1) ISRO’s GSLV Rocket Injects GSAT-6A Communication Satellite Into Orbit

  • On March 29, 2018, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched India’s latest communication satellite GSAT-6A on board Geosynchronous rocket GSLV-F08 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
  • GSLV-F08 (GSLV Mk-II), fitted with indigenously developed cryogenic third stage, injected GSAT-6A into orbit about 18 minutes after liftoff. The major change was High-thrust Vikas engine, which enhanced the performance capacity of the second stage by around six per cent as compared to previous version. Other major change was electromechanical actuation system (made with ISRO developed space grade lithium-ion (Li-Ion) cells) in place of electro-hydraulic actuation system.
  • ISRO said that the GSAT-6A was similar to the GSAT-6 put into orbit in 2015. It is a high power S-band communication satellite built on I-2K satellite bus. GSAT-6A weighs 2140 kg and has mission life of 10 years. It has a six-metre wide antenna that would unfurl once it is in space. It will provide mobile communication to India through, multi-beam coverage facility. In the coming days, ISRO scientists will fire the thrusters onboard the satellite to manoeuvre it to a geostationary orbit at an altitude of 36000km from earth. It is to be noted that this was the first mission for K Sivan after he took charge as ISRO Chairman in January, 2018.

2) Abiye Ahmed elected as Prime Minister of Ethiopia

  • On 27th March 2018, Abiye Ahmed was elected as the new prime minister of Ethiopia. Abiye Ahmed has been elected as prime minister of Ethiopia following the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn last month. The council of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) elected Abiye Ahmed as chairperson to succeed Hailemariam Desalegn.
  • This automatically made Abiye Ahmed as the prime minister of Ethiopia. He is 41 years old. He joined the House of Representatives in 2010. Earlier, he was a lieutenant colonel in the Ethiopian National Defense Force.

3) American Rosemary DiCarlo Becomes First Female UN Political Chief

  • On 29th March 2018, Rosemary DiCarlo was named UN Political Chief, becoming the first female UN Political Chief. Rosemary DiCarlo replaces Jeffrey Feltman. Rosemary DiCarlo is a former deputy US ambassador to the United Nations.
  • She was also deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs and director for United Nations affairs at the national security council in Washington.She has been the president of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy since 2015. Her areas of expertise are Russia, former Soviet Union and the Middle East. She speaks Russian and French.

4) K2-229b: Hot, metallic Earth-sized planet discovered

  • Scientists have discovered a hot, metallic, Earth-sized planet named “K2-229b” that orbits a dwarf star located 260 million light years away.  K2-229b is nearly 20 % larger in size than Earth and has a mass which is nearly two-and-a-half times greater. Its day side temperature is more than 2000 degrees Celsius. It is located very close to its host star 0.012 AU. This distance is nearly a hundredth of the distance between the Earth and the Sun. 0.012 AU is a medium-sized active K dwarf in the Virgo Constellation. K2-229b orbits the star every 14 hours.
  • Researchers from Aix-Marseille Universite in France and the University of Warwick in the UK utilized the K2 telescope and used Doppler spectroscopy technique to discover K2-229b. Doppler spectroscopy technique is also known as the ‘wobble method’. K2-229b is said to bear similarities with Mercury. Hence, scientists hope that this will be useful in studying about Mercury also. The dense, metallic nature of K2-229b is said to denote that, its atmosphere might have been eroded by heavy stellar wind, as the planet is very close to its star. Also, it is said that, K2-229b might have been formed after a big impact between two giant astronomical bodies in space billions of years ago.

5) India increases its annual contribution to UNRWA

  • On 28th March 2018, the External Affairs Ministry announced that, India has increased its annual contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) from $1.5 million to $5 million for a period of 3 years from 2018-19. This announcement was made by India at the extraordinary Ministerial Conference held in Rome on 15th March 2018. India has increased its annual contribution due to the unexpected financial crisis being faced by UNRWA.
  • It is said that the, four-time increase in India’s contribution is based on External Affairs Ministry’s commitment to increase support to UNRWA at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Ministerial meeting held at Palestine on 19th September 2017. It is also a part of India’s increased engagement with Palestine, especially after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Palestine on 10thFebruary 2018.

6) Cabinet Approvals with Foreign Countries

  1. Cabinet approves MoU between India and Zambia in the field of Judicial Cooperation
  2. Cabinet approves MoU between India and United Kingdom and Northern Ireland
  3. Cabinet approves MoU between India and South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme.This MoU is regarding cooperation on the response to Oil and Chemical Pollution in the South Asian Seas Region.
  4. Union Cabinet has given its ex-post approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Canada to establish bilateral cooperation in the field of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).

7) Cabinet Approvals 

  1.  Union Cabinet has approved the restructuring of National Skill Development Fund (NSDF)and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
  2. Union cabinet has approved certain amendments to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill. NMC is expected to replace the much criticised Medical Council of India.
  3. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for continuation of Credit Guarantee Fund for Education Loans (CGFEL) Scheme and continuation and modification of Central Sector Interest Subsidy (CSIS) Scheme.
  4. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry for removal of prohibition on export of all varieties of edible oils except mustard oil.
  5. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the proposal of Department of School Education and Literacy to formulate a Integrated Scheme on School Education.
  6.  On March 28, 2018, CCEA gave approval for enhancing the scope of Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY).
  7. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of the Department of Agricultural Research and Education for continuation/strengthening (up to 2019-20) of 669 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) that were established till March 31, 2017.

8) Lt Gen Harpal Singh takes Charge as Director General Border Roads

  • In 1982, Lt Gen Harpal Singh was commissioned into the Corps of Engineers. Later, he commanded a Border Roads Task Force in Jammu & Kashmir valley. He has worked as Chief Engineer of Project Dantak (Border Roads Organisation) at Bhutan, Chief Engineer (Navy), Mumbai and Chief Engineer HQ Eastern Command.
  • He has served as Directing Staff at the College of Defence Management, Secunderabad. Before taking charge as Director General Border Roads (DGBR) he was Director General Military Training at Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defence (Army).

9) RBI Imposes Rs 58.9 Cr Penalty On ICICI Bank

  • The RBI has imposed a monetary penalty of Rs. 58.9 crore on ICICI Bank Limited for non-compliance with the directions issued by the RBI on direct sale of securities from its Held To Maturity (HTM) portfolio and specified disclosure in this regard.
  • The Central Bank stated this penalty has been imposed in the exercise of powers vested with the RBI under the provisions of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, taking into account failure of the bank to adhere to its directions/guidelines.

10) Govt Allows Export Of 2 Million Tonnes Of Sugar

  • The government has allowed export of two million tonnes of sugar until the end of the 2017-18 marketing year, in order to clear surplus stocks and improve cash flow to millers for making payment to sugarcane farmers. 
  • The government has also allowed export of white sugar till September 2018 under the Duty-Free Import Authorisation (DFIA) scheme, under which exporters are allowed to import sugar at zero duty within three years.

11) Muskan Bhanwala wins women’s 25m pistol event bagging India’s fourth individual gold at ISSF Junior World Cup

  • On 28th March 2018, Muskan Bhanwala won gold medal in the Women’s 25m Pistol event at the ISSF Junior World Cup in Sydney, Australia. Women’s 25m Pistol event: Muskan Bhanwala is 16 years old. She scored 35 hits and won gold medal in the Women’s 25m Pistol event. This is India’s fourth individual gold medal at the ISSF Junior World Cup.China’s Sihang Qin scored 34 hits and bagged the silver medal. Thailand’s Kanyakorn Hirunphoem scored 26 hits and won bronze medal. Another Indian shooter Manu Bhaker finished in the fourth position with 18 hits.
  • Team Gold: The team gold was won by India’s Manu Bhaker, Muskan Bhanwala and Devanshi Rana. Team Silver: Team Silver was won by India’s Arunima Gaur, Mahima Turhi Agrawal and Tanu Rawal. Team Bronze: Team bronze was won by Thailand’s Kanyakorn Hirunphoem, Viramon Kidarn and Luxciga Srinitivoravong.

12) 17th Sub-junior National Wushu Championship begins in Jammu

  • On 29th March 2018, 17th Sub-junior National Wushu Championship started in Jammu. 17th Sub-junior National Wushu Championship is conducted for 4 days. It is organised by the the Wushu Association of India jointly with J&K State Sports Council at MA Stadium.
  • The championship was inaugurated by J&K Youth Services and Sports Minister Imran Raza Ansari at a ceremony at Police auditorium, Jammu. Around 37 teams are taking part in the championship. It includes more than 1000 boys and girls from all over India and 12 boys from Army.

13) RBI to release limited edition coins to mark 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will soon roll out limited edition coins of Rs 350 denomination to mark the 350th Birth Anniversary of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Circumference of the coin will be 44 millimetres and the weight of the coin could vary from 34.65 grams to 35.35 grams. It will be made up of Quaternary Alloy – Silver (50 per cent), Copper (40 per cent), Nickel (5 per cent) and Zinc (5 per cent). The front face of the coin shall bear the Lion Capitol of Ashoka Pillar in the centre with the legend “Satyamev Jayate” inscribed below. Lion Capital on the front face will be flanked by word “Bharat” in the Devanagari script on the left and word “INDIA” in English on the right periphery.
  • The front face shall also bear the Rupee symbol and denominational value “350” in International Numerals below the Lion Capitol. The reverse face of the coin shall bear the picture of “Takht Shri Harimandir Ji Patna Sahib”. Inscription “350TH PRAKASH UTSAV OF SRI GURU GOBIND SINGH JI” in Devanagari shall be written on the upper periphery and the same would be written in English language on the lower periphery of the coin. The reverse face shall also have year “1666” and “2016” in international numerals flanked on the left and right periphery.

14) NHAI Joins Hands With AAI For Green Corridor In Varanasi

  • On 28th March 2018, the government announced that, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has tied up with Airports Authority of India (AAI) to develop a green corridor covering 16.55 km in Varanasi. On 28th March 2018, a MoU was signed by NHAI and AAI for the construction of a green corridor along Varanasi Bypass covering 16.55 km of NH 56 and NH 29. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said that, AAI would provide funds worth Rs 5 crore for plantations and maintenance work under their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) funds for 5 years.
  • he NHAI and AAI have joined hands under “Adopt a Green Highway Programme” as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative of AAI. It is a step taken by Green Highways Division of NHAI to involve corporates, public sector units, governmental organisations and institutions under CSR and public private partnership for creating green corridor along National Highways.

15) EPFO Launches Portal For Pensioners

  • EPFO has launched the pensioner’s portal through which all EPFO pensioners may get the details of pension-related information. The pensioner’s portal is a recently launched service where details like pension payment order number, payment order details, passbook information and other related information are available.
  • The enhanced “Track eKYC” facility for the convenience of members have also been launched to check the status of Aadhaar seeded against their UAN. The facility has been made available at EPFO’s website www.epfindia.gov.in.

16) SEBI Allows Physical Settlement Of Stock Derivatives

  • The stock market regulator Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has allowed physical settlement of both stock options and stock futures. At present only cash settlement of derivatives is allowed.
  • SEBI stated stock exchanges will also have the flexibility to offer a combination of cash settlement for stock options and physical settlement for stock or physical settlement for stock options and the cash settlement for stock futures.

17) Shekhar Kapur appointed Chairman of central panel of 65th National Film Awards

  • Director Shekhar Kapur has been appointed as the chairman of the central panel of the 65th National Film Awards. The central panel of 65th National Film Awards consists of a chairperson and 10 other members which includes five regional chairpersons.
  • Regional Chairpersons:
    1. Film writer Imtiaz Hussain – regional chairperson of South I panel
    2. Lyricist Mehboob – regional chairperson of South II panel
    3. Actress Gautami Tadimalla – regional chairperson of North panel
    4. Director Rahul Rawail – regional chairperson of Western panel
    5. Director P Sheshadri – regional chairperson of Eastern panel

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