Weekly Current Affairs March 2018 3rd Week

1. India ranks 78th on WEF energy transition index

India has been ranked at 78th, lower than its emerging market peers like Brazil and China, among 114 countries on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) energy transition index.

  • The report titled Fostering Effective Energy Transition, ranks countries on how well they are able to balance energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability.
  • The overall list was topped by Sweden, followed by Norway at the 2nd position and Switzerland at the 3rd rank.

2. 17th World Conference on Tobacco held in South Africa 

The 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) was held in Cape Town, South Africa from 7-9 March 2018.

  • It united researchers, academics, non-governmental organisations, civil society, scientists, healthcare professionals and public officials working on all aspects of tobacco control from more than 100 countries.

3. India to host International Competition Network Annual Conference for the first time

India to host 17th Annual Conference of International Competition Network 2018 (ICN2018) from 21st to 23rd March 2018 in New Delhi.

  • While addressing the press conference, Competition Commission of India’s Chairperson Shri Devender Singh Sikri said that this is the first time India is hosting the ICN2018 Annual Conference since it joined International Competition Network (ICN) in 2009.
  • CCI Chairperson Shri Sikri said that the ICN is an informal network comprising 138 competition authorities from 125 jurisdictions.

4. Philippines to withdraw from International Criminal Court

The Philippines says it will withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), a month after the judicial body started an inquiry into President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war on drugs.

  • The country had given notice that it would withdraw from the treaty that established the court.
  • Duterte has been accused of encouraging extrajudicial killings and other rights abuses in his bid to rid the country of drugs since his election in 2016.

5. Mauritius President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim resigns

Mauritius President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim resigned after being embroiled in a scandal over her use of a credit card to buy luxury personal items.

  • Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female head of state, submitted her resignation in the “national interest,” her lawyer Yousouf Mohamed said.
  • Her resignation would take effect on March 23.

6. World Sparrow Day: 20 March

World Sparrow Day is a day designated to raise awareness of the house sparrow and then other common birds to urban environments, and of threats to their populations, observed on 20 March.

  • It is an international initiative by the Nature Forever Society of India in collaboration with the Eco-Sys Action Foundation (France) and numerous other national and international organisations across the world.
  • The theme for World Sparrow Day is I Love Sparrows.

7. Singapore named the world’s most expensive city

Singapore has been dubbed the world’s most expensive city to live in for the fifth year running.

  • The city state marched in ahead of New York, London and Los Angeles, which didn’t even feature in the top 10 priciest places in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Worldwide Cost of Living 2018 survey.
  • The EIU’s annual ranking compares the prices of over 150 items in 133 cities around the world, such as bread, wine, cigarettes and petrol.
  • Damascus ranked cheapest in the world.
  • Bangalore, Chennai and New Delhi also featured among the top 10 cheapest locations this year.

8. International Day of Happiness: 20 March

The International Day of Happiness is celebrated worldwide every March 20.

  • It was conceptualized and founded by philanthropist, activist, statesman, and prominent United Nations special advisor Jayme Illien to inspire, mobilize, and advance the global happiness movement.
  • The theme of International Day of Happiness 2018 is “Share Happiness”.

9. International Day of Forests: 21 March

The International Day of Forests was established on the 21st day of March, by resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on November 28, 2012.

  • Each year, various events celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests, and trees outside forests, for the benefit of current and future generations.
  • The theme of the International Day of Forests in 2018 is “Forests and Sustainable Cities”.

10. Naval ships exercise to boost UAE-India ties

Naval ships of the UAE and India will hold a first-ever joint exercise – ‘Gulf Star 1’ – giving a further boost to bilateral ties.

  • Two Indian Navy ships INS Gomati and INS Kolkata arrived at Port Zayed for the ‘Harbour Phase’ of the exercise and will participate with UAE Navy ships for the ‘Sea Phase’.
  • The joint exercise is part of the comprehensive strategic partnership and aims to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation.

11. G20 ministerial meeting opens in Buenos Aires

The first G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors began in Buenos Aires, with the presence of 57 delegations from different countries and institutions.

  • This is the first of five such meetings to be held before Argentina hosts the G20 Summit on November 30 to December 1.

12. World Water Day: 22 March

World Water Day is an annual observance day on 22 March to highlight the importance of freshwater.

  • It is also used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
  • The first World Water Day, designated by the United Nations, was commemorated in 1993.
  • The theme for the year 2018 is ‘Nature for Water’.

13. Vienna named the world’s most liveable city for the ninth year

The Austrian capital Vienna has been named the world’s best city to live in for the ninth consecutive year.

  • Mercer’s 20th annual Quality of Living survey compared 231 major metropolises, examining factors such as crime, healthcare, education, public services, recreation, housing and personal freedom.
  • Also, Baghdad remained the worst city to live according to the same survey.

14. ‘World’s best airport’ title goes to Changi, Mumbai ranked 63rd

Singapore’s Changi Airport has topped in the list of ‘world’s best airport’ for the sixth consecutive year.

  • The announcement was made at the Skytrax World Airport Awards held in Stockholm.
  • South Korea’s Incheon Airport, Tokyo Haneda in Japan, Hong Kong and Doha Hamad turned out to be the top five in the list respectiveley.
  • Mumbai airport has been given 63rd position whereas the airports in Bangalore and Delhi are at 64th and 66th place respectively.

15. LaQshya program for pregnant woman

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has recently announced the launch of program ‘LaQshya’, aimed at improving quality of care in labour room and maternity Operation Theatre (OT).

  • The Program will improve quality of care for pregnant women in labour room, maternity Operation Theatre and Obstetrics Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and High Dependency Units (HDUs).
  • The LaQshya program is being implemented at all Medical College Hospitals, District Hospitals and First Referral Unit (FRU), and Community Health Center (CHCs) and will benefit every pregnant woman and new-born delivering in public health institutions.
  • ‘LaQshya’ will reduce maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality, improve quality of care during delivery and immediate post-partum period and enhance satisfaction of beneficiaries and provide Respectful Maternity Care (RMC) to all pregnant women attending public health facilities.

16. KUSUM Scheme – harnessing solar power for rural India

The Government of India is in the process of formulating a Scheme ‘Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)’ which, inter alia, provides for:

  • Installation of grid-connected solar power plants each of capacity up to 2 MW in the rural areas;
  • Installation of standalone off-grid solar water pumps to fulfill irrigation needs of farmers not connected to grid;
  • Solarization of existing grid-connected agriculture pumps to make farmers independent of grid supply and also enable them to sell surplus solar power generated to DISCOM and get extra income; and
  • Solarization of tube-wells and lift irrigation projects of Government sector.

17. Atal Bhujal Yojana

The Government has proposed Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY) aimed at sustainable ground water management with community participation in select over-exploited and ground water stressed areas in seven States (Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh).

  • ABHY is designed as a Central Sector Scheme with a total outlay of Rs. 6,000 Crore and is proposed to be implemented with World Bank assistance.

18. Modi to inaugurate Science Congress

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inauguratethe 105th edition of the Indian Science Congress in Imphal on March 16.

  • The Science Congress will see congregation of about 5000 delegations including three Noble laureates, scientists, scholars and researchers from all across the country.

19. PM addresses Rising India Summit organized by Network 18

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressed the Rising India Summit, organized by Network 18.

  • He said that when we speak of a rise, in terms of a nation, it has a very broad context.
  • He said that beyond the rise of the economy, he feels that Rising India implies the rise of self-respect among the people of India.

20. NITI Aayog to Release SATH-E Roadmaps

SATH-E to introduce System-wide Governance Transformation in School Education

  • NITI Aayog will release comprehensive roadmaps and detailed timelines for its initiative ‘Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital in Education (SATH-E)’ project at NITI Aayog on March 17.
  • Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog and the Chief Secretaries of the States of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha will release the forward looking blueprints after a day-long workshop with Principal Secretaries of the States, State Project Directors and other experts and representatives operating in the field.

21. More than 17 lakh beneficiaries enrolled under Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana

Number of beneficiaries enrolled under Pradhan Mantri Matru VandanaYojana (PMMVY) has increased to 17,66,423.

  • Every day on an average, around 50, 000 new applications are received for enrolment.
  • So far, Rs. 2048.21 Crores to all 36 States/UTs have been sanctioned under PMMVY out of which Rs. 2042.09 Crores have been released till date.
  • The Government of India has approved Pan-India implementation of PMMVY in all districts of the country from 01.01.2017 under which the eligible beneficiaries get Rs. 5,000/- under PMMVY and the remaining cash incentive as per approved norms towards Maternity Benefit under Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) after institutional delivery so that on an average, a woman gets Rs. 6000/-.

22. Nitin Gadkari inaugurates 5th ‘Nadi Mahotsava’ in Hoshangabad

Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari has inaugurated the 5th ‘Nadi Mahotsava’ in Hoshangabad District of Madhya Pradesh.

  • Addressing the gathering, the minister said that the pioneering event like ‘Nadi Mahotsava’ will not only revive rivers, but also improve the condition of people living on their banks.
  • The ‘Nadi Mahotsava’ event was also addressed by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan.

23. Plastic Ban In Maharashtra From March 18

The Maharashtra cabinet decided to impose a ban on certain plastic items from the Marathi New Year, ‘Gudhi Padwa’, on March 18.

  • An official in the state environment department said the ban will cover plastic carry bags, thermocol and plastic plates, cups, forks, bowls and spoons.
  • An empowered committee under the Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam has been formed to discuss the ban on rest of the plastic goods, the official said.

24. President of India to Inaugurate Festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, will inaugurate a Festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (FINE) and present Gandhian Young Technological Innovation awards instituted by Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions [SRISTI] at Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 19, 2018.

  • FINE, an initiative to recognise, respect, showcase, reward innovations and to foster a supportive ecosystem for innovators, is being organised by Rashtrapati Bhavan in association with the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and the National Innovation Foundation-India from March 19 to 23, 2018.
  • FINE will provide a platform for innovators for building linkages with potential stakeholders whose support can improve their prospects in coming years to develop their ideas into implementable projects for the larger social good.

25. First India-Japan Workshop on Disaster Risk Reduction to begin on 19th March

India and Japan, two of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, are coming together to address disaster risk.

  • Over a two-day workshop beginning in New Delhi on 19th March, experts will discuss issues pertaining to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), especially earthquakes.
  • Japan is situated along the Pacific Ring of Fire and is highly susceptible to earthquakes.
  • Its technological know-how, especially in the area of earthquake risk reduction, is among the most advanced in the world.

26. Informal World Trade Organisation Ministerial Meeting on 19-20th March in New Delhi

Representatives from 50 countries will be gathering in New Delhi on 19-20 March for an informal World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting.

  • The informal meeting of ministers will provide an opportunity to engage in free and frank discussions with the hope that it will lead to political guidance on some major issues.
  • In the absence of Ministerial guidance at the Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC 11) that took place from 10 to 13 December 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, it is hoped that the New Delhi meeting will provide an opportunity for ministers to explore in greater detail the options on different issues for re-invigorating the WTO.

27. Children’s Science Congress concludes

Emphasising the need to provide more opportunities to children, Vice Chancellor of Manipur University, Prof. Adya Prasad Pandey has said that young students are the future of the country.

  • Delivering the keynote address at the Valedictory session of the Children’s Science Congress at the 105th Indian Science Congress in Imphal, Shri Pandey said that with more opportunities, children will contribute more towards a better India.

28. 7th Women Science Congress Inaugurated at

Expressing the need for women empowerment through innovative use of technology built within institutional arrangements, Governor of West Bengal, Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi strongly emphasised that women need to be brought into the of mainstream of national development.

  • Inaugurating the 7th Women Science Congress at the ongoing 105th session of Indian Science Congress in Imphal, Shri Tripathi pointed out that representation of women in science and technology is less than expected.
  • He added that proper education, motivation and maximisation of human resources are the need of the hour.
  • 7th Women Science Congress is a significant step towards nation-building”, Shri Tripathi stated.

29. Manduadih to be renamed Banaras railway station

The holy city of Varanasi is soon likely to get a railway station named “Banaras”.

  • The Railway Ministry is considering renaming the Manduadih railway station as Banaras railway station.
  • Manduadih is among one of the four railway stations in the city besides Varanasi Junction, popularly known as Varanasi Cantt Railway Station, Varanasi City and Kashi.

Points to Remember

  • Manduadih is a place in Varanasi situated about four kilometers from Varanasi Cant Station.
  • Varanasi, also called Banaras and Kashi, was chosen in 2014 by Narendra Modi to contest the Lok Sabha polls from city of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The name Varanasi is said to be derived from combination of ‘Varuna’ and ‘Asi’ — the names of rivers.
  • Kashi is the ancient name of Varanasi.

30. Sajibu Nongma Panba Cheiraoba celebrated in Manipur

The traditional festival of Sajibu Nongma Panba Cheiraoba was celebrated in Manipur on 18th March to mark the beginning of a new year.

  • The festival is mainly observed on the first lunar day of the lunar month Sajibu (March/April) by the Meitei community, a majority ethnic group of Manipur.

31. Punjab to impose permanent ban on hookah bars

The Punjab Government is all set to impose a permanent ban on hookah bars across the State instead of issuing temporary orders against them every two months.

  • Punjab will be the second State in the country, after Gujarat, to take the significant decision.
  • Gujarat has banned Hookah bars in the State by passing the COTPA Amendment Bill, 2017.

32. Dr. Jitendra Singh to inaugurate international yoga fest

A 3-day International Yoga Fest from 21-23 March, 2018 will be held at Talkatora Indoor Stadium, New Delhi.

  • International Yoga Fest is being organised as a curtain raiser for International Day of Yoga (IDY) 2018.
  • The event is being organised by Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga (MDNIY).
  • More than 5000 participants including eminent yoga gurus, yoga masters, scholars and yoga enthusiasts are expected to participate in the festival.

33. Indian Navy to host Bilateral Exercise ‘Varuna’ with French Navy

The Indian Navy and the French Navy have conducted bilateral maritime exercises since May 1993.

  • Since 2001, the exercises have been named VARUNA and there have been fifteen editions of the same till date.
  • The last edition of VARUNA was conducted off the French Coast in Apr 2017.
  • This year too VARUNA-18 would be conducted in three sea areas, namely, the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and South Western Indian Ocean.

34. ‘Tribal Diaries’ Mobile App to strengthen internal monitoring

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has developed an android based mobile application called Tribal Diaries for internal monitoring as also connecting with officers/officials concerned with implementation of schemes / programmes for tribal development.

  • The application is for accredited users.
  • This application provides an opportunity for visual feedback in terms of photographs, videos, uploading reports of official tours / inspections and sharing of best practices etc.

35. First National Workshop on POSHAN Abhiyaan

The first National workshop on POSHAN Abhiyaan involving all the states and union territories is being held on 20th March at Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra,New Delhi.

  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development is organising the day long workshop with participation from all the states/UTs.

36. Government approves Plastic Park to be set up in Deoghar

Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananthkumar announced that the Government of India has approved the setting up of a Plastic Park in Deoghar District, Jharkhand.

  • The project would be set up at a cost of Rs. 120 crores in an area of 150 acres and a range of polymer products including woven sacks, moulded furniture, water tanks, bottles, pipes mosquito nets, etc would be manufactured.
  • It has great potential for attracting investment for setting up an ecosystem for plastic industry and generate employment opportunities for the local populace, the Minister informed.

37. NCAA becomes the World’s First Trusted Digital Repository

National Cultural Audiovisual Archives (NCAA) project of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, implemented by Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) has been certified as the world’s first Trusted Digital Repository as per ISO 16363:2012 standard, granted by Primary Trustworthy Digital Repository Authorisation Body Ltd. (PTAB), United Kingdom.

  • Leveraging this historic achievement, the plan for the next phase is to integrate about three lakh hours of audiovisuals materials, a corpus estimated based on a scoping survey conducted in 25 cities across the country, on this platform over the next five years.

38. Nitin Gadkari inaugurates Inland Ferry Services in Goa

Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Nitin Gadkari has inaugurated the Inland ferry services in the port city of Vasco in Goa.

  • The Minister said that while addressing the needs of the poor, environment and ecosystem must be given its due priority.
  • To achieve this, all the stakeholders need to make a concerted decision and action.

39. Cabinet approves Opening of Missions in Africa to implement commitments of IAFS

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approvedthe opening of 18 new Indian Missions in Africa over a four year period from 2018-2021.

  • The 18 new Indian Missions in Africa will be opened in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Rwanda, Sao Tome& Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland and Togo over a four year period from 2018-2021 thereby increasing the number of Resident Indian Missions in Africa from 29 to 47.
  • The decision will enhance India’s diplomatic outreach in the African continent and allow India to engage with Indian diaspora in African countries.
  • Opening of new Missions is also a step towards implementing the vision of enhanced co-operation and engagement with Africa.

40. Cabinet approves North-East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS) 2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS), 2017 with financial outlay of Rs.3000 crores upto March, 2020.

  • Government will provide necessary allocations for remaining period of scheme after assessment before March 2020.
  • NEIDS is a combination of the incentives covered under the earlier two schemes with a much larger outlay.

41. Cabinet approves Ayushman Bharat – National Health Protection Mission

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the launch of a new Centrally Sponsored Ayushman Bharat -National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM) having central sector component under Ayushman Bharat Mission anchored in the MoHFW.

  • The scheme has the benefit cover of Rs. 5 lakh per family per year.
  • The target beneficiaries of the proposed scheme will be more than 10 crore families belonging to poor and vulnerable population based on SECC database.
  • AB-NHPM will subsume the on-going centrally sponsored schemes –Rashtriya Swasthya BimaYojana (RSBY) and the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS).

42. Cabinet approves closure of India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for closure of India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians (IDF-OI)to enhance synergies in channelizing Diaspora’s contributions to Government of India’s flagship programmes such as National Mission for clean Ganga and Swachh Bharat Mission.

  • IDF-OI was set up by Government of India with the approval of Cabinet in 2008 as an autonomous not-for-profit Trust, to facilitate Overseas Indian philanthropy into social and development projects in India.
  • As the Foundation received only Rs. 36.80 Lakhs between December 2008 and March 2015 as donation from overseas Indian community, a comprehensive review of IDF-OI was undertaken in 2015.

43. 106th edition of Indian Science Congress to be held next year in Bhopal

The 106th edition of the Indian Science Congress will be held next year from 3rd to 7th January at the Barkatullah University in Bhopal.

  • General President-elect of the Science Congress Association, Prof. Manoj Kumar Chakrabarti announced that the theme of the meet will be ‘Future India: Science & Technology’.

44. Jackfruit declared as Kerala’s official fruit

The Kerala government has declared jackfruit as its official fruit.

  • The official announcement in this regard was made by agriculture minister V.S. Sunil Kumar in the state assembly.
  • The aim is to promote ‘Kerala jackfruit’ as a brand in markets across the country and abroad, showcasing its organic and nutritious qualities.

45. Hansraj Gangaram Ahir to inaugurate first National Conference on Drug Law Enforcement

The Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir will inaugurate the two-day first National Conference on Drug Law Enforcement in New Delhi.

  • The conference is being organsied by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh will be the Chief Guest at the closing session on 24th March.

46. MNRE to set up 65,180 biogas plants in current year

The National Biogas and Manure Management Programme (NBMMP) aims at setting up of family type biogas plants for providing biogas as clean cooking fuel and a source of lighting.

  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has fixed an annual physical target of setting up 65,180 biogas plants for the current year 2017-18 under the NBMMP.

47. India to be Self-Reliant in Silk Production by 2020

India will be self-reliant in the production of silk by 2020, said the Minister of Textiles Smriti Zubin Irani in a media interaction.

  • The Union Cabinet’s decision approving the Integrated Scheme for Development of Silk Industry will help increase the production of Bivoltine silk (high quality) by 62 percent by 2020.
  • The Minister further said the aim of the government is to increase the number of people engaged in the silk sector from 85 lakhs to one crore in the next three years.

48. 12 sites identified for development under Iconic Tourist Sites Project

The Ministry of Tourism has identified following 12 sites for development under Iconic Tourist Sites Project:

  • Taj Mahal & Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh)
  • Ajanta and Ellora (Maharashtra)
  • Humayun Tomb, Qutub Minar and Red Fort (Delhi)
  • Colva Beach (Goa)
  • Amer Fort (Rajasthan)
  • Somnath and Dholavira (Gujarat)
  • Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Hampi (Karnataka)
  • Mahablipuram (Tamil Nadu)
  • Kaziranga (Assam)
  • Kumarakom (Kerala)
  • Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar)

This information was given by Shri K. J. Alphons, Union Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism in a written reply in Rajya Sabha.

49. Karnataka Bank’s all-woman branch

Karnataka Bank opened its first all-woman branch at Bull Temple Road in Bengaluru. This is the 800th branch of the bank.

  • Speaking on the occasion, Mahabaleshwara MS, Managing Director and CEO, said the bank opened 36 branches during 2017-18.
  • The bank has registered a business turnover of Rs 1.06-lakh crore.

50. Fitch forecasts 7.3% growth for India next year

Fitch has projected India’s economic growth to rise to 7.3 per cent next fiscal and further to 7.5 per cent in 2019-20.

  • In its Global Economic Outlook report, the US-based agency forecast Indian economy to clock a growth rate of 6.5 per cent this fiscal.
  • The economy grew 7.1 per cent in 2016-17.

51. INDIA and ADB Sign $120 Million Loan to Improve Rail Infrastructure

Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a $120 million loan agreement for completion of works for double-tracking and electrification of railways tracks along high-density corridors to improve operational efficiency of Indian railways.

  • The tranche 3 loan is part of the $500 million multi-tranche financing facility for Railway Sector Investment Program approved by the ADB Board in 2011.
  • The loan amount will be used to complete the ongoing works commenced under earlier tranches.

52. SBI launches Quick App

State Bank of India is giving a special facility to its ATM card holders. With this, customers can keep their ATM cards under control.

  • SBI Quick App has special features for controlling special ATM cards.
  • It provides the facility of blocking, turning on or off ATM cards and generating an ATM PIN.

53. SBI, IMGC sign MoU

India’s largest lender SBI and India Mortgage Guarantee Corporation (IMGC) today signed a pact to offer mortgage guarantee scheme for prospective non-salaried and self-employed home loan customers.

  • The offering will help increase home loan eligibility up to 15 per cent within the regulatory norms, the State Bank of India (SBI) said in a statement.
  • IMGC is a joint venture between National Housing Bank, Genworth Inc International Finance Corporation and Asian Development Bank.
  • It is providing mortgage default guarantee to the lending Institutions in India.

54. Tata Sons head Chandrasekaran elected IISc President

Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran was elected President of the court of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) for three years.

  • Chandrasekaran has been elected as the 8th President of the institute for the period 2018-21 and takes over from K. Kasturirangan.
  • Sir M. Visvesvaraya, J.R.D. Tata and Ratan Tata were among those who occupied the distinguished post of the 109-year-old institute in the past.

55. Sangeeta Bahadur appointed Ambassador of India to Belarus

Ms. Sangeeta Bahadur (IFS:1987) has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Belarus.

  • She is expected to take up her assignment shortly. Currently, she is Additonal Secretary in Ministry of External Affairs.

Points to Remember

  • Belarus, officially the Republic of Belarus, formerly known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe.
  • Its Capital is Minsk while currency is Ruble.
  • Alexander Lukashenko is the President of Belarus while Andrei Kobyakov is the Prime Minister.

56. Xi Jinping re-elected as China’s president

China’s parliament, on March 17, unanimously re-elected Xi Jinping as the country’s president.

  • On March 11, parliament voted to amend the constitution to remove presidential term limits, meaning Xi can stay indefinitely.
  • Former top graft-buster Wang Qishan, a key ally of President Xi Jinping, was also chosen as vice president.

57. Putin Elected for fourth term as Russian President

Vladimir Putin will lead Russia for another six years, after securing an expected victory in  presidential election.

  • With almost all the ballots counted, he had received more than 76% of the vote, the central election commission said.
  • The main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race.

58. Li Keqiang Appointed for Second Term as Chinese Premier

China’s ceremonial legislature voted to approve Li Keqiang’s appointment as the country’s secondary leader of the ruling Communist party.

  • The largely rubber-stamp National People’s Congress voted 2,964 to two to approve Li’s appointment for a second five-year term as Chinese Premier.
  • China’s Premier traditionally serves as the country’s top economic official.

59. Bihar Governor gets additional charge of Odisha

President Ram Nath Kovind has appointed Bihar Governor Satya Pal Malik to additionally hold the office of the Governor of Odisha.

  • Mr Malik will hold the additional charge till regular arrangements are made for the office of the Governor of Odisha which fell vacant upon the completion of the tenure of incumbent S C Jamir.

60. Atul M. Gotsurve Appointed Ambassador of India to Korea

Shri Atul M. Gotsurve (IFS: 2004) has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

  • He is expected to take up his assignment shortly. He is currently Director in the Ministry of External Affairs.

61. MDWS Bags Award for best implementation of E-office

The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Dr Jitendra Singh, presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation for implementation of e-office software.

  • The award was received by Shri SatyabrataSahu, Joint Secretary and Mrs Seemantinee Sengupta, Senior Technical Director, HOD, NIC-MDWS, on behalf of the Ministry at a function heldat the Ministry of Personnel, Grievances and Pension.
  • E-Office is one of the Mission-mode Projects under the Digital India programme.
  • The e-Office solution enables core operations of the Government at all levels to be performed in a ‘paper-less’ environment, including the E-leave,E-tour,Knowledge Management, Notice Board, Download Forms, Inventory Control etc.
  • The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has the distinction of making 100 percent use of e-Office.

62. Rahul is Wisden India Almanack’s Cricketer of the Year

KL Rahul is the ‘Cricketer of the Year’ in the sixth edition of Wisden India Almanack, which has just been released.

  • The Almanack pays a tribute to India’s women cricketers, with a wonderful cover picture of celebration at the World Cup.
  • Shantha Rangaswamy, India’s first woman superstar, has been inducted into the Wisden India Hall of Fame alongside Erapalli Prasanna.

63. British teacher wins global best teacher award

A British school teacher has won a $1-million Global Teacher Prize instituted by an Indian-origin entrepreneur’s foundation in the United Arab Emirates to honour an exceptional teacher who has made a significant contribution to the profession.

  • Andria Zafirakou (39), who teaches art and textiles in a Brent secondary school, was selected at the Global Education and Skills Forum, organised by the Varkey Foundation which is run by Kerala-born education philanthropist Sunny Varkey (60).

64. Canadian mathematician Robert Langlands wins Abel Prize

Canadian mathematician Robert Langlands has won the prestigious Abel Prize for developing a programme connecting representation theory to number theory, Norway’s Academy of Sciences and Letters said.

  • Langlands will be awarded the 6.0-million-kroner Abel Prize by Norway’s King Harald in Oslo on May 22.
  • Named after the 19th century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel, the prize was established by the Norwegian government in 2002.

65. NHAI Receives Best Design Pavilion Award at 105th Indian Science Congress

The NHAI pavilion at 105th Indian Science Congress- Pride of India Expo held at Imphal from 16-20 March 2018 has been adjudged as BEST DESIGN PAVILION.

  • The award was conferred by Dr. Najma Heptulla, Governor of Manipur.
  • The NHAI had put up an exhibition stall to showcase its Projects and other initiatives like Electronic Toll Collection, Wayside Amenities, Incident Management, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Road Safety etc.
  • Besides this, NHAI Exhibition stall at “Destination Bihar Expo 2018” held at Gandhi Maidan, Patna from 09-13 March 2018 ranked at Third Position in “Government Sector category”.
  • The exhibition was jointly organized by Bihar Industries Association and Department of Industries, Govt. of Bihar.

66. India Post releases special cover on Stephen Hawking

India Post has paid tribute to theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking by issuing a special cover on him.

  • Chief Post Master General (CPMG) of Maharashtra and Goa Circle H C Agrawal and Director of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) Dr Sandip Trivedi jointly issued the special cover.
  • Hawking died at the age of 76 on March 14 in his home in Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

67. Drdo Pavilion Adjudged As Most Informative at 105th Indian Science Congress

Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) has received the ‘Most Informative Pavilion’ Award in Pride of India Expo organized as part of the 105th Indian Science Congress held from 16 to 20 March 2018 at Manipur University, Imphal.

  • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had inaugurated this annual mega event on 16 March 2018.
  • DRDO participated in the expo showcasing cutting-edge indigenous defence technologies with over 150 exhibits and models from 18 DRDO laboratories.

68. NMCG Awarded Certificate of Appreciation

Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal has stressed upon the efficient use of finite water resources in the country. Emphasizing upon the importance of water in every walk of life, the Minister said it is central to all questions of life.

  • The Minister was addressing the gathering while giving away the Certificate of Appreciation for ‘Encouragement and Appreciation of the Efforts in Ganga Rejuvenation” to the National Mission for Clean Ganga during the Water Digest Water Awards 2017-18.
  • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) was also awarded with IJ Global Awards 2017 Asia-Pacific Water Deal of the Year: Clean Ganga Varanasi Wastewater Project.

69. We Are Sikhs’ campaign wins top US award

A campaign to create awareness of Sikhism and its followers in the US and fight prejudice has won a top award for excellence in public relations programming to promote public causes.

  • The “We Are Sikhs” campaign received the top 2018 PRWeek US award in the category of Public Cause.
  • The PRWeek US awards are nicknamed the “Oscars of the Public Relations Industry”.

70. Vidarbha clinch maiden Irani Cup title

Ranji Trophy winners Vidarbha grabbed their second title in the domestic cricket season as they won the Irani Cup with their huge first innings total against Rest of India.

  • Vidarbha piled on 800/7 in the first innings. Rest of India were bowled out for 390 in their first innings.

Points to Remember

  • Irani Trophy tournament was conceived during the 1959-60 season to mark the completion of 25 years of the Ranji Trophy championship.
  • It was named after the late Z. R. Irani, who was associated with the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

71. Del Potro outlasts Federer to win Indian Wells final

Former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro stunned top-ranked Roger Federer 6-4, 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (7/2) to win his first Indian Wells title and second consecutive ATP crown.

  • The 29-year-old from Argentina handed Federer his first match defeat of 2018 and extended his own win streak to 11 matches, including a title run earlier this month at Acapulco.

72. Veteran Hindi poet Kedarnath Singh passes away

Renowned Hindi poet and critic Kedarnath Singh passed away at the age of 83.

  • A former professor and chairperson at the Department of Hindi Language at the Centre for Indian Languages at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Prof. Singh was a recipient of the Jnanapeeth award in 2013.
  • He won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1989 for his poetry collection Akaal Mein Saras.

73. Sri Lanka Cricket releases book ‘A Tribute to Jagu’

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), on the occasion of the 70th independence of the island nation, paid a glowing tribute to former BCCI President Jagmohan Dalmiya by releasing a book, titled A Tribute to Jagu.

  • SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala lauded Dalmiya’s role in strengthening the Asian Bloc.
  • Dalmiya’s son, Avishek, joint secretary of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) was invited to receive the commemorative book.

74. Anandiben Patel launches her biography named ‘Karma Yatri’ .

Former Gujarat Chief minister Anandiben Patel has launched her biography “Karma Yatri”, written by Ameya Latkar in the presence of BJP chief Amit Shah and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.

  • Patel had replaced Modi as the Gujarat Chief Minister after the latter became the prime minister in May 2014.
  • She stepped down as Gujarat Chief Minister in August 2016.
  • She is presently serving as the Governor of Madhya Pradesh.

75. Indian Army Releases Book on Paramveer Chakra Awardees : Paramveer Parwane

General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Army Staff released a book on Paramveer Chakra Awardees – ‘Paramveer Parwane’ on 20 March 2018.

  • The book illustrates the bravery of Paramveer Chakra Awardees from 1947 to 1965 and is written by Dr Prabhakiran Jain published by Medha Books.
  • The book has eleven short stories, poems, and songs highlighting the history of the battles in which the brave soldiers sacrificed their lives.

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