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Current Affairs March 15 2019

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Current Affairs March 15 2019INDIAN AFFAIRS

IEMF’s First Workshop organized by NITI Aayog and USAID in New Delhi
The NITI Aayog and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) organized the first workshop on development of the India Energy Modelling Forum (IEMF), envisaged as a pan-stakeholder platform for debating ideas, scenario-planning & discussing the India’s energy future in New Delhi.
i. The two-day workshop, being held with the support of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), was organized under the Sustainable Growth Pillar of the India-U.S. Strategic Energy Partnership.
ii. The IEMF seeks to provide a platform for leading experts and policymakers to study important energy and environmental issues and ensure induction of modelling and analysis in informed decision making process.
iii. The Forum aims to improve cooperation and coordination between modeling teams, the Government of India, knowledge partners and think-tanks, build capacity of Indian institutions, and identify issues for joint modelling activities and future areas of research.
iv. The workshop featured expert sessions which saw discussions around the various aspects of setting up an India-centric energy modelling platform.

Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Gandhinagar 
On 15th March 2019, The President of India Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the Festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (FINE) in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.The festival is organised by the National Innovation Foundation in association with the Department of Science and Technology.

Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in GandhinagarKey Points
i. The event will provide platform to the innovators for building the linkages with potential stakeholders whose support can improve the prospects in coming years for the betterment of the society.
ii. FINE is a unique initiative of the Office of the President of India to recognize, respect and reward grassroots innovations and foster a supportive ecosystem.
10th Biennial National Grassroots Innovation awards were also distributed by the President on the occasion
i.For innovations in new varieties of agriculture crops, Prakash Singh Raghuvanshi from Uttar Pradesh has been awarded lifetime achievement award.
ii.First prize in Veterinary, Herbal medication for coccidiosis was presented to Periyasami Ramasami of Salem, Tamil Nadu.
About Gujarat
♦ Capital – Gandhinagar
♦ CM- Vijay Rupani
♦ Governor – Om Prakash Kohli

Joint exercises to be conducted by US army and NSG in Hyderabad
The US military forces and the Indian National Security Guard (NSG) is conducting joint exercises in Hyderabad. This would be a part of the US-India security partnership. The aim of these exercises is to enhance preparedness and tackle any crisis that affects the public health and safety.
i. The exercise is witnessing participation by the 1st Battalion and the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) stationed out of Okinawa, Japan.
ii. The exercise will be overseen from the US Embassy, New Delhi and US Special Operations Pacific Command at Camp HM Smith in Hawaii.
iii. The exercises constitute the US Indo-Pacific Command’s Theater Security Cooperation Program, undertaken by the US military in partnership with a certain group of nations in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance coordination and capabilities.

New Delhi, Islamabad agree to work together to operationalize Kartarpur corridor
India and Pakistan have agreed to work together to operationalise the Kartarpur corridor which makes it easier for the Indian pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan.

New Delhi, Islamabad agree to work together to operationalize Kartarpur corridori.The decision was made in the first meeting between Indian and Pakistani representatives held at Attari, Punjab in which the Indian delegation was led by S C L Das, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Pakistani delegation was led by Dr. Mohammad Faisal, Director General for South Asia and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
ii.The next meeting will be held in Wagah in the following month.


Vienna placed at top position in the Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey 2019
The human resource consulting firm, Mercer’s annual Quality of Living Survey 2019 has placed Austria’s capital city Vienna at the number one spot, making it the 10th year in a row.

Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey 2019i. The Mercer’s top 10 is dominated by European cities mainly in Switzerland and Germany and the only cities outside of Europe to make the top 10 list are Vancouver, Canada, and Auckland, New Zealand.
ii. Top 10 cities in the list:

  1. Vienna, Austria
  2. Zürich, Switzerland
  3. (tie) Vancouver, Canada , (tie) Munich, Germany, (tie) Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Düsseldorf, Germany
  2. Frankfurt, Germany
  3. Copenhagen, Denmark
  4. Geneva, Switzerland
  5. Basel, Switzerland

iii. Mercer bases its annual rankings of 231 cities on medical and health considerations, the natural, political, and social environment, as well as access to education, transportation, recreation, and culture.
iv. The Economist Intelligence Unit had also given Vienna the top spot in its ranking of the world’s most liveable cities in 2018.
v. Hyderabad and Pune, at a rank of 143, continue to be the most liveable cities in India for expatriates. The two cities are followed by Bengaluru (149), Mumbai (154) and New Delhi (162), whose rankings remained unchanged from last year.

EU Adds 10 Countries to Tax Blacklist
On 12th March 2019, the European Union expanded the blacklist by 10 Countries adding the United Arab Emirates, Barbados and the Marshall Island. The list had previously included five countries and now it became 15 countries.

EU Adds 10 Countries to Tax BlacklistKey Points
i. Due to their inability towards reform commitments, countries including Aruba, Belize, Bermuda, Fiji, Oman, Vanuatu, and Dominica are moved from grey list to black list.
ii. Naming and Shaming tactics through Tax blacklist or Tax havens done by European Union as a tool for securing a level playing field and as an external strategy for effective taxation by assessing, screening and listing third-country tax jurisdictions which are non-cooperative in tax matters.

UN released Global Environment Outlook 2019 Report
On 14th March 2019, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released sixth Global Environment Outlook 2019 calls decision makers to take immediate action to address environmental issues to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as well as other Internationally Agreed Environment Goals, such as the Paris Agreement.

UN released Global Environment Outlook 2019Key Points
i. As per the report, a quarter of all premature deaths and diseases worldwide are due to manmade pollution and environmental damage. The report notes that as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.
ii. It also warns that deadly emissions, chemicals polluting drinking water, and the accelerating destruction of ecosystems crucial to the livelihoods of billions of people are driving a worldwide epidemic that hampers the global economy.
iii. The growing divide between rich and poor as uncontrolled overconsumption, pollution and food waste in the developed world leads to hunger, poverty and  disease elsewhere.
iv. The lack of access to clean drinking supplies leads  1.4 million people die each year from preventable diseases such as diarrhea and parasites linked to pathogen-riddled water and poor sanitation.
About United Nations Environment Programme
♦ Headquarters – Nairobi, Kenya
♦ Head- Joyce Msuya


IDBI Bank categorized as Private Sector Lender by RBI
On 14th March 2019, The Reserve Bank of India categorized IDBI Bank as a Private Sector Bank with effect from January 21, 2019 following Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) is acquiring 51 per cent of the total paid-up equity share capital of the bank.

IDBI Bank categorized as Private Sector Lender by RBIKey Points
i. Following the appointment of MR Kumar as the Chairman of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), Hemant Bhargava ceases to be the Non-Executive chairman of IDBI Bank as he no longer heads the parent company LIC.
ii. IDBI Bank has been under the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework of RBI which bans it from corporate lending, branch expansions, salary hikes and other regular activities.
iii. IDBI has charted out a revival strategy to bring banking and insurance under one roof along with LIC. The bank also informed about appointment of LIC as a corporate agent under bancassurance channel.
About IDBI Bank
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
♦ MD and CEO – Rakesh Sharma

ICRA states that fresh NPAs will moderate in FY 2020
According to ICRA, fresh NPAs in the banking sector are expected to come down 1.9-2.4 % in FY’20 from 3.7% in FY 19, owing to a dedicated NPA recovery mechanism and write offs by banks. Public sector banks (PSBs) will earn profit after 4 continuous years of losses.
Key Points:
i. Gross NPAs for banks is expected to be 8.3 lakh crore (7.9 %) for March 2020, against the estimated 9.2% of March 2019.
ii. Losses pegged at Rs 93,100 crore in FY’19 are lesser than capital infusion amounting to Rs 1.22 lakh crore.
iii. The credit loss provisioning being undertaken can potentially lead to 14 PSBs being but the overall return on assets and return on equity may continue to be weak.
iv. The ratings outlook for 4 PSBs- Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra, Punjab National Bank and Oriental Bank of Commerce has been revised from negative to stable. Also, the rating for IDBI Bank has been revised from negative to ‘Rating watch with developing implications’ but the forecast for Punjab and Sind Bank was worsened from stable to negative.

Karur Vysya Bank raises Rs 487 crore through private placement of Tier II bonds
On 13th March 2019, Karur Vysya Bank announced that it has raised Rs 487 crore through Basel-III compliant bonds for funding its growth plans.
i. The decision was taken in the Capital Raising Committee of the board.
ii. The committee allotted 48,700 BASEL-III compliant unsecured, redeemable, non-convertible tier-II bonds of Rs 1,00,000 each, totalling to Rs 487 crore and the capital raising was done on private placement basis.
iii. The instrument will be listed on NSE.
About Basel III norms
♦ Basel III is an international regulatory framework with a set of reforms to improve the regulation, supervision and risk management within the banking sector.

Aviva Life Insurance launches special mentorship programme ‘Wings’
On 13th March 2019, Aviva Life Insurance announced the launch of ‘Wings’, a specially designed mentorship program to empower the female workforce.
Key Points
i. It will helps women dream about what they will become, giving them a clearer picture of their future and their growth prospects. The programme will give them an avenue to freely communicate in a safe environment, allowing them to focus on growth and improvement.
ii. Wings program is an initiative of the SHE division of Aviva Life Insurance for mentoring all the women employees in Aviva. SHE was started in 2016 by Aviva India’s Women Network as an active community of socially enabled women who take up the charge of addressing causes in the interest of women empowerment.
iii. Additionally, mentoring will also develop a leadership pipeline for the company thus ensuring that the practice is not just beneficial to the individual but to the organisation at large.
About Aviva Life Insurance Company
♦ Headquarters – Gurugram, Haryana
♦ MD and CEO – Trevor Bull


India sets ‘aspirational’ target for engineering exports by 2025
On 15th March 2019, According to an EEPC India-Deloitte strategy paper, India can achieve a three-fold “aspirational” increase in its engineering export to reach USD 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.
Key Points
i. In the current financial year ending March 31, India’s engineering exports, which contribute 25 per cent to the overall merchandise shipments are projected to touch about USD 80-82 billion.
ii. Strategy paper has identified areas where government and industry interventions are required which includes various aspects such as product-market optimization, eco-system development, promotion and branding, and competitive procurement of inputs.
About Ministry of Commerce and Industry
♦ Minister – Suresh Prabhu

First TIR shipment from Afghanistan arrived in India via Chabahar Port
The first shipment under the United Nations ‘Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR) convention arrived in India from Afghanistan through Iran’s Chabahar Port.

First TIR shipment from Afghanistan arrived in India via Chabahar Porti. India had joined the TIR Convention (the United Nations Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets) on June 15, 2017.
ii. It allows goods to be outlined in a TIR carnet and sealed in load compartments. Customs officials verify the carnet without physical checking, enabling shipments to pass through countries without being opened at borders.

Panel of regulators headed by Shaktikanta Das discuss issues concerning the economy
Markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), insurance regulator Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority(IRDAI), and pension fund regulator Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), along with senior officials of the finance ministry, discussed the key issues facing the economy at the meeting of the sub-committee of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) chaired by RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das.
i. The sub-committee reviewed the major developments on the global and domestic fronts that impinge on the financial stability of the country.
ii. The panel discussed ways to address challenges pertaining to the quality of credit ratings; and inter-linkages between housing finance companies and housing developers.
iii. It also deliberated on the interlinking of various regulatory databases and the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion.


ESPN World Fame 100 list: Virat Kohli the only Indian in Top 10, MS Dhoni ranked 13th
Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli and former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni are among the 8 Indian cricketers in the 2019’s ESPN World Fame 100 list, an annual list of the most famous athletes on the planet.

ESPN World Fame 100 list Virat Kohli the only Indian in Top 10, MS Dhoni ranked 13thi. Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is at the top spot, followed by basketball player LeBron James and FC Barcelona captain Lionel Messi. These top 3 positions have not changed from the previous year.
ii. Virat Kohli jumped to the 7th position from last year’s 11th position and is now the only Indian athlete in the top 10, whereas Dhoni is placed in the 13th spot.
iii. All the Indian men mentioned in this list were from the cricketing fraternity, including Yuvraj Singh (18), Suresh Raina (22), R Ashwin (42), Rohit Sharma (46), Harbhajan Singh (74) and Shikhar Dhawan (94).
iv. There are only 3 women in the list- Serena Williams (17), Maria Sharapova (37) and Sania Mirza (93), making the latter the only Indian woman athlete to feature in the list.
v. The list was prepared by looking at three aspects, namely- Search Score, Endorsements and Social Following.

Kent RO awarded as the Best Domestic Water Purifier 2019
Kent RO Systems Pvt. Ltd. has received the Best Domestic Water Purifier Award 2018-19 for its RO+UV+UF technology at the Water Digest Water Awards function that was held at The Lalit, New Delhi.
i. The Water Digest Water Awards are given jointly by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and UNESCO.
ii. Kent had also earlier received awards like Organization of the Year Awards 2017, Best Domestic Water Purifier Award 2016-17, Asia’s Most Promising Brand 2016 etc.

Geographical Indication (GI) tag granted to Coorg Arabica Coffee and 4 other varieties of Coffee by the Geographical Indications Registry
Geographical Indication (GI) tags have been granted to Coorg Arabica CoffeeWayanad Robusta CoffeeChikmagalur Arabica Coffee, Araku Valley Arabica Coffee and Bababudangiris Arabica Coffee, by the Geographical Indications Registry on 1st March 2019.
i. Coorg Arabica Coffee is grown in Kodagu, Karnataka.
ii. Wayanad Robusta Coffee is grown in Wayanad, Kerala.
iii. Chikmagalur Arabica Coffee and Bababudangiris Arabica Coffee are grown in Chikmagalur, Karnataka.
iv. Araku Valley Arabica Coffee is grown around Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh and Koraput district in Odisha.


Sanjiv Mehta elevated to the post of President of Unilever, South Asia
Sanjiv Mehta, currently the Chairman and Managing Director of Unilever subsidiary Hindustan Unilever (HUL) has been promoted as the President of Unilever, South Asia, effective from 1stMay, 2019. He will also be a part of the Unilever Leadership Executive (ULE).
In another appointment, Nitin Paranjpe is promoted as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Unilever, becoming the second Indian after Harish Manwani to make it to the global post.

P.S. Narasimha appointed as mediator to resolve disputes of cricket administration by SC
The Supreme Court appointed senior advocate P. S. Narasimha, as mediator for resolving various disputes related to cricket administration in the country.
i. The bench also asked P. S. Narasimha to look into the dispute relating to release of funds by the court appointed committee of administrators to various cricket associations.
ii. It has restrained all other courts in India from entertaining for proceeding with any matter pertaining to BCCI and state cricket associations.
About BCCI
♦ President – C. K. Khanna
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai

Mercer India has named Arvind Laddhaa as its CEO
On 14th March 2019, Arvind Laddha was appointed as the CEO of Mercer for its India operations. He currently occupies the post of Deputy CEO in JLT Independent, an insurance broking firm.
i. His work will mainly involve enhancing Mercer’s growth in India, looking out for emerging market opportunities and expanding relationships with the present clients.
ii. Mercer stated that the appointment will become effective after closing of the transaction between Mercer’s parent company, Marsh & McLennan Companies and JLT, due to anti-trust and financial regulatory approvals.


Special Olympics World Games 2019 kick off at Abu Dhabi
Special Olympics World Games 2019 began at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 14th Match 2019 and made history by welcoming a record-breaking 200 nations at the Games comprising 195 participating and 5 observing.

Special Olympics World Games 2019 kick off at Abu Dhabii. The Indian contingent was the second largest after the host UAE and marched proudly holding the tricolour.
ii. The event is being held in the Middle East for the first time and 7,500 athletes will take part in 24 Olympic-style sports over seven days.
iii. Nine venues in Abu Dhabi and Dubai will accommodate 500,000 spectators, 1,500 officials will referee the Games, while 3,000 coaches will assist the athletes.
For the first time, 200 nations are being represented at the World Games, 195 participating and observing.

Dream11 became official partner of VIVO IPL 2019
The Board Of Control For Cricket In India (BCCI) announced the sports gaming platform Dream11 as the official partner for VIVO Indian Premier League (IPL) to boost the digital gaming.

Dream11 became official partner of VIVO IPL 2019i. The 4-year partnership will begin with the upcoming IPL 2019 and Dream11 will also power the official Fantasy Gaming League of IPL.

Karnataka defeated Maharashtra to clinch their first Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy
Karnataka cricket team defeated Maharashtra to win their maiden Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore.

Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophyi. Chasing a target of 156 runs, Mayank Agarwal (85*) took charge of Karnataka’s innings after the fall of opener Belur Sharath and anchored a match winning partnership of 92 runs off 59 balls with Rohan Kadam (60) for the second wicket.
About Karnataka
♦ Capital – Bengaluru
♦ Chief Minister – H. D. Kumaraswamy
♦ Governor – Vajubhai Vala
About Maharashtra
♦ Capital – Mumbai
♦ Chief Minister – Devendra Fadnavis
♦ Governor – C. Vidyasagar Rao

South Africa’s JP Duminy announces retirement from ODIs after 2019 World Cup
South African all-rounder Jean Paul Duminy (34) has announced his retirement from ODIs, after the 2019 World Cup which shall start on May 30 in England.

Duminy announces retirementi. This would be his third World Cup after 2011 and 2015.
ii. He has played in 193 ODIs so far and scored 5047 runs at an average of 37.39. As an off-spinner, he also has 68 wickets to his name.
iii. He had earlier retired from Test and first-class cricket in 2017.


Lingayat Pontiff Maate Mahadevi died aged 74 years
Prominent Lingayat pontiff and Basava Dharma Peetha President Maate Mahadevi passed away at the Manipal hospital in Bengaluru at the age of 74 years due to cardiac arrest.
i. She was born on 13th March 1946 in Sasalahatti, Chitradurga in Karnataka.
ii. She was an influential leader from the Lingayat community, took part in the protests held for separate religion and grant of minority status for Lingayats in Karnataka.
iii. In 1966, she received her Jangama initiation as an ascetic in the Lingayat order of wandering mendicants. In 1970, she was installed as a jagadguru in the Lingayat community and became the first woman to be placed in that position.


World Consumer Rights Day 2019 observed on 15th March
The World Consumer Rights Day 2019 was celebrated on 15th March 2019. The theme for this year is “Trusted Smart Products” which has been selected owing to the popular nature of smart gadgets like smart phones, wearable fitness trackers, voice-activated assistants and smart TVs etc.

World Consumer Rights Day 2019i. The day is celebrated every year to spread awareness about consumer rights. It is an initiative by Consumer International which is a membership organisation for consumer groups around the world.
ii. The day draws its inspiration from President John F Kennedy, who was the first leader in the world to address the issue of consumer rights in a special message sent to the US Congress on 15 March 1962.

World Sleep Day 2019 observed on 15th March
The World Sleep Day was observed on 15th March 2019 and the theme for this year was ‘Healthy Sleep, Healthy Aging’.
i. It has been organised since 2008 by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Sleep Society, formerly known as the World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM World Sleep Society).
ii. It aims to spread awareness about sleep issues and their effect on our daily lives, prevention and treatment of these issues. 


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.
i. With Captain Shreyas Iyer, Delhi Capitals will be facing Mumbai Indians on 24th March 2019 at the Wankhede Stadium.
ii. Delhi Capitals has never won the IPL.