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- Current Affairs 2017 March
Rajya Sabha Passes HIV/AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on March 21, 2017 by voice vote.
♦ The Bill was moved in the Parliament by Health Minister JP Nadda and aims to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS by providing treatment and prohibiting discrimination against persons afflicted with it, placing obligations on establishments to safeguard their rights.
Features of the HIV/AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014
i. The Bill protects such people from specific acts of discrimination by the state, or any other person.
ii. It also lays down penal provisions for any discrimination practiced against a person with HIV/AIDS and breach of confidentiality.
iii .Under the Bill, central and state governments are obliged to provide for anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and management of opportunistic infections (infections that take advantage of weakness in the immune system and occur frequently).
iv. The protection mandated in the Bill will apply in fields of employment, healthcare services, educational services, public facilities, property rights, holding public office, and insurance.
v. It has also adopted “test and treat” policy which means any person testing positive will be entitled for free treatment by the state and central government.
vi. The bill was initially introduced by the UPA government in 2014, however, the amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 were revived by the Modi government in July 2016.
Centre Approves Over 1.17 lakh More Houses For Urban Poor at Rs.5,773 crore
i. The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation on March 21, 2017 approved construction of new 1,17,814 affordable houses under the Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana (Urban) for the benefit of urban poor in six States namely Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Kerala and Karnataka.
ii. The total cost of the project is Rs.5,773 cr for which central assistance of Rs.1,816 crore has been approved.
iii .The construction project is being undertaken under two categories: Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC) and Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP) component. Central assistance of Rs.1.50 lakh is provided for each beneficiary.
iv. Under BLC, beneficiaries are assisted to build own houses on the land available with them or take up improvement works for increasing living space and other amenities. Under AHP, State Government provides the land to house urban poor.
v .Thus the total number of houses being taken up for construction for the benefit of urban poor under PMAY(Urban) has gone up to 17,60,507 with total project cost of Rs.96,018 crore for which central assistance of Rs.27,714 crore has been approved.
New Sanctions to 6 States
|States||New Sanction of Houses||Total Assistance||Granted Assistance||Total Houses Sanctioned|
|Madhya Pradesh||27,475||Rs.1,713 cr||Rs.412 cr||2,09,036|
|Bihar||25,221||Rs.1,208 cr||Rs.378 cr||88,254|
|Jharkhand||20,099||Rs.728 cr||Rs.306 cr||64,555|
|Odisha||2,115||Rs.64.00 cr||Rs.32.00 cr||48,845|
|Karnataka||31,424||Rs.1,222 cr||Rs.518 cr||1,46,466|
|Kerala||11,480||Rs.344 cr||Rs.170 cr||28,236|
Assam Government Launches Initiatives to make Majuli India’s First Carbon Neutral District & Biodiversity Heritage
i. Assam Chief Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal launched initiative to develop the World’s largest river island, Majuli into country’s first ever Carbon Neutral district by 2020 as well as a biodiversity heritage site to preserve its rich heritage and legacy.
ii. The project titled ‘Sustainable Action for Climate Resilient Development in Majuli’ (SACReD, Majuli) was launched on the occasion of the International Day of Forest on March 21, 2017 and has been initiated by the Assam’s department of Environment and Forest.
iii .The project, SACReD, Majuli has been initiated to combat climate change and ensure reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
iv .It will be designed and implemented in partnership with other departments of the district for which a district level committee under the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioner has been constituted.
v. Besides, Sonowal also launched through remote a registry in Majuli which would record and analyse the climate impact of all proposed projects in Majuli.
vi. Sonowal also launched “Forests are Lives” campaign to celebrate the importance of Assam’s rich forest and biodiversity, and urged people to take a pledge to conserve its biodiversity to make a pollution-free state.
vii .He also directed to celebrate the International day of forest in every school of the state from 2018 to generate more awareness among students to conserve nature.
viii. Sonowal also urged all parents to gift one sapling to their children on their birthdays and inspire them to plant trees at all available spaces in their household premises.
♦ Majuli is the biggest river island in the world in the Brahmaputra River, Assam, India. It is also the first island district of the country.
♦ It was formed due to course changes by the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries, mainly the Lohit.
High level committee to examine working of CCIM, CCH and their governing legislation
i. The high level Committee has been formed to examine the working of the regulatory bodies Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) and Central Council of Homoeopathy(CCH) said by Yesso Naik, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for AYUSH.
ii. The committee will be headed by Arvind Panagariya,Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog.
iii. Other members of the committee are Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NITI Aayog and Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH
iv. Both the council will be inspected by the new committee and will suggest suitable reforms.
India Ranks 131 in Human Development Index 2016
i. According to the UN Development Programme’s Human Development for Everyone’ Report 2016, released on March 21, 2017 in Stockholm, India has been ranked at 131 out of 188 countries in the 2016 Human Development Index (HDI).
ii. The HDI of India was 0.624 putting it in the medium HDI category. It was placed at third spot among the SAARC nation with Sri Lanka (73) and Maldives (105) taking the first and second spots respectively and coming under high HDI category with HDI of 0.766 and 0.701 respectively.
Top 3 Countries
Taiwan Signs MoU to Build Home Grown Submarines
i. Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen launched the island’s first ever home-grown submarine project on March 21, 2017 at a naval base in southern city of Kaohsiung because the island faces rising navy threats from China as relations deteriorate.
ii. An MoU has been signed for the project between the navy, Taiwanese shipbuilder CSBC Corporation and the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, which develops combat system integration.
iii .The project is a part of the island’s indigenous defence policy and the delivery of the submarine is expected to take eight years and deployed within 10 years.
iv .Taiwan’s navy currently operates a fleet of 4 submarines which are purchased from abroad, however only two of them may be deployed in the occasion of warfare.
v. The other two have been constructed by the United States in the 1940s and are solely used in training as they’re too outdated for fight.
♦ Capital: Taipei
♦ Currency: New Taiwan dollar
♦ President: Tsai Ing-wen
BANKING & FINANCE
Mobile Payment Service ‘Samsung Pay’ Officially Launched In India
i. Samsung Electronics officially launched the mobile payment service, Samsung Pay in India on March 22, 2017.
ii. With this, Samsung becomes the first company to launch a mobile payment service in India, ahead of Apple Pay or Android Pay.
iii. The first commercial transaction of the new payments service in India was carried out in the presence of NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and Samsung Southwest Asia President and
CEO HC Hong.
iv. Samsung has tied up with several banks and payment gateways in India like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, SBI, Standard Chartered, Citi Bank, and American Express for the payment service.
v. Its network partners are American Express, Visa, and MasterCard, while Pine Labs is the Acceptance partner for PoS machines.
vi. Samsung has also tied up with mobile wallet Paytm for payments and will also add UPI based payment soon.
vii. However, initially the service is still limited to a select few Galaxy smartphones and will be rolled out to other devices soon.
viii. Samsung Pay is a highly secure platform as it works with three levels of security like fingerprint authentication, card tokenization and Samsung’s defense-grade mobile security platform, Samsung KNOX.
♦ Headquarters: Seoul, South Korea
♦ Founded: 1988
♦ Chairman: Lee Kun-hee
Government Lowers Cash Transaction Limit to Rs 2 lakh
i .The Government of India has proposed to lower the limit of cash transaction from Rs. 3 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh per month to further tighten and discourage payments by cash as well as curb black money.
ii .The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed 40 amendments to the Finance Bill 2017 which was cleared by the Lok Sabha on March 21, 2017.
iii. The new limit will be effective from April 1, 2017. Any violations to the norms would be subjected to a fine equivalent to the amount of transaction. For example, if a cash transaction of Rs 4 lakh is uncovered, the penalty will be Rs 4 lakh.
iv. The decision to cap the cash transaction to Rs. 2 lakh was taken based on a report that after a sudden increase, the digital transactions had again declined.
v. Among other amendments, the Minister proposed to make Aadhaar mandatory for filing tax returns from July 1. Besides, Aadhaar has also been made mandatory to apply for permanent account numbers (PAN).
vi .The government also proposed to amend the Finance Bill to ensure only cheque payments can be accepted for the purchase of electoral bonds and that RBI is empowered to authorise banks to accept them.
vii. The amendments to the laws like Companies Act, Employees Provident Fund, Smuggling and Foreign Exchange Act, TRAI Act and Information Technology Act, have also been proposed to make the functioning of tribunals more efficient by merging the smaller ones and reducing their numbers from 40 to 12.
Russian VTB Bank to Shut Its Only Office Branch in India
i. The Russian VTB Bank has announced its intention to close its only office in India as part of its ongoing cost optimisation strategy.
ii .However, the bank will continue operations in the country and further develop their partner and client network in the country.
iii .The VTB Bank was launched in India in New Delhi in April 2008. The branch holds an Indian banking licence for transactions in national and foreign currencies.
iv. Russian government is the majority shareholder of VTB Bank with 60.9 percent of the voting shares.
v. The Delhi branch focused on trade financing, foreign exchange transactions, corporate lending, settlement and cash services, and opening Rouble accounts for Russian tax residents operating in India.
VTB Bank is one of the leading universal banks of Russia. VTB Bank and its subsidiaries form a leading Russian financial group, VTB Group, offering a wide range of banking services and products in Russia, CIS, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the U.S.
♦ Founded: 1990
♦ Headquarters: Moscow, Russia
♦ President and Chairman: Andrey L. Kostin
India and ADB Sign $350 Million Loan for Upgrading 1,500 kms of District Roads in State of Madhya Pradesh
i. Philippines headquartered Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s Deputy Country Director L. B. Sondjaja and Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance, Raj Kumar have signed a $350 million loan agreement in New Delhi on March 22, 2017.
ii. This loan amount will be used to improve 1,500 kilometers of major district roads in India’s second-largest State Madhya Pradesh.
iii. The state government of Madhya pradesh also will allocate $150 million for this project
iv. At the same time Pramod Agrawal, Principal Secretary of Madhya Pradesh government and Piyush Kumar Chaturvedi, General Manager of Madhya Pradesh Road Development Corporation (MPRDC) signed a four year project agreement
♦ Headquarters: Mandaluyong, Philippines
♦ Motto: Fighting poverty in Asia and the Pacific
Government Set to Triple Nuclear Power Generation by 2024
i. The Government of India is set to increase the nuclear power generation capacity in India to nearly 15,000 MW by 2024.
ii. The information regarding the same was delivered by Minister of State for PMO Jitendra Singh in the Lok Sabha on March 22, 2017.
iii. The minister also informed that in 2014, India’s nuclear power generation capacity was 4,780 MW.
iv. The government is taking a number of steps to accelerate all ongoing nuclear projects and setting up of new plants in different parts of the country.
v. However, for generating targeted nuclear power, there has to be enough uranium available, both from domestic as well as foreign sources. The government is therefore actively involved in the process of acquiring uranium from different sources, including exploration in new places like Bihar and Meghalaya.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
ABB India bags award for restoring 1,035 MW Sharavathi plant in Karnataka
i. Bengaluru based ABB India has won the India Smart Grid Foundation (ISGF)’s “Smart Technology of the Year 2016″award for restoring the crucial power infrastructure of Sharavathi hydropower plant in Karnataka
ii. ABB India has restored and modernised the critical 1,035 MW Sharavathi hydropower plant which will accounts for 25 per cent of Karnataka Power Corporation’s generation.
iii. This kind of projects will be key to realising the objective of India’s National Smart Grid Mission
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Upendra Tripathy Appointed as Full Time Interim Director General of ISA
Upendra Tripathy has been appointed as the Interim Director General (IDG) of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) on a full time basis on March 21, 2017.
♦ The decision regarding Tripathy was taken by Union Minister for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal and Ms. Sgolene Royal, Minister for Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs Government of France.
About Upendra Tripathy
i. Upendra Tripathy is an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of Karnataka Cadre. He has worked with local, provincial and union governments in India for the last 36 years.
ii. He was the Former Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy from 1st April, 2014 until 31st October 2016.
About International Solar Alliance (ISA)
♦ The International Solar Alliance (ISA) was launched on November 30, 2015 as a coalition of the solar resource rich countries jointly by PM Narendra Modi and Francois Hollande, President of France in the presence of Mr. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations during the Paris Climate Conference or CoP21.
Mission & Vission of ISA
♦ To provide a dedicated platform for cooperation among solar resource rich countries where the global community including bilateral and multilateral organizations, corporates, industry, and stakeholders can make a positive contribution to assist and help achieve the common goals of increasing use of the solar energy in meeting energy needs of prospective ISA member countries in a safe, convenient, affordable, equitable and sustainable manner.
P.V. Sindhu roped as ambassador of PepsiCo’s sports drink Gatorade
i. Olympics silver medalist and professional badminton player PV Sindhu has been appointed as brand ambassador of PepsiCo’s sports based drink for Gatorade to popularise the benefits of this drink.
ii. Sindhu will unveil an all new Sweat More campaign to support the badminton star’s journey from silver to gold.
iii. It was the first time American food and beverage maker PepsiCo Inc has roped an Indian to endorse the brand in India.
Ankur Khanna appointed as new Chief Financial Officer of ICC
i. Air Asia’s Chief Financial Officer, Ankur Khanna has been appointed as Chief Financial Officer(CFO) of International Cricket Council(ICC). This was officially announced by ICC Chief Executive, David Richardson on March 20, 2017.
ii. Ankur will relocate to Dubai will take charge by the end of March, 2017
iii. He has worked in senior roles at Air France / KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and ITC, an associate company of British American Tobacco.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
IIT-Kharagpur Set to Have Supercomputing Facility
Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur is set to become the first academic institutions in India to receive a supercomputing facility of 1 Peta-flop computing power under the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM).
♦ National Supercomputing Mission envisages building supercomputing capacity and capability in the country with an estimated budget of Rs 4,500 crore over a period of seven years.
♦ Peta-Flop is a measurement of computing power based on the frequency of mathematical calculations that can be done per second.
♦ The institute is setting up a new Centre for Computational and Data Sciences (CCDS) to build, manage, and operate the high-performance computing facility.
Features of the new Supercomputing Facility
i. The super computer has many central processing units (CPUs) and graphical processing units (GPUs) combined and hence it is much faster than the regular ones,
ii. The supercomputing platform will be dedicated solely to research and teaching purposes that involve state-of-the-art high performance computing (HPC).
iii. The new system will accelerate and evolve the level of research currently being done and boost the output level and efficiency of the current facility.
iv .The new facility aims to achieve a self-reliant supercomputing platform in India and to develop and expand the culture of using high-performance computing systems to solve complex problems.
GRAPES-3 Telescope To Be Upgraded for Precise Detection of Solar Storms
The GRAPES-3 Experiment, a telescope located at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research’s (TIFRs) Cosmic Ray Laboratory in Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu is getting upgraded.
♦ The GRAPE 3 telescope became famous in 2015 when it detected the effect of a solar storm that hit the earth in June 2015.
♦ The up-gradation will enhance the capability of the telescope and enable it to give precise information about the propagation of storms with an increased coverage of the sky and improved capacity to determine the direction of incident cosmic rays.
♦ With enhanced capability, the facility will be able to cover a wider field of view, from present 37% to 57% and therefore the chances of spotting solar storms will be higher.
About GRAPE 3 Telescope
i. The GRAPES-3 experiment (or Gamma Ray Astronomy PeV EnergieS phase-3) located at Ooty in India started as a collaboration of the Indian Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Japanese Osaka City University, and now also includes the Japanese Nagoya Women’s University.
ii. GRAPES-3 is designed to study cosmic rays with an array of air shower detectors and a large area muon detector.
iii. It has the property to find out the direction of detected particles. It can also measure the intensity of the particles.
iv. It is important to know the time when plasma will reach the earth, accurately, so that preventive and protective measures can be put into place in case a solar storm were to strike the earth.
v. GRAPES-3 is a muon telescope located at Cosmic Ray Laboratory in Ooty run by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).
NGT Suspends Green Nod for Tamil Nadu Neutrino Project
i .The National Green Tribunal’s southern bench, comprising of Justice P Jyothimani and expert member P S Rao, on March 20, 2017 suspended the environmental clearance for the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project to be set up in Tamil Nadu for research on high energy and nuclear physics.
ii .As per NGT, the site of INO project is located near Madhikettan Shola National Park in Idukki district of Kerala which is just 4.9 km from the project site.
iii. Besides, NGT also informed that the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border was only a kilometer away from the project location which made the project fall in Category A level.
iv. INO will now verify the claims using GIS-based information system and would obtain further statutory clearances, if warranted.
About India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project
♦ The INO Project is a multi-institutional collaboration aimed at building a world-class underground laboratory spanning approximately 1200 metre inside a deep cave for non-accelerator based high energy and nuclear physics research in India.
♦ INO is a particle physics research project primarily to study atmospheric neutrinos.
Ravindra Jadeja Outclasses Ashwin to Rank Top Test Bowler in ICC Ranking
i. India’s spin-bowler Ravindra Jadeja has attained the top spot in the list of the Test bowlers as per the latest ICC Test Ranking released on March 21, 2017.
ii. The 28 year old left-handed spinner bagged a total of nine wickets in the recently concluded match between India and Australia in Ranchi.
iii. In the first inning, Jadeja grabbed five for 124 while four for 52 in the second inning in Ranchi. This gained him 7 points to have a score of 899 and be ranked at the top position solely which he earlier shared with Ravichandran Ashwin with joint score of 892 points.
iv. Jadeja has now become the third Indian after Ashwin and Bishen Singh Bedi to be the highest ranked bowler in Test cricket. Besides, he is also just a step away from becoming the second Indian after Ashwin to attain 900 points in the bowling rankings.
v. Ashwin, who had a highest rating of 904 points, has slipped 37 points behind Jadeja to 862 points after finishing with two wickets in Ranchi.
vi .Among batsmen, Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara climbed to career best second spot in the batting ranks just behind Australian captain Steve Smith after scoring a brilliant 202 against Australia in Ranchi.
Liverpool great Ronnie Moran dies, aged 83
i. Former Liverpool captain and coach Ronnie Moran was passed away in UK on March 22, 2017. He was 83.
ii. Ronnie was also known as ‘Bugsy‘. He has appeared 379 times for Liverpool football club between 1952 and 1968.
iii. Then he served as a coach and caretaker manager during the early 1990s .During his period Liverpool won 11 league titles and four European Cups.
iv. After 49 years service at Liverpool, he retired in 1998.
David Rockefeller, billionaire philanthropist, dies aged 101
i. The billionaire philanthropist and former head of Chase Manhattan Corp, David Rockefeller has died in USA . He was 101.
ii. David was the last in his generation of one of U.S.’s most famously philanthropic families.
iii. He has served as secretary to New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in 1940-41 and in 1942 he joined in the U.S. Army. He was awarded with the French Legion of Honor.
iv. In 2002, he published his autobiography titled “Memoirs“.
2017 World Water day is observed with the theme “Why Waste water?”
i. UN designated World water day is observed on March 22, 2017 in various country to raise awareness of the importance of conserving and managing water resources.
ii. 2017 Theme: Why Waste water?
iii. This year theme will focused to reducing and reusing waste water
iv. The first World Water Day is observed in 1993 after Agenda 21 was accepted by UN in 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.