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Current Affairs Today – March 7 2017

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March

INDIAN AFFAIRS

Cabinet Approvals on March 6, 2017
i. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved the proposal for revival of 50 un-served/under-served airports/airstrips of the State Governments, Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Civil enclaves on March 6, 2017
ii. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has also approved the Revised Cost Estimate-I of 400 MW Koteshwar Hydro Electric Project (HEP) in Uttarakhand.
iii. The Cabinet gave its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Portugal on cooperation in the field of IT&E which was signed on January 6, 2017 in New Delhi
iv. The Cabinet has also given its approval for India’s accession to the Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention) and for completion of necessary procedures for ratification, for its entry into force.
v. The Cabinet also gave its ex-post facto approval for signing of the Definitive Agreement on Oil Storage and Management between Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve Ltd (ISPRL) and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) of UAE
vi. Besides, the government also gave its ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the India’s National Productivity Council and Al Etihad Energy Services, UAE to provide various services in the field of energy management and conservation. 

National conference on Jal Kranti Abhiyan begins in New Delhi
A day long National conference on Jal Kranti Abhiyan was inaugurated by Sushri Uma Bharti, Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation in New Delhi on March 7, 2017
♦ The conference was organized by Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.National conference on Jal Kranti Abhiyan begins in New Delhi
About Jal Kranti Abhiyan:
i. Jal Kranti Abhiyan was launched on June 05,2015 by Uma Bharti
ii. Objective: To strengthening grass root involvement of all stakeholders including Panchayati Raj institutions and local bodies for Participatory Irrigation Management.
iii. Four important components of Jal Kranti Abhiyan :
Jal Gram Yojana, Development of Model Command Area, Pollution Abatement and Mass Awareness Programme.
iv. Till today 726 such villages have been identified against the total target of 828. Integrated Water Security Plan for 180 Villages have been prepared and 61 of them have been approved.

High Court Declares Over 4 Month Long Economic Blockade in Manipur as Illegal
i. The High Court of Manipur on March 3, 2017 declared the economic blockade in Manipur called by United Naga Council (UNC) as illegal.
ii. The order was passed by a bench of three judges Chief Justice R R Prasad, Justice N Kotiswar Singh and Justice Kh Nobin Singh on public interest litigation.
iii. Besides, the court has also directed the authorities to deal with those supporting the blockade according to the law.
iv. The high court ruled out that the persons and organisation imposing the economic blockade is violating the fundamental rights of the citizens.
v. The UNC is charged with imposing indefinite economic blockade in the state since November 1, 2016 causing hardships to the people.
vi. The Centre has been trying to bring about a negotiated settlement between the UNC and the Manipur government by holding tripartite talks.
vii .The UNC called the blockade to protest against the creation of seven new districts. According to the UNC, the creation of new districts out of Naga territory without their consent suppressed the rights of Nagas in the state.

PM Narendra Modi releases Special Commemorative Postage Stamp on 100 years of Yogoda Satsang Math
Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a special commemorative postage stamp on 100 years of Yogoda Satsang Math on March 7, 2017
Yogoda Satsanga Society:
i. Aim : To reveal the complete harmony, basic oneness, and common foundations of all true PM Narendra Modi releases Special Commemorative Postage Stamp on 100 years of Yogoda Satsang Mathreligions.
ii. Dakshineswar based Yogoda Satsanga Society is a non-profit religious organization founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1917.
iii. Paramahansa Yogananda is most noted for his book Autobiography of a Yogi which became an international bestseller and featured in the 100 Most Important Spiritual Books of the 20th Century by Harper Collins

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh Presents Rs 76,032 crore Budget for 2017-18
The Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh presented the annual budget of Rs 76,032 crore for 2017-18 in the state legislative assembly on March 6, 2017.
♦ The main focus of the budget is on digital inclusion and infrastructure development and on welfare of poorest of poor and inclusive growth.
Salient Features of the Budget 2017-18
i. The estimated expenditure is 7.58 percent higher than the revised estimate of 2016-17.
ii. The revenue surplus is estimated at Rs 4,781 crore, the Gross fiscal deficit is estimated at Rs 9,647 crore, which is 3.49 percent of the GSDP.
iii. The budget allocates 36 percent of expenditure for the development of scheduled tribe sector and 12 percent for the scheduled caste sector.
iv. The social sector expenditure is estimated at 41 percent and economic sector expenditure is 38 percent of the total expenditure.
v. Allocation for agriculture has been increased by 26 percent to Rs. 10,434 crore.
vi. Irrigation facilities: Rs. 5243 crore
vii. Organic Farming Mission: Rs. 25 crore.
viii. Divyang (specially-abled people) college at a cost of Rs 2.56 crore will be set up at Raipur for educational upliftment of special children
Allocations for Schemes
♦ Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana: Rs. 1605 crore (urban) and Rs. 2841 crore (rural)
♦ Suchna Kranti Yojna (SKY): Rs. 200 crore for 2017-18. Under the scheme, 45 lakh smartphones will be provided to family belonging to below poverty line (BPL) and college students. The beneficiaries would also get SIM cards along with the phone.
♦ Tourism: Rs. 100 crore, to develop 14 tourists place in 7 districts.
♦ Saur Sujala Yojana: Rs. 554 crore for solar powered irrigation scheme.
♦ Chhattisgarh Food Security Act: Rs. 3500 crore

Indo-Nepal joint Military exercise ‘Surya Kiran-Xi’ begins in Uttarakhand
i. The two-week long India-Nepal joint military exercise ‘Surya Kiran-Xi‘ begins  in Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand on March 7, 2017
ii. Aim: To train both the troops in the area of various counter insurgency operations over a prolonged period.
iii. It will also focus on other important aspects such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations and environmental conservation.
iv. The Surya Kiran series of exercises are being conducted biannually, alternatively in India and Nepal. Surya Kiran-X was held in Nepal in December 2016.

First smart tribal village Habbi inaugurated in Jammu and Kashmir
i. Jammu and Kashmir’s first smart tribal village Habbi has inaugurated by Ch ZulfkarAli,
J & K  Minister for food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Ch ZulfkarAli on March 6 2017 in J & K.
ii. Habbi village is located in Kotranka in Rajouri District of Jammu and Kashmir.
First smart tribal village Habbi inaugurated in Jammu and Kashmiriii. The smart village is developed by the rural development department. The village has been introduced with smart classes in the schools, better roads, electricity and water facility.
J & K
♦ Assembly and Council seats – 89+36 (Bicameral)
♦ Lok sabha seats – 6
♦ Rajya sabha seats – 4

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

China overtakes eurozone as world’s biggest bank system
i. According to the Financial Times shows latest analysis, China’s banking system has overtaken the eurozone to become the world’s biggest by assets.
ii. China’s GDP surpassed the EU’s in 2011 at market exchange rates, but its banking system did not take over the top spot until 2016.
iii. The value of China’s banking system is more than 3.1 times the size of the country’s annual economic output, compared with 2.8 times for the eurozone and its banks
Top 3 Assets countries at the end of 2016:
1.Chinese bank assets hit $33 trillion  against $31 trillion for the eurozone.
2.US assets at $16 trillion
3.Japan assets at $7 trillion.

BANKING & FINANCE

HDFC Life brings country’s first life insurance Chatbot with Haptik
Mumbai based HDFC Life has launched India’s first life insurance chatbot to help users choose the most suitable life insurance plans and solutions on March 7, 2017
HDFC Life♦ The chatbot was launched in collaboration with India’s largest chatbot platform Haptik, India’s largest chatbot platform.
♦ Recently HDFC Bank launched an artificial intelligence-driven chatbot Electronic Virtual Assistant (EVA).
Chatbot features :
i. This chatbot will assist the customers with insurance advice – ranging from Health to Tax Planning & Retirement, based on a simple 60-second quiz which enables it to compute their Insurance Quotient.
ii. The chatbot not only works as a personal financial advisor but also brings to the forefront the universal need for life insurance

Fitch Estimates Indian Economy to Grow 7.1% in 2016-17
i. The US based global rating agency Fitch on March 7, 2017 estimated India’s GDP to grow by 7.1 percent in the fiscal 2016-17.
ii. However, the rating agency also projected the growth to see upward trend at 7.7 percent in both 2017-18 and 2018-19.
iii. Fitch said that gradual implementation of the structural reform agenda is expected to contribute to higher growth.
iv. Meanwhile, the watch dog raised concern against a recent government data showing 7 percent GDP growth in the October-December quarter.
v. It said that 7 percent GDP suggest that economic activity was “hardly hit” by the cash crunch after the government’s move to remove 86 percent of currency in circulation.
About Fitch
♦ Fitch Ratings Inc. is one of the Big Three credit rating agencies designated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 1975. It is one of the three nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (NRSRO)
♦ The other two rating agencies are Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.

BUSINESS

Trade Mark Rules 2017 Becomes Effective From March 6, 2017
The government notified the Trade Mark Rules, 2017 that came into force from March 6, 2017.
♦ The Rules 2017 will replace the former Trade Mark Rules 2002 and will streamline and simplify the processing of Trade Mark applications.
Salient Features of the Trade Mark Rules, 2017
i. Number of Trade Mark (TM) Forms have been reduced from 74 to 8.
ii. The fee for online filing of TM applications has been kept at 10% lower than that for physical filing to promote e-filing.
iii. Also, based on stakeholder feedback, the fee for individuals, start-ups and small enterprises has been reduced to Rs. 4,500 against Rs. 8,000 proposed by the draft rules.
iv. Over all fees have been rationalized by reducing the number of entries in Schedule I from 88 to just 23.
v. The provision to accelerate the processing of an application for registration of a trade mark have been extended right up to registration stage (earlier it was only upto examination stage.)
vi .Modalities for service of documents from applicants to the Registry and vice-versa through electronic means have been introduced to expedite the process.
vii. Besides, the modalities for determination of well-known trademarks have also been laid out for the first time.

India Adopts New Licensing Policy To Boost Oil Output
i .India has announced an Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) on March 7, 2017 for conducting oil and gas exploration in India.
ii .The new OALP policy will allow the bidder to select the exploration areas on their own and carve out areas where they want to drill. This will allow pricing and marketing freedom to India Adopts New Licensing Policy To Boost Oil Outputoperators and shifts to a revenue sharing model.
iii. The auction of oil and gas blocks under the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) will be conducted twice a year with the first round being held in July 2017.
iv. The Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the move will benefit India to attract greater foreign investment and boost oil output.
v. The new policy would replace the current licensing policy of government of identifying the oil and gas blocks and then putting them on auction.

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Indian Institute of Science Makes it to Top 10 Best Small Universities in the World Ranking
i. The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore is the only Indian University to be placed among the top 10 global universities by Times Higher Education (THE).
ii. As per the THE ‘Best Small Universities in the World 2017’ ranking released on March 7, 2017, IISc has been placed at 8th position among the list of top 10 global universities.
iii. However, besides IISc, no other Indian University could find any position under the top 20 ranking.
Top 3 Universities in the Ranking

Rank University Country
1 California Institute of Technology United States
2 École Normale Supérieure France
3 Pohang University of Science and Technology South Korea

Hyderabad Airport Gains 1st Rank Worldwide in Airport Service Quality Survey
i. GMR led Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL) has secured first position in the world in the prestigious Airports Council International (ACI)-Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey in the 5-15 million passengers per annum (MPPA) category for the year 2016.
ii .Hyderabad Airport has steadily improved its score from 4.4 in 2009 to 4.9 in 2016 measured on scale of 1 to 5.
iii. Besides, the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) in Delhi has been ranked world’s second best airport in the category of passenger handling capacity of more than 40 million passengers annually.
iv. Delhi International Airport Limited’s score increased from 4.96 in 2015 to 4.99 in 2016.
About Airport Council International’s ASQ Survey
♦ Airport Council International’s ASQ survey is a globally established benchmarking programme that measures passengers’ satisfaction while they travel through an airport.
♦ The ASQ programme provides the research tools and management information to better understand passengers’ views and what they want from an airport’s products and services.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan Wins Best Actress for Sarbjit at IFFA Australia
i. Bollywood Actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has won the best actress award at the International Film Festival and Awards of Australia (IFFAA) for her movie Sarabjit.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchanii. Directed by Omung Kumar, Sarabjit was the biopic on Sarabjit Singh who was an Indian farmer who was convicted of terrorism and spying in Pakistan and was sentenced to death.
iii. He was attacked by inmates at a prison in Lahore in April 2013 and died a few days later.
iv. The film starring Aishwarya and Randeep Hooda showcased his journey inside the jail and his sister’s unending fight to free him.
v. Aishwarya played the role of Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur.

SERB Fellowship Award To Lalji Singh
i. Former director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Lalji Singh has been selected for ‘SERB Distinguished Fellow’ award by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) to support his research.
ii. The award has been given in recognition of the former vice-chancellor, Banaras Hindu University (BHU), for his continued outstanding performance and also for mentorship to young researchers.
iii. The award carries an amount of Rs.60,000 per month and a research grant of Rs.5 lakh a year for three years extendable by two years.
Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) :
♦ The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) is a statutory body established through an Act of Parliament.
♦ The Board offers JC Bose National Fellowship to scientists and engineers for their outstanding performance and contributions and RAMANUJAN Fellowship for brilliant scientists and engineers from all over the world to take up scientific research positions in India

ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS

Tech Mahindra to buy US healthcare provider valued at $110 million
i. Mumbai based Software services firm Tech Mahindra Ltd  has signed a definitive agreement to acquire US-based healthcare information technology consulting company CJS Solutions Group LLC for $110 million on March 6, 2017
ii. Tech Mahindra will make an upfront payment of $89.5 million for purchase of an 84.7% stake in the firm. The balance stake of 15.3% will be acquired over a period of three years.
iii. The transaction is expected to close by April 2017, subject to regulatory approvals.
iv. Previous year Tech Mahindra acquired UK-based Target Group in a deal worth around £120 million and UK-based digital transformation firm BIO Agency Ltd for an undisclosed amount.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Hubble Space Telescope Captures Massive Galaxy UGC 12591
i. The Hubble Space Telescope has captured an image of an incredible massive galaxy named as UGC 12591 which is located under 400 million light-years away from the Earth.
ii. According to NASA report, the galaxy and its halo together contain several hundred
billion times
the mass of the Sun and four times the mass of the Milky Way.
iii. Besides, the galaxy rotates extremely quickly at speeds of up to 1.8 million kilometers per hour.
Hubble Space Telescopeiv. The observations are helping astronomers to understand the mass of UGC 12591, and to determine whether the galaxy simply formed and grew slowly over time, or whether it might have grown unusually massive by colliding and merging with another large galaxy at some point in its past.
About Hubble Space Telescope
♦ The Hubble Space Telescope was built by the United States space agency NASA in collaboration with European Space Agency (ESA). It was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990.
♦ Hubble is one of the largest and most versatile telescope well known to take extremely high-resolution images, with substantially lower background light than ground-based telescopes.
♦ It provides detailed visible light images that enables a deep view into space and time.

ENVIRONMENT

45% of country’s bird species in Himachal Pradesh: Great Backyard Bird Count
i. According to the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)-2017 report about 45 percent of country’s total bird spices were reported in Himachal Pradesh.
ii. The report says around 564 bird species, nearly 45 percent of the 1,263 Indian bird species, were reported during the 4-day bird count from February 17 to 20.
iii. During the survey a total of 2,833 bird check lists have been uploaded to eBird and over 16000 birds were counted from all districts of Himachal, with highest number 453 bird species reported from Kangra district.
Great Backyard Bird Count:
♦ The Great Backyard Bird Count is the first online citizen-science project intended at gathering data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.
♦ The survey was launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society and conducted every year in February.

SPORTS

2017 Brasil Open – Overview
i. The 2017 Brasil Open was a tennis tournament was the 17th edition of the Brasil Open, and part of the ATP World Tour 250 series of the 2017 ATP World Tour.
ii. The Sao Paulo ATP World Tour is played on outdoor clay-court has been won by the top players on the ATP World Tour in São Paulo, Brazil.

Title Winner   Runner
Singles   Uruguay Pablo Cuevas Spain Albert Ramos Viñolas
Doubles Brazil Rogério Dutra Silva / Brazil André New Zealand Marcus Daniell / Brazil Marcelo Demoliner

OBITUARY

Rabi Ray, former Lok Sabha Speaker, passes away
i. Eminent socialist politician and former Union Minister and former Speaker of Lok Sabha Rabi Ray passed away after a prolonged illness in Cuttack. He was 91.
ii. The leader’s body was taken to his alma maters Ravenshaw University and M.S. Law Rabi Ray, former Lok Sabha Speaker, passes awayCollege for last respects.
iii. Rabi before fraying into active politics Shri Rabi Ray was a freedom fighter. In early 1947, when he was studying history in Ravenshaw College.
iv. His political career began soon after when he was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1967, from the Puri parliamentary constituency, and was the leader of the Samyukta Socialist Party in the Lok Sabha.

Bengal’s Popular Folk Singer Kalikaprasad Bhattarcharya Dies
i. Popular Bengali folk music singer Kalika Prasad Bhattacharya has died in a road accident at Palsit in West Bengal. He was 47.
ii. The accident took place at Gurap on Durgapur Expressway (NH2) in West Bengal’s Burdwan district.
iii. The folk singer voiced in films like Jaatishwar (2014), Moner Manush (2010) and Bhuban Majhi (2017).
iv. The Bengal man co-founded the band Dohar in 1999 aimed to revive the folk music tradition of Northern and Eastern Bengal.