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Current Affairs Today – March 8 2017

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Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah launches ‘Pratibimba” to project achievements   
i. Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah launched a comprehensive web-based platform Pratibimba to showcasing the government’s performance and achievements to the citizens on March 7, 2017.
ii. This dash board will serve as a tool to improve efficiency in governance and allow citizens to track government’s progress.It is available both in English and Kannada.
iii. After Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka has such dash board  which will help to report, track and measure departmental performance on programmes, projects and promises made.
♦ Rivers : Krisna and tributeries and Cauvery and tributeries.
♦ Mountains: Western Ghats, Chitradurga Hills, Biligiri Rangan Hills, Nandi Hills, Badami Hills, Gokak Hills

Mobile World Congress to be held in India on September 27
i. India to host its  first mobile congress with a special focus on reaching out to the South East Asian markets at Pragati Maidan on 27th September 2017. This was announced by Rajan S Mathews, COAI Director General
ii. The the three-day event will be organised by GSM Association
iii. All Indian mobile operators, Facebook, Huawei, Ericsson, Cisco etc are likely to participate in the mobile congress.
Mobile World Congress :
♦ The GSMA Mobile World Congress is a combination of the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry and a conference featuring prominent executives representing mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors and content owners from across the world.
♦ The 2017 event was held in Barcelona between 27 February to 2 March 2017 and Mobile World Congress Shanghai between 28th June 2017 to 1st July 2017.

PM Modi Inaugurates Petrochemicals Complex at Dahej & Extradosed Bridge Across River Narmada at Bharuch in Gujarat
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on a two day visit to his native state Gujarat from March 7-8, 2017.
Baruch Bridge
♦ During his visit to Gujarat, PM Modi dedicated a 4-lane 1.4-kilometre ‘Extradosed’ Cable-Stayed Bridge over the river Narmada in Bharuch. It is considered as the longest bridge of India.
Features of the Baruch Bridge
i. The bridge has been built by Larsen and Turbo at a cost of Rs. 379
in the time span of two years.
ii. It is 1344 metres long and 22.8 metres wide. The bridge consists of total 216 cables that are about 25 to 40 meter long.Extradosed Bridge
iii. The Bharuch Bridge has 17.4-metre wide 4-lane road and the footpath on the bridge is 3 metres long. The lighting in the bridge has more than 400 LED lights spread over 1.344 km long.
iv. The Bharuch Bridge is expected to reduce the heavy traffic from Ahmedabad-Mumbai section of National Highway-8 (NH8) which is considered to be the busiest national highways in the country.
OPAL Project
♦ PM Modi also dedicated ONGC Petro Additions Ltd (OPAL) Petrochemicals Complex at Dahej (Bharuch, Gujarat) to the nation.
Features of OPAL Plant
i. OPAL is a Joint Venture Company promoted by ONGC, GAIL and GSPC for an integrated petrochemical complex in Special Economic Zone (SEZ) under Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR) at Dahej, Gujarat.
ii. The petrochemical plant has been set up an investment of Rs 30,000 crore and will produce 14 lakh metric tonnes of polymers such as linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), high density polyethylene (HDPE), polypropylene (PP) and 5 lakh metric tonnes of chemicals such as benzene, butadiene, and pyrolysis gasoline.
iii. Besides, Modi also inaugurated a national convention of women sarpanch on the occasion of International Women’s Day in Gandhinagar. He also laid the foundation stone for a bus port in Baruch.

Destination North East 2017 Festival Held in Chandigarh
i. The three day long ‘Destination North East-2017’ festival was inaugurated in Chandigarh on March 6, 2017 by the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Dr. Jitendra Singh.
ii. This was the first time that the event was organized outside Delhi. Chandigarh was selected to host the festival to expose the people of Chandigarh and other parts of North India to know about North East and investment opportunities in the region.
iii. The ‘Destination North East-2017’ was organized by Ministry of DoNER to showcase North East as a potential destination for investment and highlight the rich traditions and customs of the region.
iv. The main focus of the event was the ‘3 H Mission’ that is Horticulture, Handicraft and Handlooms with the objective to use appropriate technologies in all sectors of development for North Eastern Region
v. Among the main highlights of Destination North East, 2017, round table discussions, sessions and B2B meeting was organized.
vi. Some of the important topic of discussions included Exploring Tourism Potential on North East India, Appropriate technologies for North East India, Agriculture & Food processing, Organic farming, Bamboo development in North East India, Medicinal  & Aromatic plants of North East India, Roadmap for Technology interventions in North East India and Handloom, Apparel and Handicrafts of North East India.

International Yoga Fest Began in New Delhi on March 8, 2017
The International Yoga Festival was inaugurated on March 8, 2017 by the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu in New Delhi.
♦ The two-day long event has been organized by the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga in association with the Indian Yoga Associations.
Key Highlights of the Festival
i. More than 3,500 participants including eminent yoga gurus, yoga masters, scholars, policy makers and representatives from 15-18 countries are participating in the mega event.
ii. It will include parallel yoga workshop, lectures, Satsang, cultural programmes and yoga demos.
iii. Besides, exhibition will be held consisting of more than 50 stalls to showcase books, DVDs, yoga appliances and other yoga related products.
iv. A half-day seminar will also be conducted on Life Sketch and contributions of two Yoga gurus namely Swami Ved Bharati and T.K.V. Desikachar for the promotion and development of Yoga.

Delhi Government Presents Rs. 48,000 crore Budget for 2017-18
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Government of Delhi presented Rs 48,000 crore tax-free budget for 2017-18 on March 8, 2017 with main focus on improving education, transport, health and water distribution.
♦ Presenting the budget, Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Manish Sisodia informed that the government has also done away with the Plan and non-Plan expenditure.
Highlights of the Budget
i. 2017-18 budget is Rs. 1,400 crore more than 2016-17 budget which was Rs. 46,600 crore
ii. Delhi’s contribution to the country’s GDP has increased from 3.94 per cent in 2011-12 to 4.08 per cent in 2016-17.
iii. Major share of the budget allocation has been made to the education sector.
iv. The number of beds in Government hospitals will be increased from 10,000 to 25,000 targets in upcoming financial year.
v. VAT on Aviation Turbine Fuel will be brought down from 25 per cent to 1 per cent for flights to remote areas such as North Eastern states to compliment Centre’s regional connectivity scheme.
vi. Propose to set up 150 mohalla clinics by 2017 and 150 polyclinics by the end of 2018
vii. Increase in old age pension by Rs. 1,000 per month
viii. Increased the minimum wages of the unskilled workers from Rs 9,724 to Rs 13,350 per month.
ix. Increased the minimum wages by 37 per centDelhi Budget
x. Number of pollution monitoring centres to be increased from 6 to 26
Important Allocations
i. Education: Rs 11,300 crore (24 percent of total budget)
ii. Health Sector: Rs 5,736 crore
iii. Water sector: Rs 2,107.9 crore
iv. Yamuna Cleaning and sanitation: Rs. 2,108 crore
v. Urban Development: Rs 3,100 crore
vi. Power Sector: Rs 2,194 crore with focus on solar energy and waste-to-energy plants.
vii. Delhi Metro: Rs 1,156 crore for phase four. Government also proposes to buy 582 new coaches for Delhi Metro.
viii. Developing bus terminals and depots: Rs 100 crore
ix. Civic bodies: Rs 7,571 crore (15 percent of the total allocation)
x. Housing and slums: Rs 3,113 crore
xi. Tourism and culture: Rs 119 crore
xii. Computers in Delhi government schools & Tablets for teachers: Rs 182 crore
xiii. Environment department: Rs 57 crore
xiv. Delhi Commission for Women (DCW): Rs 120 crore.
xv. Forests’ and environment welfare: Rs.106 crore


India Has Highest Bribery Rate Among 16 Asia-Pacific Nations: Transparency International Survey
i. According to the Global Corruption Barometer for the Asia Pacific Region released by Transparency International on March 7, in Berlin for 16 Asia Pacific countries, India tops the list for being the most corrupt nation.
ii. According to the survey, about 69 percent of the population in India paid bribe to get their work done.
iii. India was followed by Vietnam (65%), Thailand (41%), Cambodia, Pakistan and Myanmar, each with 40%.
iv. Besides, China (26%) was one of the least corrupt nations and it was the lowest in Japan (0.2%).

Vice President Hamid Ansari Attends IORA Summit in Jakarta
Vice President Hamid Ansari was on a two-day visit to Indonesia to attend the 21-nation Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia from March 6-7, 2017.
♦ Theme: ‘Strengthening Maritime Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous Indian Ocean’
ICORA♦ During the meet of the 21 IORA nation, Ansari laid emphasis on connectivity, open maritime trade and rights of navigation as well as cooperation among the think tanks of the member countries for strategies to meet the conventional and non-conventional threats.
♦ He urged Indian Ocean Rim Association states to show zero tolerance towards state sponsored terrorism and impose strong sanctions on the promoters and financiers of the menace.
♦ The member nations also stressed on the need to work together in order to eliminate the growth and spread of terrorism and violent extremism in society.
Key Highlights of the Summit
During the Summit, Indian Ocean Rim Association adopted four documents to make Indian Ocean peaceful, stable, and prosperous region. Theses include:
i. The Declaration on Preventing and Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism
1.IORA Concord
2.IORA Action Plan
3.Joint Declaration of the IORA business Community to Build Partnership for a Sustainable and Equitable Economic Growth.
ii. The Declaration on Preventing and Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism is an agreement of the IORA member states about the importance of countering terrorism.
iii. The IORA Concord, also called Jakarta Concord, is a strategic document containing the vision and norms of the future of cooperation among the member countries with an aim of strengthening the regional architecture to face its challenges.
iv. The IORA Action Plan is a document containing the implementation actions of the Jakarta Concord. It also strengthens the implementation of priority areas and cross-sectoral commitments.
Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Members
♦ The 21 nation IORA association comprises India, Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
♦ Besides, it also has seven Dialogue Partners namely the US, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Japan and the UK.


ESAF Microfinance Issues Commercial Paper Worth Rs 330 crore
i. ESAF Microfinance Company has issued Commercial Papers (CP) worth Rs.330 crore. Private Sector Banks and NBFCs can subscribe for the CP.
ii. The papers are rated A1 by CARE ratings. The proceeds from CP will be used for short term funding needs of the organization.
iii. ESAF Microfinance is also the first company from Kerala to receive the license to open the small finance bank. ESAF Small Finance Bank will be opened on March 17, 2017.
iv. The bank will give loans for farming, small businesses, housing and education. It will also have a spectrum of deposit options for all customers including non-resident Indians
v. The company hopes to start operations with a network of around 85 branches and 300 plus customer touch points in the first year of operations.
About Commercial Papers
♦ Commercial Paper (CP) is an unsecured money market instrument issued in the form of a promissory note with maturity period spanning usually 7 days to 365 days.
♦ It was introduced in India in 1990 to enable highly rated corporate borrowers to diversify their sources of short-term borrowings and to provide an additional instrument to investors.
♦ Corporate, primary dealers (PDs) and the All-India Financial Institutions (FIs) are eligible to issue CP.

IDFC Launches Biometric Based Payment System Aadhaar Pay
i. IDFC Bank has launched India’s first biometric-based payment system “Aadhaar Pay” on March 7, 2017 in New Delhi.
ii. The Aadhaar Pay app has been developed by IDFC Bank under the guidance of the Ministry of IT, NITI Aayog, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).IDFC
iii. The android app will use the fingerprint of the customer as digital identity. Customers simply need to select their bank’s name and enter their Aadhaar number in the merchant’s phone.
iv .The customer’s fingerprint is then used to authenticate the transaction. Customers themselves do not need a Smartphone to complete the transaction.
v. The bank has targeted to cover about 50,000-75,000 merchant to the Aadhaar pay module by 2019 and touching 1,00,000 merchants over the next 36 months.
vi. Initially, the biometric reader is available for Rs 2,000.
Benefits of Aadhaar Pay
i. Eliminates the need to use debit or credit cards, download mobile applications, or even carry a mobile to make cashless transactions
ii. Eliminates the need to remember the passwords or account numbers
iii. Empowers individuals even without a phone to pay electronically for small value transactions
iv. Aadhaar Pay is expected to encourage digital payments even in rural area.
IDFC Bank Ltd.
♦ Founded: October, 2015
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
♦ Managing Director & CEO: Dr. Rajiv B. Lall

Karur Vysya Bank launches 3 technology services
Karur based Karur Vysya Bank’ s Chief Executive K. Venkataraman has rolled-out of three technology services FASTag, UPI and BBPS on March 8, 2017.
i. FASTag :
♦ The FASTag service has been launched in association with the Indian Highways Management Company, a subsidiary of National Highways Authority of India.
♦  The preloaded tags affixed on vehicles are valid at all toll plazas throughout the country.
ii. UPI app :
United Payments Interface (UPI) is a mobile app that enables inter-bank transfer of funds. The transfer is effected through the IMPS (Immediate Payment Service) platform of NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India).
iii. BBPS :
BBPS (Bharat Bill Payment System) will make utility bill payments such as electricity bills, water charges and gas cylinders, among others, at a single site instead of accessing multiple sites.

SBI launches ‘Work from Home’ facility for employees
i. Mumbai based State Bank of India has launched a new facility ‘Work from Home’ to enable its employees to work from home on March 7, 2017
ii. Aim: To enable its employees to work while at home using mobile devices to address any urgent requirement they may have, that prevents their travelling to work.
iii. This facility was launched after ‘Work from Home’ policy was recently approved by the Board of the bank.
iv. The lender will be using mobile computing technologies and shall have continuous control over all the enabled devices centrally to manage and secure the data and applications on the mobile devices.
v. The use of technology and services shall be monitored through carefully designed MIS and dashboard to enable improvements and refinements.


CBDT signs another APA with subsidiary of a Japanese Company taking the total APAs entered into by the CBDT to 141
i. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has entered into a bilateral Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) with rollback provision with a Japanese subsidiary on 6th March, 2017.
CBDTii. The bilateral signing of APAs in this sector provides tax certainty up to nine years in each of these cases.
iii. With this the total number of APAs has increased to 141 and the total number of bilateral APAs with Japanese subsidiaries has reached five.
Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) :
♦ An advance pricing agreement (APA) is an ahead-of-time agreement between a taxpayer and a tax authority on an appropriate transfer pricing methodology (TPM) for a set of transactions at issue over a fixed period of time
♦ India has signed its first batch of five advance pricing agreements (APAs) with multinational companies in 2014


List of Winners of BCCI Annual Award 2017
i. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the “BCCI Annual Awards for 2015-16” on March 1, 2017. The awards were given away at a ceremony held in Bangaluru March 8, 2017 which also marks the International Women’s Day.
ii. Indian Skipper Virat Kohli was honored with the Polly Umrigar Award for third time. Earlier he received the award in 2011-12 and 2014-15. None of the player has ever achieved same award for three times.
iii. Besides, R Ashwin was awarded the Dilip Sardesia Award for the second time for his brilliant performance in test cricket in 2016. He is also the only one to be awarded twice.
iv. Vaman Viswanath Kumar and late Ramakant Desai were given the BCCI Special Award in recognition of their yeoman services to Indian Cricket


D. Bala Venkatesh Varma concurrently accredited as the Ambassador of India to Andorra    
i. IFS officer, D. Bala Venkatesh Varma has been concurrently accredited as the next Ambassador of lndia to the Principality of Andorra, with residence in Madrid (Spain).
ii. Venkatesh was presently working as the ambassador of lndia to the Kingdom of Spain.
Andorra :
♦ Capital: Andorra la Vella
♦ Currency: Euro


Environment Minister launches Web Portal for obtaining CRZ Clearances
i. Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Anil Madhav Dave, launched the web Environment Minister launches Web Portal for obtaining CRZ Clearancesportal for obtaining Coastal Regulation Zone clearances in New Delhi.
ii.The interactive Portal is for obtaining clearances required from the Ministry under the “Coastal Regulation Zone” (CRZ) by the Project proponents which Minister also termed the launch of the portal as a good example of ‘Ease of Doing Business’.
iii. The portal will enable the Project proponents and the concerned State/Union Territory bodies like the State Coastal Zone Management Authorities (SCZMAs) and Municipal/Town Planning agencies in tracking the status of their proposals.

CBSE introduces Exam Locator app to help students
i. The Central Board of Secondary Education has come up with a mobile application named Exam Locator, which will help students locate their examination centre on the basis of their roll number.
ii. Using this App student can easily find the address, images and geolocation of the designated exam centre on the map and get to know how to reach there.
iii. This development comes amid exams are round the corner for class X or XII examinees who can access information by selecting the option class and entering their roll number.

The Fifth Satellite Of Sentinel Series Launched By Europe
i. Sentinel-2B satellite developed by European Space Agency (ESA) was launched on March 7, 2017 as a part of European Union Copernicus environmental monitoring system. The satellite weighing 1.1 tonne was lifted into the orbit from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 01:49 GMT on 7 March using a Vega rocket.
ii. Copernicus is an earth observation programme that will provide accurate, timely and The Fifth Satellite Of Sentinel Series Launched By Europeeasily accessible information about the earth and its climate. The Copernicus programme was earlier known by the name Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme, previously known as GMES. It is a joint initiative of European Commission (EC) and the European Space Agency (ESA).
iii. Sentinels is a family of satellites developed by  European Space Agency (ESA). Sentinel-2B is the fifth in the series of Sentinel satellite that has been launched till date. Sentinel-1A was launched on 3 April 2014 and Sentinel-1B on 25 April 2016. Sentinel-2A was launched on 23 June 2015. Sentinel-3A was launched on 16 February 2016.
iv. This Sentinel -2 mission will help in improving agricultural practices by mapping changes in land cover. It will also monitor world′s forest and detect pollution in lakes and coastal waters. Apart from this it will also contribute to disaster management by providing images of floods, volcanic eruptions and landslides.
v. With the help of Sentinel-2B satellite now the time taken to image the earth will reduce to 5 days. It can capture colored image of earth. ESA is planning to two more satellites to the constellation in the next months; the two are Sentinel-5P and Sentinel-3B.
vi. A funding of more than 8 billion euros ($9 billion) until 2020 has been committed to the mission by The European Union and the ESA


India launches phase-out plan of the harmful refrigerant HCFC
i. In a bid to adhere to its global commitment on Global warming India launched the country’s latest plan to phase­out one of the key refrigerants ­ Hydrochlorofluorocarbon. The HCFC is being used in various sectors including refrigeration, air­conditioning and foam manufacturing
ii. Upon this development which aimed to end use of harmful ozone ­depleting substances (ODS) by switching over to non­ozone depleting and low global warming potential technologies.
iii. The goal of the plan is phase out consumption and manufacturing of this ozone­ depleting refrigerant by 2030. The complete timeline is meant for the 2017­23 period.
iv. A multilateral fund, set up under the Protocol, has approved USD 44.1 million for India’s HCFC management plan for the 2017­23 period, the fund will help in switching over to other alternatives.


OPPO wins Indian team sponsorship rights till 2022
i. Chinese smartphone manufacturer OPPO Mobiles has bagged the Indian team sponsorship rights for a five-year period starts on 1st April 2017 and continues until 31st March 2022,
ii. The Mobiles major will cough out INR 1079 crore  for the duration of their contract having beaten the only other bid of INR 768 crore (approx USD 115 million) from Vivo, another smartphone manufacturer.
iii. The minimum reserve price was set by the Indian Cricket administrator BCCI at INR 538 crore. The existing team sponsor, Star India, whose contract expires on March 31
iv. OPPO’s was will release INR 4.61 crore per match for bilateral series and INR 1.51 crore per match for ICC sponsored tournaments.
v. The sponsorship rights bring with them the opportunity to display a commercial logo on the men’s, women’s, Under-19 and A teams’ kits.

Ashwin, Jadeja jointly ranked number one in ICC Test rankings
i. Indian Spin duos Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin jointly claimed at No.1 in the ICC rankings for Test bowlers in what is the first time of two spinners the top spot. Both stood at the Ashwin, Jadeja jointly ranked number one in ICC Test rankingstop at 892 points.
ii. After Jadeja’s heroics show seven wickets, including a first-innings six-for, in the second Test against Australia helped him occupy the top rank and assured India the No.1 spot.
iii. However in batting ranking Test batsmen, Virat Kohli lost his second spot to Joe Root after managing only 40 in his last two Tests. Steven Smith maintained his reign at the top for the 77th Test.


International Women’s Day Observed on March 8, 2017
i. International Women’s Day is celebrated by the Governments, NGOs and other Organizations worldwide on March 8 every year since 1900 to highlight the achievements of women in all fields ranging from political to social while calling for greater equality.
ii. The theme adopted by the United Nation for 2017 is Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030. 
iii. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Swachh Shakti 2017 – A Convention of Women Sarpanches, at Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
iv. President Pranab Mukherjee gave away the Nari Shakti Puraskars at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on March 8, 2017.
v. The Union Textiles Minister Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani has announced ‘Kamaladevi Chattopadhya National Awards’, a new category of awards specially for women handloom weavers and women handicraft artisans.
vi. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports organized a day-long conference on ‘Women and Sports in India’ on March 8, 2017 to deliberate upon various issues for encouraging more and more women to take up sports.
vii. The Commonwealth has launched an initiative “Peace in the Home” to help the member states to deal with domestic violence that impacts the life of women.