rohatgi. 

‘i-help’ Initiative Launched In Assam

i.The ‘i-help’ initiative to promote digital electoral literacy in Assam has been launched in view of the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. 

ii.It is a joint initiative of the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer(CEO) and Common Service Centres (CSC) in Assam.

Agreements Signed

Maldives Sign Agreement With Exim Bank To Finance Infrastructure Projects

Image result for Maldives Sign Agreement With Exim Bank To Finance Infrastructure Projectsi.Maldives finance ministry has signed an agreement with India’s Export-Import Bank (EXIM) for line of credit (LOC) of 800 million US dollars to finance the new government’s infrastructure projects. The agreement was signed in presence of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj who was on a 2-day visit to Male.

ii.The LOC is part of 1.4 billion US dollars finance assistanceannounced by the Indian government during President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s state visit in December 2018.

iii.The EXIM Bank loans come with a 1.75% interest rate and a 15-year repayment period after five years of moratorium.

Useful info:

  • Maldives Capital: Male, Currency: Maldivian rufiyaa.

Ola Signs MoU With Telangana To Implement Smart Traffic Solutions

i.Ola has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Telangana to support the latter’s efforts in strengthening traffic infrastructure in the city.
ii.The partnership would see Ola ‘share intelligent insights’ that enable the Government to implement smart solutions to enhance ‘mobility experience’ in the city, an Ola release stated.

IBBI, SEBI Sign MoU For Better Implementation of IBC

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

Appointments 

Pramod Sawant Sworn In As Goa Chief Minister

i.Pramod Sawant (45), former Speaker of Goa legislative Assembly and MLA from Sankhelim in North Goa was sworn-in as 11th Chief Minister of Goa, succeeding Manohar Parrikar, who died after a prolonged battle with advanced pancreatic cancer.

ii.He was given the oath of office and secrecy at Raj Bhavan by Goa Governor Mridula Sinha. The entire Cabinet of Manohar Parikkar has been retained.

Defence News 

Africa-India Field Training Exercise AFINDEX-19 Begins

i.The inaugural Africa-India Field Training Exercise-2019 for India and African nations called AFINDEX-19 started with a grand opening ceremony at Aundh Military Station, Pune.

ii.Contingents of the 17 African Nations came together for the opening ceremony along with a contingent of Maratha Light Infantry representing India. 

Indo-Sri Lanka Joint Exercise Mitra shakti-VI To Be Held in Sri Lanka

i.Exercise MITRA SHAKTI is conducted annually as part of military diplomacy and interaction between armies of India & Sri Lanka. The joint exercise for the year 2018-19 will be conducted in Sri Lanka.

ii.Troops from 1st Battalion the BIHAR Regiment of the Indian Army and Gemunu Watch Battalion of Sri Lankan Army would be jointly undertaking the exercise.

Business News

Hyundai, Kia Signed Agreement To Invest $300 million in Ola

i.Hyundai Motor Group (the Group) and Ola announced a strategic partnership under which Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation will invest a total of $ 300 million in Ola, making it their biggest combined investment to date.

Sports News

Asian Youth Championship 2019 Concludes: India Finishes 2nd, China Tops

i.In Asian Youth Athletics Championships in Hong Kong, boys medley relay team won a gold medal for India on the final day to help Indian youth team finish second in the overall medals tally with a total of 26 medals including 8 gold, 9 silver and 9 bronze medals.

ii.China topped the overall medals tally with 31 medals that included 12 gold, 11 silver and eight bronze medals and Japan finished third with 20 medals that included 6 Gold, 8 Silver and 6 bronze.

Bengaluru FC Crowned ISL Champions For 1st Time

i. 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.

ii.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.

18 MARCH 2019, CURRENT AFFAIRS

NATIONAL NEWS

WhatsApp, NASSCOM to impart digital literacy

In a bid to curb fake news during the general elections, WhatsApp and NASSCOM Foundation came together to impart digital literacy training.  As part of the partnership, WhatsApp and NASSCOM Foundation will train nearly 1,00,000 Indians to spot false information and provide tips and tricks to stay safe on WhatsApp.

i.The training will be imparted by volunteers from NASSCOM Foundation who will launch the“each one teach three” campaign that mandates every volunteer to share their learnings with three more persons leading to a network effect. Aspiring volunteers can register at

Useful info:

NASSCOM Headquarters: Noida, U.P.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

‘Vijit’ becomes the first Indian Coast Guard ship to visit Indonesia

Highlighting the close maritime proximity between India and Indonesia, Indian Coast Guard Ship ‘Vijit’ became the first-ever Coast Guard ship to visit Sabang, Indonesia. This visit of the coast guard ship follows from the first-ever-visit of Naval Ship INS Sumitra to Sabang in July 2018.

i.Vijit’s visit also highlights strengthening cooperation in the area of maritime security and safety between New Delhi and Jakarta.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

ICICI Lombard, Mobikwik to offer online fraud protection policy

ICICI Lombard and Mobikwik announced a strategic partnership to provide cyber-insurance cover. The relationship aims to provide protection against unauthorised and fraudulent transactions online, across bank accounts, debit & credit cards and mobile wallets.

i.MobiKwik users can avail the commercial cyber-insurance policy underwritten by ICICI Lombard and enjoy the benefit of stress-free and secured transactions. It can be availed atRs 99 per month and with a sum insured of Rs 50,000.

SPORTS

Diksha Dagar becomes youngest Indian woman to win on Ladies European Tour

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Diksha wrote her own piece of history by becoming the youngest Indian woman to win on the Ladies European Tour (LET) in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2016 Diksha was given a place to play at India’s biggest women’s pro event, the Hero Women’s Indian Open.

It was her first appearance on the LET and the then 15-year-old from Haryana made the cut and finished as the top amateur.

K T Irfan becomes first Indian athlete to qualify for Tokyo Olympics

National record holder K.T. Irfan became the first Indian from athletics to qualify for the next year’s Olympics while finishing fourth in the 20 km event of the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan. The Olympics qualification period for all other athletics events will start from May 1 this year and will run till June 29, 2020.

No other Indian from athletics has so far qualified for Tokyo Olympics. Two other Indians, Devinder Singh and Ganapathi Krishnan also qualified for the World Championships.

Andreescu beat Kerber to lift Indian Wells title

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Young Canadian Bianca Andreescu was proclaimed champion at the Indian Wells Masters, after she overcame the German Angelique Kerber. It is the first time ever that a player who received a wildcard entry to the tournament leaves with the title.

The Canadian produced a superb display to defeat the former world number one in three sets

Valtteri Bottas wins Australia GP for Mercedes

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Mercedes team Formula One (F1) driver Valtteri Bottas won his first champion in the Australian Grand Prix held in Melbourne. It was the fourth time in as many years that Hamilton has taken pole position in Australia only to finish second.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen rushed to the third, the first time for him to stand on the podium at Albert Park.

Mukesh Ambani tops list of world’s richest sports team owners

Reliance Industries chairman and Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani recently topped Forbes’ The World’s Richest Sports Team Owners 2019 list. With a total net worth of about $50 billion, Ambani topped the list. He bought the IPL team Mumbai Indians for over $100 million in 2008 through a RIL subsidiary.

i.Former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer who own the Los Angeles Clippers team follows Ambani at the second spot in the list. He purchased the basketball team for about $2 billion after he retired from Microsoft.

ii.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.

APPOINTMENTS

Former SC Judge Pinaki Chandra Ghose Will Be India’s 1st Lokpal

Former Supreme Court judge, Pinaki Chandra Ghose, is all set to become the first Lokpal of India. The PM Narendra Modi-led selection committee chose Ghose’s name from a panel of names recommended by an eight-member search committee.

Ghosh will preside over the Lokpal as chairman and will be assisted by a panel of four judicial and four non-judicial members. The Lokpal will look into allegations of corruption against public functionaries, including the Prime Minister, and will be the first anti-corruption ombudsman with an independent inquiry wing and prosecution wing.

Fashion designer Ritu Beri appointed cultural ambassador of Uzbekistan in India

Indian fashion designer Ritu Beri has been appointed as the Cultural and Tourism Ambassador of Uzbekistan in India by the Ministry of Tourism of Uzbekistan. The designer has been working towards bringing the two countries closer by using the cultures from both the nations in her clothing collections.

Beri who is the first Indian to be appointed to this position aims to further deepen ties between the two countries through her work going forward.

Useful info:
Uzbekistan Capital: Tashkent
Currency: Uzbekistani som
President: Shavkat Mirziyoyev

OBITUARIES

Senior journalist, environmental activist Darryl D’Monte passes away

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Senior journalist and environmental activist Darryl D’Monte, who worked with leading English dailies, passed away at a hospital in Mumbai after a brief illness. He was 74. In a career spanning several decades, he served as the resident editor of Mumbai editions of The Times of India and The Indian Express.

Besides a career in journalism, he had a keen interest in environmental issues and took some initiatives for the cause.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Global Recycling Day

The Global Recycling Foundation has announced the second annual Global Recycling Day will feature a “Recycling into the Future” theme. The second annual event takes place March 18.The Global Recycling Foundation was formed in October 2018 by the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), Brussels, in an effort to support the promotion of recycling, and the recycling industry, across the world in order to showcase its vital role in preserving the future of the planet.

This year’s event will focus on the importance and power of youth, innovation and education in ensuring a brighter future for the world.

CLAT 2019 rescheduled to May 26 / Application deadline extended to April 15

CLAT 2019 applicants will now be appearing for the Common Law Admission Test on May 26 as the offline examination date has been rescheduled by CLAT Consortium. The CLAT 2019 date has been postponed in view of the examination date coinciding with the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 to be held on May 12, which was earlier the same date for Common Law Admission Test.

In an official meeting held today in the presence of CLAT 2019 Convenor and other CLAT Consortium members including President Dr Faizan Mustafa, the consortium decided to reschedule the CLAT 2019 examination date due to General Elections 2019.

“CLAT 2019 will now be held on May 26 between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm,” confirmed Dr Sri Krishna Deva Rao, CLAT 2019 Convenor.

The CLAT 2019 Convenor also shared that the CLAT Consortium has decided to extend the application process of CLAT 2019 for further two weeks. “In the meeting held today, the CLAT Consortium has taken a decision to extend the CLAT 2019 application deadline till April 15 as we have rescheduled CLAT 2019 on May 26, 2019,” added Dr Rao, the Convenor for CLAT 2019.

FoolsDen had earlier written to CLAT 2019 Convenor and CLAT Consortium on this issue and has requested to find an amicable solution on behalf of law aspirants.

Due to Lok Sabha elections scheduled for May 12, 2019, the CLAT 2019 applicants might have to face several problems including commute to their CLAT centres, which now has been taken care by CLAT Consortium with the change in examination date of CLAT 2019.

CLAT being held offline this year is expected to attract more applications than preceding years.

About CLAT

The Common Law Admission Test is a national-level law entrance exam held across India for admissions to undergraduate and postgraduate law programmes in as many as 21 NLUs. This year’s CLAT was to be held on May 12, 2019, which has now been rescheduled to May 26, 2019 (3:00 pm to 5:00 pm) due to coinciding with the Lok Sabha Elections.

The sixth phase of Lok Sabha 2019 Elections will be held at as many as 59 Lok Sabha constituencies of seven states, Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

17 MARCH 2019, CURRENT AFFAIRS

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Manmohan Singh presented the BusinessLine 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.

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.

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.