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Current Affairs Today – March 15 2017

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

Andhra Pradesh Presents Around 1.57 Lakh Crore Budget for 2017-18
The Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu presented Rs 1,56,999 crore budget for the financial year 2017-18 in the Legislative Assembly on March 15, 2017.The proposed budget for 2017-18 is about 15.70 percent more than the budget for 2016-17.
♦ The objective of the gender budget is to save women and girls from discrimination and neglect in matters of development, progress, security and human rights.
Important Highlights of the Budget
1.Revenue expenditure: Rs 1.25 lakh crore
2.Capital expenditure: Rs 31,087 crore
3.State’s revenue deficit in 2017-18: Rs 416 crore (0.05 per cent of Gross State Domestic Product)
4.Fiscal deficit: Rs 23,054 crore (3.0 percent of GSDP)
5.Under Vision 2029, the state is targeting a growth rate of 12 percent every year.

Centre Launches New Scheme TIES for Developing Export Linked Infrastructure
i. The Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched a new scheme named Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) on March 15, 2017 for developing export linked infrastructure and boost the competitiveness of India’s shipments.
ii. Aim: TIES aims to bridge the infrastructure gap in India to ensure smoother movement of export cargo and also ensure quality standards and certification measures to promote outbound shipment.
iii. The scheme will have a total budgetary allocation of Rs 600 crore for three years with an annual outlay of Rs 200 crore.
iv. It will be implemented from April 1, 2017 and span from 2017-18 till 2019-20.
v. An inter-ministerial empowered committee under the chairmanship of commerce secretary Rita Teaotia has been constituted for sanctioning and monitoring of the project.

Annual Krishi Unnati Mela Begins in New Delhi
The three-day annual Krishi Unnati Mela was inaugurated by Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh at the Indian Agriculture Research Institute in Pusa, New Delhi on March 15, 2017.
Aim: To provide information on new farm schemes and technologies and other welfare scheme that will help to double the farmer’s incomes by 2022.
♦ The three day fair (March 15-17) has been organized by the Indian Agricultural Research Annual Krishi Unnati Mela 2017Institute (IARI) jointly with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. More than thousands of farmers, workers, students, scientists are expected to take part in Agriculture Fair at New Delhi.
♦ As a part of the event, the Minister also gave away Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Rashtriya Krishi Vigyan Protsahan Puraskar 2016 to recognise contribution of Krishi Vigyan Kendras.
Key Events of the Fair
i. Some of the major attraction of the mela this year would be digitization in agriculture, organic farming, agribusiness models, precision farming, skill building and entrepreneurship development among others
ii. The technical sessions on various themes will be held to educate farmers on various agricultural technologies and government schemes for agricultural development.
iii. A women empowerment workshop will be organised to sensitise farm women on latest agricultural technologies and their rights. Farmers and visitors from across the country will attend the fair.
iv. More than 350 stalls has been set up in Krishi Unnati Mela 2017 to provide training to farmers in latest agri-products and use of seeds and irrigation techniques for better production of crops.
About Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Rashtriya Krishi Vigyan Protsahan Puraskar
♦ Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Rashtriya Krishi Vigyan Protsahan Puraskar was launched in 2016 to mark the birth centenary year of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay, pioneer of Antyodaya.
♦ The award carries total sum of Rs. 50 lakhs. Out of this one award of Rs. 25 lakh is given at national level while 11 awards of Rs. 2.25 lakh is given at regional level.
♦ The decision of winners of this award has been taken by the selection committee on the basis of nominations received from all the Krishi Vigyan Kendras across the country.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma Presents Rs 1236 crore Deficit Budget
The Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Mukul Sangma, who also holds charge of Finance department, presented Rs 1236 crore deficit budget for the financial year 2017-18 on March 15, 2017 in the state assembly with focus on development expenditure.
♦ In order to synchronise with the budgetary framework of the Union Government, the Meghalaya Chief Minister also announced the merger of the plan and non-plan expenditure and has increased the tax slabs for transportation to raise additional revenue.
Salient Features of the Budget
i. Fiscal deficit is pegged at Rs 1236 crore which is around 3.8 percent of the GSDP.
ii. Total receipts is estimated at Rs 12,510 crore out of which the revenue receipts are estimated at Rs 11,280 crore and capital receipts at Rs 1230 crore.
iii. The total expenditure is estimated at Rs 12873 crore of which the revenue expenditure is estimated to be at Rs 10,648 crore while Rs 2225 crore as capital expenditure.
iv. The advance estimates for Gross State Domestic Product for 2017-18 is Rs 29,566 crore. This is 10.55% more over this year’s current market price of Rs 26,745 crore.
v. The per capita income of the state at current price for the year 2016-17 stands at Rs 88,497 which is 8.26 percent increase over last year’s estimates of Rs 81,498.
Important Allocations
♦ Rural Development: Rs 1731.57 crore
♦ Road and Bridges: Rs 712.8 crore
♦ Education: Rs 909.94 crore
♦ Health and Family Welfare: Rs 420.93 crore

Centre Approves 20 Ganga Cleaning Projects Worth Over Rs 1,900 Crore
i. The Executive Committee (EC) of National Mission for Clean Ganga has given approval for 20 new projects worth nearly Rs 1,900 crore during a meeting held on March 2, 2017.
ii. Out of the 20 projects, 13 are in Uttarakhand, and rest in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
clean-Ganga-campaigniii. All these projects will be fully funded by the Central Government, including even the expenditure on operation and maintenance of these projects.
iv. The project in Uttarakhand includes creating new sewage treatment plants (STPs), upgrading existing STPs and laying of sewage networks in Haridwar at an estimated cost of approximately Rs 415 crore.
v. In the National Capital, a project to construct new state-of-the-art 564 MLD Okhla sewage treatment plant with best effluent standards has also been approved at an estimated cost of Rs 665 crore.
vi. Besides, two projects for laying new sewage pipelines in Pitampura and Kondli to prevent leakages have also been approved at an estimated cost of more than Rs 100 crore in Delhi.
vii. Sewage related works in Karmalichak in Patna and Rajmahal in Jharkhand have also been given green signal for a cost of over Rs 335 crore.
viii. A project under Hybrid-Annuity PPP model worth almost Rs 151 crore has also been approved to address the issue of pollution of Ganga in Varanasi.

International Vision Zero Conference on Occupational, Safety and Health Begins In New Delhi
The International Conference on the Vision Zero and its relevance to Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), began on March 15, 2017 at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi.
♦ Aim: To focus on the Occupational Safety and Health issues and challenges in the Manufacturing, Construction and Mining sector and provide a forum for promoting safety and health at work by exchanging knowledge, practices and experience.
♦ The three day conference has been jointly organized by the Directorate General Factory Advice and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI), Government of India, Ministry of Labour and Employment and German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), Germany in association with International Social Security Association (ISSA).
♦ The conference was inaugurated by the Minister of State (Independent) for Labour and Employment, Shri Bandaru Dattatreya, in the presence of Smt. M. Sathiyavathy, Secretary, Labour and Employment, Government of India.
Key Highlight of the Conference
i. The conference is expected to introduce the fast emerging internationally accepted concept of ‘Vision Zero’ in India to help the government to raise the occupational safety and health standards in the country.
ii. There will be three plenary sessions in the conference dedicated exclusively to the manufacturing, construction and mines sectors.
iii. An exhibition on OSH is also being organized during the conference from 15th to 17th March, 2017 to provide a platform to support technological communication and business trade.
iv. The exhibition segments will show-case personal protective equipment (PPEs), health at work, high-risk prevention, environmental protection at work, etc.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Saudi Arabia Inaugurates Girls’ Council But Without Any Girls
i. In a bid to encourage women participation in workforce, Saudi Arabia has for the first time decided to launch a Girl’s Council.
ii. However, the encouraging initiative became more talk of the town, when none of the female member of the council was present on the stage at its first Qassim Girls Council meeting on March 14, 2017.
iii. The meeting in the al-Qassim province was attended by 13 male members while the women were present too but they were in another room, linked via video due to strict Saudi laws on gender segregation between unrelated men and women.
iv. The meeting was led by province governor, Prince Faisal bin Mishal bin Saud while the girls’ council is chaired by his wife, Princess Abir bint Salman.
v. Saudi Arabia is taking steps to move toward loosening some of its rules and increasing women’s participation in the workforce from 22% to 30% as part of its Vision 2030 Saudi Arabia Inaugurates Girls' Council But Without Any Girlsprogramme.
vi. But it should also see that women’s voices must be heard in the changes and for this they need to be given a platform.
Saudi Arabia
♦ Capital: Riyadh
♦ Currency: Saudi riyal
♦ King: Salman of Saudi Arabia

BANKING & FINANCE

SBI Announces One Time Settlement Scheme Worth Rs 6,000 cr for Tractor Loan
i. The country’s largest lender, State Bank of India announced a One-Time Settlement (OTS) scheme worth Rs 6,000 crore on March 14, 2017 for tractor and farm mechanization loans to improve the loan recovery.
ii. Under the scheme, the loans disbursed before 2011 and falling in the doubtful or loss assets category as of September 30, 2016 would be considered.
iii. Proposals submitted till March 31, 2017 will be considered under the scheme.
iv. The bank is willing to write off 40 percent of the outstanding principal amount of the loan under the scheme.
v. As per the data, SBI’s total farm loan portfolio is 1.25 Lakh Crore rupees and tractor loan book is about 6,000 crore rupees.
State Bank of India
♦ Chairperson: Arundhati Bhattacharya
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Founded: June 2, 1956

India’s contribution to UN increases to Rs 244 crore
i. India’s contribution to the United Nations has increased to Rs 244 crore from Rs 157 India & UNcrore during the fiscal year 2016-16 said by Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj
ii. Indian government had also made voluntary contributions to the tune of Rs 22 crore to international organisations, including UN agencies.
iii. For the period 2016-18, India’s Scale of Assessment for the UN’s Regular and Peacekeeping budgets has been fixed at 0.737 per cent and 0.1474 per cent, respectively.

BUSINESS

Chennai Port Trust signs MoU with the Government of Puducherry for handling EXIM cargo
i. Chennai Port Trust and the Government of Puducherry has signed Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) for handling EXIM cargo originating from Puducherry Port hinterland on March 15, 2017 in New Delhi
ii. Aim : To promote industrial growth in the region, generate substantial employment and attract investment by major industries.
iii. The cargo originating from Puducherry Port hinterland will be transported through sea mode to Chennai Port for shipping to overseas destinations through mainline and feeder vessels and vice-versa.
iv. Around 5 Lakh to 10 Lakh tonnes of cargo is expected to be handled between this two ports.

Bhel’s first 800 MW supercritical plant operational
i. Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited owned by the Government of India partnered with Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd (KPCL) has commenced commercial operations of its first highest-rating coal-based supercritical thermal power plant 800 MW unit
ii. The company has supplied and executed 4,010 MW of coal-based sets for KPCL and its joint ventures, which account for 95 per cent of the utility’s coal-based installed capacity.
iii. Bhel has supplied all the critical equipment, key packages of Balance of Plant, and has also carried out the associated civil works. The major equipment for the project has been manufactured by BHEL at its Haridwar, Trichy, Bhopal, Ranipet, Hyderabad, Jhansi, Thirumayam and Bengaluru plants, while the construction of the plant was undertaken by the company’s Power Sector- Southern Region.
iv. BHEL is also executing KPCL’s first gas-based combined cycle power project of 370-MW capacity involving a fuel-efficient advanced-class gas turbine at Yelahanka, Bengaluru

Tata Steel & Wipro Named Among World’s Most Ethical Companies
Two Indian companies namely Tata Steel Limited and Wipro Limited have been named in the list of World’s Most Ethical Companies 2017 by American think tank Ethisphere Institute.
♦  Wipro is one among the two Information technology category firm named in the list. The other firm in that category is US based Xerox Corporation.
Tata Steel♦ Besides, Tata Steel is also one of the two companies named in the metals, minerals and mining category. US-based Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc is the other company in this segment.
♦ World’s Most Ethical Companies 2017 list consists of 124 firms from 5 continents, 19 countries and 52 industry sectors. There are 8 new firms in the list in 2017.
♦ The 11th edition of the list was dominated by US-based companies as around 98 of the 124 companies were from that country.
♦  US based Ford Motor Company has been named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the 8th straight year.
About Ethisphere’s World’s Most Ethical Companies
i. Ethisphere is a private company that makes money through products and services like conferences, event sponsorships, subscriptions and advertising.
ii .Ethisphere honours those companies who recognise their role in society to influence and drive positive change in the business community and societies around the world.
iii. Ethisphere evaluates firms on five criteria: company’s ethics and compliance program; company’s culture; corporate citizenship; corporate governance and leadership, innovation and reputation.
iv. The list isn’t a ranking, but includes 124 companies deemed to be the most ethical.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Babul Supriyo Named Vice-President Of FIFA U-17 World Cup LOC
i. Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Babul Supriyo has been named as Vice President of the 2017 U-17 FIFA World Cup organising committee said by Praful Patel, president of All India Football Federation (AIFF) on March 15, 2017
ii. For the first time, India to host FIFA U-17 World from October 6 to 28, 2017
iii. A FIFA team will visit India this month end for the final inspection of the facilities in the six cities which will host matches of the U-17 World Cup.
iv. Host cities : Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Kochi, Margao and Guwahati

BJP Leader N Biren Singh Sworn in as Chief Minister of Manipur
i. Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP), leader Nongthombam Biren Singh was sworn in as the Manipur’s Chief Minister at Raj Bhawan, Imphal on March 15, 2017.
ii. This is the first time the BJP has come to power in Manipur, ending 15 years of Congress rule. Manipur is the third BJP led state in the north east region after Assam and N Biren SinghArunachal Pradesh.
iii. Besides, Y Joykumar Singh of the National People’s Party was sworn in as the deputy chief minister.
iv. Other seven ministers who took the oath includes: Th Biswajit of the BJP, L Jayantakumar of the NPP, Karan Shyam of LJP, L Haokip of NPP, N Koyisi of NPP, Losie Dikho of NPF and Th Shyamkumar.
v. Governor Najma Haptullah has asked Biren Singh to prove his majority on the floor of the assembly as soon as possible or by March 22-23.
vi. Though in a 60 member assembly, Congress emerged as the single largest party with 28 MLAs followed by the BJP, with 21 MLAs, but with the support of the NPP (4), NPF (4), LJP (1), and three others, BJP leader qualified to form the government.

Justice Sharma sworn in as Upalokayukta of Assam
Former Judge of the Gauhati High Court Chittaranjan Sharma has sworn in as Assam’s Upalokayukta by Governor Banwarilal Purohit on March 14, 2017
Lokayukta :
i. Lokayukta is an anti corruption ombudsmen appointed in states.
ii. For the very first time the Maharashtra state has been initiated Lokayukta in year 1971 and at present the Lokayukta system is functioning in 17 states.
iii. The state government will appoint Lokayukta.

US Senate confirms Seema Verma for health care post 
i. Indian-American Seema Verma is appointed for a top healthcare position in the Trump administration. Her appointment was confirmed by the US Senate after 43 votes out of 55 has secured by Verma.
ii. Verma is expected to play a key role in the government’s bid to “repeal and replace” Obamacare.
iii. She would head the US $1 trillion Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services that provides health services to 130 million people.
iv. She is known as the architect of healthcare reforms in several states, including Indiana.

Shashank Manohar resigns as ICC chairman
i. First independent chairman of ICC, Shashank Manohar(59) has resigned from the post with an immediate effect on March 15, 2017.
ii. Manohar sent his resignation letter to ICC chief executive David Richardson.
iii. He has appointed as ICC Chairman in May 2016 for a two-year term and he stepped down as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
ICC :
♦ Headquarters: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
♦ CEO: Dave Richardson
♦ Motto: Great Sport Great Spirit

ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS

IndusInd Bank acquires brokerage firm IL&FS Securities Services
i. Mumbai based IndusInd Bank announced to acquire 100 per cent stake in brokerage firm IL&FS Securities Services to regulatory approvals on March 14, 2017
ii. The amount of acquisition is not disclosed and the deal is expected to be made effective in 3 months after final approvals from regulatory.
iii. ISSL was incorporated in 2007 as a subsidiary of IL&FS, is a capital market intermediary for professional clearing, depository and custodial Services.It has 1,000 brokers, FPI’s and FII’s as clients.
iv. This acquisition will help IndusInd add to its existing base of more than 500 brokers.
v. This will brings scale to this business, complements our current product offerings and fits nicely into our strategy of creating differentiated businesses with domain expertise
IndusInd Bank :
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ CEO: Romesh Sobti
♦ Founded: 1994

ENVIRONMENT

World’s Oldest Plant-Like Fossils Found In India
i. Scientists from Swedish Museum of Natural History have found two kinds of fossils resembling red algae in uniquely well-preserved sedimentary in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh
ii. One type is thread-like, the other one consists of fleshy colonies.This algae is 1.6 billion World's Oldest Plant-Like Fossils Found In Indiayears old which will be the oldest evidence of plant-like life found on the Earth.
iii. The Indian fossils are 400 million years older and by far the oldest plant-like fossils ever found
iv. The earliest traces of life on Earth are at least 3.5 billion years old. These single-celled organisms, unlike eukaryotes, lack nuclei and other organelles.
v. Large multicellular eukaryotic organisms became common much later, about 600 million years ago, near the transition to the Phanerozoic Era, the “time of visible life”
vi. This research was published in the open access journal PLOS Biology on on 14 March, 2017

SPORTS

Joanna Rowsell Shand Announces Retirement from International Cycling
i. Two times Olympic gold medallist Joanna Rowsell Shand announced her retirement from international cycling on March 14, 2017.
ii .The 28-year-old track cyclist won gold in the women’s team pursuit at London Olympics 2012 and Rio Olympics 2016.
iii. In a career spanning 10 years, Rowsell Shand was a five-time world Champion and four-time European champion. She has also won gold in individual pursuit at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
iv. After retirement, Britain’s Rowsell-Shand is in the process of setting up her own coaching company named Rowsell Shand Coaching. She will continue cycling and take part in the 180km L’Etape du Tour in France in July 2017.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Consumer Rights Day – March 15, 2017
i. Every year, World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated on March 15th to pay more attention to promote basic rights of consumers
World Consumer Rights Dayii. Objective: To promote the basic rights of all consumers, demanding that those rights are respected and protected, and a chance to protest against the market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights.
iii. 2017 Theme:  ‘Building a Digital World Consumers can Trust’.
iv. WCRD was declared by J.F. Kennedy, the president of the USA  on 15th March, 1962 and the first WCRD was observed on 15 March 1983.
Points to Remember:
In India, National Consumers Right Day was observed every year on 24 December.