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Current Affairs Today – March 23 2017

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Current Affairs March 23 2017

INDIAN AFFAIRS

Cabinet Approvals on March 22, 2017
i. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for development of 403 kms of National Highways in Meghalaya and Mizoram and also approved the Deepening and Widening of Mumbai Harbour Channel and JN Port Channel (Phase-II) project with fresh estimates.
ii.Government has decided to amend the Constitution for setting up the National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (NSEBC) as a constitutional body for socially and economically backward classes.
iii. The Union Cabinet approved the following proposals with regards to NABARD Act, 1981 during the cabinet meeting.
iv. The cabinet approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-ln) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the US Homeland Security Department on cooperation in the field of Cyber Security.
v. The government gave its approval to amend the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 on March 22, 2017.
vi. Central also approved the following proposals with regard to the Fund of Funds of Start-ups (FFS) which was established in June 2016 with a corpus of Rs. 10000 crores.

Ministry of Culture Organizes 5th Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav in North East Region
i. The Ministry of Culture is organizing the 5th Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav (RSM) 2017 from March 23-31, 2017 in the North Eastern Region of India.
ii .The 9 days cultural festival will be inaugurated at Parade Ground, Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh on March 23, 2017 by Governor of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh Shri Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya.
iii. Eventually the event will be extended to other North Eastern states including:
Dimapur (Nagaland): March 26-28
Majuli (Assam): March 27-29
Imphal (Manipur): March 27-29
Aizawl (Mizoram): March 28-30
Gangtok (Sikkim): March 28-30
Shillong (Meghalaya): March 29-31
Khowai (Tripura): March 29-31
iv. The Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav (RSM) is being organized to present rich diversity and uniqueness of Indian culture and to promote the cultural inter-linkages amongst the states to strengthen National integration.
v. It also envisages reconnecting the new generation with Indian culture and bringing together the artists of other parts of the country to get known to the culture of North East.
Key Highlights of the Festival
♦ The festival will be implemented through the seven Zonal Cultural Centres and other organization under Ministry of Culture.
♦ The North East Zone Cultural Centre (NEZCC), Dimapurhas will be the nodal agency to carry forward the execution of the National Cultural Festival.
♦ About 5,000 artists from North East India and 2,000 artists from across the country will showcase India’s cultural heritage through performances, arts and cuisines.
♦ The festival will showcase the spectacular diversity of India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Gujarat to Bengal through folk, tribal and classical art forms in all its dimensions like dance, music, drama, puppetry, handicrafts and food.

Ninth Gurkhas Observes its 200 years of Raising in Secunderabad
i. The Ninth Gorkhas celebrated 200-years of its raising in Secunderabad, Telangana on March 16, 2017.
ii. The first battalion of the Ninth Gorkhas was raised by the British government in 1817 as the ‘Fatehgarh Levy’.
iii. Ninth Gorkha Rifles has a unique honour that all its battalions have been awarded the Chief of Army Staff’s Citation for exceptional performance in the line of duty.
iv. The Regiment has been awarded three Victoria Crosses, five Mahavir Chakras and seventeen Vir Chakras in the two centuries of its existence.
v. Some of the Regiments battle honours are Afghanistan, France and Flanders, Mesopotamia, North Africa, Chindits, Burma, Phillora, Kumarkhalli, Dera Baba Nanak and Jammu & Kashmir.
Events for Bicentenary Celebrations of the Regiments
♦ The celebration began with a team of the regiment who scaled Mount Stok Kangri, which is the highest peak of the Stok Ranges in the Ladakh Region on September 30, 2016.
♦ A motorcycle rally was flagged off by the Chief of Army Staff, General Rawat on the traditional recruiting areas in Western Nepal. The rally reached Pokhara, Nepal on 4 February 2017.
♦ Besides, a massive rally was also organized in Pokhara, Nepal with almost 3500 ex-servicemen and widows participating. The rally coincided with the motorcycle rally and reached the city of Pokhara on the same day.
♦ The event culminated with a special dinner attended by serving and retired soldiers.
About 9 Gorkha Rifles
i. The 9 Gorkha Rifles is a Gorkha regiment of the Indian Army comprising of soldiers of Nepalese origin and was initially formed in 1817 by the British government.
ii. After independence one of the Gurkha regiments was transferred to the Indian Army as part of the tripartite agreement in 1947.
iii. This Gorkha regiment mainly recruits soldiers who come from the Chhetri (Kshatriya) and Thakuri clans of Nepal. Domiciled Indian Gorkhas are also taken.
iv. The 9 Gorkha Rifles is one of the seven Gorkha regiments of the Indian Army. The other regiments are 1 GR, 3 GR, 4 GR, 5 GR (FF), 8 GR and 11 GR.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

India Ranks 87 in Energy Architecture Performance Index 2017
India has been placed at 87th position among 127 countries in the global Energy Architecture Performance Index (EAPI) 2017 by World Economic Forum released on March 22, 2017.
♦ The 5th annual index has been topped by Switzerland while Bahrain is ranked the lowest at 127th.
Top 5 Countries in EAPI 2017

Rank Country
1 Switzerland
2 Norway
3 Sweden
4 Denmark
5 France


Key Findings
i .Though, India marginally improved its position by three places from 90 last year, but, ranks among the worst for pollution.
ii .The report showed that including India, some of the other largest consumers of energy such as China (95th), Japan (45th), the Russian Federation (48th) and the United States India ranks 87th on energy architecture performance WEF(52nd) have either slipped in the rankings or experienced only marginal gains.
iii. Most of the highest performers in the index belonged to the advanced economies.
iv .The top 20 performers in the fifth annual index have achieved twice the average increase in their score compared to that of all other countries.
About Energy Architecture Performance Index
♦ The Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2017 ranks 127 countries on their ability to deliver secure, affordable, sustainable energy
♦ The EAPI report is developed in collaboration with Accenture Strategy since 2013
♦ The index ranked 127 countries based on their ability to provide energy across three dimensions of the energy triangle namely economic growth and development, environmental sustainability, and energy access and security.
♦ The three energy triangle further has 18 indicators

BANKING & FINANCE

Assam govt, SBI sign MoU over housing, educational loan at subsidized interest rates
The state government of Assam has signed two MoUs with Mumbai based State Bank of India(SBI) to provide housing loan and education loan for its employees on March 23, 2017
Devajyoti Hazarika,  state additional secretary of finance and Om Prakash Mishra  General Manager of SBI of NE Circle have signed MoU for loan facility at subsidized interest rates.
Highlights :
i. Housing loan at the interest rates of 5% for women employees
ii. Housing loan at the interest rates of  5.5 % for men and
iii. Education loan for higher education for their children at 4% interest rate
iv.  The maximum limit of the housing loan is Rs 15 lakh and Education loan is Rs.10 lakh

South Indian Bank introduces Aadhar-based payment app
Kerala based South Indian Bank has introduced Aadhar-based UPI mobile application SIB M-Pay on March 23, 2017.
Aim: To promote cashless digital transactions
Features :
i. SIB M-Pay will enables all bank account holders to send and receive money from their Smartphone without bank account information.South Indian Bank
ii. It required only Aadhar number of the beneficiary
iii. This feature will be a major step s towards a ‘Cashless Society’ and Aadhar ID plays a key role in Digital India initiatives
SIB :
♦ Headquarters : Thrissur, Kerala
♦ CEO: V. G. Mathew

IOB to get Rs.1,100-crore capital infusion
i. Chennai-based Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) will get Rs 1,100 crore capital infusion from the Government . This was confirmed by Finance Ministry on March 22, 2017.
ii. This was approved after the bank achieved the parameters set by the government as part of a turnaround-linked capital infusion plan.
iii. It was the second tranche of capital infusion in public sector banks to enhance their capital base while the first tranche was first announced in July, 2016.

BUSINESS

India Notifies Amended Tax Treaty With Singapore
The Government of India has officially notified the third Protocol amending India-Singapore Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) on March 23, 2017.
♦ The third DTAA will come into force from April 1, 2017.
Benefits of DTAA :
i. The India-Singapore DTAA will provide source based taxation of capital gains arising on sale of shares in a company.
ii. This will curb revenue loss, prevent double non-taxation and streamline the flow of investments.
iii. It would facilitate relieving of economic double taxation in transfer pricing cases.
Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA)iv. Capital gains on shares during the period 1st April, 2017 to 31st March, 2019 will be taxed in source country at half of normal tax rate.
v.
It also inserts Article 9(2) in the DTAA which would facilitate relieving of economic double taxation in transfer pricing cases.
Singapore :
♦ Capital : Singapore
♦ Currency: Singapore dollar

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Frenchmen Yves Meyer Wins 2017 Abel Prize for Wavelets Theory
i. Yves Meyer, a French mathematician, was honored with the 2017 Abel Prizegiven by Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, on March 21, 2017 in a ceremony in Oslo, Norway.
ii. The 77 years old nomad was honored the prestigious award for his contribution in the development of the mathematical theory of wavelets.
iii. Yves will receive 6 million Norwegian krone (about £600,000) cash award from His Majesty King Harald V at an award ceremony in Oslo on May 23, 2017.

Ed Sheeran To Receive Songwriters Hall Of Fame 2017 Award
i. The 26 year old English singer-songwriter and record producer Ed Sheeran from UK will be honoured with the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s 2017 Hal David Starlight Award.
ii. Sheeran will receive the award at the 48th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner on June 15, 2017 in New York.Ed Sheeran To Receive Songwriters Hall Of Fame 2017 Award
iii. Other Awardee
1.Global Ambassador Award – Pitbull
2.2017 SHOF inductees – Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Berry Gordy, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Robert Lamm & James Pankow p/k/a “Chicago,” Max Martin and  Shawn “Jay Z” Carter
iv. Hal David Starlight Award :
The Hal David Starlight Award was created in 2004 in honor of Songwriters Hall Chairman Emeritus Hal David .

Indian Journalist Ravish Kumar Conferred with First Kuldip Nayar Journalism Awards
iRavish Kumar, the senior executive editor of NDTV India, was awarded the inaugural Kuldip Nayar Journalism Award at New Delhi’s India International Centre on March 19, 2017 in recognition of his outstanding contribution in the world of Journalism.
ii. In the event organised by the Gandhi Peace Foundation, Ravish was presented the prestigious award by veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar after whom the award has been named.
iii. He was conferred with an award plaque along with a cash amount of Rs 1 lakh.
iv. Ravish has earlier won several prestigious awards including the Ramnath Goenka Award in 2013. He was also awarded the best journalist of the year 2015 by mumbai press club.
About Kuldip Nayar Journalism Award 
♦ The Kuldip Nayar Journalism Award has been jointly instituted by journalist Kuldip Nayar and the Gandhi Peace Foundation.
♦ From now on the award will be conferred annually to a journalist of Indian languages who, through their work, promotes independent thinking, democratic values and civic rights.

ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS

Airtel enters definitive agreement to acquire Tikona Digital   
i. New Delhi based global telecommunications services company Bharti Airtel has signed an agreement with Mumbai based Internet service provider Tikona Digital Networks to Airtel enters definitive agreement to acquire Tikona Digitalacquire its 4G business in 5 circles on March 23, 2017
ii. The amount of the deal is approximately Rs 1,600 crore but the amount of acquisition is not disclosed and now it is moved for regulatory approvals.
iii. After the closure of the transaction, Airtel will roll out its services on the new spectrum in Tikona’s five circle
iv. This acquisition will help Airtel to  provide unmatched high-speed wireless broadband experience to our customers

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

NASA Plans to Send Futuristic Atomic Clock to Space by 2017 End
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is set to send its next-generation atomic clock into space by the end of 2017 which is a key advance for safely navigating future human exploration of the solar system.
♦ As per the report by NASA on March 21, 2017, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California have completed integration of the instrument, the Deep Space Atomic Clock, with the spacecraft that will take it into orbit later in 2017.
♦ The NASA scientists stated that timekeeping plays a critical role in spacecraft navigation and the atomic clock will be especially important for future deep space missions.
Feature of the Deep Space Atomic Clock
i. The Deep Space Atomic Clock was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. 
ii. The clock will be smaller and lighter with more precise magnitudes than any atomic clock flown in space before.
iii. The atomic clock will enable “one-way” tracking so the spacecraft does not need to send the signal back to Earth.
iv. The Deep Space Atomic Clock would also improve the precision and quantity of the radio data used by scientists for determining a planet’s gravity field and probing its atmosphere.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
♦ Formed: July 29, 1958
♦ Headquarters: Washington, D.C.
♦ Administrator: Robert M. Lightfoot

ENVIRONMENT

Mysterious Night Parrot Sighted in Western Australia for First Time in 100 Years
i. A group of four birdwatchers have sighted Australia’s most mysterious species, The Night Parrot, in Western Australia (WA) which was believed to be extinct.
ii. The discovery was made by Adrian BoyleNigel JackettGeorge Swann and Bruce Greatwich  from Broome, in WA who dedicated 7 years of their life in locating the bird.
iii. The four friends reached the habitat of the species through aerial map and listening to the calls of the parrots.Mysterious Night Parrot Sighted in Western Australia for First Time in 100 Years
iv. One of the members of the group, Bruce Greatwich, managed to take a photo of the bird.
v. It is the first verified sighting of the bird in WA for almost 100 years. The Night Parrot was green and yellow with black barred feathers
vi. The scientists hope that more such Night Parrot population live in those areas relatively undisturbed by human-caused habitat degradation or feral animals.
About Night Parrot
♦ The night parrot  with scientific name Pezoporus occidentalis, is a small parrot endemic to the continent of Australia.
♦ It is well known as being one of the most elusive and mysterious birds in the world, with no known sightings of the bird between 1912 and 1979.
♦ It is a relatively small and short-tailed parrot species. It is yellowish green, with dark brown, blacks and yellows shadings.

SPORTS

Ankur Mittal Clinches Gold in Double Trap Event in ISSF World Cup Mexico
i. Indian shooter Ankur Mittal won the gold medal at the International Shooting Sport Federation Shotgun World Cup in the men’s double trap event at Acapulco, Mexico on March 23, 2017.
ii. Mittal beat Australia’s James Willet with a score of 75 out of 80 while Willet managed 73.
iii. With this, India got its first medal of the competition where it has sent a nine-member squad.
iv. In the six-man 80-targets final round, Ankur missed a total of 5 targets, including just two in his last 40.
v. Besides, Australian James Willet managed 73 to settle for the Silver, while the Chinese Ying won Bronze shooting a score of 52, before being eliminated after 60 targets.
vi. Earlier in February 2017, Mittal won silver medal at ISSF World Cup in New Delhi, losing to the gold medalist at that event, Australian James Willet.

India Bags 13 Medals in IPC Athletics Grand Prix 2017
The 9th edition of Fazza International IPC Athletics Grand Prix Competition began in Dubai, UAE on March 20, 2017 and concluded on March 23, 2017.
♦ During the course of event, Indian para athletes won total 13 Medals including 5 Gold, 3 Silver and 5 Bronze.
Gold Medal Winners
i.Sundar Singh Gurjar
i.The 21-year-old Gurjar won a gold in both men’s Javelin Throw F-46 and Discus Throw F-46 competitions.
ii.Gurjar who lost his left hand in an accident two years ago, tndia Bags 8 Medals in IPC Athletics Grand Prix 2017hrew a best of 60.33m in Javelin Throw F-46 while 44.56m in Discus Throw F-46.
ii.Narender Ranbir
The third Indian gold was bagged by Narender Ranbir in men’s Javelin Throw F-44 with an effort of 47.75m.
Other Winners
i.Anandan Gunasekaran (Silver) in 400m Men T-42/44/46
ii.Ramkaran Singh (Bronze) in 800m Men T-13/20
iii.Surjit Singh (Bronze) in Shotput Men F-40/41/42
iv.Rohit (Bronze) in 400m Men T-11/12/13
v.Pramod K Yadav (Bronze) in 400m Men T-42/44/46

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Meteorlogical Day – March 23, 2017
World Meteorological Day is observed annually on March 23 annually in various part of the world to remember the World Meteorological Organization’s establishment on 23rd March, 2017
♦ 2017 Theme: ‘Understanding Clouds’
♦ This year theme highlight the enormous importance of clouds for weather climate and water
Highlights :
i. World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)’s recent report indicate that extreme weather and climate conditions have continued in 2017 even as the year 2016 made history, with a record global temperature, exceptionally low sea ice, and unabated sea level rise and ocean heat.
ii. A new edition of the International Cloud Atlas has launched as a part of 2017 WMD celebration
iii. The new WMO Atlas is a treasure trove of hundreds of images of clouds, including a few newly classified cloud types.
iv. 5 new cloud types – Asperitas, Voltus, Cavum, Fluctus and Homogenitios have been added the the international could Atlas.

86th Martyrs’ Day of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Shivaram Observed on March 23 2017
Every year, March 23 is observed as Shaheed Diwas or Martyr’s Day by India to commemorate the death anniversary of three of India’s freedom struggle heroes namely
Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Hari Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar.
♦ 2017 Martyr’s Day marks the 86th death anniversary of the courageous leaders.
♦ On the occasion of Shaheed Diwas 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid tributes to the three freedom fighters remembering their courage & sacrifice.
♦ As a part of the tribute, the Border Security Force (BSF) has decided to put on display the historic semi-automatic 32-bore Colt-make pistol used by the freedom fighter Bhagat Singh to shoot John Saunders in 1928 at the Central School of Weapons and Tactics museum.
History of Martyr’s Day
i. On March 23, 1931, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were hanged by the British Raj for their involvement in the killing of John Saunders, who they mistook for British policeShaheed Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Hari Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar. superintendent, James Scott.
ii. Scott was their target because they believed he was involved in the death of nationalist leader Lala Lajpat Rai.
iii .Besides Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev and Chandrashekhar Azad were also a part of this conspiracy.
iv. All the three, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were convicted of the killing of Saunders in what came to be known as the Lahore Conspiracy case, and were sentenced to death.
v. While the execution of the three was slated for March 24, 1931, they were hanged a day prior on March 23, at 7.30 pm in Lahore.
vi. They were cremated at Hussainiwala at the banks of the Sutlej river in the Ferozepur district of Punjab.
vii. Rajguru was only 22 at the time of his death while Bhagat Singh was 23 and Sukhdev was 24.