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Current Affairs Today – March 10 2017

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March

INDIAN AFFAIRS

Lok Sabha Clears Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill, 2016 To Raise Maternity Leave to 26 Weeks
i. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed by the Lok Sabha by voice vote on March 10, 2017 that will benefit about 1.8 million women working in organized sector.
ii. The bill seeks to increase the maternity leaves to 26 weeks by amending the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 that provides for 12 weeks of maternity leave.
iii. The Bill will be applicable to the establishments that hire at least 10 or more people. The entitlement will be for only up to first 2 children. For third child, the entitlement will be for only 12 weeks.
iv. The Labour and Employment Minister Bandaru Dattatreya moved the bill for consideration and passage in Lower House.

President of India inaugurates the 12th CII-Exim bank conclave on India Africa Project Partnership
President Pranab Mukherjee has inaugurated the two day 12th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership on March 9, 2017 in New Delhi.The first conclave has held in 2005.
♦ The Conclave was organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in partnership with the EXIM Bank of India with the support of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India.
♦  Objective : To discuss cooperation in Trade, Regional Integration & Infrastructure Development, Finance & Consultancy, Mining & Minerals, Agriculture & Agro-Processing, Power & Alternative Energy, Healthcare, Small & Medium EnterpCII Exim Bankrises, Human Capital Development and People-to-People Contacts
♦  More than 400 international delegates, including over 30 Ministerial level delegates, from 37 African countries, participated in the conclave.
India & Africa Relationship :
i. Over the years, 2,915 projects worth $327.12 billion have been discussed.
ii. During the 11th edition , 381 projects worth about $70.49 billion were discussed leading to many landmark India-Africa business and project partnerships
iii. The India-Africa partnership is a stellar example of multi-pronged South-South Cooperation, straddling the traditional and emerging areas of cooperation alike.
iv. India-Africa bilateral trade volumes grew from $28.9 billion in 2007-08 to $56.7 billion in 2015-16.
Africa :
♦ Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent.
♦ It contains 54 fully recognized sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition
♦ Algeria is Africa’s largest country by area, and Nigeria by population

BANKING & FINANCE

Government Issues Draft Rules For Digital Wallet Companies
i. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has issued a draft rule titled Information Technology (Security of Prepaid Payment Instruments) Rules 2017 on March 8, 2017 for digital wallet firms like Paytm, FreeCharge and Mobikwik.
ii. The MeitY has formulated the draft rules for security of Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs) under provisions of IT Act 2000.
iii. The Rules mandate that each Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPI) company or wallet firm will have in place and publish on its website and mobile applications the privacy policy and the terms and conditions for use of the payment systems operated by it in simple language, capable of being understood by a reasonable person.
iv. Companies will also have to appoint a chief grievance officer whose contact details will have to be displayed on the website.
v. The grievance officer will be required to address any complaint within 36 hours and close it in a month’s time.

Paytm Withdraws Levying 2% fee on Recharging Wallet via Credit Card
i. Indian payment and commerce company Paytm has withdrawn the 2 percent fee on adding money to mobile wallets using credit cards on March 10, 2017, just two days after imposing the fees.
ii. The Alibaba-backed company had introduced the fee on March 8, 2017 after it came to learn that multiple users are using the platform to get free credit by using credit cards to top up their mobile wallets and then transferring the money back to their bank accounts at zero Paytmtransaction cost.
iii. The decision to remove the 2 percent fees was taken keeping in mind the convenience of its users. It also announced to bring in new features to prevent misuse of its system in the future.
Paytm
♦ CEO: Vijay Shekhar Sharma
♦ Founder: Vijay Shekhar Sharma
♦ Founded: 2010

Ujjivan Small Finance Bank opens 6 new branches in Bengaluru
i. Ujjivan Small Finance Bank (Ujjivan SFB) has opened its six new branches at the Silicon Valley of India, Bengaluru on March 9, 2017 said by Samit Ghosh, MD & CEO, Ujjivan Small Finance Bank
ii. Six new branches are located at Magadi Road, Chandra Layout, Chamarajpet, Uttarahalli, Devaiah Park and Nelamangala.
iii. The bank is also planning to open 12 more branches in the city across 24 States in a planned and phased manner.
Ujjivan Small Finance Bank :
♦ Ujjivan Small Finance Bank was officially started its services with five pilot branches from February 6, 2017.
♦ It offer interest rates on fixed deposit and recurring deposit in range of 5.5-8 per cent.
♦  It is one of the 10 entities to get license from the Reserve Bank late last year to commence small finance banking operations.

RBI Restricts Cash Loan Against Gold by NBFC to Rs 25,000
The Reserve Bank of India has amended the provision for disbursement of loan by NBFC against the gold on March 9, 2017 in line with the provisions of the Income Tax Act.
♦ As per the new provision, the Non-banking Financial Company (NBFC) cannot lend more than Rs 25,000 in cash against gold as against the earlier Rs 1 lakh.
♦ The earlier provision for NBFC was that high value loans against gold of Rs 1 lakh and above must only be disbursed by cheque.
♦ The decision was taken in the backdrop of government’s focus on less cash economy and promoting digital payments.
About NBFC
♦ A Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956.
Functions
i. Giving loans and advances, acquisition of shares/stocks/bonds/debentures/securities issued by Government or local authority or other marketable securities
ii. NBFCs lend and make investments similar to that like a banks.
iii. NBFC cannot accept demand deposits.
iv. NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself
v. Deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs, unlike in case of banks.

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Mohan Bhagwat Gets Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science
i. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat was conferred with the honorary degree of Doctor of Science (DSc) by Maharashtra Animal and Fishery Sciences University on its 8th convocation ceremony in Nagpur on March 9, 2017.
ii. Bhagwat received the degree from Maharashtra Governor Vidyasagar Rao in the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research Trilochan Mohapatra.
iii. He was conferred with the degree for his contribution to indigenous caMohan Bhagwat Gets Honorary Degree of Doctor of Sciencettle and its conservation and letters and research on Gaushalas and cow urine products having medicinal value.
iv. Bhagwat graduated in Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry from Government Veterinary College, Nagpur . He dropped out of his postgraduate course in Veterinary Sciences and became a pracharak of RSS towards the end of 1975.

IIT-M solar inverter system wins award 
i. 2017 IEEE Spectrum Technology in the Service of Society Award won by the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras(IIT-M) for its solar-direct current (DC) inverter system.
ii. The solar inverter system was developed by Centre for Decentralised Power Systems at IIT-M.
iii. It is based on micro grid technology and it 230V Analog Current to 48V DC to directly power appliances and devices.
iv. Now the system model has been deployed in 4,000 off-grid homes in Jodhpur and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan and is being deployed in around 7,200 homes in Assam
v. This system has been installed in villages in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Donald Tusk re-elected as European Council president 
i. Former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was re-elected as the president of the European Council for the second time. He won the 27 votes out of 28 EU’s governments
ii. Tusk will act as the president of EU council until the end of 2019.
iii. He has been President of the European Council since 1 December 2014.
iv. Prior to this, he was the Prime Minister of Poland and a co-founder and chairman of the Civic Platform party.

South Korea’s Parliament Vote Unanimously to Remove President Park Geun-hye
i. South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye has become the nation’s first democratically elected leader to be forced out from office over corruption charges.
ii. Eight justices of the constitutional court of South Korea unanimously decided on March 10, 2017 to unseat Ms. Park for committing acts that violated the Constitution and laws throughout her time in office.
iii. The court ruling supported the parliamentary vote passed unanimously in December 2016 to accuse Park Geun-hye over a corruption and cronyism scandal involving her close friend, Choi Soon-sil.
iv. Nation’s first female president now loses her presidential immunity and could face criminal charges accused of extortion, bribery, abuse of power and leaking government South Korea’s Parliament Vote Unanimously to Remove President Park Geun-hyesecrets.
v. South Korea will now conduct election within 60 days to elect a new leader.
South Korea
♦ Capital: Seoul
♦ President: Park Geun-hye
♦ Currency: South Korean won
♦ Prime minister: Hwang Kyo-ahn

Vishwanath Mahadeshwar elected Mumbai Mayor
i. Senior Shiv Sena leader Vishwanath Mahadeshwar has been elected as 76th mayor of Mumbai and Hemangi Waralikar as deputy mayor. He replaced Snehal Ambekar.
ii. Mahadeshwar secured 171 votes defeating Congress candidate Vithal Lokhare who received 31 votes at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
iii. He is a three-time municipal corporator from Bandra.

KPMG appoints Bill Thomas as Global Chairman
i. William B Thomas(49) has been elected as the global Chairman of Netherlands based KPMG International for a four-year term.
ii. Thomas will take charge from John B Veihmeyer on October 1, 2017
iii. Presently he is working as Chairman of KPMG’s American region since 2014 and has been a member of the Global Board since 2009.

ICC appoint Sachin Tendulkar as official ambassador of women’s World Cup 2017
ICC appoint Sachin Tendulkar as official ambassador of women's World Cup 2017i. Former Indian cricketer and captain Sachin Tendulkar has roped as an ambassador of Women’s Cricket World Cup 2017 which will begin from 24th June, 2017 in England and Wales said by International Cricket Council (ICC)
ii. 8 cricket teams from different  countries will play 21-day tournament having 28 matches to win the coveted trophy.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Iran successfully Tests Ballistic Missile Hormuz-2
i. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran successfully test-fired a domestically produced ballistic missile Hormuz-2 from a navy vessel on March 9, 2017.
ii. The Hormuz-2 ballistic missile was test-fired off the coast of Iran and successfully destroyed a floating target about 250 kilometers (155 miles) away.
iii. The latest ballistic missile is designed to destroy moving targets at sea at ranges up to 300 km (186 miles) while maintaining remarkable accuracy.
iv. Earlier on March 6, 2017, advanced S-300 air defense system of Iran, delivered by Russia following the July 2015 nuclear deal after years of delay became operational
Iran
♦ Capital: Tehran
♦ Currency: Iranian rial
♦ President: Hassan Rouhani

NASA Spots ISRO’s Lost Lunar Spacecraft, Chandrayaan-1, Still Orbiting the Moon
i. Chandrayaan-1, India’s first unmanned lunar spacecraft, which was generally considered lost, has been discovered by the NASA scientists still orbiting the Moon.
ii. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched its first lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 on October 22, 2008 and lost communication with the spacecraft on August 29, 2009.
iii. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists located the ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 some 200 kilometers above the lunar surface using its ground based Chandrayaan-1,interplanetary radar on March 9, 2017.
iv. Besides, the NASA scientists also located its own spacecraft Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) around the Moon.
v. The Optical telescopes are unable to search for small objects hidden in the bright glare of the Moon. However, with the new technological application of interplanetary radar, the scientists at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) successfully located the two spacecraft orbiting the Moon.
vi. The discovery of Chandrayaan-1 is an important achievement because it is a very small spacecraft measuring just a small cube about five feet (1.5 meters) on each side.
vii. The discovery of such a small sized Chandrayaan-1 proves to be the best example to demonstrate the capability of the radar technology.
viii. The radar tech is expected to help space agencies for future missions, as optical telescopes do not help much, in finding small objects as the reflection on the Moon is too high.
List of Government Space Agencies

Space Agency Founded Headquarter Administrator
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) 29 July 1958 Washington D.C. Robert M. Lightfoot
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) 15 August 1969 Bengaluru A. S. Kiran Kumar
European Space Agency (ESA) 30 May 1975 Paris Johann-Dietrich Wörner
China National Space Administration (CNSA) 22 April 1993 Beijing Xu Dazhe
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) 1 October 2003 Tokyo Naoki Okumura
Russian Federal Space Agency (RFSA or Roscosmos) 25 February 1992 Moscow Igor Komarov
 

Women Safety app ‘Ammavin Aran’ launched by AIADMK
i. The women safety app ‘Ammavin Aran‘ which means ‘mother’s fortress’ was launched by the AIADMK Deputy General Secretary TTV Dhinakaran on March 9, 2017 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
ii. Amma Aran app will give the details about the nearest police station and hospital along with map details and phone number.
iii. There is an in-built whistle, which can manipulate the phone speaker to create a loud noise when pressed by anyone in distress.
iv. It carries an in-built call recorder and and ‘Tips’ icon to provide life saving information

ENVIRONMENT

Punjab University Develops 3 Bt Cotton Varieties
i. Ludhiana based Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has developed India’s first genetically modified varieties of cotton whose seeds could help the farmers in saving the cultivation cost.
ii. Three Bt cotton varieties have been identified by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) namely PAU Bt 1, F1861 and RS2013 for cultivation in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.
iii. PAU Bt 1 and F1861 were developed by PAU, while RS2013 was developed at Rajasthan Agricultural University (RAU), Bikaner.
iv. While the PAU Bt 1 was completely developed at PAU, the F1861 and RS2013 were converted to Bt version by Central Institute for Cotton Research, Nagpur.
v. All the three genetically modified Bt cotton carry the Cry1Ac gene which produces an insecticide imparting resistance against bollworm complex.
vi. The Bt Cotton varieties seeds could be reused by farmers with no commercial restrictions resulting in savings on repeat purchases every season.

SPORTS

India Surpass Belarus 3-1 to Win Women’s Hockey Series 5-0
i. Indian women’s hockey team beat Belarus 3-1 in their fifth test to clinch the five-match Test series 5-0 on March 8, 2017 in Bhopal.
ii. Under the captaincy of striker Rani, India’s first field goal came by Vandana Katariya in the sixth minute. While in the first quarter, Gurjit Kaur converted a penalty corner in the 15th minute to make it 2-0
iii. Besides, both teams displayed good defensive structure in the next two quarter before Yuliya Mikheichyk converted a penalty corner in the 52nd minute.
iv .Finally, Rani converted a penalty corner in the 55th minute to seal the match.

OBITUARY

Gravitational Waves Pioneer Ronald Drever Dies at 85
i. Noted Scottish physicist Ronald Drever passed away on March 7 in Edinburgh. He was 85.
ii. Prof Drever was well known for developing the world’s first successful gravitational wave Gravitational Waves Pioneer Ronald Drever Dies at 85detectors Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory (LIGO).
iii. The LIGO detected the gravitational waves set off in the fabric of space-time by the merger of a binary black hole pair in September 2015.
iv .Ronald Drever’s role in the detection of gravitational waves was recognised for a stream of awards in 2016 including the Gruber, Breakthrough and Kavli prizes.
v. Drever’s most recent work involved the development of magnetically levitated optical tables for seismic isolation of experimental apparatus.

Former Puducherry Minister M Chandrakasu passes away  
i. Former Agriculture Minister of Puducherry M Chandrakasu was passed away in Chennai on March 9, 2017. He was 67.
ii. Chandrakasu was first elected as Congress legislator from Neduncadu reserved constituency in Karaikal in 1980. He became Speaker of the Assembly in 1985
iii. He was Minister in the Congress ministry led by V Vaithilingam between 1991 and 1996
iv. He was Agriculture Minister in the AINRC government formed by Rangasamy in 2011

IMPORTANT DAYS

2017 National Safety Week (NSW) – March 4-10, 2017
i. 46th National Safety Week Campaign was commenced from 4th March 2017 to 10th 2017 National Safety Week (NSW) - March 4-10, 2017March 2017 to renewing the commitment of employees and general public to work safely throughout the year.
ii. It is observed by National Safety Council (NSC) since 1972
iii. 2017 theme: “Keep Each Other Safe”
NSC :
♦ National Safety Council of India is a self-governing body (non profit and nongovernmental organization for public service) which was established on 4th of March in 1966 under the Societies Act in Mumbai,