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Current Affairs Today March 17 2018

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

NITI Aayog releases SATH-E project
On March 17, 2018, NITI Aayog released comprehensive roadmaps and detailed timelines for ‘Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital in Education (SATH-E)’ project.
Overview of SATH-E Project:
i. Forward looking blueprints were released by Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog and the Chief Secretaries of the three participating States – Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.
ii. The roadmaps contained information about detailed interventions which will be made in the three states between 2018 to 2020 with an aim to become ‘Role Model States’ in school education.
iii. The interventions in the form of action-oriented programmes will be carried out at the individual, district and State level.
iv. These roadmaps have been jointly prepared by NITI Aayog, the three States and the knowledge partners of the SATH Initiatives, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Piramal Foundation For Education Leadership (PFEL). 
Quick Facts about NITI Aayog:
♦ Formed in – January 2015
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Ex-Officio Chairman – Prime Minister of India

Rising India Summit organized by Network 18 held in New Delhi
On 16th and 17th March 2018, the Rising India Summit organized by Network 18 is held in New Delhi.Rising India Summit organized by Network 18 held in New DelhiRising India Summit:
i. This is the first edition of News18 Rising India Summit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered keynote address at the summit.
ii. Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, is the guest of honour. The summit focuses on strategic affairs, sports, entertainment and defence.
iii. This summit is a conclusion of Rising Series hosted by Network 18 in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala, etc.
About Network 18:
♦ President – Avinash Kaul
♦ Corporate Office – Noida, Uttar Pradesh

1st Meeting of Working Group to make India USD 5 Trillion Economy held in New Delhi
1st meeting of the Working Group on making India, USD 5 Trillion Economy was held on March 15, 2018 in New Delhi.
Highlights of the meeting:
i. The meeting was chaired by Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Suresh Prabhu and was attended by representatives from NITI Aayog and other industry bodies including Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
ii. The objective of Working Group is to chart out a timeline for achieving the goal of making Indian economy a USD 5 trillion economy from the current USD 2.6 trillion economy.
iii. Key points discussed at the meeting included need for creating appropriate physical and social infrastructure to accommodate the aspirations of India’s millennial population.
iv. It was also outlined that Indian industry needs to align itself with Global Value Chains (GVCs) through which, 80 per cent of the global trade is carried out.
v. Government expenditure, Private Expenditure, Investment and Exports are the four factors which will largely drive India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth.
vi. Decision was taken to set up smaller groups to work out the sectoral targets and the roadmap ahead.

Maharashtra Government bans use of plastic
On March 16, 2018, Maharashtra Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam announced that state government has decided to ban the use of plastic from March 18, 2018.Maharashtra bans Plastic Bottles at Government Offices, HotelsBan on use of plastic in Maharashtra:
i. The ban would apply on production, use, storage, sale, distribution, import and transportation of plastic. 
ii. It would cover plastic bags, disposable cups and plates, thermocol, non-woven polypropylene bags, plastic pouches and packaging.
iii. However, use of plastic for covering medicines, forest and horticulture products, solid waste, tree saplings has been exempted from the list.
iv. Violation of these norms will be punishable with up to three months of jail term and/or will attract a penalty of Rs 5000-25000.
v. In context of this news, it is important to note that  Maharashtra contributes 30 percent of all plastic waste in India.
Quick Facts about Maharashtra:
♦ Capital – Mumbai
♦ Current Chief Minister – Devendra Fadnavis
♦ Current Governor – Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao
♦ Important National Park – Sanjay Gandhi National Park

NSD to host 8th Theatre Olympics in Mumbai
National School of Drama (NSD) will be hosting the 8th edition of Theatre Olympics in Mumbai from 24th March, 2018 to 7th April, 2018.
More information about 8th Theatre Olympics:
i. Theatre Olympics is the largest international theatre festival and is being held in India for the first time.
ii. NSD is hosting the 8th edition of Theatre Olympics in Mumbai in collaboration with Directorate of Cultural Affairs, Maharashtra.
iii. 28 plays will be performed and film veterans like Shabana Azmi, Manoj Joshi, Paresh Rawal, Himani Shivpuri, Seema Biswas and Saurabh Shukla will also take part in the event.
iv. 8th Theatre Olympics opened in Delhi and will be covering 17 Indian cities with over 25000 artistes performing nearly 450 shows.
v. Theme for the 8th edition of Theatre Olympics is ‘Flag of Friendship’.
vi. The Jaipur chapter of the Theatre Olympics, 2018, will be organised by NSD under the aegis of Union ministry of Culture in collaboration with the Ravindra Manch Society and Rajasthan State Art and Culture department from 18th March, 2018 to 1st April, 2018.
vii. Concept of  Theatre Olympics was established in 1993 in Greece, and thereafter it was held in Japan (1999), followed by Russia (2001), Turkey (2006), South Korea (2010), China (2014) and Poland (2016).
Quick Facts about National School of Drama:
♦ Established in – 1959
♦ Located in – New Delhi
♦ Current Director – Waman Kendre

Nitin Gadkari inaugurates 5th Nadi Mahotsava at Bandrabhan in Madhya Pradesh
On 16th March 2018, Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari inaugurated the 5th ‘Nadi Mahotsava’ at Bandrabhan in Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh.
Nitin Gadkari inaugurates 5th Nadi Mahotsava:
i. Nitin Gadkari said that ‘Nadi Mahotsava’ will revive rivers, and also enhance the condition of life of people living on river banks.
ii. He said that, ‘Nadi Mahotsava’ was started by late Union Minister Anil Madhav Dave. He urged people to cooperate in preserving of water.
iii. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan also addressed the gathering. He spoke on various measures taken by government to preserve water.
Some National Parks in Madhya Pradesh:
♦ Madhav National Park
♦ Ghughua Fossil Park
♦ Bandhavgarh National Park

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Sierra Leone becomes first country to run a blockchain-powered election
Sierra Leone, a West African country has become the first country in the world to deploy blockchain technology in election process.Sierra Leone becomes first country to run a blockchain-powered electionBlockchain technology used in Sierra Leone Elections:
i. Sierra Leone attained this distinction by deploying blockchain-based  solution to count the votes and provide proof  in the recently held Presidential elections.
ii. The blockchain based solution used in Sierra Leone’s election was developed by a Switzerland based voting technology company, Agora.
iii. Total 16 candidates contested this election, and Agora used a proprietary blockchain distributed ledger to keep track of the votes.
iv. Based on  this news, it can be inferred that blockchain-based solution that uses a publicly visible ledger for keeping track of elections has potential to complement and eventually replace electronic voting machines.
Quick Facts about Sierra Leone:
♦ Capital – Freetown
♦ Currency – Leone
♦ Neighbouring Countries – Guinea, Liberia

Bhutan recommended for graduation from UN’s least developed country
United Nations Committee for Development Policy (CDP) has announced that Bhutan along with Kiribati, Sao Tome and Principe and Solomon Islands will be recommended for graduation from the least developed country (LDC) category.
Four nations recommended for graduation from UN’s least developed country:
i. These four nations will be recommended to move up from ranks of poorest nations on account of increasing national earning power as well as access to better health care.
ii. At the United Nations (UN), LDC category is assessed using three criteria viz. gross national income per capita, economic vulnerability and human assets (health and education targets).
iii. Countries in this category are reviewed on these criteria at interval of three years. In order to be eligible for being recommended to graduate from LDC, a country must meet two of the three criteria.
iv. As per CDP the above listed four countries have fulfilled this condition and have thus been recommended for graduation.
v. The recommendation has been sent to ECOSOC (the UN Economic and Social Council) for endorsement, which in turn will refer its decision to the UN General Assembly.
Quick Facts about Bhutan:
♦ Capital – Thimphu
♦ Currency – Ngultrum
♦ Current Prime Minister – Tshering Tobgay
♦ Important Rivers – Mo Chhu, Sankosh

Philippines withdraws from International Criminal Court (ICC)
On 16th March 2018, Philippines informed the UN Secretary-General its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).International Criminal CourtPhilippines withdraws from International Criminal Court:
i. Teodoro Locsin, permanent representative of Philippines to the UN, submitted a letter stating Philippines’ withdrawal from ICC to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
ii. The letter stated that, Philippines was withdrawing from the Rome Statute. The Rome Statute set up the ICC in 1998.
iii. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte stated that, Philippines withdraws from ICC due to baseless and outrageous attacks by ICC against him and his administration.
iv. ICC had attempted to investigate Rodrigo Duterte on his anti-drugs campaign earlier.
v. The ICC asked Philippines to reconsider its decision. As per Article 127 of the Rome Statute, a state party’s withdrawal from the treaty will take effect only after a year after the written notification is received by the UN Secretary-General.
About International Criminal Court (ICC):
♦ Seat – The Hague, Netherlands
♦ President – Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji

Qatar announces 50 million Dollars donation to UNRWA
Qatar has announced a $50 million donation to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
Qatar announces 50 million Dollars donation to UNRWA:
i. The government communications office and Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that, the donation was announced at the extraordinary ministerial meeting of UNRWA held in Rome, Italy.
ii. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was present at the extraordinary ministerial meeting of UNRWA.
iii. Qatar has also stated that, it has continued providing financial support to projects implemented by the UNRWA, mainly in the field of education and health.
About United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA):
♦ Purpose – a relief and human development agency which supports more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees
♦ Commissioner-General – Pierre Krähenbühl

BANKING & FINANCE

Centre, ADB ink $120mn loan agreement to improve rail infrastructure
Indian Government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a $120 million loan agreement for improving rail infrastructure which will enhance operational efficiency of Indian railways.ADB approves USD 583 mn loan facility to RPower's project in BangladeshMore information about $120 million loan agreement with ADB: 
i. $120 million loan is the third tranche of $500 million multi-tranche financing facility for the Railway Sector Investment Program
approved by the ADB Board in 2011.
ii. $120 million  procured as third tranche will be used to complete ongoing works for double-tracking and electrification of railway tracks along high-density corridors.
iii. In context of this news, High density corridors refers to busy freight and passenger routes in the states of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It also includes “Golden Quadrilateral” corridor that connects Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi.
Quick Facts about Asian Development Bank (ADB):
♦ Formation Year – 1966
♦ Headquarters – Manila, Philippines
♦ Current President – Takehiko Nakaho

RBI issues PCA framework to maintain sound financial health of banks
In wake of several scams unearthed at public sector banks, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued a Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework aimed at maintaining the sound financial health of banks.
RBI’s PCA framework for banks:
i. The PCA framework stipulates risk thresholds for key areas such as capital, profitability and asset quality (tracked in terms of the net Non-Performing Assets ratio).
ii. On breach of any of these thresholds, the bank in particular, will be mandatorily required to take corrective measures in a timely manner.
iii. The objective behind corrective framework is to encourage banks to refrain from undertaking certain riskier activities, improve operational efficiency and focus on conserving capital in order to maintain sound financial health.
iv. In past 10 months, public sector banks that have been brought under PCA by RBI are IDBI Bank, Dena Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Central Bank of India, UCO Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Indian Overseas Bank, Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, Corporation Bank and United Bank of India.
Quick Facts about Reserve Bank of India (RBI):
♦ Commenced Operations on: 1st April 1935
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Current Governor: Mr. Urjit Patel

BUSINESS

Sushil Modi inaugurates Bihar’s first ‘Startup hub’ in Patna
On 16th March 2018, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi inaugurated the first ‘Startup hub’ of Bihar in Patna.
Bihar’s first ‘Startup hub’ in Patna:
i. Sushil Kumar Modi said that, work station and office space along with free of cost “plug and play” facility will be offered to 31 startup companies in the startup hub.
ii. He said that, the startup hub will be developed as a common facility centre.
iii. He also said that, policy and structural reforms to encourage IT enable services and ESDM (Electronics System Design and Manufacturing) in Bihar had been recently initiated.
Some wildlife sanctuaries in Bihar:
♦ Bhimbandh Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Kanwar Lake Bird Sanctuary

Indian Army inks MoUs with HPCL, NIEDO
With an objective to secure a better future for the Kashmiri youth, Indian Army under the aegis of Chinar Corps has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and National Integrity and Educational Development Organisation (NIEDO).Indian Army inks MoUs with HPCL, NIEDODetails about Indian Army – HPCL – NIEDO MoU:
i. As per the terms of the MoU, Kanpur-based educational trust National Integrity and Educational Development Organisation (NIEDO) will provide quality faculty for professional coaching of Kashmir Youth, while HPCL will be the corporate partner for this project.
ii. Indian Army’s role will be to oversee the entire project including administration, logistics and security.
iii. Coaching for first batch will commence from June 1, 2018.
Quick Facts about HPCL:
♦ Founded in – 1974
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
♦ Current Chairman and Managing Director – M K Surana

Russia remains biggest arms supplier to India
Russia continues to be the largest arms supplier to India as per report produced by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Russia remains biggest arms supplier to India:
i. Russia remains India’s biggest arms seller so far. But its share of total imports has decreased. The report was made by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
ii. Second biggest supplier is United States. It provides 15 per cent of India’s weapon imports.
iii. Third biggest supplier is Israel amounting to 11 per cent of India’s imports during the 2013-17 calendar years.
iv. Fourth biggest supplier is France contributing to 4.6 per cent of India’s imports in the last five years.
v .On the whole, India is the world’s biggest importer of major arms amounting to 12 per cent of the total global imports in the last five years
About Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI):
♦ Director – Dan Smith
♦ Chair – Jan Eliasson

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

MDWS bags Award for best implementation of e-office
On 14th March 2018, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Dr Jitendra Singh, awarded a Certificate of Appreciation to Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) for implementation of e-office software.MDWS bags Award for best implementation of e-officeMDWS bags Award for best implementation of e-office:
i. Satyabrata Sahu, Joint Secretary and Mrs Seemantinee Sengupta, Senior Technical Director, HOD, NIC-MDWS received the award at an event held at the Ministry of Personnel, Grievances and Pension.
ii. e-Office is one of the projects under the Digital India programme. e-Office enables ‘paper-less’ operations in offices.
iii. The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has made 100 % use of e-Office. It implemented the e-office software in 2014 in its offices.
About Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS):
♦ Cabinet Minister – Uma Bharti
♦ Ministers of State – Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi, S S Ahluwalia

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Xi Jinping re-elected as President, Wang as Vice President of China
On 17th March 2018, Xi Jinping was reappointed as president and Wang Qishan as vice president of China.
Xi Jinping re-elected as President, Wang as Vice President of China:
i. The National People’s Congress has appointed Xi Jinping as China’s president and Wang Qishan as vice president.
ii. The National People’s Congress recently removed the two-term limit for Chinese President. Hence Xi Jinping can serve as President without any term limit.
iii. Wang Qishan who has been made Chinese Vice President, is a well-known economic reformer and a close ally of Xi Jinping.
Some important Indian cities on rivers:
♦ Badrinath – Alaknanda River
♦ Chennai – Cooum River
♦ Nizamabad – Godavari River

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Odisha to have integrated multi-hazard early warning system
In a bid to strengthen the prediction and response capability of the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA), Odisha State Government has decided to collaborate with ‘Regional Integrated Multi-hazard Early Warning System’ (RIMES).Odisha to have integrated multi-hazard early warning systemDetails about OSDMA-RIMES collaboration:
i. A meeting was held between Odisha Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi, OSDMA managing director Bishnupada Sethi and ffficials of RIMES to discuss technical and methodological aspects of the system.
ii. RIMES is owned and managed by 45 collaborating countries in the Asia Pacific and Africa Region. Currently, India holds the Chair of Rimes.
iii. Analysis of huge data generated from automatic weather stations installed at gram panchayat level, early warning and preparedness for lightening, heat wave, flood, draught and tsunami have been identified as major areas of collaboration between OSDMA and RIMES.
iv. Collaboration with the RIMES will help OSDMA to strengthen its database for more effective management of natural disasters.
Quick Facts about RIMES:
♦ Established in – 2009
♦ Organisation type – an intergovernmental body registered under the United Nations
♦ Objective – to provide user-relevant early warning services to its Member States and others

CISF launches ‘Lost and Found’ mobile app for lost items at airports
CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) has introduced ‘Lost and Found’, a mobile app using which travelers can lodge complaints to recover items they lost or forgot at airports.
Lost and Found:
i. Available at: The ‘Lost and Found’ app can be downloaded from the website of Information and Technology Ministry.
ii. Advantage: Passengers can directly register complaints and check status of their complaint instantly for airports under the coverage of CISF.
iii. Also, users can request technical consultancy offered by CISF using the mobile app.
About CISF (Central Industrial Security Force):
♦ Director General – O.P. Singh
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

ENVIRONMENT

New species of water strider ‘Ptilomera nagalanda Jehamalar and Chandra’ found in Nagaland
A new species of water strider named ‘Ptilomera nagalanda Jehamalar and Chandra’ has been discovered in Nagaland by scientists of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).New species of water strider ‘Ptilomera nagalanda Jehamalar and Chandra’ found in NagalandPtilomera nagalanda Jehamalar and Chandra:
i. Ptilomera nagalanda Jehamalar and Chandra was discovered in Intanki river, Peren district.
ii.Ventral part of its body is pale yellowish brown in colour. It has orange with black stripes on the dorsal side. Its legs are 11.79 mm long.
iii. This discovery has been published in the Zootaxa science journal. This discovery has increased the number of species of water striders under the subgenus Ptilomera in India to six.
About Zoological Survey of India (ZSI):
♦ Headquarters – Kolkata
♦ Director – Dr. Kailash Chandra

SPORTS

FIFA lifts three-decade ban on Iraq hosting international matches
On 16th March 2018, FIFA lifted its three-decade ban on Iraq hosting international football matches, allowing Arbil, Basra and Karbala cities to host official matches.
FIFA lifts three-decade ban on Iraq hosting international matches:
i. Iraq will host a friendly tournament between Qatar and Syria on 21st March 2018 in Basra.
ii. FIFA President Gianni Infantino said that, FIFA has allowed Iraq to host international matches but organisers of the championship should take the final decision.
iii. FIFA said that, still it cannot allow matches to be held in Baghdad, capital of Iraq. But Gianni Infantino assured that application for hosting matches in Baghdad will be studied.
About FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association):
♦ President – Gianni Infantino
♦ Headquarters – Zurich, Switzerland

KL Rahul named Wisden India Almanack’s Cricketer of the Year
KL Rahul has been named the ‘Cricketer of the Year’ in the 6th edition of Wisden India Almanack that has been released recently.KL Rahul named Wisden India Almanack's Cricketer of the YearKL Rahul – ‘Cricketer of the Year’:
i. The Almanack honured India’s women cricketers. It featured their World Cup celebration as cover picture.
ii. Deepti Sharma, Indian woman cricketer, is one of the ‘Cricketers of the Year’. Another Indian woman cricketer Shantha Rangaswamy has been inducted into the Wisden India Hall of Fame.
iii. Priyank Panchal, Hasan Ali and Tamim Iqbal have also been named Cricketers of the Year.
iv. More than 900 pages of essays, commentary, statistics, portraits and images have been included in the Wisden India Almanack.
About Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports:
♦ Minister of State (Independent Charge) – Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

OBITUARY

Malayalam writer M Sukumaran passes away
On 16th March 2018, M Sukumaran, a renowned Malayalam writer, died after suffering from heart related ailments, at the Sri Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
Death of M Sukumaran:
i. M Sukumaran was 76 years old. He had received the Kendra Sahitiya Akademi and Keral Sahitiya awards.
ii. His popular short stories are: Sangaganam, Unarthupattu, Pithrutharpan and Sheshakriya.
Some dams in Kerala:
♦ Malampuzha Dam – Bharathapuzha River
♦ Parambikulam Dam – Chalakkudy River
♦ Neyyar Dam – Neyyar River