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Important Current Affairs of 19th March

NATIONAL:

NCLT approved ArcelorMittal to buy Essar Steel.

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

Indian Navy stand behind the cyclone hit Mozambique.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Microsoft Launched Project Sangam To Boost Indias Swachh Bharat Mission.

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

NGT questioned MoEF for not furnishing proper data.

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

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

INTERNATIONAL:

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

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

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

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

UNEA has adopted two resolutions piloted by India.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soyuz successfully placed astronauts in ISS.

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

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

AWARDS:

Indian writer Raghu Karnad won Windham Campbell Prize.

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

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

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

MOUS AND POLICY:

India & Afghanistan Signed an MOU On Digital Education Initiatives.

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

About Afghanistan

• President: Ashraf Ghani

• 1st Vice President: Abdul Rashid Dostum

• 2nd Vice President: Sarwar Danish

• Chief Executive Officer : Abdullah Abdullah

New hydro policy will help to meet renewables target.

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

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

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

APPOINTMENT:

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

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

SPORTS:

For the first time ever Bengaluru FC crowned ISL Champions.

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

India finished second in medal tally at Asian Youth Championships.

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

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

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

Valtteri Bottas Won Australian F1 Grand Prix 2019

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

India bags 188 medals at Special Olympics World Games.

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

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

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

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

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

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Important Current Affairs 17th March 2019

NATIONAL:

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

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

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

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

AFINDEX 2019 held at Pune.

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

Features of AFINDEX-19:

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

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

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

Erode Turmeric received GI tag.

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

The uniqueness of the Erode Turmeric:

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

♦ Erode turmeric contains 2.5 to 4.5% of curcumin content

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

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

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

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

NITI Aayog and USAID organised IEMF.

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

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

SPORTS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

BANKS AND ECONOMY:

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

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

AWARDS:

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

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

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

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

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

INTERNATIONAL:

India welcomes France's decision to sanction Masood Azhar.

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

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

OBITUARIES:

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

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

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Important Current Affairs of 13th March

NATIONAL:

India-Bangladesh Jointly Inaugurated 4 Development Projects

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

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

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

♦ Supply of buses and trucks,

♦ Inauguration of 36 community clinics,

♦ Inauguration of 11 water treatment plants, and

 ♦ Extension of National Knowledge Network to Bangladesh.

Facebook launched Facebook Hubs to aid start-ups.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ECI to launch cVIGIL on 18th March.

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

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

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

Vastradan Campaign has set the Guinness World Record.

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

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

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

WHO released the Global Influenza Strategy 2019-2030.

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

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

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

DRDO developed a range of Casualty Combat drugs.

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

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

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

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO):

♦ Formed on: 1958

♦ Headquarters: New Delhi

♦ Minister responsible: Nirmala Sitharaman

♦ Parent: Ministry of Defence

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

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

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

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

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI):

♦ Formed: April 12, 1988

 ♦ Acquired Statutory Status on: January 30, 1992

♦ Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra

♦ Chairman: Ajay Tyagi

♦ SEBI is the regulator for the securities market in India

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

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

BoI raised Rs.660 crore by selling shares to employees

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

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

AWARDS AND APPOINTMENTS:

Ex-RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan received Yaswantrao Chavan National Award

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

Axis Bank names Rakesh Makhija as new Chairman.

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

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

SPORTS:

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

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

Dipa Karmakar selected as Barbie Role Model.

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

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

INTERNATIONAL:

Google celebrated 30 years of World Wide Web with doodle.

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

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

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

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Important Current Affairs of 8 March

NATIONAL:

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

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

The identified Nine Missions are:

♦ Natural language Translation

♦ Quantum Frontier

♦ Artificial Intelligence

♦ National Biodiversity Mission

♦ Electric Vehicles

♦ BioScience for Human Health

♦ Waste to Wealth

♦ Deep Ocean Exploration

♦ Agnii

Defence Ministry announced that permanent commission for women in Indian Army

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

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

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

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

• The app offers facilities such as:

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

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

• Providing information about their fares.

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

• List of tourist spots in Delhi.

MoEFCC amended rules to ban the import of solid plastic waste

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

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

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

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

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

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

Government to issue Rs 20 coins for the first time

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

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

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

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

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

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

Odisha Government announces financial assistance for craftsmen

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

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

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

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

BANKS AND ECONOMY:

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

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

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

National Housing Bank proposes stricter regulations for Housing Finance Companies

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

• Following proposals have been put forward:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AWARDS AND HONOUR:

BIAC India won the Women on a Mission award

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

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

DAY:

International Women's Day 2019

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

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

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

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

INTERNATIONAL:

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

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

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

Kaja Kallas elected as the first female Prime Minister of Estonia

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

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

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

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