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Indian Affairs

Department of Posts launches Cool EMS Service between India and Japan
Ministry of Communications has introduced the Cool EMS Service between Japan and India with effect from 29.03.2018 that will allow Indian customers to import Japanese food items for personal use.
Cool EMS Service between India and Japan:
i. Cool EMS service is a one-way service from Japan to India. It enables customers in India to import Japanese food items for personal use as allowed under Indian regulations.
ii. In the initial phase, Cool EMS Service is made available only in Delhi. Food items will be carried by Japan Post in special cool boxes containing refrigerant to preserve the food.
iii. Recipient has to collect the parcel from Foreign Post office, Kotla Road, New Delhi within the prescribed time period.
iv. Features such as track and trace, etc. of Express Mail Service (EMS) are also available for Cool EMS service.
About Ministry of Communications:
♦ Minister of state (Independent charge) for Communications – Manoj Sinha
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

India’s first insect museum opened in Tamil Nadu
On March 26, 2018, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswamy, unveiled an insect museum at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore.
India's first insect museum opened in Tamil NaduMore information about insect museum at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University:
i. The museum is fully dedicated to insects and claimed to be the first of its kind in India.
ii. It has been set up over 6691 sqft area at the cost of Rs. 5 crore.
iii. Insects preserved as specimens and also live ones, depicting different developmental stages are displayed at this museum.
iv. The lobby of this insect  museum depicts the theme, “BUGS ARE KINGS”.
v. The museum has state-of-the-art amenities including a mini auditorium to screen insect movies and documentary films.
Quick Facts about Tamil Nadu Agricultural University:
♦ Established in – 1868 (as Agricultural School at Saidapet, Chennai)
♦ Relocated to Coimbatore in – 1906
♦ National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) 2017 – 28th  and 17th place in ‘Overall’ and ‘Universities’ categories respectively

Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram launches E-Tribes India on e-commerce platforms
On 27th March 2018, Tribal Affairs Minister, Jual Oram launched “E-Tribes India” in New Delhi.
E-Tribes India:
i. The Launch of E-Tribes India includes and Retail Inventory Software and M-commerce app.
ii. ‘Tribes India’ Banners were also launched at Amazon, Snapdeal, Paytm & GeM. Also TRIFED’s Handbook for Retail Trade and TRIFED’s quarterly magazine ‘Tribes Haat’ were inaugurated.
iii. TRIFED has developed its own e-commerce website: This website offers sale of all TRIFED products.
iv. Their Android App can also be downloaded from Google store (Tribes India). TRIFED has entered into agreements with Snapdeal and Amazon to sell their products on and
v. Ministry of Commerce has also enabled the sale of TRIFED products on Tribes India products are also available on Flipkart and Paytm.
About Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED):
♦ a multi-State Cooperative Society under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs
♦ promotes and markets tribal products, tribal art and crafts within India and abroad by providing marketing support to tribal products

MHRD has approved ‘Study in India’ programme
The Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) has approved ‘Study in India’ programme to attract foreign students to study in India.
‘Study in India’ programme – Objectives & Salient Features:
i. This programme has several objectives including  doubling India’s market share of global education exports from less than 1 percent to 2 percent and improving global ranking of Indian educational institutes.
ii. Under this programme, meritorious foreign students will be given free waiver by respective institutes based on pre-defined criteria. Top 25% students will be given 100% waiver in tuition fees, next 25% will be given 50% waiver and another 25% below that will get 25% waiver.
iii. It is to be noted that inflow of foreign students under this programme will not affect the number of seats which are meant for Indian students.
iv. Besides, expenditure on fee waiver will have to be borne by respective Institute by adjusting it against the existing fund allocation.
v. However, Government has approved brand promotion expenditure of Rs. 150 crores for the ‘Study in India’ programme for 2018-19 and 2019-20.

MEA launches ‘Videsh Aaya Pradesh ke Dwaar’ in Hyderabad
On March 22, 2018, External Publicity and Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) launched an initiative, ‘Videsh Aaya Pradesh ke Dwaar’ in Hyderabad, Telangana with an aim to bring the domain of foreign policy closer to the people.
MEA launches ‘Videsh Aaya Pradesh ke Dwaar’ in HyderabadOverview of ‘Videsh Aaya Pradesh ke Dwaar’ initiative:
i. Under this initiative, MEA will hold direct interaction with the local media (having wide readership profile) in different cities across India.
ii. Through these interactions, MEA will communicate foreign policy priorities in simple terms and will highlight the benefits accruing to the common people through diplomatic efforts.
iii. Besides, a pool of media professionals interested in foreign policy will also be created.

Government releases Draft policy on Defence Production
Union Defence Ministry has released a draft policy aimed at promoting the domestic defence industry and positioning it to achieve a turnover of Rs 170000 crore in military goods and services by 2025.
Salient Features of Draft policy on Defence Production:
i. The aim of aim policy on Defence Production is to make India self-reliant in terms of Defence Production and also to emerge as one of the top five manufacturers of defence platforms in the world. 
ii. Besides, increasing domestic defence production, another goal is to achieve export of Rs 35000 crore in military equipment and services by 2025. 
iii. These goals are to be achieved with active participation of public as well as private sectors.
iv. Government has identified 12 military platforms and weapons systems for production, in which India will strive to attain self-reliance.
v. These platforms/systems include fighter aircraft, warships, medium lift and utility helicopters, land combat vehicles, gun systems, missile systems, small arms, ammunition and explosives, electronic warfare (EW) systems, surveillance systems and night fighting enablers.
vi. The draft policy states that licensing process for defence industries and tax regime for domestic manufacturing will also be liberalised.

SARAS Aajeevika Mela 2018 held in New Delhi
On 23rd March to 1st April 2018, SARAS AajeevikaMela 2018 is held in Hall No. 7, PragatiMaidan, New Delhi.
SARAS Aajeevika Mela 2018 held in New DelhiSARAS Aajeevika Mela 2018:
i. The SARAS Aajeevika Mela 2018 is organized by DAY-NRLM (Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission).
ii. SHG (Self Help Group) women from all states of India display and sell their products in the SARAS Aajeevika Mela 2018. More than 350 stalls have been set up.
iii. The stalls feature handlooms, handicrafts, artefacts and heritage products, tribal ornaments, decorative items, metallic products, earthen utensils, paintings, organic food items, spices, processed food products, soft toys, utility items, brass and wrought iron products etc.
iv. Cultural programmes are also organized as a part of the Mela. Also workshops on soft skills, packaging, managing consumers etc. are also held during the mela.
About DAY-NRLM (Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission):
♦ Launched by – Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD)
♦ Launched in – June 2011
♦ Aims – to create efficient and effective institutional platforms of the rural poor, enabling them to increase household income through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial services

11th Rashtriya Rifles Biennial Conference 2018 held in Jammu and Kashmir
On 26th and 27th March 2018, the 11th Rashtriya Rifles Biennial Conference 2018 was held in Nagrota, Jammu and Kashmir.
11th Rashtriya Rifles Biennial Conference 2018:
i. 11th Rashtriya Rifles Biennial Conference 2018 was chaired by Chief of the Army Staff General Bipin Rawat.
ii. Army Commander Northern Command, Director General Rashtriya Rifles, Corps Commander 15 and 16 Corps and all General Officers Commanding Counter Insurgency Forces took part in the conference.
About Rashtriya Rifles:
♦ A branch of the Indian Army under the authority of the Indian Ministry of Defence
♦ currently deployed in the state of Jammu and Kashmir

International Affairs

India ranks 67th in fixed line, 109th in mobile broadband speed: Ookla
According to internet speed testing analysis firm Ookla, India ranked 67th for fixed broadband and 109th for mobile internet speeds in February 2018 on Speedtest Global Index.
i.As per the index, global average mobile internet download speed in February 2018 was 22.16 mbps while global fixed broadband download speed was 42.72 Mbps.
ii.However, India attained second rank in terms of showing most improvement in mobile data speeds. …………………………………………………Click here to Read more

Fixed Broadband Speed – Top 5:

CountryDownload Speed
Singapore161.53 Mbps
Iceland157.73 Mbps
Hong Kong129.64 Mbps
South Korea117.49 Mbps
Romania105.74 Mbps

Mobile Internet Download Speed – Top 5:

CountryDownload Speed
Norway62.07 Mbps
Iceland58.44 Mbps
Netherlands54.53 Mbps
Singapore51.92 Mbps
United Arab Emirates51.72 Mbps

Sri Lanka Navy sinks ship used by LTTE
On March 26, 2018, Sri Lankan Navy sunk a ship used by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the western seas.
Sri Lanka Navy sinks ship used by LTTEi. The LTTE vessel, A522 named ‘We Ling” was taken by Sri Lankan Navy following the conclusion of the conflict and since then it had been anchored near the Colombo harbor under the Navy’s custody.
ii. As the ship was in unusable condition, the Navy initially intended to sell it as scrap metal. However, as a suitable bid was not submitted, the decision was taken to sink the ship.
iii. The sunk ship will become home to a number of aquatic animals and corals. Sri Lankan Government is also considering plans to make the location a diving/tourist destination.
Quick Facts about Sri Lanka:
♦ Capital – Colombo
♦ Currency – Sri Lanka rupee
♦ Current President – Maithripala Sirisena
♦ Important Stadium in Sri Lanka – R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium

U.S., India hold naval training
On March 25, 2018, Indian Navy’s Talwar class frigate INS Tarkash carried out a greeting and training exercise with the U.S. Navy’s Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG).
U.S., India hold naval trainingUS-India ‘greeting and training’ Naval exercise:
i. Till now, TRCGS was deployed in Arabian Gulf in operations against the Islamic State. It will now be in the U.S. 7th Fleet area, responsible for counter-piracy, and training operations.
ii. As a part of this exercise, INS Tarkash sailed in formation with aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt  and the guided-missile destroyers USS Preble, USS Halsey and USS Sampson.
iii. Besides navigating in specific formations, the exercise also included communication drills which offered unique opportunity to sailors from both the sides to enhance interoperability and learn from one another.
Quick Facts about United States of America:
♦ Capital – Washington D.C.
♦ Currency – US Dollar
♦ Current President – Donald Trump
♦ Neighbouring Countries – Canada, Mexico

U.A.E. Completes First of Four Korean-Built Nuclear Reactors
The United Arab Emirates, with the help of Korea Electric Power Corp., has finished construction of its first commercial nuclear reactor.
U.A.E. Completes First of Four Korean-Built Nuclear ReactorsU.A.E. Completes First of Four Korean-Built Nuclear Reactors:
i. Unit 1 of the Barakah complex will start loading fuel in May 2018. On 26th March 2018, South Korean President Moon Jae-in participated in a ceremony to celebrate the facility’s completion.
ii. It has not been mentioned when this unit will begin power generation.
iii. The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation will issue an operating license for Barakah Units 1 and 2 after all regulatory requirements are met.
iv. Barakah Unit 1 is the first of the four nuclear plants that U.A.E has planned to put in to operation by 2021.
v. The estimated cost of these plants is $25 billion and will produce a combined 5,600 megawatts of power.
Some important lakes in India:
♦ Longest lake in India – Vembanad, Kerala
♦ Highest lake in India – Cholamu Lake, Sikkim
♦ Largest saline water lake in India – Chika Lake, Orissa

Banking & Finance

Exim Bank extends $500 million loan facility to 15-nation group in Africa
On March 26, 2018, Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) announced that it will extend USD 500 million credit facility to ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) to fund various development projects in Africa.
Exim Bank extends $500 million loan facility to 15-nation group in AfricaExim Bank’s Line of Credit to EBID:
i. EBID is the financial institution established by the 15 Member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) comprising Benin, Cape Verde, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo
ii. Funds procured through this line of credit (LoC) will be used to finance various development projects in the ECOWAS region.
iii. Including this Line of Credit, total value of LOCs extended by Exim Bank to EBID has reached USD 1000 million. 
Quick Facts about Export–Import Bank of India (Exim Bank):
♦ Founded in – 1982
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Current Managing Director – David Rasquinha

GIFT and Deloitte sign MoU to promote IFSC operations
On March 26, 2018, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT), India’s first operational smart city and International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP (DTTILLP) for mutual cooperation in areas related to international financial services.
GIFT and Deloitte sign MoU to promote IFSC operationsDetails about GIFT – Deloitte MoU:
i. GIFT City, located near Gandhinagar in Gujarat  is a global business district offering a platform for business opportunities in international and domestic business operations while DTTILLP is the Indian arm of multinational professional services network Deloitte.
ii. As per the terms of the MoU, GIFT-IFSC and DTTILLP will cooperate to provide quality professional services to support the establishment of businesses in IFSC.
iii. GIFT-IFSC and DTTILLP will also cooperate in organising seminars and conferences on selected topics for enhancement of the GIFT IFSC.
Quick facts about Deloitte:
♦ Founded in – 1845
♦ Headquarters – London, United Kingdom (UK)


AAI signs MoU with Assam govt to develop villages in Kamrup
On March 26, 2018, Airport Authority of India (AAI) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Assam government for sustainable development of human settlements at villages in Kamrup district.
Details about AAI-Assam Govt. MoU:
i. Activities carried out under this MoU will be part of AAI’s Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) initiative.
ii. As per the terms of this MoU,  AAI would provide financial assistance of Rs 4.58 crore for Kamrup district.
iii. This amount has been decided as per the estimates prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to improve the resilience of communities around Guwahati Airport.
Quick Facts about Airports Authority of India (AAI):
♦ Founded in – 1995
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Current Chairman – Dr. Guruprasad Mohapatra

Appointments & Resigns

Vijay Raghavan appointed as principal scientific advisor to Government
On 26th March 2018, K Vijay Raghavan was appointed as Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India.

Vijay Raghavan appointed as principal scientific advisor to GovernmentK Vijay Raghavan – Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India:
i. K Vijay Raghavan replaces R Chidambaram. He is 64 years old. He has been appointed as Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India for a term of 3 years.
ii. The Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) post was created in 1999. PSA acts as the topmost advisor to the government on all issues regarding scientific policy.
iii. K Vijay Raghavan is a former director of National Centre for Biological Sciences. He served as Secretary of Department of Biotechnology from 2013 until last month.
About National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS):
♦ Director – Prof. Satyajit Mayor
♦ Location – Bangalore

Awards & Recognition

Anushka Sharma features in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2018 list
Bollywood actor-producer Anushka Sharma has featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2018 list, which enlists innovators who are reshaping their industries and changing Asia for the better.
Anushka Sharma features in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2018 listAnushka Sharma features in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2018 list:
i. The annual Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list features 300 young innovators from 10 categories who are re-inventing their industries and initiating change.
ii. Anushka Sharma is one of the highest paid female actors of Indian film industry. She is 29 years old.
iii. Indian badminton player PV Sindhu also appears in the list. Pakistani singer Momina Mustehsan is also seen in the list.
Some important stadiums in India:
♦ Satindra Mohan Dev Stadium – Silchar, Assam
♦ Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium – Raipur, Chhattisgarh
♦ Chhatrasal Stadium – Delhi

Science & Technology

NASA, SpaceX collaborate “TESS” to search for exoplanets
NASA and SpaceX have tied up to search for exoplanets using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).
NASA, SpaceX collaborate “TESS” to search for exoplanets:
i. It has been planned to launch Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on 16th April 2018.
ii. TESS will stay between the moon and the Earth for a minimum of two years. It will scan for alien entities.
iii. George Ricker, leader of the TESS team, said that, TESS would discover nearly 500 Earth-sized planets within 300 light-years from here.
iv. TESS will survey 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun to search for exoplanets. It will find exoplanets that periodically block a part of the light from their host stars. These events are called transits.
About National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA):
♦ Acting Administrator – Robert M. Lightfoot Jr.
♦ Headquarters – Washington, DC, US


South Korean pop star Seo Minwoo passes away
On 25th March 2018, South Korean pop singer Seo Minwoo, died due to cardiac arrest at his residence in Gangnam, Seoul, South Korea.

South Korean pop star Seo Minwoo passes awayDeath of Seo Minwoo:
i. Seo Minwoo was a lead singer of the 100% band. He was 33 years old. He had also acted in TV shows and movies.
ii. The 100% band debuted in 2012. Some of their popular songs are “Bad Boy,” “Want U Back,” “Better Days,” and “Sketch U.”
Some important international boundary lines:
♦ 40 Parallel North – US, it serves as border between Nebraska & Kansas
♦ 41 Parallel North – US, it forms the border between Wyoming/Utah border, Wyoming/colorado, Nebraska/Colorado
♦ 42 Parallel North – US, it serves as border of New York & Pennsylvania Border

 Linda Brown, who fought to end US school segregation, dies aged 75
On 25th March 2018, Linda Brown, who helped to end US school segregation, passed away at Lexington Park Nursing & Post Acute Centre, in United States.
 Linda Brown, who fought to end US school segregation, dies aged 75Death of Linda Brown:
i. Linda Brown was 75 years old. In 1950s, Linda’s father tried to enroll her in an all-white school near their home. But she was denied admission and was told to approach an all-black school that was far away.
ii. Linda’s father filed a case against this in the court. On 17th May 1954, the Supreme Court declared that segregation was unconstitutional. This helped to end segregation in US schools.
iii. In 1988, Linda Brown along with her sister founded the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research.
Some important bird sanctuaries in India:
♦ Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary – Kerala
♦ Khichan Bird Sanctuary – Rajasthan
♦ Suchindram Theroor Birds Sanctuary – Tamil Nadu

Important Days

World Theater Day – March 27
On 27th March 2018, World Theater Day was celebrated all over the world.
World Theater Day - March 27World Theater Day:
i. The World Theater Day is celebrated on 27th March every year by ITI (International Theatre Institute) Centres, ITI Cooperating Members, theatre professionals, theatre organizations, theatre universities, etc. all over the world
ii. The World Theater Day is celebrated since 1962. On the 27th March 1962 “Theatre of Nations” season was opened in Paris.
iii. Every year, World Theatre Day Message is released on this occasion. This year India’s Ram Gopal Bajaj has been selected as one of the five authors for writing the World Theater Day message.
iv. The World Theatre Day is celebrated to promote theatre throughout the world, to create awareness on the value of theatre, etc.
About International Theatre Institute (ITI):
♦ Headquarters – Paris,France
♦ Director-General of ITI – Tobias Biancone