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‘National Conference on Down Syndrome’ held in New Delhi
A ‘National Conference on Down Syndrome’ was held in New Delhi on March 26, 2018. This conference was organised by the National Trust under Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Highlights of National Conference on Down syndrome:
i. The conference was inaugurated by Dr. Kamlesh Kumar Pandey, the Chairman of National Trust.
ii. Objective of this conference was to seek commitments of various stakeholders and increase awareness about Down Syndrome. Besides, it served as an opportunity for parents of individuals having Down syndrome, to obtain information about latest development in education and skilling and inclusive living of persons with Down Syndrome.
iii. Intellectuals from all walks of life attended this conference and shared their ideas and knowledge on Down Syndrome with an aim to enable a positive change.
iv. A book entitled “Twilights Children” based on the lives of person suffering from Down Syndrome was released during the course of the conference.
About Down Syndrome:
♦ Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder associated with intellectual and learning disabilities.
♦ Children having Down syndrome face delayed development and behavioural problems.
♦ In 2011, United Nations declared to observe 21st March every years, as World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD).
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visits India
Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of Germany, was on a five-day official visit to India starting from 22nd March, 2018.
Highlights of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier India visit:
i. Mr. Steinmeier was accompanied by his wife Elke Budenbender, a CEO delegation, Indologists and a media delegation.
ii. This was Mr. Steinmeier’s first visit to India as German President. Earlier he had visited India several times in his former capacity as the foreign minister and vice chancellor of Germany. Last German president to visit India was Joachim Gauck in February 2014.
iii. On March 24, 2018, Mr. Steinmeier held a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Sunder Nursery adjacent to Humayun’s tomb in Delhi. During this meeting, Mr. Steinmeier and PM Modi held discussion on several global, political and economic issues of mutual interest.
iv. During the course of this visit, Mr. Steinmeier also met President of India Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu and Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Apart from Delhi, Mr. Steinmeier also visited Varanasi and Chennai.
v. Germany is India’s largest trading partner in Europe and the sixth largest trading partner in the world. Bilateral trade between India and Germany in 2016-17 stood at USD 18.76 billion. Besides, Germany is also the 7th largest foreign direct investor in India.
Quick Facts about Germany:
♦ Capital – Berlin
♦ Currency – Euro
♦ Current Chancellor – Angela Merkel
♦ Important Cities – Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt,
ISA and India signs Host Country Agreement
On March 26, 2018, International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), signed the Host Country Agreement in New Delhi.
About ISA – India Host Country Agreement:
i. The agreement was signed by V.K. Singh, Minister of State, Ministry of External Affairs and Upendra Tripathy, Interim Director General of ISA in presence of R K Singh, Union Minister of State (IC) Power and New & Renewable Energy.
ii. The Agreement gives ISA a juridical personality and authorises it to contract, to institute and defend legal proceedings and to acquire and dispose off movable and immovable properties.
iii. Besides, ISA shall enjoy all such privileges, applicable tax concessions and immunities that are necessary for ISA’s Headquarter to independently discharge its function and carry out its programmes.
Quick Facts about ISA:
♦ The International Solar Alliance is an alliance of countries which are located completely or partly between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
♦ It was jointly launched by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and the then President of France Francois Hollande in November 2015 in Paris, on the side lines of United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21.
♦ Under the ISA, solar rich countries will collaborate to fulfil their objectives and needs pertaining to solar energy by emulating successful practices and setting up common mechanisms and instruments for harnessing solar energy on a huge scale.
♦ Headquarters of ISA is located in Gurugram, Haryana, India.
Assam govt to construct 1 lakh toilets across state under Mission Sambavh
On March 26, 2018, Assam State Government launched a special programme to build one lakh toilets across the state under the Swachh Bharat Mission.
i. This special programme is named ‘Mission Sambavh’ (Mission Possible ), under which, construction works will be completed within 10 days.
ii. The programme was launched at Morigaon district, in presence of Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal.
iii. Assam State government has set a target to make the state Open Defecation Free (ODF) during 2018.
iv. It is to be noted that five districts in Assam have already been declared ODF.
Quick Facts about Assam:
♦ Capital – Dispur
♦ Current Governor – Jagdish Mukhi
♦ Current Chief Minister – Sarbananda Sonowal
♦ Important National Park – Kaziranga National Park
1st Print Biennale India – 2018 exhibition begins in New Delhi
‘Print Biennale India 2018’, the first-ever International Exhibition of Graphic Prints was inaugurated in New Delhi on March 25, 2018.
Highlights of ‘Print Biennale India 2018’:
i. The exhibition is being hosted by India’s National Academy of Art, the Lalit Kala Akademi. Eminent Artist-Printmaker, Shakti Barman was the Chief Guest at the inaugural ceremony.
ii. A total of 200 original prints, created by Indian and international artists are being displayed at this exhibition. These prints offer a glimpse of giant strides in printmaking that is taking place in India and the world.
iii. The exhibition has brought together participants from 17 countries such as USA, UK, Sri Lanka, Mexico, China, Sweden, Poland, Argentina, Greece, Bangladesh, and Mauritius.
iv. An exhibition ‘Eminent Printmakers of India’ showcasing master Indian printmakers, was also inaugurated on March 26th, 2018 at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi.
Quick facts about Lalit Kala Akademi:
♦ Established in – 1954
♦ Located in – New Delhi
♦ Parent entity – Union Ministry of Culture
Gujarat Govt to Set Up 100 Mld Seawater Desalination Plant
On March 25, 2018, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani stated that a seawater desalination plant, with capacity to desalinate 100 million litre water per day will be set up near Jodiya town in Jamnagar district.
More information about Seawater Desalination Plant:
i. It is to be noted that Jamnagar in Saurashtra region of Gujarat faces severe water shortage especially during summer season.
ii. The proposed desalination plant will thus help to reduce water shortage.
iii. However, no information related to timeline for setting up this plant or related cost has been disclosed so far.
Quick Facts about Gujarat:
♦ Capital – Gandhinagar
♦ Current Governor – Om Prakash Kohli
♦ Current Chief Minister – Vijay Rupani
♦ Important National Park – Gir National Park
Surat becomes first district to have 100% solar powered health centres
Surat district in Gujarat has become the first district in India to have 100 percent solar powered Primary Health Centers (PHC).
Details about solar powered Primary Health Centers (PHC) in Surat:
i. All 52 PHCs in Surat are now powered by solar system.
ii. This initiative will not only contribute in reducing the electricity bill by 40 percent but will also help in fighting global warming.
iii. Surat is also making significant leap in making gram panchayats within districts, solar powered.
iv. 150 out of 572 gram panchayats in Surat are now powered by solar system.
Famous Madhavpur Mela begins in Gujarat
On 25th March 2018, the Madhavpur Mela started at Madhavpur Ghed village in Porbandar district of Gujarat.
i. The Madhavpur Mela is held for four days till 28th March 2018. For the first time, there will be a cultural integration with the North-East people during this festival as the Madhavpur Mela and Mishmi Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh share common roots.
ii. This festival will feature art, dance, music, poetry, story-telling and folk drama from Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and other North-Eastern States.
iii. There will also be sale of art and crafts of Gujarat and handloom and handicraft products from Arunachal, Manipur and other North-Eastern states.
iv. The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), Ministry of Culture and states of Gujarat, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur are playing a major role in this festival.
Some National Parks in Gujarat:
♦ Vansda National Park (or) Bansda National Park
♦ Gir Forest National Park
♦ Blackbuck National Park
World’s oldest city Varanasi goes ‘wireless’
In Varanasi, overhead power cables are being taken off after underground lines have been laid for more than 16 sq km.
Underground cabling in Varanasi:
i. Under the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) of Indian government, Powergrid has laid 16 square kilometers of underground lines in Varanasi. This will be utilized by nearly 50,000 consumers.
ii. In June 2015, Former Union minister of state for power and coal Piyush Goyal announced the Rs 432-crore project for underground cabling work under IPDS for Varanasi.
iii. Work on this project was started in December 2015. Atul Nigam, managing director of Purvanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited, said that, line loss in the area covered by IPDS has reduced to 9.9% from 42.7%.
♦ Chairman and Managing Director – I.S.Jha
♦ Corporate Office – Gurgaon, Haryana
Historic agreement signed to protect the world’s largest tropical peatland
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo and Indonesia have signed Brazzaville Declaration that promotes better management and conservation of Cuvette Centrale region in the Congo Basin, the world’s largest tropical peatlands.
Details about agreement signed to protect the world’s largest tropical peatland:
i. Peatlands are wetlands that contain a mixture of partially decomposed organic material.
ii. The declaration was signed on the sidelines of the Third Partners Meeting of the Global Peatlands Initiative, that was held in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, from 21st – 23rd March 2018.
iii. Indonesia has been made a party to this agreement as it is considered as most experienced country in the world on peat management issues.
iv. Equivalent of three years of global greenhouse gas emissions are stored in peatland of Cuvette Centrale region in the Congo Basin, which are about the size of England.
v. Thus it is of utmost importance to conserve these peatlands as the emissions stored could be released in atmosphere if the they are degraded or drained.
About Global Peatlands Initiative:
♦ Formed in – 2016
♦ Objective – To save peatlands as the world’s largest terrestrial organic carbon stock and to prevent it from being emitted into the atmosphere
♦ Initiated by – United Nations Environment Programme
Malaysia proposes 10 years in jail for fake news
On March 26, 2018, Malaysia’s government proposed new legislation to counter fake news, under which, offender will be penalised with 10-year jail term.
Malaysian Government’s anti-fake news bill:
i. The bill defines fake news as any news, information, data and reports presented in the form of print, visuals or audio, which contains wholly or partly false content.
ii. Individuals who create, offer, circulate, print or publish fake news or publications containing fake news will be penalised with a 10-year jail term, a fine of up to 500000 ringgit or both.
iii. Although incumbent Government has stated that this law is needed to protect public harmony and national security, opposition members consider it as an attack on the press and an attempt to instil fear among people before the general election in August 2018.
Quick Facts about Malaysia:
♦ Capital – Kuala Lumpur
♦ Currency – Ringgit
♦ Current Prime Minister – Najib Razak
♦ Neighbouring Countries – Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
Earth Hour 2018 observed across the world
On 24th March 2018, Earth Hour 2018 was observed all over the world.
Earth Hour 2018:
i. India pledged “Give Up To Give Back” on Earth Hour 2018. People all over the world observed the Earth Hour 2018 by switching off non-essential lights for an hour between 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm.
ii. In India, Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Gate, Akshardham Temple in New Delhi and Buddha Statue in Hyderabad, Howrah Bridge in Kolkata and Gateway of India in Mumbai are the landmarks where lights were switched off between 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm.
iii. The Earth Hour started in 2007 in Australia. The Earth Hour is organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
iv. The Earth Hour aims to create awareness on the importance of conserving the environment and wildlife. The worldwide campaign for Earth Hour 2018 trended as #CONNECT2EARTH.
About World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF):
♦ President & CEO – Carter Roberts
♦ Formed – 1961
Banking & Finance
Economy to double to $5 trillion by 2025, no risk to inflation target: Finance ministry
On March 26, 2018, Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg stated that India is on track to double the size of its economy to $5 trillion by 2025.
Growth in Size of Indian Economy:
i. India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in value terms currently stands at USD 2.5 trillion, making it the sixth largest economy in the world.
ii. According to Mr. Garg, Indian economy is now positioned to attain 7-8 per cent annual growth and with focus on start-ups, Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and investment in infrastructure development, it can even clock a higher growth in coming years.
iii. Mr. Garg also asserted that inflation will be contained within the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) target of 4 per cent, plus/minus 2 per cent and will thus not pose any risk to growth.
iv.In February 2018, consumer price based retail inflation (taken into account by RBI while formulating its monetary policy) was at 4 month low of 4.44 per cent.
SWIFT introduces universal real-time payment tracking
SWIFT (Society for World Interbank Financial Telecommunication System platform) has announced the extension of its gpi (Global Payment Innovation) Tracker to cover all payment instructions sent across the network.
More information about SWIFT’s universal real-time payment tracking:
i. SWIFT system is used by banks across the world to transmit messages relating to cross border financial transactions.
ii. gpi Tracker, developed by SWIFT, gives end-to-end visibility on the status of a payment transaction from the moment it is sent until it is confirmed.
iii. gpi tracker was introduced in May 2017 and now accounts for 10 per cent of entire SWIFT cross border payment traffic.
iv. Extending the tracker to cover all payment instructions sent across the network will enhance the transparency and reliability of the process.
Government Guarantee for Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) Bonds
Union Ministry of Finance has approved Government guarantee of Rs. 5000 crore in financial year 2017-18 for Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) bonds to be subscribed by Life Insurance Corporation (LIC).
Government Guarantee for IRFC Bonds:
i. In March 2015, Union Ministry of Railways entered into Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with LIC, by which, LIC has to provide a financial assistance of Rs. 150000 crore for identified Railway projects from 2015 to 2019.
ii. The fund is to be raised by IRFC by issuing bonds to LIC. These bonds have a tenor of 30 years.
iii. However, owing to exposure limit constraints on account of IRDA guidelines; LIC has not been able to subscribe to IRFC bonds beyond a certain limit.
iv. Thus, Union Ministry of Finance approved Government guarantee in order to overcome the exposure limit constraint.
Quick Facts about IRFC:
♦ Founded in – 1987
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Parent Entity – India Railways
Microsoft opens the Garage in Hyderabad
On 26th March 2018, Microsoft opened the ‘Garage’ at the Microsoft India Development Centre in Hyderabad, Telangana.
i. The Garage was inaugurated at the Microsoft India Development Centre in Hyderabad by Telangana IT Minister K T Rama Rao.
ii. It is a platform for Microsoft employees that encourages experimentation, working together across organisations and to discover ideas and develop prototypes, adding value to existing products.
iii. This facility has been developed on a 8,000 sq ft space. It will support Microsoft teams for different projects.
iv. It consists of the following facilities: a Hub for hackathons and workshops, a Makerspace and an Advanced Makerspace with electronic workbench, 3D printers, laser cutter, PCB milling machine for creating prototypes.
v. It has a reality room for carrying out work in augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality and dedicated space and equipment for working on Deep Learning.
About Microsoft India:
♦ President, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt. Ltd. – Anant Maheshwari
♦ MD, Microsoft India (R&D) Private Limited and Corporate Vice President, Cloud & Enterprise, Microsoft India Development Center – Anil Bhansali
India pips Germany, ranks 4th largest auto market Globally
As per the latest global Automobile Sales Data, India has overtaken Germany to become the fourth largest automobile market in the world.
Auto Sales in India:
i. During 2017, Automobile sales (including passenger and commercial vehicles) in India touched 4 million units, outpacing Germany’s 3.81 million vehicle sales.
ii. In terms of year-on-year growth, Automobile Sales in India during 2017 grew 9.5% while in Germany it grew by 2.8%.
iii. Strong growth in Automobile Sales in India is expected to continue in 2018 on account of government’s thrust on infrastructure, stricter norms for banning overloading and macroeconomic environment buoyancy.
Top 5 Auto Markets – 2017:
|Country||Units Sold (in millions)|
Appointments & Resigns
JS Rajput nominated India’s Representative to UNESCO’s Executive Board
J S Rajput has been nominated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development as India’s representative to the Executive Board (EXB) of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
JS Rajput nominated India’s Representative to UNESCO’s Executive Board:
i. J S Rajput is a former director of National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). He received the Padma Shri award in 2014. He was presented the Maharishi Ved Vyas award by the Madhya Pradesh government.
ii. He edited a book named ‘Education of Muslims in India’. It was released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015.
iii. The EXB is one of the constitutional organs of UNESCO. It is elected by the General Conference. It has a term of 4 years and 58 seats.
iv. EXB goes through the work for the organisation and the corresponding budget estimates. It is responsible for all policies and programmes of UNESCO.
v. On 8th November 2017, elections of members of EXB for the 2017-21 term was conducted. India won with 162 votes in Group IV at the 39th session of the General Conference. The next meeting of the board will be held between 4th and 17th April 2018 in Paris.
About National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT):
♦ Director – Dr. Hrushikesh Senapaty
♦ Set up – 1961
Awards & Recognition
London based organisation SACF wins Frederick Pincott Award for 2017
London-based South Asian Cinema Foundation (SACF) has received the Frederick Pincott Award for 2017 from the Indian High Commissioner, Y K Sinha for promoting Hindi cinema in Britain for the last 18 years.
SACF wins Frederick Pincott Award for 2017:
i. SACF has been active in boosting original research and books on Indian films, documentary filmmaking and also inviting and honouring filmmakers from India.
ii. The institute will also launch a new six-week course at the British Film Institute (BFI) that will look into the history of Indian cinema through literature.
iii. was set up in London in January 2000 by Lalit Mohan Joshi, along with film critic Derek Malcolm, film archivist P K Nair and social historian-researcher Kusum Pant Joshi.
Chhattisgarh bags ‘Water Digest Award’ for best water conservation and irrigation facility
Chhattisgarh has won the National ‘Water Digest Award’ for Water Conservation-Diversion and increasing the irrigation capacity in Chhattisgarh.
Chhattisgarh – ‘Water Digest Award’ for best water conservation and irrigation facility:
i. On 21st March 2018, Union Minister of State for Water Resources Arjun Ram Megwal presented the award to Chhattisgarh Water Resources Department Secretary Sonmoni Borah, in New Delhi.
ii. ‘Water Digest’ magazine gives away this award every year. Chhattisgarh was presented this award for improving irrigation capacity, community participation, water management, water diversion, water conservation, work on inter-linking of rivers, enhancement of irrigation facilities, etc.
iii. This award is presented in association with Central Water Resources River Development and Ganga Cleaning Ministry, UNESCO, Central Water Board, Central Water Commission and Ganga Purification National Mission.
iv. The award is recognised by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). This is the first time Chhattisgarh Water Resources Department has received a national award.
Some wildlife sanctuaries in Chhattisgarh:
♦ Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Sitanadi Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary
India U-16 football team wins Jockey Cup International Youth Invitational Football Tournament
On 25th March 2018, India U-16 football team won the Jockey Cup International Youth Invitational Football Tournament in Hong Kong.
India U-16 football team wins Jockey Cup International Youth Invitational Football Tournament:
i. India U-16 team defeated Hong Kong 4-2 in the final and won the Jockey Cup International Youth Invitational Football Tournament.
ii. Bekey Oram scored 2 goals and Rohit Danu and Lalrokima scored one goal each for the Indian team.
iii. The team was coached by Bibiano Fernandes. This team remains unbeaten in 22 matches including friendly matches against National Youth Teams and International Club and Academy sides.
About All India Football Federation (AIFF):
♦ President – Praful M Patel
♦ Location – New Delhi
Anish Bhanwala Wins India’s 3rd Individual Gold in ISSF Junior World Cup
On 26th March 2018, Anish Bhanwala won gold medal in the men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Junior event at the ISSF Junior World Cup Rifle / Pistol / Shotgun in Sydney, Australia.
Anish Bhanwala wins gold in the men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Junior event:
i. Anish Bhanwala scored 29 hits and won gold medal in the men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Junior event. This is the 3rd individual gold medal for India in the ISSF Junior World Cup.
ii. China’s Cheng Zhipeng scored 27 hits and won silver medal. China’s Zhang Jueming scored 23 hits and won bronze medal in the men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Junior event.
iii. China won the team gold medal and created a new Junior World Record with 1733 points. India’s Anish Bhanwala, Anhad Jawanda and Adarsh Singh won silver medal.
iv. Another Indian team comprising Sandhu, Japtyesh Singh Jaspal and Mandeep Singh won bronze medal.
About National Rifle Association of India (NRAI):
♦ President – Raninder Singh
♦ Founded – 1951
Hockey Punjab wins 8th Hockey India Senior Men National Championship 2018 (A Division)
On 25th March 2018, Hockey Punjab won the 8th Hockey India Senior Men National Championship 2018 (A Division) at the Padma Shri Mohammad Shahid Synthetic Hockey Stadium in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
Hockey Punjab wins 8th Hockey India Senior Men National Championship 2018 (A Division):
i. Hockey Punjab defeated Petroleum Sports Promotion Board 2-1 in the finals and won the 8th Hockey India Senior Men National Championship 2018 (A Division).
ii. In the Bronze medal match, Railway Sports Promotion Board defeated Air India Sports Promotion Board 5-3.
Some dams of Uttar Pradesh:
♦ Dhanraul Dam – Ghaghar River
♦ Rihand Dam – Rihand River
♦ Dhurwara Dam – Betwa River
International Day of Solidarity with detained and missing staff members – March 25
On 25th March 2018, International Day of Solidarity with detained and missing staff members was observed all over the world.
International Day of Solidarity with detained and missing staff members:
i. The International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members is an annual observance to mark the anniversary of the abduction of Alec Collett, a former journalist.
ii. He was working for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). He was kidnapped by armed gunman in 1985. His body was discovered in Bekaa Valley of Lebanon in 2009.
iii. This day aims to initiate action, demand justice and highlight the importance to protect UN staff and peacekeepers, also people who work for non-governmental community and the press.
About United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA):
♦ Commissioner-General – Pierre Krähenbühl
♦ Formed – 1949
International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade – March 25
On 25th March 2018, International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade was observed all over the world.
International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade:
i. When and Why: The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is observed every year on 25th March.
ii. This day honours and remembers people who suffered and died due to the slavery system. It also aims to create awareness on the hazards of racism.
iii. The transatlantic slave trade was the largest forced migration in the world history. In memory of the victims of transatlantic slave trade the United Nations declared 25 March as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade in 2007.
iv. Theme: The theme for International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade 2018 is: “Remember Slavery: Triumphs and Struggles for Freedom and Equality”.
Some important museums in India:
♦ Gandhi Smriti Sangrahalaya Bhitiharwa – Bhitiharwa, Bihar
♦ Museum of Evolution of Life – Chandigarh
♦ National Museum of Natural History – New Delhi