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  • W.B.C.S Current Affairs 09 March 2019 to 16 March 2019.
    Posted on March 22nd, 2019 in Weekly Current Affairs
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    W.B.C.S Current Affairs 09 March 2019 to 16 March 2019.

    1) The Quality of Living Index 2019 was released by the Consulting Agency Mercer. The index was based on the data analysed between September and November 2018. The index ranks 231 cities. Quality of Living Index 2019: Austrian capital Vienna tops the Mercer’s index of most liveable cities for the 10th year in a row. Vienna was closely followed by Zurich in Switzerland. Auckland, Munich, and Vancouver came in joint third. San Francisco with the ranking of 34 was named the best city to live in in the U.S. London with a ranking of 41st was the best city in the UK on Mercer’s scale. Singapore with a ranking of 25th has held onto its status as Asia’s most livable city. Uruguay’s capital Montevideo was the highest ranked city in South America. Port Louis, Mauritius, was Africa’s top city. Baghdad ranked last, followed by Bangui in the Central African Republic and Yemen’s capital Sanaa. Indian Cities in the List- Chennai topped the list among the Indian cities with a rank of 105. Bengaluru was the second best with the ranking of 149. Mumbai with the ranking of 154 stood third among Indian cities. The capital of India, New Delhi ranked at 162 in Mercer’s Quality Of Living Index. The index is based on 39 factors such as access to public transport and traffic congestion levels, availability of housing and international schools city’s cultural scene which are grouped under 10 heads like “political and social environment”, “recreation”.Continue Reading W.B.C.S Current Affairs 09 March 2019 to 16 March 2019.

    2) The Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the setting up of National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage and Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant will be the head the steering committee. Mandate of the Mission: The Mission will recommend and drive the strategies for transformative mobility and Phased Manufacturing Programmes for Electric Vehicles and its Components and Batteries. The National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage will determine the contours of Phased Manufacturing Program (PMP) which will be launched to localize production across the entire EV value chain. The Mission will finalise the value addition that can be achieved with each phase of localisation with a clear Make in India strategy for the electric vehicle components as well as battery. The Mission will coordinate with key stakeholders in Ministries/ Departments and the states to integrate various initiatives to transform mobility in India. Impact of the Mission: The Mission will boost mobility solutions that will bring in significant benefits to the industry, economy and country. These solutions proposed by the Mission will help improve air quality in cities along with reducing India’s oil import dependence and enhance the uptake of renewable energy and storage solutions. The Mission will lay down the strategy and roadmap which will enable India to leverage upon its size and scale to develop a competitive domestic manufacturing ecosystem for electric mobility. The Mission will promote ‘Ease of Living’ and enhance the quality of life of our citizens and also provide employment opportunities through ‘Make-in-India’ across a range of skillsets. The other members of the steering committee headed by the Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant are Secretaries from Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Power, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Heavy Industry, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, and Director General, Bureau of Industrial Standards.

    3) Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully test-fired indigenously designed and developed Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) in the deserts of Pokhran in Rajasthan. Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile: Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) incorporates many advanced features, including, image infrared radar (IIR) seeker with integrated avionics. MPATGM is a third-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), developed by DRDO in association with VEM Technologies Ltd. MPATGM is fitted with high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead. MPATGM has a top attack capability and has a maximum engagement range of about 2.5 kilometres. MPATGM capable of being fired from the shoulder and can be used during day and night. MPATGM are being developed to replace the French origin anti-tank guided missile Milan and Soviet semi-automatic wire-guided missile Konkur in service with Indian Army. The test trail at Rajasthan was the fourth overall development trial of the MPATGM.

    4) Africa-India Joint Field Training Exercise (AFINDEX-19) between the Indian Army and 16 African nations will be conducted in Pune from March 18 to 27. Features of AFINDEX-19: 10 personnel, each from the participating nations from the African continent and personnel of Maratha Light Infantry of the Indian Army will participate in the joint exercise. The joint exercise would be held at Pune’s Foreign Training Node at Aundh Military Station and College of Military Engineering in Kirkee. AFINDEX-19 aims to train the participating contingents in Humanitarian Mine Assistance (HMA) and Peace Keeping Operations (PKO) under the United Nations Charter through practical and comprehensive discussions and tactical exercises Contingents from Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Mozambique, Uganda, Niger & Zambia are part of the joint exercise together with officers from Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar as Observers. The joint exercise will also focus on achieving interoperability, learning each other’s methodologies and tactics through synchronised operational level planning and tactical level training. The joint exercise will also cover the dynamics of raising a Mission headquarters, nuances of establishing military observer team sites in disturbed AFINDEX-19 is expected to greatly facilitate sharing of Indian Armed Forces experiences in United Nations Peace Keeping operations with countries in Africa and shall significantly enhance relations with the African continent.

    5) Erode Turmeric has finally received GI tag from the Geographical Indication Registry after a long and cumbersome process which lasted for about 8 years. Erode is the city in the state of Tamil Nadu. Features of Erode Turmeric: The claim for the uniqueness of the Erode Turmeric highlighted the following characteristics- Mean length of the fingers of Erode turmeric was about 4.15cm. Mean circumference was about 3.03cm. Mean bulb length of the mother rhizome is about 4.54cm. Mean circumference is 6.54cm. Erode Turmeric is golden yellow in colour with resistance to pests after boiling. Erode turmeric contains 2.5 to 4.5% of curcumin content. Erode Turmeric is grown in hot moist conditions prevalent in the area with temperature ranging from 20 degrees to 37.9 degrees Celsius with an average of 600 to 800 mm rainfall in a year. Geographical Indication: Geographical Indication defines the goods as originating in the territory of a country or a region or locality in that territory, provided a given quality reputation or other characteristics of the product are attributable to its geographical origin. The product to acquire GI tag has to indicate that a product of a particular origin has a certain quality or reputation or some other characteristics, which is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

    6) Reeling under drought the government of Karnataka is planning for cloud seeding project to influence the upcoming monsoon and capture as much water as possible from the rain clouds. The government of Karnataka has called the tenders for cloud seeding operations to enhance rainfall during the monsoons of 2019 and 2020. The cost is expected to be Rs 50 cr per year. What is Cloud Seeding? Cloud Seeding is a process of intervening chemically to induce precipitation rain or snow from clouds. Rain occurs when moisture in the air reaches levels at which it can no longer be held. Cloud seeding aims to facilitate and accelerate the process by making available chemical ‘nuclei’ for condensation to take place. The agents used as nuclei are iodides of silver or potassium, dry ice (solid carbon dioxide), or liquid propane. Earlier Efforts of Karnataka: Karnataka had undertaken a similar exercise through Project Varshadhare in 2017. The project was seen as a successful as the data suggested that rainfall was enhanced by 27.9% and there was an extra inflow of 2.5 tmcft into Linganamakki reservoir. This was a huge success because due to procedural delays and inconsistent monsoon season, the two planes could only fly for 37 days. The results were able to address the scepticism about cloud seeding.

    7) The first shipment under the United Nations ‘Transports Internationaux Routiers’ (TIR) convention arrived in India from Afghanistan through Chabahar Port of Iran. What is Transports Internationaux Routiers’ Convention? The Transports Internationaux Routiers is an international Convention aimed at harmonising the administrative formalities of international road transport. The goods being moved through the TIR convention requires the goods to be outlined in a TIR carnet and sealed in load compartments. The customs officials only verify the carnet and check the seal without requiring physical checking of the contents. This enables shipments to pass through countries without being opened at borders. Reciprocal recognition of customs controls is at the heart of the TIR Convention. The convention enables a facilitative and non-intrusive environment for multi-modal transport of goods through several countries. India had joined the TIR Convention in 2017. Benefits of the Convention: The convention acts as a strong catalyst for moving goods using the multi-modal transportation route like Chabahar and International North-South Transport (INSTC) Corridor. The convention offers a great opportunity for the landlocked countries by providing seamless border crossing facilitation and intermodal capabilities. The convention further aids in the implementation of the Trade facilitation agreement of the World Trade Organisation. In India, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) has been appointed as the National Issuing & Guaranteeing Association.

    8) The Global Environment Outlook (GEO) is the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) flagship environmental assessment. The first publication was in 1997 and was originally requested by the Member States. The Global Environment Outlook Report 2019 is the sixth edition. Findings of the Report: The report notes that a quarter of all premature deaths and diseases worldwide are due to manmade pollution and environmental damage. The report warns that deadly emissions, chemicals polluting drinking water, and the accelerating destruction of ecosystems crucial to the livelihoods of billions of people are driving a worldwide epidemic that hampers the global economy. The report highlights the growing divide between rich and poor as rampant overconsumption, pollution and food waste in the developed world leads to hunger, poverty and disease elsewhere. The report notes that as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise amid a preponderance of droughts, floods and superstorms made worse by climbing sea levels, there is a growing political consensus that climate change poses a future risk to billions. The report expresses concern that the health impacts of pollution, deforestation and the mechanised food-chain are less well understood. The report notes that poor environmental conditions cause approximately 25% of global disease and mortality and resulted in around 9 million deaths in 2015 alone. Due to lack of access to clean drinking supplies, 1.4 million people die each year from preventable diseases such as diarrhoea and parasites linked to pathogen-riddled water and poor sanitation. The report notes that chemicals pumped into the seas causes potentially multi-generational adverse health effects, and land degradation through mega-farming and deforestation occurs in areas of Earth home to 3.2 billion people. The report states that air pollution causes 6-7 million early deaths annually. The report calls for a root-and-branch detoxifying of human behaviour while insisting that the situation is not unassailable. Food waste for instance, which accounts for 9% of global greenhouse gas emissions, could be slashed. The world currently throws away a third of all food produced. In richer nations, 56% goes to waste. The report makes a strong case for a rapid drawdown in greenhouse gas emissions and pesticide use to improve air and water quality. The report also notes lack of any international agreement for the environment close to covering what the 2015 Paris accord does for the climate.

    9) The government has warned twitter activists of 7-year jail term and financial penalties if failed to act to remove content and accounts that are ‘objectionable and inflammatory. The government has asked Twitter authorities to comply with the provisions under the Indian Information Technology Act or else it would face action under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. Section 69A of the Information Technology Act: Section 69A of the Information Technology Act empowers central government to- Issue directions to block the content on online platforms in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence. Intermediaries failing to comply with the direction issued could be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine. As India is heading towards Lok Sabha polls, the social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp have been directed to ensure the platforms are not used to undermine or influence the electoral process.

    10) The Forum of Young Global Leaders, the World Economic Forum’s foundation for remarkable leaders under 40 has released the list of Individuals with grit, foresight and potential to improve the state of the world for the year 2019. Indians in the List: Andhra Pradesh IT minister Nara Lokesh, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan, Xiaomi India head Manu Kumar Jain, Telangana government’s Chief Innovation Officer Phanindra Sama, SaveLife Foundation’s Piyush Tewari and Kaleidofin’s co-Founder Sucharita Mukherjee are the Indians featuring in the list of Young Global Leaders 2019. The list of Young Global Leaders 2019 has more than one-half of the new women members and many of the Young Global Leaders are from emerging economies. The Young Global Leaders reflect global diversity, innovate to promote the public interest and value authentic exchanges towards public-private cooperation. The of Young Global Leaders, the World Economic Forum’s foundation invites them to join a five-year programme, cultivating a generosity of spirit and the recognition that the world can only mirror our hopes if we work together. The Forum of Young Global Leaders, the World Economic Forum’s foundation for remarkable leaders under 40, was founded to fuel new models of leadership. Young Global Leaders participate in the Annual Meeting of the New Champions, established in 2007 and known informally as “Summer Davos”, alongside Global Growth Companies and other delegations to the World Economic Forum. Young Global Leaders are united by the belief that the urgent problems of today present an opportunity to forge a better future across sectors, generations and borders.

    11) The Indian Embassy in Nepal has announced 200 scholarships to meritorious Nepali students for continuing various undergraduate courses at colleges and universities. The scholarships were granted under the Golden Jubilee Scholarship scheme. Golden Jubilee Scholarship Scheme: Golden Jubilee Scholarship scheme was initiated by the Indian Embassy in Nepal to mark the completion of 50 years of India-Nepal Economic Cooperation. Initially started by providing scholarships to 50 students, the scholarship scheme has grown over the years. This year the scholarship programme covered 36 undergraduate courses including MBBS, BDS, BE, BSc and BBA. The recipients of the scholarships represent 50 districts of Nepal. Under the scheme, an MBBS/BDS student receives NRs. 4,000/- per month for five years, a BE student receives NRs. 4,000/- per month for four years and a student studying in other under-graduate courses receives NRs. 3,000/- per month for three years. Those provided scholarship included 45 per cent girls and 8 per cent differently-abled students. The students hail from 50 districts of Nepal. The scholarship is scheme is part of the government’s effort to support human resource development along with the overall socio-economic development of Nepal and its people.

    12) The Cabinet has approved the proposal to harmonise the classification systems for examination of trademark and design applications, in line with the systems, followed globally. As a step forward in this direction the cabinet gas approved India’s accession for the following agreements: Nice Agreement on the International classification of goods and services for the purposes of registration of marks. Vienna Agreement for setting up an International classification of the figurative elements of marks. Locarno Agreement for establishing an International classification for industrial designs. Benefits of the Accession: The accession will help the Intellectual Property Office in India to harmonise the classification systems for examination of trademark and design applications, in line with the classification systems, followed globally. The accession would give an opportunity to include Indian designs, figurative elements and goods in the international classification systems. The accession is expected to instil confidence in foreign investors in relation to the protection of IPs in India. The accession would facilitate in exercising rights in decision-making processes regarding review and revision of the classifications under the agreement. The accession is part of the government’s commitment to strengthen the Indian Intellectual property regime.

    13) The statistics of the Inter-Parliamentary Union highlight the following aspects about the Women in Politics: The percentage of female elected heads of state dropped from 7.2 per cent to 6.6 per cent from 2017 to 2018. The percentage of female heads of government dropped from 5.7 per cent to 5.2 per cent from 2017 to 2018. The global share of women in parliament increased by nearly one percentage point from 2017 to 2018, to 24.3 per cent. It took 25 years to get to 24.3 per cent from 11 per cent in 1995. The Inter-Parliamentary Union notes that despite some positive movement, the overwhelming majority of government leaders remain male and there has been a “serious regression” in the political power of women across the world in recent years. Inter-Parliamentary Union: Inter-Parliamentary Union established in 1889 is a global inter-parliamentary institution. Initially, the organization was for individual parliamentarians but has since transformed into an international organization of the parliaments of sovereign states.

    14) China has again blocked the bid to designate Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed Chief Azhar Masood as a global terrorist in the United Nations Security Council 1267 list. The proposal was moved by France the UK and the US on February 27, on the backdrop of Pulwama Terror Attack. Just before the deadline for filing of the objections was about to end, China which is the permanent member of the United Nations Permanent Council filed the objection. Implications of the listing by the 1267 Sanctions committee- The 1267 and Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee was established under the UNSC resolution 1267. The listing would have resulted in: Assets freeze- The Asset Freeze mandates all states to freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets or economic resources of designated individuals and entities. Travel ban- The travel ban implies preventing the entry of designated individuals into or transit by all states through their territories. Arms embargo- Arms embargo requires all states to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer from their territories or by their nationals outside their territories, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related material of all types, spare parts, and technical advice, assistance, or training related to military activities, to designated individuals and entities. The mandatory restrictions would have severely impacted and curtailed the activities of the Azhar Masood who is the head of the banned outfit JeM and would have forced Pakistan to act against him. Reports also note that China is aiming to maintain the status quo and truce with the JeM by blocking the list in an attempt to secure the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

    15) A study in China has shown that Air pollution raises diabetes risk in China. The findings of the study were based on the data collected from over 88,000 people across 15 provinces, estimating their exposure to PM2.5 based on satellite data from 2004 to 2015. The study was conducted by researchers from Fuwai Hospital in Beijing and Emory University in the US and was published online by journal Environment International. Findings of the Study: Long-term exposure to harmful smog particles increases the risk of diabetes, The study provides evidence for a link between the country’s air pollution and the disease. Increased prosperity has resulted in changing diets and lifestyles, along with an air pollution crisis that the World Health Organization estimates causes over a million premature deaths every year. The risk of diabetes rose by about 16 per cent for an increase of 10 microgrammes per cubic metre in long-term PM2.5 particle exposure. Similar studies in North America, Europe, Hong Kong and Taiwan have shown links between air pollution with diabetes. Unites Nations study published in 2017 noted that China is facing the largest diabetes problem in the world with around 11 per cent of its population suffering from metabolic illness. It is expected that the sustained improvement of air quality will help decrease the diabetes epidemic in China.

    16) World Kidney Day 2019 will be observed on 14th March. The theme of the World Kidney Day 2019 is Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere. The theme emphasizes universal health coverage (UHC) for prevention and early treatment of kidney disease. World Kidney Day: Second Thursday of March every year is observed as World Kidney Day every year as a global health awareness campaign focusing on the importance of the kidneys and reducing the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide. World Kidney Day calls for everyone to advocate for concrete measures in every country to improve kidney care by: Encouraging to adopt healthy lifestyles. Making screening for kidney diseases a primary healthcare intervention by providing access to identification tools (e.g. urine and blood tests). Ensuring kidney patients receive basic health services they need to delay disease progression without suffering financial hardship. Call for transparent policies governing equitable and sustainable access to advanced health care services and better financial protection as more resources become available. Breaking down socioeconomic barriers and expanding access to comprehensive services in order to meet the needs of the population is essential to guarantee equitable kidney care and increase quality. World Kidney Day is an initiative of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF).

    17) The European Union has expanded its tax haven blacklist by including 10 countries. The list now has 15 countries. The list was first drawn up by EU in 2017 in the wake of several scandals, including the Panama Papers and LuxLeaks, that pushed the EU into doing more to fight tax evasion by multinationals and the rich. Expansion of the List: Seven countries Aruba, Belize, Bermuda, Fiji, Oman, Vanuatu and Dominica were moved from greylist to blacklist due to their inability towards reform commitments. Three other countries added into the list are Barbados, the United Arab Emirates and the Marshall Islands. EU list of Tax Blacklist or Tax Havens: Tax Havens provide taxpayers with opportunities for tax avoidance, while their secrecy and opacity also serve to hide the origin of the proceeds of illegal and criminal activities. Features of these Tax Havens include low or zero taxation, fictitious residences (with no bearing on reality) and tax secrecy. EU initiated the naming and shaming tactics through Tax blacklist or Tax havens as a tool for securing a level playing field and as an external strategy for effective taxation by assessing, screening and listing third-country tax jurisdictions which are non-cooperative in tax matters.

    18) The Central Statistical Office (CSO) has released the data of Inflation for the month of February 2019. The data shows that: Retail inflation was at a four-month high of 2.57 per cent in February 2019 due to costlier food articles. The retail inflation was highest since October 2018 when it stood at 3.38 per cent. Consumer Price Index-based inflation for January 2019 was revised down to a 19-month low of 1.97 per cent from an earlier estimate of 2.05 per cent. Food inflation at (-) 0.66 per cent in February 2019 was lower against 3.26 per cent in the same month last year. The consumer food price index increased by 0.15 per cent in February against January 2019. The prices of Protein-rich items such as meat & fish and eggs witnessed a quick rise in prices at 5.92 per cent and 0.86 per cent respectively in February. The prices of cereal and products went up at 1.32 per cent. Fruits and Vegetable prices continued their declining trend. In the fuel and light category, the rate of price rise slowed to 1.24 per cent from 2.20 per cent in January. With the headline inflation reading at 2.57 per cent and industrial production growth on the downside at 1.7 per cent, economists see a case and space for one more rate cut of 25 bps by RBI in April to support growth.

    19) The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has released the data for the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) for the month of January. The IIP data shows that: Industrial output growth stood at 1.7 per cent in January against the 2.6% growth recorded in December 2018. The CSO has revised the industrial production growth for December 2018 has been revised upwards from 2.4% to 2.6%. The growth of output of manufacturing sector moderated to 1.3% and the electricity generation rose a mere 0.8% in January 2019. The mining output rebounded 3.9% in January 2019, snapping 1% decline in December 2018. Capital goods output declined 3.2% in January 2019 and the output of intermediate goods also fell by 3.0% in January 2019. The output of primary goods increased by 1.4%, while that of infrastructure/ construction goods moved up 7.9% in January 2019 when compared to January 2018. The output of consumer durables moved up 1.8%, while that of consumer non-durable durables also rose 3.8% in January 2019 when compared to January 2018. Eleven out of the twenty-three industry groups in the manufacturing sector have shown positive growth during the month of January 2019 as compared to January 2018. The cumulative industrial production increased by 4% in April-January FY2019 compared with 4.1% growth in April-January FY2018. The manufacturing sector growth has improved to 4.4% in April-January FY2019 from 4.2% growth in the corresponding period last year. The electricity generation output growth also improved to 5.8%, while mining output growth accelerated to 5.3% in April-January FY2019. Index of Industrial Production: Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is a composite indicator that measures the changes in the volume of production of a basket of industrial products during a given period with respect to the volume of production in a chosen base period. The base year for the IIP is 2011-12.

    20) Social media platform Facebook has launched Facebook Hubs to foster innovation and offer support for budding entrepreneurs. Facebook Hubs: Facebook Hubs will provide support for start-up community by hosting mentor hours and conducting trainings, workshops, discussions across 20 locations in Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Navi Mumbai and in Goa. Facebook has collaborated with 91springboard, an office space rental firm, for a year-long programme to help start-ups and entrepreneurs scale their businesses. Facebook Hubs also encompasses co-working community hosting, planning and organising structured activities such as learning and skill development programmes for budding entrepreneurs. Facebook Hubs aims to be part of a global network for training and mentoring facilities for not just start-ups, but also developers, small and medium businesses, creators, and job seekers.

    21) The Election Commission of India (ECI) has stated before the Supreme Court that exclusion of names of persons from draft National Registry of Citizens (NRC) in Assam will not affect their voting rights in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls provided their names feature in the electoral rolls. Petition before the Supreme Court: Petition filed by Gopal Seth and Susanta Sen, residents of Assam feared that people would lose their voting rights due to the ongoing exercise of National Registry of Citizens. The petition highlighted five categories of people. Persons whose names were deleted from the voter list which includes names of those appeared in the draft NRC published on July 30, 2018. People whose names were not included in the complete draft NRC, but they subsequently filed claims for inclusion of their names in it. People who have been declared as foreigners by the foreigners’ tribunal as well as the Guwahati High Court. The order which has been stayed by the apex court. People who had already been declared foreigners by the foreigners’ tribunal and such declarations were set aside by the apex court. People whose names have not been included in the draft NRC, but other members of their families, including parents, have been included in the NRC and they have filed their claims for the inclusion of their names. Allaying the fears the ECI has assured that exclusion of names of persons from draft NRC in Assam will not affect their voting rights in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and sought the dismissal of the petition. The Supreme Court asked the ECI to provide data about the addition and deletion of names from voters’ list as revised in January for 2017, 2018 and 2019. The case for posted for further hearing on March 28.

    22) Global Chemical Outlook II- From Legacies to Innovative Solutions: Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was mandated by the UN Environment Assembly in 2016. The outlook report seeks to alert policymakers and other stakeholders to the critical role of the sound management of chemicals and waste in sustainable development. Key Findings of the Report: The global goal to minimise adverse impacts of chemicals and waste set out in 2006 under the UN’s global non-binding chemicals programme, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (Saicm) will not be achieved by 2020. The report notes that despite the international agreement, reached at the high-level UN conferences, and significant action already taken scientists continue to express concerns regarding the lack of progress made. Despite significant progress made major implementation gaps remain. In particular, developing countries, and economies in transition, still lack basic chemicals and waste management systems. The report notes that Globally Harmonised System (GHS) for classification and labelling has not been implemented in more than 120 countries, mostly developing nations and economies in transition. The report notes that the countries still lack pollutant release transfer registers (PRTRs), poison centres and capacities for hazard and risk assessment and risk management. The report highlights the example of regulations on lead in paint as a revealing indicator. The report notes that as of September 2018, only 37% of countries had confirmed the legally binding controls on lead in paint. Further, even if regulations on specific chemicals are in place, implementation and enforcement may pose challenges. The report notes that chemical production and consumption is shifting to emerging economies, in particular, China. The Asia-Pacific region is projected to account for more than two-thirds of global sales by 2030 and cross-border e-commerce is growing 25% annually. The report says that Progress remains insufficient and there is an urgent need to take concerted action to develop basic chemicals management systems in all countries.

    23) Astronomers from Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai have identified a new population of ultraviolet stars in the globular cluster NGC 2808 using the Indian multi-wavelength space observatory AstroSat, launched in September 2015. AstroSat: AstroSat is India’s dedicated multi-wavelength space observatory which endeavours for a more detailed understanding of our universe. ASTROSAT observes the universe in the optical, Ultraviolet, low and high energy X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Major astronomy Institutions and some Universities in India are participating in these observations. NGC 2808: Globular clusters are collections of thousands to millions of stars, moving as one unit. These stars are tightly held together by the gravity of the cluster itself and are believed to have formed together at roughly the same time. The globular cluster contains stars with a variety of masses but with similar chemical composition. NGC 2808 is one of the massive globular clusters and is located at a distance of 47,000 light years from us. Recent studies have shown that many globular clusters may well host more than one population of stars contrary to popular belief that all stars in such clusters are of the same age. Observations suggest that NGC2808 may have at least five different populations of stars.

    24) The World Gold Council its latest report highlights the quantum of gold holding by the different countries. The findings of the report are: India has the 11th largest gold reserve and the current holding pegged at 607 tonnes. India’s would have been at the tenth position had the list included only countries. International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks third on the list with total gold reserves of 2,814 tonnes. The top spot is occupied by US gold reserves of 8,133.5 tonnes, followed by Germany with 3,369.7 tonnes. The third and fourth slot is occupied by Germany and France with reserves of around 2,400 tonnes each. China and Japan have more reserves of the precious metal when compared to India. Mainland China has gold reserves of 1,864.3 tonnes and Japan has gold reserves of 765.2 tonnes. The report notes that Gross purchases of 48 tonnes and gross sales of 13 tonnes led to an increase in global gold reserves by 35 tonnes on a net basis in January, with sizeable increases from nine central banks. This was the largest January increase in gold reserves since 2002 and illustrates the recent strength in gold accumulation. The World Gold Council is the market development organisation for the gold industry and it aims to stimulate and sustain demand for gold, provide industry leadership, and be the global authority on the gold market. The members of the World Gold Council include gold mining companies.

    25) The minutes of meeting which had approved the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes has been revealed through RTI. The government had contested that demonetisation would help curb black money and a steep rise in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes; check the circulation of fake currency and promote e-payments and financial inclusion. Observations made by RBI: RBI Directors had contested the government’s claim about curbing black money by highlighting that most of the black money is held not in cash but in the form of real sector assets such as gold or real estate and this move would not have a material impact on the assets. RBI Directors refuted the government’s argument about the growth in high denomination notes being much faster than the pace of economic expansion, by reasoning that when adjusted for inflation, the difference may not be so stark. RBI has stated that even though the incidence of counterfeiting is a concern, Rs 400 crore as a percentage of the total quantum of currency in circulation is not very significant. Despite these reservations and disagreements, the RBI board had approved the demonetisation in larger public interest as it provided an opportunity to promote financial inclusion and digital payments. Further the government had assured the RBI directors that it would take measures to contain the use of cash and promote financial inclusion and electronic modes of payment.

    26) The 38th GeeBee Boxing Tournament was held at Helsinki, Finland. The Indian medal winners from the tournament are listed below: The lone gold medal for India was won by Kavinder Singh Bisht. He won against Indian counterpart Mohammed Hussamuddin in summit clash in the 56kg category. Mohammed Hussamuddin settled for silver. Other Silver medals for India were won by Govind Kumar Sahani (49kg), Shiva Thapa (60kg) and Dinesh Dagar (69kg). Bronze Medallists were Sachin Siwach (52kg), Sumit Sangwan (91kg) and Naveen Kumar (+91kg) after their respective semi-final loss. India signed off from the 38th GeeBee Boxing Tournament with one gold, four silver and three bronze medals.

    27) The Ireland-based Johnson Controls Building Technologies and Solutions has released its report for the second annual smart city indicator survey. The survey tracks key drivers, organisational barriers, technology trends, and the status of smart city solution implementations around the world. The survey queried over 330 city leaders. The survey was conducted in 20 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France and the United States, besides India. Findings about India: The survey reports that about four per cent of buildings in India are “green” but a lack of technical expertise to execute projects and funding to pay for improvements is the biggest barriers to investment in India. Green Building: Green building refers to both a structure and the application of processes which are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. India even though a slow starter is catching up. About 46 per cent of the organisations surveyed in India are willing to pay a premium to lease space in a green building. India is on track to be consistent with the global average of 14 per cent. The survey notes that cities are increasingly looking to implement applications that will improve sustainability and the environment while creating jobs, improving public safety and reducing costs. The Survey also enumerated some of the key drivers in energy investments like greenhouse gas footprint reduction, increasing energy security and increasing building resilience.

    28) Vastradan Campaign initiated by the erstwhile royal family of Udaipur has set the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of clothes for donation. The campaign had collected more than 3 lakh items of clothing. Vastradan Campaign: Through the Vastradan Campaign, over 3,29,250 pieces of clothing from over 76,000 donors were collected and distributed to the needy. The campaign reached out to over 120 schools, 15 colleges and around 30 NGOs. The certificate for the Guinness World Record was handed over to Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, a descendant of Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap. The campaign was started as an innovative exercise in giving by reaching out to the citizens rather organizations. The campaign highlighted the empathy of the citizen’s especially young boys and girls.

    29) Hundreds of Tibetan activists staged a protest and submitted a memorandum to the Office of United Nations India to mark the 60th anniversary of their National Uprising Day. National Uprising Day: Tibet. March 10 which commemorates the 1959 Tibetan Uprising is observed as the National Uprising Day by Tibetan activists. On March 10 1959, thousands of Tibetans took to the streets of Lhasa rising up against Communist China’s occupation of their homeland. Tibet was invaded by China in 1951. Tibetans had enthroned Dalai Lama, chosen at the age of two in 1937 as the 14th incarnation of Tibetan Buddhism’s supreme religious leader. Coexistence of Beijing authorities and Dalai Lama at the Tibetan plateau led to Tensions. The Chinese Authorities summoned him to an event without his bodyguards on March 10, Tibetans feared a trap that could endanger their leader. Fearing for the life of Dalai Lama, Tibetans surrounded the Potala Palace, the home of the Dalai Lama, to protect his life and to uphold the cause of Tibetan nation. As Chinese soldiers opened fire thousands of activists lost their life. On the night of March 17, the Dalai Lama escaped into exile across the Himalayas into India.

    30) The indigenously developed Pinaka Guided Weapons System was successfully test fired at Pokhran desert in Rajasthan. The successful test trial gives a boost to the artillery capability of the Indian Army. Pinaka Guided Weapon System is equipped with a guidance kit comprising an advanced navigation and control system. Pinaka Guided Weapons System: Pinaka rocket systems are developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The rocket system was named after Pinaka, the bow of Lord Shiva. Pinaka was initially a 30 to 40 km range rocket. Its range was increased 70 to 80 km with Pinaka Mark II. Pinaka rockets were used in the Kargil War with Pakistan. With the increased range there came a need for a more accurate. To fulfil this requirement guided version of the Pinaka is being developed by DRDO. Test Trail: During the test trial, the Pinaka Guided Weapon System successfully impacted the intended targets with high precision and achieved desired accuracies. Telemetry systems were used to track and monitor the vehicle all through the flight path. The weapon systems impacted the intended targets with high precision and achieved desired accuracies.

    31) The central government has allowed the state governments to put enemy properties into public use. The central government has amended the guidelines for disposal of the Enemy Property Order, 2018, to facilitate usages of enemy property by the state government exclusively for public use. Enemy Properties: Enemy properties are the properties of the people who migrated to Pakistan during partition and also to China after the Sino-India war in 1962. It is estimated that there are 9,280 such properties which were left behind by people who went to Pakistan and 126 such properties were left by the Chinese nationals. Of the total properties left behind by those migrated to Pakistan, about 4,991 are located in Uttar Pradesh, the highest in the country and West Bengal has 2,735 such estates and Delhi 487. Of the total properties left by those left to China about 57 properties are located in Meghalaya, highest in the country. West Bengal has 29 such properties and Assam seven. The estimated value of all enemy properties is approximately Rs 1 lakh crore. The government had enacted the Enemy Property Act in 1968. This act was further amended through the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2017. As the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2017 Successors of those who migrated to Pakistan and China during partition will have no claim over the properties left behind in India.

    32) Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the 50th Raising Day celebrations of Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF), at Indirapuram in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. Lauding the role of CISF in building New India by providing security to the vital institutions of the country, Prime Minister suggested the idea of starting digital museums at airports and metros, showcasing the work of CISF. Central Industrial Security Forces: Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) came into existence in 1969 with three battalions, to provide integrated security cover to the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) which, in those years, occupied the commanding heights of the economy. Over the years CISF has grown several folds to reach one lakh forty-eight thousand and three hundred seventy-one personnel today. With the Indian economy opening up for globalisation, CISF is no more a PSU centric organisation. It has carved a niche for itself as a premier multi-skilled security agency of the country, mandated to provide security to major critical infrastructure installations of the country including those in the private sector. Together with manning critical and vital installations of the country, CISF has also emerged as a force to reckon during disasters. CISF had played a key role during the during Kerala floods and also during Nepal and Haiti earthquake.

    33) Vice President Venkaiah Naidu was conferred Honorary Doctorate from the UN established University of Peace. The university has stated that the degree of “Doctor Honoris Causa”( Doctor of Philosophy) was conferred on the Indian Vice President recognising his contribution to the Rule of Law, democracy and sustainable development in India. Shri. Venkaiah Naidu is the first Indian to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Peace. University of Peace: The University of Peace was established in accordance with the Resolution 35/55 passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1980. The main campus of the University of Peace is located in Costa Rica, a country of Central America. The University of Peace aims to be a forward-thinking, transformational and inspirational educational institution dedicated to the goals of quality teaching, research and service for serving humanity in building a peaceful world. The stated mission of the University of Peace is to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace and with the aim of promoting, among all human beings, the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations.

    34) The government has launched the Pulse Polio Programme 2019. Under the programme, polio drops would be administered to children less than five years of age. Pulse Polio Program 2019: As part of the Pulse Polio Program 2019 more than 17 crore children of less than five years across the country will be administered polio drops. The pulse polio programme conducted every year aims to protect children from the polio disease by conducting two nationwide mass polio vaccination campaigns and two to three sub-national campaigns each year. The pulse polio programme 2019 is aimed at sustaining the polio eradication from the country. India was declared polio-free country in the year 2014. India’s last reported cases of wild polio were in West Bengal and Gujarat on 13 January 2011. Further to provide additional protection to children Government has also introduced the injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine into its routine immunization program. Polio: Polio also known as poliomyelitis is a highly contagious viral disease caused due to the attacks the nervous system and children younger than 5 years old are more likely to contract the virus than any other group. Poliovirus usually spreads from person to person through infected faecal matter entering the mouth. Poliovirus also spreads by food or water containing human faeces and less commonly from infected saliva.

    35) The draft return policy for the return of the militants is under the consideration of the government of Jammu and Kashmir. Key Components of the Policy: The draft policy aims to address the need for rehabilitation at a policy level through a two-pronged approach: reformative measures and opportunities of livelihood. The draft policy includes a provision for a monthly stipend of Rs 6,000 for a militant who surrenders with a view to encourage the militants to join the mainstream. Jobs, reformative measures, and a monthly stipend of Rs 6,000 are the key points of a new reintegration policy draft that is under the consideration of the J&K government. The draft policy under the consideration of the government is the revised version of earlier initiatives but with a renewed focus on socio-economic re-integration. The policy will not cover militants found to have been involved in heinous crimes. 2004 Rehabilitation Policy: The 20004 rehabilitation policy sought to provide “facility to those terrorists who undergo a change of heart and eschew the path of violence and who also accept the integrity of India and Indian Constitution to encourage them to join the mainstream and lead a normal life. The policy made provisions provide vocational training for militants who surrender if they wished to pursue a trade and a monthly stipend of Rs 2,000 for the first three years. Establishment of counselling centres “where all the returnees along with their wives and children would be lodged for a period of three months or for such longer time as would be necessary. But these counselling centres were never established. The policy was successful in motivating militants to return. 2010 Rehabilitation Policy: The 2010 rehabilitation policy focused on facilitating the return of ex-militants from J&K who had crossed over between January 1989 and December 2009 for training but later gave up insurgent activities due to a change of heart and are willing, to return to the state.

    36) Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the new Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute of Archaeology at Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh. On the occasion, he also unveiled the statue of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya at the campus and visited the Deendayal Museum in the Institute campus. Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute of Archaeology: Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute of Archaeology is a state-of-the-art institution spread over 25 acres and built at an estimated cost of Rs. 289 crore. The Institute comprises of an auditorium with seating capacity of 1000 people, an open-air theatre and an Archaeological Museum. Institute of Archaeology is an academic wing of the Archeological Survey of India under the Ministry of Culture. The Institute provides students with the necessary supportive, enthusiastic and challenging academic atmosphere which enables them to achieve their full potential in the field of Archaeology. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI): Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the Ministry of Culture, is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage in India. The genesis of systematic archaeological pursuits in India can be traced to the efforts of Sir William Jones, who put together a group of antiquarians to form the Asiatic Society on 15th January 1784 in Calcutta. The first legislative attempt to make the government intervene in case of risks to monuments was through Bengal Regulation XIX of 1810. ASI regulates all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 and Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.

    37) The persistent efforts of the Intellectual Property Rights cell of the Kerala Agriculture University have finally yielded results. The Marayur Jaggery largely produced in the regions of Marayur and Kanthallur grama panchayats of Kerala has got the GI tag. Geographical Indication: Geographical Indication (GI) is a name or sign used on products which correspond to a specific geographical location or origin. Geographical Indication act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, is made according to traditional methods or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin. Marayur Jaggery: Marayoor in the Idukki district of Kerala is known for its tensive sugarcane cultivation. In the regions of Marayur and Kanthallur, more than 2500 acres of land is under sugarcane cultivation. The peculiar geographical location of Marayoor amid the forests of the Western Ghats gives the sugar cane a distinct geographical identity. The local people have integrated the age-old tradition have imparted age-old specialized skill to make Marayur Jaggery a distinct product in itself. The distinct features of the Marayur Jaggery are high sweetness with less saltiness, high content of iron and less sodium. The produce is free of impurities and the sugar cane fields are free of chemical pesticides and fertilisers. The Marayur Jaggery is produced without adding any chemicals has always been known for its high quality. Eyeing the market of the traditional Marayur Jaggery fake jaggery with a salty taste was being marketed as Marayur jaggery. The GI tag will now enable to initiate legal action against fake jaggery being sold as Marayur Jaggery.

    38) The Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan handed over the Seven Croreth LPG connection under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY). The PMUY was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 1st May 2016 with an initial target of five crore LPG connections, which was later revised upward to eight crores connections. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana: Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims to safeguard the health of women & children by providing them with a clean cooking fuel – LPG, so that they don’t have to compromise their health in smoky kitchens or wander in unsafe areas collecting firewood. Under this scheme, LPG connections will be provided to BPL families with a support of Rs.1600 per connection. The connection is provided in the name of the adult women of the family. Further, an option is provided to provide a loan at zero interest to bear the cost of the cooking stove and first refill which has to be paid by the beneficiary. Some of the significant achievements of the scheme are: 7 crore LPG connections have been distributed over a span of 34 months. This comes down to around nearly 69 thousand connections are being released per day. 82 per cent PMUY beneficiaries are going for refilling their cylinder and average refilling is about 6.5 cylinders per beneficiary. About 42 per cent of the total beneficiaries belong to the SCs and STs. World Health Organisation (WHO) has acknowledged the PMUY as ne of decisive interventions by the Indian government to address the indoor air pollution which accounts for nearly 10 lakh (1 million) deaths every year across India. Intitailly the beneficiaries under the scheme were identified through socio economic caste census, now all the poor of the country are now eligible to get PMUY connection. Further to give a fillip to the scheme 6800 new distributorships were given to strengthen rural LPG supply chain.

    39) The World Bank, Government of India and representatives from the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand signed Loan Agreement for additional financing of $137 Million for the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) that will help rehabilitate and modernize over 220 selected large dams. This additional funding of $137 million will be used for the construction of an additional spillway for Hirakud Dam in Odisha and in rehabilitation and improvement of other dams including strengthening the institutional, legal and technical framework for dam safety assurance within the Government of India and in the participating States. Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project: Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation through Central Water Commission with an objective to improve safety and operational performance dams, along with institutional strengthening with system-wide management approach, embarked upon the six-year Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) in 2012 with World Bank assistance at a cost of INR 2100 Crore (US$M 437.5). In India Rainfall occurs mainly in intense and unpredictable downpours within short monsoon seasons, is of high temporal and spatial variability and does not meet year-round irrigation and other water demands. Hence storage of water is essential for India and the dams play a key role in fostering rapid and sustained agricultural and rural growth and development. These dams benefit millions of people and therefore needs to be strengthened with more investment in their operations and maintenance. Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project act as a “lighthouse” showcasing how best to make dams fully operational and safe in a technically sound and sustainable manner.

    40) The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has reduced the MRP of 390 non-scheduled cancer medicines have been reduced by up to 87%. NPA has asked the manufacturers and hospitals to revise the prices based on the trade margin formula. The release by the NPPA states that five brands will see a price reduction of about 70%, while 12 others will see a 50-70% price cut. MRPs of 45 cancer medicines will reduce by 25%. Benefits from the Move: This price reduction is expected to result in annual savings of around Rs 800 crore for patients. The price reduction is expected to benefit about 22 lakh cancer patients in India. National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority: National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) constituted in 1997 is an independent Regulator for pricing of drugs and to ensure availability and accessibility of medicines at affordable prices under the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers. The functions of NPPA include: To implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order. To monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages, if any, and to take remedial steps. To collect and maintain data on production, exports and imports, the market share of individual companies, the profitability of companies etc, for bulk drugs and formulations. To undertake relevant studies with respect to the pricing of drugs and pharmaceuticals. To render advice to the Central Government on changes and revisions in the drug policy. To render assistance to the Central Government in the parliamentary matters relating to the drug pricing. NPPA implements the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy 2012. NPPA provides ceiling price to all Drugs notified under Schedule-I of the DPCO, 2013 and monitors annual price increase for these and the non-scheduled drugs.

    41) Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid the foundation stone for the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor. The project envisions a massive makeover of the holy shrine and its surrounding areas. This massive makeover is the first after the 1780 AD when the Maratha queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore renovated the temple and the area surrounding it. About the Project: The proposed 50-feet corridor will directly connect Ganga’s Manikarnika and Lalita Ghat to the Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga Temple. Along the corridor, pilgrims and travellers will see a newly built museum and depicting Varanasi’s ancient history and culture. New Yagyashalas for religious functions like havan and yagya are proposed under the The project also includes lodgings for priests, volunteers and pilgrims together with an enquiry centre to help the tourists about the city and its other places of attractions and amenities. A massive auditorium for gatherings, meetings and temple functions. Food Street to serve tourists and pilgrims luscious Banarasi and Awadhi dishes. The total cost of the project is pegged at Rs 600 crore. The Kashi Vishwanath temple located on the left bank of the holy river Ganga is surrounded by narrow and small, claustrophobic lanes. As a result, it struggles to manage humongous crowds in its congested lanes during festive times, which is literally round the year. The corridor will ease the congestion and provide the pilgrims and travellers other amenities such as wider and cleaner roads and lanes, better lighting with bright street lights, and clean drinking water.

    42) The Supreme Court has proposed a court-monitored mediation in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case to arrive at a permanent solution to the politically and religiously sensitive issue. The mediation panel consists of three members. Justice Kalifullah, Retired judge of the Supreme Court will chair the court-appointed and monitored mediation process and the other two members are spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu. The mediation panel will hold the proceedings at Faizabad ensuring full confidentiality. The mediation process is expected to start in a week. The status report of the mediation committee will have to be completed in four weeks with 8 weeks deadline to conclude the hearing. What is the dispute? The Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case is a property dispute over the land where the Babri Masjid, a 16th-century mosque once stood. The mosque was razed by kar sevaks on 6 December 1992. The Hindu groups claim that the exact site of Lord Ram’s birthplace is where the Babri Masjid was once located. They argue that the Mughals demolished a Hindu shrine that marked the spot of Lord Ram’s birthplace and constructed a mosque in its place. Those oppose to this view argue that such arguments arose only in the 18th century, and that there is no evidence for the spot being the birthplace of Rama.

    43) President Ram Nath Kovind presented the Nari Shakti awards, 2018 on the occasion of International Women’s Day on 8th March. Nari Shakti awards are the highest civilian honour for women in India. 44 Nari Shakti awards were presented for the year 2018 and the awardees include Scientists, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, social workers, farmers, artists, masons, a woman marine pilot, a woman commando trainer, journalists and film-makers. Nari Shakti Puraskar was also awarded to One Stop Centre of Lucknow and Tamil Nadu State Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Department.Tamil Nadu State Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Department got the award for exceptional progress in improving child sex ratio at birth under the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme. One Stop Centres are established by the Ministry of Women and Child Development for violence affected women in all districts of the country. One Stop Centres provide 24×7 integrated services to women affected by violence under one roof, including handholding them in the filing of FIRs, providing them legal aid, medical aid, psycho-social counselling and temporary shelter up to 5 days. Nari Shakti Awards: Nari Shakti Awards, earlier known as Stree Shakti Awards was constituted by the government of India in the year 1991. Nari Shakti Awards provide an opportunity to understand the contribution of women in the building of society and the nation. Nari Shakti Awards are conferred on eminent women and institutions rendering distinguished service to the cause of women especially belonging to the vulnerable and marginalized sections of the society by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The recipients include both institutions and individuals.

    44) Al Nagah III is the third in the series of the bilateral joint exercise between India and Oman. It will be held between March 12 to March 25 at Oman. Al Nagah III: Al Nagah III will be held at Jabel Al Akhdar Mountains in Oman. The 14-day exercise will see both the armies exchanging expertise and experience in tactics, weapon handling and firing. The exercise is aimed to enhance interoperability in counterterrorist operations in semi-urban mountainous terrain. The Indian Army contingent is going to be represented by 10th Battalion of the Garhwal Rifles. Similar strength is also to be fielded by Jabel Regiment of Royal Army of Oman. Al Nagah I was held at Muscat, Oman in January 2015 and Al Nagah II at Himachal Pradesh, India in March 2017. The India-Oman bilateral security ties have continued to evolve and the joint military exercise will go a long way in enchaining understanding of capabilities and strengthening camaraderie between both the Armies.

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    45) The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Puri launched the e-Dharti app and e-Dharti GeoPortal to help the public in getting the necessary information on fingertips and the government to effectively manage its properties. e-Dharti app: Under the e-Dharti app, all the three modules- Conversion, Substitution and Mutation related to properties have been made online. The payment system in Land and Development Office, L&DO has also been completely digitized. This enables the public to submit their applications online by visiting the L&DO website. This absolves the need to visit the office for submission of them and for follow up of their applications. e-Dharti GeoPortal: e-Dharti GeoPortal enables the lessee of the property to see the basic details of property along with the map showing its location. The lessee can also be issued a Property Card from this office about his property if he asks for it. e-Dharti GeoPortal will also benefit the government by letting it know the actual status of its vacant properties, whether there is any encroachment on the property. The government is in process of digitising and integrating other three modules- Sale Permission, Mortgage Permission and Gift Permission. Once completed this digitisation and integration will go a long way in streamlining the working of property related matters by making it more public friendly, efficient, accountable and transparent.

    46) Raghuram Rajan, former governor of RBI has been chosen for the ‘Yashwantrao Chavan National Award 2018’ by Yashwantrao Chavan Prathisthan for his contribution to economic development. Raghuram Rajan will be presented with the award at the 106th birth anniversary of Yashwantrao Chavan on March 12. Raghuram Rajan is credited with steering Indian economy during turbulent times during the post-global financial crisis period. He is credited for positioning Indian currency as among the best-performing emerging markets amid a global currency rout against the dollar as emerging markets witness a major capital flight not seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. During his tenure in RBI, he oversaw some key reforms in monetary policy management and in the administration of the central bank. Raghuram Rajan had also served as the chief economist of IMF and had famously predicted the 2008 financial crisis in 2005. Yashwantrao Chavan Prathisthan: After the death of Yashwantrao Chavan, Yashwantrao Chavan Prathisthan was constituted by his followers and associates to take forward his works. Yashwantrao Chavan was the first Chief Minister of State of Maharashtra and has also served as Deputy Prime Minister of India in the cabinet of Prime Minister Charan Singh between 1979-1980. Born on 12 March 1913 in Devrashtre village of Satara District of Maharashtra, Yashwantrao Chavan was largely influenced by the Indian freedom struggle movements. He had participated in the Non-cooperation movement and Quit India movement. During the course of time, he become closely associated with leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel. After Independence, he held several important positions in the government of Maharashtra and in the government of India. Yashwantrao Chavan died of a heart attack on 25 November 1984. The Yashwantrao Chavan National Award constituted by the Yashwantrao Chavan Prathisthan honours individuals and institutions for their outstanding contribution to national integration, and social and economic development.

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