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i. Union Cabinet has approved the restructuring of National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
ii. Union cabinet has approved certain amendments to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill. NMC is expected to replace the much criticised Medical Council of India.
iii. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for continuation of Credit Guarantee Fund for Education Loans (CGFEL) Scheme and continuation and modification of Central Sector Interest Subsidy (CSIS) Scheme.
iv. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry for removal of prohibition on export of all varieties of edible oils except mustard oil.
v. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the proposal of Department of School Education and Literacy to formulate a Integrated Scheme on School Education.
vi. On March 28, 2018, CCEA gave approval for enhancing the scope of Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY).
vii. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of the Department of Agricultural Research and Education for continuation/strengthening (up to 2019-20) of 669 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) that were established till March 31, 2017.
viii. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the proposal of the Department of Fertilizers to fix Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) rates for Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) Fertilizers for 2018-19……………………………………………………………………..Click here to Read More
Cabinet Approvals with Foreign Countries
i. Cabinet approves MoU between India and Zambia in the field of Judicial Cooperation
ii. Cabinet approves MoU between India and United Kingdom and Northern Ireland
iii. Cabinet approves MoU between India and South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme.This MoU is regarding cooperation on the response to Oil and Chemical Pollution in the South Asian Seas Region.
iv. Union Cabinet has given its ex-post approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Canada to establish bilateral cooperation in the field of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)…………………………………………………………. Click here to Read More
NHAI Joins Hands With AAI For Green Corridor In Varanasi
On 28th March 2018, the government announced that, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has tied up with Airports Authority of India (AAI) to develop a green corridor covering 16.55 km in Varanasi.
NHAI Joins Hands With AAI For Green Corridor In Varanasi:
i. On 28th March 2018, a MoU was signed by NHAI and AAI for the construction of a green corridor along Varanasi Bypass covering 16.55 km of NH 56 and NH 29.
ii. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said that, AAI would provide funds worth Rs 5 crore for plantations and maintenance work under their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) funds for 5 years.
iii. The NHAI and AAI have joined hands under “Adopt a Green Highway Programme” as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative of AAI.
iv. It is a step taken by Green Highways Division of NHAI to involve corporates, public sector units, governmental organisations and institutions under CSR and public private partnership for creating green corridor along National Highways.
About National Highways Authority of India (NHAI):
♦ Chairman – Deepak Kumar
♦ Set up – 1988
Harsimrat Kaur Badal inaugurates Rajasthan’s first mega food park at Ajmer
On 29th March 2018, Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal inaugurated Rajasthan’s first mega food parkM/s Greentech Mega Food Park Private Ltd, at Roopangarh Village in Ajmer, Rajasthan.
Greentech Mega Food Park:
i. The Greentech Mega Food Park has been established at a cost of Rs 113.57 crore. It will benefit nearly 25,000 farmers in that region.
ii. The park has been constructed in an area of 85.44 acres. It has central processing centre and 4 Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) at Jaipur, Nagaur, Tonk and Churu.
iii. The park will have facilities for primary processing and storage near the farms. The Central Processing Centre (CPC) will have facilities like Cold Storage, Deep Freeze, Dry Warehouse for Raw Materials, Dry Warehouse for Finished Goods, Pack House, Steam Generator etc.
iv. Harsimrat Kaur Badal said that the park would utilise an additional investment of nearly Rs. 250 crores in 25-30 food processing units. It would bring a turnover of nearly Rs. 450-500 crore every year.
v. She said that the Park will offer direct and indirect employment to over 5,000 persons.
Some National Parks in Rajasthan:
♦ Ranthambore National Park
♦ Desert National Park
♦ Darrah National Park
India increases its annual contribution to UNRWA
On 28th March 2018, the External Affairs Ministry announced that, India has increased its annual contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) from $1.5 million to $5 million for a period of 3 years from 2018-19.
India increases its annual contribution to UNRWA to $5 million:
i. This announcement was made by India at the extraordinary Ministerial Conference held in Rome on 15th March 2018.
ii. India has increased its annual contribution due to the unexpected financial crisis being faced by UNRWA.
iii. It is said that the, four-time increase in India’s contribution is based on External Affairs Ministry’s commitment to increase support to UNRWA at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Ministerial meeting held at Palestine on 19th September 2017.
iv. It is also a part of India’s increased engagement with Palestine, especially after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Palestine on 10thFebruary 2018.
About United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA):
♦ Purpose – a relief and human development agency which supports more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees
♦ Commissioner-General – Pierre Krähenbühl
Banking & Finance
RBI to release limited edition coins to mark 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will soon roll out limited edition coins of Rs 350 denomination to mark the 350th Birth Anniversary of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
Salient Features of Rs. 350 denomination coin:
i. Circumference of the coin will be 44 millimetres and the weight of the coin could vary from 34.65 grams to 35.35 grams.
ii. It will be made up of Quaternary Alloy – Silver (50 per cent), Copper (40 per cent), Nickel (5 per cent) and Zinc (5 per cent).
iii. The front face of the coin shall bear the Lion Capitol of Ashoka Pillar in the centre with the legend “Satyamev Jayate” inscribed below.
iv. Lion Capital on the front face will be flanked by word “Bharat” in the Devanagari script on the left and word “INDIA” in English on the right periphery.
v. The front face shall also bear the Rupee symbol and denominational value “350” in International Numerals below the Lion Capitol.
vi. The reverse face of the coin shall bear the picture of “Takht Shri Harimandir Ji Patna Sahib”. Inscription “350TH PRAKASH UTSAV OF SRI GURU GOBIND SINGH JI” in Devanagari shall be written on the upper periphery and the same would be written in English language on the lower periphery of the coin.
vii. The reverse face shall also have year “1666” and “2016” in international numerals flanked on the left and right periphery.
SEBI accepts most of the recommendations of Uday Kotak Committee on Corporate Governance
On 28th March 2018, SEBI accepted most of the recommendations of Uday Kotak Committee on Corporate Governance.
SEBI accepts most of the recommendations of Uday Kotak Committee on Corporate Governance:
i. SEBI accepted 40 recommendations out of the 80 odd recommendations proposed by the Uday Kotak committee.
ii. Nearly 18 suggestions were rejected, such as sharing information with promoters and significant shareholders, an increase in the number of independent directors on board, minimum compensation to independent directors and more board meetings.
iii. The SEBI committee was formed to review corporate governance rules in June 2017. It is headed by Uday Kotak and has 21 members.
iv. The committee submitted its report on 5th October 2017. The committee had suggested the implementation of its proposals in phases.
Recommendations accepted by the SEBI committee are:
i. SEBI has declared to split the posts of chairperson and managing director, making sure that both are not held by the same person. This change will come into effect on 1st April 2020 for the top 500 companies.
ii. It said that, most of the changes will be effective from 1st April 2019 and 1st April 2020.
iii. It has also approved to impose restrictions on algorithmic trading by introducing a congestion charge for a prescribed slab on trades.
iv. Co-location facilities will be made affordable by allowing brokers to share them.
v. Tick by-tick data feed will be provided to all trading members free of charge.
vi. Cutting of additional expenses charged by mutual funds by 15 basis points has been approved. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.
vii. A discussion paper has been proposed for developing a framework of compliance with SEBI rules by listed companies in the corporate insolvency resolution process.
viii. The maximum number of listed entity directorships will be reduced from 10 to 8 by 1st April 2019 and then to 7 by 1st April 2020.
ix. The eligibility criteria for independent directors will be expanded based on the suggestions of the committee. Role of the audit committee will be enhanced to improve oversight.
x. The committee has suggested enhanced role for the nomination and remuneration committee and risk management committees.
xi. Companies should disclose utilisation of funds from QIP / preferential issue and disclose auditor credentials, audit fee, reasons for resignation of auditors, etc, besides the expertise / skills of directors.
xii. Companies should furnish detailed information on related party transactions (RPTs) and related parties to be permitted to vote against RPTs.
xiii. Disclosure of consolidated quarterly results will be mandatory with effect from financial year 2019-20.
xiv. The committee has recommended enhanced obligations on the listed entities with respect to subsidiaries and has mandated secretarial audit for listed entities and their material unlisted subsidiaries under SEBI LODR Regulations.
Recommendations accepted by SEBI with modifications:
i. Mandating minimum of 6 directors in the top 1000 listed entities by 1 April 2019 and in the top 2000 listed entities, by 1 April 2020.
ii.Mandating at least one woman independent director in the top 500 listed entities by 1 April 2019 and in the top 1,000 listed entities by 1 April 2020.
iii. Separation of CEO/MD and chairperson will be initially mandated to the top 500 listed entities from 1 April 2020.
iv. The quorum for board meetings will be one-third of the size of the board or 3 members, whichever is higher in the top 1,000 listed entities by 1 April 2019 and in the top 2000 listed entities by 1 April 2020.
v.Top 100 entities will have to hold AGMs within 5 months after the end of FY2018-19 and webcast of AGMs will be mandatory for top 100 entities.
vi. Shareholder approval will be needed for royalty / brand payments to related party exceeding 2 per cent of consolidated turnover.
Some of the recommendations referred by SEBI to various agencies (ie, government, other regulators, professional bodies, etc):
Strengthening the role of ICAI, internal financial controls, adoption of Ind-AS, treasury stock, governance aspects of PSEs, etc.
About SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India):
♦ Chairman – Ajay Tyagi
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
Jana Small Finance Bank commences operations
On 28th March 2018, Jana Small Finance Bank Limited commenced operations as a small finance bank.
Jana Small Finance Bank commences operations:
i. Jana Small Finance Bank aims to establish more than 500 banking outlets by 2019. It will initially open 19 branches in 18 states.
ii. It will set up around 200 banking outlets including 25% unbanked rural branches by June 2018.
iii. It will also convert majority of its MFI (microfinance institution) branches into full-fledged bank branches. It will focus on financial inclusion, as the core strategy of the bank. It will provide digitally-enabled services to its customers.
About Jana Small Finance Bank:
♦ MD & CEO – Mr. Ajay Kanwal
♦ Headquarters – Bengaluru
Acquisitions & Mergers
Google Acquires GIF Search Platform Tenor
Google has acquired Tenor, a GIF search engine for Android, iOS and desktop.
Google Acquires GIF Search Platform Tenor:
i. Cathy Edwards, Director of Engineering, Google Images, said that, Tenor would introduce GIFs in Google Images and services like Gboard easily. It will help users to find and share GIF images easily.
ii. It is said that, Tenor would continue to operate as a separate brand. Google did not reveal the amount for which it acquired Tenor.
iii. Tenor said that, its founders David McIntosh, Erick Hachenburg and Frank Nawabi will continue to lead the company.
♦ CEO – Sundar Pichai
♦ Headquarters – California, U.S.
Appointments & Resigns
Lt Gen Harpal Singh takes Charge as Director General Border Roads
On 28th March 2018, Lt Gen Harpal Singh was appointed as Director General Border Roads (DGBR).
Lt Gen Harpal Singh – Director General Border Roads (DGBR):
i. In 1982, Lt Gen Harpal Singh was commissioned into the Corps of Engineers. Later, he commanded a Border Roads Task Force in Jammu & Kashmir valley.
ii. He has worked as Chief Engineer of Project Dantak (Border Roads Organisation) at Bhutan, Chief Engineer (Navy), Mumbai and Chief Engineer HQ Eastern Command.
iii. He has served as Directing Staff at the College of Defence Management, Secunderabad.
iv. Before taking charge as Director General Border Roads (DGBR) he was Director General Military Training at Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defence (Army).
About Border Roads Organisation (BRO):
♦ Motto – Creates, Connects and Cares…
♦ Purpose – develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighbouring countries
Shekhar Kapur appointed Chairman of central panel of 65th National Film Awards
Director Shekhar Kapur has been appointed as the chairman of the central panel of the 65th National Film Awards.
Shekhar Kapur – chairman of central panel of 65th National Film Awards:
i. The central panel of 65th National Film Awards consists of a chairperson and 10 other members which includes five regional chairpersons.
ii. Regional Chairpersons:
- Film writer Imtiaz Hussain – regional chairperson of South I panel
- Lyricist Mehboob – regional chairperson of South II panel
- Actress Gautami Tadimalla – regional chairperson of North panel
- Director Rahul Rawail – regional chairperson of Western panel
- Director P Sheshadri – regional chairperson of Eastern panel
- Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
- Tripurari Sharma
- Rumi Jaffery
- Ranjit Das
- Rajesh Mapuskar
Some important temples in India:
♦ Somnath Temple – Gujarat
♦ Padmanabhaswamy Temple – Kerala
♦ Badrinath Temple – Uttarakhand
Abiye Ahmed elected as Prime Minister of Ethiopia
On 27th March 2018, Abiye Ahmed was elected as the new prime minister of Ethiopia.
Abiye Ahmed – Prime Minister of Ethiopia:
i. Abiye Ahmed has been elected as prime minister of Ethiopia following the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn last month.
ii. The council of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) elected Abiye Ahmed as chairperson to succeed Hailemariam Desalegn.
iii. This automatically made Abiye Ahmed as the prime minister of Ethiopia. He is 41 years old.
iv. He joined the House of Representatives in 2010. Earlier, he was a lieutenant colonel in the Ethiopian National Defense Force.
♦ President – Mulatu Teshome
♦ Official language – Amharic
American Rosemary DiCarlo Becomes First Female UN Political Chief
On 29th March 2018, Rosemary DiCarlo was named UN Political Chief, becoming the first female UN Political Chief.
American Rosemary DiCarlo Becomes First Female UN Political Chief:
i. Rosemary DiCarlo replaces Jeffrey Feltman. Rosemary DiCarlo is a former deputy US ambassador to the United Nations.
ii. She was also deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs and director for United Nations affairs at the national security council in Washington.
iii. She has been the president of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy since 2015. Her areas of expertise are Russia, former Soviet Union and the Middle East. She speaks Russian and French.
Some important dams in India:
♦ Warna Dam – Varna River
♦ Bhatsa Dam – Bhatsa and Chorna River
♦ Pillur Dam – Bhavani River
Awards & Recognition
Veteran Lyricist Sreekumaran Thampi honoured with J C Daniel Award
On 28th March 2018, lyricist and film director Sreekumaran Thampi was selected for the J C Daniel award.
Sreekumaran Thampi honoured with J C Daniel Award:
i. J C Daniel Award is Kerala’s highest award for contributions to Malayalam cinema. The award consists of Rs 5 lakh cash prize, citation and statuette.
ii .Kerala Culture minister A K Balan said that, J C Daniel Award will be given to Sreekumaran Thampi at the Kerala State film awards function at Kollam, Kerala.
iii. The award committee consisted of actor Madhu, director Sathyan Anthikkad, Chalachitra Academy chairman, Kamal and Cultural secretary, Rani George.
iv. Sreekumaran Thampi entered Malayalam film industry in 1966. He has produced 25 films, directed 29 films, and scripted 85 films in Malayalam. He has also written thousands of songs.
Some important stadiums in Kerala:
♦ Fort Maidan – Palakkad
♦ Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium – Kollam
♦ EMS Stadium – Kozhikode
Science & Technology
ISRO’s GSLV rocket injects GSAT-6A communication satellite into orbit
On March 29, 2018, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched India’s latest communication satellite GSAT-6A on board Geosynchronous rocket GSLV-F08 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
i. GSAT-6A weighs 2140 kg and has mission life of 10 years.
ii. It will provide mobile communication to India through, multi-beam coverage facility…………………………………………………………………….Click here to Read More
K2-229b: Hot, metallic Earth-sized planet discovered
Scientists have discovered a hot, metallic, Earth-sized planet named “K2-229b” that orbits a dwarf star located 260 million light years away.
i. K2-229b is nearly 20 % larger in size than Earth and has a mass which is nearly two-and-a-half times greater. Its day side temperature is more than 2000 degrees Celsius.
ii. It is located very close to its host star 0.012 AU. This distance is nearly a hundredth of the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
iii. 0.012 AU is a medium-sized active K dwarf in the Virgo Constellation. K2-229b orbits the star every 14 hours.
iv. Researchers from Aix-Marseille Universite in France and the University of Warwick in the UK utilized the K2 telescope and used Doppler spectroscopy technique to discover K2-229b.
v. Doppler spectroscopy technique is also known as the ‘wobble method’. K2-229b is said to bear similarities with Mercury. Hence, scientists hope that this will be useful in studying about Mercury also.
vi. The dense, metallic nature of K2-229b is said to denote that, its atmosphere might have been eroded by heavy stellar wind, as the planet is very close to its star.
vii. Also, it is said that, K2-229b might have been formed after a big impact between two giant astronomical bodies in space billions of years ago.
About Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO):
♦ Chairman – Dr. K. Sivan
♦ Headquarters – Bangalore
17th Sub-junior National Wushu Championship begins in Jammu
On 29th March 2018, 17th Sub-junior National Wushu Championship started in Jammu.
17th Sub-junior National Wushu Championship:
i. 17th Sub-junior National Wushu Championship is conducted for 4 days. It is organised by the the Wushu Association of India jointly with J&K State Sports Council at MA Stadium.
ii. The championship was inaugurated by J&K Youth Services and Sports Minister Imran Raza Ansari at a ceremony at Police auditorium, Jammu.
iii. Around 37 teams are taking part in the championship. It includes more than 1000 boys and girls from all over India and 12 boys from Army.
Some wildlife sanctuaries in Jammu & Kashmir:
♦ Karakoram Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Hirpora Wildlife Sanctuary
Muskan Bhanwala wins women’s 25m pistol event bagging India’s fourth individual gold at ISSF Junior World Cup
On 28th March 2018, Muskan Bhanwala won gold medal in the Women’s 25m Pistol event at the ISSF Junior World Cup in Sydney, Australia.
Muskan Bhanwala wins women’s 25m pistol event:
i. Women’s 25m Pistol event: Muskan Bhanwala is 16 years old. She scored 35 hits and won gold medal in the Women’s 25m Pistol event. This is India’s fourth individual gold medal at the ISSF Junior World Cup.
ii. China’s Sihang Qin scored 34 hits and bagged the silver medal. Thailand’s Kanyakorn Hirunphoem scored 26 hits and won bronze medal. Another Indian shooter Manu Bhaker finished in the fourth position with 18 hits.
iii. Team Gold: The team gold was won by India’s Manu Bhaker, Muskan Bhanwala and Devanshi Rana.
iv. Team Silver: Team Silver was won by India’s Arunima Gaur, Mahima Turhi Agrawal and Tanu Rawal.
v. Team Bronze: Team bronze was won by Thailand’s Kanyakorn Hirunphoem, Viramon Kidarn and Luxciga Srinitivoravong.
Some important stadiums in India:
♦ Moti Bagh Stadium Cricket – Baroda, Gujarat
♦ IPCL Sports Complex Ground – Baroda, Gujarat
♦ Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground – Rajkot, Gujarat