1) Seychelles opposition blocks military deal with India

  • On March 27, 2018, Seychelles’ opposition coalition (which holds a majority in Seychelles Parliament) stated that it would not ratify a deal signed with India to build military infrastructure on its Assumption Island. Agreement on Assumption Island Project in Seychelles was signed in 2015 during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Seychelles.
  • However, owing to opposition, a revised agreement, including several amendments was prepared in January 2018. Now the opposition is not ready to ratify it as in past few months there has been public protests in Seychelles against this projects based on fear that India would appropriate the Assumption Island .

2) Win Myint Elected As New President Of Myanmar

  • On 28th March 2018, Win Myint was elected as President of Myanmar by Myanmar’s parliament. Win Myint replaces Htin Kyaw as President of Myanmar. Last week Htin Kyaw resigned citing health reasons. Win Myint is 66 years old. He is former speaker of Myanmar’s House of Representatives. He is a member of National League for Democracy.
  •  He was made a vice-president of Myanmar last week. On 28th March 2018, the Myanmar Parliament voted for the three vice-presidents to elect one of them to the post of President. Win Myint secured 403 votes and defeated Myint Swe who obtained 211 votes and  Henry Van Tio who got 18 votes.

3) NASA to launch GRACE-FO mission to observe Earth’s frozen regions

  • On March 27, 2018, US space agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that during 2018, it will launch two new satellite missions to enhance the view of Earth’s frozen regions.
  • Firstly, NASA in collaboration with German Research Centre for Geosciences will launch the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission (as a continuation of the original GRACE mission) which will track fluctuations in Earth’s gravity field in order to detect changes in mass, including the mass of ice sheets and aquifers.
  • Thereafter, Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) will be launched to measure the changing elevation of ice around the world. ICESat-2 will use a highly advanced laser instrument. These missions are significant as it will offer insights into changes in Cryosphere (portions of Earth’s surface where water is in solid form viz. sea ice, glaciers, ice caps etc.) which are impacting lives of people all around the world.

4) Steve Smith, David Warner hit with 12-month ban

  • On 28th March 2018, Steve Smith and David Warner were banned from playing for Australia by Cricket Australia after the ball-tampering scandal during the Cape Town Test against South Africa.  It was found out that sandpaper was used in an attempt to rough up the ball. Opener Cameron Bancroft has been given a nine-month ban for executing the plan in the third South Africa Test.
  • Steve Smith has been banned from captaining the Australian national team for two years. It is said that, David Warner, former vice-captain, will never be considered for any leadership position in the future. Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft will have to wait 12 months for them to be considered for a leadership role.

5) India And ADB Sign $80 Million Loan Agreement

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed $80 million loan agreement to help modernize technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions and improve the skills ecosystem in the State of Himachal Pradesh.
  • The project will support the skill initiatives of Government of Himachal Pradesh and help the State step-up the reform and scale-up its skill development efforts.

6) India, China agree to renegotiate bilateral trade and investment agreement

  • On March 26, 2018, a meeting between Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Suresh Prabhu and China’s Trade Minister Zhong Shan was held in New Delhi. This meeting was held under the aegis of the China-India joint-group on Economic Relations, Trade, Science & Technology. During the meeting, both the countries agreed to renegotiate a bilateral investment agreement and jointly prepare a road map to reduce the massive trade imbalance in favour of China.
  • It is to be noted that India’s goods trade deficit with China for the first ten months of  20017-18 stands at $52 billion as against $0.6 billion in 2000-01. Besides, China has also pledged to look into the issue of granting greater market access to Indian farm products and try to resolve any issue that hurts the prospect of Indian pharmaceutical exports to China. This meeting was held in the backdrop of US plan to impose $50-billion tariffs on Chinese goods, a move which trade experts believe, would trigger a global trade war.

7) Ministry of Power partners with Skill India to support electrification scheme ‘Saubhagya’

  • On March 27, 2018, Union Ministry of Power partnered with the Union Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship to train the manpower in six states for speedy implementation of SAUBHAGYA scheme. SAUBHAGYA (Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojna) aims to achieve universal household electrification in all parts of India in a time bound manner. Training the manpower in six states – Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh – under this initiative, will be undertaken as a special project under Central Government’s Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY).
  • Training will be provided to around 47000 Distribution Lineman-Multi Skills and 8500 Technical Helpers to meet the requirement of power sector. This partnership will be instrumental in addressing the issue of lack of trained manpower, which has been the main constraint in speedy implementation of the Government’s electrification programme under SAUBHAGYA.

8) Google Acquires GIF Search Platform Tenor

  • Technology giant Google has acquired US-based Tenor, a GIF platform for Android, iOS, and desktop.
    Tenor’s GIF-searching functionality will be integrated into Google Images and Gboard, the company’s virtual keyboard. However, Tenor will continue to operate as a separate brand and Google will invest in their technology.

9) SC appoints Justice Jawad Rahim as acting chairperson of NGT

  • On 27th March 2018, Justice Jawad Rahim was appointed as the acting chairperson of National Green Tribunal (NGT) by the Supreme Court. Justice Jawad Rahim is a judicial member of National Green Tribunal (NGT). He will perform his duties as acting chairperson of NGT until a regular appointment is made.
  • He will also participate in the selection process of other members of the NGT. However, it has been made clear that his appointment is an interim arrangement and a regular appointment will be made soon for the post of the Chairman of NGT.

10) Indu Bhushan Appointed CEO Of Ayushman Bharat Mission

  • Indu Bhushan was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Union Government’s ambitious Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission (ABNHPM). Bhushan, the Director General of East Asia Department, Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila, Philippines, has been appointed to the post for a period of two years.

11) President confers Gallantry Awards in Delhi

  • On March 27, 2018, President Ram Nath Kovind presented Gallantry Awards and distinguished service decorations at the Defence Investiture Ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi. President Kovind presented three Kirti Chakra, 17 Shaurya Chakra, 14 Param Vishisht Seva Medals (PVSM), one Uttam Yudh Seva Medal (UYSM) and 22 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals (AVSM).These awards were announced on the eve of Republic Day.
  • Kirti Chakra is the second highest peacetime gallantry award (After Ashok Chakra), presented for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice away from the field of battle. Kirti Chakra was presented to CRPF Commandant Chetan Cheetah and Major Vijayant Bist of the 4th Battalion of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry. Major David Manlun of the 164 Infantry Battalion of the Naga Regiment was honoured posthumously with the Kirti Chakra.

12) RBS India facilitates setting-up of WomenInTech Forum

  • Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in India will facilitate to set up ‘WomenInTech (WIT) Forum that will work towards encouraging women to take up careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  WIT Forum will not only work towards creating awareness among young women about career opportunities in STEM but will also provide scholarships for economically weaker section.
  • It will also provide mentoring and upskilling to increase the employability of women in STEM careers. Professional consultancy network Deloitte is the knowledge partner for this initiative. In the context of this news, it is important to note that nearly 2.5-3 million new jobs will be created in the IT and IT enabled services sector by 2025.

13) NITI Aayog releases Baseline Ranking of Aspirational Districts

  • On March 28, 2018, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant launched the baseline ranking for the Aspirational Districts based on published data of 49 indicators across five developmental areas of Education, Health and Nutrition, Agriculture and Water Resources, Basic Infrastructure and Financial Inclusion and Skill Development.
  • Mr. Kant also announced that the ‘Champions of Change’ Dashboard (created by NITI Aayog in partnership with the Government of Andhra Pradesh) for real-time data collection and monitoring will be open for public viewing from April 1, 2018.
    ii. District Collectors of all the aspirational districts will be able to input the latest available data of their respective districts through this Dashboard.

14) Two Indian activists shortlisted for Commonwealth Youth Awards 2018

  • Two Indian activists Mirnalini Dayal and Yogesh Kumar have been selected among 20 finalists for the Commonwealth Youth Awards 2018 for their contribution towards achieving gender equality.  Mirnalini Dayal and Yogesh Kumar have been selected from across 53 Commonwealth member-countries. Mirnalini Dayal has been chosen for her work as a campaign leader for ‘Health Over Stigma’. Yogesh Kumar has been shortlisted for establishing the social enterprise ‘Even Cargo’.
  • Both the finalists are based in Delhi. They were selected for their work towards achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal No. 5 on gender equality. The Commonwealth Youth Awards 2018 recognises people from 15 to 29 years of age whose work had a remarkable impact on their communities. All finalists will be granted 1,000 pounds to continue their development work along with a trophy and certificate. The Regional Young Persons of the Year will be granted 3,000 pounds, and the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year will receive 5,000 pounds. Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) will be held in April 2018 in London.

15) Veteran journalist V. Sriharsha passes away

  • On 27th March 2018, V. Sriharsha, a reputed journalist, died due to cardiac arrest, in New Delhi.  V. Sriharsha was 62 years old. He worked as a media consultant with the GMR Group after he had retired as Bureau Chief of ETV (Delhi). Earlier, he had worked with The Indian Express, Pioneer and Deccan Chronicle.

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