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- Current Affairs 2017 March
Arun Jaitley clears major military reforms proposal
i. Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, who currently holds additional charge of the defence ministry, has given approval for implementing comprehensive military reforms.
ii. The approval comes after Mr. Jaitley reviewed a presentation on 18th March 2017, which was primarily based on a recommendations made by the Lt General (retired) DB Shekatkar committee.
iii. Out of the 90 important recommendation of the Shekatkar Committee approved by Mr. Arun Jaitley
Govt signs deal for Hydrocarbon project in Neduvasal
i. Once again, the protest against hydrocarbons exploration in Tamil Nadu’s Neduvasal village is grabbing media attention. Following the signing of contract by Government of India with GEM Laboratories on 27th March 2017, the local villagers have intensified their protest which started a few months ago.
ii. Under the Discovered Small Fields (DSF) bidding round in 2016, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) awarded 31 mining leases across the state of Tamil Nadu. Contract signed with GEM Laboratories for Neduvasal Village is one of such mining leases.
iii. As per information provided by Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, contract area of Neduvasal along with other contract area in Karaikal, Puducherry have an in-place volume of four lakh thirty thousand metric tonnes of oil and oil equivalent gas.
Sanction of 101 Cold Chain Projects by Central Government
i. The Ministry of Food Processing Industries on March 28, 2017 sanctioned 101 Cold Chains projects across the country. The top state which will get maximum benefits through these projects is Maharashtra – 21 projects.
ii. These projects are inaugurated by Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
iii. The government would provide Rs 838 crore as grant-in-aid to set up these 101 projects.The remaining fund of Rs 2,200 crore will be raised by Private sectors.
Following Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand Too Bans Illegal Slaughterhouses
i. Moving on the footprints of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Aditya Nath Yogi, BJP-ruled state of Jharkhand too announced to impose ban on illegal slaughterhouses in the state on March 27, 2017.
ii. The state government under the Chief Minister Raghubar Das, has given 72 hours to slaughterhouses to shut their illegal businesses in case they failed to obtain licence from the relevant authorites.
iii. With the issuance of the order, people engaged in the sale of goat meat or chicken will have to obtain licences from municipal bodies while those involved in slaughter of cows and buffaloes would have to close their illegal business with immediate effect.
iv. Principal Secretary (Home) S K G Rahate has asked all the deputy commissioners, senior superintendents of police and superintendents of police to ensure closure of the illegal slaughter houses in their respective areas.
v. The decision was taken after considering overall public order, safety, and health of the people.
♦ Jharkhand is an East Indian state that was carved out of the southern part of Bihar on 15 November 2000.
♦ The state shares its border with the states of Bihar to the north, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to the west, Odisha to the south, and West Bengal to the east.
♦ Capital: Ranchi
♦ Governor: Draupadi Murmu
♦ Chief Minister: Raghubar Das (BJP)
Government Set to Redefine Blindness to Meet WHO Criteria
i. The Government of India is soon to amend the definition of Blindness to bring it in line with the definition stated in World Health Organization’s (WHO) criteria.
ii. As per National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB), in India, a person unable to count fingers from a distance of six metres is categorised as “blind”.
iii. However, as per WHO’s norm, person unable to count beyond a distance of 3 metres is termed as blind.
iv. Also, the difference in the definition places India at a poor rank at any International forum in terms of the population of blind people in India.
v. Therefore, to address the problem, India is set to redefine 4 decade old definition to align with the global estimates.
World Health Organization (WHO)
WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations concerned with international public health. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
♦ Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
♦ Founded: 7 April 1948
♦ Head: Margaret Chan
Pakistan Begins Building Fence along Border with Afghanistan
i. With the growing tensions with Afghanistan, Pakistan has started constructing a fence along the Afghan-Pakistani border to restrict the Islamist militants from Afghanistan to cross the border and launch attacks on Pakistani soil.
ii. The announcement was made by Pakistan’s Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa on March 25, 2017.
iii. Pakistan and Afghanistan shares 2,400-kilometer (1,500-mile) internationally recognized border known as the Durand Line, drawn by Britishers in the 19th century when they dominated South Asia.
iv. As per Bajwa, the border fencing started in the Pakistani Bajaur and Mohmand districts bordering eastern Afghan provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar.
v .In addition, Pakistan’s military plans to build more than 420 small forts along the border and deploy radar sensors to detect cross-border movement of militants.
♦ The tensions between the two countries started in June 2016. Pakistan was building a formal border control complex at Torkham, the main border crossing between the two countries. With Afghanistan’s objection over this, both sides started artillery firing, killing people in Pakistan.
♦ In turn, Pakistan sealed all border crossings with Afghanistan with increased attacks day by day.
♦ The border closure remained in place for more than a month, leaving thousands of visitors and tons of perishable goods stranded on either side of the border.
♦ However eventually, Pakistan’s Prime Minister ordered the reopening of the border for all traffic on humanitarian grounds.
♦ But to keep the check on the military attacks, technical surveillance means in addition to the regular air surveillance are being deployed.
World Environmental Education Congress 2017 to be Held in Canada
i. The 9th edition of the World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC) is scheduled to be held in Vancouver, Canada from September 9-15, 2017.
ii. Theme: Culture Environment: Weaving New Connections
iii. Host: The event is being hosted by the “Institute for Environmental Learning (IEL)” based in British Columbia in cooperation with WEEC Permanent Secretariat.
iv. The World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC) is an international congress that provides a platform for anyone working for education for environment and sustainable future or who has an interest in the field.
v. 2017 WEEC will provide opportunity to learn more about the latest trends in environmental and sustainability education, discuss with people from all over the world, share one’s own work and learn from others.
vi. The congress aims to build a relevant network among environmental NGO’s, civil society associations, universities, local authorities as well as institutions from any level.
About Institute for Environmental Learning (IEL)
♦ IEL is a collaboration of researchers and practitioners committed to high quality environmental and sustainability learning in British Columbia. IEL is promoted by the Simon Fraser University (SFU).
♦ IEL’s members belong to different institutions, universities, colleges, school districts, community groups, non-profit organizations, and provincial and regional governments.
♦ Vancouver is a city in British Columbia, Canada and wants to be the greenest city in the world by 2020.
♦ Vancouver is already Canada’s greenest city and has the smallest per capita carbon footprint compared to any city in North America and is an industry-recognized front runner in green building, planning and technology
India Not Participating in UN Conference for Global Ban on Nuclear Weapons
i. The United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination, began at New York from March 27-31, 2017.
ii. It is the first multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament at the United Nations since past 20 years.
iii. Also for the first time, India is not participating in the conference, taking into account the nation’s own interests. However, India would stay in touch with the developments taking place at the conference.
iv .The United Nation General Assembly passed a resolution in October 2016 to set up the conference on global nuclear weapons ban. More than 120 nations participated in the vote.
v. However, India abstained from voting on that resolution along with China and Pakistan. Britain, France, Israel, Russia and the US protested the UN resolution voting no against the ban
United Nation (UN)
The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization to promote international co-operation.
♦ The UN has six principal organs: the General Assembly; the Security Council; the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); the Secretariat; the International Court of Justice; and the UN Trusteeship Council.
♦ Headquarters: New York, United States♦ Founded: 24 October 1945
BANKING & FINANCE
Odisha becomes first state to bring banking to remote rural areas through SHG
i. Odisha became the first Indian state to extend banking facilities to masses in unbanked areas through Self- Help Groups (SHGs).
ii. To implement this initiative, Odisha State Government has signed an agreement with State Bank of India (SBI) – the largest public sector bank of India.
iii. Odisha Govt.’s Odisha Livelihoods Mission (OLM) is the main party (corporate agent) in this agreement with SBI. Around three lakh SHGs, currently operating under OLM will take up the role of Banking Correspondents (BCs).
iv. Jyoti Nath, Director of OLM Pranab and Srikant Hota signed the agreement, Assistant General Manager, SBI have signed the agreement on March 27, 2017
40 Ananya branches opened by Syndicate Bank
Manipal headquartered Syndicate bank opens 40 ‘Ananya’ transformed branches, digitally on March 27, 2017. The branches were inaugurated in the presence of Arun Shrivastava, its Managing Director and CEO.
♦ In addition to that, bank also launched its first micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) hub in Bangalore.
About Project Ananya
i. Project Ananya is a large scale transformation program which mainly focuses on improved customer service and offering latest in digital banking
ii. The project was launched on February 2016 for a period of two years which is going to end up with four pillars of transformation. They are
1.Business process re-engineering,
4.Customer relationship management with HR transformation.
By this project, a completely operational account can be opened in less than 1 day with no additional visits to the branch.
About Syndicate bank
♦ Syndicate bank is a nationalized Public Sector Bank (PSB) which is founded on 1925 as Canara Industrial and Banking Syndicate Limited.
♦ Headquartered in Manipal, it was nationalized on 19 July 1969 along with 13 major commercial banks of India.
♦ Arun Shrivastava is the bank’s Managing Director and CEO and Mr. Ravi Shanker Pandey is its Executive Director.
ICICI Bank & Truecaller Partners to Launch UPI-based ‘Truecaller Pay’
Mumbai based private sector lender, ICICI Bank partnered with Truecaller app on March 28, 2017 to launch a (Unified Payments Interface) UPI-based mobile payment service called ‘Truecaller Pay’.
♦ True Pay aims to provide quick and easy payment methods to mobile phone users in India.
Key Features of Truecaller Pay
i. Truecaller Pay will allow users of the Truecaller app to instantly create a UPI id, send money to any UPI id or a mobile number registered with the BHIM app.
ii. It will also allow users to recharge their mobile number using the app.
iii. Users of Truecaller app, including non-ICICI Bank customers can link their bank account of any bank (participating in UPI) to create a UPI id and instantly make payments.
iv. Users can also make payments for utility services such as pre-paid recharges and post-paid mobile bills.
v. All transactions of Truecaller Pay follow two factor authentication as per RBI guidelines for secure transfer of money.
♦ CEO: Chanda Kochhar
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Founded: June 1994, Vadodara
India & Nepal Renews Fuel Supply Pact for Five Years
i. India has signed a renewed Petroleum Trade Agreement with Nepal on March 27, 2017 to supply petroleum products to Nepal with prompt service.
ii. The supply agreement was signed between State-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) for a period of five years. The agreement will be effective from April 2017 to March 2022.
iii. Under the agreement, India will deliver about 1.3 million tonnes of fuel annually to Nepal and also double the volume by 2020.
iv. Among other things, India has assured to explore the possibility of forming an IOC-NOC joint venture for creating marketing infrastructure in Nepal that would include retail infrastructure as well as storage facilities for petrol, diesel, LPG and aviation turbine fuel in remote areas.
v. Nepal has been receiving the petro products from India since 1974. Besides, India has also planned to constitute a high-level official committee to look into Nepal’s demand for a LPG pipeline from Motihari to Amlekhganj as well as extending the natural gas pipeline from Gorakhpur into Nepal.
vi. Apart from this, India also agreed to extend the proposed Raxaul-Amlekhganj product pipeline to Chitwan and start work on the pipeline in 2017-18.
Nepal Warns India to Switch Over to China
♦ The existing pact between India and Nepal is getting expired on March 31, 2017. However, India was showing some delay in signing the renewal agreement with Nepal.
♦ To this, Nepal warned India to shift its export source to China for Petro products. Upon which India expedited the agreement quickly.
♦ Additionally, India has also promised to waive off the interest charges in case of late delivery to stop Nepal from switching over to China.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
ISKCON’s Govardhan Eco Village Gets ‘Water’ Award from Water Digest
i. International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) adopted Govardhan Eco Village has received the 11th Water Digest Water Awards under the category “Best Water NGO-Water Education” in New Delhi.
ii. The award was instituted by Water Digest, a news portal on water management.
iii. The award was presented on the behalf of ‘World Water Day 2017’ which is celebrated on 22nd March every year.
Karur Vysya Bank Receives ‘Best Small Bank 2016’ Award
i. Tamil Nadu based Karur Vysya Bank has been honored as the ‘Best Small Bank for 2016’ on March 28, 2017 at a function in Mumbai.
ii. The Bank was adjudged by Business Today in association with KMPG in Small Bank category with balance sheet size of less than Rs. 1 lakh crore.
iii. The award was received by K Venkataraman, Managing Director, KVB from Sudhir Munguntivar, Minister of Finance and Planning, Government of Maharashtra.
iv. The judgment was made on three broad parameters namely growth, size and strength in which KVB ranked among the top in major sub-parameters.
v. With this award, KVB has attained a total of 8 awards in the current fiscal.
Karur Vyasa Bank
♦ Founded: 1961
♦ Headquarter: Karur, Tamil Nadu, India
♦ Chairman: B.Swaminathan
♦ Tag Line: Smart Way to Bank
Gurinder Chadha the veteran filmmaker gets Sikh Jewel Award
i. The Indian origin English film director and screen writer Gurinder Chadha gets Sikh Jewel Award, 2017 for her contribution to the British film industries for the past 3 decades. She received this award from UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon at the Vaisakhi Dinner organized by the British Sikh Association.
ii. The High Commissioner of India to the UK, Y K Sinha, who was the Guest of Honor, was also present.
♦ “Viceroys House” the film which is directed by Gurinder Chadha stands the main reason for this award. The story of the film tells us the “true story of the final five months of British rule in India and coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Independence of India and the founding of Pakistan”.
About Gurinder Chadha
♦ Gurinder Chadha was born on 10 January 1960 in Nairobi,
♦ She is a Punjabi Sikh Kenyan Asian origin, who emerged as an English director.
♦ Starting her media career in radio in the mid-1980s, Chadha moved into television as a BBC news reporter.
♦ Her first film Bhaji on the Beach, won numerous international awards including a BAFTA Nomination for ‘Best British Film of 1994
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Dr. Randeep Guleria Appointed As Director of AIIMS Delhi
The Appointment Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appointed renowned pulmonologist Dr Randeep Guleria the Director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
♦ Guleria succeeds Dr M C Mishra who retired in January 2017 after serving for three years.
♦ He has been appointed for a period of five years from the date of assumption of charge or till attaining the age of 65.
About Dr. Randeep Guleria
i. Dr Guleria joined AIIMS in 1992 as Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine.
ii. He is credited with establishment of India’s first centre for pulmonary medicine and sleep disorder at AIIMS in 2011.
iii. He is also the first Indian to get a Doctorate of Medicine in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.
iv. Dr Guleria has been personal physician to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and has also treated other ministers like Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj among others.
v. He was conferred with the Padma Shri in 2015 by the President of India for his work on respiratory muscle functions, lung cancer, asthma and COPD.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
INLCU L51 commissioned into Indian Navy at Port Blair
i. On 28th March 2017, INLCU L51, first of the eight ships of the LCU MK IV Class was commissioned into the Indian Navy by Vice Admiral Bimal Verma, AVSM, Commander-in-Chief, Andaman and Nicobar Command at Port Blair.
ii. INLCU L51 has been built by Kolkata-based M/s Garden Reach Ship Builders & Engineers Ltd. (GRSE) Commissioning of this ship holds special significance as it has been designed and constructed indigenously.
iii. It is the latest testimony to Modi Govt.’s commitment to ‘Make in India’ campaign.
I&B Minister M Venkaiah Naidu launches Online Film Certification System
i. The recent launch of Online Film Certification System of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) by Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, reasserts Modi Govt’s commitment to promote ‘Digital India’ and ‘Ease of Doing Business’.
ii. The online film certification system named ‘E-Cinepramaan’ will come into effect from 1st April 2017 replacing the earlier system of physical submission.
ISRO Joins 36th Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica
i. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) officially declared that it has launched four teams to the 36th scientific mission to Antarctica on March 22, 2017.
ii. The mission has been organized by The National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Ministry of Earth Sciences and Government of India.Climatic change is the main area of focus in this Expedition.
iii. The four teams that went to Antarctica are as follows,
1.Space Applications Centre (SAC) Ahmadabad with two members
2.National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) Hyderabad with four researchers
3.Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) Dehradun with one scientist and
4.Space Physics Laboratory(SPL) VSSC Thiruvananthapuram with three members
Brown dwarf – purest and most massive, found by Astronomers
An international team of astronomers has identified a Brown dwarf which is believed to be with the purest composition and the highest mass. The research team was led by Dr ZengHua Zhang of the Institute of Astrophysics in the Canary Islands.
♦ The dwarf is identified as SDSS J0104+1535, is a member of the so-called halo – the outermost reaches – of our Galaxy, made up of the most ancient stars. The scientists report the discovery in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
What is a Brown Dwarf?
i. Brown dwarfs are intermediate between planets and fully-fledged stars.
ii. The mass of these dwarfs are too small for full nuclear fusion of hydrogen to helium to take place.
iii. Even though they are not capable of nuclear fusion, they are significantly more massive than planets.
About SDSS J0104+1535
♦ SDSS J0104+1535 have been classified as an L type ultra-sub dwarf.
♦ It has been identified as a Massive dwarf by using the European Southern Observatory’s “Very Large Telescope” (VLT) based on the scheme very recently established by Dr Zhang.
India remains no.1, retains the ICC test championship mace
i. India stayed strong in its No.1 spot in ICC test rankings, after a marvelous win against West Indies in West Indies and followed by a successful home season. On 28th March, 2017 India clinched its final test series in home against Australia this season and retained its ICC Test Championship Maze.
ii .The maze was presented by our former Opening batsman Sunil Gavaskar to our Indian team captian Virat Kolhi at a ceremony after the fourth and final Test against Australia.
iii. The 2nd and 3rd spot will be decided after the ongoing Hamilton Test between South Africa and New Zealand. If South Africa wins or draws against New Zealand then it will remain at 2nd spot or Australia will take the 2nd position.
♦ The cash reward for retaining the ICC Test Championship Maze is USD 1 million which is calculated based on April 01 cut-off period.
♦ The side to finish second will get USD 500,000 while the side finishing third will receive USD 200,000.
The fourth-placed team, which is England, will get USD 100,000.
♦ India won the away series against West Indies and then followed by four home series win against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia under the captainship of Virat Kolhi and coach Anil Kumble.
Records by players
♦ Indian Off break bowler Ravichandran Ashwin finished the season with a record of 74 wickets which no bowler has achieved.
♦ He won the ICC Cricketer of the Year 2016.
♦ He also won Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy, who is the 3rd Indian to achieve it. The other two are Rahul Dravid (2004) and Sachin Tendulkar (2010).
Gaurvi Singhvi swims to create record in Arabian sea
Gaurvi Singhvi, the 14 year old Udaipur girl became the first to swim across Bandra Worli Sea Link to the Gateway of India route in Arabian Sea in a record time of 6 hours and 30 minutes. She also swam across that route by breaking an earlier record.
Practice to perfection
To achieve this milestone, she swam a similar route to practice from the Governor’s House to the Gateway of India in a record time of 3 hours 58 minutes and 12 seconds, breaking the previous record of 4 hours and 12 minutes.
i. Gaurvi Singhvi is ranked 11th in the All Indian Ranking by the Sports Federation of India.
ii. She also won the Gold medal at the State Level and has been a District champion for almost three years.
About Bandra Worli Sea Link
♦ Bandra Worli Sea Link is a cable stayed bridge that links Bandra in the Western Suburbs of Mumbai.
♦ It was officially called as Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link.
Senior Advocate TR Andhyarujina Passes Away
i .Eminent Jurist and Senior Advocate, Tehmtan R. Andhyarujina passed away on March 28, 2017 in Mumbai at the age of 84.
ii. He has been an integral part of the legal and constitutional history of India. At the age of 38, he was designated as the senior advocate.
iii. Andhyarujina served as the Solicitor General of India from 1996 to 1998. Before that he was the Advocate General of Maharashtra from 1993-95.
iv. His first legal Constitutional case was the Kesavananda Bharati Case popularly known as the fundamental rights case, which led to the introduction of the Doctrine of Basic Structure or Framework of the Constitution.
v. Besides, he has appeared in a number of landmark cases in the Supreme Court, relating to Human Rights and Constitutional Law.
vi. He has also authored “The Kesavananda Bharati Case: The untold story of struggle for supremacy by Supreme Court and Parliament “about the landmark Judgment in Kesavananda Bharati Case.
Renowned playwright Arun Sarma Passes at 86
Well known playwright and Sahitya Akademi Award winner Arun Sarma passed away at Medanta-The Medicity hospital in the New Delhi on March 27, 2017. He was 86.
About Arun Sarma
i. Arun Sarma was born in Dibrugarh district, Assam.
ii. Sarma has written more than 50 plays and books in his career for which he has also won a number of awards.
iii. In 2010, he was awarded the Padma Shri for his contributions to Assamese literature.
iv. For two consecutive years, he won the Axom Sahitya Sabha’s best playwright and the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 2003 for his contributions to drama.
v. He received the Sahitya Akademi award in 1998 for Aaxirbaador Rang. He was also the recipient of the Assam Valley Literary Award in 2005.
Former Punjab Minister & SAD Leader Gurdev Badal Dies
i. Former Punjab Agriculture Minister Gurdev Singh Badal passed away on March 28, 2017 at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana. He was 85.
ii. Gurdev was a senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader and a member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly from the Panjgrain constituency in Jalandhar district.
iii. He contested his first election in 1977 with continued victory in the Assembly elections in 1980 and 1985. He had been 5 time MLA from this constituency, winning others in 1997 and 2002.
iv .However, for the first time, he lost in 2007 to Congress candidate Joginder Singh.
BOOKS & AUTHORS
Indian Army Releases Book Titled ‘Home of the Brave’ on Rashtriya Rifles
Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Bipin Rawat released a book titled ‘Home of the Brave’ on March 27, 2017 in New Delhi.
♦ The book highlights the history of the Rashtriya Rifles (RR), the Counter Insurgency Force of the Indian Army.
1.Mr Nitin A Gokhale, Defence & Security Analyst
2.Brig S K Chatterji (Retired)
About the Book
i. The book includes the early history of the RR, right from its origin to deployment in Punjab, the North East and in Jammu & Kashmir.
ii. The book reflects the role of the RR in strengthening the professionalism of the Indian Army and military ethics and values throughout its rank and file. It has won many laurels in the operations.
iii. It will serve as a record of achievements of the RR for all the Army units and Army training institutions, besides providing factual and other information to defence policy makers, research scholars and military historians