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Current Affairs Today March 21 2018

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

ICFRE Signs MoU With TIFAC for Supporting Forest Based Communities
On March 20, 2018, Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehradun and Technology Information, Forecasting & Assessment Council (TIFAC), New Delhi signed an MoU for providing livelihood opportunities and augment income of the forest based communities
Details about ICFRE-TIFAC MoU:
i. ICFRE is an Autonomous Council under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change while TIFAC is an Autonomous Council under Department of Science and Technology.
ii. The MoU was signed in presence of  Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan in New Delhi.
iii. As per the terms of the MoU, TIFAC shall help ICFRE to refine and up-scale the technologies that have been developed and make it accessible to the end users including farmers and other stakeholders.
iv. The collaboration will thus assist the industries to optimize the utilization of forest based resources with access of technology to different users.
Quick Facts about ICFRE:
♦ Established in – 1987
♦ Located in – Dehradun, Uttarakhand
♦ Parent Entity – Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change

Nitin Gadkari inaugurates Inland Ferry Services in Goa
On March 20, 2018, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Nitin Gadkari inaugurated the Inland ferry services in Vasco, Goa.Nitin Gadkari inaugurates Inland Ferry Services in GoaMore information about Inland Ferry Services in Goa:
i. Several dignitaries including Union Minister of State for AYUSH (Independent Charge) Shripad Naik were present at the inauguration.
ii. While delivering the keynote address at the occasion, Mr. Gadkari highlighted that use of waterways is not only economical but is also environmental friendly.
iii. Commuting through Inland ferry services inaugurated in Vasco, Goa would save time and money and avoid pollution and ease the road congestion.
Quick Facts about Goa:
♦ Capital – Panaji
♦ Current Chief Minister – Manohar Parrikar
♦ Current Governor – Mridula Sinha
♦ Important River – Mondovi

Centre approves to set up a plastic park in Deoghar district of Jharkhand
Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers, Ananthkumar has announced that Central Government has approved the setting up of a Plastic Park in Deoghar District of Jharkhand.
Details about upcoming Plastic Park in Deoghar District of Jharkhand:
i. The Plastic Park would be set up at a cost of Rs. 120 crores over an area of 150 acres.
ii. Range of polymer products including woven sacks, water tanks, moulded furniture, bottles, pipes mosquito nets, etc would be manufactured at this Plastic Park.
iii. Setting up of Plastic Park is likely to generate 6000 direct employment opportunities and 30000 indirect employment opportunities.
iv. Mr. Ananthkumar also requested the Jharkhand State Government to facilitate land/ building infrastructure to set up a Central Institute for Plastic Engineering & Technology (CIPET) alongside the Plastic Park, for training necessary human resource (plastic engineers and technicians).
v. Besides, Mr. Ananthkumar also announced the setting up of Rs. 3.5 crore Plastic Recycling unit at Deoghar to handle the problem of plastic waste being generated due to tourist inflow.
vi. Plastic Park, CIPET and the Plastic Recycling unit would together form an ecosystem that would encourage setting up of Plastic Industry at Deoghar and would make it a ‘Plastic Hub’ in future.
Quick Facts about Jharkhand:
♦ Capital – Ranchi
♦ Current Governor – Draupadi Murmu
♦ Current Chief Minister – Raghubar Das
♦ Important Wildlife Sanctuary – Hazaribag Wildlife Sanctuary

India Post releases special cover on Stephen Hawking
On March 20, 2018, India Post paid a tribute to theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking by issuing a special cover on him.India Post releases special cover on Stephen HawkingAbout Special cover on Stephen Hawking by India Post:
i. Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of 76 on March 14, 2018 in his home in Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
ii. The special cover on Stephen Hawking was jointly issued by Chief Post Master General (CPMG) of Maharashtra and Goa Circle, H C Agrawal and Director of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) Dr Sandip Trivedi  at an event held in the General Post Office (GPO), Mumbai.
iii. Special cover on Stephen Hawking will be released at all 22 Circles of India Post.
iv. ’A Brief History of Time’, ‘The Universe in a Nutshell’, ‘On the Shoulders of Giants” are some of the popular books written by Stephen Hawking.

J&K cabinet Okays adoption of WBCIS for horticulture crops
On March 20, 2018, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) cabinet gave its in-principle approval for adopting the Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS) for horticulture crops such as apple and saffron in the state.
J&K Government’s Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS):
i. Decision in this regard was taken at State Cabinet meeting chaired by J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
ii. Under RWBCIS, farmers will be provided insurance coverage and financial support in the event of failure of any of the notified crops due to adverse weather incidences.
iii. It is to be noted that RWBCIS will be in addition to Central Government’s Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.
Quick Facts about Jammu & Kashmir:
♦ Capital – Srinagar (Summer), Jammu (Winter)
♦ Current Governor – Narinder Nath Vohra
♦ Current Chief Minister – Mehbooba Mufti
♦ Important National Park – Dachigam National Park

NITI Aayog, Piramal Foundation ink agreement to improve health, education in Aspirational Districts
NITI Aayog and Piramal Foundation have signed a Statement of Intent (SoI) to work closely with the District Collectors and Key Government officials of ‘Aspirational Districts’ to support their transformation in terms of education, healthcare and nutrition.NITI AayogMore Details about NITI Aayog – Piramal Foundation agreement:
i. In context of this news, aspirational districts refer to selected 115 backward districts that are lagging on specific development parameters.
ii. Central Government has undertaken a major policy initiative for rapid transformation of these districts and senior government officials have been assigned responsibility to coordinate the efforts of the Centre and states in facilitating development in such districts.
iii. As per the terms of the SoI with Niti Aayog,  Piramal Foundation will work in close conjunction with the State Government, district administration, and concerned Central ministries in improving the identified indicators in the health and nutrition and education sectors.
iv. The collaboration between Niti Aayog and Piramal Foundation is for a duration of four years.
Quick Facts about Piramal Foundation:
♦ Founded in – 2006
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Philanthropic arm of – Piramal Group
♦ Engaged in projects related to – healthcare, education, livelihood creation and youth empowerment

MSDE – Ministry of Agriculture inks MoU for skill development training programs
Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to conduct skill development training programmes for agriculture and allied sector.
Details about MSDE – Ministry of Agriculture MoU:
i. As per the terms of the MoU, skill development training programmes will be conducted on a regular basis at Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVKs).
ii. The MoU will be instrumental in achieving government’s goal of developing agriculture as a private enterprise so that it attracts more youth.
iii. Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Radha Mohan Singh has expressed hope that this MoU will contribute in realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of Kaushal Bharat-Kushal Bharat.

Telugu made compulsory in all schools in Telangana
On 20th March 2018, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao mandated teaching Telugu as a compulsory subject in all the public and private schools of the Telangana for the academic year 2018-2019.
Telugu made compulsory in all schools in Telangana:
i. K. Chandrashekhar Rao held discussions with officials on this regard. He said that, Telugu has been made a compulsory subject in order to respect their mother tongue.
ii. He said that, the Telugu University and the Sahitya Academy will decide the Telugu syllabus for various standards.
About Sahitya Academy:
♦ President – Dr. Chandrashekhar Kambar
♦ Head Office – New Delhi

Punjab imposes permanent ban on Hookah bars
On 19th March 2018, Punjab government decided to impose a permanent ban on hookah bars in Punjab.Punjab imposes permanent ban on Hookah barsPunjab – permanent ban on Hookah bars:
i. Punjab cabinet approved an amendment to the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003 for the prevention and control of diseases caused by the use of tobacco products.
ii. This was approved at a meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. This ban aims to reduce usage of hookah, hookah bars, and use of tobacco among young people.
Some important stadiums in India:
♦ Fatorda Stadium – Margao, Goa
♦ Moti Bagh Stadium – Baroda, Gujarat
♦ Tau Devi Lal Stadium – Gurgaon, Haryana

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Vienna is world’s most liveable city: Quality of Living Survey by Mercer
As per 20th annual Quality of Living survey by Mercer, Austrian capital Vienna has been named the world’s best city to live in for the ninth consecutive year.
i. Although Austrian capital Vienna has topped the list, German and Swiss cities are dominating the Top 10.
ii. San Francisco (overall rank 30th) is the highest ranking US city.Singapore at overall 25th rank and Montevideo at overall 77th rank are the highest ranking cities in Asia and Latin America, respectively………………………………..Click here to Read more
Most Liveable Cities – Top 5:

1 Vienna, Austria
2 Zurich, Switzerland
3 Auckland, New Zealand
4 Munich, Germany
5 Vancouver, Canada

New Delhi ranked 22nd globally as top destination for 2018 – in the TripAdvisor’s top 25 travellers choice of destinations list for 2018
New Delhi has secured 22nd rank in the world and 8th in Asia in the TripAdvisor’s top 25 travellers choice of destinations list for 2018.
New Delhi ranked 22nd globally as top destination for 2018:
i. New Delhi stands 22nd in TripAdvisor’s top 25 travellers choice of destinations list for 2018.
ii. Paris secured 1st rank in the global list of Travellers Choice awards for Destinations. It is followed by London (UK), Rome (Italy), Bali (Indonesia), Crete (Greece).
iii. This awards by TripAdvisor recognises 402 outstanding destinations in 42 lists throughout the world.
iv. In the Asia list, the following Indian cities have secured  a place:
New Delhi – 8thposition, Goa – 9thposition and Jaipur – 16th position
v. The Asia list is topped by Bali in Indonesia. It is followed by Phuket in Thailand, Hanoi (Vietnam), Siem Reap (Siem Reap Province), Tokyo (Japan), Kathmandu (Nepal) and Hong Kong.
About TripAdvisor:
♦ Headquarters – Massachusetts, U.S.
♦ Country Manager India – Nikhil Ganju

BANKING & FINANCE

Swiggy Partners with ICICI Bank, Launches UPI-Based Digital Payment Service
Online food ordering and delivery platform, Swiggy and India’s largest private bank, ICICI Bank have partnered to roll out two innovative digital solutions to facilitate a convenient and hassle-free way for delivery partners to transfer funds to Swiggy.ICICIDetails about Swiggy – ICICI Bank tie-up:
i. 
The first one is a Unified Payment Interface (UPI) based solution which enables instant fund transfers on-the-go while the other is a facility for depositing cash at automated Cash Deposit Machines (CDM) available at ICICI Bank branches and ATMs across India.
ii. Swiggy has integrated the UPI solution with ICICI Bank, which offers a secure and scalable mode to enable collection of funds from its delivery partners.
iii. Under this arrangement, Swiggy’s delivery partners will have their own UPI handle, to which they can link their savings bank account and start transacting by using any UPI-enabled app like ICICI Bank ‘Pockets’, ‘Google Tez’, ‘BHIM’,etc.
iv. On receiving fund transfer from delivery partners, ICICI Bank will immediately credit Swiggy’s account and send the delivery partner’s details to Swiggy.
v. On receving details, Swiggy will update the collection against the delivery partner instantly.
Quick Facts about ICICI Bank:
♦ Founded in – 1994
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
♦ Current MD & CEO – Chanda Kochhar
♦ Tagline – Hum Hai Na, Khayaal Aapka

BUSINESS

Amazon vaults ahead of Alphabet in market value
On 20th March 2018, Amazon.com Inc. surpassed Alphabet Inc. in terms of market value for the first time.
Amazon vaults ahead of Alphabet in market value:
i. On 20th March 2018, shares of Amazon.com Inc. increased to 2.7 % in New York, with market capitalization of $768 billion.
ii. It became the world’s second-most valuable publicly traded company after Apple Inc. Alphabet was valued at $762.6 billion.
About Amazon:
♦ Headquarters – Seattle, Washington, U.S.
♦ CEO – Jeff Bezos

India hands over 18 high-end diesel locos to Myanmar
On March 19, 2018, India handed over the 18th diesel-electric locomotive to Myanmar and thereby completed the first project under the current Indian line of credit (LoC) to Myanmar.
Salient features of diesel-electric locomotives handed over to Myanmar:
i. All 18, AC-DC 1350 HP diesel-electric locomotives are fitted with the microprocessor control based system and can attain a maximum speed of 100 KM PH.
ii. These locomotives have been customised for the Myanmar Railways and have been built by Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi.
iii. The handing over ceremony was attended by Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain.
Quick Facts about Myanmar:
♦ Capital – Naypyidaw
♦ Currency – Burmese kyat
♦ Current President – Htin Kyaw
♦ Important River – Irrawaddy

Indian Oil Corp starts doorstep delivery of diesel on a pilot basis in Pune
On March 21, 2018, government-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC) started doorstep delivery of diesel on a pilot basis in Pune and has thus became first company in India to provide such service after receiving clearance from the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO).IOCIOC starts doorstep delivery of diesel:
i. IOC has started this service in Pune through a diesel dispenser mounted on a midsized truck along with a storage tank.
ii. Based on the response it gets during the three-month trial period in Pune, IOC may roll out the doorstep delivery of fuel to other cities of India.
iii. Potential customer for this service are ‘static customers’ like  transport companies with large diesel consumption and  shopping malls/commercial establishments that use diesel in gensets for producing electricity
iv. Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) are the other two refiner that have got PESO approval for a trial run of doorstep diesel delivery.
v. PESO approval is mandatory for doorstep delivery of fuel as petrol and diesel are highly inflammable fuels and require adequate safety precautions.
Quick Facts about IOC:
♦ Founded in – 1964
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Current Chairman – Sanjiv Singh

US slaps anti-dumping duty on Chinese, Indian steel flanges
Donald Trump Administration in US has decided to impose anti-dumping duty on the stainless steel flanges imported from China and India.
Details about Anti-dumping duty imposed by US on Chinese, Indian steel flanges:
i. The anti-dumping duty has been imposed based on a probe by US Department of Commerce, through which, it was found that exporters from India and China received subsidies on these products and were thereby able to sell it in US market much below the fair value.
ii. The probe was initiated in response to petition by the Coalition of American Flange Producers, including Core Pipe Products Inc. (Carol Stream, IL) and Maass Flange Corporation (Houston).
iii. US Commerce Department will now instruct the US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) to collect difference between sales value and fair value from importers of the stainless steel flanges from China and India.
iv. In 2016, India imported stainless steel flanges to US worth USD32.1 million
Quick Facts about United States of America:
♦ Capital – Washington D.C.
♦ Currency – US Dollar
♦ Current President – Donald Trump
♦ Neighbouring Countries – Canada, Mexico

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Canadian Mathematician Robert Langlands Wins Abel Prize
On 20th March 2018, the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters said that, Canadian mathematician Robert Langlands has been named the winner of the Abel Prize for 2018.Canadian Mathematician Robert Langlands Wins Abel PrizeRobert Langlands – Abel Prize for 2018:
i. Robert Langlands will receive 6 million Norwegian kroner ($776,000) from Norway’s King Harald V at an award function to be held in Oslo on 22nd May 2018.
ii. Robert Langlands is awarded for his programme linking representation theory to number theory. He is 81 years old.
iii. He has worked in Princeton University and Yale University. At present he is a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the United States.
About Abel prize:
♦ Awarded – annually
♦ Started – 2003
♦ Awarded in memory of – Norwegian mathematics genius Niels Henrik Abel

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Myanmar’s first democratically elected President Htin Kyaw retires
On 21st March 2018, Htin Kyaw, Myanmar’s first democratically elected President, announced his retirement due to ill health.
Retirement of Htin Kyaw:
i. Htin Kyaw was the first democratically elected President of Myanmar. He won the Presidential elections in 2016.
ii. He is 71 years old. Myanmar President Office has announced that, the President post which has become vacant will be filled within 7 working days. He was the first Myanmar president to visit India in 2016.
Some governors of India:
♦ Andhra Pradesh – E.S.L. Narasimhan
♦ Arunachal Pradesh – B.D. Mishra
♦ Assam – Jagdish Mukhi

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

China to build ‘world’s fastest’ wind tunnel
China has announced that, it is constructing the world’s fastest wind tunnel.China to build ‘world’s fastest’ wind tunnel:
i. It is said that, it would be the world’s fastest hypersonic wind tunnel. It would be used to help in the development of spacecraft.
ii. A Chinese researcher has said that, the 265 meter-long tunnel would be used to test hypersonic aircraft that can travel up to a speed of 30,625 kph. This speed is 25 times the speed of sound.
Some important sea ports in India:
♦ Paradip Port – Orissa
♦ Haldia Port – West Bengal
♦ Panambur Port – Karnataka

Greece launches newly established Space Agency ‘Hellenic Space Agency’
Hellenic Space Agency, Greece’s first space agency was officially launched on March 19, 2018.
About Hellenic Space Agency, Greece:
i. Although Greece will not start its own space exploration programme through this agency in near future, the agency is expected to benefit the country in various sectors viz. telecommunications, defense, medical applications, environmental monitoring, agriculture, fire prevention and control.
ii. Dr. Tom Krimigis, who is regarded as ‘Space Exploration Pioneer’ has been appointed Chairperson of the Board of Hellenic Space Agency.
iii. In the context of this news, it is to be noted that Greece has been a member of European Space Agency (ESA) since 2005 and has invested millions of Euros in its research programmes.
iv. Including the Greek and Cypriot telecommunications satellite Hellas Sat 3 which was launched from French Guiana in 2017, Greece currently has six transponders and three ground-based satellite hubs.
Quick Facts about Greece:
♦ Capital – Athens
♦ Currency – Euro
♦ Current Prime Minister – Alexis Tsipras
♦ Neighbouring Countries – Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey

ENVIRONMENT

World’s last surviving Rhino ‘Sudan’ dies in Kenya
On 20th March 2018, Sudan, the last surviving northern white male rhinoceros of the world, died after suffering age related ailments at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia national park, Kenya.Death of Sudan:
i. Sudan was 45 years old. It was the only surviving male northern white rhino. Now, only two female rhinoceros of that sub-species are living.
ii. Genetic material from Sudan was collected when he was healthy. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy has said that, through advanced cellular technologies, the sub-species might be prevented from extinction.
Some important National Parks in India:
♦ Anamudi Shola National Park – Kerala
♦ Anshi National Park – Karnataka
♦ Balphakram National Park – Meghalaya

OBITUARY

Journalist, Pulitzer Prize winner Les Payne dies
On 19th March 2018, journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Les Payne passed away at his residence in Harlem, United States.Journalist, Pulitzer Prize winner Les Payne diesDeath of Les Payne:
i. Les Payne was 76 years old. In 1969, he joined Newsday newspaper as a journalist.
ii. He was on the team of reporters who won Pulitzer Prize for public service in 1974. He worked as a teacher at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
iii. He was also a founding member and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Presidents of few countries:
♦ South Africa – Cyril Ramaphosa
♦ Liberia – George Weah
♦ Switzerland – Alain Berset

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Sparrow Day – March 20
On 20th March 2018, World Sparrow Day was celebrated all over the world.
World Sparrow Day:
i. The World Sparrow Day was initiated by the Nature Forever Society of India. It was started in collaboration with the Eco-Sys Action Foundation (France) and several other national and international organisations.
ii. The World Sparrow Day aims to create awareness on conservation of sparrows and to fight against extinction of birds.
iii. Theme for World Sparrow Day 2018: I love Sparrows. The first World Sparrow Day was celebrated on 2010.
About Nature Forever Society of India:
♦ Founder – Mohammed Dilawar
♦ Purpose – conservation of house sparrows and other common flora and fauna

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – March 21
On 21st March 2018, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was observed all over the world.International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationInternational Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
i. When: The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed every year on 21st March.
ii. Why: It commemorates the Sharpeville massacre in which 69 people where inhumanly killed for peacefully demonstrating against apartheid in South Africa on 21st March 1960.
iii. Theme for International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2018: Promoting tolerance, inclusion, unity and respect for diversity in the context of combating racial discrimination.
About South Africa:
♦ President – Cyril Ramaphosa
♦ Currency – South African rand (ZAR)

World Poetry Day – March 21
On 21st March 2018, World Poetry Day was celebrated all over the world.
World Poetry Day:
i. When and Why: World Poetry Day is held every year on 21st March. It celebrates poetry, which is considered one of humanity’s most precious forms of cultural expression and identity.
ii. UNESCO adopted 21 March as World Poetry Day in 1999. It was adopted with an aim to support linguistic diversity and protect endangered languages.
iii. This day is an opportunity to honour poets, conduct poetry recitals, promote reading, writing and teaching of poetry, encourage theatre, dance, music, painting, etc.
About UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization):
♦ Director-General – Audrey Azoulay
♦ Headquarters – Paris, France

International Day of Forests – March 21
On 21st March 2018, International Day of Forests was observed all over the world.
International Day of Forests:
i. When: 21 March was declared as the International Day of Forests by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012.
ii. Why: This day acts as a platform to create awareness on the importance of all types of woodlands and trees.
iii. Activities such as tree-planting, art, photo and film exhibitions are held on this day themed around forests.
iv. Theme for International Day of Forests 2018: Forests and Sustainable Cities.
About Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE):
♦ Director General – Dr. S. C. Gairola
♦ Formed – 1986

World Down syndrome Day (WDSD) – March 21
On 21st March 2018, World Down syndrome Day (WDSD) was observed all over the world.World Down syndrome Day (WDSD)World Down syndrome Day (WDSD):
i. Down syndrome: It is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that generally results in various effects on learning styles, physical characteristics or health.
ii. When and Why: The UN General Assembly declared 21 March as World Down Syndrome Day in 2011. This day aims to create awareness on Down syndrome among the public.
iii. World Down syndrome Day 2018 marks the 13th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day.
iv. The focus for World Down syndrome Day 2018 is: #WhatIBringToMyCommunity – how people with Down syndrome can contribute in schools, workplaces, community, public and political life, culture, media, recreation, leisure and sport.
Some important boundary lines:
♦ Mannar Haime Line – Russia & Finland
♦ Maginot Line – France & Germany
♦ Curzon Line – Poland & Russia