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Current Affairs March 14 2019

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Current Affairs March 14 2019INDIAN AFFAIRS

Indian researchers collaborate with University of Birmingham to resolve issues of air pollution in Delhi
Experts from the University of Birmingham and policy makers and researchers from India announced a collaboration to jointly develop strategies to resolve health, social and economic issues linked to air pollution in Delhi.
i. Delegates at a two-day workshop, convened by experts of the University of Birmingham and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, called for air quality metrics to be incorporated into several of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, especially theSustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3) Good Health and Well-being.
ii. The experts recommended that air pollution should be treated as a disaster, in the same way as natural events such as earthquakes and forest fires and also called for access to clean air to be considered as a “basic human right”.
iii. University of Birmingham is working with partners in India, Africa and Asia to help understand how our cities can tackle problems caused by air pollution.
iv. The ASAAP India (A Systems Approach to Air Pollution India) workshop brought together partners from India, Africa, Asia, Europe and US to explore how cities such as Delhi can better understand how to tackle air pollution.

SC clarified IPS having minimum of 6 months tenure left should be considered for DGP post
On 13th March 2019, The Supreme Court clarified its last year order on police reforms and said officers who have a minimum of six months tenure left in service can be considered for the post of Director General of Police (DGP).
Key Points
i. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi headed the bench and recommendation for the post of DGP by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and preparation of the appointment panel should be purely on the basis of merit.
ii. The emphasis is to select the best and to ensure a minimum tenure of two years’ service of such officer who is to be selected and appointed.

Ban on e-cigarettes in 12 states health ministry urges all to follow
On 13th March 2019, following the advice of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, atleast 12 states in India have banned Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). 
Key Points
i. Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Jharkhand have taken steps to ban the use of ENDS.
ii. ENDS emits nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco products which made the Doctors claim e-cigarettes pose significant health risks to users that are frighteningly similar to those of conventional cigarette.


US – India Strategic Security Dialogue held in Washington
On 13th March 2019, the 9th round of the U.S.-India Strategic Security Dialogue held in Washington DC, United States. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale led the Indian delegation and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson led the US delegation.

US - India Strategic Security Dialogue held in WashingtonKey Points
i. The two sides exchanged views on a wide range of global security and non-proliferation challenges. Both nations reaffirmed their commitment to work together to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems and to deny access to such weapons by terrorists and non-state actors.
ii. US will help in building 6 nuclear power plants in India which will boost bilateral civil nuclear energy cooperation. US reaffirmed its strong support of India’s early membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
iii. 3rd round of the U.S.-India Space Dialogue was held on 12th March 2019 where they discussed trends in space threats, respective national space priorities and opportunities for cooperation bilaterally and in multilateral fora.
About United States
♦ Capital – Washington DC
♦ Currency – Dollar
♦ President – Donald Trump


A new 50p ‘black hole’ coin in honour of Stephen Hawking’s work unveiled by Royal Mint
The Royal Mint has honoured Stephen Hawking’s legacy by issuing a new 50 pence piece.

A new 50p 'black hole' coin in honour of Stephen Hawking's workKey Points:
i. The coin has drawn its inspiration from Hawking’s work on black holes discussed in his bestselling book- A Brief History of Time.
ii. The coin has his name engraved along with an illustration of concentric circles that represent a black hole.
iii. It also has his equation on the black hole theory.
iv. The coin will not be circulated as normal change and has only been made as a commemoration edition.

Russia releases coin commemorating annexation of Crimea
A new coin that features the Crimea or Kerch Strait Bridge has been released by Russia’s central bank, to mark Crimea’s reunification with Russia. Two million new five ruble (about $0.08, €0.07) coins were pressed which depict an outline of the peninsula which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
ii. This is second commemoration of Crimea, the first being a 200 ruble note released in 2015 and depicted the desire of the people of Russia to see these symbols on notes.

India provides financial support of USD 250 million to Nepal for reconstruction of infrastructures after earthquake
India has provided a financial support worth USD 250 million to Nepal, to reconstruct infrastructure in fields of housing, education, health and cultural heritage, which had been ruined by the earthquake that took place on April 2015.

India provides financial support of USD 250 million to NepalKey Points:
i. Discussions about the grant and progress of work were held during the India-Nepal Joint Project Monitoring Committee meeting held in Kathmandu, Nepal.
ii. The meeting was headed by Arjun Kumar Karki, Secretary, National Reconstruction Authority from the Nepal and the Indian delegation was led by Sudhakar Dalela, Joint Secretary (North), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.
iii. The decision of providing grant was a part of an agreement signed between Indian Embassy in Kathmandu and the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Rourkee.
iv. India will also provide a supporting hand in reconstructing 72 education facilities in Nepal that were ruined due to earthquake.

Norms for trade credit relaxed by RBI
On 13th March 2019, norms for imports of capital and non-capital goods were relaxed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), by raising the trade credit limit to $150 million under the automatic route.

Norms for trade credit relaxed by RBIKey Points:
i. RBI announced the modified revised framework for Trade Credit Policy.
ii. Trade Credits up to $150 million or equivalent per import transaction for oil and gas refining & marketing, airline and shipping companies can be availed under the automatic route, while for other industries, this limit has been fixed at $50 million or equivalent per import transaction.
iii. Previously, under the automatic route the banks were allowed to approve trade credit of up to $20 million and anything beyond that required RBI’s approval.
iv. RBI has decreased the all-inclusive cost (all-in-cost) for overseas loans to benchmark rate plus 250 basis points from the earlier 350 bps. All-in-cost comprises rate of interest, other fees, expenses, charges, and guarantee fees and does not include withholding tax payable in Indian currency.

Fresh Liquidity Infusion Through Forex Swaps announced by RBI
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to use a new tool for the first time to enhance liquidity in the system using which it will buy $billion from the banks in a swap deal that is capable of injecting around Rs. 35,000 crores into the system.
i. Banks will have to deposit dollar funds with RBI with the condition of buying them back from RBI after 3 years.
ii. The first-ever auction of this kind involving US dollar buy/sell swap will happen on 26th March 2019.
iii. Minimum bid size for the auction has been fixed at $25 million and multiple bids submission by banks will be allowed. However, the aggregate amount of bids submitted by single eligible entity should not exceed the notified amount of auction.

Bank of India raises Rs. 660 crores via sale of shares to employees
On 12th March 2019, Bank of India (BoI) declared that it has raised an amount of Rs 660.80 crore by issuing shares to employees under Employee Share Purchase Scheme (ESPS).

Bank of India raises Rs. 660 crores via sale of shares to employeesKey Points:
i. 6,25,52,188 shares worth Rs 10 each were issued by the bank to its eligible employees.
ii. A discount of 24.28% on the applicable price was offered by the bank to its employees.
iii. The scheme witnessed a participation of around 94.70% of total employees.
iv. The shares have been issued with a lock-in period of one year.

Small finance banks may clip at 30%, needs Rs. 6,000 crore capital by FY23: ICRA
A report by ICRA (formerly known as Investment Information and Credit Rating Agency of India Limited) has stated that Small finance banks (SFBS) are expected to witness a growth rate of 25-30% over the medium-term if they arrange an additional external capital in the range of Rs 4,000-6,000 crore till FY23.
Key Points:
i. In the nine-month period till December 2018, SFBs have reported an annualised growth of 33% in the assets under management to Rs 64,325 crore.
ii. It has also suggested that a portion of this funding can be met through initial public offerings that comply with regulatory requirements.
iii. SFBs have diversified their product mix, leading to a decrease in share of microfinance as an asset class, from 60% in March 2017 to 44% in December 2018.
iv. The gross NPAs reduced to 5.8% in December 2018 from 9% in March 2018.

Doorstep Banking for Senior Citizens, Differently-Abled And Infirm Persons introduced by SBI
On 13th March 2019, The State Bank of India has initiated a new ‘doorstep banking’ service for senior citizens, differently-abled and infirm account holders as well as visually impaired customers.

Doorstep Banking for Senior Citizens, Differently-Abled And Infirm Persons introduced by SBIKey Points
i. The person to avail the benefit should have a KYC-compliant account, having one’s mobile number registered with the bank, and being domiciled within a five-kilometer radius of one’s home branch.
ii. Cash pickup and delivery, cheque pickup, cheque book requisition slip pickup, delivery of drafts and term deposit advice, life certificate pick-up and pickup of form 15H which is used for Income tax reasons will be provided at doorstep.
iii. Cost for availing these services would be Rs 100 for each financial transaction and Rs 60 for each non-financial transaction. Those aged above 70 years would be treated as senior citizens for the facility.
iv. Service cannot be available to joint accounts or non-personal accountsMinor accounts also are not be eligible. A medical certificate should be produced in case of claiming the benefits under the differently-abled or infirm categories..
About State Bank of India
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
♦ Chairman – Rajnish Kumar


Young Global Leaders list include Nara Lokesh, Poonam Mahajan and Manu Kumar Jain among 6 Indians
Andhra Pradesh IT minister Nara Lokesh, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan and Xiaomi India head Manu Kumar Jain are among the 6 Indians featuring in the list of Young Global Leaders, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
i. The list has 127 of the world’s most promising social activists, business leaders, public servants, artists and technologists under the age of 40.
ii. Telangana government’s Chief Innovation Officer Phanindra Sama, SaveLife Foundation’s Piyush Tewari and Kaleidofin’s co-Founder Sucharita Mukherjee are also in the list.
iii. Nara Lokesh is the minister of Information Technology, Electronics and Communications in Andhra Pradesh and is accelerating development in the most rural villages of Andhra Pradesh as one of the youngest ministers in the country.
iv. Poonam Mahajan is both president of the Youth Wing of one of India’s major political parties and the first female President of India’s Basketball Federation.
v. Manu Kumar Jain is one of the country’s youngest internet entrepreneurs, building bridges between China and India while managing a multi-billion dollar business.

The Arcea nut “Sirsi Supari” gets a GI tag
Sirsi Supari’ cultivated in Yellapura, Siddapura and Sirsi talukas of Uttar Kannada, Karnataka, has received the Geographic Indication (GI) tag which is the first time in the areca nut sector.
i. Totgars’ Cooperative Sale Society Ltd., Sirsi, is the registered proprietor of the GI and the Registrar of Geographical Indications, under the Union government, Chennai issued the certificate to the society. Its GI number is 464.
ii. According to it, the particular arecanut “is medium in size, somewhat flat and rounded in shape, somewhat ash coloured, and has a hard seed.”

3 Kirti Chakras and 15 Shaurya Chakras awarded by the President to Army Personnel
President Ram Nath Kovind conferred 3 Kirti Chakras and 15 Shaurya Chakras to Armed Forces Personnel for displaying conspicuous gallantry, indomitable courage and extreme devotion to duty at the Defence Investiture Ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.
i. 2 Kirti Chakras and Shaurya Chakra were given posthumously.
ii. 15 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, 1 Uttam Yudh Seva Medal and 25 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals were also conferred on senior officers of the Armed Forces for their distinguished service by the President.
iii. One of the Param Vishisht Seva Medal was conferred on Army Chief General Bipin Rawat.
iv. Lt. Gen. Saranjeet Singh was awarded the Uttam Yuddh Seva Medal.

Padmanaban Gopalan bagged the Commonwealth Youth Award for the Asian region
Social entrepreneur from Tamil Nadu, Padmanaban Gopalan, founder of No Food Waste, was named the winner of the Commonwealth Youth Award for the Asian region worth 3,000 Pounds at a ceremony at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.

Padmanaban Gopalan bagged the Commonwealth Youth Awardi. He was given the honour for his work towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of Zero Hunger with his innovative system of recovering excess food to distribute to those in need.
ii. The initiative runs a geo-mapping platform, which allows users to drop food at located “hunger spots” and has so far recovered over 650,000 meals across 14 cities and the platform has been used by over 12,000 volunteers.


M.R. Kumar named as the new chairman of LIC
The Government also appointed M. R. Kumar as the Chairman of the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) for a period of 5 years.

M. R. Kumar named as the new chairman of LICi. He was the Zonal Manager (In-Charge) of North Zone, Delhi prior to this appointment.
ii. He will be succeeding V. K Sharma who had retired on 31st December 2018 after which Managing Director Hemant Bhargava was acting as the interim chairman.
iii. Vipin Anand and TC Suseel Kumar were also appointed as the Managing Directors of LIC for 5 years.
About LIC
♦ Chairman – M. R. Kumar
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai

Avast CEO Vince Steckler to retire on 30th June 2019
Cyber security firm Avast‘s long-time chief executive officer (CEO) Vince Steckler has decided to retire in the year 2019 after 10 years in the job and will be succeeded by Ondrej Vlcek, currently president of the company’s consumer business.
i. He will retire on 30th June 2019, but will remain available in an advisory capacity for another year.
ii. He is widely considered to be the architect of Avast and led the company through the major acquisition of AVG and its listing on the London Stock Exchange.
iii. He is credited with having grown the company’s revenues from under USD 20 million to over USD 800 million.

Rahul Bajaj resigned as Bajaj Finserv’s chairman
Rahul Bajaj, chairman and non-executive director of Bajaj Finserv has resigned and will be taking over as chairman emeritus at the organisation from 16th May 2019.
i. He will be succeeded by the company’s Vice-Chairman Nanoo Pamnani with effect from 17th May 2019.
ii. The firm has also approved the reappointment of independent directors D.J. Balaji RaoNanoo Pamnani and Gita Piramal for a second term of five years.


MPATGM successfully test-fired by DRDO in Rajasthan
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test fired indigenously developed, low weight, fire and forget Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) for the second time in the Pokhran ranges of Rajasthan desert.
i. MPATGM is incorporated with advanced features including state-of-the-art Imaging Infrared Radar (IIR) Seeker with integrated avionics.
ii. The first test was conducted on 13th March 2019.
About DRDO
♦ Chairman – Satheesh Reddy
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

‘Smart Weapon’ from JF-17 fighter jet successful test fired by Pakistan
On 13th March 2019, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) successfully test-fired an indigenously developed “smart weapon” from a JF-17 Thunder fighter jet amid tensions between India and Pakistan.

'Smart Weapon' from JF-17 fighter jet successful test fired by PakistanKey Points
i. JF-17 was previously referred as FC-1 Xiaolong which is a single-engine multi-role light fighter was being jointly produced by Pakistan with China for several years with engines supplied by Russia.
ii. JF-17 Thunder fighter jet will provide it a very potent day and night capability to engage a variety of targets with pinpoint accuracy.
iii. The trial is a great milestone for the country as the weapon has been developed, integrated and qualified solely through indigenous efforts of Pakistani scientists and engineers.
iv. PAF is a branch of the Pakistan Armed Forces, tasked primarily with the aerial defence of Pakistan, with a secondary role of providing air support to the Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Navy.
About Pakistan
♦ Capital – Islamabad
♦ Currency – Rupee
♦ President – Arif Alvi

‘Facebook Hubs’ to foster innovation and support start-ups launched by Facebook
On 12th March 2019, Facebook Hubs, an initiative to foster innovation and offer support to entry-level entrepreneurs was launched by Facebook.
Key Points:
i. It will provide support to start-ups by conducting mentor hours, trainings, workshops and discussions across 20 locations in Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Navi Mumbai and in Goa.
ii. Facebook has partnered with 91 springboard for launching an year-long programme aimed to support startups and help entrepreneurs expand their businesses.


India ranked 16th in terms of highest number of impacted species in hotspots
A recent study published in PLOS Biology, an international journal dedicated to biological science, found that human impacts on species occur across 84% of the earth’s surface and India ranks 16th in such impacts, with 35 species impacted on an average.
i. Malaysia ranks first among the countries with the highest number of impacted species (125).
ii. A team of scientists led by James Allan (University of Queensland) found this when they mapped the distribution of eight human activities — including hunting and conversion of natural habitats for agriculture — in areas occupied by 5,457 threatened birds, mammals and amphibians worldwide.
iii. Using sources, including the recently-updated Human Footprint data, they found that a staggering 1,237 species are impacted by threats in more than 90% of their habitat; 395 species are affected by threats across their entire range.
iv. While the impact of roads is highest (affecting 72% of terrestrial areas), crop lands affect the highest number of threatened species, that is 3,834 species.
v. Southeast Asian tropical forests, including those in India’s Western Ghats, Himalaya and north-east, are among the ‘hotspots’ of threatened species. However, these very areas are also ‘cool-spots’ (the world’s last refuges where high numbers of threatened species still persist).
vi. Cool-spots are assumed to be the result of protection or because of intact habitat that has not been cleared yet and India still has crucial refuges that need protecting.


Argentina and Colombia will co-host Copa America 2020
On 14th March 2019, After South America’s ruling body CONMEBOL  once again ruled out a US proposal to host the tournament, Argentina  and Colombia  are poised to co-host the 2020 Copa America.  

Argentina and Colombia will co-host Copa America 2020Key Points
i. It is for the first time in the modern Copa America era that the tournament will be split between two countries. The two countries separated by some 4,350 miles (7,000 kilometers).
ii. This year’s tournament is to be staged in Brazil between June 14 and July 7. CONMEBOL is responsible for the organization and governance of South American football’s major international tournaments.
iii. CONMEBOL is a 10 member football associations, it has the fewest members of all the confederations in FIFA.

Australia won 1st bilateral ODI series against India since January 2017
On 13th March 2019, Australia beat India by 35 runs to win their first bilateral One Day International (ODI) series against India since 2016. It was India’s 1st ODI series defeat at home since 2015.
Key Points
i. Usman Khawaja won the player of the series. M S Dhoni became the 4th  Indian batsman to reach 13,000 List-A runs after Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. Dhoni amassed 13,054 runs in 412 matches.
ii. Virat Kohli created record by smashing 40th ODI hundred. Kohli took 216 innings for the record while Sachin Tendulkar took 355 innings. Kohli also became the fastest to reach 4000, 5000, 6000, 7000, 8000, 9000 international runs as a captain. The previous record was with Ricky Ponting.
iii. Kohli smashed a hundred in each of India’s 400th, 450th and 500th victories in ODIs. Ravindra  Jadeja after Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar became the third Indian player to score 2000 or more runs as well as taking 150 or more wickets in ODIs.
iv. Rohit Sharma smashed 218th six in ODI cricket. He breaks Dhoni’s record for hitting most ODI sixes for India. Shikhar Dhawan smashes hundred off under 100 balls for 10th time in ODIs.
v. Rohit Sharma added another major milestone to his name by becoming the joint third fastest to reach 8000 ODI runsUsman Khawaja also joined an elite list of players who have scored three or more 90-plus scores on the trot in ODIs in India.He has surpassed legends like MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar.
vii. Rohit joint-fastest to reach 3,000 ODI runs in a country.

Overview of All England Open Badminton Championship 2019
The 2019 All England Open Badminton Championships was held in Arena Birmingham, England from 6th March 2019 to 10th March 2019.  It was a BWF (Badminton World Federation) World Tour 1000 event with total prize money of US$ 1000000.
The List of Winners in given below:

Men’s SingleKento Momota(Japan)Viktor Axelsen(Denmark)
Women’s SingleChen Yufei(China)Tai Tzu-ying(Taiwan)
Men’s DoublesMohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan (Indonesia)Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik(Malaysia)
Women’s DoubleChen Qingchen and Jia Yifan(China)Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara (Japan)
Mixed DoubleZheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong(China)Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino (Japan)

Highlights of the event
i. Japan’s Kento Momota became the first Japanese to win the All England Badminton Championships after defeating Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen by 2-1 in the Men’s singles final.
ii. 20 years old Chinese Player, Chen Yufei defeated two times defending champion Tai Tzu Ying in the Women’s single final.
About Badminton World Federation
♦ Headquarters: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
♦ President: Poul-Erik Hoyer Larsen

Former India pacer VRV Singh retires from all forms of cricket
On 13th March 2019, Vikram Raj Vir Singh aka VRV Singh, former India and Punjab pacer retired from all forms of cricket.
Key Points:
i. He belonged to Chandigarh.
ii. He made his Test debut for India in 2006 against West Indies and played play five games for the country in the longest format between 2006-07.
iii. He represented Punjab and participated in the Asia Cup winning Indian U19 side in 2003.
iv. He was there in Kings XI Punjab for the first 3 editions of Indian Premier League (IPL).
v. He retired at the age of 34.


FIA Formula One director Charlie Whiting died at 66, in Australia
On 14th March 2019, Charlie Whiting, who was the FIA’s director of Formula One died in Melbourne, Australia at the age of 66 owing to a pulmonary embolism.

Mexican Grand Prix Preparationsi.  He was responsible for officiating the season-opening 2019 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne but died 3 days prior to it.
ii. His started his career with FIA in 1988 as a technical delegate, and went on to become an F1 director in 1997.
iii. He was born in Kent, United Kingdom.


World Kidney Day observed on 14th March
The World Kidney Day was observed on 14th March 2019 to raise awareness about the importance of taking care of kidneys and preventing kidney diseases. It is generally celebrated at the second Thursday of March every year.

World Kidney Day observed on 14th Marchi. World Kidney Day is an initiative of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF).
ii. The theme of the World Kidney Day 2019 is Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere.
iii. The theme lays emphasis on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for prevention and early treatment of kidney diseases.