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Current Affairs Today – March 6 2017

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March

INDIAN AFFAIRS

Haryana Presents Over Rs 1,02,329.35 crore Budget for FY 2017-18 in State Assembly
i. The Haryana Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu presented the proposed budget of Rs 1,02,329.35 crore for the fiscal 2017-18 on March 6, 2017 in the state assembly.
ii. Nine priority areas: Agriculture, rural development, urban development, infrastructure, education, IT governance, health, women empowerment, development of youth and culture
iii. The Haryana Budget Session is going in Haryana Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) and will continue up to March 10, 2017.
iv. Rs 9,041.59 (13.18 percent) more than previous year’s budget.

Tribal festival ‘Bhagoria’ Begins in Jhabua
i. Bhagoria Festival, also known as Bhagoria Haat Festival, celebrated by the tribal people of the Indian state Madhya Pradesh began on March 6, 2017 in Jhabua district.
ii. The festival which has been organized at 34 places in the state is celebrated in the month of March before the Holi Festival by the local tribes called Bhils and Bhilalas.
iii. The week-long festival is organised at different Bhagoria haats (local markets) in the form of Svayamvara or Marriage Ceremony located in Jhabua, Alirajpur, Dhar, Khargone and Barwani districts in western Madhya Pradesh.
iv. During this festival, young boys and girls of Bhils and Bhilalas tribe are allowed to run away after choosing their partners and are later on accepted as husband and wife by the society through pre-arranged customs. 

India’s Largest Tricolour Hoisted on Tallest Flag Post at Attari Border
i. India’s largest flag was inaugurated on March 5, 2017 by Anil Joshi, Cabinet Minister of Punjab, on the tallest flag post at the Indo-Pak Attari Border in Amritsar just 150 m away from the border.
ii. The flag post measured 110 metres (360ft) in length, 24 metres in width and 55 tons in weight.
iii. The flag post was built by Amritsar Improvement Trust Authority of the Punjab government at an approximate cost of Rs. 3.50 crore.
iv. The flag post, installed at the border, became an attraction for thousands of tourists who had reached there to watch the Beating Retreat Ceremony during the sunset.
v. Prior to this, the 91.44 metres (300 ft) high tricolour in Ranchi was considered as the tallest in the country
vi. Amritsar already has a 170 ft tall flag in the local Ranjit Avenue Public Park. 

India & Oman Explore Ways to Enhance Defence Ties
i. India and Oman have decided to enhance bilateral cooperation between their navies on March 2, 2017 during the visit of Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lamba to Oman to discuss strategically important regional issues.
ii. Lamba met Oman’s Defence Minister Bader al Busaidi, Commander of Royal Navy of Oman and Rear Admiral Abdullah bin Khamis Al Raisi on the second-leg of his two-day visit to Oman.
iii. The two sides deliberated on strengthening the cooperation between their navies
in the backdrop of the fast evolving security scenario in the region.
iv. Earlier, Lamba visited UAE to meet the top officials of UAE’s defence establishment and discussed ways to deepen the strategic partnership between the two nations.
Oman
♦ Capital: Muscat
♦ Currency: Omani rial
♦ Sultan: Qaboos bin Said al Said

India to train Myanmar Navy
i. Indian Navy will set up meteorological facilities and impart training for the Myanmar Navy, which will help offset increasing Chinese presence in its neighbourhood.
ii. This development comes days after a recent visit of a Myanmar delegation to Kochi. This fits into India’s overall effort to boost strategic cooperation under the ‘Act East’ policy.
iii. The visit by the Myanmar delegation is primarily aimed at training and expertising the officers on Indian Naval Meteorology and Oceanography (METOC) operational/training facilities and exploring avenues for defence co-operation in the field.
Myanmar  
♦ Capital: Naypyidaw
♦ Currency: Burmese kyat
♦ President: Htin Kyaw

Joint Military Exercise AL NAGAH-II Begins Between India-Oman in Himachal Pradesh
i. A 14 days long joint military training exercise AL NAGAH-II, of the Indian Army and the Royal Army of Oman kicked off on March 6, 2017 at Bakloh, Himachal Pradesh. 
ii. This is the second edition of the joint military exercise between the two countries. The first edition was held at Muscat, Oman in January 2015.
India & Omaniii. Aim: To build and promote bilateral Army-to-Army relations and enhance interoperability; exchange skills and experiences between the two armies in the backdrop of counter insurgency/ counter terrorism environment.
iv. The troops for this exercise have been drawn from One Infantry Battalion each from the Indian Army and the Royal Army of Oman. About 60 troops from both the countries are participating in the exercise.
v. The training which will conclude on March 19, 2017 is scheduled to be conducted in multiple modules in order to achieve complete integration between the two contingents at every stage.

BANKING & FINANCE

SBI to Impose Penalty on Non-Maintenance of Monthly Average Balance in Accounts from April 1
i. The country’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) has decided to reintroduce penalty on non-maintenance of minimum balance in accounts to be effective from April 1, 2017.
ii. In case of failing to maintain Monthly Average Balance (MAB) in saving accounts, penalty of up to Rs. 100 plus service tax would be levied.
iii. The penalty amount will be used by the bank to cover expenses such as running operations and systems for its 250 million savings accounts.
Monthly Average Balance in Different Areas 

Area Monthly Average Balance Penalty
Metropolitan Area Rs. 5000 Rs. 50+service tax= Shortfall <=50% of MAB.Rs. 75+service tax= Shortfall >50-75 %.
Rs. 100+service tax= Shortfall > 75%
Urban Area Rs. 3000 Rs. 40+service tax= Shortfall <=50% of MAB.Rs. 60+service tax= Shortfall >50-75 %.
Rs. 80+service tax= Shortfall > 75%
Semi-Urban Area Rs. 2000 Rs. 25+service tax= Shortfall <=50% of MAB.Rs. 50+service tax= Shortfall >50-75 %.
Rs. 75+service tax= Shortfall > 75%
Rural Area Rs. 1000 Rs. 20+service tax= Shortfall <=50% of MAB.Rs. 30+service tax= Shortfall >50-75 %.
Rs. 50+service tax= Shortfall > 75%

Finance Ministry Gives in-principle Approval to ESOPs by PSU banks
i. The Union Finance Ministry has given its in-principle nod to allow Public Sector Banks (PSUs) to offer stock options to their employees from 2017-18.
ii .However, the Employee Stock Option Plans (ESOPs) can only be given by those banks which have earned substantial profit as well as made remarkable improvement in managing NPAs.
iii .The proposal of ESOP by the Banks Board Bureau (BBB) will help to motivate employees to work towards strengthening the financial status of their banks and hence increase its share value.
iv. Though the Finance Ministry has given in-principle nod, the finer details are being worked.
v. In private sector, ESOPs are very common which the bank provides to retain their key and top-performing employees. The employees are benefitted from any appreciation in stock price along with the protection of their interest like those of shareholders.

Vijaya Bank opens its 2,000th branch in Tirupati
i. Bengaluru based Vijaya Bank has recently opened it’s 2000th Branch in Tirupati by Sri Chadalawada Krishna Murthy, Chairman, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.
ii. This branch is the region’s 65th branch and the second in Tirupati city.
iii. The Bank has donated traditional dhotis worth Rs.3.50 Lakhs to the students of TTD Veda Patasala under its Corporate Social Responsibility initiative. At the newly inaugurated Branch , Bank has adopted girl child to support her education till completion of post graduationVijaya Bank opens its 2,000th branch in Tirupati
Vijaya Bank:
♦ Vijaya Bank now has a presence in all 29 states and 7 union territories.
♦ Headquarters: Bengaluru
♦ CEO: Kishore Kumar Sansi
♦ Founded: 1931

HDFC Bank launches chatbot Eva for customer services
i. Mumbai headquartered HDFC Bank has launched India’s first AI(artificial intelligence) based banking chatbot Electronic Virtual Assistant (EVA) for customer services .
ii. EVA can answer millions of customer queries across multiple channels instantly, HDFC Bank said in a statement.
iii. It can assimilate knowledge from thousands of sources and provide answers in simple language in less than 0.4 seconds
iv. With this customers can get information on its products and services instantaneously and it also becomes smarter as it learns through its customer interactions.
HDFC Bank
♦ CEO: Aditya Puri
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Founded: August 1994, India

BUSINESS

Govt nod for strategic sale of 3 SAIL plants
i. The Central government has approved outright sale of state-owned SAIL’s three special steel units – Alloy Steels Plant (ASP), Salem Steel Plant (SSP) and Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant (VISP) on March 5, 2017
ii. In pursuance of the decision, SAIL has now sought advisors, including legal and merchant bankers, to carry out the strategic sale along with transfer of management control in the SAILthree steel plants
iii. The maharatna PSU is scouting for transaction advisor from professional consulting firm, investment bankers, financial institutions, to provide advisory services and manage the disinvestment process.
iv. The strategic sale of these three units is likely to happen only in the next financial year. The government has budgeted to raise Rs.15,000 crore from strategic disinvestment in 2017-18.
About Three plants :
♦ ASP is located at Durgapur in West Bengal spread over around 467.22 hectares.
♦ SSP in Tamil Nadu can produce stainless steel in the form of coils and sheets with an installed capacity of 70,000 tonnes a year in cold rolling mill and 3.64 lakh tonnes a year in hot rolling mill.
♦ VISP is located in Bhadravati, Karnataka has an installed capacity of 2.16 lakh tonnes of hot metal and 98,280 tonnes of alloy and special steels.

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Canara Bank bags medals at PR Council’s communication conclave
i. Karnataka based Canara Bank has received medals in the Collateral Awards Category at the 11th Global Communication Conclave held in Bangaluru on March 6, 2017
ii. Lalit Vaid, General Manager, and Dr S. T. Ramachandra, Deputy General Manager, Canara Bank (head office), received the awards.
Medals :
1.Gold medal : For a radio jingle and silver medals for Corporate Film and Brochure (CSR).
2.Bronze medals: For its in-house magazine (regional language),corporate advertisement – print, table calendar – 2017 and Big Diary 2017.
Canara Bank:
♦ Headquarters: Karnataka
♦ CEO: Rakesh Sharma
♦ Founded: 1906

Kerala’s Vaikom Vijayalakshmi Sets Record to Play Gayathri veena for Continous Five Hours
i. Kerala’s playback singer Vaikom Vijayalakshmi created a new world record on March 5, 2017 by playing the maximum number of songs in the shortest time on Gayathri veena during a programme in Kochi.
Vaikom Vijayalakshmi becomes first to play Gayathri veena for record five hoursii .She played a total of 69 songs including various classical and filmy songs on the Gayathri veena continuously for over five hours and became the first person to achieve the feat.
iii. Vijayalakshmi beat her own earlier record of 51 songs but still she went on till the 69th song.
iv. Besides singing for the Malayalam movies, Vijayalakshmi has also sung in Tamil and Telugu films. 

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Iran’s S-300 air defence system becomes operational 
i. Iran’s advanced S-300 air defence system, delivered by Russia following a July 2015 nuclear deal after years of delay, is now operational state said by State television
ii. The S-300 air defence system has been tested successfully in the presence of government and military officials.
iii. The deal to buy the S-300 system was originally signed in 2007 but Russia suspended it in 2010 citing a UN ban on arms sales to Iran. It was revived after the nuclear deal between Iran and major powers went into effect in January 2016
iv. Iran also announced that domestically manufactured air defence system dubbed Bavar 373 which was “more advanced than the S-300” would be tested very soon
Iran :
♦ Capital: Tehran
♦ Currency: Iranian rial
♦ President: Hassan Rouhani

Indian Navy’s Oldest Warship INS Viraat, Decommissions on March 6 After 30-Year Service
Indian Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, INS Viraat was decommissioned on March 6, 2017 at a solemn ceremony in Mumbai after nearly 30 years of service for Indian Navy.
About INS Viraat
i. The ship which is famously known as the ‘Grand Old Lady’, was with the British Royal Navy since 1959 before the Indian government bought it for Rs 6.5 crore in 1987.
Viraatii. The aircraft carrier which is listed in Guinness Record for the oldest carrier in service was inducted into the Indian Navy on May 12, 1987.
iii. While the aircraft carrier was with Royal Navy, it was known as HMS Hermes and had serviced for them for 27 years.
iv. The motto of INS Viraat was ‘Jalamev Yasya, Balmev Tasya’ (One Who Controls the Sea is All Powerful), which was first adopted by the great warrior king, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the 17th century as the guiding principle of his naval-military strategy.
v. INS Viraat played a major role in the Operation Jupiter in 1989 in Sri Lankan Peace Keeping operations. She also played a pivotal role in ‘Operation Parakram’ undertaken after the terrorist attack on Parliament by Pakistan in December 2001.
vi .The ship has a full load displacement of 28,700 tonnes, length of 226.5 metres and width of 48.78 metres. It manned 150 officers and 1,500 sailors.
vii. INS Viraat has spent nearly 2,250 days at sea and sailed about 11 lakh kms.
Future of INS Viraat
♦ After decommissioning, the future of the ship is not decided yet but the warship would be possibly converted into a museum, hotel or will be preserved as a relic of maritime history.
♦ Possibilities are also that if no buyers are found for the ship in 4 months, it will be broken up and sold for scraps.
Other Flagship Aircraft Carriers of Indian Navy
At present, INS Vikramaditya is the only serving aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy.The second warship named Vikrant is under construction at Cochin Shipyard Ltd and will commence trials by end-2018 or early 2019.

ENVIRONMENT

Centre Launches First Ever Survey in the River Ganga to Count Population of Aquatic Life
i. For the first time ever, the Government of India has launched a comprehensive and scientific “across-the-riversurvey in the River Ganga to determine the population of aquatic life surviving in the River including the endangered Gangetic dolphin.
ii. The survey is being conducted by the Dehradun based Wildlife Institute of India in coordination with the forest departments of Ganga basin states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
iii. The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) said that the survey will act as a baseline scientific data for the government to take necessary measures to improve quality of the river water
iv. The first edition of the survey to determine the aquatic life in river was launched on March 1, 2017 from Narora to Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh, which is spread at a distance of nearly 165 km.

Scientists Discovers World’s Oldest Known Fossils in Canada
According to research published in the journal Nature on March 1, 2017, scientists have discovered the oldest known fossil in Canada which is believed to be as old as 3.7 billion years old or even 4.3 billion years old.
♦ The study was conducted in northern Quebec’s Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt (NSB) of Canada by University College London (UCL) including researchers from the University of Ottawa.
♦ The scientists have not found fossils of the bacteria themselves, instead, they found small tubes or filaments of iron oxide that would have been given off by the bacteria over time.
Key Facts
i. The microfossils comprised of tiny tubes and filaments made of an iron oxide known as hematite. It is believed that these fossils are the remains of the bacteria that lived underwater billion years ago around hydrothermal vents and depended on chemical reactions involving iron for their energy.
ii. The microfossils’ structures in themselves are almost identical, very similar, to microfossils and micro-organisms found in similar hydrothermal vent settings today.
iii. The NSB contains some of the oldest sedimentary rocks known on Earth which likely formed part of an iron-rich deep-sea hydrothermal vent system that provided a habitat for Earth’s first life forms.
iv. The discovery provides strong evidence that life emerged from hot, seafloor vents shortly after planet Earth formed. In fact it leads to the idea that the first life on Earth was formed around nutrient-rich hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean.
v. Prior to this discovery, the oldest microfossils reported were found in Western Australia which was believed to be 3,460 million years old.

SPORTS

Asia Men’s Rugby Sevens Trophy: Ind defeat Pak to secure 7th rank
i. The Indian men’s Rugby team, led by skipper Gautam Dagar, piped Pakistan by 14-12 to claim the 7th rank at the Asia Men’s Rugby Sevens Trophy held at Aspire Rugby Field in Doha, Qatar.
ii. However the Philippines team bagged the Asia Men’s Rugby Sevens Trophy and secured a place in the Asia Rugby Sevens Series, which will feature three legs and will be played later this year.
iii. The Indian side took part under the aegis of the Indian Rugby Football Union (IRFU), is supported by Societe Generale, the financial partner of Rugby India.
iv. A total of 11 countries from across Asia including Singapore, Pakistan, Jordan, Philippines, Nepal took part in for top honours in the Asia Men’s Rugby Sevens Trophy.

India’s women’s hockey team registered 3rd successive win against Belarus
i. India’s women’s hockey team led by Ritu Rani defeated Belarus 3-1 to clinch their third consecutive win in the five-Test Series held in Bhopal. This will be warm-up Hockey teamtournament ahead of their Hockey World League Round 2 tournament in Canada scheduled this April.
ii. After a goalless first quarter Belarus skipper Ryta Batura scored in the 24th minute through a penalty corner and in the backdrop skipper Rani scored two consecutive field goals to put India in command with a 2-1 lead.
iii. The another star Deepika who scored India’s third goal in the 42nd minute to take a 3-1 lead while the defenders did well to keep the visitors from scoring in the final quarter to confirm a win.

2017 Mexican Open – Overview
i. The the 24nd edition -2017 Mexicano Telcel tennis tournament was played on outdoor hard courts. It was 17th edition for the women and part of the 2017 ATP World Tour and the 2017 WTA Tour held in Acapulco, Mexico.
ii. The tournament took place featuring five of the world’s Top 10 players, Sam Querrey is the last man standing at it.
iii. Spain’s Nadal was bidding to win his 70th ATP World Tour singles title and become the fifth player to achieve that feat. Rojer has 89 under his belt.

Category Winner Runner
Men’s singles Sam Querrey (United States) Rafael Nadal (Spain)
Women’s singles Lesia Tsurenko (Ukraine) Kristina Mladenovic (France)
Men’s Doubles Jamie Murray / Brazil Bruno Soares (United Kingdom Pair) John Isner / Spain Feliciano López, (United States Pair)
Women’s Doubles Darija Jurak (Croatia) / Anastasia Rodionova (Australia) Verónica Cepede Royg (Paraguay) / Mariana Duque Mariño (Colombia)

OBITUARY

Liver transplant surgical pioneer Dr. Thomas Starzl dies
i. The father of modern transplantation Dr. Thomas Starzl, and the key figure behind Liver transplant surgical pioneer Dr. Thomas Starzl diesthe world’s first baboon­ to ­human liver transplants and research on anti­rejection drugs, has died. He was 90.
ii. The American carried out the world’s first liver transplant in 1963, the world’s first successful liver transplant in 1967, and pioneered kidney transplantation from cadavers.
iii. The Doctor has received numerous awards for his great contribution, besides he has also received honorary degrees from whooping 26 universities in the United States and abroad.

Former Haiti President Rene Preval dead at age 74
i. Eminent Haitian Former president and agronomist Rene Preval has passed away at the age of 74. He was described as “a dignified son of Haiti“.
ii. Preval was first elected President of the Caribbean nation from 1996 to 2001 and from 2006 to 2011 when he faced his biggest challenge.
iii .In his political major challenges includes powerful earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010, which killed up to 300,000 people.
Haiti:
♦ Capital: Port-au-Prince
♦ Currency: Haitian gourde
♦ President: Jovenel Moïse