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Indian Affairs

Assam launches toll-free helpline for women
On March 29, 2018, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal launched ‘181-Sakhi’, a toll-free helpline number for women.
Assam launches toll-free helpline for womenAbout toll-free helpline for women in Assam:
i. This helpline has been launched in wake of increasing crimes against women in Assam.
ii. Initially, the toll free helpline will work from 9 am to 5.30 pm, but will soon be a 24×7 service.
iii. It is a part of Union Ministry of Women and Child Development’s scheme to provide 24 hours response to women affected by violence.
Quick Facts about Assam:
♦ Capital – Dispur
♦ Current Governor – Jagdish Mukhi
♦ Current Chief Minister – Sarbananda Sonowal
♦ Important National Park – Kaziranga National Park

Government introduces Swachh Bharat Summer Internship for college students
In a bid to engage college students in Government’s cleanliness drive, Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has introduced a Swachh Bharat Summer Internship (SBSI).
More Details about Swachh Bharat Summer Internship:
i. As a part of this internship programme, students (interns) would be required to undertake 100 hours of activities including creation of sanitation infrastructure, building necessary systems and carry out behaviour change campaigns in and around nearby villages.
ii. On successful completion of above stated activities, interns would be provided a Certificate of Internship by the Swachh Bharat Mission.
iii. Besides, students of higher educational institutions who undertake and complete SBSI  will be provided 2 credit points by University Grants Commission as an elective’ under the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS).
iv. SBSI will be implemented in association with the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Quick Facts about Swachh Bharat Mission:
♦ Launched in – October 2014
♦ Slogan – One step towards cleanliness
♦ Operates under – Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (“Gramin” or rural) operates under the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Urban) operates under the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs

New Jersey declares April as Sikh Awareness Month
In wake of increasing and unacceptable levels of anti-Sikh bigotry, US state of New Jersey’s State Assembly has declared April as ‘Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month’.
New Jersey declares April as Sikh Awareness MonthMore information about ‘Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month’:
i. During the month of April, efforts will be made to promote public awareness of the Sikh faith, recognise the important contributions of the Sikh community and combat anti-Sikh bigotry.
ii. As per US Government data, nearly 60 per cent of Americans know nothing about Sikh religion or its practitioners.
iii. After 9/11 terrorist attacks in US, rates of anti-Sikh bigotry rose dramatically as Sikhs in America  are often confused for Muslims.

MP has the highest tribal habitations fully covered by Drinking Water supply
Among all Indian states, Madhya Pradesh has the highest number tribal habitations (55770) fully covered with the safe drinking water supply.
Information about Drinking Water Supply in Tribal Habitations of India:
i. As on March 21, 2018, 301858 out of 365050 Scheduled Tribe (ST) dominated habitations in India are fully covered with provision of safe drinking water supply.
ii. Under ‘National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP)’, 10% of the total allocation of funds is earmarked to be used for the supply of drinking water.
iii. Besides, with funding from NRDWP and assistance from Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government is also installing solar power based dual pump schemes in Left Wing Extremist/Naxal Affected States for providing safe drinking water to small rural tribal habitations in these areas through taps.
iv. The above data was presented in Lok Sabha by Union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs, Jastwantsinh Bhabhor on March 27, 2018.
Quick Facts about Madhya Pradesh:
♦ Capital – Bhopal
♦ Current Governor – Anandiben Patel
♦ Current Chief Minister – Shivraj Singh Chouhan
♦ Important National Park – Bandhavgarh National Park

Madhya Pradesh’s Kadaknath chicken gets Geographical Indication tag
Madhya Pradesh has got Geographical Indications (GI) tag for Kadaknath, a chicken breed whose black meat is in demand in certain regions of the state.
Madhya Pradesh's Kadaknath chicken gets Geographical Indication tagMore information about Kadaknath chicken:
i. Kadaknath chicken’s protein-rich black meat is sold at a much higher price than other varieties of chicken.
ii. It is native to Jhabua, Alirajpur and parts of Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh. 
iii. The application for GI registration of Kadaknath Chicken was filed by Gramik Vikas Trust, Jhabua, in 2012.
About Geographical Indications (GI) tag:
i. GI tag is a name or sign given to certain products which correspond to a specific geographical location or origin.
ii. GI tag grants exclusivity for using the name/sign to the producer/manufacturer in the corresponding region and thereby testifies the origin, quality and reputation of the product/commodity.

Madhya Pradesh government raises retirement age of state government employees from 60 to 62 years
On 30th March 2018, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan increased the retirement age of Madhya Pradesh government employees from 60 to 62 years.
Madhya Pradesh government employees retirement age – 62 years:
i. The retirement age for Madhya Pradesh government employees has been increased by two years. There are nearly five lakh regular government employees in Madhya Pradesh.
ii. In August 2013, Shivraj Singh Chouhan had said that the Madhya Pradesh government will consider increasing the retirement age of state government employees from 60 to 62 years.
Some dams in Madhya Pradesh:
♦ Gandhi Sagar Dam – Chambal River
♦ Indira Sagar Dam – Narmada River
♦ Bargi Dam – Narmada River

Girls School in Haryana Renamed as Shaheed Major Vikas Yadav Girls School
On 29th March 2018, Haryana State Education Department renamed the Government Senior Secondary Girls School, Kosli in Rewari district as Shaheed Major Vikas Yadav Senior Secondary School.
Government Senior Secondary Girls School, Kosli in Rewari district renamed as Shaheed Major Vikas Yadav Girls School:
i. The school has been renamed to honour Major Vikas Yadav of 7 Jat Regiment who sacrificed his life fighting against militants in Jammu and Kashmir.
ii. The school has been renamed on his birth anniversary. A statue of Major Vikas Yadav was also unveiled by Lt Gen SK Saini, Colonel of the Jat Regiment.
iii. This initiative was taken by District Education Board and was supported by Late Major Vikas Yadav’s family.
Some National Parks in Haryana:
♦ Kalesar National Park
♦ Sultanpur National Park

Prakash Javadekar launches Grand Finale of the Smart India Hackathon 2018 (Software Edition)
On 30th March 2018, Minister for Human Resource Development, Prakash Javadekar launched the grand finale of Smart India Hackathon 2018 (Software Edition) in New Delhi.
Prakash Javadekar launches Grand Finale of the Smart India Hackathon 2018 (Software Edition)Grand Finale of the Smart India Hackathon 2018 (Software Edition):
i. The Grand Finale of the Smart India Hackathon 2018 (Software Edition) is held for two days. It is considered the world’s largest event in its kind.
ii. It is held at 28 nodal centres across India simultaneously. Prakash Javadekar addressed the participants at New Delhi Institute of Management (NDIM) in New Delhi.
iii. Prakash Javadekar  said that, more than 1 lakh students from over 1200 colleges are taking part in Smart India Hackathon 2018.
iv. He added that nearly 8000 students will work on their final innovations in the grand finale. Students will work in a group of six on the project which they have been preparing for the last 4 months.
v. He said that Smart India Hackathon 2018 is aimed to encourage the spirit of innovations in students.
vi. The Smart India Hackathon (SIH) 2018 consists of two competitions: Software Hackathon and Hardware Hackathon. The final round of Hardware Hackathon will be held in June 2018.
Some wildlife sanctuaries in Delhi:
♦ Najafgarh drain bird sanctuary
♦ Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary

UP CM inaugurates India’s Longest Elevated Road in Ghaziabad
On 30th March 2018, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath inaugurated Hindon Elevated Road – India’s longest elevated road, in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh.
UP CM inaugurates India's Longest Elevated Road in GhaziabadHindon Elevated Road:
i. The Hindon Elevated Road is a six-lane road. It is 10.3 km long. It has been built on 227 single pillars.
ii. It connects Raj Nagar Extension in Ghaziabad to UP Gate. It reduces the one hour journey to 18 minutes.
iii. The main objective of this road is to ease traffic movement between Ghaziabad and New Delhi.
iv. The total cost of the Hindon Elevated Road project is estimated to be Rs. 1,147 crore.
v. The vehicles will be allowed to drive at an average speed limit of 80 km/hour on this road.
vi. This Road will also connect to NH-24, the Delhi-Meerut Expressway. It will also help users to reach Hindon airbase.
vii. This road has been constructed on Transit-oriented development (TOD) basis. It is a type of urban planning that makes public transportation easily accessible to residential, business and leisure space.
viii. The Ghaziabad Development Authority said that, the remaining work of the project would be completed by May 2018.
Some temples in Uttar Pradesh:
♦ Shri Tilbhandeshwar Mahadev Mandir
♦ Kashi Vishwanath Temple

First National Conclave on Psychological Trauma, Child Protection, and Mental Illnesses held in New Delhi
On 27th and 28th March 2018, First National Conclave on Psychological Trauma, Child Protection, and Mental Illnesses was held in J L N Auditorium, AIIMS, New Delhi.
First National Conclave on Psychological Trauma, Child Protection, and Mental Illnesses:
i. Organised by: The conclave was organized by Ministry of Women & Child Development, in collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS (All India Institutes of Medical Sciences).
ii. Minister of State for Women and Child Development, Dr. Virendra Kumar, inaugurated the conclave.
iii. The conclave acted as a connecting platform for Academicians, Clinicians, Government and NGOs working in this area towards robust evidence based research, enhanced service provision, and capacity building of professionals.
iv. The conclave aimed to provide a gist of research, service provision, and clinical practice involved in psychological trauma and mental illnesses in Indian children and adolescents.
About AIIMS (All India Institutes of Medical Sciences):
♦ Director – Prof Randeep Guleria
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

Banking & Finance

Long term capital gains tax to come into effect from April 1
Tax on long term capital gains (LTCG) on equity holdings, announced in Budget 2018 will come into effect from April 1, 2018.
Long term capital gains tax to come into effect from April 1LTCG tax to come into effect from April 1, 2018:
i. As per current norms, gains made from the sale of shares within a year (short term) of purchase attracted 15 per cent short term capital gains tax. However, gains made after a year of purchase (Long term) was exempt from the levy.
ii. In Budget 2018, LTCG was imposed citing a reason that exempting long-term gains from share sale from any tax creates bias against manufacturing and encourages shifting of investment to financial assets.
iii. 10% LTCG tax would apply on gains exceeding Rs. 1 lakh, made from sale of equity shares of a listed company, unit of an equity oriented fund and unit of a business trust that has been held for a minimum period of 12 months from the date of acquisition.
iv. However, there will be no LTCG tax on gains accrued till January 31, 2018.

SEBI doubles investment limit of angel funds to Rs. 10 crore
With an objective to encourage early-stage start-ups, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has decided to double the investment limit by angel funds in venture capital undertakings to Rs. 10 crore.
Revision of investment limit of angel funds:
i. Angel funds/investors, encourage entrepreneurship by financing small start-ups at a stage when they find it difficult to obtain capital from conventional sources of finance such as banks and financial institutions.
ii. To give effect to the decision of raising maximum investment limit, SEBI board has approved amendments to Alternative Investment Funds (AIF) regulations with respect to ‘Angel Funds.’
iii. SEBI’s decision to raise the maximum investment by angel funds in venture capital undertakings to Rs. 10 crore from the current Rs. 5 crore is based on the recommendations of its working group comprising of various start-ups, angel networks and consultants, which was formed to consider simplification of certain provisions of AIFs and thereby enhance ease of doing business for angel funds.
iv. In addition to this, SEBI would also increase the maximum period of accepting funds from an angel investor from three years to five years, as it will provide angel funds, more time to identify opportunities for investment.
Quick Facts about SEBI:
♦ Formed in – 1988
♦ Given Statutory Powers in – 1992
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Current Chairman – Ajay Tyagi

Fino Payments Bank introduces mPoS
Fino Payments Bank is planning to deploy multi-utility Android-based mPOS devices across 10000 banking points across India in a phased manner.
Fino Payments Bank introduces mPoSi. In context of this news, abbreviation mPOS stands for mobile Point Of Sale.
ii. Android-based mPOS is a handheld device with in-built finger print scanner, card reader, camera, printer and tablet.
iii. It thus eliminates the need for multiple devices that are currently used to facilitate finger print authentication and digital transactions. 
iv. Through mPOS devices, Fino representatives will be able to provide all banking services viz. account opening, deposit, withdrawal, money transfer, insurance sales and Aadhaar-enabled payment systems (AEPS) to customers at their doorstep.
Quick Facts about Fino Payments Bank:
♦ Incorporated on – April 4, 2017
♦ Registered Office – Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Current CEO – Rishi Gupta

Government to divest 76% stake in Air India
The government has announced that, it has planned to sell 76 per cent stake in Air India.
Government to divest 76% stake in Air IndiaGovernment to divest 76% stake in Air India:
i. This has been mentioned in the expression of interest (EoI) document that was released on 28th March 2018.
ii. The government has planned to sell 76 per cent equity share capital of Air India along with subsidiary Air India Express and a 50% stake in Air India SATS (Singapore Airport Terminal Services) and also transfer the management control.
iii. It has been said that, the management or employees can directly take part in the bidding process or by forming a consortium.
iv. Ernst & Young LLP India has been named the transaction adviser for this disinvestment process.
About Air India:
♦ Chairman and Managing Director – Pradeep Singh Kharola
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi


India gets 1st US LNG shipment at Dabhol
On March 30, 2018, India received its first shipment of Liquefied natural gas (LNG) from US under a 20-year deal.
India gets 1st US LNG shipment at DabholIndia 1st US LNG shipment arrives at Dabhol:
i. Indian government-owned Gas Authority of India Ltd. (GAIL) has contracted 3.5 million tonnes per annum of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass liquefaction facility in Louisiana, US.
ii. GAIL’s first shipment of LNG arrived at its Dabhol terminal (in Maharashtra) in a charter ship, MV Meridian Spirit that commenced voyage from Louisiana, US, nearly 25 days ago.
iii. Cheniere Energy, Inc is the leading exporter of LNG from US while GAIL is India’s biggest natural gas transportation and marketing company.

Appointments & Resigns

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi re-elected as Egyptian President
On March 29, 2018, incumbent Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi got re-elected for a second term.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi re-elected as Egyptian Presidenti. Around 23 million of the 60 million registered voters cast their votes for the Egyptian Presidential election that was held during 26th to 28th March 2018.
ii. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi garnered 92 per cent votes, while his only challenger and al Ghad party chief Moussa Mostafa Moussa secured just three per cent of vote share.
iii. Sisi was elected for a four-year presidential term in 2014 after he overthrew Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
Quick Facts about Egypt:
♦ Capital – Cairo
♦ Currency – Egyptian pound
♦ Current President – Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
♦ Neighbouring Countries – Sudan, Israel, Libya

Andhra Pradesh appoints shuttler Kidambi Srikanth as Deputy Collector
On 29th March 2018, Andhra Pradesh government appointed shuttler Kidambi Srikanth as a Deputy Collector.
Andhra Pradesh appoints shuttler Kidambi Srikanth as Deputy CollectorKidambi Srikanth – Deputy Collector in Andhra Pradesh:
i. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu gave the appointment letter to Kidambi Srikanth in the presence of former All-England champion and badminton coach Pullela Gopichand, in Amravati.
ii. Kidambi Srikanth has received the Padma Shri award. He became the second youngest sportsperson in India after PV Sindhu to bag the Padma Shri award.
iii. After he won the title at the Indonesian Championship in June 2017, he was promised a government job.
iv. In November 2017, Andhra Pradesh Cabinet passed a resolution to appoint Kidambi Srikanth as Deputy Collector in Group-1 service.
Some dams in Andhra Pradesh:
♦ Mylavaram Dam – Penna River
♦ Somasila Dam – Penna River
♦ Srisailam Dam – Krishna River

R Dinesh elected CII Chairman of Southern Region
R Dinesh, Joint Managing Director of T V Sundram Iyengar and Sons, has been elected Chairman of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Southern Region for the 2018-19 period.
R Dinesh – Chairman of CII Southern Region:
i. R Dinesh is also the Chairman of CII Institute of Logistics Advisory Council and Chairman of Logistics Sector Skill Council. Before this appointment, he was Vice-Chairman of CII Southern Region.
ii. Sanjay Jayavarthanavelu, Chairman and Managing Director of Lakshmi Machine Works Ltd. that is based in Coimbatore, was elected Deputy Chairman of CII Southern Region for 2018-19.
iii. Sanjay Jayavarthanavelu has served as Chariman of CII Tamil Nadu State Council during 2006-07. Also, he was the Chairman of Textiles (Sub-Committee), CII Southern Region during 2002-04.
About Confederation of Indian Industry (CII):
♦ Director General – Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee
♦ Formed – 1895

NBCC chief Anoop Kumar Mittal gets one-year extension
On 29th March 2018, Anoop Kumar Mittal was given one year extension as the chairman and MD (CMD) of NBCC with effect from 1st April 2018.
NBCC chief Anoop Kumar Mittal gets one-year extensionNBCC chief Anoop Kumar Mittal gets one-year extension as CMD:
i. Anoop Kumar Mittal assumed charge as the CMD of the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) in 2013 for a period of five years.
ii. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the extension of Anoop Kumar Mittal’s tenure.
iii. His extension was announced after he got clearance from the vigilance department of NBCC.
iv. His named was involved in an FIR filed by CBI in Rs 2,100 crore Pragati Maidan redevelopment project.
v. On 8th March 2018, NBCC’s vigilance department stated that, the CBI chargesheet failed to prove the charges against Anoop Kumar Mittal.
vi. On 12th March 2018, Anoop Kumar Mittal was given additional charge of Director (Finance) of NBCC along with the CMD post.
About National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC):
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Business – involved in the Real Estate Development & Construction business and also provides Project Management Consultancy

Awards & Recognition

PM Narendra Modi tops Indian Express list of most powerful Indians
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has retained the top spot on ‘IE 100 2018’, The List of Most Powerful Indians
PM Narendra Modi tops Indian Express list of most powerful Indiansi. PM Modi has retained the top spot as he has been the face of BJP in every election (Assembly, by-poll or civic polls) contested since 2014.
ii. At No. 2 is BJP President Amit Shah, who has been instrumental in getting inroads for BJP in new bastions.
iii. UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi (at No. 5) is the most powerful woman on the list.
iv. Surprisingly, President Ram Nath Kovind’s name has not featured in this list.
IE 100 2018 – Top 5

1Prime Minister Narendra Modi
2BJP President Amit Shah
3Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra
4RSS Head, Mohan Bhagwat
5UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi

 Science & Technology

NASA to send first mission to study ‘heart’ of Mars in May
On May 5, 2018, US Space agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will send ‘InSight’, the first-ever mission dedicated to exploring the deep interior of Mars.
About NASA’s InSight Mission:
i. InSight is a stationary robotic lander and stands for  Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.
ii. InSight will be NASA’s first mission since the Apollo moon landings to place a seismometer (a device that measures quakes), on the surface of another planet.
iii. It will carry a suite of sensitive instruments to gather data. These instruments include an ultra-sensitive seismometer for detecting marsquakes, which has been built by a multinational team led by France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales and a thermal probe, developed by German Aerospace Center (DLR) that can bury itself up to five metres underground and measure heat flowing from inside the planet.
iv. Information collected through this mission will help to know about the earliest stages of Mars’ formation, 4.5 billion years ago
Quick Facts about NASA:
♦ Founded in – 1958
♦ Headquarters – Washington D.C., US

China launches another pair of BeiDou-3 navigation satellites into space
On 29th March 2018, China successfully launched a Long March 3B rocket carrying two Beidou-3MEO satellites: Beidou-30 and Beidou-31 from the LC2 Launch Complex of the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan province, China.
China launches another pair of BeiDou-3 navigation satellites into spaceChina launches another pair of BeiDou-3 navigation satellites into space:
i. The Long March 3B rocket flew with a Yuanzheng-1 (YZ-1) upper stage attached. This ignited its YF-50D engine after launch. It will burn out for nearly four hours, and the two BeIDou-3 satellites will be released into MEO.
ii. The MEO satellites are the Medium Earth Orbit entity of the third phase of the Chinese Beidou (Compass) satellite navigation system.
iii. The BeiDou-3 M5 and M6 satellites are based on dedicated satellite bus. Their weight is nearly one metric ton a piece.
iv. Both satellites have two deployable solar arrays. They were developed to operate for around 12 years.
v. After deployment the satellites will serve from MEO at an altitude of 13,360 miles with an inclination of nearly 55.5 degrees.
vi. BeiDou means plough or the Big Dipper constellation in Chinese. The Beidou (BDS) project was started in 1994.
vii. BeiDou-3 M5 and M6 satellites are the third phase of the BDS system (BeiDou-3). It is the final stage for setting up of a Chinese space-based navigation architecture.
viii. BeiDou would provide navigation and positioning services to countries under the “Belt and Road Initiative” by 2018. Yang Changfeng is the chief designer of the BeiDou system.
ix. The three-stage Long March 3B rocket that was used to carry Beidou-30 and Beidou-31 is 55-meter tall.
About China National Space Administration (CNSA):
♦ Secretary General – Tian Yulong
♦ Purpose – national space agency of the People’s Republic of China


Darren Lehmann announces his resignation as Australia’s cricket coach
On 29th March 2018, Darren Lehmann announced that he has resigned as head coach of Australian senior national cricket team.
Darren Lehmann announces his resignation as Australia’s cricket coachResignation of Darren Lehmann:
i. Darren Lehmann has announced his resignation after the ball-tampering scandal of Australian cricket team.
ii. He said that he will step down from his position after the fourth and final Test match in South Africa.
iii. He became the head coach in 2013. His contract was supposed to last till the end of the 2019 Ashes series. Cricket Australia has confirmed his resignation.
About ICC (International Cricket Council):
♦ Headquarters – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
♦ CEO – David Richardson