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INDIAN AFFAIRS

Centre sanctions Rs 1000 crore for research and innovation
Central Government has sanctioned a grant of Rs 1000 crore for the second phase of the Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) India programme.
Details about second phase of IMPRINT India programme:
i. Announcement in this regard was made by Union Minister for Human Resources and Development, Prakash Javadekar at the Visitors Conference held in New Delhi on March 6, 2018.
ii. Launched in 2015, IMPRINT India is a joint initiative of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), aimed at identifying areas of relevance to society that require innovation, ensuring higher funding support for research into these areas and measuring the research’s impact on people’s standard of living.
iii. Under the IMPRINT-I Programme, 142 projects at a cost of Rs. 318.71 crore are already under implementation. These projects are from important areas including security and defence, energy, health care, climate change, etc.
iv. Under the IMPRINT-II, a fund is being jointly created by the Department of Science and Technology and Ministry of Human Resource Development.
v. Proposals for IMPRINT- II will be called from March 16, 2018 and will be sanctioned by May 2018.Prof. Indranil Manna of IIT-Kharagpur will be the National Coordinator.

Delhi govt approves delivery of ration at doorsteps of PDS beneficiaries
On March 6, 2018, Delhi government approved a proposal for delivering rations in sealed packets at the doorstep to Public Distribution System (PDS) beneficiaries.
i. The proposal was put forth by Department of Food, Supply and Consumer Affairs for providing doorstep delivery of wheat/flour, rice and sugar for eligible PDS beneficiaries.
ii. This initiative will address problems such as theft of ration, poor quality of supplies and shops remaining closed.
iii. The proposal has now been sent to Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Anil Baijal for approval. Post approval, the service provider for home delivery of ration will be selected through open bidding.
iv. It is important to note that currently, there are around 72 lakh PDS beneficiaries in Delhi.

Fourth India-Europe 29 Business Forum held in New Delhi
Fourth India-Europe 29 Business Forum (IE29BF) was held in New Delhi on 5th and 6th March 2018.Fourth India-Europe 29 Business Forum held in New DelhiHighlights of Fourth India-Europe 29 Business Forum:
i. IE29BF was created in 2014 by Union Ministry of External Affairs and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
ii. The forum serves as platform for promoting business exchanges between India and the twenty nine countries of Central Europe region.
iii. Keynote address at the Inaugural Session of IE29BF 2018 was delivered by MJ Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs.
iv. Theme of IE29BF 2018 was ‘Synergising Economic Vision for Expanded Relations’ while Czech Republic was the ‘Focus Country’.
v. 180 business delegates and officials from European countries and 200 business delegates from India participated in this two-day forum.

Animal Welfare Board of India headquarters shifted from Chennai to Haryana
On March 6, 2018, Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Mahesh Sharma, informed Rajya Sabha that headquarters of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has been shifted from Chennai to Haryana’s Ballabhgarh.
Shifting of AWBI Headquarters:
i. The reason cited behind shifting the headquarters is to ensure better coordination between the environment ministry and the board.
ii. AWBI is a statutory advisory body established in 1962 under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,1960. It advises the Government of India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on matters of animal welfare.
iii. Well-known humanitarian Rukmini Devi Arundale was instrumental in setting up the board and was its first chair.

40 Participants of Indian Origin attends 46th Edition of “Know India Programme”
On March 6, 2018, Forty Indian-origin students from nine countries met Railways Minister Piyush Goyal as part of Know India Programme (KIP).40 Participants of Indian Origin attends 46th Edition of “Know India Programme”About Know India Programme (KIP):
i. KIP is Indian Government ‘s initiative to engage with the Indian diaspora in the age group of 18 to 30 years.
ii. It is a 25-day orientation programme,  organised by Union Ministry of External Affairs in partnership with one or two Indian states.
iii. Participants for KIP are selected on the basis of nominations received and recommendations of Indian ambassadors in foreign countries.
iv. For 46th KIP, Madhya Pradesh was the partner state. Thus the participants visited Madhya Pradesh and also visited Parliament House and President’s House in New Delhi.

‘Vision for Future’ event marks 70 years of Indo-Russia ties held in New Delhi
On 6th to 8th March 2018, ‘Vision for Future’ event is conducted to celebrate the 70 years of successful Indo-Russia ties, in New Delhi.
Vision for Future:
i. The Vision for Future event is organised by Ministry of External Affairs of India (Eurasian Division). It is co-organised by International Federation of Indo-Russian Youth Clubs and BRICS International Forum.
ii. The event is supported by Embassy of the Russian Federation in India and Russian Center of Science and Culture.
iii. This event is aimed at strengthening strategic partnership between India and Russia. Mains events of this programme are: First India-Russia Youth Parliament and India-Russia Excellence Award Ceremony & launch of Youth Festival Calendar.
iv. The event will highlight dynamic opportunities of cooperation between India and Russia to the youth.
About BRICS:
♦ Type – association of five major emerging national economies
♦ Members – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa

Itanagar celebrates Silver Jubilee of Losar festival
On 2nd to 4th March 2018, silver jubilee of the Losar Festival was celebrated by Buddhist Community of Itanagar at the Nyokum Lapang Ground, in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh.Itanagar celebrates Silver Jubilee of Losar festivalSilver Jubilee of Losar festival:
i. The festival was celebrated for three days. The Itanagar Buddhist Cultural Society (IBCS) organized the festival.
ii. This festival is celebrated as ‘New Year’ by the Buddhist community as per their calendar. Arunachal Pradesh Education Minister Honchun Ngandam was the chief guest at the event.
iii. Presentations were made by people from various regions of Arunachal Pradesh. Bhutanese and Gorkha Cultural programs were also part of the presentations.
iv. The festival also featured a community feast and prize distribution. The Buddhist New Year has entered into 2145 Earth Dog year, according to the Buddhist calendar.
Some wildlife sanctuaries of Arunachal Pradesh:
♦ Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary

Odisha MSME International Trade Fair begins in Bhubaneswar
On 5th to 10th March 2018, Odisha MSME International Trade Fair 2018 is held in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
Odisha MSME International Trade Fair 2018:
i. The Odisha MSME International Trade Fair 2018 focuses mainly on food processing sector.
ii. The trade fair was inaugurated by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Over 500 domestic and international delegates will take part in the trade fair.
iii. Odisha MSME Minister Prafulla Samal said that, 35 delegates from Iran, Bangladesh, Korea and Germany will take part in the trade fair.
iv. The trade fair will present over 350 stalls with 6 pavilions. The theme pavilion has been allotted for food processing sector. Pavillion-1 has been allotted for international exhibitors and central public sector undertakings (CPSUs).
v. Pavilion-2 is for food processing and sea food MSME units. Pavilion-3 is for MSMEs of women and scheduled tribes/scheduled castes entrepreneurs.
vi. Pavilion-4 is for MSMEs working in engineering and allied sectors and Pavilion-5 is given to start-ups and exporters.
Some wildlife sanctuaries of Odisha:
♦ Baisipalli Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Balimela Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Balukhand-Konark Wildlife Sanctuary

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announces USD 170 mn for women’s empowerment
On March 7, 2018, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a USD 170 million projects aimed at advancing women’s economic empowerment in India, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announces USD 170 mn for women's empowermentInformation about Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s projects for women’s empowerment:
i. Projects in the above stated countries are focused on four key priorities – advancing gender equality, increasing job opportunities, spreading digital financial inclusion, and supporting the agricultural sector and women’s support groups.
ii. Earlier, in 2016, the foundation had committed USD 80 million for gender data, advocacy and accountability. USD 20 million out of USD 80 million was allocated for supporting women’s movements.
iii.Based on data, the foundation believes that when a woman has the option of working outside the home and access to financial services to participate in the formal economy, families start emerging above the poverty line, which consequentially leads to a rise in national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Quick Facts about Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:
♦ Formed in – 2000
♦ Founders – Bill Gates and Melinda Gates
♦ Headquarters – Washington, US
♦ Objective – to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty across the world and to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology in America

World ATM Congress held in Spain
Airports Authority of India (AAI) is participating in World ATM Congress (WATMC) 2018 which is being held in Madrid, Spain from 6th to 8th March 2018.
Details about World ATM Congress 2018:
i. In context of this news, abbreviation ATM stands for Air traffic Management.
ii. World ATM Congress is world’s largest international air traffic management (ATM) exhibition and conference which brings together the world’s leading product developers, experts, stakeholders in aviation.
iii. It was conceived by the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO) in partnership with the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA).
iv. AAI has set up a stall at this conference for showcasing its achievements and initiatives.
Quick Facts about Airports Authority of India (AAI):
♦ Founded in – 1995
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Current Chairman – Dr. Guruprasad Mohapatra

BANKING & FINANCE

India to join multilateral lender EBRD
India will join the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as its 69th member.European Bank of Reconstruction and DevelopmentIndia to join EBRD:
i. EBRD is working for furthering the development of market-orientated economies and the promotion of private and entrepreneurial initiative in the European region.
ii. On becoming a member, India will take up a small stake in EBRD.
iii. On account of this, Indian companies would be permitted to undertake joint investments in regions in which the EBRD operates.
iv. Besides, having a stake will also give India a say in the direction of the EBRD’s future work.
v. Currently the U.S. is the largest shareholder in the EBRD.
Quick Facts about European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD):
♦ Founded in – 1991
♦ Located in – London, UK
♦ Current President – Suma Chakrabarti

Sidbi, CSC partner to offer MSMEs better credit access
On March 6, 2018, Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with CSC e-governance Services (CSCeGS) to take Udyami Mitra portal to the unserved and the underserved Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
Details about SIDBI-CSCeGS MoU:
i. Udyamimitra.in is a portal to improve accessibility of credit for the MSMEs. Through this portal entrepreneurs can apply for a loan without physically visiting bank branches.
ii. CSCs (Common Service Centres) serve as delivery points of various e-governance services to citizens in rural and remote areas of India while CSCeGS is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up by Union Ministry of Electronics and IT ( MeitY) which acts as contact point for various digitally aligned services to villages in the country.
iii. As per the terms of the MoU, financial support will be provided to the upcoming CSCs through bank financing.
Quick Facts about SIDBI:
♦ Founded in – 1990
♦ Headquarters – Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

BUSINESS

India starts importing LNG from US for the first time
With the first shipment of Liquefied natural gas (LNG) getting loaded on-board GAIL’s first chartered LNG ship ‘Meridian Spirit’ on March 6, 2018, India has started importing natural gas from US under a 20-year deal.
Natural gas imports from US:India starts importing LNG from US for the first timei. 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 will be discharged at its Dabhol terminal (in Maharashtra) on or around March 28, 2018.
iii. Cheniere Energy, Inc is the leading exporter of LNG from US while GAIL is India’s biggest natural gas transportation and marketing company.
iv. It is to be noted that in October 2017, India imported its first shipment of crude oil from the US. In 1975, a ban was placed on oil exports from US. This ban was lifted in 2015 by Obama administration.

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

British Indian Harry Athwal wins ‘Pride of Birmingham’ award
Harry Athwal, an Indian-origin British man has been selected for ‘Pride of Birmingham’ award in UK.British Indian Harry Athwal wins 'Pride of Birmingham' awardPride of Birmingham award:
i. Harry Athwal is one among the 11 winners and will be awarded the ‘Pride of Birmingham’ award at the University of Birmingham on 8th March 2018.
ii. In 2017, during the Barcelona terror attack, he risked his life to help an injured young boy.
iii .The boy died on the spot but he was thanked for trying to help the child in such a risky situation. He works as a project manager and lives in Birmingham.
About Spain:
♦ Prime Minister – Mariano Rajoy
♦ President of the Senate – Pío García-Escudero

IGI Airport adjudged world best in ACI survey
As per a survey by Airports Council International (ACI), Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport has been rated as the world number one among airports handling more than 40 million passengers per annum.
Findings from ACI survey:
i. ACI, a trade association of 1953 member airports across 176 countries, conducts the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey and collates views of passengers on 34 key performance indicators.
ii. IGI Airport handled 63.5 million passengers in 2017. It has surpassed Singapore’s Changi Airport, South Korea’s Incheon and Thiland’s Bangkok airports in terms of passenger growth.]
iii. Currently, IGI Airport is the 7th busiest airport in Asia and among the top 20 busiest airport across the world.
iv. IGI Airport is operated by Delhi International Airport Private Limited (DIAL), a GMR-led consortium.
v. Among other Indian Airports, Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport has been ranked as the World’s Best Airport for customer experience.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos becomes first $100 billion Mogul on Forbes List
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has become the first person with $100 billion wealth in Forbes magazine’s annual ranking of the world’s moguls 2018.Jeff Bezos surpasses Bill Gates’ net worth, becomes richest person everForbes’ annual ranking of the world’s moguls 2018:
i. The list was released on 6th March 2018. The estimated wealth of Jeff Bezos according to Forbes magazine is $112 billion as on 9th February 2018.
ii. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Paytm, has secured 1,394th rank on the list with USD 1.7 billion wealth. He is youngest Indian billionaire on the list. He is 39 years old.
iii. Samprada Singh, chairman emeritus of Alkem Laboratories, is the oldest Indian billionaire on the list. He is 92 years old with USD 1.2 billion wealth. He occupies 1,867th rank.
About Amazon:
♦ Headquarters – Seattle, Washington, U.S.
♦ CEO – Jeff Bezos

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Sandeep Bakhshi gets 2 year extension as MD of ICICI Prudential Life
On 6th March 2018, Sandeep Bakhshi, MD and CEO of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, was re-appointed for a 2 year term with effect from 1stJune 2018 till 31 May 2020.Sandeep Bakhshi gets 2 year extension as MD of ICICI Prudential LifeSandeep Bakhshi gets 2 year extension as MD of ICICI Prudential Life:
i. Sandeep Bakhshi joined ICICI Group in 1986. He had worked on business development, project appraisals, project monitoring and business re-structuring.
ii. He was appointed as director in 2010. He was re-appointed as director in 2015.
iii. He has worked as a deputy-managing director and head of retail at ICICI Bank. He has also held the post of chairman of ICICI Home Finance Company Limited.
About ICICI Bank Limited:
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
♦ MD & CEO – Mrs. Chanda Kochhar

Vivek R Wadekar appointed new Special Director in ED
On 6th March 2018, Vivek R Wadekar was named the new Special Director in the Enforcement Directorate (ED) by the government.
Vivek R Wadekar – new Special Director in ED:
i. Vivek R Wadekar is an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer of the 1991 batch. His appointment as Special Director in Enforcement Directorate (ED) was made by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).
ii. Order issued by ACC mentioned that, he will be based in Delhi. His appointment has been termedfor five years from the date he takes charge.
About Enforcement Directorate (ED):
♦ Purpose – central investigative agency that enforces the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) in India
♦ Functions under – Union finance ministry

Neiphiu Rio appointed as CM of Nagaland
On 6th March 2018, Neiphiu Rio was appointed the new Chief Minister of Nagaland.Neiphiu Rio appointed as CM of NagalandNeiphiu Rio – CM of Nagaland:
i. Neiphiu Rio belongs to the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP). He was appointed the new Chief Minister of Nagaland byNagaland Governor P. B. Acharya.
ii. He will be sworn in as Chief Minister of Nagaland on 8th March 2018. The Governor has asked Neiphiu Rio to prove majority in the Nagaland Assembly within 16th March 2018.
iii. Former Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang’s resignation was accepted by Governor P. B. Acharya.
About Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP):
♦ President – Chingwang Konyak
♦ Headquarters – Dimapur, Nagaland

Gary Cohn resigns as Donald Trump’s top economic advisor
On 6th March 2018, US President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn resigned from his position.
Resignation of Gary Cohn:
i. Gary Cohn has resigned from his position due to disagreement with the President’s decision to levy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
ii. It is said that, Donald Trump would consider Larry Kudlow, who has been his informal adviser for a longtime, for the top economic adviser post.
About United States of America (USA):
♦ President – Donald Trump
♦ Vice President – Mike Pence

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Nitin Gadkari launches Sukhad Yatra App and Toll-free Emergency number for Highway users
On 7th March 2018, Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari, launched ‘Sukhad Yatra’ mobile App and Toll-free Emergency number-1033 for highway users.Nitin Gadkari launches Sukhad Yatra App and Toll-free Emergency number for Highway users‘Sukhad Yatra’ mobile App and Toll-free Emergency number-1033 for highway users:
i. The Sukhad Yatra app will provide information on toll rates to highway users as they approach the toll plaza.
ii. Users can report road quality-related information or any accident or pothole they witness on the highway.
iii. It also provides real-time data on waiting time expected at Plazas and other facilities on the highway to the users. FASTag can also be bought by users using this app.
iv. The toll-free number – 1033 will allow users to report any emergency condition on the highway or highway-related feedback.
v. Ambulance/tow away services are clubbed with this service to provide swift response in emergency cases.  User location tracking is done to provide accurate and quick response to complaints.
About National Highways Authority of India (NHAI):
♦ Chairman – Deepak Kumar
♦ Formed – 1988

Researchers develop thermoelectric compound “Silver copper telluride (AgCuTe)”
A team of researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) of Bengaluru, have developed silver copper telluride (AgCuTe), a thermoelectric compound.
Silver copper telluride (AgCuTe):
i. Silver copper telluride (AgCuTe) is a thermoelectric material that can convert waste heat into electricity.
ii. It shows poor thermal conductivity in the 25-425 degree C range but has good electrical conductivity.
iii. The research team was headed by Dr Kanishka Biswas. Results of this study was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
iv. In Silver copper telluride (AgCuTe), the silver atoms are weakly bound resulting in poor thermal conductivity. Thermoelectric technology is used in automobile industry, chemical, thermal and steel power plants.
About Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR):
♦ Established by – Department of Science and Technology
♦ Established in – 1989

OBITUARY

Ex Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association Chairman M K Bhargav Dead
On 6th March 2018, M K Bhargav, former chairman of Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA), passed away due to a long term illness in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
Death of M K Bhargav:
i. M K Bhargav was 78 years old. He had been suffering from a liver disorder and other health issues for a long time.
ii. He had also worked with the umpiring panel of the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI).
About Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI):
♦ CEO – Mr. Rahul Johri
♦ President – Mr. CK Khanna