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Current Affairs Today – March 21 2017

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Current Affairs Today March 21 2017

INDIAN AFFAIRS

Government Set to Launch India’s First Sign Language Dictionary Soon
i. The government has planned to soon launch India’s state of the art dictionary depicting the sign languages used by hearing and speech impaired people across the nation to bring uniformity and bridge the communication gap.
ii. The Indian Sign Language (ISL) dictionary is being developed by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) in both print and video format.
iii. ISLRTC has so far compiled 6,032 Hindi and English words and their corresponding graphic representation of the signs which are used in daily life.
iv. The ISL dictionary consists of graphic representations of popular signs used by the hearing impaired and will also include regional variations along with legal, technical and medical terms.
v. It will promote the use of sign language for hearing impaired students at schools and colleges. It will also enable government officials, teachers, professionals, community leaders and the public at large to learn and use sign language to communicate with the respective class of the people.
About Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC)
♦ Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) is an autonomous organization of the Government of India established under Society Registration Act, 1860 under the aegis of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
♦ The main objectives of ISLRTC are to develop manpower for using, teaching and conducting research in Indian Sign Language (ISL), to promote the use of ISL as an educational mode in collaboration with universities, national and international bodies.

Assam Government approves recommendation of 7th Pay Commission
i. The Assam state government lead by Sarbananda Sonowal has approved the recommendation of the Seventh Pay Commission and also decided to give the six months’ arrear salary to its employees before the ensuing Bohag Bihu.
ii. This new pay structure would be effective from April 1, 2016.
iii. It will make Assam exchequer bear an additional burden of over three thousand crore rupees in FY 2018
7th Pay Commission :
♦ The 7th Central Pay Commission (7CPC) was constituted in February 2014.
♦ Chairman: AK Mathur

BIRAC’s 5th Foundation Day Celebrated on March 20-21, 2017
i. The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has celebrated it’s fifth foundation day on March 20-21, 2017 with the theme [email protected]: Impacting the Biotech Ecosystem”.
ii. Dr. Harsh Vardhan
, Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences was the Chief Guest of 2017 foundation day while Y S Chowdary Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences was the Guest of Honour.
iii. The foundation day celebration was followed by  Grand Challenges India Meeting 2017 which was organized by the BIRAC's 5th Foundation Day Celebrated on March 20-21, 2017BIRAC – PMU of DBT – BMGF and Wellcome Trust.
BIRAC :
♦ BIRAC was incorporated on 20th March, 2012 as a non-profit Public Sector Enterprise under the aegis of Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
♦ Vision : “To Stimulate, foster and enhance the strategic research and innovation capabilities of the Indian biotech industry, particularly start-ups and SME’s, for creation of affordable products addressing the needs of the largest section of society”

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

4 Indian Cities Among Cheapest Global Cities to Live In: EIU Report
i. According to the 2017 Worldwide Cost of Living Index released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) on March 21, 2017, four Indian cities are among the cheapest cities to live in globally.
ii. As per the report, Singapore was the most expensive city to live among 133 for the fourth consecutive year while Almaty in Kazakhstan was the cheapest city in the world, placed at the bottom of the list at 133.
Top 3 Cheapest Cities

Rank City WCOL Index (100)
1 Almaty (Kazakhstan) 38
2 Lagos (Nigeria) 39
3 Bangaluru (India) 42

Mukesh Ambani Tops the Forbes’s Billionaire List in India
According to the report released by Forbes, India has fourth highest number of billionaires in the World and the Indian group is led by Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani.
Top Three Billionaire

Name Company Asset
Bill Gates Microsoft Co-Founder $ 86 billion
Warren Buffet Berkshire Hathaway Chief $75.6 billion
Jeff Bezos Amazon $72.8 billion


Top 3 Indian Billionaires

Name Company Asset
Mukesh Ambani (33) Reliance Industries $ 23.2 billion
Lakshmi Mittal (56) Arcelor Mittal $ 16.4 billion
Azim Premji (72) Wipro Ltd $ 14.9 billion

 

2nd India-UAE Conference On Globalisation Held In Dubai
The second India-UAE conference on globalisation, organised by All India Management Association (AIMA)was held in Dubai to promote cooperation between the two countries.
♦ Theme:  “Resetting Globalisation: Collaborating in a Fast Changing World.”
Highlights :
i. UAE’s Cabinet Member and Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan  and India’s ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri are participated in the conference
ii. The conference held various sessions includes healthcare, technologies to encourage
competitiveness, the banking and financial sector’s financial technologies transformation, and the growing role of technology and innovation in the retail sector
iii. Top industry leaders from both countries have agreed to strengthen their bilateral trade India-UAE Conference On Globalisation Held In Dubaiand investment ties
iv. UAE’s commitment to invest USD 75 billion in Indian infrastructure is of particular significance to the growing relationship between two countries.
UAE :
♦ Capital: Abu Dhabi
♦ Currency: Dirham

BANKING & FINANCE

RBI Proposes To Fix Upper Limit in PPIs At Rs 1 Lakh
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed to cap the upper limit for Pre-paid Payment Instruments at Rs 1 lakh on March 20, 2017 due to the growing usage of PPIs for purchase of goods and services as well as funds transfer.
♦ The decision was taken by RBI after receiving requests from stakeholders and other entities for relaxations in certain areas while strengthening the norms for safety and security, risk mitigation and customer protection aspects related to usage of PPIs.
♦ The RBI sought comment of stakeholders on draft circular on Master Directions on Issuance and Operation of Pre-paid Payment Instruments (PPIs) in India till March 31.
Key Highlight of Draft Notice
i. As per the draft notice issued by RBI, the amount in PPI should not exceed Rs 1 lakh at any point of time if the customer provides full KYC and Rs 20,000 if the customer provides minimum KYC details to the PPI issuing entity.
ii. The maximum value of any prepaid payment instrument, where specific limits have not been prescribed, should not exceed Rs 50,000.
iii .Cash loading to PPIs should be limited to Rs 50,000 per month subject to overall limit of the PPI. It could be loaded/reloaded by cash, by debit to a bank account, by credit and debit cards, and other PPIs.
vi. The draft further said maximum value in prepaid gift instrument should not exceed Rs 20,000 and in case of PPI for Mass Transit Systems it should not be more than Rs 3,000 at any time.
About Pre-paid Payment Instruments
PPIs are payment instruments that facilitate purchase of goods and services, including financial services, remittance facilities against the value stored on such instruments.
Types of PPIs
♦ Closed system: These are payment instruments issued by a person for facilitating the purchase of goods and services from him/her/it.
♦ Semi-closed system: These payment instruments are redeemable at a group of clearly identified merchants that contract with the issuer. These instruments do not permit cash withdrawal or redemption by the holder.
♦ Open system: These are issued by banks and can be used at any merchant locations for purchase of goods and services and also permit cash withdrawal at ATMs.
♦ Semi-open System: These are payment instruments that can be used at any card-accepting merchant locations but do not permit cash withdrawal or redemption by the holder.
♦ Mobile Prepaid Instruments: These are prepaid talk time instruments issued by mobile service providers.

Centre Approves Merging Bharatiya Mahila Bank With SBI
The Government of India has decided to merge Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) with India’s largest lender, the State Bank of India (SBI) to ensure greater banking services outreach to larger number of women at a faster pace.
♦ All the 103 branches of BMB and business of approximately Rs. 2,000 crore would be merged with SBI.
♦ The decision to merge BMB with SBI has been taken keeping in view the advantage of the large network of SBI among other things.
Reasons for Merger
i. Since the establishment of the Bharatiya Mahila Bank in 2013, women have been extended loans of Rs. 192 crore by BMB Bank while about Rs. 46,000 crore by SBI group.
ii. SBI has a wide reach of more than 20,000 branches and the lowest cost of funds among Centre Approves Merging Bharatiya Mahila Bank With SBIbanks.
iii. SBI has about 200,000 workforce out of which 22% are women. SBI group also has 126 all-women branches across the country, while Bharatiya Mahila Bank has seven.
iv .To reach the same coverage by BMB would require a high administrative and managerial cost and for the same cost, a much higher volume of loans to women could be given through SBI.
v. Although the merger would not make significant impact on the branch network and business levels of SBI but it will be ensured that the merger strengthens and reinforces SBI’s focus on financing of women entrepreneurs in order to fulfil the objectives behind setting up of Bharatiya Mahila Bank.

BUSINESS

NBCC to execute social housing project in Mauritius
i. India and Mauritius have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to execute a US $ 20 million (Rs.130 cr) social housing project in Mauritius during Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Housing and Lands Showkutally Soodhun‘s visit to India on March 20, 2017
ii. The housing project will be implemented by NBCC which is a Navratna organisation under the Ministry of Urban Development
iii. According to the agreement NBCC will construct 700 duplex type houses with 50 sq.mt net floor area with two bedrooms, living and dining rooms, kitchen, bathrooms and toilets each in 18 months in Dagotiere and Mare Tabac.
iv. It will also undertaken the construction of new Supreme Court Building at a cost of US $ 33 million (Rs.220 cr) in Port Louis in 24 months.
v. US $ 353 million has sanctioned by Indian government to execute the five projects in Mauritius including Metro Express Project, new ENT Hospital and supply of digital tablets to primary school children.
Mauritius:
♦ Capital: Port Louis
♦ Currency: Mauritian rupee

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Canadian Teacher Maggie MacDonnell Wins $1-million Global Teacher Prize 2017
i .Maggie MacDonnell, a Canadian school teacher was awarded the 2017 Global Teacher Prize worth $1 million on March 19, 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
ii. The award was given away by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
iii. Maggie beat was among 10 finalists chosen from 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries.
iv. The other finalists belonged to Pakistan, the U.K., Jamaica, Spain, Germany, China, Canadian Teacher Maggie MacDonnell Wins $1-million Global Teacher Prize 2017Kenya, Australia and Brazil.
v. Maggie MacDonnell is a teacher at the Ikusik School in Salluit, a remote Inuit village, in Quebec province, Canadian Arctic. She was chosen for the award for changing the lives of her students and transforming her community.
vi. MacDonnell has been teaching in Salluit for six years. According to her biography, Salluit is home to the second northernmost Inuit indigenous community in Quebec, with a population of just over 1,300, and can only be reached by air.
vii. The province has experienced a number of social problems, including a high number of suicides.
About Global Teacher Prize
♦ The Global Teacher Prize was established three years ago by the Dubai-based Varkey Foundation to recognize one exceptional teacher annually who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession, employs innovative classroom practices and encourages others to join the teaching profession.

Major Rohit Suri awarded Kirti Chakra for PoK Surgical Strikes
i. Major Rohit Suri, the leader of the army team that carried out surgical strike in PoK in 2016, was presented the Kirti Chakra by President Pranab Mukherjee during the military investiture ceremony held in the Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 20, 2017.
ii. Major Rohit Suri belongs to the Parachute Regiment. Besides, another member of the surgical strikes team Naib Subedar Vijay Kumar was conferred the Shaurya Chakra for his daredevilry in killing two terrorists in the operation despite coming under fire.
iii. Corporal Gursevak Singh of Indian Air Force was posthumously conferred the Saurya Chakra for putting up a valiant fight against terrorists who had attacked the frontline Pathankot air base in January 2016.
iv. Mr. Mukherjee conferred a total of 13 Shaurya Chakras on military personnel, who were also involved in operations against terrorists in the Pathankot Air Force station and the government institute near Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir. Six of the 13 Shaurya Chakras were conferred posthumously.
v. Mr. Mukherjee also conferred Distinguished Service Medals on senior military officers which included 15 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, three Yudh Seva Medals (YSM) and 23 Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM).
About Kirti Chakra
♦ Kirti Chakra is the second highest peacetime gallantry award equivalent of the Maha Vir Chakra. It is given for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice away from the field of battle.
♦ It may be awarded to civilians as well as military personnel, including posthumous awards. It comes after Ashoka Chakra and before Shaurya Chakra.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

ICMR head Soumya Swaminathan named to UN group on antimicrobial
i. Indian Council of Medical Research director Soumya Swaminathan(57) has been inducted to the ad hoc Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance.
ii. The high level group is set up by UN head Antonio Guterres to provide expertise on and coordinate the global fight against antimicrobial resistance.ICMR head Soumya Swaminathan named to UN group on antimicrobial
iii. The group will lead by Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and World Health Organisation Director-General Margaret Chan
About Soumya Swaminathan :
♦ Swaminathan is presently working as the head of Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR).She also Secretary of Department of Health Research in India’s Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
♦  She is well known for her research on tuberculosis. She has a Fellowship in Neonatology and Paediatric Pulmonology from at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles at University of Southern California .

Madhabi Puri Buch Appointed As Sebi Whole-Time Member
i. Madhabi Puri Buch has been appointed as a Full-Time Member of Mumbai based Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for a period of three years by the Personnel Ministry on March 21, 2017.
ii. Puri currently working at the New Development Bank, China. She is founder-director of Agora Advisory Pvt Ltd 
iii. She will get a consolidated salary of Rs 3.75 lakh per month.
SEBI :
♦ Chairman :Ajay tyagi
♦ Whole-Time members : Gurumoorthy Mahalingam, Rajeev Kumar Agarwal, S Raman and Madhabi Puri Buch

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

ISRO Commissions Two Major Facilities at VSSC
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) commissioned two major facilities, a Hypersonic Wind Tunnel and Shock Tunnel at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre at Thiruvananthapuram on March 20, 2017.
♦ The facilities were dedicated to the nation by the ISRO Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar and are a part of ISRO’s continuous and concerted efforts to minimise cost of access to space.
♦ Such facilities would provide adequate data for design and development of current and future space transportation systems in the country.
Feature of the Facilities
i. The one meter Hypersonic Wind Tunnel and Shock Tunnel have been established with a wide spectrum of simulation capabilities in terms of Mach number, Reynolds number and re-entry velocities.
ii. These facilities are the World’s third largest in terms of size and simulation capability and have been indigenously designed, developed and ‘Made in India’ with the support of Indian industries.
iii. A few critical technologies, which are under embargo, have been jointly developed by ISRO and industries for realization of these facilities.
iv. The facilities are dedicated in the memory of Satish Dhawan, a pioneer in the field and have been named as the Satish Dhawan Wind tunnel Complex.
v. The new facility would help aerodynamic characterization of advanced space transportation systems.

SPORTS

Tamil Nadu Beats Bengal to Win Vijay Hazare Trophy
iTamil Nadu won the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2017 at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi on March 16, 2017 by beating Bengal by 37 runs in the finals.
ii. With this win, they become the only team to win the tournament five times out of which one was shared with Uttar Pradesh in 2004-05.
iii .Tamil Nadu’s Wicket keeper Dinesh Karthik was adjudged as the Man of the Match. He recorded his fifth 50+ score in the tournament and took his aggregate to 495. The average is 82.5.
iv. Besides, Aswin Crist, Mohammed Mohammed and Rahil Shah picked up 2 wickets each to help Tamil Nadu win.
v .Batting first, Tamil Nadu put a modest total of 218 runs for Bengal to chase, however, despite Sudip Chatterjee and Anustup Majumdar’s effort with the bat, Bengal could not chase a modest total of 218 and were dismissed at 180/6 in 36 overs.

India’s Vidya Pillai Wins Silver in World Women Snooker Championship
i. India’s Billiards Champion Vidya Pillai settled for silver medal in the 2017 World Women Snooker Championship held in Safra Toa Payoh, Singapore on March 20, 2017.
ii. The 39 year old lost to Hong Kong’s Ng On Yee, who won the gold with 5-4 lead. This was the second win for Ng who earlier won the Championship in 2015.
iii. This is Vidya’s first international medal for India in 2017. Vidya Pillai, an eight-time women’s national snooker champion, previously won gold at the IBSF World Team Snooker Championship in 2013.

National Champion K T Irfan Wins Bronze in Asian 20km Race Walk Championships
i. India’s KT Irfan won the bronze medal in men’s 20km race walk event at the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan on March 19, 2017.
ii. The 27 year old Army athlete clocked an impressive 01:20:59 to clinch the title.
iii. Besides, the national champion has won the National Race Walking Championships in K T Irfan Wins Bronze in Asian 20km Race Walk ChampionshipsFebruary 2017 to be qualified for the World Championships in London in August 2017.
iv. In addition, Korea’s Kim Hyun-Sub took the gold medal in 1:19:50 while Georgiy Sheiko of Kazakhstan bagged the silver medal in 1:20:47. It was Kim’s third consecutive gold in the event.
v. In the women’s category of 20km event, India’s Priyanka finished fourth with a time of 1:37:42.
vi. China’s Wang Na won gold with a time of 1:30:51, while Japan’s Kumiko Okada got silver in 1:33:31. Korea’s Yeongeun Jeon took the bronze (1:34:35).

Cheteshwar Pujara becomes first Indian to face 500 balls in Test innings
i. Indian Cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara(29) became the first Indian batsman to face 500 balls in the second innings of the 3rd Test against Australia at Ranchi.
ii. Pujara has played 525 balls in his 202 run innings. With this he breaks Rahul Dravid’s record who faces 494 balls in 2004.
iii. He bats for a long period of time with high conversion rate from 100 to 150

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
i. The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is celebrated every year on 21st March to encourages people to remember their obligation and determination to combat racial discrimination.
ii. Aim:  To remind people of racial discrimination’s negative consequences.
iii. 2017 Theme: Racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration
iv. This day was established after an event, Sharpeville tragedy or Sharpeville massacre in 1960

International Day of Forests – March 21, 2017
i. Every year on 21st March is observed as International Day of Forests proclaimed by United Nations(UN) across the world to promotes the importance of forests and trees in our lives.
ii. 2017 Theme: Forests and energy. This year theme highlight the importance of wood International Day of Forestsenergy in improving people’s lives, powering sustainable development and mitigating climate change.
iii. A resolution was passed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on November 28, 2012, to declare March 21 as International Day of Forests.
iv. The first International Day of Forests was celebrated on  March 21, 2013
Forest :
Forests are very essential part of the life on Earth.It account for 75% of the gross primary productivity of the Earth’s biosphere, and contain 80% of the Earth’s plant biomass

World Poetry day – March 21, 2017
i. UNESCO designated World Poetry Day is observed on 21st March to encourage a return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, to promote the teaching of poetry.
ii. Aim :  To support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.
iii. The day was recognised by UNSECO, specialized agency of the UN. It was adopted during UNESCO’s 30th session held in Paris in 1999.