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Current Affairs Today – March 31 2017

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Current Affairs March 31 2017

INDIAN AFFAIRS

India 170th Country for Anemia among Women, Says Global Report
Recently Union Health Minister Mr. J P Nadda, informed Lok Sabha about India’s standing on various parameters in Global Nutrition Report 2016 which is as follows:

Parameter India’s Rank in the World
Anemia among Women 170th out of 185 countries
Under-five stunting prevalence 114th out of 132 countries
Under-five wasting prevalence 120th out of 132 countries

India becomes associate member of International Energy Agency
i. India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer has now joined International Energy Agency (IEA) as an associate member. India’s entry into this elite energy group was jointly announced by IEA executive director Mr. Fatih Birol, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan and Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines, Mr. Piyush Goyal.
ii. With India’s inclusion, IEA now has 70% of world’s energy consumption under its ambit.

Himachal Pradesh Assembly passes Annual Budget 2017-18
i. The Himachal Pradesh State Assembly on 30th March 2017 passed the annual budget for the financial year 2017-18 and the related Appropriation Bill. Owing to this, the state govt. is authorised to spend Rs 37,939 crore from the consolidated fund.
ii. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Mr. Virbhadra Singh, who also holds the finance portfolio of state cabinet, presented the budget in Legislative Assembly on 10th March 2017

Gujarat Assembly passes Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2017
i. On 31st March 2017, Gujarat State Assembly passed Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2017 that amends the existing Gujarat Animal Preservation Act, 1954.
ii. This amendment bill was passed unopposed as the opposition party members were not present. The Speaker had suspended Congress party member for obstructing the proceedings of the house.
iii. This amendment bill is aimed at adopting stringent measure for stopping illegal slaughter of animals protected by the law.

‘Namami Brahmaputra’ Festival Inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee in Assam
i. The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the five-day Namami Brahmaputra River Festival in Assam on March 31, 2017.
ii. The inaugural edition of the festival aims to showcase the trade, tourism and rich cultural practices of Assam as well as is a tribute to the Brahmaputra River which is 'Namami Brahmaputra' Festival Inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee in Assamthe lifeline and source of livelihood for the people of Assam.
iii .The event was inaugurated by the President by lighting a ceremonial lamp at the Kachamari Ghat near Fancy Bazar in Guwahati.
iv. The Prime Minister of Bhutan, Tshering Tobgay was the special guest at the event.
v. The five-day river festival will conclude on April 4, 2017 and will be organised across 21 districts of Assam.
vi. Durng the festival, the culture, heritage, history, music, food, tourism potential and other aspects of Assam would be showcased.
vii. Other delegates present during the event include Assam Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Nobel Laureate and Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, yoga guru Baba Ramdev, Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari and Mahesh Sharma.
About Brahmaputra River
♦ Brahmaputra River is one of the major rivers of Asia. It is a trans-boundary river that flows through China, India and Bangladesh.
♦ The Brahmaputra enters India in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, where it is called Siang.
♦ It is the tenth largest river in the world in terms of discharge and otherwise is the 29th longest.

Chhattisgarh Government Implements 7th Pay Commission for State Employees from April 2017
The state government of Chhattisgarh has announced to implement the Seventh Central Pay Commission for the state government employees from April 1, 2017, the beginning of new financial year.
♦ The announcement of the seventh pay commission was made by Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh on March 29, 2017.
♦ The implementation is expected to benefit 2.5 lakh state government employees with hiked payment.
♦ Haryana was the first state to implement the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC) to give the benefit of hiked pay to its employees with effect from January 1, 2016.
Other Announcement
i. The state government also announced to hike the amount in the Public Relations Fund of MLAs from Rs 4 lakh to Rs 6 lakh.
ii. For the benefit of the forest officials, the state government has announced to increase the salary of managers of Primary Minor Forest Produce Cooperative Societies by 25 percent. Thus it would become Rs 12,500 per month from existing Rs 10,000 per month.
iii. Among other things, Prabandhak Kalyan Nidhi (Manager Welfare Fund) was also announced to be set up for them and their families.
iv. The Minor Forest Produce Association will haved to deposit a fixed amount in the fund while the managers will have to deposit Rs 500 each month and will also get insurance cover.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Turkey Concludes Military Operation “Euphrates Shield” in Northern Syria
i. The military operation under the name “Euphrates Shield” undertaken by the Turkish troops in northern Syria about seven months ago for national security, finally concluded on March 29, 2017.
ii. The announcement regarding this was made by the Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
iii. The Prime Minister of Turkey, Binali Yildirim, has said that, though the operations was completed but in future many more such operations are likely to be undertaken with different names.
iv. Aim: Turkey aimed to secure Turkish Syrian border security against ISIS terrorist group and enable the Syrian refugees to return to their home.
Key Highlight of Operation Euphrates Shield
♦ Operation Euphrates Shield began on August 24, 2016 by Turkish troops and Turkey-backed Syrian (Free Syrian Army (FSA)) rebels to drive away Islamic State (IS) jihadists and Syrian Kurdish militia fighters from a 100km (60 miles) stretch of the border that Turkey controls in northern Syria.
♦ Turkish government has sent troops, tank and warplanes for the fight. Turkey also feared that Kurdish militia fighters could try to establish its self-ruling territories in the region as it has established in Iraq.
♦ Under the operation, Free Syrian Army captured several towns in the region including Jarabulus, Al-Rai, Dabiq and Al-Bab.
♦ The operation also aimed to prevent the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) to acquire any more area in northern Syria.Turkey believes that Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) is a terrorist organization.
♦ With the end of the Operation Euphrates, Turkey now has control over some 2,000 miles square km (1,242 miles) of northern Syria that no longer share any borders with Islamic States (Daesh) controlled areas.
♦ However, the Euphrates Shield has been widely criticized both by the Syrian Kurds and Damascus, who accuse Ankara of violating Syria’s territorial integrity.
Turkey
♦ Capital: Ankara
♦ Currency: Turkish lira
♦ President: Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Most Spacewalks by a Woman – US Astronaut Peggy Whitson Breaks Sunita Williams Record
American Astronaut Peggy Whitson floated outside the International Space Station (ISS), which makes the eighth career Space-Walk by her on March 31, 2017. By this walk, Peggy Whitson broke the record of seven Space-Walks which was previously held by American Astronaut Sunita Williams.
♦ French astronaut Thomas Pesquet was with her side in International Space Station (ISS).
Reason behind the Space-Walk
i. The six-and-a-half hour Space-Walk took place for upgrading the International Space Most Spacewalks by a Woman - US Astronaut Peggy Whitson Breaks Sunita Williams RecordStation making it ready for the arrival of commercial spaceships.
ii. It was the second out of three Space-Walks to outfit the exterior of the orbiting outpost with parking spots for the new generation of space taxis carrying astronauts to the station.
iii. The space taxis are being designed by SpaceX and Boeing.
About Peggy Whitson
♦ Peggy Whitson is an American Biochemistry researcher who was born on February 9, 1960.
♦ She was selected in 1996 NASA Group and flew her first space mission in
♦ Whitson is NASA’s most experienced female astronaut, with 376 days in space.

El Salvador – the 1st Country to ban Metals Mining
i. Central America’s smallest nation, El Salvador became the first country in the world to ban Metals Mining nationwide. This was made into a law, which was passed by the Law-makers of that country.
ii. In addition to that, the law which is passed also bans the usage of Cyanide and Mercury for mining. The bill was passed after it got 69 votes which were required to make it a law. In fact only 43 votes were required.
Background
♦ The ban came after the illegal gold mining carried out by Pac Rim Cayman, a unit of Canadian-Australian Company, Oceana Gold Corporation as well as the dispute between the government and the company.
About El Salvador
♦ El Salvador is the most densely populated country in Central America which became an independent nation on 18 February 1841. It is in 99th position among the most populated country in the world.
♦ The capital city of El Salvador is San Salvador which is also the biggest city in that country.
♦ The President of El Salvador is Salvador Sánchez Cerén.

BANKING & FINANCE

India Inks $350 mn loan agreement with NDB for Roads Projects in MP
The Government of India has signed USD 350 million loan agreement with the New Development Bank (NDB) on March 30, 2017.
♦ Aim: Development and up gradation of road project in Madhya Pradesh to improve transport connectivity in the interior regions of the state and boost economic activity.
♦ The loan agreement was signed between Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of GOI and Xian Zhu, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of NDB.
Key Features of the Agreement
i. The MP road development project is the first NDB assisted project in India.
ii.The project is to be implemented over a period of 5 years.
iii. It involves reconstructing and upgrading about 1,500 km of district roads to intermediate lane with road safety features and all-weather standards.
iv. The project also includes improved road asset maintenance and management.
v. The completion of the project would help to improve connectivity of the interior areas of the state with the national and state highway networks.
New Development Bank (NDB)
♦ The New Development Bank (NDB) was established by the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, New Development BankIndia, China and South Africa) with an initial authorized capital of $100 billion.
♦ The Bank aims to financially support public or private projects through loans, guarantees, equity participation and other financial instruments.
♦ Headquarter: Shanghai, China
♦ President: K. V. Kamath

BUSINESS

NTPC Commissions 260 MW Bhadla Solar Project In Rajasthan
i. State-run power generator NTPC Ltd commissioned another 260 MW Bhadla Solar PV Project in Rajasthan on March 25, 2017.
ii .With this commissioning, the total installed capacity of NTPC has become 40,522 MW while that of NTPC has become 47,293 MW.
iii. Earlier, NTPC commissioned 55 MW Bhadla Solar PV Project in Rajasthan.
iv. This mark major step in power giant’s target of achieving capacity addition of about 1,000 MW through renewable resources by 2017.
v. Among other projects of NTPC under implementation includes 50 MW Solar PV at Anantpur in Andhra Pradesh, 250 MW Solar PV at Mandsar in Madhya Pradesh and 8 MW small hydro projects.
vi .NTPC has an objective of becoming 130 GW company by 2032 with a diversified fuel mix and have 600 billion units company in terms of generation with 28% share of renewable energy (including hydro).

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Asian Hockey Player of Year – S.V Sunil and Harmanpreet Singh in Awardees list
i. Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) on March 30, 2017 named SV Sunil as the Asian Player of the Year 2016 and Harmanpreet Singh as Asian Promising Player of the Year 2016 (Junior team).
ii. The nominations for these awards were made by coaches of the national teams across Asia and the criteria of nomination were based on the performance in the previous year.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Indian Origin Iqbal Surve Appointed Head of SA’s BRICS Business Council
Dr. Iqbal Surve, an Indian-Origin South African billionaire has been appointed as the new Chairman of BRICS Business Council of South Africa.
♦ Soon after his appointment, Surve headed to New Delhi, India to attend the mid-term meeting of the BRICS Councils of the respective nations in the bloc- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
About Iqbal Surve
i. Iqbal Surve is the executive chairman of a South Africa based private entity named Indian Origin Iqbal Surve Appointed Head of SA's BRICS Business CouncilSekunjalo Group and Independent Media
ii. Surve was the first chairperson of the World Economic Forum Global Growth Companies Advisory Board and vice chairperson of the Global Agenda Council for Emerging Multinationals.
iii .Among other things, Surve is also a member of the G20 meeting.
About BRICS
♦ Brics is an association of five emerging economies namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
♦ South Africa is the last country to be inducted in BRICS bloc in 2010.
♦ BRICS has a GDP of about $37 trillion.

Vanaja N Sarna Appointed New Chairman of Central Board of Excise and Customs
i. Senior bureaucrat, Vanaja N. Sarna, has been appointed as the new Chairman of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) with effect from March 31, 2017.
ii. She is taking over Shri Najib Shah upon his superannuation on March 31.
iii. Her appointed was confirmed by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 30, 2017.
Career Background of Vanaja N. Sarna
i. Prior to this, the 1980 batch officer of Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) served Member (Administration) in the CBEC.
ii. However before this, Sarna was the Director General of Vigilance and Chief Vigilance Officer of the Department.
iii. She has served for 36 years in CBEC, working in several capacities including postings in Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax formations in Kochi, Delhi, Chennai, Meerut, Chandigarh and Bangalore.
iv .She has also served as an additional Director General, National Academy of Customs, Excise & Narcotics (NACEN), in Chennai and Directorate General of Revenue Intelligence, New Delhi.
v. Besides this, she has also been an Under Secretary, Legislative Department, and Ministry of Law and as Director / Joint Secretary in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat on deputation basis.
About Central Board of Excise and Custom
♦ The Central Board of Excise and Custom was established in 1855 by the then ruling British Governor General of India to administer customs laws and collection of import duties / land revenue in India.
♦ CBEC is the nodal agency under the Finance Ministry that is responsible for administering Customs, Central Excise, Service Tax & Narcotics.
♦ The Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) consists of a Chairperson and six Members.
♦ The board will be renamed as Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) after necessary legislative approval in the GST regime.

Pakistani American Ali Javed becomes first Muslim, to join NYPD Elite unit
Sergeant Ali Javed, from Pakistani Origin became the 1st Muslim to join in New York City Police Department (NYPD) Emergency Service Unit. The information was confirmed by NYPD Muslim Officers Society, an organization representing Muslim American Law Enforcement Members.
♦ In addition to that, Ali Javed was also the first Pakistani to become a member of this Elite force.Pakistani American Ali Javed becomes first Muslim, to join NYPD Elite unit
About New York City Police Department (NYPD)
i. New York City Police Department (NYPD) is the largest municipal police force in the USA and was established in
ii. Headquartered in Lower Manhattan, the Commissioner of the department is James P. O’Neill.
iii. The motto of the department is “Faithful unto Death”.

Government Terminates Service of Coal India’s Director R Mohan Das
i. The Ministry of Coal, on March 30, 2017 terminated the services of Coal India Limited (CIL’s) Personnel & Industrial Relations Director, R Mohan Das without citing proper reason.
ii. His termination comes two months ahead of his scheduled retirement on May 31.
iii. The ministry has also directed that the Chairman of state owned Coal India Ltd, Sutirtha Bhattacharyya will serve as interim Director of Personnel department till new director is appointed.
iv. However, sources say that Das was terminated due to difference in opinion among executives regarding the new promotion policy recently introduced by him.
About R Mohan Das
♦ Das is a post graduate in social work from Madurai University.
♦ He stared his professional career working for the human resources department of Bharat Heavy Electricals.
♦ He has also served as the General Manager (Personnel and Administration) of the state-owned Madras Fertilizers.
♦ In CIL, Das was responsible for the formulation and implementation of personnel policies of the company

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

First Recycled Rocket launched and retrieved after successful mission by SpaceX
i. Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) successfully launched it Falcon 9 from space launch complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, Florida and retrieved it on March 30, 2017. The rocket was used to launch SES communications satellite into space.
ii. Falcon 9 rocket used a booster that had previously flown cargo to the astronauts living at the International Space Station which makes it as the first ever recycled rocket sent by SpaceX. The booster is reused from the rocket which flown to space in the month of March, 2016.

ACT Fibernet Launches 1Gbps Wired Broadband Internet Service in Hyderabad
i. Bangaluru based ACT Fibernet has launched a wired broadband internet service having a speed of 1 Gigabit per second with the pilot service in Hyderabad.
ii. With this, the non-teleco company, ACT Fibernet, has become the first Indian entity to offer such a high speed internet speed to the entire city.
iii .The high speed internet service will enable the Telangana government to connect all the 23 million citizen of the state to the Internet by 2018 and become technological hub.
iv. However, the service also includes (Fair Usage Policy) FUP after 1TB (terabyte) data, means that the speed may become slower after 1TB level of data usage.
v. The 1 Gbps speed is 400 times faster than the average internet speed of 2.5 megabits per second in India and is prices at Rs. 5,999 per month.
vi. ACT Fibernet has also planned to introduce the 1Gbps wired Internet service in 10 other Indian cities soon.
About ACT Fibernet
ACT (Atria Convergence Technologies Pvt Ltd.) is the third largest non-telecom internet service provider (ISP) in India in the wired broadband category. It uses fiber optic technology ACT Fibernet Launches 1Gbps Wired Broadband Internet Service in Hyderabadfor its wired broadband internet service.
♦ It has a customer base of 1.2 million and operates in 11 cities across India.
♦ CEO: Bala
Malladi
♦ Headquarters: Bengaluru, Karnataka
♦ Founded: 2000

Four Lithium Ion (Li-ion) Batteries developed by ISRO
Dr Jitendra Singh, the Minister of State for the Development of North Eastern Region officially released the information that Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has developed the four types of Lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries. The batteries are used for satellite operation and launching of vehicles into space.
Types of Lithium ion Batteries launched
The four types of batteries that have been developed are – 1.5Ah, 5Ah, 50Ah and 100Ah.
Usage of Lithium ion Batteries
i. 5Ah and 50Ah have been used for space applications.
ii. 5Ah and 100Ah have passed the test and are ready to be inducted in space applications.
iii.  50Ah batteries are supplied to Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) by ISRO.
Implementation
50Ah Lithium ion Batteries was successfully demonstrated in a prototype two-wheeler at the Symposium on International Automotive Technologies, 2017 (SIAT) on 19th January, 2017.  The prototype can attain speeds of 40-50 km/hour and runs up to 98 km once charged for 2 hours.
About Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)
♦ Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is the space agency of the Government of India established in 15 August 1969.
♦ Headquartered in the city of Bangalore, it was primarily called as Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR).
♦ Aryabhata, India’s first satellite was built by ISRO, launched by the Soviet Union on 19 April 1975.

Cricket Legend Sachin Tendulkar Launches 100MB Cricket App
India’s batting legend Sachin Tendulkar launched an Android and iOS based app named 100MB Cricket on March 30, 2017 in Mumbai, which is dedicated to the Master Blaster himself.
♦ The app has been developed by Pune-based technology firm JetSynthesys.
Key Features of the 100MB Cricket App
i. The app is a one stop destination for all things related to the Indian icon.
ii. It has a Live Forum feature allowing users to have live interaction with Sachin Tendulkar as well as have access to his personal social media updates.
iii .The app will feature a song by veteran singer Sonu Nigam and Sachin Tendulkar himself on April 2, 2017.Cricket Legend Sachin Tendulkar Launches 100MB Cricket App
iv. Described by Sachin as digital inning, the app is available for download for Android via Google Play, and for iOS via the App Store.
v. The app will also run special contests during IPL season which will offer prizes through Sachin merchandise.
vi. The 100MB Cricket also offers Live feeds, chats and discussions on Cricket. It also has facility to earn points in the form of run by participating in various activities. These runs can be redeemed for rewards through JetExchange.
vii. Users can also post on multiple social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter through the app.

ENVIRONMENT

Bhoorsingh the Barasingha – Official Mascot for Kanha Tiger Reserve.
i. The Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh is the first tiger reserve in India to get the official mascot named ‘Bhoorsingh the Barasingha’. The mascot was introduced by reserve’s field director of Kanha Tiger Reserve, Sanjay Shukla.
ii. Barasingha was made the mascot after the idea given by the award-winning cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty from Nagpur, who makes cartoons and illustrations on wildlife.

SPORTS

Bookie link in Pakistan Super League T20- Pakistan bowler Mohammad Irfan banned for 1 year
i. The Pakistani left-handed pace bowler Mohammad Irfan has been suspended for one Pakistan bowler Mohammad Irfan banned for 1 yearyear with a fine of USD 1000, after he admitted himself that he had failed to report about the approaches made by bookmakers who were linked with spot-fixing of T20 league.
ii. The other four Pakistani players who were held in this scandal were Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Shahzaib Hasan and Nasir Jamshed.
iii. The reason said by the Irfan was, “I was under mental stress following the death of my parents and I am not able to make decisions”
Words by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) anti-corruption unit
i. Irfan was not required to appear before a tribunal which was set to hear the cases of four other players linked to the scandal.
ii. He will be eligible to return from his suspension six months earlier if he took part in lectures on the importance of anti-corruption laws.
iii. Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) anti-corruption unit was headed by Mohammad Azam
About bookie
♦ Bookie is a person who takes illegal money bets on horse races, fights and sports games.
♦ Severe actions will be taken against the bookie which is banned by most of the countries.

Asian Athletics Championships to be hosted by Bhubaneswar
i. 22nd Asian Athletics Championships will be hosted by Bhubaneswar which is going to be conducted from July 6, 2017. The information was announced by Asian Athletics Association (AAA). The venue was decided after the 86th Council Meeting of AAA.
ii. Continent flagship event will be held in Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The event has the ending ceremony on July 9, 2017.
Background
♦ Ranchi the capital city of Jharkhand was set to host the event from June 1, 2017, but due to the state’s financial issues, it pulled out of the tournament.
History
The event was hosted by India on earlier two occasions New Delhi in 1989 and Pune in 2013.
About Asian Athletics Association (AAA)
i. Asian Athletics Association (AAA) is the continental governing body for the sport of athletics in Asia and headquartered in Singapore.
ii. The president of AAA is Dahlan Jumaan al-Hamad from Qatar from the year 2013.
iii. It is the governing body of 8 athletic competitions held among its member countries.

OBITUARY

Kerala Based Historian Namboodiri Passes Away
Dr N M Namboodiri, renowned Indian historian and writer, died on March 30, 2017 after prolonged illness at Mannar in Alapuzha district of Kerala.He was 73.
About Dr Namboodiri
i. Dr. Namboodiri has immensely contributed towards historical research.  Some of his valuable contributions are writings on the Zamorin Royals and Malabar region.
ii. Besides, the recipient of state Sahitiya Akademi award, has written many well known books such as the Keralacharithrathinte Nalluvazhikal, Kerala Samskaram Akavum Puravum.