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Current Affairs Today March 14 2018

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

Chennai tops in fixed broadband speed in India: Ookla report
i. According to a study titled ‘India’s digital divide: how broadband speed splits the nation’ by Ookla, With fixed broadband average download speed at 32.67 Megabits per second (Mbps) Chennai has topped the list and has clocked 57.7% faster download speed than the average for the rest of the country.
ii. In context of this news, it is important to note that for February 2018, with fixed broadband average download speed at 20.72 Mbps, India ranked 67th in the world on Speedtest Global Index………………………………………………………………….Click here to Read more
Highest Average Download Speed – Top 5 Cities

Chennai 32.67 Mbps
Bengaluru 31.09 Mbps
Hyderabad 28.93 Mbps
Visakhapatnam 26.59 Mbps
Delhi 23.57 Mbps

Pune tops Quality of Governance Survey
i. As per fifth edition of the Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS) by Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, Pune is the top city to show improvement in quality of governance in 2017.
ii. Pune topped the list with an overall score f 5.1 out of 10. Bhubaneswar showed significant improvement by attaining fourth spot in 2017 survey as compared to tenth in 2016…………………………………………………Click here to Read more
Top 5 cities in terms of Quality of Governance:

1 Pune
2 Kolkata
3 Thiruvananthapuram
4 Bhubaneswar
5 Surat

Supreme Court bars foreign firms from practicing law in India
On March 13, 2018, Supreme Court of India upheld judgements given by Madras High Court and Bombay High Court that foreign law firms cannot practice in India.
Supreme Court bars foreign firms from practicing law in IndiaMore Information and Rationale behind Supreme Court’s Decision:
i. Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Adarsh K Goel and Uday U Lalit barred foreign law firms and foreign lawyers practising in India for both litigatious (likely to engage in lawsuits) as well as non-litigatious activities.
ii. This judgement takes into consideration Bar Council of India Rules (BCI) that the Indian laws are of specialised nature and only those who have a exhaustive and holistic idea of its functioning, are permitted to practice law by it.
iii. However, Supreme Court has allowed foreign lawyers to ‘fly in fly out’ to advise on foreign law.
iv. Besides, foreign lawyers have been allowed to appear in International Commercial Arbitration (mode of resolving commercial disputes arising between private parties on account of cross- borders transactions).

Health Ministry and WHO sign an Agreement for enhanced cooperation in health sector
On March 13, 2018, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and World Health Organization (WHO) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) for enhanced cooperation in health sector.
Health Ministry and WHO sign an Agreement for enhanced cooperation in health sectorDetails about Union Health Ministry – WHO Agreement:
i. The agreement was signed by Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary (International Health) and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of WHO in New Delhi.
ii. Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare J.P. Nadda was also present during the signing ceremony.
iii. The MoA is expected to strengthen collaborative work between Indian Government and WHO in achieving improved health outcomes.
Quick Facts about World Health Organisation (WHO):
♦ Formed in – 1946
♦ Headquarters – Geneva, Switzerland
♦ Current Director General – Tedros Adhanom

Assam govt proposes insurance scheme for journalists
Assam State Government has proposed an insurance scheme for journalists and their families in State budget for the year 2018-19.
Insurance scheme for journalists in Assam:
i. This announcement was made by Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma during presentation of state budget for 2018-19 in the assembly on March 12, 2018.
ii. Mr. Sarma stated that for the year 2018-19, budgetary allocation of Rs 63 crore has been earmarked for the Information and Public Relations Department that would implement schemes for journalists in Assam.
iii. This ‘Journalist Insurance Scheme would ensure security and protection of the journalists and their families.
iv. As announced in last year’s budget, Assam State Government has already introduced Pension Scheme for Journalists to provide retirement benefits to those journalists who have been working for more than 20 years in Assam.
Quick Facts about Assam:
♦ Capital – Dispur
♦ Current Governor – Jagdish Mukhi
♦ Current Chief Minister – Sarbananda Sonowal
♦ Important National Park – Manas National Park

CII to set up multi-skill centre in Darjeeling
On March 13, 2018, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) announced that it will set up a multi-skill centre in Darjeeling, West Bengal.
CII’s upcoming multi-skill centre in Darjeeling:
i. Announcement in this regard was made by CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee at the inaugural session of the two-day Darjeeling Business Summit.
ii. CII will set up this multi-skill centre in Darjeeling in partnership with  the Gorkha Territorial Administration.
iii. This multi-skill centre will initially impart training in hospitality, beauty and wellness and healthcare.
Quick Facts about CII:
♦ Formed in – 1985
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Current President – Shobana Kamineni

Odisha govt signs MoU with Tata Trusts
On March 13, 2018, Odisha State government and Tata Trusts signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for implementing the state’s decision on land rights settlement for slum dwellers in urban areas.
More Information about Odisha State Government – Tata Trusts MoU:
i. The MoU was signed in presence of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who directed all district collectors and concerned government officials to accord top priority to this work.
ii. Seven months ago, Odisha State Government took a historic decision to discontinue the practice of evicting slum dwellers in urban areas (by treating them as encroachers), and granted them land rights.
iii. As per the terms of the MoU, Tata Trusts will provide technical support to Odisha State Government in implementing this decision.
Quick Facts about Odisha
♦ Capital – Bhubaneswar
♦ Current Governor – S.C. Jamir
♦ Current Chief Minister – Naveen Patnaik
♦ Important National Park – Bhitarkanika National Park

Government forms ‘Field Inspection and Scientific Evaluation Committee (FISEC)’ to probe illegal cultivation of HT Cotton
On 12th March 2018, Minister of State for Textiles Ajay Tamta said that, the government has constituted ‘Field Inspection and Scientific Evaluation Committee (FISEC)’ to investigate into illegal cultivation of HT (Herbicide Tolerant) cotton in 4 states.
Field Inspection and Scientific Evaluation Committee (FISEC):
i. Ajay Tamta said that, the government had received several entries insisting on ban of illegal cultivation of HT or BG-III cotton in India.
ii. Several complaints regarding illegal and unauthorised cultivation of HT cotton in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat and Maharashtrahave been received.
iii. He said that, a Field Inspection and Scientific Evaluation Committee (FISEC) has been formed by Department of Biotechnology in the Ministry of Science and Technology.
iv. This committee will conduct investigation on illegal cultivation of HT cotton. He also added that, the cultivation of BG-III or HT cotton does not have the approval of Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of the Ministry of Environment.
About Department of Biotechnology:
♦ Formed – 1986
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

IAF’s largest transport aircraft C-17 Globemaster makes historic landing in Arunachal Pradesh
On 13th March 2018, C-17 Globemaster, the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) largest transport aircraft, made a historic landing at Tuting Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in Arunachal Pradesh.
IAF's largest transport aircraft C-17 Globemaster makes historic landing in Arunachal PradeshIAF’s largest transport aircraft C-17 Globemaster makes historic landing in Arunachal Pradesh:
i. The landing of C-17 Globemaster is considered as a move by IAF to strengthen its  operations in the important border region. The landing ground is just 30 km away from China.
ii. After the trial landing, C-17 Globemaster performed an operational mission, airlifting 18 tonnes of load into the airfield.
iii. The flight crew consisted of Group Captain K Rama Rao, Wing Commander Amiya Kant Patnaik, Wing Commander K Trivedi and Squadron Leader L Nayak.
About Indian Air Force (IAF):
♦ Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) – Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

IATA partners with Civil Aviation Ministry and National Aviation University
On 13th March 2018, International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that, it has signed a MoU with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and National Aviation University to improve human resource availability in India’s aviation industry.
IATA partners with Civil Aviation Ministry and National Aviation UniversityIATA partners with Civil Aviation Ministry and National Aviation University:
i. The three parties formalised this partnership in the presence of Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation at the Wings India 2018 event in Hyderabad.
ii. This MoU also aims in developing better academic cooperation between IATA and National Aviation University.
iii. As per the MoU, the institutions will also utilize the existing infrastructure for training in India to improve the reach of vocational training in aviation sector.
About International Air Transport Association (IATA):
IATA’s Regional Vice President, Asia-Pacific – Conrad Clifford
Headquarters – Montreal, Canada

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

World Happiness Report 2018: India Ranks 133rd, Finland tops the list
i. India has ranked 133rd out of 156 countries in the World Happiness Report 2018.
ii. World Happiness report is an annual report published by the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network. ………………………………………………………………………………Click here to Read more
World Happiness Index 2018 – Top 10 Countries:

1 Finland
2 Norway
3 Denmark
4 Iceland
5 Switzerland
6 Netherlands
7 Canada
8 New Zealand
9 Sweden
10 Australia

Saudi Arabia cabinet approves nuclear power program national policy
On 13th March 2018, Saudi Arabia’s cabinet approved the national policy of the atomic energy program.
Saudi Arabia cabinet approves nuclear power program national policySaudi Arabia cabinet approves nuclear power program national policy:
i. The national policy limits all nuclear activities to peaceful purposes, within the limits drawn by international treaties.
ii. It also highlights the need for optimal utilization of natural resources from nuclear materials and usage of best practices for radioactive waste management.
iii. Riyadh had invited US companies to participate in developing Saudi Arabia’s first atomic energy programme.
About Saudi Arabia:
♦ King – Salman
♦ Crown Prince – Mohammad

BANKING & FINANCE

RBI discontinues Letters of Undertaking, Letters of Comfort for trade credit
In a bid to plug the loopholes in the trade finance activities of banks, Reserve Bank of India has scrapped quasi bank guarantee instruments such as the Letter of Undertaking (LoU) and Letter of Comfort (LoC).
Scrapping of Letters of Undertaking, Letters of Comfort:
i. This decision has been taken in wake of Rs. 14000 crore PNB fraud, the modus operandi of which revolved around the unauthorised use of LoU by bank officials.
ii. A LoU is a promise by the issuing bank to the counter bank (the bank which encashes the LoU) to pay in case of default by the one on whose behalf it was issued. In Nirav Modi’s case, PNB had issued the LoU and will thus have to pay to other banks where Nirav Modi had encashed those LoUs.
iii. Just like LoUs, LoCs were being widely issued by domestic branches of Indian banks for customers to avail trade credit from foreign branches of other Indian banks.
iv. With these two instruments being discontinued, Indian Banks will rely more on letter of credit for trade purposes. Letter of Credit is comparatively more secure as it carries transaction details such as purchase by the importer, date of issue and the material purchased.

World Bank projects India’s FY19 GDP growth at 7.3 pc
As per World Bank’s biannual publication, India Development Update: India’s Growth Story, India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for next financial year i.e. FY 2018-19 is projected at 7.3 per cent.
World Bank projects India's FY19 GDP growth at 7.3 pcIndia’s GDP growth forecast – World Bank:
i. World Bank has outlined that  Indian economy is likely to recover from the impact of demonetisation in November 2016  and roll out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) July 2017 and will accelerate further to 7.5 per cent in 2019-20.
ii. For the current financial year ending March 31, 2018, Indian economy’s growth rate is expected to be 6.7 per cent.
iii. However, in order to attain the 8 per cent GDP growth, the scope of ongoing reforms needs to be widened and Government should take measures to address issues related to credit, investment and enhancing competitiveness of exports.
Quick Facts about World Bank:
♦ Formed in – 1945
♦ Headquarters – Washington D.C., US
♦ Current President – Jim Yong Kim

Lok Sabha passes Finance Bill 2018
On March 14, 2018, Lok Sabha passed the crucial Finance Bill 2018 and Appropriation Bill for the next fiscal year i.e. 2018-19.
Passage of Finance Bill 2018:
i. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley moved 21 amendments to the Bill containing taxation proposals for 2018-19.
ii. The Appropriation Bill lists outspending plans for 99 government ministries and departments for the year 2018-19.
iii. Both these bills were approved by voice vote.
iv. Both these bills will now be sent to Rajya Sabha. However, as these are money bills, if Rajya Sabha does not return them to the Lok Sabha within 14 days, they would be considered as approved.

BUSINESS

Boeing inks new pact with TAL to make beams for B 787-9/10 Dreamliners
On 14th March 2018, Boeing and TAL Manufacturing Solutions (TAL) signed a new contract to manufacture advanced composite floor beams for Boeing’s 787-9/10 Dreamliners at TAL’s facility in Nagpur.
Boeing inks new pact with TAL to make beams for B 787-9/10 DreamlinersBoeing inks new pact with TAL to make beams for 787-9/10 Dreamliners:
i. Boeing signed its first contract with TAL for manufacturing floor beams in October 2011.
ii. This new contract is for ACF (advanced composite floor) beams for the B 787-9 and 787-10 Dreamliners.
iii. Boeing India president Pratyush Kumar said that, Boeing provides advanced technology support for this project with TAL.
About TAL Manufacturing Solutions (TAL):
♦ MD & CEO – Ganesh Raghavan
♦ Corporate Office – Pune, Maharashtra

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Bidya Devi Bhandari re-elected President of Nepal for second term
On 13th March 2018, Bidya Devi Bhandari was re-elected for a second term as President of Nepal.
Bidya Devi Bhandari re-elected President of Nepal for second termBidya Devi Bhandari re-elected President of Nepal for second term:
i. Bidya Devi Bhandari became the first woman president of Nepal in 2015. She is 56 years old.
ii. Votes: Bidya Devi Bhandari who secured 39,275 votes defeated Kumari Laxmi Rai of Nepali Congress who obtained 11,730 votes in the presidential election.
iii. Alliance: Bidya Devi Bhandari was supported by the alliance of CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre), the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal etc.
About Communist Party of Nepal – Unified Marxist–Leninist (CPN-UML):
♦ Headquarters – Kathmandu, Nepal
♦ President – Khadga Prasad Oli

Gina Haspel to become CIA’s first woman chief
US President Donald Trump has nominated Gina Haspel for the position of CIA Director.
Gina Haspel to become CIA’s first woman director:
i. Gina Haspel was once reported to have run a secret prison in Thailand where the inmates were allegedly subjected to harsh interrogation techniques.
ii. Donald Trump recently removed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. He has nominated Gina Haspel for the position of CIA Director.
iii. Now the Senate must vote to confirm Gina Haspel as CIA director. She is 61 years old.
iv. She joined the CIA in 1985. If her selection as CIA director is confirmed she’ll become the first woman director of CIA.
About CIA (Central Intelligence Agency):
♦ Formed – 1947
♦ Purpose – civilian foreign intelligence service of the United States federal government, tasked with gathering, processing, and analyzing national security information from all over the world

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

ICMR wins International Kochon Prize 2017 for TB research
On 13th March 2018, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) was awarded the International Kochon Prize 2017 for promoting research and development (R&D) in tuberculosis treatment.

ICMR wins International Kochon Prize 2017 for TB research

ICMR wins International Kochon Prize 2017 for TB research:
i. ICMR was presented a cash prize of $65,000 by the Kochon Foundation.  Kochon Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in Korea.
ii. ICMR has been honored by Kochon Foundation for setting up of the India TB Research Consortium to encourage R&D efforts in India.
iii. The TB consortium works with public and private institutes to develop point-of-care diagnostics, shorter treatment regimens and effective vaccine for tuberculosis.
About Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR):
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Purpose – formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research

India-UK Joint Team wins Newton-Bhabha Fund for Groundwater Arsenic Research project
An India-UK Joint Team has won the Newton-Bhabha Fund for a project on Groundwater Arsenic Research in Ganga River Basin.
India-UK Joint Team wins Newton-Bhabha Fund for Groundwater Arsenic Research project:
i. The Department of Science and Technology, India and Natural Environment Research Council, UK, have undertaken this project jointly.
ii. Purpose of the project: to develop solutions to the water issues faced in Arsenic-affected Ganga River Basin.
iii. Indian Team: consists of representatives of IIT Kharagpur, National Institute of Hydrology, IIT Roorkee and Mahavir Cancer Sansthan and Research Centre of Patna.
iv. UK team: consists of representatives of University of Manchester, British Geological Survey, University of Salford and University of Birmingham.
v. Newton Bhabha Fund: it is provided by the British Council. It aims to uitlise the joint efforts of UK and Indian scientific research sectors to develop solutions for problems faced by India in economic development and social welfare.
vi. The project will focus on studying the arsenic poisoning issue and the effect it will  create in the next 25 to 30 years and will recommend water remedial technologies.
vii. Prof Abhijit Mukherjee will lead the project at IIT Kharagpur. He said that initially the project will be conducted in 3 sites – Bijnor and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Nadia in West Bengal.
Some important museums in India:
♦ Anthropological Museum – Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands
♦ Victoria Jubilee Museum – Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh
♦ Mayong Central Museum and Emporium – Mayong, Assam

OBITUARY

British scientist Stephen Hawking passes away at 76
On 14th March 2018, renowned British Scientist Stephen Hawking passed away at his residence in Cambridge, ‎England.
British scientist Stephen Hawking passes away at 76Death of Stephen Hawking:
i. Stephen Hawking was 76 years old. He was well known for his work on black holes and relativity.
ii. He had also written several science books such as A Brief History of Time. He was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease when he was 22 years old.
iii. The disease left him paralyzed and he started dwelling on a wheelchair. He lost his ability to speak and started communicating through a voice synthesiser.
iv. He discovered that, black holes leak energy and fade to nothing. This phenomenon is referred to as Hawking radiation.
About Stephen Hawking:
♦ Born – Oxford, England
♦ Fields – General relativity, Quantum gravity

Delhi’s first Commissioner of Police Jayendra Nath Chaturvedi passes away
On 12th March 2018, Jayendra Nath Chaturvedi, first Commissioner of Delhi Police and former Director General of Uttar Pradesh Police, died in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
Death of Jayendra Nath Chaturvedi:
i. Jayendra Nath Chaturvedi is a 1951 batch officer. He served as Chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (UPPSC).
ii. He was the first Commissioner of Police in Delhi during the 1978 to 1980 period.
Some important dams in India:
♦ Tehri Dam – Bhagirathi River
♦ Nagarjuna Sagar Dam – Krishna River
♦ Rihand Dam – Rihand River

Actor Narendra Jha passed away
On 14th March 2018, Bollywood actor Narendra Jha died due to a massive heart attack at his farmhouse in Maharashtra.
Actor Narendra Jha passed awayDeath of Narendra Jha:
i. Narendra Jha was 55 years old. He was born in Madhubani, Bihar.
ii. He started his career with the television industry. He has acted in several Bollywood films.
iii. Some of his popular works are: Haider, Kaabil, Mohenjo Daro, Ghayal Once Again, Raees, etc.
Some UNESCO cultural heritage sites in India:
♦ Agra Fort – Uttar Pradesh
♦ Ajanta Caves – Maharashtra
♦ Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi – Madhya Pradesh