Current Affairs March 16 2019

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Current Affairs March 16 2019INDIAN AFFAIRS

ISRO and IIT Roorkee signed an MoU to set up ISRO-IITR STC
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) of the Department of Space, Government of India, Bengaluru to set up an ISRO-IITR Space Technology Cell (STC) at IIT RoorkeeUttarakhand, with an aim to strengthen institutional interactions and thereby enhance the scope of the activities pursued under STC commensurate with the programmatic goals of ISRO.

ISRO and IIT Roorkee signed an MoU to set up ISRO-IITR STCi. The STC will ensure to maximise the use of research potential, infrastructure, expertise and experience that exist in ISRO and IIT Roorkee.
ii. The research facility will consist of faculty members, visiting scientists, experts, research personnel, technical, administrative and support staff.
iii. ISRO has been undertaking several student outreach programmes over the past few months in order to develop scientific temper among the country’s youth.
About ISRO
♦ Chairman – K. Sivan
♦ Headquarters – Bengaluru

Coordinated operation carried out by India and Myanmar against insurgents posing threat to Kaladan project
A coordinated operation was conducted by the armies of India and Myanmar from 17th February to 2nd March 2019 against insurgents in Myanmarese territory to avert a possible threat to the Kaladan multi-modal transit transport project.
i. The objective of the operation was to crack down on the members of the Arakan Army, an insurgent group in Myanmar, the members of which had also moved close to the international border along Mizoram.
ii. Setting up of camps by the insurgent groups was being viewed as a grave concern by armies of the two countries and the operation was also undertaken keeping in view the safety of Indian workers engaged in the project.
iii. After a series of meetings between personnel from both the countries, it was decided to carry out the coordinated operation.
iv. Additional troops were moved to the international border areas, besides deploying the Assam Rifles personnel. The Assam Rifles has the responsibility to guard the international border with Myanmar.
v. The Kaladan multi-modal transit transport project is being viewed as India’s gateway to the Southeast Asia. India entered into a framework agreement with Myanmar in April 2008 to facilitate implementation of the project. On completion, the project will help connect Mizoram with the Sittwe Port in Rakhine State of Myanmar.
About Myanmar (Burma)
♦ Capital – Naypyidaw
♦ Currency – Burmese kyat
♦ President – Win Myint
About Mizoram
♦ Capital – Aizawl
♦ Chief Minister – Zoramthanga
♦ Governor – Jagdish Mukhi

3rd edition of Namaste Thailand festival held in New Delhi
The 3rd edition of Namaste Thailand festival, organised by the Royal Thai Embassy with an aim to strengthen bilateral ties and increase cultural exchange between India and Thailand, began at Select Citywalk in New Delhi on 15th March 2019 and will conclude on 17th March 2019.

3rd edition of Namaste Thailand festivali. The festival will feature stage performances by Thai artistes including the much popular Thai folk-jazz band Asia-7.
ii. It will feature a series of Thai craft activities including mulberry paper mini umbrella making, fan painting, body paint, and button badge making along with the traditional Thai cuisines.
About Thailand
♦ Capital – Bangkok
♦ Currency – Thai baht
♦ Prime minister – Prayut Chan-o-cha

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Brazil hosted first BRICS Sherpa Meeting
On 15th March 2019, the first BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Sherpa meeting held in Curitiba, Brazil under the Presidency of Brazil. Indian delegation was led by Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs T S Tirumurti.

Brazil hosted first BRICS Sherpa MeetingKey Points
i. India during the meeting conveyed its support for the priority areas started by the Brazil which particularly take forward counter terrorism as a rising issue.
ii. Brazil will give priority to science, technology and innovation, New Development Bank, digital economy and BRICS Business Council. It will also give priority to countering transnational crime and terrorism.
iii. The marked meet the need to take forward people to people cooperation as well as cooperation in science and technology, innovation, health and traditional medicines.
iv. BRICS is a group of five emerging countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Earlier it was known as BRIC before South Africa joined the group.
About BRICS
♦ Headquarters – Shanghai, China
♦ President – K V Kamath

SCO’s RATS Council Meeting held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
On 16th March 2019, 34th Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisations (SCOs) Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) Council held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Key Points
i. A joint exercise ‘Sary – Arka – Antiterror 2019’ will be held as decided by the RATS in the session. India, Pakistan and other member nations will participate in the joint anti-terrorism exercise which will be held this year.
ii. The meeting was chaired by Russia. The meeting also decided to hold the first stage of joint border operation ‘Solidarity 2019 -2021.
iii. India and Pakistan entered the SCO in 2017 where China plays an influential role along with Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
iv. RATS promote cooperation of member states against terrorism, separatism and extremism. It is a permanent organ of the SCO.
About Regional Anti- Terrorist Structure (RATS)
♦ Headquarters – Tashkent, Uzbekistan

India captained resolutions on single-use plastics and sustainable nitrogen management at UN Environment Assembly
On 16th March 2019, the 4th session of United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) held in Nairobi, Kenya where the India piloted resolutions on single-use plastics and sustainable nitrogen management. The theme of the 4th session of UNEA was Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable production and consumption.
Key Points
i. India hosted the High – Level Segment of UNEA which was a session on ‘Global Partnerships: Key to Unlocking Resource Efficiency and Inclusive Green Economies’.
ii. As the global nitrogen efficiency is low, it results in pollution which contributes to climate change and ozone depletion. Most of the plastics produced are of single-use which will damage the environment and aquatic bio-diversity.
iii. The availability of sufficient climate finance plays a key role in overcoming environmental challenges. The developed countries usually provide fund for climate action.
About United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA)
♦ Headquarters – Nairobi, Kenya
♦ Head – Joyce Msuya

India -US DTII meeting held in Washington
On 16th March 2019, 7th India – US Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTII) which focused on encouraging the United States and Indian industry to work together held in Washington DC, United States.
Key Points
i. The aim of the meeting is to transform the bilateral defence relationship into an independent strategic decision maker. It will strengthen India’s defence industrial base by making it more collaborative from the traditional buyer-seller.
ii. It seeks on a collaboration on science and technology by identifying opportunities for co-production, co-development and expand US- India business ties.
iii. DTII meeting is held twice in year alternately in India and United States. It seeks to overcome bureaucratic obstacles to cooperation.
iv. The US Department of Defence in 2015 established an exclusive India Rapid Reaction Cell to support the DTII.
About United States
♦ Capital – Washington DC
♦ Currency – Dollar
♦ President – Donald Trump

BANKING & FINANCE

SBI, ICICI and HDFC named as Systemically Important Banks by RBI
On 15th March 2019, Reserve Bank of India named State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank as Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs). The banks which are too big to fail are named by the RBI annually since 2015.
Key Points
i. D-SIB inclusion indicates that the failure of these banks would have a steep fall on Indian financial system. It will give more comfort to investors as the borrowing cost of these banks from the markets are cheaper than its peers.
ii. The banks are required to set aside more capital for their continued operation as per the norms by April 1.
iii. From April 1, SBI will have to set aside 0.60% of its risk weighted assets while ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank will set aside 0.20% as capital requirement.
About State Bank of India
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
♦ Chairman – Rajnish Kumar
About ICICI Bank
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
♦ MD and CEO – Sandeep Bakshi
About HDFC Bank
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
♦ MD – Aditya Puri

SBI introduced “YONO Cash” for cardless ATM withdrawal
The State Bank of India has launched a new service called ‘YONO Cash’ for its customers using which customers can withdraw money from ATMs without using debit cards.YONO – You Only Need One.

SBI launches cardless ATM withdrawal with YONO CashKey Point:
i. This facility is available over 16,500 of its ATMs through the You Only Need One (YONO), mobile app platform for the first time in the country. The ATMs enabled for this service will be called as YONO Cash Point.
ii. Customers can initiate the cash withdrawal process on the YONO app and set a six-digit YONO Cash pin for the transaction. Also, they will get a six digit reference number for the transaction on their registered mobile number via SMS, which has to be used within 30 minutes at the nearest YONO cash point.
iii. Transactions using YONO  will be secured with two-factor authentication and will also eliminate the risk of skimming and cloning, at the same time it also maximizes convenience and enhances the banking experience for its customers.

RBI issues guidelines to prevent market abuse
On 16th March 2019, The Reserve Bank of India has declared some guidelines to stop misuse of price-sensitive information by the participants in markets for financial instruments.

RBI issues guidelines to prevent market abuseKey point:
i. RBI mentioned that  Market participants, either acting independently or in collusion, shall not undertake any action with the intention to manipulate the calculation of a benchmark rate or a reference rate.
ii. In addition, no market participant would carry out a transaction or initiate any action with the sole or dominant intention of influencing a benchmark rate or a reference rate.
iii. For, regulatory action on market abuse, the RBI said market participants indulging in any such activity are liable to be denied access to markets in one or more instruments for a period that may not exceed one month at a time.
iv. All these directions, the RBI added, would exclude transactions executed through the recognized stock exchanges. In addition, the directions would not apply to banks and the central government in furtherance of monetary policy, fiscal policy or other public policy objectives.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Microsoft launched Project ‘Sangam’ to boost India’s Swachh Bharat Mission
On 8th March 2019, Microsoft has announced that it has partnered with The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to promote its Project ‘Sangam’ which is developed to accelerate Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) in India. It is one of the world’s largest Cleanliness Programme.
Key Points
i. The Microsoft’s Project Sangam is a cloud-hosted, mobile-first community learning platform. It trained over 110000 municipal functionaries across over 4000 cities on Swachh Bharat e-Learning Portal.
ii. The aim of Swachh Bharat Mission is to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India’s urban and rural areas.

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Manmohan Singh presented the BusinessLine Changemaker Of The Year award to Arun Jaitley for introducing Goods and Services Tax (GST)
On March 15, 2019, the former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh presented the second edition of BusinessLine Changemaker Of The Year award to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, for successfully introducing the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Arun Jaitley for introducing Goods and Services Tax (GST)Key point
i. The Union Finance Minister, Mr Jaitley accepted the award from Dr Singh on the behalf of the GST Council at The BusinessLine Changemaker Awards ceremony at the Leela Palace, New Delhi.
ii. The awards were given in five categories:

CategoryWinner
Changemaker-Social TransformationSridhar Vembu, founder of Zoho
Changemaker-Digital TransformationZMQ Development
Changemaker-Financial TransformationBandhan Bank
Young ChangemakerSrikanth Bolla, Foundre of  Bollant Industries
Iconic ChangemakerDr Rani Bang & Dr Abhay Bang
Changemaker of the yearNational Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)

About (Goods and Services Tax) GST
GST Bill was first introduced in 2014 as The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill and got an approval in 2016. It is a comprehensive indirect tax on manufacture, sale, and consumption of goods and services for the whole nation. GST have been categorized under four tax slabs, which are 5%, 12%,18%, and 28%.

Swati Shingade conferred with first prize of DD Mahila Kisan Award
Swati Shingade of Pune, has bagged the first prize of DD Mahila Kisan Award for 2018-19.
i. A Surya Prakash, the Chairman Prasar Bharati, gave this award to Ms Swati Shingade at a grand finale event organized by DD Kisan Channel in New Delhi.
ii. The Kisan Channel has provided a platform to the women farmers and the main purpose of the channel is to make aware the people about the various schemes of the government.

Kathak dancer Seema Mehta conferred with Nari Shakti Puraskar by the President
President Ram Nath Kovind awarded the ‘Nari Shakti Puraskar‘ to the renowned Kathak dancer Seema Mehta for her contribution towards women empowerment over the last 15 years,at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi as part of the Women’s Day celebrations.

Seema Mehta conferred with Nari Shakti Puraskar by the Presidenti. She began her journey in Kathak and set up her dance school in Mumbai in 2010.
She is the Director of ‘Chhandam Nritya Bharati‘ in Mumbai and was actively involved in promotion of Kathak dance form.
About Kathak
♦ State of Origin – Uttar Pradesh
♦ One of the 8 major forms of Indian classical dance.
♦ Found in 3 distinct forms, called “Gharanas”, named after the cities where the Kathak dance tradition evolved – Jaipur, Banaras and Lucknow.

Tata, Reliance and Airtel ranked as top 3 Indian brands of 2019
A recent report by brand consultancy Interbrand, a division of Omnicom Group, TataReliance and Airtel are the top three Indian brands of 2019, with Tata holding the top position as its brand value grew by 6%, mainly due to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

Tata, Reliance and Airtel ranked as top 3 Indian brands of 2019i. Reliance took the second position as its brand value grew by 12%, mainly due to the success of Jio.
ii. Following Airtel at number three, HDFC Bank, LIC, State Bank of India, Infosys, Mahindra, ICICI Bank and Godrej rounded off the top 10 list.
iii. Kishore Biyani-owned Big Bazaar grabbed the 33rd spot with Rs.26.86 billion, along with supermarket chain DMart at 37 with Rs.20.15 billion.
iv. Along with Big Bazaar and DMart, Nerolac Paints, which came in at 39 with a brand value of Rs.19.19 billion, were the three new entrants in this year’s ranking.
v. The Interbrand’s annual ranking is based on three key components — financial performance, the brand’s role in influencing customer choice and strength, and the premium price that the brand commands.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Anurag Bhushan named as next High Commissioner of India to Malawi
Anurag Bhushan (Indian Foreign Service: 1995 cadre), presently Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, has been appointed as the next High Commissioner of India to the Republic of Malawi.He will succeed Mr. Vanlalhuma.
i.The High Commission of India in Malawi re-opened after a period of about 20 years. So, on 21 June 2013 Mr. Vanlalhuma assumed charge on 21 June 2013 and relinquished its services on 13 June 2016. Since then the position was vacant.
About Malawi
♦ Capital – Lilongwe
♦ Currency – Kwacha
♦ President – Peter Mutharika

Santosh Jha has been designated as the Indian Ambassador to Republic of Uzbekistan
Santosh Jha (Indian Foreign Service:1993 cadre), presently Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Washington, has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Uzbekistan.
i. He will be succeeding Mr. Vinod Kumar.
About Uzbekistan
♦ Capital – Tashkent
♦ Currency – Uzbekistani soʻm
♦ President – Shavkat Mirziyoyev

Centre has named Ms Padmaja as the next High Commissioner of India to the Republic of Fiji
On 15th March 2019,Ms. Padmaja has been appointed as the next High Commissioner of India to the Republic of Fiji.She will succeed Vishvas Sapkal.
At Present, Ms. Padmaja working as Deputy Director General of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
About Fiji
♦ Capital: Suva
♦ Currency: Fijian dollar
♦ President: Jioji Konrote
♦ Prime Minister: Frank Bainimarama

ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS

RBI has given its approval to Bandhan Bank to acquire Gruh Finance
On 14th March 2019, Reserve Bank of India provided a no objection to Kolkata headquartered Bandhan Bank for the proposed acquisition of Gruh Finance.

Bandhan Bank Gets RBI Nod to Acquire Gruh FinanceKey Points
i. Gruh Finance Limited,a Ahmedabad headquartered Subsidiary of HDFC Limited, is a Housing Finance Company (HFC) recognized by the National Housing Bank (NHB) and it was taken over in January by Kolkata-based Bandhan Bank in a share-swap deal.
ii. Based on this approval, Bandhan Bank has to transfer 14.9 per cent stake to HDFC for merging with Gruh Finance.
iii. The ratio for this amalgamation will be 568 shares of Bandhan Bank for every 1000 shares of Gruh Finance.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Scientists at UT developed solar-powered device that creates water from thin air
Researchers led by Guihua Yu from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, USA have developed a novel solar-powered harvesting system that absorbs moisture from the air and converts it into clean, usable water. The technology is described in the journal Advanced Materials and could be used in disaster situations, water crises or poverty-stricken areas and developing countries.
i. It relies on hydrogels, gel-polymer hybrid materials designed to be “super sponges” that can retain large amounts of water. The researchers used hydrogels that are both highly water absorbent and can release water upon heating.
ii. With an estimated 50,000 cubic kilometers of water contained in the atmosphere, this new system could tap into those reserves and potentially lead to small, inexpensive and portable filtration systems.

Election Commission launched “Observer App” for observers
On 14th March 2019, The Election Commission has launched a mobile application ‘Observer App’ through which the Electoral Observers can submit the relevant document and material to Election Commission directly.
Key Points
i. The app will provide notifications, urgent messages and alerts to the poll observers. It will also help to get their deployment status, download the ID card and update their profile.
ii. A written observation can be made by the observer to the election commission through the app, after the flying squads investigate the matter.
iii. ‘cVIGIL’ is a mobile application also launched by Election Commission of India and it allowed the citizens to report on violation of model code of conduct. 

ENVIRONMENT

IITs, IISc and SDc collaborated for climate change vulnerability assessment for Indian Himalayan region
Indian Institute of Technology- Guwahati, Mandi, and Indian Institute of Science Bengaluru, Department of Science (DST) have joined hands with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to develop a climate change vulnerability assessment for the Indian Himalayan region using a common framework called as the National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE).

climate risks faced by States in Indiai.The collaboration has been made on the lines of 2018 U.N. climate change conference held in Poland that found the Indian Himalayan region vulnerable to climate change.
ii. In this assessment, the Indian Himalayan region is comprised of 12 Himalayan states namely Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, hilly districts of West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.
iii. These comparable vulnerability assessments will be competent for govt, researchers and organizations by enabling them to assess which state is more vulnerable, what has made them vulnerable and how they might address these vulnerabilities.

Cyclone Idai hit the port city of Beira
On 14th March 2019, Cyclone Idai hit the Mozambique city of Beira and caused heavy rain and landfall at the port city. The 50000 people living at the port city are now without electricity and communication have been severed.Cyclone Idaii.More than 100 people have been killed by the heavy rains and storm of up to 177 km/h (106 mph) in the Mozambique and Malawi. The Cyclone is now heading towards Zimbabwe.

OBITUARY

Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy passed away at the age of 68 years
Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy, YSR Congress party leader and former Andhra Pradesh Minister was found dead at his home here under suspicious circumstances. He was 68 years old.He hailed from Pulivendula, Andhra Pradesh.
i. Forensic reports have confirmed that he was murdered by being stabbed to death. A preliminary post-mortem report found seven stab wounds on his body.
ii. He was elected from the Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency on Congress ticket in 1999 and 2004. He was twice elected to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly (1989, 1994) from Pulivendula.
iii. He was also elected to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council in 2009 and served as Agriculture Minister in Kiran Kumar Reddy’s cabinet.
iv. He is survived by his wife and a daughter.

IMPORTANT DAYS

National Vaccination Day 2019 observed on 16th March
The National Vaccination Day was observed on 16th March 2019 to eradicate polio.On this day in 1995, the first dose of oral vaccine against polio was given in India.
i. The main purpose behind this celebration is to make people aware of polio and eradicating polio completely from the world. For this reason, millions of children in India are given immunization against polio with the polio vaccine.

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